France During the French Revolution and Under Napoleon Bonaparte

An Annotated Chronology of Civil and Military Events

Copyright © 1997 Richard R. Orsinger.

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The story of Napoleon produces on me an
impression like that produced by the Revelation
of St. John the Divine. We all feel there must be
something more in it, but we do not know what.


06-23-1763 Josephine Tascher, later to become the first wife of Napoleon Bonapart, born at St. Pierre, capital of Martinico.(5) p. 17.
1764 Charles Marie Buonaparte, a Corsican of Tuscan descent, marries Letizia Ramolino, a Corsican of Florentine descent. These are the parents of Napoleon Buonaparte. Corsican leader Paoli invites France to assist in overthrowing Geonese domination of Corsica. [Rose, p.7] Charles Buonaparte accepts French domination in exchange for a pardon. (1) p. 17.
1768 France annexes Corsica.(*)
1769 Napoleone Buonaparte born in Ajaccio, Corsica, the son of a poor Corsican lawyer. (*) Napoleon later adopts August 15 as his birthday, to coincide with the Catholic Feast of the Assumption.
1774 Louis XVI coronated as French king.
05-28-1776 American Benjamin Franklin meets with French Foreign Minister Varennes, initiating a 2-1/2 year campaign to secure French support for the American Independence movement.(30)
1778 France declares war on Britain, and sends an army to North America.
1778 At age nine, Napoleon is sent to Collège militaire royal de Brienne(*) in Paris. While there, he distinguishes himself by his taste for mathematics and geography.
02-06-1779 USA and France enter treaty in support of American independence from Britain. (*) Van Doren, p. 594
03-20-1779 Franklin meets with King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette, to confirm the French-American treaty.(*) Van Doren, p. 595.
1783 Treaty of Versaille, recognizing the independence of the United States of America.
10-22-1784 Napoleon enters l'Ecole militaire royale de Paris(*) in Paris, from 1784 - 1785.
1785 Napoleon becomes second lieutenant, at the age of 16.(*)
05-05-1789 The French Estates-General meets at Versaille, the first such meeting since 1614.(*)
06-17-1789 The Third Estate (commoners) of the Estates-General meets separately and declares itself to be a National Assembly. King Louis XVI closed their meeting place, so they repair to the tennis court at the Louvre (Jeu de Paume). (*)
06-20-1789 Members of the National Assembly take oath not to disband until a constitution is established.
06-27-1789 Louis XVI legalizes the National Assembly, permitting all three estates to meet together and vote per capita.(*)
07-14-1789 Parisian mob storms Bastille Castle, then functioning as a royal prison, hoping to find arms. The mob kills its governor, the Marquis de Launey, and releases its seven prisoners (none of whom are political prisoners). (*)
08-04-1789 During the night, equality of rights throughout France is proclaimed. (*)
08-14-1789 Nobles and clergy in the National Assembly, out of fear, renounce their privileges, thus ending feudalism in France.(*)
August, 1789 Adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of Citizen. (*)
10-05-1789 Parisian mob marches on Versailles. Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are relocated to the Tuileries Palace in Paris, where they are confined.
06-20-1791 to 06-21-1791 Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette attempt to flee in disguise from France, but are apprehended at Varennes, and are brought back to Paris.(*)
___-1791 Louis XVI accepts a constitution.
10-01-1791 Legislative Assembly convenes.
1791 French National Assembly passes the Le Chapelier law, which prohibits economic associations, thus ending the guild system in France. (Trade monopolies for baking and butchery were reinstituted under government control, later under the Consulate).(*) France enacts the Ordinance of 1791, establishing new infantry tactics for use by French armies. (*)
04-20-1792 France declares war on Austria.(30)
06-20-1792 An insurrection in Paris fails.(*)
08-10-1792 Paris mob, inflamed partly by the writings of Jean Paul Marat,(*) storms the Tuileries Palace and establishes a new city government. Robespierre (*) is elected to the Commune of Paris. (*)
09-02-1792 Mobs across France enter jails and kill hundreds of royalist sympathizers who had recently been arrested.(*)
09-21-1792 National Convention meets for first time, abolishes the monarchy, establishes a republic, and tries King Louis XVI for treason. The King is convicted by a majority of one vote.
1792 Napoleon promoted to Captain.(*)
01-21-1793 King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette are guillotined in Paris. The regicide causes the European monarchies to band together in the Brunswick Manifesto. (*)
1793 France adopts a new "de-Christianized" calendar, retroactive to 1792. The calendar begins on September 22, and consists of 12 months of 30 days apiece, with each month being divided into decades of ten days. The end of the year had 5 days (6 during leap years) designated by Roman numerals. The remained the official calendar of France until 1806.
07-13-1793 Charlotte Corday, an aristocrat from Caen with sympathies for the Girondists, arranges a meeting with Marat, secretes a knife, and stabs him to death in his bath, for which she is guillotined.(*)
08-09-1793 Arch Chancellor of France Cambaceres presents a plan for a new Civil Code for France, but it is rejected. (*)
09-16-1793 Napoleon takes command of the artillery of the Jacobin forces beseiging Toulon.(*)[p. 43] [More]
09-15-1793 National Convention divides public education into three ranks: primary, secondary, and higher education.
12-16-1794 to 12-17-1794 The City of Toulon falls to a seige in which Napoleon distinguishes himself by the use of artillery.

