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Great Battles # 7 Ulm - Austerlitz 1805

Discussion in 'Military History' started by Austerlitz, Oct 26, 2016.

  1. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    AUSTERLITZ CAMPAIGN 1805 - MASTERY OF EUROPE

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    BACKGROUND :

    December 2, 1804 Notre-Dame cathedral in Paris.Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself emperor of the french-the culmination of a meteoric whirlwind rise from a mere lieutenant of artillery just 10 years ago to undisputed master of the most powerful country in europe.(contemporary)An event made possible by the effects of the french revolution.Bonaparte had used the fame and glory acquired from his famous 1796 italian campaign which had led largely to the end of the first coalition,and then clever propaganda and glamour of his 1798 egyptian campaign to present himself as a saviour to the war weary french populace tired of the constant chaos and corruption in france in the aftermath of the revolution.In 1799 with the help of the army bonaparte overthrew the the rump directory and became first consul.

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    Consolidating his power base with a brilliant short second campaign in italy culminating in the battle of marengo(1800) against austria he brought an end to the 2nd coalition against france.For the first time in a decade peace was achieved with all of europe-even britain.Bonaparte used this respite to build up french economic strength and reform the country. 1800-1804 is usually considered bonaparte's greatest achievement,even without any battles.He brought about the concordat with the church,implemented the Code Napoleon-a civil code still used in france with modifications and one that was eventually adopted in various parts of europe,established the national bank of europe.Increased manufacturing ability and began large scale infrastructure development.This incredible success made him immensely popular in france,which the ambitious napoleon used to become the first french emperor.This move however offended the old ruling houses of europe who considered him a parvenu upstart.


    ROAD TO WAR :

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    BRITAIN -
    The general peace existing was short lived and deceptive.France had simply made too many territorial gains in the revolutionary wars,its revolutionary ideas were held also as a existential threat by the monarchies of europe.Within just 14 months of the signing of peace between france and britain in 1802 the 2 countries were again at war.Conflicting maritime and colonial interests led to the inevitable.Britain refused to evacuate malta in the mediterranean.france in return embargoed british shipping.Britain declared war and france unable attack britain directly, occupied hannover in northern germany which was a heirdom of the king of britain.The british agitated in continental europe against france,offering liberal subsidies and arms to austria,prussia and russia for a general alliance against the common gallic foe.Prime minister William Pitt was to be the architect of the third coalition.Napoleon responded by collecting a vast army nearly 200,000 strong at boulogne,directly opposite britain's heartland and awaited a favourable oppurtunity to evade the royal navy,cross the channel and invade britain.

    AUSTRIA - Austria had been exhausted by the long wars with france and was still midway through recovery,and military reform.However the loss of holland and north italy to france had not been forgotten and couldn't be reconciled.The direct annexation to france of piedmont and genoa,which had been earlier puppet republics further infuriated vienna.On top of this napoleon crowning himself emperor of france and king of italy was another direct insult.With britain ready to finance a new coalition she awaited her oppurtunity to strike back at france and her new emperor.

    RUSSIA - Russia and France didn't have any direct conflict of interest save for the ideological one of monarchy and revolutionary republic.Though russia participated in the 2nd coalition it later withdrew and napoleon had come to enjoy a cordial relationship with the czar paul.However on paul's assasination at a palace coup and crowning of his son,the young czar alexander things changed.Czar alexander was possesed of many qualities,but was also indecisive and vacillitating.He was surrounded by many young and reckless advisors and nobles who were contemptous of the revolutionary french.The czar himself swung from francophille to francophobe.In 1805 he was having his francophobe period.Anxious to increase russian prestige in european courts and eager to be the first to defeat the hitherto invincible corsican he resolved to lead russia's armies in person.This policy of interventionism was in accordance with catherine the great's long practiced policy of actively engaging in europe and to establish russia as one of the arbriters of europe.British financial support only served to hasten russia's entry into the new grand coalition.

    PRUSSIA - That left prussia,the remaining great power of europe.Prussia's position was interesting,on one hand it was pleased to see traditional german rival austria weakened.On the other hand steady french expansion into the rhine was noted with great concern.Both sides courted the prussians.Initially prussia attempted a policy of neutrality,however as the war party gained momentum prussia's entry into the coalition was stalled by a masterly french diplomatic stroke of offering hannover.Prussia thus vacillitated.

    One last spark was needed to ignite the flame of war throughout europe.In late 14th march 1804 a party of french dragoons seized the exiled french noble duke of enghien from neutral territory of baden few miles from the french border.He was brought back to france,tried for treason and executed on charges that may or may not have been true.Bonaparte had been the target of several assasination attempts that were carried out by royalists and enghien was supposedly one of the plotters(no proof).He wished to send a message.This act of seizing a nobleman from neutral territory and then executing him created outrage in the courts of europe.The third coalition was now to be a reality.

    GRAND PLANS OF THE THIRD COALITION:

    By August 1805 the third coalition was in place.Russia,Austria,Britain,Naples and Sweden were the members.Prussia was expected to join later .A grandiose master plan was set up to crush napoleon and his parvenu empire with overwhleming force.

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    The plan called for an enormous europe wide advance on french territorial acquisitions from the baltic to the adriatic.
    The northern attack was to liberate hannover.15,000 british soldiers of an expeditionary force were to join 20,000 russians and 12,000 swedes to accomplish this.

    In germany the main allied attack would come.The austrian army nominally under archduke fredinand(in reality led by quatermaster mack)80,000 strong would invade french ally bavaria.They would be shortly joined by Kutuzov leading 50,000 russian troops.Kutuzov's force would be followed by a further 2 russian armies under bennigsen and buxhowden amounting to another 1,00000 men.These movements would also encourage the king of prussia and his 180,000 man army to join the fray.

    In Italy,thought to be napoleon's favoured area because of the last 2 campaigns the best austrian commander Archduke charles led 100,000 austrian troops.His objective was to recover all of northern italy and resist any napoleonic riposte.

    25,000 men under archduke john would serve as a link between charles and mack.

    Finally from naples another combined force of british,russians and neapolitans around 50,000 on paper would clear south and central italy of the french and join archduke charles .

    Thus a staggering scale of operations was envisaged which was hitherto unprecedented in european history.
    The objectives of the third coalition were -
    Primary-To roll back all french conquests and return france to her pre-1789 borders.
    Secondary - Once this primary objective was achieved Mack and kutuzov would invade central france,charles bolstered by the neapolitans would invade southern france and the army from hannover northern france.The ultimate goal would be the overthrow of napoleon and the revolutionary order and the restoration of the bourbon monarchy on the french throne.

    The coalition thus aimed to hurl nearly half a million men(500,000) at napoleonic france which could muster only over 250,000 effectives.However co-ordination between these fur allied flung forces was to be very difficult and if napoleon didn't wait for the enemy to strangle him with the noose and disrupted the allied advance,confusion could well arise.Adding to the problems,in a poor display of staffwork the fact that russians were still using the old julian calendar -different from the rest of europe was not noticed.This meant Kutuzov's army would arrive 12 days later than the austrians predicted to join mack.Nonetheless on paper the plans looked imposing enough for the royal courts of europe to confidently predict the ogre's demise.

    FRENCH COUNTERPLAN -THE EMPEROR STRIKES BACK:

    An enterprise of this scale couldn't evade the french network of spies.Neither was Napoleon idle.
    In august 26,1805 a carriage carrying a handsome gentleman rolled into the town of mainz and then to frankfurt.In it was one Monsieur Beaumont,as written on his passport.Carefully circling the borders of the austrian empire and the german cities in the area the carriage circled back and came to a stop within french borders at strasbourg.Here Monsieur Beaumont reverted to his true identity - Marshal Joachim Murat,commander of the french cavalry and son-in-law of bonaparte.(one can remember murat from the italian campaign battle report).Here murat reported his detailed observations on austrian and russian preparations to napoleon and also on the terrain.As more and more reports piled up on his desk in paris,Napoleon considered his options.

    A medium sized french force under marshal bernadotte was in hannover,other slender forces under St Cyr in Naples and Eugene in Italy.But the bulk of the french army was concentrated in boulougne on the channel coast facing england.This was Napoleon's weapon of mass destruction -' The Grande Armee.'Finely honed by the years of peace and training and formed of veterans of the revolutionary wars.If the allies managed to complete their concentration napoleon had few if any chances of survival.He would have to seize the initiative and change the rules of the game.But where would he strike?
    Then came the news of the austrian invasion of Bavaria.Napoleon shelved plans for the invasion of england and turned his attention west.(further hampered by indecisiveness of french admirals).Massena ,his most trusted veteran general was sent to Italy to take command of the 50,000 troops there.His job was to keep archduke charles in check for a temporary period.St Cyr was left with a meagre force to hold naples.Marshal brune stayed in france with 30,000 mostly second rate troops to defend against a british seaborne invasion of the french coast.The rest of the 'Grande Armee' camped on the channel coast was to be unleashed on the allied forces in germany with a speed austro-russian high command would not believe possible.Contrary to the mistaken belief in austrian high command that napoleon would attack in italy,the main french effort would come against the main allied armies in germany.The secondary theatres were allocated minimal or no troops at all.In accordance with napoleon's principles-

    As the grand army is roused from its camps in boulogne the stage is set for one of the greatest campaigns in military history.

    CONTD.
     
  2. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    LA GRANDE ARMEE

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    From his accession to power in 1799,Napoleon used the respite of peace to reorganize and restructure the french forces.Out of the robust skeleton of the revolutionary french army,the grande armee would emerge.At least 1/3rd of its number were crucially veterans the rest conscripts or volunteers called up or joined since 1801.Honed by years of training at the camp of Boulougne it would be a formidable instrument at the disposal of a formidable commander.In total in 1805 france could call upon 250,000 trained men.More raw conscripts could be called up in emergency but would be of limited value.

    DEVELOPMENT OF THE GRANDE ARMEE:

    To understand the evolution of the grand army from the revolutionary hordes,plz check post 3 onwards of this thread.
    Battle Report #12 - Napoleon's Italian Campaign 1796.

