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Bernadotte at Dornburg

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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby DaveH » December 12th, 2017, 8:30 pm

My mistake - it was Murat, who was gathering intelligence and received a spy at Zeitz, not Ney. Vachee reveals Murat's report, which reached Napoleon in the early hours of 12th https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=xlp ... an&f=false There are the two merchants accompanying Montjoie and then, this "Austrian sergeant".

As John Cook notes: At 0900 on 13 October Napoleon penned a personal despatch to Murat based on the intelligence derived he from this information."At last the veil is drawn aside, the enemy having begun its retreat to Magdeburg. Move as quickly as possible with Bernadotte's Corps in the direction of Dornburg.". "I believe that the enemy will try to attack Marshal Lannes at Jena, or that they will flee. If they attack marshal Lannes, your position will enable you to assist him." So, clearly Napoleon has relied on this intelligence and it was seriously flawed.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby Senarmont198 » December 15th, 2017, 12:39 pm

The subject link is a tertiary source which I found to be nothing more than an excuse for Bernadotte's behavior on 14 October. Some of the secondary references used actually contradict the paper concerned. If used, I would advise caution as it is nothing more than hagiography regarding Bernadotte.

If Bernadotte's overall record is examined, beginning with his early service, what it would reveal is a self-centered individual whose ego got in the way of good common sense.

The character sketch of Bernadotte in the Esposito/Elting Atlas gives an excellent picture of Bernadotte:

'Extremely brave, tall, and dashing, Bernadotte was keen and intelligent, but always 'the enemy of his superiors.' Ambitious and constantly involved in intrigues, he was also oddly hesitant in their execution. At great pains to gain the affection of anyone who might be useful to him, he could be correspondingly cold when their usefulness had passed. It is impossible to determine how many of his apparent failures as a corps commander were actually intentional.'

Desaix described him in 1797 when he met him in Italy as 'Young, plenty of fire, of fine passions, very estimable; he is not loved for he is considered a fanatic.' As the French ambassador to Vienna in 1799 he was run out of town by the Austrians; he became French minister of war afterwards, but his ideas caused the Directory to accept 'the resignation I have not given.'

During the Brumaire coup he was a general on inactive status who had neither experience in independent command nor any following among the army.

There is also useful information on Bernadotte in Phipps' Armies of the First French Republic.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby Josh&Historyland » December 15th, 2017, 1:23 pm

Esposito and Elting's description is fair, fairer than others but in that sense I don't see it as out of keeping with the subject link, Bernadotte was the arch intriguer, and though it is not always borne out in his military capability, in politics he seemed to move and act with a certain brilliance. Perhaps the link is tertiary, but it has solid basis and uses good logic in interpreting the sources. Personally I'd not rely on Davout for a character assessment of a man he hated. Bernadotte, here at least seems to be interpreted largely on the strength of who likes him and who doesn't, neverthelsss that much can be said of Napoleon as well.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby Senarmont198 » December 15th, 2017, 5:39 pm

Bernadotte should be judged on what he did, and being an inveterate intriguer is a big part of that.

Davout was scrupulously honest, and his assessment of a fellow marshal who refused to support him in combat, and the subsequent heavy casualties suffered by Davout's troops, is right on the money.

Bernadotte was for Bernadotte, nothing more nothing less. And that sums up to an unreliable comrade in combat. Bernadotte was one of the very few marshals that failed to support his comrades in combat. Even if he had gone into action at Jena, it would have been better. Not getting into action at all is a truth-teller.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby Josh&Historyland » December 15th, 2017, 6:52 pm

If we need to "judge" him at all, then yes that would be what we'd judge him on. Davout might have been honest, but he is prejudiced. And everyone tends to be for themselves at some point in their lives, especially ambitious people looking to move up. I can't say he deliberately failed to support his comrades, not from what I've seen, it's been reasonably argued that incompetence and intrigue at Jena may not necessarily explain what happened. To me at least.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby DaveH » December 17th, 2017, 1:07 am

