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.

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