Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Re: The Waterloo Campaign - June 10th

Just to keep it specific to June of 1815, the prevailing theme is that Napoleon was a liar and did nothing but lie in exile to protect or build is legacy.

Napoleon was very critical of Ney - but he is not alone in this criticism, and there was a very strong response to Napoleon's criticism that spawned numerous defenses of Ney... some of the first accounts of the Waterloo campaign were written just to refute either Gourgaud's history (believed to be heavily influenced by Napoleon) or Napoleon's memorial the followed. (See Janin for an example)

Hence, the actual evidence refutes your claim. In fact, those that supported Napoleon or believed what he said have not been judged well. From 1850 through the end of the 19th Century, Napoleon was a popular target to French republicans, and it is their views that have been heard loudest.

Napoleon certainly wasn't always honest in exile.

He will claim that his maneuvers on June 15th and June 16th were done purposely in order to draw the Prussians into the battle of Ligny. This is totally false based on his correspondence during the campaign... yet, it is likewise a mild revision that tries to claim credit for the myriad of circumstances beyond his control or awareness. It is unfortunate though that because he took this line of discussion, we lose insight into some key events that remain mysterious.

One gross example of historical misconduct is dealing with Bourmont. Napoleon, and indeed most of the army, will report the damage of Bourmont's treason, and Charras and others will refute it and prevail in the historical debate - yet they will utilize only a fraction of the available information and essentially lie in their central theme that Napoleon alone was responsible for the Waterloo disaster. To this day, the misrepresentations of Bourmont/staff, their actions, the timing, and the impact have become the conventional history while the testimony of eyewitnesses has always supported Napoleon's contention - and that will be shared in the timeline in just a few days.

Regardless, I happen to agree that Napoleon alone was responsible - he was the CiC, and he chose his subordinates. And he was held responsible as he met his death in exile separated from family. What matters today is simple accuracy, and for all the attention this campaign gets, it is grossly misreported.

And that is a sobering lesson to history in general - familiarity does not equate to accuracy...

Messages In This Thread

The Waterloo Campaign - June 10th *PIC*
"du champ de bataille de Waterloo"
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Re: "Der Verrat im Kriege 1815".
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