September 27th, 2021

Read about end of Napoleon's campaign in Italy against the Austrians. It seems there was a lot of gambling and luck that resulted in one Austian army surrendering before Napoleon turned towards Vienna. There's no chance he could've have taken Vienna and probably would have lost everything behind him once he left the area, but I guess war weariness got to the Austrians and a settlement was agreed to. Fortuna fortes adjuvat or whatever they say. Obviously Napoleon is competent, but could another man with equal determinedness have accomplished this victory? Probably. Throwing men to the meat grinder is easy if you're indifferent to their lives. I would have like more maps of the campaign. There is one large, general map, but it lacks terrain and many towns mentioned, especially in the Papal States. More detailed, smaller scale maps would have been better.

September 28th, 2021

A rather boring chapter today. The author misused the word "literally". It kind of drones on about Napoleon concluding peace with Austria at Campo Formio, which is interesting, and goes through his summoning to France and abandoned invasion of England, which is not. It's just setting up for the invasion of Egypt. The Treaty of Campo Formio was a big deal, removing Austria from the war and legitimizing French conquests of Lombardy, Belgium/Netherlands, and territories up to the Rhine. I also like that it was essentially signed out of spite after Napoleon caught wind that he was to be sent back to France. I don't know of many instances in history where a war is ended out of spite.

September 29th, 2021

The author uses too many exclamation points. I think that's bad form. It's interesting how much a short-sighted and delusional man like Napoleon was able to accomplish. He had some crazy ideas about war with England, invading Britain, India, and Egypt all at the same time. He should have known how unrealistic that would be after barely succeeding in Italy, which did not require any sort of navy. Yet somehow, he still finds a way to make it out on top. I guess the cunning side outweighs the dreamer side. After 7 years of war, it's shocking that France even found a way to take Egypt, though I already know it won't end well for them. The warfront constantly expands, and even though half the men who started the war were sent to the guillotine, a war started is hard to stop.

September 30th, 2021

I got distracted and don't really remember what I read. Not a whole lot happened. Still no invasion of Egypt yet. Napoleon was going to go to some conference in Austria, but acted like a hot-head and the Directory changed their minds. Seems like it was a bad idea to begin with. I never met the guy, but I get the feeling you can tell after one conversation that you wouldn't be able to trust Napoleon behind your back.

October 1st, 2021

Some more filler info about the lead up to setting sail to Egypt. Somehow, they managed to get it together and move out. There was some information on the number of ships, types of ships, but I wasn't really interested. I never cared much for naval history. There were a few pages about Gaspard Monge, a scientist who became a close friend of Napoleon in Italy. He seems to have been an interesting man, but an extreme Jacobin of the Robespierre type. I do not like or agree with the Jacobins. Bloodshed and massacre will not bring equality. The attempt to appeal to the lowest rungs of society and use them as an army to force your will is disgusting. Direct democracy is mob rule and a horrible idea. I can't imagine living in Paris at that time and not developing a strong distaste for the masses, like Napoleon did.

October 4th, 2021

Mostly a continuation of the journey to Egypt, the French navy stopped to take Malta along the way. As a result of some cunning espionage, Napoleon knew the formidable and unconquerable fortress was barely occupied by, and after some pretense of not being able to get fresh water, launched a short attack. The Knights and Maltese surrendered after only a few hours and the island became a Napoleonic republic. During all this, Admiral Nelson’s English fleet had not only caught up to Napoleon, but reached Alexandria before him, and left after finding no sign of the French. This led to Napoleon, after reaching Alexandria, to changing his plans and foolishly attempted to land in the middle of a severe storm. With dozens of men drowned and no provisions, the French marched on Alexandria and took the city after a few hours. While he proclaimed that only the Mamelukes were their target and that all Egyptian property and institutions would be spared, there is no way he could have guaranteed that without executing hundreds of soldiers. Even then, many of his soldiers were to face death by hunger or thirst in the unproviding desert.

October 5th, 2021

There was more information on the first 3 weeks or so of Napoleon’s Egypt campaign. Most of it was describing the unpreparedness and incompetence of the army, with men dying for hunger and thirst, cavalrymen and transport without horses, and no maps to speak of. They slowly spread throughout the Nile delta, taking towns between long, deadly marches in the desert, while being raided by Bedouins and Arabs. After a battle or two with the Mamelukes, the French army marches towards Cairo, before the army collapses, for a coup-de-grace for the control of the country.

October 6th, 2021

The Battle of the Pyramids is much less eventful than its name sounds. More or less one repulsed, though brave, Mameluke cavalry charge and the whole army collapsed. Napoleon was able to get Cairo to surrender that same day. A week or so later, the British fleet finally found the French fleet. The French had not left Abukir Bay since the July 3rd landing, unable to enter the shallow and outdated Alexandria docks. Not wanting the to abandon the army, Admiral Brueys stayed in place instead of finding safer, more distant waters. Stuck in place for weeks with little food, much of which was taken by Napoleon, the crews were weak and dwindling. Napoleon, famous for his empty promises, said food would be coming. However, by August 1st the British attacked immediately after finding the French position. The fight raged through the night and next day, with the French surrendering the 3rd. The book says July 3rd, which is not the first error I’ve found in it. The author previously said something that had taken place in Louis XV’s reign had taken place in Louis XVI’s. You’d think times and dates would be of high importance in a history book. Anyway, the French fleet was essentially destroyed.

October 7th, 2021

Finished up the aftermath of the Battle of Abukir Bay and Napoleon’s blatant lies sent back to the Directory. He seems to have had no shame when it came to hiding from blame. I guess when your ego is that big, it is a non-issue. Only your image and desires matter. This was followed up with some information on the ongoing struggle for supremacy and governing of Egypt. Some institutes and councils were set up to steer the country, but the Mameluke armies and other raiders were still at large. Outside the captured cities, the country was very deadly for the French. They had very little support from the natives. With the fleet destroyed, there was no hope of returning to France. With a black spot on his record, it was during this time that Napoleon starts to plan further conquest of the Middle East. Also, his wife is still cheating on him. Napoleon is a sad little man.

October 8th, 2021

The book keeps going on about how nobody likes Napoleon and how Napoleon doesn’t like anybody. There were a few pages on the arguments between him and General Kleber, now governor of Alexandria, which escalated to Kleber’s resignation, which of course Napoleon would not forgive. I’m glossing over some things, but that’s how I remember it. Then the book tells about an uprising in Cairo after Napoleon planned to tax religious lands, which had never been done in the 1000 year Muslim history of Egypt. This turned in to street-to-street fighting, with the Arab insurgents fortifying a Mosque. After a day or two, French artillery was able to decimate the stronghold and razed it to the ground. A few hundred French were killed, and a few thousand Cairo citizens. A few hundred more Arabs were beheaded for their roles in the uprising. So much for winning the hearts and minds.

