Archaeologists in Poland say they have uncovered the bodies of soldiers believed to have been part of Napoleon’s doomed invasion of Moscow.
The remains were among those of some 350 individuals discovered in a forgotten graveyard, found after woodlands were cut back to create a new bypass at Olecko, in the far northeastern part of the country, according to the Polish Press Agency.
“Analysis of the bones of several men buried there shows changes characteristic of people who rode on horseback for much of their lives,” archaeologist Hubert Augustyniak told the Polish Press Agency.
Some 400,000 troops serving in Napoleon’s Grande Armée – many of them Poles hoping for the rebirth of their country – are estimated to have died during Napoleon’s Moscow campaign.
In June 1812 Napoleon and an army of 500,000 crossed the river Neman, near the Baltic Sea, with the goal of compelling Tsar Alexander I of Russia to remain in the Continental Blockade of the United Kingdom, and an underlying aim of keeping Russia from invading Poland.
Napoleon moved across Russia, winning a number of battles, including the massive Battle of Borodino in September 1812 near Moscow. Despite the victory, the French failed to finish off the Russian army, which retreated, and Napoleon and his men entered Moscow.