The Changing Nature of Warfare - A2- OCR-Generalship

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Napoleon Bonaparte


  • Hailed by Carl von Clausewitz as 'the god of war'
  • 'The Napoleon Effect' - given to great generals because of their grand tactics and style of leadership
  • Napoleon was a master of grand tactics,  of operational moves and to engage the enemy in battle.
  • Never clung to a rigid set of principles
  • Believed whole function of strategy was  to bring on a decisive encounter with enemy
  • Miscalculation with continental blockade and Spanish Ulcer
  • Lacked the vision needed to understand the strategic realities of Europe


  • Corps system - self contained armies of infantry, artillery and cavalry. Seperatley organised but used to support each other. Marshals had control which gave Napoleon much more freedom to concentrate on the bigger elements of strategy and tactics.
  • Imperial Guard - Napoleon's elite fighting force with ten years experience and 6ft. They did prove to be a very effective fighting force.
  • Imperial HQ - aimed to discover as much about the enemies' strategic position and plans as they could. It was an essential part of Napoleon's organisation.

 Grand tactics

  • 'March dispersed, fight concentrated' - have Napoleon the advantage of interior lines allowing better communication, he had numerical advantage. He was able to risk battlefield offensives.
  • Movemement to the rear - getting behind enemy lines by outflanking or envelopmentn or to punch a way through the enemy's lines at their weakest point.

Style of leadership

  • Exceptional talents - understanding of the balance and distribution of military forces on a battlefield. He had great 'man-managment' skills and he had immense natural energy and stamina and could exist on very little sleep.
  • Exceptional knowledge of the battlefield, theatre of operations and the strength of rival forces.
  • He attacked rather than defended.


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