Re: French Military Victories
- From: am05@xxxxxxxxxxx
- Date: 5 Nov 2005 09:48:12 -0800
Raktizer Omheit wrote:
> <am05@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
> > Raktizer Omheit wrote:
> >> <am05@xxxxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
> >> news:1130965096.456735.158310@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
> >> >
> >> > Raktizer Omheit wrote:
> >> >
> >> >> The might of the Napoleonic French army was
> >> >> dramatically shown when they crushingly defeated the army of the
> >> >> German
> >> >> Kingdom of Hohenzollern Brandenburg-Prussia at the battle of
> >> >> Jena-Auerstedt
> >> >> in 1806, and at the battle of Friedland in 1807, both located deep
> >> >> within
> >> >> Prussian territory.
> >> >
> >> > At Friedland he actually defeated Russian army.
> >> >
> >> > Sorry, my mistake, am05.
> >> >
> >> >>Even after
> >> >> Napoleon's disastrous defeat in Russia in 1812, largely because of the
> >> >> harsh
> >> >> Russian winter,
> >> >
> >> > Actually, the winter was not harsh during most of his retreat and he
> >> > lost
> >> > huge numbers of people and horses due to the heat of the Russian
> >> > summer.
> >> >
> >> > Actually, it was harsh AFTER his retreat from Moscow, am05.
> > No, this is a popular legend but not a fact. The winter was reasonably
> > mild all
> > the way from Russia (ice on Berezina did not settle yet) and the real
> > cold started
> > only when French entered Lithuania.
> > am05, the Russian nights were cold enough after Napoleon decided to begin
> > his retreat from Moscow,
It was not even a winter when retreat started and, anyway, Russian
climate is better
adjusted to their old calendar. Substract 13 days out of modern
calendar and what
will you get? Napoleon fought winter campaigns earlier in Germany and
As for the 'cold nights', mid-October is NOT a cold time in Moscow.
>most of which the Russians had burnt to the
> > ground.
Nobody knows exactly how it happened but it is a small wonder that a
wooden city, which served as a camp to the occupying army burned.
However, a considerable part of the city survived and so did a big part
The problem for Napoleon was in a fact that he was placed with less
than 95K troops
deep inside Russia with Russian forces on his flanks growing in numbers
possibility of encirclement being something to consider.
>> The French soldiers would not have been used to the summer, autumn
> > or fall, and winter of Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine.
Just out of a pure curiosity, how familar are you with the climate of
As far as my personal experience goes, with the exception of some
winters both Central European Russia and Ukraine have rather pleasant
> >> >>the large distance from Warsaw to Moscow, the Russian
> >> >> scorched earth tactics,
> >> >
> >> > ... which actually never was implemented on any serious scale...
> >> >
> >> > Yes it was implemented on a large scalo, am05.
> >> >
> > It never was. Barclay forbade it. Kutuzov never spelled it out and,
> > anyway he
> > received command too close to Moscow for this to be of any effect even
> > if it was
> > implemented.
> > The diaries of the French officers who survived the Russian campaign
> > complain at length about the Russian scorched earth tactics, which
> > culminated in the Russians torching the city of Moscow.
I don't remember too many complaints on this subject in Caulaincourt's
memories so please be more explicit about your sources. One more thing
said about the French memories is that their authors quite often suffer
overdeveloped imagination. You can trace an old thread in this NG
description of the Russian fortifications at Borodino.
Anyway, these complains do not make too much practical sense or track
reality. When French bombarded Smolensk, big part of the (wooden) city
But the fact that Napoleon used city's depots to store _his_ supplies
tells that the
Russian command did not destroy them.
After Smolensk both armies moved along the same road. Clearly, supplies
wells near the road had been exhausted but Caulaincourt complained
problems when Grand Army was still passing through Lithuania.
On their way back French passed through the same villages and cities
and there was
plenty of locals to launch a massive hunt for the marauding French who
out of the main road to find food in the villages (which clearly were
General Ermolov commented that if French offered payment for supplies,
peasants would cooperate. Who would be there to cooperate if the area
> > You are talking about the different times. Population can not be
> > computed
> > retroactively and situation in the early XIX had little to do with one
> > of mid XX.
> > For comparison, IIRC, at the times of Peter the Great Russia had appr.
> > the same
> > population as France or even less.
> > am 05, Peter the Great had died in 1725, and the French had invaded Russia
> > in 1812, some 87 years after the death of Peter the Great. By 1812, the
> > population of Russia, Belarus, and the Ukraine combined far exceeded the
> > population of France.
It could be greater but you forgot that Napoleon controlled territory
much greater than
modern France. Empire and dependent lands covered France, Germany,
Netherlands, big part of Poland/Lithuania. All of them contributed to
the numbers of
Grand Army. There was also allied Austrian army acting on Southern
> > Not to mention that when you are talking about _density_ you have
> > remember
> > size of a territory as well. Russian population was dispersed over the
> > huge territory
> > and, except for few big centers, was not dense at all. What is more
> > important, is
> > that Russian mobilization abilities were relatively low thanks to the
> > unefficient
> > social system and to the fact that, unlike France, Russia did not have
> > an universal
> > military service. In 1812 Russia did not have anything comparable to
> > the numbers of
> > the Grand Army (450-500K, if Nappy is to be believed).
> > am 05, the Russian army usually outnumbered the French army during most of
> > the major battles fought in Napoleon's Russian invasion of 1812.
Actually, it was other way around unless you are talking about events
Napoleon's retreat from Moscow. You can find confirmation in any more
or less serious
book on campaign of 1812.
