French Troops in Porto Ferrajo, Elba

French Troops in Porto Ferrajo, Elba

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French Troops in Porto Ferrajo, Elba

Here we see French troops advancing through Porto Ferrajo, the capital of Elba, soon after the invasion of 17 June 1944.

History of the Island of Elba

The moment we think of Elba four things come to mind: the wonderful sea around the island, the lush, green Mediterranean bush, the magnificent beaches with all the unique inlets, and, last but not least, Napoleon, even though he only stayed on the island for less than a year.

The history of this island, however, isn't limited to the mere ten months of the French Emperor's stay, but starts much further back in time: it starts in the Middle and Upper Paleolith there is proof of this in the Archaeology Museum in Marciana, along with evidence from Saint Giuseppe's eneolithic burial and from the subapennine villages on the Marciana mountainside, as told by Doctor Umberto Gentini, ex Director of the Tuscan Archipelago Tourism Promotion Office.

"History has chosen the island of Elba as its theatre where important events are shown: every Mediterranean civilization has left proof of its presence on the island. Nature, art and ancient culture are all held in 224 square metres of microcosm, creating a unique atmosphere, bringing breathtaking views back to life, all this thanks to past civilizations.

According to mythological tales, Giasone stopped in Porto Argon, now called Capo Bianco, during his adventurous search for the Golden Fleece and according to Virgil's Aeneid, three hundred young men from Elba set sail from Porto Argon to offer their assistance to "Pio Enea" in his difficult fight against the Rutuli. As regards the Etruscans, Elba proved to be an unlimited source of richness: the mines were already being exploited as far back as the VIII century BC and the iron being exported all over the Mediterranean, bringing the Etruscans much wealth.

In this way the first ovens were born, in which minerals were melted night and day, and according to Aristotole, this gave way to the name Aethalia, or spark, a name given to Elba by the Greek sailors. The five century rule of the Etruscans can be seen today in the various necropolis, or what remains of the ovens, or the numerous "hillside villages" standing out from breathtaking surroundings.

As the Etruscan rule came to an end, the Romans not only inherited their iron and steel industry but also improved the granite deposits and discovered the mud baths in the Terme San Giovanni, not to mention the beautiful landscapes and excellent wines.

To quote Plinio il Vecchio "The Island of Good Wine", and this explains the many ships carrying amphoras full of wine, many of which can be admired in the Archaeology Museums in Portoferraio and Marciana. These, along with amazing findings the sea has brought in, telling us the story of ancient sailings. The magnificent patrician villas in La Linguella, Le Grotte and Capo Castello were built in some of the island's most beautiful gulfs, and even today are places of absolute bliss.

During the Middle Ages it was the turn of the Maritime Republic of Pisa's to exploit the iron mines and granite deposits in Elba: indeed most of the columns in Piazza dei Miracoli were made from skilled stone-cutters from San Piero. There is much proof of the Pisan presence too: the elegant Romanesque churches and the tower of San Giovanni in Campo, built on a giant granite rock, but above all the majestic "Fortress" in Marciana and the Volterraio castle, standing on guard to protect the mountains and the sea.

The Medici arrived in 1548: Cosimo I built the fortified town of Portoferraio, considered a military gem. The harmony between sea, land and architecture was so perfect that the new town was given the name of Cosmopoli, "heart of civilization and culture, a perfect example of balance and rationality".
Immediately afterwards the Spanish settled in Porto Azzurro and built not only the majestic Forte San Giacomo, today a prison, but also various chapels, as well as the suggestive Santuario of Monserrato, set on a high "dolomitic" mountain.

In the XVIII century, the Austrians, the Germans, the English and the French fought to rule over Elba, going from frenetic diplomatic discussions to fierce battles, until it was given to Napoleon Bonaparte as "sole owner and leader". In only ten months of ruling he left very significant signs: he built roads, reorganized the mining economy, increased the wine production and exportation.
He made a nice theatre out of an ancient, deconsecrated church the building has since been restored to perfection and today important cultural meetings are often held there.
When he returned to France for his famous hundred days, he left two residences that are now National Museums visited by thousands of people every year.

But there is more magic yet to come. Elba is the Macchiaiolo painters' paradise both national and international artists get together in discreet meeting places, and open their mind and their heart to memories.


The island is part of the province of Livorno and is divided into seven municipalities. The municipalities are Portoferraio, which is also the island's principal town, Campo nell'Elba, Capoliveri, Marciana, Marciana Marina, Porto Azzurro, and Rio.

Elba is the largest remaining stretch of land from the ancient tract that once connected the Italian peninsula to Corsica. The northern coast faces the Ligurian Sea, the eastern coast the Piombino Channel, the southern coast the Tyrrhenian Sea, and the Corsica Channel divides the western tip of the island from neighbouring Corsica.

Visiting Elba, Tuscany
The island itself is made up of slices of rocks which once formed part of the ancient Tethyan seafloor. These rocks have been through at least two orogenies, the Alpine orogeny and the Apennine orogeny.

The second of these two events was associated with subduction of the Tethyan oceanic crust underneath Italy and the obduction of parts of the ancient seafloor onto the continents. Later extension within the stretched inner part of the Apennine mountains caused adiabatic melting and the intrusion of the Mount Capanne and the La Serra-Porto Azzuro granitoids.

These igneous bodies brought with them skarn fluids which dissolved and replaced some of the carbonate units, precipitating iron-rich minerals in their place. One of the iron-rich minerals, ilvaite, was first identified on the island and takes its name from the Latin word for Elba.

The terrain is quite varied, and is thus divided into several areas based on geomorphology. The mountainous and most recent part of the island can be found to the west, the centre of which is dominated by Mount Capanne (1,018 metres), also called the roof of the Tuscan Archipelago. The mountain is home to many animal species including the mouflon and wild boar, two species that flourish despite the continuous influx of tourists.

The central part of the island is a mostly flat section with the width being reduced to just four kilometres. It is where the major centres can be found: Portoferraio, Campo nell'Elba.

Jordi Santanyí visits Elba, Tuscany
To the east is the oldest part of the island, formed over 3 million years ago. In the hilly area, dominated by Monte Calamita, are the deposits of iron that made Elba famous.

Apollonius of Rhodes mentions it in his epic poem Argonautica, describing that the Argonauts rested here during their travels. He writes that signs of their visit were still visible in his day, including skin-coloured pebbles that they dried their hands on and large stones which they used at discus.

In 1544, the Barbary pirates from North Africa devastated Elba and the coasts of Tuscany. In 1546, part of the island was handed over to Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany, who fortified Portoferraio and renamed it Cosmopoli, while the rest of the island was returned to the Appiani in 1577.

In 1596, Philip II of Spain captured Porto Azzurro and had two fortresses built there. A part of Elba came into the power of the Kingdom of Naples through the State of the Presidi, including Porto Longone.

More recently, the island has become famed for its wine and is a noted tourist destination.

