"on the 26th the battle of Borodino itself took place"

 A witness at the Battle of Borodino (French: Bataille de la Moskova) said afterwards that "You who saw this battle have a fair idea of what hell must be like." An estimated 75,000 casualties fell, a number not exceeded until the First World War; the casualties included General Bagration, who was mortally wounded during the battle, and is buried at the site. The French force of 133,000 men met the 120,000-strong Russian army in a badly planned, full-frontal assault that was both extremely bloody and ultimately inconclusive. Napoleon described it as the most terrible battle he ever fought. The fighting around the Raevsky Redoubt was particularly intense: it also became known as the 'Death Redoubt'. After the battle an officer from the Vistula Legion wrote that "the Raevsky Redoubt presented a gruesome sight. The redoubt and the area around it offered an aspect which exceeded the worst horrors one could ever dream of." The French eventually captured the redoubt at the cost of a great many lives on both sides.

It was the first major battle fought after Kutuzov was appointed commander-in-chief of the Russian army, so for him personally it was vital that Russia was not defeated; he claimed it as a victory, yet the night after the battle saw the Russian army retreating towards Moscow.

Tolstoy visited the battlefield of Borodino in 1876, while he was researching War and Peace. He stayed at the Saviour Borodino Monastery, which now houses an exhibition of artefacts related to his visit.

Read a detailed account of the battle.

'Get Ready to Trip': The Borodino Museum's website, approximately in English.