Prussia-Germany VS Romans — Were both sides "equally great" in the European military history ?

Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
#1
Preface

The Romans, renowned for their huge state encompassing the Mediterranean at the maximum extent of territorial possession and extraordinary level of professionalism and organization in military structures and campaigns as incredible as of engineering technology and military science for many centuries, generated the incalculable impact to the later European history of warfare. Its contribution was so great and its political existence (including the Eastern Roman Empire) was so long made the Romans unchallengeable as the "greatest" in antiquity and even the Medieval Era prolonging to the most scope of the Early Modern Period in military accomplishment and legacy, no matter how technology, strategy and politics had been advancing constantly. Never had there been such a comprehensive and prolific military influence benefited to so many people.

However, that absolute supremacy in art of military had been being rapidly diluted as the Age of Enlightment descended, and the Roman influence in military stratagem was being slowly eroded as the new military schools arose in accompanied with the ever-growing size, scale and complexity of warfare requiring greater and sophiscated instruction for suiting the times. For my personal opinion, the military history of Prussia-Germany had arguably the greatest and the most profound accomplishment and legacy from the age of Frederick the Great (reigned in AD 1740-1786) to the period of World War Two (1939-45) for the European sector, except a short interval of the superbly-incredible Napoleonic Empire of France (1800s-1815) — surely this rash conclusion is very controversial that probably most of you could hardly agree with. But my intention is not to forcefully drive my standpoint upon yours, but instigating the ardent debate for burning up this thread, encouraging more and more insightful opinions and perspective extracted from your mind.

Due to lack of time and my personal interest on Prussia-Germany, I would focus entirely on Prussia-Germany to showing that how was it comparable with the Romans while only have some brief narration about the latter. For the Roman part, just provide me much information and analyze as you could for our better grasp of the whole picture.

Now here comes my first "front" in this debate :

Argument #1 : The development of military theories

Round 1 : Frederick the Great VS Vegetius ! (or you have any better suggestion in versus ?)

Purpose : To prove that the Prussian military in theoretical structure was as great as the Romans in completion and development, while conveniently showing how the Prussian army and the Roman army operated in the age of authors for giving us a vivid account of both great military powers.

On the next day (after I post this thread), I would utter my viewpoint based on the work Frederick the Great on the Art of War by Jay Luvaas to showing what level of the Prussian military had already evolved to and Frederick II's outstanding cognition and experience of military business. Frederick II had wrote a number of military works, which would be a great evidence to prove that the Prussian military was certainly comparable with the Roman military in strategic, operational and manuoever teaching !

Meanwhile, I would also discuss about one of the greatest Roman military writer Vegetius, whom Richard the Lionheart deeply influenced of. And most importantly, make the comparison between Frederick the Great and Vegetius for their works.

Let's join the discussion, everybody !
 
Likes: Futurist
Mar 2018
751
UK
#2
It's entirely incomparable. But the record of the Roman's is far greater than anything Prussia/Germany managed.

Firstly, most of the Roman conquests were done with a militia army rather than a professional one (which only started around 100BC). Even when it was professional, the officer corp was not. The career path for military progression and civilian politics was completely intertwined. Every position above centurion (which would roughly be a lieutenant in the Prussian army) would be held by an aristocrat trying to climb a political career ladder. There was also no concept of officer schools, or even of a centralised military staff (apart from some logistical issues). In the republic, armies were raised and then disbanded for particular tasks. In the (early) empire, they belonged to the provinces in where they were stationed. This is a completely different structure to the Prussian one.

Secondly, Prussian military doctrine was about a quick decisive victory using a large army with little strategic reserves - they were after all mostly fighting foes with much greater manpower than themselves. The Romans were almost completely the opposite, their victory in both major Punic Wars came about because they were able and willing to raise new armies and throw them at their foes until they won. But that isn't entirely true either: the Romans didn't have a central military doctrine and theory over than vague words about valour and courage being important virtues.

