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The Napoleonic War (1803-1815).

Modern History. (a.d. 1492-1898). From the Outbreak of the French Revolution to the Congress of Vienna. (1789-1815).
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The renewal of the struggle was mainly due to Napoleon's aggressive action in northern Italy, Switzerland, and Holland; to the retention, by Great Britain, of the island of Malta, taken by our forces in 1800, in conjunction with the people, who had risen against their French masters; to the French ruler's monstrous demand for the suppression of every publication in the British Isles which criticised his proceedings, and for the expulsion of all French refugees; and to his grossly insulting conduct, in presence of the diplomatic body at the Tuileries, towards the British ambassador, Lord, Whitworth. As regards Italy, in 1802, Napoleon seized Elba, annexed Piedmont and the duchy of Parma, and made himself head of the "Italian" (formerly "Cisalpine") Republic. He retained military possession of Holland, and made an armed "mediation" in Swiss affairs. Malta, according to the Amiens treaty, should have been restored to the Knights of St. John, but the British government declined to do this, because, in Napoleon's hostile attitude, they deemed the possession of the island needful for British interests in the Mediterranean, and the Maltese people expressed their preference for our rule over that of the Knights. On the fresh outbreak of war in May, 1803, the law of nations was violated jn the seizure, and detention for n years, of British residents and travellers, to the number of about 10,000, in France and Holland. Hanover was occupied by French troops, and almost ruined by exactions. A vast force was gathered at Boulogne for the invasion of England, and our shores were thus threatened with a descent until the summer of 1805. National enthusiasm was strongly aroused in both countries, and the danger to England was very great. In May, 1804, Napoleon, after driving his rival' Moreau to exile in America on a charge of conspiracy, and the deliberate murder, by shooting at Vincennes, of the duc d'Enghien - a Bourbon prince of the Conde" line, lawlessly seized on Baden territory - became " Emperor of the French," with hereditary succession in the male line, either in children of his own, or by adoption of children of his brothers, or by succession of his brothers Joseph and Louis Bonaparte. Pius VII. came to Paris for the coronation, but he was treated with scant respect, as the emperor crowned himself and Josephine with his own hands. A brilliant imperial court was established, with an array of grand dignitaries and a new nobility, while 14 marshals, including Davout and Lannes, Massena and Soult, Ney and Murat, Jourdan and Kellermann, were created for the chief commands in the imperial armies. In May, 1805, Napoleon was crowned "King of Italy," in the cathedral at Milan; Josephine's son, Eugene Beauharnais, became viceroy of Naples; and the "Ligurian Republic " (Genoa) was annexed to France.

