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Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 15th, 2016, 5:20 pm

There have been a number of recent episodes in which authors have been caught out citing material or listing works in bibliographies, which they have not read. In addition, there are also dangers of misleading footnotes, where a work has been cited but part of the text is simply the opinion of the author. Take for example, this recent book: M. Krause & ors "Historical perspectives of the operational art" (2012) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=1DL ... ns&f=false On p.104, the first footnote cites Ross and then makes a statement about de Saxe and divisions. So, what is the latter? Something the author thinks, something Ross wrote or maybe something de Saxe wrote? If we go to the relevant text at p.69-70, it is actually an essay by a Robert Doughty about the French operational art 1888-1940. So, he is just copying this material as it is not directly part of his essay.

If we now add in the effects of Ruling Theory - repetition of comfortable material, omission of inconvenient material and the interpretation of material to suit the RT - together with data mining - looking for material to suit the idea - it is easy to see how ideas develop at variance with the source material. Similarly, we cannot be too hard on the authors of the "dodgy definitions" period, since they did not have the easy access to material, which we enjoy today, and many were afflicted by a lack of linguistic skills (for the use of comparative materials) and were still influenced by the more recent events in Europe in the 1870-1945 period. Many were simply trying to bring some information to our attention and propose ideas about warfare and governance. Unfortunately, they did have a habit of being a little loose with bibliographical references, which has muddied the waters somewhat - Rothenberg's "six manuscript sources" are all enormous collections held in Vienna - each fighting month in the Feldakten requires three cartons of papers and that is just what has survived - his documentary citations are actually to whole blocks of material or individual documents reproduced by the likes of Criste and the Staff Histories. Did Elting read Bourcet? Maybe, but he actually merely copied the later unsubstantiated (and incorrect) claim about the staff college. He certainly did not read Leon Hennet's demolition of the claim. Unfortunately, we cannot know what he might have thought - but it is then incumbent on us to read this material to discover what is reality and what is much-copied myth.

If we look at Ross: "From Flintlock to Rifle: Infantry tactics 1740-1866", pp.33-4, we find his claims about de Saxe and his legions - from the original work? No, it is actually in n.56 as Colin in 'l'infanterie au XVIII siecle' - yes, the same Colin, who tells us that the French and Austrian commanders were doing the same thing at the start of the revolutionary Wars. So, who has actually read Saxe and the "original materials"? Saxe's 'Ma reveries' is at https://books.google.co.uk/books? id=E8gOAQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&dq=Saxe+reveries&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi62ur9p9zMAhWsJsAKHVGRCw4Q6AEIIzAB#v=onepage&q=Saxe%20reveries&f=false Saxe starts to talk about legions on p.33, describing them as made up of 4 regiments, each composed of 4 centuries (or battalions) with a half-century each of light infantry and cavalry. The higher leadership on p.37 only includes a "staff" of one adjutant and for artillery, each century is to be allocated its own gun, a 12pdr amusette. The light infantry are to lead any charge and the cavalry to cover the main infantry force, although both have centuries of half the size of an infantry century.

His thesis on legions starts at p.271 with the first chapter being the discipline of troops - with a note on p.281 on the significant expansion of the French army since 1684. The legions start on p.301 as a cure for the problems mentioned in the discipline section, albeit these legions go back to Louis XI and well, the Romans (who were hugely popular at this time of the European Enlightenment). he repeats his organisational proposals and then on p.303, he says that "a legion will be in place of a brigade and be a perpetual one". So that's a brigade organisation, not a divisional one, and on p.304, Saxe reinforces his point that this is about regiments acting together - this was a time of regiments being raised as individual units and financed by the wealthy or as mercenaries. This is what Saxe is talking about - in opposition to Folard's heavy columns.

So, what of Broglie? Well, if we take Chandler's direct quote from a carton manuscript as correct, as I cannot find any printed version of it, then is addressing an entirely different issue. He is proposing that instead of the usual method of divisions forming each battle-line and a reserve, bits of all three should be put into a division, so the force is broken up vertically rather than horizontally. The idea is that armies can then advance along multiple axes before forming up for battle. If the division is a battleline, then it takes longer to form up. That is an innovation in itself, but what it is not is related to Saxe's proposals, any more than it is a proposal for self-contained all-arms units.
If we then move on to Bourcet, (who incidentally makes no mention of staffs), https://archive.org/details/principesdelagu00arvegoog what he is talking about is the specific problem of moving troops in the mountains, which by its very nature means, advancing in multiple columns along parallel lines of advance. The first mention of a division in terms of a body of troops appears on p.71, he is already mixing up "corps" and "division" in that paragraph, because he is simply referring to "a body of troops". Indeed, there are numerous references to "corps" in the work, compared with a handful to "division", each really meaning a force, into which part of the army has been divided, for example near the top of p.89, when he says "they have the advantage of permitting the division of the troops of the army into several corps at different places". Nowhere is there any "divisional organisation", just a commander's name leading a "division" of the army. Bourcet's thesis is about pushing armies through mountains, so there is no direct connection to Broglie, let alone Saxe.