How the French won the battle of Waterloo (or think they did)

Two centuries after the battle of Waterloo, the French are still in denial, says writer Stephen Clarke. As soon as the cannons stopped firing in June 1815, French historians began rewriting history, diminishing the Anglo-Prussian victory and naming Napoleon the moral victor…

This competition is now closed

Published: June 18, 2021 at 7:05 am

It can come as something of a shock to read Napoleon Bonaparte’s official account of Waterloo, written on 20 June 1815, two days after the battle. A key phrase reads: “After eight hours of firing and infantry and cavalry charges, the whole [French] army was able to look with satisfaction upon a battle won and the battlefield in our possession.”

Given that the first cannon shots were fired at about 11am, this would mean that as night fell, Napoleon was victorious. And yet almost every historian since 1815 has stated unequivocally that the battle was won by the armies of the Duke of Wellington and his Prussian ally General Gebhard Blücher, and that France’s defeat at Waterloo effectively put an end to Napoleon’s reign as emperor. So how could he possibly “look with satisfaction upon a battle won”?

To find the answer, it is necessary to read a little further into the report, where Napoleon concedes that “at about 8:30pm” some French troops mistakenly thought that his invincible Old Guard were fleeing the battlefield, and panicked. He explains that “the confusion of the night made it impossible to rally the troops and show them that they were mistaken”. It sounds here less like a lost battle than an abandoned football match.

And it wasn’t only the soon-to-be-deposed emperor of France who rewrote accepted historical fact about Waterloo. A French veteran of the battle, Captain Marie Jean Baptise Lemonnier-Delafosse, claimed in his memoirs: “It wasn’t Wellington who won his defence was stubborn and admirably energetic, but he was pushed back and beaten.”

Crucially, though, Captain Lemonnier-Delafosse goes on to add that Waterloo was an “extraordinary battle, the only one in which there were two losers: first the English, then the French”. So he admits defeat, albeit in a confusing way.

What Lemonnier-Delafosse means is that Napoleon beat Wellington, and then lost to Blücher when the Prussians arrived on the battlefield after dark. This is a key argument, because it suggests that Napoleon emerged from 18 June with one victory and one defeat. We’re back to a football analogy: at Waterloo, Napoleon won a score draw. In other words, he wasn’t a total loser. And for Napoleon’s admirers, past and present, this has always been the essential point.

Even today, there is a sub-species of historian (mostly French, unsurprisingly) dedicated to preserving this notion of ‘Napoleon Bonaparte, the winner’. They present him as a great general who may have suffered setbacks in Russia in 1812 (when he lost about half a million soldiers and was forced to abandon all his territorial gains) and Belgium in 1815 (though don’t forget Waterloo was a draw), but who, when all the battles are totted up, was a winner – France’s greatest-ever hero, who expanded the nation’s boundaries until French-dominated Europe stretched from Portugal to Poland, and from the Baltic to the southern tip of Italy. Almost the only piece missing from his empire-building puzzle was Britain.

This is why Waterloo is so important, and why controversy is still raging about it (in French minds, at least) – it was fought against France’s ancient enemy, the English, with whom it had been at war practically non-stop since 1337. Britain was almost the only European country that Napoleon never managed to invade. It was already a black mark on his map of Europe before Waterloo, so British attempts to glorify it as a French defeat threaten to deliver the coup de grâce to Napoleon’s memory.

All of which explains the perversely twisted arguments that Bonapartist historians have given to diminish the Anglo-Prussian victory of June 1815, ever since Napoleon did so in his post-battle report.

One of their classic arguments is that Wellington cheated. A year earlier, he had predicted that the open farmland south of Brussels might be the site of a standoff between British and French forces in the region, and had found the ridge where he would align his soldiers on 17 June 1815. Some might argue that reconnoitering for higher ground in a strategic location was intelligent military planning – to Bonapartists, though, it was cheating.

Once the battlefield was chosen, many French historians argue that any hope of victory for Napoleon’s men was dashed by the incompetence of his generals. They cite a long list of mistakes made by Napoleon’s brother Jérôme, who lost 5,000 lives in a pointless attack when he had been ordered to create a simple diversion at the start of the battle by Marshal Michel Ney, who led several ill-timed cavalry charges and by Marshal Emmanuel de Grouchy, who was sent to scout for Prussians and simply disappeared for the day, stopping at one point to enjoy some fresh strawberries. That fruity picnic has haunted his family name ever since.

But the sad fact was that after more than a decade of continuous war, a critical number of Napoleon’s most gifted and most faithful generals were dead. In the early 19th century, generals led their troops from the front, and stayed almost permanently in the firing line. Napoleon’s most faithful men had fallen in battle. Others had betrayed him during the political upheavals in France in 1814, when Napoleon was deposed for the first time. Many French troops later complained in their memoirs that their officers didn’t believe in Napoleon’s cause.

If uncommitted officers weren’t enough, Napoleon is also said to have been hampered by the weather. Rain poured out of the Belgian sky all night before the battle, forcing the French soldiers to sleep in puddles and preventing Napoleon from manoeuvring his cannons – his favourite weapon – into place. Of course the rain also fell on Wellington’s men, but that doesn’t matter in Bonapartist eyes. As the 19th-century French writer Victor Hugo put it: “If it hadn’t rained on the night of 17-18 June, the future of Europe would have been different. A few raindrops more or less felled Napoleon.”

Hugo implies that this rain didn’t come by chance – God himself had decided that Napoleon was just too great: “The excessive importance of this man in world destiny was unbalancing things… Waterloo wasn’t a battle. It was a change in the direction of the universe.” It was therefore impossible for Napoleon to win at Waterloo, Hugo concludes: “Because of Wellington? Because of Blücher? No, because of God.” With enemies like that, no friends could help.

Napoleon was also troubled by his health. According to various accounts he was suffering from piles, a urinary infection, a glandular condition and/or syphilis. One of Napoleon’s 20th-century French biographers, Max Gallo, describes what must be the worst case of hemorrhoids in literary history, with “thick, black blood, heavy and burning hot, flowing through [Napoleon’s] lower body, swelling the veins until they were fit to burst”. Riding a horse on the battlefield was bound to be agony. The implication of these health stories is of course that the great champion wasn’t entirely fit on the day he was forced to fight.

It is because of all his sufferings that Napoleon’s supporters refuse to look upon him as the loser of Waterloo. On the contrary, these setbacks were the very reason that Victor Hugo and others claim that Napoleon’s men won the moral victory: outnumbered by two armies to one, led by second-string generals, frowned (and rained) upon by the creator of the universe, they still put up a glorious fight.

The Bonapartists point to a crucial moment towards the end of the battle. As the French retreated, one group of 550 men did so without breaking ranks – this was a battalion of the Garde, led by General Pierre Cambronne. However, they were quickly surrounded by Wellington’s infantrymen, backed up with cannons, who called on the Frenchmen to surrender. Cambronne famously replied “merde!” (“shit”). Some say he added: “The Garde dies but never surrenders,” although he later denied this, explaining: “I’m not dead and I surrendered.”