In May, 1804, William Pitt came again to the head of affairs in Great Britain, and, when Spain joined France in hostilities, the British minister formed the "Third Coalition," including Russia, Austria, and Sweden. It was in the summer of 1805 that the danger of invasion of our shores reached its height. A fleet of about 600 gun-vessels and other small warships was gathered at Boulogne, with more than 500 transports, protected by countless batteries ashore. At Calais, Dunkirk, Ambleteuse, and Ostend there were above 1,300 armed and about 1,000 unarmed craft, and these, with the Boulogne flotilla, were capable of carrying 150,000 men and 9,000 horses. Six army-corps were organised, under leaders including Ney, Soult, Davout, Murat, and Lannes, and the one thing needed was to obtain for a few hours the command of the narrow part of the Channel. Constant practice had trained 100,000 men to embark on the vessels in 40 minutes, and 70 sail of the line, French and Spanish, were at Napoleon's command. Nelson, blockading Villeneuve's fleet, at Toulon, in March, 1805, was driven off by bad weather, and then the French admiral got out of harbour and sailed for the West Indies, drawing Nelson away in pursuit, but at 30 days' sail in the rear. Villeneuve then doubled back to Europe, to pick up the Spanish fleet and start for the Channel. On July 22nd Sir Robert Calder, apprised by Nelson, who sent on a swift-sailing frigate, of Villeneuve's return-voyage, attacked that admiral near Cape Finisterre, and captured two ships in an action made indecisive by foggy weather and light winds. It was this seemingly slight incident that spoiled all Napoleon's plans. There was a powerful Spanish squadron at Ferrol; there were French fleets at Rochefort and Brest: they all awaited the leadership of Villeneuve; but that irresolute and nerveless commander, in dread of Nelson, disobeyed Napoleon's positive orders to sail for Brest, unite the fleet there with his own, and then hasten to Boulogne. The road was really open, as Nelson, in ignorance of Villeneuve's position, was cruising off Cape St. Vincent, and Calder had sailed with his two prizes for Plymouth. Villeneuve, however, went off to Cadiz, and reached that port on the very day that Napoleon expected him to be at Brest. The signal-posts (semaphores) were all ready, and staff-officers were placed along the coast for many leagues from Boulogne to the west; but Napoleon looked in vain for his admiral, blockaded now in Cadiz by Collingwood. Thus was Britain saved. The arrival of Nelson in the Channel made the enterprise hopeless, and Napoleon turned the splendid force at Boulogne to account in his finest campaign. In September, 1805, he marched for Austria, forced General Mack to surrender at Ulm with 30,000 men, entered Vienna as a conqueror, and on December 2nd, in the magnificent battle of Austerlitz, totally defeated the combined Russian and Austrian forces, in presence of the two emperors. The coalition was broken up. Pitt, already in weak health, received his death-blow, and ended his life early in 1806. Austria at once sued for peace, which was obtained by her surrender to France of all the Venetian territory ceded to her by the Treaty of Campo Formio, with 1stria and Dalmatia; by her recognition of Napoleon as "King of Italy"; by the cession to Bavaria of Tyrol and other territory; and by the granting of all remaining western Austrian lands to Wiirtemberg and Baden. The "Holy Roman Empire" now came formally to an end, and Francis assumed the title of "Emperor of Austria." Bavaria and Wurtemberg became "kingdoms," and in July, 1806, the old empire was replaced by the "Confederation of the Rhine," with Napoleon as "Protector." Louis Bonaparte, the conqueror's third brother, was created king of Holland, and his elder brother, Joseph, king of Naples. It is needless to inform British readers that the control of the seas, for the rest of the war, had been secured for Great Britain, on October 21st, 1805, by Nelson's crowning victory of Trafalgar.

In the autumn of 1806 Prussia, now under the rule of the well-meaning but weak Frederick William III. (1797-1840), grand-nephew of Frederick the Great, in indignation at Napoleon's dealings with Germany, declared war against Napoleon, in alliance with Russia and Saxony. The struggle, as regarded Prussia, was very short and quite decisive. The Prussian military system was now cumbrous and antiquated, and the commanders were ill-fitted to cope with their adversaries. The great defeats of Jena and Auerstadt, on October 14th, laid the monarchy in the dust.. Berlin was occupied; all the fortresses were soon passively surrendered or taken. The lasting hatred of the people was earned by the victor's unmanly treatment of their beautiful, graceful, gentle, benevolent, and patriotic queen Louisa, whose energy and resolution of character were displayed in the darkest hour of her country's fortunes. The museums and picture-galleries were robbed of their choicest treasures. Napoleon then received the submission of Saxony, the elector entering the Rhine Confederacy as "king," and marched eastwards to meet the Russians. On February 7th and 8th, 1807, the indecisive battle of Eylau was fought, with fearful bloodshed, amidst ice and snow, about 23 miles south of Konigsberg. In this great contest a Prussian corps repulsed the French right wing under Davout, but the allies, on the second night, left the field to the foe and retired on Konigsberg. In May, Danzig was taken after a brave defence, and in June the war ended with Napoleon's great victory over Alexander I. of Russia at Friedland, about 26 miles southeast of Konigsberg. The Peace of Tilsit, concluded in July, created a new "duchy of Warsaw" out of Prussian territory; recognised Napoleon's new kingdoms in Italy, Holland, and Germany, and his Rhine Confederacy; made a secret alliance of Russia with France against Great Britain, if the latter power continued the war; ceded to Napoleon all Prussian territory between the Rhine and the Elbe; closed all Russian and Prussian ports to British ships and British trade during war between Great Britain and France; and, most humiliating of all for Prussia, restricted the number of her standing army to 42,000 men, and exacted a war-indemnity of 140,000,000 francs (over 5,500,000 pounds sterling), with occupation of the fortresses and remaining territory by 150,000 troops, at the charges of Prussia, until all arrears were paid. Prussia was thus deprived of 43,000 square miles of territory, or nearly half the whole, and of 5,000,000 inhabitants. Some of the territory ceded between the Elbe and the Rhine, together with Brunswick, Hesse-Cassel, and a part of Hanover, became the new kingdom of Westphalia, under Napoleon s youngest brother, Jerome Bonaparte.

