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 Napoleon Tactics:

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PostSubject: Napoleon Tactics:   Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:30 am

Napoleon's tactics.
"Tactics is the art of using troops in battle;
strategy is the art of using battles to win the war"
- Clausewitz
"Between a battle lost and a battle won,
the distance is immense and there stand empires."
- Napoleon

Napoleon's brilliance as a strategist only served to bring the enemy to the battlefield. "Battle was always the ultimate object of all of Napoleon's planning and thought. Indeed, he conducted more battles than most great commanders before or since and managed to win most of them." (Petre - "Napoleon at War" p 165)

Once enemy contact was established, the advance guard seized the most favorable position available, striving to fix the enemy. While the advance guard spent itself, these fresh units went into action on its flanks. The light infantry probed in, developing weak spots and tying down the enemy. Behind the light infantry the light artillery moved aggressively forward and the real fighting began. Once the enemy was engaged Napoleon had but one purpose: destruction.

The Emperor preferred to fight offensively under all circumstances, even when on the defensive. At Austerlitz he did actually stand on the defensive, lured his enemies into a trap, and then attacked.

Normally he struck at one wing of a hostile army, preferably the one nearer its communications. The flanking movement forced the enemy to turn, to make quick adjustments in the midst of fighting, either through a retreat or reinforcing the threatened flank and weakening other flank, center or reserves.
Napoleon recommended a maneuver upon the flank of enemy and assured that in such situation "The victory is in your hands". (When Napoleon's own flank was attacked at Leipzig, La Rothiere and at Waterloo, and in the three battles he was defeated.)

The Emperor had two basic battle plans:
Battle of maneuver (66 % of his battles)
It required some superiority in numbers.
The main force held the enemy ' s attention to his front , while another
force fell upon one of his flanks, and then rolling up the rest of the line.
The cavalry was sent in pursuit. The advantage of this tactic was that
it inflicted a major defeat on the enemy at minimal cost.
But things could go wrong. A movement of reserves in the enemy's rear
could thicken up the threatened flank. Enemy deployed with a ridge or
wood on his flank would be immune to this method.
Austerlitz , Jena , and Eylau, were all essentially battles of maneuver .

Battle of attrition (33 %)It was a frontal match in which firepower was poured into the enemy
in enormous amounts until he appeared to be weakening , and then
great masses of men would be thrown in to smash their way through
his lines. Such a battle was costly affair,but there were times when no
other course was possible.
Some were incredible costly victories like Wagram and Borodino, and
several battles were defeats, such as La Rothiere and Waterloo. There
was much that could go wrong in such a battle. For example the enemy
might prove more numerous, or receive support from another army, or
built strong fieldworks.

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PostSubject: Re: Napoleon Tactics:   Fri Feb 26, 2010 8:49 pm

Good stuff Boru.


"You win battles by knowing the enemy's timing, and using a timing which the enemy does not expect."
Miyamoto Musashi
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