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Old July 21st, 2016, 10:49 PM   #31

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Cheers Phil, missed your post there. I'd have to agree that 'deterioration' is a tough term, but an accurate one to some degree. Its as you say, his deterioration is due largely to the loss of many highly valued officers, by all reports he was very ill at Waterloo and his forces were much greener than at Austerlitz.
Most importantly, he put men like Ney in command instead of Davout and generally put good men in places they didn't belong. Made sense to have Ney with the army perhaps, but don't give him such a leading role in the campaign especially not after seeing his level of competence in 1813.

The army was good enough to win, he had solid number of veterans back in his army, and Napoleon was in place to at least defeat these first allied armies which he confronted.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 10:53 PM   #32

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and why is it his victories are not more about his opponents armies and the poor commanders out in charge?
I'm taking it from the French perspective, what was wrong on the French side. I don't believe Napoleon of 1813 was so deteriorated. Rather he had an army lacking in horses and he didn't make the best decisions regarding which of his men to put in command.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:00 PM   #33
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Now pugs, your starting to play devils advocate here.

I'd like some reference to support your claims. So far you have insisted Napoleon didnt institute the changes listed earlier despite them being instituted, yes vaquette de gribeauval improved the artillery, that was around 1793. But as far as the improvements listed they were 'talked about is every army' and ignored by the power structure who liked their pretty shiny soldier formations and horses and baggage trains.

And again Pugs, have an input. Whos your pick for best tactician and why? A little less conjecture and a little more information please.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:09 PM   #34
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I'm taking it from the French perspective, what was wrong on the French side. I don't believe Napoleon of 1813 was so deteriorated. Rather he had an army lacking in horses and he didn't make the best decisions regarding which of his men to put in command.
I arguing he never was *that* good. early on he faced weak divided opponents , with poor armies badly led. he looked super awesome. once he different in army quality, leadership and numbers closed he didnt. he was good but just not that good.

handling subordinates is key skill in generalship. what did Napoleon do right in 1813? one good battle Dresden , the aftermath of which cost him far more.

Napoleon misjudged the allies intentions before Lutzen, failed to delegate effectively regarding Berlin, filed to effectively choose a real strategy rather than jus react to the allies,failed to withdraw the garrison of Dresden,(Saint Cyr and 40,000 could of been dammed handy the 1st day of Leipzig). failed to pursue effectively after Dresden, hang Angereau's Coprs out dry after Dresden. failing to prepare or actually withdraw after the first day at Leipzig turning a defeat into massive one.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:12 PM   #35

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" His ability to knock out a whole nation in a single large battle was astonishing."

the statement simply is not true.

the scale of losses at Austerlitz was not of themselves enough to knock out Austria, the losses at Ulm and the diversion of large force to Italy away form the critical area were as significant factors. Austerlitz by itself did not knock Austria out of the war. the losses at Ulm were 60,000 Austerlitz only 36,000 almost double. Ulm had at the very least equal impact of the war.
I didn't say that only Austerlitz decided the campaign, but Ulm wasn't the same type of battle that Austerlitz was. It is practically impossible to end a war with only one engagement considering all the skirmishing or small battles, but he did knock out Austria in a single large battle. That doesn't mean nothing else happen, but that Napoleon generally managed to secure the decisive battle in his campaigns arguably until 1812.

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Auerstedt was devout's victory and of more importance than Jena which was Napoleon. it required both victories, in October and the Prussians fought till June the following year.
I didn't dismiss that these were two battles nor that Napoleon deserves more credit than Davout. However, these were two connected affairs, battles which Napoleon had been looking to secure. The question was which part of the Prussian army was being fought.

As I said, there always going to be smaller engagements, but he did get the decisive battle that he sought.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:21 PM   #36
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Now pugs, your starting to play devils advocate here.

I'd like some reference to support your claims. So far you have insisted Napoleon didnt institute the changes listed earlier despite them being instituted, yes vaquette de gribeauval improved the artillery, that was around 1793. But as far as the improvements listed they were 'talked about is every army' and ignored by the power structure who liked their pretty shiny soldier formations and horses and baggage trains.

And again Pugs, have an input. Whos your pick for best tactician and why? A little less conjecture and a little more information please.
Napoleon did not come up with ALL the changes, mots of the innovations to the French army had been kicking around a while and many (not ALL) had been instituted before Napoleon was running the army. people tend to overdo credit for the innovations, yes I have already said Napoleon embraced and understood them better than others.

the British infantry had better doctrine than the French. napoleon never understood the British methods.

In period Wellington. better tactical, better logistical, better with discipline, napoleon better operationally, better with morale. overall napoleon as a general but by next to nothing.

reverse slopes. wellington did not expose his men to needless losses. wellington appreciation of tactical situations was excellent.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:23 PM   #37
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Sorry Pyrrhos, missed your great posts there. This seems to be coming down to the usual big three. Alexander, Hannibal, Napoleon.

Your points on Hannibal are bang on and personally starting to turn my vote from Napoleon. The fact that Hannibal was facing 'the' power of the day is pivotal. I do wonder what would have happened if he had tried for limited victory and missed the nightmare that was southern italy and the scorched earth policy (the fabian strategy). Further his tactics were both brilliant and fluid on the whole, his command of men perfect for the time. His grand strategy may have been doomed from the start considering the political strength in Carthage. But what a General.

Pugs, Are you really just focusing on semantics? Austerlitz led directly to the treaty of Pressburg.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:23 PM   #38

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I arguing he never was *that* good. early on he faced weak divided opponents , with poor armies badly led. he looked super awesome. once he different in army quality, leadership and numbers closed he didnt. he was good but just not that good.

handling subordinates is key skill in generalship. what did Napoleon do right in 1813? one good battle Dresden , the aftermath of which cost him far more.

Napoleon misjudged the allies intentions before Lutzen, failed to delegate effectively regarding Berlin, filed to effectively choose a real strategy rather than jus react to the allies,failed to withdraw the garrison of Dresden,(Saint Cyr and 40,000 could of been dammed handy the 1st day of Leipzig). failed to pursue effectively after Dresden, hang Angereau's Coprs out dry after Dresden. failing to prepare or actually withdraw after the first day at Leipzig turning a defeat into massive one.
We can see that Napoleon did also perform well when he didn't have a great army either like in Italy.

I already said his chose of command in 1813 was bad.

He had an army in 1813 that was lacking against an enemy that had improved and were united. Wars are hardly won or lost on one side, of course.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:26 PM   #39
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Again Pugs, conjecture. References please.
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Old July 21st, 2016, 11:30 PM   #40
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I didn't say that only Austerlitz decided the campaign, but Ulm wasn't the same type of battle that Austerlitz was. It is practically impossible to end a war with only one engagement
this is agreeing with my point. Austerlitz alone would not have won the campaign. 36,000 losses not all of them Austrian. the Austrian field armies were over 200,00 men. the losses at Ulm were much greater. twice as many. without the losses at Ulm, Austria could have easily absorbed a defeat like Austerlitz.
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