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#onthisday in 1805, 210 years ago, Napoleon won the arguably most brilliant of his victories during the Battle of the Three Emperors over the Austrians and Russians at Austerlitz near present-day Brno in Moravia.


"Gentlemen,“ the ogre said to his general staff assembled on the Pratzen Heights, overlooking the landscape between the town of Brünn, present-day Brno, and the village of Austerlitz, “examine this ground carefully, it is going to be a battlefield; you will have a part to play upon it." On a cold December morning in a dense fog, the battle began with 67,000 French soldiers on one and 85,000 Russian and Austrian soldiers on the other side. It would take a bit more than one sharp blow to end the War of the Third Coalition, but it did effectively end on that end in the blood and carnage of one of Napoleon’s most famous and best-remembered battles that proved his reputation of being a military genius. But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/12/one-sharp-blow-and-war-is-over-battle.html

Depicted below is François Gérard’s (1770 - 1837) "Napoléon at the Battle of Austerlitz" (1810)

#europeanhistory  #history #militaryhistory #napoleonicwars
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16 October 1813, #onthisday the Völkerschlacht bei Leipzig (Battle of Nations), the largest battle in history prior to World War I, began. After three days of fighting, Napoleon was defeated decisively for the first time in a single major action.


Napoleon’s retreat from Russia slowly but steady marked the beginning of the end of his career. More than 350,000 of his men serving in his Grande Armée did not come back, Spain was almost lost and nearly all of the German-speaking states began to rebel, rethink their alliances or openly declare hostilities. The Wars of Liberation had begun. Despite the terrible losses suffered in Russia, Napoleon nonetheless managed to scrape together another army of 225,000 men again, 15,000 Polish, 10,000 Italian and 30,000 German allies from the last loyal states of the Confederation of the Rhine among them. Battles between his troops and the Russo-Prussian alliance had already been fought and won, giving him a bit more breathing space, but by mid-August, the Austrians joined the alliance and now three armies marched towards Saxony to bring him to bay, Russians, Prussians, Austrians and Swedes under the command of Crown Prince Charles XIV of Sweden, née Jean Bernadotte, one of his old Marshals, 380,000 men in total.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/the-200th-anniversary-of-volkerschlacht.html


Depicted below is an imagination of the battle by the Russian draughtsman and military painter Vladimir Ivanovich Moshkov (1792 – 1839), called “The Battle of Leipzig” (1815).



#europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory

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7 September 1812, #onthisday one of the bloodiest battles of the 19th century was fought near Moscow at the small village of Borodino, ending with something resembling a French tactical victory.

“Hey lads! is Moscow not behind? By Moscow then we die As have our brethren died before!”, the Russian Romantic poet Mikhail Lermontov makes an old captain say in his poem about the battle that was fought on the gates of the old capital. The captain was “slain by steel, Now sleeps he in black earth” along with the 60,000 others, Russians and the Poles, Wurttembergians, Westphalians, Saxons, Croats, Bavarians and the few French who made up the Grande Armée, who fell because the Tsar gave in to the pressure of his aristos to seek a decision with Napoleon instead of pursuing his former field marshal Barclay de Tolly’s quite effective delaying tactics. Napoleon won the bloody mess, naturally, but it would foreshadow the fate of the Grande Armée in Russia and his own.

Read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/02/soldiers-here-is-battle-that-you-have.html


Depicted below is the imagination of the Russian war painter Vasily Vasilyevich Vereshchagin of the treacherous French triumph over Kutuzov’s retreat with the carnage of the field of Borodino in the foreground (1899-1900)


#europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory

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#onthisday in 1799, the three days of battle at the Trebbia in Northern Italy ended with Russian Field Marshal Alexander Vasilyevich Suvorov’s combined Russian and Austrian forces completely defeating the French under Jacques MacDonald.


A military genius, almost forgotten in the West, unravelled Napoleon’s successes in Northern Italy of 1796 during one summer in a brilliant campaign that was on par with the Corsican’s in every aspect. His masterpiece, though, were the three days on the Banks of the River Trebia, an old battlefield were Hannibal once had made his gory debut against the Romans in Italy.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/01/while-souvaroff-determined-to-obtain-it.html

Depicted below is a contemporary sketch of Cossack lancers charging at the Trebbia

#europeanhistory #history #militaryhistory #napoleonicwars
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16 January 1809, #onthisday, the first British intervention in the Peninsular War and John Moore’s subsequent Corunna Campaign ended with the Battle of Corunna and the death of the illustrious general in A Coruña, Galicia, on the coast of north-western Spain.

