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Warfare in the Age of Napoleon—Volume 5

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Warfare in the Age of Napoleon—Volume 5
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Author(s): Theodore A. Dodge
Date Published: 2011/08
Page Count: 464
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-708-1
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-0-85706-707-4

The fifth volume of a major work on warfare in the Napoleonic age

The author of this substantial multi-volume history, Theodore A Dodge, was not only an historian of stature and note but also a soldier. He wrote several well regarded histories of the campaigns and battles of the Civil War and other works of military history. Perhaps his most outstanding achievement was a series of books, published under the umbrella title ‘the Art of War,’ focusing on different historical periods as typified by their most notable military commanders—including the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal and Caesar in the ancient world and the wars of the 17th and 18th century as fought by great captains including Gustavus Adolphus, Frederick and Marlborough. This volume is part of his in depth study of the Napoleonic period, which in its entirety was comprised of four huge volumes that benefited from the inclusion of almost 800 small scale uniform drawings, portraits of notable personalities and numerous theatre, campaign and battlefield maps. This retitled Leonaur edition has been revised to form volumes of approximately equal size reformatted to enable us to enlarge all the illustrations and maps for the benefit of the reader. This series is an excellent history of the campaigns and battles of the Napoleonic Age but it goes far beyond the historical record. Dodge critically examines the strategies and tactics of all the military commanders in such a clear and authoritative manner that the student of military history can clearly understand the errors of those about to suffer defeat and the expertise—or in the case of Napoleon Bonaparte, the military genius—of the victors. This is an invaluable guide to warfare in the age of Napoleon and is highly recommended.
This fifth volume covers the final battles as Napoleons Grand Army reached his objective of the Russian capital. Smolensk, Valutino and Borodino preceded the untenable occupation of the Moscow followed by the retreat to the Beresina. In the Iberian peninsula the Duke of Wellington was inflicting reverses on the French at Salamanca and Vittoria. Napoleon’s star was now waning and 1813 brought Lutzen, Bautzen, Dresden and Leipzig spelling the beginning of the end for the Napoleonic era. Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

Napoleon’s massed advance definitely settled the retreat of the allied line, which, as was clear to the czar, could not hold itself; and preferring to retire in good order, not long after three the enemy started to the rear, the Russians through Hochkirch and the Prussians down the Wurschen road. All this occurred in such season that Ney, who had now established himself on the Klein Bautzen hills, not only had no enemy in his front, but could see them filing away to the east along the road he himself could have seized two hours before; and yet he stood there, and did not fall on their exposed flank. Between four and five, when Soult’s attack had been fatal to the Prussians, Ney threw in Marchand and Maison on Klein Bautzen. Lauriston was sustained by Reynier and Pacthod, and Ricard sent on Burschwitz sustained by Souham and Delmas, who formed on the right of Reynier and Lauriston. Barclay, who had retired towards Wurschen, covered the allied retreat by taking up a position at Belgern to fend off Lauriston and Reynier from that key-point. These officers and Ney cannonaded Barclay as best they might, but he held firm, and at nightfall retired in good order. Miloradovich held Oudinot and Macdonald until Marmont threatened his right and rear, when he also made good his escape through Hochkirch. Napoleon followed up this retrograde movement but absence of cavalry prevented his being able to work havoc in the enemy’s ranks, especially as the allies had yielded the field before they had been seriously damaged by his infantry, and were yet in good order. The Bulletin’s claim that “seeing his right turned, the enemy began his retreat, and soon his retreat became a flight,” is not sustained by the evidence.<br>
In this battle Ney and Lauriston, with eight divisions, had only Kleist and Barclay, with twenty thousand men, in their front. Had Ney with half his usual energy carried out the idea penned by Jomini, to march towards the steeples of Hochkirch, the bulk of the allied army and all its guns and train could have been taken. The left wing alone and the cavalry could have got away, and Bautzen would have been another typical Napoleonic victory. Austria might have joined Napoleon’s cause, and the French eagles again have stood on the Niemen. But, let it be once more said, the fault was less Ney’s than Napoleon’s. As this marshal’s command was to do the most important work, either Napoleon should have given him more specific directions, or should have gone over to his column in person, with part of the Guard and the cavalry. Had Latour-Maubourg come up to sustain Ney, and the latter been given the clear idea that he was to move forward far enough to cut off the enemy from his line of retreat, Bautzen could have been made one of Napoleon’s most noted triumphs, with all that that implies. As it was, the French took no prisoners and only a few dismounted guns. Berndt gives the French losses as twenty thousand men out of one hundred and sixty thousand, and the allied as thirteen thousand five hundred out of ninety-six thousand—killed and wounded for little actual gain. <br>
In this 1813 campaign, owing to their dissensions in Russia, Davout was given a role inferior to Ney. Remembering Auerstädt, Eggmühl, Wagram, and here seeing a decisive victory lost by Ney’s slackness, one is tempted to wonder whether Davout, in Ney’s place, would not have done work more valuable to his master.
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