The Impact of Trafalgar: What Was the Real Significance of the Battle?

Sep 2016
1,102
Georgia
#11
I don t understand why the allied didn t win this war.The English could debark in Belgium,and the Austrians had just to retreat-instead of stationing in Ulm-in the direction of the Russians,and after joining them,waiting for the entrance of Prussia in the war.
Mack advanced with his army, because Austrians wanted to establish control over Bavaria before facing the French. He also believed that Austrian security relied on sealing off the gaps through the mountainous Black Forest. Plus, Mack believed that the French would not violate Prussian territory. Napoleon didn't even expect Austrians to stay around Ulm, after he executed that famous maneuver. In fact, the whole operation was at risk. Napoleon thought that Mack would try to retreat towards Vienna or Tyrol, but he didn't. So majority of the French forces were on the right bank of the Danube and there was little on the opposite bank. That was perfect opportunity for Austrians to cross Danube and escape, which Mack failed to use.

However, Kutuzov managed to pull off his retreat and Napoleon was in really dangerous situation. Allies now had advantage over him and with each new day their positions became stronger. More and more allied forces gathered towards the main theatre of war. Russians and Austrians would achieve great numerical superiority over Napoleon, if they were patient enough. However, Alexander I was still young and dreamed of military glory. Napoleon also managed to bait them into attempting to crush the French army with 1 decisive battle and not through attrition.

Prussian diplomat was actually heading to Napoleon with ultimatum. But when he arrived, Austerlitz had already happened.

Austrians Netherlands ( Belgium ) was also conquered by France at that time.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,807
#12
Mack advanced with his army, because Austrians wanted to establish control over Bavaria before facing the French. He also believed that Austrian security relied on sealing off the gaps through the mountainous Black Forest. Plus, Mack believed that the French would not violate Prussian territory. Napoleon didn't even expect Austrians to stay around Ulm, after he executed that famous maneuver. In fact, the whole operation was at risk. Napoleon thought that Mack would try to retreat towards Vienna or Tyrol, but he didn't. So majority of the French forces were on the right bank of the Danube and there was little on the opposite bank. That was perfect opportunity for Austrians to cross Danube and escape, which Mack failed to use.\
also part of the Austrian strategic planning was by advancing Mack's Army (though he was not actually the commander , he was chief of staff who had assumed cntyrol in defenaice of command structure, backed by the Emperor, this made for a lot of desertion among Austrian high Command) into bavria, was to cover teh main theatre of operations (Italy) , reduce the burden of supplying Mack's army ( money was always a heavy limiting factor for the Austrians) As well as occuing Bavaria and forcing bavaria to be an ally.

The Austrians believed they would not be facing the main French army that would be in Italy. When austrian scouting knew this to be false and Mack was badly outnumdered, other Generals urged Mack to retreat who by then was just living in an alternate reality/having a breakdown, he was unable to accept the reality of just how wrong he had been.

However, Kutuzov managed to pull off his retreat and Napoleon was in really dangerous situation. Allies now had advantage over him and with each new day their positions became stronger. More and more allied forces gathered towards the main theatre of war. Russians and Austrians would achieve great numerical superiority over Napoleon, if they were patient enough. However, Alexander I was still young and dreamed of military glory. Napoleon also managed to bait them into attempting to crush the French army with 1 decisive battle and not through attrition.
.
This is the populalr mythology of the 1805 campaign but it is not really supported by the evidence. Russian sources say the decison to leave Olumtiz and seek battle was driven by supplies (the area could no longer support the Allied army it had to advance or reterat further) and Austrian Pressure (being unwilling to retreat further). Alexander was a pretty consultative ally, he did defer to Austrian plans at Austerlitz. And there is no eveidence that the allies thought in terms of 1 decisive battle (crushng battles were not really part of the alied armies dcotrine as it was the French in this period)
 
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Mar 2016
1,079
Australia
#13
Not to mention, that Napoleon already had idiotic Egypt campaign on his record. So this is nothing new for a ,, Corsican Monster ''.
Napoleon was not in charge of the government in 1798 and did not make the decision to invade Egypt. He was supportive of the idea and led the campaign but it had already been decided by other policy-makers in Paris. And as far as conquering a foreign country goes, his conquest of Egypt was brilliant, since he achieved it in only a few months with very minimal casualties. Had it not been for the French government's failure to negotiate a treaty of neutrality with the Otttoman sultan, the campaign would have been a success.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,807
#14
Napoleon was not in charge of the government in 1798 and did not make the decision to invade Egypt. He was supportive of the idea and led the campaign but it had already been decided by other policy-makers in Paris.
He was pretty active in that decison being made and what forces were sent. Idoiotic or not, the decison and organization and form of the expedition is as much Napoleon's as anyones,
he certainly deserves much of the credit or otherwise. He was not a witless pawn. he could have said no.

And as far as conquering a foreign country goes, his conquest of Egypt was brilliant, since he achieved it in only a few months with very minimal casualties.
Nothing particularity brilliant about it. Ottoman armies were simply incapable of standing up to European armies in open battle. Read anything on Russian and Ottoman wars in this period. No matter the odds in their favor in open battle the Turks lost. Any reasonably lead similar sized European army could have achieved the same.


