On June 24, 1812, the Grande Armée of approximately 600,000 men, the largest army assembled up to that point in European history, crossed the river Neman and headed towards Moscow. In this episode, we focus on the first few months, and follow Napoleon as he captures Vilna, Vitebsk and Smolensk.

We examine why Napoleon was so confident that the campaign would be a short one and why he was so very, very wrong. We also discuss what was happening in the Russian camp and look at the political implications of their retreat.