Napoleon's Marshals

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,679
#61
So you don't engage in pointless and pedantic arguments?
I am asking you what you consider evidence and you try to make it into an argument instead of just telling me what exactly you would want.
Whats the specific evidence that you base your opinion on. Wht did you think he was "in decline". It;s teh crazy vagueness your your statments that makes me more pdeantic. Thee has simply been nothing substantive said other the vague statements. I don;lt kno whwta you base it on. But surley it;'s something.,

I mentioned Fririon and the general complaints and issues Massena was having... can you infer at the very least?
So he frequently went on sick leave... was being undermined by his staff... was considered to have been incapable in an actual command role...
Inefer? what I am a mind reader? If you make vague statements how is that my problem.


What kind of specifics? Is going on sick leave in 1807, being retired in 1810 and getting so extremely sick in 1812 that he had to immediately quit and go into retirement not specific enough?
Whta type of ilness? Extremely Sick . You assuming your conclusion.

Well was he sick at all.?He might just be sick of Napoleon hardly a overly warm relationship by all accounts.

I don't have a book in front of me at this immediate moment. Do I need to have a book in front of me at all times and make annotations to all of my posts in order to comment on a history website?

Honestly asking for a source doesn't bother me. But the assumption that something must be wrong because there is no source makes no sense.

What is it they said about absence of evidence not being evidence of absence?
Look it;s fine if have no source or don;t wan to look thi8ngs up. It;s tim,e consumimng and a pain escially if you have to go and get the books from somewhere. But if it;'s more than just you opinion something to go would be nice. Your hacve served up a lot of half baked generalizations. They are unsatisfactory,.

Anyway Fririon himself makes excessive mentions, in his Journal of the Campaign in Portugal, of Massena's strange behavior and easy manipulation by those around him.
Perhpas Firion had a grude, is it multiple sources or just this one guy? I've redd Yeremlov's book, he bitches about everyone he's got political knives against other Russian Generals for various reasons.
 
Jan 2015
5,427
Ontario, Canada
#62
All of this arguing and I've still yet to see an actual primary source or first-hand account being quoted to support anything. Come on, this is getting ridiculous. Just arguing for the sake of it at this point. Can we please see some actual hard evidence rather than conjecture, assumptions and hear-say? Otherwise this argument will never end.
I referred to Fririon's campaign journal, I don't keep books in front of me when I post on the internet. Also Massena's recurring leaves of absence, notably in 1812 when he was retired for a second time immediately after going to Bayonne and falling ill. Frederic Hulot wrote two books which cover Massena's career... they're in French and I don't have them, he mentions the attack of, whatever it was, in July/August of 1812 which led to him retiring a second time.
 
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Jan 2015
5,427
Ontario, Canada
#63
Whats the specific evidence that you base your opinion on. Wht did you think he was "in decline". It;s teh crazy vagueness your your statments that makes me more pdeantic. Thee has simply been nothing substantive said other the vague statements. I don;lt kno whwta you base it on. But surley it;'s something.,
It is clear that Massena was not being his usual self. Aside from the facts which I've stated... just connect the dots.

Inefer? what I am a mind reader? If you make vague statements how is that my problem.
Infer, as in the events I mentioned did happen. So can we connect the dots and say that Massena's problems stemmed from his ill health? I don't see why saying that his physical health resulted in poor mental health should be controversial. The resentment which Massena suffered at the hands of his officers and constant double guessing and complaining suggests that Massena was at fault. His actions don't sound like his mind was in peak condition and given those events which did happen then it gives plenty of context.

Whta type of ilness? Extremely Sick . You assuming your conclusion.

Well was he sick at all.?He might just be sick of Napoleon hardly a overly warm relationship by all accounts.
Multiple ailments which could be associated with old age. Fatigue, exhaustion, night attacks, fevers, inability to concentrate, going on multiple sick leaves and being retired twice. This could pretty much only mean that he was physically spent or that he had some undetectable illness like dysentery, probably not diagnosed because it wasn't strong enough to kill him.

Look it;s fine if have no source or don;t wan to look thi8ngs up. It;s tim,e consumimng and a pain escially if you have to go and get the books from somewhere. But if it;'s more than just you opinion something to go would be nice. Your hacve served up a lot of half baked generalizations. They are unsatisfactory,.
I don't have books on me unfortunately. Though from what I've read just about any source will mention Massena's behavior and his disaffected staff and generals. At one point Massena got rid of all three of his Corps commanders and some of the Division commanders as well.

