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Napoléon & Empire

Campaigns and main battles

Campaign in Italy (1796-1797)

In 1796, a practically unknown officer, appointed by favor, became head of the Army of Italy, which had to serve as a diversion from the main French offensive in Germany. A year later, after a succession of victories that gave him an unrivaled prestige, General Napoleon Bonaparte spoke as equals with the French and Austrian governments.

Montenotte

Battles of Montenotte, Millesimo, Cosseria et Dego
April 12th, 1796
Italy French Victory

General Bonaparte entered the scene by a first brilliant stroke.

Mondovi

Battle of Mondovi
April 21st, 1796
Italy French Victory

After fifteen days of campaign, the Sardinians were already knocked out.

Lodi

Battle of Lodi
May 10th, 1796
Italy French Victory

The French crossed the river Adda in strength, pursuing the Austrians.

Borghetto

Battle of borghetto
May 30th, 1796
Italy French Victory

The passage of the river Mincio, near Valeggio, gave rise to a fierce confrontation.

Castiglione

Battle of castiglione
August 5th, 1796
Italy French Victory

Their defeat forced the Austrians to retreat towards Tyrol.

Bassano

Battle of Bassano
September 8th, 1796
Italy French Victory

Again beaten, the Austrians led by Dagobert von Wurmser had to seek refuge into Mantua.

Arcole

Battle of Arcole
November 15th to 17th, 1796
Italy French Victory

The crossing of the river Alpone required three days of fierce fighting.

Rivoli

Battle of Rivoli
January 14th to 15th, 1797
Italy French Victory

Following this battle, the Austrian hopes of unlocking the city of Mantua were dashed.

La Favorita

Battle of La Favorita
January 16th, 1797
Italy French Victory

There failed the last Austrian effort to get out of Mantua.

Egyptian Campaign (1798-1799)

Being too popular for the French Directory, whose deep corruption had not yet made imminent its fall, Bonaparte received the mission to carry on getting fame and honor far from Europe, in the fascinating Middle-East.

Pyramids

Battle of the Pyramids
July 21st, 1798
Egypt French Victory

A few miles from the Pyramids of Giza, just before the battle, General Bonaparte harangued his troops with those words that passed to posterity: Soldiers, from the summit of yonder pyramids forty centuries look down upon you!

The Mamluks, intrepid horsemen, impetuously rushed over the French squares, but found there nothing but death and defeat.

Battle of the Nile (François Paul de Brueys d'Aigalliers)

Battle of the Nile
August 1st and 2nd, 1798
Egypt French defeat

Subsequently to this naval battle won by Horatio Nelson, Bonaparte found himself deprived of his fleet, and prisoner of his conquest.

Mount-Tabor

Battle of Mount-Tabor
April 16th, 1799
Israel French Victory

The Turkish army, which had come to rescue the besieged city of Acre, was destroyed in this battle.

Abukir

Battle of Abukir
July 25th, 1799
Egypt French Victory

The Ottomans, that the British had landed at Alexandria, were thrown there into the sea.

Heliopolis

Battle of Heliopolis
March 20th, 1800
Egypt French Victory

General Jean-Baptiste Kléber gave there to the French Republic its last victory in Egypt.

Second Campaign in Italy and Hohenlinden (1800)

Napoleon Bonaparte, once became First Consul, planned to beat the second coalition, which had almost defeat the republican France, while himself was fighting in Egypt.

What better way for that, than returning to the scene of his first exploits, to combat once again Austria?

Montebello

Battle of Montebello
June 9th, 1800
Italy French Victory

This victory of General Jean Lannes opened the road to Alessandria and Marengo.

Marengo

Battle of Marengo
June 14th, 1800
Italy French Victory

That day, in the plain of the Bormida, east of the city of Alessandria, the First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte rolled the dice, and won in extremis against the troops of the Holy Roman Empire led by General Michael von Melas!

Hohenlinden

Battle of Hohenlinden
December 3rd, 1800
Germany French Victory

General Jean-Victor Moreau won a decisive battle in Bavaria, that forced Austria to leave the second coalition.

Campaign in Germany and Trafalgar (1805)

The French army was gathered around Boulogne and everything was ready for the invasion of England. Admirals had their instructions, which were to attract the English fleet far, far away, on the other side of the Atlantic ocean. Then it would be sufficient to cross the Channel on thousands of barges gathered for this purpose. But the defeat of Trafalgar and the bustle in Europe forced Napoleon to change his plans. Steering: Vienna!

Elchingen

Battle of Elchingen
October 14th, 1805
Germany French Victory

Marshal Michel Ney, present everywhere in the heart of the fighting, wrote one of the pages of his legend.

Ulm

Battle of Ulm
October 17th, 1805
Germany French Victory

20,000 Austrians were forced to surrender almost without a fight.

