Help support TMP

"Marshal Louis N. Davout and the Art of Command" Topic

10 Posts

All members in good standing are free to post here. Opinions expressed here are solely those of the posters, and have not been cleared with nor are they endorsed by The Miniatures Page.

For more information, see the TMP FAQ.

Back to the Napoleonic Media Message Board

Areas of Interest


Featured Hobby News Article

Top-Rated Ruleset


Rating: gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star gold star 

Featured Showcase Article

Featured Profile Article

The Gates of Old Jerusalem

The gates of Old Jerusalem offer a wide variety of scenario possibilities.

360 hits since 12 Sep 2020
©1994-2020 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse12 Sep 2020 3:56 p.m. PST

Good reading… recomended….

PDF link


Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 3:54 a.m. PST

A good portion of the author's sources are at least suspect and some are mendacious and therefore useless. The use of this source material in general decreases the usefulness of this paper as source material.

Bourrienne's memoirs were ghostwritten. Bourrienne himself was sacked from his post in Hamburg for extortion and overall dishonesty.

Liddel Hart and Fuller are not good sources for the period as they are inaccurate at best.

Alistair Horne's 'work' on the period is inaccurate.

While Owen Connelly is an excellent historian, his thesis in the reference cited is just a little over the top. In short, it isn't supported by the evidence.

Madame Junot's 'memoirs' are inaccurate and mendacious.

Britt's work is competent, but having used his volume as a text in college, it isn't to my mind something to be used as a period reference.

Chandler's Campaigns are generally good and reliable, but his attempt to characterize Napoleon's methods of warfare are somewhat pedantic. The Esposito/Elting Atlas, which came out two years before campaigns is a much better reference.

Marbot's memoirs are the story of an officer who 'remembers with advantages' and has to be taken with a heavy dose of salt. That being said, his time as an ADC and a regimental commander is probably the most accurate in the memoirs.

Delderfield is a good book and fun to read, but it isn't always accurate. Chandler's book on the marshals is probably the best on the subject.

And it should be remembered that with any account of the 1809 campaign in Germany, Berthier was never the commander of the Army of Germany but served as Napoleon's chief of staff as usual. Napoleon attempted to command from Paris, and the confusion caused by the mixture of written correspondence on Napoleon to Berthier combined with messages telegraphed and arriving out of order was the cause of the staff mess that resulted. Berthier's politely blunt 'suggestion' that Napoleon needed to get in theater as soon as possible was the beginning of bringing order out of chaos.

MaggieC7013 Sep 2020 8:00 a.m. PST

I have reviewed enough of these earnest but definitely unscholarly theses churned out by the Command and General Staff College to know three things: the authors can't read even French, German, Russian, or Spanish secondary source material, much less anything approaching primary or archival sources; they always choose a topic that is woefully predictable and has been done to death by far better scholars; and the finished product not only fails to deliver even a scintilla of original interpretation but also fails to manage a decent synthesis of whatever is allegedly under discussion.

I was amazed to read that Davout was one of Napoleon's "more underrated marshals." The author must have been residing under a large rock for some time to come to that conclusion.

I wouldn't recommend these theses, regardless of the subject, even to middle-schoolers. They would spend their time more wisely reading Chandler to begin with, and then moving on to other, newer, sources.

Kevin is right: the sources for this exercise in earning a degree would never be accepted by a major university's Master's or doctoral program.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 8:55 a.m. PST

Although I would like to defend a fellow officer, I tend to agree with MaggieC70 about the theses churned out by the C&GSC master's program. Almost all of my contemporaries (1973-1993) could not read any European "foreign" language material which is a shortcoming when attempting a study for which most if not all of the research material is not in English. I include myself in those numbers. Although I did take German and Russian in college, I could not read either one with any degree of completeness.

I would recommend John G. Gallaher's The Iron Marshall: A Biography of Louis N. Davout. My copy is a 2018 edition of the 2000 reprint of the 1976 original. I thought that it was well-written and researched. Major Keefe did lilst it as one of his secondary sources and stated it was "… the best secondary source available." Gallaher, in his new preface to the 2000 edition, stated that works published contemporary to the 1976 publication of his biography and subsequent books and articles "… do not add to Davout's role, or change my opinion of him, or my evaluation of him as a military leader or a man. Thus I have chosen not to undertake a re-writing of The Iron Marshall."


von Winterfeldt13 Sep 2020 9:04 a.m. PST

in fact there is a nice book on that topic

Reichel, Daniel : Davout et l'art de la guerre, Neuchâtel – Paris 1975

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 1:24 p.m. PST

Another vote for The Iron Marshall – great book about a great commander

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 3:38 p.m. PST

Good to know.
Had the book for years as Davout was always a side interest as a more than capable General, soldier and administratot/ statesman.

Anyone know where the photo on p107 of Austerlitz (murky heights in far distance) and the rural road it's taken from- a D Horward pic?

d cup

Andrew Preziosi13 Sep 2020 4:11 p.m. PST

Don't forget St. Cyr!

(But,seriously, I read a paper that some Full Boid wrote and one of his sources, of which there were not many, was a WW2 general history…UGH)!

I'm almost finished with Frank's (Coyle) "Into the Storm" and I like both it and HIM, but I'm starting to wonder how many potential duds we have out there???

Personal logo SHaT1984 Supporting Member of TMP13 Sep 2020 10:53 p.m. PST

For a diversion from the norm I'm borrowing a copy of Bluecher from library soon.

Flashback: Skimming The Iron Marshall I note the execution of one Bulow in 1803 for spying (in a very open and stupid way it seems) at Ostend on the assemby of Army of the Ocean Coasts.
Sadly the book doesn't provide much info on the early Davout actions, nor much apart from dashing about at Austerlitz/ Sokolnitz.

This dissertation has some glaring errors alright- "General Michel Kutuzov with 40,000 Russians retreated to Vienna"… oh dear. If they had, maybe th Tabor Bridges incident wouldn't have happened!


Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP In the TMP Dawghouse14 Sep 2020 11:52 a.m. PST



Sorry - only verified members can post on the forums.