Photos of the Napoleonic Wars

A Glimpse into the Past

Veteran of the Napoleonic Wars

Photos of Napoleonic War Veterans

The first photograph was taken in 1826, about 11 years after the Napoleonic Wars ended. So there are no pictures of the actual war or the battles that took place. However many of the veteran soldiers who fought on both sides of the conflict lived well into the last part of the 19th century when photography had developed considerably and had become fairly common place and a number of them were photographed later in their lives.

In some cases the veterans are proudly wearing their uniforms and they still have the swagger that they must have had as young men. However in other photographs the old men who fought for England and France have clearly fallen on hard times and you can see the hardships that they must have endured, not only on the battlefields but in the peace that followed.

We are lucky to have this glimpse at the soldiers who fought on both sides of the Napoleonic Wars. Click on the thumbnails for larger pictures as well as more information about these soldiers.

Unlike the photos of the French veterans further below, these photographs show British veterans in their later years of life, looking quite a bit worse for wear. They do not seem to have the same swagger or proud look of their defeated opponents. Part of the reason is that the pictures of the British veterans were taken much later when the years had taken their toll. But I was not able to locate any pictures of British veterans taken closer to the end of the Napoleonic wars, suggesting that the public was not interested in commemorating their achievements as much as the French. It may be an indication of the way British veterans wear treated after being demobilized.

The pictures below were taken around 1858, probably on the occasion of the anniversary of Napoleon's death. It was customary for veterans of the French army who had fought in the Napoleonic wars to gather in Paris to commemorate the death of the Emperor. These photos were taken in a studio and depict officers in Napoleon's army, wearing the uniforms they fought in as well as their medals.