The casualties of the Napoleonic Wars
The Napoleonic Wars were a series of wars declared against Napoleon's French Empire by opposing coalitions that ran from 1803 to 1815. As a continuation of the wars sparked by the French Revolution of 1789, they revolutionised European armies and played out on an unprecedented scale, mainly due to...
(1803–1815), direct and indirect, break down as follows:
Note that deaths listed include being killed in action
Killed in action is a casualty classification generally used by militaries to describe the deaths of their own forces at the hands of hostile forces. The United States Department of Defense, for example, says that those declared KIA need not have fired their weapons but have been killed due to...
as well as deaths from other causes, such as: from disease
A disease is an abnormal condition affecting the body of an organism. It is often construed to be a medical condition associated with specific symptoms and signs. It may be caused by external factors, such as infectious disease, or it may be caused by internal dysfunctions, such as autoimmune...
; from wound
A wound is a type of injury in which skin is torn, cut or punctured , or where blunt force trauma causes a contusion . In pathology, it specifically refers to a sharp injury which damages the dermis of the skin.-Open:...
s; of starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...
; from exposure
-Entertainment:* Exposure , the practice of revealing the secrets of magic to non-magicians* Exposure , a short film anthology series on Sci-Fi Channel from 2000–2002* Exposure , a current affairs strand on ITV in 2011...
; of drowning
Drowning is death from asphyxia due to suffocation caused by water entering the lungs and preventing the absorption of oxygen leading to cerebral hypoxia....
; from friendly fire
Friendly fire is inadvertent firing towards one's own or otherwise friendly forces while attempting to engage enemy forces, particularly where this results in injury or death. A death resulting from a negligent discharge is not considered friendly fire...
; as a result of atrocities; etc.
- 371,000 killed in action
- 800,000 killed by disease, primarily in the disastrous invasion of Russia
The French invasion of Russia of 1812 was a turning point in the Napoleonic Wars. It reduced the French and allied invasion forces to a tiny fraction of their initial strength and triggered a major shift in European politics as it dramatically weakened French hegemony in Europe...
- 600,000 civilians
- 65,000 French allies (mainly Poles fighting for independence lost in 1795)
- Total: 1,800,000 French and allies (mostly Germans and Poles) dead in action, disease and missing
- 120,000 Italian dead or missing
- 289,000 Russian dead or missing
- 134,000 Prussian dead or missing
- 376,000 Austrian dead or missing
- 300,000 Spanish dead or missing
- 311,806 British dead or missing
British navy, 1804–15:
- killed in action: 6,663
- shipwrecks, drownings, fire: 13,621
- disease: 72,102
- total: 92,386
British army, 1804–15:
- killed in action: 25,569
- disease: 193,851
- total: 219,420
Total dead and missing
- 2,500,000 military personnel in Europe
- 1,000,000 civilians were killed in Europe and in rebellious French overseas colonies
These numbers are subject to considerable variation. Erik Durschmied
Erik Durschmied Cinematographer, producer, and director, is also an author, military history professor and a former war correspondent for BBC, CBS. Newsweek called him a "supremely gifted reporter who has changed the media he works in", while The New York Times wrote "he has seen more wars than any...
, in his book The Hinge Factor
, gives a figure of 1.4 million French military deaths of all causes. Adam Zamoyski estimates that around 400,000 Russian soldiers died in the 1812 campaign alone—a figure backed up by other sources. Civilian casualties in the 1812 campaign were probably comparable. Alan Schom
Alan M. Schom is an American-born writer and biographer, born in Sterling, Illinois, in 1937. He attended Beverly Hills High School and received an A.B. in European History from University of California, Berkeley, a Ph.D at Durham University , School of Oriental Studies...
estimates some 3 million military deaths in the Napoleonic wars and this figure, once again, is supported elsewhere. Common estimates of more than 500,000 French dead in Russia in 1812 and 250,000-300,000 French dead in Iberia between 1808 and 1814 give a total of at least 750,000, and to this must be added hundreds of thousands of more French dead in other campaigns - probably around 150,000 to 200,000 French dead in the German campaign of 1813, for example. Thus, it is fair to say that the estimates above are highly conservative.
Civilian deaths are impossible to accurately estimate. Whilst military deaths are invariably put at between 2.5 million and 3.5 million, civilian death tolls vary from 750,000 to 3 million. Thus estimates of total dead, both military and civilian, can reasonably range from 3,250,000 to 6,500,000.