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The most incompetant British General ever?

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    Indeed, However Wellington lost a third of his forces at Waterloo. Leaving Grouchy and Davout were bad mistakes,bad indeed,for had Napoleon bought them ,France would have easily won. But let us not forget that Napoleon himself was an excellent general,normally what I meant was that when the Prussians attacked,he sended 8 battalions of infantry. Napoleon used this to defeat his enemy when they were being attacked on their flank and would send their best infantry to attack,only to result in their defeat. That is what Blucher did at Waterloo,he attacked the left flank,and Napoleon commited his order of mistake. Wellington was facing a general who had fought for 21 years,fought in 60 battles and have extremly good infantry and generals,like on NTW multiplayer,you're facing a ten star general,you lose a lot,but then your ally comes in to save the day. I don't agree with the generals however. Grouchy at least had four hours to arrive on the battlefield. Napoleon was winning the battle,by the time Wellington was trying to resist the French attacks,he made some very foolish blunders, He sent the best of his cavarly to attack the French art.What happens? They're attacked by Napoleon's supeiror cavarly,remeber here that the British army was only good in infantry and light infantry,they weren't well known for their cavarly,while Napoleon had superiror infantry,cavarly and art.

    Too many people make this bad mistake. Napoleon's army ,if you read waterloo had already begun winning the battle,his infantry proved tougher to break,and Napoleon's cavarly defeated a lot of the british cavarly,including the elites. When Napoleon returend to France, he had a army of veterans at his disposal. If his army was not superior,then he wouldnt have been winning the battle. Their ''rigid'' dispciline was aslo of the French.They were withdrawing by the time Bonaparte's troops were attacking them.

    the army at Waterloo was ill-disciplined and nowhere near good enough for the job they were tasked with.

    Then how did Napoleon almost win this battle? How did he manage to capture all the 3 houses? Hugomont, La sayinte ,and how did they manage to destroy the english?

    Napoleon proved his army was still the best after Ligny. The arimes of Prussia,Austria and Russia had taken dramatic improvements, but Napoleon was far clever than that.


    Waterloo would have been a desicive victory for the French, Had they won that battle,they could mass more men to join the army. And if they did,they'd have armies of experienced soldiers. Napoleon's tactic was to outwit them(Which he did) by attacking one by one. But Waterloo was to be his defeat.

    However, Napoleon was unable to maintain the kind of lasting alliances that would have allowed French hegemony to continue and in the end almost all of Europe was united against him.

    If there were one weakness of Napoleon,I'd think it would be his diplomacy. Napoleon hoped to gain victories so that he could encoruage his allies to come back to him.

    Now about the numbers. If Napoleon had defeated the english and the Prussians at Waterloo, he would have done his best to defeat the Austrians. Soon he would have turned into Spain and Portugal,therefore defeating them. While the coaltion may have bought millions of men, We must remeber that Marshall Davout would have been used extensivly agasint the Spanish and British armies

    Napoleon still had a handful of experinced Marshalls,and he would have used them fully to his advantage. If the allies had this tactic to trap his Marshalls,Napoleon would have sooner or later found out,and he would have reversed this. He would have used his Marshalls to defeat the oncoming enemy forces. Remeber that numbers do not mean anything. Why ,four hundred chassuers of the cavarly forced a thousand strong Prussian garrasion out of their castle or town. Napoleon was a clever general and I am sure whatever he found he would have used it to his advantage.

    It was never to do with numbers. Napoleon's army were well experienced soldiers,and Napoleon had a ton of artillery at Waterloo. Napoleon was outnumbered at Austerltiz himself. He was outnumbered at the battles of Aspern Essling. By simply stating about the numbers is saying that the Napoleonic wars were based on numbers is false.While it may be true ,all armies depended on numbers.

    Look at Napoleon's campagin in italy in then.

