Historum Essay contest#3 January 2020 - A Military Campaign



Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
The theme for this contest is "A Military Campaign".

You may interpret this theme however you wish, and it can relate to any time period or geographic area.

Please read the contest rules here:
Essay contest rules

The deadline for contest entries is 23:59:59 GMT 31st January. Entries submitted after this date may be disqualified.

Submissions will be posted in this thread by the contest administrator (me).

Any questions, please start another thread in this forum.


Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Entry #1: Eagles Over Europe: A Short Introduction to 1805

The Storm Clouds Gather.

The War of the Third Coalition was in the brewing since 1802, starting as a consequence of the fragile peace that formed between Britain and France as a result of the Treaty of Amiens. Initially both Britain and France welcomed the peace with enthusiasm and were happy to see over a decade of war come to a close. Unfortunately this settlement was not to last with both sides being dissatisfied and unwilling to keep to the treaty. Napoleon occupied Switzerland, refused to open continental ports to British trade and annexed territories In Italy, including Piedmont, Elba and Parma. A report given by General Sebastiani after a visit to the Ottoman Empire hinted on the renewal of the French ambitions in Egypt and caused concern for the British. Britain refused to relinquish its control of Malta, which was occupied since 1800 after a long siege. This act outraged Napoleon. The final straw came in March when Napoleon ordered a formation of the 12.000 strong Army of Hannover under General Mortier with the intention to threaten Hannover and intimidate the British into complying with the terms of the treaty. Britain sent an ultimatum that required France to withdraw from the Netherlands and after Napoleon refused Britain declared war. Shortly after the declaration of war Britain blockaded French ports while Napoleon seized Hannover. The war between Britain and France had begun [1].

During the period between 1803 and 1805 Britain looked for allies on the continent. They attempted to persuade Austria, Russia and Prussia to join their cause along with other minor states. The Russians were concerned about the French intentions in the Balkans and the Mediterranean and joined the alliance, setting aside their differences with the British over Malta and the Ottoman Empire. The Anglo-Russian treaty of St. Petersburg was signed on the 11th of April 1805. The British and the Russians were also making diplomatic overtures in Vienna to persuade the Austrians to join as well. The Austrians weren’t so enthusiastic initially but by 1805 they agreed to take up the cause against Napoleon, the Prussians delayed and didn’t join at all, which would prove to have great consequences [2].

The drop that broke the camel’s back for the Russians came in 1804 with Napoleon’s abduction and execution of the Bourbon Duc d’Enghien, an émigré and a member of a suspected conspiracy to launch a revolt against Napoleon, funded by the British government. A band of dragoons crossed the border into Baden and on the night of the 15th/16th of March abducted the duke, executing him in a show trial, the war had truly begun [3].

The Eagles on the March.

The Coalition intended to launch a European-wide offensive involving over half a million men all together. 16.000 Swedes and Russians were to invade from Swedish Pomerania, A combined Anglo-Russian force was to land in Southern Italy to support the Bourbon Kingdom of Naples with another British expeditionary force landing in Hannover. The main Austrian army, over 100.000 strong, would march through Northern Italy as they anticipated that the main French thrust would launch from there. The secondary Austrian army, under the nominal command of Archduke Ferdinand but de facto command under Chief of Staff Karl Mack would march through Bavaria with the main Russian force marching through the Austrian Empire to reinforce them [4].

Napoleon spent the previous 2 years drilling his Army of England at the camp of Boulogne with the intention to invade and bring down the Perfidious Albion that had frustrated him so greatly. The army was superbly trained and included the 7.000 strong elite formation that was the Imperial Guard [5].

The invasion of England was not destined to be with Napoleon setting out on a march with 194.045 men, [6] with which he reached Strasbourg on the 20th of September. A further 30.000 under Brune men were left at the Channel Coast to safeguard against a British landing, 50.000 men under Massena were sent to Northern Italy to defeat the Austrians, which they did after a hard fought battle at Caldiero on the 30th of October. 16.000 men under St. Cyr were in Southern Italy to guard Naples.

The Manoeuvre of Ulm.

