"The autumn of 1806 witnessed one of history's foremost military geniuses, Napoleon Bonaparte, at the apogee of his power. After easily defeating the vaunted Prussian army, the Emperor Napoleon occupied Berlin. The scale of his victories stunned Europe. He and his veteran warriors appeared invincible. . Undaunted, the young Tsar Alexander sent his armies westward to confront the French. The ensuing collisions took place in Poland, one of Europe's poorest, most barren regions. Terrain, weather, and luck played critical roles. Then came a seemingly implausible reversal of fortune when an inexperienced Russian army, riven by command dissension, inflicted a pair of severe checks at Pultusk and Golymin. Napoleon's opponents rejoiced to see the 'Corsican Ogre' falter as he retired to winter quarters to lick his wounds. The Russian armies were not done. Flush with his success at Pultusk, Russian General Leontii Bennigsen assumed overall command of the Tsar's forces and launched a surprise offensive. It compelled Napoleon to abandon winter quarters and begin a grueling campaign. Napoleon's brilliantly conceived strategic envelopment miscarried. A five-day all-out pursuit finally brought the Russians to bay on the snow covered ground of Eylau. Here over 140,000 French and Russian soldiers fought a terrible battle. They displayed surpassing courage and moments of inspired leadership, and committed costly blunders as victory trembled in the balance. The battle inflicted nearly 60,000 casualties, leaving thousands of dead and wounded littering the exposed slopes as frozen darkness descended. Then and thereafter, both sides claimed victory, but what was absolutely clear was that for the first time in his career Napoleon had met a foe capable of resisting his sweeping strategic thrusts and tactical flourishes."
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