Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > Themes in History > War and Military History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

War and Military History War and Military History Forum - Warfare, Tactics, and Military Technology over the centuries


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old January 3rd, 2017, 06:45 PM   #41
Historian
 
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 5,305

Quote:
Originally Posted by Edric Streona View Post
Napoleon was a great battlefield commander. He sucked at politics though.

Blucher had to lead cavalry charges as he was fairly mediocre as a general. His value was in his single minded determination and charasimatic leadership. Napoleon was indespensibke. If he gets killed the whole army falls apart. If Blucher dies it sad but his more talented subordinates could still fil his void. Indeed he spent most of the evening after Ligny trapped under his horse. Gneisenau was more than capable of assuming his duties. If Napoleon went missing and presumed dead then no one can replace him.
Well history just proves you wrong, Napoleon was on toast in 1184 when Blucher went down and Gneisenau took over he just plain froze , and was incapable of acting as a overall commander.

Blucher was better than mediocre, he was one of the better Generals of the period.

I think Davout could have replaced Napoleon as a general.

Napoleon was a great general but he had a usually large number of flaws as well. And these flaws were deep flaws. How exactly you Napoleon is how you balance his strengths and weaknesses. But people who don't acknowledge the pretty deep nature of his flaws annoy me.
pugsville is online now  
Remove Ads
Old January 3rd, 2017, 07:18 PM   #42

Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar
General Without Peer
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,984
Blog Entries: 19

Quote:
Originally Posted by pugsville View Post
Napoleon was a great general but he had a usually large number of flaws as well. And these flaws were deep flaws. How exactly you Napoleon is how you balance his strengths and weaknesses. But people who don't acknowledge the pretty deep nature of his flaws annoy me.
I'll give my two cents. But I also need to ask, such as?
Lord Oda Nobunaga is online now  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 08:00 PM   #43

nuclearguy165's Avatar
Snake's Eye
 
Joined: Nov 2011
From: Ohio, USA
Posts: 3,516

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
I'll give my two cents. But I also need to ask, such as?
In short, I would say Napoleon, for all of his undoubted skill as a general, did think himself infallible to the point that he sometimes delegated poorly and over-centralized his command structures, so that everything had to rely too much on his own direction. Indeed, he tended to discourage initiative in his subordinates and sometimes picked the wrong ones for the wrong tasks. What this meant was that, especially on the strategic level, independently-commanding subordinates didn't do well, as most of them simply weren't reared well to serve in that regard. This flaw especially showed in 1813, and he made a number of grievous miscalculations in 1812 and 1815, which cost him those campaigns.

Have you happened to read David Chandler's Campaigns of Napoleon? He talks extensively on Napoleon's flaws as a man and commander. On Napoleon himself in particular, I see his views as very objective in that while he sees Napoleon as one of the pinnacle military commanders, he views him as a very flawed commander in certain regards as well, and these showed in his later campaigns.
nuclearguy165 is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 09:55 PM   #44

Foundry's Avatar
Archivist
 
Joined: Dec 2016
From: India
Posts: 129

Napoleon had several flaws,but more of them relate to his personal problem and grand strategic oversight than his flaws as a operational/battlefield commander.

I think the first flaw was that he was paranoid.This led to his invasion of spain amongst other reasons even though it was pointless as spain was already a docile ally,in his mind he believed the spanish habsburgs could turn on him as he was a parvenu and he needed to secure his underbelly.This insecurity regarding his humble origin(along with need for heir) leads to the fruitless marriage alliance with austria to gain legitimacy even though he needed none,and also to give away large territories and military commands to his by and large incompetent extended family almost like a clan leader,and most important of all jealously guard his own military methods rather than diffuse them within french high command like moltke did with the prussian general staff.This resulted in a one man show where he was loath to trust any too successful subordinate,encouraged internal friction between his marshals and often picked generals for loyalty and 'bravery' rather than tactical competence.The results are clear in the 1813 campaign and 1815 campaign especially.Many of his marshals like oudinot,ney were brave men without much tactical competence and most of his marshals never understood napoleon's methods clearly exactly how he wished to keep things and thus often bungled.Unlike frederick the great who wrote several 'instructions' to his generals on his method of war ,frederick never had a question on his legitimacy -bonaparte believed his legitimacy rested solely on victory and no general could be allowed to become a rival.Hankering for prestige saw him stay in spain and waste thousands of veterans even in 1813 when soult asked him to abandon spain,set up a defense line on the pyranees and reinforce the german theatre conscripts with spanish veterans.

