La Grande Armée

Jun 2006
309
Virginia, United States
#12
Belisarius said:
Hmm. I can see were I to reply to your post, we launch into a British line vs French column debate. Thanks, I'll pass. :)
That debate is stale and fraught with Oman-era inconsistencies, ironically enough mostly caused by Oman himself. Strictly speaking of a "French column" makes no sense as plenty of evidence has been uncovered in recent decades that the French actually did deploy into lines once the colonne d'attaque (a column of maneuver, not of attack) did its job. The debate isn't so much British line vs. French "column" as it is British line "behind natural obstacle" vs. French "advance towards unknown enemy." As it turned out, the British found an extremely effective reply to the French tactical system.

Granting that fait accompli point still doesn't get to the real meat of the matter: the British would have never won if they were to fight the French alone. France had something like 300,000 troops in Iberia at one point, but they could never be deployed at a single and decisive point (or most could not) because they had to squash rebellions, undertake garrison duties, and so forth. If they had been, history would have never known about the superiority of the British tactical system because the French would've won through sheer numbers.

On even terms, however, the 1805-1807 veterans would have won against anyone and anything, even the British tactical system. There's no indication to the contrary. Unlike later French troops, the veterans of these years were capable of withstanding significant numbers of volleys without breaking formation and cohesion. Even if the British famously charged with their bayonets, it probably wouldn't have gotten them anywhere. And not to mention the superb state of the French cavalry, which was at its height during this period.
 
Jul 2006
1,315
Hellas
#13
UberCryxic said:
Belisarius said:
Hmm. I can see were I to reply to your post, we launch into a British line vs French column debate. Thanks, I'll pass. :)
That debate is stale and fraught with Oman-era inconsistencies, ironically enough mostly caused by Oman himself. Strictly speaking of a "French column" makes no sense as plenty of evidence has been uncovered in recent decades that the French actually did deploy into lines once the colonne d'attaque (a column of maneuver, not of attack) did its job. The debate isn't so much British line vs. French "column" as it is British line "behind natural obstacle" vs. French "advance towards unknown enemy." As it turned out, the British found an extremely effective reply to the French tactical system.

Granting that fait accompli point still doesn't get to the real meat of the matter: the British would have never won if they were to fight the French alone. France had something like 300,000 troops in Iberia at one point, but they could never be deployed at a single and decisive point (or most could not) because they had to squash rebellions, undertake garrison duties, and so forth. If they had been, history would have never known about the superiority of the British tactical system because the French would've won through sheer numbers.

On even terms, however, the 1805-1807 veterans would have won against anyone and anything, even the British tactical system. There's no indication to the contrary. Unlike later French troops, the veterans of these years were capable of withstanding significant numbers of volleys without breaking formation and cohesion. Even if the British famously charged with their bayonets, it probably wouldn't have gotten them anywhere. And not to mention the superb state of the French cavalry, which was at its height during this period.
Agree, even in Waterloo, who is considered as a great British victory, Napoleon lost marginally, cause Prussian reinforcements and bad terrain in this day who delayed his attack about 4 hours.
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
#14
"Maybe after 1812, Napoleon's enemies finaly got to grips with how to deal with him."

That last comment about Waterloo, got me thinking. Waterloo had remarkable similarities to some "grand tactics" used by Napoleon ealier in his career; with the British pinning/delaying Napoleon, while the Prussians came up on his flank/rear and crushed him. Maybe they had learned something after all?
 
Jun 2006
309
Virginia, United States
#15
Belisarius said:
"Maybe after 1812, Napoleon's enemies finaly got to grips with how to deal with him."

That last comment about Waterloo, got me thinking. Waterloo had remarkable similarities to some "grand tactics" used by Napoleon ealier in his career; with the British pinning/delaying Napoleon, while the Prussians came up on his flank/rear and crushed him. Maybe they had learned something after all?
I sincerely doubt they "learned" it though. Give them a little more credit. They would have been well-acquainted with those types of maneuvers and attacks, particularly after Frederick the Great's "oblique order." Now, I'm not saying they didn't learn, don't misunderstand. They obviously defeated Napoleon strategically in 1813 by refusing battle with him as part of the Trachenburg Plan. So yes, they knew a lot about how to fight him. I'm only saying that the French defeat had more to do with reasons other than these nations adapting to Napoleonic strategy. Other reasons are important too, of course, but I believe the prime one was....well, numbers.
 

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