Napoleonic soldiers’ remains found in northern Poland
Archaeologists believe that the remains of soldiers who died after Napoleon’s doomed march on Moscow have been found during the creation of a new bypass at Olecko, north east Poland.
The skeletons of some 350 people were discovered in the forgotten graveyard, after woodland was cut back to lay the new road.
“Analysis of the bones of several men buried there shows changes characteristic of people who rode on horseback for much of their lives,” archaeologist Hubert Augustyniak told the Polish Press Agency.
About half of those buried were children, and experts believe that they were from the local village. Tests confirm that the villagers suffered from a poor diet and were exposed to hard labour.
A number of coins minted between the years 1710 and 1842 was also found at the site, as well as some jewellery and an iron cross.
It is believed that the soldiers’ uniforms were stolen.
Some 400,000 French troops – many of them Poles hoping for the complete rebirth of their country – are estimated to have died during Napoleon’s Moscow campaign.
Napoleon had created the so-called Duchy of Warsaw in 1807, and called the 1812 war his “second Polish campaign.”
However, the retreat from the Russian capital in the winter of 1812/1813 left victims strewn across much of Eastern Europe.
The defeat marked the beginning of the end both for Bonaparte and the empire that he had created.