|In late 2015 archaeologists excavated a mass grave in Vilnius, Lithuania. The jumbled bones, haphazardly oriented, were punctuated with finds of shoes and clothing. Buttons revealed the identity of the dead: over 40 different regiments were represented, all from Napoleon’s Grande Armée.|
Archaeologists had found the final resting place of over three thousand men who perished during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow in 1812.
|About 675,000 men of Napoleon's Grand Army set out for Moscow to conquer Russia in June 1812, looting and pillaging along the way. By the time of the retreat from Moscow in September, the army, which had swelled to 900,000, was reduced to 100,000.|
|When the retreating troops reached Vilnius in Lithuania, Napoleon's Grand Army was not so grand: they had been reduced to about 50,000 vermin-bitten, diseased, cold, and starving men.|
|As the European soldiers died of starvation, disease and the cold, locals burned the bodies. But the stench was so great that the locals started burying them en masse, using trenches the soldiers had dug on their way to Russia as graves.|