Napoleonic Wars Forum

The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nations

For all discussions relating to the coalition campaign of 1812-1814 that led to the defeat of France and Napoleon's exile to Elba.

The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nations

Postby Mark » October 9th, 2013, 9:29 pm

Mark Simner BA (Hons) MSc | Web: http://marksimner.me.uk | Twitter @marksimner
User avatar
Mark
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 3612
Joined: May 12th, 2011, 7:52 pm
Location: United Kingdom

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 9th, 2013, 10:53 pm

I remember reading about this ages ago. They apparently drew up in the face of a large enemy column and an observer swore they were about to be overrun then the fuses were lit and the rockets shot off decimating the whole thing. So shocked was the observer that he said that they must have been the Devils own artillery after seeing such destruction. Cant be sure but I think I read about it in the dictionary of the Napoleonic wars, I'll look it up when I get time.
Just to prove it was the battle of the nations there was even a few British there! Some questions though, to which army were they attatched and why was a single rocket troop out there? Just to show the congreves off? How many men did they have, how many guns, and how many men did they lose in the battle? (some articles leave more questions to be answered than they should) here's a painting by Mark Churms on the subject.

http://www.regimental-art.com/rha_napoleonic.htm

Josh.
Adventures In Historyland, Keeping History Real. http://adventuresinhistoryland.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Josh&Historyland
Senior Veteran Member
 
Posts: 1844
Joined: March 2nd, 2013, 1:14 pm

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » October 10th, 2013, 7:55 am

“Had Napoleon won the battle of Leipzig as decisively as he lost it, the results would have been more far reaching than if he had won Waterloo. Napoleon could have continued to reign for much longer, and with a much enlarged France. ... half way into Germany."

And then he could have focused on Iberia....

Bicentennial next week.

Sarah
Friends of the British Cemetery, Elvas
User avatar
FBC-Elvas, Portugal
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 2289
Joined: June 18th, 2011, 2:47 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 10th, 2013, 10:00 am

Possibly true, but personally I don't see quite eye to eye with the chairman. The results of Napoleon winning Leipzig would probably have been about the same as if he has won Waterloo, there is certainly nothing to suggest his reign would have continued longer if he had won Leipzig and not won Waterloo, if he had won either battle his reign would have been lengthened.
I wonder why Waterloo always shows up when people talk about a different battle? The two fights stand alone and have little to do with one another, except one lead to the other.

In my opinion there is more than just British pride that makes Waterloo the most famous battle. If Napoleon had not returned from Elba and retook France in less than a year than Leipzig would probably be the most famous battle of the Napoleonic wars, as inevitably Napoleon's final defeat would be. But since he undid the good of the battle in 1815 another Leipzig was needed and it turned out to be Waterloo.

I'm a little confused about the new research the article talks about, I mean it's not widely known but it's not a fresh discovery as far as I know. But It's quite amazing that Napoleon recovered so fast to fight on in 1814, what Wellington considered his finest campaign and indeed it was a little of the old pre 1807 magic he was showing.
Your thought about Napoleon turning towards Spain is interesting Sarah. Between all us "British centric" people I think Wellington could have taken him. But it's a what if that can't be agreed upon, all the anti Wellingtons say if Napoleon had come to Spain Wellington would have gotten beaten, all the pro's say not and all the ones in the middle shrug and go "who knows."

Nevertheless this is as an important a battle as any in the 1812 campaign, (though if it really created the opportunity for the Nazi's etc its value is somewhat debatable) and deserves to be commemorated so it's nice that it gets in the paper, even if the reason it's in there is a little British Centric ;)

Josh.
Adventures In Historyland, Keeping History Real. http://adventuresinhistoryland.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Josh&Historyland
Senior Veteran Member
 
Posts: 1844
Joined: March 2nd, 2013, 1:14 pm

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » October 10th, 2013, 2:13 pm

I’m no expert Josh but two factors seem paramount here:
[1] Napoleon’s total control of/access to money & men vs Wellington’s dependence on the favour of the government and the press
[2] timing: Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig [October 1813] after Wellington’s series of victories, from Vitoria to the various battles in the Pyrenees in the summer 1813, followed by a series of Allied victories in southern France and Napoleon’s abdication.

Napoleon showed his mettle in the 1814 Six Days Campaign but then it was all over, until he escaped from Elba.

