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Would you say that Napoleon's ill health affected his performance in 1815?

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  • Would you say that Napoleon's ill health affected his performance in 1815?

    I'm not trying to make excuses for Napoleon, but I'm convinced that his health played an important role in his decisions during the Waterloo campaign.

    David Howarth, a British historian, wrote the following on the subject in his book "A Near Run Thing":







    Please, let's have an honest debate.
    My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

  • #2
    Right here goes then... the little man in the funny 'at had long ago abandoned brilliant ploys/manoeuvrings to win his battles, they'd turned into pounding matches.
    At Waterloo he met a General who knew better than anyone how to pull the teeth of a froggy pounding... then send the poundees on their way!
    Boneypart's aching piles are the most hilarious excuse that has ever been put forward for his rout at Waterloo!

    Last edited by Von Richter; 16 Mar 10, 05:26. Reason: Just got a twinge from mi' bleedin' Plymouths!
    The long toll of the brave
    Is not lost in darkness
    Over the fruitful earth
    And athwart the seas
    Hath passed the light of noble deeds
    Unquenchable forever.

    Comment


    • #3
      Was there a particular battle before Waterloo where he lost his edge, and was that due to an illness at that time? If so there may be a case. Otherwise, it may be due to the fact he had become a tad meglomaniacal and thought he would win regardless of supreme/intensive planning on his part, both strategically and tactically, during this campaign.

      Just a thought .
      How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
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      • #4
        Nick, at Borodino he acted rather primitive and he wasn`t healthy that day, at Leipzig also he gave initiative to allies and where not maneuvering but mostly just defending positions although I never heard that he was sick that day.
        Anyway IMO he wasn`t that Napoleon from Marengo, Austerliz etc. in 1815 - lack of confidence, late orders etc. Probably ilness could be explanation for this.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
          Right here goes then... the little man in the funny 'at had long ago abandoned brilliant ploys/manoeuvrings to win his battles, they'd turned into pounding matches.
          At Waterloo he met a General who knew better than anyone how to pull the teeth of a froggy pounding... then send the poundees on their way!
          Boneypart's aching piles are the most hilarious excuse that has ever been put forward for his rout at Waterloo!

          Von (here we go again ),

          Wellington fought a brilliant battle. He knew how to dissect a frog.

          But this question is much more complex...

          Napoleon maneuvered a lot during the 1813 and 1814 campaigns, especially during the 1814 campaign in France. He constantly outmaneuvered the Allied forces. Take a look at the 6 days campaign.

          In 1815, his health was in decline, he had some good days and many bad days. His lethargy after the victory at Ligny is a well documented fact. Napoleon allowed the Prussians to get away.

          It's pretty obvious to me that Napoleon's health played an important role during the campaign, but to what extent?
          My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
            Was there a particular battle before Waterloo where he lost his edge, and was that due to an illness at that time? If so there may be a case. Otherwise, it may be due to the fact he had become a tad meglomaniacal and thought he would win regardless of supreme/intensive planning on his part, both strategically and tactically, during this campaign.

            Just a thought .
            Nick,

            Take a look at Ulrih's answer. The same thing happened during the battle of Borodino, although I must say that his battle plan was somewhat poor.

            Just a reminder, I'm analyzing the whole campaign, not just the battle of Waterloo.

            Btw... How's your health? We need a health commander.
            My avatar: Center of the Cross of the Légion d'honneur (Legion of Honour) of the First French Empire (Napoleonic Era), 3rd type (awarded between 1806-1808). My Légion d'honneur. :-)

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Zouave View Post
              Von (here we go again ),

              Wellington fought a brilliant battle. He knew how to dissect a frog.

              But this question is much more complex...

              Napoleon maneuvered a lot during the 1813 and 1814 campaigns, especially during the 1814 campaign in France. He constantly outmaneuvered the Allied forces. Take a look at the 6 days campaign.

              In 1815, his health was in decline, he had some good days and many bad days. His lethargy after the victory at Ligny is a well documented fact. Napoleon allowed the Prussians to get away.

              It's pretty obvious to me that Napoleon's health played an important role during the campaign, but to what extent?

              Also, Napoleon outmaneuvered the allies in the opening phases of the Waterloo campaign. I seriously doubt that as brilliant as Welligton might have been, that it was his plan to allow the French to split the allied armies and nearly lose the cross roads at Quartre Bras, but for the insubordination of an allied officer.

              As for the claim that Napoleon "abandoned" maneuver, that ignores not only his "maneuver" into the central position splitting the allies, but also his orders to D'Erlon to outflank the Prussians at Ligny.
              Had Ney not recalled D'Erlon, the Prussian army might have been destroyed by "maneuver".

              It would appear that Napoleon retained his strategic ability, but his ability to manage battles tactically was greatly diminished.

              At Waterloo, he clearly allowed Ney too much control. That might have been the result of simple exhaustion as well as illness or simple overconfidence.
              Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

              Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

              Comment


              • #8
                Just imagine your an Emperor of an empire, you also have to run
                an army as well for 20 years, would you not think at some point
                that you "as an Emperor" would get wore down from all the
                campaigning and the mental fatigue from trying to run a country,
                that something wouldn't give either physically or mentally.