Perhpas Firion had a grude, is it multiple sources or just this one guy? I've redd Yeremlov's book, he bitches about everyone he's got political knives against other Russian Generals for various reasons.
Fririon was accused after the war of wanting to defame Massena and his supporters. The context being that during the 1809/10 campaigns Massena's officers were disaffected and squabbling with Massena and one another. Even within the staff officers though, so there formed two cliques. One by Fririon who was the chief of staff and another by minor staff officers like Pelet. Massena was aloof during much of the campaign but gave authority to Pelet who would often go and change Fririon's orders. Massena also largely ignored Fririon throughout the whole campaign. In this campaign everyone was disaffected with Massena, including long time subordinates like Reynier. It is interesting then that Fririon accuses Massena of not heeding his advice and giving authority to make decisions to others, where as others state that Massena was being pushed about by people like Reynier, Ney and Bessieres. Anyway the point is Massena is not exercising command and his subordinates are doing literally everything, complete chaos. Then you have two competing narratives by Fririon et all and then by Pelet and all. But the narratives don't matter so much... The real problem is that there exists competing narratives at all, because it shows you that there was something seriously wrong with Massena exercising command. Which aside from desk work in the past, was not an issue.

What illness? Have you some evidence that he suffered form anything that would have impaired his mental functions? Thae statment he had some unspecififec illness and your aasumption tehrefore he MSUt be impaired seems a leap of logic. Have you any actual information to base it on?

It really hard to judge second hand garbled vague statments. Actual quotes are som much more informative. Is it only Fiion you are basing this on?
He was never formally diagnosed with any specific illness, as was common at the time with limited medical knowledge. In 1812 he was overcome by an extreme fever and after a month petitioned to give up his command and traveled to Nice. That was only two years after being relieved in 1810 and having spent much of 1810, 1811 and 1812 in retirement.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,679
#64
It is clear that Massena was not being his usual self. Aside from the facts which I've stated... just connect the dots.
Whats dots you have not provided anything but vague unsubstantiated statements. You have not provided any specfic how the Massena was NOT his unsusal self. YOur have just repeated asserted a conclcusion without any supportted evidence or detail . There is simpoly no dots at all to connect.

Infer, as in the events I mentioned did happen. So can we connect the dots and say that Massena's problems stemmed from his ill health? I don't see why saying that his physical health resulted in poor mental health should be controversial. The resentment which Massena suffered at the hands of his officers and constant double guessing and complaining suggests that Massena was at fault. His actions don't sound like his mind was in peak condition and given those events which did happen then it gives plenty of context.
Why do none of the histories of the campaign by historian mention this at all?

Multiple ailments which could be associated with old age. Fatigue, exhaustion, night attacks, fevers, inability to concentrate, going on multiple sick leaves and being retired twice. This could pretty much only mean that he was physically spent or that he had some undetectable illness like dysentery, probably not diagnosed because it wasn't strong enough to kill him.
completely unsubstantiated supposition. Assumption of the conclusion woithout any evdinece what so ever,


I don't have books on me unfortunately. Though from what I've read just about any source will mention Massena's behavior and his disaffected staff and generals. At one point Massena got rid of all three of his Corps commanders and some of the Division commanders as well.
Can you rname any source other than Firion?
Why do NONE of the Historians covering the campaign menetion this?

Fririon was accused after the war of wanting to defame Massena and his supporters. The context being that during the 1809/10 campaigns Massena's officers were disaffected and squabbling with Massena and one another. Even within the staff officers though, so there formed two cliques. One by Fririon who was the chief of staff and another by minor staff officers like Pelet. Massena was aloof during much of the campaign but gave authority to Pelet who would often go and change Fririon's orders. Massena also largely ignored Fririon throughout the whole campaign. In this campaign everyone was disaffected with Massena, including long time subordinates like Reynier. It is interesting then that Fririon accuses Massena of not heeding his advice and giving authority to make decisions to others, where as others state that Massena was being pushed about by people like Reynier, Ney and Bessieres. Anyway the point is Massena is not exercising command and his subordinates are doing literally everything, complete chaos. Then you have two competing narratives by Fririon et all and then by Pelet and all. But the narratives don't matter so much... The real problem is that there exists competing narratives at all, because it shows you that there was something seriously wrong with Massena exercising command. Which aside from desk work in the past, was not an issue.
Cliques within staff offciers is hardly unique or startingly escpically in teh French army when Napoeon deliberating foster a spirit of reivialty and refused to set clera lines of command and often muddled them. Ney disoebyting orders and being insubordinate, really Massena has to ill for this to Happen?

So Meassena did rate Firion advice and Firion felt piqued about it. Hardly eveidence of any at all,.

Napoleon removed the corps commanders after Massena sent Palet to speak with him.