The Austrians broke camp on the 5th of September and crossed into Bavaria, over 70.000 men in all marched on Munich and took it with little resistance, eventually reaching the river Iller and stretching out across Bavaria with small detachments sent to the Tyrol to guard the Alpine passes. The 43.000 Austrians across Bavaria utilized the new supply system, recently implemented by Mack’s reforms before the war, and attempted to live off the land. This supply system collapsed and the Austrians were left in a difficult situation. The Bavarians claimed their loyalty to the coalition while pulling their army back and declaring for the French [7].

Mack believed that the French were further away than they actually were and as such was taken by surprise when he realized that the French were near, marching in a large concentric arch Napoleon’s army closed in on the Danube, threatening to put the Austrian army in a vice and press them into destruction. Mack could’ve broken out before it was too late but instead held a delusion that the Russians would reinforce him or that Napoleon would march west back to France [8].

The Austrians made several attempts to break out with multiple battles ensuing, but alas their efforts were not enough. The French destroyed several smaller Austrian detachments in minor battles and started to press the Austrians into Ulm. Augsburg was taken by the French and made into a new based of operations, the IV Corps under Soult then went around to west to pressure the Austrians even further. Landsberg was taken on the 9th and and Memmingen followed soon. Bernadotte’s I Corps dashed to Munich while Davout guarded the western approaches, Ulm now stood surrounded. One last attempt was made to break out at Juningen with the Austrians attacking an isolated French division under Dupont. Though heavily outnumbered the division held and retreated with heavy losses only after inflicting thousands of casualties on the Austrians. A group of 6.000 men under Archduke Ferdinand broke out of Ulm and straggled their way to Bohemia but the main army remained trapped. On the 16th Napoleon shelled the city with warning shots and demanded surrender, Mack agreed to surrender if he was not relieved by the 25th. Mack capitulated on the 20th and surrendered the city with over 24.500 men, losing over 60.000 men during the course of the campaign [9].

The Beautiful Sun of Austerlitz.

The French army set out and pursued the Russians, who were by now at the Austro-Bavarian border. The Russians began their withdrawal and initiated a campaign of scorched earth, the French were close to Vienna in early November and started to cross the Danube, a few battles occurred, but the French captured Vienna on the 11th and continued their pursuit of the Russians, who were now retreating into Moravia.

In Moravia the French forces became overstretched and the strategic situation started to turn against them with a further threat of Prussia entering the war along with more Russian reinforcements. Napoleon decided to pick the battlefield near Austerlitz and the Pratzen Heights, needing a decisive battle to end the campaign. He studied the ground several days before the battle and abandoned the crucial high ground to the allied forces . Napoleon wanted to force the allies to sweep down from the heights and attack his weakened flank, the allied plan went exactly according to Napoleon’s predictions though it must be noted that it was not illogical. Had the coalition forces pushed down with more force they probably could’ve won and the plan would seem perfectly logical today [10].

It would not be required to repeat the battle details of Austerlitz here as the battle is quite well known, as the allies descended from the Pratzen they were halted at the Goldbach stream with the Marshal Soult’s 2 divisons of his IV Corps spearheading towards the Pratzen, taking the crucial ground and defeating several counter attacks with Marshal Lannes fighting his battle on the flank near the Bruenn-Olmeutz road. Over 74.000 French and 81.000 [11] allies clashed on the battlefield in which Napoleon won his battle and inflicted over 27.000 casualties while losing only about 9.000 [12].

The army stood tired with no pursuit occurring, shortly after the battle Austria signed the Peace of Pressburg which the Russians refused to ratify. The diversionary attacks in Swedish Pomerania, Hannover and Southern Italy came to nothing with almost no major actions being fought. The French conquered Naples in 1806 and consolidated their control over Germany. The treaty was harsh on Austria which had to give up Dalmatia, the Tyrol and pay reparations while receiving Salzburg as compensation.