So I'm not sure how you can "prove that the Prussian military in theoretical structure was as great as the Romans in completion and development " when the Roman's didn't have a structure other than having legions - cohorts/maniples - centuries
 
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
#3
Due to some reasons, I am unable to read that invaluable work Frederick the Great on the Art of War by Jay Luvaas in the reference library.
So I'll use another source (which could be read through the Internet) as the basis.

The theme would shift into the operational art of Frederick the Great and the later Prussian army from AD 1740-1815, to analyze and comprehend what extent the Prussian military had already reached and how did it influence the later period. Soon I'll post my argument after I conduct an extensive research.
 
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
#4
My general preception to the Roman and the Prussia-German military

From the 18th century onward, Europe had been experiencing a major change in the complexity of warfare. The military art had reached the considerable level in development and practice ; it was no longer a purely technical knowledge, but a matured art of science reflected in many military works and institutions, heightened to the "operational art of warfare" which emphasized the integration of manuoever, battles and sieges into the strategic, operational and tactical planning and execution by cobbling them as the whole part of military operation. Although the term was only invented later by the Soviet general in 1920s, Frederick the Great and the later Prussian military theorist and commanders, as well as other nations' , already applied it to great extent unconsciously. However, it was Prussia who could gear up its development to maximum effect promoted by flourishing militarism and military culture.

The ancient Roman military theorists such like Vegetius unquestionly had the enormously profound impact on the later development of military art, yet it was Prussia-Germany and other European nations hammered it to perfection, elevating the art of warfare to the height of "military science" for which should be learnt by every single military officer in service. Hence, the independent military organization for strategic and operational planning — the General Staff — was bornt under this context. Rather than focusing just on how to manage and command the army, and the method to outfight the emenies by tactics, training, equipment, combat or ruses, the modern military theories and researchs would carry out the thoroughly systematic and comprehensive investigation on the interconnection between the art of warfare, politics, generalship, logistics, with which the Prussia-Germany military force underwent the drastic improvement and advancement in command system, co-ordination and strategic planning, forging the very foundation of the "modern warfare", which was certainly not the Roman military fitted for with all those "vague words" without practical solutions in handling of the late gunpowder era and the subsequent mechanized era warfare which greatly transcended the Romans in rapidity of pace and complexity of operational manuoever.

This was exactly why the Prussia-German military should be regarded in parallel as great as the Roman military, not by its length, but by its sheer depth and width for contributing to the perfection of the art of warfare, or said, the advancement in military science — did the Romans have something like the 19-20th century large organization under which comprised of numerous personnel specialized in overall planning of military operation ranging from strategic direction, logistical operation, tactical details to entertaining "war games" for all sorts of military decision integrated into one single department completely separated from the frontline command system ? Did the Romans conduct any complete research on generalship just like what of Frederick's appraisal to Karl XII's performance as a military commander wholly based on military science in logical way ? Did the Romans transform the operational art of warfare to the level of art and philosophy like Clausewitz who discussed all military elements including attack, defense, mobility, manuoever, generalship in fusion with essence, principle and political purpose of war depicting the whole picture of military art in such professionalism by rigidity of logics, rather than a simple tenet purporting for telling how the military commander or raw recruit instructor should act in response of various situations ?

Not even Vegetius was able to draw out such the advance picture which was unimaginable in his age. His level in conception of the art of warfare still perched on how to train, discipline, manage and command the army to outfight the enemy army by tactical manuoever, formation and planning, not the grand strategy involved with putting politics in line with military, and certainly not the "military science" questioning the essence and characteristics of wars, and lack of modern elements like the operational art of warfare hinged on rapidity in mobilization, movement and offensive wrought for elimination of enemy main force by pincer encirclement. All these were exactly the limitation attributed to the age Vegetius situated in — the wars in the Roman era were completely different with the 18-20nd century in many aspects. No matter how great the Roman Republic or the Roman Empire was in military, their greatness and domination in military legacy were largely limited on the certain period of time. Even though they still had much remaining value nowadays, would you dare to say that the Roman military theories was more applicable than the Prussia-German military theories in practising the modern art of warfare ?

