Spoils from the French Army at Waterloo dated 1815 collected by Walter Scott on display at his house in Abbotsford
“Confront the battery’s jaws of flame! Rush on the levelled gun! My steel-clad cuirassiers, advance! Each Hulan forward with his lance, My Guard–my Chosen–charge for France, France and Napoleon!”
The Field of Waterloo by Walter Scott
These spoils were bought when Walter Scott visited the battlefield on the bequest of the Duke of Wellington. He collected a number of swords, pistols and pieces of armour and uniform such as the ones seen here.
The cuirasses come from the heavy French cavalry that stormed the field of Waterloo, the bullet hole on the left might have been added after the battle to add to its price.
The helmet on the right is of a dragoon and the Czapka on the left from one of the Polish Uhlans/Hulans (lancers) who fought for Napoleon in the Grand Armee.
The construction of the Arc de Triomphe was ordered in 1806 by the French Emperor Napoleon. It was built to honour the French army, then known as the Grande Armee, who had conquered much of Europe and were considered invincible. The names of 128 battles are inscribed on the white walls of the Arc, along with the Generals who took part in them.
Beneath the Arc is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, accompanied by an eternal flame, which burns in memory of all soldiers who have never been identified.
Soliders! you are naked and starving: the Government owes you much and can give you nothing. Among these rocks, your patience, your courage, are admirable; but not one ray of glory can shine down on you. I will lead you into the most fertile plain of the earth. Wealthy cities, great provinces, will be in your power; and there await you honour, glory, and riches. Soliders of Italy, will your courage, will your constancy fail?– Napoleon Bonaparte, Nice, March 27th, 1796
Throughout history there are three great invasions of Russia which have ultimately led to the collapse of great empires and a changing course in history. The last two are pretty well known. In 1812 Napoleon Bonaparte and his Grande Armee invaded Russia, only to succumb to winter weather and scorched earth tactics. The failed invasion annihilated Napoleon’s army and set in motion the event which would lead to the collapse of the French Empire. Then in 1941 German forces under Adolf Hitler drove deep into Russia with the goal of capturing Moscow. Roughly four years later Russian hordes stormed the streets of Berlin while Hitler gloomily eyed his pistol and cyanide capsule. While these two invasions of Russia are well known, the first is almost forgotten. However, it was an important invasion, one that would define Russian strategy in future invasions.
In the early 18th century, Sweden had developed into a very powerful empire which dominated Scandinavia and Eastern Europe. Under the rule of Charles XII, the Swedish Empire comprised of Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Livonia, and parts of Northern Germany. In addition, Charles XII had installed puppet rulers on the thrones of Denmark and Poland. In 1707, continuing conflicts with Russia led Charles XII to organize a grand invasion with the goal of capturing Moscow itself. Amassing an army of 40,000 he crossed the Vistula River on the 1st of January, 1708. Later he was joined by another 20,000 allied Cossacks.
By the Spring of 1708 the Swedish Army had its first clashes with the Russians, all of which were resounding victories. Again and again Charles XII dealt blow after blow, causing often horrific casualties among the Russian Army. To Charles XII frustration, the Russians withstood punch after punch, devastating blow after devastating blow. However with each battle the Russians stood back up, brushed themselves off, and demanded more. It seemed that no matter how badly the Russians were defeated, they would never surrender. The Swedish advance was being slowed by engagements with the Russians, but worse yet it was part of Czar Peter the Great’s grand strategy to draw the Swedes into Russia. Peter the Great is credited as being the man who modernized Russia in the 18th century. However at the time there was still much work to be done in modernizing the military. He knew that his troops were nowhere near the caliber of professional Swedish soldiers, so he developed a strategy of drawing the Swedes deep within Russia while slowly weakening them, the cut off their reinforcements, and finish them off. The Russians burned, hid, or transported away anything of value to the Swedes, especially food, clothing, and shelter. When the winter of 1808/1809 hit, the Swedish Army was forced to halt after a weather event occured called the Great Frost of 1709, where temperatures dropped up to 15 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). For the average Swedish soldier, there was nothing to do but starve and shiver. During the winter, 12,000 of his men froze to death. Others died of disease, malnutrition, and exhaustion. In addition, Peter the Great led a surprise attack against a force 12,000 Swedish reinforcements escorting a convoy of 4,500 supply wagons. Despite suffering heavy casualties the Russian annihilated the Swedish force at Lesnaya, and Charles XII was left without much needed supplies and reinforcements.
