Poll : Wellington vs Montgomery , which was better ?

Which British general was better ? Wellington or Montgomery ?

  • Duke of Wellington

    Votes: 33 80.5%
  • Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery

    Votes: 8 19.5%

  • Total voters
    41
Mar 2015
1,287
Yorkshire
#41
Granted, all of that is true, though it was Soult coming from the south that forced Wellington's retreat. Psychologically, that is partially true as well, though the shakiness of the French regime was something everyone (except Napoleon,until belatedly) realized for some time. It is often overlooked just how much Spanish resistance in various ways and quarters contributed to this French failure in the long term. No doubt though that the British presence under Wellington substantially accelerated ultimate French failure as well.
Soult was very reluctant to help any other French Commander and especially King Joseph. His delay in moving from Andalusia led Wellington to believe that he probably would not move. Thus persuaded, Wellington thought that he had time to capture Burgos and return to assist Hill at Madrid if necessary.

However, Soult did eventually bestir himself and the Northern French Armies recovered quicker than expected - bit of hard luck on Wellington really.

The French had such a huge numerical advantage in Spain that whenever they combined they would force Wellington to retreat.

However whenever this happened the Spanish guerrillas swiftly returned to the uncovered "pacified regions". It took both the regular British troops and Spanish guerrillas wear down and ultimately defeat the French. I agree most British books do not give insufficient credit to Spanish guerrillas.
 

martin76

Ad Honorem
Dec 2014
6,125
Spain
#42
Soult was very reluctant to help any other French Commander and especially King Joseph. His delay in moving from Andalusia led Wellington to believe that he probably would not move. Thus persuaded, Wellington thought that he had time to capture Burgos and return to assist Hill at Madrid if necessary.

However, Soult did eventually bestir himself and the Northern French Armies recovered quicker than expected - bit of hard luck on Wellington really.

The French had such a huge numerical advantage in Spain that whenever they combined they would force Wellington to retreat.

However whenever this happened the Spanish guerrillas swiftly returned to the uncovered "pacified regions". It took both the regular British troops and Spanish guerrillas wear down and ultimately defeat the French. I agree most British books do not give insufficient credit to Spanish guerrillas.
And not only Guerrillas, but the armies and population too. For example, in February 1812, Don Pedro Sarsfield, a Spanish general of irish descent made a raid in France with 2.200 men (regular army). He surprised a 700 men´s column Garde Nationale in Hospitalet (french Border) and in Mérens. He took Ax-le-Thermes, Tarancon and Foix and back to Spain after being 10 days in France (9th to 19th February). He killed 37 French Garde Nationale, and he back to Catalonia with 114 POW (between them 2 officers), 2.000 cows, 70.000 francs, 1.000 rifles and 300 kilos of powder.

This raid annoyed very much to Napoleon I (an issue of Prestige). He changed the orders for Decaen and he sent a Division (Travot) to cover the border with Spain and protect the eastern area from the audacity of that "Brigands". Also he ordered to Decaen he sent to the General Quesnes with his three best bataillons to Puigcerdad and Cerdanya...to cover the border by the South side...

So, yes the operations were incessant before, during and after Burgos siege... not only Guerrillas.. but Army and population...not even the French soil was saved from the raids.
 
Mar 2015
1,287
Yorkshire
#43
Losses by regiment. This includes St Micheal. It dies the include 3 officers wounded and 40 wounded men on October 30/31st who belonged to either 2/47th, 95th or 87th regiments but whose figures are not given individually. It ignores Portuguese losses.