October 11th, 2021

Napoleon’s Syrian campaign did not last long. There’s not much to say. There were some unexpected fortresses along the way in the Sinai and they took Gaza pretty easily. The Battle of Jaffa started with the beheading of a French envoy and ended with the massacre of 2000 Arab POWs. During this time the region is suffering from an outbreak of the plague. The siege of Acre went horribly for the French. Despite them being the invaders, and thus the bad guy, I find myself rooting for them. It probably helps that I already know they lose. The French are unable to break through the walls of Acre. In spite of this, Napoleon claims victory and starts a long march back to Cairo, after losing 3 generals and 4000 men. Once reaching Cairo, it seems he will be planning his return to France and his coup.

October 12th, 2021

Unexpectedly, the Turks with a British and Russian naval escort were able to coordinate an attack on the Egyptian coast. Napolean was able to quickly organize a defense, pulling troops from all over the country. With the Turks dug-in on the beach, the French launched an artillery and calvary assault that drove them into the sea, with 4000 Turks drowning in attempts to flee. Shortly after this victory, Napolean with 4 ships fled the country, abandoning Egypt to Kleber. Kleber would be assassinated in the next year, and ultimately the French would surrender to England in 1801. Despite all his failures and mistakes, he is greeted by the French population as a hero. Before the coup, there is a chapter on Emmanuel Sieyes, a priest turned revolutionary politician.

October 13th, 2021

Sieyes seems to be a hard Jacobin who kept to himself in order to avoid the axe. He somehow managed to avoid the Jacobin purges after the Constitution of Year III came about and managed to become a director. Following many military defeats by the Second Coalition, France was unstable. There were royalist, “communist”, and other uprisings throughout the country. Sieyes was looking for a general to help him orchestrate a coup d’état to abolish the directory and establish a dual consulship. Reluctantly, he had to look towards Napoleon, who just happened to arrive from Egypt. General Barras was another revolutionary who avoided death by the Committee of Public Safety and became a Director. He orchestrated his own purges of Jacobins and other undesirables, having ejected other directors he did not want. Before all this, he was the General responsible for Napoleons rise to fame and rapid promotions. His Directory was looked as corrupt and decadent, and many Parisians saw it as a decline in the government. The power struggle between these two men will come to a head as Napoleon makes his way back to Paris.

October 14th, 2021

I didn’t retain much of what I read today. It was mostly just setup to Napoleon’s coup. Thanks to Barras’ care or indifference, Napoleon was not charged with desertion. The chapter then goes to lengths of the plotting between Napoleon, Talleyrand, Sieyes, and various other politicians. Barras, knowing full well what is going on, does nothing because he thinks Napoleon is too popular a figure, and Sieyes too influential. Sieyes and Napoleon absolutely hate each other, but slowly agree to work with each other to achieve their goals. At this point Sieyes uses his influences to get the Ancients to replace (illegal) the general in charge of Parisian forces with Napoleon. The Ancients and 500 then vote to move out of the city to avoid a phony Jacobin plot to St. Cloud. I believe the coup will occur the next day, with some bungling.

October 15th, 2021

The coup occurred over two days, with the first day mainly involving having Barras and the other Directors resign, deploying troops and leaflets, and getting the 500 and Ancients out of town. The next day, 19 Brumaire, was not so easy. Lucien Bonaparte, president of the Council of 500 (despite being 6 years younger than the legal minimum age), was not able to control the mostly Jacobin deputies. The Council of Ancients, despite being more well controlled, also put up a defense. This dragged on, and Napoleon and Sieyes waited upstairs for hours with no knowledge of the proceedings. Napoleon, impatient as ever, walked addressed the Ancients and gave a pathetic speech. Then he marched into the irate Council of 500 and was met with pure vitriol. One deputy even grabbed him by the collar. At this point, the Bonaparte brothers left and weakly attempted to rile up the troops. Eventually Murat ordered them to charge against he 500 and break up the session. Later the Ancients forced through some legal proceedings that abolished the Constitution of Year III and established the Consulship. Despite the poor show, Napoleon pulled off his coup. The next chapter jumps a year and talks about Joesph Bonaparte and a treaty with the Americans avoiding war. I think it will then jump back to the beginning of the Consulship.

October 18th, 2021

I got distracted again and left my desk to avoid having to answer the front door. From what I remember of this chapter, it discussed a little of Napoleon’s new consulship. Sieyes’ constitution was adopted, before he and the third consul were pushed out and replaced. There were three weak legislative houses: one that proposed legislation, one that debated it, and one that voted on it. Eventually the prosing house, the only one with real power, was filled with Napoleonic cronies. The real power rested in Napoleon’s State Council, which proved so effective that it remained the basis of French executive power ever since. This information was followed by some narrative about Joeseph and Napoleon’s relationship, and the successes of Joeseph in politics. Eventually he was eclipsed by Napoleon, despite being the older brother and head of the family. What made things worse was when the important job of minister of the interior was given not to Joesph, but to younger brother Lucien. Lucien had next to no education or experience, but was rewarded for his role in the coup as President of the 500. Due to his general ineptitude, this will prove to have been a big mistake on Napoleon’s part.

October 19th, 2021

I got distracted again. I’m really losing my stride. Let’s see what I remember. It finished discussing Napoleon’s brother Lucien, who had a long fall from grace. A staunch Jacobin, he often clashed with his brother with no remorse. Due to his flaunting of wealth and other scandals, he was demoted to ambassador to Spain, agreed to a peace treaty, after accepting millions of dollars in diamonds and paintings, which was then rejected by Napoleon. He then secretly fled back to France, married a new mistress, and fled to Italy. The next chapter discusses Talleyrand and his rise to power, eventually becoming Director, then Napoleon’s Foreign Minister, and being very close to him despite they divergent opinions on foreign policy.

October 20th, 2021

This next chapter discusses Fouche, the minister of police in Napoleon’s regime. Pure human garbage, he started off as a teacher in an Oratory before the Revolution. He ended up in politics and changed sides many times, starting off as a Mirabeau-esque constitutional monarchist, then a Girondin, then an extreme Jacobin. During the Reign of Terror, he was in Lyons destroying the church and executing thousands of the gentry. After the fall of Robespierre, he became the minister of police under the Directory. In this role, his main job seemed to be stomping out the Jacobin extremism he recently killed thousands of civilians for. While plotting to overthrow the Directory and become head of the government, he learned of Napoleon’s similar scheme. Despite their mutual hatred, they needed each other to succeed, and Napolean depended greatly on Fouche’s spying and maintaining of order. Fouche’s second, Dubois, was in charge of similar information gathering and protecting the individuals of the government and Bonaparte clan. I guess there’s more to follow on him.

