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"Wellington and the Siege of San Sebastian, 1913 " Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Jan 2018 10:21 p.m. PST

"Bruce Collins's in-depth reassessment of the Duke of Wellington's siege of San Sebastian during the Peninsular War is a fascinating reconstruction of one of the most challenging siege operations Wellington's army undertook, and it is an important contribution to the history of siege warfare during the Napoleonic Wars. He sets the siege in the context of the practice of siege warfare during the period and Wellington's campaign strategies following his victory at the Battle of Vitoria. He focuses on how the army assigned to the siege was managed and draws on the records of the main military departments for the first time to give an integrated picture of its operations in the field. The close support given by the Royal Navy is a key aspect of his narrative. This broad approach, based in fresh archive research, offers an original perspective on both San Sebastian's significance and the nature of siege warfare in this period."
Main page
link

Amicalement
Armand

Prince Rupert of the Rhine11 Jan 2018 11:16 p.m. PST

1913 blimey…

foxweasel12 Jan 2018 3:13 a.m. PST

I think he went there with Dr Who.

KhivaJoe12 Jan 2018 3:44 a.m. PST

Why must everything be a reassessment – although at least in this description there is not the hyperbole we have seen of late?
Surely San Sebastien is not so lavishly covered that there is not room for another account without it being a reassessment… (unless of course that date is for real in which case…)
Grumpy Old Git

Brechtel19812 Jan 2018 4:22 a.m. PST

I do believe there were two sieges of San Sebastien, as the first one was a failure…

Peter Lowitt Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2018 9:47 a.m. PST

The 100 year seige

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2018 10:22 a.m. PST

(smile)

Amicalement
Armand

Hagman Inactive Member05 Apr 2018 10:53 a.m. PST

Finally had chance to finish this. It's an excellent read – very detailed and very well-researched. It places the siege in its proper strategic context and there's an interesting assessment of the British Engineer and Artillery Corps and their experience/ability in 1813. It won't suit the various Brit-Haters on these Boards because it demolishes the standard simplistic, xenophobic assessment of the siege and replaces it with a balanced, well-argued statement on the actions and their consequences of all sides involved. Spoiler Alert – the British weren't entirely to blame for the destruction caused to the city.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP05 Apr 2018 12:44 p.m. PST

Finally had chance to finish this. It's an excellent read – very detailed and very well-researched. It places the siege in its proper strategic context and there's an interesting assessment of the British Engineer and Artillery Corps and their experience/ability in 1813. It won't suit the various Brit-Haters on these Boards because it demolishes the standard simplistic, xenophobic assessment of the siege and replaces it with a balanced, well-argued statement on the actions and their consequences of all sides involved. Spoiler Alert – the British weren't entirely to blame for the destruction caused to the city.

Good to know! Thank you Hagman, ordered on your recommendation.

Brechtel19805 Apr 2018 5:13 p.m. PST

I've just received the book. The only problem I have with it so far is the title-as there were actually two sieges of San Sebastien, the first try being a failure.

According to The Peninsular War Atlas by Nick Lipscombe, the first siege took place from 11-25 July 1813 and the second from 6 August to 8 September 1813.

One of the highlights of the second siege was the arrival in theater and the deployment of the new British Sappers and Miners, which British engineer officers had been trying to get organized and fielded for a few years.

The greatest handicap Wellington had in his sieges was the lack of qualified and trained engineer troops. British Royal Engineer officers also had lacked training in siege operations. See Mark Thompson's Wellington's Engineers.

Hagman Inactive Member05 Apr 2018 11:45 p.m. PST

I should read the book before you start your trademark moaning. There was one siege which included two assaults – the book covers both in fine detail.

Brechtel19806 Apr 2018 3:44 a.m. PST

No, there were two sieges as stated. The dates separating the two is not a coincidence.

