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The War of 1812 in Russia After Russians talk about the war of 1812 they do not signify the war in which Washington was burned by the British, but the war where, apparently, the Russians burned Moscow. This war between the French republican empire along with the Russian Tsarist Empire was as remarkable a large - spot in the background of this latter because it turned out to be a non - spot in the history of Napoleon. For Russia, it had been clearly one of those rare moments in history when nearly all individuals, serfs and lords, merchants and bureaucrats, set aside their enmities and realized that they were all Russians. Russia, occasionally called 'a nation with no people', seemed to become, for a few precious weeks, one folks, and never quite forgot the experience. Observing the French victory in Borodino, Napoleon put his sights on Moscow. The French army had awakened the seventy - five miles out of Borodino to Moscow with no immunity and found the city undefended and nearly deserted. Before sunrise on 14 September, French Marshal Murat had entered the city on the heels on the Russian army, which had been departing. By arrangement between the 2 sides, the Russian army left Moscow through a single gate while the French entered it via another. The first units to join the city on 14 September were that the cavalry of the advance - guard commanded by Murat. A number of these men had previously entered European towns as conquerors and recalled having spat between hedges of both men and women, frequently silent, protected, aggressive, often merely curious, often self indulgent - it'd occurred. Here, nothing. Despite the fine weather (that was shortly to change) the streets were still empty. Russian General Kutusov created the tricky choice to depart Moscow, "Provided that the military is and exists...