Wooden Walls and Volunteers: 1803–5

  • Clive Emsley
Chapter

Abstract

The years 1803 to 1805 saw the greatest danger of invasion by the French. France could count on the support of her satellites from the outset, and in December 1804 Spain, too, joined the conflict on her side. Britain was alone, without allies for most of the period; her weather-beaten warships blockaded their enemy counterparts, while thousands of soliders — regulars, militiamen and volunteers — stood by awaiting a landing should the ‘wooden walls’ of Britain be breached or bypassed. The period saw Pitt restored as Prime Minister in May 1804 — ‘the one great opponent whom the French Revolution and Napoleon encountered’1 — and Bonaparte crowned as the Emperor of the French in December 1804. It concluded with a reassertion of British naval power at Trafalgar, and of Napoleonic land superiority at Ulm and Austerlitz.

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© Clive Emsley 1979

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  • Clive Emsley

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