Life Of A Napoleonic Soldier Essay, Research Paper
“The Diary of a napoleonic foot soldier” is a autobiography/biography piece of
literature of a soldier who went to war during Napoleon’s rule. Jakob Walter is
or was the author of this book, and Walter explains to us what he did during
several war campaigns.
Even though Walter was only nineteen, he was enlisted to the army by
conscription and assigned to the regiment of Romig, later to be called the
Franquemont Regiment. His first major mission was to escort several convoys of
captured Prussians, from Glogau to Dresden during the month of March,1806.
His voyage to Dresden was simple but the way back to Glogau, they were
surrounded by Prussians at the city of Bunzlau. So they stayed in Bunzlau and
caught any spies that somehow got in. One spy that was caught was whipped one
hundred and fifty times on his back, until he was half dead, and then shot,
because he was about to send letters to the Prussians about the city’s manpower.
After the siege there was over Walter headed back to Glagau. Other missions
assigned to him were the safe escort of the money wagons from Glagau to the
Vistula River, the attack on the fortress Stettin, and the siege at Glatz.
Walter had a brother in the was with him who was stationed in the
Lilienburg Regiment. Whenever they fought and whenever they were in the
same city, they would look for each other because they had a strong brotherly
In 1809, Walter was called back to war when war with Austria broke out.
He writes about the march from village to village, and would stay at other
people’s houses where there was plenty of wine to drink. In October he came to a
village where he was quartered at a place housing a nun. Upon seeing Walter
read a lot, the Nun started asking questions and Walter lied telling her he was a
monk. He left that place leaving the hosts liking him and then two years go by (
maybe a part of the diary was missing!)
The next part of the diary was long, so I will only point out some of the major
and interesting events of 1812 and 1813.In January, 1812, Walter was recalled to
war. His regiment marched for months traveling through Poland and into Russia.
Food was scarce and hunger took over all the soldiers, so they pillaged villages.
As time went by, more villages were already pillaged or even burnt down before
the soldiers got there. They marched through several cities and at last came to
St.Petersburg, where other troops were waiting so they could all attack the city
on August 17,1812. After they took over the city, they burnt down and pillaged
the city. Walter and his regiment went onto other cities but found all burnt down.
He did find useful and life-saving things such as fur and grain with a hand
grinder. The battles in Russia and Poland were bloody, and deadly. To all the
cities and grounds they fought for or on, hundreds of thousands died. People
fought amongst each other for food and horses, such as Walter, whose horse was
stolen at least two times. Everyone believed that their “time was up” and it was
their last hour. Winter didn’t help either, it made staying warm difficult and
freezing to death pretty simple. An interesting event that came upon Walter was
when he and some soldiers were attacked by Cossacks, and Walter pretends to
act dead after someone lances him to the ground. He then waits until they all
leave, ( he knew he was outnumbered ) and then gets up and walks away. He is
separated from the group and travels to meet up again with them. As he gets to
someone from the army, he is robbed and he catches a fever, both of which he
survives through. On February,24, 1813, he finally makes it home to see his
family, including his brother, all well. Walter, though falls sick and so is taken to
a hospital. He is feeling better weeks later when he isn’t sick anymore and he has
been discharged from the army.
I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!! At first the introduction was not as appealing as it
could of been, but the diary Jakob Walter wrote was amazing. The details were
vivid, picturable and interesting. Enough so that I read the diary in one reading.
Walter explains how life as a napoleonic soldier was, and the hardships they had.
Walter shows how hungry he was and how any food is good food. I could never
eat hog’s face raw or coagulated horse blood, but that’s just me, and walking for
thousands of miles in extreme hot and severe cold temperatures. This book is
superb and I’ll probably buy this book and add it to the shelf