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"Napoleon, Murat and 1815" Topic

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138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2018 10:20 a.m. PST

So it's 1815. Murat has made a dog's breakfast of his attempted "Liberation" of Italy.

He goes to Paris and asks Napoleon for employment and is sent away with a flea in his ear. He sits out the Cent Jours.

Question; was Napoleon right or wrong not to employ Murat. Please support your position with a reasoned argument.

Lascaris23 Dec 2018 11:31 a.m. PST

In general I think he was correct not to employ Murat. For one, Murat had a reputation for being horrible at maintaining the horses in his command and secondly I'm not sure he would have performed as well as Grouchy did at Ligny with screening off a sizeable chunk of the Prussian army with just cavalry.

I do think he would have avoided, or tried to anyway, cavalry fiasco at Waterloo but on the other hand I'm not sure he would have done anything decisive to change the final outcome either.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 Dec 2018 1:44 p.m. PST

I think he was wrong. Murat was previously Napoleon's first pick for a cavalry commander. Grouchy, in the event, did a very credible job, but prior to 1815, Napoleon who had known both for years, never seems to have felt that Grouchy was the preferred commander. What had changed? Nothing tactical, except that now Napoleon's mad at him. Great commanders can't afford to be petty.

And Napoleon has to think VERY short term. He will lose a long war at these odds: no amount of personal genius can prevent that. So in a matter of weeks or months he has to damage the Coalition armies so badly that at least some of them make a separate peace. If he hasn't, the state of his horses won't matter.

But Murat was only one of a long list of bad personnel picks in the 1813-15 period, and a longer list of other choices the Napoleon of 1805 would not have made.

Nine pound round23 Dec 2018 1:52 p.m. PST

Setting aside any reservations Napoleon may have had about Murat's performance in the 1812-1814 timeframe, Murat had cut a deal with Napoleon's enemies to save his throne- at Napoleon's expense. A lot of people would find that hard to forgive.

HappyHussar23 Dec 2018 8:00 p.m. PST

Napoleon never forgave Murat for his disloyal move to side with the Allies. Add to this that he chose to lead the Kingdom of Naples, of all places, against France. In the end Naples rejected him.

I believe it was Murat, who at his own execution, asked them to spare his face. Typical Murat maneuver. Vain to the end.

Bill N26 Dec 2018 3:00 p.m. PST

In the initial stages of the War of the Seventh Coalition I think Napoleon was justified not employing Murat. Murat hadn't been brilliant when exercising independent military commands. Murat wasn't trustworthy after 1814. These factors mean it would have been unwise to trust Murat with any of the independent commands. Within the Army of the North Napoleon had commanders who could do what Murat could do. Murat could have commanded the Guard, but would Napoleon be able to keep him in that role when the Army of the North split? Plus giving Murat a role would close the door on any chance that Austria could have been induced to leave the war early.

Had Napoleon been successful in Belgium I think there may be an argument for employing Murat in later campaigns.

John Edmundson26 Dec 2018 8:27 p.m. PST

I don't think I would have reappointed Murat. I think other Marshals would have questioned Napoleon's judgement if he welcomed him back into the fold so quickly. Giving him time to prove his renewed loyalty would seem reasonable. Given that he had already lost his Kingdom, he didn't really have much other opportunity I suppose. The bigger error of course was not bringing back Davout. Davout instead of Grouchy would have been a very different proposition, but I don't think there's much disagreement there.


marshalGreg27 Dec 2018 8:29 a.m. PST

Napoleon was short of aggressive Marshalls.
Perhaps he should have employed him. So yes!
If Murat was in Grouchy's shoes ( wing command )…
I think we would have had Murat at the front lines present with Excelmans, who's command made contact with the Prussians by ~8am at Gembloux as well as coordination better with Pajol and his command.
This would have most likely resulted in an aggressive action against Theilmanns Korps, pinning it on the 17th.
This alone could have changed the chain of events for the 18th, in relation to timing & amount of Prussian support on the 18th.
I would conclude though Excelmans command would been trashed in the process, in typical fashion of "Murat attacking with cavalry- lacking infantry support".

Would make for a nice What if scenario!

Happy New Year!

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