It was at this time that the French conqueror started his famous "Continental System," intended to ruin the British commerce. In the "Berlin Decree" of November, 1806, he declared the British Isles to be in a state of blockade, and forbade all intercourse and correspondence with them. No trade in English goods was permitted, and no ship coming direct from Britain or a British colony could enter any port. This challenge was soon taken up by the British government. In January, 1807, an "Order in Council" prohibited neutral vessels from entering any port belonging to France or her allies, or under French control, and every neutral vessel violating this order was made liable to confiscation with all its cargo. Another Order in Council, issued in November, 1807, placed under blockade all Continental and colonial ports of France and her allies, as well as those of every country which was at war with Great Britain and from which the British flag was excluded. Napoleon retorted with decrees issued from Milan in December, 1807, and from the Tuileries in January, 1808, treating as British, i.e. as hostile, and liable to capture and confiscation, any vessel, of any nation, that had been searched by a British ship, or had ever made a voyage to the British Isles, or had paid any duty to the British government. Most of the European countries were forced by France to join the "Continental System." The effects of this commercial internecine warfare were remarkable. The main purpose of Napoleon's decrees was frustrated by a vast smuggling-organisation which no vigilance could deal with, and the trade of Great Britain was benefited by an arrangement which, as her fleets and cruisers swept the seas, made it impossible to obtain colonial produce except through her. On the other hand, the high price of colonial sugar set the wits of Continental chemists and manufacturers to work, and thus arose the now vast production of saccharine matter from beetroot. The really important effects of this commercial contest lay in a different direction. The Continental nations suffering from Napoleon's oppressive measures, devised in his deadly hatred of Great Britain, were aroused against him. His attack on Portugal, for refusal to submit to his "Decrees," brought into the arena of land-warfare Portugal's faithful ally, Great Britain, with results disastrous, in the end, to French military power. The war with Russia in 1812 was mainly due to her refusal to adhere any longer to the "Continental System." On the other hand, the British policy, in reply to Napoleon's, with regard to neutral commerce, was chiefly responsible for our lamentable war with the United States in 1812-1815. An immediate result of the Treaty of Tilsit, the secret articles of which became known, by some means which he would never reveal, to Pitt's ablest pupil and follower, George Canning, Foreign Secretary in the Portland ministry, was the high-handed British attack on Denmark. Napoleon had conceived the idea of again contesting British supremacy in naval warfare, and, with this object, he thought of using the fleets of the northern nations, Sweden and Denmark. Canning anticipated this by the dispatch of an overwhelming force to Copenhagen in August, 1807. The surrender of the Danish fleet into British possession was refused, and only enforced after a fearful bombardment both by sea and land, in which the terrible rockets invented by and named from Sir William Congreve were for the first time used in war on a large scale. On September 8th the Danish fleet and arsenal-stores were given into our keeping, and the island of Heligoland, opposite the mouth of the Elbe, was taken from Denmark, to be used as a place of storage for British goods to be smuggled on to the Continent.

We must now deal briefly with the remaining events of Napoleon's wondrous, eventful career. The great struggle known as the Peninsular War was due to his wanton attack on Portugal for her refusal to join the "Continental System," and to his invasion of Spain, followed by the enticing of King Charles IV. and his son Ferdinand to Bayonne, where they were compelled to renounce the throne. There can be little doubt that Napoleon's desire to possess himself of the Peninsula was due to a plan for employing the territory as a new base of operations against British maritime, naval, and colonial power. In Portugal the mental incapacity of Queen Maria had caused, in 1799, the regency of her eldest son John. When the French marshal Junot entered the country, the royal family took ship for Brazil in November, 1807, making the capital, Rio de Janeiro, the seat of government, and leaving affairs at home in the hands of a Junta, or administrative body. Napoleon, in his arrogant way then declared that "the House of Braganza had ceased to reign" There was, however, a certain "general of sepoys," named Sit Arthur Wellesley, in reserve to deal with that question. In Spain the people rushed to arms when Napoleon's brother Joseph entered Madrid as the new king, his throne at Naples being given to the brilliant cavalry-commander, Marshal Murat. In the field the ill-trained, ill-provided, ill-commanded Spanish armies could do little against the French, but the people distinguished themselves by two heroic defences of Saragossa, and the peasantry, with irregular troops, did much harm to the enemy in relentless and skilled guerilla-warfare. The details of the struggle are well known from British history, and we here give only a rapid summary.

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