Had it not been for the French government's failure to negotiate a treaty of neutrality with the Otttoman sultan, the campaign would have been a success.
yeah side form the French governments inability to achieve the impossible, teh neurtality of teh Ottom sultan while invading part of his empire.

The problem was not some failure of diplomatic action but the fundamental insanity that said this was possible conceptually.
 
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Mar 2016
1,079
Australia
#15
He was pretty active in that decison being made and what forces were sent. Idoiotic or not, the decison and organization and form of the expedition is as much Napoleon's as anyones,
he certainly deserves much of the credit or otherwise. He was not a witless pawn. he could have said no.
There is no evidence to suggest that an invasion of Egypt would not have happened if Napoleon had not been part of the planning. There are multiple people listed as being involved in the decision, all of them of higher rank in the government than Napoleon. I never claimed he was a witless pawn, but there's a difference between having no influence and having complete and decisive influence, which he did not in 1798.

Nothing particularity brilliant about it. Ottoman armies were simply incapable of standing up to European armies in open battle. Read anything on Russian and Ottoman wars in this period. No matter the odds in their favor in open battle the Turks lost. Any reasonably lead similar sized European army could have achieved the same.
Napoleon did not fight the Turks in Egypt, he fought the Mamluks. He only fought Ottoman Turks when he invaded Palestine the year after. Also, it's still impressive when you are outnumbered by thousands and win decisively while losing literally only two men (Battle of Mount Tabor [1799]). That isn't something that is achieved by just anyone.

yeah side form the French governments inability to achieve the impossible, teh neurtality of teh Ottom sultan while invading part of his empire.
Egypt was only de jure part of the Ottoman Empire. At this point in history the Ottomans had very little control over its internal functioning:

The Ottoman Turks had conquered Egypt in 1517 and still officially ruled it, but de facto control had long been wrested from them by the Mamluks, a military caste originally from Georgia in the Caucuses. Their twenty-four beys (warlord princes) were unpopular among ordinary Egyptians for the high taxes they imposed, and were considered foreigners.
- Napoleon the Great, p. 161
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,807
#16
There is no evidence to suggest that an invasion of Egypt would not have happened if Napoleon had not been part of the planning. There are multiple people listed as being involved in the decision, all of them of higher rank in the government than Napoleon. I never claimed he was a witless pawn, but there's a difference between having no influence and having complete and decisive influence, which he did not in 1798.
Perhaps the most significant influencer of events, He just signed a peace treaty with Austria, settlement of northern itlay, and forced it acceptance on the government. he had pretty decisive influence.


Napoleon did not fight the Turks in Egypt, he fought the Mamluks. He only fought Ottoman Turks when he invaded Palestine the year after. Also, it's still impressive when you are outnumbered by thousands and win decisively while losing literally only two men (Battle of Mount Tabor [1799]). That isn't something that is achieved by just anyone.
Do you really think believing Napoleon's press releases gives one a real idea of numbers and casualties?
Almost everything we have on this battle is stuff Napoleon published knowing no other account was available,

The Mamluks were not that different from Ottoman armies. Little better cavalry , litte worse infantry. Same lack of discipline and ability to stand up to organized forces.

What part of it was "Brilliant". History should go beyond uncritical hero worship,.


Egypt was only de jure part of the Ottoman Empire. At this point in history the Ottomans had very little control over its internal functioning:
Ottoman's control was somewhat nominal sure. But they did receive some tribute.
How would the French occupation and control be of benefit to the ottoman Empire?

T
- Napoleon the Great, p. 161[
Not worth the paper it's printed on.
History should go beyond uncritical hero worship.
 
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Mar 2016
1,079
Australia
#17
Not worth the paper it's printed on.
History should go beyond uncritical hero worship.
You're being completely ignorant if you think that book is "uncritical hero worship". Roberts is extremely critical of Napoleon at many points, even within the Egyptian campaign (he criticizes his brutality at Jaffa, as well as his failure to capture Acre). To be honest I don't think you're even worth discussing anything Napoleon-related with, since you have a very clear bias against the man and everything he did. I've rarely come across anyone on this board with as blatant and aggressive an agenda as you have against Napoleon. I feel like I'm wasting my time trying to argue a point, even when I use sources and you don't.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
8,807
#18
You're being completely ignorant if you think that book is "uncritical hero worship". Roberts is extremely critical of Napoleon at many points, even within the Egyptian campaign (he criticizes his brutality at Jaffa, as well as his failure to capture Acre). To be honest I don't think you're even worth discussing anything Napoleon-related with, since you have a very clear bias against the man and everything he did. I've rarely come across anyone on this board with as blatant and aggressive an agenda as you have against Napoleon. I feel like I'm wasting my time trying to argue a point, even when I use sources and you don't.