    He lead a inexperinced army to victory agasint the Austrians,and how was that? he had numbers of about 30,000 to 47,000 and to 12,000,while the normal army would have managed to permit 107,000 men,they could only effectivly manage to field 30,000 men. 30,000 men defeated a 45 ,000 strong Austrian army, The Austrians heavily outnumbered the French, But Napoleon's army was well stretched,but he used his three generals to defeat the Piedmontesse and the Austrians

    Battle of Hohenlinden ,where the French outnumbered the Austrians in infantry,but lacked in cavarly and guns,which the Austrians had bought plenty. And who won? The French did.

    The battle of Austerlitz. Napoleon won,and how many infantry? 72,000. The Austro-Russians :85,000.

    So it didn't depend on numbers you see,it gradually increased,but with the right leadership of effective leaders,any one of them with less troops could have won any battle.

    The Russians did not win much battles under the leadership of Napoleon. It was the weather and the cossacks that defeated Napoleon,not the armies.

    Jerome's and Foy's divisions
    attack Hougoumont.

    "At Hougoumont, the struggle continued unabated. The British Guards light companies, the Brunswickers and one of du Plat's KGL battalions fought with two of Foy's regiments. ... A battery of French howitzers lobbed shells into the buildings, setting them alight. The chateau, the farmhouse, the stables and storehaouses all went up in flames. The British fell back into the chapel and the gardener's house from where they continued to fire on the French..." (Hofschroer - "1815 Waterloo Campaign - The German Victory" p 81)

    The French grenadier companies led the assault, and they forced their way through a small side door into the upper courtyard. They even took several prisoners before the musket fire from the windows and walls drove them out. The Nassau battalion and British Guards battalion followed them and regained much of the lost ground. It was the last large infantry attack on Hougoumont.

    I provided that source for a reason. It shows just how well trained Napoleon's army was. If you look at it, the german writer is giving credit to us. Even still the british had squares, the French cavarly was at large. And I don't know why didn't Napoleon do anything after that. Had Davout been there, it would have been a completley different story

    Some writers have said Napoleon showed a strange lethargy at Waterloo, due to bad health. He relied a lot on Ney to run the battle.

    Indeed.Somehow what happened here, is that Napoleon liked to withdraw his opponents. Say I am facing you on a chess match or a battlefiled. Now you have a much stronger and better army than me. What am I going to do? I'm going to distract you, which will cause you to commit your best troops into battle. But then what happens? Your best troops are now stuck, and your army is now much smaller than mine. I can take advantage now and win. This was Napoleon's favoured attack

    What Blucher did here was, he distracted Grouchy. When Grouchy should have marched to Napoleon to help him. Napoleon was doing the complete of his stragety. It caused him to use his best troops up and then he was stuck, he couldn't do anything much. And the Young guard should have formed squares when they were attacked by the Prussian Cavarly. Blucher used the tactic Napoleon would have loved to use again.


    Portions of the artillery had been overrun by the British cavalry charge earlier in the day and the British were ensconced behind their reverse slope anyway so the only damage that was inflicted came from errant shells.

    Only half of them had been overrun. Napoleon had combated the british cavarly charge using his Polish Lancers.

    Indeed, though it should be remembered that Napoleon had commanded Grouchy to distract the Prussians. There was a lot of confusion about the direction of the Prussian march after Ligny late on the 16th and throughout the 17th and by all accounts Napoleon and his staff all believed that the Prussians would march further away from Waterloo. Of course they did not and this, combined with Grouchy's own lethargy, meant that the Prussians were not pinned and in turn were capable of lending Wellington support.

    A clever tactic, but Blucher did outwit Napoleon in this one.

    Also I'm currently reading through Barbero's The Battle: A New History of Waterloo and I'm starting to rethink my earlier comments on the inferiority of Napoleon's troops. I maintain that they were, on the whole, inferior to the British, but I may have overstated the extent to some degree.