"The final conflict took place on the night of December 16-17, when torrents of rain, a raging wind, and flashes of lightning added new horrors to the strife. Scarcely had the assailants left the sheltering walls of La Seyne, than Buonaparte's horse fell under him, shot dead: whole companies went astray in the darkness: yet the first column of 2,000 men led by Victor rush at the palisades of Fort Mulgrave, tear them down, and sweep into the redoubt, only to fall in heaps before a second line of defence: supported by the second column, they rally, only to yield once more before the murderous fire. In despair Dugommier hurries on the column of reserve, with which Buonaparte awaits the crisis of the night. Led by the gallant young Muiron, the reserve sweeps into the gorge of death; Muiron, Buonaparte, and Dugommier hack their way through the same embrasure: their men swarm in on the overmatched red-coats and Spaniards, cut they down at their guns, and the redoubt is won.

The event was decisive. The Neapolitans, who were charged to hold the neighboring forts, flung themselves into the sea; and the ships themselves began to weigh anchor; for Buonaparte's guns soon poured their shot on the fleet and into the city itself."(*)[p. 48] [Barras' view]
07-27-1794 Robespierre is arrested and guillotined the next morning. (*)
10-05-1795 Napoleon, charged with protecting the Directory, rings the Tuileries with cannon. As the mob approaches, Napoleon discharges the cannon into the crowd, killing many and causing the crowd to disband.(*)
10-15-1795 Napoleon is named général de division.
10-26-1795 Napoleon is named général en chef de l'armée de l'Interieur. At the age of 26 years.
1795 French capture Amsterdam.(*)
03-02-1796 Napoleon is named General in Charge of the Army of Italy.
03-10-1796 Napoleon weds Rose de Beauharnais (the future Empress Joséphine)
03-12-1796 Napoleon joins his army at Nice, but finds them undernourished, ill- clothed, and undisciplined. To instill confidence, Napoleon told them:

