letter goes for 150,000 euros
200-year-old letter by Napoleon Bonaparte in which he promises
to blow up the Kremlin has been sold for 150,000 euros.
The 1812 letter was bought by the Museum of Letters and
Manuscripts in Paris. The letter is written in code and
was sold with a deciphered transcript. The original estimate
for the item was about 15,000 euro. In the letter Bonaparte
said to his Foreign Minister Hugues-Bernard Maret: "On the
22nd at 3am I will be blowing up the Kremlin." It also shows
Napoleon's frustration at the campaign, with his army ravaged
by disease, cold and hunger: "My cavalry is in tatters,
a lot of horses are dying. Make sure we buy more as soon
as possible." Napoleon kept the promise to blow up the Moscow
Kremlin, destroying the Kremlin's walls and towers before
retreating with his army on its fatal march home.
more than 35,000 Jews served in the Austrian army during
the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, none were allowed
to officially become officers until 1815.
keeping with the great European tradition of hussars wearing
moustaches, Austria's generals who came from the light-cavalry
regiments kept them throughout their careers. The most notable
being Dagobert Wurmser and Peter Vecsey.
doubtful that courage has ever been more impressively shown
than that by Frenchman Aristide-Aubert Dupetit Thouars,
captain of the Tonnant, during the Battle of the Nile. Thouars
had his right arm shot away, then the left and finally one
of his legs was taken off by a cannonball. Refusing to give
up command, he insisted on being put in a tub of bran that
was on deck and led his men until he collapsed from blood
loss. One of his final orders was to nail the Tricolour
to the mast so it could not be taken down in surrender.
slow velocity of musketballs meant the projectiles climbed
quickly in flight. Of course they dropped quickly as well
and so French infantrymen were told to aim for the head
at 140-200 metres, the waist at 100 metres and at the knees
gunpowder was coarse and that meant the barrel needed to
be thoroughly cleaned after 40 to 50 shots. Failure to do
so resulted in loading times being drastically increased
and there was a danger of the weapon exploding. This is
because the build up of powder residue made it difficult
to ram home the next round. It was also the build up of
powder that could cause a ball to jam in the barrel after
the weapon was fired with the resultant pressure build up
causing the weapon to explode.
save wear and tear on both firing mechanisms and precious
flints, French recruits practised musket drills with pierre
de bois - or false flints made of wood, or a piece of cow's
hoof. During the Napoleonic Wars flints became difficult
to get and so soldiers were ordered to take them from the
dead and wounded on a battlefield.
known as the Little Corporal, Napoleon Bonaparte was in
fact of average height for the era. In French measure he
stood 5 foot two inches (or 5 foot six inches in the British
equivalent). This is about 168 centimetres.
regular musket of French Napoleonic infantry was the Charleville,
named after the gunworks at which it was produced. It weighed
4.5 kilos (10 pounds) and was about five feet (1.5 metres)
people want to know what was the reason Napoleon Bonaparte
kept his hand in his vest and the answer is easy. It was
fashionable at the time for gentlemen to stand in that way.
column of cavalry troopers certainly filled the roadways
of Napoleonic Europe as these figures indicate. Each cavalryman
would take up a width of 0.75 metres (2.5 feet) and, if
riding four abreast, the columns would completely take up
the narrow roads. The width of the columns, however, pales
when matched with the fact a column of 1000 men and horses
would tail back 750 metres (2500 feet).
17th Century expert in fortifications and sieges, Marshal
Vauban (1633-1707), believed there was no fortress in the
world that could hold out longer than a month. The proviso
was that the attacking force needed to have 60,000 troops
(with 2500 tonnes of supplies) and 132 heavy cannons with
16,000 rounds of shot (consuming a paltry 132 tonnes of
ball and powder). Add to that 20,000 supply animals and
80,000 tonnes of fodder and it's all rather easy really.
was so appalling in the Prussian army of the Napoleonic
Wars that Helmuth von Moltke, a young officer who would
become the architect of German military success in the Franco-Prussian
(1870) and Austro-Prussian (1866) wars, had to translate
The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire to make enough
extra money to make ends meet.
Marshal Nicolas Oudinot
was celebrated as the senior officer most wounded during
the long campaigns. Oudinot was injured by the enemy on
no fewer than 24 occasions and averaged 1.14 wounds per
year of his Napoleonic service. In 1795 and 1796 he was
shot twice and suffered nine sword cuts.
and the Runners-up
Jean Rapp rivalled Oudinot for wounds - two dozen counted
- while Marshal Emmanuel Grouchy
suffered 18 wounds. Mind you, several - one report up of
14 - of those came during the fight before Grouchy was captured
Allied forces closed in on Paris in late March 1814, Marshal
Jean Serurier, governor of Les Invalides, oversaw the
mass burning of battle flags taken from enemy units over
hundreds of years. Some 1500 of the battle trophies were
first French eagles captured by British forces during the
Napoleonic Wars were those of the 26th and 82nd line regiments
taken on Martinque in 1809.
Napoleon Bonaparte marched
into Venice in 1797 he was at the head of the first army
to have entered the Italian city since it was founded some
1350 years before.
last wooden battleship to slip beneath the waves was HMS
Implacable in 1947. The Implacable was captured by the Royal
Navy from France in 1805 when it was known as Duguay-Trouin.
finding himself at a disadvantage against the modern armies
of France, the Ottoman Empire's ruler Sultan Selim was a
dab hand with older weapons. In 1798, the sultan let fly
with the longest two shots ever from a bow when he sent
arrows flying 899 metres (974 yards).
tale is told of how the Duke
of Wellington was so disinterested in his meals that
he once ate a rotten egg - without noticing he had done
the banker of France's enemies during the Revolutionary
and Napoleonic Wars, the British paid a pretty penny for
defeating Napoleon Bonaparte. It is estimated the bill for
the eventual victory was close to £700million, or
90 years of peacetime military spending.
last veteran of the War of 1812
to die was Hiram Cronk, who was 105 when he passed on in
the mid-17th Century, warships still required their men
to load the cannons from outside the vessel. Britain first
adopted the practice of actually having the guns reloaded
after being run-in and dramatically boosted its naval firepower.