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"Marshal Davout and the Art of Command" Topic

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Areas of Interest


558 hits since 8 Mar 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP08 Mar 2019 9:13 p.m. PST

Of possible interest?

PDF link


von Winterfeldt09 Mar 2019 12:30 a.m. PST

Strange, the supposedly best work should that of Daniel Reichel, not even listed in the sources.

MaggieC70 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 6:44 a.m. PST

Don't expect anything more than the most rudimentary scholarship from these command and staff guys who rarely use anything but the most readily available secondary--and questionable--sources, the vast majority in English. The topics selected are generally the pro forma generalizations, none of which is ground-breaking.

Curious: why is Reichel the best Davout book?

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 8:21 a.m. PST

He must be referring to this book.



Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP09 Mar 2019 11:50 a.m. PST



Rittmester13 Mar 2019 10:35 a.m. PST

I have read the paper on M Davout and share the opinion of MaggieC.
@MaggieC – do you know of any good study/analysis of M Davout's "Art of Command"?
I have also read his biography, but cannot say that it is an excellent study on his art of command or his tactical provess, although it gives several examples of his tactical feats.
I would say that such a study should include, if at all possible, the information and orders avalable to Davout in a set of tactical scenarios and then analyze and assess whether he made sound tactical decisions.
His ability to train and to lead his men, I think has been documented quite well.

Rittmester13 Mar 2019 10:36 a.m. PST

That is, any good studies in the English language I mean.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 12:22 p.m. PST

There is this volume by John Gallaher:


The best way to figure out what Davout did and how he operated and commanded is to get hold of a copy of Operations du 3e Corps, 1806-1807: Rapport du Marechal Davout, Duc d'Auerstadt, by Louis N Davout which is basically the III Corps operational journal for the period stated.

It is also available in English as Napoleon's Finest: Davout and his III Corps-Combat Journal and Operations translated and annotated by Scott Bowden.

It's too bad that there isn't a similar volume for 1809.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 12:55 p.m. PST

Thanks Kevin!.


138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 3:37 p.m. PST

Gallaher is a great writer, loved The Iron Marshal is a first class study.

MaggieC70 Supporting Member of TMP13 Mar 2019 4:56 p.m. PST

I agree with regard to the Gallaher biography, but…

What Davout needs with regard to his particular command of warfare on the tactical and strategical levels and how he approached the various campaigns is a study that focuses on just those issues, not the events of his life and how he fit in among the other Napoleonic corps commanders.

There are plenty of excellent sources out there now in various archives that someone could easily come up with such a study.

Volunteers, anyone?

von Winterfeldt14 Mar 2019 4:09 a.m. PST

It is not about a biography but about the art of command, I find Gallaher a very boring read.

Good studies in English are very rare about the French Army – in case you won't invest time to learn French a lot of excellent works in French won't be accessible.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP14 Mar 2019 4:46 a.m. PST

Good studies in English are very rare about the French Army…

That is a grossly inaccurate statement and ignores the excellent work on the period, and the French army in particular, by American and British historians.

Deleted by Moderator

von Winterfeldt15 Mar 2019 8:24 a.m. PST

I forgot to mention the series of articles by Vachée, Étude du Charactère Militaire du Maréchal Davout, in Revue Militaire Général, Paris et Nancy 1907

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2019 4:47 p.m. PST

There is also excellent information on Davout in both von Brandt's and Coignet's memoirs.

Rittmester17 Mar 2019 8:18 a.m. PST

Thanks for the information,

Rittmester17 Mar 2019 8:25 a.m. PST

I will read up on Napoleons Finest. Do these inkludert reports from his cavalry commander, i.e. His Recce commander?

Apart from the official French journals, which sources are you thinking about?

MaggieC70 Supporting Member of TMP17 Mar 2019 9:03 a.m. PST

There are a number of cartons--or boxes--of documents in Vincennes that deal with specific campaigns, additional correspondence, the collections of sitreps that detail a corps' location and numbers and occasional notes for each day on the march.

A dedicated search can result in quite a stack of excellent information to make a detailed study from almost any angle. Some authors include some--but scarcely all--of this information in their books, but I'd rather do the research myself and come up my own view of events.

To provide the best picture, you would, of course, have to do the same thing in the Prussian, Austrian, etc., archives, because no campaign, or study of a particular individual's "art of command" exists from only a single point of view.

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