    ORGANIZATION:

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    One of the most important factors in the Grande Armée's success was its superior and highly flexible organization. It was subdivided into several Corps 'd'Armee, each numbering anywhere between 10,000 to 50,000, with the average size being around 20,000 to 30,000 troops. These Corps d'Armée were self-contained, miniature armies of combined arms, consisting of elements from all the forces and support services.While capable of fully independent operations and of defending themselves until reinforced(for 24 hrs at most), the Corps usually worked in close concert together and kept within a day's marching distance of one another. The Corps would often follow separate routes on a wide front and were small enough to live by foraging, allowing fewer supplies to be carried. Through dispersion and the use of forced marches the Grande Armée was often able to surprise opposing armies by its speed of maneouver.A Corps, depending on its size and the importance of its mission, was commanded by a Marshal or General 'd 'Division(major general)


    In 1805 The grande armee consisted of 7 corps each commanded by a marshal.Apart from these corps Napoleon created a final elite reserve based on the mini corps model -The imperial guard.This was his final assault reserve when he would need it.In 1805 it consisted of 12,000 men.The Guard artillery was used as the army artillery reserve for employment at a critical hour.(His opponents didn't reserve massed artillery in this fashion).While each corps had its own integral light cavalry and sometimes medium dragoons,napoleon concentrated all his armoured heavy cavalry into a centralized cavalry reserve.This was led by Marshal murat.The cavalry reserve also had dragoons and light cavalry for reconssaince,pursuit and screening duties.This use of a strategic artillery and cavalry reserve were unique at that time.

    CORPS ORGANIZATION:

    Napoleon was the first to employ permanent army corps.Each army corps consisted of 2-4 infantry divisions.Each infantry division had 2 brigades and each brigade 2 regiments.Regiments were further subdivided into battalions and battalion sinto companies.There was also 1-2 light/medium cavalry divisions giving the corps independent screening/recon/pursuit capabilities and also an artillery train of medium and heavy guns and howitzers.Napoleon at this time didn't employ regimental light guns of small calibres as it was considered too ineffective at any but shortest ranges for the logistical/price burden.Each corps had its own integral staff.

    The advantages bestowed by this new system were manifold.At this armies used permanent formations at the battalion/regiment level.When war began these were condensed into temporary Ad-hoc mixed arms formations.In the french system however for 5 yrs of peace,the officers and men of the corps trained together and were acquainted with each other.Result was excellent co-ordination and mutual trust.
    Secondly it also simplified staffwork.While allied commanders were burdened with moving around sometimes regiments and individual battalions,napoleon could shuffle combat power by moving his corps.
    Thirdly the rate of manuever was increased greatly.As each corps moved along a seperate route with its alloted foraging area(in accordance with practice of living off the land)it was far less dependant on baggage trains than the cumbersome allied forces.Napoleon could be confident that the all-arms nature of the corps would allow it to hold out for at least 24 hrs if attacked as long as it was reinforced by more corps within mutually supporting distance.It was thus both mobile and flexible.
    The composition was fluid and its organization highly flexible, permitting changes to be implemented in mid-campaign (as in the case of the creation of a new VIII Corps under Marshal Mortier during the second phase of the campaign of 1805, to the utter confusion of Austrian military intelligence)

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    A modern army command structure for comparison to those confused.The grande armee's command structure is the precursor of all modern armies.The corps system was adopted worldwide.

    Above i gave the nominal organizational structure.On a tactical level however this structure was not always strictly adhered to.For example the on the ground organization of marshal davout's III corps in 1805.

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    Davout's original force would have been 3 infantry divisions plus a brigade(3x4=12 +2 i.e 14 regiments),the corps artillery and 1 cavalry division.
    See here davout doesn't entirely adhere to the paper organization.He has subdivided the force into an advance guard of one 2-regimental brigade plus one of the 2 cavalry brigades from his cavalry division.The main body is composed of 2 infantry divisions in strength.But see here some 'brigades' in name have one regiment.Finally another 4 regiments i.e one infantry division forms the reserve.Davout has also kept the heavy artillery as a corps reserve,and the second cavalry brigade as a cavalry reserve.All the infantry divisions and the advance guard have been allocated medium artillery pieces for integral fire support.

    Napoleon allowed his subordinate marshals full freedom to organize and employ their corps as they saw fit as long as he followed the emperor's operational directives.He left the tactical handling of each corps to its commander and concerned himself with strategy and grand tactics usually(unless some large blunder was made).This meant while nominal organization of each corps may be similar their tactical employment could vary from each commander.

    NEXT:FRENCH COMMANDERS & THE MARSHALATE
     
  3. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH COMMANDERS

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    In 1805,the third coalition would face its main antagonist in Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.35 years old,and at the peak of his mental and physical powers with an army devoted to him and highly popular at home due to the stability and prosperity during the consulate's years of peace .

    THE MARSHALATE:

    On becoming emperor napoleon revived the ancient french title of marshal.Although in theory reserved "to the most distinguished generals", in practice Napoleon granted the title according to his own wishes and convictions and made at least a few controversial choices. Although not a military rank, a Marshal displayed four silver stars, while the top military rank, General d' Division, displayed three stars. Furthermore, the Marshalate quickly became the prestigious sign of the supreme military attainment and it became customary that the most significant commands be given to a Marshal. Each Marshal held his own coat of arms, was entitled to special honours and several of them held top functions within the army. They wore distinctive uniforms and were entitled to carry a cylinder-shaped baton, which was a symbol of their authority.

    Throughout his 1804-1815 reign, Napoleon appointed a total of 26 Marshals, although their number never exceeded 20 at any one moment. The initial list of 1804 included 14 names of active generals and four names of retired generals, who were given the "honorary" title of Marshal.

    The four honorary senatorial marshals were the 'old' kellerman for his victory at valmy during the revolutionary wars,the old serurier-napoleon's old subordinate during the italian campaign,Perignon-another revolutionary general and Lefebre- a jacobin candidate chosen to placate this hardline republican political faction.

    Among the battlefield marshals.14 were initially chosen.

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    Louis Alexandre Berthier.Napoleon's indispensable chief of staff from the days of the italian campaign,he is one of the great chief of staffs in military history and served in this capacity until his death in 1814.He and his staff simplified napoleon's numerous commands and communicated them to his marshals and subordinates in campaign.The 'supercomputer' of the grande armee.He himself was possesed of physical carriage but was personally a poor strategist and was never employed as a battlefield commander.

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    Jean Baptiste Bernadotte.An ambitious man,Bernadotte had attempted to stop napoleon's rise to power.He was still awarded the marshalate to placate the republicans and due to his family links to napoleon(his wife being napoleon's ex).A mediocre commander.Eventually turned against napoleon in the battle of liepzig.Later became king of sweden.(forefather of current swedish dynasty).In 1805 he commanded the I Corps of the grande armee that was situated in hannover at the beginning of the campaign.

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    Louis Nicholas Davout.When he was given the marshal's baton in 1804 there was much surprise,as he was still an obscure general with little battlefield success.Many thought he had been given the baton in place of desaix,napoleon's friend and general who had been killed at marengo.Davout would soon shut up all rumours and prove Bonaparte's faith in his abilities with a string of incredible performances.Nicknamed the 'Iron marshal' or the 'Beast' he was reknowned for his coarse and strict discipline.Along with massena he would go on to become napoleon's greatest marshal.In 1805.Was one year younger than napoleon.Davout's III corps was considered the best in the grand army-Napoleon called it his 'tenth legion'.(after caesar's legendary Legio X).Davout was the only undefeated french commander of the napoleonic wars.In 1805 however he was still an unknown leading the III corps.

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    Jean de Soult .He had garnered a solid reputation in the revolutionary wars though never serving directly under napoleon,and in the camp of boulogne napoleon was much impressed by his organizational skills.He was given command of the IV corps,the largest in the grande armee.A dependable and solid commander,considered one of napoleon's better marshals.


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    Jean Lannes.A veteran of the italian campaign and one of napoleon's few friends.Incredibly brave,he had risen from the ranks from common soldier.A fierce fighter ,lannes was one of napoleon's finest marshals.Killed in action 1809.Commanded the V corps in 1805.He embodied napoleon's remark -'
    ''In every french soldier's knapsack is a marshal's baton"

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    Michel Ney.In 1805 he had not yet served directly under napoleon and was eager to do this.A firebrand soldier,incredibly courageous-for which he was named 'The bravest of the brave'.An unpredictable commander,the redheaded ney on one day could single handedly turn the tide of a battle,on another commit disastrous blunders.Commanded the VI corps of the grande armee.

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    Pierre augereau.Napoleon's old comrade from the italian campaign.Dogged fighter.He had risen from the ranks.Was brave but corrupt.Commanded the VII corps,the smallest in the grande armee in 1805.The 7th corps was situated on the south west french coast and not on the camp of boulogne like the other corps.

    Apart from these were ofcourse,Marshal Massena.Napoleon's best marshal in 1805.After his stellar performance in the italian campaign in 1796 he had increased his fame by repulsing the russians at zurich in the war of the second coalition and in his defence of genoa thereafter.In 1805 he was sent by napoleon to command the french forces in italy,so id not mentioned here.

    Apart from these Jourdan and moncey were 2 more marginal marshals who seldom held important commanders.Marshal mortier would later take part in the campaign.(can't give all pics due to 10 limit).Brune was left defending the french coast.

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    Jean Baptiste Bessieres.Commander of the imperial guard he was admired for his simple lifestyle.A close aide of napoleon's he was a good cavalry commander but below par in independent command.

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    Auguste Marmont.In 1805 he commanded II corps.An artillery specialist he was an average commander otherwise.Later promoted to marshal.Did much to develop the french artillery arm.A friend of napoleon and a veteran of the italian campaign.

    NEXT: FRENCH INFANTRY
     
  4. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH INFANTRY

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    "The french cavalry swaggered, the martial clanging of its scabbards ...
    Artillerymen strode with aloof pride - was not Emperor himself also a gunner ?
    But it was the sweaty soldats d'infanterie, the gravel-agitating,
    beetle-crushing infantry who truly carried the French Empire
    on their burdened shoulders and bayonets." -Historian Elting.

    Infantry is considered the queen of the battlefield.Even with the shock effect of cavalry and the tremendous firepower of artillery it is the resilience of the infantry that makes it the one arm capable of taking and holding land.The french infantry under napoleon were undoubtedly among the best of their time and during the peak period of 1805-1807 unmatched at their trade.The french infantryman was known for elan,stubbornness,dexterity and his swift marching.The infantry was the backbone of the grande army.

    ORGANIZATION:

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    The basic administrative unit was the regiment.In 1803 Napoleon replaced the revolutionary demi-brigade by reinstating this designation.An infantry regiment typically consisted of 1000-4000 men varying highly depending on the number of battalions in it.The number of battalions could vary from 2-6.In 1805 most regiments had 2 or 3 battalions plus 1 depot battalion.The depot battalion trained new incoming conscripts and provided reinforcements to fill out depleted frontline battalions.

