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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

For all discussions relating to the coalition campaign of 1812-1814 that led to the defeat of France and Napoleon's exile to Elba.

BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby Andrew » September 16th, 2012, 3:25 pm

I have been fascinated by Napoleon’s campaign of 1814 ever since reading F Loraine Petre’s book when I was about 20 and have studied the campaign ever since. My library of histories and memoirs of participants is now quite extensive. In the 90s I visited most of the battlefields which are fascinating and largely untouched by modern development; looking very much today as they did nearly two hundred years ago. On this basis alone I would very much recommend a trip. Good modern French maps are available (the Série Bleue) which are easily reconcilable with old maps of the battles.

As a result of my visits and research I wrote a number of articles on some of the battles for First Empire magazine. I would be very happy to share these with individuals if anyone would like a copy.

Here are the key battles with short comment.

Brienne, 29 Jan. Napoleon against Blücher, narrow French victory. Good battlefield to visit plus the Napoleon museum.

La Rothiere, 1 Feb. Napoleon against the combined allied army; Allied victory. Good battlefield to visit.

La Chaussée, 3 Feb. Small but very interesting cavalry engagement between the French and the Prussians. Not visited. Article available.

Champaubert, 10 Feb. Napoleon against Olsuviev (small Russian corps); French victory. Virtually untouched; brilliant to visit, nice monument. Article available.

Montmirail, 11 Feb. Napoleon against the corps of Sacken and York. French victory. Virtually untouched; brilliant to visit, nice monument and a number of plaques to discover at key points on the battlefield. Article available.

Château-Thierry, 12 Feb. Napoleon’s pursuit of Sacken and York. French victory. Good to follow the route of the pursuit to the bridges at Château-Thierry.

Vauchamps, 14 Feb. Napoleon against Blücher. Very interesting battle, French victory. Virtually untouched; brilliant to visit, a small monument. Article available.

Mormans, 17 Feb. Napoleon against Wittgenstein’s corps. Largely cavalry affair, French victory. There is a large petrol refinery on part of the battlefield but the remainder is untouched and very interesting to visit. Article available.

Montereau, 18 Feb. Napoleon against the Prince of Wurtemberg, French victory. There is a very large and rather run-down estate on part of the battlefield but still plenty to see, especially the heights of Surville and the two bridges over which there was a running battle. Nice monument and plaque where Napoleon stood to aim a gun of the Guard artillery. Articles available.

Bar-sur-Aube, 27 Feb. Macdonald and Oudinot against Schwarzenberg. Allied victory. Not visited.

Craonne, 7 Mar. Napoleon against Blücher, a draw. The battlefield was the scene of very heavy fighting during WW1. Not visited.

Laon, 9 Mar. Napoleon against Blücher, French defeat. Beautiful city with fantastic views over a virtually unchanged battlefield.

Rhiems, 13 Mar. Napoleon against the Russian corps of Saint Priest. French victory. Not visited (mostly built over). Article available.

Arcis sur Aube, 20/21 Mar. Napoleon against the united allied armies of Blücher and Schwarzenberg. French defeat. Virtually unchanged, great to visit. Article available.

Fère-Champenoise, 25 Mar. Mortier’s and Marmont’s small force against the concentrated might of the allied armies. French crushed. Battlefield virtually untouched but following the running battle is difficult.

St Dizier, 26 Mar. Napoleon against Winzingerode. A largely cavalry affair, French victory.

Paris, 30 Mar. Marmont and Mortier defend Paris against the combined allied armies. French defeat. Battlefield lies under Paris!

