Napoleonic and French Revolutionary Wars - OCR - A2

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Napoleonic and French Revolutionary Wars 1792-1815

v  Organisation of state for war

Ø  Levee en Masse decreed in August 1793 raised a huge army of 1 million men and was reinstated later in the 1790s. Wasn’t new as conscription had been used early in the 1700s by Russia. Still, it was on a much bigger scale than seen before.

Ø  In order to provide enough uniforms, weapons, food, supplies etc, the whole country had to become involved in the war effort. This was achieved by totalitarian control and discipline, giving rise to the ‘Terror’ and executions with the guillotine became common place.

§  Military: Carnot reorganised the French Army – training, corps that acted as miniature armies, attack in infantry columns thus creating  a shock effect on the enemy, training completed in two months, General Hackett ‘the age of limited war is over’.

§  Civilian: 20 new sword and bayonet factories + 12 gun factories, nationalised industry and transport, price controls, never before had a government wielded such power.

v  Strategy and tactics

Ø  Skirmishers:

§  Light infantry, ahead of main army, spread in an extended line and using natural cover, specific targets, suited the soldiers of 1792 as more trusted in ‘open order’ and gave more manoeuvrability = CHANGE FROM IMMOBILE INFANTRY OF PRE 1792.

Ø  Shock tactics:

§  drilled, disciplines armies of 18t cent no longer available, mass of soldiers stormed enemy troop, Carnot ‘ fire, steel and patriotism’  = CHANGE FROM LIMITED, RESTRAINED WARFARE.

Ø  Divisional system:

§  12,000 men combined with artillery, infantry and cavalry into single fighting units, greater speed and flexibility of movement fell upon enemy in different and unexpected positions. Carnot’s use was hit and miss but Napoleon proved the effectiveness of this system.

Ø  Infantry columns:

§  Change from the line use which took a long time, columns more compact and flexible, required less training than would be needed in lines, more compact target and higher casualty rates.

Ø  Continuities: swords and bayonets still used as demonstrated in arme blanche so this meant hand to hand fighting, divisional system had been used pre 1792- but used to much greater effect by Napoleon and during this period.

Ø  Changes: seeking battle, decisive victories, drew the enemy into battle – didn’t avoid columns and skirmishers gave huge degree of flexibility as not restricted by lines. Horse artillery introduced, making much more mobile. Envelopment used to high level of success due to unseen before numbers.

v  Leadership

Ø  ‘God of War’ (Clausewitz)

Ø  The Grande


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