Claude Le Roy was a soldier all his life under three different regimes. Born in Talmay (Côte-d’Or) in 1767, he enlisted at the age of 14 as a ship’s boy in the French royal navy and went on to serve in the revolutionary armies – he fought at Valmy and Fleurus – and then the armies of the Empire. He took part in all the campaigns of Napoleon’s Grande Armée, including the appalling retreat from Russia. He was pensioned off in November 1815 a few months after Waterloo and died in 1851 in his native Burgundy.
First published in 1914 but never re-issued since, the vivid recollections of Major Le Roy are an exceptional record of a military career that spanned more than 35 years and an invaluable insight into the Napoleonic era as seen from the inside.