10 Major Battles of The Napoleonic Wars

The Napoleonic War lasted for about 12 years. This period(May 18, 1803 – November 20, 1815) included relentless wars and major conflicts between France and the European nations.

The Strategic Genius: Napoleon Bonaparte led these wars and conflicts.

Napoleon Bonaparte, one of the most talented French military leader, lavishly crowned himself as the emperor in 1804 after he had overtaken political power in France.

He, with his strategic geniuses, was able to defeat various battles and was able to conquer most parts of Europe.

Here are the 10 major battles of the Napoleonic Wars.

10. Battle of Nile 

Napoleonic Wars : Battle of Nile
Fought:August 1, 1798
Between:The French Republic and The British Navy
Casualties:Around 1000 troops wounded or killed ( British Navy )

Battle of Nile, also known as Battle of Aboukir Bay, as it was fought in Abu Qir Bay. This battle was fought on August 1, 1798, between the French Republic and the British Navy. 

The battle of Nile was fought to take over the trade routes of Britain and also its dominance over India.  

French Admiral Brueys ordered the armies to form a line with ships and thought the line was perfectly formed. 

He was unknown about the gaps led by some ships from where the 14 British ships entered, which was led by British Admiral Nelson, and started attacking. 

A French fleet, under Admiral Brueys command, was defeated by the British fleet under Admiral Nelson. 

9. Battle of Pyramids

Battle of Pyramids
Fought:July 21, 1798
Between:Austrian forces and French forces
Casualties:French - 300 men, Egyptian - more than a thousand

Battle of Pyramids, also known as the Battle of Embabeh, was a battle between local Mamluk forces and the French army in Egypt. It was led by Napoleon Bonaparte and fought on July 21, 1798. 

After taking over the Alexandria, Napoleon marched towards the capital of Egypt, Cairo. He was following the route of the Nile river. 

Egypt was officially part of the Ottoman Empire, which was ruled by the Mamluks.

The two Mamluk rules Murad Bey and Ibrahmin Bey decided to block Napoleon’s way to Cairo at Embabeh. 

This battle took place at Embabeh, near the great pyramids of Giza with a total of 30,000 men on Napoleon Bonaparte’s side and about 40,000 men on the Ottoman Empire’s.

The defenders of the Mamluk forces were defeated by the French Army and was able to conquer Egypt.

8. Battle of Marengo

Battle of Marengo
Fought:June 14, 1800
Between:Austrian forces and French forces

The battle of Marengo was fought on June 14, 1800. It was fought between Austrian forces and French forces, in Italy.

This battle was the major French victory which led Napoleon Bonaparte to gain power as the First consul and expel the Austrians from most parts of Italy.

Melas, one of the two Austrian armies, had more than 23,000 infantrymen, 8000 cavaliers, and 100 cannons whereas Napoleon had only 23,000 infantrymen and 20 cannons.

More than half of the armies of Napoleon were blocking the passage elsewhere, who were asked to attack in turn, unlike the Austrian army.

By the end of the Battle of Marengo, the Austrian army remained leaderless, as a result of the genius strategic plan of Napoleon Bonaparte. 

The French took Italy back and defeated the Austrians, where Austrians had to sue for peace.

7. Battle of Trafalgar 

Battle of Trafalgar
Fought:October 21, 1805
Between:British Royal Navy and Naval Force of France-Spain
Casualties:British - 57 dead and 102 wounded

The Battle of Trafalgar took place on October 21, 1805, in the west of Cape Trafalgar, Spain. This battle was between the British Royal Navy and the combined Naval Force of France and Spain.

Franco-Spanish troops were led by Admiral Pierre de Villeneuve and the British troops were led by Admiral Horatio Nelson. Former Navy consisted of 33 ships and the latter consisted of 32 ships.

Battle of Trafalgar resulted in the destruction of 19 Franco-Spanish vessels and the surrender of 14,000 men to the British Navy. Whereas British Troops had their 1,500 men killed but no ships were destroyed.

Despite the death of Admiral Horatio Nelson, British Navy defeated the Franco-Spanish Navy and stopped them from invading.

6. Battle of Lubeck

Napoleon war - Battle of Lubeck
Fought:November 6, 1806
Between:The Kingdom of Prussia and The First French Empire

Battle of Lubeck took place on November 16, 1806, in Lubeck, Germany. This battle was between soldiers of the Kingdom of Prussia and Troops of the First French Empire.

The Prussian army withdrew towards the east bank of the Elbe river, after defeating Napoleon during the battle of Jena.

The Prussian army then tried overtaking towards the north part of the Oder river but was blocked by Napoleon’s army. Their army was forced to go towards the West.

While at the west, they decided to battle the French Armies in Lubeck, which resulted in a massive loss for the Prussian. The French troops looted and murdered many Prussian civilians.

Battle of Lubeck was one of the decisive victories for the French Army of the Napoleonic wars.

