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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

New Orleans Bicentenary.

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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Senarmont198 » July 21st, 2015, 12:37 am

The decisive theater was central Europe, not Spain. And it should be remembered that Wellington's army was small, especially by the standards of 1813 in central Europe. Taking half of the troops from Spain in early 1813 would leave approximately 80,000 and under a commander the quality of Suchet, whom Wellington had not faced, might have seen an interesting campaign. And all Suchet would have had to do was delay after a major withdrawal while Napoleon dealt with the Russians and Prussians.
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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Josh&Historyland » July 21st, 2015, 1:19 am

Well it's all just conjecture, but if we were betting on who would win between Wellington and Suchet, or indeed Jackson, the odds based on track record are heavily in Wellington's favour. All of the Marshals had excellent records before they took official command of the army in Spain.

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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Senarmont198 » July 21st, 2015, 10:46 am

And that, too, is conjecture.

Wellington also had his failures and didn't have to face an insurgency that kept too many French troops away from the fighting against Wellington. Without the guerillas, Wellington would have faced the same fate as Moore. And without Wellington the Spanish insurgency would have been put down.
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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Josh&Historyland » July 21st, 2015, 11:44 am

Yes it's all conjecture.

But laying odds means we look at the proven record & try to predict the outcome. Wellington took advantage of the favourable situations provided by the Guerrillas, instead of just sitting back and waiting, that they worked in tandem is a point I won't argue but in a discussion of generals who fight set piece battles they don't come into the equation, indeed they would help defeat Suchet. I took account of Wellington's faults, if he could take Massena, Marmont & Soult he could take an reduced army commanded by Suchet.

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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Senarmont198 » July 21st, 2015, 3:24 pm

That is not a logical conclusion, based on Suchet's performance in eastern Spain. He was in the top tier of marshals, which Marmont definitely was not and was more of a strategist than Soult. Wellington fought against Massena when Massena was burnt out.

And Suchet had proven himself as an independent commander as early as 1800 in the Marengo campaign against long odds.
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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby janner » July 21st, 2015, 5:05 pm

Senarmont198 wrote:Wellington also had his failures and didn't have to face an insurgency that kept too many French troops away from the fighting against Wellington. Without the guerillas, Wellington would have faced the same fate as Moore. And without Wellington the Spanish insurgency would have been put down.


Wellington certainly knew of the danger of operating amidst a hostile population and did his utmost to prevent ill-discipline alienating the people of Iberia (and France in due coruse) - with varying degrees of success.

In comparison, Napoleon is on record as directing his troops to eradicate Spanish villages, M. Vox, Correspondance de Napoléon: six cents lettres de travail (1806–1810) (Paris, 1943), pp. 312–14. This was compounded by a military culture that, through encouraging troops to live off the land, encouraged the mistreatment of non-combatants.

As we've discussed elsewhere, I do not seek to bring morality into play, but you reap what you sow.
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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Josh&Historyland » July 21st, 2015, 8:47 pm

Senarmont198 wrote:That is not a logical conclusion, based on Suchet's performance in eastern Spain. He was in the top tier of marshals, which Marmont definitely was not and was more of a strategist than Soult. Wellington fought against Massena when Massena was burnt out.

And Suchet had proven himself as an independent commander as early as 1800 in the Marengo campaign against long odds.


Actually based on a closer examination of Suchet's performance, it is entirley logical. He had a glowing reputation, and I admit he was a good soldier but his reputation is not actually based on much when it really gets down to it. First off he was defeated by a Spanish army at Alcañiz, commanded by Joaquin Blake of all people (a most unlucky general) and whose other victories in Spain were largly against inferior grade officers like the aforesaid Blake and O'Donnel and was fighting in a pretty much backwater theatre where he could do as he pleased away from Napoleon's or anyone else's interference
It is unfair to say that Massena was burnt out, as it was after he was removed from the army of Portugal he fell from grace, he was a force to be reckoned with during the campaigns of 1810 and 1811, as was Marmont they did their best and were nonplussed each time. Soult, before Spain was respected, indeed he forced Moore into the Sea. As I've said all were at their peak before Spain. Suchet did not do well in 1815, failing to hold the Alpine passes agaisnt Latour and ended up calling a ceasefire and retiring behind the Loire. In 1814 he'd have had to hold the line of the Pyrenees, and I'm not seeing it happening.

In terms of New Orleans I am constantly bewildered by Pakenham's decision to attempt to take the place the way he did. And indeed the absurd bad luck he had, due to the lack of proper preparations, lack of ladders etc and soldiers carrying artillery ammuniton in their packs because of the lack of transport... Indeed the lack of artillery support was notable, useless as it would have been against the low rampart. How much of his defeat was down to his mistakes and how much was unavoidable. I'm not even sure with his amount of men he could have surrounded or blockaded NO anyway. Any thoughts gents?

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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Senarmont198 » July 22nd, 2015, 12:28 pm

I would suggest a closer look at Suchet. I believe that you have underrated him as a commander.

The defeat by Blake was incurred shortly after Suchet took over Junot's neglected III Corps. After assessing the mess he had inherited after it ran away from Blake, he completely rebuilt his new army, 'restored discipline and morale, and saw that it was properly paid, clothed and fed...'

Suchet also pacified his base of operations which then supported his subsequent campaigns. In three years of hard campaigning he conquered and occupied three Spanish provinces with an army that never exceeded 50,000 and took 77,000 prisoners and 1400guns.

The two British amphibious expeditions from Sicily were both defeated by Suchet and they reembarked and went back to Sicily.

In 1815 Suchet's mission was to delay the Austrians and Piedmontese with the 24,000 troops assigned to him. He faced over 60,000 allies and accomplished his mission. Bugeaud was one of his regimental commanders and his memoir of the campaign is valuable. For Suchet's career, Six is also helpful.
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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Josh&Historyland » July 22nd, 2015, 12:55 pm

I am sufficiently familair with Suchet to reach my own conclusion. But I will indeed add Bugeaud's memoir to my never ending list. Suchet was ordered to hold the Alpine passes to delay the enemy, after an initial successful thrust he was driven back and had to retire behind the Loire after losing Lyons and Grenoble. His inability to hold strong moutain positions meant that the enemy could deploy their larger numbers on the plain. Actually he was not facing 60,000, not at first, it was more like 40-38,000 as Frimont split his force into three and left a strong garrison in Switzerland, and he had slightly more than 28,000 men, indeed he could have called on 10,000 more troops at Toulon if necessary. Inferior numbers is no excuse for such a capeable commander.
The prisoners of his Spanish work came principally from the surrender of the two cities he took, and again he faced no commander of sufficient merit to oppose him, this theatre was not a backwater and his opponents were sub standard. I doubt the Amphibious assaults from far off Sicily were too difficult to repulse.

As I said before, it is not that I underrate him, or think he was bad, he was a good soldier and a fine commander but he never met a General that was of the caliber of Wellington, whose record speaks for itself. In many ways he was much like Massena or Marmont or Soult before they took command in Spain. I would just say that a bad and beaten army can win victories despite their problems. Might we ask if so many VC's would have awarded at Rorkes Drift had not iSandlwana occurred the same day, Suchet was the only bright spark in the whole Spanish war, why not recognise his victories. Won almost during his own little war. The state of Junot's corps would be a problem but great commanders had used inferior forces before to win, Napoleon did this with the army of Italy, we can blame his troops if we want for his defeat by Blake, but it is up to the commander to gauge chances of victory before he engages the enemy, or if he has not chance to do so, to withdraw until he is sure.

Interesting as it is, I'm not certain that we can really continue a discussion of Suchet here, as sadly it's got nothing to do with the name of the thread, maybe we could start a new topic in the Peninsular War section?

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Re: New Orleans Bicentenary.

Postby Senarmont198 » July 22nd, 2015, 2:49 pm

janner wrote:
Senarmont198 wrote:Wellington also had his failures and didn't have to face an insurgency that kept too many French troops away from the fighting against Wellington. Without the guerillas, Wellington would have faced the same fate as Moore. And without Wellington the Spanish insurgency would have been put down.


Wellington certainly knew of the danger of operating amidst a hostile population and did his utmost to prevent ill-discipline alienating the people of Iberia (and France in due coruse) - with varying degrees of success. In comparison, Napoleon is on record as directing his troops to eradicate Spanish villages, M. Vox, Correspondance de Napoléon: six cents lettres de travail (1806–1810) (Paris, 1943), pp. 312–14. This was compounded by a military culture that, through encouraging troops to live off the land, encouraged the mistreatment of non-combatants. As we've discussed elsewhere, I do not seek to bring morality into play, but you reap what you sow.


I don't see where information from 'elsewhere' is either relevant or on topic. If you wish to discuss that subject I would suggest beginning a new topic in the Peninsula section as Josh has recommended.

Regarding the use of Napoleon's Correspondence, you cannot or should not use it in a vacuum. What should be done to my mind is to see if his orders were carried out and/or did Napoleon change his mind afterwards. As an example, Napoleon's instructions to Davout regarding the reoccupation of Hamburg were harsh and could be considered draconian. However, Napoleon's 'fury' was lessened both by the passage of time and Davout's suggestions on how best to conduct the reoccupation. Napoleon did listen to his subordinates and sometimes took the advice as at Hamburg. So, on that subject, perhaps the research is incomplete?

Again, though, bringing something from another forum seems to me to be somewhat inappropriate, as is your 'reaping' comment.
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