Napoleon Bonaparte, a lowly citizen from Corsica, rose up to the greatest heights
based on personal merit and not on birth.
Napoleone Buonaparte (in Corsican language Nabolione) was born in 1769 in Corsica just 3 months
after this island had been defeated by France. Bonaparte would spend his childhood hating
France. His parents had 8 children (Bonaparte was the 2nd child).
Napoleon's height was recorded as 5 feet 2 inches in French feet, making him slightly taller
than an average man of the 19th century. After the battle of Lodi Napoleon's troops gave him
the affectionate nickname Le Petit Corporal "The Little Corporal" (he sighted a cannon, usually it was job for
Young Bonaparte would spend his childhood hating France.
'I was born when [Corsica] was perishing. Thirty thousand Frenchmen spewed on to our shores, drowning the throne of liberty in waves of blood... The cries of the dying, the groans of the oppressed and tears of despair surrounded my cradle from the hour of my birth.'
After the French victory, many Corsican rebels fled to the mountains, where they continued to fight on.
At age nine, Napoleon was admitted to a French military school at Brienne-le-Chateau. He had to learn to speak French before entering the school, but he spoke with a marked Italian accent throughout his life and never learned to spell properly. He earned high marks in mathematics and geography, and passable grades in other subjects. Upon graduation from Brienne in 1784, Bonaparte was admitted to the elite Ecole Royale Militaire in Paris, where he completed the two year course of study in only one year. Although he had initially sought a naval assignment, he studied artillery at the École Militaire. (source: wikipedia.org)
In 1785 he was commissioned in the artillery. Through the help of fellow Corsican Saliceti, he was appointed as artillery commander of troops besieging Toulon, which had risen in revolt against the Republic and was occupied by British troops. The 24-years old Bonaparte with his artillery destroyed 10 English ships anchored in Toulon's harbor and bravely led his men in the assault on the fort guarding the city. He seized several earthworks and bombarded the British warships and troops, forcing them to sail away. In 1796 he wasted no time puting Austrians to the sword in Italy (see picture). After series of quick victories at Montenotte, Mondovi, Arcola and Rivoli he became a force to be reckoned with. He had delivered glory beyond expectation to France and enemy's generals got a cold sweat over his presence in battles.
Prussia has Frederick the Great.
The World has Napoleon."
Not Russia, Britain, Austria could defeat him alone.
It required combined forces of all the countries, many bloody campaigns and numerous
coalitions to remove him from power. The Allies got their ears beaten down over their socks many times.
In 1805 Napoleon made a mug of Austrian general Mack, in 1807 he dummied Russian commander
Bennigsen, in 1809 the British under general Moore fled before him to the sea.
In the flight the Brits lost their shoes. Ox-carts full of wounded and dying were abandoned by the
roadside. "The track was littered for mile after mile with discarded equipment and knapsacks,
and the forlorn dead and dying." (Haythorntwaite - "Wellington's Infantry (1)" p 36)
Napoleon's tactic blew off the doors, boot, roof and bonnet, the whole bloody lot. During 1805-1811 Allies commanders were left sprawling on the floor as Napoleon jigged away in celebration. He created new countries and made kings, and would have brought the house down if the Russians and harsh winter had not finished his half-million strong Grand Army. Napoleon's tactics and strategies are studied in many military schools and academies around the World. This is the best testimony to his military and political greatness and his genius.
Napoleon was a charismatic commander and a great battle captain, he imposed his genius and personality on his army and inspired his troops, veterans and recruits, Frenchmen and foreign alike, with fierce pride, loyalty and devotion. The impression which he made by his presence, can be described by no other term that that of grandeur. When a French band serenaded the Emperor, they vested their patriotic air with the essence of their hearts and souls - for this man seemed the very embodiment of the cause for which they happily risked their lives. As the Emperor on horseback reviewed the regiments, the troops greeted him with mounting enthusiasm. The shouts of the soldiers, thousands upon thousands of them even drowned out the music of the regimental bands, whose members were playing their hearts out, sounding the glorious marches of the Empire. Everyone made an effort to get close enough to see HIM. The infantry raised their shakos aloft on the points of their bayonets, the cavalry brandished their sabers and lances. From every section of the battlefield arose a mighty roar: "Vive l'Empereur !" The troops were practically delirious.
Even the enemies were fascinated with him. Captain Mercer of the British Royal Artillery admitted that deep down he "had often longed to see Napoleon, that mighty man of war - that astonishing genius who had filled the world with his renown." "Anyone who was not alive in the time of Napoleon cannot imagine the extent of the moral ascendency he exerted over the minds of his contemporaries.," wrote a Russian officer, adding that every soldier, whatever side he was on, instinctively conjured a sense of limitless power at the very mention of his name..." German officer von Wedel agreed, "The aura of his greatness subjugated me as well, and giving way to enthusiasm and admiration, I like the others, shouted Vive l'Empereur !" (Zamoyski - "Moscow 1812" p 85, publ. by HarperCollins, UK)
was nothing short of rapturous.
