Europe 1812: French invasion of Russia
In June 1812, having amassed a Grande Armée of over 400,000 men, Napoleon crossed the Niemen river into Russia. However, the Russians refused to give the French Emperor the decisive battle he desired and instead retreated eastwards into the country’s vast interior.
5 Apr 1812 Treaty of Saint Petersburg▲
Antagonized by Napoleon’s actions against them, the Russian Empire and the Kingdom of Sweden concluded a secret treaty at Saint Petersburg on 5 April 1812 (24 March in the Russian calendar). The two countries mutually guaranteed their territorial integrity and the Swedes agreed to supply troops in the event of war with France. Russia also agreed that Sweden could annex Norway as compensation for its loss of Finland in 1809.
28 May 1812 Treaty of Bucharest▲
By the spring of 1812 war between Napoleonic France and the Russian Empire seemed inevitable, persuading the Russians to end their six-year-long war with the Ottoman Empire on relatively lenient terms. On 28 May 1812 Russian and Ottoman representatives signed a treaty in Manuc’s Inn, Bucharest. In return for peace the Ottomans ceded Bessarabia to Russia and recognized the Russian annexation of western Georgia, but regained control of the other Balkan and Caucasus territories seized by the Russians during the war.
18 Jun 1812 Outbreak of War of 1812▲
On 1 June 1812 the United States president James Madison sent a message to Congress recounting US grievances against Britain, most notably to do with its naval blockade. Despite unanimous opposition by the 39 Federalists in Congress, the House of Representatives voted 79 to 49 in favor of a declaration of war on Britain, which was backed by the Senate 19 to 13. On 18 June Madison signed the declaration into law, marking the beginning of the War of 1812. However, Madison would not proclaim the declaration until the following day and the news would not reach London until July.
24 Jun 1812 French invasion of Russia▲
In the first half of 1812 Napoleon amassed some 400–450,000 soldiers from the French Empire and its allies in the Duchy of Warsaw and eastern Prussia, forming the Grande Armée. On 22 June he proclaimed that the “Second Polish War” had begun and two days later, after constructing pontoon bridges, he crossed the Niemen river into Russia in force. However, rather than oppose him as he had hoped, the 120,000 Russian troops in the area fell back, allowing the French to occupy their headquarters at Vilnius on the 28th.