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Old November 28th, 2012, 12:06 PM   #21

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Originally Posted by Pacific_Victory View Post
You should look into them. Davout and Lannes were the cream of the Napoleonic crop, while men like Ney were mostly just a result of Napoleon's habit of promoting men on bravery alone. For all his failings, no one has EVER challenged Ney's courage.
Have no fear Davout, Lannes, and Suchet are on my winter research list
As for Neys courage it is legendry.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 12:09 PM   #22

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Indeed, so many "what ifs". It is remarkable how close the Russians came to attacking Napoleon instead of retreating into deep Russia and scorching the earth as they went. There were some pretty substantial calls from many of the Russian generals to attack the Grandee Armee in a pitched battle before giving up another inch of Russian territory. Imagine if that view had won out!
Indeed so. Although its quite well recorded the Russians opposed the scorched earth policies of Barclay de Tolly and replaced him with Kutuzov.
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Old November 28th, 2012, 12:24 PM   #23

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Originally Posted by funakison View Post
Have no fear Davout, Lannes, and Suchet are on my winter research list
As for Neys courage it is legendry.
As Mangekyou rightly pointed out, you would do well to add Marshal Massena to that list. A man with sense.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 04:46 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Ceasar View Post

My Opinions:
1. France had the best elite infantry of the Napoleonic wars, namely the Middle Guard...
Why are grenadiers regarded as better than line infantry? Being better dressed doesn't make them superior at fighting

At Waterloo, the British 1st foot guards routed the Imperial Guard

Quote:
2. Again, I would give this to France. Their Carabiniers a Cheval and Grenadiers a Cheval were both considered some of the best heavy cavalry in Europe...
By who?
Why are the Horse Grenadiers of the Imperial Guard regarded as heavy cavalry - by the end of the Napoleonic Wars, the distinction between heavy and light horse was blurred at best

British heavy cavalry were just as effective, particularly those of the KGL

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3. Either France or Russia would claim the best artillery...
I would say that French artillery was the best - Napoleon developed the concept of massing fire power at crucial points

Quote:
4...Britain or Austria had the best skirmishers/snipers....

5. I do not feel I am sufficiently informed to assess light infantry...
As stated, skirmishing is just one function of light infantry

The British riflemen were almost certainly the best of the era - particularly given the edge of their Baker rifles


Quote:
6. Russia's Cossack auxiliaries were considered by Napoleon himself to be the best light cavalry in all of Europe...
At the time, Cossacks were more irregular horsemen than trained light cavalry and they were inferior in many functions, but as scouts they were excellent - especially in their own country
On the retreat from Moscow, they were much feared

Squadron versus squadron though, I'd back British light dragoons against them

Wellington actually said he'd back his cavalry against the French in small numbers but as the size of the formation grew, the French were the better cavalry as British cavalry lost their formation in the charge

So I vote French chasseurs

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7. Britain had the best line infantry...
Yes, the training with live ammunition and focus on rate of fire gave the British infantry an edge

But also the British took the bayonet and married it to the Highland charge - the bayonet charge became an effective offensive weapon

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8. Britain had the best crew and naval leadership during the Napoleonic wars...Britain's practice of hiring actual sailors to man these ships..most other navies used impressed civilians for their crews...
The press gang was not unknown in English coastal towns either

At Trafalgar the Royal Navy won because of two things, inspired leadership and the fact that RN ships had been at sea for months/years whilst the Franco-Spanish fleet had been confined to port for much of the time

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9. Ironically, the French always had superior ship designs to those of England. France would always develop a new design of ship and then Britain and the other nations would copy it. Spain had a tendency to build huge ships, such as the Santisima Trinidad, the most armed ship in the world (144 guns compared to HMS Victory's 104)...
France produced generally reckoned better ship designs and also ship armament

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10. I don't know...
The British army had a rotten promotion system of purchased commissions - it was not unknown for infants to have an army commission and yet it did produce some fine commanders, none more so that the Duke of Wellington

French commanders were not that much better and perhaps at lower level it didn't make that much of a difference since tactics were so simple and regimented