"Vous n'avez ni souliers, ni habit, ni chemise, presque pas de pain et vos magasins son vides; ceux de l'ennemi regorgent de tout; c'est à vous de les voulez, vous le pouvez, partons!"
05-10-1796 Napoleon defeats the Austrian army at Lodi, by personally leading French troops across a well-defended bridge spanning the River Adda. (*)
01-__-1797 Napoleon victorious at Rivoli.(*)
02-__-1797 Napoleon captures Mantua.(*)
10-17-1797 Without the authorization of the Directory, Napoleon signs the Treaty of Campo-Formio(*) with Austria.
1798 Napoleon heads a French expeditionary force into Egypt. Napoleon defeats Mamelukes at the Battle of the Pyramids,(*) in Egypt. The Directory converts Holland and Switzerland into satellite republics (Batavian and Helvetic, respectively).
06-07-1798 Admiral Nelson, "in command of what was perhaps the finest squadron of its size ever assembled in the era of the sail," sets out from St. Vincent to find the French fleet. (*)Warner, p. 137.
06-22-1798 Nelson passes so close to the French fleet in thick weather that the French Admiral Brueys, can hear the signal guns of the British ships and is alarmed. Napoleon remaines unperturbed.(*) Warner, p. 139.
06-28-1798 Nelson reaches Alexandria, but is asked by the Turks to leave. Scarcely after Nelson's sails disappeared over the northeast horizon the French Republican navy appeared from the northwest.(*) Warner, p. 140.
07-02-1798 Napoleon lands unopposed at Marabout, with 50,000 troops.
07-28-1798 Sir Thomas Troubridge brings word to Nelson in Greek waters that the French fleet had been seen about 4 weeks earlier steering southeastwards from Crete. Nelson immediately sets sail for Alexandria.(*) Warner, p. 142.
08-01-1798 At noon, Captain Hood of the Zealous signals that he can see the French fleet anchored in Aboukir Bay. Nelson proceeds to attack without delay. The battle is joined at 6:28 p.m. Five British ships pass between the French ships and anchor on the inshore side, while other British ships set up on the ocean side. Surrounding the leading French ships on both sides, the damage is severe. The lead French ship, Le Guerrier is dismasted in less than 12 minutes. The English slowly move down the line, attacking the anchored French ships from both sides. The largest French ship, L'Orient, seventh in the line of 13 French ships, is in due course attacked, and the French Admiral Brueys is killed. At 8:30 p.m., Admiral Nelson is wounded by a piece of iron shot which impacts his forehead, causing the skin to hang down over his eye, and mixed with blood flow temporarily blinds Nelson. After 9:00 p.m., the L'Orient catches fire due to chemicals on board. The British send boats to save French sailors, and 70 are rescued from the water. "The blaze served to show up the position of both fleets, the British slowly advancing towards the rear of the French line, blasting it as they progressed." Hearing news of the fire, Nelson makes his way to the quarter-deck. At about 10:00 p.m., L'Orient explodes with such force that several ships think their own magazines have exploded. The event causes "an awful pause and death-like silence for about three minutes." The battle continues until 10:00, when a lull is caused by exhaustion. After 20 minutes, the fighting begins again, and continues until 3:00 a.m. At 11:00 a.m., two undamaged French ships of the line, together with two surviving frigates, head to sea. As to the aftermath of the battle, Nelson later said, "Victory is not a name strong enough for such a scene." Out of 17 French ships, four escaped, and the rest were captured, burned or sunk. The British lost no ships. Nelson later describes the battle in this way: "By attacking the Enemy's van and centre, the wind blowing directly along their line, I was enabled to throw what force I pleased on a few ships. This plan my friends readily conceived by the signals . . . and we always kept a superior force to the Enemy. At twenty-eight minutes past six, the sun in the horizon, the firing commenced. At five minutes past ten, when L'Orient blew up, having' burnt seventy minutes, the six Van ships had surrendered. I then pressed further towards the Rear; and had it pleased God that I had not been wounded and stone blind, there cannot be a doubt but that every Ship would have been in our possession."(*) Warner, pp. 151-54.
08-18-1798 The French ship Le Généreux captures the English ship Leander, off of Crete.(*)
10-02-1798 Word reaches London of Nelson's victory at Aboukir Bay, leading to jubilant celebration.(*)
1799 French soldiers discover the Rosetta Stone.(*)
10-09-1799 Napoleon, having abandoned his army in Egypt without permission of the Directory, lands at Fréjus.
Nov. 9-10, 1799 Coup d'état against the Directory establishes Napoleon as First Consul for ten years.(*) [Barras' complicity]
12-12-1799 Napoleon becomes First Consul (Premier Consul)
01-06-1800 The Consulate establishes the Bank of France.(*)
02-19-1800 Napoleon takes up residence in the Tuileries Palace, saying: "Well, Bourienne, we have reached the Tuileries; the thing is now to stop here."(25) p. 13
05-13-1800 Napoleon assembles his armies at Geneva, Switzerland, in preparation for crossing the Alps at the St. Bernard Pass.(*) Guizot, v. 7. p. 17
05-14-1800 The French army travels from Geneva to Villeneuve, with vessels carrying provisions to that point. At Montingny, half the mules are loaded with victuals and munitions, and the other half attached to gun carriages whose cannon have been removed.(*) Guizot, v. 7. p. 18
05-15-1800 through 05-20-1800 The cannon are enveloped in hollow tree trunks, and are dragged across the ice and snow by French soldiers, since there are not enough mules for the task and the peasants refused to undertake the arduous work. Napoleon rides a mule at the head of the rear guard, wrapped in a gray great-coat.

