The Napoleonic Foot soldiers and Civilians

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The main claim was about the hardship and bitterness experienced by “ordinary” soldiers and civilians during the Napoleonic War and gives us details about the pain and struggles that they were enduring. Based on the document, which provide the factual descriptions and evidence, were correct in providing the claim. Everyone, including men, women, and children, were emotionally and physically disturbed by the Napoleonic War. In 1798, the French government had run out of soldiers because of poor health and death on the battlefield. To fulfill the requisition of more soldier ranks, “recruiters forcibly enrolled men or tricked them into signing up, often by plying them with drink”. France carried out a law requiring the compulsory enlistment of all eligible young men, including noblemen, to volunteer.

The Napoleonic war affected the lives of millions of individuals, causing those forced into enlistment to leave their families and lives behind. The war conveyed a rude shock to the setup of monarchical Europe, which significantly impacted the history of the entire continent. Most intolerable in the Napoleonic-era was military service and taxes, where men were snatched from their houses leaving their families suffering. Most of the population were not happy and were opposed to authorities, especially with the major rules and regulation of Napoleon’s reign.

People who were living in the countryside were denounced by the authority in the regional communities. However, many of the men failed to meet the standard because of poor health issues like eye problem and physical illness (Blaufard and Liebeskind 10). General Marcellin Marbot explains in his memoirs that “relates his entry into military service at the tender age of seventeen, detailing the process of becoming a soldier, identifying with and becoming loyal to a unit, and adapting to military life” (25). Similarly, most of the military developed environments where they could practice and train the men within the military world. Others developed their own characters, identities, and forms of discipline. Nonetheless, all military soldiers have to pass through a tough world following the cultural nature of a hierarchy and the powerful disciplinary sovereignty.

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Their lives were combined with challenges different from the people living in urban and village areas where the community had to deal with a foreigner. Jacob Walter states in his memoir, “how often I remembered the bread and beer I had enjoyed at home—and taken for granted! Now, however, I must struggle, half-wild, with the dead and living…I would not wish for more my whole life” (82). All the enlisted recruits faced loneliness, suffering, and for the first time, intense homesickness. To overcome this tragedy, they engaged in various activities like writing letters to their families, seeking news of their families and events. They were often proud of being soldiers, but they worried about their families back home, thinking of how they would survive without their presence.

Soldiers were given cruel punishments and were kept in a fearful environment if they showed weakness or disobedience. “Discipline was harsh and punishment usually corporal (whippings and beatings)” (13). On the other hand, civilians had better opportunities. As a result, soldiers deserted. When political ideology came into practice, which played a significant role and gave an emphasis to help in glorification and affiliation. However, they put the great effort in achieving the advancement, but unfortunately, they were discriminated according to their status. From the Benjamin Harris recollections, he remembers, “the misery of the frightful load we were condemned to march and fight under, with a burning sun about our heads, and our feet sinking every step into the hot sand” (36).

In the year 1789 the opportunity was opened for the soldiers who were talented and who wanted to establish their career. Most of them started their career and got promoted along with the financial and social status. As the result it was the powerful movement for the entire French military. The institute gave the honor and respect to the soldier who fought in the battle and showed bravery. The highest point and involvement of the military was battlefield. Napoleonic War necessitated large number of soldiers, who kept them using complicated configuration activities. There were many formations on the battlefield to keep the soldiers alive. As the one of the soldiers expressed how he felt “when I found myself exposed to the enemy artillery batteries, vomiting terror and death into our ranks, I was stuck by trembling, but was it was it fright or dread?... I felt ready to faint…but we hurled ourselves at the enemy, and then I no longer felt fear” (Blaufard and Liebeskind 17).

On one hand, Napoleonic institutions gave advancement to the upper-class soldiers but on the other hand they gave harsh punishment to prisoners. The brutal retribution was inferior that “the dead and wounded were stripped of their possessions, even clothes, by friend, foe and civilian alike” (Blaufard and Liebeskind 18). The Napoleonic War occurred the consequence of enormous loss of life of millions of people. There were shortages of doctors, and no proper treatment and medication to save the lives of wounded soldier. All the hospitals were overflowing with severely wounded and dying patients. In document 8 Benjamin Harris mentioned that, “I passed at least twenty legs lying on the ground, many of them being clothed in the long black gaiters then worn by the infantry of line” (42). Disease was the important topic in the war where many people died due to fever and dysentery. There was wide range of the uncured diseases. As a result, massive numbers of people died, which declined the manpower for the battle. However, the disease not only put the lives of the Napoleonic soldiers and civilians in danger but also it got transmitted and spread to rest of the part of the continent including Europe.

The soldiers and civilians who passed through high tax, conscription, and economy were interrupted directly and indirectly. The war gave the soldiers a mark that all the people who survived came back home “with horrible wounds, poor health, and memories that would haunt them for the rest of their days” (Blaufard and Liebeskind 20). The most painful thing for the Russian soldier prisoners was not allowed to return to their home but were left behind to die. Whereas in Prussia, instead of giving retirement fund or benefit, they were given beggar’s licenses. For some French soldiers who survived got relief and enjoyed their time smoothly reintegrated by improving their social and financial status.

The Napoleonic War not only affected and caused the disaster for millions of the people but also created the significant historical events. The lives of the people all over the world not only in France were destroyed but also altered the balance of the power in the entire continent. After the war the Europeans called themselves in the national terms instead of part of an empire. Europe was never the same. Reading the journals and memoirs of the soldiers added emotional touches to their experiences. Most of the people after the Napoleonic War were tired and were ready for peace and happy normal lives.

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