I know John very well and his article sets out the reality of what happened, based on the primary material. How his article can be dismissed as "a tertiary source which I found to be nothing more than an excuse for Bernadotte's behavior on 14 October. Some of the secondary references used actually contradict the paper concerned. If used, I would advise caution as it is nothing more than hagiography regarding Bernadotte." beats me, especially when Kevin relies on Elting, who uses a mix of the primary material, which suits him, and secondary claims made to cover up a monumental intelligence/judgement failure. If we were to solely criticise personalities for ambition and ego, then we would not have many to write nice things about! If the guy was so useless, then why did Napoleon make him a Marshal and give him a key corps command in 1806 and then again in 1807?

As John notes, the marshals had no idea of Napoleon's overall strategic concept - a fatal blow to those claiming his command system was the origin of the Auftragstaktik. look more closely and you will see the problem with the batallion carree system - supposedly the basis of the way this campaign was run: Davout and Bernadotte could have been on the same road, not a day apart. Now it is time to get the map out - find Gera, where Napoleon was, heading west in the direction of Jena. 22km north is Zeitz, where the intelligence was coming in to Murat. Naumburg is nearly 30km NW of Zeitz. Bernadote's I Corps is strung out between Naumburg and Dornburg (a point John picks up, but Elting ignores) along what is now the 88 road running SSW from Naumburg - it is 14km from Naumburg to Canburg and a further 8km to Dornberg. Apolda is 30km from Naumburg roughly SW along what is today the 87 road and 20km down that road is Auerstadt. Camburg to Auerstadt is 11km going NW; Dornburg to Auerstadt is 13km NNW going across country tracks, whereas Dornburg to Jena is 12km down a better road, now a continuation of the 88. Dornburg to Apolda is 12km across even today not great roads running WNW.

The key to the anti-Bernadotte view is the letter from Berthier to Marshal Davout: ‘If marechal Bernadotte is with you, you can march together, but the Emperor hopes that he will be at his assigned position in Dornburg.’ The claim is therefore that Bernadotte would have been on the same road to Apolda as Davout and thus able to fight alongside him at Auerstadt, 2/3 of the way down what is now the 87.

There are serious problems with this:

First, the concept of operations devised in the early hours of 12th October says: " Davout, the 14th at Apolda ...Bernadotte, the 14th at Dornburg". In accordance with this, Napoleon's express order to Bertier says: ""Give orders to Marshal Davout to leave his position for Naumburg, where he must arrive as quickly as possible .... Prince Murat and Marshal Bernadotte are also ordered to Naumburg, but are to follow the Zeitz road." It should be obvious that these troops are massing at Naumburg and then Davout is going SW to Apolda (down the 87) and Bernadotte is going SSW to Dornburg (down the 88) so in these positions they are about 12km apart and Bernadotte is a similar distance from Napoleon's own target of Jena, so about 3 hours march.

As I discovered when looking at Archduke Charles's 1796 campaign in Germany, the key to all this is the road system and in particular, the lines of cross-communication between the different components of your own force. If we go back to Bourcet, he wrote about armies being on different roads in the mountains and how coordination was maintained. We see it again in the "batallion carree" - corps on different axes of advance but close enough (roughly a day's march) to support each other.

The purpose is obvious - bigger armies are just going to get bogged down on a single road. We are now invited to believe that Napoleon really wanted to put Davout and Bernadotte on the same road to Apolda, leaving a massive gap through Dornburg between Jena and Apolda (about 30km by roads, the western half being country tracks.

Secondly as John continues: "from Auma at 0400, Berthier sent an order to Bernadotte telling him that Murat was moving to Naumburg via Zeitz, and that he is to support Murat's movements and arrange details of his march with Murat. Bernadotte is told of the transfer of the Imperial headquarters to Gera, but given no information whatever about the locations of other formations. He is not told that Davout is also ordered to Naumburg." So Bernadotte is coordinating with Murat at this point and has no idea of what Davout is doing

Continuing, we discover that Davout gets a better idea: "Finally, at 0500, Berthier writes Davout's order. It tells him to move to Naumburg, but not by which route, but at least informs him that Murat and Bernadotte are also moving there via Zeitz." So, Davout is expecting to encounter Bernadotte, but not vice versa.

