Lesson 18 - YEars of Victory, 1805 - 1807, page 76 - 107

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Lesson 18 - YEars of Victory, 1805 - 1807, page 76 - 107

Post  Admin on Sat Oct 13, 2012 2:17 am

Lesson Objectives:
1) Understand the causes of the formation and defeat of the Third and Fourth Coalitions
2) Understand the reasons for Napoleon's operational success between 1805 - 1807
3) Assess the strengths and weaknesses of Napoleon and his enemies.

Terms and Concept:
Bataillon carre := formation called bataillon care (battalion square). There were several combinations of this formation. The light cavalry rode ahead, probed and located the enemy, then reported back to headquarters (to Napoleon and his chief of staff) the positions of enemy's troops. As soon as the Emperor plotted them on the map, he would order one or both of his wing commanders to engage the nearest enemy force. The reserve was made of heavy cavalry and the Imperial Guard. All troops marched within supporting distance of one another. The wings consisted of one or two army corps each.
(Although the French army corps varied in size, they all shared one thing: each was a balanced, all-arm force of infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers and staff. It was in fact a self-reliant miniature army able to take on much stronger enemy for a limited time. According to British historian David Chandler the French army corps could be left to move on its own, greatly easing the traffic on any particular set of roads.)
The Continental System := The Continental System or Continental Blockade (known in French as Blocus continental) was the foreign policy of Napoleon I of France in his struggle against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland during the Napoleonic Wars. As a response to the naval blockade of the French coasts enacted by the British government on the 16 May 1806, Napoleon issued the Berlin Decree on the 21 November 1806, which brought into effect a large-scale embargo against British trade.[1] This embargo ended on April 11, 1814 after Napoleon's first abdication.

Battle of Austerlitz := The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition. On 2 December 1805 (20 November Old Style, 11 Frimaire An XIV, in the French Republican Calendar), a French army, commanded by Emperor Napoleon I, decisively defeated a Russo-Austrian army, commanded by Tsar Alexander I and Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, after nearly nine hours of difficult fighting. The battle took place near Austerlitz (Slavkov u Brna) about 10 km (6 mi) south-east of Brno in Moravia, at that time in the Austrian Empire (present day Czech Republic). The battle was a tactical masterpiece of the same stature of Gaugamela and Cannae.[4]

The French victory at Austerlitz effectively brought the Third Coalition to an end. On 26 December 1805, Austria and France signed the Treaty of Pressburg, which took Austria out of both the war and the Coalition, while it reinforced the earlier treaties between the two powers of Campo Formio and of Lunéville. The treaty confirmed the Austrian cession of lands in Italy and Bavaria to France and in Germany to Napoleon's German allies, imposed an indemnity of 40 million francs on the defeated Habsburgs, and allowed the defeated Russian troops free passage, with their arms and equipment, through hostile territories and back to their home soil. Victory at Austerlitz also permitted the creation of the Confederation of the Rhine, a collection of German states intended as a buffer zone between France and central Europe. As a direct consequence of these events, the Holy Roman Empire ceased to exist when, in 1806, Holy Roman Emperor Francis II abdicated the Imperial throne, keeping Francis I of Austria as his only official title. These achievements, however, did not establish a lasting peace on the continent. Prussian worries about growing French influence in Central Europe sparked the War of the Fourth Coalition in 1806. SOURCE: WIKIPEDIA

Battle of Eylau := The Battle of Eylau or Battle of Preussisch-Eylau, 7 and 8 February 1807, was a bloody and inconclusive battle between Napoléon's Grande Armée and a Russian Empire army under Levin August, Count von Bennigsen near the town of Preußisch Eylau in East Prussia.[6] Late in the battle, the Russians received a timely reinforcement from a Prussian division. The town is now called Bagrationovsk and it is a part of Kaliningrad Oblast, Russia. The engagement was fought during the War of the Fourth Coalition, part of the Napoleonic Wars. Of all Napoleonic battles, this is considered to be the most uncertain and mysterious due to several reasons - mainly the strength of Murat's reserve cavalry, and which way the wind was blowing.