[snip to save space: numbers do include Cossacks and I know very well
who they were]
> > Indeed. I was just pointing out that these 'moments' amount to a big
> > chunk of a
> > modern history.
> > Yes it does am05, but under Napoleon the French conquered the largest
> > chunk of territory that they have ever done in their history,
Only if you are talking about Europe. French colonial Empire which
existed until after
WWII was much greater in territory than any Napoleon's conquest.
> >> >
> >> >> because they refused to adopt the use of the English longbow, which
> >> >> the
> >> >> English were to use until the 1580's.
> >> >
> >> > They actually tried to adopt it but eventually figured out that the
> >> > firearms
> >> > are better. Last two battles of 100YW proved this.
> >> >
> >> > The Battle of Guinegate against the French in 1513, and the Battle of
> >> > Flodden Field in 1513 against the Scots still proved that the English
> >> > longbow was a powerful weapon, and repeating rifles were still a long
> >> > way
> >> > off in the future. However, the English also had the help of the
> >> > Germans
> >> > at Guinegate, am05.
> > English lost at Fromigny and Castillion (sp) thanks to the French
> > firearms and, even
> > with the modern rifles being unavailable for quite a while, the
> > firearms were the way
> > to go.
> > This did not mean that the bow immediately became obsolete:
I did not say that. But it is useless to deny that eventually everybody
switched to the
And at on of the battles I mentioned above presense of 1 or 2 light
cannons on French
side was enough to force English to abandon shooting and to launch an
eventually resulted in their defeat.
> > I was talking about the _archers_, not crossbowmen. French tried to
> > mimic the
> > English system but with no visible success.
> > am05, the French never adopted the longbow, but they did try to train
> > their own troops with the crossbow, whereas before they had used Genoese
> > mercenaries as crossbowmen.
You are wrong. De Comnin explicitly tells about the archers.
> >> as opposed
> >> > to mercenary Genoese crossbow archers, until 1429, and the crossbow had
> >> > a
> >> > slower rate of fire, smaller range, poorer accuracy, and less
> >> > penetrating
> >> > power than the crossbow,
> > crossbow has less <whatever> than a crossbow? I'm not sure that I'm
> > following you.
> > am05, a crossbowmen can fire about 4 arrows or bolts per minute, whereas a
> > longbowmen can fire 12 arrows a minute.
Now, you can compute how fast he would run out of arrows by shooting at
> >>although the Mongolian composite bow had a range
> >> > twice as long, and a penetrating power twice as strong, as that of the
> >> > English longbow.
> > With all my infatuation with the Mongols I'm not sure that your
> > information is
> > necessarily correct, unless you are talking about some outstanding
> > cases (with the
> > special sport/hunting bows) as opposite to the average level. 'Twice'
> > looks a little bit
> > too high.
> > am 05, the average Mongolian recurve bow did have a longer range than that
> > of the English longbow,
I was talking about 'twice'.
>>>and the Mongolian recurve bow did have twice the
> > impact force of the English longbow two.
>>The Mongolian recurve bow could
> > also fire as many arrows per minute as the English longbow.
There were numerous nomadic tribes who were excellent horse archers.
big part of the Mongolian army which invaded Russia and Central Europe
ethnic Mongols but the tribes subdued by the Mongols (and many of them,
Polovtsy, were not a serious military force in XIII). Organization and
the crucial factors.
> >> > Why hire Swiss pikemen as mercenaries when you can train your own
> >> > countrymen as pikemen, am05?
> > The same reason: not enough free men. They actually tried with the
> > Bretons,
> > Gasconians and, IIRC, people from Picardy. But an average French
> > peasant was
> > not (AFAIK) considered a suitable material and attempts of Francois I
> > to do something
> > about creation of the national infantry failed. Even Richelieau had big
> > problems with
> > raising a _national_ army and had to buy the whole army of
> > 'Bernardines'.
> > am 05, until the emancipation of the French Revolution of 1789, the French
> > peasant often had little motive and desire to fight hard for the ancien
> > regime,
Indeed, and this created numerous problems until modern methods of
and drilling had been introduced (reforms of Le Tellier and Lovouis).
the time of Revolution French army included a number of regiments
formed from the
>>and the same was to apply with the Prussians
The same also applied to the Russia until mid XIX. So what? We are
period of the _modern_ drilling. Swiss pikemen belonged to an earlier
analogies hardly applicable.
> > Swiss, OTOH, provided a steady source of the high-quality infantry
> > always available
> > for money. The temptation to use something ready as opposite to launch
> > an
> > experiment with unpredictable outcome was too great to resist.
> > am 05, the French still could have gradually built up their own pikemen,
Eventually, they did but it took a long time. By the time of the
Italian Wars France was
notoriously short of a national infantry and this is a fact.
> > as the Spaniards combined in their tercios.
The difference was in a fact that Spain had a huge pool of the
personally free peasants
and landless gentry who were ready to serve.
>>Nevertheless, the French
> > decisively beat the Swiss pikemen at the Battle of Marignano in 1515,
Victory at Marigniano was anything but 'decisive' because tyhe whole
was a short-term fluke and soon afterwards you can find Swiss again on
employ. Marigniano was won by combination of artillery fire and cavalry
by French infantry.
> > the French were to decisively beat the Spanish tercios at the Battle of
> > Rocroi in 1643.
Yes. But it happened in XVII century. Just few years earlier Richelieau
had been forced
to hire an army of 'Bernardines' for operations on Rhein and before
this he could do
nothing about Mansfeld's troops lootiong French lands.
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