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Old 10-04-2015, 11:14 AM   #1
CyberShark93
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Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Certainly has more than enough merit to claim a spot in the military leaders hall of fame, but how does this guy stack up against guys like Hannibal, Alexander etc.

I mean Austerlitz was great and all, but later in his career he seems to do nothing but wage strategically nonsense wars and suffer defeat after defeat, he is a great tactician at best. And hardly GOAT like a lot of people claim him to be.

I want to rate the guy cos he rose through the ranks through his own talent and determination and stuff and is a great motivation story, but doesn't seem like the invincible general he is portrayed to be

Am I being too result orientated?
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Old 10-06-2015, 04:04 PM   #2
gangnam holmes
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Russia was obviously a historic catastrophe and a major blow to Bonaparte's military legacy but Waterloo was a result of pure bad luck. An unexpected major storm allowed Blucker to join forces with Wellington giving Napoleon major force volume disadvantages.

Here's how I rank Bonaparte...

1. Genghis Khan
2. Belisarius
3. Hannibal
4. Alexander
5. Sabutai
6. Bonaparte
7. Scipio
8. MacArthur
9. Caesar
10. Sherman
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Old 10-07-2015, 11:07 AM   #3
RLK
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gangnam holmes View Post
Russia was obviously a historic catastrophe and a major blow to Bonaparte's military legacy but Waterloo was a result of pure bad luck. An unexpected major storm allowed Blucker to join forces with Wellington giving Napoleon major force volume disadvantages.

Here's how I rank Bonaparte...

1. Genghis Khan
2. Belisarius
3. Hannibal
4. Alexander
5. Sabutai
6. Bonaparte
7. Scipio
8. MacArthur
9. Caesar
10. Sherman
I have always felt that Ney's lethargy at Quatre Bras two days before Waterloo was a turning point. If he attacked aggressively he could have mauled Wellington before he could have concentrated. As it was he delayed into the early afternoon and the battle ended as basically a draw leaving Wellington's army intact for Waterloo.

Napoleon certainly recognized it at the time.

That said, I think your ranking of Napoleon looks pretty good to me. For my part I would put Alexander and Caesar higher and McArthur lower.
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Old 05-10-2016, 11:22 PM   #4
dzikijohnny
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Don't agree with your ratings. But no buddy would agree with anybody elses. Example, Scipio was much better than Hannibal.
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Old 05-31-2016, 10:09 PM   #5
Deuces McKracken
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

I don't know much history from the period. But I know that Napoleon marched 422K soldiers into Russia and came back with 10k in one year. It's hard to think of an antiwar point more compelling than that. That one campaign should take him completely out of consideration, should it not? Tell me how I am naive here, because Napoleon's rep has endured over the years but I think the Russian invasion is proof of his ineptitude.
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Old 06-02-2016, 01:37 AM   #6
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

I think it's fair to ask where would he rank if he fell off his horse somewheres and died before he invaded Russia. Before he invaded Russia, he didn't lose a single campaign in Europe for 16 years (I think the Spanish problem turned bad in 1811 but I don't remember atm). He destroyed an empire and defeated coalitions of empires. He faced professional armies and economically comparable alliances. He inherited some, but also innovated and perfected a variety of structural military reforms that few military GOATs on these lists can claim.

It's hard to put lipstick on a pig, but there are reasonable explanations for the Russia disaster. He made a number of incorrect but reasonable assumptions. He planned for a short, shock and awe type of campaign, culminating in a great battle. He did not expect Alexander to run away and burn his lands. He was not ignorant of the winter or the roads or the vast distances, I think he was like a guy with a big stack who didn't want to give up on a big pot, fired multiple streets, and just ended up doubling up a guy and leaving himself crippled. He had a few chances to fall back but he was waiting for a negotiation that never came.
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Old 06-04-2016, 01:41 PM   #7
Deuces McKracken
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Sixteen straight you say? Well I suppose that's an argument.

