One aspect that has had to be addressed is that warfare can, by its very nature, be a brutal affair. A 19th century battlefield at its core ultimately represents men attempting to kill, wound, capture or drive away each other using a multitude of weapons, and these would produce some terrible mutilations, especially from cannon fire. Whilst modestly attempting to portray the affair as it occurred, I nevertheless have ‘air-brushed’ out the very worse excesses.
And of course, behind the battle lie the considerable causalities of the whole 1812 Russian campaign, not forgetting the wrong inflicted on the civilian population caught up in the French line of advance.
The Russian armies were now combined under the command of the old general Prince Kutuzov and he decided (had he any choice?) to confront the French some 130 km west of Moscow. Earth fortifications were quickly erected and the armies clashed on the 5th September at the most westerly earthworks, the Shevardino redoubt. What should have been a relatively restricted action turned into a battle in its own right causing some 10,000 casualties. Thus many units engaged in the Fletches action were already blooded two days earlier. Napoleon stationed himself near the redoubt during the epic battle two days later.
The battle was not just the largest battle of the prolonged Napoleonic Wars but such was the degree of bloodletting that it was probably the highest causality rate for a one day action before the 20th century. Named by the French as The Moskova, the small area and sheer weight of casualties was unusual even for the time. Many generals were killed or wounded: of the two Russian generals, de Tolly had horses killed under him and all his immediate aide-de-camps killed or wounded, whilst Bagration was wounded in the leg whilst defending the Fletches. Despite the obvious preferences he would have received from the Russian medical services he died within the month.