Battles involving England - Napoleonic Wars

Battle of Trafalgar 1805
Battle of Waterloo 1815

In 1789, the French Revolution overthrew the French monarchy and executed Louis XVI. Many countries tried to overthrow the French Republic. France suffered defeats, but then one of their generals, Napoleon Bonaparte, turned the tide. Bonaparte seized control of the French government in 1799 and crowned himself Emperor in 1804.

Battle of Trafalgar 1805 (location)

Unlike its many coalition partners, Britain remained at war throughout the period of the Napoleonic Wars. It was protected by naval supremacy. In the words of Admiral Jervis to the House of Lords "I do not say, my Lords, that the French will not come. I say only they will not come by sea".

Napoleon planned an invasion of Great Britain. However, in order to mount his invasion, he needed to achieve naval superiority or at least to pull the British fleet away from the English Channel. The French navy tried to distract the British by threatening their possessions in the West Indies, but this was blocked. The British fllet under Admiral Nelson caught and defeated the French fleet in the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. Napoleon would never again have the opportunity to challenge the British at sea. By this time, however, Napoleon had already all but abandoned plans to invade England, and had again turned his attention to enemies on the Continent.

Trafalgar by Auguste Mayer, 1836
Trafalgar by Auguste Mayer,1836

In late 1805, Napoleon defeated a Russo-Austrian army at Austerlitz. With the withdrawal of Austria from the war, stalemate ensued. Napoleon's army had a record of continuous unbroken victories on land.

In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia. Russia maintained a scorched-earth policy of retreat, and this, plus the bitter Russian winter, caused Napoleon to begin his disastrous Great Retreat from Moscow. Meanwhile, the Peninsula War (1808-14) was not going well. This started because Portugal was trading with Britain. Napoleon had originally taken Madrid and caused the British army to retreat. However, he left Spain and his generals did not have the same success against Arthur Wellesley, the British general (who later became the Duke of Wellington). The Spanish guerrillas harassed the French troops as well. Other countries re-entered the war against Napoleon, and eventually the Allies entered Paris (location) in 1814. Napoleon was exiled to Elba.

Battle of Waterloo 1815 (location)

In 1815, Napoleon left Elba, and returned to France. He travelled north through France and into Belgium, gathering troops as he went. Finally, he was beaten at the Battle of Waterloo by a combined army including the British and the Prussians, led by the Duke of Wellington.

Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford (1825-1904)
Wellington at Waterloo by Robert Alexander Hillingford (1825-1904)

Wikipedia (external site) for further information       -       Battles index