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Napoleonic Wars - Essay Example

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There are a number of reasons for the defeat of France between 1812 and 1815, Some were internal to France, such as the nature of Napoleon, and others were external such as the campaigns and the war in Russia, the campaigns in Germany and the ultimate defeat at Waterloo…
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Napoleonic Wars

Download file to see previous pages... By the end of 1813 that mythology of invincibility had disappeared, mainly due to the disastrous campaign in Russia. The background to this campaign was the simplification of national borders and the increase of nationalist sentiments that had at least been catalyzed by French ideas that had developed since the French Revolution. Thus Napoleon's own use of nationalistic sentiment was causing resentment against French domination within other countries (Schom, 1998).
This was perhaps not the best time to launch a campaign against a formidable enemy that would take Napoleon far from those countries that were starting to stir against French imperialism. But as with many military commanders both before and since, Napoleon had started to believe in his own legend, and it would eventually lead to his downfall (Gengembre, 2003). In the spring of 1812 Napoleon began to mass his troops in Poland, that was currently under French rule. This was clearly an attempt to intimidate Alexander, who had been showing an increasing tendency not to trust he official alliance between France and Russia. By the summer of 1812 about 453,000 men, probably the largest armed force ever gathered in one place up until that time, had been brought together in Poland. Napoleon called it his Grande Armee, and its message to the Russians was quite clear.
The Russians, perhaps aware that the hu...
130 years later to Hitler, Napoleon appeared to be advancing with miraculous speed, but in fact the Russians were adopting a "scorched earth policy" in which they destroyed anything of value before retreating in front of the French forces. This meant that the French could not gather together provisions and supplies that would be needed in the coming winter.
Drawn to the centre of Russia, with the supposed prize of Moscow, as a moth is to a light, Napoleon advanced through the country until he met the Russian forces at the Battle of Borodino on September 7th, 1812. This was a bloody, violent battle, but was inconclusive as to its result. Even though neither side had gained a clear victory, Napoleon carried on advancing and entered Moscow on about September 14th. The Russians had deserted the city, Alexander would not meet with Napoleon to discuss terms for the Russian "surrender" and much of the city burned down within days of Napoleon's arrival.Napoleon had won perhaps the most Pyrrhic victory of all time: he was faced with a stalemate in which he had taken Moscow, but could not sustain it because his supply lines were desperately strained and he needed to retreat before the full onset of winter.
One of the great mistakes that Napoleon had made was having neither enough nor the correct quality horses. In the retreat many of the cavalry had to kill their horses in order to eat them. Many others died of cold, disease and starvation. This meant that Napoleon's forces could receive neither food supplies nor reinforcements nor supplied for their weapons. The French lost about 200,000 horses in the campaign, as well as 1,000 artillery pieces. These were large losses that Napoleon could not really afford considering the various campaigns that were to come. He had also ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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