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58 votes
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How were Martello towers supposed to work?

That was the whole idea behind it. Not every bit of coastline is liable to invasion. Only on certain beaches troops could be landed. Steep cliffs and dangerous shallows didn't need protection. Place a ...
Jos's user avatar
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43 votes
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Capturing a much larger ship?

Yes, the bit in Master and Commander was based upon the real life action between the 14-gun H.M.B Speedy and a Spanish 32-gun Xebec-frigate named El Gamo in 1801. The British commander, Lord Thomas ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
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32 votes

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

In his book Pushing to the Front (1894), Orison Swett Marden wrote: Napoleon laid great stress upon that ‘supreme moment,’ that ‘nick of time’ which occurs in every battle, to take advantage of ...
José Carlos Santos's user avatar
32 votes

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

From inspecting the French and Russian Orders of Battle for Borodino, I get a rough total of 113,000 musket-armed French with 700 guns against 106,000 musket-armed Russians with 614 guns. In total, ...
Pieter Geerkens's user avatar
31 votes
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Are there historical instances of the capital of a colonising country being temporarily or permanently shifted to one of its colonies?

You might count Free France from 1940–1944: Capital: Brazzaville (1940–1943) Algiers (1943–1944) Like Byzantium (that is Roman Empire capital becoming Constantinople), Trier ...
LаngLаngС's user avatar
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30 votes
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Which general rebuked the King of England over logistics?

This is a famous if apocryphal letter, traditionally attributed to Wellington during the Peninsular War, though I wouldn't be surprised if a variant floating around transposed it to America a ...
Andrew is gone's user avatar
28 votes
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Did Napoleon plan to invade India?

The answer is a very solid yes although I'd prefer the word Intervene rather than invade. India was one of the key possessions of British and Indian trade was crucial to British economy at that time....
NSNoob's user avatar
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28 votes

How were Martello towers supposed to work?

I think that the towers have to be considered in context. They were just part of the defenses, which included gunboats and inland fortifications, that were intended to repel a French invasion during ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
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26 votes
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What are these hats and the function of those wearing them (worn by the Russian imperial army at Borodino)?

Those seem like the mitre caps which would be part of grenadier uniform in many armies of the time, including imperial Russia. I don't have a good source there but here's an example of a very similar ...
Peteris's user avatar
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20 votes

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

Taipei Kuomintang's Republic of China moved its capital from Chengdu (and originally, from Nanjing) to Taipei, Taiwan on 7 December 1949, after several defeats against Chinese Communists. Officially ...
Evargalo's user avatar
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17 votes

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

A quick search on the HMS Victory leads us to militarynavalhistory.net, where they have this to say concerning the armaments of the Victory: The armament comprised thirty 32-pound cannons in the ...
justCal's user avatar
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16 votes
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What is the origin of this pre-industrial naval depiction

Based on your reading of the signature I did some googling and can offer the hypothesis (just a guess, really) that the artist might be Rudolf Claudus. He was a naval painter of note who was ...
Felix Goldberg's user avatar
15 votes
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Why did Napoleon divide his army during the retreat from Smolensk?

Organization of disorganization First of all, we must note that armies in general tend not to travel in one enormous body of men, horses, vehicles etc ... This was true in Napoleonic times as it is ...
rs.29's user avatar
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13 votes
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Why did water stored on premodern ships "go brackish" or "go bad" while at sea?

I think there are a few issues to consider. Firstly, how pure is the water to start with? Even in their home ports, the water was often taken from local water sources that wouldn't be considered ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
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12 votes

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

The French revolution was truly revolutionary, it replaced the monarchy with a regime based on popular support. A king had to hire mercenaries, the revolutionary regime could draft patriotic citizens ...
o.m.'s user avatar
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11 votes

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

The French Revolution was more empowering than debilitating. Put another way, it awoke a sleeping giant. At the time of the Revolution, France was the second most populous country in Europe (after ...
Tom Au's user avatar
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11 votes
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Why were some Napoleonic battles fought at sea?

By the time of the Napoleonic Wars, most of the European nations had overseas empires and trade missions. International commerce was reliant on sea transport (and even what was essentially 'internal' ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.8k
11 votes

Until when did Russia occupy Paris after 1814

It would appear the 1814 occupation of Paris lasted for 2 months, beginning on March 31,1814, the culmination of the Battle of Paris On March 31 Talleyrand gave the key of the city to the Tsar. Later ...
justCal's user avatar
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11 votes
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Where did France build up its fleet in 1805-1814?

Where were these 80 French Ships of the Line constructed? In all of the same ports, harbors and rivers of France that the previous ships had been, with the addition of other construction yards in ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.8k
10 votes

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

Marden is possibly cribbing from chapter 7 of John Gibson Lockhart's The history of Napoleon Buonaparte which seems to have been published in 1829 and reissued many times since. Lockhart wrote about ...
kimchi lover's user avatar
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10 votes
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What do we know about the squadron that evacuated Moore's force after Corunna?

The Naval Chronicle (Vol 21) gives some additional information on the rescue fleet (that gives a significantly larger value for the number of transports). Plymouth, Jan. 23. Arrived this morning ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.8k
10 votes

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

The noise of a firearm comes from the free-air expansion of high-pressure gas escaping the muzzle. The sound from multiple guns does not add up linearly. Each gun's sound is a single pulse of pressure....
Therac's user avatar
  • 201
9 votes

How accurate is the book "Rifleman Dodd"?

Rifleman Dodd is a work of fiction that is based upon and in real world events. Forester was a keen history buff and he did a lot of research which went into his books. For example, his more famous ...
Steve Bird's user avatar
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9 votes
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During the Peninsula War, what British material aid was given to Spain/Portugal?

The most significant contribution that Britain made to the Portuguese and Spanish military was in the form of cash. This allowed them to recruit & pay their soldiers and supply them with food &...
Steve Bird's user avatar
  • 19.8k
9 votes

How were Martello towers supposed to work?

From BBC History site: Martello Towers were the idea of Captain William Ford of the Royal Engineers and they were sited roughly 600 yards apart and each mounted a long-range 24 pounder cannon. ...
J Asia's user avatar
  • 6,323
8 votes

Was the Napoleonic era cavalry armour effective against firearms?

Without getting too involved in a discussion of terminal ballistics, the Napoleonic period armour certainly offered some protection against firearms, but it was only effective up to a point. This ...
sempaiscuba's user avatar
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8 votes
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Did armored cavalry have an advantage over unarmored cavalry in 18th/19th century?

The advantage of wearing cuirass was obviously protection. As you noted, it could deflect pistol shots, and in theory even muskets at distance. Perhaps the main benefit however, was in fact against ...
Semaphore's user avatar
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8 votes
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Why did Napoleon change his mind and continue the attack into Russia?

Article you quoted is rather simplistic and sensationalistic. Napoleon invaded Russia to force her to join his new European order (like other European nations, Austria, Prussia etc ..), especially his ...
rs.29's user avatar
  • 11.3k
8 votes

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

When Alexander attacked Tyre, which was the largest and most populous Phoenician city, large parts of the city were evacuated to Carthage. Carthage was most definitely a colony of Tyre, even if you ...
ed.hank's user avatar
  • 6,685
8 votes

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

I'm not sure that I've the depth of information that you require but the following might be of use as a pointer for others. Transportation of troops (and all their supplies) during the French ...
KillingTime's user avatar
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