Second is napoleon's grand strategy was inconsistent.First he wanted peace with prussia,but then to make peace with england offered her hannover,in 1807 his prime goal was a longlasting arrangement with russia to curve up europe .But he made no effort to keep the alliance and continously pressed for more and more advantage -eventually completely reversing the trend and going to war with russia in 1812.He didn't enforce the continental system rigorously in france even though he knew large scale smuggling was going on,but tried to do this militarily all over europe.
He was neither moderate enough nor ruthless enough in his grand strategy.He should have dissolved the prussian monarchy in 1807 and the austrian monarchy in 1809 even if it had taken more bloody fighting.He stopped midway for short term peace and left wounded but still capable enemies.But he didn't show moderation either which could have given him a lasting peace,he punished them with huge territorial and financial demands.This midway policy between moderation and annihilation had no lasting basis.

Finally i think he just stopped looking at his core strength,the french soldier.After 1807 he should have retrained and rebuilt his army after 2 yrs of campaigning so that it would be ready again like in 1805.Instead he bloated it with conscripts and massively ignored tactical training.Training standards took backseat to his political ambitions ,especially troop requirements in spain.There are letters of napoleon instructing commanders to give the conscripts a few bullets and a little musket training and send them to the front.This shows he had by and large begun to ignore the aspect of developing the soldier's combat potential or preserving his veteran manpower (except the guard) and just started to use them as pawns.
Foundry is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 10:06 PM   #45

Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar
General Without Peer
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,984
Blog Entries: 19

The first I read must have been Chandler and Elting.

I was wondering if the suggested flaws weren't in some other category. Perhaps tactical or strategic.

Though I'm not sure who doesn't acknowledge this, as far as I've seen this is the most prevalent criticism (next to the whole grand strategy/politics).
Though this really wasn't all that detrimental or noticeable until Heilsberg where Napoleon had Murat of all people lead an army to run after the Russians. Or when he basically threw Marmont, Jourdan, Soult, Ney and Massena around the Iberian Peninsula. But it was not until his mismanagement of Ney and Oudinot but also giving too much command authority to Murat while leaving Davout at Hamburg that this had the potential of being disastrous. So when it comes to his own operations this isn't even really seen until 1813 which is also carried over to 1815 where Ney acted a fool.
But of all the things that went wrong in 1813 this is probably one of the more minor and doesn't really account for the loss in that campaign.

Last edited by Lord Oda Nobunaga; January 3rd, 2017 at 11:14 PM.
Lord Oda Nobunaga is online now  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 11:07 PM   #46

Junius's Avatar
Lecturer
 
Joined: Oct 2016
From: India
Posts: 256
Blog Entries: 2

Ney wasn't too bad in 1815. He had a history with Wellington and anticipated a trap, thus leading to his timidity at Quatre Bras.

Vis-a-vis Waterloo, the cavalry charge was his last throw of the dice. Literally all of his reserve infantry had to defend Placement, and sending in the heavy cavalry was better than nothing. 1813 was a blotch on his record though.
Junius is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 11:19 PM   #47

nuclearguy165's Avatar
Snake's Eye
 
Joined: Nov 2011
From: Ohio, USA
Posts: 3,516

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
The first I read must have been Chandler and Elting.

I was wondering if the flaws weren't in some other category. Perhaps tactical or strategic.

