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date: 18 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Jakob Walter (1788–1864), who fought in Napoleon’s Grande Armée for two stints, records the experiences of the average foot soldier. The poorly organized nature of early 19th-century armies meant that little besides bread was supplied by the state; even housing had to be provided by local communities. Walter’s goal was to record the details of his campaigns as objectively as possible, not to lay out moral commentary on his lot as a lowly soldier. He mailed his diary to his son; it fell out of view only to be rediscovered and published some eighty years later. Consider the stripped-down nature of Walter’s language and his hesitation to outwardly lament the difficulties he and his fellow foot soldiers endured. In the following passage Walter describes the political upheavals that marked France from the start of the July Monarchy, in 1830 to the revolutions of 1848.

From Alexis de Tocqueville, Recollections. Trans. Alexander Teixeria de Mattos. New York: The Macmillan Co., 1896, pp. 85–7, 145–6, 149–54, 163–5, 180–3, 187–8, 230–1.

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