Siege of Toulon
7 September - 19 December, 1793
During the revolution in France, a major port, Toulon became the site of one of Napoleon's first battles.
August 28, 1793, Toulon was taken by the Bourbons and was occupied by British and Spanish military forces. In several days, September 7, the French retaliated and made several attempts to take back the city. All these attacks failed due to poor leadership. Thus, no gains were made; that is until a young artillery officer (he was twenty-four at the time) by the name and rank of Captain Napoleone Buonaparte (as he used to spell it before it was changed) submitted to his commander his plans to storm a key enemy fort in a diversionary attack which would allow the French to go after the British fleet in the harbor. On December 17 the attack was carried out and in less than a day of fighting, the British fleet (commanded by Admiral Lord Hood) retreated and sailed away. By December 19, the harbor was once again controlled by France and the successful attack resulted in the promotion of Buonaparte to General of Brigade.
April 12, 1796
Napoleon chose the conquest of Italy as a warm-up. He knew that the Italians would be an easy target due to their weak offense. Being a country run by city-states, it was very vulnerable to any invasion and could fall if any of its key cities were taken. Napoleon saw this as a chance to gain rank both militarily and politically and as a chance to gain port cities.
Entering Lombardy, Napoleon met up against both a Piedmontese army of 25,000 men and an Austrian army of 35,000 men. Finding the area with the smallest concentration, Napoleon used 10,000 men to break through this weak link in the Austrian forces but his forces weren't strong enough to win.
April 21, 1796
Following the battle at Montenotte, Napoleon again met up with the Piedmontese at Mondovi. Although his first attacks had failed, Napoleon was able to win this time due to an advantage in numbers.
Armistice at Cherasco
August 23, 1796
The Piedmontese, having been defeated, signed an armistice at Cherasco.
Lodi (Followed by the seizure of Milan)
May 10, 1796
Throughout the Italian Campaign, Napoleon's forces were inferior compared to the combined Austrian forces. Luckily, for Napoleon, the Austrians kept their forces divided up. By continually outmarching the Austrians, and keeping his army together, Napoleon was able to defeat the Austrians piece by piece rather than having to fight them all at once.
Setting his sites on the seizure of Milan, Napoleon avoided the Austrian defensive line waiting for him at Milan and instead moved south. At Lodi (town South of Milan), he met up with Beaulieu (Veteran Austrian General). Beaulieu's forces were crushed and Napoleon entered Milan on May 15, 1796.
August 5, 1796
Austria readied three armies to keep Napoleon from taking Mantua and these armies were set to join forces there. The battle started too soon for all the armies to arrive and the French held off the largest of these armies, keeping it from joining the other two. At the attack, Napoleon decided to send one of his armies, led by General Massena, to fight on the front line while his other troops got ready for a surprise flank attack. The attack happened too early and the Austrians were able to avoid being severely affected by it, though the French were still able to break through the line and win. The Austrians lost twice as many men as Napoleon did.
September 8, 1796
Using his divide and conquer techniques, Napoleon was able to split the Austrian army in two by sending out two of his armies, led by General Augereau and General Massena, to attack from different sides. This forced one division of the Austrian army to give up while the other was defeated on the battlefield. As a result of the defeat, the Austrian army was ordered to be increased to 28,000 men.
November 15 - 17, 1796
The French tried to push the Austrians back past the Arcola Bridge. After three days of fighting, the French were able to cross the river and force the Austrians to retreat. The French were now in position to take Mantua.
January 14, 1797
This battle was Austria's final attempt to defend Mantua. They tried to trick Napoleon into being distracted by several diversionary attacks, but it didn't work and when the real attack came, Napoleon was ready. By moving his limited supply of artillery from one side to the other, he was able to fend off Austria's numerous, dispersed, attacks. After two days of fighting, the Austrians gave up. The Austrians lost three times as many men as Napoleon when he finally took Mantua.
June 11-12, 1798
Given a choice between an attack on England and an attack on Egypt, Napoleon chose the less risky of the two. In an attempt to block English dominance in the Mediterranean, Napoleon decided to take Egypt. His first stop was Malta, an island off the coast of Italy. It had been held since 1520 by the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem but it was no longer as powerful as it once was. After only a day of fighting, the Knights surrendered and Napoleon won Malta.
Battle of the Pyramids (Cairo)
July 21, 1798
Marching to Cairo, Napoleon's army was stopped by Murad Bey's (a prominent military figure in Egypt) troops and some Turkish troops at a small village called Embabeh. The French continually beat off attacks by Murad's army and Murad's forces were soon defeated. Murad lost almost twenty times as many troops as Napoleon and Lower Egypt was won for France.