He was never formally diagnosed with any specific illness, as was common at the time with limited medical knowledge. In 1812 he was overcome by an extreme fever and after a month petitioned to give up his command and traveled to Nice. That was only two years after being relieved in 1810 and having spent much of 1810, 1811 and 1812 in retirement.
]
So you have no evidence what so ever, It;s mere unsupoorted supposition.
 
Mar 2016
946
Australia
#65
I referred to Fririon's campaign journal
You referred to it, yes, but you did not quote it. Anything can be taken out of context, misremembered or interpreted incorrectly, which is why we quote sources in history, not just give a brief and vague passing mention of it, especially when you're trying to prove something as debatable and ambiguous as someone's physical and mental health from 200 years ago. I'm not saying you're wrong, but I'd like to actually see the exact descriptions that Friron gave of Massena, as well as ideally another source that corroborates his claims. I'm sure you'd agree that trusting only one person's accusations of someone being mentally unfit is not exactly inadmissible evidence.

I don't keep books in front of me when I post on the internet
Um, okay then? I mean, you're the one that claimed this source has all the evidence necessary to support your assertions, but now suddenly you aren't able to quote it? If I refer to a specific source and use it to support my arguments repeatedly, I'd make sure I was able to get it out and quote it. I wouldn't expect people to just take my word for it.

Frederic Hulot wrote two books which cover Massena's career... they're in French and I don't have them, he mentions the attack of, whatever it was, in July/August of 1812 which led to him retiring a second time.
I don't speak French, and, again, if you can't quote the exact source here, then it isn't really any good for this specific discussion we're having. We can namedrop books and journals all day long, but that doesn't advance the debate in any way because we have no quotes to work off and prove or disprove. Sure, you say that the source says this or that, but... I don't speak French and don't have the source or even your quoting of it, so how am I supposed to respond to that?
 
Feb 2018
21
Texas
#66
Has there ever been a study of Masena's eye wound? Was the bullet removed? Did fragments remain deep inside his eye socket? His periods of mental confusion and high fevers could be explained as a result of his wound never being properly treated. He would have been susceptible to infections for the rest of his life and possibly shortened it. Eyewitnesses say that he was in a carriage at the Wagram battlefield a year later. His periods of good health after 1808 were never long. This is speculation of course.
 
Jan 2015
5,427
Ontario, Canada
#67
Has there ever been a study of Masena's eye wound? Was the bullet removed? Did fragments remain deep inside his eye socket? His periods of mental confusion and high fevers could be explained as a result of his wound never being properly treated. He would have been susceptible to infections for the rest of his life and possibly shortened it. Eyewitnesses say that he was in a carriage at the Wagram battlefield a year later. His periods of good health after 1808 were never long. This is speculation of course.
I wondered about that but I have no idea. Aside from his being blind in one eye I have never seen anyone refer to it again.
 
Dec 2016
78
Canada
#68
Among the best I add Gouvion St-Cyr who had a history of successful independent commands and proved he could lead a corps.
A bit headstrong and resentful when placed under people he didn’t like but otherwise his performance in the Army of the north and the 1812 campaign was admirable; he was also an honest man (which cost him his command in 1798 ) and critical of Napoleon and his empire.

One that should have been marshall is Lasalle, not least he should have replaced Murat as head of the cavalry since he at least knew his job and was a whole lot more competent.
Nansouty could have also replaced Bessières (though in his defense he was loved by the men of the Guard).

If things wouldn’t have been so sour with Napoleon and personal rivalry put aside, Moreau could have been another candidate for Marshall, after all it was his victory of Hohenlinden (and pursuit afterwards) which ended the War of the 2nd Coalition.

Among the worst I’d include Victor and Marmont: nothing outstanding, the former being undisciplined and sloppy, the other unable to hold independent command or initiative worthy of the rank.
Perignon’s achievements were not really impressive either and I suspect his nomination, much like Kellerman or Berthier who was a mediocre leader but had talent elsewhere, was a reward motivated by political reasons.
 
Feb 2019
325
Serbia
#70
Among the worst I’d include Victor and Marmont: nothing outstanding, the former being undisciplined and sloppy, the other unable to hold independent command or initiative worthy of the rank.
Marmont showed that he wasn't too good at being an independent commander but so did most other marshals. Ney for example was a good corps/division commander under Napoleon but he wasn't really fit for army command. Marmont actually did alright in 1809, in Dalmatia and the battles before Wagram. In 1806 (Thanks to @Kotromanic for bringing this to my attention.) he conducted a relief of Ragusa which should also be taken into account. I find that in most cases he was relatively successful, not on the level of people like Lannes or Davout, certainly not a military genius but not too bad either. In 1812 he was humiliated in Spain but apart from that I don't really see how he was the worst when looking at the rest of his career.
 

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