As I said above, Guibert has taken Broglie's idea, although it was ultimately abandoned and we finish up with Colin's comments about the French and Austrians doing the same - essentially because they have the same problems of directing and controlling ever larger armies. Both sides have generals at brigade, division and higher levels and each has a few staff - they are adjutant staff (not least as the French had no General Staff from 1793-1815). The Austrians did have a General Staff and officers were despatched to each major formation - call it a corps, division or column - to help the commander understand what HQ intended.

So, did Ross, Quimby etc. read the works of Saxe, Bourcet and Broglie - it doesn't really look like it. If we look at Quimby https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fDh ... ic&f=false it is incomplete, but it is clear that Quimby is not citing the documents listed in his bibliography - he is heavily reliant on Colin in particular. Add in of course, Spenser Wilkinson, who is the source of a regularly used quote about Bourcet being consulted on decisions and having much to do with the planning process - but for which no ultimate source is offered and we can see what is happening here. Indeed, it was Wilkinson's "The Brain of the Army: A popular History of the German General Staff", which influenced Root in his proposal for change in the US Army, an influence specifically rejected by Hittle, writing in 1944 where he claims the US Staff was a Napoleonic one.

So, once again, there is a very similar pattern. The popularity of Moltke's arrangements and their success in 1870 brought about an emulation of them by other armies. However, many French and English-language authors have sought to see in them a Napoleonic origin, which is simply not there. There was an all-arms division complete with staff for independent operations in Moltke's German army - but there was no such organisation in the French army. Desperate to find one, the likes of Quimby and Ross have taken unrelated proposals from books they may not even have read properly by the likes of Saxe, Broglie and Bourcet to "prove" these divisions already existed in the French army, but actually none of these sources say that.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby TheBibliophile » May 15th, 2016, 6:48 pm

I think I see where you've gone with this Dave. If I understand (and I am a bit thick) then what you're saying is that people write books with huge bibliographies in the back, with primary and secondary sources. The implication is that theyve consulted said material during the writing of their own magnum opus.
Sometimes however, it is apparent they haven't consulted all of the primary sources, instead theyve used someone elses material (a secondary source which claims to have investigated the primary) but on closer examination, this secondary is a bit dubious in terms of accuracy or its conclusions.


Does that summarise it?

I've seen it done myself. Someone makes a dubious claim and over time others repeat the same thing. Its a bit like Chinese whispers.

I must admit Ive recently written a 5000 worder for publication about the life of Philip Broke. I only used secondary sources, but that was good enough for the standard of publication required.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby jf42 » May 15th, 2016, 11:01 pm

DaveH wrote: de Saxe... a 12pdr amusette. .


Really?
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 15th, 2016, 11:57 pm

jf42 wrote:
DaveH wrote: de Saxe... a 12pdr amusette. .


Really?


Ah, my mistake - hope no-one quoted me on it! :o I was looking at the note about 12pdrs in the list above the mention on p.38 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=E8g ... te&f=false (hope that link to Saxe works now).

Never mind, I know what an amusette is now.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 16th, 2016, 12:03 am

TheBibliophile wrote:I think I see where you've gone with this Dave. If I understand (and I am a bit thick) then what you're saying is that people write books with huge bibliographies in the back, with primary and secondary sources. The implication is that theyve consulted said material during the writing of their own magnum opus.
Sometimes however, it is apparent they haven't consulted all of the primary sources, instead theyve used someone elses material (a secondary source which claims to have investigated the primary) but on closer examination, this secondary is a bit dubious in terms of accuracy or its conclusions.


Does that summarise it?

I've seen it done myself. Someone makes a dubious claim and over time others repeat the same thing. Its a bit like Chinese whispers.

I must admit Ive recently written a 5000 worder for publication about the life of Philip Broke. I only used secondary sources, but that was good enough for the standard of publication required.


