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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

Napoleons Polish Campaign

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Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby Connaught » September 1st, 2011, 6:25 pm

Following his brilliant campaigns of 1805-1806, when the best troops of Russia, Austria and Prussia were crushed in the Danube valley and Germany, Napoleon was on his way to become the de facto master of Europe. Britain had limited her war efforts to peripheral operations in the Mediterranean and Latin America while subsidizing the other members of the Coalition. To undermine her ability to remain a paymaster to anti-French coalitions, Napoleon resolved on economic warfare. In November 1806, he decreed the Continental System, declaring a blockade of the British Isles and closing all French controlled ports to British trade. If largely ineffective, attempts to enforce and expand the system drove Napoleon further toward ever more costly wars. On 16 November, Prussia, whose armies had been routed at Jena-Auerstadt, had signed an armistice at the chateau of Charlottenburg. Peace negotiations were to follow, but if they should fail, the two parties pledged themselves not to resume hostilities without giving ten days' notice. It was King of Prussia, Frederick William, who had taken a refuge at Osterode and denounced the armistice, relying on the Russian armies to beat Napoleon.

After the disastrous defeat at Austerlitz, Russia began to reorganize its military forces. Until 1806 the line regiments were grouped in Inspections, an organizational framework which was now gradually replaced by divisions and corps. Furthermore, the number of Jager regiments was significantly increased from 22 in 1805, to 32 in 1806. In 1805, the Inspector General of Artillery, Aleksey Arakcheev, launched a major reform of the artillery, introducing a new range of guns to replace the old Russian system. By 1806, Russia had mobilized another two armies under the respective commands of General Count Levin Bennigsen and General Friedrich Wilhelm Buxhowden. Together these armies, comprising about 90,000 men, compelled Napoleon to engage in several more months of fighting; once again a war was waged.

In November 1806, Bennigsen moved into central Poland but on the approach of Louis-Nicolas Davout, followed by Jean Lannes, Nicolas-Jean de Dieu Soult and Joachim Murat, he retired across the Vistula to concentrate around Pultusk from where he threatened Napoleon's communications. In late December Napoleon tried to destroy Bennigsen through a manoeuvre sur les derrieres, but bad weather and road conditions prevented the execution of this plan. The Russians escaped from a net that was spread wide, and the actions at Pultusk and Golymin showed that the swift and brilliant strategy of previous campaigns was not to be repeated amid the rigors of a Polish winter.

Benningsen retired north. Napoleon realized that he was nearing the end of his operational range and that the troops' morale was low. In Poland, the poorest region in Europe, it was impossible to live off the land. There were substantial magazines in Prussia, but poor roads and cold weather hampered movement of supplies. But with Bennigsen pushed north, Napoleon was able to disperse his army into winter quarters spread across a vast area north of Warsaw.


http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/battles/c_winter.html
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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby Morganod73 » July 17th, 2012, 8:33 pm

Hi Connaught,

It is great to see someone else in this good forum who is interested in the Polish Campaign. IMO I am interested primarily in 1806 - 1807. Also 1812-1814. It amazes me that there seems to be in Europe less of a focus on the 1806 (German) and 1807 (Polish) campaign. Is it simply again that with history been written by the Victor that an anglicised focus then permeates the whole of the Napoleonic Wars? (Peninsular, & 100 days).

This I am aware is a little harsh of me but certainly in the English speaking part of Europe this seems to be the case. I am amazed at this as the conflicts of 1806-07 are fascinating and really was both the zenith and toughest test (and true first for Napoleon). Of course Austerlitz was arguably his first test to exhibit his strategic and tactical genius but on a grand scale this is where it could really go either way.

Books on the era are few and Petre's accounts still are the best books on the circuit. James Arnold has opened a very welcome door imo.
Keep me posted if yu have any further suggestions. :ugeek:

Best wsihes,

Dave
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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » July 18th, 2012, 9:33 am

Morganod73 wrote:with history been written by the Victor that an anglicised focus then permeates the whole of the Napoleonic Wars? (Peninsular, & 100 days). Dave


Modern Peninsular War historians, writing in English but fluent in Spanish and French, have done their best in recent years to delve through Spanish and French as well as British archives in search of primary material that sheds new light on various aspects of the Peninsular War. Prof. Charles Esdaile is a notable example.

What native information is available in any country, in any language, depends on the interest in the Napoleonic wars in that country during the past 200+ years. And, perhaps even more important, and interest [pride?] in the study of their national history at all.

Concerning the Eastern sector, I can personally recommend Dominic Lieven's Russia against Napoleon: Battle for Europe 1807-1814 and it's bibliography of primary and secondary sources in a host of languages.

I hope you can write a review of James Arnold's history on viewforum.php?f=16

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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby Morganod73 » July 18th, 2012, 12:02 pm

Hi Sarah,

I agree with your points and as far as I can see my original point is the same although I am focusing upon popularity of certain aspects of the Napoleonic period and not bias. I certainly don't mean to offend.

Certainly there is a focus written in different languages on different aspect of the various campaigns. Naturally enough native interest and historians shall generate an emphasis upon their own shared history and as part of the English speaking community it is not surprising that one would encounter plenty of material on the subjects and campaigns initially referred to.

I also admire Prof Charles Esdaille I have read some of his work and find his work very interesting.

I have read Dominic Lieven's "Russia agaianst Napoleon" and found it really inspiring. Particularly shedding new light on perspectives froma Russian angle. I will certainly post info on the site when I read Arnold's book. (I purchased the last known copy in the UK quite a while ago prior to him re-publishing aaargh cost me a small fortune).

I intend to share whatever I can on the site and look forward to others who have an interest in the campiagns of 1806/07 & 1813/14. I might have to learn German and Polish to get my sources up to speed.

Best wishes,

Dave :ugeek:
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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby Laker45 » August 7th, 2012, 11:23 pm

Hi everyone,

I agree that this campaign is substantially under-researched. It was a bloody campaign and showed the effect of weather on warfare. The Battle of Eylau was almost a defeat thanks to a blinding snowstorm. Friedland is also an under researched battle.

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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » August 8th, 2012, 8:32 am

Welcome to the forum Colin. Which books have you found most informative re. the Polish campaign?

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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby Morganod73 » August 8th, 2012, 8:36 am

Hi Colin,

I agree. It does seem as a period of under research. There could be many reasons. I am focusing a lot of my time on reviewing and reading on the period and intend to read whatever material is available on it.

I will post some detailed feedback when I finish my latest book on the era.

Good to see interest from other quarters on this exciting era. I think the more of us that do the better.

Best of luck,

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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby Laker45 » August 10th, 2012, 11:10 pm

Hi everyone,

Unfortunately I have not found too many books on the era alone. I plan on reading Petre's book on the Polish Campaign very soon. You can download it for free off Google Books and read it on your Kindle or I-Pad. Other than that I have never found a book only on the Polish Campaign. Chandler's book "Campaigns of Napoleon" was probably the best though from a military point of view. If you want to read an EXCELLENT account of the Polish campaign from an eyewitness read Marbot's memoirs. He does a great job describing the battles and even little things that we often forget about in war.
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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » August 11th, 2012, 10:50 am

Thanks for these recommendations Colin.

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Re: Napoleons Polish Campaign

Postby Morganod73 » August 23rd, 2012, 6:20 pm

Hi Folks,

I have found an excellent blog when I was doing some research on Eylau. It is quite a succinct detail of the battle with the various turn of tactics which turned the eventual outcome of the battle.

What a battle? And the conditions! Mon Dieu.

Here is the link, enjoy.

www.iactaaleaest.wordpress.com/category ... -of-eylau/

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