Napoleon's armies previously smashed the army of the Austrian Empire in the Ulm Campaign and the combined Austrian and Russian armies at the Battle of Austerlitz on 2 December 1805. Austerlitz forced the Austrians to sue for peace and their Russian allies to withdraw from the conflict. On 14 October 1806, Napoleon crushed the armies of the Kingdom of Prussia at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt. After a rapid pursuit, the broken pieces of the Prussian army were destroyed at the Battles of Prenzlau and Lübeck and in a series of capitulations at Erfurt, Pasewalk, Stettin, Magdeburg, and Hamelin. Eylau was the first serious check to the Grande Armée and the myth of Napoleon's invincibility was badly shaken.

In late January, Bennigsen's Russian army went on the offensive in East Prussia, pushing far to the west. Napoleon reacted by mounting a counteroffensive to the north, hoping to prevent their retreat to the east. After his cossacks captured a copy of Napoleon's orders, Bennigsen rapidly withdrew to the northeast to avoid being cut off. The French pursued for several days and found the Russians drawn up for battle at Eylau. In a vicious evening clash, the French captured the village with heavy losses on both sides. The following day brought even more serious fighting. Early in the battle, a frontal attack by Napoleon failed with catastrophic losses. To retrieve the situation, the emperor launched a massed cavalry charge against the Russians. This bought enough time for the French right wing to throw its weight into the contest. Soon, the Russian left wing was bent back at an acute angle and Bennigsen's army was in danger of collapse. A Prussian corps belatedly arrived and saved the day by pushing back the French right wing. As darkness fell, a French corps tardily appeared on the French left flank. That night Bennigsen decided to retreat, leaving Napoleon in possession of a snowy battlefield covered with thousands of corpses and many more wounded.

The Treaty of Tilsit := The Treaties of Tilsit were two agreements signed by Napoleon I of France in the town of Tilsit in July, 1807 in the aftermath of his victory at Friedland. The first was signed on 7 July, between Tsar Alexander I of Russia and Napoleon I of France, when they met on a raft in the middle of the Neman River. The second was signed with Prussia on 9 July. The treaties ended the War of the Fourth Coalition at the expense of the Prussian king, who had already agreed to a truce on 25 June after the Grande Armée had pursued him to the easternmost frontier of his realm, and in Tilsit ceded about half of his pre-war territories. From those territories, Napoleon had created French client states which were formalized and recognized at Tilsit: the Kingdom of Westphalia, the Duchy of Warsaw and the Free City of Danzig; the other ceded territories were awarded to further French clients and to Russia.

Napoleon not only cemented his control of Central Europe, but also had Russia and the truncated Prussia ally with him against his two remaining enemies, Great Britain and Sweden, triggering the Anglo-Russian and Finnish War. Tilsit also freed French forces for the Peninsular War. Central Europe became a battlefield again in 1809, when Austria and Great Britain engaged France in the War of the Fifth Coalition.

Ulm := Napoleon sought out to interprose his army between the Austirans and the approaching Russians meaning to destory each in turn. The movement of Napoleon's large army was unprecedented. He basically manuevuered his entire corps as a squad: one squad pinned the enemy, the others flanked him. This was one of Napoleon's signature move called attacking the rear.

The Jena Campaign := The Fourth Coalition against Napoleon's French Empire was defeated in a war spanning 1806–1807. Coalition partners included Prussia, Russia, Saxony, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

Many members of the coalition had previously been fighting France as part of the Third Coalition, and there was no intervening period of general peace. In 1806, Prussia joined a renewed coalition, fearing the rise in French power after the defeat of Austria and establishment of the French-sponsored Confederation of the Rhine. Prussia and Russia mobilized for a fresh campaign, and Prussian troops massed in Saxony.

