French Commanders Study GroupBy: Terry Senior
I was delighted when Tony Broughton invited me to contribute to the Napoleon Series and immediately thought about what I could do that was different when compared with what I was already putting out on my own site.
As some of you may know, my particular interest is almost exclusively in Napoleon's Generals. It is a very large field and embraces in excess of 1,400 officers. I receive a regular stream of enquiries from all over the world. Some are easy, or relatively so, others are often a real headache and require hours of painstaking research.
In my French Commanders Study Group, which is located on the First Empire site, I tend to take a broad selection of officers and talk briefly about all, or any aspects of their lives as widely diverse as their combat experience or their domestic arrangements and family situations.
As is only to be expected, one tends to come across discrepancies of a wide variety, and these I take great pleasure in endeavouring to sort out. Some, I am unable to do on my own and have in these instances placed the questions on the site and called for assistance. Although the response was slow in the beginning, obviously because people had to find the site in the first place, some 18 months down the line, I am astonished at the number of people who are now taking an interest in what I have to say and are pleased to assist if they can. These contacts include at least twenty descendants of some of these officers and the degree of co-operation from these families has been brilliant. One gentleman in particular sent me a package weighing at least two kilo's thick with copy documents and letters concerning his ancestor. Four or five others have sent me photographs of little known portraits, decorations, etc. Although I struggle to post an update on a regular basis, often within a couple of days of the update appearing, further correspondents are making themselves known.
Such co-operation can only be good for the subject we have chosen to have as our hobby or pastime. I answer all enquiries, and actively encourage participation.
It is with this last thought in mind that I decided to take the four arms or branches of the army i.e. the cavalry, infantry, artillery and, (to a lesser degree) the engineers. I will then take who I consider to be the top 20 exponents in each of the first two categories and the top ten in the other two, and list them in what I consider to be their order of overall ability. This is bound to be contentious, if it isn't then I have either failed in my objective or my expertise in rating these officers is better than I thought it was. For this exercise I am leaving out the Marshals and members of the Bonaparte family. What I would like the reader to do, is to participate and if in disagreement with all or any of my ratings, to write in and say so, stating why they have a different viewpoint. This first submission to the site will take the most glamorous arm, the cavalry.
If anyone wishes to enter into a discussion or offer any additional information or comment on the content of thes articles, please contact me at:
By telephone or fax on 01736-711827 or by mobile on : 0781 352 9453.
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