For some reason, all this wrapping and Christmas cheer got me thinking about research. OK, that and Sharpe's Eagle which I watched while wrapping. Sharpe's Eagle is the 2nd in the Richard Sharpe movie series based on the series of books by Bernard Cornwell. Sean Bean...yum. And I just discovered as I was checking Mr. Cornwell's website (and loving every link on his page!), that there are 2 more Sharpe movies with Sean Bean! Oooh, I can't wait to check them out.
On to research!
Googling something is all well and good but make sure you verify the source. Is it a government or educational source? Or some random .com. As you all know, anyone can have a website. Don't let Hollywood fool you with their version of history. Wikipedia is a great start for almost any search, but always, always, follow their references link to verify stuff and search any facts you intend to use.
Off line, the World Book Encyclopedia is a excellent source for beginning research. Libraries, while many aren't the repository of historic texts you may need, often have access to an Interlibrary Loan system that can get what you need. Be careful in what you request - if anything happens to that 100 year old book, you're responsible!
Do use other historic authors. Mr. Cornwell is a excellent example of a man who knows the Napoleonic Wars. Patrick O'Brien is his counterpart for the Napoleonic Naval War. Kathy Reichs of Bones fame is a forensic anthropologist. Jane Austen lived in the Regency.
Or documentaries...Ken Burns is known for his (really long) but excellently researched series involving letters ad interviews with the 'common man'.