October 21st, 2021

This chapter was more about Fouche. It went on about how he was a sadistic man only interested in gaining absolute power for himself. He had no interest in socializing or society but was a beloved family man. Despite the animosity between him and Napoleon, they got on great together. He was not very principled and, like a chameleon, hid behind the prevailing view of the day. I guess I get it, though I cannot support the sadism. Massacre innocent people in order to loot the town is now something I can get behind. Sure, with absolute power, you’re going to have to kill some people. You won’t keep power for long if you let people get away with undermining your authority. But letting mobs form in the streets to chop up nuns with knives is not a way to cement power. Mob rule will eventually turn against you and swallow you up. Look at Robespierre. Fouche probably survived because he massacred in the provinces and could return to Paris and adapt to the new regime. What a jerk.

October 22nd, 2021

This chapter was interesting but there’s not much information to retain about it. It’s mostly a narrative about many assassination attempts after the coup. What the author called Chouans, or western/Breton royalist and rebels, were behind several. Some of these were backed by the English government. That’s pretty much all I got out of it.

October 24th, 2021

A History of Russia Today's chapter was about economics and society from Alexander II to end of Nicholas II, or 1861-1917. The economics is rather boring, just information on industrialization and the rise of capitalism. A majority of Russian industry was invested or partly owned by the French, German, or British. Most of the industrial growth was organized by the government, as there was not really a “market” in Russia which would incentivize the wealthy into investing. For society, it went on at great lengths on the rural peasants. After their emancipation, they mostly carried on their communal life. The communes, with their regular redistribution of land, may have kept individuals from being personally invested in a plot and gave no incentive of making improvement. Population skyrocketed and there were no technological adaptations needed to feed more people. They were also heavily taxed. This led to much unrest and uprisings against landlords. Land reform in the first decade of the 1900s permitted peasants to take land and leave the commune, which around 25% of the population had done by the war. During this time, there was a large increase in the urban working class. Like many other countries at this time, urban living conditions were deplorable and working conditions were unfair. The government passed some working reform conditions and after 1905 legalized unions, but there was constant struggle with the owners and the government/police. Strikes were regular. Good. Power to the people. If the government would treat people like humans and not machinery, there would be much more rational action and less emotional. The moderate socialists would be able to represent the people, but unfair practices cause people to turn to radicals such as the Bolsheviks. Urban life also let to the working class becoming cultured and literate. Education makes people more aware of just how awful they're being treated.

October 25th, 2021

First Consul Napoleon declared after becoming consul, “The Revolution is over.” Abolishing the last constitution, he promised the people the right to property, equality, and representation. While he tried on the first two counts, democratic representation was what he spent the rest of his career trying to suppress. He and his State Council worked on and enacting in 1804 the Civil Code, which was the law of the land and became the laws of several other European countries. I believe it is the basis of a few modern constitutions still. I’ve only read a little about it before, but in comparison to the wide range of opinions on Napoleon as a person and general, his Civil Code is looked upon favorably. He considered it the most important work of his life. During this time was the Concordat, or the normalizing of relations between France and the Vatican. This was solely to pacify the Catholic population, as Napoleon was indifferent to any form of religion. This took a major weapon away from the Bourbons and Louis XVIII, who for the last decade were the bastion of French Catholicism. Napoleon enacted the Legion of Honor, which was controversial and appalled Jacobins, and expanded conscription and education. Education was to be uniform and controlled by Napoleon himself. War was also to continue.

October 26th, 2021

War continued with Austria and England. Austria had recaptured much of its Italian territories in 1800-1801, and Napoleon spend his time extorting millions of francs from wealthy French, Dutch, Belgian, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese to raise an army. He then led a second Italian campaign, taking generals from Egypt to help fight. This culminated in the battle of Marengo, which started off terribly for the French. Something like 18k French against 38k Austrian nearly ended in French surrender, but a last-ditch counterattack penetrated the Austrian lines and became a total victory. The Austrians requested an armistice which led to a peace treaty, and the agreements of Campo Formio were reconfirmed. Shortly after this, the French expedition in Egypt surrendered. Despite their overwhelming success, the English were just as war-weary as the French and agreed to the Peace of Amiens. The English gave up much of the captured territory while the French were to remove troops from Egypt and certain Italian territories. In 1802 or 1803, Napoleon passed his Constitution of Year X and was also elected as Consul another 10 years. Both were more cases of voter fraud by his brother Lucien, but the image is all that mattered to Napoleon. In 1802/3, instead of taking the time of peace and repairing France after years of chaos, Napoleon was looking for ways he could wage war in England itself.

October 27th, 2021

I continued the chapter on the renewal of hostilities between France and England. It went on about naval affairs, which are dull. Napoleon planned to invade England with 120k troops on some modified river boats. Not only were these boats never tested, but they didn’t even have ports close enough to launch a viable invasion with them. Napoleon could not be convinced otherwise. He conscripted works and forced loans out of individuals from France and Belgium. The “independent” Batavian Republic, the Netherlands, was forced to provide almost half of the warships, while their ports were forcefully closed to English trade. Robbed and with their income devastated, the Netherlands had no choice but to give in to Napoleon. Could England have prevented this? If all the Dutch ships were to go over to England before being taken by the French, this would have crippled the French invasion fleet. But then a French army would of course march into the Netherlands, not counting any standing army that was already there. An English army would also be required to repel this. Probably not very feasible.

October 28th, 2021

Read more about the planned invasion of England. Not much was going right. Napoleon had picked a poor location for a harbor, which had to be built from scratch and under English bombardment. Ship building was slow because the government was not paying the contractors and armies were being sent to locations where not a single barracks existed. Napoleons Chief of Staff and War Minister Berthier was fortunately competent enough to provide for the army. Money was still being extorted from the Italians and the Dutch, who essentially provided the whole of the current French navy. The French coasts were essentially undefended and British ships were able to get very close for their bombardments. Napoleon micromanaged the affair until the coast through the Netherlands was fitted with large batteries to keep the British at bay. All of this cost and exorbitant amount of money that the French did not have. War in general is a complete waste of money. How often do preparations lead to nothing, or gains lost and the status quo maintained? Defense is an understandable cost, within reason, but an offensive war will leave most destitute and provide profit for a select few.

