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Napoleon Bonaparte: Military Genius or Military Moron?

    • 558 posts
    April 15, 2015 10:27 PM EDT

    Well, what's your opinion on Emperor Napoleon I? Is he the best military strategist that ever lived? All of the documentaries I've ever watched seem to think that that's the case. I personally think that he was great at manipulating the environment to his advantage, sometimes. I just feel that he acted on impulse, sometimes coming up with genius ideas, other times not so much. What do YOU think about Napoleon Bonaparte? Genius or moron or somewhere in the middle?

  • Tom
    • 624 posts
    April 15, 2015 10:36 PM EDT

    Is there anyone on the blog who's qualified to answer is?

    • 1595 posts
    April 15, 2015 10:39 PM EDT

    Yeah, have we got anyone who as actually read all 10000 books on the subject and is now a professor of history?

  • April 15, 2015 10:39 PM EDT
    Is there anyone who isn't?
  • April 15, 2015 10:40 PM EDT
    Napoleon was a genius, but eventually we mess up.
    • 558 posts
    April 15, 2015 10:44 PM EDT

    Fair enough. I've been learning more about the history of France from school 

    • 1595 posts
    April 15, 2015 11:12 PM EDT

    Go on then Gol, write us an essay on why you think these things

    • 1441 posts
    April 15, 2015 11:28 PM EDT
    Personally, while he did do a lot of good, and had successes, he was stupid with the whole "marching into Russia in the dead of winter" thing, that, and his Grand Army was stricken with Yellow Fever
    • 100 posts
    April 15, 2015 11:31 PM EDT
    Guy studied physics to better aim his canonballs. I thought that was pretty smart.
    • 743 posts
    April 15, 2015 11:38 PM EDT

    In my opinion he was one of the smartest military generals to live. Only dumb thing he did was attack Russia in the dead of winter, not very bright.

    • 74 posts
    April 16, 2015 2:52 AM EDT

    *raises hand* I'm not here much any more, but... well... this is sort of (one of the things) I went to university to study and is a long-standing personal interest. My take:

    Genius, but he had a long career and the insights of a genius can be learned by less brilliant men once they've been demonstrated.

    He once quipped that you shouldn't fight the same enemy too often lest you teach him all of your tricks. Unfortunately for him, Napoleon didn't follow his own advice and fought everyone many times over many years... especially the Prussians and Russians.

    Napoleon's biggest insights came in the field of logistics. His army was structured out of corps which were themselves mini-armies, capable of independent maneuver, detachment, and full operations. He could disperse his army for distance marching, secure that no part was more than a day's march from another corps, yet able to utilize a greater percentage of the available transportation infrastructure to move prior to concentrating. In other words, he figured out to how to move very large armies long distances very rapidly without significantly increasing their vulnerability to attack.

    Problem was... by the end of the Napoleonic Wars, everyone else was doing the same thing... especially the Prussians and the Russians.

    • 1595 posts
    April 16, 2015 8:52 AM EDT

    Good to se you back Incomitatus  I guess we have our expert now.

    • 12 posts
    April 16, 2015 12:42 PM EDT

    What I understood from my history lessons in school was that Napolean was genius regarding army logistics. He knew how to keep up the flow of provisions needed to supply his army and how to quickly move an army to another location.

    Regarding field tactics: he was a very clever man. But if I remember correctly he won very few battles of all the battles that took place during the Napoleonic War, so...

    • 2 posts
    April 21, 2015 1:06 AM EDT

    He was a brilliant tactitian but attacking Russia was retarded, Hitler made the same mistake and it lost him the war. He wasn't prepared for the cold or the might of Russia.

    • 74 posts
    April 22, 2015 6:32 PM EDT

    Napoleon had no reason to believe that Russia wouldn't negotiate after a major loss, like the last two times he'd fought them (Austerlitz and Friedland, respectively).

    When Alexander didn't sue for peace after Smolensk, or Borodino, or the loss of Moscow, it's only then that Napoleon might reasonably have assumed he'd made a mistake.

    • 558 posts
    June 2, 2015 1:44 AM EDT
    Yeah, it could go both ways for me right now.