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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 17th, 2016, 4:34 pm

DaveH wrote: 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...


Two of the books that I listed were on the Austrian Army by Rothenberg, who is still the authority of the Austrian Army of the period. Duffy's book covers the European armies of that period, and Wright's book is on the Continental Army, the American regular army of the War of the American Revolution. Military Uniforms in America covers the armies that served and fought in North America, which includes not only American, but British, the assorted Germans that served the British and the French. The navies of the belligerents have also been covered in that volume. It is a uniform study, but organization, etc., is also covered somewhat.

You're not very familiar with some of those volumes are you? I wonder how you can believe that Rothenberg's work on the Austrian Army is not giving 'consideration to what was happening in other armies'?

I find that incredible and you are again in error.

And if you wish to take a look at the Prussian army both Paret and Shanahan are invaluable.

As permanent divisions were created in France prior to 1792 it is quite evident that the Prussians did not develop them on their own. They copied the French system, just as the Austrians did.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 17th, 2016, 4:49 pm

DaveH wrote: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.


Have you seen or taken a look at Quimby's biography or his footnotes? Have you actually seen or read the book? Your 'reference' to it is merely a preview and does not show either the bibliography or the notes.

You are incorrect in stating that most of Quimby's footnotes are attributed to Colin. I have seen that accusation before so I went through the notes and made some interesting statistics on the notes themselves.

First, there are almost 700 footnotes to the work. A little over 100 are in reference to Colin. Almost 500 are attributed to primary sources which Quimby undoubtedly was either familiar with or had read in their entirety. There are almost 40 explanatory footnotes, some explaining or amplifying what a quoted author had said. Eleven notes referred to period French regulations. A little over 20 refer to other secondary source material such as Oman, Becke and others in addition to Colin. There are 25 notes for Duteil and 13 for Bourcet.

Colin's 'contribution' to the book is about 15% of the notes to the book. The notes are overwhelmingly primary source references and there are significant passages in the book from those primary sources.

So, your characterization of the book is in error.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 17th, 2016, 5:15 pm

DaveH wrote:if we look at Thiebault's manual...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.


There were two manuals written by Thiebault. The first was published in 1800 and was then evidently written prior to that date when there were not yet the corps organized by Napoleon and Berthier in 1800. Thiebault's second version was published in 1813 and was more detailed in its presentation.

Regarding a staff corps for the French one was established by French law on 29 October 1790 by a law of the national assembly which created thirty general staff officers, 'seventeen having the rank of colonel, and thirteen with the rank of lieutenant colonel.' (on page 12 of the English translation of Thiebault's 1800 staff manual).

The subject translation was done in Great Britain for their own use with the notation that 'The great advantage which must manifestly result from a well-conducted Etat-major or staff, are acknowledged in every military country. France, however, seems alone to have fully entered into the system, and to have added the experiment of practice to the suggestions of theory.'

In this same English translation of the staff manual, the definitions and responsibilities of a chief of staff is given along with the four main staff sections in which a general staff is to be organized. Roughly, the first section was the operations section as it had to do with the movement of troops as well as army organization among other responsibilities. The second section was responsible for logistics, the third with general administration and pay and the fourth with intelligence.

The Austrian staff did not organize itself into staff sections until after the French did, probably within the year. And it should be noted that the Prussian general staff was still in its infancy in 1815.

Lastly, during the Wars of the Revolution there was a central planning staff in Paris belonging to the government and of which Napoleon was assigned before he took command of the Armee d'Italie in early 1796.
Last edited by Senarmont198 on May 17th, 2016, 5:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 17th, 2016, 5:35 pm

Regarding the volume Kriegsgeschichtliche Ubersicht der wichtigsten Feldzuge in Europa seit 1792, by Adolf von Horzetsky, where is the organization and functioning of the Austrian staff discussed? In other words which chapter? You have referred to it regarding the organization of the Austrian staff of the period if I'm not mistaken, have you not?
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 17th, 2016, 6:13 pm

DaveH wrote: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.


What do you actually believe that Col Elting 'claimed' about the '1795 document' that is incorrect? Col Elting refers on page 82 of Swords Around a Throne the operational instructions to the Army of the Alps in 1795 and to the Army of Italy in 1796 (so those are two sets of Instructions) and that Thiebault wrote and published his Manuel des Adjutants Generaux in 1800 and later in 1810 or 1813 published the expaned Manuel General du Service des Etats-Major (page 82-83).