    Ha! The French army was of a strong degree during this period. At Elyau, Marshall Lannes held 10,000 french army against a large Russian force, while Napoleon was arriving.. How else did Napoleon win battles? With inferior infantry? Have you tried Napoleonic total war 3? The French army was equally skilled in combat, great morale and excellent infantry. It is no wonder that The English faced the wrath of the French army. Think of Agincourt. The French had heavy cavarly agasint a small english army, who weren't even that well advanced. It has always beem the French that has provided everything for Europe.

    To show you
    . Henceforth, the Emperor ordered, the men would perform the basics of the soldier's school and practice platoon drill each morning. They would fire 12 cartridges daily at the marks and for 2 hours in the evening perform battalion maneuvres. (Arnold - "Napoleon Conquers Austria")

    It was by no means an illiterate infantry. In 1812 the 33rd Line Infantry Regiment had 500 "privates worthy of NCO rank" and more than 700 who understood the decimal system, and the first three rules of arithmetic. Many of the officers were classically educated.

    The French napoleonic infantrymen were known as being good marchers.
    John Mill of British Coldstream Guards writes, "Their movements compared with ours are as mail coaches to dung carts. In all weathers and at all times they are accustomed to march, when our men would fall sick by hundreds ... Another peculiar excellence of the French infantry is their steadiness in manoeuvering under fire."

    At Leipzig, the ferocity shown by both sides in the struugle for Probstheida was truly unique, as were the losses they suffered. An attempt by the Old Guard to advance south, however, was stopped by the Allied artillery on the low hill about 500 m away. Generals Baillot, Montgenet and Rochambeau were all killed during the fighting here, while French regiments which especially distinguished themselves were the 2nd, 4th and 18th Line and the 11th Light. Even Prinz August von Preussen wrote most flatteringly of the enemy's valour. Allies staff officer Maximilian von Thielen writes: "The French [infantrymen] were holding out with unparalled stubborness ..."


    In general, the napoleonic infantryman was easy everywhere, little or nothing worried him, neither the pyramids of Egypt nor the vast plains of snowy Russia. No matter where he found himself, he considered himself to be a representative of the French way of life. The army will never forget that under Napoleon's eagles, deserving men of courage and intelligence were raised to the highest levels of society. Simple soldiers became marshals, princes, dukes and kings. The French soldier had become an equal citizen by right and by glory. Every soldier of Roman Empire could make a career in the army. The veterans could even aspire to become primus pilus.

    In 1814 the French infantry found itself in heavily reduced size. A handful of heroes faced all of Europe to whom they themselves had taught the art of fighting over the past decade. The young recruits of French infantry under General Pacthod fought like lions at Fere Champenoise. Large squares formed by them withstood several charges made by cuirassiers, lancers, dragoons, and the Guards. They held their ground even after being decimated by musket fire at close range, followed by more cavalry attacks on every side.

    If you think French infantry were that inferior, look at these sources.


    The reason they lost were despite having brilliant generals, the allies against Napoleon adopted his tactics and used them against his Marshalls, from which they found it difficult to fight back. By then, most of the battles depended on Napoleon himself.

    Agincourt was a example of this. The French commanders were highly confident in winning the battle. This has always been the case with the French, they have always expected to win battles. And they lost. This was during around the 14th century.
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    oo many people make this bad mistake. Napoleon's army ,if you read waterloo had already begun winning the battle,his infantry proved tougher to break,and Napoleon's cavarly defeated a lot of the british cavarly,including the elites. When Napoleon returend to France, he had a army of veterans at his disposal. If his army was not superior,then he wouldnt have been winning the battle. Their ''rigid'' dispciline was aslo of the French.They were withdrawing by the time Bonaparte's troops were attacking them.

    the army at Waterloo was ill-disciplined and nowhere near good enough for the job they were tasked with.

    Then how did Napoleon almost win this battle? How did he manage to capture all the 3 houses? Hugomont, La sayinte ,and how did they manage to destroy the english?

