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Le Armee Anglais.

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Le Armee Anglais.

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 3rd, 2017, 11:15 am

A book written by a visitor to Paris shortly after the occupation noted that the French had a tendency to blame all national misfortune on the British if they reasonably could. I think that this is a prime reason why the Battle of Waterloo became a British show. If you think about all the correspondence that went on at French HQ during the 1815 campaign, there's never usually any indication that French senior comanders are worried about defeating the Prussians or any of the allies, but they do tend to focus on the British, especially the infantry.

In pondering this I recalled some of the legendary moments where the French ignored everyone but the British. Ney at Quatre Bras is said to have hesitated when he found redcoats on the road. Napoleon argued with his generals on the day of Waterloo about the "English" not the allies or the Prussians. Whenever Wellington's army was mentioned it was always labelled "English". Etc.

So onwards from there, I think this is a good reason why the legacy of Waterloo polarised around a showdown between British and French, nevertheless I'd be interested to know if the French paid the same level of concerned attention to the other troops opposed to them?

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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby jf42 » October 3rd, 2017, 10:32 pm

An interesting point, Josh. I shall be interested to see what others come up with. :geek:
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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby Andrew » October 4th, 2017, 9:17 pm

We must be wary of being too jingoistic here. However, in almost all the French memoirs of the Waterloo campaign, Wellington's army is almost inevitably (99%) referred to as, l’armée anglaise. In Gougaud's account (apparently dictated by Napoleon) he does refer to l’armée anglo-belge when referring to the army in general, but at Waterloo they are inevitably les Anglais.
Gourgaud's account says, 'The French army, having only sixty seven or sixty eight thouasand men, was of course inferior in numbers, though it was superior with regard to the quality of its troops. The Belgic and German soldiers could not be placed on an equality with the French...' One could argue that this implies that the 'English' were at least considered as their equals.

Napoleon was clearly confident that he would defeat the Prussians before taking on the Anglo-Belgians. He clearly understood that his senior commanders who fought in the Peninsular feared the British troops and this is well illustrated by his various statements at the pre-Waterloo breakfast as he delivered his pep talk denigrating Wellington and his troops.

JF: I presume you are aware that the French referred to the Highland troops as the sans culottes!

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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby jf42 » October 5th, 2017, 7:49 am

Andrew- indeed. Or even, "Les vrais Sans Culottes", as reported by a British officer in Holland, even as arctic temperatures forced the adoption of extreme measures.

"14th December 1794

The highlanders, at this time, from the severity of the weather, were under the necessity of leaving off wearing their kelts, or short petticoats, and were furnished with pantaloons or close trousers which were much more comfortable for them; The French had distinguished them by the name of “Vrai Sans-Culottes."

Necessité fait loi.
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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby Josh&Historyland » October 5th, 2017, 3:26 pm

Jingoism is to be avoided at all costs, indeed Andrew. And your comments, based on much more original research than mine, tally with what I suspected. This question shouldn't really speak to exactitudes as we know it was an allied effort, and even when the French wrote Anglais I believe they mean language rather than nationality. (Though even then that forgets Gaelic speakers).

Le vrais Sans culotte's, waht does that mean, the something without something?
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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby jf42 » October 5th, 2017, 5:03 pm

Josh, the literal meaning of 'Sans Culottes' is - "The True 'Without-Breeches.'"

'Sans Culottes' was the nickname of the working population of France of especially those in Paris who rose in revolt in July 1789. This was supposedly because, unlike the middle class and aristocracy who wore knee-length breeches of fine cloth- (culottes in French)- they wore simple overalls - pantalons - made of coarse linen and other less fine materials. After the Revolution wearing pantalons became a badge of alignment with the common people and the cause of egalité .

The soldiers of the Highland regiments (42nd, and later 78th and 93rd) by going literally bare-ar$ed, according to those who knew no better, were truly 'Without Breeches'.

In fact, I suspect that this play on words never crossed the lines between the two armies but was probably coined by an English officer, in all likelihood the author of the journal in which it was recorded; taking the Michael out of both the French and the Scots in one go being something of a coup.
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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby DaveH » October 10th, 2017, 11:50 am

It is not just a case of what happened at Waterloo, but Napoleon had spent the previous 20 years blaming is setbacks on "the English". Repeat a lie etc.
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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby Digby » December 11th, 2017, 5:33 pm

I can only comment in general terms (I did do some research on this many years ago)

When you look at it, The French only beat the British once or twice in the Peninsular. They lost many times and at Maida.

But the French beat the Russians, Austrians, Prussians etc many times, and lost a few times.

So weather it was due to British steadiness, line versus column, Wellingtons tactics, (reverse slope etc) or poor French leadership/tactics I am not sure.

A set of rule ammendments I wrote many years ago did feature "The British Countercharge"
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Re: Le Armee Anglais.

Postby Senarmont198 » December 11th, 2017, 6:52 pm

The French used the term 'English gold' when describing setbacks or losses. Interestingly, without the British subsidies to the allies in 1813-1814, the Russians, Austrians, and Prussians could not have taken the field. And the British could not defeat the French on land by themselves.
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