Though I'm not sure who doesn't acknowledge this, as far as I've seen this is the most prevalent criticism.
Though this really wasn't all that detrimental or noticeable until Heilsberg where Napoleon had Murat of all people lead an army to run after the Russians. Or when he basically threw Marmont, Jourdan, Soult, Ney and Massena around the Iberian Peninsula. But it was not until his mismanagement of Ney and Oudinot but also giving too much command authority to Murat while leaving Davout at Hamburg that this had the potential of being disastrous. So when it comes to his own operations this isn't even really seen until 1813 which is also carried over to 1815 where Ney acted a fool.
But of all the things that went wrong in 1813 this is probably one of the more minor and doesn't really account for the loss in that campaign.
His biggest overall mistake in 1813 I would say was focusing too much on political centers, at the expense of, say, holding important geographic areas, and especially missing opportunities of destroying enemy armies. His pursuit after his victory at Dresden (which was tactically fantastic) was very lackluster, and he pretty much left Vandamme to the wolves when, if he had supported Vandamme with just one or two more corps, he could have ended the war. He also lost an earlier opportunity when, instead of continuing to pursue the allies into Silesia in June 1813, he agreed to an armistice, completely blind to the fact that the Russians and Prussians were about to split. Heck, he might have achieved that if he had sent just a third of his army to Berlin, while leaving the remainder to watch the allied armies in Silesia.

In terms of subordinates, he left his best commanders at this point, Davout and St. Cyr, in garrison command, while sending inferior commanders like Oudinot, MacDonald, and Ney on important field operations. Probably his single biggest mistake was leaving St. Cyr and 35,000 troops in Dresden rather than taking at least most, if not nearly all, of them with him to fight at Leipzig, which in consequence left him severely undermanned there and without reserves to exploit key tactical opportunities on the 16th of October.
nuclearguy165 is offline  
Old January 3rd, 2017, 11:41 PM   #48

Ajax_Minoan's Avatar
Scholar
 
Joined: Aug 2012
From: Washington State, USA.
Posts: 629
Blog Entries: 4

Quote:
Originally Posted by nuclearguy165 View Post
That can't be right. even if it was true that he somehow fought more, we have virtually no details on most them whatsoever, perhaps not even a decent number of the names. Nearly the opposite is true of Caesar's battles.
Maybe Julius fought more pitched battles, as I just reread some of his Gaul exploits on Wikipedia, but the number of Campaigns Pompeii was in was ridiculous to absurdity. He was fighting since he was a teenager. Sulla gave him the title Magnus when he was only 20. Still, I don't think his Sicily and North Africa campaigns had any great battles.
When he went to help fight Sertorius in Spain, he brought some tribes to heel on the way, and after years of war with several pitched battles with Sertorius, he went home and bit off some of the remnants of the slave army of the third Servile war.
Then it was off to fight pirates and Mithradates.
It seems like it was non-stop war for Pompeii. Of course Julius beat him up right before the end.
Also, how much credit to we give Julius for being lucky enough for his journals to survive the war.
Ajax_Minoan is offline  
Old January 4th, 2017, 12:09 AM   #49
Historian
 
Joined: Oct 2010
Posts: 5,305

I said this before

Weaknesses

*Strategic evaluation
Napoleon was unobjective in his analysis of the strategic situation which lead him make mistakes, his ego prevented him withdrawing when prudent. Russia in 1812, Liepzig in 1813 being the prime examples. At heart A dreamer and a situationist he had a deep belief in his own star and ability to improvise which gave him great confidence but often lead to an over optimistic strategic assessment. Worked when the cards when in his favour, didnt latter.

* man mangement
Napoleon repeated use the wrong man in the wrong role. And seemingly preferred lesser men for important roles,. as perhaps either he didnt want create a rival (why was Davout used so sparingly? or just preferred people who didnt ask questions , the motivation seem unclear) as matter of choice maintained a confused command structure ( the would rather his marshalls fight than actually work together) were no one had precedence, and all authority was over centralised into his hands, in Napoleon's absence the system didnt work. The rear areas in 1812 just were not organised,

* lack of understanding and/or care of logistics,
Simply didnt take the time and care to get it right.

* lack of discipline.
Napoleon's armies where not well disciplined, looting, march discipline were consistently poor overall. When in 1812 troops preferred loot to food in the packs. troops columns constantly accompanied by civilians, loot baggage.


His strengths.

