Napoleon's soldiers marched across Europe from Lisbon to Moscow, and from Germany to Dalmatia. Many of the men, mostly conscripted by ballot, had never before been beyond their native village. What did they make of their extraordinary experiences, fighting battles thousands of miles from home, foraging for provisions or garrisoning town in hostile countries? What was it like to be a soldier in the revolutionary and imperial armies? We know more about these men and their reactions to war than about the soldiers of any previous army in history, not just from official sources but from the large number of personal letters they wrote. Napoleon's Men provides a direct insight into the experiences and emotions of soldiers who risked their lives at Austerlitz, Wagram and Borodino. Not surprisingly, their minds often dwelt as much on what was happening at home, and on mundane questions of food and drink, as on Napoleon himself or the glory of France.
The Soldiers of the Revolution and Empire