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Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 13th, 2016, 9:45 am

Can we snip the "Boaty McBoatface" bits into the Navies section - as this was about dodgy claims about land divisions?
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 13th, 2016, 10:33 am

TheBibliophile wrote:
Josh&Historyland wrote:Would not those "old habits" be the habits derived from the successful actions in the Americas though? Napoleon is rather famous for treating his admirals like General's and his fleets like armies. As far as I always understood it there was nothing inherently wrong with the King's navy, no more than was present in 1783 anyway, but that the Revolution rather crippled it and it never recovered. Despite Napoleon's attempts to resuscitate it.

Josh.


Josh, Napoleon purged the higher level command structure of the French navy as many were old Royalists and he suspected them.
Sen is correct that the French navy was stronger Pre-Revolution than after it. However, whilst he can point to success at Yorktown, I can equally point to Rodneys complete defeat of a French fleet at the Battle of the Saintes in '82.

In the last quarter of the 18th century, the French did have some tremendously capable senior commanders, eg Suffren, De Grasse. But by the time of the Revolution, many of these had either died, retired or been removed.

During the War of Independence, France obviously joined the American cause and in time they sent a fleet to assist. This arrived around 1778 or 1779. At this time the Brits were having some success against the American colonists around Long Island but the arrival of the French in strength caused a British withdrawal back to Sandy Hook, which is in the bat close to New York. The war was subsequently lost and the Navy returned home in 1789.
Had the French not arrived, it is likely that a reversal in the fortunes of the Colonists would have occurred.

I note the comment you made about "Napoleon treating his Admirals like Generals".
I am not sure about this, for all the naval reading I have done, I have not seen this suggested. What I have seen suggested many times, is that he didn't understand the Navy, or the sea. Why should he, he was fighting successful campaigns on land and was an artillery officer, after all. He also had a tendency to grown impatient with his naval officers.

There is also a myth that Trafalgar finished the French off at sea. It did not. True, many ships were taken and subsequently lost. However the French rebuilt. The problem was that the British strategy of Blockade kept them mostly bottled up in port, this was a big undertaking by the British, it tied up much of their battle fleets on semi permanent stations in all weathers outside of places like Cadiz, Brest, Ferrol, Boulougne and Toulon. It also used up Frigates, which operated further inshore than the blockading big boys.
This meant though that largely, the Royal Navy was able to operate in the open seas freely, her trade secure, picking off the odd french merchant, coasting ships, or any French frigate or ships of the line lucky enough to get out.

Being blockaded meant french crews lacked both sea time and battle experience. In short, the veteran sailors of the Royal Navy were better trained,had much more experience in action, were better fed, had better medical provision and crucially were better gunners.

In a battle, there really, generally, was only one result.


Excellent posting. The 'old' French naval 'tradition' was to live to fight another day and not to risk the destruction of their ships by going in to destroy the enemy fleet. De Grasse and Suffren did not abide by this 'tradition' and fought to win, though not all of their subordinate captains agreed with that philosophy and that hindered their operations.

The Toulon fleet was destroyed at Trafalgar, but not the French navy. There were two other fleets in existence, at Brest and Cherbourg, and these were strengthened and the Toulon fleet was rebuilt, along with a new one at Antwerp. The ships built were excellent, but it takes a long time to develop naval officers to command them, and navies are best trained in peacetime, not in 'on the job' training in combat.

Latouche-Treville did defeat Nelson twice in the latter's two attacks on the Boulogne flotilla and there were other successes, such as at Grande Porte in the Indian Ocean in 1810, but they were few and far between. Napoleon built an excellent navy, but did not or could not develop a senior officer corps to command it aggressively and successfully.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby TheBibliophile » May 13th, 2016, 10:49 am

Better get this back on topic
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 13th, 2016, 11:05 am

I guess so. Good discussion, though, and one that I thought relevant to the topic as it had to do somewhat with the French reform period from 1763-1789, during which period the French navy was revitalized.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 13th, 2016, 11:30 am

Regarding 'divisions' it should also be remembered that the term was used for at least three different organizations during the period. One was the division that indicated a certain number of troops of the combat arms (infantry, cavalry, and artillery) organized either in territorial divisions or in combat divisions. The second indicated two infantry companies operating together within the infantry regiment. The third was an artillery division of field pieces that were manned and served by an artillery company.

I do believe that on the topic of the higher-level organization termed a division, a look at its actual development and who used what when should be addressed. The division originated with Maurice de Saxe as an idea and was actually organized and employed by Marshal de Broglie and Pierre Bourcet in Germany in 1760. Both infantry and cavalry divisions were organized and employed.

