Marshal Lannes was titular colonel of the Swiss troops in the French service. The Swiss served Napoleon well, in they distinguished themselves in Russia. The only setbacks they suffered were at Maida and at Baylen where after some fighting they surrendered to the Spanish troops. The French provisional and reserve troops and the Guard Marines did surrender too. Below is a list of Swiss regiments and their war record during Empire The Polish 'Vistula Legion'.
Picture by Herbert Knotel, Germany. Right: private of Vistula Legion in Spain. The most numerous and particularly dedicated to Napoleon were the Poles. Among the best Polish regiments were the four regiments of Vistula Legion. In the four regiments were attached to Napoleon's Guard but during the retreat from Russia they fought often and very hard.
In their debris were consolidated into one regiment. This gallant unit fought ferociously at Leipzig and at Arcis-sur-Aube When the wars ended there were only few men left in the ranks. In February these remnants became part of the French army and were sent to Silesia. These Polish veterans became the core of a new Polish Legion Napoleon's decree of stated this Legion should consist of three infantry regiments and one cavalry regiment.
In June, the formation took part in the siege of Klodzko. From Silesia the Legion moved to service in Westphalia in October On 21 February , Napoleon ordered the Legion to Poitiers in France, where it was formally inducted into the French army. The depot for the Legion appears to have been Sedan. It should also be noted that French nationals were not permitted to serve in the Legion, except as the company clerks fourriers , battalion adjutant non-commissioned officers, and as paymasters.
The Poles, apparently, had little concern for administrative duties and, driven to desperation, Napoleon relented on these administrative positions. After the battle of Wagram , Napoleon found that he was once again in possession of a large number of ethnic Poles amongst his Austrian prisoners of war.
The Decree of 8 July, , directed that these men were to form a 2nd Vistula Legion. It was incorporated into the 1st Vistula Legion as a 4th Regiment. In fact, the Vistula Legion seemed particularly destined to participate in sieges, and it fought in all of the major sieges in eastern Spain during the early years of the Peninsular War. In preparation for the invasion of Russia the Vistula Legion was withdrawn from Spain in early The third battalions were formed, but on 31 May, after reviewing them in Posen, Napoleon directed that they not form elite companies, feeling their soldiers were too young.
However, they would follow the main army as far as Smolensk and Gjatsk, joining the main body only during the retreat in the beginning of November. The 4th Regiment was still in Spain while the other regiments went to Russia. It consisted of only two battalions.
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The Legion, which participated in several small engagements and skirmishes, was virtually destroyed at the Battles of Leipzig on October, and at Hanau, where they helped sweep aside the Bavarian army blocking the retreat route to France. The Legion was reformed at Sedan in early All the Poles remaining in French service were utilized in an effort to bring it up to strength. At Soissons, on 2 March, , it fought valiantly against the blockading Russian forces.
After earning 23 Legions d 'honneur two officers and 21 soldiers at Soissons, the Legion moved to the Compiegne.
Napoleon's Italian Campaigns, 1805-1815
They fought at Rheims 2 March and Arcis-sur-Aube 20 March where Napoleon sought shelter in one of its battalions as it formed square. The Legion then went on to fight at the battle at St. When the war ended, the survivors returned to Poland. During the campaign, men under a Colonel Golaszewski appear to have been the last of the Vistula Legion to serve under Napoleon. The Croats. Please let us know who is the author of this picture.
The Croats lived in the mountains and formed good light infantry serving in the Austrian and French armies. French General Teste said: "they were always organized and always ready. Some troops even mutined. Under Napoleon served four regiments of so-called provisional regiments of Croat infantry. The 1er Regiment d'Infanterie Provisories Croate was formed in from the 1st btns. The 2e Regiment d'Infanterie Provisories Croate was raised in from the 1st btn. The 3e Regiment d'Infanterie Provisories Croate was formed in from the 1st btns.
The 3e Regiment d'Infanterie Provisories Croate was formed in from the 2nd btns. All four regiments were disbanded in Legion du Midi The legion was made of discharged Piedmontese veterans, who probably were ocassionally drunk and disorderly. It went into Spain, where it served well enough but gradually fell off in strength to a single battalion. Napoleon sent its 1st and 2nd battalion and the artillery company to West Indies, where most of them died of diseas. The few men remaining there were adopted by the 82nd Line. The 3rd battalion, which had been unable to sail because of British blockade, was redesignated the 1st, and a new 2nd battalion was enlisted a prix de argent and very slowly.
