Popular Resistance in the French Wars: Patriots, Partisans by Charles Esdaile

By Charles Esdaile

Within the Napoleonic interval war ceased to be a question for armies by myself, but in addition turned an affair of the folk. So, at the least, runs the standard declare. In Spain, Portugal, Italy, Germany and Russia outraged peasants and townsfolk rose opposed to the French armies and fell upon them with no mercy. From those insurrections we get the trendy note 'guerrilla', yet did armed civilians rather play a big a task within the fight? during this selection of essays a gaggle of experts at the Napoleonic epoch tease out the query, and arrive at a few startling conclusions.

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To quote a letter written by an officer of the Third Foot Guards named William Stothert in December 1811: At present the only troops in Spain which carry on a successful warfare against the French are the guerrillas, or armed peasants, and it may fairly be presumed that they are incited to attack the enemy’s convoys and straggling parties as much by the hope of plunder as from patriotism. This cannot be supposed to influence the minds of their gallant chiefs [a belief in which Stothert was sadly mistaken], but the peasant, when compelled by the ravages of war to abandon the scenes of peaceful industry, becomes of necessity a soldier .

186. 2. M. de Rocca, Memoirs of the War of the French in Spain (London, 1815), pp. 24–5. 3. , p. 25. Charles J. Esdaile 23 4. I owe this information to my esteemed friend Lieutenant Colonel José Pardo de Santayana of the Spanish army. 5. H. Fisher, Napoleonic Statesmanship: Germany (Oxford, 1903), pp. 370–2. For a very helpful, discussion of the economic impact of French rule on the Rhineland, cf. M. Rowe, From Reich to State: the Rhineland in the Revolutionary Age, 1780–1830 (Cambridge, 2003), pp.

M. Finley, The Most Monstruous of Wars: the Napoleonic Guerrilla War in Southern Italy, 1806–1811 (Columbia, South Carolina, 1994), p. 26. 13. R. de Damas, Memoirs of the Comte Roger de Damas, 1787–1806, ed. J. Rambaud (London 1913), pp. 398–9. 14. , p. 279. 15. , pp. 400–1. 16. H. Bunbury, Narratives of some Passages in the Great War with France from 1799 to 1810 (London, 1854), p. 222. 17. For a digest of these views, cf. J. Esdaile, The Wars of Napoleon (London, 1995), pp. 119–20. 18. Eyck, Loyal Rebels, pp.

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