The General, The Emperor, The Conqueror

Napoleon Bonaparte

"Napoleon has been the subject of more biographies to date
than any other human being except Jesus Christ."

Wellington when asked who he thought was the greatest
general of his age answered:
"In this age, in past ages, in any age, Napoleon."

Napoleon Bonaparte was "one of the most celebrated personages in the history of the West.
He revolutionized military organization and training;
sponsored the Napoleonic Code; the prototype of later civil-law codes;
reorganized education"

- Encyclopedia Britannica

"Napoleon was beyond doubt one of the greatest military leaders in history
and dominated his times so completely that European history
between 1800 and 1815 is commonly described as the Napoleonic era."

. . . . . Napoleon Bonaparte, (originally Italian; Napoleone Buonaparte, French ; Napoléon Bonaparte. The family did not drop the spelling Buonaparte until after 1796), a lowly citizen from Corsica, rose up to the greatest heights based on personal merit and not on birth. He was born in August 1769 in Corsica just 3 months after this island had been defeated by France. Bonaparte would spend his childhood hating France. His parents, Carlo and Letizia, were Corsican aristocrats, but they were not rich. They had eight children (Bonaparte was the second child). He had four brothers: Jerome, 1784-1860 (King of Westphalia (1807-1813), Joseph, 1768-1844, King of Naples (1806-1808) and of Spain (1808-1813), Louis, 1778-1846; King of Holland (1806-1810) and Lucien (1775-1840).
. . . . . Napoleon was about 168 centimeters tall, in that times it was the average height. He began his education in 1778. Then he attended school in Brienne. His favorite subjects were mathematics and science. At school he was laughed at and bullied for being a Corsican. After Brienne, the 15-years old Napoleon studied at the Ecole Militaire in Paris. In 1785 Bonaparte was commissioned in the artillery and 4 years later witnessed the beginning of the French revolution.
. . . . . In December 1793, the 24-years old Bonaparte with his artillery destroyed 10 English ships anchored in Toulon's harbor. Napoleon also bravely led his men in the assault on the fort guarding the city. During this attack he was wounded during a bayonet fight. Napoleon expertly seized several earthworks and bombarded the British warships and troops, forcing them to sail away. These events made him the hero throughout France. Later on, in 1796, already as a general Boanaparte routed the Austrian troops in a series of battles that included Montenotte, Mondovi, Arcola and Rivoli. These and other victories established him as one of the best generals of that time.

. . . . . Napoleon, like Alexander the Great and Julius Ceaser, before him were men of tremendous 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. His meteoric rise shocked not only France but all of Europe. All the emperors, kings and princes were shaken, their armies and best generals were defeated, their countries were conquered, their capitols were captured. Within few years he ruled France and half of the European Continent as no other man in history. 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.

"Russia has Suvorov, England has Nelson and Prussia has Frederick the Great.
The World has Napoleon."

. . . . . Bonaparte was not only a general, he was also a shrewd propagandist. During his campaigns he carefully crafted reports from the battlefields. He also brilliantly created a mythical image of himself as an infallible hero, destined by God to rule over France.
. . . . . Although Napoleon Bonaparte fought many wars against his enemies, which brought destruction and death, he imposed, wherever he went, the benefits of the Civil Code. Those who accuse him of militarism conveniently "forget" one fact: the army under the Directory represented 4.2% of the population of France. Under Napoleon the militarist, in 1814 it represented only 2.9%. In 1805 the ratio of male active population under arms, was as follow:
France: 1 in 14 of male active population, Austria: 1 in 14, Russia: 1 in 14, England: 1 in 10, and in Prussia: 1 in 10 of male active population.
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. Also Napoleon
- 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 selling Louisiana for USA has had a big 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.

"The main thing about Napoleon,
is that he thought big....
He was outthinking his opponents
at any given level."

British author Christopher Duffy

. . . . . Not one of the powerful nations: 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. And they needed treachery and deceit to remove this Great Man for good. Napoleon was not a modest individual, he was not a peacemaker and he was not morally clean. But all of the European powers were imperialistic and sought expansion as an end in itself. England financed and facilitated the assassinations on the French head of state, attacked neutral ships and destroyed the Danish fleet. Russian monarch, Alexander, was implicated in the murder of his father. The presidents of USA, Washington and Jefferson owned slaves.