After resting a few hours at the St. Bernard hospice, the army begins its descent, which is more difficult than the ascent.

The vanguard, led by Lannes and Berthier, proceeds to Aosta, where it is delayed by the fort of Bard, which has artillery commanding the defile. Upon clearing the passage, "[t]he French army, descending like a torrent into the valley, seized upon Ivry, and repulsed the Austrians at the Chiusella on May 26th."(25) p. 18.

Moncey brings his corps across the Alps via the St. Gothard pass, and General Thureau crosses with 4,000 men by the Col de Mont Cenis, and the French army starts re-assembling. Lannes confronts Austrian General Ott at Montebello, and after a hotly disputed engagement the Austrian force is defeated. (25) p. 18.
05-20-1800 and following Napoleon by-passes Genova and descends upon Milano, seeking a confrontation with the Austrian army.(*)
06-13-1800 Napoleon enters the plain that extends between the Scrivia and the Bromida, near the little village of Marengo, Italy.(*)
06-14-1800 Austrian General Mélas evacuates Alessandria, crosses the Bormida on three bridges, and attacks General Victor in front of Marengo. Lannes, in the meantime, is surrounded on all sides and has to retreat. Napoleon arrives while the French army is in retreat. At 3:00 p.m., General Mélas reenters Allessandria. Napoleon sends for Desaix, newly returned from Egypt. Desaix informs Napoleon: "Well, it is a lost battle; but it is not late; we have time to gain another." Desaix then leads an infantry charge, when he is struck by a ball in his breast. Desaix tells General Boudet: "Conceal my death; it might unsettle the troops." However, the soldiers have seen the General fall, and rush forward to avenge him. Kellerman arrives at that moment and throws his dragoons upon the Austrian cavalry. The dragoons break through and attack the column of grenadiers who are attacking Desaix's division. The Austrians fall into disorder, one entire corps throwing down its arms. Austrian General Zach is forced to give up his sword. The Austrian troops are routed, and clog up the bridges, or cast themselves into the river, and are pursued by the French. The French capture the Austrian cannon, and decimate the Austrian staff. The outcome of the battle makes Napoleon the master of Italy.(25) pp. 20-21.
06-19-1800 French general Moreau, in an 18-hour battle in Germany, captures 5,000 Austrians, twenty pieces of cannon, and considerable magazines.(25) p. 23.
07-02-1800 On the night of July 2, Napoleon re-enters Paris, (25) p. 23.
07-15-1800 French and Austrians sign a suspension of arms at Parsdorf, near Munich. (25) p. 23.
1800 The Consulate effects a partial bankruptcy by announcing that it will not pay army contractors for goods acquired on credit, and will not honor certain government bonds. The Consulate also bans paper money. (*)
Feb., 1801 France and Austria sign the Treaty of Lunéville.(*)
1801 Concordat of peace between France and the Papacy.(*)
1802 Napoleon named Consul for life. France and England enter into Treaty of Amiens,(*) leaving France the predominant power on the European Continent.
03-15-1803 Promulgation of the Code Napoleon.(*) Holtman, p. 112.
Mar., 1803 Consulate imposes metric system on France.(*) Holtman, p. 112.
04-30-1803 USA under President Thomas Jefferson makes the Louisiana Purchase from Napoleon, for $ 15 million, essentially doubling the size of the USA.(*)
05-__-1803 Great Britain declares war on France.(*)
1804 Nicholas Appert(*) establishes a food canning industry in France. In 1810, his methods are made public. Hartman p. 106.
12-02-1804 Napoleon crowns himself as Emperor of the French.(*)
10-21-1805 British navy under Horatio Nelson(*) defeats French navy off of Cape Trafalgar, southwest coast of Spain. (*) 20 French ships are captured, and British lose no ships, but Nelson is killed by a French sniper. Due to censorship of the press, French people are not told of the loss for months. Hartman, p. ___.
12-02-1805 Napoleon defeats combined Russian and Austrian armies at Austerlitz. (*)
__-__-1805 Napoleon defeats Austrian army at Ulm,(*) and then occupies Vienna.
12-26-1805 Treaty of Pressburg, between France and Austria, forces Austria out of the coalition against France.(*)
__-1806 The Jacquard loom(*) becomes public property. By 1812, there are 11,000 such looms in France.(*) Holtman, p. 115.
06-12-1806 Karl von Dalberg nominated Primate of the Confederation of the Rhine.(*) Corti, 51.
07-12-1806 Confederation of the Rhine announced.(*) Corti, 43.
10-14-1806 Napolean defeats Prussian army at Jena,(*) and Napolean soon enters Berlin as a triumphant conqueror.
Nov., 1806 Napoleon's Berlin Decree(*) establishes the Continental System,(*) a blockade of England.
02-08-1807 Battle of Eylau,(*) indecisive battle between French and Russian armies.
06-14-1807 Napoleon defeats Russian army at Battle of Friedland. (*)
06-25-1807 Having won the Battle of Friedland, Napoleon meets Emperor Alexander I of Russia on a raft in the Neman River near Tilsit, to negotiate a peace. The two are later joined by Russia's ally, King Frederick William III of Prussia.(*)
07-07-1807 First Treaty of Tilsit,(*) whereby France and Russia make peace, and Russia recognizes the grand duchy of Warsaw, and secretly agrees to mediate the disputes between France and England, failing resolution of which Russia is to ally itself with France. In exchange, Russia gains the right to dominate Finland, then under the control of Sweden.
07-09-1807 Second Treaty of Tilsit,(*) between Prussia and France, where Prussia loses half its territory, including all territory west of the River Elbe which goes to France, and most of its Polish territory, which goes to the grand duchy of Warsaw. Danzig also becomes a free city, and Prussia's army is reduced to 42,000 men.
1807 Napoleon's Milan Decree(*) declares that ships complying with British rules of trade are to be considered denationalized and to have become pirate ships, subject to seizure.
01-01-1808 Commercial Code goes into effect, standardizing commercial practices throughout the French Empire.(*) Hartman, p. 112.
1808 Napoleon meets Tsar Alexander I at the Congress of Erfurt,(*) and renews the Franco-Russian Treaty of Tilsit.
1808 Napoleon founds Saint Cyr l'Ecole(*) French military academy.
1809 The baccalaureate examination is established.(*) Hartman, p. 148.
May, 1809 Napoleon defeated by Archduke Charles, at the Battle of Aspern. (*)
07-06-1809 Napoleon defeats Austrian army at Battle of Wagram,(*) leading to Treaty of Schonbrunn.(*)
11-30-1809 After a dinner in which Napoleon and Josephine neither ate nor spoke to each other, Napoleon informed Josephine of his intention to divorce. Josephine wrote about the occasion:

