Some of the more attractive incidents described in the following story — the stuffing of windows and doorways with the bodies of the dead, the scientists engaged in research while fighting rages around them, the officer attending to his wig — these all did happen during Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, according to contemporary accounts.
It is also certainly true that the entire complement of the First Division of the Young Guard (General Berthezene’s command) were lost during the campaign in Russia. Of his six battalions (approx. 8,000 men), not a single soldier was left to answer in roll call.
Of the 50,000 that were the total of the Guard (the Young, Middle and Old combined), 1,100 survived.
As for Napoleon’s death on the roof of a burning library outside Borodino — I’m absolutely sure that that happened. – D.M.