October 29th, 2021

In 1804, Napoleon was “elected” by the Senate to be Emperor and “elected” by the people. Of course the Senate was coerced, or filled with Napoleon’s yes-men, and the election results of the population were fraudulent. Power is half façade. This chapter mostly delved into the personal consequences of the establishment of the Empire for Napoleon. Lucien, already written off, was not included. Their mother, with no mutual love between her and Napoleon, spend the coronation in Rome with him. Jerome was also kept to the side because he was a bit of a wild card. Older brother Joesph was not included in succession, nor his daughters, and was enraged. His jealousy was assuaged a little with a Prince’s title and a future kingship, I believe in Spain. Unless Napoleon had children, the throne would pass to the sons of Louis, who by this point was completely insane. The depth of his insanity not known to his brother, Louis was given Joesphine’s daughter in marriage, and she was to be emotionally and mentally tortured. Their marriage did result in sons, one of whom would be the future Napoleon III of the Second Empire. Napoleon’s sisters despised Joesphine and resented his control over their lives. It’s not often you pity Napoleon.

November 1st, 2021

The chapter on Napoleon’s coronation finished and mainly described the actual moment of coronation, with the famous scene of Napoleon’s self-crowning. The next chapter describes further Napoleon’s plans for the invasion of England. There is a lot in this book about something that never happened. Essentially in 1805, Napoleon went through 9 separate plans for invading England and various naval movements in Ireland, the Caribbean, and India. The latter two would be detrimental to the economy of England, so we’ll see if anything comes of them. It also goes to great lengths to explain the poor standing of the French navy and the utter incompetence of the Admiral at Boulogne, Villeneuve.

November 2nd, 2021

The story of the French navy continues with Villeneuve sailing to Caribbean, doing nothing, and fleeing from Admiral Nelson to Spain. Horatio Nelson was pursing with a singleness of purpose after Villeneuve managed to set sail from France to the Atlantic. Villeneuve had received changes to Napoleon’s plans in the Caribbean and again in Spain, but had overall complied with none of his orders. An irate Napoleon ordered Decres to replace Villeneuve, who had got wind of this news and set sail from Spain before he could be removed from command. He did not get far before Admiral Nelson caught up at the Cape of Trafalgar, leading to the famous battle. The French fleet was trounced, and Nelson lost his life but not a single ship, ending any hope of invading England. Napoleon had wasted two years, millions of francs, and made terrible decisions along way. For a demonstration, he forced his Boulogne transport fleet to sail during a storm, losing many ships and hundreds of sailors. But before Trafalgar, he had already given up. The Grande Armee was marching west.

November 3rd, 2021

Not much pertinent information in this chapter, just more about Napoleon’s strange character. In short, he bought an estate next to Joesph’s out of jealousy, hit on Junot’s wife while Josephine was away, and ruined his secretary’s life after he resigned. Essentially, he’s a weird jerk with no friends and doesn’t mind the fact that nobody likes him. The only thing he hates is someone leaving him behind or denying him.

November 4th, 2021

The last chapter finished with a story of Jerome Bonaparte. He was a naval officer who more or less abandoned his post in the Caribbean and sailed for America. In Maryland, he met a young woman and tried to get married. French law did not permit him to get married without parental consent, due to his age. However, he did it anyway. All of his family, besides Napoleon, approved. Napoleon was enraged because he did not get to marry his brother into some other foreign aristocratic family. Jermone and his wife eventually tried to sneak into France, but Napoleon gave his brother an ultimatum of exile with his wife or a prince’s future. Jerome chose wealth and never saw his wife again, who was forced to sail to England and back to America with their child. The next chapter picks up where Napoleon abandoned the plan for invading England and began to march into Germany. After declaring himself King of Italy and other provocative measures, the Third Coalition of England, Austria, Russia, and Sweden declared war. France was still in financial ruin and banks were beginning to collapse. It is here in late 1805 where Napoleon needs to win his war before his empire is undone.

November 5th, 2021

Napoleon began his campaign crossing the Rhine in various locations and forcing Baden, Bavaria, and other German states into alliances. The author loves to point out any mistakes made by Napoleon, such as his unprepared supply lines, lack of wagons, extra guns, and winter clothes. There were a lot of names dropped and Corp numbers which I don’t recall. The Austrians were divided into several armies and Russia was sending an advance guard while preparing the remainder of the army. The French were able to surround one Austrian army at Ulm which resulted in its surrender. The French moved further west, and Napoleon’s goal was to destroy as many armies separately before they could join and outnumber his. Meanwhile, Prussia had joined the war and was slowly mobilizing. Murat however followed his own course and marched on Vienna, which accomplished nothing. This allowed The Russians to retreat north and caused a great delay. He then agreed to an armistice which allowed the Russians to retreat further. Napoleon was furious. The armies were converging near the town of Austerlitz in Moravia. Meanwhile, instead of retreating from a superior force, Napoleon was devising a trap for the enemy.

November 8th, 2021

The Battle of Austerlitz was one of Napoleon’s greatest victories, though the author wants the reader to be aware that Napoleon may have had no real plans going in and that a great deal of luck was involved. Certainly, this is possible. Napoleon is lucky that he only had the combined Russian, Prussian, and Austrian forces to his front and that the 2nd Austrian army did not move to his real. Napoleon was outnumbered and could not fight on two fronts. And one can say Napoleon was lucky that the enemy fell into the trap. Napoleon had left the heights empty to entice the Allies into looping around his right flank (though the author claims he also just didn’t have enough men) in order to separate the Allied divisions. The Allies could have attacked the other flank, or straight into the thinly spread center. But the trap was sprung and there was no hope for the attackers. Napoleon had given orders to spare no one, and 15,000 allied soldiers were killed. He had even turned artillery on men retreating over a frozen pond to shatter the ice. A cruel man. Napoleon returned a hero and placed harsh terms on the Austrians. The German allies of Napoleon were given various Austrian territories and other Hapsburg lands. Emperor Franz had to acknowledge French takings in Campo Formio and Napoleon’s kingship in Italy. Much money was brought in to the French coffers and Napoleon continued to plot to reorganize the territories of Austria and the Holy Roman Empire, despite Tallyrand’s attempts to keep peace and stability in Eastern Europe.

November 9th, 2021

Napleon Bonaparte Napoleon’s interference in German affairs slowly raised the ire of the dawdling King of Prussia, Friedrich Wilhelm III. He and his German allies organized the Confederation of the Rhine and reorganized the 300+ municipalities, duchies, kingdoms etc of the Holy Roman Empire into 39. The final straw for Prussia was the inclusion of Saxony, their rival to the south. Friedrich Wilhelm gave an ultimatum to Napoleon, who was already on the march with his army towards Prussia. The armies eventually met on October of 1806. Two battles were fought on the same day. Napoleon’s larger army had easily routed the smaller Prussian army at Jena, while Marshal Davout’s significantly smaller army held out against Friedrick Wilhem’s main army at Auerstaedt. Important Prussian generals lost their lives, and Friedrich Wilhem was not up to snuff without them. Davout was reinforced and they took the day. The French continued their march and entered Berlin as the Prussian armies surrendered one by one. Also during this time, Talleyrand was working on a peace treaty with England that turned out to be extremely favorable to the French, acknowledging Napoleon as king of Italy, Louis as king of Holland, Joseph as king of Naples and other important concessions. Napoleon then refused to ratify it. War with England will continue. Probably not a good move, but peace was unlikely to last, regardless.