Who is 'de Philip'? Do you mean Philippe H Grimoard who wrote Service de l'Etat-Major General des Armees published in 1809?
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 17th, 2016, 8:07 pm

From Napoleon's Greatest Adversary by Gunther Rothenberg on Austrian Staff Development and Functioning:

'Staff work proper was handled by the Quartermaster General Staff according to procedures laid down in Lacy's Generals Reglement of 1769, a compendium of standing orders, field service regulations, and staff instructions. Lacy created a small staff corps, 30 including the director in early 1792, as well as staff troops to serve as escorts, guards, and orderlies.' -25-26.

It should be noted that the French created by law their own staff corps in 1790 which also consisted of 30 senior field grade officers, so that predated the Austrian staff corps.

[Charles] could take some credit for improving the position of the General Staff. In March 1801 he requested the emperor that this organization should not be disbanded or reduced at the end of each war and that a permanent cadre of 21 staff officers-the term 'staff officer' denoted a rank above major-be retained together with 16 captains and 12 subalterns. On 23 March, Francis appointed General Duka as 'Quartermaster General even in peacetime' and generally approved the archduke's proposals. In his first instructions to Duka, Charles instructed him that his staff was to be engaged in making places 'covering long periods and entire campaigns,' and that the Chief of the Quartermaster General Staff would not merely implement the commander's ideas into practice, but act as his 'proper and well prepared advisor to examine intelligence and projects of all kinds.' At the same time, however, Charles indicated that the commander retained ultimate decision-making powers.'

'The new arrangements remained largely on paper until 1805. Duka did work out plans for the archduke and generally supervised the operations of the staffs with the armies in Italy and Germany, but a real operational General Staff did not function until late in 1809.'-91-92.

So, it appears that the Austrians lagged behind the French in staff development, organization, and functioning.

'The Austrian command and control structure [in 1809], however, was defective. Highranking officers, including corps commanders, were selected by seniority and birth rather than by merit and experience...None of these men had any experience or schooling in operating under the corps system and this increased demands on their staff. Archduke Charles later held that too much reliance had been placed on the staff officers.'

'The staff was not capable of handling the corps system. The officers of the Quartermaster General Staff still were primarily trained in mapping, mathematical computations, horsemanship, drawing and penmanship. Many were personally brave and on paper quite capable of elaborating plans for moving troops. In the field, however, it was a different matter. The new system created much confusion and the Austrian general staff lacked a common doctrine and manuals of procedure. And this became especially critical when because of the small size of the permanent staff untrained officers had to be assigned for duty when the army was activated.'

'...Altogether, the official history concluded that while the absence of staffs at the division level required large corps staffs, administration in the field consumed too much valuable time.'-165-166.
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 18th, 2016, 3:31 pm

As a footnote, perhaps you could give the Austrian staff regulation that outlines the duties and responsibilities of the Austrian staff in general, and the staff sections in particular and not just of the staff troops attached to the general staff?
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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby TheBibliophile » May 18th, 2016, 7:01 pm

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Re: Dodgy terminology - this time "divisions"

Postby Senarmont198 » May 18th, 2016, 9:21 pm

TheBibliophile wrote::roll:


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

Postby DaveH » May 19th, 2016, 12:50 pm

TheBibliophile wrote::roll:


Oh,. I would not be so hard - this kind of thing shows up the "dodgy terminology" from the late 20th century, which so plagues the study of the period and perpetuates its mythology. It is only right that I answer the points raised, not least as it further enhances my position.

