Help support TMP


"Why Bernadotte?" Topic


55 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.


Back to the Napoleonic Discussion Message Board



Areas of Interest

Napoleonic

2,971 hits since 22 Nov 2012
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Pages: 1 2 

le Grande Quartier General22 Nov 2012 4:15 p.m. PST

I know we can find many reasons to argue that Bernadotte should not have been given critical commands during the Empire. So, assuming Napoleon was not blind or unable to fathom the men under him, why did the Emperor do it?

Spreewaldgurken22 Nov 2012 4:26 p.m. PST

I've always been a little surprised that he got a Marshal's baton.

Mark Plant22 Nov 2012 4:27 p.m. PST

A guy works his way up the ranks quickly at a time that was based on ability, has diplomatic and ministerial roles and eventually ends up a king – and you think he is without great talent?

He was a good looking man of breeding, with both military and administrative skills. Happy now?

Ligniere Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Nov 2012 5:08 p.m. PST

Wasn't he married to one of Napoleon's early girlfriends, whose sister was married to his big brother…. Bernadotte was pretty close to the family in that sense, and Napoleon was big about family connections.
On top of that he had military talent and political ties

npm

Maxshadow22 Nov 2012 5:14 p.m. PST

I agree with Ligniere. It was also Bernadotte that came up with the winning strategy for the allies in 1813.

John the OFM22 Nov 2012 5:24 p.m. PST

Why was he made King of Sweden?

durnford187922 Nov 2012 5:41 p.m. PST

I feel the real question is why didn't he utilize better commanders like Davout in independant commands and why did he put Marshals who had personal gripes with each other together. My thought is that these were political rather than strategical decisions, Sweden asked for Bernadotte and even though he was a rival Napoleon thought he would remain faithful to France.

La Fleche22 Nov 2012 6:25 p.m. PST

The creation of the Maeshalate in 1803 was both a break from and a return to the past, militarily and politically, as well as a step to the future.

The marshalate was a recreation of the aristocratic hierarchy of the Ancien Regime but, in part, by means of the meritocracy of the new post-Revolutionary order.

This melding together of the old and new to create this new, Napoleonic, order is seen in Bonaparte's dishing out of dukedoms and principalities from one end of the French political spectrum to the other.

Perhaps no greater example of this bringing-together of the various strands of political belief under Imperial auspices is there than the comparison of the Jacobin Bernadotte and the Royalist Serurier.

The marshalate is a study in political management as well as military. Better to have all tribes inside the tent and set to squabble amongst each other for the baubles of power than to alienate any one of them at the risk of being overthrown by some conspiracy.

That this strategy worked is evidenced by the fact that it was not until Bernadotte left the tent when he was offered the Kingdom of Sweden that he was able actively resist Napoleon.

Glengarry522 Nov 2012 6:51 p.m. PST

In the revolutionary period Napoleon saw Bernadotte as a serious rival for power, some thought he was the only one who could've stopped Napoleon. Instead, he was co-opted but the suspicion remained, I think Napoleon was just glad to be rid of him. Napoleon was always suspicious of talented generals who could become rivals, which is why Devout was basicily side lined in 1813-1814.

le Grande Quartier General22 Nov 2012 7:38 p.m. PST

Mark Plant, Ligniere, I would say my own opinion is both of yours taken together. It is worth mentioning also that it appears his soldiers thought well of him, French & Saxon. Not usually a negative sign. He seems to have inspired some loyalty, and demonstrated some talent, and probably any French account would have to be suspected of minimizing any positive aspects of the man. Having said that, I have read that by many accounts he was a prideful and conniving fellow as well, but again, no shortage of that going around then- as ever.

Gustav22 Nov 2012 7:52 p.m. PST

Would not any person or Marshal be considered conniving given the likely political intrigues to gain such office, or indeed any political office, even today's politicians ?

I would also suspect the fact that he established a successful dynasty in Sweden despite the obvious difficulties demonstrates a certain capability.

Maxshadow22 Nov 2012 10:44 p.m. PST

Why was he made King of Sweden?

Bernadotte took a couple of thousand Swedish prisoners during the battle of Lubeck. Apparently he treated them very well and won a good rep with the people who counted. Their current King was unpopular and childless.

von Winterfeldt23 Nov 2012 12:05 a.m. PST

great performance, the campaign of 1805, or the persuit of the Prussian Army of 1806, great victories like Halle, a lot ( of course not all) speak of a well liked man.
Alas he was very victimized post Napoleonic, he is in line with Ney, Grouchy, Marmont, Dupont, Moreau

Henrix23 Nov 2012 1:00 a.m. PST

Our king was not only unpopular, but also dead.