"Napoleon is like the pyramids,
he stands alone in a desert and jackals piss at his feet
and writers climb up on him."
- Gustave Flaubert

. . . . . The very name, Napoleon still enthralls. Ever since this towering genius conquered Europe, he has been endlessly debated, compared, and made an icon. The later Bourbons have bankrupted France, the Revolution created chaos and terror. Bonaparte made France strong, after 1805 nothing less than a coaltion of the European powers could beat him. The Napoleonic legend, the picture of a liberal conqueror spreading the French Revolution throughout Europe, was a potent factor in French history and helped make Napoleon's nephew French emperor as Napoleon III. He was beyond doubt one of the greatest military leaders in history and dominated his times so completely that European history between 1800 and 1815 is commonly described as the Napoleonic era.
. . . . . Napoleon Bonaparte'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. Many call him as the greatest commander in history, while others call him the God of War. On our website you find information about one of the best fighting machines in history - Napoleon's Grande Armee.

Napoleon's tactic blew off the doors, boot, roof and bonnet
- the whole bloody lot ! He twisted the Allies into the ground within few years.

1st Regiment of Lighthorse-lancers of Old Guard
Forward ! Vive l'Empereur !
These lads were a new regiment, the underdogs boys on battlefield,
and they 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." - John Elting "Swords Around a Throne"



Numerous veterans were in the Hotel des Invalides when
the body of Emperor Napoleon was brought back from St. Helena,
to rest "on the banks of the Seine, amid the people he loved."
These lads dressed in the old uniforms came to receive him.
"Amid the pomp and funeral splendor of that day,
nothing moved the people 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."



. . . French Army . . .
Armée Française

"It is not big armies that win battles, it is the good ones!"
- Marshal Maurice de Saxe

The Iron Men
1809: General Jean-Marie-Pierre-François Dorsenne
and the 1st Regiment of Grenadiers of the Old Guard calmly standing under furious Austrian bombardement .
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." The Old Guard feared and adored 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.

On the French soldiers: "above all, it is their unswerving loyalty to the Emperor that stands out. They identified their own fortunes with those of Napoleon. To be in the service of Napoleon was a way of life for very 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. The approach of the French deferred the punishment of the other two, but general Crauford was relentless and the other two lads received their portions at the next halt.
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. The vast majority had the worthy desire to distinguish themselves in a violent action.
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 cavalrymen "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 veterans of horse grenadiers and called for surrender, 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.
These men died, fought, got wounded, all for the Emperor, their idol and master. 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-a-cheval 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."
General Lasalle asked Emperor when he will get command of the Guard cavalry. Napoleon said: "When Lasalle no longer drinks, no longer smokes and no longer swears..."


N A P O L E O N I C ...I N F A N T R Y
Infantry - part 1
Infantry - part 2

N A P O L E O N I C ...A R T I L L E R Y

N A P O L E O N I C ...C A V A L R Y

I M P E R I A L ...G U A R D
Guard Infantry - 1 . Guard Infantry - 2
Guard Cavalry - 1 . Guard Cavalry - 2
Guard Artillery - 1. Guard Artillery - 2
How the Guard fought at Waterloo 1815 ?
Austrians defeat infantry of Consular Guard at Marengo, 1800 . . . . . . . . N E W

. . . . . . . . ORDERS OF BATTLE :
Austerlitz 1805 (I,III,IV,V Army Corps)
Austerlitz 1805 (Imperial Guard and Reserve Cavalry)
Campaign in France - 1814 (Army)
Waterloo - Ligny 1815 (Imperial Guard and Reserve Cavalry)
Waterloo - Ligny 1815 (I,II,III,IV,VI Army Corps)

Eagles, fanions and flags

The Old Guard drew the bravest and most battle-hardened soldiers
from the army and became one of the most known troops in history.
According to a British eyewitness: "Depravity, recklessness and
bloodthirstiness were burned into their faces."

All regiments were ordered to halt, form line and present arms
when the Old Guard was passing. Each grade in the Old Guard was
equivalent to the next higher in the army. They enjoyed privileges
and the army grew jealous. There were continual quarrels between
the Old Guardsmen and line troops.
{Grenadier of Old Guard, courtesy of D.Clermont Minis Models}




. . . . . . . .

Army of Duchy of Warsaw
L`Armée Du Duché De Varsovie

Napoleon's staunchest ally.

Charles Parquin wrote: "General 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." (1814, Napoleon's abdication)

Poles, "Napoleon's staunchest allies" fought 3 bloody times against
the most determined enemy of France, the British troops.
At Maida (1805) Polish inf. regiment was defeated by British regiment.
At Fuengirola Polish infantry wiped the floor with British/Spanish troops.
At Albuhera (1811) Polish cavalry trashed British brigade,
captured hundreds of POWs and took several British Colors.
Result: Polish troops vs British troops 2 : 1

Prince Poniatowski was probably the most loyal of all foreign commanders.
He died in 1813 covering Napoleon's retreat.


Polish Troops During Napoleonic Wars

Cavalry Regiments of Grand Duchy of Warsaw

Evolution of Vistula Legion

1st Regiment of Lighthorse-Lancers of the Imperial Guard

The Vistula Ulans- "Los Picadores del Infierno" (The Picadors of the Hell)

The Battle of Albuhera [Albuera] 1811 and Vistula Ulans

Vistula Ulans at the battle of Struga (Strigau)

"Poland is the only country in the world
to invoke Napoleon in its national anthem."