Those who claimed that the Roman military was certainly "far greater" than the Prussia-German military only focused on length of period, neglected of the fact that the entire military development was steadily advancing with greater efficiency in the flowing of time. The Roman military represented the zenith in antiquity, the Prussia-German military embodied the modern military development ; both sides dominated the different era, so what made the Roman military "far greater" than the Prussia-German military ?

Therefore, to be fair, the Prussia-German military should be considered "comparable" with the Roman military in the European history !
 
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
#5
I think it's beyond absurd and futile to compare the structure and efficiency of armies that existed 1,500 years apart from each other. Basically every aspect of military doctrine and organisation had changed so dramatically that it renders all comparison unreasonable and nothing more than simple fanboyism of a certain side (in this case Prussia, possibly the most overrated military force in human history).
 
Likes: Gvelion
Mar 2016
1,222
Australia
#7
Out of curiosity, what makes Prussia overrated?
The enormous amount of praise and admiration their army gets is somewhat detached from historical reality. They're often held up as this juggernaut of supreme martial discipline and strength, but their actual military record is more mixed than it is consistently positive. They had some great successes, and also some crushing failures (sometimes in the same war). A quick overview of the major wars that Prussia fought in from the period of 1701 to 1871:
  • Great Northern War (1700 - 1721): Arguably their first major conflict since rising to 'kingdom' status; they joined near the end after Sweden had already been decisively beaten at Poltava, and all they did was essentially a mopping up operation along the Baltic coast and Northern Germany, taking a few fortresses and bits of land. They faced no real challenge or opposition, and Sweden was overwhelmingly outnumbered and surrounded at this point. They played no decisive role.
  • First Silesian War (1740 - 1742): The Prussians conquered Silesia with ease because it was very lightly defended, and captured a few more fortresses, and when they finally did come up against large, professional Austrian armies at the two major battles of Mollwitz (1741) and Chotositz (1742) they won both only narrowly and sustained considerable causalities. The Prussians only won the war because the Austrians were also at war with the French and a coalition of their allies and saw that as more important than continuing the fight against Prussia.
  • Second Silesian War (1744 - 1745): Again this conflict saw Austria fight both Prussia and France at once, and even despite that the Prussians had a very rocky start and abandoned much of their gains and were consistently retreating as soon as a major Austrian army began its march north. The consecutive Prussian victories at the battles of Hohenfriedberg, Soor, Hennersdorf and Kesselsdorf (1745) were all undeniably impressive achievements, and arguably the peak of Prussian battlefield success in the 18th century. Here their reputation is earned.
  • Third Silesian War, aka Seven Years' War (1756 - 1763): Often held up as one of the two crowning achievements of Prussian military might, with the other being the Franco-Prussian War, the Seven Years' War is actually one of the most mixed displays of the Prussian army. There were some truly impressive victories such as at Rossbach and Leuthen (1757), arguably the height of Frederick's military prowess, as well as at Liegnitz (1760), but also some major defeats such as Dornstadtl (1758), Kay and Kunersdorf (1759), the latter being so crushing that Frederick lost almost his entire army and considered abdicating. By the early 1760s Prussia was facing invasion from both Austria and Russia and Berlin was even briefly occupied. The only thing saved Prussia from being defeated and partitioned was the death of Empress Elizabeth of Russia, and her heir being the strongly pro-Prussian Peter III, who immediately made peace with Prussia and even formed an alliance with them. If it wasn't for this incredible stroke of luck Prussia would have ceased to exist in the 1760s. The war ended not as a Prussian victory but as essentially a draw, and the status quo was ensured. But Prussia had suffered truly shocking casualties, with tens of thousands of soldiers dead and almost the entire officer corp wiped out. They never recovered from this in the 18th century.
  • War of the Bavarian Succession (1778 - 1779): Overall this "war" was one large non-event. There were no major pitched battles, mostly just raiding and attacking supply lines and convoys. The largest raid - at Zuckmantel (1779) - saw a Prussian army of 10,000 defeated by an Austrian force a third of its size in a rather embarrassing defeat. The Prussians performed notably poorly in this war and achieved nothing of note. But it was a relatively minor affair and ended in a draw, with neither side being particularly eager to keep fighting.
