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"Good Guys of the Napoleonic Wars" Topic

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08 Sep 2018 10:26 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian08 Sep 2018 10:23 a.m. PST

Which individuals would you say were 'good guys' in the Napoleonic Wars?

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2018 10:51 a.m. PST

Larrey, so long as you were in the Imperial Guard anyway. But all seemed to respect him. Maybe Percy, or Guthrie for GB

I guess I am biased, as I approach retirement, after 42 years of surgery at progressive levels of seniority.

Not sure "Good Guys" are really what you want as military or naval commanders, however. The Craufords and Wellingtons of this world could be thoroughly unpleasant types, but joined the likes of Patton, McArthur, Haig, Nelson as successful, if flawed, characters.

Lonkka1Actual08 Sep 2018 11:30 a.m. PST

King of Sweden, Gustav IV Adolf?

He had delusions of grandeur thinking himself as the anointed of the God whose task was to kill the Beast of the Apocalypse (aka Napoleon).

If being anointed of the God doesn't make you one of the good guys I don't know what will!

MSU John08 Sep 2018 11:52 a.m. PST

Archduke Charles.

David Manley08 Sep 2018 12:25 p.m. PST

Emma Hamilton

Vigilant08 Sep 2018 12:35 p.m. PST

Having occasionally seen some of the "discussions" on the Napoleonic board I am having a small bet with myself as to who gets Dawghoused 1st on this one, pro Napoleon or anti Napoleon.

Mike the Analyst08 Sep 2018 1:31 p.m. PST

Captain Harry Smith

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2018 1:33 p.m. PST

Bill the blacksmith from Devonshire.
Didn't drink to excess, treated his wife and children well, didn't kill anyone or start a war of conquest. All around nice guy.(made the best horseshoes in all of Devonshire too)

Nine pound round08 Sep 2018 3:11 p.m. PST

I find a lot to admire in Wellington: personal austerity, focus on task, willingness to work himself relentlessly in pursuit of his mission. Not the greatest soldier of the age, but a man whose character filled in the gaps that ability left, and helped him to carry out his mission when it really, really mattered. Intrinsically, not as great a general as Napoleon: but a man who rose to the occasion.

Personal logo COL Scott ret Supporting Member of TMP08 Sep 2018 8:43 p.m. PST

There were tens of thousands of Soldiers who "enlisted" to protect their own countries or help others to protect their country. Many who didn't commit cruelty just did their job and went home or died in the process. I would say that they would count as good guys to me.

Three Armies09 Sep 2018 2:46 a.m. PST

Dead Head I'm with you if he's a Percy he has to be a good guy. lol

ZULUPAUL Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2018 3:49 a.m. PST


Edwulf09 Sep 2018 4:02 a.m. PST

Bernadotte. He lead Sweden. They can never be the bad guys.

Katzbalger09 Sep 2018 4:32 a.m. PST

Bernadotte wasn't always Swedish…(not saying that his time as a French soldier involved any atrocities, but he did put down a Vendee rising, which usually involves a bit of killing).


von Winterfeldt09 Sep 2018 7:41 a.m. PST

Good Guys


Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2018 8:42 a.m. PST

Friedrich Wilhelm, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel.

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2018 11:11 a.m. PST

Great question to get folk going.

Good Guys? folk who, by definition put the good of their fellow man above their own. It is called altruistic. People get canonised for less than that in the faith in which I was raised.

But they do not make successful commanders. Wellington was a totally obnoxious personality. He once met Nelson and said he was even more unpleasant.

Good guys were nuns, Brussels women (odd that, I've often thought, but well recorded) . People who ignored accidents of geography and cared for "enemy" combatants.

Let us never forget, we either play games with dice (you lot), or fill our attics with smartly dressed parade rig figures (me)….

But the reality was cruelty, disease, starvation, pillage, etc etc . One can argue about rules for Bavarian squares vs columns of Zulus, but, in the end, any war is about suffering for most.

Personal logo Gonsalvo Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2018 11:12 a.m. PST

Eugene de Beauharnais, the Emperor's stepson. He became a competent general,was a profoundly decent man who tried to do hid best for Italy as Viceroy, continued to support napoleon after he divorced his mother, and yet said "enough is enough" when it came to the 100 Days.

mkck194709 Sep 2018 11:42 a.m. PST

Agree. Eugene de Beauharnais

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP09 Sep 2018 12:57 p.m. PST

Bernadotte was a traitorous coward, not a good guy in my book.