    France was divided into nearly 150 administrative subunits,and regiments were raised usually from area accordingly.A regiment was commanded by a colonel.-
    1 Grenadier Co.(80-90 men)
    1 Voltigeur Co. (120 men)
    7 Fusilier Companies(120 men each)
    1 Chef d'bataillon (mounted)
    1 Adjudant-Major - in the rank of captain
    1 Sous-Adjudant-Major - in the rank of lieutenant
    1 Adjudant Sous-officer - in the rank of senior NCO
    1 Drum-corporal


    The basic tactical unit was the battalion.In 1805 A french standard line infantry battalion consisted of 9 companies.7 companies were standard line infantry or fusiliers,1 company was formed of elite assault troops -the grenadiers specializing in close quarter bayonet fighting,and one company of voltigeurs,light infantry which acted as skirmishers and screened the advance of the main body.In practice though the fusiliers of the main body often joined in to act as light skirmishers.This provided the french armies with great flexibility and gave rise to the europe wide complaint of swarms of french skirmisher hordes in battle.The battalion was commanded by a major.

    A light infantry battalion,which was increasingly blurred in function with the line infantry had the same organisation of 9 companies per battalion.The difference was in more intensive training and better espirit de corps.Here 7 companies of fusliers were renamed chasseurs,the voltigeurs as light voltigeurs and the grenadiers renamed carabiners.These different troop types had seperate uniforms.

    In all France entered the conflict with 133 line infantry regiments and 36 light infantry regiments.A battalion at full strength comprised some 1200 men,though normal strength varied from 600/700- 1000.

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    THE COMPANY -
    Of the 9 company battalions,each company had 1 platoon which was the tactical unit of manuevre.(essentially Company being same as platoon,but company being an administartive designation while platoon a tactical one).
    Every infantry company/platoon comprised 120 men.The grenadier companies however had 80-90 men.( section of a grenadier company or an understrength one shown in picture)

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    In battle the platoons were formed up in sections which participated in the linear firing sequences and movements of line,square and column tactics.(described later)

    TRAINING :
    Training of conscripts remained rudimentary.He recieved 2-3 weeks of basic instruction on the depot and fired a few musket shots.More emphasis was placed on bayonet fighting and building up endurance for marching.Real training began once he joined his unit and 'learned his trade' from the veterans.Thus as long as the veterans remained the grande armee's quality remained high.(problem in later years).In the camp of boulougne however more specialized training had taken place.Weekly divisional manueveres,3 days of instense tarining per week plus large scale exercises a month all helped into shaping of a peerless force.Davout also included training in night fighting.

    EQUIPMENT :


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    The main weapon of the french soldier was the charleville flintlock musket with a socket bayonet.It was a very reliable weapon and is generally considered one of the best if not the best musket of the napoleonic era along with the british brown bess.Grenadiers and voltigeurs also carried a sabre.Range of the musket was 250 yards but was really accurate at 100 yards.It was this accuracy and slow rate of fire of muskets that required them to be massed together in packed linear formations to deploy the desired massed fire effect.

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    Grande Armee Fusilier.
    ''Good line infantry is without doubt the sinews of an army''-Napoleon.

    The french infantry were reknowned for their speed of marching which astonished contemporary observers and strong offensive spirit.Capital punishment was abolished in the french army,unique in the armies of its time.A great advanatge of napoleon's organization of his infantry was that he had more officers and NCOs per unit than his adversaries.This gave french units greater cohesion and flexibility in battle.

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    A french carabiner.​
    Carabiners and grenadiers were elite assault troops ,mostly the biggest and bravest of a battalion.They wore distinctive bearskin caps to symbolize their elite status.

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    French light infantry chasseur.​
    France developed her highly advanced light infantry tactics from the days of revolutionary horde warfare.This legacy was carried on and perfected in the grande armee era.Chasseurs and voltigeurs would deploy in front of the main army body and begin incessant harassing fire,which combined with artillery served served to create gaps in the enemy front where cavalry and line infantry could seek exploitation.The French enjoyed great reputation as skirmishers and rightly so. Historian Nafziger wrote that only the French can lay claim to the universal employment of their line infantry as skirmishers.Prussian general Scharnhorst maintained that the individual French soldier, epitomized by the light infantryman, had decided most of the tactical engagements of the war. Scharnhorst wrote:

    "The physical ability and high inteligence of the common man enables the French light infantryman to profit from all advantages offered by the terrain and the general situation, while the phlegmatic Germans, Bohemians and Dutch form an open ground and do nothing but what their officers order them to do."

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    THE EAGLE : As a regimental standard napoleon introduced the eagle in imitation of the roman legion.This served as a rallying point for a regiment in battle as well as raising unit morale.To lose the regiment's eagle was ultimate disgrace for the unit.

    NEXT: Infantry formations and small unit tactics.
     
  5. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    INFANTRY FORMATIONS :

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    Napoleonic warfare was essentially linear.The linear nature of battle was determined by the state of technology.The musket while a very effective weapon,still took quite long to reload and most importantly was inaccurate beyond short-mid ranges(75-100 yards = 20-30% efficiency,200 yrds=1-2% efficiency),thus to provide concentrated firepower musketeers were grouped together in closed ranks for massed volleys.Also only infantry in close formation could repel cavalry as infantry caught in the open were liable to be cut down in swathes.Troops were deployed in blocks with spaces in between for retreat,reforming and reinforcement.

    While line infantry performed in this sequential orchestrated pattern,light infantry acted much like modern infantry-as individuals.Marksmen and skirmishers harassing the enemy and screening the main body.They used terrain features and cover to full extent,something line infantry couldn't do because that would break up the shape of the formations.Light infantry were however vulnerable to cavalry if they strayed too far from the main body or got caught on open ground scattered.This pattern of fighting led to the adoption of common formations of fighting all over europe.These are discussed below.

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    LINE FORMATION:

    The line formation was the premier formation used for musket firefights,it utilized the complete firepower of a battalion.Men were drawn up 3 ranks deep to deliver volleys.Thus all available muskets were brought into action.However as time went on often 2 rank deep were used,as the 3rd men would fire too often resulted in friendly fires into the backs of their own infantry.The 3 rank remained but were increasingly used to replace those killed in the first 2 ranks and for reloading.The french army of this period employed the 3 rank firing system in line.

    The difficulty with advancing lines was their sensitivity to terrain and order. The irregularities of the terrain caused the ranks to become ragged, the battalion bowed in the middle and sometimes broke completely in half. A line of two battalions on a battlefield would be halting to dress more frequently than one battalion. The long line made the troop more difficult to manoeuvre and to turn. For these reasons, commanders used lines only for short distances and over open terrain with no serious obstacles. Line formation thus allowed pouring of large volumes of firepower,but was difficult to manuever and extremely vulnerable to flank attacks and cavalry charges.(thin density,long time to turn)

    [​IMG]
    Above,a 9 company battalion formed up in line.Elite grenadier company to the right and voltigeurs left.Voltigeurs usually deployed as screen in front.

    [​IMG]

    Above,the deployment of a company/platoon(same) in line.Each block represents a single soldier.A company/platoon was divided in combat into 2 sections for better command and control and superior fire discipline.( in those days without radio men could only hear commands within earshot during din of battle).Left wing and right wing.

    In case of light infantry acting as skirmishers.3 sections were formed from a company.Left wing,centre and right wing.The wings containing the bulk of the company did the active skirmishing while the centre section remained in close order as a rallying point which could quickly form square .If attacked by cavalry the wings would take refuge with the centre.


    [​IMG]

    The density of men in line during skirmishing and ordered battle.​
    There were several methods of delivering musketry.The principal among them were -

    FIRE BY PLATOON -
    The companies/platoons of the battalion fired in succession( 3-rank volleys of the whole platoon),either moving from one flank to another or from both flanks towards the centre.Thus some part of the battalion was always keeping up a steady fire of massed 3 rank volleys on the enemy even as the other platoons reloaded.

    FIRE BY FILE - Lesser used method.3 ranks of each file of a platoon fired simultaneously then reloaded even as the next file in the platoon fired.Kept up a more constant harassing fire throughout the line,but volume of firepower was uneven and low compared to massed volleys of the whole platoon at once.

    FIRE BY RANK- Throughout the whole line,first the 3rd rank fired while other 2 knelt,then 2nd rank then first rank.Steady continous fire but no simultaneous 3 rank volleys possible.

    FIRE BY BATTALIONS - Used in large scale firefights involving multiple battalions,whole battalion fired at once then reloaded,then next battalion and so on.Difficult to co-ordinate and seldom used.

    FIRE AND ADVANCE
    - They were taught an advancing fire where the battaion would advance alternate platoons, which would fire when they halted. The nonfiring pelotons would then advance.

    [​IMG]

    (A battalion in column,9 companies in formation)​

    THE COLUMN
    FORMATION :
    Columns were the simplest and most used formations amongst the french.It was particularly favoured by french commanders due to its mobility.They were of 2 types- March Column and Battalion Column.

    March Column(Colonne de Marche): The best formation for rapid or sustained movement of troops and a good melee attacking formation, but it offered little firepower and was also vulnerable to flank attack, ambush, artillery and "funneling".

    Attack Column(Colonne d'Attaque): A wide column of infantry, almost a hybrid of line and column, with light infantry skirmishers in front to disrupt the enemy and screen the column's advance. Once the column closed, the skirmishers would move off to its flanks, then the column would fire a massed musket salvo and charge with their bayonets. An excellent formation against a standard, thin line. The Attack Column was developed from the "Mob" or "Horde" tactics of the early French revolutionary armies. Its disadvantages were a lack of massed firepower and vulnerability to artillery fire.

    [​IMG]
    (4 battalions deployed in attack columns,8 companies in formation and voltigeur company screening)​
    Columns were called by their frontage and depth. The frontage could be either 'division'[not the infantry division] (here means just 2 companies) or platoon (means 1 company). The company was an administrative unit, the tactical unit was the platoon (peloton).

    [​IMG]

    (Above depicts different columns with frontages.Note this depicts a post 1808 french column.Post 1808 grande armee re-organization put 6 companies per battalion.Above diagram depicts that.In 1805 era number of platoons/companies would be different ,but spacing and principles same)​
    Strengths of Column :
    Column was the simplest of all formations and the fastest to advance and maneuver, an excellent device for bringing men more rapidly into action. The speed mattered as it was important to minimize the amount of time spent under artillery fire while advancing against the enemy. It was very useful to use with conscripts.
    Column advanced without problems over every terrain and in various speeds. In contrast tthe long line required 'redressing' - the faster the movement and the more obstacles (bushes, fences, ditches, wounded and killed men and horses) the more disordered the line became.Columns were better at handling flank attacks(though it was not desirable)
    Because of column's narrow front it was easier to pass through a broken or wooded terrain. In villages and towns only columns were able to move.The column also offered greater shock impact.
    The compact column was steadier than hollow square against cavalry. There were numerous cases where even poorly trained troops formed in compact mass repulsed the best cavalry. The depth of the column meant often it could repulse cavalry without forming square and in any case could form square much faster.French manuals stated 100 seconds to form square from line to only 30 seconds from column.