STAFF 1 killed (AQMG Pierrepoint) 1 POW (Paget)
Artillery - 15 Killed, 38 Wounded (5 officers), 8 missing.
R. Engineers - 2 killed (1), 3 Wounded (1)
3rd Dragoon Guards - 3 missing.
5th Dragoon Guards - 12 missing
1st Dragoons - 4 Wounded.
3rd Dragoons- 1 killed, 1 Wounded, 10 missing.
4th Dragoons - 1 killed, 8 missing.
9th Light Dragoons - 1 Wounded, 3 missing.
11th Light Dragoons - 15 killed, 29 Wounded (2), 9 missing.
12th Light Dragoons - 4 killed, 11 Wounded (1), 13 missing.
13th Light Dragoons - 0
14th Light Dragoons - 3 Wounded, 2 missing.
16th Light Dragoons - 8 killed, 43 Wounded (2), 13 (2)missing.
1st KGL Dragoons - 10 killed, 19 Wounded (3), 17 missing (1)
2nd KGL Dragoons - 1 killed, 24 Wounded (2), 31 missing (3)
1st KGL Hussars - 7 Wounded, 6 missing.
1st Foot Guards - 48 killed (4), 112 Wounded (3), 1 missing.
3rd Foot Guards - 16 killed, 95 Wounded (4), 1 missing.
3/1st Foot - 8 killed, 10 wounded (2), 27 missing.
2nd Foot - 3 killed, 25 Wounded.
1/4th Foot- 5 killed, 46 Wounded (2), 3 missing.
2/4th Foot -1 killed, 5 Wounded, 18 missing.
1/9th Foot- 7 killed, 44 Wounded (7), 34 missing (1)
1/11th Foot - 7 Killed, 35 Wounded (1)
2/24th Foot - 24 killed, 86 Wounded (2), 2 missing.
2/30th Foot - 4 killed, 33 Wounded (8), 10 missing.
1/32nd Foot - 1 killed, 16 Wounded (1),
1/36th Foot - 5 killed, 16 Wounded.
1/38th Foot - 3 killed (1), 24 Wounded (3), 1 missing (1)
1/42nd Foot - 42 killed (3), 259 Wounded (9)
1/43rd Light - 1 killed, 12 wounded (2), 17 missing.
1/50th Foot- 2 killed, 11 Wounded.
1/51st Light- 2 killed (1), 14 Wounded (1)
1/52nd Light - 3 killed (1), 32 Wounded (2), 8 missing.
2/58th Foot - 10 killed, 49 Wounded (3), 2 missing.
5/60th Rifles- 3 killed, 23 Wounded (1)
1/61st Foot - 4 killed, 15 Wounded (1)
1/71st Light - 4 Killed, 5 Wounded.
1/79th Foot- 14 killed (2), 87 Wounded (5)
1/92nd Foot - 7 killed, 32 Wounded (1)
1/95th Rifles- 2 killed, 5 Wounded.
2/95th Rifles- 1 killed (1), 5 Wounded, 9 missing
3/95th Rifles - 1 Wounded, 9 missing.
1st KGL Light - 2 killed, 15 Wounded, 14 missing.
2nd KGL Light - 3 Wounded, 5 missing.
1st KGL Line. - 47 killed (1), 122 Wounded (4)
2nd KGL Line - 24 killed (5), 71 Wounded (4), 1 missing
5th KGL Line - 16 killed, 18 Wounded (3).
Chassuers Brittaniques - 1 Wounded.
Brunswick Oels- 10 killed (2), 32 Wounded (1), 20 missing.

So only about 336 men were by the end of the campaign “missing”... from the British list. Discrepancies? Well. French claims to taking 600 prisoners can be attributed to their usual exaggeration OR due to them taking men recorded as wounded prisoner if they were left behind in which case your counting some them twice... Portuguese losses must also be factored in. But if Oman is double counting men who were wounded, then captured as two losses, or missing but rejoined their unit before the retreat was over as a loss, then we can assume losses are not as high as claimed in real terms.

2327 Casualties from 19 September to 19 November 1812.
348 Killed
1643 Wounded
336 Missing.

So I would estimate plausibly 1200 Portuguese casualties.
I’d need a lot more time to investigate losses from disease and sickness over the same period which are fairly constant through out the period.. but even if we double the losses... it lakes in comparison to allied losses in Market Garden.

The main discrepancy seems to be in your figures for "missing" which are very low given the starvation condition of the troops when they arrived.

Losses before arriving at Salamanca were low, perhaps 500 in Wellington's column (supposedly 300 drunkards at Torquemada and Valdemoro alone) and maybe something similar in Hill's.

However, the majority of the missing were in the last few days prior to the 19th November - for example Soult claims 600 on 16th November, 1200 on 18th November.

Oman's text is a bit at odds with the figures I gave earlier, 4921 Killed wounded and missing British and 2,469 Portuguese which is proportionately slightly higher than the British.
 
Feb 2016
4,225
Japan
#45
The main discrepancy seems to be in your figures for "missing" which are very low given the starvation condition of the troops when they arrived.

Losses before arriving at Salamanca were low, perhaps 500 in Wellington's column (supposedly 300 drunkards at Torquemada and Valdemoro alone) and maybe something similar in Hill's.

However, the majority of the missing were in the last few days prior to the 19th November - for example Soult claims 600 on 16th November, 1200 on 18th November.

