Napoleon: A Military Leader Essay, Research Paper
Every man is a maker of history. We all leave something behind when we are gone. But there are those that transcend this belief. Some men not only leave a mark on those they knew through out life, but they leave a lasting impression on the entire world. One such man is Napoleon Bonaparte. He will long be revered as on of the greatest leaders of all time. He is still loved by some and despised by others almost two centuries after his death. Napoleon lived a life stories are written about. His was a life of turmoil and heartache. No one knew the sweet taste of success and the agony of defeat like the first Emperor of France.
To truly understand Napoleon, you must first look at his early life. Napoleon was born on August 15, in the year of 1769. He was born at Ajaccio, Corsica. This small island off the coast of North Africa was seceded to France shortly before his birth. It is ironic to think that France s greatest leader of all time was not born within its borders. Trying to give their son a jumpstart in life, Napoleon s parents Letizia and Carlo Bonaparte enrolled him in a FrenchMilitary school.When Napoleon became old enough his parents sent him away to the school, which was in Brienne France. Napoleon was not well accepted by the other students at the school. They felt he was a foreigner
And Napoleon became a loner devoting all of his time to his studies. After Napoleon s graduation he continued his
Military schooling by going on to attend the Cole Military Academy in Paris. Napoleon spent one year there before
He was assigned to an infantry unit as a second lieutenant. His unit did not see much action in its fist few years, but
Napoleon still managed to show his leadership qualities.
In 1789 the French Revolution began. Napoleon look forward to the revolution, and supported it. In 1793 at the
Siege of Toulon, loyalist leaders and British troops clashed in fearsome battle. Napoleon fought heroically and the
British were driven out. As Napoleon s reward he was given a promotion to general and his own infantry unit.
Unfortunately Napoleon ran into some bad luck, the leader of the French Revolution Maximilien Robespierre became
Power hungry and lost control. His own men mutinied against him and executed him. Bonaparte was also captured
And briefly imprisoned because he was a member of Robspierre s faction. Napoleon was freed just two months later.
In 1795 a revolt began in Paris over a new constitution presented by the National Convention, the National
Convention was the name of the new government that had taken power in France. Napoleon received orders from
Frances military leader to defend the convention, and control the situation. Upon his arrival Napoleon realized that
The crowd had turned into an ugly mob. Napoleon was able to take control of the situation, disperse the mob and
Restore peace. Paul Barras who was in control of the French military was so impressed with Napoleon he promoted
Him to commander.
Napoleons next duty was to carry out a series of operations in Italy that would ideally divide and conquer the
Sardinian and Austrian armies in Italy. Napoleons plan was to divide the opposing force into two parts. He would
Then throw his force at one half before the other half had time to rejoin them. Using this tactic Napoleon destroyed
The Sardinian armies. Napoleon could not be stopped. The King of Sardinia started talking of peace but Napoleon
Did not listen, he continued his path of terror and completely wiped out the Sardinians. Now Napoleon was
determined to defeat the Austrians.
Napoleon first attacked a large Austrian army in Mantua. The Austrian s sent four separate brigades of
Reinforcements to help hold off Napoleons army but it wasn t enough. Napoleon s army still defeated the Austrians
At Mantua. Napoleon continued to forge his way through the country. In 1797 when he came with in eighty miles of
Vienna, the Austrians knew they were defeated and surrendered. After the surrender Napoleon negotiated the treaty
With the Austrians, which obviously greatly favored France. Napoleon in total had won 14 pitched battles and 70
Combats. Also whenever Napoleon took over a rich lands he used those lands to feed and pay his army, and then the
Rest would be sent back to France. This greatly helped their poor economy.
When Napoleon returned to France he received a heroes welcome. Napoleon was overwhelmed with the support he
Got from the people. He knew that this would be the perfect time to pursue an office in politics. Napoleon had
Dreams of being the next Alexander the great. He asked the government if he could take a large army to Egypt.
Napoleon thought that if he conquered Egypt he could attack the English by surprise and cut off their trading routes.
Napoleon brought 35,000 troops with him to Egypt. He won his battles and occupied Egypt. Unfortunately for
Napoleon the British had already learned of his plans to take them by surprise and attack them from the south. As
Napoleon was starting to regroup his men for the sneak attack; he was surprised by an attack from the British army.
Napoleon s army was devastated. Napoleon took his remaining troops and regrouped, but he knew he was not strong
Enough to concur the British. Instead Napoleon invaded Syria, one of England s all!
Is, but Syria with help from English and Turkish troops were able to hold off Napoleon. Napoleon vowed he would
Not return to France until he won another battle. In 1799 he engaged his men in a battle with Turkish troops at
Booker. Napoleon won defeating 10,000 Turkish troops. Napoleon then returned to France.
When he returned he realized the government had fallen to pieces. Napoleon saw this as the perfect opportunity to
Take control. Napoleon overthrew the government and set up a new government called the Consulate. Napoleons
Power gradually increased because of Frances great love for him. He eventually became Napoleon the Emperor.
Napoleon had managed to gain complete control of both Frances government and military, but his was not enough
For him. Napoleon wanted a bigger empire. All of Europe was tired of fighting so several peace treaties were signed
And for a period of about 14 months there was peace in Europe. Napoleon took advantage of this peace and started
Making drastic changes. He became president of the Italian Republic, He claimed parts of Switzerland for France, he
Reestablished Frances University, and reshaped the entire curriculum, he founded the Bank of France and Legion of
Honor. Also he developed the Napoleonic Code. Which is still used in some governments today.
The peace did not last. In 1803 France and England began to fight again. This time France was not only fighting
England, England had allied with Russia, Austria, and Sweden. During this same time Russia had started to become
Rebellious against Napoleons supreme rule. Napoleon wanted to make an example out of Russia. Unfortunately he
Was in no position to begin an attack on Russia while he was defending an attack from England, but Napoleon did
Not care. He took 500,000 soldiers and chased the Russians all throughout their country. When Napoleon finally
Caught up to the Russian army in Moscow his army had been reduced to 20,000 freezing, starving desperate men.
Napoleon was defeated.
After this defeat in Moscow Napoleons Empire began to crumble. England, Russia, Prussia, and Austria allied
Together once again to fight France. Napoleons armies did not have too many victories in these series of battles and
Eventually England and its allies took Paris and Napoleon forfeited the throne. Napoleon was exiled from France. He
Traveled to Elba, a small island and started his new empire. About ten months later Napoleon stunned everybody
When he marched into Paris with thousands of soldiers and supporters, and regained control. Once Napoleon
Regained Paris he tried to make peace with his enemies, but they would not have it. Napoleon decided since his
Enemies would not ally with him; he would strike them before they could strike him. Napoleon decided to strike in
Belgium first. He was defeated in the battle of Waterloo. Back in Paris Napoleon was losing popularity. Eventually
Napoleon surrendered on the British battleship Bellerophon.
Napoleon Bonaparte is one of histories greatest political and military leaders. Napoleons only flaw was that he never
Knew when to stop. He wanted it all, and he almost got it.