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Questions tagged [napoleonic-wars]

Questions about a series of wars from 1803 to 1815 between the First French Empire and opposing (mostly European) coalitions.

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How did blackpowder sharpshooters achieve precision?

I was wondering about this since I delved into the naval warfare of the age of sail and noticed the mentions of having sharpshooters on the masts of ships to pick off valuable targets. It seems to ...
Kugelblitz's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
359 views

Battle of Ulm: why did general Mack surrender to Napoleon instead of retreating to Ulm and wait for the Russian Army?

Was there something that made being besieged at these times inconceivable? I can imagine that a lack of provisions and/or logistics of keeping ~70 000 men in a city wouldn't make the situation ideal ...
psz's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
527 views

Why did army in Napoleon era never use hand-grenades to temporarily disrupt the square formation?

Grenades were used by European, Muslims, and Chinese before 1800. However, there were no noticeable field-battle involving the hand grenades during the Napoleon era. One would imagine that grenades ...
dodo's user avatar
  • 258
6 votes
0 answers
464 views

Did the famous French privateer Surcouf really drop that epic zinger on an anonymous British officer?

It is said that when a British captive officer taunted Surcouf with the words "You French fight for money while we fight for honour", Surcouf replied "Each of us fights for what he ...
Qwokker's user avatar
  • 161
2 votes
2 answers
454 views

Why was Napoleon Bonaparte appointed to lead the French campaign in northern Italy?

Napoleon Bonaparte was, seemingly arbitrarily, chosen by the Directory for the position of general of the French Army of Italy. This proved to be a good decision by the Directory, but they had no way ...
OprenStein's user avatar
19 votes
3 answers
6k views

How much louder was a Napoleonic era cannon than a musket?

I recently stumbled upon this impressive quote about the Battle of Borodino in a video (here at 5:07): "The artillery roared to such an extent that from dawn until the middle of the day we ...
fgysin's user avatar
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3 votes
0 answers
126 views

What is the context for these Napoleonic(?) sketches?

I'd be interested to know if anyone can put the pictures in this frame into a context. They were found in the eaves of my late father-in-law's house on Cornwall when the house was being cleared two ...
John Fergusson's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
2k views

What was the price of bread in France from 1789 - 1815?

I would really like to know the price of bread in France during the entire revolutionary and Napoleonic era. I am aware it was high in 1789, but couldn't find hard data for further years. All my ...
DrZ214's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Where did France build up its fleet in 1805-1814?

I was reading about The Battle of Trafalgar and found this interesting section about the consequences: Napoleon instituted a large-scale shipbuilding programme that had produced a fleet of 80 ships ...
DrZ214's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
202 views

What were the goals of the lesser powers in the Congress of Vienna 1814-1815?

Going into the Congress of Vienna, the Great Powers (usually defined as Great Britain, France, Russia, Austria, and Prussia) had many goals in mind of what they wanted out of the negotiations. In fact,...
MrMineHeads's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

Is this anecdote about use of poison in guerrilla war mentioned by Schopenhauer based on facts?

In Schopenhauer's 1819 "The World as Will and Representation", volume 1, in the (only) footnote of chapter 64, we can read: “That Spanish bishop, who in the last war simultaneously poisoned ...
cipricus's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
531 views

Why did water stored on premodern ships "go brackish" or "go bad" while at sea?

I have read in several Napoleonic historical fiction novels that water stored on ships would somehow spoil over time. The water is described as completely unpalatable if not undrinkable, and alcohol (...
Pink Sweetener's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
595 views

Until when did Russia occupy Paris after 1814

Russia occupied Paris in 1814 after the battle of Paris. They supposedly stayed for a while, I heard the anecdote that the word 'bistro' derives from that time (not generally accepted in linguistics ...
lalala's user avatar
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16 votes
1 answer
3k views

Which general rebuked the King of England over logistics?

I have a bit of a hunt for anyone with a fair bit of trivia knowledge about letters. Back in a business class during my undergraduate studies, a professor shared a letter from a general to the King in ...
Joshua W's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
611 views

How many battles could a Napoleonic war or ACW infantryman expect to survive?

In battles such as those of the Napoleonic wars or the American Civil War that involved infantry marching across open ground whilst being pummeled by artillery and facing volleys of musket or rifle ...
JimmyTheOne's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
210 views

On 15 October 1810 the 92nd Regiment were billeted in ruined houses at Crozendera, Portugal. Can anyone pinpoint this location?

During the Peninsular War the 92nd Highland Regiment (the "Gordon Highlanders") was moving from Lisbon to join with Wellington's army behind the Torres Vedras lines. On their arrival, on 15 ...
Cakeij's user avatar
  • 33
1 vote
2 answers
561 views

Why did Napoleon divide his army during the retreat from Smolensk?