    [​IMG]

    [Above-Forming from column to line]​

    Weaknesses of column:

    Only the front lines of column would bring their muskets into action.This made the formation deficient in firepower and at a serious disadvantage against line in a prolonged firefight.
    Columns were highly vulnerable to artillery due to their packed nature.(more on this next post)

    Next: Line vs Column,Square,Other formations.Complex large scale divisional combinations.
     
  6. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    The main advantages of the column over the line were mobility,shock potential,less vulnerability to flanks and superior defense against cavalry.However it had key disadvantages as well compared to line.It was deficient in firepower unable to bring the full power of all its muskets into action,and it was highly vulnerable to artillery due to its packed nature.Line on the other hand was difficult to manuever and especially vulnerable to cavalry.

    [​IMG]

    Above depicts the advantage of a line in a firefight.It offered far more volume of firepower and also offered flanking oppurtunities.However if a resolute column even after taking heavy losses in its forward troops managed to close to melee distance it would gain the advantage over 2-3 rank deep line.

    [​IMG]

    Relative vulnerabilities against artillery rounds.Against roundshot column was very vulnerable,whole files could be wiped out if hit compared to the thin 2-3 rank deep line.Against close range canister shot however more or less both were equally vulnerable.

    [​IMG]
    SQUARE :
    Classic infantry formation for defence against cavalry. Soldiers would form a hollow square at least three or four ranks deep on each side, with officers and artillery or cavalry in the middle. It offered infantry their best protection against charges, especially on good defensive terrain such as on the top or reverse slope of a hill. Squares were slow moving, almost stationary targets, however. This, along with their density, made squares very vulnerable to artillery and to a lesser extent, infantry fire. Once broken, squares tended to completely collapse.The square was the universal anticavalry formation. Each nation formed it according to the requirements of its battalion organization.

    [​IMG]
    There were several methods of forming square from line or column.Below are 8 companies forming a perfect square from line.Grenadier company not shown.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Above,a brigade sized square of 4 battalions ,8 companies each.(either gren or voltigeur not included) from french 1791 manuals.
    MIXED ORDER FORMATION (Ordre Mixte):
    This was a unique french formation-a hybrid between line and column.It required discipline to carry out and was used heavily during the glory years of the grande armee.Some units (usually regiments or battalions in size) would be placed in line formation, with other units in attack column behind and in between them. This combined the firepower of the line with the speed, melee and skirmishing advantages of the attack column. It also had some of the disadvantages of both, so support from artillery and cavalry were especially vital for this tactic to succeed.This formation was the prefered choice for napoleon.Most often the mixed order consisted of 1-2 battalions in line and 1-2 battalions in columns. Sometimes the formation was larger. Napoleon recommended to his generals that they have several battalions in lines and several in columns by division (frontage 2 companies) with half intervals. The half-intervals - in this case the length of platoon - enabled to quickly form squares against cavalry and to maneuver rapidly.


    A variation of the formation.General(later marshal) suchet's use of the mixed order at jena 1806 vs prussians.2 battalions on each flank in column.3 battalions in line up front and back.It almost resembles a square and could deploy against cavalry quickly.Note 8-company battalions are depicted.The 9th companies are out in front skirmishing and not shown here.

    [​IMG]

    General Desaix's famous use of the mixed order at the battle of marengo 1800.3 demi-brigades in mixed order and in echelon formation.
    In practice each french corps commander was given freedom to make his own tactical choices according to the terrain,opposition and resources at hand.Ney prefered column,Lannes used both line and column,soult prefered column,marmont line,davout used both,napoleon prefered mixed order.In case whatever their preferances it didn't mean they wouldn't use the other formations.Formations were switched as and when needed.
    NEXT: Examples of Various combinations of the formations used by french commanders and misc.French cavalry.
     
  7. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    DIVISION -LEVEL COMBINATIONS

    [​IMG]

    [Standard french advance towards the enemy in battalion columns,skirmisher line screening.3- battalion regiment advancing.With enough space in between to efficiently deploy in line for a firefight or charge with bayonet in column]

    [​IMG]

    [One example,of a french divisional engagement.One regiment from each of the 2 brigades in line with artillery support in the firefight.The 2 nd regiments of these brigades in column some way back for reinforcemnt of deplted line or exploitation of any gap in enemy line.A 5th ad-hoc regiment is shown here as a last assault reserve.This is possibly a temporary formation ,2 of the enagged regiments most probably had 3 battalions in them instead of 2.These were amalgamated into a seperate ad-hoc regiment.Or this was reinforced division with an extra regiment along with 2 brigades.Cavalry remains in reserve for expoiltation and pursuit]

    [​IMG]

    Morand's division of Davout's III corps at Auerstadt 1806.One of the greatest examples of tactical flexibility and discipline of the napoleonic period.Division approaches in march column,enroute rear battalions form up beside the immediately in front battalion and thus into attack column formation by increasing their frontage ,while simultaneously throwing forward a skirmisher screen.From here they deploy into 3 rank-deep line formation with the corps artillery deployed on the right supporting them.Prussian infantry attack is repulsed(not shown) by platoon firing in line formation.Division then advances.Blucher's massed cavalry attacks the division.(not shown).From line division forms square and drives them off.Then reforms into attack columns continues to press the attack and routs the prussians.An incredible display of manuevering under fire non-stop ,the pressure on the prussian front was never slackened.


    [​IMG]

    Procedure for throwing forward a skirmisher screen.Above shows a 6-company battalion each with 2 sections(in effect from 1808) but same principle would be used for 9 company battalion.The 2 sections of the voltigeur company to the left flank of the battalion advances and forms into a skirmish line.See just behind the skirmish line is a 3rd temporary section.(while skirmishing as i mentioned earlier light infantry formed 3 sections,wings and centre.This is the centre)This small centre section acts as a rallying point against a cavalry attack and remains in close order.
    NEXT:FRENCH CAVALRY.
     
  8. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH CAVALRY

    ''It is not possible to fight anything but a defensive war without at least parity in cavalry.If you lose a battle your army will be lost" - Napoleon.


    [​IMG]
    DEVELOPMENT OF THE CAVALRY ARM:

    Cavalry was for a long time the lord of the european battlefield,but with the advancement of the age of gunpowder it had ceased to be the single handed battle-winners of days past.It still remained a vital arm nonetheless,and acted as a force multiplier.
    The french revolution devastated the french cavalry.Bulk of the nobility served in the cavalry and they emigrated leaving the cavalry army without a major proportion of its officers.The rigours of the revolutionary wars created new leaders from the ranks but when bonaparte assumed power it was still inferior to the other mounted forces of europe,though quite numerous.Napoleon sought to rebuild the cavalry and in time it would become the dread of europe.Napoleon inherited no less than 85 regiments of light,medium and heavy cavalry,many of them understrength.Through thorough reorganization by 1805 a much more cohesive and powerful force would be built up.

    ORGANIZATION:
    ''The squadron will be to the cavalry what the battalion is for the infantry"- Napoleon.

    [​IMG]

    The regiment was both an administrative and tactical unit for all types of french cavalry commanded by a colonel.It was composed of 3 or 4 squadrons(4 desired),which was the main tactical sub-unit.The nominal strength of a full strength 4 squadron regiment in 1805 would have been 700-800 sabres.

    [​IMG]

    Above,a representation of a french squadron.Note that each block of 'privates' does not represent 1 man(would extend diagram too much if each man represented).Squadron consisted of 2 companies, each commanded by a captain. The senior of the captains commanded the squadron.(u can see position of captains in diagram).
    Theoritical strength of a squadron varied from 150-250.However on campaign attrition often reduced this to around 150 or less.

    Squadrons were composed of 2 companies,the lowest tactical sub-unit.In 1805 nominal paper strength of a cuirassier heavy cavalry company was -
    3 Officers: Captain and 2 Lieutenants (Captain was allowed 3 horses, lieutenant 2 mounts)
    1 Marechal-des-logis Chef (Sergeant-major)
    2 Marechal des logis (Sergeants)
    1 Fourrier
    4 Brigadiers (Corporals)
    Trumpeter
    74 privates
    Of the 8 companies of a regiment the first company(except in heavy cavalry regiments which were themselves elite formations) was called elite and rode black horses.(Anyone wondering how 2-company squadron could be 200-250 men full strength with above numbers,well it only gives strength of cuirassier company.Medium and light cavalry had 100-120 privates)

    LIGHT CAVALRY:

    Light cavalry of the period consisted of hussars,chasseurs and lancers.In 1805 there were not yet any lancer regiments in the grande armee.(dragoons were medium cavalry and cuirassiers /carabiniers heavy cavalry)The primary missions given the light cavalry were reconnaissance, screening, advance guard, and pursuit missions. They could also be subdivided into smaller-sized units for use as escort and on outpost duty.
    Napoleon relied on his light cavalry to gain and maintain contact with the enemy and to screen his movements. A successful screen would deny the enemy valuable information with regard to the location, size, and composition of Napoleon’s forces. The light cavalry was also employed as couriers and used to secure the French lines of communication. Along with reconnaissance, however, one of the most significant contributions the light cavalry made to Napoleon’s campaigns was in the role of pursuit.Often it was the use of the light cavalry, pursuing a defeated and retreating enemy, which proved decisive in completing the destruction of the enemy force.

    [​IMG]

    CHASSEURS E CHEVAL
    -(Horse Chasseurs):
    The least glamorous yet most numerous of the french light cavalry were the mounted chasseurs.They carried out the bulk of the above mentioned light cavalry duties,in 1805 they consisted of 24 regiments.

    [​IMG]

    Their uniforms were mostly green.In battle they would protect the flanks of the heavy and medium cavalry and charge targets of oppurtunity,plus pursuit and screening as usual.They were armed with curved sabres,pistols and carbines.Skirmishing with carbines was an important part of their duties.

    [​IMG]

    HUSSARS -

    Hussars,the forefathers of european light cavalry spread from hungarians in austrian service to eventually all european armies.The hussars were the most dashing,arrogant and reckless of all cavalrymen.The Hussar considered himself as better horseman and swordsman than everybody else. Bragging, smoking a pipe, drinking, and dueling were his habits.Notorious womanizers,they also wore the most flamboyant dresses.

    [​IMG]

    They insulted the dragoons with songs and derided the chasseurs as less dashing.Even though their 'official' role was that of light cavalry,hussars often went head to head with any enemy in pitched battles.Lasalle,the famous daredevil hussar general boasted -

    ''Any hussar who isn't dead by the age of thirty is a blackguard''- LaSalle


    [​IMG]

    The hussars were armed similar to chasseurs.They won the most battle honours of all french cavalry during the napoleonic wars.In 1804 Napoleon had 12 active regiments of hussars.Hussars were often brigaded with chasseurs in a corps.(each corps had a light cavalry brigade or division for integral screening,recon and pursuit capabilities).The most famous of these was Colbert's 'Infernal Brigade'.

