For some reason when I want to post a comment on Berthold's blog an error message comes up. His latest post was about Napoleon. One of my favorite subjects. I enjoyed that the post pointed out that Napoleon was defeated more by economics than bullets.
A. The Napoleonic wars saw a clash of two elements of war and two theories of economics.
The wars are sometimes referred to the "War of the elephant and the whale." Both animals are dominant in their domain, but can't fight with each other. The result of the war led to the book by Mahan's book "The Impact of Naval Power on History" which credits most wars being won by the navy over the army. Most major wars since Napoleon have been won by naval power, but the carnage on land still continues.
B. Economic theories:
Napoleon and most of the wars previous to this were about conquering land. Wealth was made by the winner by pillaging and looting the conquered, taking slaves for sale, and making the conquered pay tribute. Napoleon was a master at this. The cost in lives on both sides didn't matter. The more battles he won the greater his fame, no matter how many French lives were lost. He's still a national hero.
England defeated the French in the Seven Years War, What we call the French and Indian War, here, with the Bank of England. They fought the war on credit using future taxes as collateral. Unfortunately for England was they tried to pay off the loans by taxing the American Colonies and wound up losing more money than they gained and the colonies as well in the American Revolution. England was able to fight Napoleon for so many years by building a national debt. They built a formidable navy, well trained army and bought allies to fight Napoleon on land.
England defeated Napoleon with two naval battles: The Battle of the Nile and Trafalgar. From that point on they no longer feared invasion and replaced the trade lost from Europe with trade with Europe's colonies throughout the world. Making even more money than the lost by the embargo with Continental Europe. The black market helped too.
Wellington and the English win at Waterloo didn't happen in a vacuum. Welling spent years destroying French army and French army in the Iberian campaign, which Napoleon likened to a drain sucking his soldiers away. Arthur Wellesley was sent to Portugal from India with British East India troops to support the guerillas in Spain. It's this war where the term guerilla warfare come from. It's Spanish for "little war." As his victories mounted Wellesley became the Duke of Wellington. He faced every French marshal. Napoleon never went into Spain.
An aside, The battle of New Orleans was a victory for Andrew Jackson and the Americans. The army that was defeated here, arrived back in England as Napoleon escaped. This army was the bulk of Wellington's forces at Waterloo. They redeemed themselves with a commander who knew what he was doing.
Berthold, never get a history teacher started on a subject like this unless you want a four hour lecture.