The remains of about 120 Russian and French soldiers, who fought each other in 1812 during Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte’s campaign to Russia, were reburied on Saturday in the Russian town of Vyazma. The remains of three cooks and three drummers have also been reburied.
The remains were discovered about 12 years ago in a mass grave near Vyazma, some 200 kilometers west of Moscow, where a battlefield took place on November 3, 1812. At the time of the campaign, the French were already withdrawing.
The funeral ceremony in the freezing cold was accompanied by cannon shots as a salute and took place in the presence of a hundred extras in historical costume.
There were also descendants of the ‘great generals’ of the Napoleonic era, such as Marshal Joachim Murat. His distant great-nephew of the same name said he was very emotional because he was allowed to attend this tribute to the soldiers of Napoleon.
Soldiers identified by metal uniform buttons
It was only years after the discovery of the bodies, in 2019, that Russian and French archaeologists excavated and examined the remains. The metal uniform buttons made it possible to determine that some of the remains were former soldiers of Napoleon.
The campaign to Russia cost hundreds of thousands of soldiers of Napoleon’s multinational Grande Armée: 300,000 French, 70,000 Poles, 50,000 Italians, 80,000 Germans and also thousands of Dutch. On the Russian side, possibly 450,000 people were killed.