Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars fought between the French Empire and its allies, under Emperor Napoleon I, and a series of alliances, or coalitions, among other nations of Europe, primarily Great Britain and Prussia. The Napoleonic Wars were spawned by continuing issues in the aftermath of the French Revolution and Napoleon’s desire to dominate continental Europe. The Napoleonic Wars ended with the French defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815. Napoleon was exiled to the island of St. Helena, where he died in 1821.

Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon’s Old Guard Infantry

By William E. Welsh

When Napoleon Bonaparte became First Consul of France in December 1799, he consolidated the two seperate guard bodies, one for the directory and one for the legislature, into the Guarde des Consuls. Read more

French General Jean Rapp races towards a calm and self-assured Emperor Napoleon with a captured enemy standard during the height of the Battle of Austerlitz.

Napoleonic Wars

Clash of Empires

By David A. Norris

The Battle of Trafalgar, fought off the southwest coast of Spain on October 21, 1805, was a disaster for French Emperor Napoleon I. Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Soldiers: General Peter Bagration

By Victor Kamenir

Russian General Peter Ivanovich Bagration was one of those rare commanders who received near-universal praise from his contemporaries outside of Russia. Read more

A French dragoon holds aloft a Prussian flag captured at Jena in a painting by French military artist Edouard Detaille. The Prussians proved no match for the superior tactics used by Napoleon’s Grande Armee at Jena-Auerstadt.

Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon’s Triumph over Prussia

By Arnold Blumberg

At 4 am on October 14, 1806, 37-year-old Jean Lannes, Marshal of France in Napoleon Bonaparte’s Grande Armee and commander of that host’s V Corps, received his final instructions verbally from the emperor. Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Clash of Giants

By Eric Niderost

On the evening of July 4, 1809, Emperor Napoleon’s Grande Armee prepared to cross a narrow waterway from Lobau Island to Marchfelt, a large, flat plain that bordered the eastern banks of the sinuous Danube River. Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Cannon Thunder at the Battle of Valmy

By David A. Norris

Wind lifted away the fog sheltering the French lines. Atop a low ridge where the French army was deployed, a lone windmill provided a vivid range marker for 58 Prussian cannons on the neighboring hills. Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Broadside Off San Domingo

By David A. Norris

Smoke from hundreds of cannon muzzles fueled an ever thickening fog hovering over the Caribbean Sea south of the French-occupied colony of San Domingo on February 6, 1806. Read more

Everyone, it seemed, got involved in the frenzy for ever-more-fancy uniforms and accoutrements, from Napoleon on down.

Napoleonic Wars

Military Fashion in the Napoleonic Wars

by Blaine Taylor

Napoleon I, Emperor of the French, was in a fury over the uniforms issued to his newly created Illyrian Regiment: “Too small, too short, too tight, badly cut, badly made, badly sewed; many of the buttonholes made only with a simple snip of the scissors … sleeves not lined … capotes so tight that they cannot be worn over the uniform coat but they hamper the movements of men who have nothing on but a waistcoat under them; many … are of bad cloth … I want a report!” Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Masterstroke at Friedland

By Coley Cowan

Friedland was burning. The darkening sky of late afternoon on June 14, 1807, was deepened further by the ashes swirling in the narrow streets. Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Carnage at Bussaco

By Simon Rees

Tired, battered, and bruised, the Spaniards had put up a brave fight, but the enemy had proven too powerful. Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Lust for Glory: Napoleon’s Egypt Campaigns Helped With Invading Europe

By Don Hollway

In May 1798 English spies in Toulon, on the French Mediterranean coast, stood aghast at the gathering of an invasion fleet three times the size of the Spanish Armada: 13 ships of the line, 40 frigates and smaller warships, and 130 cargo vessels bearing more than 17,000 troops, 700 horses, and 1,000 cannons. Read more

Napoleonic Wars

Napoleon’s Last Victory

By Arnold Blumberg

At 2:30 am on June 15, 1815, tens of thousands of French soldiers around the town of Beaumont, France, were roused from their bivouacs. Read more