The treaty of Amien was soon broken as the British declared war on France. Nations across Europe feared the growing power of France as well as the outraged that sparked from the execution of Louis Antoine, Duke of Enghien. Nations across Europe would then join the coalition proposed by the British. Napoleon knew an invasion of Britain would be difficult, so he decided to handle the Austrians forces that wanted and the Russian army that was still mobilizing and traveling to the Western Front to assist the Austrians. Karl Mack took command of the Austrian Army after Archduke Charles lost his popularity after his miserable defeat by the French when he decided to reoccupy Italy. Mack went on the offensive by taking Bavaria so that the Russian army would be able to join up with them there. Mack was confident in his high position stationed in Bavaria, but in the battle of Ulm, his escape route would then be cut by Napoleon’s Imperial Guard. Of the 40,000 Austrian troops stationed at Ulm and 27,000 were captured by Napoleon’s army as they surrendered without incident. The Austrians suffered 4,000 casualties while the French lost only 500. In the 12th of October
“Let us finish this war with a thunderclap!”
― Napoleon Bonaparte
That summer, Napoleon’s Grande Armee was at its most formidable. Well trained, highly motivated, its regiment at full strength. It was newly reorganized according to the corp system which was later limited by virtually every army in the world. Each corp, commanded by a marshall was an mini army that consisted of 15,000 to 30,000 soldiers with its on infantry, cavalry artillery and support arms. This meant each corp could march and fight for a limited time independently, allowing Napoleon to break with the old doctrine of keeping his army concentrated and advance his corp widely dispersed. This hid his real objective and increased movement speeds because his army could advanced on multiple roads and live off the land, taking scattered supplies from the area instead of relying on slow moving supply wagons. When the enemy’s main force was located, the army could quickly concentrate for battle. This is how napoleon was able to move his army at a speed that surprised and disoriented his enemies.
If the Russian force leaves the Pratzen Heights in order to go to the right side, they will certainly be defeated.
— Napoleon Bonaparte
In the war of the Third Coalition, Napoleon would then engage on the Russian and Austrian forces at the battle of Austerlitz which would later become one of the most important and decisive engagements of the Napoleonic Campaigns. Napoleon knew that his enemy had the high ground of the Pratzen heights so he purposely weakened the right flank of his army. The Austrians and Russians. As Russian forces retreated back to Russia, Francis the First of Austria was forced to accept a humiliating settlement with France, agreeing to pay a 40 million franc indemnity and give up more territory in exchange for peace
“We won’t catch the enemy making a mistake like this twice.”
— Napoleon Bonaparte
June 14, Around noon, Napoleon himself arrived, followed by first corp, commanded by General Victor, as well as Ney’s six crop and the Imperial Guard under Marshal Bessieres. The battle then entered a lull, as Napoleon assessed the situation, saw Bennigsen dangerous positions, and issued orders for an attack to take advantage of it. The Battle of Friedland was one of the most decisive victories of Napoleon’s career. At the cost of 10,000 casualties, he had inflicted twice as many losses on the Russians — about 20,000 men killed, wounded, or taken prisoner — 40% of Bennigsen’s army.
“Perhaps I was happiest at Tilsit… I found myself victorious dictating laws, having emperors and kings pay me court.”
— Napoleon in exile on St. Helena
Alexander and Napoleon met for the first time aboard a raft in the middle of the River Niemen, near Tilsit, and developed and immediate rapport. Tilsit proved to be one of history’s great diplomatic summits, as the two emperors feted each other for days, with banquet, parades and concerts, then discussed affairs late in to the night. Russia only had to give up the Ionian Island, as Alexander accepted an alliance with Napoleon that left the French Emperor the Master of Europe.
His German allies, Bavaria, Wutternburg was elevated to the status of kingdoms, while Napoleon made himself protector of the confederation of the rhine. A new alliances of german states that would contribute 60,000 troops to his army. The Duchy of Warsaw to be ruled b y the Frederick Augustus, the King of Saxony, which Polish patriots hoped would prove a stepping stone on the road to their own state. Polish troops were recruited into the Grande Armee, with Polish lancers even forming part of Napoleon’s Elite Imperial Guard.
The Failure in Napoleon’s Art of War
Napoleon Bonaparte was the ultimate disrupter of European history, one man who transformed a continent.
News have reached Napoleon in a disastrous Franco-Spanish fleet at sea. Off Cape trafalgar, British Admiral Lord Nelson, at the cost of his own life has masterminded a victory so complete that ensured British Naval dominance not just for the rest of the war, but for the next hundred years. The decisive weapon in this economic war would prove to be the British Royal Navy, which that summer, ensure its continued naval dominance by launching a pre-emptive strike against the neutral Danish fleet at Copenhagen — capturing their warships before they could fall into Napoleon’s hands. Royal Navy squadrons blockaded all major French ports, seizing any ships trading with France, while ensuring British merchants could continue to trade overseas in relative safety.
The Continental System would draw him into two conflicts proved ruinous for his empire. The first would be fought in the Iberian Peninsula, where Napoleon decided to force Britain’s ally Portugal to join the Continental System. In November 1807, French troops, supported by their Spanish ally, invaded the country. It looked as though Napoleon had won yet another easy victory. But the Peninsular War was just beginning.