Napoleon decisively defeated the Prussians in a lightning campaign that culminated at the Battle of Jena-Auerstedt on 14 October 1806. French forces under Napoleon occupied Prussia, pursued the remnants of the shattered Prussian Army, and captured Berlin on 25 October 1806. They then advanced all the way to East Prussia, Poland and the Russian frontier, where they fought an inconclusive battle against the Russians at Eylau on 7–8 February 1807. Napoleon's advance on the Russian frontier was briefly checked during the spring as he revitalized his army. Russian forces were finally crushed by the French at Friedland on 14 June 1807, and three days later Russia asked for a truce. By the Treaties of Tilsit in July 1807, France made peace with Russia, which agreed to join the Continental System. The treaty however, was particularly harsh on Prussia as Napoleon demanded much of Prussia's territory along the lower Rhine west of the Elbe, and in what was part of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth. Respectively, these acquisitions were incorporated into his brother Jérôme Bonaparte's new Kingdom of Westphalia, and established the Duchy of Warsaw (ruled by his new ally the king of Saxony). The end of the war saw Napoleon master of almost all of western and central continental Europe, except for Spain, Portugal, Austria and several smaller states.

The battles began when elements of Napoleon's main force encountered Hohenlohe's troops near Jena. Initially only 48,000 strong, the Emperor took advantage of his carefully planned and flexible dispositions to rapidly build up a crushing superiority. The Prussians were slow to grasp the situation, and slower still to react. Before Ruchel's 15,000 men could arrive from Weimar, Hohenlohe's force was routed. Nevertheless, it was a fierce battle, and Napoleon mistakenly believed that he had faced the main body of the Prussian army.

Further north at Auerstedt, both Davout and Bernadotte received orders to come to Napoleon's aid. Davout attempted to comply via Ekartsberg; Bernadotte, via Dornburg. Davout's route south, however, was blocked by the Prussian main force of 55,000 men, including the Prussian King, the Duke of Brunswick and Field Marshals von Möllendorf and von Kalckreuth. A savage battle ensued. Although outnumbered two to one, Davout's superbly trained and disciplined III Corps endured repeated attacks before eventually taking the offensive and putting the Prussians to flight. Though in sight of the battle, Bernadotte took no steps to come to Davout's aid, for which he was later censured by Napoleon.

Battle of Friedland := The Battle of Friedland (June 14, 1807) saw Napoleon I's French army decisively defeat Count von Bennigsen's Russian army about twenty-seven miles (43 km) southeast of Königsberg. The site of Friedland, in the Russian Kaliningrad Oblast since 1945, received the new name of Pravdinsk in that year.

Friedland effectively ended the War of the Fourth Coalition (1806–1807) against Napoleon. After nearly twenty-three hours of fighting, the French took control of the battlefield and the Russian army retreated chaotically over the Łyna River, in which many soldiers drowned while trying to escape.

On July 7, 1807, Russia and France signed the first of the Treaties of Tilsit, which made the two nations allies after two years of war. France signed a separate treaty with Prussia two days later to ostracize her from the main negotiations. The public terms of Tilsit mentioned the warm feelings between Napoleon and Alexander I of Russia, but the secret terms addressed more substantial issues: France permitted Russia to do as it wished with the Ottoman Empire in return for France gaining the Dalmatian coast and the Ionian Islands; Russia gained a free hand in Finland; and Alexander also agreed to join the Continental System if the war with Britain did not end soon.[4] Under the terms of the second treaty France ensured the humiliation of Prussia. All Prussian territory west of the Elbe River became the new Kingdom of Westphalia, with Napoleon's own brother, Jérôme as its future King.

Historians traditionally regard Tilsit as the height of Napoleon's empire.[5]

Study Questions
1) What contributed to the failure of the Third Coalition?

Who composed of this coalition? Prussia, England, Austria, Russia and Sweden

allied and in particular the Austrians, war plans lacked decisive concentration in a main theatre of operations. What was initially wrong was that each ally was seeking out their own goals page 78. It wasn't unified... hence all Napoleon needed to do was divide their forces and engage them individually.

