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Old June 18th, 2017, 05:55 AM   #1

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The 88 Campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Fred


Why did Napoleon urge all officers to study these men? What was so remarkable about their generalship that he wanted people to emulate them? Do you agree that they were the greatest generals of all time? If not, why?

And what modern generals do you think an aspiring military officer should study in addition to them?

Thank you.

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Old June 18th, 2017, 05:00 PM   #2

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Their operational principles were similar if not the same. They were also some of the greats, logically if all of them are so good then they must be doing something correctly.

In addition to Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederick I would also read about the eastern generals, that is the Middle East and East Asia. Though of course one must read Napoleon as well as the campaigns of Helmuth von Moltke. After that it is fairly difficult as there were not very many generals that won constantly. One would also need to understand what makes a good general, not just who or what they did and a strong understanding of strategy, operations, tactics, planning and logistics. Clausewitz and Jomini provide some good reading of this material. When it comes to WW1 and WW2 I would rather try to understand how headquarters considered planning and strategy rather than any individual person. Emulation can only get you so far if you do not have a good grasp of strategy, tactics, operations and planning.

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Old June 19th, 2017, 03:44 AM   #3

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Originally Posted by Lord Oda Nobunaga View Post
Their operational principles were similar if not the same. They were also some of the greats, logically if all of them are so good then they must be doing something correctly.

In addition to Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederick I would also read about the eastern generals, that is the Middle East and East Asia. Though of course one must read Napoleon as well as the campaigns of Helmuth von Moltke. After that it is fairly difficult as there were not very many generals that won constantly. One would also need to understand what makes a good general, not just who or what they did and a strong understanding of strategy, operations, tactics, planning and logistics. Clausewitz and Jomini provide some good reading of this material. When it comes to WW1 and WW2 I would rather try to understand how headquarters considered planning and strategy rather than any individual person. Emulation can only get you so far if you do not have a good grasp of strategy, tactics, operations and planning.
Why would you say that they were similar? How so?

And what books would you recommend for all of those generals? I have TA Ddoge's entire volume, would that suffice? Plus Frederick at War, and Marlborough as commander.
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Old June 19th, 2017, 04:30 AM   #4

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Did Napoleon or someone else say they had 88 campaigns between them? Did you count them all yourself? If the latter, I don't know whether to find that impressive or ever-so-slightly concerning.

Other than that, I agree or Lord Oda. You need to have a solid grasp of military matters IN ADDITION to learning from military history.
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Old June 19th, 2017, 04:44 AM   #5
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A lot of Military History of the long past is pretty poor an doc dubious value as actually reliable history let alone a valuable instruction tool.

Much can be learned from the detailed study of almost any campaign that there is good records and information on.

Mistakes and errors can be better learning experience though brilliant moves.
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Old June 19th, 2017, 05:21 AM   #6

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Originally Posted by nuclearguy165 View Post
Did Napoleon or someone else say they had 88 campaigns between them? Did you count them all yourself? If the latter, I don't know whether to find that impressive or ever-so-slightly concerning.

Other than that, I agree or Lord Oda. You need to have a solid grasp of military matters IN ADDITION to learning from military history.
Um...Napoleon said that.
“Read and re-read,” said Napoleon, “the eighty-eight campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Cæsar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugène, and Frederick. Take them as your models, for it is the only means of becoming a great leader, and of mastering the secrets of the art of war. Your intelligence, enlightened by such study, will then reject methods contrary to those adopted by these great men.”

So let's cool it with the passive aggressive digs.

And what would you suggest someone add to their reading list in addition to the campaigns recommended by Napoleon?
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Old June 19th, 2017, 05:22 AM   #7

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Whilst a basic knowledge and some ideas from history may be a good idea, what sets a great leader apart is his ability to think - especially think on his feet.
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Old June 19th, 2017, 06:14 AM   #8

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Um...Napoleon said that.
“Read and re-read,” said Napoleon, “the eighty-eight campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Cæsar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugène, and Frederick. Take them as your models, for it is the only means of becoming a great leader, and of mastering the secrets of the art of war. Your intelligence, enlightened by such study, will then reject methods contrary to those adopted by these great men.”

So let's cool it with the passive aggressive digs.

And what would you suggest someone add to their reading list in addition to the campaigns recommended by Napoleon?
Ah, well, you got me there, so I apologize.

Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Nadir Shah, and Marlborough are worthy here as well. Looking over the campaigns of those 4, they pretty much speak for themselves.
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Old June 19th, 2017, 06:58 AM   #9

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Ah, well, you got me there, so I apologize.

Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Nadir Shah, and Marlborough are worthy here as well. Looking over the campaigns of those 4, they pretty much speak for themselves.
I have a book on Marlborough, I find it interesting that Napoleon considered Eugene the better commander. Perhaps an Italian bias? Perhaps it was his hatred of the English?

Why do you think he regarded Eastern and Middle Eastern commanders so poorly?
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Old June 19th, 2017, 07:11 AM   #10

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I have a book on Marlborough, I find it interesting that Napoleon considered Eugene the better commander. Perhaps an Italian bias? Perhaps it was his hatred of the English?

Why do you think he regarded Eastern and Middle Eastern commanders so poorly?
Well, a westerner such as Napoleon was not liable to consider easterners. It was the Euro-centrism which existed in Napoleon's time, pure and simple.

Last edited by nuclearguy165; June 19th, 2017 at 07:13 AM.
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