In the Wikipedia article on the Battle of Krasnoi: Having lost contact with Kutuzov during the previous two weeks, Napoleon incorrectly believed that the Russian army must have been as devastated by ...
Allure's user avatar
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0 votes
1 answer
322 views

Why did the Ottomans 'never' enter wars during Napoleon's invasions? [closed]

Without knowing about the subject, why Turkey never entered the fray during the Napoleonic wars? It is true that they fought against the Russians around 1800's, but as far as I know, the engagement ...
user2820579's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
395 views

Why was Napoleon so lenient to Austria?

Austria (unlike Prussia) "rebelled" against Napoleon during the War of the Fifth Coalition. After putting down this country (but not Spain, Portugal, and the U.K.), Napoleon allowed the ...
Tom Au's user avatar
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1 vote
2 answers
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Was there a rational reason for Napoleon to attack Russia while the Peninsular War was still in progress?

My question somewhat parallels this question. There is one important difference however. In June 1941, Germany and Britain glared at each other across the English Channel, but there was no more land ...
Tom Au's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
1k views

What do we know about the squadron that evacuated Moore's force after Corunna?

Upon being appointed commander of British forces in Iberia, and Napoleon's subsequent invasion with Le Grande Armee, Sir John Moore's retreated to a defensive position near the port of Corunna, in ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
252 views

How widely accepted are Tolstoy's views on history within the academic community?

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace is a historic fiction and part essay in which Tolstoy regularly expresses his views on how events happen. More specifically, Tolstoy says that the actions of great men such ...
MrMineHeads's user avatar
4 votes
0 answers
87 views

Are these two images of Juan Diez Porlier or Francisco Espoz y Mina?

This sketch and this miniature clearly derived from it occur on the web in several places as both an image of Francisco Espoz y Mina and Juan Diaz Porlier. Both were well known and recognized ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
346 views

In Tolstoy's War and Peace, one character is captured after the Battle of Austerlitz and is taken as a POW. Was his experience historically accurate?

Prince Andrei Bolkonsky is captured after sustaining a wound in battle and is taken as a POW. He, along with other officers of the Russian Army, were treated with care and respect by the French, and ...
MrMineHeads's user avatar
5 votes
1 answer
270 views

What is the name of this hat and the function of those wearing them (worn by Nansouty's French Guard cavalry)?

Horace Vernet's painting "Battle of Hanau", held at the National Gallery in London. This scene depicts the Austro-Bavarian cavalry charge on the French Grand Battery and the countercharge of Nansouty'...
Tom Sol's user avatar
  • 2,247
13 votes
2 answers
3k views

What are these hats and the function of those wearing them (worn by the Russian imperial army at Borodino)?

After the battle of Borodino Franz Roubaud worked on a great panorama painting of 115 meters long. looking at the big panorama painting by Franz Roubaud I noticed that some of the Russian imperial ...
Tom Sol's user avatar
  • 2,247
34 votes
7 answers
9k views

How were Martello towers supposed to work?

Having recently seen a Martello tower on the East coast of England, I tried to find-out what the defensive strategy was supposed to be - but the internet seems very short on information. The South-...
Lefty's user avatar
  • 443
0 votes
1 answer
150 views

Did a war occured because one country did not want the other to be strong? [closed]

About the Napoleonic wars, I discussed with a friend who told me that the English just wanted France to be weak, and that it was the reason for the Congress of Vienna in 1815. I have read on the ...
totalMongot's user avatar
  • 6,791
26 votes
3 answers
8k views

What is the context for Napoleon's quote "[the Austrians] did not know the value of five minutes"?

Is this a real quote from Napoleon, and if so, what is the context? “The reason I beat the Austrians is, they did not know the value of five minutes.” Found on many 'quotes' sites like azquotes
Umm's user avatar
  • 261
0 votes
1 answer
410 views

Why were some Napoleonic battles fought at sea?

'The Royal Navy 1793-1815' is all about the different battles that took place in the water'...my main concern is why the navy was involved at all? why couldn't they just fight in the land ? Is it ...
Maria_mimi's user avatar
29 votes
5 answers
6k views

Are there historical instances of the capital of a colonising country being temporarily or permanently shifted to one of its colonies?

When the Portuguese Royal Court (over 15,000 souls) fled the Napoleonic invasion of Portugal in 1807, and installed itself in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Rio became the capital of the pluricontinental ...
Centaurus's user avatar
  • 490
1 vote
1 answer
556 views

Was Emperor Francis II & I present at the Battle of Austerlitz?

The Battle of Austerlitz between France, Austria, and Russia on 2 December 1805 is also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, because of the presence of Napoleon I, Alexander I, and Francis II &...
MAGolding's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
8k views

What is the original French for Napoleon's quote "When your enemy is making a false move don't disturb him"?

Napoleon is well regarded as stating, prior to Soult's assault on the Pratzen Heights at Austerlitz, words to the effect of: When your opponent is making a false move, it is wise not to disturb him. ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
661 views

Why did Napoleon change his mind and continue the attack into Russia?