In the summer of 1709 Charles XII decided to invade Ukraine instead of Moscow, in hopes of rebuilding his army and continuing the march into Russia later. By them his army had been reduced to 16,000 men. Worse yet, his Cossack allies switched sides and abandoned him. At Poltava, Ukraine, the Swedes and the Russians met for a final show down. There, the Russian had built a series of trenches, ramparts, and forts manned by over 50,000 men. Despite being outnumbered, Charles order a full assault. At first the Swedes were successful, capturing the first two lines of defenses, but then the Russians counterattacked, driving panic among the Swedish Army and forcing them off the battlefield. A mere month later, the Russians surrounded and captured the Swedish Army at Perevolochna, forcing them to surrender. Charles XII managed to escape to the Ottoman Empire. Of his 40,000 man grand army, only 543 remained.
Charles XII remained in Turkey for a few years, convincing the Turks to make war on Russia. The war was short lived before a peace treaty was signed, and he was forced to return home empty handed. When he arrived back in Sweden, he found that the major powers of Europe had gathered together to pick the carcass of what was his grand empire. His old enemies, such as Russia and Denmark had declared war and invaded, but so had also new enemies such as Prussia and Great Britain. Charles XII fought off as many enemies as he could, but was also force to make several concessions. Charles XII was killed in battle in 1718, and would be the last absolute ruler of Sweden, as the country changed governments to a constitutional monarchy. The Swedish Empire never recovered from the defeat dealt by the Russians, and over the coming decades was forced to give up much of its territories, such as Finland, to Russia.
NAPOLEON KNEW ABOUT THE RUSSIAN WINTER SHUT UP GUYS.
When the Tsar broke the continental system agreement and by extension the treaty signed on the Nieman river, Napoleon sprung into action marching his Grand Armee to the gates of Moscow after a string of humiliating Russian defeats, he did not invade Russia in winter, ”Napoleon knew about the Russian winter, he had read the accounts of Charles the Twelfth, - he had fought in blizzards before - he had no intention go to Moscow, he wanted to fight a twenty days war along the border of Russia” (Roberts, Intelligence Squared), he was not short sighted he knew the winter was his enemy and launched his counter invasion in the spring right after winter. When arrived at Moscow in winter after a string of Russian defeats, rather than the customary surrender and transfer of control of the city to the invaders once the gate was reached. The Russians had determined that they should fall back and move their armies behind the Ural mountains, furthermore the Russian high command expected the French to take refuge in their fallen and abandoned city, accordingly they took an unprecedented action. It is disputed if the Russian command sent suicide squads to set ablaze much of Moscow or if the the fires were started by Russian patriots, in the hopes of destroying not only the shelter for Napoleon’s Grand Armee, but also much of the Grand Armee itself. All in all about two thirds of Moscow burned to the ground, and Napoleon was forced to withdraw. (“Napoleon Enters Moscow.” History.com) As Napoleon and his forces limped back to France, to try to defend his Empire from the forces arrayed against him, during a full retreat his army was ruthlessly hounded and attacked oftentimes without any ability to form a defence by Russian cavalry and Cossack Rangers. Napoleon lost no battle against men, but against nature and an unprecedented sucker punch, which paved the way for European powers to damage cities, as assets in war rather than centers to be protected. Willful destruction of civilian property gradually became more and more permissible in the eyes of western world generals after this point.
When finally Napoleon’s battered armies reached his own borders, he was utterly broken, the Rhineland was in disarray, the Prussians, Austrians and Russians marched on Paris, France had been at war for over a decade and was long tired, and Napoleon lost the war, out of the many wars and seven coalitions of nations that marched on him, Napoleon had lost this one, but the thing is many individuals that we revere lost wars and battles. Peter the Great, Frederick the Great, Catherine the Great lost the war against Sweden, George Washington lost more battles than he won but we still view these people as great. (Roberts, Intelligence Squared) Napoleon after his defeat was allowed to retain his title, a one thousand man guard and he was imprisoned and made lord of the Isle of Elba by his captors.