Lancer of the Vistula Ulan Regiment ("The Devils Poles")
with captured British Color at Albuhera.

The ulans defeated Austrians (at Hohenlinden),
Spaniards (at Mallen), British (at Talavera and Albuhera),
Prussians (at Strigau) and Russians (at Leipzig).




. . . . . . . .

The Prussian Army - Napoleon's Deadly Enemy
Preußische Armee

Prussian army - 1815: characteristic and organization.
Infantry and Landwehr in 1815.
Artillery and engineers.
Sources and Links.

The flower of Prussian army.
Grenadier battalions.
Kaiser-Alexander-Grenadier-Regiment Nr.1
Kaiser-Franz-Grenadier-Regiment Nr. 2
Regiment der Gardes du Corps
Das 1. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr. 1
Das 2. Leib-Husaren-Regiment Nr. 2

Order of battle for Waterloo (Belle Alliance) 1815 - The Prussians Army

World-known writer Peter Hofschroer answers questions about Waterloo, Wellington and Blucher:
-What are the major myths British historians created about Waterloo?
- Would you have preferred another commander of the Prussian army instead of Blücher?
If so, then what would you have had him to do differently than Blücher?
- What would the Prussian army and King do if the British-Dutch-German army had retreated
to Dunkirk and embarked on the ships?
- What was your reasoning in naming Waterloo as the German victory?
- What were Wellington's biggest errors in 1815?
-Why were the Prussians arrival on the battlefield and their attack on Napoleon's flank decisive in the victory over Napoleon?
- How would you describe Wellington as a person and as a politician? Please explain the
"cover up" after Waterloo.
- Who is/are the most reliable and unbiased English writer(s) on 1815 and do you recommend his works?

P. Hofschroer answers to 10 questions about the Prussian army and generals:
-What were the main differences between the Prussian army of 1813-14 (Katzbach, Leipzig)
and that of 1815 (Waterloo)?
-How would you compare the Prussian staff in 1812-1815 to the French staff (Berthier)?
What were the differences?
-What were Blücher's strongest points as commander-in-chief and what were the weakest?
-What were the major reasons for such terrible defeats of the Prussian army
at Jena and Auerstedt?
-Why did the Prussians skip the divisional level and instead form very strong brigades?
What was the reasoning behind this? - How would you rate the morale and élan of the troops within an average
Prussian infantry regiment (grenadiers, fusiliers and musketeers)?
- Comment on the Prussian lightning victories over the French marshals
in 1813-1814 (Katzbach, Dennewitz and others).
-Who is your favorite Prussian general or officer and why, and who disappointed you the most and why?
-What is the biggest myth or false/wrong opinion about the Prussian army?
-Why was the horse Landwehr armed with lances? The lance required good horsemanship
and physical strength, things not too common among second-class troops like the Landwehr.

Hungarian hussar of 4th Regiment (Hessen-Homburg)
in parade dress. (Osprey Publishing Ltd)

The Austrian Army

Austrian army during Napoleonic Wars (PART 1)
Commanders: Charles, Schwarzenberg, Radetzky.
Officers and generals.
Rank and file.

Austrian army during Napoleonic Wars (PART 2)
Firearms and ammunition of infantry.
Grenzers (border troops) and light infantry.
. . . . . . . Pandours and Croats.
. . . . . . . Grenzer regiments.
. . . . . . . Jägers.
Line infantry.
. . . . . . . Uniforms.
. . . . . . . Organization.
. . . . . . . Nationalities.
. . . . . . . Grenadiers.

Austrian army during Napoleonic Wars (PART 3)
Artillery and Engineers.
. . . . . . . Weapons.
. . . . . . . Organization.
. . . . . . . Uniforms.
. . . . . . . Nationalities.
Firearms and ammunition of cavalry.

Austrian army during Napoleonic Wars (PART 4): . . . . . . . . . . . . . . N E W
battle of Dresden, 1813 . . . Raszyn (1809) . . . Marengo (1800)




Combat During Napoleonic Wars

Company officers and NCOs rarely wrote of their combat experiences.
Even when they did so they didn't search into the nature of them
because their experiences were narrow and personal. In consequence
most books and articles on the moral problem in combat were
written by generals, civilians, and archmchair generals who
were very far from reality of small arms combat. For them
battle was in a training headquarters, instructions or drill-books.

"On the battlefield the real enemy is fear and not the bayonet or bullet"
- Robert Jackson

Infantry 1800-1815 [Part 1]
Morale, Columns and Lines.
Infantry Battalion Formed in Column of Attack at Half Distance.