    [​IMG]

    French light cavalry sabre.Light cavalry used carbines/muskets for skirmishing.In battle charges were done with sabre after discharging their pistols at close range.Light cavalry wore no armour.

    [​IMG]

    NEXT: Dragoons; Cuirassiers & Carabiniers; Napoleon's StrategicEmployment of Cavalry; Analysis of French cavalry; French Cavalry Formations & Tactics;Famous french cavalry leaders.
     
  9. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH CAVALRY II

    [​IMG]
    DRAGOONS:

    Dragoons made up the medium cavalry of the day.Napoleon possesed 25(later 30) regiments of dragoons,though 4 of them were dismounted due to lack of horses.The dragoons were equipped with a long straight sword (for thrusting), pistols, a dragoon musket (which was shorter than the infantry models), and a bayonet.

    [​IMG]

    They typically wore brass helmets and tall boots.
    Because of their mobility and increased firepower, as compared to other cavalry units, dragoons were used to seize key terrain for the main body or employed on the flanks with security force missions. Dragoons were also employed as battle cavalry for charges and as mounted infantrymen.
    [​IMG]

    The main debate around dragoons was whether they were mounted infantry or charge cavalry with increased firepower.Napoleon initially, i.e during this period envisaged them as mounted infantry.

    [​IMG]
    [Dragoons dismounted skirmishing as infantry]​

    One drawback of Napoleon’s dragoons was that as they ceased to be truly effective cavalry, they degenerated into mediocre infantry as well. Because they had horses, they tended to stay mounted and their dismounted skills waned. But because they were also expected to perform as dismounted infantrymen, their performance with cavalry and maneuver skills suffered. Thus, after 1807, Napoleon abandoned the idea of using dragoons as mounted infantry and decided to return the dragoons to their original role of medium cavalry.

    HEAVY CAVALRY

    [​IMG]
    [French cuirassiers-Top of the food chain]​

    CUIRASSIERS:
    When Napoleon came to power he inherited 28 regiments of largely understrength heavy cavalry.Much of them were heavy cavalry mostly in name.Only 2 regiments had body armour.The use of body armour or cuirasses in europe had declined to the point of being nonexistent.Only a handful regiments in the russian and prussian guards still used cuirasses and that too only with the front chestplate.Neither austria nor britain used armoured cavalry,which was considered an anachronism.Napoleon first used the best troopers from the understrength regiments and used them to fill up the ranks of the other regiments to 4 squadron per regiment.In this way 12 full strength cuirassier regiments were formed .The rest of the men left in the other regiments were converted to dragoons.These 12 regiments were then uparmoured with the full plate cuirass.All were ready by 1805.

    [​IMG]

    The most feared among all french horsemen,The French cuirassiers were the descendants of the medieval knights, who could turn a battle with their sheer weight,massed shock and brute force.
    These were the big men on big horses who were held in reserve exclusively for service in battle.Because of the weight of their armour and weapons, both trooper and horse had to be big and strong, and could consequently put a lot of force behind their charge.They were never parcelled out among the individual corps,but kept concentrated in a central heavy cavalry reserve in cavalry divisions.Cuirassiers were also exempt from escort and picket duty and used solely in pitched battle.

    [​IMG]

    Due to their large size and heavy armor, which increased their protection and survivability, the heavy cavalry was Napoleon’s decisive combat arm that could deliver a devastating blow upon enemy units when properly employed.Typically heavy cavalry charges were used in conjunction with the artillery. Following an artillery barrage, the heavy cavalry charged forward in mass in order to penetrate enemy lines and exploit any tactical success. Napoleon also used his heavy cavalry to counterattack any enemy cavalry assault.

    [​IMG]

    The heavy cavalry,was equipped and armed almost like the knights of old with a heavy cuirass(breastplate) and helmets of brass and iron and armed with straight long sabers, pistols and later carbines.Few cuirassiers ever used firearms except pistols,trusting solely to cold steel.Though the cuirass could not protect against flintlock musket fire, it could deflect shots from long range, offered moderate protection from pistol fire and could protect the wearer from ricochets. More importantly, in an age which saw cavalry used in large numbers, the breastplates provided protection against the swords and lances of opposing cavalry.Cuirassiers were the worst nightmare of lancers,lancers were used to outreaching their opponents like hussars and dragoon with their lance -but usually found themselves helpless against the armour of the cuirassiers.

    Cuirassiers often made a strong impression on friend and foe alike.The british who had never faced these metal clad horsemen in spain,were very impressed with them at waterloo.They believed them to be 'bonaparte's bodyguard'.After waterloo the british adopted the cuirassier's armour and straight sword for their own Household cavalry.In the grande armee itself they were nicknamed the 'Steel waistcoats' or the 'Emperor's Big boots'.

    CARABINIERS -A-CHEVAL :


    [​IMG]

    The other heavy cavalry were the horse carabiniers.Just 2 regiments were present,their regimental histories dating back to before Louis XIV.These were considered elite heavy cavalry.They were used in the same fashion and armed similar to cuirassiers.But they lacked cuirasses in 1805.They wore blue dress with black bearskin caps,and rode exclusively black horses.They were given cuirasses and a whole dress makeover in 1809.Their outfits in 1805 were very similar to the elite horse grenadiers of the imperial guard.

    [​IMG]
    Heavy cavalry and dragoons used a straight heavy thrusting sword.Unlike the curved sabres these were honed to use the point instead of the slash.The thrust was more deadly than the cut.Also the longer reach of the thrusting sword gave a small advantage in the initial clash between opposing horsemen.(an advantage multiplied if u also had body armour)


    NAPOLEON'S EMPLOYMENT OF HIS CAVALRY ARM :

    ''Cavalry is useful before,during and after the battle'' -Napoleon


    Napoleon made great use of his cavalry arm,adding a strategic dimension to their role.
    Napoleon’s tactical methods involved three phases during which the cavalry played a critical role in each. The first phase was the movement to contact in which the light cavalry, performing reconnaissance missions forward of the advancing main body, would establish contact with the enemy forces. This would set the conditions for the advance guard to fix the enemy, phase two. The second phase began as the main body’s advance guard began to engage the enemy. While this was taking place, the light cavalry would then position themselves off to a flank in order to establish a screen line that would conceal the maneuver force’s positioning from the enemy, prior to the impending flank attack. The third phase involved the reinforcement of the advanced guard’s fight as they engaged the enemy in a battle of attrition. Once the enemy was fixed, Napoleon would then launch a flanking attack to cut off the enemy’s line of retreat and force him to extend and fight in two directions at once.
    It was then at this apex of the line, where the enemy was typically weakest, that Napoleon selected for his point for penetration. A massed artillery bombardment would devastate the weakened enemy line, and the heavy cavalry would be committed to smash the line and exploit the enemy. Once the artillery and heavy cavalry created the gap, the light cavalry would then be committed to follow through and begin the pursuit.(each of these phases will be described with diagrams in later section-Napoleon's art of war)

    Thus light and medium cavalry were the main types useful before and after the battle,while they played a supporting role in battle.While the heavy cavalry was useful exclusively in battle.For this purpose the entire heavy cavalry was massed into a central cavalry reserve.The light cavalry was distributed among the various corps and some dragoons as well.The cavalry corps had the massed heavy cavalry regiments,plus more dragoon regiments and its own light cavalry regiments(those not distributed among the corps)so that they could perform screening and reconssaince for the entire army.This huge cavalry corps or reserve was commanded by marshal murat and had its own artillery support.


    NEXT: French Cavalry tactics,commanders,analysis.
     
  10. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH CAVALRY TACTICS:

    [​IMG]

    ADVANTAGES OF FRENCH CAVALRY :
    French cavalrymen in general were inferior in horsemanship and swordsmanship to the german and russian horsemen.Yet they won astonishing successes throughout the napoleonic wars.This has been attributed to several causes.
    "When I speak of excellent French cavalry, I refer to its impetous bravery, and not to its perfection; for it does not compare with the Russian or German cavalry either in horsemanship, organization, or in care of the animals."-Jomini,military thinker.

    "The French cavalry was, on the whole, poorly mounted and poorly equipped; its men were awkward horsemen. Yet it outclassed its opponents simply because, when order rang out and trumpets clarioned 'Charge !' it put in its spurs and charged all out, charged home !" -Archduke Charles,The best austrian commander.
    Many believed that the impetous nature of mounted combat appealed to the impulsive gallic spirit and that it was naturally suited to the frenchman's disposition.Indeed throughout the middle ages france had been the centre of european chivalry and knighthood.

    A more important reason lay in superior french organization.
    The French consistently have the lowest ratios of number of troopers per leader/officer among the major powers and
    of the French cavalry, the cuirassiers have the lowest: from 4.6 to 6.3. Other nations have far less leadership: Russia-7.8, Britain- 6.1, Austria- 8.1, and Prussia- 6.5.This abundance of officers gave them superior control and flexibility.This advantage lasted until 1813,when the russian campaign had devastated the french cavalry corps.

    This point was more deeply researched by historian Nafziger,and he points out the superior positioning of the leaders in a french cavalry squadron compared to other powers as a major factor.(First picture of a french cuirassier squadron of over 100 strong gives an idea).

    [​IMG]

    Above depicts the placement of officers and NCOs in a french squadron.​
    The french system of placement is very well balanced.The squadron is divided into 4 troops or manuever elements,each one of these have an officer leading it.Plus the senior captain of the squadron in front giving overall guidance.
    They ensure squadron will go precisely in the direction desired and that troopers would not go too forward and thus lose alignment.Each of the four manuever sub-units also have a NCO on their flanks giving excellent lateral control,aiding in turning movements and preventing files from becoming loose.To the rear the rear officers push the men forward,ensure they closed up properly for the charge and prevented men from stopping(thus disrupting momentum of the whole body) or deserting to the rear when opposing bodies collided.The junior captain is to the rear centre.The french placement of officers thus gave very good frontal and lateral control,as well as the ability to rally quickly after a charge.(very important lest they be countercharged when disorganized)

    [​IMG]

    Russian and british cavalry in comparison.​
    The russian system is closest to the french and quite effective.Frontally they are near identical to the french and would provide equally good control.Laterally the NCos are placed on flanks of the maneuver elements but alternately,there are not so many of them as in the french.Each flank of the 4 manuever elements do not have one as in they french case,and the extreme flanks of the second line are exposed.So lateral control is inferior than the french,turning and flank action would be more problematic.Rear control is similar to the french,however the number of NCOs is lesser and there is no overall superior officer for guidance like the french junior captain.So rear control is also marginally inferior.