Yes and in addition, I am saying whole claims that cloud the Napoleonic period in particular seem to be affected by this, especially when it comes to the misuse of words like 'corps' ( meaning just a big body of troops), 'divisions' (especially where the army is divided) and 'staff' (a regular failure to distinguish between adjutant and General staff). It is not just the Chinese whispers, but also this attempt to show that things in Moltke's army somehow already (and exclusively) existed in the French Revolutionary and Imperial army.

There is nothing wrong with secondary sources - it is just advisable to check them if there are controversial claims or claims to some kind of originality.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 16th, 2016, 12:14 am

Regarding the definition of divisions, corps (corps d'armee), brigades and staffs (general or otherwise) the definitions for the period are clearly defined in publications for the period.

A corps as the French developed it was a headquarters commanded by a senior general officer with a staff to support him and to which were assigned corps troops (artillery, engineers, gendarmes, supply, administrative staff from the Intendence). To that corps headquarters were assigned anywhere from two to five infantry divisions, and either a cavalry division or brigade. The corps staff was a smaller mirror of the Grand Quartier-General, or the army's general staff. The army's chief of staff ran the army staff, and the corps chief of staff ran the corps staff.

The infantry and cavalry divisions also had staffs modeled on the army or general staff with a chief of staff to run it. All three organizations, army, corps, and division staffs all had operational as well as administrative responsibilities. The staff at the brigade level was a tactical headquarters only.

French divisions had two or more brigades assigned to them; brigades two or more regiments, though some brigades had only one regiment.

French staff organization and procedures were clearly laid out in Thiebaults staff manual, first published in 1800 and updated in 1813. Both of these publications can be found, I believe, on Google books.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 16th, 2016, 12:44 am

In The Background of Napoleonic Warfare not only does the author have an excellent and extensive bibliography, but primary sources are quoted in the text, others are either referred to or paraphrased:

Quoted:

-de Puysegur
-Folard
-de Saxe
-Mesnil-Durand
-Guibert
-Duteil
-de Maizeroy
-Pirch
-Wimpfen
-de Broglie
-Roguet

Referred to/Paraphrased:

-de Feuquieres
-Villate
-Prince de Montbarey
-Bourcet
-Chambray
-de Castries
-de Bosroger
-von Soldern
-de Traverse
-de Guines
-de Noailles
-Schauenberg
-Meunier
-Duhesme
-St Cyr
-Mathieu-Dumas
-Pelet
-Brenier

So it appears that Quimby's research and use of source material was excellent.

There are usually three ways to list source material for a published work-a bibliography, a recommended reading list, and a sources cited listing.

A Bibliography is the list of books used to research and write the work and they could be cited particularly or used as a general source and not listed in the notes.

A recommended reading list may or may not have been used in compiling the work but those not specifically used are placed in the listing to help readers research further into the topic.

A sources cited listing is precisely that-a list of the sources specifically cited in the text.

All of the above are legitimate methods of listing book, articles, etc., used in the preparation of works for publication.

And it should be noted that there is no requirement for either foot or endnotes for sourcing or, for that matter, using one of the tools listed above when writing. It is a great idea to do so, however.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby jf42 » May 16th, 2016, 4:44 am

DaveH wrote:
jf42 wrote:

Never mind, I know what an amusette is now.


Well, then, you may be a better man than the rest of us! It seems De Saxe's amusette remained in the realms of theory, unless he had a prototype made up for his own...amusement. Modern models have been constructed using the drawings in Mes Reveries. As you probably know, after De Saxe's book was published posthumously, the playful name he coined was adopted by German gun designers to describe a variety of very light guns used in Hessian, British and Danish service and the term became fashionable for a while. But that is another story...

viewtopic.php?f=20&t=1111&p=18276#p18276
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 16th, 2016, 9:29 am

I did notice he says it is his own invention and I knew about "heavy muskets" as wall guns and the like. The artillery was rather bizarre in those days as he allocates a couple of 12pdrs and then says each century should have an amusette - opposite ends of the scale, considering how cumbersome a 12pdr was in that period.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby DaveH » May 16th, 2016, 12:08 pm

I found quite an extensive assessment of the development of the French staff as a background to Thiebault's work here http://www.napoleon-series.org/military ... Staff.html It has had a lot of work, but it is easy to spot where the issues have arisen:

1) n.38 talks about Berthier's 1795 work (often dated as 1796) which is supposed to be the basis of the Napoleonic organisation. This is the document at https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZqU ... &q&f=false This footnote however does not go back to the document, but to: De Philip, Étude sur le service d’État-major, p.23. It is de Philip, who has also been used by the likes of Elting, yet none of them actually read the 1795 document - because it does not say what they claim.