“Napoleon is a monster who has emerged from the mire.”
— Queen Louise of Prussia
The Prussian King, Frederick WIlliam III, regarded Napoleon with deep mistrust and was about to join the Coalition against him when the news arrived of its disastrous defeat at Austerlitz. He was heavily influenced by his wife, the celebrated and popular Queen Louise, who detested France and Napoleon. Matters came to a head over Hanover – a German state which had belonged to the British King George III, was occupied by the French and giving by Napoleon to Prussia as compensation for other territorial changes. Now the Prussians learned that Napoleon had secretly offered to give Hanover back to Britain in exchange for peace. Prussia mobilises August 10, 1806.
“What a massacre! And without any result!”
— Marshal Ney on the Battle of Eylau
Ordinary French soldiers, however, had little love for Poland. It was impoverished, freezing, and they missed home. Desertion rates soared. There were even a hundred cases of suicide. The battle of Eylau, fought over two days, was one of the most brutal of the Napoleonic Wars fought in freezing conditions, with neither sides backing down. At Eylau, for the first time as Emperor, Napoleon failed to win a clear victory on the battlefield.
April 1814, One man has dominated Europe, Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French. Under his military genius, France conquered an empire that spanned the continent. But Finally he has been defeated by a grand Coalition of his enemies. Napoleon is forced to abdicate and is exiled to the island of Elba while the bourbon monarchy is restored to France with Louis XVIII
After just 10 months in exile, he returns to France where the troops sent to his arrest him, rallied to his cause instead. Most of France soon followed to his suit. But in Vienna, the Coalition immediately put their differences to one’s side. They declared Napoleon an outlaw and mobilized their forces for war. Napoleon knows he must act boldly, before the coalition launches an coordinated invasion of france. He counts on winning a quick victory and then negotiated peace from a position of strength. He targets the coalition army within easiest reach, Prince Bluchers Prussians army and the Duke of Wellingtons anglo-allied army. Napoleon’s force is a match for either coalition army on its own, but he’ll be heavily outnumbered if they’re able to join forces, so he must keep them apart and defeat each in return.
“This is the objective: advance, looking neither right nor left, bore into this thick mass, cost what it may.”
— Napoleon Bonaparte to Marshal Ney
Napoleon attacks bluchers prussian army with his main force near the village of ligny. The battle is a brutal slugging match but the french emerge triumphant. The 72 year Blucher leads a cavalry charge in person and has his horse killed under him. He only just escapes capture. The prussian army retreats, but it is not broken. Napoleon sends his right wing under Marshal Grouchy to keep them on the run and turns his own attention on Wellington’s army
Wellington has chosen his battlefield with care. His troops are behind a gentle ridge which will give them shelter from French cannon fire. Hougoumont Farm, La Haye Sainte Farm and Papelotte Farm. The opposing armies are roughly equal in size, but his is a ragtag mix of british, dutch and German troops. Many of who haven’t seen combat before. They will have to hold off Napoleon’s army of veterans until prussian reinforcements arrive or the battle or probably the war will be lost.
Sunday 18th June 1815
Napoleon has order Marshal Grouchy to pursue the prussian to keep them busy while he engages Wellington’s army at waterloo. But it’s Grouchy who gets pinned down, fighting the russian rear guard at Wavre. The main prussian force alludes him and is already marching to Wellington’s to aide. At waterloo, napoleon delays his attack waiting for his ground to dry which will make movement easier for his troops. Marshal Ney leads a mass cavalry charge. French cavalry can’t break these impenetrable formations. Neys failure to support this attack with either infantry or artillery is a serious plunder. Meanwhile, Bluchers Prussians begin to arrive, threatening Napoleon’s right flank which napoleon sent reserves to counter it.
- Peninsular Campaign
- Battle of Wagram
- Battle of Speigel
- Clamour for Political Upheaval
- Napoleon staged a coup and takes dictatorship of France
- Napoleon led a French Revolution that abolished the Monarchy, but then crowns himself Emperor years later.
Napoleon now dominated Europe, able to hand out spoils as he saw fit. In February 1806. He sent an army led by Marshal Massena to overthrow the king of Naples who had dared to side with his enemies and gave his throne to his own brother Joseph instead. ANother brother Louis was made of Holland
A friendship developed between Emperors Napoleon and Alexander. While Russia’s former ally, King Frederick William of Prussia, was left out in the cold. And it was Prussia who would lose most in the Treaties of Tilsit, signed two weeks later. One third of Prussian territory was taken away to create the new Kingdom of Westphalia and it was to be ruled by Napoleon’s 22 year-old brother Jerome.
Alexander even agreed to join the Continental System — Napoleon’s economic blockade of Great Britain’s, which banned British ships and goods from all French controlled ports. The System had been established the previous winter by Napoleon’s Berlin Decree. Napoleon hoped that by cutting off British trade with Europe, he’d cause financial chaos and political upheaval in Britain — allowing him to make a favourable peace. The Continental System didn’t work. It was impossible to enforce, and undermined by widespread smuggling, the system damaged French trade just as much as British trade.