    The major flaw in the british system is that all officers except the squadron commander upfront are integrated into the front ranks themselves.Forward leadership thus is left to just one man who has to at once make tactical decisions on the movement of his squadron,provide directional guidance to all 4 manuevering elements,make sure the squadron moves in the precise direction desired and also ensure none of the troops move ahead and break alignment.It is very difficult for him to perform all of these tasks simultaneously with complete effectiveness.British lateral control however is excellent and the bulk of the squadrons leaders have been employed for this task.Like the french they box the troops in and keep the files tight for good shock impact.An adequate number of leaders ensure satisfactory rear control.The british squadron due to its poor forward control would have difficulty stopping the charge or rallying afterwards.While the french system of placing multiple officers in front of their men ensured that troopers kept their heads and didn't charge off or scatter in the heat of battle,the loss of forward control and resultant disorganization was frequent occurance for british cavalry.(example waterloo)


    [​IMG]

    The prussian cavalry squadron is identical to the british in the frontal control aspect and suffers all the same problems.Lateral control too is quite poor due to small number of leaders and the left flank being exposed without any leader.The rear control is excellent and heavily emphasized,this placement relies on pushing the squadron rather than leading it.The prussians from late 1812 adopted a different system that was very similar to the french.

    "The enemy [Hungarian hussars] had charged us 3 or 4 times during this engagement. Some of them would break into our ranks, many passed right through and circled back to regain their lines, and after charge they ended in complete disorganization. The French, on the other hand, although they also lost formation after a charge, kept together far more and every time were quicker to regain order. ... although the Hungarians drove home their attacks with determination, they were harder to reform into some sort of order. The French, on the other hand, knew that their own horses lacked the Austrians' speed and endurance, and would launch their attacks from closer range and so retained formation right to the end of the charge, and regained it more quickly afterwards." -French officer.

    The austrians had the lowest numbers of officers per men,to compound this they had the worst frontal control of all,having zero leaders upfront even worse than the 1 in the british and prussian case.They emphasized lateral control and tight packing,having the largest number here.Consequently austrian cavalry,particularly the hungarians despite being superb horsemen were regularly routed by the french in mid-large scale engagements that required frontal control.

    Due to the excellent balance and organization of the french cavalry squadrons,they became famous for actions in mass or large scale engagements.French cavalry launched some of the greatest massed charges of the napoleonic wars involving over 10,000 horsemen at eylau,borodino and leipzig.The french advantage in large scale engagements was not unnoticed -

    "I considered our (British) cavalry so inferior to the French from the want of order, that although I considered one squadron a match for two French, I didn't like to see four British opposed to four French: and as the numbers increased and order, of course, became more necessary I was the more unwilling to risk our men without having a superiority in numbers."-Wellington

    [​IMG]

    LIGHT CAVALRY SKIRMISHING:

    Above picture shows a hypothetical example of french dragoons skirmishing.1,2 and 3 depict a scenario of dismounted dragoons formed up in a skirmish line.They would operate in pairs,one firing while the other reloaded.Little to their rear are the small group of officers(2) directing the fire.To their rear are the horses of dismounted dragoons.

    (4 )depicts a similar but seperate scenario where the dragoons are skirmishing while mounted.In each case a small mounted reserve is kept nearby to intervene if necessary with shock action(5).


    CAVALRY FORMATIONS:

    [​IMG]

    Cavalry typically used 3 formations.Line,Column and Echelon.The line was the most common,the scwarm attack was used only by prussian and saxon cavalry.

    The Line Formation:

    This was the standard formation.It allowed the use of every available sabre at contact and also to outflank an enemy by its wide frontage.Usually 2 lines were formed,the second reserve line reinforced the initial attack or attempted a flank.Often light and heavy cavalry were used together,the light cavalry either screened the buildup of heavy cavalry or remained behind or on the flanks of the heavy cavalry.In the second case they would charge the flanks and rear of the enemy cavalry after the heavy cavalry had engaged from the front.For this,sometimes a third line was formed.The russians were most notable for use of this tactic.(This caused french cavalry severe problems at heilsberg in 1807,one of the very few large scale cavalry engagements before 1812 where the french came off second best despite superior numbers-due to flank and rear attacks from light cavalry)

    [​IMG]

    One of the common ways of moving from column to line.Changing from line to column and column to line was similar to that of infantry.

    [​IMG]

    The Attaque en echiquer or Checkerboard formation attack was a variation of the line formation.The gaps in the line allowed the first wave to retire while the other continued the assault.Here it is being used against an austrian battalion mass(used instead of hollow square).The multi wave attack will test the defences from different angles in short succession.

    The advantages of line formation were - Ability to bring maximum number of sabres into action,less vulnerable to artillery,intimidating appearance and outflanking capability.

    Its disadvantages were - The longer the line more shallow it was and susceptible to being broken by overwhelming mass if outstretched.Difficult to manuever and control,tended to break up over bad terrain.Finally its flanks were extremely vulnerable and if attacked tended to roll up.

    [​IMG]

    The Echelon Attack:

    'It was a formation in which each unit (squadron, regiment, brigade or division) was positioned successively to the left ("left echelon"), or right of the rear unit (a "right echelon"), to form a steplike line. The echelon formation was used because of better range of vision and some space offered to many participants in the formation. The rear echelon could be held back until the result of the first echelon's charge was clear. This could facilitate exploiting a weakness, attacking an exposed flank as the enemy moved forward to envelop the front echelon, or to cover a withdrawal.

    [​IMG]
    The enemy was hit by a successive shocks as the units hit home at intervals. This initial impact would begin the process of breaking up the linear integrity of the defending unit. As the enemy line began to destabilise a second, fresh force would strike it, accelerating its disintegration. In the case of an echelon attack there would be several successive shocks that, theoretically, would ensure its destruction.

    Next:Cavalry Tactics Contd,French cavalry commanders.
     
  11. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH CAVALRY TACTICS II

    [​IMG]

    THE COLUMN FORMATION:
    The column was used for marching, and on the battlefield for maneuvering, advancing, and for charging. The regiment, brigade, division, and even several divisions, could be formed in column. The column was called by its frontage and depth. For example, cavalry regiment of four squadrons (eight half-squadrons) formed in a column, could have width of one squadron, or one half-squadron. The column was also called by its depth. It means by intervals between the squadrons, or half-squadrons. The main purpose of the interval was to provide space for the squadrons, or half-squadrons, to wheel into a position if they want to form a line, or change the direction of their advance. (columns of several depth and width shown above and below)

    [​IMG]

    [Hussars in close column]​

    The column was widely used in the revolutionary wars,but declined in usage during the heydays of the empire.It again came into widespread usage after 1813 when the new recruits were unable to use advanced formations effectively.In general french being inferior horsemen employed columns more than the other nations.Column was used against enemy infantry in columns or square and against heavy cavalry.
    [​IMG]
    [Cuirassiers in column]​

    Advantages of Column:

    Faster,more manueverable and much better in broken terrain.Good for using in large scale brigade/division level formations.
    Disadvantages of Column:
    Vulnerable to artillery and inability to bring all sabres into contact on charge due to narrower frontage than line.Liable to be flanked due to narrow frontage.

    CAVALRY VS CAVALRY:

    [​IMG]

    In cavalry vs cavalry engagements there were some general trends that dictated victory except for organization,training and spirit of the opposing units.

    >Always be the one to charge and meet the opponent with momentum.If a squadron got charged while static,most of the time(except a few handful cases )it would be routed by the weight and momentum of the enemy charge.Never stand and recieve a charge .

    >In a prolonged cavalry duel,the one with the final reserve usually wins.

    >Horses should gallop only the last part of the charge,if they galloped from too far away they would be blown by the time they reached the enemy.This was common mistake of inexperienced units.

    >The ability to rally quickly is very important.If caught while scattered defeat is inevitable.

    >Flank attacks almost always ensure victory.Even the best trained cuirassiers are vulnerable to light cavalry if taken from the flank.

    [​IMG]

    >The thrust using the point of the sword is generally more lethal than the cut or slash.Above, a few scenarios.A french dragoon and british cavalryman.(1)British horseman slashing and dragoon sabre raised to parry.Slash was easier to parry due to the large arc movement.(2)Dragoon thrusts with superior reach and stabs his opponent mortally.The attempted slash/parry is slow or on the wrong angle.(3)Dragoon attempts a downward thrust on a unhorsed opponent,he parries succesfully.

    CAVALRY VS INFANTRY:


    [​IMG]

    [Slash and downward thrust]​
    Cavalry vs infantry was a situational affair.In line, infantry were liable to be slaughtered.In column cavalry could be held off,provided columns were deeply packed..however if columns were taken on the flank like at marengo they were still very vulnerable.In square formation however the tables would be turned.9 out of 10 times cavalry would fail against a square.Only infantry with low morale were at risk .Against steady squares cavalry needed close artillery support or infantry fire to blast holes in the square to make any impact.

    ''An average strength battalion with 600 men formed a square 3 ranks deep, this meant that on one side were some 150 soldiers, all of whom could fire and contributed bayonets to the hedge. They covered a frontage of about 25 m (50 men x 0.5 m). The most cavalrymen that the enemy could bring to face them were 50 in 2 ranks (25 men x 1 m). But only the men in first rank could attack at a time, some 6 muskets + bayonets confronted a single lance or saber.

    [​IMG]

    The man with saber could not strike the infantrymen behind the bayonets - he did not have the reach.
    A lancer had a better chance although he was still outnumbered by 6 to 1. Either the lancer or his horse was far more likely to be spiked than he was to inflict any damage at all."

    Cavalry did real damage to infantry formations if they were scattered or retreating.Being both faster than them and having the height advantage.Pursuit of broken infantry was a cavalryman's dream.
    ''Without cavalry,battles are without result''-Napoleon.( on the importance of pursuit)
    HORSES:

    [​IMG]

    Availability of good horses was a major factor on the performance of cavalry.In 1805 french had a shortage of horses that led to 4 dragoon regiments being unhorsed.After 1805 and 1806 campaigns napoleon took austrian and prussian horses to magnificently re-equip french cavalry formations.The bigger black battle horses were more powerful and could carry men with armour,however they lacked stamina.
    The smaller horses were swifter and had more stamina,but lacked the weight and force of the bigger breeds used by the heavy cavalry.

    NEXT: Notable french cavalry commanders.French Artillery.
     
