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Inclou aquests noms: Jack H. Gill, John H. Gill


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The Napoleon Options : Alternate Decisions of the Napoleonic Wars (2000) — Autor — 66 exemplars, 1 ressenya


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An excellent campaign study, well written, detailed, and steeped in analysis of French and Austrian leaders and approaches to war. France's German allies are well (and favourably) covered. The use of personal papers and memoirs to validate specific occurrences (e.g., Napoleon's arrival in theatre) is notable, as are his brief accounts of the effects of war on civilians and towns (e.g., Regensburg). Excellent.
threegirldad | Jun 26, 2020 |
John Gill’s With Eagles to Glory examines the military fortunes of Napoleon’s German Allies in the 1809 campaign. Out of the wreckage of Austerlitz and Auerstedt, Napoleon had consolidated the German principalities into larger units, chiefly among them the new kings of Bavaria, Saxony, Württemberg and Westphalia (under Napoleon’s brother Jérôme, König Lustig). The kings and dukes were required to provide units for Napoleon’s army. Surprisingly, and in contrast to Wellington, Napoleon kept these small armies together as brigade, division and corps-sized elements with a dual command organization: a nominal French commander giving orders to a German general in charge of the sub-units. They covered Napoleon’s supply lines and flanks. The German units fought surprisingly well. In battle, they plunged in fervently against the Austrian opponents despite the fact that they spoke a common language. Even the Saxons, whose performance at Wagram has given them a bad reputation, were quite good. Gill’s book was written too early for the recent re-analysis of the Saxon contribution in that battle, so he is only correcting the majority view of the bad performance of the Saxons at the margin. In fact, it was bad generalship that sent the Saxons into the Sachsenklemme, a position that no body of troops could have held (especially as they were also fired upon from the rear by their own troops). So Napoleon’s German Allies were truly exceptional to the general rule that politically supplied Allied soldiers usually performed worse than the main national contingent.

Given that the Rheinbund’s territory was nearly equal to NATO’s West Germany (only Saxony being part of East Germany), the study can be read as a reassurance that the German soldiers would fight well alongside the Americans if properly equipped, trained and led. What the study misses is that the Habsburgs had, for centuries, had to rely on the often reluctant troops of these principalities, piecing together companies and regiments. Thus, Napoleon could perfect a system already in place, consolidating their efforts at a more efficient scale.

The book also examines the Bavarian campaign in Tirol, an unnecessary campaign that resulted out of Bavarian incompetence in integrating Tirol into the culturally similar Bavarian kingdom. The early Tyrolean successes were due to the difficult terrain and the absence of the best Bavarian forces which were fighting the Austrian main army with Napoleon. After the defeat of the Habsburgs, the Tyroleans could not resist the full Bavarian army (supported by the French – an inversion of the overall structure).

Overall, a very good read that, however, requires good basic knowledge about the Napoleonic Wars, German geography and the 1809 campaign. I’d recommend reading a shorter introduction to the 1809 campaign (e.g. Chandler), then this book and finally Gill’s monumental three volume strategic history of the 1809 campaign.
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jcbrunner | May 31, 2013 |
Jack Gill finally completed his outstanding study of the 1809 campaign in Austria. 200 pages of appendices and notes help wargamers, students and researchers to understand this campaign that knocked Austria out of the war for four years. Wargamers will love the detailed orders of battle with unit strengths. The detailed bibliography is a tremendous help to any researcher (Its in-between publication date shortly after the 200th anniversary makes it miss some of the most recent titles.).

His emphasis on the side-shows is both a strength and a weakness. It is a strength because a general reader will be unlikely to read about the Polish or Dalmatian campaign theater. Gill's account fills gaps that are only covered by rather obscure sources. It is a weakness because these side-shows detract from the main events. The battle of Wagram is described in only eighty pages (the Znaim skirmish merits thirty pages), which results in a staccato treatment of the first day, the main casualties are the Saxons and an aggregated presentation of the Austrian actions. There is still room for a comprehensive battle study of Wagram.

A time line of the events and chapters would have been very helpful to the reader as would have been an overall campaign map which situated the different actions and theaters. Map 9 which comes closest to an overall campagin map does not include Germany or Poland (partially represented in Map 29). The content of the maps is fine, their presentation could have been improved. The half page design is an unfortunate choice which is further constricted by in-line legends and captions.

The discussion of the campaign does not mention the fact that Napoleon used the Austrian's own defensive network and roads against them. Austria's defenses are laid out to defend against Eastern invaders. By pushing the Austrians across the Danube, Napoleon used the old Roman road systems while his opponents were reduced to secondary roads (which remain terrible to this day).

Austrian dispositions were directed not only against the French and Allied forces but also to protect the home front against insurgencies (as did Saddam Hussein during the American invasion). The Austrians' greatest fear was not a defeat but an independent Bohemia similar to the Rheinbund. The need to control Bohemia fixed Charles' Hauptarmee. This strategic inflexibility was the main cause of his defeat.

Overall, a great read and a tremendous achievement. Highly recommended.
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jcbrunner | May 2, 2010 |

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