When Wellington marched on Toulouse in April 1814, the French were demoralised. As Napoleon found in Leipzig, reversals in battle have a strong psychological impact.

If Napoleon had been victorious at Leipzig, would Wellington have been victorious in southern France in just six months? Would the British public have been willing/able to continue to support Wellington’s army? Would there have been a Battle of Waterloo?

Sarah
Friends of the British Cemetery, Elvas
User avatar
FBC-Elvas, Portugal
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 2289
Joined: June 18th, 2011, 2:47 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 10th, 2013, 8:58 pm

Good points.

As to the what if? I'd think if Napoleon knocked the other allied powers out of the fight then the British would have been inclined to pull out of Spain, though his victories over Russia and Austria didn't bring them to the treaty table so, who knows, also it would depend on how badly Napoleon defeated the coalition. Assuming he dealt them a blow as big as they gave him, they would still have fighting forces available to continue fighting, and who can say wether they would have played Napoleons game, I doubt he could have got the Russians to back down, and the Prussians are unlikely as well though they probably would have shut up for a while, Austria had ties to him, so he might have got them. Also while the allies had a focus to march on, IE Paris, Napoleon would have to choose from Vienna, or Berlin, or another march into Russia to attack probably St Petersburg as Moscow was suffering from some fire damage (ahem), he couldn't get them all. So I'm not sure as to how good a peace he would have got, even if he did defeat them at Leipzig, especially if (semi worst case scenario) London pulled Wellington back into Portugal instead of taking and holding the Pyrenees, thus keeping the British end alive and keeping the coalition forces focused against Napoleon as they had done so successfully so far.
Worst case scenario is that the opposition government gets in in London and makes peace with Napoleon, agreeing to get out of Spain and Portugal etc, and the Russians don't have the stomach to beef up the European coalition. However I would like to add that catastrophic European defeats such as Ulm, Austerlitz and Jena, did not affect British policy against Napoleon, all lilklihood would be that Wellington would have been ordered to either pack off back to Portugal or depending on time, secure and hold the line of the Pyrenees, (another Tores Vedras, a bit far fetched but it is all hypothetical) so long as the government remained in place (and only Wellington's defeat would ensure this) and Wellington's army remained intact, and the Royal Navy remained dominant (thanks to Trafalger and Horatio) I don't see why yet another European defeat would have changed things for Britain, or Russia.

I think it's fare to say that if Leipzig had ended differently there would not have been a "Waterloo" but there would have been another reckoning, so long as Russia (who were thoroughly fed up of Napoleon, and Alexander had famously sworn never to give up or treat with him while the French were on his soil, and he was keen to press on once they had been packed off after 1812) and Britain remained in the game. So I totally agree with you, there would have been no Waterloo, history doesn't work that way it can't events would not have required it to happen that way, the final battle of the Napoleonic wars would have been called Something else, but irrespective it would have happened.

As to the actual course of events, was not the French army at Toulouse more disheartened by the constant stream of defeats in Spain and Portugal as much as elswhere? Napoleon put greater emphasis upon the northern front in 1814 and packed Soult off to reorganise the Spanish armies and those troops not tied down in Vendee, available in southern France. How many of the French facing Wellington at Toulouse were Leipzig veteran's? And how many we're those of Portugual and Spain, either way they put up one devil of a fight.

My easy and rather cop out answer if I'm honest is that What if scenario's cannot be answered satisfactorily, and what happened happened... I've run on a bit, but you've raised some questions that are nice a meaty to get ones teeth into.

Josh.
Adventures In Historyland, Keeping History Real. http://adventuresinhistoryland.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Josh&Historyland
Senior Veteran Member
 
Posts: 1844
Joined: March 2nd, 2013, 1:14 pm

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 14th, 2013, 8:25 pm

So far the only further info I have is that the rocket's invetor William Congreve accompanied the company to Germany.

However an Internet search revealed this lot.

Wikipedia page for Leipzig
"The Coalition army was composed of four army-level commands: the Austrian Army of Bohemia under Karl von Schwarzenberg, the Prussian Army of Silesia under Gebhard von Blücher, the Russian Army of Poland under Levin August von Benningsen and the Swedish Army of the North under Charles John Bernadotte. The Swedes also had a contingent of British Congreve rocket artillery auxiliaries[5] from the Royal Horse Artillery."

