"I have fought sixty battles and I have learned
nothing which I did not know at the beginning.
Look at Caesar; he fought the first like the last."
"Read over and over again the campaigns of
"Read over and over again the campaigns of
Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne,
Eugene and Frederic. ... This is the only way to become a
great general and master the secrets of the art of war. ..."
Napoleon - - conclusion.
"How do you think he does it? I don't know! What makes him so good?"
Here from the website MilitaryHistoryOnline the opinion of one man as to the WHY of Napoleon's success. The factors many, Napoleon NOT seen as an innovator as such, but a man who put innovations of the time to the best use in a way others were not able to! A combination of many factors all at once allowing Napoleon to flummox the more stodgy and set-in-their-ways commanders of the time!
"The Success of Napoleon" by Richard Podruchny.
"Napoleon efficiently utilized the weapons and technology on hand that would formulate his strategy and tactics"
NOT MERELY weapons and technology, BUT much more than that!
1. Weapons and technology innovations and developments related to the artillery arm.
"The artillery arm, however, went through some major renovations prior to Napoleon's rise to power."
Artillery became able to shoot faster and more accurately over longer range with greater lethality AND more maneuverable.
"Napoleon simply made more efficient use with what was on hand."
NOT only having better artillery on hand but in addition used in a manner to maximize the use thereof. This usage called the Grande Batterie. A massing of all available artillery assets with concentrated fire upon the enemy at a location as deemed vulnerable by Napoleon. Blast the enemy to smithereens at a critical point and moment during a battle. Eviscerate the "vitals" so to speak!
"the Grande Batterie. The Grande Batterie would be used in the later years during the Napoleonic era. This technique was essentially the physical massing of artillery fire in support of achieving his main objective on the battlefield"
2. Napoleon made great use of the divisional concept. A formation of standardized combat arms [infantry, cavalry, artillery], a division consisting of about 10,000 troops - - a divisional sized all-arms unit being the largest formation with a fixed structure.
"Napoleon improved upon the potential of division formations."
Divisions organized into task-tailored corps formations for campaigns. Each corps commander also having his own organic combined arms at this disposal.
3. French troops AS A UNIT were more adept and able than their peers of the period. Able to march both further and faster, maneuver more quickly and better in combat, had better intelligence, etc. BETTER!
"The quick maneuvering and marching ability of Napoleon's armies would form the foundation in the execution of Napoleon's strategic concepts"
"To aid in Napoleon's speed of maneuver, his troops traveled light. Coupled with the increase in mobility from living off the land, the French abandoned the orthodox 70 paces per minute line of march in favor of a quick step of 120 paces per minute."
Napoleon eschewed the organized supply as it existed during the period. His troops were required to live off the land, requisitioning, demanding, forcibly taking whatever they needed during a march! This method did NOT serve Napoleon well during the Russian campaign.
"the re-introduction of light-infantry was put into practice."
Light infantry functioning quite often as skirmishers. NOT fighting from a closed and compact formation as was the order of the day.
"a close order column"
The close order column allowed for maximum firepower with maximum speed and mobility of the troop formation. Formations were able to form, deploy, reform, march, much quicker and keep together as a unit. The closed order was a hybrid NOT used by other armies?
[to be honest with you, the close order is not totally understood by me! Can some reader to the blog further elucidate!]
"Napoleon would also make great use of his cavalry and not just in battle. The French cavalry would serve as the basis for Napoleon's intelligence collection."
4. Napoleon embraced fully the concept of the nation-at-arms! Armies became much larger in size, the entire resources of the nation-state devoted to the war effort, and especially with the French, the troops and citizenry inculcated with a revolutionary zeal and elan, almost a missionary fervor!!
"during this time period would drastically increase in size due to conscription. These conscription based armed forces in France would number over a half a million men"
"the 'nation-in-arms.' The French army was not only moved by discipline but through ideological and patriotic dedication. The French government and citizens would support this this new national army through the nationalized manufacturing of war material."
"the aristocratic monopoly on officer commissions was removed, which paved the way for a new kind of officer."
The officer corps no longer relied solely upon the nobility, the aristocracy, those of privilege and wealth for command. ANY MAN showing ability, merit, demonstrative battlefield prowess could rise rapidly in the ranks, often achieving high rank. In this regard Marshal Ney is the archetype.
5. Napoleon had a well thought out "strategy" for employing troops during a campaign. Today this would be referred to as the operational art. The maneuver of troops on a large scale to achieve strategic objectives. One "strategy" was allowed for when the French were outnumbered, and another "strategy" for fighting when the French had numerical superiority!
"Napoleon developed two major strategic systems."
"When he was facing an enemy superior in numbers, the strategy of the central position was used in order to split the enemy into separate parts. This was where each could be eliminated in detail through maneuvering in order to gain the French a local superiority of force"
"On the other hand, of the French held superiority in numbers, Napoleon would often use a maneuver of envelopment"
Maneuver of course dependent upon the very quick marching ability of the French soldier!
And there it is! Napoleon did consider himself to be a finished product from the very beginning of his generalship, his command presence on the battlefield being equal to 40,000 troops it is alleged!
Nothing to it really! Anyone can do it? You judge!