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"Your favorite of Napoleons Marshals?" Topic


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09 Sep 2019 10:33 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "You favorite of Napoleons Marshals?:" to "Your favorite of Napoleons Marshals?"

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Napoleonic

1,811 hits since 9 Sep 2019
©1994-2019 Bill Armintrout
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JimSelzer Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 1:26 a.m. PST

Ney
Berthier
Grouchy

langobard Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 2:25 a.m. PST

Lannes
St Cyr
Suchet

David Brown10 Sep 2019 2:52 a.m. PST

Eumelas,

I'd also class Suchet as "fully-suited for independent command", as he successfully performed as a civil administrator as well as military commander of Aragon.

He was a successful administrator indeed but, I'm afraid, yet another example of a general who decided that they would sit out a particular campaign, e.g. 1813 as this was the easier option.

Thus he provided no significant assistance whatsoever to a struggling Joseph during the vital Vitoria campaign.

DB

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 3:01 a.m. PST

yet another example of a general who decided that they would sit out a particular campaign, e.g. 1813 as this was the easier option.

Please explain how Suchet 'would sit out' 1813? He was an army commander in Spain and without a doubt Napoleon kept him in that assignment as he was highly successful.

The idea that Suchet 'sat out' the 1813 campaign in Saxony because it was the 'easier option' is ludicrous.

How was he supposed to support Joseph from eastern Spain? Eastern Spain was an active theater, not

Your comments regarding Davout and Suchet for 1813 are incorrect and clearly demonstrate a lack of knowledge of both marshals and what they were assigned to do in 1813.

However, if you have any evidence of what you are postulating here, please provide it.

mildbill10 Sep 2019 3:15 a.m. PST

Eugene was not but showed improvement and could have been if the war had lasted even longer. The only officer that the little corporal seemed to want to mentor instead of just use.
This is just my opinion and if I am wrong in my impression, please correct me.

David Brown10 Sep 2019 3:16 a.m. PST

K,

I thought it was rather obvious that I was referring to the 1813 campaign in Spain and not that in Saxony.

Apologies if I caused you any confusion.


DB

valleyboy10 Sep 2019 3:16 a.m. PST

Ney
Made a point of visiting his grave/tomb when in Paris

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 3:39 a.m. PST

Eugene was not but showed improvement and could have been if the war had lasted even longer. The only officer that the little corporal seemed to want to mentor instead of just use.

Eugene was not the only general officer that Napoleon instructed in his own method of warfare. He did the same with the Imperial ADCs such as Rapp, Savary, Mouton, and the others. The command record of those officers was impressive. Rapp and Savary had been Desaix's ADCs, and after Desaix was killed in action, Napoleon took them on as his own.

The Imperial ADCs were general officers who were given imperial authority in their myriad duties, which could range from corps and army command to negotiating with foreign officers in a minor capacity. Those selected were specialists in their own branch of the service. Lauriston was an artillery officer, Bertrand an engineer, Savary a light cavalry officers, etc.

They were trusted by Napoleon, given wide-ranging authority to act as they saw fit in the Emperor's name, and gave advice and counsel to Napoleon when necessary. Their advice might not be followed, but Napoleon listened to them with an open mind.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 3:42 a.m. PST

I thought it was rather obvious that I was referring to the 1813 campaign in Spain and not that in Saxony.

I should have understood that you meant Spain instead of Saxony-my error.

However, neither Davout nor Suchet 'sat out' any campaign. They served where they were assigned and always did more than their assigned duty.

Have you seen the book on eastern Spain by Nick Lipscombe, Wellington's Eastern Front?

Garryowen Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 7:05 a.m. PST

Russ' question was the "favorite" marshal. For me that would be Murat. I love cavaliers and he certainly was one. No one could excel him at leading a cavalry charge. Maybe I should have said "inspiring" rather than "leading."

If favorite meant best, I would agree with Davout.

Getting back to the cavalry, my favorite Napoleonic author, David Johnson, wrote that Marmont once said that in all of Europe only three officers really understood how to move large masses of cavalry on a battlefield. His "magic trio" was Lasalle, Kellerman and Montbrun.

Tom

Marcus Brutus10 Sep 2019 7:20 a.m. PST

Davout is the great mystery to me of Napoleon's Marshals. No one can but praise his incredible leadership at Auerstadt. And his III Corp was the army standard for sure. But we never see Davout in a truly independent command like Massena, Marmont or even Grouchy. Yes, I know that he commanded the Hamburg Military District in 1813 but that was ultimately a side show to the events in Saxony. How might the Waterloo Campaign have gone if Davout had commanded the Right Wing and Soult the Left Wing? Could Davout have accomplished betters results in Spain than other Marshals? Don't know.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 11:06 a.m. PST

Davout
Ney

Was not Suchet kept busy with Brit-Sicilian landings? then possible more? and never forget logistics in Spain.

What if Waterloo with Berthier not killed by(?) and Soult as wing leader, or Davout, but I think He had no one so neat, honest and iron hard to keep things in hand behind him. Noetheless how he could think of winning against every one, even if the Austrians would do it half way, no idea…

smog monster10 Sep 2019 11:34 a.m. PST

I've always had a liking for Macdonald, not for his Army commanding talents, but he was a very reliable corps commander and remained loyal to Napoleon right to the end (1814). Given his unjust treatment prior to 1809 he could easily have been less than true.
Also I can pronounce his name!

