Napoleon Series Archive 2014

Re:Napoleon's Army->devastation of right Elbe bank

This is Napoleon's comment on Wellington and Torres Vedras:

'There's a man for you! He is forced to flee from an army that he dares not fight, but he puts eighty leagues of devastation between himself and his pursuers. He slows down the march of the pursuing army, he weakens it by all kinds of privation-he knows how to ruin it without fighting it. In all of Europe, only Wellington and I are capable of carrying out such measures. But there is a difference between him and myself: In France…I would be criticized, whereas England will praise him.'-Napoleon

John Elting follows up that comment in Swords that Napoleon refused, when urged, to do the same thing in Saxony.

It should be noted that both armies foraged in Saxony and Odeleben's comment was:

‘The troops were short of food; they were obliged to sleep, in the cold autumn nights, on the damp ground of the mountains. There was no forage for the horses, the frontier villages were entirely destroyed, every house not built of stone had been pulled down to feed the bivouac fires; the whole neighborhood bore the stamp of the horrors of war…The soil already ten times turned over, was again ransacked in the search for a few potatoes.’-Odeleben.

Petre noted that both sides had gone over the area repeatedly in efforts to feed their armies.

There is no evidence that I have found that Napoleon ordered any territory in Saxony to be completely evacuated forcibly, backed up by the Saxon government in the manner that Wellington and the Portuguese government did during the withdrawal to the Lines of Torres Vedras. And in that evacuation Portuguese civilans that refused were exected by the Portuguese government, obviously with Wellington's concurrence or at the very least his acquiescence. And of the 300,000 or so civilians forcibly evacuated, between 40,000-50,000 died of exposure and disease inside the Lines. Napoleon did not resort to that in Saxony.

As a final note, with the translation of Odeleben's excellent memoirs some care has to be taken, as the translator was a French royalist, just like Titeux was in his books on Dupont, etc.

K

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Napoleon's Army in Germany
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Re:Napoleon's Army->devastation of right Elbe bank
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