Gifted commander Sir John Moore, father of the British Light Infantry, had put his head already far above the parapet when he found himself almost surrounded by three French corps a few dozen miles west of Madrid. The city had already surrendered to Napoleon himself and Moore forced his army to run back to the coast along the passes of the snow-covered mountains of Léon and Galicia to save what could be saved with the French in hot pursuit. While More’s Lights skirmished to cover the retreat of the infantry, discipline deteriorated with every force-marched step and one of the darkest chapters in the History of the British Army began.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/01/we-have-suffered-shameful-disaster.html

Depicted below is a scene from the British retreat to Corunna, as imagined by an unknown artist. 

#europeanhistory  #history  #militaryhistory  #napoleonicwars
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#onthisday, 1 January 1804, Haiti became the first black republic and second independent country in North America after the United States.

“Quarteroon Ogé, Friend of our Parisian Brissotin Friends of the Blacks, felt, for his share too, that Insurrection was the most sacred of duties. So the tricolor Cockades had fluttered and swashed only some three months on the Creole hat, when Ogé's signal-conflagrations went aloft; with the voice of rage and terror. Repressed, doomed to die, he took black powder or seedgrains in the hollow of his hand, this Ogé; sprinkled a film of white ones on the top, and said to his Judges, "Behold they are white;" – then shook his hand, and said "Where are the Whites, Ou sont les Blancs?" Thomas Carlyle wrote from safe hindsight in 1837 about the outbreak of what would become the greatest slave revolt since Spartacus – and in contrast to the Thracian hero of antiquity, Louverture, Dessalines and the other black revolutionaries were successful. In the end stood liberty and independence from their colonial overlords and ideological and economical after-effects that are felt to this day.

But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2016/01/i-was-born-slave-but-nature-gave-me.html

Depicted below is Guillaume Guillon-Lethière's (1760 - 1832) allegoric imagination of two of independent Haiti's founding fathers, Alexandre Pétion (left) and Jean-Jacques Dessalines (right) taking "The Oath of the Ancestors" (1822)

 #americanhistory #culturalhistory  #europeanhistory  #history  #socialhistory
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#onthisday  in 1809,  the Battle of Wagram began near Vienna, with 300,000 men involved one of the greatest battles of the age, ending in a costly, hard-won victory for Napoleon on the following day.

Eight weeks after the surprising victory of the Austrian Archduke Charles over Napoleon at Aspern-Esslingen, Napoleon attempted another crossing of the Danube, this time with more success, but the often ridiculed Austrian Imperial Army put up a stiff resistance again near Wagram. But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/07/ground-i-may-recover-time-never-battle.html

Depicted below is Napoleon at Wagram by the leading French authority on “Blood and Thunder” sujets, Horace Vernet (1836)

 #europeanhistory #history  #militaryhistory  #napoelonicwars
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#onthisday  in 1815, 200 years ago, the Battle of Waterloo was fought 9 miles south of Brussels in present-day Belgium, ending the Age of Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars.

The Tiger was out of his den, gathered his veterans and marched into Belgium and of the armies of the Seventh Coalition to oppose him, only two were available on the spot. Blücher, already defeated at Ligny two days before and Wellington’s ragtag assembly of Dutch, Belgians, a variety of Germans, Scottish and probably more Irish than English Redcoats. And then all hell broke lose in a spot on the ridge south of Mont-Saint-Jean and the morne plaine below that now holds more myths and “what ifs” for a single day event than any other place on Earth. But read more on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/06/a-damn-close-run-thing-on-200th.html

Depicted below is arguably the most quoted painting of the Battle of Waterloo, Lady Butler’s vivid imagination of the charge of the Royal Scots Greys, “Scotland Forever!” from 1881.

#battleofwaterloo   #culturalhistory   #europeanhistory   #history   #militaryhistory   #napoleonichistory   #napoleonicwars #waterloo   #waterloo200   #waterloo2015  
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#onthisday  in 1800 near Alessandria in Piedmont, Napoleon finally defeated the Austrians under Michael von Melas in a last-gasp victory at the Battle of Marengo.

The Battle seemed won for the Austrians and field marshal von Melas withdrew to take a few refreshments. But the French had rallied and when Desaix arrived on the field with a fresh corps, the events at Marengo took quite a different turn, paving the way for Napoleon to become emperor and leaving behind the memory of an opera, a chicken and a horse. But read for yourself on:

http://wunderkammertales.blogspot.de/2015/06/a-last-grasp-victory-horse-and-chicken.html

Depicted below is Jacques-Louis David’s imagination of Napoleon crossing the Alps from 1801.

#europeanhistory   #history   #militaryhistory   #napoleonicwars   #culturalhistory
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#onthisday   in 1801, General Menou’s defeat at the Battle of Alexandria, fought between French and British troops, marked the final stage of Napoleon’s failed campaign in Egypt and Syria. 

