The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier

The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier

Introduction by:

  • Paperback
  • ISBN 9780140165593
  • 208 Pages
  • Penguin Books
  • Adult


Eighteen-year-old German stonemason Jakob Walter served in the Grand Army of Napoleon between 1806 and 1813. His diary intimately records his trials: the long, grueling marches in Prussia and Poland, the disastrous Russian campaign, and the demoralizing defeat in a war few supported or understood. It is at once a compelling chronicle of a young soldier’s loss of innocence and an eloquent and moving portrait of the profound effects of all wars on the men who fight them.

Also included are letters home from the Russian front, previously unpublished in English, as well as period engravings and maps from the Russian/Soviet and East European collections of the New York Public Library.

“Vivid and gruesome … but also a story of human fortitude. … It reminds us that the troops Napoleon drove so mercilessly were actually more victims than victors—a side of Napoleon that should not be forgotten.”
Chicago Tribune

Table of Contents


The Diary of a Napoleonic Foot Soldier:
Campaign of 1806 and 1807
Campaign of 1809
Campaign of 1812 and 1813

Historical Appraisal of Walter’s Chronicle by Frank E. Melvin

Notes to the Diary

Writing Home: Six Letters

Notes to the Letters

About the Illustrations


Place Names

Reading Suggestions

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