I've been digging around online for "oldest veterans" photos and found some of Grand Armee soldiers and some Americans from the War of Independence but I couldn't find any of British soldiers before Crimea. Have you run across any from earlier?
Yes in fact, I do believe I can be of some help. Below we have;
A Peninsula War veteran and his wife
A 95th Rifles veteran
A certain Duke of Wellington…
And my favourite veteran photo; a Confederate veteran standing in front of a fighter jet in the 1950s. In fairness he may have been a fraud (censuses say he was born in 1860), but none the less, this is a man who was around for smoothbore muskets and cannons, and is now in front of a jet…
Michelle @mleigh69 and I are planning to do a series of
posts on TLOS5, An Author’s Odyssey on some of the critical plots and themes of the book, mainly as they
relate to CrissColfer and some of the battles they have/are fighting. To be clear, I
understand that the characters are fictional and no one is 100% based on a
person in Chris’ life, but he has stated multiple times that his characters do
have characterizations of people that he knows, and that he does this both
consciously and unconsciously.
There are spoilers contained below. If you are still reading or planning to read,
come back and read this later. I will tag all of the posts “Chris speaks
through TLOS.” This particular post is
limited to some pivotal and key scenes from TLOS4 Beyond the Kingdoms and Chapter 16 of TLOS5.
The Hundred Days, Part I —The Emperor of Elba Island
On this day in history, March 1st, 1815 — Napoleon returns from Elba
By March of 1814, it was clear that Napoleon Bonaparte and his empire was facing certain defeat. The Grande Armee had been decimated in the disastrous Russian Campaign and had been badly mauled at Leipzig. Now the situation was certainly grim as Russian, Austrian, and Prussian armies of the Sixth Coalition invaded France from the east while British forces likewise invaded from Spain. There were shortages of everything; guns, gunpowder, uniforms, food, and manpower, Napoleon was even forced to fill in the gaps with old men and children. The French economy teetered on a knife edge. Despite brilliant tactics on Napoleon’s part, nothing could stem the tide of the invasion. On the 30th of March, Coalition troops stormed and occupied Paris. On April 11th, Napoleon abdicated, convinced by his marshals that the situation was hopeless. The Bourbon Monarchy was re-installed in the form of King Louis XVIII. Napoleon, determined never to be captured, attempted suicide with a poisonous pill he wore around his neck, but the poison was old and spoiled, only making him sick rather than killing him.
After resigning his powers as Emperor of France and all of his titles, it was decided by the Coalition that he would be exiled to Elba, a small island off the coast of Italy populated by 12,000 people. He was given the title “Emperor of Elba”, allowed a personal guard of 1,000 soldiers, given a grand palace to live in, and given the power to rule over the island and its inhabitants as he saw fit. However he was not permitted to leave the island ever. Napoleon was fortunate, he easily could have been lined against a wall and shot.
Life at Elba was good for Napoleon. Elba was an still is a Mediterranean paradise which attracts thousands of tourists annually. Napoleon was given a fine villa to live in, not a luxurious as his former Fountainbleu, but certainly comfortable. He also had access to fine food, wines and liqueurs, and the best entertainment Europe had to offer. As Emperor of Elba, Napoleon also instituted the same reforms which he had done in France. He instituted modern agricultural methods, developed iron mines, built roads, developed a modern sewage system, and built a small navy. As Emperor of Elba, he was also often called upon to act as a judge in disputes between his subjects. While Napoleon lived the life of a European ruler, he was separated from his family and his life as pretend emperor of a small island was not enough for a man who once ruled most of Europe. There was news of political instability as the people of France despised the new Bourbon King. There were also rumors that Napoleon was to be further exiled to a remote island in the Atlantic.
On February 26th, 1815, having spent only 300 days on the island Napoleon left Elba on the ship Swiftsure with 600 troops. On March 1st they landed on the southeastern coast of France. Napoleon and his small band disembarked, marching north towards Paris. Although he only had an army of 600, Napoleon hope that the loyalty of his people would restore to him the empire which he once ruled.