"easy successes gained by peasants and guerillas"

 As the French retreated they were harassed by smalls groups of Russian guerillas, either working independently or under orders from Kutuzov's army, which aimed to force the Grand Army back down the same burnt-out route through which they had already passed. Reacting to the invasion of their motherland, groups of Russian peasants and independent-minded mounted Cossacks spontaneously formed into disparate, disorganised groups that were nevertheless an effective means of undermining the French army.