I am extremely curious about Tolstoy's explanation of Napoleon's decisions once he reached Moscow. In book 13, Tolstoy discusses Napoleon’s horrible decision making after the French arrive in Moscow. He does not prepare winter clothing, he sets the troops free in the city, and does not attempt to engage Kutuzov in any more battle.
Tolstoy states, “The most skillful strategist could hardly have devised an series of actions that would so completely have accomplished that purpose, independently of anything the Russian army might do” (Tolstoy 886). This quote is powerful, for Tolstoy is implying that Napoleon’s influence on his troops caused their retreat back to France. He is saying that, despite all of his genius, he failed his troops in Moscow. Tolstoy goes on to defend Napoleon though, talking about how he wasn’t stupid nor was he trying to fail his troops. I feel that Tolstoy contradicts himself somewhat there, for he says that Napoleon did the stupidest thing he possibly could do but he is not stupid.
So, why do you think that Napoleon made these decisions? Do you think he was not the genius Tolstoy and most people make him out to be? Or do you think he made some bad decisions at the wrong times? Or could he not have influenced their success because the winter would have defeated them anyways? I have so many questions about the portrayal of Napoleon during this time period as well as what Tolstoy believes influenced the retreat of the French.