I'm kind of going through the enlightenment period, presently, for whatever time I have for history. I guess I will get to Napoleon after that.
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Old 06-06-2016, 09:51 AM   #8
lastcardcharlie
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Around Napoleon's tomb at Les Invalides, there are friezes depicting him as an Egyptian god and whatnot. Quite chilling how insane it is.

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Old 06-06-2016, 01:13 PM   #9
Zeno
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

I need to go see this and toast his memory next time I'm in France. Using French Champagne, of course. The Tomb does help offset that beastly column of Lord Nelson in Trafalgar Square.
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Old 06-07-2016, 11:24 PM   #10
steelhouse
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gangnam holmes View Post
Russia was obviously a historic catastrophe and a major blow to Bonaparte's military legacy but Waterloo was a result of pure bad luck. An unexpected major storm allowed Blucker to join forces with Wellington giving Napoleon major force volume disadvantages.

Here's how I rank Bonaparte...

1. Genghis Khan
2. Belisarius
3. Hannibal
4. Alexander
5. Sabutai
6. Bonaparte
7. Scipio
8. MacArthur
9. Caesar
10. Sherman
Waterloo? I don't think he had a chance to win that one. He may have won the battle Waterloo, but then what. I don't think he could gather enough strength with mostly volunteers to go further.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj_9CiNkkn4

Last edited by steelhouse; 06-07-2016 at 11:48 PM.
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Old 06-15-2016, 10:55 AM   #11
steelhouse
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Quote:
Originally Posted by smrk2 View Post
I think it's fair to ask where would he rank if he fell off his horse somewheres and died before he invaded Russia. Before he invaded Russia, he didn't lose a single campaign in Europe for 16 years (I think the Spanish problem turned bad in 1811 but I don't remember atm). He destroyed an empire and defeated coalitions of empires. He faced professional armies and economically comparable alliances. He inherited some, but also innovated and perfected a variety of structural military reforms that few military GOATs on these lists can claim.

It's hard to put lipstick on a pig, but there are reasonable explanations for the Russia disaster. He made a number of incorrect but reasonable assumptions. He planned for a short, shock and awe type of campaign, culminating in a great battle. He did not expect Alexander to run away and burn his lands. He was not ignorant of the winter or the roads or the vast distances, I think he was like a guy with a big stack who didn't want to give up on a big pot, fired multiple streets, and just ended up doubling up a guy and leaving himself crippled. He had a few chances to fall back but he was waiting for a negotiation that never came.
He made the mistake of believing capturing a city wins the war. A city is just a city sticks and twigs. You can burn it down. The supply lines were too long and Russian calvary could just pick off a troop here or there on the retreat.
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Old 06-17-2016, 04:57 AM   #12
smrk2
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Quote:
Originally Posted by steelhouse View Post
He made the mistake of believing capturing a city wins the war. A city is just a city sticks and twigs. You can burn it down. The supply lines were too long and Russian calvary could just pick off a troop here or there on the retreat.
He was already way off plan by then if you're referring to the decision to take Moscow. Napoleon expected the Russians to give battle sooner and/or sue for peace as early as after he marched into Vilnius in late June or as late as after the battle at Smolensk in mid August.
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Old 12-26-2016, 09:46 AM   #13
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Re: Napoleon, military genius or overhyped?

Napoleon had great courage, great intellect and great memory. One thing which is amazing to me is taking the brain trust, 167 savants, with him in the Egypt's expedition. Probably, it was Talleyrand's idea but still it was an unprecedented enterprise.

The Armada escaped Nelson and captured Malta without trouble. He showed there his ability to rule and reform. Landing in Egypt was another thing altogether.

He excelled in mathematics, he wrote political and military essays. But they were not the only ones. He wrote also on other subjects, ranging from fiction to ethics and social theory. 40 pieces in 12 years. The first one when he was 16 years old.

Was he a military genius? Yes.
Over hyped? Somehow.
Overstretched? Yes.

Last edited by tirtep; 12-26-2016 at 10:08 AM.
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