It was well worth seeing how
he talked to the soldiers..."
- de Rémusat
"He knew how 'to speak to the soul' of his officers and men. Partly he used material
rewards and incentives - titles, medals, awards; partly he resorted to deliberate theatrical
meausures to bend men to his will; but above all there was the sheer power of personality
or charisma that emanated from his large, grey eyes which so many of his contemporaries
described. He was a master of man-management. The least word of praise was treasured
unto death by the recipient; the slightest rebuke could reduce a hardened grenadier to tears.
Ministers and marshals wondered at the breadth of his intellect; ordinary citizens and
soldierly became willing propagators of his legend. "He had been a soldier all his life, climbing from sous-lieutenant to emperor, so the
professional bond with his troops was profound. To his veterans 'emperor' was a military rank above 'general' or 'marshal'. Soldiers
never addressed him as 'Your Majesty' or 'Sire' but always 'Mon Empereur'. He seldom forgot a face, never a kindness."
(Adkin - "The Waterloo Companion" p 77)
In 1812 Napoleon stopped in front of Italian Officer Calosso, and said few words to him. The brave Colosso wrote about that special day: "Before that, I admired Napoleon as the whole army admired him. From that day on, I devoted my life to him with a fanaticism which time has not weakened. I had only one regret, which was that I only had one life to place at HIS service."
All feared his rages; all admired his abilities and application, for no subject seemed beyond his powers. His memory appeared limitless, as did his capacity for applied hard work. This combination of qualities set him apart from other men, and accounts in large measure for their willingness to accept his will, and even die in execution of his orders. 'So it is', recalled the war-hardened General Vandamme, 'that I, who fear neither God nor devil, tremble like a child at his approach." (Chandler: "Waterloo - the hundred days" pp 39-40)
Napoleon scared the living daylights out of the European rulers. When in 1809 Spanish victory over a French general at Baylen sent shockwaves across Europe, and had battered French prestige, infuriated Napoleon acted swiftly. He activated all his troops in Germany and called up conscripts from the classes of 1806-1810. These actions produced sober second thoughts all around Europe. Austria moderated her language and her armament, Prussia signed a peace treaty on French terms, Russia was happy to renew her treaty of alliance and mutual defence with Napoleon.
is that he thought big....
He was outthinking his opponents
at any given level."
- British author Christopher Duffy
The emperors, kings and
princes were shaken, their armies and best generals were defeated, their countries were
conquered, their capitols were captured. Within just few years he ruled the entire France and half of the
European Continent as no other man in history.
France became the first world power, in 1812 it had 134 Deparetments. Among them the
department of Leman, with Geneva as capital, the department of Rome, capital Rome,
the department of the Zuyder-Zee, capital Amsterdam, and the department of the Lower Elbe,
capital Hamburg. She had counted as vassals states the kingdoms and duchies of Italy, Spain,
majority of Germany and Poland.
The aristocratic Europe kept an anxious eye on the new and very strong France. The priviledged classes rallied round the kings and emperors who felt their thrones menaced. England had no army but plenty of money, Russia had a huge army and no money. Both hated Napoleon and the powerful, in good order and well governed France.
Napoleon wrote: "We need a European code, a European court of appeals, a universal currency, a uniform system of weights and measeres, a code of laws. I must forge the peoples of Europe into one people." But the kings and Emperors of Europe were quick to see the danger to their thrones. Feudalism, system of financial and judicial privileges for the aristocracy, was common in Europe at the beginning of Napoleon's reign, and was practically non-existent at the end. Napoleon also:
- improved educational system
- improved administartion
- granted freedom of worship for all denominations
- encouraged industrialization
- encouraged and sponsored the sciences and arts
- brought the smallpox vaccination to the continent
- encouraged the use of gas lighting
- serfdom was abolished even in countries allied with Napoleon, like Duchy of Warsaw
- opened careers to talented people, not caring if they were peasant or noble
- instituted the metric system, which has had a profound influence on the world
Napoleon's attitude toward blacks is explained in Napoleon's secret instructions to General Leclerc. (October 31, 1801) "Instructions on internal policy relating to the blacks and their leader: The French nation will never give irons to men it had recognized as free. Therefore all the blacks will live in St. Domingue as they are today in Guadeloupe. "
France had become the cynosure of Europe in terms of culture and political thought. The French political and military classes saw themselves as La Grande Nation, the first nation in Europe to have emancipated itself, and considered themselves to be armed with a mission to carry the benefits of what they had achieved to other peoples. They began to see France as the next Rome, from which the new ideological civilisation radiated, the capital of the modern world. "The French Empire shall become the metropolis of all other sovereignties," Napoleon once said to a friend. In 1812 France's position was one of unprecedented power.
was the greatest general answered:
"In this age, in past ages,
in any age, Napoleon."
