Even soldiers in the fighting formations such as the infantry would be involved in a major battle at most two or three times in the course of their war service. Napoleon's plans to invade Britain failed due to the inferiority of his navy, and inLord Nelson's fleet decisively defeated the French and Spanish at Trafalgar, which was the last significant naval action of the Napoleonic Wars.
Although British public opinion was disappointed by the lack of an overwhelming victory, the German failure to defeat the British meant that the blockade and British domination of global trade both continued.
But Britain did more than that. It was willingly supported by hundreds of thousands of investors and tax payers, despite the higher taxes on land and a new income tax. Germany's invasion of Belgium became the mechanism by which such thoughts could be rendered in popular and more universal terms: great power politics were presented as ideologies.
Napoleon hoped that isolating Britain from the Continent would end its economic dominance. Historian R.
Britain became the arsenal and financier of the alliance. InGermany declared the waters surrounding the British Isles to be a war zone, and German U-boats sunk several commercial and passenger vessels, including some U.
Attempts since to create a volunteer reserve for home defence known as the Territorial Force an exact translation of the German Landwehr achieved little success, and even including the Territorials at full mobilisation the British army was on paper barelymen.
An all-volunteer force, the British army had little connection with British society, with officers being drawn mostly from a small section of the upper class, while the working-class regarded military service as a last resort or a disgrace. Germany, with its proclivity for committing repeated war crimes and violations of expected normswas also an almost perfect enemy for rousing British popular sentiment.