Hearing this insulting rebuff, the British artillery opened fire from point-blank range and wiped out almost all of the 550, who instantly became martyrs – and in some French eyes, victors. Victor Hugo went so far as to claim: “The man who won the battle of Waterloo was Cambronne. Unleashing deadly lightning with such a word counts as victory.” And a more modern Bonapartist, the former French prime minister Dominique de Villepin, went further, saying that this “merde” created “a new idea of Frenchness”, a defiant nation that believes in its own superiority despite any proof to the contrary.

It is true that, even as early as the 1820s, impoverished France almost relished the fact that it was being left behind by the (British-led) industrial revolution, and began to concentrate on its traditional industries such as the production of unique regional cheeses and wines, the distillation of perfumes from its native plants and hand-made high-quality clothes. Villepin suggests that the global importance of these French industries today are victories that sprung directly from Waterloo.

This is not to forget Napoleon’s personal victory. In July 1815, when he was briefly brought to England as a prisoner, a thousand boats filled Plymouth Sound harbour, with locals desperate to get a glimpse of the famous Frenchman, and, according to a British sailor, “blessing themselves that they had been so fortunate” if they succeeded. Until the order was given to exile Napoleon to Saint Helena, he seriously believed that he could retire as a celebrity in England.

Despite his exile in 1815, Napoleon Bonaparte’s fame has since spread throughout the world. His supporters point to the fact that his tomb in Paris is bigger, and more frequently visited by tourists, than that of any king of France. They rightly remind us that the legal system Napoleon founded, the Code Civil, is still used right across Europe. If further proof of Napoleon’s enduring fame is needed, one of his black hats sold at auction in 2015 for 1.8 million euros, to a Korean industrialist who planned to display it in the foyer of his head office to show that he too was a winner.

Indeed, while he was alive, Napoleon always dressed in his own unique style. On a recent visit to the new museum at Waterloo I counted the statuettes on sale in the souvenir shop, and the figurines of Napoleon in his trademark hat and greatcoat outnumbered Wellington and Blücher by at least five to one – clearly, the Bonaparte brand image lives on.

In short, Napoleon might have lost on 18 June 1815 (and the debate about that continues in France), but it is hard to deny that his highly vocal admirers are right – he has won the battle of history.

Stephen Clarke is the author of How the French Won Waterloo (Or Think They Did) (Century, 2015).

This article was first published by History Extra in August 2016


Napoleon's rise and fall Edit

The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars pitted France against various coalitions of other European nations nearly continuously from 1792 onward. The overthrow and subsequent public execution of Louis XVI in France had greatly disturbed other European leaders, who vowed to crush the French Republic. Rather than leading to France's defeat, the wars allowed the revolutionary regime to expand beyond its borders and create client republics. The success of the French forces made a hero out of their best commander, Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1799, Napoleon staged a successful coup d'état and became First Consul of the new French Consulate. Five years later, he crowned himself Emperor Napoleon I.

The rise of Napoleon troubled the other European powers as much as the earlier revolutionary regime had. Despite the formation of new coalitions against him, Napoleon's forces continued to conquer much of Europe. The tide of war began to turn after a disastrous French invasion of Russia in 1812 that resulted in the loss of much of Napoleon's army. The following year, during the War of the Sixth Coalition, Coalition forces defeated the French in the Battle of Leipzig.

Following its victory at Leipzig, the Coalition vowed to press on to Paris and depose Napoleon. In the last week of February 1814, Prussian Field Marshal Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher advanced on Paris. After multiple attacks, manoeuvring, and reinforcements on both sides, [6] Blücher won the Battle of Laon in early March 1814 this victory prevented the coalition army from being pushed north out of France. The Battle of Reims went to Napoleon, but this victory was followed by successive defeats from increasingly overwhelming odds. Coalition forces entered Paris after the Battle of Montmartre on 30 March 1814.

On 6 April 1814, Napoleon abdicated his throne, leading to the accession of Louis XVIII and the first Bourbon Restoration a month later. The defeated Napoleon was exiled to the island of Elba off the coast of Tuscany, while the victorious Coalition sought to redraw the map of Europe at the Congress of Vienna.

Exile in Elba Edit

Napoleon spent only 9 months and 21 days in an uneasy forced retirement on Elba (1814–1815), watching events in France with great interest as the Congress of Vienna gradually gathered. [7] He had been escorted to Elba by Sir Neil Campbell, who remained in residence there while performing other duties in Italy, but was not Napoleon's jailer. [8] As he foresaw, the shrinkage of the great Empire into the realm of old France caused intense dissatisfaction among the French, a feeling fed by stories of the tactless way in which the Bourbon princes treated veterans of the Grande Armée and the returning royalist nobility treated the people at large. Equally threatening was the general situation in Europe, which had been stressed and exhausted during the previous decades of near constant warfare. [7]

The conflicting demands of major powers were for a time so exorbitant as to bring the Powers at the Congress of Vienna to the verge of war with each other. [9] Thus every scrap of news reaching remote Elba looked favourable to Napoleon to retake power as he correctly reasoned the news of his return would cause a popular rising as he approached. He also reasoned that the return of French prisoners from Russia, Germany, Britain and Spain would furnish him instantly with a trained, veteran and patriotic army far larger than that which had won renown in the years before 1814. So threatening were the symptoms that the royalists at Paris and the plenipotentiaries at Vienna talked of deporting him to the Azores or to Saint Helena, while others hinted at assassination. [7] [10]

Congress of Vienna Edit

At the Congress of Vienna (November 1814 – June 1815) the various participating nations had very different and conflicting goals. Tsar Alexander of Russia had expected to absorb much of Poland and to leave a Polish puppet state, the Duchy of Warsaw, as a buffer against further invasion from Europe. The renewed Prussian state demanded all of the Kingdom of Saxony. Austria wanted to allow neither of these things, while it expected to regain control of northern Italy. Castlereagh, of the United Kingdom, supported France (represented by Talleyrand) and Austria and was at variance with his own Parliament. This almost caused a war to break out, when the Tsar pointed out to Castlereagh that Russia had 450,000 men near Poland and Saxony and he was welcome to try to remove them. Indeed, Alexander stated "I shall be the King of Poland and the King of Prussia will be the King of Saxony". [11] Castlereagh approached King Frederick William III of Prussia to offer him British and Austrian support for Prussia's annexation of Saxony in return for Prussia's support of an independent Poland. The Prussian king repeated this offer in public, offending Alexander so deeply that he challenged Metternich of Austria to a duel. Only the intervention of the Austrian crown stopped it. A breach between the four Great Powers was avoided when members of Britain's Parliament sent word to the Russian ambassador that Castlereagh had exceeded his authority, and Britain would not support an independent Poland. [12] The affair left Prussia deeply suspicious of any British involvement.