    Napoleon proved his army was still the best after Ligny. The arimes of Prussia,Austria and Russia had taken dramatic improvements, but Napoleon was far clever than that/
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    Then how did Napoleon, how did he manage to sweep a third of Wellington's forces? Wellington was losing by the time Napoleon was winning, Napoleon begun the battle winning, If he had badly trained army,Napoleon would have never won. Not even to be able to drive Wellington off.


    If grouchy was that bad,then how at Wavre,did he win? D'erlon was an expcitonal commander and Napoleon used him well. Remeber that Napoleon had an experinced army under his command.


    This was the last battle held by England and France. And one of the greatest.
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    Jerome's and Foy's divisions
    attack Hougoumont.

    "At Hougoumont, the struggle continued unabated. The British Guards light companies, the Brunswickers and one of du Plat's KGL battalions fought with two of Foy's regiments. ... A battery of French howitzers lobbed shells into the buildings, setting them alight. The chateau, the farmhouse, the stables and storehaouses all went up in flames. The British fell back into the chapel and the gardener's house from where they continued to fire on the French..." (Hofschroer - "1815 Waterloo Campaign - The German Victory" p 81)

    The French grenadier companies led the assault, and they forced their way through a small side door into the upper courtyard. They even took several prisoners before the musket fire from the windows and walls drove them out. The Nassau battalion and British Guards battalion followed them and regained much of the lost ground. It was the last large infantry attack on Hougoumont.
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    To be fair to the French, CountArach, I don't think the quality of men matters that much when trying to take such a strong fortified position as Hougoumont. Good soldiers die to fire from the safety of loopholed walls just as easily as bad soldiers (probably more so, as they expose themselves more to risk). It's much the same story with the French heavy cavalry charging British squares: no matter how good the soldiers, they did not have a chance. In both cases, Napoleon reinforced mistakes made by juniors (Jerome and Ney), depleting the already modest advantage in numbers he had over Wellington.

    But I agree with your broader point. Marshall, what you quote from Hofschorer about Hougoumont is fine as far as it goes but I don't see how it fits your argument that Napoleon was winning the battle of Waterloo. It matches the narrative I sketched earlier fro that engagement and I'd argue it supports the counter-argument: that he was not winning, as I said before:

    Originally Posted by econ21
    Hougoumont in microcosm symbolises the French approach to the battle as a whole - the French threw the better part of a Corps against a walled chateau; a brave, but unimaginative frontal attack on a well defended position.
    You may find something in Hofschorer's book - he certainly wants to emphasise the role of the Prussians over the British in winning Waterloo. I read his book a few years ago and I know it is widely praised, but I was not that impressed. The evidence in it did not substantially add to or contradict my understanding of the battle, nor diminish my appreciation of the achievements of the Anglo-Dutch in thwarting Napoleon. I'm not convinced it would have been a French victory without the Prussians; at best it would have been like Eylau, a bloody and inconclusive fight. You can't expect more when two fairly equally matched armies meet and the attacker relies on frontal assaults on well defended positions.


    Quoted from a good friend of mine.
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    Indeed.Somehow what happened here, is that Napoleon liked to withdraw his opponents. Say I am facing you on a chess match or a battlefiled. Now you have a much stronger and better army than me. What am I going to do? I'm going to distract you, which will cause you to commit your best troops into battle. But then what happens? Your best troops are now stuck, and your army is now much smaller than mine. I can take advantage now and win. This was Napoleon's favoured attack

    What Blucher did here was, he distracted Grouchy. When Grouchy should have marched to Napoleon to help him. Napoleon was doing the complete of his stragety. It caused him to use his best troops up and then he was stuck, he couldn't do anything much. And the Young guard should have formed squares when they were attacked by the Prussian Cavarly. Blucher used the tactic Napoleon would have loved to use again.
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    Only half of them had been overrun. Napoleon had combated the british cavarly charge using his Polish Lancers.