The late king had been adopted, and his brother, who was not, and thus not really in the line, wasn't a popular choice.

advocate23 Nov 2012 2:54 a.m. PST

Our king was not only unpopular, but also dead

Always a bad career move (at least until the revisioniosts arrive in the next generation).

vaughan23 Nov 2012 3:24 a.m. PST

Wasn't Bernadotte the one with the "Death to kings" tattoo? Slightly embarrasing considering his later career choice.

Musketier23 Nov 2012 5:15 a.m. PST

Yes, there's the (probably apocryphal) story that once in Sweden, he would always be wearing at least a shirt, even in front of the palace servants, to hide that embarrassing error from his early years.

TelesticWarrior23 Nov 2012 5:15 a.m. PST

Vaughn,
I think the Tattoo said 'Death to Tyrants', but it is often quoted as 'Death to Kings' because that has a certain irony, given his later position.


La Fleche,
Top post! I think you have a great understanding of why Napoleon created the Marshalate, from a political point of view. Have you been reading Chandler's 'Napoleons Marshals' by any chance?

von Winterfeldt23 Nov 2012 5:24 a.m. PST

Death to Kings – again a legend, not confirmed

Fanch du Leon23 Nov 2012 11:06 a.m. PST

The marshalate of France is a not an army rank but a reward given by the government to generals for outstanding service. Obviously for military matters but for politics too. This is Bernadotte's case.
When Bonaparte came to power in 1799, he had previously commanded l'Armée d'Italie and l'Armée d'Orient, roughly the same units, that is a small part of the Republican Army. Most of the army didn't owe anything to Bonaparte and were more loyal to other pretorian generals like Moreau, or Bernadotte, a man from the Armée de Sambre et Meuse.Flattering and giving a marshall bâton to a vain character like Bernadotte was a convenient way to gain the whole Army's loyalty. Even with some differences, that's why Ney, Kleber's and Moreau's creature, was made a Marshall too.
About Davout, although probably the ablest French marshall he was not always the super-ever-victorious general. Although the tactical winner at Moguilev he couldn't surround Bagration's army and his Ist Corps is badly mauled at Krasnoïe.
He DID have independant commands. Auerstadt and 1809 obviously,the main Corps in 1812 and in 1813 the whole left wing, who ended the war besieged in Hamburg in 1813-14. He wasn't side lined, and Napoléon chose him as head of the War office in 1815. He trusted the Iron Marshall for his admistrative abilities (the Armée du Nord raised in less than 3 monthes is a logistical wonder) and for his rough way to handle with current uprisings (in Midi and Vendée the traditional royalist strong places). I don't think Napoléon ever once doubted about Davout's loyalty, i'm inclined to think the opposite.
Hope it can help.

von Winterfeldt23 Nov 2012 2:06 p.m. PST

Napoleon made some quite sneering comments about Davout in 1812.

TelesticWarrior26 Nov 2012 8:49 a.m. PST

Would not any person or Marshal be considered conniving given the likely political intrigues to gain such office, or indeed any political office, even today's politicians ?

Not Marshal St Cyr, a true "Stoic in the Age of pragmatism". A man of noble character, a very moral and honest fellow in my opinion. St Cyr's career, though not without its difficulties, proved to be an exception to the rule that you had to be a conniving rogue to get ahead in this period.

von Winterfeldt26 Nov 2012 9:27 a.m. PST

Why
Jerome?
or
Joseph?
or any other of his family ???

I guess not because of being above average, but of other reasons.

TelesticWarrior27 Nov 2012 4:25 a.m. PST

Fanch de Leon,
I think you are spot on with your comments about Davout. He wasn't side-lined by Napoleon at all. Davout always gave great service and his loyalty to France or Napoleon was never in question.

Bernadotte was another animal entirely. I was reading up on him last night. He was always intriguing against Napoleon, so much so that I don't see how anyone could defend him for his many 'no-shows' during the campaigns of 1805-1809;
He was criticized for his effort before AND after the Battle of Austerlitz.
His failure to show up in 1806 is well known.
He failed to turn up at Eylau.
His performance at Wagram was scandalous.
His studiously kept his Swedes away from the action in 1813/14 (although this was done for very different reasons).