Trafalgar

Battle of Trafalgar
October 21st, 1805
Spain French defeat

Horatio Nelson finished on that day his work of destruction of the French fleet.

Austerlitz

Battle of Austerlitz
December 2nd, 1805
Czech Republic French Victory

Emperor Napoleon I won in Moravia his most striking and most historic victory, against Russian and Austrian troops, under the gaze of Emperors Alexander I of Russia and Francis II of the Holy Roman Empire. This fight was named "The Battle of the three Emperors".

Campaign in Prussia (1806)

Prussia, prudent during the 1805 campaign, allowed himself to circumvent the following year by Russian and British promises. This proved to be wrong: two weeks after its ultimatum, it had no more army. Fifteen days later, Napoleon entered Berlin.

Auerstaedt

Battle of Auerstaedt
October 14th, 1806
Germany French Victory

Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout, alone, defeated the largest contingent of the Prussian troops.

Jena

Battle of Jena
October 14th, 1806
Germany French Victory

While Marshal Davoust was victorious at Auerstaedt, the second part of the Prussian army was destroyed at Jena by Napoleon himself. The campaign had begun only last fortnight...

Campaign in Poland (1807)

In autumn 1806 the Russians had not had the time to lend a hand to their Prussian ally, whose collapse was as sudden as unforeseen. They gave asylum to the King of Prussia and continued fighting in East Prussia, under the command of General Levin August von Bennigsen.

Eylau

Battle of Eylau
February 8th, 1807
Russia Uncertain outcome

A terrible slaughter and a huge cavalry charge for an uncertain result.

Friedland

Battle of Friedland
June 14th, 1807
Russia French Victory

For the anniversary of Marengo, the battle of Friedland was a total victory for Napoleon, which forced the Russians and Prussians to deal with him: thus the Treaty of Tilsit marked the end of the War of the Fourth Coalition.

Peninsular War (1808-1814)

During five years, the Peninsular war eroded the French army and consummated its best soldiers. The French were unable to defeat a Resistance that came from the depths of a spanish population fanaticized by priests, in which the Afrancesados (partisans of the French, often imbued with the ideas of the Enlightenment) were a minority.

Bailén

Battle of Bailén
July 19th to 22nd, 1808
Spain French defeat

First terrestrial defeat of the Napoleonic armies, Bailen gave hope to all the enemies of France.

Somosierra

Battle of Somosierra
November 30th, 1808
Spain French Victory

This battle opened the road to Madrid to Napoleon, who had personnally come to install his brother Joseph on the Spanish throne.

Surrending of Zaragoza

Surrending of Zaragoza
February 20th, 1809
Spain French Victory

After two months of siege and 100,000 dead, the city fell into the hands of the French.

Ocaña

Battle of Ocaña
November 19th, 1809
Spain French Victory

By inflicting the Spanish army its biggest defeat of the war, Marshal Jean-de-Dieu Soult opened to himself the way to Andalusia.

Salamanca (Arapiles)

Battle of Salamanca
July 22nd, 1812
Spain French defeat

Two months after this French defeat south of Salamanca, the Anglo-Iberian troops took Madrid.

Vitoria

Battle of Vitoria
June 21st, 1813
Spain French defeat

The French army, fleeing, suffered a rout, which was however tempered by the greed of the conquerors.

Campaign of Germany (1809)

Noting the French difficulties in Spain, Austria believed the time for revenge had come, and declared war on France. Its army was intrusted to one of the brightest opponents that Napoleon never had to fight: the Archduke Charles. Unprepared, the French experienced a difficult campaign.

Eckmühl

Battle of Eckmühl or Eggmühl
April 22nd, 1809
Germany French Victory

Near Regensburg in Bavaria, the stubborn resistance of Marshal Davout then Napoleon's arrival made this confrontation a victory, but not the decisive battle the Emperor had dreamed of.

Aspern-Essling

Battle of Aspern-Essling
May 21st and 22nd, 1809
Austria Uncertain outcome

Cut off from its bases by the rupture of a bridge over the Danube, half of the French army managed to avoid annihilation but suffered heavy losses.

Wagram

Battle of Wagram
July 5th and 6th, 1809
Austria French Victory

On a battlefield near Aspern and Essling, in the plain of Marchfeld, Napoleon finally won the big victory that forced Austria to treat with him. But the time for quick wins had gone, giving way to that of slaughters.

French invasion of Russia (1812)

Russia, unwilling to respect the treaty of Tilsit whose clauses in international trade faced its interests, had increasingly distanced itself from France over the years. Napoleon could not compromise, since it undermined his struggle against England. The confrontation, which had become inevitable, was gigantic.

Smolensk

Battle of Smolensk
August 17th, 1812
Russia French Victory

Napoleon seized the city of Smolensk on fire and in ruins, which could not serve him as a source of supplies for the continuation of the campaign.

