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Peninsular War
  1. Isolating Marmont
  2. Invasion of Russia
  3. Invasion of Portugal (1807)

Furthermore, the Peninsular War actually inflicted some defeats on the French Army, proving that they could be beaten, raising hopes among potential resistance movements in Germany and in Austria. In September , Napoleon held a meeting of all of his puppet kingdoms at Erfurt, Saxony. His main goal was to try and impress Alexander I, also at Erfurt, with the power and grandeur of the Napoleonic Empire.

Napoleon was in the process of creating a Grand Duchy of Warsaw, which he knew would upset Alexander. No one joined them: the German princes were still fighting each other to impress Napoleon, and were not about to fight him. Fighting alone, renegade Austria was defeated at the Battle of Wagram. In October of that year, the Austrians made peace with the French again.

Napoleon took some of northern Austria and added it to his new project, the creation of a Grand Duchy of Warsaw. Napoleonic Europe How to Cite This SparkNote. Against a lesser commander, this might have saved the French army, but Wellington was equal to the task, bringing up reinforcements commanded by Major-General Henry Clinton to shore up his middle. Five of the eight French divisions had been devastated.

The French defeat would have been even more disastrous had the Spanish garrison not abandoned the river crossing at Alba de Tormes. Salamanca proved that Wellington had the ability to manoeuvre and attack in the open field. His reputation for being mainly a defensive general was destroyed.

Isolating Marmont

The outstanding victory gave the British and their allies a psychological superiority over the French that would last throughout the remainder of the war. Following the victory at Salamanca, Wellington was able to liberate Madrid. The victory persuaded the British government that the war was worth pursuing, and the subsequent Battle of Vitoria in June showed the Russians, Prussians and Austrians that Napoleon could be defeated.

When Wellington entered France in October , Napoleon was soon forced to abdicate. Salamanca had been one of the key turning points.

Invasion of Russia

Napoleonic Wars Europe s Great Battles. It was the decisive battle of its age. Major-General Sir William Inglis had a long and successful career.

But it was his actions in the Peninsular War, when he showed enormous personal courage and leadership under fire, that earned him national fame. We sent Napoleon's horse Marengo to the Natural History Museum to prepare him for display in the new galleries. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

Invasion of Portugal (1807)

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View this object. The front of the army received whatever could be provided while the formations behind starved. In fact, starvation, desertion, typhus, and suicide would cost the French Army more men than all the battles of the Russian invasion combined. Through a series of long marches, Napoleon pushed the army rapidly through Western Russia in an attempt to bring the Russian army to battle, winning a number of minor engagements and a major battle at Smolensk in August As the Russian army fell back, Cossacks were given the task of burning villages, towns, and crops.

This was intended to deny the invaders the option of living off the land.

Feature History - Peninsular War

These scorched-earth tactics surprised and disturbed the French as the strategy also destroyed Russian territory. The Russian army retreated into Russia for almost three months.


The continual retreat and loss of lands to the French upset the Russian nobility. Alexander I complied, appointing an old veteran, Prince Mikhail Kutuzov, to take over command. In September, the French caught up with the Russian army, which had dug itself in on hillsides before a small town called Borodino 70 miles west of Moscow. The battle that followed was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars, involving more than , soldiers and resulting in 70, casualties.

The French gained a tactical victory, but at the cost of 49 general officers and thousands of men. Napoleon entered Moscow a week later. In another turn of events the French found puzzling, there was no delegation to meet the Emperor. After staying a month in Moscow, Napoleon moved his army out southwest toward Kaluga, where Kutuzov was encamped with the Russian army.

Michail Illarionovich Kutuzov — , commander-in-chief of the Russian army on the far left, with his generals at the talks deciding to surrender Moscow to Napoleon. The room is the home of peasant A. Painting by Aleksey Danilovich Kivshenko. Kutuzov contributed much to the military history of Russia and is considered one of the best Russian generals.