                Even Wellington got caught of guard at Waterloo "as we all
                know" and look at all the campaigning he did as well, not just
                against Napoleon but in the India Wars as well, its got to wear
                on you eventually.

                Napoleon showed signs of this during the 1812 campaign right
                through to 1815 and I say IMO that he was suffering from
                extreme fatigue both mentally and Physically and I point out
                Marshal Ney who had all the signs of Post traumatic stress
                disorder that's how it wore on him for example. Age played a
                great part in this as well.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Napoleon quite simply had the wrong wing commanders, he needed Davout or Suchet as the wing commanders, i would think Davout against Wellington would have given the Duke a run for his money and i wonder if he would have recalled D'Erlon?. Bad idea keeping The Iron Marshal in Paris.
                  Last edited by Post Captain; 16 Mar 10, 12:21.
                  Never Fear the Event

                  Admiral Lord Nelson

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Post Captain View Post
                    Napoleon quite simply had the wrong wing commanders, he needed Davout or Suchet as the wing commanders, i would think Davout against Wellington would have given the Duke a run for his money and i wonder if he would have recalled D'Erlon?. Bad idea keeping The Iron Marshal in Paris.

                    Ah, but who else could he trust in Paris? Damned if he did and damned if he didn't.
                    Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                    Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cambronnne View Post
                      Ah, but who else could he trust in Paris? Damned if he did and damned if he didn't.
                      Very true, but he could have used either Suchet or Davout in either Paris or as a wing commander, as for the rest of the Marshals, i do not think Napoleon had much choice of putting them in such a position of trust.
                      Never Fear the Event

                      Admiral Lord Nelson

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Zouave View Post
                        Von (here we go again ),
                        Originally posted by Zouave View Post


                        Wellington fought a brilliant battle. He knew how to dissect a frog.

                        But this question is much more complex...

                        Napoleon maneuvered a lot during the 1813 and 1814 campaigns, especially during the 1814 campaign in France. He constantly outmaneuvered the Allied forces. Take a look at the 6 days campaign.

                        In 1815, his health was in decline, he had some good days and many bad days. His lethargy after the victory at Ligny is a well documented fact. Napoleon allowed the Prussians to get away.

                        It's pretty obvious to me that Napoleon's health played an important role during the campaign, but to what extent?

                        "But this question is much more complex...2

                        No it's not, It's dead simple, just look at the following 'ifs, musts, mights and should bes from yer mates!
                        When your little man in the funny 'at was 'manoeuvring a lot during the 1813 and 1814 campaigns' he was doing it agin European riff-raff. Had he have been facing His Grace's Veteran Peninsula Army at that time... history would have been spared all this bollocks about his Plymouths!

                        The long toll of the brave
                        Is not lost in darkness
                        Over the fruitful earth
                        And athwart the seas
                        Hath passed the light of noble deeds
                        Unquenchable forever.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Von Richter View Post
                          "But this question is much more complex...2

                          No it's not, It's dead simple, just look at the following 'ifs, musts, mights and should bes from yer mates!
                          When your little man in the funny 'at was 'manoeuvring a lot during the 1813 and 1814 campaigns' he was doing it agin European riff-raff. Had he have been facing His Grace's Veteran Peninsula Army at that time... history would have been spared all this bollocks about his Plymouths!


                          Didn't the man with the funny 'at maneuver against the man with the 'ooky nose when the allied armies were split in the waterloo campaign?

                          Avatar is General Gerard, courtesy of Zouave.

                          Churchill to Chamberlain: you had a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            VR,

                            Thank god he did not have those vets from the Peninsula, as
                            the Americans handed them there ARSES at New Orleans about the
                            same time I believe as Waterloo. and to think, they were beaten
                            by Militia.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by General Brock View Post
                              VR,

                              Thank god he did not have those vets from the Peninsula, as
                              the Americans handed them there ARSES at New Orleans about the
                              same time I believe as Waterloo. and to think, they were beaten
                              by Militia.
                              Technically New Orleans took place several months before Waterloo but their performance was pretty poor. Maybe they'd lost their edge (as veterans can do if they've been in the field too long without a break) and/or they missed the Iron Duke's command skills.

                              Now for the thread question. There is no doubt that something was up with Napoleon at Waterloo, I've seen reports that he demonstrated a lethargy similar to that witnessed at Borodino. I have a suspicion that he was jaded by years of hard campaigning and the responsibilities of being Emperor meaning he simply couldn't raise his game for two battles in quick succession. After all, at Ligny he was the energetic and inspirational Napoleon the French troops loved but as soon as the battle was won and the adrenalin stopped flowing he lost all his sharpness. The effects of piles and cystitis (or whatever), the cold and wet conditions, the knowledge that even if he succeeded in Belgium he would face another desperate campaign like that of 1814 must have played on his mind. It wouldn't surprise me if a modern psycho-analyst diagnosed clinical depression at Waterloo.
                              Signing out.

                              Comment

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