17 August, 1812
the advance to Moscow, Marshal
Oudinot was sent to guard the French Grande Armee's
left flank and, if he could, bring General
Ludwig Wittgenstein's 28,000 men to battle.
by General Gouvion St-Cyr,
Oudinot's force of 35,000 men then set about hunting down
their elusive quarry and finally managed to force combat
at Polotsk on the River Dvina.
was wounded on the 17th and was so incapacitated he had
to hand over command to St-Cyr.
performance was exemplary - he won his marshal's baton at
the battle - and his men threw the Russians back across
the river. The army's left flank was now secure.
French suffered some 6000 casualties, while Wittgenstein
lost 5500 men.