Brechtel19806 Apr 2018 5:01 a.m. PST

To amplify the fact that there were two sieges of San Sebastien, the author of the new volume on page 106 states:

'The balance of advantage and disadvantage was difficult to assess during the first three weeks of August. Soult failed to break the British position at Sorauren on 28 July and suffered heavy losses. But he forced the British to lift the siege of San Sebastien, if temporarily, and to focus their efforts on consolidating their lines rather than pressing beyond them.'

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP06 Apr 2018 7:01 a.m. PST

The greatest handicap Wellington had in his sieges was the lack of qualified and trained engineer troops. British Royal Engineer officers also had lacked training in siege operations. See Mark Thompson's Wellington's Engineers.

Thank you Kevin for that recommendation, also ordered.

Brechtel19806 Apr 2018 7:09 a.m. PST

You're welcome. It is an excellent book and outlines in detail the problems the Royal Engineers had and the ways they went about solving the problems.

Gazzola06 Apr 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

Hagman

'It won't suit Brit-haters'

That suggests the book might be anglo-biased, rather than telling an accurate truth. And it is very silly anyway to call people Brit-haters just because they highlight anything negative done by the British.

'The British weren't entirely to blame for the destruction caused to the city'

Really? Does that mean the French weren't entirely to blame for any atrocities they committed? LOL

But could you please tell us who else the book blames then for the atrocity? If it tries to take the blame away from the British, the book is not worth bothering with in any way. Saying that, I can't believe any author would be stupid enough to do that and, for now, it is still on my to buy list.

One British soldier actually writes he was ordered to kill women and children:

link

I am not saying it is true, but it is interesting that he, a British solider, should record such a thing.

The link below is a description of the atrocity. I know Brit-lovers don't like reading about atrocities, unless they were committed by the French, but one should not hide from the reality, like it or not, that all nations committed them.

link

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP06 Apr 2018 11:07 a.m. PST

Thanks….

Amicalement
Armand

Hagman Inactive Member08 Apr 2018 2:35 a.m. PST

Gazzola
I don't really understand why you still have a "to buy" list of books when you seem to know everything already?
Your links are a little contradictory – Parker (whom you presume was there) says the town was almost deserted. Meanwhile a French report written during the war (as France was about to be invaded) suggests that 3000 townsfolk were murdered during several days of rape and pillage. If you read down through the comments on that piece, you will see an assessment by Charles Esdaille (arguably the most pro-Spanish and least jingoistic of British Historians of the Peninsular War?) that suggests the Town Council of San Sebastian reported that 41 inhabitants lost their lives – and some of those may have been civil guards fighting for the French? "History" can be so difficult at times.

Gazzola10 Apr 2018 10:18 a.m. PST

Hagman

So someone offering some info and sources must think they know everything? Really? That is a weird way of thinking and I can only assume you want to believe that because you don't like reading about British atrocities and the sources relate to it. A shame really because ignoring the truth is ignorant history at its worst.

I know Charles very well. I also know of his opinions, some of which I certainly disagree with and he knows mine, of which some he also disagrees with. I also have most of his books and he has helped me with info and sources with Napoleonic magazine articles.

However, from what he writes it is clear an atrocity did occur and caused by the British, so I don't a see problem there. But it does not matter if 41 or 3,000 people were killed, and who knows how many women were raped, it is still an atrocity.

He also seems to make an excuse for the British by stating that they were 'seized with a form of madness'. He also states that all troops in such a situation would react the same, so that would suggest the French should be forgiven for any atrocities committed because they may have also been 'seized with a form of madness.' LOL

And I'm sorry, but I don't think we can accept the fact that because so many British soldiers died during the Peninsular War that we should have any sympathy or make weak excuses for those committing atrocities against their allies, seized with a form of madness or not.

Yes, history is difficult and complex and as I have said before, all nations committed atrocities. Only a fool would believe or want to believe otherwise.

Hagman Inactive Member10 Apr 2018 3:09 p.m. PST

Clearly any death or unpleasant experience involving the British at any time in history is an atrocity so us fools had better just get on revelling in our ignorance.