Napoleon got his victory and won a campaign that went down in history as one of his finest, yet much luck was involved with many what-ifs presenting themselves: If Mack broke out of the encirclement at Ulm? If Prussia joined the war? If the coalition forces waited for reinforcements before giving battle at Austerlitz? Whatever the case may be we are left with one of the most astounding military campaigns in history, for better or worse.


[1]-Goetz, pages 23 and 24.

[2]- Chandler, page 9.

[3]- Fremont-Barnes, pages 31-33.

[4]- Chandler, page 10.

[5]- Horne, page 82.

[6]- Duffy, page 40.

[7]- Duffy, pages 38-39.

[8]- Horne, pages 87-88.

[9]- Duffy, pages 48-51.

[10]- Duffy, page 94.

[11]- Goetz, pages 307-314. A detailed analysis of the allied strength is provided and as such these estimates are used as the most reliable.

[12]- Goetz, page 280. A more detailed casualty table is provided.

Literature used: Horne, Alistair. How Far From Austerlitz?: Napoleon 1805-1815 (1996).

Duffy, Christopher. Austerlitz 1805 (1977).

Fremont-Barnes, Gregory. Battle Story: Austerlitz 1805 (2013).

Chandler, David G. Austerlitz 1805: The Battle of Three Emperors (1990).

Goetz, Robert. 1805: Austerlitz: Napoleon and the Destruction of the Third Coalition (2005).
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Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Entry #2: Thutmose III, the Napoleon of Egypt, at Megiddo.

The one of the Sedge and the Bee Menkheperra [Established Manifestation of Ra], Son of Ra Thutmose [Born of Thot] [1] was standing on his golden chariot, observing the pass of Aruna[2].

Thutmose was reigning with Maatkare [Order of the Soul of Ra] Hatshepsut [Foremost of Noble Ladies; Son of Ra or Daughter of Ra, she switched from male to female and back without troubles[3]] and he obtained the leadership of the Army in Lower Kmt. He had to move North to face a rebellion concentrated in the city of Megiddo. Egypt had subjugated those lands and the time for a liberation war had come. What historians wonder is why the allied forces [the rebels] didn’t try and stop Thutmose South of modern Gaza. They simply waited for the Good God of KmT. There is a wide consensus about this: the allied rebels made their worse mistake ever not facing Menkheperra as soon as he left the Egyptian land.

Let’s go to the war council[4].

The Monarch called the generals to join him in a war council and he begun to consider the moves of the enemies [5]: they had left the front to gather at Megiddo, preparing a kind of last conflict [curiously enough Megiddo is still the place of the “last conflict” in some traditions]. Egyptian intelligence informed Thutmose[6] that the rebels gathered there just to face him. The war council goes on and the generals presented their concerned doubts regarding the idea of the Monarch [he wanted to pass through Aruna]. Generals [7] expressed their concerns saying that “the enemies are there” and that there was the possibility that the vanguard begun to fight while the army was still marching through the narrow pass [“yet standing in Aruna”]. There were two alternatives to Aruna: two wide and obvious ways to reach Megiddo. One towards Tanaach, an other towards Zefti. Really remarkable is the comment of a general [8] who suggested to proceed according to the “design of his heart” [meaning Thutmose’s heart], adding “But do not to cause us to march upon this impassible road” [Aruna]. These arguments were reasonable and sure the Monarch had to keep them into suitable consideration.

But the generals had a problem: Thutmose [9] decided to swear that he, favored by his father Amun and beloved of Ra, was going to pass through Aruna. But [following lines] he left the troops free to follow him or to take one of the two easy alternatives.

Still today, in books about military history, this way to manage an army by Menkheperra Thutmose is considered remarkable. He didn’t order, he persuaded and motivated. In the mind of an Ancient Egyptian it was unnatural, impossible to leave the Horo, the Son of Ra, alone to face a threat. Thutmose knew this and he was really smart to leave freedom of choice to his troops. The troops followed him and the Egyptian army marched through Aruna. About this war council, the mention of Egyptian messengers [spies] can suggest that the decision of Thutmose was based also on information about the deployment of enemy explorers. It’s probable that the enemies considered impossible for a wide army to pass through Aruna, so that they didn’t deploy explorers there. We haven’t got records about this, but a rational leader like Menkheperra had to know something to lead his army in that narrow pass.

