In 1812 the most powerful man in the world assembled the largest army in history and marched on Moscow with the intention of consolidating his dominion. But within months, Napoleon’s invasion of Russia – history’s first example of total war – had turned into an epic military disaster. Over 400,000 French and Allied troops perished and Napoleon was forced to retreat.
Adam Zamoyski’s masterful work draws on the harrowing first-hand accounts of soldiers and civilians on both sides of the conflict. The result takes the reader beyond the invasion of Russia to present both a poignant tale of the individual foot soldier and a sweeping history of a turbulent time.
There is a mass of literature on Napoleon and his times, yet there are only a handful of scholarly works that seek to cover the Napoleonic Wars in their entirety, and fewer still that place the conflict in any broader framework. This study redresses the balance. Drawing on recent findings and applying a 'total' history approach, it explores the causes and effects of the conflict, and places it in the context of the evolution of modern warfare. It reappraises the most significant and controversial military ventures, including the war at sea and Napoleon's campaigns of 1805-9. The study gives an insight into the factors that shaped the war, setting the struggle in its wider economic, cultural, political and intellectual dimensions.
In early July 1809 Napoleon crossed the Danube with 187,000 men to confront the Austrian Archduke Charles and an army of 145,000 men. The fighting that followed dwarfed in intensity and scale any previous Napoleonic battlefield, perhaps any in history: casualties on each side were over 30,000. The Austrians fought with great determination, but eventually the Emperor won a narrow victory. Wagram was decisive in that it compelled Austria to make peace. It also heralded a new, altogether greater order of warfare, anticipating the massed manpower and weight of fire deployed much later in the battles of the American Civil War and then at Verdun and on the Somme.
The author moves from a comparative study of French and Prussian forces to campaign narrative and strategic analysis. He examines processes of change in institutions and doctrine, as well as their dependence on social and political developments, and interprets works of art and literature as indicators of popular and elite attitudes toward war, which influence the conduct of war and the kind and extent of military innovation. In the concluding chapter he addresses the impact of 1806 on two men who fought on opposing sides in the campaign and sought a new theoretical understanding of war--Henri Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz.
Fields of history that are often kept separate are brought together in this book, which seeks to replicate the links between different areas of thought and action as they exist in reality and shape events.
The book introduces the reader to the rise of Napoleon and the wider diplomatic and political context before analysing such subjects as how France came to dominate Europe; the impact of French conquest and the spread of French ideas; the response of European powers; the experience of the conflicts of 1799–1815 on such areas of the world as the West Indies, India and South America; the reasons why Napoleon’s triumph proved ephemeral; and the long-term impact of the period. This second edition has been revised throughout to include a completely re-written section on collaboration and resistance, a new chapter on the impact of the Napoleonic Wars in the wider world and material on the various ways in which women became involved in, or were affected by, the conflict.
Thoroughly updated and offering students a view of the subject that challenges many preconceived ideas, The Wars of Napoleon remains an essential resource for all students of the French Revolutionary Wars as well as students of European and military history during this period.