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The Napoleonic Wars 1792-1815

'Place'

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Re: 'Place'

Postby Josh&Historyland » September 24th, 2015, 3:13 pm

Sounds sensible... Been racking my brain but have ended up in the same neighbourhood.

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Re: 'Place'

Postby Senarmont198 » September 24th, 2015, 7:53 pm

I would think that the term 'fortress' would cover the issue. That could be a fortified city as well as a separate permanent fortification, such as Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain in New York state.
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Re: 'Place'

Postby Josh&Historyland » September 24th, 2015, 7:59 pm

There's a passage on French Wikipedia about Vauban.

"À la Renaissance, une nouvelle école de fortification émerge et pose les bases des nouvelles manières de défendre les places fortes."

The last bit défendre les places fortes in a translator comes out as "defend strongholds"

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Re: 'Place'

Postby jf42 » September 24th, 2015, 8:34 pm

'Stronghold' and 'fortress' are both embraced in {EDIT} the term 'place', though to my mind 'fortress' suggests something exclusively military rather than, for example a city like Lille enclosed by a bastion trace (with a Vauban fortress attached) which is perhaps best described as - 'une place ('!). Then you have for instance, the smaller Dutch towns enclosed with Coehorn defences for which 'place' is ideal.

"Place' is in truth a very adaptable term but it is does not 'read' in modern English. I suspect there is no modern equivalent.
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Re: 'Place'

Postby unclearthur » September 24th, 2015, 9:11 pm

I always thought 'affaire' an affected disparagement of an action by those not present. Sort of snobbish belittlement, 'Oh, well, 'twas merely a skirmish,' type of thing.

Do you think 'place' may fall into the same category? If so, then being of its time it's quite likely there is no direct modern equivalent. Shame if not.
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Re: 'Place'

Postby jf42 » September 24th, 2015, 11:00 pm

unclearthur wrote:I always thought 'affaire' an affected disparagement of an action by those not present. Sort of snobbish belittlement, 'Oh, well, 'twas merely a skirmish,' type of thing.

Do you think 'place' may fall into the same category?


Actually, I dont think so. 'Affaire' was used generally by English-speaking soldiers in the 18th century, mainly officers, to refer to any action. 'Wayne's Affair' , used by both sides, was one of several epithets coined to refer to the defeat of Anthony Wayne's force near Paoli Tavern, Pennsylvania, in September 1777 - (including "The Paoli Massacre" by disgruntled rebels who thought fighting after dark with bayonets was unsporting)

There may have been a conscious understatement in the sense of 'a bit of a scrap'. There may even have been a degree of affectation and fashionable jargon at play originally but given that Blucher's first words to Wellington when they met at La Belle Alliance on the night of 18th June were 'Quelle affaire!', I don't think his intention was snobbish belittlement but rather, "Bloody hell, that was one almighty dust up."
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Re: 'Place'

Postby Senarmont198 » September 25th, 2015, 1:10 am

Anthony Wayne and the Continentals learned to be 'unsporting' also, witness the night bayonet attacks at Stony Point in 1779 and at Redoubt Number 10 at Yorktown in 1781.

It doesn't get any better than that... :o
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Re: 'Place'

Postby Student of 1812 » September 26th, 2015, 7:39 am

jf42 wrote:Most of us will be familiar with the 18th-century loan word 'affaire' from the French, used in reference to military actions on a fairly wide scale of intesity.


I've long been mildly intrigued by 'affairs'. I have known about cavalry affairs and presumably the infantry have them (but less elegantly!)? You indicate that the expression is used to denote 'a fairly wide scale of intensity.' For what periods of history was this expression current (I have in my guest bedroom - known as the Empire Room - a picture of the cavalry affair at Bulganak where the framing is more interesting then the picture)? If it is a measure of intensity, what words were recognised to indicate lesser or more intense engagements (might an affair turn into an engagement or vice versa)? Was it slang - a bit like a 'nasty business over Berlin last night' in WW2 terms? Might it be used in a derogatory sense as it is often used about the cavalry - many arm chair historians 'having it in for' L'arme blanche during the Napoleonic wars, Crimea, S. African Wars etc.?

[After note - hadn't seen page 2 before drafting my post where Uncle Arthur picks-up on some similar points]
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Re: 'Place'

Postby jf42 » September 26th, 2015, 10:04 am

Without being able to quote you chapter and verse just now, my experience is that affaire was simply the fashionable term for any encounter worth the mention, that is to say, a skirmish or ambush might not be worth of comment although I'm not sure. As I suggested before, I don't think there was any belittling intention, more a sense of casual understatement. That was also the original usage when used in a romantic context; whereas now it seems to suggest nothing less than adultery. Not that the French have a word for that. 8-)

It was in English usage certainly from the 1770s until the end of the Naploeonic wars- (viz Marshall Blucher) but reflects the influence of France and the French language on fashionable society and military science from the reign of Louis XIV onwards until, entre nous, long after the apogée of French military prestige, viz l'arme blanche, piquet, coup de main, sabotage, camouflage etc, etc. whether in A or B echelon.
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Re: 'Place'

Postby Student of 1812 » September 27th, 2015, 4:45 pm

Thank you for the résumé. I always found getting recruits to understand the concept of enfilade fire quite challenging. (Presumably now that the British Army is merely an adjunct of the US Army, and follows its procedures slavishly, only French words previously adopted by the US are in use today!?)
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