On April 20, 1814 the Emperor of France bid farewell to the soldiers of his Old Guard.
Tears trickled down their cheeks and they struggled to maintain composure (see picture)
when he said :
"Soldiers of my Old Guard, I bid you farewell. For twenty years I have constantly accompanied you on the road to honor and glory. ... Don't regret my fate... Adieu, my friends. Would I could press you all to my heart." After Napoleon' abdication in 1814 a congress met in Vienna. Its purpose was to redraw the map of Europe. When the eagle was silent, the parrots began to jabber.
When Napoleon died his body was brought from St. Helena to France and numerous veterans were waiting in the Hotel des Invalides. These lads dressed in the old uniforms came to receive him. "Amid the pomp and funeral splendor of that day, nothing moved the Parisians more than the appearance of these old soldiers as they stood on each side of the entrance of the church to receive the body of their old commander. The last time they saw him was on the field of battle. The past came back in such a sudden and overwhelming tide when they saw the coffin approach, that struck dumb with grief, they fell on their knees and stretched out their hands towards it, while tears rolled silently down their scarred visages."
To be able to rise to power in France, to build such a large army and empire over such a
very very short amount of time and to have such an influence over such a wide area,
is nothing short of brilliant ! Napoleon's meteoric rise shocked not only France but
all of World. Even in countries such as Germany, Austria, Russia
and Britain, which frequently were his adversaries, Napoleon has remained an admired figure,
if sometimes grudgingly.
The very name, Napoleon still enthralls. Napoleon was an extraordinary man but a self-made man. Ever since this towering genius conquered Europe, he has been endlessly debated, compared, and made an icon. It was Napoleon himself who helped to create this legend, and of course, the legend lives on. The events of his life fired the imaginations of great writers (some 250,000 volumes in all since Napoleon's death !) and film makers, whose works have done much to create the Napoleonic legend. He has been the subject of more biographies to date than any other human being except Jesus Christ.
Napoleon's legacy is the modernising of Paris, the official promotion of religious tolerance, the current French legal and educational systems, and the European Union, to name but a few Napoleonic initiatives. After Napoleon there was no turning back: feudalism was dead, society was secularized, the modern nation state replaced the dynastic state, and the bourgeoisie became the new class of privilege and status.
Napoleon's selling Louisiana for USA has had a huge impact for our country (USA). In the countries he conquered or the states he created, Napoleon granted constitutions, introduced law codes, abolished feudalism, created efficient governments and fostered education, science, literature and the arts. Napoleon, like Alexander the Great and Julius Ceaser, before him were men of ambition. But he also promoted ambition and merit among his soldiers and officers. Napoleon institutionalized the practice of rewarding an individual on the sole basis of his merit instead of his social origin. This was a policy inspired by the Revolution and solidified in the Marshallate and the Legion of Honor.
Bonaparte can be accused of failing to create a long lasting peace, but the study of his enemies and their policies prove there were other guilty parties: England, Russia, Prussia and Austria. Napoleon was not a modest individual, he was not a peacemaker and he was not morally clean. But all of the European powers sought expansion as an end in itself. History proves that although Britain declaimed so loudly against Napoleon's grasping spirit, she has since acquired more territory than she ever charged him with conquering. Russian monarch, Alexander, was implicated in the murder of his father. The presidents of USA, Washington and Jefferson owned slaves.
Did Napoleon secure the "triumph of the Revolution," as Thiers put it, or, on the contrary, "were the principles of the Revolution ... perfectly forgotten during his reign," as Michelet claimed. Historians who have attempted to make sense of the Napoleonic legacy are confronted with a regime whose actions often seem contradictory. Napoleon boasted of having ended the Revolution in France, even as he endeavored to spread it abroad. His rule was monarchical in all but name, but, master of the plebiscite, he invoked the national will as the source of his legitimacy. Through his famous Code, he consolidated the basic legal framework of the Revolution, even as he routinely violated the fundamental civil liberties proclaimed in 1789 - freedom from arbitrary detention, freedom of the press, and others. Given the ambiguous legacy, it is understandable that recent scholars of the regime have resorted to ambiguous formulations in attempting to characterize it. According to Jean Tulard, Napoleonic society was a fragile compromise, wavering between "a return to the past, a continuation of the present, or a preparation for the future." For Martyn Lyons, the regime embodied a "contradictory mixture of the ancient and the modern." And Louis Bergeron concluded that, "paradoxically, Napoleon was both behind and ahead of his time, the last of the enlightened despots and a prophet of the modern state." (Blaufarb - "The French Army 1750-1820")
he stands alone in a desert
and jackals piss at his feet
and writers climb up on him."
