At the time of the Second Empire, under Napoleon III, the French army, elevated from tactful obscurity, was re-modelled on Napoleonic lines. This army first fought in the Crimea, and then against Austria. Later, in Mexico, they had a disastrous adventure while in Europe Prussia was fast emerging as a challenge to France's military pre-eminence. Together with Austria, Bismarck first crushed Denmark before turning on Austria herself. The victory at Sadowa in 1866 stunned Europe, and in Paris Napoleon and his advisers set to thinking of a way to counter this new threat. In this first of two volumes looking at the French Army of the Franco-Prussian War, Stephen Shann and Louis Delperier examine the history, organisation and weapons of the French Imperial troops.