"On 13th October, Napoleon penned a personal despatch to Murat based on the intelligence derived he from this information."At last the veil is drawn aside, the enemy having begun its retreat to Magdeburg. Move as quickly as possible with Bernadotte's Corps in the direction of Dornburg.". "I believe that the enemy will try to attack Marshal Lannes at Jena, or that they will flee. If they attack Marshal Lannes, your position will enable you to assist him." So, Napoleon is now expecting the Prussians to engage Lannes at Jena, so with Bernadotte headed for Dornburg with troops between there and Naumburg, Bernadotte would be about 12km north of Jena.

Davout, Bernadotte and Murat meet at Naumburg on the night of 13 October, when the orders written by Berthier at 1500 arrived for Bernadotte and Davout, which are identical; ""The Emperor, Monsieur le Maréchal, learns, one league from Jena, that the enemy is face to face with Marshal Lannes with nearly 50,000 men. The Marshal even believes that he will be attacked this evening. If, this evening, you hear an attack at Jena you must manoeuvre on the enemy and outflank its left. If there is no attack this evening at Jena you will receive tonight the dispositions for tomorrow."

Bernadotte's response to this is to write to Berthier at 8pm: ‘Marechal Davout has given me at this minute, Monsieur le duc, your letter of today, brought by M. [lieutenant] de Perigord, your aide-de-camp; according to its content, I have though it necessary to stop the movement for which I accounted in my previous letter, dated of this evening at six o’clock, since you ordered marechal Davout to maneuver to the enemy’s left only if marechal Lannes was attacked this evening near Jena, and you added that if the attack did not occur, he will receive the Emperor’s instructions for the next day. Since I believe that these measures will be inclusive of all [the corps], I stopped my troops where they were, and I wait for new orders. I am still with my entire corps around Naumburg. I am ready to execute the movements that the Emperor orders.’

Basically, Bernadotte as instructed is working with Murat. Now on receipt of these new orders, sending both into the enemy left only if Lannes is attacked, Bernadotte halts his corps for the night - with as John notes his troops are strung out all along the road between Dornburg and Naumburg, with its head probably in the vicinity of Kamburg and, perhaps, its advance guard in Dornburg, and awaited the promised orders.

At 0300 on 14 October, Davout received his orders to get into the Prussian rear via Apolda. "The Emperor has recognised a Prussian Army which stretches a league away before and on the heights of Jena as far as Weimar. He proposes to attack it on the morrow. He orders Marshal Davout to proceed to Apolda in order to fall on the rear of that army. He leaves the Marshal the choice of his route, provided he takes part in the fight." Then comes the PS from Berthier: "If Marshal Bernadotte is with you, you can march together, but the Emperor hopes that he will be in the position which he pointed out to him at Dornburg."

Thirdly then, there is no direct order to Bernadotte, whose last order was to march to Dornberg with this proviso that he is march into the enemy left if Lannes is attacked at Jena - some 12km from Dornburg down a decent road.

Fourthly, we come to two key problems: a) There is a tendency in the relevant primary and secondary works to use a commander's name as shorthand for his formation. For example at Marengo, We are often told Desaix was on the battlefield at 12 noon. Clearly, he wasn't as he was to the south with most of his troops trying to cross the Scrivia. However, Monnier's troops had also been put under his command and were of course on the northern part of the field. Similarly, the focus is on Bernadotte's own presence at Naumburg when in reality just his last elements were in the town and the the bulk of his men actually down the 14km towards Camburg. It's another 8kn to Dornburg, where we are told "but" the Empeorr hopes Bernadotte will will be at Dornburg. To go to Apolda means marching them either back to Naumburg to be on the road behind Davout or marching from Camburg some 15km across country tracks roughly westward to Apolda.

b) Let us quote what Kevin then says: "We know them only through what is said in the Journal des operations du 3e corps, which is quoted here:

‘Early on the 14th, marechal Davout called his divisional generaux and other officers to Naumburg in order to give them their orders, pursuant to those that had been received from the Emperor during the night. The orders from Napoleon arrived at three o’clock in the morning; they were dated the 13th, written at ten o’clock in the evening and dispatched from Imperial Headquarters on hills overlooking Jena. The Emperor, who had scouted a Prussian army that stretched over one league in front of and on Jena’s hills up to Weimar, had planned to attack the next day. He therefore ordered marechal Davout to move towards Apolda, so that his corps could fall upon the rear of that army. He left the choice of the road up to the marechal, as long as he took part in the battle. His Serene Highness the Major General [Berthier] added: ‘If marechal Bernadotte (Prince of Ponte Corvo) is with you, you can march together, but the Emperor hopes that Bernadotte will already be in his assigned position at Dornburg.’

‘Marechal Davout distributed the orders to all his generals, who left immediately to carry them out; then Davout went to see Beradotte, commander of the 1st Corps, who had indeed arrived in Naumburg during the night. The Marechal gave him written notice [emphasis added] of the orders he had just received from His Majesty, and asked him to declare what he was going to do. Bernadotte told Davout that he would not move towards Apolda with the 3d Corps, but would instead march for Kamburg [and from there, on to Dornburg}.’

Both marechaux had therefore received the order to go to Apolda, sur les derrieres de l’ennemi (against the rear of the enemy, emphasis in the original), marching together in case Bernadotte was still in Naumburg. Bernadotte had not received any other order, otherwise he would have mentioned it in his explanatory letters to the Major General, dated 14 October from Apolda, and dated 21 October from Bernberg. ‘It was only at four o’clock in the morning’, he wrote in the letter, ‘that I received your letter to marechal Davout which said that the Emperor really wanted me to be in Dornburg.’ Berthier’s letter to marechal Davout was very clear: ‘If marechal Bernadotte is with you, you can march together, but the Emperor hopes that he will be at his assigned position in Dornburg.’

Interesting, sin't it that here we are back with that old problem - the reality behind the sources and the dangers of it passing through multiple hands (an accusation Kevin throws at John Cook!). What we have here is "according to 3e Coprs journal", but that of course was written in French. As Kevin also tells us: "The following is from Napoleon’s Apogee: Pascal Bressonet’s Tactical Studies 1806-Saalfeld, Jena, and Auerstadt, Translated and Annotated by Scott Bowden, 122-124". Aha, so this is actually 3e Corps journal, quoted by Bressonet, then translated AND ANNOTATED by Bowden. Ah, yes, Bowden - memories of over 20 years ago return! Bowden was infamously caught out in his 1805 book using material footnoted to original Austrian and Russian works, which had actually been translated into French or English and then used by recent authors (notably Chris Duffy), whose work had then been lifted with some rather prejudiced commentary presented just before the footnote. I was informed a few years later on the Internet that Bowden had been seen in the Kriegsarchiv - quite an achievement when its home at the time was different from the acknowledgements in the book (its new home at Nottendorfergasse). General hilarity ensued (including a facepalm by Sam Mustafa on TMP) when I pointed out that Bowden had listed that well-known German author, Herr "Derselbe", which actually means "the same " or "ditto" in German.

So, how much of the above quote is the journal? Without being able to check myself, I would say from the language that almost certainly the last (and most crucial) paragraph" starting "Both marechaux had therefore received the order to go to Apolda" does not - it is merely a claim by Bressonet or Bowden.

Fifthly, and this is my reasoning in part for the immediately above, this interpretation makes no sense. Where is Bernadotte ordered to go to Apolda? As Maude suggests, Bernadotte was probably forgotten about, hence the PS in the note to Davout. It was only when at Dornburg that he became aware of the fighting at Auerstadt and headed across country to Apolda, where he arrived about 4pm on 14th October. His orders were to go to Dornburg and Berthier confirms that as Napoleon's preference. So what of the marching together? This has to be seen in the context of the order, which arrived late on 13th October - if Napoleon is genuinely using a batallion carree system for marching along multiple axes, that Bernadotte has been forgotten about in the orders and Napoleon's hope that he be in Dornburg, then there can only be one construction placed on "marching together" - not that they clog up the road to Apolda, but that they march approximately in line with each other, so that they strike the Prussian left around Jena roughly together.

