Meeting of Napoleon and Alexander I in Tilsit, a 19th-century painting.
Napoleon I on the Borodino Heights, by Vasily Vereshchagin (1897)
Tsar Alexander I dismounted the economic blockade against the UK. Napoleon made the decision to go to war, because he had already beaten the Russians at Austerlitz and Friedland. If he could beat them again, he could save the Grand Duchy of Warsaw and then strengthened to go finally against Britain.
The Batte of Borodino
Napoleon managed to gather an army of about 600,000 soldiers. Napoleon called his army "Grande Armée". There was a bloody clash at Borodino on September 7, 1812, that forced the Russians to open the gates of Moscow.
Napoleon With His Troops At The Battle Of Borodino, 1812. Oil on canvas, private collection.
On September 15 Napoleon entered Moscow, but found it in flames. The Russians had completely burned everything so Napoleon's troops could not stock up on supplies. Napoleon believed in the principle that "war must supply the war." There were more deaths from cold and hunger than by bullets and bayonets.
Map showing the route of Napoleon's retreat from Moscow to Vilnius.
Piotr Ilich Tchaikovsky composed "The 1812 Overture" appreciated by incorporating sounds of war like the cannons and bells that run at the end.
Napoleon Bonaparte's Russian Campaign: The Patriotic War of 1812. There were more deaths from cold and hunger than by bullets and bayonets.
The work was completed thanks to Anton Rubinstein to be played in an exhibition in Moscow.
Watch 1812 Overture - Tchaikovsky (Full): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N0cpKzDoOdA