Bill N10 Sep 2019 12:19 p.m. PST

My sentimental favorite is Murat. Favorite in no way implies best though. Murat was chosen for his style, although I do think he was more competent than he is given credit for.

Who was best? My short list would include Suchet, Soult, Massena, Davout and Lannes, probably in that order overall, although I might consider switching Massena and Davout.

Lambert Supporting Member of TMP10 Sep 2019 1:19 p.m. PST

Oudinot – the most wounded Marshal. Shot and sabred numerous times and lived to be 81.

AussieAndy Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2019 2:45 a.m. PST

It rather depends on your criteria. Favourite as in likeable, as in best independent commander, as in best subordinate, etc? I doubt that it was much fun to serve under Davout and he wouldn't have been my choice for a dining companion, but he was a tremendous commander.

Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2019 8:17 a.m. PST

Ney
Davout
Poniatowski

holdit11 Sep 2019 8:31 a.m. PST

For ability…Davout (the nearest thing the French had to a Wellington), Lannes and Suchet.

For overall contribution to Napoleon's campaigns, Berthier.

For likability, tough one, it's al ong time since I read about them, possibly St. Cyr or McDonald.

It's interesting that on the subject of looting and management of troops' behaviour in occupied areas, Bernadotte and Davout, who couldn't stand each other, were on the same page.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2019 10:43 a.m. PST

For ability…Davout (the nearest thing the French had to a Wellington), Lannes and Suchet.

I'll put my money on Davout.

The Lonely Salaryman11 Sep 2019 2:46 p.m. PST

Ney.

I find him so easy to relate to, personality wise. Especially the impetuosity bit.

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP11 Sep 2019 3:17 p.m. PST

For likability, tough one, it's al ong time since I read about them, possibly St. Cyr or McDonald.

Few considered St Cyr likable. He was an introvert and not given to sociability.

For likability, Mortier seems to have been the most pleasant company.

holdit11 Sep 2019 3:40 p.m. PST

Brechtel:

I'll put my money on Davout.

Agreed. I meant in that order.


138Sqdn:

Few considered St Cyr likable. He was an introvert and not given to sociability.

As a fellow introvert, that makes him ideal company. I'm sure we could have spent many happy hours not interacting. :-)

138SquadronRAF Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2019 6:10 a.m. PST

As a fellow introvert, that makes him ideal company. I'm sure we could have spent many happy hours not interacting. :-)

That was actually my reason for liking him of the first page of this thread.

Andrew Preziosi Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2019 3:55 p.m. PST

But St. Cyr could be drawn out of his shell, as Desaix knew quite well. (And, as a fellow introvert, that does not mean he did not enjoy the company of others from time to time, it just meant that he always had to recoup from being around others).

Yeah, he was priggish, stand-off'ish, etc.; but he knew almost instinctively what to do on the field of battle. I mean the plums that literally fell at his feet during the 1805 Italian Campaign, were rather astounding, considering the fact that he was put in the Backwaters of a Secondary Theater to begin with.

Plus, getting his Marshal's Baton delivered via
"Emperor Express" and then dropped in the mud before his feet (in the non-literal sense) certainly strengthened no bonds between himself and Bonaparte.

Rapp probably won his Baton at La Souffel, had the Emperor won at Waterloo, but that's pure speculation.

St. Hilaire…promised a baton, but did not live long enough to receive it. I've always wondered if he was "technically" a Marshal of the Empire?

mghFond12 Sep 2019 3:57 p.m. PST

I'd go with Davout.

However, Vandamme always will live in my memory (and yes I know he was never made a marshal, probably because of his combative personality)for one quote.

In 1813 he had been captured by the Allies and taken in front of Russian Emperor Alexander, his sword was taken from him in a breach of chivalry then. When the Emperor accused him of being a looter, he smirked, "At least I was never accused of killing my father."
He was not released with the other prisoners at the war's end til later, I think the Tsar was displeased.

holdit12 Sep 2019 4:42 p.m. PST

However, Vandamme always will live in my memory

Napoleon is supposed to have said that if he had two Vandammes, he would have to have one hang the other…

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP12 Sep 2019 4:59 p.m. PST

In 1813 he had been captured by the Allies and taken in front of Russian Emperor Alexander, his sword was taken from him in a breach of chivalry then. When the Emperor accused him of being a looter, he smirked, "At least I was never accused of killing my father."
He was not released with the other prisoners at the war's end til later, I think the Tsar was displeased.

That story is apocryphal. Vandamme stated that he had been 'treated with great courtesy.'

Murvihill20 Sep 2019 7:09 p.m. PST

Bernadotte. Swedes were my first army.

holdit21 Sep 2019 1:34 a.m. PST

Bernadotte. Swedes were my first army.

Bernadotte is said to have had a "Death to Tyrants" tattoo, obtained during the early days of the republic, which he never had removed – much to Napoleon's annoyance. :-)

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