Good books about the Napoleonic Wars

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Re: Good books about the Napoleonic Wars
« Reply #30 on: June 12, 2007, 12:28:22 PM »
Personally I came to the conclusion that whatever Boney would have lost the battle. I shall tell you why.
If the Prussian were not arrive on time, certainly Wellington would have waited for the night (you remember the famous Duke's sentence "Night or the Prussians must come") then would have been withdrawn with the army towards Brussels, entrenching in the capital of Netherlands in order to defend it until to the last man, and the Duke had one powerful reserve force allocated in the city, although not well-trained. Then the 1st (Zieten), 4th (Bulow) and the 2nd (Pirch) army corps would be returns behind in order to help Thieleman and Clausewitz to faced Grouchy, and still certainly they would have put to rout him. In the meantime Napoleon, with his spirit somewhat imprudent and hasty that it showed during all the campaign, would have chased Wellington to take Brussels (you remember Boney's sentence "This evenig we shall have dinner in Brussels"). Defeated Groucy, Bluecher would be rushed to Duke's help, falling on French from the rear, and they would have been surrounded and exterminated or at least forced to an escape still worse than that one they had to face historically.

I have the honour to be, & c.


- LW -

With all due respect, this opinion is based on the assumptioon that had the Prussians not arrived, night would have first. But if the Prussians hadn't arrived in time, I'm of the opinion that Napoleon would have won the battle. The Allied force was in terrible shape, and what with La Haye Sainte at the centre taken and artillery brought up to occupy the position, a hole could've been opened in the Allied line - the thing llacking was the troops engaging the Prussians around Plancenoit; the allied line was, at this point wavering. In fact the more I read about Waterloo, the more and more surprising I find it that the allies won.

There is no doubt though that Napoleon would have gone on to lose the war.

Re: Good books about the Napoleonic Wars
« Reply #31 on: June 12, 2007, 06:13:18 PM »
As I understood it the 1st Foot Guards were rewarded with the Honour of being called Grenadier Guards after their heroics in Hougoumont and on repelling the French down the hill.

I have alwasy been under this impression but that it was because they had defeated Napoleons feared Grenadiers! though ironically they hadn't. Though I suppose all they knew on the field was that Napoleon was moving the Guard up so only in firing range (and by then probably obscured by smoke) would the troops have known much better, but of course the rest has been fabrication to big up the acheivement. (why I don't know because repelling an attack by the middle guard is still nothing to be scoffed at after the pounding those poor sods had endured that afternoon- be it wearing red, blue, black green or whatever!)

I'm inclined to think there is a lot to what NapoleonsGuard says with regard to Waterloo. Blucher and Wellingto both agreed they could not beat the French alone, that is why they were trying to fight a joined battle. I'm not saying it would have been easy for Napoleon- he hads used a lot of his effective fighting force up, though he would haved had all the guard spare- though they would have been attacking allied battalions not engaged with the middle guard so there may have been no different outcome there?

As for the french bringing up artillery and making a co-ordinated attack- that would surely have broken the line, but nothing about the previous strategical approach that day of Napoleon or Ney makes me think they would have spared the time for co-ordination, only the initial attack of D'Erlon seems particularly corodinated, the rest was just reaction and attrition. I imagine napoleon would have thrown the guard up on a larger front quickly, hoping to beat the allies before the prussians arrived (don't forget that they would still have been on the way, and were they not going to arrive, neither he nor wellington would have know any better until the end of the day.) This attcak would probably have suceeded, especially if he did break with form and take a little more time over the attacks.

But one question begs- If the Prussians were on their way, but hadn't arrived, would he have commited the Guard? He didn't at Borodino, for fear of having no homogeneous unit left at the end of the day- this would have been true of Waterloo too- If he had commited the guard fully he would have damaged them terribly, thus leaving his whole army badly ravaged, and thus open to a possible attack by Blucher early in the a.m, wioth no certainty as to where Grouchy was?

Lots of ifs here, but there is no sure way of saying without the Prussians Wellington would have lost or Won, because they were always on the way which dictated everyones strategy and tactical approach. No if you ask me- Blucher is not coming he went home after Ligny, who would win- Napoleon, but then again Wellington wouldn't have fought, so its an endless circle of fun speculation.

Re: Good books about the Napoleonic Wars
« Reply #32 on: June 12, 2007, 07:33:50 PM »
I've several books about Battle of Waterloo, I've played it out step by step on grand strategic scale (that's actually the best way to learn about battles), but I'm almost 100% sure Wellington would not have won it against an extra infantry corps and two cavalry divisions plus artillery.
Wellington chose to fight because Blucher had promised he would come with two corps, maybe three at a certain time and Wellington knew: Blucher keeps his word. Otherwise he would not have made a stand, because he didn't know how strong Napoleons army was going to be he had to face then.
With help from Blucher he knew he was never going to face an overwhelming stronger army. He also knew that he probably could hold off a stronger Napoleon untill Bluchers arrival.
If D'Erlon had not collapsed under the British heavy cavalry attack (or if that cavalry attack would not have happenend), Napoleon probably would have rolled up Wellingtons left wing that was very thin and stacked with Landwehr before Blucher had arrived.
It's funny, if you try that cavalry attack in simulation often the French go into square. Certain things from real life you cannot simulate in games.
In game playing the French: if Blucher doesn't come you win.
Men willingly believe what they wish - Gaius Julius Ceasar

Re: Good books about the Napoleonic Wars
« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2007, 12:01:41 AM »
I enjoy a game or two at this scale too- but it is just that, a game. The reality of combining an attack on a table top is very easy as opposed to dragging guns up hill through the mud. (I'mareenactor too so thatusually gives me this other side!)

In most games the union brigade charge could never happen as troops cannot pass through one another, so as you say- reality often takes a stranger twist! (the french also nearly always win every batlle as most rulesets are massively francophile, and very harsh on the poor austrians and russians.)

I agree, that Napoleon would have won if he commited the extra troops, but its if he would and leave himself so horribly weakened? As it was- Prussians pushing one flank, Allied wavering on the other, he had no choice but to try and break one, then fend of the other until Grouchy arrived.



Re: Good books about the Napoleonic Wars
« Reply #34 on: June 13, 2007, 02:13:43 AM »
If you took the Prussians out of the equation and Boney had them extra troops then I think that's a no brainer but what Welly had to face in front of him I think he was holding his own and had the French retreating down the hill cue the Prussians who helped seal the victory. Whether Welly could have pressed home the Victory on his own is debatable personally I think he could but it would have been a hard fought one but then did he have enough troops to press home, I don't know tough call but I am sure Welly would not have been defeated, The Allies were close to defeat on several occasions but thanks to Ney's failings and Boney in some ways the upper hand was lost, it certainly would be a close run thing though. We will never know, perhaps in the future they will make a virtual reenactment? lol.

Re: Good books about the Napoleonic Wars
« Reply #35 on: June 13, 2007, 10:05:52 AM »
Battle of Waterloo seems to be one of the most interesting battles in history, because of all the "what ifs".
Men willingly believe what they wish - Gaius Julius Ceasar



Re: Good books about the Napoleonic Wars
« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2007, 02:29:17 PM »
Yes I agree and picking up a good account of the battle isn't difficult either. It all boils down to your opinion of the battle in the end. People have been arguing/debating over Waterloo since the battle ended I would imagine.