There were multiple reform attempts before and during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic period from 1763-1815. The most famous is undoubtedly the Prussian reform period from 1807-1813 which was the result of the disastrous events and outcome of the 1806 campaign. The British reformed their infantry, specifically their light infantry, after the failures against the French in the Low Countries in the 1790s. The Russians reformed their artillery arm which culminated in the new Artillery System of 1805. And the Austrians continually strove to improve their army organization and training after repeated defeats at the hands of the French. However, the most significant army reform movement was conducted by the French army from 1763-1789. These reforms were sparked by the dismal performance of the French army in the Seven Years’ War.

On the French side after the Seven Years' War Marshal de Broglie experimented with new organization and tactics in the mid-1770s, first at Metz and then at the Camp of Vaussieux in Normandy. Based on those maneuvers, Saint-Germain, the Minister of War, established permanent divisions in March 1776. France was divided into military departments and the troops stationed in those departments would be then assigned to that division. In 1788 four of these divisions were concentrated at Metz by de Broglie for large-scale maneuvers.

When war came, these divisions were fielded as all-arms divisions of infantry, cavalry and artillery with a staff to assist the division commander. These were permanent organizations and were grouped into armies for combat. Napoleon and Hoche would later form infantry and cavalry divisions, each with artillery to support it, that being the most efficient method of organization. In 1800 Napoleon formed corps d'armee of several divisions each for the Marengo campaign, another permanent organization with its own staff, artillery and other supporting troops, and the corps could control between two and five infantry divisions and had either a brigade or division of light cavalry to support it.

When war came in 1792 neither the British nor Austrian armies had any permanent organization above the regiment. Wellington definitely formed permanent divisions in Spain and Portugal, but the Austrians used higher-level organizations only when war came and these were provisional organizations and not permanent. The Austrians went to a corps system with divisions in 1809, but did not assign a staff to their divisions which greatly hampered operations as all of the divisions' administrative work was given to the corps staffs.

The Prussians went to a division organization in 1806, but these were divisions of all-arms, that the French had already abandoned in favor of homogenous divisions of infantry and cavalry. Permanent organizations were finally adopted after the defeat in 1806 which greatly improved Prussian efficiency during operations.

The United States reorganized its small army in 1794 under Anthony Wayne into The Legion of the United States which was effectively an all-arms division of infantry, cavalry and artillery. This preceded all of the European nations' adoption of the division with the exception of France.

France's permanent organization of the division and the general staffs of the armies and divisions gave the French army a distinct operational advantage over its opponents and those organizations were gradually adopted by the other European powers in one form or another.



Source material can be found in the following volumes:

-The Background of Napoleonic Warfare by Robert Quimby.
-The Military Experience in the Age of Reason by Christopher Duffy.
-The Continental Army by Robert Wright.
-Napoleon's Great Adversary by Gunther Rothenberg.
-The Army of Francis Joseph by Gunther Rothenberg.
-Swords Around A Throne by John Elting.
-Military Uniforms in America: The Era of the American Revolution 1755-1795 edited by John Elting.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 13th, 2016, 12:00 pm

I think I will just refer everyone back to my first two posts - what is claimed by Quimby, Elting etc. simply does not tally up with the original sources. As for Bourcet and the staff, these myths are dealt with in threads below.

The feature common to all these issues is that certain authors have simply copied what has gone before and not bothered to read the original material.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 13th, 2016, 12:18 pm

Could you list the 'original material' that you have used for the French development of the division and the general staff?

Both Quimby and Col Elting used original source material which can be found in their bibliographies, as did Duffy and Rothenberg in their works. The evidence is overwhelming that the division originated with the French, as did the development of the modern staff, up-to-date artillery organization, employment and doctrine and the military technical schools which the British and Austrians used as a model for their own.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 13th, 2016, 5:34 pm

Really? This "overwhelming evidence" you claim - lets see:

Elting: He uses de Philip, Wilkinson, Quimby and Ross. Elting begins with the claims about Bourcet, so I would refer you to the thread

Rothenberg: He refers to Bourcet's staff college! Great Adversary only includes the Staff histories and some docs published by Criste.

Quimby: Incomplete list, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fDh ... ic&f=false which does seem to refer to some documents in the French archives, but his Acknowledgements make no reference to the staff there, so I doubt he has looked at the originals. The book list is limited to Colin, La Tactique et la discipline and Transformations (see above).