- Gustave Flaubert
According to Julius Caesar (see picture), the nations and armies are like individuals,
go through times of being more courageous or less so, according to circumstances and times.
The Frenchman and the Hungarian, the Englishman and the Italian, the Russian and the German,
under certain circumstances, may be equally good and efficient soldiers; but, in spite of a uniform system of drill,
which appears to level all distinctions, every one will be good in his own way, by virtue of qualities different from those
possessed by his rivals.
This brings us to a question but too often mooted between the military patriots of different
nationalities: which are the best soldiers ? Every people is jealous of its own fame; and, in the opinion of the general public,
fed by narratives which, whatever they may lack in critical exactness, are amply adorned
with high patriotic coloring.
Emperor Napoleon and His Battle-Hardened Generals, by Meissonier.
The French Army
On the French soldiers: "They identified their own fortunes with those of Napoleon. To be in the service of Napoleon was a way of life for many young men. Their memoirs are not punctuated neither with the floggings which characterize the memoirs of British soldiers (Morris, Costello and many others) nor with running the gauntlet as it was in the Russian army."
For example during British retreat to Coruna (1808) 2 stragglers were awarded with 100 lashes each, while a third man who grumbled at the punishment was awarded 300 lashes. Nightfall prevented the punishmant from being carried out, but the following day the grumbler was given his lashes.
On picture: piles of dead and wounded Frenchmen and Russians
in and around Raievski Redoubt. The French also called it "The Death Redoubt". Borodino
was the bloodiest battle of Napoleonic Wars.
The morale of the army grew by the second as the word of Napoleon's presence swept across the battlefield.
In May 1813 at Lutzen Napoleon passed amongst his young troops, allowing them to see he had arrived and electryfying them with his presence.
Cries of "Vive l'Empereur !" rang out in the ranks. Even the wounded cried "Vive l'Empereur !" as they lay
awaiting the hour of their death.
The 105th Line Regiment was noted for its fanaticism; during the Belgian Campaign, the soldiers had assaulted and demolished a newly constructed house decorated with paintings of the Bourbon lillies and the
local authorities had been obliged to arrest the owner in order to calm the soldiers' fury.
Under Napoleon the French had the burning, aggressive desire to be in the thick of the action,
a desire which gave rise to an attitude which scorned as une tactique si peu brillante
the refusal by Wellington or Kutuzov to give battle without the likelihood of victory.
The prolonged avoidance of the head-on clash was conduct alien to the temperament of the
When the Young Guard began its assault at Lutzen, the order was given by Marshal Mortier.
His order was greeted by the roar of a thousand
voices shouting "Vive l'Empereur !" They then marched on Gross Gorschen as irresistible
as the ocean, sweeping everything before them.
The men under Napoleon had the worthy desire to distinguish themselves in a violent action.
De Rosnay joined the army in 1799 and within few months participated in several battles,
could count 5 wounds and became captain. At Austerlitz he received his 8th wound, a
shattered arm. In 1813, with 11 wounds, a musket ball lodged under his eye and citations
for bravery he was promoted to general in the Young Guard !
In 1806 a sergeant of 5th Hussar Regiment, man of truly martial appearance had
his arm shattered by a Prussian cannon-ball. His uniform was covered in blood but
he didn't cease telling the cavalry "Come on ... the Prussians are not all that bad !"
Another hussar, Guindey, received a frightful cut across his face before he killed the
Prince of Prussia in an one-on-one fight with just one thrust to his chest.
When in 1807 at Eylau Russian cavalry and
Cossacks surrounded the horse grenadiers of Napoleon's Guard and called for surrender, Gen. Lepic
responded: "Take a look at these faces and see if they want to surrender !"
Then he shouted to his lads "Follow me !" and set off at the gallop back through enemy lines.
In March 1814 a major of horse grenadiers, battle hardened veteran, was wounded at the battle
of Craonne. He had his foot carried away by a cannon-ball and the surgeon had to amputate his
leg. During the extremely painful operation, "which he bore with great courage, the man
called out "Vive l'Empereur!" and lost consciousness.
In June 1812 the French engineers began to raise the pontoon bridge across the Niemen River.
At the sight of the crossing, a small group of Polish uhlans spurred their mounts forward
into the river, hoping to seize the honor of being the first to be on Russian soil.
