Has any country in the world ever assembled a more talented military high command than the French did in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars?

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,426
#41
Did Napoleon pick generals for their ability or for their loyalty to him? Far more the latter than the former for me.
Bernadotte – whose case has already been raised — was rather picked in order to make sure he was inside pissing out, rather than outside pissing in.

Then events conspired so that he still ended up outside, pissing in.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,426
#42
There are also the English commanders of the Hundred Years War - not just Edward III, the Black Prince and Henry V, but also the Duke of Lancaster, Dagworth, Bentley, Bedford and Talbot. These men generally worked at a much higher level than Napoleon's Marshals, as due to poor communications they were often administrators and diplomats as well as soldiers.
There were also the French commanders of the Hundred Years War – not just Jeanne d'Arc but du Guesclin, Richemont, de Rais, Dunois and the Bureau brothers, the artillery specialists.

John Talbot was the best of the British crop, but bought the farm when up against Jean Bureau's artillery at Castillon in 1453.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,426
#43
Off topic, but the German Army wasn't defeated til the midpoint of the Argonne offensive in 1918.

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I.e. the French 4e Armée under Gen. Gouraud...

But even then it wasn't even in the Sambre-Meuse sector that the Hindenburg Line was broken in 1918. The British did it at the St Quentin canal (Bataille de Selles to the French), and the French did it at the Bataille de Mont d'Origny.
 

Larrey

Ad Honorem
Sep 2011
5,426
#44
On another tack re the OP:

Have any of you here played the "Europa Universalis" series of games?

One of the things these feature is a database of commanders for the various nations, and interpreted as a numerical formula.

The EU2 list is available here:
Åâðîïà-2

The evaluations are clearly debatable. (Shouldn't be a problem with this OP at least.) But it's a pretty handy listing of who might be the contenders. :)
 
Apr 2017
701
Lemuria
#45
One very talented pre--Napoleonic but revolutionary Marshall was Jean Moreau. He defeated the English at battle of Tourcoing (a massive battle with more than 145,000 soldiers deployed) despite being outnumbered and won the War of the First Coalition. Napoleonic and Revolutionary France had a surplus of military talent that was squandered in the ill-fated Russian Invasion and the war of attrition in Spain. In term of conventional warfare, the French were nigh to invisible those days on the battlefield. If the French had not invaded Spain or Russia, they might have been the masters of Europe right now with territories extending to the Netherlands, Western Germany, Northern Spain and Italy.. Napoleon was like an obsessive gambler. He always wanted more and more. The French would really have been better off without Napoleon in the long run.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,103
#46
One very talented pre--Napoleonic but revolutionary Marshall was Jean Moreau. He defeated the English at battle of Tourcoing (a massive battle with more than 145,000 soldiers deployed) despite being outnumbered and won the War of the First Coalition. Napoleonic and Revolutionary France had a surplus of military talent that was squandered in the ill-fated Russian Invasion and the war of attrition in Spain. In term of conventional warfare, the French were nigh to invisible those days on the battlefield. If the French had not invaded Spain or Russia, they might have been the masters of Europe right now with territories extending to the Netherlands, Western Germany, Northern Spain and Italy.. Napoleon was like an obsessive gambler. He always wanted more and more. The French would really have been better off without Napoleon in the long run.
The Figures I've seen has the French outnumbering the allies, for Tourcoing , the result iof which was marginal victory at best,. how is this Battle some major achivement?
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,385
#47
Taking Moscow would not have been possible with incompetent generals... ..
Taking Moscow (after a summer campaing) is not such a big feat when you have the largest army the world had ever seen at almot 700 000 men and a significant manpower advantage over your ennemy, in an age and a war where manpower was key and considering the French also had strong artillery and cavalry

Losing almost the whole army in a few months however is not a good sign nor an indication of competence....
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
13,385
#48
The more I read about how brilliant many of the generals of this era were, the more I'm starting to believe this. I'm sure that if it wasn't for Napoleon's reputation towering above everyone else's at the time, more of his marshals would be remembered as great generals in their own right, and not just great subordinates to an even greater commander.
What are your criteria for "brilliance" in a general ?

The problem I have is that at the time France had strong (and numerous) cavalry and artillery and a numerous population (by far the largest in Europe bar Russia) thus army... With so many advantages it was just a good time to be a general in the french army.
 
Apr 2017
701
Lemuria
#49
The Figures I've seen has the French outnumbering the allies, for Tourcoing , the result iof which was marginal victory at best,. how is this Battle some major achivement?
The French had 70,000 and less cannons. The British more than 75,000 men. The French lost only 3000 men. The british about twice.
 
Feb 2016
4,346
Japan
#50
The British didn’t not have 70 000 men. I doubt in 1790s they could have deployed more than 20-30 000 men in a single theatre at any one time and THAT would considered a major deployment.
 

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