  • War of the First Coalition (1792 - 1797): Despite France being surrounded on all sides by enemies and facing invasion on multiple fronts, they still out-staged all of their foes, especially Prussia, which decided to retreat back beyond the Rhine after not even losing at Valmy (1792) but facing a draw. They remained at war with France for a couple of years but engaged in no major campaigns or battles and made peace in 1795, having achieved nothing.
  • War of the Fourth Coalition (1806 - 1807): Otherwise known as the war where Prussia learnt the brutal reality of taking on Napoleon by themselves. The Prussians were defeated decisively at Jena and Auerstedt (1806), in the latter while outnumbering the French 2-to-1. In less than three weeks the Prussian army had been all but completely destroyed - suffering 65,000 causalities to the French's 15,000, Berlin was occupied by Napoleon, and the Prussian royal family had fled east. This is Prussia's worst defeat in history, and one of the most crushing defeats in military history considering how brief the campaign was. The war dragged on for another year as the Prussians linked up with the Russians in the east, but they played no major part any longer, and were all but forced to surrender when the Russians were also decisively defeated at Friedland (1807). Their defeat in this war saw almost half of Prussia's lands taken from them, and most of their country under military occupation by French troops.
  • War of the Sixth Coalition (1813 - 1814): Prussia was part of a large anti-French coalition in this war, which also included the major powers of Austria, Russia and Great Britain, and thus most of their victories are not of their own doing. A Prussian and Russian army was defeated by a Franco-Polish army at Lützen (1813) despite outnumbering them by 15,000. The Prussians were also defeated as part of a combined effort with the Austrians and Russians at Dresden (1813), despite outnumbering the French by almost 80,000 soldiers. A Prussian-Russian-Austrian army scored an easy victory over the French at Kulm (1813) because they outnumbered them 2-to-1. The decisive battle of the war - and arguably of the entire Napoleonic Wars - at Leipzig (1813) saw the French decisively defeated, although the numerical advantage on the coalition's side was so overwhelming that there's no way they could have realistically lost. Of the three major coalition members present - the others being Austria and Russia - Prussia contributed the least amount of troops. When the coalition invaded France in 1814, they were defeated by Napoleon in multiple battles, one right after the other, in the legendary Six Days Campaign, despite them having an overwhelming numerical superiority. The Prussians contributed a large amount of troops in this conflict, and lost a great many. The war was only won when Paris was treacherously handed over to the Russians and Napoleon's marshals betrayed and abandoned him. Prussia had next to nothing to do with Napoleon's defeat.
  • War of the Seventh Coalition (1815): With literally all of Europe fighting against France at once, there was no hope of a French victory. Still, the French scored an impressive victory over the Prussians at Ligny (1815) despite being outnumbered by 25,000 men. The final French defeat at Waterloo (1815) was a combined Anglo-Prussian victory; the Prussians arrived when they needed to, to decisively push the battle against the French. Until that point it had looked like the battle would be a draw. But with the arrival of the Prussians there was no realistic hope of the French winning. If it wasn't for Wellington's skill, it would have been a French victory before the Prussians arrived.
  • First War of Schleswig (1848 - 1851): From a purely military perspective the Danes had no chance of winning this war, when put up against Prussia and the German Confederation. The Prussians were vastly superior to them in every aspect, and scored multiple battlefield victories.
  • Second War of Schleswig (1864): A decisive Prussian-Austrian victory of the Danes, but really this isn't even an impressive display. Two of the greatest European powers beating barely a regional power is not impressive. And even then, most of the heavy-lifting was done by the Austrians, not the Prussians.
  • Austro-Prussian War (1866): An impressive and remarkable Prussian victory which is rightfully described as such. The major victory at Königgrätz is one of the two high points of 19th century Prussian military success. Although it should be noted that if it wasn't for the Austrians having to send a considerably force south to fight the Italians, it's unlikely that the Prussians would have scored so decisive a victory, and they may have even lost (although this is highly debatable and I'm not learned enough to say either way).
  • Franco-Prussian War (1870): The absolute peak of Prussian military brilliance, this war really is a text-book display of how to conduct an offensive war against a rival great power. The Prussians conducted a near-flawless campaign, climaxing with their crushing victory at Sedan (1870) - where they lost only 10,000 men to the French losses of 120,000 - and the capture of Paris itself. I certainly won't take a contrarian stance to this Prussian victory.