Unfortunately, the current proved too swift and they were quickly swept downstream
, engulfed by the water. As the uhlans slipped beneath its waters they were clearly
heard to cry: "Vive l'Empereur !"
The soldiers died or got wounded, all for France and the Emperor, their idol and master.
Marshal Oudinot had 32 wounds, of which he only considered 19 to have been grave enough to be worth mentioning in his etats de service.
General Houchard had been wounded 48 times (!), General Achard 28, Rapp 26 and Grouchy 25.
Colonel Chipault of the 4th Cuirassiers had received 56 sabre cuts in 1807 at Heilsberg.
The bravest men were awarded and/or promoted to higher rank.
Often on his name-day
Napoleon gave a number of dowries to be distributed among marriageable girls whose fathers
had died in battle leaving no inheritance. Napoleon's soldiers however were not angels.
They got drunk (quite often), sometimes they robbed the civilians or raped the Spanish nuns.
The chasseurs had a interesting way of obtaining alcohol when they wanted it.
"There is no brandy left. Who's going to catch a goddam ?" -
and the chasseurs would take turns to capture an English soldier with his supply of alcohol
"he always carried." Gen. Lasalle asked Emperor when he will get command of the Guard cavalry.
Napoleon replied: "When Lasalle no longer drinks, no longer smokes and no longer swears..."
On picture: piles of dead and wounded Frenchmen and Russians in and around Raievski Redoubt. The French also called it "The Death Redoubt". Borodino was the bloodiest battle of Napoleonic Wars.
The morale of the army grew by the second as the word of Napoleon's presence swept across the battlefield. In May 1813 at Lutzen Napoleon passed amongst his young troops, allowing them to see he had arrived and electryfying them with his presence. Cries of "Vive l'Empereur !" rang out in the ranks. Even the wounded cried "Vive l'Empereur !" as they lay awaiting the hour of their death. The 105th Line Regiment was noted for its fanaticism; during the Belgian Campaign, the soldiers had assaulted and demolished a newly constructed house decorated with paintings of the Bourbon lillies and the local authorities had been obliged to arrest the owner in order to calm the soldiers' fury. Under Napoleon the French had the burning, aggressive desire to be in the thick of the action, a desire which gave rise to an attitude which scorned as une tactique si peu brillante the refusal by Wellington or Kutuzov to give battle without the likelihood of victory.
The prolonged avoidance of the head-on clash was conduct alien to the temperament of the French troopers. When the Young Guard began its assault at Lutzen, the order was given by Marshal Mortier. His order was greeted by the roar of a thousand voices shouting "Vive l'Empereur !" They then marched on Gross Gorschen as irresistible as the ocean, sweeping everything before them. The men under Napoleon had the worthy desire to distinguish themselves in a violent action. De Rosnay joined the army in 1799 and within few months participated in several battles, could count 5 wounds and became captain. At Austerlitz he received his 8th wound, a shattered arm. In 1813, with 11 wounds, a musket ball lodged under his eye and citations for bravery he was promoted to general in the Young Guard ! In 1806 a sergeant of 5th Hussar Regiment, man of truly martial appearance had his arm shattered by a Prussian cannon-ball. His uniform was covered in blood but he didn't cease telling the cavalry "Come on ... the Prussians are not all that bad !" Another hussar, Guindey, received a frightful cut across his face before he killed the Prince of Prussia in an one-on-one fight with just one thrust to his chest. When in 1807 at Eylau Russian cavalry and Cossacks surrounded the horse grenadiers of Napoleon's Guard and called for surrender, Gen. Lepic responded: "Take a look at these faces and see if they want to surrender !" Then he shouted to his lads "Follow me !" and set off at the gallop back through enemy lines. In March 1814 a major of horse grenadiers, battle hardened veteran, was wounded at the battle of Craonne. He had his foot carried away by a cannon-ball and the surgeon had to amputate his leg. During the extremely painful operation, "which he bore with great courage, the man called out "Vive l'Empereur!" and lost consciousness. In June 1812 the French engineers began to raise the pontoon bridge across the Niemen River. At the sight of the crossing, a small group of Polish uhlans spurred their mounts forward into the river, hoping to seize the honor of being the first to be on Russian soil. Unfortunately, the current proved too swift and they were quickly swept downstream , engulfed by the water. As the uhlans slipped beneath its waters they were clearly heard to cry: "Vive l'Empereur !" The soldiers died or got wounded, all for France and the Emperor, their idol and master. Marshal Oudinot had 32 wounds, of which he only considered 19 to have been grave enough to be worth mentioning in his etats de service. General Houchard had been wounded 48 times (!), General Achard 28, Rapp 26 and Grouchy 25. Colonel Chipault of the 4th Cuirassiers had received 56 sabre cuts in 1807 at Heilsberg. The bravest men were awarded and/or promoted to higher rank. Often on his name-day Napoleon gave a number of dowries to be distributed among marriageable girls whose fathers had died in battle leaving no inheritance. Napoleon's soldiers however were not angels. They got drunk (quite often), sometimes they robbed the civilians or raped the Spanish nuns. The chasseurs had a interesting way of obtaining alcohol when they wanted it. "There is no brandy left. Who's going to catch a goddam ?" - and the chasseurs would take turns to capture an English soldier with his supply of alcohol "he always carried." Gen. Lasalle asked Emperor when he will get command of the Guard cavalry. Napoleon replied: "When Lasalle no longer drinks, no longer smokes and no longer swears..."