While the Allies were distracted, Napoleon solved his problem in characteristic fashion. On 26 February 1815, when the British and French guard ships were absent, he slipped away from Portoferraio on board the French brig Inconstant with some 1,000 men and landed at Golfe-Juan, between Cannes and Antibes, on 1 March 1815. Except in royalist Provence, he was warmly received. [7] He avoided much of Provence by taking a route through the Alps, marked today as the Route Napoléon. [13]

Firing no shot in his defence, his troop numbers swelled until they became an army. On 5 March, the nominally royalist 5th Infantry Regiment at Grenoble went over to Napoleon en masse. The next day they were joined by the 7th Infantry Regiment under its colonel, Charles de la Bédoyère, who was executed for treason by the Bourbons after the campaign ended. An anecdote illustrates Napoleon's charisma: when royalist troops were deployed to stop the march of Napoleon's force at Laffrey, near Grenoble, Napoleon stepped out in front of them, ripped open his coat and said "If any of you will shoot his Emperor, here I am." The men joined his cause. [14]

Marshal Ney, now one of Louis XVIII's commanders, had said that Napoleon ought to be brought to Paris in an iron cage, but on 14 March, Ney joined Napoleon with 6,000 men. Five days later, after proceeding through the countryside promising constitutional reform and direct elections to an assembly, to the acclaim of gathered crowds, Napoleon entered the capital, from where Louis XVIII had recently fled. [7]

The royalists did not pose a major threat: the duc d'Angoulême raised a small force in the south, but at Valence it did not provide resistance against Imperialists under Grouchy's command [7] and the duke, on 9 April 1815, signed a convention whereby the royalists received a free pardon from the Emperor. The royalists of the Vendée moved later and caused more difficulty for the Imperialists. [7]

Napoleon's health Edit

The evidence as to Napoleon's health is somewhat conflicting. Carnot, Pasquier, Lavalette, Thiébault and others thought him prematurely aged and enfeebled. [7] At Elba, as Sir Neil Campbell noted, he became inactive and proportionately corpulent. [ weasel words ] There, too, as in 1815, he began to suffer intermittently from retention of urine, but to no serious extent. [7] For much of his public life, Napoleon was troubled by hemorrhoids, which made sitting on a horse for long periods of time difficult and painful. This condition had disastrous results at Waterloo during the battle, his inability to sit on his horse for other than very short periods of time interfered with his ability to survey his troops in combat and thus exercise command. [15] Others saw no marked change in him while Mollien, who knew the emperor well, attributed the lassitude which now and then came over him to a feeling of perplexity caused by his changed circumstances. [7]

Constitutional reform Edit

At Lyon, on 13 March 1815, Napoleon issued an edict dissolving the existing chambers and ordering the convocation of a national mass meeting, or Champ de Mai, for the purpose of modifying the constitution of the Napoleonic empire. [16] He reportedly told Benjamin Constant, "I am growing old. The repose of a constitutional king may suit me. It will more surely suit my son". [7]

That work was carried out by Benjamin Constant in concert with the Emperor. The resulting Acte additionel (supplementary to the constitutions of the Empire) bestowed on France a hereditary Chamber of Peers and a Chamber of Representatives elected by the "electoral colleges" of the empire. [7]

According to Chateaubriand, in reference to Louis XVIII's constitutional charter, the new constitution—La Benjamine, it was dubbed—was merely a "slightly improved" version of the charter associated with Louis XVIII's administration [7] however, later historians, including Agatha Ramm, have pointed out that this constitution permitted the extension of the franchise and explicitly guaranteed press freedom. [16] In the Republican manner, the Constitution was put to the people of France in a plebiscite, but whether due to lack of enthusiasm, or because the nation was suddenly thrown into military preparation, only 1,532,527 votes were cast, less than half of the vote in the plebiscites of the Consulat however, the benefit of a "large majority" meant that Napoleon felt he had constitutional sanction. [7] [16]

Napoleon was with difficulty dissuaded from quashing the 3 June election of Jean Denis, comte Lanjuinais, the staunch liberal who had so often opposed the Emperor, as president of the Chamber of Representatives. In his last communication to them, Napoleon warned them not to imitate the Greeks of the late Byzantine Empire, who engaged in subtle discussions when the ram was battering at their gates. [7]

During the Hundred Days both the Coalition nations and Napoleon mobilised for war. Upon re-assumption of the throne, Napoleon found that Louis XVIII had left him with few resources. There were 56,000 soldiers, of which 46,000 were ready to campaign. [17] By the end of May the total armed forces available to Napoleon had reached 198,000 with 66,000 more in depots training up but not yet ready for deployment. [18] By the end of May Napoleon had formed L'Armée du Nord (the "Army of the North") which, led by himself, would participate in the Waterloo Campaign.

For the defence of France, Napoleon deployed his remaining forces within France with the intention of delaying his foreign enemies while he suppressed his domestic ones. By June he had organised his forces thus:

  • V Corps, – L'Armée du Rhin – commanded by Rapp, cantoned near Strasbourg [19]
  • VII Corps – L'Armée des Alpes – commanded by Suchet, [20] cantoned at Lyon
  • I Corps of Observation – L'Armée du Jura – commanded by Lecourbe, [19] cantoned at Belfort
  • II Corps of Observation [21] – L'Armée du Var – commanded by Brune, based at Toulon [22]
  • III Corps of Observation [21] – Army of the Pyrenees orientales [23] – commanded by Decaen, based at Toulouse
  • IV Corps of Observation [21] – Army of the Pyrenees occidentales [23] – commanded by Clauzel, based at Bordeaux
  • Army of the West, [21] – Armée de l'Ouest[23] (also known as the Army of the Vendee and the Army of the Loire) – commanded by Lamarque, was formed to suppress the Royalist insurrection in the Vendée region of France which remained loyal to King Louis XVIII during the Hundred Days.

The opposing Coalition forces were the following:

Archduke Charles gathered Austrian and allied German states, while the Prince of Schwarzenberg formed another Austrian army. King Ferdinand VII of Spain summoned British officers to lead his troops against France. Tsar Alexander I of Russia mustered an army of 250,000 troops and sent these rolling toward the Rhine. Prussia mustered two armies. One under Blücher took post alongside Wellington's British army and its allies. The other was the North German Corps under General Kleist. [24]

  • Assessed as an immediate threat by Napoleon:
    • Anglo-allied, commanded by Wellington, cantoned south-west of Brussels, headquartered at Brussels.
    • Prussian Army commanded by Blücher, cantoned south-east of Brussels, headquartered at Namur.
    • The German Corps (North German Federal Army) which was part of Blücher's army, but was acting independently south of the main Prussian army. Blücher summoned it to join the main army once Napoleon's intentions became known.
    • The Austrian Army of the Upper Rhine, commanded by Field Marshal Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg.
    • The Swiss Army, commanded by Niklaus Franz von Bachmann.
    • The Austrian Army of Upper Italy – Austro-Sardinian Army – commanded by Johann Maria Philipp Frimont.
    • The Austrian Army of Naples, commanded by Frederick Bianchi, Duke of Casalanza.
    • A Russian Army, commanded by Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly, marching towards France
    • A Reserve Russian Army to support Barclay de Tolly if required.
    • A Reserve Prussian Army stationed at home in order to defend its borders.
    • An Anglo-Sicilian Army under General Sir Hudson Lowe, which was to be landed by the Royal Navy on the southern French coast.
    • Two Spanish Armies were assembling and planning to invade over the Pyrenees.
    • A Netherlands Corps, under Prince Frederick of the Netherlands, was not present at Waterloo but as a corps in Wellington's army it did take part in minor military actions during the Coalition's invasion of France.
    • A Danish contingent known as the Royal Danish Auxiliary Corps (commanded by General Prince Frederik of Hesse) and a Hanseatic contingent (from the free cities of Bremen, Lübeck and Hamburg) later commanded by the British Colonel Sir Neil Campbell, were on their way to join Wellington [25] both however, joined the army in July having missed the conflict. [26][27]
    • A Portuguese contingent, which due to the speed of events never assembled.