History of Battery O Wikipedia page.
"1813 - The Battery fought as the only British Army unit present at the Battle of Leipzig. They were attached to the bodyguard of Bernadotte, Crown Prince of Sweden. During the battle Captain Richard Bogue, the troop Commander was killed in action. The troop were awarded the battle honour Leipzig but this ceased, when the Royal Regiment of Artillery were awarded the battle honour Ubique. During the Eve of Battle Dinner (17 October) the Battery toasts "the King" [of Sweden] with akvavit and on the anniversary of the battle the reigning monarch of Sweden sends greetings to the battery."

Leipzig Wikipedia page.
"Platov's Russian heavy artillery began to fire upon the Saxons around Paunsdorf. Langeron placed pontoon bridges over the Parthe River and a flying bridge via Mockau; large masses of troops had now moved to the east bank of the river. Meanwhile, Russian and Austrian forces began attacking French and Saxon positions in Paunsdorf, but after counterattacks by French infantry and deadly canister shots from Franco-Saxon batteries are driven back. After being driven back, the Coalition troops were pursued by French infantry before being counterattacked by Austrian hussar and Grenzer cavalries, driving the French back. The fighting around Paunsdorf seesawed for the meantime. Then as the Prussian infantry under General Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr von Bülow arrived in Paunsdorf, the Russian heavy artillery, Prussian horse cannons and the Swedish Congreve rockets began firing on Paunsdorf. Prussian and Austrian troops now took the village by storm and forced the French back to Sellerhausen. Two Prussian battalions and Swedish Congreve rockets pursued the French; the French rallied, however, and killed the commander of British rockets and drove the Prussians back."

Russian General Wittgenstein witnessed their opposing a 2,500 man column:

 ‘Their effect [was] truly astonishing; and produced an impression upon the enemy of something supernatural….a solid square of infantry…after our fire delivered themselves up as if panic struck.'
Wittgenstein wrote,  'They look as if they were made in hell, and surely are the devil’s own artillery'

It seems that one of Cpt Bogue's subalterns a man named Strangways presumably a Lt, took over after his death and had the cross of St Peter pinned to his chest by Tsar Alexander himself, can't be sure if this actually happened but I hope it did.


Josh.
Adventures In Historyland, Keeping History Real. http://adventuresinhistoryland.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Josh&Historyland
Senior Veteran Member
 
Posts: 1844
Joined: March 2nd, 2013, 1:14 pm

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby FBC-Elvas, Portugal » October 15th, 2013, 9:24 am

Josh&Historyland wrote: and the Royal Navy remained dominant (thanks to Trafalger and Horatio)
Josh.


I'm currently reading... isn't the easiest thread to find a comment so here again is Martin Howard's enlightening comparison of the British and French navies in his recent Walcheren 1809: There is a modern perception that during the Napoleonic period, Britain’s pre-eminence on the seas was unchallenged and that the French Navy was a pale imitation of Albion’s mighty armada. The truth is that after 1794 there was a renaissance of French sea power. Britain could never hope to match Napoleon’s capacity for the building and manning of ships.

Howard also discusses the problem that, unlike France, Britain had no formal organisation for the collection and analysis of information in 1809. Chaotic events at the end of 1807 in the Mediterranean, where ministers completely lost the plot and Sicily was nearly garrisoned twice over, were a reminder of how in an age of rudimentary communications technology, control of the armed forces was tenuous.

Sarah
Friends of the British Cemetery, Elvas
User avatar
FBC-Elvas, Portugal
Forum Moderator
 
Posts: 2289
Joined: June 18th, 2011, 2:47 pm
Location: Portugal

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 15th, 2013, 6:18 pm

Everyone forgets that the Navy still had struggles after 1805.

Josh.
Adventures In Historyland, Keeping History Real. http://adventuresinhistoryland.wordpress.com/
User avatar
Josh&Historyland
Senior Veteran Member
 
Posts: 1844
Joined: March 2nd, 2013, 1:14 pm

Re: The Telegraph | British Rocketeers at the Battle of Nati

Postby terry1956 » October 15th, 2013, 9:41 pm

When I was training at Woolwich for the royal artillery, my Barack was called leipzig.michael
terry1956
Senior Member
 
Posts: 212
Joined: August 8th, 2012, 12:52 pm

Next

Return to War of the Sixth Coalition 1812–1814

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron