Napoleon Series Archive 2015

La campagne de Calabre de 1806-1807

Nicolas Cadet,
« Anatomie d’une « petite guerre », la campagne de Calabre de 1806-1807 »,
Revue d'histoire du XIXe siècle, 30 | 2005

The anatomy of a « guerrilla warfare »: the 1806-1807 Calabrian campaign.

At the beginning of 1806, Napoléon instructed marshal Masséna to conquer the Kingdom of Naples, so as to put his brother Joseph on the Neapolitan throne. Although the conquest was very easy, the French soon met numerous problems: while having to fight the British forces based in Sicily, they also had to cope with a fierce guerrilla in the southernmost provinces of the kingdom. Supported by the Anglo-Sicilians, the Calabrese insurgents managed to keep general Reynier’s troops at bay, and compelled Masséna to interfere personally. Calabria then became a genuine laboratory for anti-insurrectional fighting methods. The French got flying columns engaged in a constant combing of the countryside; they used specially trained anti-guerrilla units, and raised auxiliary troops out of the Calabrian population. Thanks to these methods, the country was progressively pacified, but the campaign turned out to be very costly, and foreshadowed the difficulties the French would soon meet in Spain.

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