    At the Congress of Vienna, the Great Powers of Europe (Austria, Great Britain, Prussia and Russia) and their allies declared Napoleon an outlaw, [28] and with the signing of this declaration on 13 March 1815, so began the War of the Seventh Coalition. The hopes of peace that Napoleon had entertained were gone – war was now inevitable.

    A further treaty (the Treaty of Alliance against Napoleon) was ratified on 25 March, in which each of the Great European Powers agreed to pledge 150,000 men for the coming conflict. [29] Such a number was not possible for Great Britain, as her standing army was smaller than those of her three peers. [30] Besides, her forces were scattered around the globe, with many units still in Canada, where the War of 1812 had recently ended. [31] With this in mind, she made up her numerical deficiencies by paying subsidies to the other Powers and to the other states of Europe who would contribute contingents. [30]

    Some time after the allies began mobilising, it was agreed that the planned invasion of France was to commence on 1 July 1815, [32] much later than both Blücher and Wellington would have liked, as both their armies were ready in June, ahead of the Austrians and Russians the latter were still some distance away. [33] The advantage of this later invasion date was that it allowed all the invading Coalition armies a chance to be ready at the same time. They could deploy their combined, numerically superior forces against Napoleon's smaller, thinly spread forces, thus ensuring his defeat and avoiding a possible defeat within the borders of France. Yet this postponed invasion date allowed Napoleon more time to strengthen his forces and defences, which would make defeating him harder and more costly in lives, time and money.

    Napoleon now had to decide whether to fight a defensive or offensive campaign. [34] Defence would entail repeating the 1814 campaign in France, but with much larger numbers of troops at his disposal. France's chief cities (Paris and Lyon) would be fortified and two great French armies, the larger before Paris and the smaller before Lyon, would protect them francs-tireurs would be encouraged, giving the Coalition armies their own taste of guerrilla warfare. [35]

    Napoleon chose to attack, which entailed a pre-emptive strike at his enemies before they were all fully assembled and able to co-operate. By destroying some of the major Coalition armies, Napoleon believed he would then be able to bring the governments of the Seventh Coalition to the peace table [35] to discuss terms favourable to himself: namely, peace for France, with himself remaining in power as its head. If peace were rejected by the Coalition powers, despite any pre-emptive military success he might have achieved using the offensive military option available to him, then the war would continue and he could turn his attention to defeating the rest of the Coalition armies.

    Napoleon's decision to attack in Belgium was supported by several considerations. First, he had learned that the British and Prussian armies were widely dispersed and might be defeated in detail. [36] Further, the British troops in Belgium were largely second-line troops most of the veterans of the Peninsular War had been sent to America to fight the War of 1812. [37] And, politically, a French victory might trigger a friendly revolution in French-speaking Brussels. [36]

    The Waterloo Campaign (15 June – 8 July 1815) was fought between the French Army of the North and two Seventh Coalition armies: an Anglo-allied army and a Prussian army. Initially the French army was commanded by Napoleon Bonaparte, but he left for Paris after the French defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. Command then rested on Marshals Soult and Grouchy, who were in turn replaced by Marshal Davout, who took command at the request of the French Provisional Government. The Anglo-allied army was commanded by the Duke of Wellington and the Prussian army by Prince Blücher.

    Start of hostilities (15 June) Edit

    Hostilities started on 15 June when the French drove in the Prussian outposts and crossed the Sambre at Charleroi and secured Napoleon's favoured "central position"—at the junction between the cantonment areas of Wellington's army (to the west) and Blücher's army to the east. [38]

    Battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny (16 June) Edit

    On 16 June, the French prevailed, with Marshal Ney commanding the left wing of the French army holding Wellington at the Battle of Quatre Bras and Napoleon defeating Blücher at the Battle of Ligny. [39]

    Interlude (17 June) Edit

    On 17 June, Napoleon left Grouchy with the right wing of the French army to pursue the Prussians, while he took the reserves and command of the left wing of the army to pursue Wellington towards Brussels. On the night of 17 June, the Anglo-allied army turned and prepared for battle on a gentle escarpment, about 1 mile (1.6 km) south of the village of Waterloo. [40]

    Battle of Waterloo (18 June) Edit

    The next day, the Battle of Waterloo proved to be the decisive battle of the campaign. The Anglo-allied army stood fast against repeated French attacks, until with the aid of several Prussian corps that arrived on the east of the battlefield in the early evening, they managed to rout the French Army. [41] Grouchy, with the right wing of the army, engaged a Prussian rearguard at the simultaneous battle of Wavre, and although he won a tactical victory, his failure to prevent the Prussians marching to Waterloo meant that his actions contributed to the French defeat at Waterloo. The next day (19 June), Grouchy left Wavre and started a long retreat back to Paris. [42]

    Invasion of France Edit

    After the defeat at Waterloo, Napoleon chose not to remain with the army and attempt to rally it, but returned to Paris to try to secure political support for further action. This he failed to do and was forced to resign. The two Coalition armies hotly pursued the French army to the gates of Paris, during which time the French, on occasion, turned and fought some delaying actions, in which thousands of men were killed. [43]

    Abdication of Napoleon (22 June) Edit

    On arriving at Paris, three days after Waterloo, Napoleon still clung to the hope of concerted national resistance, but the temper of the chambers and of the public generally forbade any such attempt. Napoleon and his brother Lucien Bonaparte were almost alone in believing that, by dissolving the chambers and declaring Napoleon dictator, they could save France from the armies of the powers now converging on Paris. Even Davout, minister of war, advised Napoleon that the destiny of France rested solely with the chambers. Clearly, it was time to safeguard what remained, and that could best be done under Talleyrand's shield of legitimacy. [44] Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès was the minister of justice during this time and was a close confidant of Napoleon. [45]

    Napoleon himself at last recognised the truth. When Lucien pressed him to "dare", he replied, "Alas, I have dared only too much already". On 22 June 1815 he abdicated in favour of his son, Napoleon Francis Joseph Charles Bonaparte, well knowing that it was a formality, as his four-year-old son was in Austria. [46]

    French Provisional Government Edit

    With the abdication of Napoleon, a provisional government with Joseph Fouché as acting president was formed.

