Napoleon Series Archive 2004

Re: Practical Grand-Tactics?
In Response To: Practical Grand-Tactics? ()

Howie,

If you're going to concentrate on the French way of doing business, check the appropriate regulation (which was pre-Revolution) and then trace the development of the French cavalry arm. It was the one brach of service most affected by emigration and was the least efficient during the Wars of the Revolution.

Napoleon started taking the cavalry out of his divisions and concentrating them at army level in 1796-1797. This led to the formation of a Cavalry Reserve under Murat with the Army of the Reserve in 1800 and that remained in place until it was reorganized for Russia in 1812 with cavalry corps that could operate semi-indepedently within the Cavalry Reserve. That organization stayed in place for the rest of the wars.

Interestingly, the chief of staff of the Cavalry Reserve, Belliard, stayed there for quite some time. Also, Bessieres was probably a better cavalry reserve commander than Murat as he took much better care of both men and horses.

Tactics used during the period were generally developed through experience. The French cavalry had not done all that well for quite some time in combat, and their performance in 1756-1763 was dismal.

The crop of commanders that grew up during the Revolution and Empire was excellent, Montbrun probably being the most skillful, and he started as a private in the 1st Chasseurs. Davout got him his stars. Leadership and training are the most important and French heavy cavalry could quite literally sweep the field from 1805-1809 (at least).

Sincerely,
Kevin

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