Those two battalions became the 2nd Legion du Midi. After a stint of coast defense duty it went into Spain, where it served well enough but gradually fell off in strength to a single battalion. In the Piedmontese Legion was renamed Legion du Midi. Napoleon and Victor found a massive Russo-Austrian force at Klagenfurt and split up. Napoleon went to the north side of the city, and Victor to the south. By doing this, the army was "squeezed" from both sides forcing a split retreat to the east and west.
Napoleon marched north toward Vienna following the battle, and Victor gave chase to the army that fled westward. When Napoleon heard this, he headed west to Regensburg where he reached a stalemate with the Austrians. When the war ended, the Treaty of Dresden once again forced Prussia and Russia into the continental system and forced Britain to open the English Channel, which it flatly refused to do, eventually sparking the War of the Sixth Coalition.
Prussia had to employ mass conscription methods to raise an army large enough to contend with Napoleon again, leading to outrage among the Prussian people. Napoleon became emperor of Austria, leaving three nations in Europe that were not dependent on Napoleon's France: Britain, Prussia, and Russia. After the defeat of the fifth coalition, Napoleon's powers had been very much consolidated in Europe. Prussia's armies were destroyed for the time being, he was the Emperor of Austria, and Russia was still feeling the pain from Napoleon's victories in Austria.
Britain, on the other hand, had recovered from their defeat and were actively helping the other powers to rearm and prepare themselves for another war with Napoleon in hopes of pushing French power out of eastern Europe. With the situation as it was, Napoleon could easily end Prussia's existence as a sovereign state with a few swift blows, but he was content to allow the continental system to take its course.
Sweden and Britain had other plans, however, and assembled a sixth coalition in defiance of the terms of the Treaty of Dresden in , and Napoleon and his most trusted general, Claude Victor, prepared to end the wars once and for all. Napoleon and Claude gathered the rested Grande Armee and a smaller force of around ,, and departed to meet the Russo-Prussian advance in central Europe once again.
They met the army at Gottingen and won a shaky victory, as not nearly enough damage was done to the enemy. The retreating army was again defeated at Magdeburg along the border of Prussia, and Victor chased the enemy to Potsdam while Napoleon went to Austria to assemble an army of his new subjects. Around 50, were presented to him, and he set off to the north to destroy the Prussians once and for all.
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Victor, unfortunately, was devastated at Potsdam, and was forced to begin retreating on August Napoleon reached Potsdam days later and shattered the already weary enemy armies, who retreated for the last time to Berlin. The Battle of Berlin began with Napoleon pushing the enemy against the Spree River, but he was soon surrounded after a few tactical errors, and felt that his surrender was inevitable. Around nightfall, Victor and what remained of his forces arrived in Berlin, tipping the scale in favor of the French, and Napoleon was able to salvage the situation and once again press the Prussians against the Spree, dealing irreparable damage to the military infrastructure of the nation for the third time in ten years.
After the Prussians under the Duke of Brunswick surrendered, Napoleon visited the tomb of Frederick the Great, and marched through Berlin with the Grande Armee, crowning himself King of the Prussians, a move that drew great controversy. Napoleon's next move was a total and absolute disaster. Even though all but two continental European nations were under his total authority, he wanted to defeat the Russian menace, and departed with Victor into Russia on January 1, They gave chase to the Russians and won battles at Kovno, Mittau, and Riga by March, greatly reducing the Russian force, but the extremely decisive Battle of Pskoff sent the Grande Armee reeling, captured a large number of French soldiers, and saw the death of Claude Victor, bane of the Russians.
Napoleon later recalled seeing Victor thrown off his horse just a few feet away from him. From then on, the French were on full retreat and suffered repeated harassment and raids by the Russians. Napoleon fell back first to Mittau, hoping to salvage the situation, then Tilsit, then Kolberg. Alexander I followed him quickly, giving him no time to regroup his forces. Jacques MacDonald later recalled Napoleon telling him that he "saw his empire crumbling before his very eyes.