"We dined together as usual. I struggled with my tears, which, notwithstanding every effort, over-flowed from my eyes; I uttered not a single word during that sorrowful meal, and he broke silence but once, to ask an attendant about the weather. My sunshine, I saw, had passed away; the storm burst quickly. Directly after coffee, Bonaparte dismissed every one, and I remained alone with him.

I watched in the changing expression of his countenance that struggle which was in his soul. At length his features settled into stern resolve. I saw that my hour was come. His whole frame trembled, he approached, and I felt a shuddering horror come over me. He took my hand, placed it upon his heart, gazed upon me for a moment, then pronounced these fearful words:--'Josephine! my excellent Josephine! thou knowest if I have loved thee! To thee--to thee alone do I oew the only moments of happiness which I hvae enjoyed in this world. Josephine! my destiny overmasters my will. My dearest affections must be silent before the interests of France!'--'Say no more,' I had still strength sufficient to reply; 'I was prepared for this, but the blow is not less mortal.' More I could not utter. I cannot tell what passed within me. I believe my screams were loud. I thought reason had fled. I became unconscious of everything, and, on returning to my senses, found I had been carried to my chamber." (5), pp. 314 - 315.

12-15-1809 Napoleon, in a formal meeting of the imperial family, announces his intention to divorce Empress Josephine: "The policy of my monarchy, the interest and wants of my peoples which have invariably guided all my actions, require that I should leave this throne on which Providence has placed me, to children inheriting my love for my peoples. For several years, however, I have lost hopes of having children by my marriage with my well-beloved spouse the Empress Josephine, which urges me to sacrifice the dearest affections of my heart, to consider only the well-being of the State, and to will the dissolution of our marriage. God knows how much such a resolution has cost my heart; but there is no sacrifice which is beyond my courage, if proved to be useful to the well-being of France."(25) p. 323-24.
___, 1810 French government establishes its own monopoly over tobacco.
03-23-1810 Napoleon's Rambouillet Decree,(*) issued in retaliation for the USA's embargo of France under President Thomas Jefferson, orders American ships seized and sold.
10-18-1810 Napoleon's Fontainebleau Decree(*) orders the seizure and burning of any British goods found in Europe.
12-31-1810 Tsar Alexander of Russia issues ukase prohibiting the importation into Russia of merchandise and silks, intended to remedy the falling rate of exchange brought about by the constant drain of capital abroad to pay for imported goods, since Russia was unable to expert anything herself. Ukase also intended to encourage the development of Russian industries.(*)
1811 Napoleon establishes the Ministry of Manufacturers and Commerce, France's first economic ministry. Production of sugar from sugar beets begins, as a substitute for cane sugar no longer available due to the British boycott and Napoleon's Continental System.(*) Hartman, p. 108.
03-20-1811 Marie Louise Bonaparte gives birth to Napoleon's son.
06-23-1812 Napoleon, conducts reconnaissance by day and into the night along the banks of the River Niemen. After dictating orders for two hours, he takes to his horse again, and while riding through the wheat in the moonlight a hare starts out, and his horse swerves slightly, causing the Emperor to fall from his horse. He remounts without saying a word. But the Prince of Neuchatel remarks to Caulaincourt, the Master of the Horse: "We should do better not to cross the Niemen. That fall is a bad sign." As noted by Caulaincourt: "[M]en are superstitious despite themselves, in such serious moments and on the eve of such great events." (15)p. 46.
06-23-1812 to 06-24-1812 During the night, Morand's division crosses the Nemen River, soon followed by other divisions. The Grand Armée, 500,000 strong, invades Russia. A few days later, Napoleon says: "I have come to finish off, once and for all, the Colossus of Northern Barbarism. The sword is drawn. They must be thrust back into their snow and ice, so that for a quarter of a century at least they will not be able to interfere with civilied Europe."(15) p. 52.

Napoleon crosses in the morning, only to find that the Russian army had retreated from Wilna 3 days earlier.(15) p. 48.
06-28-1812 Napoleon arrives at Wilna.(*)
07-14-1812 Tsar Alexander I leaves Polotsk at the request of his generals. (*)
07-25-1812 Napoleon reaches the small town of Beschenkowitschi and notices that all inhabitants have deserted the town, as if by definite plan. (15) p. 60.
07-26-1812 Battle of Ostrowno delays French advance. Caulaincourt notes: "The Emperor was so anxious for battle that he drove the army forward with all his energy and all the brilliance of his genius."(15) p. 60.
07-27-1812 The Russian army takes up a position on the heights crowning a great plateau in from of Witepsk. Russian cavalry sets upon two regiments of French infantry that had crossed the bridge. "The day was spent maneuvering, bombarding, and minor attacks to adjust our respective positions in preparation for the great battle for which the Emperor and the majority of the French were hoping on the morrow."(15) p. 61.
07-28-1812 As the sun rises, Napoleon sees that the Russian army has withdrawn. Not a sole could be found to say in which direction the army retreated. Caulaincourt observed: "But there were no inhabitants to be found, no prisoners to be taken, not a single stragler to be picked up. There were no spies. We were in the heart of inhabited Russia and yet, if I may be permitted the comparison, we were like a vessel without a compass in the midst of a vast ocean, knowing nothing of what was happening around us."(15) p. 62. Napoleon arrives at Wilna around 9:00 a.m.(15) p. 49.