5. Battle of Rolica 

Battle of Rolica
Fought:August 17, 1808
Between:The French and British Armies
Casualties:French- about 600 men killed/wounded British - 487 including 2 Lieutenant Colonels killed

Battle of Rolica, fought on August 17, 1808, was the first battle between the French and British Armies during the Peninsular War. This war was fought in a small town of Rolica, Portugal.

Though Spain was allied with France and there were about 100,000 French armies in Spain. Napoleon Bonaparte had lost his confidence in Spanish rulers as the government there were proved to be incompetent and inefficient.

The throne was then handed over to Napoleon’s brother, Joseph Bonaparte. French-rule was harsh for the people of Spain and Portugal, forcing them to pay for their own occupation. This resulted in the removal of the French from the city.

On August 1st, 1808, British Army nearly 20,000 men, commanded by General Sir Arthur Wellesly, began to disembark at Mondego Bay. 

French Army, under General Henri Delaborde, assembled a force and sent to delay the British Army. 

After few months of occupying Portugal, Napoleon undertook the conquest and control of Spain. 

4. Battle of Borodino

Battle of Borodino
Fought:September 7, 1812
Between:French Army and Russian Army
Casualties:70,000 total casualties out of 250,000 troops

Battle of Borodino was fought on September 7, 1812, between a French Army and a Russian Army. French Army was under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Russian under Mikhail Kutuzov.

In 1812, Napoleon declared war on Russia, but their armies were blocked by the Russian army in Moscow. Mikhail Kutusoz had prepared two armies, Barclay and Bagration, to block Napoleon’s armies from both sides.

Napoleon had a total of 1,30,000 men from France, Germany, Poland, and Italy with 582 cannons. They decided to attack the centre by attracting the Russian forces away from the centre. So, the French Army attack at Borodino.

Attacking from all sides, the French army was able to defeat the Russian army at Borodino. It was the bloodiest and largest single-day battle amongst all Napoleonic Wars.

3. Battle of Leipzig

Battle of Leipzig
Fought:October 16 - 19,1813
Between:French troops and Coalition Armies of Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden
Casualties:More than 12,000 men killed

Battle of Leipzig started from October 16 to October 19 of the year 1813. This battle is also known as the Battle of the Nations.

It was a battle between the French troops and the coalition armies of four countries- Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sweden.

This battle is known to be the largest battle fought in Europe before the First World War. A total of about 370,000 troops from the four countries were battling against the 198,000 troops of Napoleon’s army.  

At the end of this battle, Napoleon lost his power over the territories in the east and also faced a massive loss of his soldiers ( more than 60,000 dead, wounded and imprisoned).

As Napoleon’s first defeat, he was compelled to go back to France and from there to Elba.

2. Battle of San Germano 

Fought:May 15-17, 1815
Between:Austrian Force and King of Naples

Battle of San Germano also known as the Battle of Mignano, took place from May 15 to May 17, 1815. 

It was a battle between the Austrian Force which was led by Laval Nugent Von Westmeath and the King of Naples led by Joachim Murat.

Murat fell back to San Germano, after his defeat at the Battle of Tolentino. Murat fortified his armies with the armies of the Interior. Some of the armies were kept in reserve to fight against Naples in the Battle of Tolentino.

Battle of San Germano was the final battle of the Napoleonic Wars.

See Also,

1. Battle of Waterloo

Battle of Waterloo
Fought:June 18, 1815
Between:French Army and the British and Prussian Armies
Casualties:French- 25,000 men killed/wounded and 9,000 captured Prussian - 23,000 men killed

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on June 18, 1815, between the French Army and the British-Prussian Armies. It was fought near the Waterloo of Belgium.

The French army was led by Napoleon Bonaparte and Michael Ney, the British armies were under the command of the Duke os Wellington.

Whereas the Prussian Armies were led by Marshal Von Blucher which was famously known as Blucher’s Army.

The Battle of Waterloo is believed to be Napoleon Bonaparte’s final defeat which resulted at the end of his military powers.

Though the battle had 72,000 men on the French side, it was defeated by British-Prussian who had only 68,000 men.

In 1815, Napoleon returned for the battle of Waterloo from his exile on the island of Elba ( 1814 ). With the defeat again in this battle, he renounced and died.

Conclusion:

Napoleonic Wars came to a halt after 12 years of conflicts and battles. It ended after the renouncement of Napoleon Bonaparte for the second time which took place with the Battle of Waterloo.

Napoleon Bonaparte died in the South Atlantic Ocean, on May 5, 1821, at the age of 51. He died due to stomach cancer, which he was suffering for a very long time.

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Cite this article as: Richard Marrison, "10 Major Battles of The Napoleonic Wars," in HistoryTen, October 14, 2020, https://historyten.com/french-revolution/major-battles-napoleonic-wars/.
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