Recommended reads:

Napoleon at Bay, F. Loraine Petre. Good, easy reading history.
1814 The Campaign for France, F.-G Hourtoulle. Lots of excellent illustrations and maps.
Napoleon 1814, Andrew Uffindell

And the most detailed account if you can read French is:

La Campagne de 1814 by Commandant Weil
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Re: BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby TheBibliophile » September 16th, 2012, 3:47 pm

Andrew, why the French interest? are you in France? French? or just interested in the other perspective? :D
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Re: BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby Andrew » September 16th, 2012, 4:32 pm

Good question! I failed French O Level three times before giving up!! Actually, it is quite incongruous, a British army officer (I am now a member of the rather anonymous Mercian Regiment, but was commissioned into the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (29th/45th Foot)) apparently more interested in the French army than the British!! It grew out of attempts to learn more about the 1814 campaign which inevitably drew me to French language sources and painfully translating them until my French vocab became extensive. What I have enjoyed is bringing a new (French) perspective to a wider audience, who would not otherwise see it, and to encourage a more objective view of the era we all love. My French perspective of Waterloo came out of looking through a French military magazine and seeing how many French first hand accounts there were of the battle that were really interesting. Having gathered some of them I felt others would be interested. The aim of my book was not to try and rewrite history or try and convince anyone that the French won, but to give this new perspective to others and be objective. I would love to write a history of the six day campaign (within the 1814 campaign), when Napoleon beat Blucher's scattered army but my publishers are convinced it won't sell because there were no Brits involved! They are probably right but I wouldn't be doing it for the money; there are some brilliant first hand accounts of the fighting which I am sure anyone with an interest would enjoy.
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Re: BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby TheBibliophile » September 16th, 2012, 4:47 pm

Andrew wrote:Good question! I failed French O Level three times before giving up!! Actually, it is quite incongruous, a British army officer (I am now a member of the rather anonymous Mercian Regiment, but was commissioned into the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters (29th/45th Foot)) apparently more interested in the French army than the British!! It grew out of attempts to learn more about the 1814 campaign which inevitably drew me to French language sources and painfully translating them until my French vocab became extensive. What I have enjoyed is bringing a new (French) perspective to a wider audience, who would not otherwise see it, and to encourage a more objective view of the era we all love. My French perspective of Waterloo came out of looking through a French military magazine and seeing how many French first hand accounts there were of the battle that were really interesting. Having gathered some of them I felt others would be interested. The aim of my book was not to try and rewrite history or try and convince anyone that the French won, but to give this new perspective to others and be objective. I would love to write a history of the six day campaign (within the 1814 campaign), when Napoleon beat Blucher's scattered army but my publishers are convinced it won't sell because there were no Brits involved! They are probably right but I wouldn't be doing it for the money; there are some brilliant first hand accounts of the fighting which I am sure anyone with an interest would enjoy.


Ahhh I see.... at least its not as anonymous as "the rifles" which seems to have swallowed everything up.... might as well just call it "army" :lol:

I must admit I cant speak French, last time I did so was 25 years ago as a 13 year old before GCSEs, where I chose German instead! I can barely do that now either I am so out of practice. I would like to pick up French again an have often wondered whether buying some memoirs in French by one of the Marshals or Admirals would enable me to pick it back up on a page by page basis....
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Re: BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby Dominique T. » September 17th, 2012, 1:48 pm

And if you want to visit these battlefields...
The visit starts here : http://napoleon-monuments.eu/Napoleon1er/France1814_01.htm
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Re: BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby Andrew » September 17th, 2012, 3:41 pm

Dominique,

thank you for the link; most interesting. It took me back to my own visits; brilliant!
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Re: BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » September 21st, 2012, 2:56 pm

Andrew wrote:I would be very happy to share these with individuals if anyone would like a copy.

It’s a fascinating campaign, indeed. Thank you for all this information Andrew. Your chronological list of sites is very useful. I'd like to read your articles and will pm you with my email address.

Sarah
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Re: BATTLEFIELDS OF THE 1814 CAMPAIGN IN FRANCE

Postby Morganod73 » March 12th, 2013, 2:13 pm

Hi Andrew,

I actually am fascinated with the period of 1806/07 and also 1813-14, so your research and articles on the Campaign of 1814 is a serious plus to hear about.

What I have read makes me understand that Napoleon still very much had his tactical genius.

I would be most grateful for your detailed articles on the 1814 campaign and will also pm you with my email address if that is ok.

Bon chance,

Dave :ugeek:
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