21eRegt09 Sep 2018 4:04 p.m. PST

"Daddy" Hill

von Winterfeldt10 Sep 2018 12:03 a.m. PST

read Plunket Barton's volumes about Bernadotte, it will change your mind, neither a coward, nor a traitor.
The volumes one and two are available online.

4th Cuirassier10 Sep 2018 1:11 a.m. PST

Andreas Hofer. He rebelled against tyranny and was judicially murdered for it.

Tsar Nicholas: marched a Russian army to Paris to liberate it, then went home seeking to keep nothing.

Davout: incorruptible professional soldier through and through.

Sparta10 Sep 2018 1:41 a.m. PST

Andreas Hofer. He rebelled against tyranny and was judicially murdered for it.

- Assuming that the rule of Tyrol by an absolutist Austrian monarch was not a tyranny????

Tsar Nicholas: marched a Russian army to Paris to liberate it, then went home seeking to keep nothing.

- Liberate??? Reinstate the Bourbons??? Come on…!

I think by modern democratic standards it is very har to find the good guys in the top of any government during the Napoleonic wars…..

von Winterfeldt10 Sep 2018 2:06 a.m. PST

You don't take the question serious? do you?

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2018 4:47 a.m. PST

read Plunket Barton's volumes about Bernadotte, it will change your mind, neither a coward, nor a traitor.
The volumes one and two are available online.

So he didn't let Davout fight an impossible battle on his own(that he amazingly won) Just out of jealousy of Davout?

He didn't drag his feet before Leipzig because 1, he was scared of Napoleon) 2, Had no plans on throwing away his Swedes against Napoleon, since he planned on using them against Norway?

von Winterfeldt10 Sep 2018 7:35 a.m. PST

So he didn't let Davout fight an impossible battle on his own(that he amazingly won) Just out of jealousy of Davout?

Of course not, Boney was as surprised as Davout and the rest of the army that this battle happened, nobody – did suspect that the Prussian main army was there, Boney was convinced that it were in front of him at Jena – Bernadotte had a mission to fullfill, his orders were to be at Apolda, and that he fullfiled, how could he know more than Boney himself?

Why should he drag his feet at all, his operations with the Nordarmee was a string of successes.

He suffers from bad press and is victimized – and it is seemingly so easy to bash Bernadotte, a victim of propaganda, in case you like to learn more, Barton would be a good starting point.

Gunfreak Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2018 8:24 a.m. PST

Bernadotte could hear the guns of battle, it was standard practice to match to the guns.

What makes Barton any more reliable than all other sources that condemned him?

ToysnSoldiers10 Sep 2018 8:48 a.m. PST

Dunno about "good guys" or "bad guys". I find the notion preposterous. I find some characters more agreeable than others, though. Eugene de Beauharnais comes to mind.

4th Cuirassier10 Sep 2018 9:50 a.m. PST

Maybe Sharpe, as he only killed Frenchies.

von Winterfeldt10 Sep 2018 10:48 a.m. PST

I don't know of any reliable source which condemns Bernadotte, of course Boney has to do, read Barton – and then let me know, of course you can read Foucart as well, about the 1806 campaign and see all orders for Bernadotte and Davout and the re action of Bony and Berthier as well – add to that Gabriel Girod de l'Ain, Bernadotte – it was no standard practice to march to the sound of guns, read Boney's instruction and Berthier's to their marshals and generals, strict obedience was demanded.
When your CiC tells you that he is facing the main army and that you have to be at point X at 4 o clock in the afternoon, would you listen to another subordinate – who says that the CiC is wrong – has a wrong picture of the operational situation and better not obey orders??
I wouldn't

some usefull links on that subject




But I move on.

von Winterfeldt10 Sep 2018 11:11 a.m. PST

I forgot

Marmont of course ;-))

Brownand10 Sep 2018 1:54 p.m. PST

Napoleon himself of course.
A whole period is called after him so he must be good?

Winston Smith10 Sep 2018 2:07 p.m. PST

I read a hagiographic Wikipedia article on Bernadotte. So he gets my vote.

