Napoleonic Wars

I really think that my interest in Napoleonic battles started very early. As far back as 1954 my grandfather took me to our local library and, although many books were off limits to younger readers, nevertheless I was pleased to have been able to borrow Lockhart’s “Life of Napoleon.” Although not one of the great works dealing with the life and campaigns of Napoleon Bonaparte it was still full of accounts of battles.

The next book to boost my Napoleonic craving was Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” I obtained a copy of the translation by Louise and Elma Maude, sometime in the late 1950’s and, although not appreciating all the complex and diverse situations taking place throughout the book, I was still enthralled by the military action described. So, if this site seems a little Napoleonic top heavy, I think, after reading the monographs dealing with some of his many campaigns, you will agree that they are a marvellous incite into how one man changed the fate of Europe.

2 Dec 1805 Battle of Austerlitz September 2019: Austerlitz is one of the most famous battles in history. 1805-1806 were the high watermark of the French army, which had been forged in the fires of Revolution and tempered and honed into a fine fighting machine that fitted Napoleon’s rise to power perfectly. Thereafter a slow but steady decline in veterans, both officers and men, caused its once sharp cutting edge to become blunt and rusted as skilled and well trained troops, able to carry out rapid changes of formation and tactics during an engagement, gave way to massed columns of conscripts used as human battering rams. Austerlitz was indeed Napoleon’s greatest victory.
10 Jun 1806 Battle of Heilsberg Sept 2003: Napoleon’s Campaign in Poland – 1807.
8 Feb 1807 More About Eylau June 2009: Further information about The Battle of Eylau.
8 Feb 1807 Battle Of Eylau Jan 2002: The French cavalry charge from a different perspective – 1807.
21 May 1809 Battlefields of Aspern/Essling, Deutsch Wagram and Znaim. March 2021: The more well known battlefields such as Waterloo, Gettysburg, Borodino and even the 52 BC site of Alesia in France where Caesar defeated the Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix, have been preserved in reasonably good condition enabling the tourist and historian to obtain some idea of what these sites looked like at the time of these engagements. Unfortunately, with the exception of Znaim (now Znojmo, Czech Republic), the battlefields of Aspern/Essling and Deutsch Wagram (1809) in Austria are almost unrecognizable today. The city of Vienna has slowly crept across the Danube River covering everything in tarmac, brick, steel and concrete. Only certain areas of the Wagram site remain where the visitor can still obtain some notion of how vast this Napoleonic battle was, involving over 300,000 troops and 1,000 cannon. The sad thing about these famous fields of conflict is that, allowing for one or two museums commemorating these battles situated around the site, there is not even a public viewing platform, or a few acers set aside as a battlefield park, to give the visitor any idea of what occurred across this now rapidly disappearing landscape.
1 Jan 1812 1812 – The Turning Point Jan 2004: Napoleon’s overblown campaign in Russia, or the little man not being able to reach the top self.
29 Aug 1813 Battle of Kulm.

June 2012: Like the “curates egg” my description of the Battle of Kulm may be seen by many as being “good in parts.” This notwithstanding, I hope that even if much of what I consider to be a better account of the battle than any other thus far published in English proves to be inaccurate, at least it may be said that it did stir up enough interest in the battle for further research – in itself not a bad thing.

6 Sep 1813 Battle of Dennewitz

March 2018: As with a few other articles on this site I have not gone into any great detail concerning the actual progress of the battle. The battle, together with information dealing with formations, main commander character sketches, troop deployment and movements, are dealt with on numerous other websites as well as in the mass of Napoleonic literature which has been pouring from the publishing houses over the last few years. Here you will only find my own brief outline of events together with a few speculative suggestions I have thrown in concerning Ney’s conduct during the campaign and battle.

Dr Bob and I visited the battlefield in 2017 and herewith are his, as usual; wonderful panoramas covering the whole site so that the Napoleonic enthusiast and war- gamer can visit the site and view all the main elements of the terrain.

7 Mar 1814 Battle of Craonne June 2013: Napoleon’s campaign of France in 1814 ranks among his finest. His resources were almost near breaking point but somehow the young French recruits managed to pull their emperors chestnuts out of the fire time and again. Their sacrifice for a lost cause should not detract us from remembering their bravery, courage and endurance.
9 Mar 1814 Battle of Laon

October 2015: I have drawn heavily on the descriptions of the battle of Laon given in Petre, Lawford, Maycock and Chandler. It is my hope that the reader will search out other sources appertaining to the battle which, although now considered to have been covered in some depth, still has some very interesting features and episodes that are in need more research.

Dr Bob’s panoramas will be, as usual, of much benefit in following the course of events and will also allow those who may not be able to visit the site themselves a dramatic view of the battlefield from elevated positions all around the old walls of this lovely city.

16 Jun 1815

Battle of Ligny

Battle Of Ligny –  Order of Battle

May 2004: The Battle of Ligny, 1815.
18 Jun 1815 Waterloo March 2009: The full text or ‘Waterloo’ by The Late Captain J.W.E. Donaldson R.A.F., P.S.C. and Captain A.F. Becke, Late R.A.F. Reprints available from Graham.