November 10th, 2021

After Jena and Auerstaedt, Napoleon entered Poland and became infatuated with a countess. Meanwhile, the Polish aristocracy implored him to give Poland its independence after the Third Partition split all of its lands between Austria, Prussia, and Russia. Napoleon eventually created the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, though did not give it independence. The Russians then launched a campaign to force the French out of Poland. The Russo-Prussian and French forces met in Eylau and fought in a blinding snowstorm. It was a bloody battle and both sides suffered extremely heavy casualties. The Russians withdrew hours before the French planned to withdraw, and once the French realized the Russians had left, turned to chase them. Napoleon had to call on the planned recruits for 1807 and 1808 in order to cover his losses. The summer of 1807 saw a second battle outside Koenigsberg, at Friedland. This turned out to be a decisive French victory. The French were able to move north and take the fortified city of Koenigsberg. With the main Russian army defeated, the tsar sought peace. The author must begrudgingly give this as a victory to Napoleon and not just on account of luck.

November 11th, 2021

The last chapter closed up describing the peace between France, Russia, and, at the insistence of Russia, Prussia. Negotiations turned a hostile Tsar Alexander I into a doting admirer. Talleyrand was nearby but personally excluded from the negotiations. The treaty left France and Russia as the leaders of Europe and Russia was roped into Napoleon’s continental plan and other schemes. The Grand Duchy of Warsaw was to remain a satellite of the King of Saxony, who was a pawn of Napoleon. France’s new kingdoms were acknowledged, and Prussia was given some small potatoes back, though Friedrich Wilhem III was mostly kept in the dark. Napoleon’s insistence on remaining in eastern and central Europe were the final straw for Talleyrand, and he resigned. Various other cabinet shifts resulted in good men like Talleyrand and Berthier being replaced with poor substitutes. Napoleon was to play the diplomat in the capital for a time, though his Continental Plan will lead to more warfare with England. Already English ships are bombarding Copenhagen and taking their frigates. There isn’t much the French can do after Trafalgar.

November 12th, 2021

The invasion of Iberia has an interesting beginning. Portugal had been an ally of England for a century after the marriage of a Portuguese princess to King Charles II. To keep his Continental Plan in full effect, Napoleon gave the Portuguese king an ultimatum, which he complied with. A disappointed Napoleon invaded anyway and the royal family left for Brazil. The Peninsular War began in November 1807 with Junot leading his army into Portuguese with no food or water and arrived with 2000 out of 25,000 in Lisbon, according to this book. He did not do much to secure the country, and this would lead to the to English easily gaining a foothold in Portugal. In Spain, the royal family was in shambles and constantly plotting against each other. The King and his son oscillated between requesting French military support and then turning it down. The King abdicated for his son and then tried to take it back. The royal family met in France for Napoleon to try to reconcile everything, and Napoleon ended up getting an agreement to make himself ruler of Spain and kept the royal family hostage in France. Napoleon, after asking Lucien, Louis, and Jerome, convinced Joesph to be King of Spain. Caroline and Murat would takeover as King and Queen of Naples. Joesph would come to regret this, as Spain was in uprising of this French heretic king forced on them. Rioting led to killings, and General Dupont ended up surrendering his 20,000 men after getting bogged down with loot. Then King Joseph fled Madrid and on the run. Clearly things were not going as Napoleon had thought they would, though he had a history of poor planning. Now he’s stuck in his own little Vietnam and too proud to leave.

November 16th, 2021

I’m shocked I forgot to write yesterday. We’ll see what I can remember. The book discussed more about the Iberian war. After the initial disaster, a second campaign was launched in which Napoleon personally appeared. He pulled in soldiers from various eastern and central European divisions and brought in 140,000 early recruits from the 1809 and 1810 conscription classes. Things were not going well in the army, and not only would some Marshalls refuse to cooperate with each other, some would ignore direct orders from Napoleon himself. Like Egypt, he was bogged down with almost no information about the surrounding terrain. After various atrocities, suppressing of guerrillas, and sieges, the French retook the major cities of Spain and by December 1808 could claim to “control” the kingdom again. Due to the above mentioned of Marshal ineptitude, Napoleons schemes for Portugal never got off the ground. Returning to France, he found a hostile country. Many recruits were deserting before they leave the country, and rumors were about that Austria was mobilizing for war. Earlier in the year, there was a meeting with the tsar, who while playing the second fiddle to Napoleon, was slowly biding his time to take revenge for his country and the insults to the Prussian royal family. If Napoleon is counting on Russia’s support against Austria, he’s in for a surprise. The worst surprise for him in Paris was to find Fouche and Talleyrand working together, hoping for a plot to topple Napoleon. Both were seeking to end the non-stop warfare, but their plot was sniffed out before it could even begin. Napoleon is in for a tough year.

November 17th, 2021

Napoleon’s eastern holding were falling apart. Jerome’s Kingdom of Westphalia and other German states were in upheaval and multiple plots were made against King Jermone and the French. None of these succeeded, and the French barely held on to the German lands. Brother Louis, the crazy king of Holland, deluded himself into thinking he was Dutch and was barely interested in helping Napoleon. His wife, Josephine’s daughter, had managed to escape to Paris and had their son, who she kept in France. Napoleon was to adopt this boy and take care of him, knowing his brother was unstable. Meanwhile, warfare in Bavaria and Austria began. The Marshalls and troops taken from the Danube for Spain marched back towards Austria. Overall, Napoleon was succeeding and took Vienna. Despite this, the states of the Confederation of the Rhine began to ally themselves with Austria to throw off French rule.

November 18th, 2021

The Austrians had destroyed both bridges across the Danube, and so the French were stuck on the southern Vienna side. Two bridges were hastily built so that Napoleon could deliver a quick blow against Archduke Karl. A large island, Lobau, was chosen to use for the crossing. The Austrians were on to his plan, and on May 20th, 1809, before all the French troops could reach the mainland, the Austirans attacked. The two day battle of Abern-Essling ended in French defeat. Marshal Lannes was hit by a cannonball and died after having his leg amputated. Napoleon was inconsolable. The French retreated back to Lobau and rebuilt a bridge to Vienna. Archduke Karl, per usual, did not press his victory and the French were able to recover in the capitol.