On July 28, 1812 some of his officers convinced Napoleon to end the Russian campaign due to huge losses due to typhus. A couple of days later, Napoleon changed his mind and the rest is, as they say, ...
Rufus McGee's user avatar
13 votes
1 answer
5k views

How much gunpowder could the average Napoleonic ship of the line carry?

I've run across a few references to a ship's magazine detonating during combat, and by all accounts the explosions were massive. I'm trying to put them into context a bit by figuring out how much ...
Hobbits's user avatar
  • 131
1 vote
0 answers
200 views

What do historians say would have been Napoleon's optimal strategy after Borodino? [closed]

There is a saying that everyone is a general after the battle, but I still could not figure out what could have Napoleon done differently in order to save his army and consequently empire after ...
rs.29's user avatar
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2 votes
0 answers
140 views

What was the maneuver called when an infantry co. fired in two different directions while advancing? [closed]

When a Napoleonic-era infantry company was taking fire from front and rear, what is the maneuver called where they covered their rear while advancing forward?
Steve Bender's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
213 views

Why did General Dupont surrender in the Battle of Bailén?

General Dupont's had, from my inexpert view, quite a superior army when he fought the Spanish forces at the Battle of Bailén. This battle was in fact the first defeat in open field of the Napoleonic ...
user1868607's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
619 views

Are there any surviving military textbooks from the Napoleonic era?

Napoleon attended school for military officers, so it stands to reason they would have some books around which they based their curriculum. Are there any complete and publicly available recordings of ...
StaticAlignment's user avatar
2 votes
0 answers
371 views

When was the first instance of Generals Morand, Friant & Gudin being referred to as "The Immortals"?

Generals de Division Morand, Friant, and Gudin were at times referred to as "The Immortals", as noted in the thesis Marshal Louis N. Davout and the Art of Command by Major John M. Keefe (1994)(pp36, ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
10 votes
2 answers
455 views

Why was the Kamchatka Regiment sent?

About 1800, Major-General Andrey Somov headed a regiment sent from Irkutsk to reinforce Kamchatka. Soldiers were to take up positions in about five garrisons around the peninsula. Feeding them was a ...
Aaron Brick's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
936 views

Did armored cavalry have an advantage over unarmored cavalry in 18th/19th century?

Armor was being phased out during the 1500's as muskets capable of penetrating armor proliferated. By the 18th century, hardly any units on the European battlefields wore armor. Except for one - the ...
Evil Washing Machine's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

Liking and disliking among the Napoleonic Marshalls of the Empire

It is anecdotical but I want to know if the Marshalls of the Empire appointed by Napoleon got well along or if they could hardly tolerate each other. I'm specially interested in Lannes, Davout, ...
Brasidas's user avatar
  • 3,179
3 votes
4 answers
2k views

What music did a Napoleonic era campaigning soldier hear?

I'd like to know what sort of music the common soldier would have heard while on campaign, regardless of nationality. For instance: What was the Imperial Guard singing on entering Russia? What sort ...
user avatar
-1 votes
4 answers
2k views

Why did the other Continental European powers keep trying to fight Napoleon before 1813 despite being beaten by him so often?

In the Napoleonic Wars the other major powers of Continental Europe, especially Austria but also Prussia and Russia, seemed to keep coming back every few years to have another go at fighting Napoleon, ...
Timothy's user avatar
  • 5,621
2 votes
1 answer
1k views

During the Peninsula War, what British material aid was given to Spain/Portugal?

The Peninsular War saw France intervene on the Iberian Peninsula, first against Portugal, then against Spain. It lasted roughly from 1808 - 1814. I would like to know what material Britain gave to ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 17.3k
7 votes
5 answers
1k views

During and right after the French Revolution, how did France maintain and operate such a big army all over Europe?

During revolutions or civil wars, countries usually suffer enormous economic losses along with much civil unrest. These things would seem to make it impossible for a nation to operate a huge army and ...
DrZ214's user avatar
  • 17.3k
4 votes
1 answer
1k views

GDP for World Powers during the Napoleonic Era?

What was the GDP for the strongest world Powers during the Napoleonic Era? Powers like United Kingdom, France, Prussia, Russia, Austria, Holland, Spain, Denmark, United States, China, Ottoman Empire ...
Ole Petersen's user avatar
  • 1,883
3 votes
2 answers
410 views

Losses in reserve units during battles in Napoleonic wars

Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace famously contains a fictional account of the Battle of Borodino in 1812. In it, Prince Andrei Bolkonsky's regiment suffers losses from hostile artillery fire while still ...
Drux's user avatar
  • 14.4k
2 votes
1 answer
123 views

Did "el Empecinado" fight in the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (1810)?

I'm writing a little piece on Juan Martín Díez, el Empecinado (the most famous Spanish guerrilla leader of the Peninsular War), and I need to know if he took part in the defence of Ciudad Rodrigo ...
Brasidas's user avatar
  • 3,179