Brechtel19811 Apr 2018 3:56 a.m. PST

I do believe the issue with atrocities is just a 'little' different from how you are framing it.

It appears to me that every excuse of benefit of the doubt is given to the British on every occasion by those who 'support' the British position of the period, and every condemnation is given to the French without the least bit of research or reason.

All armies committed atrocities. Good commanders didn't allow it or punished it when it happened. There were rules of war during the period. The problem here is that those who support the British viewpoint usually downplay what the British did and attempt to amplify what the French did.

That approach is ahistorical at best.

Fatuus Natural11 Apr 2018 7:46 a.m. PST

All armies committed atrocities. Good commanders didn't allow it or punished it when it happened. There were rules of war during the period.

Hmm. Interesting. I don't think I have ever read of any French commander punishing his troops for any of the innumerable atrocities committed by them across all of Europe. But you are on record as holding the view that Napoleon's commanders comprised the greatest collection of military talent ever, so presumably you can cite occasions when they did as good commanders ought and punished their troops for their atrocities?

Suchet after Tarragona, perhaps? Or Dupont after Cordova, or Massena after Lauria, or Bonaparte himself after Pavia, or Moscow, or Binasco, or his brother Joseph in Calabria, to suggest just a few of the more prominent possibilities (while leaving aside the myriad lower-level commanders who presided over countless smaller-scale local atrocities)?

Brechtel19811 Apr 2018 9:22 a.m. PST

Davout allowed no looting and punished those who did. Berthier was no looter, and Napoleon himself stood against it. Massena is on record in standing against it in Portugal (see Pelet's memoir on the campaign). Suchet stood against looting, as did Mortier, Bessieres, and Serurier.

You're assuming that French commanders allowed it as a group. Sweeping statements are seldom accurate, and this one is not at all.

You might want to take a look at von Funck's memoirs or Odeleben's as well as Boycott-Brown's The Road to Rivoli where he clearly demonstrates that it was the agents of the Directory in Italy, not Napoleon, who looted and sent back the loot to Paris.

And what I actually said was that the French generals and commanders were quite possible the best collection of military talent to ever serve one man. You got it wrong and what you posted is a misrepresentation of what I have posted.

Fatuus Natural11 Apr 2018 10:05 a.m. PST

Looting? You were talking about atrocities. Looting is a wicked and immoral thing, no question, but not quite in the same league as murder, rape, massacre and arson. You said good commanders did not permit atrocities, but rather punished them, and you have just confirmed that you believe the French commanders to have been exceptionally good (thank you for that), so you must also believe that they punished their troops when they committed atrocities.

So far all you have produced is an assertion (unsourced) that a single French commander punished looting. But you were talking about atrocities. So which of them punished soldiers who committed atrocities?

Brechtel19811 Apr 2018 12:42 p.m. PST

Looting is an atrocity. If you wish to entertain semantics in discussion, I'm not going to take part.

I suggest that you take a look at the three references that I posted and you can also take a look at Davout's defense of Hamburg.

And if you want to talk about atrocities in depth, as well as fairly, then we need to talk about, just one more time, the British atrocities committed during the retreat to Corunna, in the retreat to Torres Vedras, the two looting expeditions to Buenos Aires, the British operations against civilians in the Chesapeake in 1813-1814, as well as the behavior of British troops at Ciudad Rodrigo, Badajoz, and San Sebastien.

French troops did not loot, pillage, etc., everywhere they went as you seem to believe. That idea just tells me that you haven't studied the period in depth. The allies going across Europe in 1813-1814 were many times guilty of atrocities and crimes and their commanders did little or nothing to stop it. In point of fact Blucher encouraged it as long as it wasn't in Prussia.