So in conclusion you can see that, like I said, the Prussian military record between 1701 and 1871 was very mixed. They achieved some impressive victories in the mid-18th century as well as the mid-to-late-19th century, but also some crushing defeats that on multiple occasions led to the near total destruction of Prussia itself. They could win some truly remarkable and unexpected battlefield victories, and also lose some battles they certainly should not have.
 
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
#8
So in conclusion you can see that, like I said, the Prussian military record between 1701 and 1871 was very mixed. They achieved some impressive victories in the mid-18th century as well as the mid-to-late-19th century, but also some crushing defeats that on multiple occasions led to the near total destruction of Prussia itself. They could win some truly remarkable and unexpected battlefield victories, and also lose some battles they certainly should not have.
Your appraisal was fair and correct fundamentally. I appeciate your effort and vigor for making a long chronology of the Prussian military record from AD 1701-1870. It was very valuable for us to review the Prussian army's achievement.

However, I think you should also take these factors into your consideration :

1. Among all the European great powers, Prussia had the smallest size in population and territories, yet produced the highest percentage of military service personnel. In 1740s Prussia owned 85.000 troops which gave her the 4th largest army in Europe, even though her lands stood at 10th in order of size and only 13th in population ! A nation with territories and population so small, without prospering maritime trade or flourishing manufacture yet, ascended to the glorious status of major power. Unlike France, Russia and Austria, whose population had as many times as Prussia ; and unlike Britain, had a wide-sprawling of oversea colonies for extra resource of manpower and economical material in combination with global maritial trade for lucrative income. Besides, Prussia was really financially poor ! In geostrategy, he was surrounded from all sides !

2. Prussia was the earliest country for foundation of the real preliminary Generalstab composed of large number of excellent staff officers.

3. Prussia was one of the earliest countries introducing and practicing the technique of "Flying Artillery" (horse-drawn artillery force).

4. In the mid-18th century, the Prussian infantry not only had the strongest discipline and drilling technique among all the European great powers, but his firing rate was as twice as the counterpart, usually 4:2 ratio per min, and even 5:2 ratio ! Also, his marching speed was also faster than the counterpart thanks to excellent discipline and training. In other words, Frederick the Great had the army excelled in both mobility and firepower. (though his enemy Austrian army quickly reformed after the crushing defeat in the first two Silesian Wars, and much improved in the Seven Years War)

5. Frederick the Great even wrote a military instruction for his generals and successors. That work is a masterpiece whether from strategic and tactical perspective. It showed much secret about the greatness of the Prussian army — very detailed, just like the Prussian version of Sun Tze !

6. Frederick the Great had extraordinary impact to later generation in military value. Napoleon Bonaparte was probably greatly influenced by his operational art of manuoever, and ever said : "if Frederick the Great still alived, I might not be here (in Berlin)."

7. Even nowadays, the US Military Academy certainly gave high regard to Frederick's military career history. The evidence is those USMA military maps drawn for the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, for which Frederick the Great's operational manuever and strategic planning became the main theme of those maps, as well as his tactical masterpieces — the twin victories of Rossbach and Leuthen.
 
Jul 2018
497
Hong Kong
#9
Now I am going to counter-argue some of your points about that chronological narration you did.

Great Northern War (1700 - 1721): They faced no real challenge or opposition, and Sweden was overwhelmingly outnumbered and surrounded at this point. They played no decisive role.
Frederick Wilhelm I was still building up his army, and he tried to avoid any costly military operation and wars during his reign, so definitely there was not much great deeds the Prussian army could do.

First Silesian War (1740 - 1742): The Prussians only won the war because the Austrians were also at war with the French and a coalition of their allies and saw that as more important than continuing the fight against Prussia.
Nevertheless, the little Prussian state still proved his mettle. He seized the Province of Silesia by strong military power, showing that his field army was capable to beat the first-rated great European power and even grabbed some of its territories. It was no small deed.