1) Austrian staff:

a) Adolf von Horsetzky was an Austrian Feldmarschalleutnant, whose 1905 work 'Kriegsgeschichtliche Übersicht Der Wichtigsten Feldzüge in Europa Seit 1792' is at https://archive.org/details/kriegsgeschicht00horsgoog and there is an English edition available on ebay. It is not that important as he only discusses the staff very briefly on pp.31-2, but it is handy for his comment on p.32 that Radetzky was the first to hold the position of CoS as it was understood in the early 20th century - in the Moltke sense of presiding over the entire staff through a number of department heads - by someone familiar with the history.

b) Rothenberg is starting in 1792 and does not say anything about what went before, so it is misleading (quelle surprise ;) ) to quote directly from him - the list mentioned by Rothenberg in 1792 is actually drawn from p.2 of Vol.1 of 'Kriege gegen die französische Revolution' (Seidel, Vienna, 1905). Given that Kevin has reviewed Armies of the Napoleonic Wars (ed. Fremont-Barnes) in which I wrote the Austrian chapter, I am surprised that he didn't read what I wrote about the staff: "The 1757 Regulations had created the Grosse Feldgeneralstab and Kleine Generalstab. Following changes in the 1769 overhaul, a permanent staff of about 30 officers was established under the Director: The Generalquartiermeisterleutnant (Deputy Chief of Staff), 3 Obersten (Colonel), 3 Oberstleutnants (Lt-Colonel), 8 Major, 14 Hauptleute (Captain). … In 1792, the peacetime staff under Generalmajor Andreas von Neu, the Direktor of the Generalquartiermeisterstab, comprised three Obersten, two Oberstleutnants, 5 Majors, 8 Hauptleute and 12 Oberleutnants. On the outbreak of war, the staff was expanded to one Feldmarschalleutnant as the Generalquartiermeister, two Generalmajors, one Oberst, three Oberstleutnants, 8 Majors, 16 Hauptleute and 8 Oberleutnants. The Generalquartiermeisterstab of 1792 stood at a peacetime strength of 30, but this expanded to 128 in 1798 and over 150 by the end of the Second Coalition War in 1801.”

It is interesting that the French went for 30 Staff officers in 1790, but it should be pretty obvious who was copying whom. The governing regulation is Generals-Reglement (Vienna, Edlen von Trattnern) of 1769 at:
https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=iLl ... &q&f=false although it was reprinted in 1784 in a rather more readable style in 'Generalreglement, oder Verhaltungen für die Kayserlich-Königliche Generalität' (Leipzig, 1784) http://digital.slub-dresden.de/werkansi ... /8044/1/0/ p.VII is the index and on p.XI, it separates off the Adjutant staff. This is a crucial distinction as Generals always had an adjutant staff (or entourage), which has been reduced to "staff" thereby giving rise to the Napoleonic claims. The regulation itself gives a list of duties to the CoS, who was then to distribute them amongst his General Staff officers, while the Adjutant-General took the adjutant duties for his adjutant staff officers. the Regulation covers all the procedures, such as outposts, forging and supplies, spies, obtaining horses, setting up camps, artillery and ammunition supply etc. A secretariat was added in wartime to handle correspondence, but that was the initial extent of the departmentalisation until 1811, when the system was established with Radetzky as CoS and his department heads. In the intervening period, the role of the CoS did change albeit the politicians in Vienna were always keen to ensure they controlled the armies through him. The key point in these regs is probably at the top of p.X, where it says from p.89 onwards; "Wie die Disposition zu einem Angriff abzufassen und den commandieren Generalen vorzulegen sei" (how plans for an attack are drawn up and presented to the commanding Generals), establishing the key operational planning role for the staff, something emulated by Moltke and wholly missing from the Napoleonic staff (although others were developing this idea, notably Moreau in 1796).

