Napoleon Series Archive 2015

Postman always rings twice - Eylau and Waterloo

When reading of Napoleon's faults at Waterloo, I always think of Eylau:

- narrow battlefield making the fire deadlier
- late start (here because of northern winter night and heavy snowing)
- initial french infantry attack crushed
- counter-attack shattered
- great charge buying time, but spending the cavalry, unable to exploit his success and hold the ground due to lack of infantry support
- unexpected arrival of Lestocq on the far right of the Russians, having slipped away from Ney, endangering french left and rear

So basically the same tactical and strategical blunders, with no dramatic result for Napoleon because:

- Bennigsen wasted infantry force in counter-attack, instead of sparing it for next round
- Lestocq added a single corps, and instead of rolling french left, he had all the width of the battlefield, to counter Davout's advance
- Ney followed Lestocq by a few hours and reinforced french left
- Davout masterfully rolled Russian army (no Hougomont to anchor Russian left)

Of course circumstances and moves were not equal, but clearly, with the same string of failures, number and quality of marshals made a great difference.

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Postman always rings twice - Eylau and Waterloo
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