November 19th, 2021

After the loss North of the Danube, Napoleon planned his next excursion. The loss would not go unanswered. A lot of engineering and thoughtfulness went into the next system of bridges that would carry his entire army not only across the river, but flank the Archduke’s army. The Archduke still sat in place, giving Napoleon the time he needed. Napoleon urged the Tsar to move against the Austrians as agreed upon in a previous treaty, but the Tsar pushed back. Ultimately, after French pressure, he moved into Austrian Poland and sat, telling Emperor Franz that he would not attack. The Tsar had warned the Emperor not to attack the French, that it would end badly, but pride is a powerful motivator. In the Battle of Wagram, a few miles north of the Danube shore, things started off well for the French. Then the right got bogged down by heavy fortifications, and the conscripted Italians broke and ran until forced back at bayonet point. Then Bernadotte, the notorious coward, repeatedly refused to obey orders and retreated, ruining Napoleon’s plans multiple times. The Emperor had had enough and Marshall Bernadotte was dismissed on the spot. After many setbacks and successful counters by Archduke Karl, Napoleon was able to slowly turn the tide. Marshals Massena and Davout and General MacDonald, under Eugene Beauharnais, were critical to the turn. Both sides exhausted, the Austrians fled north. A few days later the French caught up to the Archduke and he gave in, requesting an armistice. Emperor Franz, Archduke Karl’s brother, removed him from command. Both sides lost nearly 40,000 men, but Napoleon held the field and kept Austria in its place.

November 22nd, 2021

Today wrapped up the chapter on the aftermath of Wagram. Brokering a peace treaty took months, and it got to the point where Napoleon demanded Emperor Franz abdicate. Metternich was able to convince the French to drop this requirement and they would join the Continental Plan. This was agreed upon, but the French also took some of Austrian Poland, Italy, and the Balkans for its German allies, plus millions of francs. The Austrians, Prussians, and Russians would bide their time until they had the strength to retake what was lost. It took an aside to discuss the horrible conditions of the field medicine, as there was no medical corps to speak of. Despite Napoleon’s tears at the site of the mangled men, he took no actions to improve conditions. Surgeons and doctors had been pleading with him since Egypt, but to no avail. How many French men would have made it home had he taken the time in 10 years to establish a medical corps? Meanwhile back home, the government ignored warnings from Fouche of a British mobilization until they were at the shores of Holland. Then they scrambled to get an insufficient number of men and put Bernadotte in charge. Luckily for them, the British bungled an attempt to take Antwerp and left. Napoleon was livid. All this time there are talks of insurrection against him in Paris. People are sick of his war mongering it seems. But it is the end of 1809, and he has somehow has a few years left in power.

November 23rd, 2021

This next chapter went on for a long time about Napoleon’s new marriage. At the end of 1809, he reluctantly divorced Josephine because she could not have any more children. A few months later he married an Austrian archduchess named Louisa Marie, the daughter of Emperor Franz. Napoleon was very excited about this a focused on this and his future potential children instead of the economic downturn and awful war in Iberia.

November 24th, 2021

The wedding chapter wraps up with the fate of exiled brother Lucien. Still adamant not to leave his wife, he finally gave up on trying to persuade his brother and planned to escape French territory for America. Unable to get through British water, the family was held prisoner on Malta and ultimately brought to England, where they started a peaceful existence and were popular among the locals. After the wedding, Napoleon did not start any new campaigns but allowed the Iberian war to continue. Napoleon was constantly raising taxes and implementing new ones, or bringing back ones that the Revolution had abolished. Spending was 4x as much as in 1789. The economy was tanking, and life for the lower classes was worse than ever. The Continental Plan was detrimental to all countries in Europe, but Napoleon could not be budged. Unwilling to ever change his ways, military and economic warfare would bring his empire to ruins. Stubbornness and closed-mindedness do not make a good leader.

November 29th, 2021

It’s been a couple days since I’ve been at work. Last it was talking about finances and it continues talking about the economies of the Netherlands of Louis, Jerome’s Westphalia, and Joseph’s Spain and how Napoleon gave them no independence of rule and straddled them with so much debt that they never had a chance to succeed. Already discussed was the conscription of the Dutch navy and the destruction of their trade, and Jerome’s extravagance and generally poor governorship. Joseph got the worst of it since his country was perpetually at war and Napoleon put all the blame on him. Joseph’s authority was slowly eroded and relationships between the brothers plummeted. Napoleon was to continually embarrass his brothers before the world. Joseph even invested hundreds of thousands of francs in English banks in case he decided to flee like Lucien. Eventually, Louis and Fouche were caught in a plot. They had been negotiating with the English about seeking peace. Needless to say, Napoleon was livid.

November 30th, 2021

The previous chapter ends with how Napoleon having a legitimate son finally born in March 1811. The next chapter is about the war with Russia. On New Year’s Eve, 1810, Tsar Alexander declared that Russia would no longer abide by Napoleon’s oppressive continental system. Napoleon was deeply offended by his “ally’s” betrayal. Relationships soured and by the middle of 1811, Napoleon was making war preparations. Napoleon wanted subservience and to keep Poland French, Alexander wanted to shake off the French yoke and avenge the embarrassments he and his allies have endured the last decade. A year later in June 1812, the Grand Armee crossed the Russian border. With half a million men, Napoleon had created the largest army Europe had ever seen at that time. Men were conscripted from every French satellite. Kings Jerome and Joachim Murat (Caroline’s husband, Naples), Eugene de Beahaurnais, Emperor Napoleon and his famous Marshals led the French forces. Joseph was to keep the war in Spain going. It did not start of well for Napoleon, as the Russians did not give him battle and only withdrew further in the country. Supply lines were stretched, and Napoleon was never good at planning for supplies or food. Men and horses were starving and dying before they ever got to battle. Napoleon’s pride and blind rage gets a million men killed.

December 1st, 2021

This chapter went on further to describe the invasion of Russia. It was a lot of the same as yesterday. It talked about the make-up of the army and how the Russians were still retreated. Napoleon gets towards I believe Smolensk before the first battle. Miles of troops made the slow crawl further and further into Russia. After being berated by his brother, Jerome abandoned his post and returned to his kingdom. Murat had to temporarily run Jerome’s corps, until the unreliable Junot was put in charge. The author goes to great lengths to tear down Napoleon’s lack of preparation and inability to organize and provide necessities for his army. Napoleon seems to have adapted to only a specific type of war, the ones he fought in central Europe. In Egypt he blundered, in naval warfare he blundered, in Spain he blundered, and in Russia he will blunder. It is amazing how he could be this incompetent and negligent and yet gain control a continent. What a fascinating man.