Fatuus Natural11 Apr 2018 2:04 p.m. PST

Well, if you insist on categorising the French army's preferred method of supplying itself and favourite recreational activity as an atrocity, far be it from me to hinder you. Expanding the definition of atrocity to include looting is probably the only way you'll ever be able to find evidence of French soldiers being punished for committing atrocities. Violence against civilians was an inherent part of the Revolutionary/Napoleonic French system of war, after all. How else were soldiers whose army had no commissariat to find food? How else were invaded populations to be cowed into submission? Bonaparte himself enjoined terror as a means of bringing rebellious peoples into control, and even boasted of his own successful use of such methods (in his instructions to Junot and Joseph in Italy in 1806, for example).

So it's hardly surprising that French commanders followed his lead, at best indifferent to their soldiers' excesses, at worst directly ordering the atrocities to be committed. And even less surprising when you think that so many of them must have learned their military trade in the revolutionary army during the period of its brutal ‘pacification' of the Vendee (it would be interesting to discover how many of Napoleon's generals had actually taken part in that campaign).

Hagman Inactive Member11 Apr 2018 2:08 p.m. PST

The French Army's primary mode of campaigning was to live off the land – that's what allowed them to operate so effectively without the hindrance of extensive supply lines. In the Deleted by Moderator world of some contributors above, that's looting and that's an atrocity – I don't recall any of that "best collection of military talent" (sic) doing much to stop it?

Personal logo 22ndFoot Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2018 2:49 p.m. PST

While obviously abhorrent to modern sensibilities, for a significant historical period, the generally accepted rule regarding sieges was that if a town surrendered before the assault was initiated, it was spared plunder and massacre. If it came to an assault, the town was subject to sack and pillage. (The Law of Armed Conflict and the Use of Force, edited by Frauke Lachenman, Oxford University Press, 2017.)

Fatuus Natural12 Apr 2018 2:42 a.m. PST

Unfortunately no such justification was available for the sack of Cordova by Dupont's troops in June 1808. The town made no attempt to defend itself, and in fact was attempting to negotiate a surrender when Dupont launched his attack, in which his army lost all of 2 dead and 7 wounded. Nevertheless his troops, without any justification of having endured hours of desperate fighting and heavy casualties, embarked on the usual orgy of murder, rape and pillage. The officers and generals joined in the looting enthusiastically, to such an extent that when the army moved on it was encumbered by hundreds of coaches and carts laden with Spanish objets d'art. Ironically their concern to preserve this wagon train of plunder may even have contributed to the subsequent capitulation of Bailen.

Far from punishing any of his troops, Dupont distributed a large quantity of coin taken from the town among his senior officers.

Brechtel19812 Apr 2018 10:12 a.m. PST

…the generally accepted rule regarding sieges was that if a town surrendered before the assault was initiated, it was spared plunder and massacre. If it came to an assault, the town was subject to sack and pillage.

The Spanish cities garrisoned by the French and stormed and sacked by the British had civilian populations either neutral or friendly to the allies. They were not Saragossa.

Brechtel19812 Apr 2018 10:17 a.m. PST

Dupont's 'campaign' in southern Spain is an excellent example of how not to conduct a campaign in enemy territory that was in general revolt.

He is also not typical of French commanders of the period.

Further, he was court-martialed and imprisoned for his misdeeds and failure when he returned to France while his troops were confined to either Cabrera Island in the Balearics or to prison hulks in Cadiz Harbor.

Again, it is a fact that all armies committed atrocities during the period and the incorrect idea that the French were alone in this is ludicrous.

Further, Napoleon did have a supply system based on lines of communication and depots and he created his supply train units (train des equipages) for that reason.

And, basically, all armies lived off the land one way or another, just as all armies had troops that looted and commanders that allowed them to do it.

By the way, how many British troops were apprehended and punished for the sacking of the cities already mentioned, and for misbehavior on the retreat to Corunna?

Further, the Royal Navy commanders in the Chesapeake in 1813-1814 not only condoned looting and pillage, but encouraged it.