c) Rothenberg is only partially correct. The permanent staff had been established under Lacy's regulations in 1769 - but in 1801, there were huge cutbacks in military spending and Charles's memorandum is about where the axe should fall - ie: in not standing down the permanent staff. The compromise was that was the Director position (note Lacy and in 1792, Neu, above) was abolished, but in its place, the previous deputy became the permanent "chief of staff", Duka being the first. Charles is enhancing further the role of CoS as the chief advisor to the commander and responsible for the operational planning, which is how the system worked under Moltke and later. (In contrast, as Elting notes, Napoleon was his own G3 [head of operational planning]). The role of COS had been increasingly politicised in the 1790s, so that Zach, Weyrother and Chasteler were known in 1799 as "Thugut's Benjamins" (the Foreign Ministers' little helpers) and in reverse, in 1805, Charles had Mayer made CoS to Ferdinand d'Este in Germany until the politicians intervened and inserted Mack. Rothenberg is wholly wrong on pp.91-2, unfortunately under the influence of the patriotic historians of the late 19th century, who were 'data mining' for the reasons for the 1809/13 campaigns. I have explained this all in the Fremont-Barnes book, using rather more source material than Rothenberg. I think the myths about noble births have been given a decent burial since my Generals Osprey of 2004 and the 1769 Regulation rather debunks the ops manual claim (itself probably a reflection of the claims about Thiebault). There is no dispute that Austria simply lacked the numbers of staff officers, the cash and lets face it, the practice to be really good - but they did well, considering those handicaps and in the end, it was Austria's staff, which managed the closing up of nearly half a million men on external lines to Leipzig, whereas quite clearly, Napoleon's system broke down once the French forces got over about 180K on internal lines. The final Staff History comment is a reflection of the late 19th century Prussian practice, which had been instrumental in Austria's defeat at Koniggratz in 1866. Austria did have "staffs" at every level as the 1769 regs allocate adjutant staff to every rank of General - but this is where the central fallacy has crept in.

So, we come back to divisions, their permanence and staffs.

2) Who has read what? This is of course the crux of the issue about secondary claims being copied and the originals not being checked.

a) Elting - yes, he even confused me! No, he didn't read Berthier's instructions - how do I know? This is the only one document: "Document sur le service de l'état-major général à l'armée des Alpes" https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=ZqU ... &q&f=false If we look closely, it is about the Army of the Alpes, written in January 1796. There is no "Alpes 1795" or "Italie 1796".

b) Elting has relied extensively on de Philip "Le service d'état-major pendant les guerres du premier empire" (1900) although some snippets of the 2002 reprint are at https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=uew ... IQ6AEIHDAA Intererstingly, there is an article on the NSF looking at Thiebault and the background to a lot of this: http://www.napoleon-series.org/military ... tml#_ftn40 The key point is to look at fn.40 – who should pop up: de Philip! (Renhard is interesting, but does not add a lot).

c) Quimby's book is shown in preview here https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=fDh ... ic&f=false Although it is not the full work,. it is worth noting that there are no acknowledgements to Archive staff (which is normal where original documents are extracted) and that there are some bibliographical pages at the end, where original documents are listed, but in the partial footnotes at the end, there are no footnoted documents in contrast to a heavy reliance on Colin. So, we would need to hear about the footnotes backing his claims to "permanent divisions" and Ross's to "combat divisions".

d) It is quite clear from the Net parts of these works by the two authors above, who are heavily referenced by the likes of Elting and Rothenberg, that they did not engage in any comparative work (probably because they did not know Russian or German?). consequently, what they claim about novelty or systematic organisation in France was taken in isolation -hence the ened to check back on what they claim.

3) The substantive claims:

a) The 1796 Berthier document: this is much mentioned as supposedly setting out the basis for a departmentalised staff. Have assorted authors read it? No, because it does not say that. I cannot do any better than a post by Alexandre, that well-read Russian poster on TMP:

