Napoleon´s route to Moscow: On the heels of the fleeing Czar Alexander I, Napoleon entered Vilnius on June 28 and remained there for twenty days. Then he resumed his march to Moscow...
On September 14, 1812, Napoleon was surprised to have received no delegation at all from the city authorities. Thus, Napoleon sent his a commission of aides to seek out authorities in order to make arrangements for the French occupation of Moscow, but no one was found and the city was on fire. It was clear the Russians left the city unconditionally and with no resources to capture.
Napoleon's crossing of the Berezina
an 1866 painting by January Suchodolski oil on canvas, National Museum in Poznan.
Russian Count Rostopchin who at the sight of Napoleon's camp on the outskirts of the city, ordered to burn the Kremlin and other public buildings and churches.
Napoleon Leads His Troops to Moscow.
After Napoleon's victory at the Battle of Borodino, seven days before, Napoleon and his Grande Armée entered Moscow but found destroyed it by arson to Napoleon's troops found no supplies field. More than three quarters of Moscow were destroyed by fire.
The Moscow fire depicted by an unknown German artist.
This practice of "scorched earth" came into use much before Napoleon´s invasion to Russia. It was an old Russian military practice.
Napoleon retreating from the burning Moscow.