Hagman Inactive Member12 Apr 2018 11:15 a.m. PST

So DuPont was court martialled and his men sent to Cabrera Island as a punishment for looting? Some of these posts need transferring to the Fantasy Boards.

Brechtel19812 Apr 2018 12:56 p.m. PST

Where did you come up with that nonsense?

Have you not read anything of value on Dupont's campaign?

Or are you just misrepresenting material on purpose?

Brechtel19812 Apr 2018 1:42 p.m. PST

…And even less surprising when you think that so many of them must have learned their military trade in the revolutionary army during the period of its brutal ‘pacification' of the Vendee (it would be interesting to discover how many of Napoleon's generals had actually taken part in that campaign).

I wonder if you could have actually researched the following material yourself? And service in the Vendee did not immediately condemn French commanders as committing atrocities.

The following French general officers served in the Vendee in the 1790s and some in 1815:

Aubert du Bayet
Augereau
Berruyer
Berthier
Beysser
Bigarre
Biron
Bonnaud
Brune
Canclaux
Coustrard
Davout
Duhesme
Dumas
Dutruy
Grouchy
Hedouville
Hoche
Kleber
Laboudonnaie
Lamarque
Landau
Lechelle
Lemoine
Marceau
Menou
Moulin
Perignon
Puisaye
Rossignol
Santerre
Sepher
Travot
Turreau
Westermann
Wimpfen

This list is not all-inclusive but these officers can be found in Volume III of Phipps' The Armies of the First French Republic. A more thorough examination of Georges Six Dictionnaire, which would take some time, would give more information. If you are actually interested it might be time well-spent.

Many of these officers were either killed or left the army for various reasons before 1800 and the beginning of the Consulate. Marceau was killed in action, Kleber was murdered in Egypt. Davout, Berthier, Augereau, Grouchy, and Perignon became marshals. Duhesme was mortally wounded at Waterloo. Hoche died of disease. Some, like Turreau, were guilty of some atrocities, but most of them were honorable and served well. Lamarque, Bigarre, and Travot served in the Vendee in 1815.

Brechtel19812 Apr 2018 1:50 p.m. PST

How else were soldiers whose army had no commissariat to find food?

The Intendant General was the director of the French logistic service and accompanied the Grande Armee into the field.

Personnel assigned to the Intendance consisted of administrative personnel-commissaires-ordonnateurs, commissaires-ordinaires, inspecteurs, regisseurs, commises, gardes-magasins, and employees. The last category consisted of masons, bakers, drovers, butchers, teamsters, blacksmiths, wheelwrights, laundresses, and laborers.

The Intendant General also supervised the ambulance service and the hospitals.

And Napoleon organized the train des equipages, the battalions that hauled the Grande Armee's supplies. The artillery train hauled the Grande Armee's ammunition and artillery parcs.

Depots and magazines were organized along the Grande Armee's line of communication where supplies were built up and stored and issued as needed.

So, once again, you have either ignored the available material on the subject or you just haven't studied the Grande Armee in enough depth to understand how the logistic system was organized and functioned. In short, your statement above is wrong.

Hagman Inactive Member12 Apr 2018 2:54 p.m. PST

"misrepresenting material on purpose"? Dupont was court martialled and imprisoned because he was defeated and surrendered. His troops went into captivity because they were defeated and surrendered. Suggesting this was linked to any form of "misdeeds" to demonstrate how well the French policed their generals and soldiers is misrepresentation on an astronomical scale. In practice, Dupont was absolutely typical of French commanders of the period in Spain and Portugal – he was defeated.

Fatuus Natural12 Apr 2018 3:34 p.m. PST

Dupont's 'campaign' in southern Spain is an excellent example of how not to conduct a campaign in enemy territory that was in general revolt.

He is also not typical of French commanders of the period.

Further, he was court-martialed and imprisoned for his misdeeds and failure when he returned to France while his troops were confined to either Cabrera Island in the Balearics or to prison hulks in Cadiz Harbor.