1. This document was a letter to the War Minister, where Berthier reports the "provisional dispositions" which he has made for the general staff of the army of the Alps. He lists the 5 positions of adjudant general allotted for the Army of the Alps (2 of which are vacant), and then lists the areas of responsibility assigned to each officer. He then lists the distribution list for the order of the day, both as a full text and as a summary, depending on the recipient. This section takes less than 2 pages of the published text (a small format book, maybe 200 words to each page).
2. Next is 4 pages listing the various recurring reports that the army staff should be making.
3. Next is 3 pages listing the reports required of adjudants-general assigned to the divisions of the army (not corps, by the way).
4. Berthier then proposes using the military cartographers to document, topographically, the movements of armies and to file this with the both the cabinet of Directory and the general depot of the War Ministry. He asks the War Minister to seek concurrence with this idea from the adjudatns-general (staff officers with the assimilated rank of colonel), the engineering coprs and the military cartographers' corps. He says he sent a copy of this proposal to the Directory. This section is 5 pages of text.
Some comments:
1. We have here, not counting the cartography project, about 9 pages or appox. 1800 words. It is very little and it is stretching to describe this as "the responsibilities of the staff sections is detailed". The majority of the text is just listing which reports should be filed when. In several places there are references to existing laws and regulations, especially as to the form and substance of the reports. The tone is more one of reporting compliance with regulations being reported to the War Minister than some report of innovation or practices undertaken on local initiative (exception made for the proposal about cartographers recording movements of troops).
2. These approx. 1800 words were sent as a manuscript letter to the War Minister in 1796. It appears to have been Berthier's response to the requirements for streamlined and regulated organization of field forces as decreed by the Directory in January 1796. See the "Arrêté du directoire exécutif, concernant l'organisation générale de l'armée du 18 nivôse an 4", Journal Militaire 1796 (vol. 13), pages 949-67. [Context is very important here - DAH]
3. Although Berthier most likely retained a copy of his letter, there is absolutely no indication of any other distribution of this document other then to its intended recipient. Specifically, young Paul Thiébault was then an aide de camp to General Solignac in the army of Italy and there is no reason to think he ever saw this letter, although he later served under Berthier in Italy.
4. Berthier's letter was not published until near the end of the 19th century. So, there can be no question of Thiébault's work being "based on" it – clearly it could not have been. However, Thiébault was certainly informed by his experience in the army of Italy, where Berthier was later appointed chief of staff.
5. It is very very unclear to me, looking at the original sources, if Berthier's activity as a chief of staff in the army of the Alps, or even later the army of Italy, was in any way structurally different than that of the chief of staff of any similarly sized French formation in those years. It is also quite unclear to what innovation, if any, Berthier made – as opposed to competently implementing the then-existent regulations governing army staffs. There is certainly nothing in the sudject letter to indicate anything more than compliance with regulations.

------
This then is showing that Ruling Theory process of making the evidence fit - what is a report by Berthier back to paris about the reporting structure and how he has made use of the 4 adjutants-genereaux is supposed to be an original framework idea. Paragraph 2 is perhaps the origin of Elting's comment about the CoS being the HQ pivot, across everything going on in HQ. In fact, all it says is that no a-g sends reports to Paris in his own name, but they must be signed off by the CoS, who is thus "the centre of operations", but only in the sense of the reporting system. The a-gs with the help of their adjoints distribute the work among themselves, while the secretaries form the 1796 equivalent of the typing pool, except that the status reports would go through the same officials. Then comes the worst example of fictional interpretation: each of the four adjutants is presented, two by name and two as N..... , followed by a list of what they report on. We see Chorier is responsible for the 10 and 15-day reports and also for the supply reports to the Commissar of Ordnance in chief. Rivaux has the Army Journal and the despatch of bulletins. N2 reports on the state of the etat major itself. But then comes the one subject to most interpretation - N1 is allocated "Military reconnaissance, plans and memos, displaying [on maps] the camps, marches and the LoCs". Yes, he is reporting on them and no doubt that means he is involved in their execution, but that does not make him some operational planner on the staff.

Thiebault has adopted a similar approach - he takes the 1790 law requirement and tries to hand out the duties to those four men. His issue was that he had joined the staff without a clue what to do and there was no manual - we might contrast this with Austria's 1769 manual and her permanent General Staff. Then we might consider Elting's point that the staff was reduced to three departments by 1805 - indeed, part of the context to all this is that the adjutant-general allocation to the French armies varied between 3 and 5, so no departmentalisation is actually possible - context once again being the key point.

b) Back to the original point about divisions: So, let us note again the discrepancy between Quimby's permanent divisions and Ross's "combat divisions" (this being a reference to the Moltke all-arms divisions). We would of course need to know the exact citations to know whether these authors have cited a document correctly, read it and viewed it in context. It would be interesting to see how often de Philip pops up.

We can already see the problem with Bourcet - an handful of references to "divisions" and then mostly meaning "division of the armies into pieces" in contrast to numerous references to corps, some 25 years before Napoleon "invented them". Indeed this just piles up the problems flagged up by the likes of Elting in his comments on 1800 (see note 4 of my previous post).

So, it seems we need to hear a few key footnotes from Quimby about these divisions and given what we already know about how material has been mangled and secondary claims copied without checking the originals, what do the sources actually say.

(Bibliophile: I am actually contemplating taking an MA in Military History, so this is helpful preparation http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/postgraduat ... story.aspx )
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