Wilkinson is quite interesting. He is the actual source of a quote you have used several times: "On every occasion when an important decision had to be made Bourcet would write a memorandum in which he analyzed the situation and set forth in detail, with full explanations and reasons, the course which seemed to him best. In very many cases his suggestions were adopted and were usually justified with success, and when they were rejected the results were seldom fortunate." According to this recent American work "Under the shadow of Napoleon" https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GX4 ... an&f=false Wilkinson recommended to Root that the US adopt the Prussian army system, which Root generally did.

Hittle - ah yes, that brings us to another Elting "source" Hittle - much discussed in the staff thread below, he tries to turn the above on its head and claims the US system is nothing to do with Germany, but derives from Napoleonic France - writing in 1944.

Everyone see where those last two are taking us? They are showing us that all the post-1914 US output, notably including Elting and Rothenberg, is heavily influenced by where the US Army was taking its organisation from - the Prussians, who were the ones with permanent all-arms divisions and corps - and where it liked to think it did post-1914.

As to the sources I have looked at:
Started on Guibert - I would refer you to p.27/8, where he only talks about divisions of a certain number of regiments, comparing them with regiments breaking up into battalions. He does say that a division includes troops of the first and second battlelines and is under a commander of General rank, who is answerable to the CinC. In line with Broglie, a division is about managing the two battlelines along multiple lines of advance, so there are chunks of the whole two lines in each sub-group of the army. That is in line with 18th century deployments and is nothing about all-arms separate forces and there is no mention of staffs - it is not fundamentally different from any nation's march columns, except that it is a vertical division rather than a more likely horizontal one. This is the same as Broglie's Instructions as far as I can establish, on the basis of Chandler https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=hNY ... on&f=false

Bourcet - <http://archive.org/stream/principesdelagu00arvegoog#page/n23/mode/2up> There is nothing I could see about the organisation of staffs, especially at division level. On p.57, Bourcet does talk about the role of the marechal general de logis in collecting intelligence and recommends four assistants. However, on that page, these four men are allocated to 1) the office, setting out the order of march, 2) pour l'ouverture des marches, which seems to translate as initiating those marches, so presumably making sure everyone moves off on time, 3&4) dealing with the necessary reconnaissances. Interestingly, if you run a search for "corps" it comes up numerous times - some 25 years before the French invented them! If you look at divisions, he is actually talking about dividing an army up into subforces because they cannot use the same line of march in such terrain - it is this, which Quimby, Strachan and Ross have all mangled.

Berthier's 1795 Instruction https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZqU ... &q&f=false not quite the staff handbook of mythology

On Austria's staff and organisation:
1769 Generalreglement (combined with other regulations and consolidated in the 1786 Generalreglement)
Kriegsgeschichtliche Abteilung des k.u.k. Kriegsarchivs: Kriege gegen die französische Revolution/Krieg 1809/Befreiungskriege (Kriegsarchiv, Vienna) 1905-13
Militär Almanac/Schematis
Rauchensteiner, M: Kaiser Franz und Erzherzog Carl (Verlag für Geschichte und Politik, Vienna) 1972
Osterreichische Militärische Zeitschrift (Streffleur, Vienna)
Regele, O.: Generalstabschefs aus vier Jahrhunderten (Vienna) 1966
Schels, J. B.: Memoire fur Offiziere, die sich zum Dienst des GQM Stabs bilden wollen in Ost. Militarische Zeitschrift 1811 Vol.4 (Vienna)
Horsetzky, A.: Kriegsgeschichtliche Ubersicht der wichtigsten Feldzuge in Europa seit 1792 (Seidel, Vienna)
Wolf-Schneider von Arno, KA Nachlaß B/197, (unpublished manuscript/typed copy)

------------

I can see that another British author in addition to Wilkinson, namely Liddel-Hart, also pops up and gets quoted quite a lot, so he may be another filter in all this. The original material from the likes of Broglie and Bourcet is about the management of armies and dividing them up into "divisions", so that they can then be concentrated at the key points, has been mangled into Self-contained "combat divisions" with staffs and all arms - which is actually a prussian late 19th century idea.