December 2nd, 2021

Napoleon finally got his first Russian battle at Smolensk in August 1812. The French were able to drive Russians out, though per usual it did not go as planned. Murat’s cavalry sustained heavy casualties charging a Russian square formation and refused to led Ney pass him and assist with the battle. Smolensk was left burning as both armies moved closer to Moscow. They met again 75 miles outside Moscow at Borodino, at the convergence of the Moskva and Kolocha rivers, in September. Russian general Kutuzov had replaced Barclay de Tolly, which brought in a fresh attitude and higher morale amongst the Russians. This bloody battle was technically a French victory, for they kept the field, but not a decisive victory, again because of the inability to cooperate in the Grand Armee. Davout had suggested a flanking attack to avoid a heavily fortified area, which Napoleon dismissed and ordered Davout to attack head on. At the beginning of the battle, Napoleon had made a great miscalculation and placed his cannon too far back. They had to be moved mid-battle amongst artillery and gunfire. Napoleon also refused to send his Imperial Guard into battle, despite pleas from his marshals. Both sides lost about 40,000 men, despite Napoleon have about 50,000 more to begin with. This was not a good show for Napoleon. All the while, the Iberian war was getting worse. In addition to those killed outright, the wounded and amputated died quickly, as neither side had any semblance of a medical corps.

December 3rd, 2021

The author takes a detour from the wars and tells the story of an attempted coup in Paris. General Malet was a staunch republican and had been dismissed during the early Napoleon years. He had come up with various plots over the years, which Fouche dismissed as useless, but DuBois took seriously. By 1812, both police ministers had been replaced and Malet had been committed to an insane asylum. Malet had forged documents claiming Napoleon’s death outside Moscow and orders from the senate for several arrests and the promotion of new officials. He convinced a neighboring barracks that he was now in command and took the National Guard unit into Paris, though without preparing the muskets with flintlocks and ammo. He arrested several officials and killed the governor before he was arrested. Despite having no plan for governing, he very nearly took over the government with little to no question. He with two other generals and several officers, who all fell for the forged documents, were tried and executed. Malet had it coming, but it is an unfair verdict to take everyone else out too.

December 6th, 2021

Now for one of the most famous incidents of Napoleon’s reign, the Grand Armee had marched into an empty Moscow shortly after Borodino. Instead of capitulation, Napoleon got nothing. The Russians, before their escape, had ruined nearly all of the hoses in the city. Then a fire started in the Chinese district. It was thought at first to be rowdy soldiers looting, but more fires began. Unable to put them out, and with help a timely wind, the fires spread. Nearly 75% of the city was destroyed by this arson. After an evacuation, the French returned, assuming their stay would bring about a peace treaty. After nearly 6 weeks of this and the Russian armies approaching, Napoleon finally agreed to leave on October 19th. It had been a warm fall, but on the long march back winter was starting. With Russian attacks, horses dying, and vengeful peasants, very few made it back across the Nieman. Out of 612,000 men of the Grand Armee, 400,000 died (65%) and 100,000 were captured (16%), leaving 2 out of every 10 to come back to friendly territory. The cavalry was decimated. The Imperial Guard was down to 1000 men. Across the Nieman, Napoleon and Caulaincourt set off to return to Paris, leaving the army to Murat. Napoleon was already issuing orders for another 300,000 men. Meanwhile, the Duke of Wellington was undoing all the French work in Spain and was taking Madrid. Napoleon was failing in the east and west, two wars that could have been avoided if he had listened to his advisors. I guess we all make mistakes.

December 7th, 2021

Napoleon in Paris finally realized that he could not wage a war on two fronts. After 5 years of war and loss in Spain, Napoleon ordered to Joseph to move and hold a region just beyond the Pyrenees, while he secretly negotiated with the Spanish royal family about their return to the kingdom. 200,000 to 300,000 French soldiers died in this wasted effort, and untold Spanish were killed alongside them. Joesph was to return to his estate in France, no longer a king of any country. The last king remaining among the brothers, Jerome, was not to last much longer either. Westphalia was never stable under his leadership, and the Germans resented the French presence. Its border was less than 100 miles from Berlin, and the Prussians were at last raising forces to remove the French. The Russians and Prussians formed a coalition, which Austria would not yet join for fear of losing another wary. Austria tried to broker peace, but no party was interested, not even Napoleon after losing 500,000 men. Once the British joined the coalition, the Austrians felt more comfortable about picking a side. On top of that, the Swedish joined the coalition, like they fought alongside Russia during that campaign. Napoleon looks pretty screwed here.

December 8th, 2021

Napoleon was able to muster a couple hundred thousand men and moved east. The Prussians and Russians had taken Warsaw, Berlin, Hamburg, and Dresden. Much of the fighting would be in Saxony, thus this is called the Saxon Campaign. Davout was sent to take the northern forces and take back Hamburg and threaten Berlin. Napoleon’s men moved south towards Dresden, the Saxon capital. On May 1st, outside Luetzen, an unhappy and unprepared Neys was taken by surprise by the Russo-Prussian army. Napoleon snapped out of his doldrums and waged a successful battle, holding the field but unable to rout the enemy. Like Borodino, this was technically a French victory, but losses were about equal on both sides. The Allies retreated towards Dresden, which Napoleon attacked after some reinforcements arrived on the 21st. With double the forces, he took the city the next day, but because Neys had failed to block a critical path, the Allies escaped. Saxony was again in French hands, but Napoleon did not have his major victory. Sadly, on the 23rd, Marshal Duroc was killed by a cannonball. This man was Napoleon’s only remaining friend, and Napoleon was crushed. He did not act for days. Meanwhile, Davout had captured Hamburg. With victories on his side, the allies pressed for an armistice. Austria acted as a mediator to pursue a peace treaty, but Napoleon would have none of it. He would not give up Poland or any other German territory he had gained. During the armistice, the British had joined the war effort (monetarily at least) and Austria, too. Berandotte, the failed Marshal, brother-in-law to Joesph Bonaparte, had somehow been elected heir to the Swedish throne. He brought his forces to north Germany and prevented Davout’s movement on Berlin. Allied demands to end the war were now essentially to move to pre-revolution borders. Let’s see how Napoleon’s outnumbered forces in Saxony manage to get out of this one.

December 10th, 2021

I forgot to write yesterday. I think the Austrian, Prussian, and Russian forces had marched on Dresden. Napoleon, despite being outnumbered, was able to hold them off. Separate Allied armies were moving on Leipzig, and Napoleon made the difficult decision to leave Dresden and get to Leipzig before the Allies and split them up. The French reinforced the city, but were outnumbered. In mid-October 1813, the Battle of Leipzig was a total defeat for the French. They were ejected and fighting for their survival back to France. Austria, Prussia, and German territories were lost, and Napoleon had learned of their complete defeat in Spain at the end of June. Back in Paris, Napoleon was hurrying to come up with a defensive force. In December, the Allies had sought peace at the price of France returning to its “natural” frontiers. Not receiving a response, on January 4th, 1814 they changed this to pre-1792 borders, meaning France loses the bank of the Rhine, Switzerland, and Belgium. This Napoleon would not agree to and with 100,000 men attempted to fight 3 armies. The Swedish were still busy with Davout in north Germany. There were some victories but many defeats. The Allies ultimately marched on Paris, where there was little to no defensive force. On March 30th, Joesph gave the order to surrender the city. Learning of the surrender, Napoleon sent Caulaincourt to negotiate a favorable treaty. Napoleon had finally lost it all.