One event doesn't mean there's a pattern, but 5 or 6?

He was also part of the invasion of France in 1814, hoping to topple his old rival Napoleon, but how he could think the French people would forgive him and let him become King of France I don't know!

SJDonovan27 Nov 2012 4:39 a.m. PST

Wasn't there an element of "keep your friends close but your enemies closer" about Napoleon's decision to award the baton to Bernadotte? Bernadotte was a potential rival and it was easier to keep his ambition in check by bringing him into the 'family'.

Keraunos27 Nov 2012 5:51 a.m. PST

what were you reading?

SJDonovan27 Nov 2012 6:28 a.m. PST

The Godfather.

Not that I'm suggesting Napoleon behaved like a gangster …

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 8:11 a.m. PST

Not that I'm suggesting Napoleon behaved like a gangster …

He didn't need to (though the D'Engheim episode smacks clearly of such intent); after all, he had Salicetti floating around at his beck and call.

TelesticWarrior27 Nov 2012 8:36 a.m. PST

I think the "What were you reading" comment was addressed to me. Keraunos, I was reading Chandler's 'Napoleon's Marshals'. The chapter on Bernadotte was written by T.A.Heathcote.


Andrew & Donovan,
I think there's definitely a small element of the gangster about Napoleon!
The first book I ever read on Napoleon, and the best, was Frank McLynn's 'Napoleon'. In it he reminds us that the Corsican was never really French, and his roots were in some ways more Italian. His name was actually Napoleone Buonaparte, before he changed it to be more French sounding. His rather Corsican Mafiosi outlook to politics can clearly be seen in the way he continuously promoted his useless Brothers, sometimes way beyond their natural talents.
The Buonaparte clan used their more Illustrious family member in every which way they could, without really giving him anything in return except problems. Bernadotte was Napoleon's Brother-in-law through his marraige to Desiree Clary, and he counted on this to save him form the firing squad on more than a few occasions.

What's the old saying? You can't chose your family!

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 8:45 a.m. PST

In it he reminds us that the Corsican was never really French, and his roots were in some ways more Italian.

Okay, agreed, but even though his mind worked that way, he was at least smart enough to have people like Salicetti around to do the dirty work.

(Though, methinks, Salicetti only did dirty work in the early years, after that he had enough seniority and clout to have others do it for him. Sort of like the "Consigliari" character played by (name escapes me) in the Godfather. A friendly word in private, after that….ehh! <insert shoulder shrug here>

TelesticWarrior27 Nov 2012 10:19 a.m. PST

Of course, you can't be a good Gangster if you don't have dodgy henchmen to back you up!

le Grande Quartier General27 Nov 2012 10:50 a.m. PST

Revolutionary politics: No matter how the omlette turns out, you will break a few eggs trying to cook it.

Whirlwind27 Nov 2012 12:58 p.m. PST

Bernadotte was another animal entirely. I was reading up on him last night. He was always intriguing against Napoleon, so much so that I don't see how anyone could defend him for his many 'no-shows' during the campaigns of 1805-1809;
He was criticized for his effort before AND after the Battle of Austerlitz.
His failure to show up in 1806 is well known.
He failed to turn up at Eylau.
His performance at Wagram was scandalous.

@TW, not that this will carry much weight with you I know (!), but vW has posted links several times to authorities who take issue with this analysis of Bernadotte at Jena-Auerstadt.

Michael Westman27 Nov 2012 2:58 p.m. PST

I wanted to add a couple of notes. After Bernadotte turned coat he was attacked by several Frenchmen in their memoires, such as Segur and Savary. He wasn't the most aggressive of marshals of course and I can't know if he harbored any ill towards Napoleon, but most of the accusations were drummed up because of his turning coat.

At Austerlitz he helped defeat the Russian Guard and led the pursuit after the battle. He might have dragged his heals in 1806, but no one expected a fight at Auerstadt. He was marching towards Jena and not following the same road as Davout, which was common practice. I don't know how anyone could accuse him of missing Eylau – the couriers sent to him were all captured by Cossacks and he didn't receive orders until it was too late. He was not relieved of his command during the battle of Wagram – that comes from Savary. Napoleon wasn't happy with the corps' performance and castigated Bernadotte, but of course Murat and others also came under heavy criticism from time to time. Bernadotte was removed after the battle when he sent his congratulatory message to his troops to a German newpaper(?) and Napoleon told him that he (Napoleon) was responsible for deciding who to praise or not (and also told him that generally he only praised the French troops).