British beef and German sausage might create specialists
in the art of standing still under fire but the mercurial
Frenchman could not be so inhibited."
- P. Griffith "Military Thought ..."
"Yes, the French soldier is everywhere acknowledged
On picture: General Dorsenne and the Grenadiers of Old Guard under heavy artillery fire. Dorsenne "could turm his back to the enemy under the heaviest fire and give his orders cooly, without concern for what went on behind him." When cannonballs killed his third horse and third time he picked himself up he spat out "Bunglers !" dusted himself off and mounted his forth horse. The Old Guard feared and adored him.
The wars ended and the veterans returned to their homes. They looked like some old ruffians grown gray in blood and violence and scowling on all the world. After Napoleonic Wars, one of the officers of the Old Guard, Noisot, had erected at his own expense a bronze monument to Napoleon. According to Mark Adkin he arranged to be buried standing up a few yards "so that he could continue to stand guard for eternity." When the Emperor died many refused to believe it. Rumours said Napoleon had landed at Ostend. "Where are you going ?" asked the wife of a veteran when he pulled on his grenadier uniform. "To him !" was the instant response. (Adkin "The Waterloo Companion" p 415)
The French Army.
Napoleon's French Infantry (200 Regiments).
Napoleon's Foreign Infantry.
Napoleon's French Artillery (15 Regiments).
Napoleon's French Cavalry (100 Regiments).
Napoleon's Guard Infantry (40 Regiments)
Napoleon's Guard Cavalry (15 Regiments)
Napoleon's Guard Artillery (3 Regiments)
Forward ! Vive l'Empereur !
The Poles went out and f*****n showed what they got attitude.
For the charge at Somosierra they were admitted to Old Guard.
"From then on they were a legendary regiment."
- J. Elting "Swords Around a Throne"
Army of Duchy of Warsaw
The French Iron Marshal "Davout supervised the creation of the Polish army." (Esposito, Elting "A Military History
and Atlas of the Napoleonic Wars.")
The Poles were well trained and devoted to Napoleon. According to George Nafziger (USA) they were "Napoleon's staunchest ally." Why did
they were so devoted to Napoleon ? Well, consider how hard a proud and ancient people fight
when they have no homeland of their own, and they feel that following one man, is their best
chance to get one. In 1814 when many Frenchmen abandoned Napoleon and gave up fighting, "Gen. Krasinski who commanded the Polish lancers ... came forward
with his officers. As he took his leave of the Emperor he uttered these words, which do
the greatest credit to his nation: Sire, if you had mounted the throne of Poland,
you would have been killed upon it; but the Poles would have died at your feet to a man."
(According to French officer Charles Parquin).
2. The Fall of Poland and Disappearance From the Map of Europe.
3. Polish Army During The Napoleonic Wars.
. . . . . . . 1806-1808 Rebirth of the Polish Army.
. . . . . . . 1809 - Campaign Against Austria and the Battle of Raszyn.
. . . . . . . 1812 - Invasion of Russia.
. . . . . . . 1813 - Campaign in Saxony and the Battle of Leipzig.
. . . . . . . 1814 - Campaign in France.
Could put all men on earth to death !"
- French General Lasalle
3. Infantry: Uniforms, Strenght and Organization.
4. Artillery: Equipment, Uniforms and Organization.
5. Cavalry: Horses, Weapons, Uniforms, Organization and Best Regiments.
Lancers of Old Guard.
"Picadors of the Hell".
Blucher with Napoleon's hat shortly after Waterloo.
The Prussian Army.
