Napoleon's defeated soldiers buried in Lithuania

Soldiers at Antakalnis Cemetery in Vilnius, Lithuania (29 Nov 2010) The dead soldiers were part of Napoleon's defeated army that invaded Russia in 1812

The remains of 18 soldiers who took part in Napoleon Bonaparte's failed invasion of Russia in 1812 have been laid to rest in Lithuania.

Their skeletons were found in 2009 by workmen outside the capital, Vilnius.

A 500,000-strong force took part in Napoleon's Russian campaign which ended in a disastrous retreat from Moscow and most died of starvation and cold.

Tens of thousands died around Vilnius and their bodies were thrown into trenches originally dug by the French.

A mass burial of 3,500 members of Napoleon's Grand Army took place in 2003 but the remains of the 18 buried on Monday were found in a different area.

It is believed the men were part of Napoleon's infantry, hussar and dragoon units.

Napoleon himself escaped from Vilnius, deserting his men, only days before Russian forces recaptured the city.

Because the ground was frozen, Russian troops were unable to dig graves for their dead counterparts and threw their corpses into trenches.

The ceremony took place at a cemetery close to Vilnius and was attended by a small number of diplomats, officials and soldiers from both France and Lithuania.

One of the most celebrated figures in history, Napoleon Bonaparte rose throughout the French military and crowned himself emperor 1804.

Although his expansive military campaigns were eventually defeated, he revolutionised military organisation and training and brought about reforms that permanently influenced civil institutions in France and throughout Europe.

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