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"The Youngest Marshal Saves the Day for Napoleon" Topic


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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP30 Nov 2019 8:36 p.m. PST

"On September 15, 1806, the French Grand Armée's III Corps commander,36-year-old Marshal Louis Davout, arrived in Paris for a short visit with his family and new baby daughter. That evening he wrote a letter to his brother-in-law, General Louis Friant, whom he had left in temporary command of the corps then assigned to occupation duties in Germany. It began: "Everything is war here; a detachment of the [Imperial] Guard left this morning…we are prepared; my last inspection of the troops convinced me of this."

War, the rampant topic in Paris, loomed because of Prussia's growing resistance to French expansionism. Napoleon Bonaparte had crowned himself emperor of France in 1804, an elevation that a national plebiscite overwhelmingly ratified. The next year Austria, Sweden, and Russia joined Britain, at war with the French since 1803. Prussia was tempted to throw in its lot with the allies, but with the Battle of Austerlitz in December 1805 and the disastrous defeat of Russia and Austria, united resistance to the French temporarily collapsed…"
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Amicalement
Armand

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP01 Dec 2019 10:41 a.m. PST

The Iron Marshal – my favourite Napoleonic commander; and his enemies didn't call Davout La Bete (the Beast) for nothing!

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP01 Dec 2019 2:21 p.m. PST

I also like Marshal Davout and his 25mm MiniFig replica leads my French Napoleonic forces. Plus I have a biography of him that is a good read, especially about his defense of Paris after Waterloo.

Jim

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP01 Dec 2019 2:25 p.m. PST

(smile)


Amicalement
Armand

Nine pound round01 Dec 2019 3:19 p.m. PST

I have never understood why Napoleon didn't make more active use of him in 1813 and 1815. He certainly trusted Davout in his rear (both in 1813 and 1815), which is no small compliment, but I think the allies would have had a tougher time with him than the MacDonalds, Neys and Oudinots.

dibble01 Dec 2019 9:00 p.m. PST

" He certainly trusted Davout in his rear (both in 1813 and 1815), which is no small compliment"

Yup! He certainly would have expected a timely tactical withdrawal if called for…

Widowson02 Dec 2019 1:32 p.m. PST

Word is that Napoleon, especially after Auerstadt, was jealous of Davout's abilities and worried that Davout might become a serious rival. Too bad, because Davout thought nothing of the sort.

Napoleon should have treated him better. He might have made all the difference in the 100 Days.

oldnorthstate02 Dec 2019 1:35 p.m. PST

As much as Napoleon appreciated his ability to hold Danzig, which ultimately meant very little in the overall picture in the end, had Davout been in command of the French forces assigned to capture Berlin my guess is he would have been much more successful than the succession of failures he assigned to the task. In 1815, again, as much as he needed Davout to organize France while Napoleonic marched east, if he had been at Waterloo, either in Grouchy's or Newy's role Waterloo would have turned out much differently.

Murvihill02 Dec 2019 4:44 p.m. PST

In 1815 Napoleon was trusting Davout with keeping France in his (Napoleon's) pocket. A French victory at Waterloo would not have meant much if France turned against him while he was on campaign.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP03 Dec 2019 2:18 a.m. PST

He certainly would have expected a timely tactical withdrawal if called for…

What is this comment in reference to?

Word is that Napoleon, especially after Auerstadt, was jealous of Davout's abilities and worried that Davout might become a serious rival. Too bad, because Davout thought nothing of the sort. Napoleon should have treated him better. He might have made all the difference in the 100 Days.

Why would Napoleon be jealous of accomplishments by his subordinates? Where did Napoleon treat Davout badly? There is no doubt that had Davout been in a command in the field he would have been successful. However, Napoleon made him Minister of War because he could trust him and because of Davout's administrative abilities. It was Davout who created the Armee du Nord and got it ready for the campaign in Belgium.

As much as Napoleon appreciated his ability to hold Danzig, which ultimately meant very little in the overall picture in the end, had Davout been in command of the French forces assigned to capture Berlin my guess is he would have been much more successful than the succession of failures he assigned to the task. In 1815, again, as much as he needed Davout to organize France while Napoleonic marched east, if he had been at Waterloo, either in Grouchy's or Newy's role Waterloo would have turned out much differently.

Davout defended Hamburg, not Danzig. Rapp was in command at Danzig and held it for a year until the garrison ran out of food.

There is little doubt had Davout been in command on the Berlin front that Bernadotte and Bulow would have been defeated. Napoleon's choice of subordinates in those commands is at the very least questionable.

In 1815 Napoleon was trusting Davout with keeping France in his (Napoleon's) pocket. A French victory at Waterloo would not have meant much if France turned against him while he was on campaign.

Absolutely correct. Well done.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP04 Dec 2019 3:48 a.m. PST

France turning against Napoleon was not the issue. One of the reasons that Davout was made Minister of War and left in Paris was to keep an eye on Fouche, Talleyrand, and their usual shenanigans. They caused trouble in Paris in 1814 to the Emperor's detriment and Napoleon did not want a repeat of that nonsense.

4th Cuirassier04 Dec 2019 5:30 a.m. PST

Clearly Napoleon didn't think he needed Davout with the army in 1815. He expected to defeat Wellington and Blucher without him.

I've heard previously the claim that Napoleon resented Davout's abilities, but is there any evidence for this, or is it latter day conjecture? Napoleon does not strike me as intellectually insecure so the idea that he'd surround himself with the B-team to make himself feel better sounds really quite far-fetched. He was surely more likely to want the best around him so he could delegate the military stuff while he got on with the rest.

Marcel180904 Dec 2019 6:20 a.m. PST

4th C I believe Napoleon made some negative remarks on Davout while at Saint Helena something along the lines of "Il m' mal servi" (he served me poorly more or less). Cannot find the source here now, just know I read it somewhere.

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