Battle of the Nile (Aboukir)
August 1, 1798
Admiral Lord Nelson (commander of the British naval fleet) decided to attack Napoleon's ships at Aboukir Bay. Nelson threw all his ships at one point in the French line, breaking it in two. Then he finished off each side. Using this tactic, Nelson was able to destroy the French fleet (only four ships escaped) and Napoleon was trapped. This victory for Britain ended Napoleon's chances of ever taking all of Egypt.
March 7, 1799
Napoleon changed his plans and decided to invade Egypt through Syria. Jaffa was the first battle of this campaign and the city fell after only one day. The town was then pillaged and ransacked. 2000-3000+ Turkish soldiers were put to death because there wasn't enough food to feed the prisoners.
Saint John d'Acre
March 18, 1799 to May 20, 1799
The second battle in the Syrian Campaign didn't go as smoothly as the first; Napoleon failed in his attempts to take the port of Acre (indefensible medieval stronghold). Before the attack began, Napoleon's siege artillery had already been defeated by Commodore Sidney Smith (a British naval commander). After eight unsuccessful attempts to break into the city, Napoleon gave up and marched his war-weary, diseased, downtrodden troops back to Egypt. He informed France that a plague was ravaging the city (which was what caused all his casualties).
July 25, 1799
After returning to Cairo, Napoleon got word that a Turkish army had just landed in Aboukir. In ten days, he was there with a force of 10,000 men and, thereby, crushed them. The toll of lives on their part (Turks) was massive and Napoleon turned around the failure at Acre and left for Paris with a brilliant victory under his belt.
After Napoleon became the First Consul of France, the rest of Europe (Russia, UK, Ottoman Empire, Naples, Portugal, and Austria) decided that they didn't want to be taken over by France. They formed a coalition and tried to stop Napoleon. However, due to a failure to negotiate, they got little done and Napoleon emerged as the dominant power in Europe. Though, due to Britain's exceptional navy and Napoleon's inability to take Egypt, France never conquered England.
June 14, 1800
By spreading his troops out, Napoleon was defeated by the attack that the Austrians had planned at Marengo. By 3:00 P.M., the Austrians had broken through the line and the French surrender (presumably). What the Austrians hadn't expect was that the French General Desaix and his troops arrived minutes later to lead another attack that the French won. This battle cost the Austrians twice as many lives as it did the French (though Gen. Desaix did die in the battle) and resulted in the French seizure of everything from Lombardy, Italy to the Minicio River. If it hadn't been for Desaix, this battle might have cost Napoleon his army and career.
October 19, 1805
In a brilliant maneuver, Napoleon was able to move his troops around the Austrian forces at Ulm while intercepting their supply lines. The Austrians tried to fight back but, since they were surrounded, were forced to surrender. In all, 50,000 Austrians surrendered.
October 21, 1805
In an attempt to break the British blockade on France, Napoleon decided to send his naval fleet to Spain so that they could lead the British fleet over with them, join up with the Spanish fleet, and use the Franco-Spanish fleet to defeat the British. This plan backfired when the French fleet, after meeting up with the Spanish, got trapped in a harbor without any defenses or backup. Nelson, seeing his opportunity, destroyed the Franco-Spanish fleet. The losses for France were ten times the losses of England's, but Nelson was killed in the battle. This battle destroyed any chance of Napoleon ever taking England.
December 2, 1805
Napoleon, by making the Russian and Austrian armies think that he had less troops than he actually did, tricked the two allied armies into creating a battle plan that worked for them in the beginning. However, when Napoleon's scheduled reinforcements arrived, the French army was soon able to crush its enemies. The Allies' losses were a staggering three and a half times the losses of Napoleon's army. This battle is often characterized as Napoleon's finest victory.
October 14, 1806
The battle began when Marshal Lannes came upon Prussian General Hohenloe's force of 35,000 men. French reinforcements kept coming until Napoleon had 90,000 men. With superior numbers, Napoleon pushed the Prussians into open ground. The battle was going well until Ney launched an unauthorized attack upon the center of the Prussian line. He fell right into a trap and would have been destroyed if not for the French cavalry. Soon the Prussian line fell and they fled. Napoleon lost 5000 men, but the Prussians lost 25,000 men.
October 14, 1806
Expecting to only cut the line of retreat of what Napoleon had thought was the main enemy force, Marshal Davout came upon the main Prussian army (more than twice the size of his force). Going on the defensive, Davout fortified a small village called Hassenhausen and held off the Prussian attacks. However, Davout realized that the Prussians had low moral and went on the offensive. Frederick William III ordered a retreat to escape the ferocious assault of III Corps. Prussia lost 13,000 men and 115 guns.
February 8, 1807
Russian General Bennigsen managed to force Marshal Ney from camp with an all
out offensive near Konigsberg. However, Napoleon attacked Bennigsen's force
of 74,500 men with fewer than 50,000. A snowstorm hindered his assaults. The
arrival of Davout's reinforcements was countered by the arrival of Prussian
reinforcements and Ney's reinforcements didn't help the French to gain an advantage.