    Initially, the remnants of the French Army of the North (the left wing and the reserves) that was routed at Waterloo were commanded by Marshal Soult, while Grouchy kept command of the right wing that had fought at Wavre. However, on 25 June, Soult was relieved of his command by the Provisional Government and was replaced by Grouchy, who in turn was placed under the command of Marshal Davout. [47]

    On the same day, 25 June, Napoleon received from Fouché, the president of the newly appointed provisional government (and Napoleon's former police chief), an intimation that he must leave Paris. He retired to Malmaison, the former home of Joséphine, where she had died shortly after his first abdication. [46]

    On 29 June, the near approach of the Prussians, who had orders to seize Napoleon, dead or alive, caused him to retire westwards toward Rochefort, whence he hoped to reach the United States. [46] The presence of blockading Royal Navy warships under Vice Admiral Henry Hotham, with orders to prevent his escape, forestalled this plan. [48]

    Coalition forces enter Paris (7 July) Edit

    French troops concentrated in Paris had as many soldiers as the invaders and more cannons. [ citation needed ] There were two major skirmishes and a few minor ones near Paris during the first few days of July. In the first major skirmish, the Battle of Rocquencourt, on 1 July, French dragoons, supported by infantry and commanded by General Exelmans, destroyed a Prussian brigade of hussars under the command of Colonel von Sohr (who was severely wounded and taken prisoner during the skirmish), before retreating. [49] In the second skirmish, on 3 July, General Dominique Vandamme (under Davout's command) was decisively defeated by General Graf von Zieten (under Blücher's command) at the Battle of Issy, forcing the French to retreat into Paris. [50]

    With this defeat, all hope of holding Paris faded and the French Provisional Government authorised delegates to accept capitulation terms, which led to the Convention of St. Cloud (the surrender of Paris) and the end of hostilities between France and the armies of Blücher and Wellington. [51]

    On 4 July, under the terms of the Convention of St. Cloud, the French army, commanded by Marshal Davout, left Paris and proceeded to cross the Loire River. The Anglo-allied troops occupied Saint-Denis, Saint Ouen, Clichy and Neuilly. On 5 July, the Anglo-allied army took possession of Montmartre. [52] On 6 July, the Anglo-allied troops occupied the Barriers of Paris, on the right of the Seine, while the Prussians occupied those upon the left bank. [52]

    On 7 July, the two Coalition armies, with Graf von Zieten's Prussian I Corps as the vanguard, [53] entered Paris. The Chamber of Peers, having received from the Provisional Government a notification of the course of events, terminated its sittings the Chamber of Representatives protested, but in vain. Their President (Lanjuinais) resigned his Chair, and on the following day, the doors were closed and the approaches guarded by Coalition troops. [52] [54]

    On 8 July, the French King, Louis XVIII, made his public entry into Paris, amidst the acclamations of the people, and again occupied the throne. [52]

    During Louis XVIII's entry into Paris, Count Chabrol, prefect of the department of the Seine, accompanied by the municipal body, addressed the King, in the name of his companions, in a speech that began "Sire,—One hundred days have passed away since your majesty, forced to tear yourself from your dearest affections, left your capital amidst tears and public consternation. . ". [4]

    Unable to remain in France or escape from it, Napoleon surrendered to Captain Frederick Maitland of HMS Bellerophon in the early morning of 15 July 1815 and was transported to England. Napoleon was exiled to the island of Saint Helena where he died in May 1821. [55] [46]

    While Napoleon had assessed that the Coalition forces in and around Brussels on the borders of north-east France posed the greatest threat, because Tolly's Russian army of 150,000 were still not in the theatre, Spain was slow to mobilise, Prince Schwarzenberg's Austrian army of 210,000 were slow to cross the Rhine, and another Austrian force menacing the south-eastern frontier of France was still not a direct threat, Napoleon still had to place some badly needed forces in positions where they could defend France against other Coalition forces whatever the outcome of the Waterloo campaign. [56] [19]

    Neapolitan War Edit

    The Neapolitan War between the Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples and the Austrian Empire started on 15 March 1815 when Marshal Joachim Murat declared war on Austria, and ended on 20 May 1815 with the signing of the Treaty of Casalanza. [57]

    Napoleon had made his brother-in-law, Joachim Murat, King of Naples on 1 August 1808. After Napoleon's defeat in 1813, Murat reached an agreement with Austria to save his own throne. However, he realized that the European Powers, meeting as the Congress of Vienna, planned to remove him and return Naples to its Bourbon rulers. So, after issuing the so-called Rimini Proclamation urging Italian patriots to fight for independence, Murat moved north to fight against the Austrians, who were the greatest threat to his rule.

    The war was triggered by a pro-Napoleon uprising in Naples, after which Murat declared war on Austria on 15 March 1815, five days before Napoleon's return to Paris. The Austrians were prepared for war. Their suspicions were aroused weeks earlier, when Murat applied for permission to march through Austrian territory to attack the south of France. Austria had reinforced her armies in Lombardy under the command of Bellegarde prior to war being declared.

    The war ended after a decisive Austrian victory at the Battle of Tolentino. Ferdinand IV was reinstated as King of Naples. Ferdinand then sent Neapolitan troops under General Onasco to help the Austrian army in Italy attack southern France. In the long term, the intervention by Austria caused resentment in Italy, which further spurred on the drive towards Italian unification. [58] [59] [60] [61]

    Civil war Edit

    Provence and Brittany, which were known to contain many royalist sympathisers, did not rise in open revolt, but La Vendée did. The Vendée Royalists successfully took Bressuire and Cholet, before they were defeated by General Lamarque at the Battle of Rocheserviere on 20 June. They signed the Treaty of Cholet six days later on 26 June. [20] [62]

    Austrian campaign Edit

    Rhine frontier Edit

    In early June, General Rapp's Army of the Rhine of about 23,000 men, with a leavening of experienced troops, advanced towards Germersheim to block Schwarzenberg's expected advance, but on hearing the news of the French defeat at Waterloo, Rapp withdrew towards Strasbourg turning on 28 June to check the 40,000 men of General Württemberg's Austrian III Corps at the battle of La Suffel—the last pitched battle of the Napoleonic Wars and a French victory. The next day Rapp continued to retreat to Strasbourg and also sent a garrison to defend Colmar. He and his men took no further active part in the campaign and eventually submitted to the Bourbons. [19] [63]

    To the north of Württenberg's III Corps, General Wrede's Austrian (Bavarian) IV Corps also crossed the French frontier, and then swung south and captured Nancy, against some local popular resistance on 27 June. Attached to his command was a Russian detachment, under the command of General Count Lambert, that was charged with keeping Wrede's lines of communication open. In early July, Schwarzenberg, having received a request from Wellington and Blücher, ordered Wrede to act as the Austrian vanguard and advance on Paris, and by 5 July, the main body of Wrede's IV Corps had reached Châlons. On 6 July, the advance guard made contact with the Prussians, and on 7 July Wrede received intelligence of the Paris Convention and a request to move to the Loire. By 10 July, Wrede's headquarters were at Ferté-sous-Jouarre and his corps positioned between the Seine and the Marne. [20] [64]