If the Prussian army was weak and incapable, even with the powerful French and Saxon aid, it would end up nothing could be obtained, just like the weak Sweden in the Seven Years War. Oh, yes, Prussia was totally encircled and attacked by three great powers, but Sweden even failed to grasp a single inch of territory in Pomerania with his troops too few and inadequately armed !

and when they finally did come up against large, professional Austrian armies at the two major battles of Mollwitz (1741) and Chotositz (1742) they won both only narrowly and sustained considerable causalities.
In Mollwitz, the Prussian army won the day even after his king fled and his cavalry routed !
In Chotusitz, it was true that both sides were equally strong with heavy casualties sustained. Frederick hadn't fostered the strong cavalry force in this stage, so the Austrian army still had some tactical advantage in arms. If Frederick had the far stronger cavalry force, I dare to say that the casualty ratio of both sides would be completely different.

Third Silesian War, aka Seven Years' War (1756 - 1763): The war ended not as a Prussian victory but as essentially a draw, and the status quo was ensured. But Prussia had suffered truly shocking casualties, with tens of thousands of soldiers dead and almost the entire officer corp wiped out. They never recovered from this in the 18th century.
This was already a magnificent deed considering how disadvantageous the Prussian strategic situation was : Being encircled and bludgeoned by Russia, Austria, France and Sweden from all sides, with limited amount of manpower and resource. A mixture of luck and skills forged the ultimately strategic draw. Without the strong Prussian military leadership, luck meant nothing. Of course, in addition, you might argue that the Russian logistical deficiency and the Austro-Russian discord played the decisive role for Frederick's survival throughout the war.

Whatever, it was undeniable that the Prussian soldiers (not command) proved themselves top-classed in performance (particularly in operational manuoever, which played the decisive role in the victory at Leuthen).

War of the Fourth Coalition (1806 - 1807): This is Prussia's worst defeat in history, and one of the most crushing defeats in military history considering how brief the campaign was. The war dragged on for another year as the Prussians linked up with the Russians in the east, but they played no major part any longer, and were all but forced to surrender when the Russians were also decisively defeated at Friedland (1807). Their defeat in this war saw almost half of Prussia's lands taken from them, and most of their country under military occupation by French troops.
Frederick the Great's successors and those "conservative" Prussian generals failed to grasp the military art of Frederick, even ridiculously believed that the Prussian military culture laid on parade and perfect drilling, showing the decadency in military leadership. The Prussian army lost at Jena-Auerstadt largely because of the chaotic command structure and poor tactical management and organization. King Frederick William III was nominally the commander-in-chief, yet he was not his great-uncle Frederick II, failed his duty and let his squabbled generals ruined the entire military operation.

In fact, there're a new generation of military officers possessing abundant of military knowledge such like Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and Grolman. Yet they did not held the position senior enough to influence the situation. Instead, those old-aged, traditional military commanders such like the Duke of Brunswick, Rachel, Blucher (who was very brave and inspiring but short of tactical mind) were utterly unprepared to confront Napoleon's 19th century-styled offensive.

The Prussian war machine failed this time largely because of incompetent leadership, officers' bad quality and chaotic command structure.

It was notable that that Prussian great Chief-of-Staff Scharnhorst played a key role in preventing Napoleon achieve the total victory at Eylau by persuading General L'Estocq commit his 9,000-strong troops intervene the battle and thus drove back Davout's 3rd Army in the most critical moment, saving the Russian army from being outflanked !

Furthermore, although humilitated, the Prussian activated the thorough military reforms, leading to the establishment of principle of meritocracy for appointment of officers, and the Landwehr (national army) composed of wide variety of citizens recruited from different occupations such like teachers, artists, peasants, urban workers, craftsmen...etc, thus providing large number of reserve force which would be combat ready after appropriate training. And most importantly, the much more efficient military command and control was founded under the vigorous effort of Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. The divisional and corps system, added with skirmish tactics were introduced in simulation of the French military institution and tactics, proving that the Prussian military learn pretty fast from his recent defeat and soon stand up again with much improved war machine !