December 13th, 2021

After the Allies took Paris, the country turned against Napoleon. Talleyrand had long be working against him and worked with the Allies to achieve unconditional surrender and the downfall off the Bonapartes. After going back and forth of what to do, Napoleon’s men eventually declared they would not fight any more. Napoleon was forced to abdicate, and he was given the island of Elba to be sovereign. He attempted suicide, but the poison was years old and made him violently ill for days. In May 1814, he set sail to Elba. After ruling there for several months, he was bored. Josephine had died, his wife was in Austria and had moved on. His sister and mother were there, and several of his former officers and court joined him, but it was not enough. In December, he decided to take his small force of a few thousand men and set sail back to France. He would attempt to take back what was his.

December 14th, 2021

March 1st, 1815, Napoleon and his few thousand men landed at Cannes, an undefended city with no walls. He secured provisions for his army and moved on a carefully planned path towards Grenoble. He had sent messages ahead of time to the commander there and intended to take the city without a shot. The current state of France was that of a constitutional monarchy under the fat Bourbon Louis XVIII, with the constitution drafted by the Allies to remove the absolute power of the monarchy that led to the Revolution. Due to the lack of candidates, most of the top military roles were filled by former men of Napoleon. One of the first on Napoleon’s path was Massena, who chose to do nothing. Napoleon reached Grenoble and the soldiers flew to him. He promised to bring back the principles of the Revolution to the excitement of the crowds. Despite the recent and poor memories of conscription, high taxation, and autocracy, it seems the masses viewed the Emperor as the savior of the Revolution. Or they did not know the extent of his deeds. Either way, monarchy probably still left a bitter taste in their mouths, though the south and west of France had long been royalists. As Napoleon marched closer to Paris, more and more soldiers flocked to him, or deserted the royal army. Ney had rejoined him, Murat had lost his mind and was trying to regain his throne (soon to be executed by the King of Naples). Soult resigned the army after being viewed with suspicion, MacDonald and Berthier were still in the King’s command. This is one of the amazing parts of Napoleon’s legacy. Meanwhile, Talleyrand had been trying to destabilize the Allies at the Congress of Vienna, despite not technically having a say, and was performing his typical manipulating actions well. But when they learned of Napoleon’s invasion, they acted in a unified manner to bring him down.

December 17th, 2021

Napoleon and his new forces were able to take Paris and the country without bloodshed. The Bourbon court had fled to Belgium. Napoleon, with his typical impressive work under pressure, was able to amass over 200,000 soldiers and most importantly Marshal Davout was in his service. Also important to his new government was Lazare Carnot as Minister of Interior. Carnot was a revolutionary and republican who voted for the execution of Louis XVI. He served as a member of the Committee of Public Safety, so it’s hard to say he was a good man. He was Director and served in the government during the Consulate, but resigned when Napoleon declared himself Emperor. He was a mathematician with a military background and was known for being behind some of the early victories in the Revolutionary wars. A liberal constitution was written by Benjamin Constant, which Napoleon approved and had “voted” on, in order to appease the population. The west of France was essentially in civil war and very anti-Napoleon. Napoleon had 100,000 men to keep France pacified. Davout initially was chief of staff instead of in the field until Soult was put in that position. But they were able to raise/extort money and forge muskets. So let’s see what happens when they get to fighting.

December 20th, 2021

Napoleon planned to use his Army of the North to destroy the Prussian and Anglo-Belgian-Dutch armies before they could join or be reinforced by Russia and Austria. Wellington led the English and Dutch forces but got little help from home. Only 1/3 of his army was English, and he was headquartered in Brussels, but his army was spread all over. The Prussians were spread thinly to his southwest. There were two battles fought in Belgium on June 16, one at Quarte-Bras against the English, the other at Ligny against the Prussians. For whatever reason, Ney did nothing on the 15th and allowed the English to take Quarte-Bras. Instead of lodging them out, he waited until the next day to attack. This attack prevented the English from reinforcing the Prussians, but it was a French defeat. Napoleon’s forces attacked the Prussians at Ligny and had a tactical victory, but he did not crush the army as desired and most of the Prussians were able to retreat. Napoleon blamed Ney for this for not sending him the I Corps when ordered, which is a fair grievance. Not much had been gained for all of Napoleon’s work. His Marshals were still not obeying his commands.

December 21st, 2021

The rest of this chapter is about the Battle of Waterloo and its aftermath. The maps in this book are terrible or non-existent, so it is not easy to follow along. Napoleon failed to follow up in pursuit of the Prussians and assumed that some of those moving east represented the entire army, but the main fighting force was moving north, closer to the British. Napoleon also did not know that Ney had lost his battle. Napoleon wanted to march straight on Brussels, but had to take care of the British before the Prussians could join. Pouring rain and mud slowed his advance drastically. Grouchy was sent to block the Prussians, but he failed to anything. The battle began on 18th of June and was extremely bloody. Napoleon stuck hard and the British held firm. Ney charged with his cavalry many times and was repulsed every time. Late in the day, the Prussians arrived. A last-ditch assault ended with an Allied counterattack and the French were routed. The war was over as the French retreated. 60k men died or were wounded on each side. Ultimately, Napoleon abdicated in favor of his son and was placed on house arrest while a committee governed France. Against their wished, the Bourbons were put back on the throne. Thousands of Bonapartists were killed in acts of revenge by royalists. Lous XVIII created of list of men to have arrested for treason, but names such as Davout and Fouche were absent. Davout demanded his men be removed and he be put on, but to no avail. He warned the men and many escaped. The few who were captured were executed. Ney had been tried and sentenced to death, killed by firing squad.

December 22nd, 2021

The final chapter of the book is about Napoleon’s 5-6 year exile on St. Helena. It doesn’t sound so bad. He had a nice house, but was clearly bummed out and bored. He brought 4 French guys and some of their family with him. Bertrand is the only name I remember seeing before this chapter. He was a loyal soldier and ultimately general who served with Napoleon since Italy. Two of the guys ended up leaving because life around Napoleon was always dramatic. According to the author, the last guy killed Napoleon with arsenic poisoning. This is not agreed upon by everyone. Some say he died, in 1821, from stomach cancer. We’ll probably never know. Regardless, Napoleon is dead. He did a lot of terrible things, and a few good things. It’s kind of hard to look at all that was done and not at least kind of admire the guy. I’ve said many times that if I had absolute power, I’d end up like Stalin. But maybe if I were lucky, I’d end up like Napoleon.