French Napoleonic Infantry Tactics 1792-1815 by Paddy Griffith

By Paddy Griffith

Osprey's exam of French infantry strategies through the Napoleonic Wars (1799-1815). For over two decades France was once the dominating, controlling and conquering energy of the western global, a outcome not just of Napoleon's encouraged management, yet of the efforts of just about a complete iteration of Frenchmen below palms. The French Revolution heralded either social swap and a seismic shift in how armies have been geared up, informed and deployed.

This ebook presents an research of the education of French troops from guide laws to the learning flooring, learning the altering caliber of command and regulate in the military, which at the beginning ensured that the French infantry have been nearly unstoppable. Paddy Griffith not just explores the position of the French infantry on the apex in their powers and their activities in key battles, but additionally offers a close rationalization in their eventual decline resulting in defeat at Waterloo, delivering a severe evaluate of French Napoleonic infantry strategies.

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Change formation] in front of the enemy is in a state of crisis’, and time after time in the Peninsula the French commanders discovered the truth of this adage. A few examples among many may be cited from Vimeiro in August 1808; Bussaco in September 1810; and Werle’s Division at Albuera in May 1811. The same thing would happen again at Waterloo. Indeed, the same tactical misjudgement was even sometimes observed against the Spanish themselves, as at Cardadeu on 16 December 1808 (although there the French columns of the second line then pressed through to win the victory).

Tens of thousands of French officers, of every rank right up to the occasional marshal, paid a heavy and even fatal price for leading from the front in a tactical role. (Author’s collection) 31 A (slightly post-Napoleonic) mounted adjutant supervising from the rear the firing line of the half-battalion for which he is responsible in action. From his elevated position in the saddle he has a clear view not only of the firing ranks, but also of the colour party at the centre front; of the guides off to each side of him, who are responsible for indicating alignments; of the drum major a few paces behind him, through whom he can transmit orders; and of the battalion commander, behind the drums, from whom all orders ultimately originate.

Your men would necessarily have to be dispersed, either in skirmish order or in some very ragged version of column or line. Whichever it was, it would be highly vulnerable to a close-range counterattack by formed troops who were not climbing but charging downhill. The French subaltern Lemonnier-Delafosse complained that at Bussaco the hill was so steep and the footing so difficult that his battalion could not even deploy on a frontage wide enough to form a regulation column of attack. He called the battle an ‘escalade without artillery’, in which the French had no option but to take the bull by the horns.

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