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Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic Wars lasted from 1803 until 1815. They were an continuation of the conflicts sparked by the French Revolution.

The First Coalition (1793-1795) had been the first attempt to crush republicanism. Defeated by the French efforts - levée en masse, military reform, total war. The Second Coalition[?] (1798-1800) was no more effective. Napoleon Bonaparte had come to control the French state since 1796. But he was unable to invade Britain directly, so boldly offered a double threat, invading Egypt in the summer of 1798 and mounting another expedition to Ireland. The French fleet was defeated by Horatio Nelson in the Battle of the Nile (August 1) at Aboukir (Abu Qir) and the Irish problem was quickly contained. Napoleon was trapped in Egypt and the old members of the First Coalition, excluding Prussia, quickly took advantage of this seeming lapse. Early victories in Switzerland and Italy were promising, but Russia withdrew; the British declined to engage and the Austrians were left to face the returning Napoleon at Marengo (June 14, 1800) and then at Hohenlinden (December 3). The bloodied Austrians temporarily left the conflict after the Treaty of Lunéville (February 1801).

The Treaty of Amiens (1802) made peace between Britain and France, marked the final collapse of the Second Coalition. The French "perfidity" led to Britain refusing to honour the treaty and the renewal of hostilities from May 18, 1803. The conflict changed over its course from a general desire to restore the French monarchy into an almost manichean struggle against Bonaparte.

Suppression of Robert Emmet's Irish rising of July, 1803

Bonaparte declared the empire on May 28 and was crowned Emperor at Notre-Dame on December 2, 1804.

William Pitt the Younger, back in office. The Third Coalition

The planned invasion of England. An invasion force of 150,000 at Boulogne. Army vs. Navy. Pierre de Villeneuve[?], blockaded in Cadiz. Left for Naples on October 19, caught and defeated at Trafalgar (October 22).

1805 April: Britain and Russia sign a treaty to liberate Holland and Switzerland. Austria joins the alliance in May (?), after the annexation of Genoa and the proclamation of Napoleon as King of Italy. French army moved from Boulogne in late July, 1805. At Ulm[?] (September 25 - October 20) the French defeated 70,000 Austrians under Karl Mack von Leiberich[?]. Austerlitz (December 2) was another massive Russian-Austrian defeat. Treaty of Pressburg.

Germany, Confederation of the Rhine[?]. Hanseatic towns. Prussians declare war alone. Defeated at Jena and Auerstädt[?] (October 14. 1806). Napoleon in Berlin 27th.

Russians, 1806. Stalemate at Eylau (February 7-8), but routed at Friedland (June 14). Alexander I and Naopoleon made peace at Tilsit[?] (July 7, 1807). Congress of Erfurt[?] (1808).

Britain alone, again. British military activity was reduced to a succession of small victories in the French colonies and another naval victory at Copenhagen (September 2, 1807). On land only the disastrous Walcheren Expedition (1809) was attempted. The struggle then centred over economic warfare - Continental System vs. naval blockade. Both sides entered conflicts trying to enforce their blockade - the British the Anglo-American War (1812-1814) and the French the much more serious Peninsular War (1808-1814); Portugal, Bayonne (April), guerillas, Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington).

Industrial Revolution.

1809 Austria attacks into Bavaria. Defeated at Wagram, July 5-6. Treaty of Schönbrunn[?] (October 14, 1809).

1810 French empire reaches its greatest extent. Naopoleon marries Marie-Louise. As well as the French empire, Napoleon controlled the Swiss Confederation, the Confederation of the Rhine, and the Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Allied territories included: the Kingdom of Spain (Joseph Bonaparte); Kingdom of Westphalia (Jerome Bonaparte); the Kingdom of Italy (Eugène de Beauharnais, son of Joséphine (Napoleon was king)); the Kingdom of Naples (Joachim Murat, brother-in-law); Principality of Lucca and Piombino[?] (Felix Bacciochi, brother-in-law).

Russia. 1812. Grande Armée, 600,000 men (270,000 French), crossed the Niemen River June 23, 1812. Russian policy of retreat and scorched earth. Borodino (September 7), bloody but indecisive. 14th Moscow captured and largely burned. Alexander I refused to deal. Great Retreat, 275,000 casualties, 200,000 captured. By November only 10,000 fit soldiers were among those who crossed the Berezina River. Napoleon returned to Paris in December.

At Vitoria (June 21, 1813) the French power in Spain was finally broken. Arthur Wellesley vs. Joseph Bonaparte. French forced to retreat out of Spain, over the Pyrenees.

Austria and Prussia re-enter the war. France had small victories at Lützen (May 2) and Bautzen (May 20-21) over Russo-Prussian forces. Battle of Leipzig (October 16-19, 1813), Battle of the Nations: 195,000 French, 350,000 Allies; 110,000 casualties. Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube. Treaty of Chaumont[?] (March 9). Allies enter Paris, March 31, 1814. Napoleon abdicated April 6. Treaty of Fontainebleau[?].

Elba. Bourbon Restoration.

Hundred Days. Napoleon landed at Cannes, March 1, 1815. Raised 280,000 men. Attacked the Allies in Belgium, intending to take Wellington and Blucher in turn. Ligny (June 15), he defeated the Prussians, they retreated to Wavre. At Quatre Bras on same day Wellington was held. Battle of Waterloo (June 18). Napoleon abdicates again June 22, 1815. Saint Helena.



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