    Ha! The French army was of a strong degree during this period. At Elyau, Marshall Lannes held 10,000 french army against a large Russian force, while Napoleon was arriving.. How else did Napoleon win battles? With inferior infantry? Have you tried Napoleonic total war 3? The French army was equally skilled in combat, great morale and excellent infantry. It is no wonder that The English faced the wrath of the French army. Think of Agincourt. The French had heavy cavarly agasint a small english army, who weren't even that well advanced. It has always beem the French that has provided everything for Europe.

    . Henceforth, the Emperor ordered, the men would perform the basics of the soldier's school and practice platoon drill each morning. They would fire 12 cartridges daily at the marks and for 2 hours in the evening perform battalion maneuvres. (Arnold - "Napoleon Conquers Austria")

    It was by no means an illiterate infantry. In 1812 the 33rd Line Infantry Regiment had 500 "privates worthy of NCO rank" and more than 700 who understood the decimal system, and the first three rules of arithmetic. Many of the officers were classically educated.

    The French napoleonic infantrymen were known as being good marchers.
    John Mill of British Coldstream Guards writes, "Their movements compared with ours are as mail coaches to dung carts. In all weathers and at all times they are accustomed to march, when our men would fall sick by hundreds ... Another peculiar excellence of the French infantry is their steadiness in manoeuvering under fire."

    At Leipzig, the ferocity shown by both sides in the struugle for Probstheida was truly unique, as were the losses they suffered. An attempt by the Old Guard to advance south, however, was stopped by the Allied artillery on the low hill about 500 m away. Generals Baillot, Montgenet and Rochambeau were all killed during the fighting here, while French regiments which especially distinguished themselves were the 2nd, 4th and 18th Line and the 11th Light. Even Prinz August von Preussen wrote most flatteringly of the enemy's valour. Allies staff officer Maximilian von Thielen writes: "The French [infantrymen] were holding out with unparalled stubborness ..."


    In general, the napoleonic infantryman was easy everywhere, little or nothing worried him, neither the pyramids of Egypt nor the vast plains of snowy Russia. No matter where he found himself, he considered himself to be a representative of the French way of life. The army will never forget that under Napoleon's eagles, deserving men of courage and intelligence were raised to the highest levels of society. Simple soldiers became marshals, princes, dukes and kings. The French soldier had become an equal citizen by right and by glory. Every soldier of Roman Empire could make a career in the army. The veterans could even aspire to become primus pilus.

    In 1814 the French infantry found itself in heavily reduced size. A handful of heroes faced all of Europe to whom they themselves had taught the art of fighting over the past decade. The young recruits of French infantry under General Pacthod fought like lions at Fere Champenoise. Large squares formed by them withstood several charges made by cuirassiers, lancers, dragoons, and the Guards. They held their ground even after being decimated by musket fire at close range, followed by more cavalry attacks on every side.

    If you think French infantry were that inferior, look at these sources.
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    Yep, thats my evidence that not only Napoleon was the finest Commander, he overanked Wellington and was 100 times superior.
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    During the retreat from Torres Vedras, Ney worsted Wellington's forces in a series of lauded rearguard actions (Pombal, Redinha, Casal Novo, Foz d'Aronce) with which he delayed the pursuing enemy forces enough to allow the main French force to retreat unmolested
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    (Original post by The Marshall)
    Yep, thats my evidence that not only Napoleon was the finest Commander, he overanked Wellington and was 100 times superior.
    I can't be bothered with the debate, and I really shouldn't be hijacking this thread, but I can't resist, so:

    1) Napoleon had the enormous advantage of also being Emperor, and thus he answered to no one but himself. Therefore, if he fancied taking an army somewhere to show off his prowess, he could do just that, whereas Wellington was always confined, being under the rule of the British Government, to doing only what was required of him. The two men were certainly both excellent leaders, but their respective situations make them at least slightly incomparable.