Caulaincourt notes: "The rapid movement without stores exhausted and destroyed all the resources and houses which lay on the way. The vanguard lived quite well, but the rest of the army was dying of hunger. Exhaustion, added to want and the piercing cold rains at night, killed off ten thousand horses. Many of the Young Guard died on the road of fatigue, cold and hunger. The leaders wanted these young men to rival the veterans who had survived so many toils, perils and privations; and the youth of the army was thus the victim of misplaced zeal.(15) pp. 49-50.
07-29-1812 Napoleon gives up on catching the Russian army, and bivouacs at Witepsk, setting up hospitals and provision centers.(15) Caulaincourt, sent to visit the hospitals, notes:

"Never was there a situation more deplorable, or a spectacle to be more heart-rending for those who could think, and who had not been dazzled by the false glamour of Glory and ambition.

"With the exception of the chiefs, the indifference of the administrative officers was complete. The innumerable waggons, the enormous quantity of supplies of all sorts that had been collected at such expense during the course of two years, had vanished through theft and loss, or through lack of means to bring them up. They were scattered along the roads. The rapidity of the forced marches, the shortage of harness and spare parts, the dearth of provisions, the want of care, all had helped to kill the horses. This campaign at express speed from the Niemen to Wilna, and from Wilna to Witepsk, had, without any real result, already cost the army two lost battles and deprived it of absolutely essential provisions and supplies."(15) pp. 66-67.

Caulaincourt goes on to note: "To ensure that no indiscreet word should be uttered, the Emperor had consulted no one. Consquently our waggons and all our transport, built for metalled roads and to accomplish ordinary distances, were in no way suitable for the roads of the country we had to traverse. The first sand we came across overwhelmed the horses; for the loads, instead of being cut down in proportion to the weight of the vehicle and the distance to be covered, had been increased in the notion that the daily consumption would sufficiently lessen them. But in working out this scheme of daily consumption the Emperor had not taken into account the distance that would have to be covered before the point was reached when this consumption would begin."(15) p. 67.

