Napoleon and the death of George Washington, 1799.
Napoleon Bonaparte’s biggest hero was actually the American Revolutionary leader and first president George Washington. While Washington was commander of the Continental Army during the American Revolution Napoleon was a military academy student at Brienne, and would have certainly grown up hearing about the exploits of Gen. Washington. Furthermore Washington was seen as the a father of republican institutions and would be a source of inspiration for the French Revolution.
When he died on December 14th, 1799 Napoleon personally gave a public eulogy for Washington and ordered ten days of national mourning in France.
Napoleon’s Elite Badasses —- The Grenadier Sapeurs of the Imperial Guard,
Created in 1810 by French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, the Grenadier Sapeurs of the Imperial Guard were an elite unit of engineers and perhaps the toughest soldiers of the Grande Armee, and perhaps the toughest soldiers in all the world at that time. As sappers, an old term for combat engineers, it would have been their duty to clear roads, build fortifications, construct bridges, and other tasks that require either the building or destruction of military structures. However, while they were engineers, Napoleon formed the unit for another purpose entirely.
As Elite Sapeurs of the Imperial Guard, they were chosen to be the best and toughest combat soldiers in the army. They were chosen from the Old Guard, an elite group of soldiers who served with Napoleon since the beginning of his command, thus they were hardened veterans who had participated in countless battles. They were also required to meet larger than normal minimum height and weight requirements, thus the men of the Sapeur de la Garde were very large and burly men. Other than their size their most noticeable feature was their unique uniform, equipment, and weapons. While wearing a huge bearskin hat the Sapeurs also grew large beards, giving them an image of rough, rugged brutes. This was intentional, a type of Napoleonic psychological warfare created to scare the crap out of the enemy. I mean, would you want to mess with this guy! (pictured above) Standard armaments usually included a musketoon, blunderbuss, or carbine, pistols for officers and NCO’s, and swords. However the Sapeur’s most handy weapon was his large axe, used for chopping down trees, obstacles, fortifications, and men.
Napoleon had a specific purpose for the men of the Grenadier Sapeurs. Numbering around 400 soldiers they never served in one single unit but instead served in platoons attached to other Imperial Guard units (the Imperial Guard were Napoleons elite units). Officially their main task was to guard the Imperial Eagle standards of the Imperial Guard, the capture of which would bring incredible shame and embarrassment for the unit and empire. However, they were also used as Napoleonic Era tanks. When besieging a fortress the Grenadiers Sapeurs were often called to the front. Using their trusty axes they would smash down a door, gate, or any other obstacle, then smash down any defenders found waiting on the other side. Imagine being a defender, on the other side of a large wooden gate, hearing and seeing the Sapeurs slowing bashing down the door in front of you. Then when the gate is broken, twenty huge monstrous badasses emerge from the breech, bashing in skulls and loping off limps with large axes. Often undisciplined soldiers turned and ran rather than face the wrath of the Sapeurs.
After Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815 the Grenadier Sapeurs continued to live on. When Napoleon’s nephew, Louis Bonaparte (Napoleon III), became Emperor of France in 1852 he revived the traditions of the Imperial Guard and with it the Sapeurs. (The photo above is a Sapeur from the Crimean War, 1853-56) While the use of Sapeurs died out and was replaced with modern sappers and combat engineers, the traditions of the Sapeurs continues. Today combat engineers of the Foreign Legion often wear beards and carry axes during parades and ceremonial events.
It depends. Each side had advantages over each other and disadvantages. You need to be much, much, more specific.
.22 Caliber French Percussion Boxlock pistols. Early to mid 19th century.
Universal Firearms Vulcan Pump Action M1 Carbine,
Universal Firearms Corporation was a company in the 1960’s that produced M1 Carbine copies. Between 1963 and 1967 they produced a rare and unusual model called the M1 Vulcan. The Vulcan was an M1 copy created especially for hunters and sportsmen. Like the M1 carbine before it, it was fed from a detachable magazine. However, its caliber was changed from .30 carbine to either .44 magnum or .44 special, giving the rifle an extra boost for medium and large game hunting. The most astonishing feature of the Vulcan was that it was a pump action rifle, unlike the semi automatic operation of the original M1 Carbine. Around 2,300-2,500 were produced.
"Every Regiment here has a company of light infantry, young active fellows; & they are trained in the regular manner, & likewise in a peculiar discipline of irregular & bush fighting; they run out in parties on the wings of the Regiment where they keep up a constant & irregular fire; they secure the retreat; & they defend their front while they are forming; in one part of their exercise they ly (sic) on their backs & charge their pieces & fire lying on their bellies." - Dr. Robert Honeyman, a Virginia in Boston March 22nd, 1775, observing the practices of Light Infantry troops almost a month before the start of the war in Lexington and Concord.
Excellent post. The myth of the automaton, robotic British soldier needs to die in a most horrible and painful way.
Even when the British army wasn’t practicing skirmishing formations they never marched as stiffly as popular culture portrays. For one thing the terrain in North America simply wouldn’t allow that kind of infantry line tactic. In a great number of battles the terrain was so bad that companies often acted independent of each other because they simply couldn’t communicate with each other. This was true at Freeman’s Farm during the Saratoga campaign and especially true at Brandywine. Even where the terrain allowed for communication, it was still varied and broken enough to make marching in lines nearly impossible (as at the Battle of Bunker Hill).
In other cases the natural inclination of the men to rush forward meant that the line formation was quickly lost, and in still other cases the men received training to match the terrain.
For those interested in learning how the British Army acted in North America I can’t recommend Matthew H. Spring’s With Zeal and Bayonet Only: The British Army on Campaign in North America, 1775-1783 too highly. Spring uses a great many first hand sources to show how British doctrine in North America diverged from the doctrine as taught in Europe and from the manuals, and how the British Army adapted to local conditions.
An ivory handled and engraved double barrel percussion dagger pistol by Dumontier of France, mid 19th century.
The only known surviving Roman scutum shield - known from testudo(tortoise) formation.
mid-3rd century AD, Dura-Europos
The evolution of the warrior.
From top to bottom:
Greek warrior - 600 BC.
Roman Centurion - 100 BC.
Persian warrior - 6th century.
Viking warriors - 10th century.
Samurai warrior - 16th century.
Continental Army soldiers - 1775 / The American Revolutionary War.
German Wehrmacht soldier - 1940 / Second world war.
U.S Army soldier - Korean war / Vietnam war.
U.S Army soldier - Afghanistan war / 2014.
Polish special forces / GROM - 2014.
Just a plain Jane military surplus Mosin. I modified it in no way. I just use iron sights. I live in a land covered in very dense forests, so I really have no need for a scope, so I just hunt with the sights it comes with.