War of the Sixth Coalition (1813 - 1814): ...and thus most of their victories are not of their own doing.
Are you serious ? Do you know about the Battle of Katzbach River ? Grossbeeren ? Dennewitz ? The Prussian army played a crucial role in these battles. In these battles, the French Marshal Macdonald, Oudinot and Ney were greatly defeated. The victory of first one attributed to the Army of Silesia, as the second and the third one attributed to Bulow's exceptional leadership. And the Prussian army were part of the main force in almost all major battles and contributed significantly, whether of the results of these battles.

When the coalition invaded France in 1814, they were defeated by Napoleon in multiple battles, one right after the other, in the legendary Six Days Campaign, despite them having an overwhelming numerical superiority.
But the Prussian was devoid of cavalry and artillery, which Napoleon had plenty of during the campaign. Account that factor to the Prussian defeat as well.

French scored an impressive victory over the Prussians at Ligny (1815) despite being outnumbered by 25,000 men.
Undeniably the French army under Napoleon's command exerted the outstanding performance. But still the Prussian army put up a valiant and tenacious fight around these strongpoints (villages), repelled the French attack along the entire line for many times, and was only defeated after Napoleon commited his strongest reserve Imperial Guard.

So the Prussian army proved himself doing a great job in fighting against the military genius Napoleon's powerful French army. Nothing to be shame for, the Prussian army still retained a good reputation of toughness and efficiency. Also, after the defeat at Ligny, the Prussian army quickly rallied with remarkable efficiency under his highly-capable staff officers and generals, within just 24 hours, already the fully-combat-ready force to reinforce Wellington at Waterloo. The AD 1815 Prussian army's efficiency and military command were admirable.

If it wasn't for Wellington's skill, it would have been a French victory before the Prussians arrived.
Hey. Don't try to downplay the Prussian here. I could say the same for Wellington : If it wasn't the Prussian army's arrival, it would have been a French victory with Napoleon commiting all his reserve force to launch the full-scale offensive. Once La Haye Sainte fell around 6:00 P.M. or earlier, without the Prussian aid, Napoleon could use this perfect opportunity to smash Wellington by launching all-out-attack without worrying of the Prussian threat nearby !

=========================

Now let me see how do you counter-argue my counter-arguments, Artist. The decisive moment of our debate has come, throw your Old Imperial Guard to battle to smash my last reserve force ! (If I have to be convinced)
 
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Sep 2016
1,215
Georgia
#10
5. Frederick the Great even wrote a military instruction for his generals and successors. That work is a masterpiece whether from strategic and tactical perspective. It showed much secret about the greatness of the Prussian army — very detailed, just like the Prussian version of Sun Tze !

6. Frederick the Great had extraordinary impact to later generation in military value. Napoleon Bonaparte was probably greatly influenced by his operational art of manuoever, and ever said : "if Frederick the Great still alived, I might not be here (in Berlin)."
There were plenty of military instructions throughout history. So don't go that crazy over Frederick by calling him Prussian Sun Tzu

Maurice de Saxe also wrote a work on art of war during that time. ,, Mes Rêveries '' was published after his death in 1757. It was praised by Frederick the Great and described by Lord Montgomery, more than two centuries later, as "a remarkable work on the art of war."

A common theme of the 18th century Age of Enlightenment was to emphasise scientific method and the idea every activity could be expressed in terms of a universal system. In one sense, Mes Rêveries followed this by subjecting "military affairs to reasoned criticism and intellectual treatment, and the ensuing military doctrines were perceived as forming a definitive system." Written following Prussian expansion during the War of the Austrian Succession, Saxe rejected their rigid discipline; arguing the French character was fundamentally different and their tactics should reflect that, he advocated the use of a deep order or ordre profond, rather than relying on firearms.

However, Mes Rêveries also challenged French military orthodoxy in arguing for a greater focus on mobile warfare, rather than fortifications.

You also shouldn't give that much weight to Napoleon's words.
Besides, Prussia was really financially poor ! In geostrategy, he was surrounded from all sides !
This makes Frederick even more foolish.
 
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