It was through Frederick the Great military leadership that small Prussia became such a powerhouse, defeating the armies of Austria, Russia, and France in the true first world war, the Seven Years War. The small but aggressive Prussia influenced European history for decades to pass. In 1806 Napoleon crushed the fearsome Prussian military machine. But in 1813 Prussia rejoined the war against Napoleonic France. Her reward in 1815 at the Congress of Vienna was the recovery of her lost territories, as well as the whole of the Rhineland and Westphalia and some other territories. These territorial gains also meant the population of Prussia doubled. Prussia emerged from the Napoleonic Wars as the dominant power in Germany.
in the Prussian army. In the the US Staff College
Publication 1 is stated that "The modern general staff
was developed in Prussia during the XIXth century."
2. Prussian General Staff.
3. Decline of the Army.
4. Reforms of 1806-1813.
5. Prussian Army in 1812.
6. Prussian Army in 1813-1815.
Interview with Peter Hoefschroer.
Just Don't Mention the Prussians !
The Austrian Army.
Austrian army was the third largest in the World. Austria's position in the center of Europe
and her extensions imposed on the Latin, Slav and German world at the same time, have inevitably involved
her army in the wars which have ravaged Europe. The artillery and the Hungarian hussars were excellent. "... the Austrian army was the largest force continually engaged against the French ...
and carried most of the burden of the war on land. Though repeatedly defeated, it always
rose again..." - Gunther Rothemberg
and, imitating Hadik, emptied his pipe on Napoleon's throne."
- Dave Hollins, British historian
The Austrian Army.
Austrian Artillery and Engineers.
The Russian Army and Cossacks.
The most famous Russian monarch, Tsar Peter the Great, modernized and reorganized the Russian army along European lines. Russian army defeated their Swedish counterparts, who were generally regarded as being the finest troops in Europe. In 1800 the Russian army was as vast as the territory from which it was drawn. It was calculated that the regular army amounted to 400,000-500,000 men, plus 100,000 irregular cavalry. Inspired by the icons paraded by their priests before battle, the Russians were capable of astonishing feats and total, blind obedience to orders. The invasion of Russia led by Napoleon in 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. The campaign reduced the French and allied invasion forces to less than 2 % percent of their initial strength. One of Russian generals wrote : "The French fled in a manner in which no other army has ever fled in history." Russian victory in 1812 and Tsar's determination to continue the war in 1813 and 1814 "gave teeth to Britain's gold". Russia's military prestige was great. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then the Russians must have been most flattered when in 1815 the Prussian army adopted the style and design of Russian uniforms.
and with which no other can march,
starve, or suffer physical privations"
- Sir Robert Wilson
2. Supply System and Administration.
3. Medical Services.
7. Kutuzov: The Man Who Defeated Napoleon.
"Lord save us from the Cossacks !"
2. Campaigns in Western Europe.
4. Weapons and Organization.
The Imperial Guard.
The British Royal Navy and Army.
If Prussia was the poorest 'Great Power' of the era, Great Britain was, without doubt, the richest and economically
the most advanced. The Industrial Revolution, the British Empire and the Royal Navy's command of the sea meant that
Britain could spend vast sums on the war against Napoleon. (- Robert Mantle)
with volcanic passion, whom he variously described
as "pests" and "vermin".
Hayward - "For God and Glory"
1. The Royal Navy.
2. Admiral Nelson.
3. Victories and Defeats.
Part Two: Enemies of Britain.
4. The Spanish Navy.
5. The French Navy.
6. The Russian Navy.
they bear with them a haughty air of conscious superiority ..."
- Moyle Sherer
1. Great Britain: Populace, Politics and Military Expenditure.
2. The British Army: Strength, Deployment, and Training.
3. Three Commanders-in-Chief.
4. Privates and Officers.
1. British Infantry - "The Redcoats".
4. Foot Guard.
5. Light Infantry.
6. The Scots.
7. The Irish.
"Generally, a battle is an instance of combat in warfare between two or more parties wherein each group will seek to defeat the others. Battles are most often fought during wars or military campaigns and can usually be well defined in time, space and action. Wars and campaigns are guided by strategy whereas battles are the stage on which tactics are employed. German strategist Carl von Clausewitz stated that "the employment of battles to gain the end of war" was the essence of strategy." - wikipedia.org
should the student of military affairs be concerned with
the campaigns of Napoleon ?" - John Elting (US Army)
chessboard concepts of the art of war. Luck not favored Bonaparte,
the weather had clogged his operations, and the carelessness of his generals
and poor supplies invited disaster. Bonaparte's instinct for war had met
every challenge !
and a more bloody one it could not well have had."
- J. T. Headley
but had to withdraw towards Friedland the following day."
as mention of the charge of the [British] Light Brigade in London.
The flower of the nation's youth was thought to have perished
in a distant land for the sake of a courageous gesture."
Gates - "God's Playground...."
ignoring every position of strength at which he might
have turned and fought back successfully.
