Today in History, June 24: 1812 – A bad idea. Napoleon Bonaparte invades Russia with his Grande Armee, 500,000 troops from France and other nations under French control, the largest army ever assembled to that time. The Russians would avoid major conflict, continuously retreating while burning all resources in Napoleon’s path. This is important because in those days armies had to live off the land. Napoleon managed to take Moscow…but the Russians burned their own capitol to deny the French food, housing and resources. Napoleon had no choice but to retreat……in the midst of the Russian winter. But now the Russians changed tactics…now they raided the retreating French army continuously…by the time Napoleon finally reached Russia’s borders (abandoning his army to return to Paris), over 400,000 of his army had starved to death or been killed.