Thousands in Belarus reenact Napoleonic Wars battle


Men dressed as 1812-era Russian and French soldiers re-enact a staged battle in the town of Borisov, 70 km (44 miles) east of Minsk, Belarus, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, to mark the 207th anniversary of the Berezina battle during Napoleon’s army retreat from Russia. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

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BORISOV, Belarus (AP) — Thousands of people have taken part in a reenactment of the Battle of Berezina, one of the major clashes of the Napoleonic Wars.

Reenactors were in full period costume for the event Sunday near the city of Borisov in Belarus.

The battle took place in late November 1812 as Napoleon’s army was retreating from its invasion of Russia.

Napoleon had aimed to retreat into Poland by crossing the Berezina River, which was expected to be frozen at the time. However, the river had not frozen over and the nearest bridge had been destroyed, leaving the French forces potentially trapped.

However, army engineers and soldiers were able to rapidly build two bridges across the river, working in frigid water and risking hypothermia. The French were able to retreat, but suffered heavy losses estimated at as many as 25,000.

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