Destroying the army by his wild, precipitate retreat
he had become obsessed by his overwhelming anxiety to reach the sea."
defensive campaign ..." - Gunther E. Rothenberg
They finished the affair by chasing the landing force into the sea
and bagging the British general and 5 guns.
to the British infantry and cavalry at Waterloo !
the one I fought at Borodino."
- Emperor Napoleon
asking to be a single grenadier rather than marshal."
- George Nafziger
by Napoleon as scoundrels.
Unwilling to risk battle in such disadvantage,
he intended to withdraw, however Blücher forced him
to deploy and fight.
Battle of Vittoria, 1814 - British victory.
and where won Wellington was Vitoria. The other battle
of importance was at Baylen, being won by the Spaniards.
ran his eye over it, smiled ... and slipped it under his pillow.
Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep."
But they failed to do so and Blücher was defeated at Ligny.
At Quatre Bras Marshal Ney successfully stopped any of
Wellington's forces going to the aid of Blücher's Prussians
La Haye Sainte
d'Erlon's infnfantry columns
Blucher was no fool
Casualties at Waterloo
Attack of the Imperial Guard
"The lion in the fable tormented to death by a gnat
gives a true picture of the French army in Spain.”
- Abbé de Pradt
Uniforms During the Period of Napoleonic Wars.
Infantry Tactics and Combat - 1
2. Accuracy of Musket Fire.
3. Austerlitz's Climax - Massive Firefight on Pratzen Heights.
Infantry Tactics and Combat - 2
1. Bayonet Charges and Bayonet Fights.
2. Comparison of Wounds Caused by Bayonets and Other Weapons.
3. Grenadiers - The Masters of Bayonet.
Infantry Tactics and Combat - 3
Infantry Tactics and Combat - 4
2. French Tirailleurs.
3. Allies' Jagers, Grenzers, and Rifles.
Artillery Tactics and Combat
1. Cannons and Howitzers, Gun and Crew, Battery.
2. The 10 Largest Batteries of Napoleonic Wars.
4. Deployment of Guns.
5. Accuracy of Artillery Fire.
Cavalry Tactics and Combat - 1
1. Types of Cavalry, Organization.
3. Body Armor.
5. Tactical Formations.
6. Charge, Mêlée, and Pursuit.
7. The Best Cavalry.
Cavalry Tactics and Combat - 2
1. Cavalry Combat at Austerlitz (1805)
2. Cavalry Combat at Friedland (1807)
3. Cavalry Combat at Alt-Elgofsheim (1809)
4. Cavalry Combat at Drouia (1812)
5. Cavalry Combat at Liebertwolkwitz (1813)
The Cowards at Waterloo.
Prussian Order of Battle - Waterloo Campaign.
Prussian Troops in Belgium.
I Armee-Korps - GL Graf von Ziethen-II
II Armee-Korps - GM von Pirch-I
III Armee-Korps - GL Freiherr von Thielemann
IV Armee-Korps - GdI Count Bulow
Troops in Prussia.
V Armee-Korps - GL Yorck von Wartenbourg
VI Armee-Korps - GL Tauentzien von Wirtemberg
VII Armee-Korps [Garde] - GL Prinz von Mecklenberg-Strelitz
Allies Order of Battle - Waterloo Campaign.
1. I Corps - Lt-Gen. Prince Willem of Orange
2. II Corps - Lt-Gen. Sir Rowland Hill
3. Reserve Corps - Lt-Gen. Sir Thomas Picton
4. Cavalry Corps - Lt-Gen. Sir Henry Paget, 2nd Earl of Uxbridge
6. 'Bourbon Cavalry Corps' (made of Royalist and French deserters) new
Is Waterloo the most inportant battle in
1. Orders of Battle:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - French Imperial Guard in Germany, 15th May 1813
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - French armies in Spain, July 1811.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Russian 'Army of the Danube', 1812.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Russian 'Army of the Danube', Battle of Berezina 1812. n e w
2. Other Subjects:
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Letter from General Craddock to Lord Castlereagh, 30th January 1808
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Extract from a manuscript memoir by Cpt. Norton on Combat at Maya, 1813.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Russian Casualties at Borodino, 1812. n e w
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - The Saxon Army. n e w
120 Battles Between the French and British
in the Age of Modern Bayonet and Musket.
Battles 1715(1745)-1815 Between the Two Nations.
Uniforms of the
Russian Army, 1801-1815 n e w
Pictures by Oleg Parhaiev, Russia
Major Sharpe - The Best Soldier of Napoleonic Wars
Cause of Napoleon's final defeat.
Cause of Napoleon's failure in 1812 in Russia.
Favorite Troops and Commanders.
Links to military and history websites
when he is making a mistake."
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