Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821) was a military and political leader of France who later became Emperor of France under the name Napoleon I.
 Early days and rise to prominence
Napoleon Bonaparte was born in Corsica where he entered military school at ten, displaying a great aptitude for mathematics, history, and geography, as well as total indifference to literature and the humanities. At fourteen he was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant in an artillery regiment. From an early age Napoleon’s school masters commented on his pride and ambition, aspects of his personality that were to follow him through to adulthood. Many of his teachers took the time to nurture this talented and promising young man, but none more so than Baron du Teil, the commandant of the artillery school Napoleon attended. He helped lay the foundations for Napoleon’s skills with artillery and helped him to develop a better understanding of tactical concepts which he would later use to outstanding effect. Even as a mature commander, Napoleon never lost his grasp of the simple truth that artillery won battles for him. When the French revolution broke out, Napoleon sided with the Revolutionaries and was appointed lieutenant-colonel of artillery, where he quickly made a name for himself as a successful commander. By 1794 he was a brigadier-general, and by 1795 he was appointed command of the French Army of the Interior. He was 25 years of age.
Over the next few years Napoleon led French armies, in defense of the new Republic, to major victories over various continental foes, including the extremely powerful Austrians. In 1798 Napoleon sailed against Egypt where he won great land victories; however, the British navy destroyed the French fleet in Egypt, crippling his force. In 1800 Napoleon abandoned his weakened army and returned to France.
 Picking up a crown from the gutter
Napoleon found Paris in a state of political turmoil, which he quickly took advantage of by overthrowing the government and making himself First Consul, with dictator-like power over all of France. An exceptional administrator, he rapidly reorganized the government, repealed the more radical and violent laws of the Revolution, and reopened the churches, gaining the love and respect of the French people, exhausted by years of revolution and chaos.
However, France was still at war with most of Europe, and Napoleon once again took to the battlefields, where he won stunning victories against Austria, causing that country and Britain to make peace. In celebration Napoleon quickly declared himself Consul for Life. He was elevated by the French Senate to the status of Emperor of the French in 1804.
 An emperor at war
Britain feared France's imperial intentions since it would turn the status quo unfavorably against them, and thus war resumed in 1803, with Britain disrupting French shipping lanes on the sea and France putting together a great invasion fleet in the unsuccessful hope of occupying the British Isles. Other countries were equally alarmed by France's actions and they joined the British. France soon found itself facing a daunting alliance that included Britain, Austria, Russia and Sweden. Acting with amazing speed and cunning, Napoleon used his "interior lines" to concentrate his forces against the dispersed enemy. He rapidly marched across Europe, capturing the capital of Austria and then crushing the Russian forces at the Battle of Austerlitz. Austria sued for peace once again, this time giving up all territory in Italy and along the Adriatic.
For several more years Napoleon would defeat every foe that came against him. He moved his forces with unbelievable alacrity, and he was always able to bring them against the enemy's weakest spot. He crushed the Prussians, the Spanish, and the Austrians yet again. He tried to improve his political position by marrying his various relatives into the great families of Europe, with minor success.
Eventually Napoleon decided that he would never be safe in Europe as long as Russia was still giving the British treasury a source of income, so he led half a million men to Moscow. The Russian forces retreated before his advance, taking or burning anything that might be of use to the invaders, while in the rear Cossack raiders destroyed his supply lines. Contrary to popular belief, the Grande Armée was already diminished by half during the first 8 weeks of his invasion before the first major battle of the campaign was fought. Rapid forced marches quickly caused desertion, starvation, exposed the troops to filthy water and disease, while the logistics trains lost horses by the thousands, further exacerbating the problems. He did reach and capture Moscow, but once again the Russians had removed or burnt anything there that might feed his men. By September he was forced to retreat, his army reduced to 120,000 weary and starving men. By the end of November his forces had been further reduced to 40,000. The Grande Armée died.
Upon returning to Paris, Napoleon immediately recruited another army of 350,000, but his image of invulnerability was gone and all Europe rose against him. Prussia, Russia and Austria allied against him. Britain threw more troops into contested Spain. Though Napoleon was to again win famous victories, his enemies sensed victory and continued their relentless attacks. Eventually the allies drove their way into Paris, and Napoleon abdicated. For his trouble he was given ruler ship of the island of Elba, along with an income of six million francs, to be paid by France.
But this wasn't enough for Napoleon. Ten months later he re-entered France. The populace immediately went over to his side and he quickly regained his power and titles. He then personally led an army of 125,000 to capture Brussels, Belgium. On the road to Brussels, at Waterloo, Napoleon was finally and irrevocably defeated by a British/Prussian force under the leadership of the Duke of Wellington. This time he was confined for life at the island of Sainte-Helene, a thousand miles from the coast of Africa. He died there in 1821. It wasn't until 1840 that Napoleon's remains were finally returned to France, where it was entombed in the crypt under the dome at Les Invalides.
|Napoleon: Total War | Coalition Figures:|
|Napoleon: Total War | French Figures:|
|Napoleon Bonaparte | Marshall Ney | Marshall Soult | Admiral Villneuve ||
|Napoleon: Total War | Spanish Figures:|
|Joaquin Blake y Joyes | Franciso Castanos | Gregorio Garcia de la Cuesta ||