How is the Roberts quote of any significance to debate what so ever. It;s judgement of the "ordinary Egyptian:" is highly questionable. What is based on? French reports? Was taxation reduced under French rule? Foriegn how long at Mamluk rule been? . I find it not that credible that it was viewed as foreign rule especially in the context of French invasion. Does Roberts give a source for his claim?

But even given that. That the Mamluk rule was both unpopular and foreign what the relevance of that?

the Ottoman Empire was an Empire. They imposed their foreign rule many places., They still would not be reacting well to some other power inavding their Empire.

The contentions points we were arguing/discussing (a) about responsibility for the cmpaignin Egypt (b) it's brillance, and (c) how the Ottoman would view this inavsion,.

how is you Roberts quote of any relevance what so ever?


What part of the the Egypt campaign was brilliant?

Ottoman armies were just routinely defeated by Russians no matter the large odds in their favor.

Any reasonably lead European army of similar size would achieved the same conquest.

Napoleon provided energetic, determined and charismatic leadership. his organization and logistics were poor,.

But how was it brilliant?
 
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Apr 2014
372
Istanbul Turkey
#19
Napoleon and Talleyrand were main initiators of Egyptian Expedition. Talleyrand from old school French Establishment before Revolution might have had ideas about acquiring long desired colonies in Orient but he was actually cynical and did not pay much attention to Egyptian project himself. It was his job to conclude a treaty before Napoleon's Armee du Orient landed on Egypt but he did not even go to Istanbul (Constantinopole for you) before news of French invasion reached Ottoman capital.

Napoleon at the other hand due to writings about Alexander the Great (one of his heroes) always wanted to go to Near East for personal glory for a long time. "Europe is too small for me" he quipped once. Before Breumere 18 coup between 1794-1795 due to lack of active field command he even considered to obtain a military consultant/trainer job in Ottoman armies (which were backward and constantly swept from field by Russians as noted above. Due to reforms made by several military consultants especially from France-like Baron du Tot-and Prussia , Ottoman armies were getting much better by the time Napoleon invaded Egypt though. Memluks were just cavalry oriented local dominant force he defeated on open field easily-but never properly conqured since their resistance continued for a long time even after Battle of Pyramids and fall of Cairo. First modern Western oriented Ottoman field army Nizam-i Cedit was created in 1798 and it was detachments of this army that reinforced Acre fortress thanks to British navy's fast sea transportation from Rhodes to Syria and defeated Armee du Orient and their attampts to capture Acre in 1799. Comparison with Mount Tabor is really not fair and distortion of history by Napoleonic propaganda. Ottoman armies that faced and defeated by French in Tabor or Aboukir Bay were old style indiciplined Jannissary armies not Nizam-i Cedit) By winning wars , conquering vast provinces from Egypt to Middle East acquring bases he even dreamt up sending French armies either by sea route from Arabian peninsula Indian Ocean to India to link up anti British Tippu Sultan and take out British from India all together. He really wanted to imitate Alexander the Great.

Directory (French goverment after fall of Committe of Public Safety) at this point was just trying to get rid of Napoleon who was regarded extremely ambitious and making a lot of Public Relations and lobbying for power grab in France and Egyptian expedition in Orient which had been a personal project of his. Their reasoning was just sending Bonaparte somewhere far away where he could not cause any more trouble in France or try a power grab with his vast popularity among French nation thanks to his military sucesses in Italy so far. And if by chance he suceeds in Orient (definition of sucess unmentioned here) so much the better.. Talleyrand (I think but might be wrong) summed up Napoleons ambitions best to Directory : "Promote that man or he will promote himself"
 
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Feb 2019
459
Serbia
#20
And as far as conquering a foreign country goes, his conquest of Egypt was brilliant, since he achieved it in only a few months with very minimal casualties.
I have to disagree. Mamelukes were disorganised and outdated, not in any way, shape or form a competent enemy. Your Mount Tabor point is questionable, the real casualties were likely much lower. Likewise for the Pyramids Napoleon claimed that he inflicted 20.000 casualties while the real number was surely lower.

The campaign itself was not brilliant, he landed with too few men and resources in a hostile land and showed complete disregard for his soldiers, messing up his logistics by marching through the desert without supplies and failing to deliver said supplies in crucial moments such as his incursion into Syria. We also have to take his brutality into consideration, at Cairo and Jaffa in particular. In the end he abandoned his army and left them in Egypt with few attempts to reinforce them. Out of all the places to call Napoleon brilliant Egypt is not one of them.

As for Ottoman neutrality that just wasn't going to happen, the Ottomans might not have controlled Egypt but they still considered it as a part of their empire, as such any attack on Egypt would be viewed as an attack on the Ottoman Empire.

Napoleon was not the one who solely planned the expedition but he was central to it. The reason why he was sent was because the Directory wanted to move him away, he was increasingly popular and threatening to them. As said above he wanted to imitate Alexander, there was also a propaganda point of ''liberating'' Egypt from Mameluke tyranny, when Napoleon landed he tried to convince the Egyptians that his landing was ''Allah's will'', they did not believe him for long, another one of his failures in this case was the failure to win over the local population, something which proves vital when in a large land surrounded by hostile population.
 
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