It was actually the last minute change of plan as Napoleon's concept changed that meant both were moved south-west from Naumburg compounded by the Napoleonic system of failing to reveal that concept plus Berthier's failure to send any order to Bernadotte, which led to this situation. Both were marching as the concept required - but Napoleon's intelligence system had failed to discover the main Prussian army in the Thuringia forest, which struck Davout at Auerstadt. Even if he could hear the cannonfire, how could Bernadotte know whether Davout ahd been surprised or Napoleon had used him as screen against other forces. I suspect that what 3 Corps journal actually says in the original french might be more illuminating that Bowden's or Elting's tertiary claims.

As an aside, I note Maude mentions that there was chaos in the French command as Berthier was initially directing the army in Germany when Murat was made its interim commander in late September. Thus a two-handed command system developed - not dissimilar to the infamous confusion at the start of the 1809 campaign. Maude also mentions that the reports of two spies showed that there would be ample time for the Grande Armee to assemble properly and advance before the Prussians could concentrate. i wonder if these are the same as the two with Msr. Montjoie, whose reports misled Napoleon in mid-October?
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby Senarmont198 » December 17th, 2017, 2:03 pm

Please see the following for the definitions of primary, secondary, and tertiary source material:

https://library.uncw.edu/guides/primary ... ry_sources

Further, tertiary sources are:

Tertiary sources :
Almanacs;
Bibliographies (also considered secondary);
Chronologies;
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (also considered secondary);
Directories;
Fact books;
Guidebooks;
Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources;

In short, tertiary source material is usually drawn from secondary material only. The article in question listed only secondary sources in the bibliography, so the article is a tertiary source. Secondary source material, such as Swords Around A Throne, use both credible secondary and primary source material.

A good course in historiography would be most useful in this area.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby DaveH » December 17th, 2017, 4:07 pm

It might be more productive to address the arguments raised.

In terms of sourcing, Cook uses Foucart in particular, who is quoting the original orders. You have used Bressonet, who has done the same, but your version has also added in Bowden's commentary with his issues over sourcing. Elting has used the likes of these authors too plus some pretty dubious later material with assorted claims, which turn out not to be true - Guard at Marengo, Bourcet on staffs, Gribeauval etc. Then he has rather conveniently ignored certain primary material, including an examination of the map to develop his "treason" claims.

Perhaps you would address those issues? In particular, as you apparently have a copy of Bowden, how much of that key passage is 3e corps journal, how much Bressonet and how much Bowden? If Bressonet is the origin of these claims, based on napoleon's own claims, then we are somewhere in the realm of tertiary material and deliberate misuse of source material by Elting and Bowden.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby Senarmont198 » December 18th, 2017, 1:40 am

Foucart is a secondary source, no matter how much primary source material is included in the volume, the same as Saski is a secondary source for 1809 even though much primary material is in the volume.

Your 'assessment' of Col Elting's work is incorrect. He doesn't use Bowden in Swords and is not incorrect on Marengo, the Imperial Guard, Gribeauval, and the other topics he has covered. He is also correct on Bourcet, staff development, the development of the corps d'armee and other important subjects. Further, just for information, he didn't think too highly of Hittle's work on military staffs. He didn't list Hittle in either Swords or the Atlas.

Swords was the product of thirty years research on the subject and was part of a Napoleonic trilogy by Col Elting. You won't find a better organization history of the Grande Armee in English, and I would suggest in any other language either.
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Re: Bernadotte at Dornburg

Postby Josh&Historyland » December 18th, 2017, 9:23 pm

It's really quite amusing how often a debate about anything touching on the French army spawns a sub debate about Elting and "Swords".
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