The Fluke That Thwarted an Invasion

Microbes are the omnipresent yet frequently unacknowledged adversary on the battlefield. Though microscopic in size, their very macroscopic effects can decimate armies, foil the best planned war initiatives, and change the course of history.

In one of the greatest military debacles in history, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812 failed on account of body lice and typhus, the bacterium they transmit. Of the 600,000 soldiers in his Grande Armée, a mere ten thousand escaped with their lives.

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