Again, I have no idea if he drug his feet on purpose, or he just looked to follow orders, or what he did was just his natural inclinations, but I don't really see anything treasonous or interntional in his actions during this time period.

Maxshadow27 Nov 2012 5:15 p.m. PST

I'd bee interested in those links.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 6:11 p.m. PST

'Bernadotte was an interesting and complex character…The Revolution gave him an opportunity to rise and he was soon a General de Division fighting with republican fervor (he reportedly had 'Death to Tyrants' tattooed on his arm) in Germany and Italy. His early military career showed him to be possessed of not inconsiderable tactical talent, a notable ability to motivate troops and a vaulting ambition. Success brought him prominence, but he ran foul of Napoleon in the Consulate years, his political aspirations, touchy pride and high self-esteem coming between the two men and laying a foundation of suspicion and rancor, especially on Bernadotte's part, that would not dissipate. His perplexing behavior at the double battle of Jena and Auerstadt, where he failed to arrive on either battlefield, cast a shadow over his reliability and by 1809, he had managed to make enemies of a number of the army's senior leaders, including Berthier. As a military governor in the Hanseatic cities from 1807 to 1809, he had gained extensive experience in dealing with Germans and was renowned for his courtesy, charm, and adroit handling of difficult civil-military problems. He was equally famous, however, for an inflated opinion of his own importance, a similar view of his own military genius and a propensity to let temper overcome wisdom in violent verbal outbursts. The man who arrived in Dresden on 22 March was thus a competent officer who cared for his troops and received their warm loyalty in return, but also an eristic, ambitious, and untrustworthy subordinate and comrade, too fond of intrigue and principally concerned with promoting his own interests.'Jack Gill, With Eagles to Glory, 256, 273.

'Jean-Baptiste Jules Bernadotte's (1763-1844)parents had intended him to be a lawyer. Undoubtedly he would have made an excellent one, especially (as was said of a certain American general) 'if the case were a bad one, and required dexterous tinkering with the witnesses.' His father died when Bernadotte was seventeen; with no money for further schooling, he enlisted in Regiment Royal-Marine. Well built (his nickname was 'Pretty Leg') and better educated than most recruits, he made first sergeant by 1788. The Revolution made him a lieutenant in late 1791. Three years later he was a general of division. In 1797 he commanded the force sent from Sambre-et-Meuse to reinforce Napoleon in Italy. He impressed Desaix: 'Young, plenty of fire, vigorous, of fine passions, very estimable; he is not loved for he is considered a fanatic (jacobin extremist). He also was furiously ambitious, apt at intrigue, and gifted with an overwhelming talen for obfuscating eloquence. in 1799 he was first ambassador to Austria (the Viennese mobbed him out of town), then somehow Minister of War (his unrealistic strategic inspirations soon caused the Directory to accept 'the resignation I have not given).'

'Bernadotte's position during Napoleon's coup d'etat is obscure. Later he would picture himself as ready to oppose Napoleon if summoned to do so or as having been offered-but nobly refusing-a supreme dictatorship. Actually, he was a minor offstage noise, a general on inactive status, without significant experience in independent command or any following among the troops. Also his extreme caution always played against his oversized ambitions. That caution served him well in 1802. Placed in command in western France, Bernadotte cooked up a mutiny among troops awaiting shipment to Haiti but took care to be in Paris when the shooting was scheduled to start. The plot was detected; Bernadotte protested that he knew nothing of it and so wiggled free.'

'He served well enough in 1805, but in 1806 he deliberatley disobeyed orders, waiting between Napoleon's battle at Jena and Davout's at Auerstadt, hoping one or the other would meet disaster. His services in 1807 were unexceptional; in 1809 Napoleon gave him command of the Saxon contingent, but Bernadotte was in a carping mood, which passed into open insubordination. The Emperor sent him back to France.'

'Tall and dashing, with alert button eyes and a fine beak of a nose, Bernadotte showed remarkable bravery in action and was a competent tactician. He could outbrag Augereau or be convincingly charming to people who might be useful to him. He had fine moments, as in 1790, when he faced down a Marseilles mob to save his colonel. But he trusted no one and was himself untrustworthy-able, but always the enemy of his superiors.'-John Elting, Swords Around A Throne, 126-128.

B

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 6:45 p.m. PST

'…vW has posted links several times to authorities who take issue with this analysis of Bernadotte at Jena-Auerstadt.'