Well, unless someone - quoting the original material - can back up these later claims?
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 13th, 2016, 10:22 pm

The question that was put was regarding the French sources that you have used for the development of the division. That appears to be a little thin.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 13th, 2016, 10:43 pm

DaveH wrote:Really? This "overwhelming evidence" you claim - lets see:
Elting: He uses de Philip, Wilkinson, Quimby and Ross. Elting begins with the claims about Bourcet, so I would refer you to the thread
Rothenberg: He refers to Bourcet's staff college! Great Adversary only includes the Staff histories and some docs published by Criste.
Quimby: Incomplete list, https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fDh ... ic&f=false which does seem to refer to some documents in the French archives, but his Acknowledgements make no reference to the staff there, so I doubt he has looked at the originals. The book list is limited to Colin, La Tactique et la discipline and Transformations (see above).
Wilkinson is quite interesting. He is the actual source of a quote you have used several times: "On every occasion when an important decision had to be made Bourcet would write a memorandum in which he analyzed the situation and set forth in detail, with full explanations and reasons, the course which seemed to him best. In very many cases his suggestions were adopted and were usually justified with success, and when they were rejected the results were seldom fortunate." According to this recent American work "Under the shadow of Napoleon" https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=GX4 ... an&f=false Wilkinson recommended to Root that the US adopt the Prussian army system, which Root generally did.
Hittle - ah yes, that brings us to another Elting "source" Hittle - much discussed in the staff thread below, he tries to turn the above on its head and claims the US system is nothing to do with Germany, but derives from Napoleonic France - writing in 1944.
Everyone see where those last two are taking us? They are showing us that all the post-1914 US output, notably including Elting and Rothenberg, is heavily influenced by where the US Army was taking its organisation from - the Prussians, who were the ones with permanent all-arms divisions and corps - and where it liked to think it did post-1914.

I can see that another British author in addition to Wilkinson, namely Liddel-Hart, also pops up and gets quoted quite a lot, so he may be another filter in all this. The original material from the likes of Broglie and Bourcet is about the management of armies and dividing them up into "divisions", so that they can then be concentrated at the key points, has been mangled into Self-contained "combat divisions" with staffs and all arms - which is actually a prussian late 19th century idea.

Well, unless someone - quoting the original material - can back up these later claims?


How much have you looked into the bibliographies of the books that I referred to, namely Col Elting, Gunther Rothenberg, Duffy, and Quimby?

Col Elting used de Segur, various articles from La Sabretache, Steinenger's memoir, French war ministry publications, Napoleon's Correspondence, as well as Odeleben's and von Funck's memoirs in the chapters referring to French military developments of the period, as well as de Saxe, Bourcet, Frederick the Great, JB Avril, and Griboard's work on the French general staff and Thiebault's staff manual the latter being translated during the period into English and German.

Col Elting did not use Hittle for Swords. Hittle is listed in the Recommended Reading List for the Esposito/Elting Atlas with a somewhat critical annotation. Col Elting was also quite pointed in not using either Fuller or Liddell Hart in the Bibliography for Swords. Further, Col Elting does list one work by Wilkinson in Swords which was his book on Napoleon, not on the French army.

Rothenberg in Napoleon's Great Adversary lists six manuscript sources, six regulations/instruction from the period, and 18 other primary sources by such authors as the Archduke Charles, Radetzky, Zach, and Ellrich. And no matter your opinion, Rothenberg is still the authority on the Austrian Army of the period with the work done to back it up.

Duffy's bibliography in The Military Experience in the Age of Reason is quite extensive, with over 100 primary sources listed in English, French, German, and Russian.

Quimby has over 50 primary sources in his bibliography in The Background of Napoleonic Warfare and he quotes quite liberally from those memoirs to which he refers.

All of these volumes are excellently sourced as to military developments of the French, much of it from primary source material, so it appears that you have erred in your 'assessment' and that you are incorrect in your idea that somehow the Austrians were the military innovators of the period. They were not. French organization was superior and that was proven on the battlefield in 1805 and 1809, as well as during the wars of the Revolution and after 1809. The premier staff organization during the period belonged to, and was developed by, the French. The idea that it was the Prussians later is completely wrong, and was not a 'late nineteenth century idea.'

The French developed the idea of the division and were the first in Europe to organize, emplement, and employ it in combat. And French staff organization and functioning was head and shoulders above any of their contemporaries with Berthier being the first of the great chiefs of staff in military history, with staff planning and functioning stemming from Bourcet's work. Nothing has been shown here or anywhere else that demonstrates anything to the contrary.

Interestingly, John Gill's excellent 1809: Thunder on the Danube, not only reinforces what the above historians have found and written about, but certainly adds more credibility as Gill has done considerable research in Austrian source material and used material from the German, Austrian, and French archives. His bibliography and research are impressive and reinforce the ideas expressed above. His is the best work on the Campaign of 1809 and his earlier work on the Confederation of the Rhine in 1809 is of the same standard.
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