The art of power consists of getting what one wants. That is never more challenging than when a nation is at war. Britain fought a nearly nonstop war against first revolutionary then Napoleonic France from 1793 to 1815. During those twenty-two years, the British government formed, financed, and led seven coalitions against France. The French inflicted humiliating defeats on the first five coalitions. Eventually Britain and its allies prevailed, not once but twice by vanquishing Napoleon temporarily in 1814 and definitively in 1815.
French revolutionaries had created a new form of warfare, which Napoleon perfected. Never before had a government mobilized so much of a realm’s manpower, industry, finance, and patriotism, nor, under Napoleon, wielded it more effectively and ruthlessly to pulverize and conquer one’s enemies.
Britain struggled up a blood-soaked learning curve to master this new form of warfare. With time the British made the most of their natural strategic and economic advantages. Britons were relatively secure and prosperous in their island realm. British merchants, manufacturers, and financiers dominated global markets. The Royal Navy not only ruled the waves that lapped against the nation’s shores but those plowed by international commerce around the world. Yet even with those assets victory was not inevitable. Two military geniuses are the most vital reasons why Britain and its allies vanquished France when and how they did. General Arthur Wellesley, the Duke of Wellington and Admiral Horatio Nelson respectively mastered warfare on land and at sea.
This is the first book of its kind. Of the hundreds of books on the era, none before has explored all of Britain’s land and sea campaigns from the first in 1793 to the last in 1815. In this vividly written and meticulously researched book, readers will experience each level of war from the debates over grand strategy in London to the horrors of combat engulfing soldiers and sailors in distant lands and seas. Haunting voices of participants echo from two centuries ago, culled from speeches, diaries, and letters. Britain's Rise to Global Superpower in the Age of Napoleon reveals how decisively or disastrously the British army and navy wielded the art of military power during the Age of Revolution and Napoleon.