Year 23, Month 1, 3rd Season, Day 19 [10], Thutmose leaded his Army through Aruna in a narrow column and he was the first one of the column [at least the inscriptions sustain this …]. The Annals [11] tell us that Menkheperra arrived in front of Megiddo [without meeting resistance by the rebels; clearly they didn’t expect his move] “when it was seven hours from the turning by the Sun”. Thutmose ordered to the army to get ready for the fight in the following morning. Thutmose wanted to get advantage from the surprise. An interesting detail can be noted in line 84: officers report to Thutmose that the land is good to fight. It seems that Menkheperra gave a great importance to the condition of the terrain.



Forum Staff
Apr 2010
T'Republic of Yorkshire
Entry #2 Cont...

Year 23, Month 1, 3rd Season, Day 21 … the Good God [Thutmose] appeared early in the morning … and he ordered to the Army to cross the valley. Here [12] the text sustains that the Monarch was on a chariot of electrum [like Horo … and this comment about a Monarch was obvious]. The scribe indulges in listing the deities giving power to the Sovereign [Set included]. If we simply read what we see on those walls [13] Thutmose prevailed on the enemies, but actually he ordered to specify that he was at the head of his troops. Again, Menkheperra Thutmose recognized the role and the importance of his troops [this wasn’t obvious at all for a Horo]. In any case the charge of the Egyptian Army made the enemies escape to Megiddo, leaving on the battlefield horses and chariots. At this point the situation is clear: Thutmose had his powerful army in front of the walls of Megiddo, the rebels were within the walls of the city terrorized by the possibility that Egyptians plundered it. Note the Egyptian attitude towards symbols: line 88 says that “his serpent diadem had prevailed against them”.

The outcome of the battle was a siege which ended with the chiefs of the rebels surrendering to the Egyptian power [a part the commander of the rebellion who found a way to escape].

Actually here Thutmose [who was a coregent of Hatshepsut, who was Horo herself as well] showed two of his main characteristics: the capability to motivate the troops and the choice to rely on intelligence. Then he took a tremendous risk, guessing that the enemies considered impossible what he was going to do. A good player of poker, I would say.

The battle itself wasn’t a great thing: the Egyptians had an enormous advantage given by the surprise, since the rebels deployed their armies along the easy ways [the two mentioned alternatives] and when they run to the valley to meet Thutmose it was too late.

At the end we can say that the battle of Megiddo had decided by the bravery of the commanders on the two sides. Menkheperra Thutmose was extremely brave and he risked. The commanders of the rebels [probably being less brave] didn’t think he would have been that brave, so that they didn’t guess that the Egyptian Lord was going to risk an “all in” passing through Aruna.


[1] Ancient Egyptian Monarchs had 5 great names, the one more known by the people was the Throne Name, in this case Menkheperra. They didn’t say “I”, “II” … Monarchs with the same Son of Ra name had different Throne Names [this is how they differentiated].

[2] Annals of Thutmose III, lines 18-49; 49-84. Still readable as written during his reign, from Year 22 to Year 41, on the walls of the internal holy chamber of the Great Temple of Amun at Karnak. The deeds of the Monarch, as he ordered to write them on the stone, within the limits of the known Ancient Egyptian propaganda, are the primary source for this essay. As support to understand the text and the context I make reference to “The Battle of Megiddo” by Nelson, Harold Hayden, 1921.

[3] As we can admire on the walls of her chapel, the Red Chapel, reconstructed using original materials, in the central court of the temple of Amun at Karnak.

[4] Annals, line 18-19.

[5] Annals, line 20.

[6] Annals, line 24-25.

[7] Annals, line 26-33.

[8] Annals, line 36-37.

[9] Annals, line 39-41.

[10] Annals, line 56. As an aside note, from this point on, the troops of Thutmose are called “victorious troops” and the Monarch “victorious Lord”.

[11] Annals, line 83.

[12] Annals, line 84.

[13] Annals, line 86.