Fighting for Napoleon's Army in Russia: A POW's Memoir C J Wagevier
Publisher: Pen and Sword Military (August 30, 2023)
Hardcover: 208 pages
In 1812 the French emperor Napoleon decided to invade Russia. For this purpose, he gathered an army of half a million men and women, consisting of soldiers from all nationalities, including French, German and Italian. Serving in this army was Carel Johannes Wagevier, an officer in the 125th Regiment of the Line, which was staffed by mostly Dutch soldiers. Full of confidence, they went to war and began the long journey to the East. What followed was a horrific expedition deep into the Russian interior, a chaotic retreat, and captivity.
Just like his fellow soldiers, Wagevier endured the cold, the stresses of combat, and the hunger that besieged the army. After fighting at the battle of Berezina in November 1812, he was taken prisoner and transported all the way to the Russian interior. In 1814 he and his remaining fellow officers were released, and together they started the journey back home. During his travels across Russia, he made notes of events that occurred or meetings that seemed memorable, including ones of unexpected generosity as well as sudden cruelty. These notes were later expanded into his memoir and published in 1820. Now, for the first time ever, they have been translated into English, providing a unique and fascinating insight into the life of a solider in Napoleon’s army.
Samuel de Korte is a graduate student of Utrecht University, where he studied for an MA in the Cultural History of Modern Europe. In his spare time he enjoys researching or writing articles about popular history, specializing in the history of African-American soldiers during the Second World War and the Dutch involvement in the Napoleonic wars.