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On Looting and Pillaging

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  • Michele
    Interesting. Then one wonders what the explanation of reality was:
    1. an undeserved bad reputation of the French Napoleonic armies?
    2. a case of "don't do as I say (here), do as I do"?
    3. a distinction being drawn between pillaging (intended as the criminal action of individual soldiers or groups of soldiers, against orders) and foraging (under orders)?

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  • Massena
    started a topic On Looting and Pillaging

    On Looting and Pillaging

    ‘Military discipline admits of no modifications.’-Napoleon to Jerome, 3 April 1807.

    The army must understand that discipline, wisdom, and the respect for property support its victories, that pillage and theft belong only to the cowardly, who are unworthy of remaining in the ranks…that they plot the loss of honor and that they have no goal other than to stain the laurels acquired by so much bravery and perserverence.’-Order of the Day, 11 June 1796.

    ‘Without discipline there is no victory.’-Napoleon to the Directory, 6 April 1796.

    ‘The success of an army and its well-being depend essentially upon order and discipline, which will make us loved by the people who come to greet us and with whom we share enemies.’-Order of the Day, 20 March 1799.

    ‘Pillaging destroys everything, even the army that practices it. The inhabitants leave, which has the dual drawback of turning them into irreconcilable enemies who take revenge upon the isolated soldier, and of swelling the enemy ranks in proportion to the damage that we do. This deprives us of all intelligence, so necessary for waging war, and of every means of subsistence. Peasants who come to peddle provisions are put off by the troops who stop them, pillage their wares, and beat them.’-Order of the Army, 12 December 1808.

    ‘When I arrived [in Italy in 1796] the army was injured by the bad influence of the troublemakers: it lacked bread, discipline, and subordination. I made some examples, devoted all of our means to reviving the administrative services of the army, and victory did the rest…Without bread the soldier tends to an excess of violence that makes one blush for being a man.’-Napoleon to the Directory, 24 April 1796.

    ‘We will never forget to make a disciplinary example of these soldiers who deviate from the rule of severe discipline.’-Napoleon to AM Battaglia, 10 December 1796.

    Army Order, 22 June 1812:

    ‘Each marshal or corps commander will name a provost commission composed of five officers, which will try every soldier who, following the army, is absent from his regiment without a legitimate reason and every marauder and individual caught pillaging or molesting the local inhabitants. The commission will condemn the guilty to death and will have them executed in twenty-

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