On This Day in Napoleonic History – 5 November 1803

2Napoleon is camped at Boulogne with the Army of England

Boulogne camp stretched along 9 miles of coast as Napoleon appeared to prepare for the invasion of England. He wrote to Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès: ‘I’m housed in the middle of the camp and in the middle of the ocean where at a glance it is easy to measure the distance that separates us from England.’

The Army of England absorbed the men from the Army of the West and the Vendée, and was renamed the Army of the Ocean Coasts. By January 1804 it numbered 70,000 men and by March 120,000. Later Napoleon would claim that he was bluffing all along and that he never actually intended to invade Britain. His aim was to intimidate her, lure Austria into a trap and train his army. While some historians believe that, there are many who don’t.

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