    2) How would you explain away Napoleon's disaster in Russia? It was a poorly thought out campaign at best, and a catastrophe at worst. Napoleon was certainly an exceptional commander on numerous occasions, but he was far from the infallible genius that you seem to portray him as.


    Oh, and to make a contribution to the thread, the worst is surely - as others have said - Elphinstone. Had he stood his ground and fought, he almost certainly wouldn't have reduced 17,000 to one solitary survivor (and a handful of prisoners). Unfortunately, he was the wrong man for the job, and shouldn't have have been there in the first place. But that doesn't absolve him of blame.
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    Not a general, but King John I was pretty useless.
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    Napoleon's invasion of Russia has nothing to do with this, irrelevant. We can start a thread on that for a seperate topic/

    but their respective situations make them at least slightly incomparable.

    Yes.
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    (Original post by The Marshall)
    Napoleon's invasion of Russia has nothing to do with this, irrelevant. We can start a thread on that for a seperate topic/

    but their respective situations make them at least slightly incomparable.

    Yes.
    By that exact reasoning everything you have said is irrelevant, Napoleon being a great military commander doesn't make Wellington an incompetent general. In fact your argument only goes towards supporting the view that Wellington was a great general as he held of the French army for 8 hours waiting for his Prussian allies to arrive.
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    (Original post by Jack-Jimmison)
    By that exact reasoning everything you have said is irrelevant, Napoleon being a great military commander doesn't make Wellington an incompetent general. In fact your argument only goes towards supporting the view that Wellington was a great general as he held of the French army for 8 hours waiting for his Prussian allies to arrive.
    What nonsense. I have showed my points, fool. How the heck did I say that? The arguement fights for Napoleon. It does make Wellington a incompetent general. Napoleon was a maker of things. He defined Millitary standards , Wellington didn't. -
    I tell you Wellington is a bad general, the English are bad troops, and this affair is nothing more than eating breakfast."

    Had those Prussians not arrived, had they not, your army would have been slaugthered, I can assure you of that, Junior fool.
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    Ye but Wellingtons whole entire strategy rested on the Prussians arriving... I'm not disagreeing that Napoleon isn't a great general or we wouldn't have been slaughtered.

    Your entire posts are irrelevant as this thread is about British generals not Corsican Generals
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    (Original post by Jack-Jimmison)
    Ye but Wellingtons whole entire strategy rested on the Prussians arriving... I'm not disagreeing that Napoleon isn't a great general or we wouldn't have been slaughtered.

    Your entire posts are irrelevant as this thread is about British generals not Corsican Generals
    You dickhead. I am proving to you what the French army and how it is much superior to the British army. :mad: Don't you dare bring up about Corsican Generals, as we're not talking about that. But Napoleon defines a real era.
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    (Original post by The Marshall)
    You dickhead. I am proving to you what the French army and how it is much superior to the British army. :mad: Don't you dare bring up about Corsican Generals, as we're not talking about that. But Napoleon defines a real era.
    Haha the fact Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo proves that everything you've said is wrong. Its an internet forum i can bring up what i like....
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    (Original post by Jack-Jimmison)
    Haha the fact Napoleon lost the battle of Waterloo proves that everything you've said is wrong. Its an internet forum i can bring up what i like....
    By defeating a General ten times more experinced than him does not make him great.
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    I saw this on a Bbc documentary
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    I think Douglas Haig has to be up there as one of the most incompetent but it's difficult to say. For example, when he died there was a day of national mourning and a lot of veterans praised his leadership afterwards. Certainly, the devastation of WWI clouded his reputation and competency but to what extent, I'm not sure.

    Still, the tactics he put into play at the Somme caused huge loss of life for little tactical/land gain... He was known for believing himself to be a servant of God, and ordered the British clergy to preach sermons conveying the message that the thousands of dead men were all martyrs for a just cause. :sad:

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