After fighting in what is regarded as the worst weather of the era, the Russians
withdrew. Russia had 23,000 casualties and Napoleon had 22,000 casualties.
June 14, 1807
With over three times as many men, (Russia had 60,000 and France had 17,000) the Russian General Bennigsen confidently sent his troops in to crush Marshal Lannes's troops. What he didn't expect was that: one, the Alle River split his troops in two, making them more vulnerable to attack; and two, Napoleon's troops arrived in the middle of the battle with 80,000 men to relieve the troops fighting. After Napoleon arrived, the battle was over in a matter of hours. Russian lost total 20,000 while the French lost only 12,000.
April 22, 1809
Thinking that there was a smaller number of Austrians at Eckmuhl, Napoleon sent General Davout to go there and win. To his surprise, there were 75,000 troops there compared to Davout's 20,000, and when the attack commenced, Davout's strong line began to fall to Austria's greater numbers. Luckily, Marshal Lannes arrived with 30,000 of his troops and was able to attack the other side of the Austrian army with fresh soldiers. Due to this, France won. The losses were not great but the victory was. The Austrians lost 12,000 men as opposed to the French's 6,000.
Aspern - Essling
May 21-22, 1809
On May 21, Napoleon crossed the Danube River over a single bridge and attacked the Austrian army, led by Archduke Charles, at two villages, Aspern and Essling. For two days, both sides were unyielding. The French fought hard because they didn't want to cross the Danube to retreat and the Austrians were fighting hard because they saw this as an ideal chance to defeat Napoleon and his army. In the end, the battle was a stalemate. Napoleon lost 19,000 men and the Austrians lost 24,000 men.
July 5-6, 1809
Learning from the mistakes he made at Aspern-Essling, Napoleon set up a port and supply chain that was well guarded. With his troops ready for anything, Napoleon led a surprise attack on the Austrians east of Aspern-Essling. This caught them off guard and drove them off for the time being. The next day, Austria retaliated with several early surprise attacks that caught Napoleon's forces off guard and resulted in the loss of important land holdings and bridges. However, backup forces arrived, commanded by Marshal Davout and Marshal MacDonald, which allowed France to defeat the Austrians for good. The losses among the two sides were equal but Austria wanted peace and so the Treaty of Schonbrunn was signed on October 14, 1809.
September 7, 1812
The Russians had been continuously retreating from the French Grande Armee. However, fewer than 120 kilometers from Moscow, Russian General Mikhail Kutusov decided to face the French. After fortifying the area, Kutusov's force of 120,000 men and 640 cannons waited for Napoleon's force. With 133,000 men and 587 cannons, Napoleon launched a bloody frontal assault. The battle became a mere battle of attrition, with neither side gaining a decisive foothold. By the end of the day, both sides were exhausted and the Russians had retreated. The Russians had 44,000 casualties and the French had 33,000 casualties.
May 2, 1813
Thinking he could take Russia, Napoleon marched his troops in during the winter. Due to bad weather and no decisive victories, Napoleon was forced to turn back. Prussia, seeing Napoleon in a particularly weak position, decided to declare war on France.
Napoleon, seeing the Prusso-Russian army move on his army at Leipzig, decided to attack at Lutzen (south of Leipzig) to "cut them off at the pass." When the Prussian and Russians had realized this, they moved the bulk of their troops to Lutzen, only to meet a fully prepared French army. Sending in battalion after battalion, Napoleon was able to make the Prusso-Russian army retreat before nightfall. Losses on both sides were equal, about 20,000 each.
May 20-21, 1813
After the defeat at Lutzen, the leaders of the Prusso-Russian army decided to stop retreating and hold their ground at Bautzen. Having considerably more men than the Allies, Napoleon felt very confident going into this battle. The first day was successful until Marshal Ney, a French army leader, messed up Napoleon's plans. By placing his troops in the wrong area, he ruined Napoleon's strategy of encircling and demolishing the Allies and thus let them get away. The next day of fighting was no more successful and more mistakes by Marshal Ney ensured there would be no solid defeat of the Allies. Both armies lost 20,000 men and victory for the French was by no means spectacular.
August 26-27, 1813
Napoleon accepted a 10-week truce with the Allies so he could resupply his armies after Lutzen and Bautzen. However, after the truce, the French found themselves against an enemy of more than 400,000 men.
Enemy forces tried to occupy Dresden, the capital of Saxony and a key city for the war, but French Marshal Gouvion St Cyr got there first. After fortifying the city, Cyr's corps of 20,000 men faced Schwarzenberg's army of 160,000 men. However, the enemy attacks were weak and the French held them off until Bonaparte arrived with 50,000 men. When Cyr's men finally got exhausted and lost key positions, the Imperial Guard retook them by the end of the day.