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11. The truth is every nation had brilliant generals at one time or another. Napoleon was clearly the best one (goes without saying), but generals such as Wellington, Archduke Charles, and Suvorov were also not far behind. Suvorov was one of the several generals who had never lost a battle (he fought about 95) and became one of the few people to ever be appointed to the status of generalissimo in Russia.
Don't forget Bagration, he entered the Russian army as a sergeant and ended a full general of infantry

Napoleon though was a colossus - he fought more battles than Caesar, Hannibal and Alexander combined
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Old November 29th, 2012, 07:24 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Poly View Post
Why are grenadiers regarded as better than line infantry? Being better dressed doesn't make them superior at fighting

At Waterloo, the British 1st foot guards routed the Imperial Guard
The Imperial Guard - actually only a part of it, the Young Guard and several battalions of the Old Guard being on the french right flank helping Lobeau's troops to contain Von Bulow - regrouped to attack Wellington's guard, this represented around 7 battalions.

The big guys had to climb a muddy and wet ground, had in front of them not only Wellington's guard but also Nassauers, were attacked on their flank by Ziethen's corps, and there were finally some guns shooting shrapnel at a few yards of distance.

In summary the Guard was incomplete, outnumbered, didn't had the upper ground, was gunned at short range (unlike the allied soldiers), and blindsided
by Prussian troops.

So it is not exactly as if the Old Guard met Wellington's elite troops face to face on a flat ground with nobody else on the field.

You therefore cannot conclude that the British 1st foot guard routed the Imperial Guard, this is ignoring the most basic facts of the battle.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 07:48 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Duguesclin View Post
The Imperial Guard - actually only a part of it, the Young Guard and several battalions of the Old Guard being on the french right flank helping Lobeau's troops to contain Von Bulow - regrouped to attack Wellington's guard, this represented around 7 battalions...

You therefore cannot conclude that the British 1st foot guard routed the Imperial Guard, this is ignoring the most basic facts of the battle.
Battle_of_Waterloo Battle_of_Waterloo

"...further to the west, 1,500 British Foot Guards* under Maitland were lying down to protect themselves from the French artillery. As two battalions of Chasseurs approached (the second prong of the Imperial Guard's attack) Maitland's guardsmen rose and devastated them with point-blank volleys...a bayonet charge by the Foot Guards then broke them...

The third prong, a fresh Chasseur battalion, now came up in support. The British guardsmen retired with these Chasseurs in pursuit, but the latter were halted as the 52nd Light Infantry led by John Colborne wheeled in line onto their flank and poured a devastating fire into them and then charged....under this onslaught they too broke...
"
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Old November 29th, 2012, 07:50 AM   #27

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British heavy cavalry were just as effective, particularly those of the KGL

Squadron versus squadron though, I'd back British light dragoons against them
oh comon.. british cavalry was a laughing-stock.....

"I considered our cavalry so inferior to the French from the want of order , that although I considered one squadron a match for two French, I didn't like to see 4 British opposed to 4 French : and as the numbers increased and order, of course, became more necessary I was the more unwilling to risk our men without having a superiority in numbers."
- Wellington

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Originally Posted by Poly View Post
Squadron versus squadron though, I'd back British light dragoons against them

.....like for example at Albuera where two dragoon regiments were routed by one regiment of Polish Vistula Uhlans. At the very beginning of the battle, General Long ordered Ltn. Col. Sir Granby Calcroft of the 3rd Dragoon Guards (370-374 men) to meet the lancers: "Forward and charge, Sir Granby, if you please." (Ian Fletcher wrote that General Long brought 3rd Dragoon Guards and 13th Light Dragoons. The Poles however mention only one British regiment.) The 3rd Dragoon Guards was a fine unit. The dragoon guards regiments took precedence over all other cavalry regiments of the line. The right to use the 'Ich Dien' badge was granted to the 3rd Dragoon Guards in 1765, and subsequently became their cap badge.
The dragoon leading squadron consisted of 120 men; and they were the first ones to clash with the Poles (50 men). The combat was short and the dragoons broke and fled. Immediately the remaining squadrons of 3rd Dragoon Guards attacked the uhlans. The Polish horse skirmishers fled downhill.
Once the pursuers became disordered the uhlans slowed down their "flight", halted, turned around and attacked the disordered dragoons. The dragoons were driven uphill and pursued until British infantry opened fire. The musketry forced the uhlans to fall back.

