Age of Victoria

Episode 002 Napoleon and the French Army in 1815

In this episode I indulge my passion for Napoleonic history, and explore my fascination with Napoleon. I cover the great gamble of his return from exile, his struggles, the options available to him, and that magnificent instrument of war…..the French Army.

This show covers

  • The benefits and cost of ambition.

  • Napoleon’s gamble to retake the French throne.

  • The position of France, and the role of navies. 

  • Rebuilding the French army, and what strategy to use?

  • Davout, Ney, Soult and Grouchy – the Marhals.

  • The musket; the infantryman’s best friend, and killer.

  • How to form up to die.

  • The cavalry – The Big Boots

  • The artillery – Napoleon’s daughters

  • The Emperor’s first moves.

Thanks for your listening. I hope you enjoyed the show. If you want to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at ageofvictoriapodcast@gmail.com, follow me on twitter @ageofvictoria, visit the website at www.ageofvictoriapodcast.com. The show also has a facebook page and group. Just search for Age of Victoria. Don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes, it takes less time than making a coffee. If you want to support the show on patreon, just click here, or you can go to Patreon and search for age of victoria podcast or my name.

The transcript for this episode can be found at

http://www.ageofvictoriapodcast.com/transcript-episode-002-napoleon-french-army-1815/

EP001 BRITAIN AND EUROPE IN 1815

This is the first full episode. It covers the situation in Europe in 1815, and gives a feel for life in Britain on the eve of the great events of the last campaign of the Napoleonic Wars.

  • What does the term Victorian mean?
  • History as a spectrum.
  • What will the podcast cover & why start in 1815?
  • Geography and climate of Britain in 1815.
  • Britains military and strategic position.
  • The naval impact of the Napoleonic Wars.
  • Brief summary of the great powers of Europe in 1815 (Spain, Austria, Prussia and Russia).

Thanks for your listening. I hope you enjoy. If you want to get in touch, I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at ageofvictoriapodcast@gmail.com, follow me on twitter @ageofvictoria, visit the website at www.ageofvictoriapodcast.com. The show also has a facebook page and group. Just search for Age of Victoria. Don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes, it takes less time than making a coffee. If you want to support the show on patreon, just click here, or you can go to Patreon and search for age of victoria podcast or my name.

I’ve now added the transcript of this episode at

http://www.ageofvictoriapodcast.com/transcript-episo…tain-europe-1815/

Episode 000 Introduction

A quick explanation about the Age of Victoria Podcast, release schedule, contact details, why I’m podcasting and what is going to be covered.

100 Days campaign map 01/06/1815

Nap16June1815

This is the map of the campaign as it opened on between 1st June 1815 and positions adopted by 07:00 on 16th June 1815. Napoleon was aiming to seize the Central Position between Wellington and Blucher. The Allies were spread out and had to work fast to concentrate their forces before Napoleon could isolate them and defeat them in detail. By moving from Charleroi as his point of concentration, Napoleon was perfectly poised to effect his strategy, whilst the strung out Allied forces risked a serious defeat or significant pushback. The crucial requirement for Marshal Ney to vigorously capture Quatre Bras and push on up the road is immediately apparent from this map. The opportunity for Ney to destroy the Prince of Orange’s force with an early assault before reinforcements could arrive is readily seen too.

Please note “Maps courtesy of the USMA, Department of History.” I’m very grateful for their kind permission to use them.

Sources on Napoleon & The 100 Days

In the first episodes of the Age of Victoria we’ve been covering Napoleon and the 100 days. There are a ton of great sources out there. I’ve used

  • Memoirs of Napoleon by Louis Antoine Fauvelet de Bourrienne.
  • The 100 Days by Philip Guedalla.
  • Waterloo: A French Perspective by Andrew Field.
  • Prelude to Waterloo: Quatre Bras: The French Perspective by Andrew Field
  • Siborne’s 1815 Campaign Vol 1: The March to Waterloo.
  • The Ascendancy of Europe: 1815-1914 by MS Anderson.
  • French History since Napoleon edited by Martin S. Alexander.
  • Waterloo 1815: Quarte Bras (Waterloo campaign).
  • Redcoat by Richard Holmes.
  • With Napoleon’s Guns: The Military Memoirs of an Officer of the 1st Empire by Colonel Jean-Nicolas-Auguste Noel
  • Wellington’s Guns: The Untold Story of Wellington and his Artillery in the Peninsula and at Waterloo by Colonel Nick Lipscombe
  • Rifles: Six Years with Wellington’s Legendary Sharpshooters by Nick Urban
  • Swords Around a Throne: Napoleon’s Grande Armee by John Elting
  • Art of Warfare in the Age of Napoleon by Gunther Rothenburg
  • Marshal Louis Davout and the Art of Command by Major John M Keefe
  • Napoleon and his Marshalls by MacDonell
  • Waterloo: the aftermath by Paul O’Keeffe

French and British Sources will all contain some bias’s. Primary sources will naturally have limited views due to the confusion during battles, or the relative positions of the observers. Junior officers particularly tended to have a limited view point and overestimate the importance of their section of the conflict. After the restoration of the Bourbons, the writings of many senior French officers and key Bonapartists were necessarily constrained.

Other primary sources will be plagued by bias’s where people exaggerate their own importance (consciously or otherwise), or they will slander people they dislike or adopt national prejudices. Napoleon was habitually dishonest when it suited him and he was bad at accepting fault, preferring to shift the blame onto his subordinates albeit often deservedly. Still primary sources provide one of the best windows into events at the time and how contemporaries perceived them. Napoleon in particular has suffered at the hands of pro and anti Napoleon historians and writers, so especial care should be taken when reading Napoleonic sources. British sources are very prone to adopting a British=good guys, French=bad guys dichotomy.

This barely scratches the surface. There are reading materials covering everything from uniforms to supply wagons to cooking equipment to grand strategy. There are officers journals and accounts by private soldiers. Napoleon had an incredible career so it is well worth diving deeper into.

Your host

Hi. I’m Chris Fernandez-Packham and I’m the host of the Age of Victoria. This is my first podcast. I’m a big history fan but not a professional historian. I’m a philosophy graduate, with post graduate law (CPE & LPC). I somehow ended up working for the British Civil Service in the Home Office doing project management and IT.

The Victorians are just one of my passions, along with table top wargamming (Malifaux & Dungeons and Dragons), playing guitar, cycling, and all things Spanish (including my wife).