Again, it is a fact that all armies committed atrocities during the period and the incorrect idea that the French were alone in this is ludicrous.

Further, Napoleon did have a supply system based on lines of communication and depots and he created his supply train units (train des equipages) for that reason.

And, basically, all armies lived off the land one way or another, just as all armies had troops that looted and commanders that allowed them to do it.

By the way, how many British troops were apprehended and punished for the sacking of the cities already mentioned, and for misbehavior on the retreat to Corunna?

Further, the Royal Navy commanders in the Chesapeake in 1813-1814 not only condoned looting and pillage, but encouraged it.

Well, there's nothing new here, is there? Just the same tired old evasions and diversions that you trot out every time you and Gazzola spark one of these debates. Others have refuted them so often over the last few years, both on TMP and in other forums, that it seems rather pointless to repeat the rebuttals in detail. In brief, however:

The atrocities committed by the French armies were quite different, both in quality and quantity, from the violent acts committed by British soldiers: the French violence was part of a deliberate policy ordered by the emperor and implemented ruthlessly by his generals; the atrocities committed by British troops were due to indiscipline rather than to any deliberate policy.

The French and British supply systems were similarly different: the British strove to operate a system based on the proper purchase of goods using funds sent out from England, and by and large succeeded; the French, however, barely had a system at all, other than pillage and forced contributions.

The Chesapeake raids: these were strikes against the economic infrastructure of a hostile state which was conducting a war of aggression against the Canadian provinces – perfectly legitimate acts of war.

As to Dupont and his army, your comments above are rather confusing, but appear to imply that they were imprisoned by French authorities as a punishment for looting. The soldiers were of course imprisoned by the Spanish not the French, and as prisoners of war. But if you truly believe that Dupont was court-martialled for looting, not for losing his army, then I wonder if I could interest you in buying the Pont d'Iena, which I could let you have for a song, or perhaps a previously unknown manuscript of Napoleon's memoirs I recently found in an attic?

Brechtel19812 Apr 2018 4:40 p.m. PST

…the French violence was part of a deliberate policy ordered by the emperor and implemented ruthlessly by his generals

Evidence and sources instead of merely biased opinion, please.

In short, if you're going to make a statement this disingenuous some credible sourcing is definitely necessary.

And all you're actually doing is making excuses for British perfidy and accusing the French and Napoleon of doing things that were a product of the allied propaganda of the period.

Fatuus Natural13 Apr 2018 1:58 a.m. PST

Evidence and sources instead of merely biased opinion, please.

You're having a laugh, surely? You've been given chapter and verse so often I should think by now you must be able to recite it all from memory. And I can't believe that in the course of your vaunted in-depth study of the period you haven't read any of Bonaparte's numerous instructions to his generals to burn a few villages and effect a salutary massacre or two. But if they've just slipped your memory this letter to Junot in February 1806 might jog it – you'll have read plenty of others like it (I can supply a translation if it's needed):

‘Ce n'est pas avec des phrases qu'on maintient la tranquillite dans l'Italie. Faites comme j'ai fait a Binasco: qu'un gros village soit brule; faites fusiller une douzaine d'insurges, et formez des colonnes mobiles'

Correspondance de Napoleon Ier : publiee par ordre de l'empereur Napoleon III, 32 Vols (Paris: Plon, 1858–70), Vol. 11, No. 9678, on p. 543.

(I have an unpleasant suspicion that the instruction to form ‘colonnes mobiles' was intended as an injunction to emulate Turreau's infamous ‘colonnes infernales' which massacred so many Vendeens twelve years previously.)

Alternatively you could just consult one of Philip Dwyer's various publications on Napoleon's use of violence and massacre. I would particularly recommend this one:

Philip G. Dwyer, ‘Violence and the revolutionary and Napoleonic wars: massacre, conquest and the imperial enterprise' Journal of Genocide Research, 15:2 (2013), 117-131.

link

I know you've said in the past that you don't like Dwyer's work, but then you wouldn't, would you? It's actually very good.

