Bereslina, Or Berezina, a river of Russia, government of Minsk, rises in lat. 55° 10' N., lon. 27° 50' E., and flows S. E. through a level country, and empties into the Dnieper above Retchitza. By the canal which connects it with the Diina the Baltic communicates with the Black sea. The river is memorable for the battle fought upon its banks in November, 1812. The army of Napoleon on its retreat from Moscow, hard pressed by KutuzofT and Wittgenstein, was about to cross the river by the bridge at Borisov, but found that it was in the possession of the Russians under Tchitcha-goff. Napoleon then constructed two bridges at Studienka, a small village N. W. of Borisov. In the afternoon of the 26th the passage was commenced, and continued through the 27th undisturbed by the enemy. On the morning of the 28th the Russians attacked the French in force. The remnants of the corps commanded by Oudinot, Ney, and Davoust fought with desperation, and gradually made their way across, but the Russians succeeded in establishing a battery of 12 guns which commanded the bridge.
Very great confusion and loss of life was caused among the French, especially in the unfortunate rear guard commanded by Victor. Many sick and wounded soldiers and stragglers remained upon the left bank, but on the morning of the 29th preparations were made by the French to burn the bridge. After it had been set on fire, those who remained behind rushed upon it and perished in the flames or in the river. It is said that when the ice broke up in the spring 12,000 bodies of the French were found upon the banks. The Russians took about 15,000 prisoners.