WOW ~ Word of the Week ~ Kingdom Come

Today is Memorial Day in the United States, the day when we honor those who gave their lives in battle while serving in the Armed Forces. It’s ones of the greatest sacrifices one person can perform for another, and should never be taken lightly nor forgotten.

I write romances set during the Regency, but this period overlapped with the Napoleonic Wars, and military casualties were great. Record-keeping was not as instantaneous as it is now, so losses have to be tallied in the estimates rather than specifics, but even when rounding low, the numbers are still staggering.

I’m one of those historians who believes in keeping the aggressor’s casualty numbers separate; though those fighting are not necessarily there by choice nor ideology, I’ve always felt there’s something disrespectful in placing the perpetrators alongside the defenders on the memorial sheets. It’s a personal preference only.

Battle of Borodino, 7th September 1812, by Louis-François, Baron Lejeune, 1822, Palace of Versailles. The Battle of Borodino, or Battle of Moscow, was the largest and bloodiest single-day action of the Napoleonic Wars.

Kingdom Come

He is gone to kingdom come, he is dead.

Battle of the Pyrenees, July 28th 1813, by William Heath, between 1814 and 1815, Bibliothèques de Toulouse.

Coalition forces

  • 120,000 Italian dead or missing.
  • Russian: 289,000 killed in major battles.
  • Prussian: 134,000 killed in major battles.
  • Austrian: 376,000 killed in major battles.
  • Spanish: more than 300,000 military deaths
  • Portuguese: up to 250,000 dead or missing.
  • British: 311,806 dead or missing.
  • Killed in battle: 560,000–1,869,000
  • Total: 2,380,000–5,925,084

Duckworth’s Action Off San Domingo, 6 February 1806, by Nicholas Pocock, 1808,National Maritime Museum.

Royal Navy

  • Killed in action: 6,663
  • Shipwrecks, drownings, fire: 13,621
  • Wounds, disease: 72,102
  • Total: 92,386.

Defence of Smolensk, by Aleksandr Averyanov, undated.

British Army, 1804–1815

  • Killed in action: 25,569
  • Wounds, accidents, disease: 193,851
  • Total: 219,420

The Battle of Leipzig, by Vladimir Ivanovich Moshkov, undated. This battle involved over 600,000 soldiers, making it the largest battle in Europe until World War One.