In 1799, domestic difficulties within France were attributed to the mismanagement of the Directory, Frances governmental body. Since the country was in dire straits, Napoleon Bonaparte seized power of the Directory. His other motivations in seizing power was to strengthen the gains of the French Revolution and to enhance Frances, as well as his own, glory by securing and possibly expanding French territory (pg. xvi). Between the years of 1800 and 1815, Napoleon was able to raise an army of approximately two million French conscripts as well as numerous conscripts from other allied territories including Italy, Poland, Holland, Austria, Prussia, Wurttemberg, and Westphalia (pg. xv, xx). As a military commander, Napoleon was, and still is, known for all of his many achievements. He was especially skilled in organizing the supplies needed for his highly mobile army, which included guns, small firearms, and plenty of ammunitions. He supplied his army with pay in order to buy additional supplies at local civilian markets. Although Napoleon also supplied his army with clothing, the clothing was not usually adapted to the rigorous climatic changes that his soldiers had to endure. Another provision that was not adequately supplied to the army was food; the army had to fend for themselves in order to survive (pg.xxiv-xxv). Therefore, in the following paragraphs, I will focus on the social aspect of the campaigns, as portrayed by one of his foot soldiers named Jacob Walter. The diary of Jacob Walter is rather beneficial in portraying the life of an average soldier, and therefore renders a unique perspective of the campaigns that is rarely discussed in typical Napoleonic teachings.
Throughout the campaigns, Jacob Walter's underlying theme is the acquisition of food, shelter, and clothing which is a very basic human need. However, during the requisition of these supplies, the soldiers often times exploited the common people.