  12. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH CAVALRY COMMANDERS

    [​IMG]
    MURAT:
    Leader of the french cavalry- Marshal Joachim Murat.Born son of a priest,he joined Napoleon early and rose to prominence during the italian and egyptian campaigns.He later became the king of naples and the brother-in-law of napoleon.Extremely brave,he had a great eye for the charge and was good at leading massed charges.He led the greatest charges of the napoleonic wars at leipzig and eylau,and led in some other huge cavalry battles such as borodino,austerlitz and heilsberg.His great achievement was the pitiless pursuit of the prussian army after jena that ensured its destruction.He was called the 'First saber of europe' and a celebrity among cavalrymen of his day europewide(cossacks often cheered him in the russian campaign!).
    Extravagantly dresses in his tigerskin horse he often charged just whip in hand.Napoleon complained he needed women like food.Despite being this however his overall tactics often left a lot to be desired.As he boasted himself about his tactics-

    ''Put in your spurs and ride at, over, and through anything that gets in your way !"

    ''He [Murat] loved, I may rather say, adored me. ... With me, he was my right arm. Order Murat to attack and destroy four or five thousand men in such or such a direction, it was done in a flash. But left to himself he was an imbecile, without judgement."-Napoleon
    After the 1813 campaign murat abandoned the grande armee to preserve his throne of naples.A furious napoleon refused to let him command the french cavalry at waterloo.Despite this he later lamented that he could have won waterloo had murat led the french cavalry instead of ney.He was executed by the neapolitans in 1815.

    LaSalle:

    [​IMG]
    Antoinne Charles Louis De Lasalle.The legendary hussar general,and an age-old napoleonic fan favourite.A known daredevil,recklessly brave with reputation for drinking,dueling and womanizing.He first came to napoleon's attention in italy where he was found to have spent the night behind enemy lines seducing a woman.Napoleon would have court-martialled him when he also revealed information on austrian positions.Considering Lasalle's temperament, napoleon only remarked -

    ''Commandant Lasalle,Remember that name''

    Lasalle soon made a name for himself,at Rivoli he alone captured six of the 11 austrian standards taken leading a devastating surprise charge with only 25 men.In egypt he made further exploits and saved davout's life.His greatest exploit came at stettin in prussia 1806 where he and 500 hussars bluffed the fortress with 8000 well stocked men into surrendering.At heilsberg,he saved murat's life.He also founded the "Society of Alcoholics", which shocked the high society of Paris.And made his famous comment-
    ''Any hussar who isn't dead by the age of thirty is a blackguard''

    On Lasalle's wedding,Napoleon gave Lasalle 200,000 francs towards the nuptials. When they met Napoleon asked, "When is the wedding?” Lasalle replied, "Sire, when I have enough money to buy the wedding presents and furniture". Napoleon said, "But I gave you 200,000 francs last week, what did you do with them?". Lasalle replied, "I used half to pay my debts and have lost the rest gambling". Such a confession would have broken the career of any other soldier,but napoleon merely smiled and gave him another 200,000.When the astonished prefect asked why he tolerated such conduct,bonaparte simply replied-

    "It only takes a stroke of a pen to create a prefect, but it takes twenty years to make a Lasalle".
    Lasalle served with distinction in spain before moving to join the army for the 1809 austrian campaign.To Roederer’s question if he were traveling to the front via Paris, Lasalle replied,
    "Yes, it’s the shortest way. I shall arrive at 5 a.m.; I shall order a pair of boots; I shall make my wife pregnant, and I shall depart"!

    [​IMG]

    He was considered the finest light cavalry commander in the grande armee.His tactical skill and control was superior to murat and he could also lead mass charges.He trained the polish cavalry of the guard.The poles remembered him with fondness.

    "It was in Lasalle's school that we learned outpost duty. We have kept a precious memory of this general in whom all the lovable and imposing qualities of a born marshal were combined ... He should have replaced Murat to whom he was vastly superior ..."
    Lasalle was killed in Wagram 1809 by a headshot leading a charge pipe in hand.His loss was keenly felt.Among the commanders of the french cavalry it was said 4 could truly lead massed cavalry -Murat,Lasalle,Kellerman and Montbrun.
    KELLERMAN:

    [​IMG]

    The son of the older kellerman,victor of valmy,kellerman was an accomplished diplomat as well as a great cavalry commander.A polished individual he was however a notorious looter/embezzler.He was less impetous but more oppurtunistic and calculating as a commander.His greatest feat came at marengo in 1800 where his 700 dragoons delivered a devastating charge that turned the battle.He led throughout the napoleonic wars till the end at waterloo.Bulk of his service during the later part was in spain. He was wounded at waterloo.He survived the bourbon restoration and lived to see their overthrow in 1830.
    He was one of the lesser hyped but consistently brilliant french cavalry commanders.

    MONTBRUN:

    [​IMG]

    On par with lasalle,Montbrun-originally a chasseur was another brilliant commander.He possessed an exceptional talent for controlling large formations of mixed cavalry and was less headstrong than lasalle.Montbrun performed with distinction in the revolutionary wars,then at austerlitz,in spain .His great feats were the heroic charge at somosierra leading the poles and his brilliant defensive movements supporting davout in austria 1809.He was killed by a cannonball at borodino 1812 in russia.He was on the verge of being promoted to marshal.
    GROUCHY:

    [​IMG]
    A dragoon general of aristocratic origin,grouchy was cautious but capable general who served well throughout the napoleonic wars.He took good care of his soldiers.His great feat at freidland 1807 was to hold off uvarov's numerically superior russian cavalry using brilliant combined arms tactics.However his indecisiveness also was revealed in the same battle when towards the end he let an oppurtunity pass to completely destroy the russian army..He served well during the 1813-14 campaigns and was made marshal for the 1815 waterloo campaign.However his failure to stop blucher from interfering in the battle or joining the battle himself contributed to bonaparte's downfall. Overall a tactically solid,but cautious commander-though not one of greats.He lived until 1847 to see his tarnished reputation restored.

    D'HAUTPOUL:
    [​IMG]

    A heavy cavalry specialist of ancient nobility,he was already a legend in the french army before napoleon's rise.An old veteran of the royal army he gave stellar service in the glory years of the grande armee.Tall,fiery and of gigantic stature,he commanded total respect from his cuirassier and carabiniers.Served with distinction at austerlitz and jena,leading the premier heavy cavalry divisions.At hoff his cuirassiers smashed through russian infantry squares leading to napoleon publicly embracing him.An embarassed hautpoul proclaimed only way he could repay such an honour was to get himself killed.Before the grand charge at eylau he announced-

    "Sire, I am going to show you my big heels; they will go into the enemies' squares as if they were made of butter!"

    His cuirassiers performed magnificently at eylau,breaking through 3 lines of russian defences.D'hautpoul was killed near the end of the action by a cannonball that blew away his his leg.France probably lost its best heavy cavalry commander with him.

    NANSOUTY:
    [​IMG]
    The other reknowned french heavy cavalry specialist,nansouty served throughout the napoleonic wars.In 1805 he was given command of the 6-regiment 1st heavy cavalry division of the cavalry reserve.(The other heavy cavalry division being under dhautpoul).A strict officer from noble origins ,his division soon acquired the reputation of being the best administered and most exact in its manoeuvres.He conducted superb charges at austerlitz,friedland,eggmuhl 1809 and during the 1814 campaign in france.

    "His men were always carefully trained and cared for. Yet there was no elan in his character, no readiness for an unexpected, all-out blow to save a desperate day. His disposition was mordant ... "

    He was often criticized for being overcautious and lacking elan.However his division was always well cared for and well organized and he cared deeply for his men.In 1814 when commanded to attack a fortified position by napoleon,he halted his squadron and advanced alone.When asked to explain his behaviour,he answered that he would not let his men die in vain and would charge alone following his orders.The order was revoked.Nansouty died in late 1814 due to poor health.

    Next: French Artillery:The imperial guard:Napoleon's art of war:The russian army:The austrian army.
     
  13. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    Napoleon himself was an artillery officer and on assuming power inherited an artillery arm that he himself declared to be the best in europe.The artillery unlike the cavalry was manned mostly by men from the middle class and was relatively unaffected by the revolution.French officers were younger,courageous,imaginative and extremely aggressive.

    "The French artillery has always ranked very high. Almost all improvements made in gunnery, during the last three or four centuries, have originated with the French. The theoretical branch of artillery has also been constantly a favorite science with the French; their mathematical turn of mind favors this; and the precision of language, the scientific method, the soundness of views, which characterize their artilleristic literature, show how much this branch of science is adapted to the national genius."​

    Throughout the napoleonic wars the french remained the best exponents of artillery,right till the very end.From the late napoleonic age the age of artillery truly begins where it began to overshadow both infantry and cavalry as the true killer of the battlefield.

    [​IMG]

    THE GRIBEAUVAL SYSTEM:

    The origins of the superb artillery arm lay in the humiliation of the seven years war in the 1750s.Gribeauval,a french officer serving in the allied austrian army under Lichtenstein,the austrian artillery expert observed the 'lichtenstein system'-then considered the most modern artillery system in existence firsthand.He returned to france with his own set of ideas and a mind to reform france's artillery arm.Despite opposition from factions at the court this proceeded.The great effects of this modernization were felt in 2 areas- Standardisation and mobility,with accuracy being a lesser third.

    [​IMG]

    Standardization Reforms
    -

    1)Reduction in calibres - Gribeauval standardized field artillery calibres on 4pdr,8pdr and 12pdr guns,plus howitzers and siege artillery.From the earlier myriad calibres this standardization of guns with specific roles -battalion level,brigade level and army level fire support was an important step forward.

    2)Introduction of interchangeable parts and wheels -
    "The principle of standardisation is today accepted as essential to all military equipment,but in the 18th century it was revolutionary. Each manufacturing workshop would have its own foibles and peculiarities, even when it was supposedly working to a centralised pattern.For this reason the various types of equipment with an army would not have interchangeable
    parts, and repairs on campaign would be uneccessarily difficult. Spare parts could often not be fitted without alterations, and badly damaged vehicles could not easily be cannibalised to repair others."
    -Grifith.

    Mobility Reforms -

    1)Redesigned carriages with lesser weight and better mobility.
    2)Introduced double file of horses instead of single file in horse batteries.
    3)Decreased weight of guns but increased firing range with smaller charge and better manufacturing process.
    4)Did away with extensive ornamentation on the guns.Guns were simpler,and lighter upto 45%!
    5)Use of the bricole system.Several very important devices which allowed the guns to be manhandled with ease, thus bypassing the horse team for many movements in battle.
    Bricoles were a set of drag ropes and levers by which the gun crew could pull their cannon easily in any direction. Gribeauval also used a split trail with a rounded base which did not stick in the ground when the cannon was pulled backwards.
    Combined with this was the use of a long rope called prolonge which could be attached to the rear of the gun-carriage at one end, and to the limber at the other. The prolonge was very handy for rapid advances and retreats under fire.