Arch-sonservative rulers and the multinational institutions of the Habsburg Empire inhibited radical changes. The Hapsburg army was the product of reforms following the Seven Years War when its fighting methods had been recast on the Prussian model. Armies lacked divisions and corps: its higher formations were temporary groupings and the absence of a permanent staff added to these problems. Basically, Napoleon had a modernized army, it was well organized, and he had command and control over his units. This was lacking in all of the allies in the third coalition.

Some weaknesses inherit in the Russian Army. The Russian conscripts were very brave. The officer corps had serious shortcomings. These individuals were drawn from the upper classes but contained some foreign elements. Most of these individuals served as NCOs before transitioning to officers. Poorly educated, often literate, they spent most of their times as infantry or artiller officers and were incapable of making their own desicions. Also, Russia found it difficult to mobolize its manpower potential and to project force beyond its borders.

2) Why is Austerlitz often considered Napoleon's masterpiece?

Simple. Napoleon decisively defeated a very powerful coalition. Prussia, who was going to fight agaisnt the French, made peace with the French and handed over Hanover in return for its benevolent neutrality. Russians withdrew into Poland, Austria agreed to a truce followed by the Treaty of Pressburg in which it ceded Venetia, dalmatia, and Istria. Basically, in one battle, Napoleon crushed the entire coalition.

3) What accounted for the outcome at Jena-Auerstadt?

The prussian state collapsed and split into two. Prussian forces were completely destoryed. However, Frederick William rejected NApoleon's terms, his resolve stiffened by his strong-willed queen and the promise of Russian support.

Following the Treaty of Tilsit, the United Kingdom and Sweden remained the only two major coalition members still at war with France. Russia soon declared war against Britain and after a British attack on Copenhagen, Denmark–Norway joined the war on the side of Napoleon (Gunboat War), opening a second front against Sweden. A short British expedition under Sir John Moore was sent to Sweden (May 1808) to protect against any possible Franco-Danish invasion.

At the Congress of Erfurt (September–October 1808) Napoleon and Alexander agreed that Russia should force Sweden to join the Continental System, which led to the Finnish War of 1808–1809 (meaning Sweden played no role in the next coalition against Napoleon) and to the division of Sweden into two parts separated by the Gulf of Bothnia. The eastern part became the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland. Due to the Continental System, the United Kingdom was yet again still at war with Napoleon and was not affected by the peace treaty.

In negotiations with captured Swedes after the Battle of Lübeck, Marshal Bernadotte first came to the attention of the Swedish authorities. This would set in motion a chain of events that eventually led to him being elected heir to the Swedish throne and later King Charles XIV John of Sweden.

As for the French, after the Treaty of Tilsit, the Empire was seemingly at its zenith. Flush with triumph and deeming France free from any immediate obligations in Central and Eastern Europe, Napoleon decided to capture the Iberian ports of Britain's long-time ally Portugal. His main aim was to close off another strip of the European coast and a major source for British trade.

On 27 October 1807, Spain's Prime Minister Manuel de Godoy signed the Treaty of Fontainebleau with France, by which in return for the alliance and passage of French armies through its realm, Spain would receive Portuguese territory. In November 1807, after the refusal of Prince Regent John of Portugal to join the Continental System, Napoleon sent an army into Spain under General Jean-Andoche Junot with the aim of invading Portugal (as well as the secret task of being the vanguard for the eventual French occupation of Spain). Napoleon soon embroiled himself and France in Spain's internal power struggles within its royal family, eventually leading to the Spanish populace turning on the French occupiers and the beginning of the Peninsular War.

4) What weaknesses in Napoleon's system emerged during the winter campaign in Poland and East Prussia.
The costly wars Napoleon took a huge toll on man power. Also, Napoleon's large massive force required a lot of resources to sustain. Poland didn't provide the desirable routes of supplies or resources to sustain. Hence, Napoleon had to capture Danzig in order to sustain his forces. What we see here is that the monster machine does have a vulnerability => it needs to be constantly supplied and rearmed with more men.

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