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Battle of Maloyaroslavets
The Battle of Maloyaroslavets took place on October 24 1812, between the Russians, under Marshal Kutuzov, and part of the corps of Eugène de Beauharnais, Napoleon's son-in-law, under General Delzons with numbered about 20,000 strong. On October 19, Napoleon evacuated Moscow and marched south-west to Kaluga, de Beauharnais leading the advance. Unaware of this, and believing the force sighted at Forminskoie , 40 miles south-west of Moscow, was a foraging party, Kutuzov send General Docturov with 12,000 infantry, 3,000 cavalry and 84 guns to surprise it. While on the road, Docturov learned this force was the Grand Army and decided to hold out until reinforcements came at the road junction and town of Maloyaroslavets , on the Lutza river.
Docturov entered the town from the south and found the French spearhead had siezed a bridgehead. Fierce fighting began; the town changed hands five times. General Raevki arrived with 10,000 more Russians; once more they took the town, though not the bridgehead. De Beauharnais threw in his 15th (Italian) division, under General Pino , and by evening they had again expelled the Russians. Marshal Kutusov arrived, decided against a pitched battle with the Grand Army the next day, and to retire instead to Kaluga. The French claimed a victory, but it was a Russian strategical success, for now wishing to avoid battle, Napoleon changed his line of march to the north, through Mozhaisk and Smolensk, the route of his advance that he had wished to avoid. French casualties were about 5,000, including Delzons killed, while the Russians lost 6,000.
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