* tactical eye
* operational manouveur
* understanding of the division/corps system / concentartionof force
* understanding and manipulation of moral and esprit du corps
pugsville is online now  
Old January 4th, 2017, 12:28 AM   #50

Lord Oda Nobunaga's Avatar
General Without Peer
 
Joined: Jan 2015
From: Ontario, Canada
Posts: 2,984
Blog Entries: 19

Quote:
Originally Posted by nuclearguy165 View Post
His biggest overall mistake in 1813 I would say was focusing too much on political centers, at the expense of, say, holding important geographic areas, and especially missing opportunities of destroying enemy armies. His pursuit after his victory at Dresden (which was tactically fantastic) was very lackluster, and he pretty much left Vandamme to the wolves when, if he had supported Vandamme with just one or two more corps, he could have ended the war. He also lost an earlier opportunity when, instead of continuing to pursue the allies into Silesia in June 1813, he agreed to an armistice, completely blind to the fact that the Russians and Prussians were about to split. Heck, he might have achieved that if he had sent just a third of his army to Berlin, while leaving the remainder to watch the allied armies in Silesia.

In terms of subordinates, he left his best commanders at this point, Davout and St. Cyr, in garrison command, while sending inferior commanders like Oudinot, MacDonald, and Ney on important field operations. Probably his single biggest mistake was leaving St. Cyr and 35,000 troops in Dresden rather than taking at least most, if not nearly all, of them with him to fight at Leipzig, which in consequence left him severely undermanned there and without reserves to exploit key tactical opportunities on the 16th of October.
Didn't Napoleon order Vandamme to pursue the coalition armies after Dresden? I think he even gave orders for a pursuit with his own army and then for whatever reason never actually did it. This never made any sense at all. Did he forget or something? The only other way that this could be explained is if he thought his own army was too disorganized to pursue but I mean with Vandamme's troops the coalition troops would have been beaten easily... one must assume, I don't see how this wouldn't be the case. Even with the coalition reinforcements on the second day.

I'm not sure why Napoleon did not pursue the Russians and Prussians into Silesia. If I had to guess he must have assumed that they were regrouping or it was some kind of logistical difficulty or perhaps he even suspected Austrian intervention and didn't want to expose his rear; could be a combination of these. But I don't think he could have known at all that they would split their forces. Considering that the entire time they were all under Russian command and even later when the Prussian troops were given Prussian commanders to act independently they were all within a safe distance and willing to cooperate. I think the term 'Army Group' would be appropriate here and the Coalition armies coordinated fairly well. Even Blucher would let go of his brash actions and do some unexpected things in these campaigns.

But Napoleon was no longer willing to risk his forces in an ineffective attack so long as he A) lacked the ability to secure his logistics and lines, B) lacked a strong cavalry force to allow for the advance of his troops and C) was unable to secure the Elbe River and Saxony. In order for a lightning offensive he would need to accomplish all of that. But he still determined that he required any offensive within reason because he did not have the means to maintain his position given his logistical capabilities for more than about 70% of his troops. Not sure about St. Cyr specifically, and in my opinion he was the sort of defender that was required, but Dresden was a location that he could not afford to lose due to its important political significance but also because it was his 'center of gravity' so to speak. It was his main logistical center which he needed to maintain his position, the main reason why Schwarzenberg attempted to catch the French off guard and attacked it in the first place. I don't think 35,000 troops would have really done much to change the tide at Leipzig. Even Napoleon was only willing to put up a flexible defense, it was only when Murat overstepped his authority and started throwing his troops like an angry drunk throws beer glasses, that Napoleon realized he was being cut off from all sides and was forced to retreat into the city itself. When he found out that the coalition would not try to cut off his retreat and after a prolonged fight within the city he made a mad dash to escape the clutches of all those coalition armies. Which their having been assembled all at Leipzig must have seemed unlikely to many.
Lord Oda Nobunaga is online now  
Reply

  Historum > Themes in History > War and Military History

Tags
battles, close, fought, napoelon, pitched, terms



Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Battles fought between 3 or more parties Darth Raidius War and Military History 32 January 12th, 2017 02:34 AM
before guns how many battles would be fought hand to hand mangatd War and Military History 23 September 5th, 2014 08:13 AM
General who won the most pitched battles? christos200 War and Military History 7 September 5th, 2013 09:01 AM
The importance of pitched battles Darth Roach War and Military History 11 December 27th, 2012 09:11 PM
How were night battles fought HistoryFreak1912 General History 10 February 14th, 2011 05:47 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.