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==Background==
 
==Background==
   
Upon learning of the French defeat at Polotsk, Victor, the commander of the French IX corps which Napoleon had kept in reserve at Smolensk, marched northeast with 22,000 troops to restore the Dwina Line. At [[Chashniki]], on the Ulla River, he united with elements of the II Corps, which was retreating from Polotsk. The combined II and IX corps put 36,000 troops at Victor's disposal.<ref name="Riehn, page 360">Riehn, page 360</ref>
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Upon learning of the French defeat at Polotsk, Victor, the commander of the French IX corps which Napoleon had kept in reserve at Smolensk, marched northeast with 22,000 troops to restore the Dwina Line. At [[Chashniki]], on the Ulla River, he united with elements of the II Corps, which was retreating from Polotsk. The combined II and IX corps put 36,000 troops at Victor's disposal.<ref name="Riehn, page 360">Riehn, page 360</ref>
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Wittgenstein, after leaving 9,000 soldiers to garrison territory captured as a result of his victory at Polotsk, marched south to Chashniki with 30,000 troops to deal with Victor.<ref name="Riehn, page 360"/>
 
Wittgenstein, after leaving 9,000 soldiers to garrison territory captured as a result of his victory at Polotsk, marched south to Chashniki with 30,000 troops to deal with Victor.<ref name="Riehn, page 360"/>
   
 
==Action==
 
==Action==
   
The combat at Chashniki was conducted chiefly by Wittgenstein's advance guard, 11,000 troops led by General [[Lev Mikhailovich Yashvil|Yashvil]], and the II Corps on the French side.<ref>Smith (2004), page 175</ref>
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The combat at Chashniki was conducted chiefly by Wittgenstein's advance guard, 11,000 troops led by General [[Lev Mikhailovich Yashvil|Yashvil]], and the II Corps on the French side.<ref>Smith (2004), page 175</ref>
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The battle began with the Russians attacking the II Corps, which occupied a position in advance of the rest of Victor's troops. In the ensuing combat the Russians drove the French back toward Victor's rearward line.<ref name="Riehn, page 361">Riehn, page 361</ref> Upon encountering Victor's main position, Wittgenstein ordered Yashvil to halt, and then commenced an artillery bombardment against the French.<ref name="Riehn, page 361"/> Victor, apparently unnerved by Yashvil's successful advance, decided against continuing the battle, and retreated to [[Syanno|Senno]], 25 miles to the east.<ref name="Riehn, page 361"/> The Russians did not pursue.
 
The battle began with the Russians attacking the II Corps, which occupied a position in advance of the rest of Victor's troops. In the ensuing combat the Russians drove the French back toward Victor's rearward line.<ref name="Riehn, page 361">Riehn, page 361</ref> Upon encountering Victor's main position, Wittgenstein ordered Yashvil to halt, and then commenced an artillery bombardment against the French.<ref name="Riehn, page 361"/> Victor, apparently unnerved by Yashvil's successful advance, decided against continuing the battle, and retreated to [[Syanno|Senno]], 25 miles to the east.<ref name="Riehn, page 361"/> The Russians did not pursue.
   
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==Consequences==
 
==Consequences==
   
Although the Russian victory at Chashniki was indecisive, its outcome was highly unfavorable to [[Napoleon]] for several reasons.
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Although the Russian victory at Chashniki was indecisive, its outcome was highly unfavorable to [[Napoleon]] for several reasons.
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First, Victor's defeat amounted to a failure to reestablish the Dvina Line, which was his overriding objective. Second, Victor's new position at Senno was only 30 miles from Napoleon's intended line of retreat from Moscow, thus putting the [[Grande Armée]] within Wittgenstein's attacking range.<ref name="Riehn, page 343">Riehn, page 343</ref> Further, Wittgenstein's success increased the possibility that he could unite his command with the armies of [[Pavel Chichagov]] and Kutuzov, thus trapping the Grande Armée between three separate Russian forces.
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First, Victor's defeat amounted to a failure to reestablish the Dvina Line, which was his overriding objective. Second, Victor's new position at Senno was only 30 miles from Napoleon's intended line of retreat from Moscow, thus putting the [[Grande Armée]] within Wittgenstein's attacking range.<ref name="Riehn, page 343">Riehn, page 343</ref> Further, Wittgenstein's success increased the possibility that he could unite his command with the armies of [[Pavel Chichagov]] and Kutuzov, thus trapping the Grande Armée between three separate Russian forces.
Also, as a result of his victories at Polotsk and Chashniki, Wittgenstein dispatched a force under General Harpe to capture the massive French supply depot at Vitebsk. On November 7, after a short combat, the French garrison at Vitebsk surrendered to Harpe, and huge caches of foodstuffs and war material fell into Russian hands.<ref>Smith (1998), page 200</ref>
 
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The fall of Vitebsk was a severe blow to Napoleon because he had planned to quarter his battered Grande Armée there for the winter. Napoleon's plan to combine his main army with Victor's force at Vitebsk, where they would reequip themselves before beginning the campaign anew the following spring, was now broken.<ref>Cate, page 355</ref>
 
 
Also, as a result of his victories at Polotsk and Chashniki, Wittgenstein dispatched a force under General Harpe to capture the massive French supply depot at Vitebsk. On November 7, after a short combat, the French garrison at Vitebsk surrendered to Harpe, and huge caches of foodstuffs and war material fell into Russian hands.<ref>Smith (1998), page 200</ref>
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The fall of Vitebsk was a severe blow to Napoleon because he had planned to quarter his battered Grande Armée there for the winter. Napoleon's plan to combine his main army with Victor's force at Vitebsk, where they would reequip themselves before beginning the campaign anew the following spring, was now broken.<ref>Cate, page 355</ref>
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Upon learning of the Russian victory at Chashniki, Napoleon ordered Victor to immediately attack Wittgenstein again and recapture Polotsk.<ref name="Riehn, page 343"/> This led to yet another French defeat, the [[Battle of Smoliani]], on November 14, 1812.
 
Upon learning of the Russian victory at Chashniki, Napoleon ordered Victor to immediately attack Wittgenstein again and recapture Polotsk.<ref name="Riehn, page 343"/> This led to yet another French defeat, the [[Battle of Smoliani]], on November 14, 1812.
   

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