Well, Kevin, it's been educational watching you try to re-write history by endless repetition of assertions of a spurious moral equivalency between the different armies (apart from anything else, I now understand why so many reviews of your works complain of repetitiveness), but I'm afraid I'm now going to have to love you and leave you. By all means carry on without me – continued repeated assertions of moral equivalence can't actually change the past, but maybe one day someone, somewhere will be persuaded. Bonne chance!

Brechtel19813 Apr 2018 7:30 a.m. PST

Dwyer has turned himself into an anti-Napoleon instead of at least attempting to restrain his bias and act as an historian. Broers is much better.

That you like Dwyer is an opinion, nothing more, nothing less.

Is your Correspondence citation in context? And your condescension is noted. That has no place here.

Brechtel19813 Apr 2018 7:37 a.m. PST

Dupont was absolutely typical of French commanders of the period in Spain and Portugal – he was defeated.

Napoleon, Lannes, and Suchet certainly were not defeated in Spain-you've made yet another sweeping statement that is incorrect.

Brechtel19813 Apr 2018 7:43 a.m. PST

Well, if you insist on categorising the French army's preferred method of supplying itself and favourite recreational activity as an atrocity, far be it from me to hinder you. Expanding the definition of atrocity to include looting is probably the only way you'll ever be able to find evidence of French soldiers being punished for committing atrocities. Violence against civilians was an inherent part of the Revolutionary/Napoleonic French system of war, after all. How else were soldiers whose army had no commissariat to find food? How else were invaded populations to be cowed into submission?


So it's hardly surprising that French commanders followed his lead, at best indifferent to their soldiers' excesses, at worst directly ordering the atrocities to be committed. And even less surprising when you think that so many of them must have learned their military trade in the revolutionary army during the period of its brutal ‘pacification' of the Vendee (it would be interesting to discover how many of Napoleon's generals had actually taken part in that campaign).

The atrocities committed by the French armies were quite different, both in quality and quantity, from the violent acts committed by British soldiers: the French violence was part of a deliberate policy ordered by the emperor and implemented ruthlessly by his generals; the atrocities committed by British troops were due to indiscipline rather than to any deliberate policy.

The French and British supply systems were similarly different: the British strove to operate a system based on the proper purchase of goods using funds sent out from England, and by and large succeeded; the French, however, barely had a system at all, other than pillage and forced contributions.

The Chesapeake raids: these were strikes against the economic infrastructure of a hostile state which was conducting a war of aggression against the Canadian provinces – perfectly legitimate acts of war.

(I have an unpleasant suspicion that the instruction to form ‘colonnes mobiles' was intended as an injunction to emulate Turreau's infamous ‘colonnes infernales' which massacred so many Vendeens twelve years previously.)

Not one of these assertions on your part are sourced, credited, or cited to any credible primary or secondary source.

In point of fact, you have misrepresented, perhaps deliberately, the Grande Armee, its campaigns, Napoleon, his senior officers, the logistic system of the Grande Armee and whatever else you have slighted. That couldn't be the result of any innate national bias, now can it?

Gazzola14 Apr 2018 8:31 a.m. PST

Fatuus Natural

I think you'll find the debate was 'sparked', as you call it, by Tango01's post introducing a book that covers the siege of San Sebastian 1813, which involved a British atrocity. Also by Hagman's reply, on 5th April, 10.53am, that included his 'spoiler alert' that stated the book claims 'the British weren't entirely to blame' for what happened. I requested he inform us all of who the book does blame but we are still waiting for him to answer that one, so perhaps he is still reading it? LOL

In terms of diversions, it seems that every time a British atrocity is mentioned, people try to defend them by throwing a 'diversion' out that the French were worse. LOL

Fatuus Natural14 Apr 2018 10:08 a.m. PST

In point of fact, you have misrepresented, perhaps deliberately, the Grande Armee, its campaigns, Napoleon, his senior officers, the logistic system of the Grande Armee and whatever else you have slighted. That couldn't be the result of any innate national bias, now can it?