......

The British 4th Dragoons charged home but paid heavy price for their decision. "Two British dragoon sqadrons who tried to pursue them (Polish and French horsemen) were overthrown, losing their commanding officers and several men." (Gates - "The Spanish Ulcer" p 259)
Madden gives more details, "The charge of our right wing was made against a brigade of Polish cavalry, very large men, well-mounted; the front rank armed with long spears, with flags on them, which they flourish about, so as to frighten our horses, and thence either pulled our men off their horses or ran them through. They were perfect barbarians ... two captains and one lieutenant taken and one captain and one lieutenant severely wounded, with a great proportion of men and horses killed and wounded." (Note: by exaggerating some things Madden is making an excuse for the defeat of his regiment. It was not a brigade of cavalry but a regiment. They were not "large men, well-mounted", they were light cavalry, average men mounted on not very impresisve looking but agile horses. The dragoons simply folded.)
The dragoons fled "faster than they arrived," as it is stated in British report.


from:
British Cavalry : Guards : Dragoons : Hussars : Uniforms : Organization

I think above quotes well described the effectivnes of British dragoons





Quote:
But also the British took the bayonet and married it to the Highland charge - the bayonet charge became an effective offensive weapon
I guess the bayonet charge became effective offensive weapon against the Brits.

"The Poles however were not done yet. Officer Bronisz came back with 200 infantrymen (150 garrison + 60 reinforcements). They fired their muskets and charged with bayonets. The 350 men of 89th Foot had enough and broke. Blayney's Bloodhounds (nickname of the 89th) fled before the bayonets of the charging Poles touched them. Blayney however stood his ground before being knocked to the ground and taken prisoner. Napier wrote: "He was immediately made prisoner; his troops again fled to the beach ..." (Napier - "History of the War in the Peninsula 1807-1814" Vol III, p 19)
The Poles wanted to kill him but Frenchman Frederic Petit saved him. "

from:

Battle Fuengirola 1810 : Bataille : Batalla : Schlacht : Bitwa

Last edited by Mosquito; November 29th, 2012 at 08:03 AM.
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Old November 29th, 2012, 08:22 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Mosquito View Post
oh comon.. british cavalry was a laughing-stock.....

"I considered our cavalry so inferior to the French from the want of order , that although I considered one squadron a match for two French, I didn't like to see 4 British opposed to 4 French : and as the numbers increased and order, of course, became more necessary I was the more unwilling to risk our men without having a superiority in numbers."
- Wellington
...that's what I just said:

Squadron for squadron British cavalry was better than the French (Wellington said one British would match TWO French squadrons) but as the numbers increased, the French (as noted by Wellington) held their lines far better

That said British heavy cavalry (especially those of the KGL) had noted success

A KGL squadron broke a French square

British infantry never seemed to have much trouble defeating French cavalry, a British heavy cavalry sergeant took a French eagle at Waterloo

British heavy cavalry charged with devastating effect at the battle of Salamanca - 3rd & 4th dragoons plus 5th dragoon guards
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Old November 29th, 2012, 08:43 AM   #29

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poly View Post

Squadron for squadron British cavalry was better than the French...
depend on counting.... if single squadron of Polish lancers was reported by fleeing British as "brigade" , probably Wellington meant that British cavalry squadron is better than french platoon
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Old November 29th, 2012, 10:01 AM   #30

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depend on counting.... if single squadron of Polish lancers was reported by fleeing British as "brigade" , probably Wellington meant that British cavalry squadron is better than french platoon
Thats a silly thing to say, imo.

Poly is absolutely correct. In smaller squadrons the British cavalry was more than a match for French cavalry, and in the maller squadron skirmishes, the British cavalry almost always got the better of the French counterparts.

Its only in the grander scope charges where British cavalry lost its cohesion and discipline. That is the reason why French cavalry on the whole was more qualitative.
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