    Further south, General Colloredo's Austrian I Corps was hindered by General Lecourbe's Armée du Jura, which was largely made up of National Guardsmen and other reserves. Lecourbe fought four delaying actions between 30 June and 8 July at Foussemagne, Bourogne, Chèvremont and Bavilliers before agreeing to an armistice on 11 July. Archduke Ferdinand's Reserve Corps, together with Hohenzollern-Hechingen's II Corps, laid siege to the fortresses of Hüningen and Mühlhausen, with two Swiss brigades [65] [ page needed ] from the Swiss Army of General Niklaus Franz von Bachmann, aiding with the siege of Huningen. Like other Austrian forces, these too were pestered by francs-tireurs. [20] [66]

    Italian frontier Edit

    Like Rapp further north, Marshal Suchet, with the Armée des Alpes, took the initiative and on 14 June invaded Savoy. Facing him was General Frimont, with an Austro-Sardinian army of 75,000 men based in Italy. However, on hearing of the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo, Suchet negotiated an armistice and fell back to Lyons, where on 12 July he surrendered the city to Frimont's army. [67]

    The coast of Liguria was defended by French forces under Marshal Brune, who fell back slowly into the fortress city of Toulon, after retreating from Marseilles before the Austrian Army of Naples under the command of General Bianchi, the Anglo-Sicilian forces of Sir Hudson Lowe, supported by the British Mediterranean fleet of Lord Exmouth, and the Sardinian forces of the Sardinian General d'Osasco, the forces of the latter being drawn from the garrison of Nice. Brune did not surrender the city and its naval arsenal until 31 July. [20] [68]

    Russian campaign Edit

    The main body of the Russian Army, commanded by Field Marshal Count Tolly and amounting to 167,950 men, crossed the Rhine at Mannheim on 25 June—after Napoleon had abdicated for the second time—and although there was light resistance around Mannheim, it was over by the time the vanguard had advanced as far as Landau. The greater portion of Tolly's army reached Paris and its vicinity by the middle of July. [20] [69]

    Issy was the last field engagement of the Hundred Days. There was a campaign against fortresses still commanded by Bonapartist governors that ended with the capitulation of Longwy on 13 September 1815. The Treaty of Paris was signed on 20 November 1815, bringing the Napoleonic Wars to a formal end.

    Under the 1815 Paris treaty, the previous year's Treaty of Paris and the Final Act of the Congress of Vienna, of 9 June 1815, were confirmed. France was reduced to its 1790 boundaries it lost the territorial gains of the Revolutionary armies in 1790–1792, which the previous Paris treaty had allowed France to keep. France was now also ordered to pay 700 million francs in indemnities, in five yearly installments, [c] and to maintain at its own expense a Coalition army of occupation of 150,000 soldiers [70] in the eastern border territories of France, from the English Channel to the border with Switzerland, for a maximum of five years. [d] The two-fold purpose of the military occupation was made clear by the convention annexed to the treaty, outlining the incremental terms by which France would issue negotiable bonds covering the indemnity: in addition to safeguarding the neighbouring states from a revival of revolution in France, it guaranteed fulfilment of the treaty's financial clauses. [e]

    On the same day, in a separate document, Great Britain, Russia, Austria and Prussia renewed the Quadruple Alliance. The princes and free towns who were not signatories were invited to accede to its terms, [73] whereby the treaty became a part of the public law according to which Europe, with the exception of the Ottoman Empire, [f] established "relations from which a system of real and permanent balance of power in Europe is to be derived". [g]

    1.5: Russia, Elba, and Waterloo

    • Christopher Brooks
    • Full-time faculty (History) at Portland Community College

    Meanwhile, the one continental European power that was completely outside of his control was Russia. Despite the obvious problem of staging a full-scale invasion - Russia was far from France, it was absolutely enormous, and it remained militarily powerful - Napoleon concluded that it had come time to expand his empire's borders even further. In this, he not only saw Russia as the last remaining major power on the continent that opposed him, but he hoped to regain lost inertia and popularity. His ultimate goal was to conquer not just Russia, but the European part (i.e. Greece and the Balkans) of the Ottoman Empire. He hoped to eventually control Constantinople and the Black Sea, thereby re-creating most of the ancient Roman Empire, this time under French rule. To do so, he gathered an enormous army, 600,000 strong, and in the summer of 1812 it marched for Russia.

    Napoleon faced problems even before the army left, however. Most of his best troops were fighting in Spain, and more than half of the "Grand Army" created to invade Russia was recruited from non-French territories, mostly in Italy and Germany. Likewise, many of the recruits were just that: new recruits with insufficient training and no military background. He chased the Russian army east, fighting two actual battles (the second of which, the Battle of Borodino in August of 1812, was extremely bloody), but never pinning the Russians down or receiving the anticipated negotiations from the Tsar for surrender. When the French arrived in Moscow in September, they found it abandoned and largely burned by the retreating Russians, who refused to engage in the "final battle" Napoleon always sought. As the first snowflakes started falling, the French held out for another month, but by October Napoleon was forced to concede that he had to turn back as supplies began running low.

    The French retreat was a horrendous debacle. The Russians attacked weak points in the French line and ambushed them at river crossings, disease swept through the ranks of the malnourished French troops, and the weather got steadily worse. Tens of thousands starved outright, desertion was ubiquitous, and of the 600,000 who had set out for Russia, only 40,000 returned to France. In contrast to regular battles, in which most lost soldiers could be accounted for as either captured by the enemy or wounded, but not dead, at least 400,000 men lost their lives in the Russian campaign. In the aftermath of this colossal defeat, the anti-French coalition of Austria, Prussia, Britain, and Russia reformed.

    Figure 1.5.1: Napoleon&rsquos retreat.

    Amazingly, Napoleon succeeded in raising still more armies, and France fought on for two more years. Increasingly, however, the French were losing, the coalition armies now trained and equipped along French lines and anticipating French strategy. In April of 1814, as coalition forces closed in, Napoleon finally abdicated. He even attempted suicide, drinking the poison he had carried for years in case of capture, but the poison was mostly inert from its age and it merely sickened him (after his recovery, his self-confidence quickly returned). Fearing that his execution would make him a martyr to the French, the coalition&rsquos leadership opted to exile him instead, and he was sent to a manor on the small Mediterranean island of Elba, near his native Corsica.

    He stayed less than a year. In March of 1815, bored and restless, Napoleon escaped and returned to France. The anti-Napoleonic coalition had restored the Bourbons to the throne in the person of the unpopular Louis XVIII, younger brother of the executed Louis XVI, and when a French force sent to capture Napoleon instead defected to him, the coalition realized that they had not really won. Napoleon managed to scrape together one more army, but was finally defeated by a coalition force of British and Prussian soldiers in June of 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo. Napoleon was imprisoned on the cold, miserable island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic, where he finally died in 1821 after composing his memoirs.