"The men, lacking everything to supply their own needs, were little inclined to pay any heed to their horses, and watched them perish without regrets, for their death meant the breakdown of the service on which the men were employed, and thus the end to their personal privations. There you have the secret and cause of our earlier disasters and of our final reverse."(15) p. 67.
09-07-1812 Battle of Borodino, indecisive battle between French and Russian armies, where losses are enormous.(*)
09-14-1812 Napoleon and French army enter Moscow, peopled by only a few thousand Russians.
09-15-1812 Fires break out across Moscow, burn for four days, and leave the city in ruins.(*)
Oct., 1812 Napoleon begins his retreat from Moscow.(*)
12-03-1812 Napoleon issues the 29th bulletin(*) which generally admits the destruction of the French army, but reports that Napoleon's health is better than ever.(*) Corti, 123.
12-30-1812 Prussia abandons its treaty with France and enters truce with Russia.(*)
05-02-1813 Battle of Lutzen.(*)
06-14-1813 Treaty of Reichenback,(*) whereby Britain offers Prussia a subsidy of 666,666 pounds, in exchange for Prussia putting 80,000 men in the field. Russia receives twice the amount for twice the number of men.(*) Corti, 124.
08-10-1813 Metternich's interview with Napoleon.(*)
08-26-1813 to 08-27-1812 Battle of Dresden.(*)
10-03-1813 Treaty Alliance of Teplitz,(*) whereby Britain agrees to pay 1 million pounds to Austria in exchange for Austria's placing 150,000 men in the field.
10-16-1813 to 10-19-1813 Battle of the Nations at Leipzig, results in Napoleon's retreat.(*) "At one blow the whole of Germany was liberated up to the Rhine, the Confederation of the Rhine fell to pieces, the King of Westphalia fled, and Dalberg voluntarily resigned his grand ducal dignity in Frankfort."(*) Corti, 125.
12-04-1813 Allies issue the Declaration of Frankfurt.(*)
03-31-1814 Allies enter Paris.(*)
04-11-1814 Napoleon abdicates,(*) and is exiled to Elba.
04-26-1814 Louis XVIII leaves England and lands at Calais.(*)
05-03-1814 Louis XVIII enters Paris.(*)
05-10-1814 Treaty of Paris.(*)
05-28-1814 France enters into a convention to pay the allied powers 25 million francs as a lump sum.(*) Corti, 141.
05-29-1814 Empress Josephine dies. Leaving no will, none of her retainers were rewarded as she had intended and as they deserved. p. 372
Sep., 1814 Congress of Vienna begins, to remake Europe after the downfall of Napoleon.(*)
03-01-1815 Napoleon lands at Golfe-Juan, near Cannes, France, and begins his march to Paris.(*) [More]
03-__1815 At Laffrey, Napoleon confronts Royal troops who were sent to arrest him. Napoleon steps before the troops saying: "Soldiers of the 5th Ligne, I am your Emperor, don't you recognize me? If there is one among you who wishes to kill his General, here I am." The troops responded "Long live the Emperor!"
03-13-1815 Representatives of the European monarchies meet in Vienna.
03-18-1815 Marshall Ney meets Napoleon, eye-to-eye, and defects to the Emperor with 6,000 troops.(*)
03-19-1815 Louis XVIII flees to Gent, Belgium.(*)
03-20-1815 Napoleon enters Paris, the beginning of the "100 Days."
