Have watched this discussion with some interest and thought the following might interest fellow Discussion Denizens:
First, thanks to Steven Smith for locating M. Mané’s Wagram essay! Though one might dispute some of M. Mané’s assertions, he offers a detailed and useful refutation of Ardant du Picq’s superficial analysis of the Macdonald’s attack at Wagram.
Regarding du Picq: his writings are crucial for study of late 19th century views of future combat, but his commentary is almost useless for detailed analysis of MacDonald’s column at Wagram. Among other errors, he doubles the actual numbers available to MacDonald (see below) and seems unaware of the true interaction among the three arms during this phase of the battle (both the successes and failures). He cites no evidence that 12,000 men fell to the ground feigning death or injury (which is not to deny that many likely did so and that many also took the opportunity of helping a wounded comrade to make their way off the field as Broussier reported). There is nothing in du Picq’s "Battle Studies" (pages 132 and 150 in the 1921 American edition) to suggest he gave MacDonald’s or Broussier’s reports anything more than the most cursory glance or that he had any unique archival access; he was, after all, trying to convince an audience and thus out to make some theoretical points about the French army of his day. As to Messrs. Gérôme and Renard, they do not seem to have had access to any material that is not generally available to us today; that is, their observations are potentially useful comments by thoughtful military analysts, but they bring nothing new to the table in their assessments.
Second, offer a few other observations on this interesting episode of the battle:
1. Tactical formation. Mr. Pendragon has covered most of what we know at this point in his most recent post. Key is that several crucial inputs are missing or only available in fragments in the published literature—most notably reports from Lamarque and Seras (assuming they prepared full reports); regimental reports would also be useful (though some of these are little more than requests for awards for outstanding individuals).
2. Strength (all figures rounded to the nearest hundred). MacDonald’s report famously states that he had only 8,000 men at hand for his main attack. However, close reading of his report suggests that this figure refers to his assigned divisions only (Broussier and Lamarque). He seems to have considered Seras as ‘extra’, a separate reserve; he certainly did not regard Seras as part of his initial ‘square’ (just as earlier in the report he did not seem to count Pacthod as part of his ‘7–8,000 men’).
a. The figure of 8,000 comports well with the likely strengths of the two available divisions. Broussier likely had at least some 4,000 (4,900 per the Army of Italy’s 25 June ‘Situation’); and Lamarque, with about 6,300 on the morning of the 5th, would have had at least 4,000 even if his losses in the evening attack came to thirty-seven per cent (more probably he lost twenty-five to thirty per cent).
b. Seras, assuming a similar percentage of losses on the 5th, would have had 3,500–3,700 on 6 July.
c. This gives a total infantry strength of approximately 11,500 for the grand attack in the three divisions.
3. Casualties: losses for MacDonald’s “square” on 6 July may be estimated at approx. 3,900 based on the following.
a. If the figure of 350 officers and 6,000 enlisted killed/wounded is fairly accurate for the entire Army of Italy for both 5th and 6th July, one gets a ratio of approx. 1:17 for officers:enlisted in casualties. Using Martinien’s figures (initial compilation and supplement), one arrives at approximately 216 dead/wounded officers, thus some 3,672 sergeants/enlisted men for 6 July. (All figures approximate, as the dates of injury/death for the 13th Ligne are not specified in most cases). Note that Broussier stated that his division alone lost 2,280 men (or some 59% of the total estimated by what we may call this “Martinien Method”); this seems reasonable.
b. Note that this calculation, of course, is dependent on three critical assumptions: the accuracy of the 350/6,000 figures, the accuracy of Martinien’s records and no "outlier" ratios of officer:enlisted casualties to skew the estimate.
c. As for MacDonald’s figure of 1,500 troops remaining: as before, this may be exaggerated or may refer only to Lamarque and Broussier (i.e., not including Seras). Indeed, Gachot asserts that this figure applies solely to Broussier (p. 280, typically without explication). Of course, that does not coincide with Broussier’s comment about his 300-400 “Spartans.”
d. Finally, 350/6,000 seems completely reasonable for the entire Army of Italy when compared to other French corps at Wagram and Vignolle’s manuscript history of the Army of Italy indeed gives these as the total losses for Eugene’s entire command. However, MacDonald’s report leaves the distinct impression that he regarded these figures as applying to his forces only.
4. What accounts for MacDonald achieving only partial success?
a. Extreme difficulty of the mission.
b. Lack of coordination with other arms owing to a combination bad luck, the obstinate General Walther, and the haste with which the whole project had to be assembled (MacDonald stresses that “there was not a moment to lose” and that the available time “was incompatible with the state of affairs”).
c. Austrian tenacity and intelligent tactical response.
5. Sources: analysis of MacDonald’s “column” is heavily dependent on MacDonald’s after action report and Broussier’s divisional journal. These are absolutely invaluable, but we have only tiny fragments from the other two divisions involved. The modern historian is thus left staring into a bank of fog regarding some aspects of this episode (leaving aside the erroneous assumptions propagated over the decades by shallow investigation).
a. Lamarque. As noted elsewhere in this Forum, Pelet quotes Lamarque as describing a deployment rather different from that in MacDonald’s report. Pelet, however, does not give any further details and does not tell us where Lamarque’s remarks appear; have searched for these in vain. Likewise, Koch comments rather unfavorably on Lamarque's recollections as Mr. Pendragon has pointed out (Koch, of course, was not at Wagram, but did have access to all manner of documents and first-hand accounts).
b. Gachot (1809 Napoléon en Allemagne, 1913, p. 280) quotes Seras as saying that “the Army of Italy passed Süssenbrunn with more than 4,000 combatants,” but does not place this phrase in context and does not give any details on the source other than “Papiers Massena.”
c. Even Vignolle (‘Armée d’Italie: Journal Historique de la Campagne de 1809’, May 1810), Du Casse and Vaudoncourt rely heavily on MacDonald’s report—almost word-for-word at times—so that the modern reader does not always benefit from additional insights or perspectives.
Hope that is helpful for the honored fellow contributors.
Principal references for the above:
Broussier’s divisional Journal (Archives de la Guerre, C2/93).
MacDonald’s report, 7 July 1809 (Archives de la Guerre, C2/93).
Wrede report, 7 July 1809 (Bavarian Kriegsarchiv, B445).
Vignolle, ‘Armée d’Italie: Journal Historique de la Campagne de 1809’, 1810 (MS, Archives de la Guerre).
Austrian after action reports: III Corps, Cavalry Reserve, Grenadier Reserve (Kriegsarchiv).
Pelet, Mémoires sur la guerre de 1809, vol. IV, 1826.
Koch, Mémoires d’André Massena, vol. VI, 1967.
Du Casse, Mémoires et correspondance politique et militaire du Prince Eugène, vol. VI, 1859.
Vaudoncourt, Histoire politique et militaire du Prince Eugène Napoléon, vol. I, 1828.
Victoires, conquêtes, etc…., vol. 19, 1820.
Gachot, 1809 Napoléon en Allemagne, 1913.
Buat, 1809, vol. II, 1909.
Regimental histories: 9, 13, 23, 29, 35, 42, 53, 84, 92, 106, and 112 de Ligne; 18 Léger (= 93rd de Ligne).