Saturday, January 2, 2016
From the Napoleonic era twice the British Peninsular Army in retreat, but in an orderly fashion without shame!
1. The British retreat from Corunna as commanded by Sir John Moore.
"Lord Bacon observes, that 'honorable retreats are no ways inferior to brave charges, as having less of fortune, more of discipline, say as much of valor'. That is an honorable retreat in which the retiring
general loses no trophies in fight, sustains every charge without being broken, and finally, after a severe action re-embarks his army in the face of a superior enemy, without being seriously molested. It would be honorable to effect this before a foe only formidable from numbers, but it is infinitely more creditable, when the commander,, while struggling with bad weather and worse fortune, has to oppose veterans with inexperienced troops, and to content against an antagonist of eminent ability." - - Sir John Napier, "Napiers's Peninsular War."
Sir John Moore not surviving the retreat from Corunna. Mission accomplished however, British troops surviving to fight another day.
2. Wellington during the Siege of Burgos finding his position untenable the only recourse a fighting retreat again orderly without shame!
"There's a man for you! He [Wellington] is forced to flee from an army that he dares not fight, but he puts eighty leagues [275 miles/440 kilometers] of devastation between himself and his pursuers. He slows down the march of the pursuing army, he weakens it by all kinds of privation-he knows how to ruin it without fighting it. In all of Europe, only Wellington and I are capable of carrying out such measures." - - Napoleon.
The fighting retreat difficult for any commander. Those exceptional senior general officers capable of conducting a successful retrograde maneuver few in number?