    [​IMG]

    (Blue red gunners,rest infantrymen or drivers attatched to crew)​
    Accuracy Reforms -

    1)Intoroduction of elevating screws for easier raising of gun barrel
    2)The old aiming mechanism was much improved, with an adjustable backsight instead of a rudimentary notch on the barrel.
    3)Cannonballs were designed to fit more properly the bore of the cannon, - which reduced windage and improved accuracy of field cannons.
    4)The gunners began using prefabricated powder amounts instead of loose powder -
    "Gribeauval's ammunition was made up into standardised cartridges which ensured that
    each shot was propelled by the same amount of powder as its predecessor. This meant that
    adjustements of aim could be more sensitive, as well as giving great advantges in handling
    the ammunition."

    Starting with this excellent base,Napoleon further improved it by the introduction of the AN XI system in 1803.This however fully came into effect only around 1809,in 1805 france went to war with gribeauval guns.

    TYPES OF FIELD GUNS(Siege not given)

    ''Artillery-The final argument of kings(ultimo regia regum)''-Louis XIV.​

    [​IMG]

    Gribeauval guns consisted of 4pdr battalion guns,8pdr brigade/divisional artillery and 12pdr heavy artillery.By 1805 the corps usually pooled its guns together and then distributed them among its divisions while keeping the heavy 12 pdrs in reserve.Each corps typically had 18-24 guns.

    [​IMG]
    Added to the these 3 types of flat projectile field guns,the artillery also had 6'4'' howitzers which fired parabolic trajectory and could hit targets hiding behind natural obstacles.Their range was however shorter than the field guns employing direct fire method.12pdrs were effective while using roundshot upto 1900 yards and 800 yards for canister.8 pounders 1250 yards and 600 yards and the light guns even less.However the heavier guns had slower rate of fire and lesser mobility.

    ORGANIZATION:

    [​IMG]

    French artillery was divided into foot artillery (Artillerie a pied) and horse artillery.2 guns formed a squad,2 squads a section,2 sections a company of 8 guns.10 companies formed a battalion,and 2 battalions a regiment.An artillery regiment was the administrative unit in theory consisting of 20 companies and 160 guns.The company was the basic tactical unit.Throughout the napoleonic wars 8 total artillery regiments were created with varying strengths in different phases.

    Artillery company, or battery, was the basic tactical unit of artillery. It consisted of 100 to 120 men with 6 cannons and 2 six-inch howitzers. During a longer campaign the company would be reduced to 3 or 4 guns as there were losses among the gunners.The companies were distributed among the various army corps.In 1805 an artillery company consisted of -
    -4 officers
    - 9 NCOs
    - 86 gunners
    - 2 musicians
    - 4 others

    These were supported by a seperate company from the artillery train composed of drivers.The french were unique in organizing seperate artillery train companies of military personnel.Earlier guns were driven by civilian contractors who often abandoned the guns in danger.Bonaparte abolished this practice which was still prevelant in the rival armies save britain when he created the artillery train in 1800.This had a great effect on the effectiveness of the artillery.
    "Once the foot artillery battery line was established the drivers would often dismount and lay on the ground with their reins in their hands, depending on the amount of hostile fire being received. This was not possible with horse artillery which would change positions rapidly, and in some cases so did foot artillery batteries."
    The train company which had the reserve ammunition caissons consisted of -
    - 2 officers
    - 7-10 NCOs
    - 2 trumpeters
    - 84 privates
    There were also 2 blacksmiths and 2 harness makers.

    [​IMG]

    The ammunition was kept in caissons,designed by Gribeauval to hold the new 'fixed' ammunition, i.e. projectile and propellant made up into one. The caisson was an 11-foot long, narrow-bodied wagon with a sloping lid hinged to open, the interior being divided into compartments for the assembled rounds. Powder and matches were also carried in the caisson.Only one caisson per gun was kept with the battery in combat. "The rest of the caissons were used in a running shuttle service between the firing battery and the artillery parks when in action.The standard load of a 12pdr gribeauval caisson was12pdr - 48 cannonballs, 12 big and 8 small canister /8pdr - 62 cannonballs, 10 big and 20 small canister.(note the racks for keeping cannonballs inside the caissons)In 1805 France had 10 bataillons du train d’artillerie (eight in 1808). Each battalion consisted of one elite company and four center companies. The elite company (best draft horses and best drivers) was assigned to a battery of horse artillery. The center companies were assigned to foot batteries.The horse artillery had double ammo loads,while the guard artillery had triple.

    HORSE ARTILLERY:

    ''They move their guns around like pistols''-An astonished wellington at waterloo.​

    Horse artillery was a type of light, fast-moving and fast-firing artillery which provided highly mobile fire support.
    A precursor of modern Self propelled artillery, it consisted of light cannons attached to light but sturdy two-wheeled caissons or limbers, with the individual crewmen riding either the horses or the caissons into battle. This was in contrast to foot artillery where the pieces were heavier and the crew marched on foot.Once in position, horse artillery crews were trained to quickly dismount, deploy or "unlimber" their guns, then rapidly fire roundshot or canister at the enemy. They could then just as rapidly "limber-up" (reattach the guns to the caissons), remount, and be ready to move to a new position, similar to the shoot-and scoot tactics of their modern counterparts.

    [​IMG]

    Horse artillery was highly versatile and often supported friendly cavalry units by disrupting enemy formations such as infantry squares with rapid concentrated fire. This would leave the enemy infantry vulnerable to cavalry charges. Their mobility also enabled them to outmaneuver enemy foot artillery units, and to act as a rearguard(in concert with friendly cavalry) to cover the retreat of slower units.Horse artillery was first introduced by the swedes under gustavas adolphus and used in scale by the russians.During the revolution it had become especially popular.Horse artillery usually came under the command of cavalry divisions, , in cases horse artillery was used as a rapid response force, repulsing attacks and assisting the infantry.
    The French horse gunners "were renowned for their courage, and no less for their contentious spirit. They pushed esprit de corps far beyond the point of virtue and believed themselves infinitely superior to their comrades in the foot artillery."
    NEXT: Artillery tactics and placement;french use of artillery.
     
  14. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH ARTILLERY TACTICS:

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    French artillery was tactically the most flexible and dominant of the napoleonic wars...this was not due to doctrine(there was no written standard manual till 1809) as such but due to younger more aggressive artillery officers,specialized professional artillery officers and gunners,and the advantages offered by the superb gribeauval system.
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    Basic cutaway of a cannon.Shot would be loaded efficiently using the rammer,then gun aimed,then the pricker would light the powedered charge.The resulting gunpowder explosion would hurl the cannonball towards the enemy.It was simple mechanics.Crew skill came in moving the gun,positioning it..reload time and aiming.The commanders job was to position and reposition his guns efficiently and co-ordinate their fire.

    AMMUNITION:
    Ammunition consisted of essentially 3 types.Standard roundshot,grapeshot and canister shot.

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    Roundshot.Solid iron ball shaped ammunition,used for long range attack.It was the most common type of ammunition.It attacked not by explosion of high explosive(discovered later in 1859),but by bouncing and mowing down all enemies in its path until its lost its momentum and stopped.

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    Roundshot effect...it could be devastating to enemies in a straight line mowing down whole ranks.
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    Other types were grapeshot and canister shot.An extremely feared close range area attack weapon..it used the power of the gunpowder explosion to scatter a large number of small iron/lead balls in close proximity in a hail of metal (around max 500-800 metres compared to roundshot 1800 metres).Canister was excellent for destroying enemy infantry at point blank range.

    EFFECTS OF ARTILLERY:

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    Relative effects of canister and roundshot on line and column.Roundshot was brutal vs columns while canister was universally effective.Against line roundshot was less effective due to thin density and depth.

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    A prized angel of attack for gunners was the oblique shot,if the guns could succesfully flank an enemy formation results would be devastating.

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    Effects of roundshot on cuirassier armor.Artillery was the mass killer of the napoleonic battlefield.

    NEXT:Breakdown of artillery tactics,french artillery generals.
     
  15. Austerlitz

    Austerlitz Extraordinary Historian THINKER

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    FRENCH ARTILLERY TACTICS -II

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    FORMATION OF GUNS:

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    A standard 8 gun french battery in column formation during march.Divided into 4 sections each with 2 guns.3 sections of field guns and 1 section of howitzers.Each gun had 3 caissons.The section thus had 6 caissons -2 immediately behidn ready to serve gun.And other 4 in the rear as reserve ammunition.

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    Deployment of a gun battery.The battery was served by 3 lines of caissons well spaced.The caissons of the first line came forward one at a time and replenished the whole battery,rather than the individual guns.They would then go to the rear line and a loaded caisson from the 2nd line would take its place in the first line.In this way the ammunition supply was cycled while being kept at a safe distance from the front and ready to be hauled away at the approach of danger.

    RECONAISSANCE AND POSITIONING OF GUNS:


    Reconssaince was the most important part of the artillery commander's responsibility.With good siting of guns a battery could dominate 3 times its number.Placed poorly results would be disastrous.He was helped in recon by his escort of 2 infantry companies which were allocated to protect the battery.First he had to determine the intentions and objectives of the overall area commander.Then obtain a spot which offered simultaneously the best field of fire but also natural protection.

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    Above shows proper and wrong employment of battery.In the proper deployment..gun is well protected beyond slope with a gentle slope forward allowing for bouncing and richoting of roundshot into advancing enemy infantry.Caissons are protected by slope.In first picture,both gun and caissons are exposed..enemy infantry are irregularly covered by field of fire due to angle and slope is too steep for richochet.Wellington often used to place his infantry on reverse slopes to frustrate french artillery.

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    Employment of guns in a square.Guns in the vulnerable corners provide fire support.If charged by cavalry the gunners leave the gun and take refuge inside the square,leaving the charging horsemen to be greeted by mukset volleys and a wedge of bayonets from the infantry of the square.

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    Ideal tactical employment of artillery battery into the flanks of an advancing enemy force.This was rarely if ever achieved in reality except in a well prepared ambush.When done..the enemy force would collapse in minutes.

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    Best positioning of batteries against an enemy.A v-shaped formation catching the enemy in a hideous crossfire of guns.Guns are also well spaced and less vulnerable to attack.

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    The french were the boldest and most capable in employing the flank attack..they would manuevre their batteries to almost point blank range with incredible bravado from their gunners.This however resulted in high casualities,as the closer they came the more vulnerable they were to sharpshooters and cavalry attack.Horse artillery was excellent in flank attacks as it could deploy and redeploy quickly giving an enemy less time to react.

    NEXT:FRENCH ARTILLERY COMMANDERS AND CASE STUDIES OF FRENCH ARTILLERY USAGE-THE GRAND BATTERY TACTIC.
     

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