03-25-1815 Seventh Coalition formed between Britain, Austria, Prussian and Russia.(*) Each power agrees to provide 150,000 men, except England, who agrees to send subsidies instead of the full amount of troops.(*) Corti, 153-54.
04-08-1815 Napoleon orders a general mobilization in France.
06-01-1815 Berthier, Prince of Neufchâtel and of Wagram, dies in Germany, probably by his own hand.
06-12-1815 to 06-15-1815 Battle of Waterloo begins.
06-18-1815 Battle of Waterloo ends, with Napoleon defeated.
06-21-1815 Field Marshall Wellington's report of the Battle of Waterloo arrives in London, via envoy Major Henry Percy. Corti, 159.
07-03-1815 Napoleon arrives at Rochefort-sur-Mer, hoping to sail to America. His escape is impossible due to a British blockade.
07-15-1815 Napoleon leaves l'îsle d'Aix on the British ship Bellerophon. Napoleon is deported to Santa Helena, an island off the coast of Africa. Napoleon is accompanied by generals Gourgaud, Bertrand, Montholon, le comte de Las Cases, and O'Méara, an English physician.
12-1-1815 Four commissioners appointed by the principal powers establish France's indemnity obligation at 700 million francs, to be paid in 15 installments beginning this date. Corti 166.
12-07-1815 Michel Ney, Duke of Elchingen, Marshal-Prince of the Moskowa, executed by firing squad in the Luxembourg Gardens.
1817 Students at the United States Army Academy at West Point begin studying Napoleonic military theory.
05-05-1821 Napoleon Bonaparte dies of a stomach ulcer at St. Helena, in the south Atlantic Ocean, a thousand miles from the African coast.
1840 Napoleon's remains are entombed at La Museé de L'Armeé, in Paris.
1940 German leader Adolph Hitler relocates the remains of Napoleon II (son of Napoleon Bonaparte), from Vienna to Les Invalides in Paris, to rest beside the remains of his father.


1Napoleon resented his father's decision to accept French rule instead of following Paoli to England. Had Charles Buonaparte gone to England, Napoleon might well have pursued a military career in the British army. Rose, p. 9.
5Life of the Empress Josephine, Wife of Napoleon I (Philadelphia, Porter & Coates 1870).
10Hartman, p. 106.
15With Napoleon in Russia: The Memoirs of General de Caulaincourt, Duke of Vicenza (From the original memoirs as edited by Jean Hanoteau. Abridged, edited, and with an introduction by George Libaire) (1935 William Morrow & Co. New York).
20The Life of Napoleon I (Including New Materials From the British Official Records), by John Holland Rose, M.A. (Late Scholar of Christ's College, Cambridge) (The MacMillan Company, 1918) (Copyright 1901).
25Vol. 7, The History of France, by M. Guizot and Madame Guizot DeWitt (Tr. Robert Black) (The Nottingham Society, undated).
30 "Revolutionary France had many sympathizers, but they did not form the governments of the nations, nor did they control the armed forces of their states. Yet, beginning the war alone, forcibly isolated as if infected by the plague, she not only repulsed the combined effort to smother her, but, changing in nature, became an expanding military menace to the rest of Europe, and ultimately, the military master of most of it." Strategy, B.H. Liddell Hart, p. 113 (Frederick A. Praeger, Inc. 1954, 1967).
40 Van Doren, p. 569.

Copyright © 1996 Richard R. Orsinger
Created Sunday, September 1, 1996
Most recent revision July 1, 1997