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19th Century

734 hits since 19 Jun 2018
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Vincent the Librarian19 Jun 2018 9:16 a.m. PST

I was reading about Jean Victor Moreau, who was exiled to the United States by Napoleon. The article states that in 1812 Madison offered Moreau command of the US troops. Moreau decided to go to Europe to work with the Czar in defeating Napoleon but was killed by an artillery shot at the Battle of Dresden in 1813 (possible aimed by Napoleon himself (?).

Wonder how the US would have managed if commanded by an experienced French commander?


Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2018 9:42 a.m. PST

Culture-clash would be my guess…American militia
would not, at that time, have performed as the
French would do.

Artilleryman19 Jun 2018 9:53 a.m. PST

I agree. The expectation of any experienced commander is based upon what the troops he was used to working with would do. Also the terrain and the general military problem was a bit different. He may have done well, by I suspect that trying to lead American volunteers in the forests of North America would have been very different from leading massed French conscripts fired up for 'La Patrie' on the plains of Europe.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2018 10:13 a.m. PST

Good question but I agree with Ed and Artilleryman – plus Moreau had not commanded troops since 1805

Vincent the Librarian19 Jun 2018 2:14 p.m. PST

The USA in 1812 certainly faced a severe problem in army leadership and logistics, but considering how tiny the British/Canadian defenders were, having someone a USA commander who was not brain dead might have been what kept an American offensive going (depends on supply shortages). Moreau was a staunch republican, had been tin the USA for a while so the leading citizens knew him, and he at least had battle experience and a reputation as well.

Vincent the Librarian19 Jun 2018 2:15 p.m. PST

Frederick- looking at the USA, some of their commanders hadn't commanded since the Revolutionary War, if at all!

Big Red Supporting Member of TMP19 Jun 2018 2:27 p.m. PST

And some of them should never have commanded troops at all.

21eRegt19 Jun 2018 8:37 p.m. PST

Given that many of the early commissions were political appointments, the "Quasi War" memory and the general mistrust of foreigners, I doubt he would have been accepted or followed by a great many. Besides, I've always viewed him as more of a strategist than a tactical field commander.

attilathepun4719 Jun 2018 11:48 p.m. PST

I will not argue against any of the points raised against Moreau attaining a major success. But on the other hand he could hardly have done any worse than the American commanders who were actually on hand in 1812: William Hull, Stephen Rensellaer (SP?), Alexander Smyth, etc. As to anti-foreign sentiment, well it was mostly the Federalists who disliked the French, and they weren't cooperating much with the war effort anyway. And at that point in time, French military prestige was still riding high, and many Americans would have viewed the French very positively, due to Lafayette's contributions to success in the Revolution.

bullant20 Jun 2018 3:01 a.m. PST

Not to hijack the discussion, rather expand on it. The Federalists had a similar distrust for Kosciuszko and he had experience fighting in North America during the Revolution. What if he had been given a command?


attilathepun4720 Jun 2018 9:43 a.m. PST

Kosciuszko was clearly an excellent soldier, and his background as a military engineer would have been an invaluable asset, given the logistical difficulties facing the American army. What is not clear, however, is whether the state of his health would have been up to an active field command by 1812. He did, after all, die of natural causes in 1817.

Jakar Nilson20 Jun 2018 10:13 a.m. PST

If he had been put in charge of the defense of Detroit instead of Hull, maybe his surrender would have made him defect and become the third leg of Brock and Tecumsah's alliance, thus boosting the chances of success for the Canadian militias and the possible lack of leadership losses that they eventually suffered. The Indian state (or Canadian province) of Michigan and a southern border West of the Great Lakes seems possible…

Vincent the Librarian20 Jun 2018 1:00 p.m. PST

I doubt that Moreau would come even close to the inept defense of Detroit, rather more the opposite. Also, he would have in charge of the offensive to take Montreal, rather than the backwater of Detroit.

Cacique Caribe20 Jun 2018 3:52 p.m. PST

Another WHAT IF …

Maybe the Acadians/Cajuns could have settled closer to the US-Canadian border and Moreau could have drawn troops from them to fight for the US.


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