2) There is no comparative work - the French "system" is viewed in isolation. None of the authors listed by Kevin have given any consideration to what was happening in other armies - most of them are post-1870 and so, are well aware of the Moltke system. The start of the "permanent division" system comes in Prussia in 1813 One recent author, Claus telp, claims https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=bhJ ... 13&f=false that Scharnhorst was referring back to Prince Henry at Freiburg during the 7YW. Moltke himself summed up the difference between the Napoleonic organisation and the Prussian approach: "There are commanders, who need no advisers, who can consider and decide for themselves; their retinue is only there to execute orders. However, these are stars of the first order, which appear only once a century, if that. In most cases, the commander of an army cannot do without advice. That may come from a council …. whose training and experience makes it capable of giving the correct judgement". There is no doubt that the French staff was very efficient at distributing orders, but that does not make the staff organisation we know from the late 19th century.

3) Consequently, if we look at Thiebault's manual https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mLu ... ux&f=false the first thing we notice is on p.11 that he defines an army staff separately from a division staff - worth noting too that there is no "corps staff". On pp.14/15, he notes that the army staffs are only organised in wartime [France had no permanent staff corps unlike Austria] and he uses "corps" here to mean any body of troops, mentioning on p. 20, the division of an army in to corps of the left, centre and right. (see 4 below). He notes the French law of 1790 about staffs on p.21, followed on p.22 by the 1791 instruction to the adjutants-genereaux, which he says in unknown in the French army now (ie:1800). On p.31 at fn.6, Thiebault then proposes the well-known four-department organisation of the army staff and its functions: 1) Correspondence and record-keeping, troop movements, order transmission, 2) supply and medical services, 3) pay, raising local "contributions" and the accounting with the army sub-units, 4) reports from spies and guides plus prisoner exchange. These are all administrative functions, mostly handled in 20th century parlance by the G4 adjutant's dept. He lists the Army staff on p.34 - the general, CoS, the heads of artillery and engineers [these are the same as Austria] plus these adjutants-genereaux and
their deputies (adjoints). On p.35, he talks about the division staff - this is the place where the orders are issued! Here the adjutant-general performs the function of "division CoS", but Thiebault notes on p.36 that there is no difference between his functions and those of a general de brigade. Various members of this staff are listed, but there is nothing more about their functions.

4) The English-language authors listed by Kevin are always at risk of a bad translation too. "Corps" is perhaps the most obvious one, being the French for a body and so used as a "body of troops" from much earlier than our period. As I mentioned, Bourcet uses it numerous times; Colin says at Neerwinden, the French army was in three columns composed of 8 corps and Austrian documents from this period make regular references to "corps" as both separate small formations and large groups of troops. In contrast, the citation used by Elting and many others for the start of the "corps" system in January 1800 (some 25 years after Bourcet) misuses language too. The letter to Berthier of 25th January 1800 is here http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6 ... 20tome%206 What it actually says is: "My intention, Citizen Minister, is to organise a reserve army, the command of which will be reserved to the First Consul. It will be divided into a right, centre and left. [Standard fo the 18th century actually] each of these three large bodies will be commanded by a lieutenant of the CinC. In addition, there will be a division of cavalry, also commanded by a lieutenant of the CinC. Each of these large bodies will be divided in to two divisions, each commanded by a General de Division and by two Generals de Brigade and each of these large bodies will also have a senior artillery officer. Each lieutenant will will have a General de brigade as his chief of etat-major[staff] , each general de division a general adjutant." These "large bodies" would assemble in three different places. Napoleon of course faces the same problem as Bourcet has - how to move large forces through mountainous terrain - he adopts an 18th century organisation from the top down - but bingo, he has used the word "corps" - or perhaps to be accurate "grande corps" - so this must be the origin of the late 19th century corps system.

There is thus no point listing bibliographies used by secondary authors - most of Quimby's footnotes are attributed to Colin and he makes no acknowledgement to the archives staffs, which is normal, when you draw material directly from them. Clearly, he likes of Quimby have either not read the original material or wilfully failed to grasp its meaning, especially by comparing it with other period material.
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