How did the French Revolution wars mark a critical watershed in the history of war? What implications did they have for the future of international conflict?
The wars of the French Revolution marked the first time in western history that an entire nation was mobilized to fight a war. The armies of the Napoleonic Wars dwarfed those in previous centuries, which were often fought by largely mercenary armies. Napoleon's Grande Armee, by contrast, numbered almost 200,000 men in 1805. When he invaded Russia, it consisted of almost half a million men. While these numbers pale in comparison to the twentieth century wars, they were unprecedented in Europe and required a national mobilization that was equally unprecedented. First the Revolutionary government and then Napoleon were able to harness the nation's industry, agriculture, and educational system to build a war machine and crush dissent. Nothing like this had ever been seen before.