And they are…?

B

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 6:51 p.m. PST

'and also told him that generally he only praised the French troops).'

Source?

'Napoleon treated Confederation of the Rhine troops as fellow soldiers, rewarding them with the Legion of Honor or Imperial titles, just as he did his French soldiers.'-John Elting, Swords Around A Throne, 404.

B

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 7:18 p.m. PST

'He was marching towards Jena and not following the same road as Davout, which was common practice.'

He was given a written copy of Napoleon's orders, with the annotation by Berthier, by Davout. They were both at Naumburg during the night of the 13th/14th October.

Bernadotte chose to disobey the orders and march on his own to Apolda, taking his time and staying out of both battles.

There was a reason that thereafter Davout referred to him as 'le miserable Ponte Corvo.'

B

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 7:40 p.m. PST

'The first book I ever read on Napoleon, and the best, was Frank McLynn's 'Napoleon'. In it he reminds us that the Corsican was never really French, and his roots were in some ways more Italian. His name was actually Napoleone Buonaparte, before he changed it to be more French sounding. His rather Corsican Mafiosi outlook to politics can clearly be seen in the way he continuously promoted his useless Brothers, sometimes way beyond their natural talents.'

McLynn I stayed away from because in his Preface he mentioned that he didn't want to burden the reader with end-or footnotes. That, to me is a large set of bells and whistles.

Further, doesn't McLynn engage in psychobabble as 20/20 hindsight?

He seems to be in the same league with Alan Schom's horribly inaccurate 'biography' of Napoleon.

The best I've read is Vincent Cronin's excellent work. Many don't like it because it is sympathetic to Napoleon, but Cronin also did original research, sets out his notes in a logical manner, and did great work summarizing the reliablility of many Napoleonic memoirs as an appendix.

The characterization of Napoleon as a Corsican mafioso is not only insulting, but inaccurate.

B

Gustav27 Nov 2012 7:47 p.m. PST

is that the Pas de Charge I hear ?
Oops no, it is the thudding of a pile of quotes.

Someone must have dared criticize his Imperial Majesty in some way. grin

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP27 Nov 2012 7:54 p.m. PST

Merely a choice between good books, and not-so-good books.

B

von Winterfeldt28 Nov 2012 12:48 a.m. PST

for a very good discussion see

link

5e Bulletin de la Grande Armée

Iéna, 15 octobre 1806.


(…) Le maréchal Davout reçut l'ordre de déboucher par Naumburg, pour défendre les défiles de Kösen, si l'ennemi voulait marcher sur Naumburg, ou pour se rendre à Apolda pour le prendre à dos, s'il restait dans la position où il était.
Le corps du maréchal prince de Ponte-Corvo fut destiné à déboucher de Dornburg pour tomber sur les derrières de l'ennemi, soit qu'il se portât en force sur Naumburg, soit qu'il se portât sur Iéna.(…)

Foucart, Iéna, S. 615

Berthier au Maréchal Davout

Au bivouac sur les hauteurs d'Iéna [13 Octobre 1806], à dix heures du soir.


Le maréchal Bernadotte avait reçu l'ordre de se rendre à Dornburg. Il est très nécessaire qu'Il y soit rendu. Mais si cependant il se trouvait à Naumburg, ce serait une raison de plus de se mettre en route pour exécuter les dispositions suivantes, qui est [sic] de vous rendre à Apolda avec tout votre corps d'armée pour tomber sur les derrières de l'ennemi, si l'on se bat, comme tout porte à le penser. D'Apolda, vous vous porterez partout où se trouvera le feu. L'ennemi a laissé voir aujourd'hui une nombreuse armée, la gauche appuyée à une lieue de Iéna et la droite à Weymar. Par votre mouvement vous tomberez droit sur ses derrières. Vous entendrez probablement la canonnade qui vous portera à activer votre marche, mais vous aurez soin de marcher toujours en ordre de manière à pouvoir recevoir des charges de cavalerie. Vous suivrez, pour faire cette manœuvre, la route qui vous conviendra, mais l'important est de prendre part au combat. Si le maréchal Bernadotte se trouvait avec vous, vous pourriez marcher ensemble. Mais l'Empereur espère qu'il sera dans la positon a indiquée à Dornburg. Lorsque vous serez à portée d'être entendu d'Iéna, vous tirerez quelques coups de canon, ce qui sera le signal si nous ne sommes pas forcés de commencer plus tôt.

