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POLL: Was the Waterloo Campaign an Error?


128 votes were cast.


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RebelPaul Supporting Member of TMP writes:

"All well and good, but tell me this, how lucky is he?"

No, I certainly don't think the Waterloo campaign was an error.

It comes back to Louis XVIII and the "restored" Bourbon monarchy. Once Louis got back on the throne, he acted like the Frnech Revolution, the Republic, and the Napoleonic empire never happened. Early in his reign, Napoleon did a lot of good to reform laws and improve the French Infrastructure. Plus, the Boubonists treated the military shabbily. If you're a returning monarch, its NEVER a good idea to discontent the army!

Its no wonder, given his majesty's elitist and aristocratic style of ruling, that the citizens grew discontent. And Napoleon, being Napoleon, took initative and went back to France. The French wanted him back and the Allies really had no right to declare him an outlaw, and go to war against him. After all, the people had spoken, hadn't they? (But then, what do the ignorant peasants and stupid commoners know about these things anyway?)

Some observations on the campaign, though:

His overall strategic goal was sound. Divide and conquer was really the only option open to him.

However, his organization of the army could have been better. On the one hand his army was almost all French, with no German allies of questionable loyalty present.

Giveing Ney and Grouchy command was a mistake. This campaign was not the time to elevate a Marshall of questionable ability. I am convinced that Ney had never really recovered from the Russian campaign and it had taken too much out of him.

Better that Davout be given command of a wing, and perhaps Suchet should have been made chief of staff (although NO ONE could have filled Berthier's shoes). Davout was a good commander, but a poor administrator. It was essential to have the army mobilized and on the march as soon as possible.

Napoleon should never have let the Prussians escape at Ligny. Once you defeated an enemy army on the field, keep after it to prevent it from reforming and perhaps break it up even further. I am convinced that if Blucher had died, Gneisenau would pulled the Prussian Army out of the campaign. He hated Wellington and the British intensely.

Napoleon had better artillery support than Wellington, but his grace used tactics that reduced the effectiveness of Napoleon's guns.

Instead of a direct frontal assault, Napoleon should attacked Wellington's flanks first, whittled them down, and then launched an attack on the center (like Lee wanted to do at Getttsburg). Trying to smash you way though a line of British infantry is not a good tactic.

Lastly, Napoleon should have ignored the Prussians entering ton his right and quickly attacked with everything he had. I am not sure the Allied/British forces would have held.


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VOTING RESULTS
AnswerVotes%Chart
yes
27
21%
bar of chart
no
69
54%
bar of chart
no opinion
32
25%
bar of chart
POLL IS CLOSED
POLL DESCRIPTION

Writing in First Empire magazine #89, John Hussey makes this comment about the 1815 campaign:

Had Napoleon only to consider purely military options it might have been best to await the slow advance of the Allied armies in late summer, to defend the line of the Oise, Aisne and Marne, seeking always to gain time and create dissension between the Allies by defeating them in detail (asin 1814), until an armistice might be forced on them. It is arguable that by August and September, with revolt stamped out in south and west France and the imperial yoke more firmly fixed on the people, with war taxation, a growing force under arms and with improving arms production, Napoleon's position would have been stronger then it was in May or early June 1815. He might successfully have roused the nation to a call of la Patrie en danger. But he considered the French political temper, the national preference for l'attaque, the disastrous effect of seeing large provinces abandoned to the enemy, and he opted for a pre-emptive strike in the north.

Was Napoleon wrong?