The Napoleonic Wars
Britain, was expecting the worst, from a massive French invasion force encamped at Boulogne ready to board the ships and sail for England.

Around 160,000 men were stationed at Boulogne for two years, being drilled ready for the invasion, carrying out embarkation practices, which had established that sixty-seven thousand men with kit could embark in seventeen minutes. Napoleon had ordered around 2000 flat-bottomed barges to be built to be piloted across the Channel by the privateer captains of Boulogne.

In the summer of 1805, Napoleon’s La Grande Armée, was at Boulogne waiting. England had expected an invasion for seven years. In August 1805, Napoleon had written to his admirals:-

Come into the Channel, bring our united fleet, and England is ours, If you are only here for 24 hours, all will be over, and six centuries of shame and insult will be avenged.

To meet this Challenge, on the shores of Britain, the order was to be given along the coast that at the sight of the French landing, all forests, villages, and all transport, was to be put to the torch, cattle slaughtered, roads and canals destroyed. The southeast rich was to seek refuge in Canterbury. The only hope was that the Royal Navy could keep the invasion force bottled up, and to challenge any of Napoleon's fleet crossing the Channel.

25th September 1801, while on board H.M.S. Amazon, off Folkestone.

Lord Nelson writes to Lady Hamilton,

My dearest Emma,  I got under sail this morning at daylight, intending to return to the Downs on Sunday or Monday, but receiving a note from Dr. Baird of our dear Parker’s being worse, and requesting me to stay a day or two longer, and as it is calm, so that I can neither get to the coast of France or to Dungeness, I am returning to the downs. My heart, I assure you, is very low ; last night I had flattered myself, I now have no hopes. I dare say Dr. Baird will write you a line, but we must bear up against these misfortunes. I have not had your letters to-day; they are my only comfort.

Yesterday the Calais flat boats, &c., came out. Captain Russell chased them in again, but they can join at any time, as the season approaches when we cannot go on their coast. You must, my dear friend, forgive me, for I cannot write anything worth your reading, except that I am at all times, situations, and places,-

On 15th August 1801, Lord Nelson decided to, “take the fight to the enemy”, by attacking the French invasion fleet at anchor at Boulogne, four divisions of the British boats attacked the French fleet which included a division of mortar boats commanded by Captain Conn.

Captain Edward Thornborough Parker, one of Nelson’s closest friends, was the first to engage the enemy, standing in the bow, sword drawn, at the head of his men, but the French had been preparing for such and attack, ships had being rigged to avoid boarding, anchor ropes changed for chain moorings chain to prevent the cables being cut and the ship used as a fireship. The French fire cut through the British boats, and the attack was repulsed with heavy losses, 18 officers killed or wounded, among them Parker, plus 172 seaman and marines, the losses would have been much higher if it had not been for the use of the mortar boats to keep the French busy. The casualties were taken to Deal, where Parker’s condition deteriorated. His leg had turned gangrenous and had to be amputated high upon the hip, on 20th September his artery bust, and by 27th, he was dead, aged just 23 years. Parker was buried at St George's Chapel, Deal on 28th September. - Nelson ordered that his funeral be conducted with full military honours. During the funeral, Nelson was seen to weep and hold himself steady against a tree by the graveside.

An English artillery officer and inventor William Congreve made a great advance in black-power rockets for a weapon of war, the 15-foot fireworks rockets of 32 pounds total weight had a range of 3,000 yards and carried a seven-pound charge of incendiary material. Congreve's rocket was first used in 1805, during the Napoleonic Wars, when Britain attacked the port of Boulogne, France, in an attempt to destroy or scatter the fleet of barges mustered by Napoleon for his contemplated invasion of Great Britain. The rocket and the attack failed, primarily because of stormy weather, in the following year, 1806 Congreve's rockets were used with great success in the second attack on Boulogne, two hundred rockets were launched from 18 rocket barges in 30 minutes at Boulogne.

Since 1793 there was a fear all along our coastline of a massive French Invasion waiting at Boulogne to cross the Channel. The England's victory, at Trafalgar on 21st October 1805, had resulted in destruction of the French fleet, had removed the immediate threat of invasion. England now, had time to build coastal defences should the French invasion threat return.

It was not until October 1804 that plans got underway to build 74 Martello Towers along the coast, - but these were not ready to defend against Napoleon invasion force until 1812, alongside the defensive works of Grand Military Cannel that took to April 1809 to build.

England’s George III had fortification works carried out around London, and 463,000 volunteered to protect the capital.

But the French invasion fleet were never sighted, as the Royal Navy had kept up, year after year, a blockade to challenge the French ships should they venture in to the Channel.

Follow the footsteps of time, - into the footsteps of the Napoleonic Times.