After reinforcements had arrived in the night, Napoleon commanded an army of 150,000 at dawn. He launched several successful attacks against the Allies throughout the day. By nightfall, the Allies retreated. The Allies had 40,000 casualties including General Jean Moreau, while the French had only 10,000 casualties.
Leipzig (Battle of Nations)
October 16-19, 1813
200,000 French and allied troops faced 400,000 enemy troops at Leipzig. Napoleon
was forced to spread his forces, because the enemy approached from different
directions. Assaults by Austria's General Schwarzenberg and Prussia's Marshal
Blucher on the city were unsuccessful. After the Swedish and Russian armies
arrived, the Allies coordinated an attack on the 18th. The French managed to
hold 350,000 enemy troops at bay for nine hours. Yet the odds were too great
and Napoleon ordered a withdrawal across a single escape bridge. Premature blowing
of the bridge resulted in 20,000 troops getting trapped and many death, including
French Marshal Poniatowski.
October 30, 1813
After three days of fighting, Napoleon won. Elsewhere in Europe, his troops were losing ground. The ravages of war wore hard on the Grand Army. Napoleon's army grew weak and France's visions of additional conquests shriveled. After a typhus epidemic and losses from excessive battles, only 80,000 men were left. In a little over a year, Napoleon had lost 400,000 men and all of Europe was now closing in on him.Brienne, Champaubert, Montereau, Montmirail and Rheims
After having his policies shot down in the Senate and his report on governing the people lose overwhelmingly (in a vote of 231 to 31) in Senate, Napoleon began to lose faith in the French politicians who had once been on his side. France didn't want to fight any more.
Fearing the loss of his power and identity as leader of France, Napoleon went all out in his last days as emperor. He launched multiple offensives and defeated the vastly superior (in numbers, soldiers, and weapons) Allied army hands down at Brienne, Champaubert, Montmirail, Montereau and Rheims. But his army began to succumb to numbers. He had only 80,000 men while the Allies had 350,000. He was fighting like mad, winning victory after victory against superior armies but the numbers dwindled and his army lost faith in him. Finally on March 31, 1814, his generals refused to fight anymore and Paris surrendered.
On April 12, 1814, Napoleon abdicated his throne and got exiled to Elba until May 1814, when he escaped to start again.
June 16, 1815
After escaping from Elba, Napoleon was joined by a French army sent to stop him. His strategy was to keep the Anglo-Dutch and Prussian armies separate and defeat them one at a time. Deciding to fight the Prussians first, Napoleon devised a plan to attack on several sides in order to trap the Prussian army in their fortifications and then defeat them. This plan worked incredibly well and the French won. The Prussian losses were 25,000 while the French losses were only 11,000. However, many of the Prussians were able to escape in the retreat. This was Napoleon's last great victory.
June 18, 1815
When Duke Wellington (leader of the Allied forces) heard that Napoleon had
defeated the Prussian army at Ligny, he moved quickly north to meet up with
the Anglo-Dutch army at Mount-Saint-Jean (a town near Waterloo).
Napoleon, upon hearing that Wellington was moving, ordered Marshal Ney to attack him (Wellington), but Ney, not believing that the British were moving, decided to ignore Napoleon's orders. Angered by this, Napoleon took command of Ney's forces and marched them in pursuit of Wellington.
Napoleon's other general (now south of Mount-Saint-Jean), Marshal Grouchy, failed to defeat the Prussian army and allowed them to march North to meet up with the Anglo-Dutch army at Mount-Saint-Jean. Grouchy was not able to locate the Prussian army after they moved North, so their journey to Mount-Saint-Jean was unimpeded.
On June 18, 1815, the Allied and French armies faced off at Waterloo (where they had met up on the way to Mount-Saint-Jean). Beginning at 11:30 AM, Napoleon's first advances were unsuccessful. At 1:00 PM, the Prussian army (lead by General Blucher), that had evaded Marshal Grouchy, was seen advancing from the east. At 4:00 PM, the Prussian army joined the battle. The French launched a counterattack on the Prussians that gained them some ground and at 6:00 PM, Marshal Ney was able to briefly break the center of the Anglo-Dutch line but was quickly pushed back.
With their characteristic square formations, the Anglo-Dutch armies were able
to beat the French attacks time and time again. At 8:00 PM, the Prussians broke
through the right side of Napoleon's forces, which scattered the French around
and made it easy for them to be picked off. Napoleon escaped by the skin of
his teeth as the Prussian and Anglo-Dutch armies decided to continue to push
the French back past the Sambre River, thus ending the Age and Empire of Napoleon.
Napoleon was once again forced to abdicate his throne to Louis XVIII and was
exiled to the island of St. Helena where he stayed until his death.