Oman's text is a bit at odds with the figures I gave earlier, 4921 Killed wounded and missing British and 2,469 Portuguese which is proportionately slightly higher than the British.
“Missing” is a catch all term. The French might take 600 prisoners but if they are men who the Muster Rolls have marked as injured they may not appear as missing .... they’d be still under injured. Likewise missing might mean the soldier was neither prisoner, deserter or dead but lost trying to find his unit. He might be missing on September 20th but returned by October 21st. So for our purpose he is missing but in reality he returned to duty. He might have got injured or gone missing again after that.... so he might show up 3 times.

But even if we double the proven British casualties it is still less destructive than Market Garden. Which wiped out an elite division, battered 2 more for nothing. No Division returned from Burgos was depleted to require sending home. But Market Garden ended 1st Airbourne Division. Neither had much effect on the outcome of the war as the enemy was doomed by that point in both cases.... but Market Farden was a bigger botch.
 
Sep 2014
1,156
Queens, NYC
#46
Duke Valentino, page 5 post 44:

From what I've learnt, having numerical superiority in Spain isn't as advantageous as you think.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------

I think it was Henri IV of France who said that Spain was a land where large armies starve and small armies are defeated.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,876
#47
Obly thing Montgomery is remembered is Market Garden . not Alam el Halfa , Second Battle of Alamein dismissed as he was framed in history with overwhelming strength (he was not, quantity comparison with enemy not more stronger than Ritchie/Auchinleck command in May June 1942 and they screwed battle of Gazala , lost Tobruk and barely hold on Alamein) , Battle of Medenine , Mareth line and Wadi Akarit breakthrough , Operat,on Husky and Sicilian landings or command of DDay , he is dismissed as too slow on Caen. Juust Market Garden...

We do not criticise Omar Bradley for bombing his own men during beginning of Operation Cobra , for Hurtgen Forest where he lost 33.000 men (twice the number of Market Garden casaulties) and barely advancing six miles in two months without reaching Roer Dams or losing an entire infantry division in Schnee Eiffel without any proper resistance during first days of Battle of Bulge. Or Patton getting quagmire in Lorreine Campaign , smashing his forces on Metz fortresses in vain or sacrificing an entire task force in Hammelburg raid just to save his son in law at the end of war. But Montgomery is an easy target since he is not American maybe.
Montgomery was way better than Bradley, who was terrible, but that doesn't make him anywhere near in the league with Wellington. Montgomery was only competent.
 
Jan 2015
5,388
Ontario, Canada
#48
I wonder how many people are aware of the fact that Monty was not the army general tasked with capturing Caen.
That was Dempsey, commander of the 2nd British Army.
I honestly don't know why Montgomery gets so much hate. Dempsey only took so long to take Caen because everyone else had been delayed in their movements due to other factors. Also Montgomery was correct that neutralizing Caen would effectively cut off all the Germans towards the beach heads, rendering Cherbourg practically useless. Even an attack on Caen would force the Germans to redeploy and rethink their strategy.

I am interested in finding the documentation for Market Garden just to see what went on. From what I understand Montgomery was reluctant to carry out this operation in the first place.
 
Last edited:

redcoat

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,603
Stockport Cheshire UK
#49
I am interested in finding the documentation for Market Garden just to see what went on. From what I understand Montgomery was reluctant to carry out this operation in the first place.
While Monty did back the operation and took some interest in the land campaign the airborne side was planned by Browning, and it's Browning who gets the most of the blame for the failure of the operation.
 
May 2018
586
Michigan
#50
Montgomery commanded much larger formations than Wellington, some comparable in size to the whole of the British Army in Wellington's day.

On the flipside, although Montgomery commanded much larger armies, he had less overall wartime authority than the Iron Duke. In India, with his brother as Governor-General, Wellington had near-Napoleonic power to dictate strategy and policy near the end. Although he was not even the most senior British general when he won Vimiero and Rolica, by the end he was the Commander-in-Chief of three armies, a position more akin to that of Eisenhower than Montgomery.

Yes, comparing two British generals separated by less than 150 years is difficult. A comparison between Wellington and Oliver Cromwell would be easier than a comparison between Montgomery and Charles Gordon due to the massive changes in culture and military norms.

Monty commanded armies of sizes that only Napoleon commanded in Wellington's era, whereas Wellington had simultaneously more "strategic authority" and accountability for overall victory than Monty did.
 

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