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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Staffs and Thiebault's manuals

For general discussions on the Armies of the Napoleonic period.

Staffs and Thiebault's manuals

Postby DaveH » October 12th, 2017, 5:06 pm

This is a follow-up to an earlier thread in this section about Bourcet and his mythological Staff College viewtopic.php?f=22&t=3195 in which our honorary academic adviser Andrew asked about material on the staffs of the period. It also takes in follow-up comments to Josh's review of Ward. S.G.P. Wellington's Headquarters: The Command & Administration of the British Army During the Peninsular War. Barnsley South Yorkshire (UK): Pen and Sword, 2017.
221 pages. ISBN# 9781473896826. Hardcover. £19.99/$39.95, which is actually on the Napoleon Series https://www.napoleon-series.org/reviews ... gtonHQ.pdf

Myself: In particular with staffs, so much rubbish has been written - Hittle being the worst offender - that it is about time this subject was looked at in itself and not as footnote to general works on armies. Stunned by the success of the Prussian-German Auftragstaktik in 1864-abt1942, many have tried to pretend it was a branch off from the "pure" Napoleonic French system and pushed the Auftrag model back on to the Napoleonic way. The UK armies up to the mass conscription of 1916 were relatively small and Wellington's army with short comms could still be managed by personal direction, just as Napoleon sought to do with the massive European armies post-1800. So, the Uk model does fundamentally difer from its European counterparts. Hopefully, we will see more of this, now that war in general is not seen as quite so glamorous as it was in the bicentennial period.

Kevin: Ward's excellent volume has been around for quite awhile (first published in 1957). It is highly recommended and is a must for anyone who is interested in both how Wellington's army was administered and as a study on staffs. Also highly recommended are General Paul Thiebault's French staff manuals of 1800 and 1813. The first was translated into both English and German. The latter is on Google Books and the first is available in print, but could be expensive.

Myself (which prompted this thread): Hittle's wretched influence seems still to infect the subject - this from a book published this year about the WW1 British staff https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zDc ... lt&f=false (p.17)

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So, I wondered about these claims about Thiebault's manuals, which are central to Hittle's claims. There is a thread from 2010 on the Napoleon Series http://www.napoleon-series.org/cgi-bin/ ... ;id=116842 which began with John Cook asking about the claimed English and German translations of Thiebault's manuals (as opposed to his memoirs). Kevin confirmed the English translation, An Explanation of the Duties of the several Etats-Majors in the French Army Translated from the Manuel des Adjudans Generaux et des Adjoints employes dans les Etats-Majors Divisionaires des Armees par Paul Thiebault Adjutant-General dans l'Armee de la Republique Francaise. Originally published at Paris in the year 1800. Printed by C. Roworth, Hudson's Court, Strand, for T. Egerton, at the Military Library, near Whitehall. 1801.which must have been done quickly!
https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/ ... edir_esc=y
and large chunks of it were republished in the US by Duane in a few works between 1805 and 1809.

Thiebault's original French manuals appear in: former in Gallica (although I could not find it) and the latter, which is about 4 times the size of the 1800 version apparently in Google https://books.google.co.uk/books/about/ ... edir_esc=y

Although it seems plausible that there might be a German edition for use by Confederation allies, I have not been able to locate one. Claims for its wider influence would thus appear to be somewhat exaggerated. Indeed, the recent US author Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh in West Pointers and the Civil War: The Old Army in War and Peace (2009) dismisses its influence on the US completely on p.52 https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=e6b ... 20&f=false
DaveH
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Re: Staffs and Thiebault's manuals

Postby DaveH » October 14th, 2017, 11:30 pm

This is the link if the previous one doesn't work for the WW1 book (p.17) https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=zDc ... le&f=false
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Joined: July 1st, 2015, 8:13 pm


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