JKH1232's picture


Member since 03 September 2010 | Blog


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Recent Activity

Comment 26 Jul 2016

I was going to, but, after looking into it Smolensk wasn't too much of a battle.  The French bombarded the city, it burned down, Russians left.  Also, there's a note of personal choice here, which will be a little obvious when we get to Waterloo. 

Comment 22 Jul 2016

Sure.  I'm all for letting it play out and letting the investigation proceed.  On the flip side, certain others in the thread seem to want to hang Zeke based on some pictures posted on the internet and a general lack of other evidence.  That's just as silly.

Comment 22 Jul 2016

I mean, it's pretty brazen to write nasty things in the "tip" section of receipts as a waiter, take a picture and post it on the internet, then ask for money out of sympathy.  It's pretty brazen to write a slur on a cake in icing, then make a Youtube video that says the baker did it, then ask for money.  But, all of those things have happened, like, a lot.

I'm not saying it did or didn't happen, I just know that people will fake things for a payday all the time, and gladly double down hard.  I don't think we can just dismiss "Shakedown" as what happened, merely because of how bold people are in proclaiming their version of things.

Comment 18 Jul 2016

This is a rather serious issue.  Of course, the situation at the upper levels also continues to deteriorate in 1813- the commander of the Guard dies at Batuzen, for example, and, of course, Napoleon sacks Massena in 1811.  In fact, I don't think we can call the French Army in 1815 really "Napoleonic," it's an older style army, in terms of command and control, with two wing commanders.

Comment 18 Jul 2016

MacDonald was from a Jacobite family, but MacMahon, the eventual Duke of Magenta, was actually part of a Wild Goose family.  Lauriston was born in French India, when there was such a thing, to a Scotsman and his Portuguese wife.Rather like Napoleon, his family managed an artillery commission for him, and he ended riding that to high rank in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars- just not to an Imperial crown.

Comment 18 Jul 2016

I'd agree that that the losses were devastating, for sure.  I understand the argument that they're irreversible, but I don't really buy that.  We can look at some numbers to start:

Size of French Army, Russian Theatre, 1812: ~650,000 men.

Size of French Army, German Theatre, 1813: ~650,000 men.

Now, I'm not going to claim that the army that Napoleon lead in 1813 was the same as the army in 1812.  That's silly- the 1813 army has a much higher proportion of new soldiers, the cav is much worse due to a shortage of good mounts, and Napoleon is short a number of good marshals over time. (You can argue his old marshals have gotten old, too, and so has he- though, for some reason, he also sent his best marshal, Davout, to go screw around in Hanover.) However, he's got plenty of cannon- at least as many in 1813 as 1812.  His army is much less reliant on foreign contingents- especially reluctant ones- and is probably more loyal, if nothing else, at the outset of the campaign.  In fact, at the start of the campaign, he's got a numbers advantage over the Russo/Prussian/Swedish armies, who can put together about 500,000 men, and it's not like their armies are really in better shape than his.  He just has to figure out how to trap the enemy and pull out another Austerlitz.

 What the Russian Campaign did, though, is remove Napoleon's margin for error- he absolutely cannot lose this.  He has to, at the very least, get a bloodless draw, though a decisive victory is best.  There's a good argument that his deployment in the weeks before Dresden cost him the campaign, when he decide to split up his army to cover the three allied armies, then abandoned his effort to beat Blucher to get the Bohemian army.  As it happens, Bernadotte had defeated Oudinant just before Dresden, and Blucher beat MacDonald on the same day as the battle, which allowed the three armies more freedom of movement.  But, I'm not sure that's really the problem, in my book,

  Honestly, I think Napoleon's failure in 1813 ultimately doesn't come down to 1812, or the Dresden Countermarch,  It's a failure of strategic vision, compounded by a diplomatic failure.  First, it looks to me that Napoleon doesn't understand that the 1813 campaign isn't the same as the 05, 09 and 12 campaigns- no matter how aggressive his operational scheme may need to be, he's fighting a defensive war.  He needs to show the Allies that he's still a going concern, he can still beat them, and that crushing him is going to be either impossible, or just too risky and expensive to pull off, in order to set himself up for a compromise treaty- he may need to give up some land somewhere, but he can keep the big stuff.  But, his vision of the campaign is to punish Prussia, which is just too ambitious for his army and his strategic reserves. (Which don't exist.)

This failure of vision gets compounded by a serious diplomatic blunder: securing the neutrality of Austria.  In fact, at the start of the campaign, Austria is actually giving him something he should want- neutrality and an offer of friendly mediation.  I would have jumped at that with both feet, myself.  I don't think he'll be able to secure Austria as an ally- Francis II is too opposed to it, but neutrality is worth a lot.  In fact, its worth giving up Illyria for, which is more important to Austria than to France.  You may even get a friendly, over hostile, neutrality if you play your cards right.  Instead, Napoleon just tries to bully Austria militarily, and diplomatically tries to embarass, rather than work with, his one friend at the Austrian court, Metternich. One the Austrians sign on to the Coalition, Napoleon is going to have to really pull a rabbit out of the hat- and, of course, won't.  

Of course, as an example of Clausewitz's point, it does work if you build the argument around it.  

Comment 12 Jul 2016

Because McQueary wanted to spread blame around?  He was trying to justify his actions?  He didn't like Schiano and was hoping to get him in trouble?  McQueary misunderstood something that was said one time 20 years ago?  Lots of reasons, a lot of them reasonable.