Examples of successful generals getting promoted with little to no experience

pikeshot1600

Ad Honoris
Jul 2009
10,001
If it has not been mentioned, both Albrecht von Roon and Helmuth von Moltke the Elder held high command while not having command experience at lower echelon. They both gained their military experience primarily as staff officers in the first half of the 19th century when wars were few. Von Roon was a political general, and von Moltke was an intellectual-technocrat. As Minister of War (Roon) and Chief of Staff (Moltke), they rose to field marshal with no combat experience.
 
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May 2018
928
Michigan
He was not. He suggested taking one redoubt and placing a battery there over looking the bay.. There have been claims that plan was suggested by others before him. And he did not even oversee the execution of the plan.

Regardless it was much less experience than Massena, Augereau, Serurier, Kellerman, all had much much more and successful command experience.
Hold on, hold on. I typically enjoy your perspective, but how was Napoleon not key to French success in the Siege of Toulon? The early republican period of France saw more incompetent generals than the British Army in Crimea, promoted based on party loyalty over military ability.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,760
Hold on, hold on. I typically enjoy your perspective, but how was Napoleon not key to French success in the Siege of Toulon? The early republican period of France saw more incompetent generals than the British Army in Crimea, promoted based on party loyalty over military ability.
How was he key?

He was never in command, He never directed operations. he proposed taking 1 redoubt and putting a battery there. He did not direct the assuault. There are some who say it was not even his idea originally.
 
May 2018
928
Michigan
How was he key?

He was never in command, He never directed operations. he proposed taking 1 redoubt and putting a battery there. He did not direct the assuault. There are some who say it was not even his idea originally.
I don't know, saying that Napoleon wasn't involved in the Siege of Toulon, or didn't play an important role, seems like saying that Wellesley didn't play an important role in the Fourth Anglo Mysore War, simply because George Harris was in command instead of Wellesley. Granted, its been a long time since I've been a Napoleon guy, but IIRC:

-He personally reorganized the army's artillery into an actual, functional branch that could support combat operations.

-He was requisitioning guns from the entire countryside, getting at least 100.

-Even British historians, and otherwise wildly pro-British sources generally highlight the things Napoleon did right during the battle: effectively organize artillery, and in some accounts, actually put energy into the army (at the very least, motivated its artillerymen to more productive action).

I am probably not the best person to be defending Napoleon, not the least of which because I don't hold his record overall with much reverence.
 
May 2018
928
Michigan
If it has not been mentioned, both Albrecht von Roon and Helmuth von Moltke the Elder held high command while not having command experience at lower echelon. They both gained their military experience primarily as staff officers in the first half of the 19th century when wars were few. Von Roon was a political general, and von Moltke was an intellectual-technocrat. As Minister of War (Roon) and Chief of Staff (Moltke), they rose to field marshal with no combat experience.

That is an excellent point. Moltke essentially rose to his position through his brilliance as opposed to a massive battle record. A Prussian Chief of Staff was a mighty and terrifying thing that could, in some cases, overrule commanders and bring grievances directly to the next higher authority. As opposed to the battlefield bluster of Blucher, Moltke's cold and calculating strategy won Prussia its greatest victories that aren't tainted by being "Nazi."

The British, French and Russian armies would later have a similar staff system, but I don't believe any of them had the power of their counterparts in the Prussian system. Certainly, no official position in the U.S. Army during the ACW (close enough to the period) had the right to appeal a decision to the next higher command echelon?

I only say this to reinforce your point: in addition to having no combat experience, their positions held even more power within the Prussian system than their other European counterparts.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,760
I don't know, saying that Napoleon wasn't involved in the Siege of Toulon, or didn't play an important role, seems like saying that Wellesley didn't play an important role in the Fourth Anglo Mysore War, simply because George Harris was in command instead of Wellesley. Granted, its been a long time since I've been a Napoleon guy, but IIRC:
He was involved, he was important but was he key? How long a piece of string. certainly afterwards he was showered with credit but it's conceivable his impact was negligible.

The Defenders MAY have given up and withdrawn because they believed fort Mont Faron had fallen, something that Napoleon had neither advocated nor been involved with.

See page 122 ("The Armies of the First french Republic and the Rise of the Marshals Of Napoleon I," -- Ramsay Weston Phipps)
"It would, by the way, be interesting to know how far the garrison understood the real position on Mont Faron they seen to belived it had been lost"

page 68 - "Lord Hood And the Defence of Toulon" (J Holland Rose)
"this judgement differs utterly form that of General Dundas and the soldiers, who sae the loss of the fort involved the immediate evacuation o fthe peninsula.
If any doubt remained on that subject , it was ended by another untoward event , the loss of Mt Faron"


-He personally reorganized the army's artillery into an actual, functional branch that could support combat operations.
What is functional? They guns did not fire cannon balls before?

-He was requisitioning guns from the entire countryside, getting at least 100.
how many were effective?

-Even British historians, and otherwise wildly pro-British sources generally highlight the things Napoleon did right during the battle: effectively organize artillery, and in some accounts, actually put energy into the army (at the very least, motivated its artillerymen to more productive action).
well he certainly organized the garnishing of credit afterwards.
 
May 2018
928
Michigan
He was involved, he was important but was he key? How long a piece of string. certainly afterwards he was showered with credit but it's conceivable his impact was negligible.

The Defenders MAY have given up and withdrawn because they believed fort Mont Faron had fallen, something that Napoleon had neither advocated nor been involved with.

See page 122 ("The Armies of the First french Republic and the Rise of the Marshals Of Napoleon I," -- Ramsay Weston Phipps)
"It would, by the way, be interesting to know how far the garrison understood the real position on Mont Faron they seen to belived it had been lost"

page 68 - "Lord Hood And the Defence of Toulon" (J Holland Rose)
"this judgement differs utterly form that of General Dundas and the soldiers, who sae the loss of the fort involved the immediate evacuation o fthe peninsula.
If any doubt remained on that subject , it was ended by another untoward event , the loss of Mt Faron"



What is functional? They guns did not fire cannon balls before?


how many were effective?


well he certainly organized the garnishing of credit afterwards.
I'm not inclined to disagree, thanks for the sources Ill have to check out.