Infantry 1800-1815 [Part 2]
Firing (3 ranks).
Effectiveness of musket fire.

Infantry 1800-1815 [Part 3]
Speed of Infantry.
Bayonet Fight.
Attack, Counter-attack, Flight, Mixed Troops.
Squares Against Cavalry. [size, type, maneuver, in action]

Infantry 1800-1815 [Part 4]
Squares [morale, methods of attack].
Squares [against lancers].
2 ranks in infantry.

Cavalry 1800-1815 [Part 1]
Types of cavalry
Morale and discipline of attacking cavalry
Regiment of Old Guard in combat (maps and diagrams)

Cavalry 1800-1815 [Part 2]
Sabers and lances - length, weight, characteristic and use in combat.
Cuirass, helmet, bearskin, shakos and rolled greatcoat - use in combat.
Horse skirmishers.
Speed of attack.

Cavalry 1800-1815 [Part 3]
Heavy versus light cavalry.
Heavy versus heavy cavalry.
Cavalry fire a salvo at enemy.
Dismounted cavalry in combat (examples).
Horses, height, color and characteristics.

Artillery 1800-1815 [Part ]





POLLS - Part 1
My favorite Napoleonic book.
The main cause of Napoleon's defeat.
My favorite Napoleonic marshal.
The best commander of all times.
Military sayings/quotes.

POLLS - Part 2
My favorite French troop.
The best troops of Prussian army.
The best regiment of Wellington's infantry.
The best troops of Spanish army.

National characteristics of European armies.
So which are the best soldiers ?
Characteristics of European armies:

  • French
  • Austrian
  • British
  • Prussian
  • Swedish
  • Piedmontese
  • Swiss
  • Spanish
  • Turkish

    Characteristic of Russian army 1800-1900
    Rank and file.
    Officers and generals.

    Russian generals: Kutusov, Dohturov, Miloradovich, d'Tolli
    Family, education and wealth.

    National characteristics of several European nations. . . . . . . under construction . . .

  • Frenchmen
  • Germans
  • Englishmen
  • Italians

    The "Cowards" at Waterloo (Belle Alliance)

    Order of battle for Waterloo (Belle Alliance) 1815 - The British/German/Netherland Troops

    British propaganda and world domination.

    "The British practice of assuming all British infantrymen to be supermen formed on 2-ranks-deep lines
    and all others to be idiots formed on 3 ranks."

    British army before and during Napoleonic wars.
    British defeats.
    Deserters in the British army.
    Captured British colors.
    Waterloo - the German victory.
    "The strong English bias is confusing and at times comical"
    British cavalry "galloping at everything" ? No, they refused to charge !


  • The Good.
    The unfriendly boy, "poor Arthur" playing violine.
    Soldier with "a hooked nose" and the "ugly and sweet" Kitty
    The tactician: the "rush fool" Blucher was almost twice as fast as the "lethargic Wellington".
  • The Bad.
    The deserter.
    "To lie like Napoleon's bulletin or to lie like Wellington's despatch."
    "Wellington bad-mouthed Prince of Orange and belittled Blücher. Then he grabbed the glory for himself."
  • The Ugly.
    The Brits smashed his windows and he survived an attempt to drag him from his horse.
    The cold, aloof and mean old man.

    British triumph in Spain
    1. "The British authors want you to believe that Wellington in Spain had exclusivity in beating French marshals."
    2. If the war in Spain was such an easy business why did it take them sooo long ?

    Pictures: War in Spain and Portugal in pictures. PART 1.

    Maps: Invasion of Russia 1812
    The bloodiest battle of Napoleonic wars- Borodino: atack on Bagration Fleches.

    Maps: War in France 1814
    1814-03-07 Craonne - Napoleon's hard won victory.
    1814-01-30 La Rotheire - Napoleon's defeat.

    Pictures and photos: 1806-1807 War in Poland and Eastern Prussia.

    Short information on various subjects.
    The strength of lance.
    (Polish) Battalion of Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard.
    Quality of the cavalry of King German Legion.
    Austrian infantry, lying down as the British and no longer kneeling during volley.
    Composition and character of British infantry regiments.
    Fog in combat
    French casualties at Leipzig and how much some troops have fought ?
    The British sold the French prisoners and Scots as slaves.



    Question: Napoleon, Blucher and Wellington are in a carriage
    and you are on a building opposite with a rifle.
    You have three bullets. What do you do?
    Answer: Shoot Wellington ....... twice
    and save the 3rd bullet for Blucher who goes to try and save him.

    The macho-men:
    Major Sharpe, Homer Simpson and Zorro

    the macho-man
    left: Major Sharpe defending the poor and frightened England
    right: Soviet Sharpie, Brezhniev's macho-man.

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