Napoleon’s Swiss Troops

Napoleon’s Swiss Troops

Men-at-Arms 476
  • Author: David Greentree
  • Illustrator: Gerry Embleton
  • Short code: MAA 476
  • Publication Date: 20 Mar 2012
  • Number of Pages: 48
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About this Product

Ever since the 15th century Switzerland had been exporting professional soldiers to serve as mercenaries for foreign monarchies. Napoleon, therefore, was not the first to make full use of the martial qualities of the Swiss and obtained Swiss agreement to expand the recruitment of regiments for service in the French Army. Napoleon would use Swiss troops on the battlefields of Italy and Spain, and in 1812 re-organize the four original regiments into a single division for the invasion of Russia, with each regiment having three full-strength battalions. In November of 1812, meeting up with Napoleon's main force retreating from Moscow at the Berezina River, the Swiss on the west bank guarded the approaches to the pontoon bridges from the Russian attack to the south. Just 1,200 Swiss out of the approximately 8,000 that entered Russia were left to face, along with 8,000 other remnants of other units, the 30,000-strong Russian army. The Swiss held their ground and when their ammunition ran out they charged the Russians with bayonets. This book reveals the proud combat history of the Swiss troops of Napoleon's army as well as the colourful uniforms they wore.

Biographical Note

David Greentree was born in Portsmouth in 1970. He attended Portsmouth Grammar School, where he developed an interest in military history. He studied for a BA in History at York before taking an MA in War Studies at King's College London and qualifying as a lecturer in Further Education at Cardiff. In 1995 he accepted a commission into the Royal Air Force, and has since served in a variety of locations, including Afghanistan. He is currently working in the Ministry of Defence in London.

Contents

Introduction
France and Switzerland: military service under the Ancien Regime
Enlistment of Swiss demi-brigades and legions - Line Regiments - Valais and Neuchatel battalions
The Demi-brigades: in Switzerland, the West Indies and Trafalgar - absorption of demi-brigades and legions into Line regiments * 1st Swiss Line Regt 1805-11, Italy
2nd, 3rd & 4th Line Regts, Valais & Neuchatel Bns, 1805-11, the Peninsular War
Russia 1812
Germany and Belgium 1813-15

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