Borodino (The Moskva)

Battle of Borodino
September 7th, 1812
Russia Uncertain outcome

Mikhail Kutuzov finally offered to the French the battle they had hoped since the beginning of the campaign. Without convincing results.

Berezina

Battle of Berezina
November 27th to 28th, 1812
Belarus French Victory

A part of the French army managed to cross the Berezina River under threat from the enemy, with heavy sacrifices.

Last Campaign in Germany (1813)

Who else but Napoleon could have been able to face the European coalition in the aftermath of a rout like in Russia? Yet in 1813, the fate was several times about to declare in his favor.

Lützen

Battle of Lützen
May 2nd, 1813
Germany French Victory

The lack of cavalry prevented the French army to exploit this considerable success as it would have had.

Bautzen

Battle of Bautzen
May 20th and 21st, 1813
Germany French Victory

The French won in Bautzen a new but insufficient victory.

Dresden

Battle of Dresden
August 26th and 27th, 1813
Germany French Victory

This was the last major success in Germany for Napoleon, who was ill and could not exploit his success.

Leipzig (Battle of the Nations)

Battle of Leipzig
October 16th to 19th, 1813
Germany French defeat

At one against two, betrayed by his allies, and a victim of blows of fate, Napoleon conceded on that day his heaviest defeat and lost the initiative.

Hanau

Battle of Hanau
October 30th, 1813
Germany French Victory

This success allowed the French to continue their retreat.

Campaign of France (1814)

Cornered, fighting for the first time on French soil, Napoleon was more than ever to rise to the occasion. As he said himself, he had "put on his Italian boots" and realized one of his finest campaigns.

Brienne

Battle of Brienne
January 29th, 1814
France French Victory

Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher, too audacious, only just managed to elude capture, which could have changed the face of the campaign.

La Rothière

Battle of La Rothière
February 1st, 1814
France French defeat

Napoleon, who had not wanted this battle, was defeated after a great resistance.

Champaubert

Battle of Champaubert
February 10th, 1814
France French Victory

This was the first of four commitments, which turned into a disaster for the invaders.

Montmirail

Battle of Montmirail
February 11th, 1814
France French Victory

Although twice as numerous, Russians and Prussians were defeated by French.

Château-Thierry

Battle of Château-Thierry
February 12th, 1814
France French Victory

The Emperor pursued his enemies of yesterday and inflicted them another failure.

Vauchamps

Battle of Vauchamps
February 14th, 1814
France French Victory

It was the turn of Blücher in person to be punished. In four days, his army lost 30,000 men.

Montereau

Battle of Montereau
February 18th, 1814
France French Victory

The Emperor triumphed again but his plans were undermined by the slowness of some subordinates.

Craonne

Battle of Craonne
March 7th, 1814
France French Victory

Another success for the Emperor, yes, but this time it was a Pyrrhic victory.

Laon

Battle of Laon
March 9th and 10th, 1814
France French defeat

Napoleon attacked Blücher: an attempt that was difficult to justify, and which did not succeed.

Reims

Battle of Reims
March 13th, 1814
France French Victory

The capital of Champagne offered to the Emperor the "last smile of victory".

Arcis-sur-Aube

Battle of Arcis-sur-Aube
March 20th, 1814
France French defeat

Considerating that this battle was turning into a strategic failure, Napoleon abruptly broke the struggle to make other arrangements.

Fère-Champenoise

Battle of Fère-Champenoise
March 25th, 1814
France French defeat

The defeat of Marshals Auguste Viesse de Marmont and Adolphe Mortier opened the road to Paris to the Allies.

Campaign in Belgium (1815)

It took little time for Napoleon, after his return from Elba, to understand that his throne, again, depended on his ability in defending it. He accepted the challenge.

In other circumstances, could have he achieved that goal?

Ligny

Battle of Ligny
June 16th, 1815
Belgium French Victory

For the very last time, Napoleon inflicted another setback to his old adversary Blücher, this in Walloon Brabant, south of Brussels.

Quatre-Bras

Battle of Quatre-Bras
June 16th, 1815
Belgium 

Simultaneously, fifteen kilometers from Ligny, Marshal Michel Ney fiercely fought against the troops of the Duke of Wellington.

Waterloo (Mont-Saint-Jean)

Battle of Waterloo
June 18th, 1815
Belgium French defeat

The Imperial epic reached its denouement in this confrontation without mercy among Arthur Wellesley of Wellington's defence and Napoleon's offensive.

But it was ultimately the General perhaps most often defeated by the Emperor, who tipped the scales: Blücher, whose late arrival closed the final chapter in the military history of the French Empire.

Caption

  1. French Victory French Victory
  2. Uncertain outcome Uncertain outcome
  3. French defeat French defeat
  4. Flag Current country where the battle was held
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