Help support TMP

"Napoleon as a military commander: The limitations of genius" Topic

15 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 Media Message Board

Areas of Interest


913 hits since 10 Feb 2018
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2018 2:05 p.m. PST

"Napoleon was one of the greatest military minds in the history of warfare. He expanded the conquests of France from her revolutionary borders to that of an Empire that stretched from Spain to the steppes of Russia. Napoleon's genius lay not in revolutionizing of warfare itself, but in the refinement of existing means. He did not propose any drastic changes in tactics nor invent a new method of waging warfare, instead he excelled at the tactical handling of the armies of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Napoleon established himself as a great leader of men during the revolutionary period with the siege of Toulon and his triumphs in Italy in 1796. These talents were refined and reached their height during the battles of Ulm, Austerlitz and Jena in the period of 1805-1806. Towards the end of the Empire the weaknesses of Napoleon as a military commander became more evident. His insistence on the micro management of the army and the awarding of Marshal batons to those who excelled under his leadership, but who possessed no great talent for individual command, worked to his determent. The strategic failures of the decisions to invade Spain and Russia and the inability to keep the other major European powers divided proved disastrous. The increasing size and static nature of armies and the increasingly murderous nature of warfare during the latter part of the Empire revealed Napoleon's in ability to adapt to the changing shape of war. It is in the light of his triumphs and later failures that Napoleon's traditional reputation as a great military leader must be judged."
Main page


nsolomon9910 Feb 2018 5:57 p.m. PST

One man's opinion.

MaggieC7011 Feb 2018 5:54 a.m. PST

Indeed. That's the fun of reading theses, articles, and books--you get an entire range of opinions on a subject, and therefore can come to your own conclusions.

Of course, I think he missed the mark about marshals with no talent, great or otherwise, for individual command.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2018 1:58 p.m. PST



MaggieC7011 Feb 2018 2:49 p.m. PST

Vous souriez Š moi, Armand?

Haitiansoldier Inactive Member11 Feb 2018 5:12 p.m. PST

Him sending troops to Haiti knowing about yellow fever and underestimating the courage of the rebels was a major limitation on his part.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Feb 2018 7:48 p.m. PST

En effet mon ami … Je suis amusť par votre commentaire …


Gazzola12 Feb 2018 7:25 a.m. PST


It seems the British suffered from the same er, 'limitation' when they sent thousands of troops there during their war against Revolutionary France.

Gazzola12 Feb 2018 7:35 a.m. PST


Not been able to access the article, as yet, so can't make any comments on the contents or any viewpoints expressed by the author.

However, whatever it says, as others have already stated, it is one opinion and one we can place and compare with as many other 'opinions' as we chose.

But there will always be those who will not accept anything positive about some historical characters, and others who will only see positive aspects. Personally, I see most historical characters as having positive and negative aspects, be they military, political or personal.

Hopefully, the article will soon become available to read.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2018 9:18 a.m. PST

Agree with you my good friend.

Nobody can be pointed as totally good… or bad…


MaggieC7012 Feb 2018 12:36 p.m. PST

Gazzola, if the Nap Series website comes back up, you can read the article there--it was first published in 2000. As I recall, it was OK but definitely thin on the ground, and rather sophomoric.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2018 5:29 a.m. PST

The one big limitation of genius was an increasingly blinding overinflated ego.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2018 5:31 a.m. PST

Haitian soldier
He sent there mostly those staunch republicans he wanted rid of. A cunning ploy to effectively get rid of them without starting a mess.

rmcaras Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2018 6:15 a.m. PST

One man's opinion

That's pretty much all any of us have

Our own opinion.

No less. No more.

Gazzola14 Feb 2018 10:57 a.m. PST


Thanks for update. I will keep checking to see if the Nap Series website has returned. Hopefully it will. It is a mine of information and interesting articles.

Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.