Greetings, everyone. Jack Caldwell here. I’d like to thank Maria Grazia for the opportunity to visit with you today to talk about my latest book, PERSUADED TO SAIL: asequel to Persuasion and Book Three of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men.
PERSUADED TO SAIL picks up at the end of Persuasion—the wedding of Anne Elliot to Captain Frederick Wentworth. Planning an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard HMS Laconia to Frederick’s posting in Bermuda, the Wentworths’ plans are thrown into disarray by the Hundred Days Crisis.
Hold on a second. What is the Hundred Days Crisis?
To explain this, I have to go back to the genesis of the Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815). This era of conflict arose out of the Wars of the French Revolution (1792-1802). Europe had been locked in a bloody conflict between the homicidal French Republic and the autocratic European monarchies. The chaos allowed a little-known general from the French island of Corsica, Napoleon Bonaparte, to prove his military prowess, to seize power in a coup d'état, and then smash the Coalition armies and force a peace. Peace only lasted a year, and a third coalition of European powers was formed in 1803 to fight the self-styled Emperor Napoleon.
The first failure was the combined French and Spanish fleet’s decisive defeat at the hands of the Royal Navy at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. The significance of the battle was not instantly realized. However, the French navy would never again pose a threat to Britain. Instead, their ships would either be bottled up by blockade or would fruitlessly challenge British dominance at sea.
The second failure was Napoleon’s obsession with Britain. If he could not invade the island nation, he would starve them into submission. He declared a trade embargo trade with England and demanded that all of Europe under his control or at peace with him obey or face his wrath. This so-called Continental System only strengthened Britain’s hand. Russia and Spain refused to comply, other counties grew angry, and the US almost went to war with France over it. While the embargo was uncomfortable to the British people, France’s weakness at sea guaranteed its failure.
The third failure was directly connected with enforcing the Continental System. In 1807, France marched through Spain to invade Portugal. This caused the 1808 Spanish War of Independence. France committed thousands of troops to keep Spain and Portugal in line, which gave the British the opportunity they needed. The British army landed, helped secure Portugal, and under Lieutenant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley (the future Duke of Wellington), a combined British/Portuguese/Spanish force beat the French in the Peninsular War (1808-1814). Meanwhile, Napoleon was preoccupied with bringing Russia to heal, which led to his disastrous Invasion of Russia in 1812. Limping back home, the Destroyer of Mankind was no match for the Sixth Coalition and abdicated on 6 April 1814.
The Allies exiled Napoleon to Elba, an island in the Mediterranean. Entrusting the British fleet to keep him there, they installed Louis XVIII to the French throne. Happy that the wars were done, the Allies continued to meet at the Congress of Vienna to determine Europe’s future.
But the wars were not done.
Napoleon Bonaparte stewed in exile. He knew that Louis XVIII and his advisors were unpopular in Paris. He began plotting his return. On 28 February 1815, after eluding an incompetent British naval squadron, Napoleon landed near Cannes and began a march to Paris. This is the beginning of what we now call the Hundred Days.
Napoleon picked up support as he went, including troops sent to arrest him by an increasingly panicked Louis. On 13 March, the Congress of Vienna declared him an outlaw, but it made no difference. He entered Paris on 20 March, just after Louis had fled for Ghent. The newly-installed Emperor Napoleon put out peace feelers, but it did no good. No one trusted him. On 25 March, the Seventh Collation was formed and war was declared.
The Royal Navy, smarting from its failure at Elba, responded quickly. It again blockaded all French ports. The French navy could not fight, even if it wanted too (and there is question if they truly did—they were no fans of the Emperor). Meanwhile, the Allied armies had to mobilize. The Austrians and Russians had time, for it would be difficult for France to strike quickly to its east. But someone had to block the French from the north. That duty fell to the Prussians, British, and the United Netherlands.
The British were in trouble. Most of their best troops (those who weren’t dead in Louisiana) were still on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, due to the recently concluded War of 1812 with the US. The Duke of Wellington managed to field about 93,000 men, but only 38,000 were British. The remainder were from Brunswick, Nassau, Hanover, and the Netherlands—his “infamous army.” Meanwhile, the Prussians had about 116,000.
Napoleon had issues, as well. It would take time to call up and train the army he needed. Time he did not have. He had to strike quickly, and that meant to the north. His Army of the North numbered only 130,00, but included many veterans. It was a host to fear.
The attack to the north into present-day Belgium—known today as the Waterloo Campaign—began on 15 June 1815, and the climactic battle happened on 18 June. It is not purpose of this article to recount that terrible struggle (although you can read about it in my novel, ). After his defeat, Napoleon abandoned his troops and fled to Paris, leaving subordinates to continue the fight and delay the Allied army. He failed to gather political support to continue the war and was forced to abdicate a second time on 22 June. The Allies entered Paris on 7 July, but Napoleon was nowhere to be found. The next day, Louis XVII was restored, officially ending the Hundred Days (actually it was 111 days).
But where was Napoleon? Some said he fled to South America, others to Louisiana. But it turned out he was still in France. He surrendered himself to the British on 15 July, knowing the other collation partners, particularly the Prussians, wanted him dead. The British exiled him on the island of Saint Helena in the South Atlantic Ocean. Napoleon Bonaparte, the Emperor of the French, the Destroyer of Mankind, died there on 5 May 1821 at the age of 51.
I hope you find this brief (!) recounting of the Hundred Days Crisis informative. There are literally hundreds of books written about it. I’ve written three—they are the novels of my Jane Austen’s Fighting Men series:
THE THREE COLONELS – a sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility
THE LAST ADVENTURE OF THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL – a sequel to Northanger Abbey
PERSUADED TO SAIL – a sequel to Persuasion
PERSUADED TO SAIL is my newest book. I hope you’ll give it a try.
Just remember, it takes a real man to write historical romance, so let me tell you a story…
PERSUADED TO SAIL: Book Three of Jane Austen’s Fighting Men
The long-awaited sequel to Jane Austen’s final novel, Persuasion —
After an eight-year separation and a tumultuous reunion, Anne Elliot marries the dashing Captain Frederick Wentworth. The pair looks forward to an uneventful honeymoon cruise aboard the HMS Laconia.
But the bride and groom find the seas of matrimony rough. Napoleon has escaped from Elba, the country is at war with France again, and the Admiralty imposes on Wentworth a mysterious passenger on a dangerous secret mission. The good captain is caught between duty to his country and love for his wife.
All eyes are trained for enemies without, but the greatest menace may already be on board…
Jack Caldwell, born and raised in the Bayou County of Louisiana, is an author, amateur historian, professional economic development consultant, playwright, and like many Cajuns, a darn good cook.
Jack is the author of ten novels, including PEMBERLEY RANCH, MR. DARCY CAME TO DINNER, and THE COMPANION OF HIS FUTURE LIFE.
His Jane Austen’s Fighting Men Series, set during the Hundred Days Crisis and Waterloo, include THE THREE COLONELS, THE LAST ADVENTURE OF THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL, and PERSUADED TO SAIL.
His Crescent City Series include THE PLAINS OF CHALMETTE, BOURBON STREET NIGHTS, ELYSIAN DREAMS, and RUIN AND RENEWAL.
When not writing or traveling with Barbara, Jack attempts to play golf. A devout convert to Roman Catholicism, Jack is married with three grown sons.
Jack's blog postings – The Cajun Cheesehead Chronicles – appear regularly at Austen Variations.
Two winners! Take your chances to win one (1) physical copy and one (1) e-book copy of PERSUADED TO SAIL. (Note: Only US addresses are eligible for physical copy) This giveaway ends on Friday June 5th when the winners' names are announced.