S. 230

Girod de l'Ain, Gabriel : Bernadotte, Chef de guerre et Chef d'État, Paris 1968

It is very evident that Napoleon did not anticipate any serious resistence by either Davout nor Bernadotte, he just did not know where the Prussian main army was.

Le Maréchal Bernadotte a L'Empereur
14 octobre 1806, 4 heures du soir.

J'ai l'honneur de rendre compte à V.M. que je suis arrivé à Apolda ; ayant entendu la canonnade
sur ma droite et présumant que le maréchal Davout était aux mains avec l'ennemi, je me suis empressé
de marcher avec uns seule division, ma cavalerie légère et 3 régiments de dragons ;
les mauvais chemins et les défiles presque impraticables que nous avons trouvés en quittant Dornburg
ont beaucoup ralenti ma marche ; quelques caissons cassés m'ont aussi fait perdre du temps ;
je vais attendre les troupes que j'ai derrière ; aussitôt qu'elles seront arrivées je continuerai
ma marche sur Weimar à moins que je ne reçoive de nouveaux ordres.
Le maréchal Davout est encore loin d'arriver à Apolda.
Je vais communiquer avec lui. L'ennemi montre quelques troupes en avant sur les hauteurs d'Apolda.

Of course Bernadotte was in the dark as well, neither he nor Davout did know where the Prussian main army was either.

TelesticWarrior28 Nov 2012 3:24 a.m. PST

Well, I'll let Von W & Kevin shoot this one out, as Von W has me on stifle there's no point me trying to get him to see sense.
All of my money is on Kevin, anyone trying to defend Benadottes record during the period 1805-1809 is REALLY going to struggle….

Kevin,
I don't think you should attack a book you haven't even read! I personally greatly enjoyed reading McLynn's 'Napoleon', probably not the very best book ever written on the subject but it was the first I ever read, and the first Napoleonic book we read always has a place close to our hearts, as I'm sure everyone here can agree. I would certainly recommend it.

The characterization of Napoleon as a Corsican mafioso is not only insulting, but inaccurate.
I was exaggerating in that post of course (a bit of banter if you read it in context), but there's a certain amount of truth to the characterisation I made. Like I said, read the book before commenting on it.
I'm sometimes accused of being a Napoleon 'fan-boy' on this forum, so to be accused of being overly critical of Bonaparte is a pleasant change. Very amusing to me!

Maxshadow28 Nov 2012 3:55 a.m. PST

Thanks von Winterfeldt. It all suddenly made more sense when I realised my translator was translating marche as market!

von Winterfeldt28 Nov 2012 6:11 a.m. PST

@Maxshadow

In case you have time – follow the thread by the link – a lot of very interesting informations.

Maxshadow28 Nov 2012 6:49 a.m. PST

I did. thank you for posting

Michael Westman28 Nov 2012 11:20 a.m. PST

Thanks von Winterfeldt. Good reading, going back to the orginal orders and reports. I've only done some cursory reading on the subject. I don't think anyone has an interest in actually defending Bernadotte, at least on any emotional level. He certainly wasn't an aggressive corps commander for the most part and seemed to come across as either adequate or competent (which in the scheme of things isn't all that bad – how many generals of division weren't able to handle a corps command), but it's interesting to study history and find out that not everything is always black and white.

As I get older I realize you can't get emotional over some of the issues you're studying (I realize that nationalistic tendencies are hard to avoid for anyone of course) because it makes it hard to think rationally and impartially.

Mike the Analyst28 Nov 2012 12:59 p.m. PST

Best article I can suggest is Titeux. "Le maréchal Bernadotte et la manoevre d'Jena"

Not sure if it has been translated ever.

key points are that a corp d'armee already on a march in one direction cannot easily countermarch through it's own rear echelon and the rear echelon of the III corp and up the narrow defile of Kosen in 10 minutes.

The passages of the Saale at Dornberg and Camburg are defiles. These were congested with other units some of the time.

So ordered to march to Apolda that is what he did.

Murvihill29 Nov 2012 10:38 a.m. PST

I'd like to take issue with calling Bernadotte a turncoat after he became King of Sweden. Unless you expected him to be a lackey, he acted in the best interest of his country (supporting Napoleon may have brought a Russian or British army onto Swedish soil) and took advantage of the opportunity to seize Norway for 90 years. Not sure what Napoleon expected of him, but as King of Sweden Bernadotte did what was best for Sweden, not France.

Pages: 1 2