Mike the Analyst10 Sep 2018 2:50 p.m. PST

Bernadotte has been discussed many times before

TMP link

TMP link

Titeux work is the best analysis I have seen on this – regrettably the link in my earlier post to this no longer works.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2018 4:16 p.m. PST

I think deadhead is on to something with Bavarians vs. Zulus.

Uesugi Kenshin Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2018 4:51 p.m. PST

The Poles & the Bavarians.

Edwulf10 Sep 2018 11:45 p.m. PST

Bernadotte was a bad guy when fighting for the French, invading people, killing vendeeans.

But when he became King of Sweden he lead the Swedes. And joined the good guys.

4th Cuirassier11 Sep 2018 1:50 a.m. PST

Polish lancers tended to ride around the battlefield spearing already wounded men. Not a good guy thing to do.

42flanker11 Sep 2018 8:52 a.m. PST

modern democratic standards

snorts coffee across keyboard…

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2018 9:04 a.m. PST

Polish lancers had no monopoly on such a dastardly deed. Most Allied military who suffered such fate at Waterloo, were victims of French Line lancers.

The point of course was the lance, more than the rider carrying it. The long reach encouraged them to finish off grounded enemy. Much harder to do with a sword.

This was not much of a "Good guy" era, especially if you were wounded and helpless and had a few bob in your pocket or sabretache……..

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 11:46 a.m. PST

Define 'good guy.'

I'm afraid that Bernadotte, Dupont, and Marmont just don't fit the bill.

The Dukes of Brunswick don't either.

Prince Eugene undoubtedly does, and he is the most underrated general of the period.

He was in Bavaria in 1815 with his wife and father-in-law who wouldn't let him return to France.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 11:47 a.m. PST

Polish lancers tended to ride around the battlefield spearing already wounded men. Not a good guy thing to do.

Perhaps they held a grudge because their country had been dismembered by three of the allies and was no longer in existence until Napoleon formed the Duchy of Warsaw?

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 11:48 a.m. PST

Larrey, so long as you were in the Imperial Guard anyway. But all seemed to respect him. Maybe Percy, or Guthrie for GB

Excellent picks. Napoleon thought that Larrey was the most virtuous man he knew.

14Bore12 Sep 2018 2:27 p.m. PST

Always a Francophobe but would say Eugene and Baron Larrey.
Marmont, Bernadotte don't make my list.

14Bore12 Sep 2018 2:36 p.m. PST

Karl Borstell makes my list on the Prussian side

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 6:53 p.m. PST

The rabbits!

The rabbits were the first to defeat Napoleon and all his Marshals in the great rabbit hunt turned battle in 1807.


( ^.^)

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2018 11:38 p.m. PST

I am sure there is a word for the images one can create with Office symbols….many a smiley face, but that above is the best I have ever seen. I think LOL means Laughed Out Loud….well I did and have shared this with others already this morning.

4th Cuirassier13 Sep 2018 1:35 a.m. PST

I nominate Admiral Villeneuve as a good guy. He fought an honest, clean, and respectable fight at Trafalgar. With few exceptions the ships that struck their colours did so only after they had lost all ability to fight and manoeuvre. Often this was because they had been dismasted and had the flammable wreckage of their top hamper obstructing the sides, so they could neither steer nor shoot.

He was captured, exchanged for four British captains in 1806 and returned to France. Honourably, he committed suicide six months later by stabbing himself five times in the left lung and once in the heart. This thoughtful, not-at-all-suspicious deed undoubtedly saved Napoleon the trouble of having him quietly murdered for screwing up Trafalgar.

Napoleon was fortunate that some many people who'd pi55ed him off killed themselves and saved him the trouble.

holdit14 Sep 2018 2:34 a.m. PST

I'd agree with the choice of Eugene, and add a less-well-known other: Louis Bonaparte.

Pleased on the throne of the newly-created Kingdom of Holland. Far from being the puppet ruler his brother intended, Louis took his new job quite seriously, learning Dutch, using the Dutch form of his name and becoming popular with his Dutch subjects.

What damaged the prospects for the longevity of his rule, however, was that he took his position seriously enough to put Dutch interests ahead of those of Napoleon and was ultimately persuaded to abdicate.

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