It's difficult to see how, as I'm not British (though you might like to consider your own position in this light – could your anti-British bias possibly derive from your own nation's prejudices, do you think?).

No, the real reason I have no patience with your ludicrously unhistorical posturings is not my nationality but my profession. I am in fact a historian. A real one, I mean – a trained, qualified, salaried, lecturing, researching, peer-reviewed, published historian employed by a world-renowned university. This means I understand historical method and admire and respect well-researched and well-written history (as produced by Phillip Dwyer for example, or Charles Esdaile), but despise mere polemicists who distort and cherry pick from the historical record solely to confirm their narrowly nationalist prejudices.

Brechtel19814 Apr 2018 2:18 p.m. PST

Where do you teach and what is your advanced degree(s) in, as in what type of history?

In point of fact, who are you?

Brechtel19814 Apr 2018 2:55 p.m. PST

but despise mere polemicists who distort and cherry pick from the historical record solely to confirm their narrowly nationalist prejudices.

Polemicist:
a person who engages in controversial debate.

Definition of polemic
1a: an aggressive attack on or refutation of the opinions or principles of another.

b: the art or practice of disputation or controversy —usually used in plural but singular or plural in construction.

2: an aggressive controversialist : disputant

Polemic:

A polemic is contentious rhetoric that is intended to support a specific position by aggressive claims and undermining of the opposing position. Polemics are mostly seen in arguments about controversial topics. The practice of such argumentation is called polemics. A person who often writes polemics, or who speaks polemically, is called a polemicist. The word is derived from Greek ðïëåìéêüò, meaning 'warlike, hostile', from ðüëåìïò, meaning 'war'.

The term and definition of 'polemic/polemicist certainly defines and illustrates what you've been doing on this form with those with whom you disagree. So, you are making yet another personal comment that perfectly defines you and your behavior here.

Another is the fallacy of argument ad hominem. See David Hackett Fischer's Historian's Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought, 290-291. It is defined by Fischer as:

'The fallacy of argument ad hominem occurs in many different forms, all of which serve to shift attention from the argument to the arguer. Among its more common varieties are, first, the abusive ad hominem, which directly denounces an opponent…'

Judging from your postings the above definition from Fischer fits you exactly. And for your accusation that I'm trying to 'rewrite' history, I would say the same thing about you from whatever bias you are approaching the subjects.

And just for information purposes, Gazzola is British and I'm not French.

von Winterfeldt14 Apr 2018 11:25 p.m. PST


In point of fact, you have misrepresented, perhaps deliberately, the Grande Armee, its campaigns, Napoleon, his senior officers, the logistic system of the Grande Armee and whatever else you have slighted. That couldn't be the result of any innate national bias, now can it?

Funny, this is exactly what in my opinion the author of this quote is doing all the time.

Brechtel19815 Apr 2018 3:44 a.m. PST

And you are entitled to your opinion; you are not entitled to your own facts.-Senator Daniel Moynihan.

dibble15 Apr 2018 8:54 p.m. PST

Where do you teach and what is your advanced degree(s) in, as in what type of history?

In point of fact, who are you?

Correlli Barnett with any luck! Or even Alan Schom!

It can't be Hofschoerer as he is mean't to be 'doing bird'

Perhaps a nemesis?

Paul :)

Gazzola16 Apr 2018 5:13 a.m. PST

Bretchel198

I am sure, Fatuus Natural, who claims he is a historian and 'a real one' at that (wow we are so privileged) and seemingly proud of what he has achieved and who he is, he will happily inform everyone who is he is and name his publications and subject he teaches.

As you know, there are people attending this site that are quick to demand sources and evidence for everything, so I see no reason to request evidence to support such egotistical claims.

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