“Frankreichs Liebling, die Säule der würdigeren Freiheit, rufet er der Vorzeit Begeisterung zurück, Zeiget dem erschlafften Jahrhundert römische Kraft“ (“France's favourite, the pillar of dignified freedom, he calleth back of old enthusiasm, Shew the slack century Roman force” - Caroline von Günderrode "Buonaparte in Egypt")

It was a bit thick. After realising that his dreams of becoming a second Alexander the Great by conquering the Orient were decidedly over, Napoleon sneaked on board of one of the last French frigates in the eastern Mediterranean, slipped the blockade with the words “Bah! We'll get there, luck has never abandoned us, we shall get there, despite the English" and left his army in the lurch. 65 years later, Dostoevsky’s creation Raskolnikov, while preparing for his gory Übermensch exam, mused: “The real Master to whom all is permitted storms Toulon, makes a massacre in Paris, forgets an army in Egypt, wastes half a million men in the Moscow expedition and gets off with a jest at Vilna. And altars are set up to him after his death, and so all is permitted. No, such people, it seems, are not of flesh but of bronze!" They set up altars even during his lifetime. With the command of the Armée d'Orient and consequently the blame of her failure shifted to General Kléber, who was conveniently murdered in Cairo by a Kurdish Muslim student in 1800, Napoleon came off the adventure with a deserved reputation for tactical brilliance and his fame enhanced. He became First Consul, factual sole ruler of France, after his coup d'état of 18 brumaire, November 1799, even while his forgotten army fought on in the sands of Egypt.
 
Basically, the whole undertaking went belly-up already before it really started when Nelson virtually annihilated the French Levant Fleet in the Battle of the Nile in August 1798, admittedly too late, after he couldn’t manage to bring the huge French convoy shipping the Armée d'Orient to Egypt to bay before Malta was captured or the 40,000 men strong army was landed in the first place. Never the less, Napoleon was cut off from supplies, the Royal Navy had him bottled up in hostile territory and could supply the Egyptian Mamluks and Ottomans in Syria with men and materiel at will. After half-bakedly securing his conquests in the Nile Delta, Napoleon tried to break out by the way of Syria, foundered at the Siege of Acre, now Akko in present-day Israel, in May 1799 and was forced to withdraw back to Egypt while the men of the Armée d'Orient died like flies from disease and exposure. The situation was hopeless and after the Corsican rocher de bronze had quit the place three months later, the newly appointed supreme commander Jean Baptiste Kléber did his utmost to agree on favourable conditions to withdraw what was left of his army with the British, was finally reneged, won an astonishing victory over an Ottoman army at Aboukir but was murdered before he could exploit his hard-won but still meagre advantage. And while his successor Menou desperately tried to hold the strings of the frazzling expedition together, the British landed 30,000 men under the old warhorse Lieutenant-General Ralph Abercrombie in Aboukir Bay for the coup de grâce.

Desperately trying to halt Abercrombie’s advance on Alexandria, Menou threw against him what he had left of battle-hardened French troops and in the wee hours of March 28th, two veteran European armies faced each other on the outskirts of the city on the small isthmus between the Mediterranean sea and Lake Aboukir, 14,000 British and almost 20,000 French with a huge cavalry superiority. However, the British held against the French infantry columns and cavalry charges, even though Abercrombie himself was mortally wounded amidst his countrymen of the 42nd , while the “Black Watch” repulsed an assault of French dragoons for the second time on this morning. The siege of Alexandria commenced and six months later, on August 31th 1801, Menou and the Armée d'Orient surrendered and the 10,000 survivors were shipped back to France by the Royal Navy, the prelude to the short-lived Peace of Amiens concluded a year later. To the winner went the spoils, however, and it was a stroke of luck that the “savants”, the host of scientists accompanying the French army to Egypt, did not carry out their threat to rather throw their veritable hoard of discoveries, finds and notes into the sea rather than surrender them to the British. They finally did, though, and while they had caused the first wave of Egyptomania in Europe anyway, artefacts like the Rosetta Stone went to the British Museum where it became the arguably its most-visited object.

Depicted below is the imagination of the French Academic painter Jean-Léon Gérôme (1824 – 1904, cf https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DirkPuehl/posts/h5JJX6kQiRL) of “Bonaparte devant le Sphinx” from 1867
 
And more about the battle of Alexandria on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Alexandria

and the  French Campaign in Egypt and Syria on 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_campaign_in_Egypt_and_Syria

#history   #europeanhistory   #militaryhistory   #arthistory   #literature   #culturalhistory   #egyptomania  
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