    In 1800, French First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte advanced into Italy, achieving victories against the Austrian Empire at the battle of Marengo. After a year of warfare, the French and Austrians signed the Treaty of Lunéville on 9 February 1801, which divided Northern Italy between the states and awarded the Grand Duchy of Tuscany to the French. [1] Included in this division was the island of Elba in the Ligurian Sea off the Western Italian coast, which at that time was shared between Tuscany and the Kingdom of Naples. On 28 March 1801, the Treaty of Florence was signed between Naples and France, officially turning the entirety of Elba over to French control, although it had not yet been surrendered by its Neapolitan and Tuscan commanders. [2]

    Although the Ligurian Sea was by this stage largely French territorial waters, after the Royal Navy had destroyed the French Mediterranean Fleet at the Battle of the Nile off Egypt in 1798, the British in fact controlled it and the whole Mediterranean Sea. [3] By 1801 British bases at Gibraltar, Menorca and Malta allowed British naval forces to cruise throughout the sea largely unopposed their presence forced the remnants of the French fleet based at Toulon to make short journeys between French bases to avoid interception and capture. It was therefore not until a large French squadron under Rear-Admiral Honoré Ganteaume briefly asserted regional naval superiority that a French expeditionary force was able to secure Elba. [4]

    Invasion of Elba

    They sailed from Piombino on 2 May 1801 with 1,500 men under General Jean Victor Tharreau, who landed unopposed at the Neapolitan town of Porto Longone. [5]

    The invasion force rapidly spread across the island, meeting no resistance as the entire Neapolitan portion and almost all of the Tuscan region surrendered before them. Soon, all that remained in Tuscan hands was the fortress port town of Porto Ferrajo on the northern coast. This was a powerful defensive position, and the Tuscan commander Carlo de Fisson rejected Tharreau's demands that he surrender. The presence of two British frigates, HMS Phoenix and HMS Mermaid, off the port, buttressed de Fisson's position. [6]

    The Ten Greatest Military Tacticians in History

    Had it not been for the Quadruple Alliance (Russia, Prussia, Austria and the UK) and other countries, Napoleon would have been close to achieving what nobody had done before and what Hitler dreamed 130 years later: to conquer all of the Europe.

    He was a short man but he still commanded the respect of his armies with his tactic maneuvers and brilliance. He led his Grande Armee on a 4-year streak of victorious battles such as at Austerlitz and Ulm, where he was outnumbered.

    At Austerlitz, being outnumbered by 20,000 more troops, he forged a risky plan to get the upper hand and break through the Allied front. He tricked the Russian-Austrian allies into attacking his right flank, thereby leaving their forces weak in the center. Napoleon attacked the weakened center and send the Allies retreating. His modernization of artillery also led to the success, with cannon artillery becoming more mobile. However, after the 1812 invasion of Russia, his Grande Armee never recovered.

    Beating the Russians back to their motherland, he made a mistake of not equipping his troops for harsh winters. January and February arrived and froze his troops in their way, killing more men than any battle during the war. The Russians also implemented a scorched earth policy, denying the French troops food and shelter.

    Of the 600,000 troops that marched toward Russia, only about 200,000 made it back. After he had been sent to the island of Elba, he managed to escape, raise an army and fight his last battle at Waterloo against the British General Duke of Wellington. However waited too long to attack, and the badly needed reinforcements from Wellington saved the day.

    He was then exiled to the island of Saint Helena where he spent the rest of his years and died in 1821 at the age of 51.

    Napoleon's arrival on Elba

    Three whole days dedicated to this very special event and to all the preparations for Napoleon's arrival on the Island of Elba, that's exactly how visitors to the town of Portoferraio can take part in the official celebrations of Napoleon's bicentenary in Elba. Something like turning the clocks back to the early months of the year 1814, when the history of the island was changed for ever. Three whole days of historical revivals, folklore and culture, complete with different celebrations also in other parts of the island.

    Starting on May 3rd, the entire island will get ready to welcome the Emperor, with scenes from daily life taken from the same date in 1814, when Napoleon had already arrived at the coast of the Island but was awaiting the final preparations before officially disembarking and starting his new reign. On May 4th from 2.00 p.m. to 8.00 p.m. in the ESAOM - roundabout area free parking and a shuttle bus service will be available for those who wish to get to the old part. Here is the list of all the celebrations in Portoferraio.

    SATURDAY MAY 3rd 2014

    10.00 A.M.
    True,19th century style market with typical products on sale in Piazza Cavour. Craftsmen. Visitors.
    All those taking part are dressed in traditional clothes of the time.

    10.30 A.M.
    Arrival at the Molo Elba of Napoleon's Commisaries. Meeting in the Sala Della Gran Guardia (Piazza Cavour) then a parade to Piazza d'Arme (Piazza della Repubblica).
    followed by a review of the troops and military parades.

    At the same time the various people wearing costumes of the time will arrive at the old part and relive some scenes of what was then the daily life

    11.00 A.M.
    The troops walk through the town and reach the Palazzina dei Mulini in groups.
    The people wearing costumes also walk across the town heading for the outskirts.

    4.00 P.M.
    Children from the local Primary Schools take part in "Napoleonic Games" in the Town Square.

    The military parades keep crossing the various parts of the town

    6.00 P.M.
    A concert will be held in the Church of the Santissimo Sacramento by the French Choir

    LES BALADINS DE LA CHANSON" - free entrance

    9.30 P.M.
    Vigilanti Theatre - JAZZ Concert by I Music Nuda -
    Duet with Petra Magoni (vocals) and Ferruccio Spinetti (double bass)
    Financed by Region of Tuscany - free entrance

    SUNDAY MAY 4th 2014

    Market opens.
    People wearing costumes arrive.
    Review of troops.

    11.00 A.M.
    Groups of people wearing costumes arrive from various parts of Elba.

    12.00 A.M.
    Flag raising ceremony. Molo Elba and Tower of the Linguella.
    Inauguration of the bicentenary celebrations before the Authorities

    3.00 P.M.
    Molo Elba. Marshalling arrayment of the troops awaiting the Emperor.
    Arrival of the "important" people wearing special costumes there to await the disembarkment.

    4.00 P.M.
    Arrival of the canopy for the emperor on his arrival.

    Napoleon arrives at the Molo Elba. Review of the lined up troops. Welcome by the "Meire" who will then hand the keys of the town over to Napoleon.

    5.00 P.M.
    Procession starts off. From Molo Elba to Piazza Cavour as far as the Dome. Procession enters the church, TE DEUM, then continues to the Town buildings for the final salute to the town on behalf of the Emperor. Here the procession heads off again, but this time without the canopy, for Via Guerrazzi, under the arch and down to the sea front, concert by the Pietri Philarmonic Orchestra, then on to the Molo Gallo. Journey back along the sea front to the arch in the direction of Via Galeazze, along the market stalls, then up the stairway to the Dei Mulini Residence.

    MONDAY 5th MAY 2014

    11.30 A.M.
    Church of the Misericordia Mass with prayers in honour of Napoleon, hymns by the Schola Cantorum of Marina di Campo

    5.30 P.M.
    De Laugier Cultural Centre - Convention by the Centre of Napoleonic Studies entitled "The Eagle and the Holy Water". Vito Patella and Don Giorgio Carbone, authors of the book on Napoleon Bonaparte, Discussions on Christianity, Luigi Mascilli Migliorini and Angelo Varni.

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  1. Hung

    Authoritative message :)

  2. Murchadh

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  3. Ekerd

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  4. Ferran

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  5. Buchanan

    did I miss something?

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