The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Recommend
185 
 Thumb up
25.05
 tip
 Hide
I present this list on the 207th anniversary of Austerlitz because in truth I'll hardly ever get another chance to write about Napoleon. So many books have already been written, and my ideas here are not original. However, I have found the man and his life fascinating, so here is my petty but spirited effort. Much of this is personal in an indirect way, for Napoleon is man who I admire and revile, much like Genghis Khan and Lenin. Some of this is because his life was so entertaining. Some of it is because I find Napoleonic wargames to be among the best around. This list then is in part a way to explain my mixed feelings as much as it is to tell a good story.

The story of Napoleon is not one of success but rather of failure, for in life we are failures to a degree. We honor Winston Churchill for his leadership in World War II, but often forget his role in Gallipoli, in wrecking the British economy, or how wrong he was about Mussolini, Gandhi, Ireland, the stock market, and the viability of democratic socialism. I must admit I am not a fan of Churchill who, for all his wit and determination, also strikes me as unbalanced and lucky. We all have our bias, and in terms of Napoleon I am more favorable and forgiving, for he strikes the imagination like a comet. His will and genius were denied by no one. So why did he fail?

I take the view put forth by Auguste de Marmont, Napoleon's friend who betrayed him in 1814. He said that after Tilist Napoleon lost his touch. Much of it was arrogance. His victories eclipsed those of Marlborough and Frederick the Great. He had created the largest European empire since Rome. Much of it was a hatred for the British, who continued to fight in spite of disaster. For Napoleon, this hatred was in part due to British control of the seas, which they exploited to found a vast empire larger than Napoleon's self-described "mole-hill." It was an anger that went back to British interference in Corsica and only ballooned over the years. So in part Napoleon was brought down by his hatred, and to this end Richard Nixon's farewell address could easily apply to Napoleon on St. Helena:

"The greatness comes not when things go always good for you, but the greatness comes and you are really tested, when you take some knocks, some disappointments, when sadness comes, because only if you have been in the deepest valley can you ever know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain... Always remember, others may hate you. Those who hate you don't win unless you hate them. And then you destroy yourself."

Napoleon's greatest flaw was that he was essentially a reactive man, something Wellington gleamed from his evaluation of Bonaparte's campaigns. He had no grand plan on campaign or even in his ascent to power. Indeed, he was asked to other-throw the government in 1799. Like Julius Caesar and Frederick the Great, he was an opportunist of the first rank. It made him unpredictable and flexible, but it also meant he lacked a mind of careful diplomacy and grand strategy. This, and his failure after a tour of glory, are the points I will emphasize.

Another thing one wonders is why Napoleon causes many to either swoon or vomit. Few men create such diverse reactions. Perhaps because Napoleon was a man of diverse talents and interests, who had a long and varied career. He changed many times in his life, and took some contradictory policies. He could be both profligate and careful with the lives of his men. He could be distant and warm, generous and wrathful. For all his reputation as a warmonger, he actually rarely declared war on anybody, yet he also did much to anger his fellow rulers. He supported romantic literature but preferred classical painting and sculpture. He tried to regulate international commerce while deregulating domestic industries. His complexity, mixed with his reactive personality, explain these contradictions.

What is the Napoleonic dream and why are so many captivated by it? I hope I can explain that.

Lastly, this is my final historical geeklist. Since 2006 I have written these and enjoyed them immensely. They have furthered me as a writer and thinker and as always, I am consistently impressed by the intelligent comments and messages I often received from my fellow board game geeks. Yet, as of late I feel the fire leaving me. My thoughts, energies, and intentions move elsewhere. It would be wrong to turn out half-baked lists and expect good reactions or heaven forbid a bounty of thumbs. I saw the same thing occur with session reports and then my board game and video game reviews. I can put out solid work and be glad, but I will not accept consistent mediocrity. It is better to end on a high note. I hope this list can serve as an appropriate farewell.

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
  • [+] Dice rolls
1. Board Game: Age of Steam Expansion: Corsica [Average Rating:6.52 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.52 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Not So Callow Youth

It is impossible to separate Napoleon from Corsica, and vice versa, for he was born into one of the most unique societies in Europe. Corsica was a mountainous island, known for its poverty and pirates. But before Napoleon there was the extraordinary Pasquale Paoli, who in 1755 ejected troops from Genoa and established a republic, making Corsica the vanguard in a revolutionary fervor that would wash over America, Poland, the Netherlands, France, and Haiti to name only the most famous rebellions. Paoli was a hero to republicans everywhere, toasted in Britain and lauded in American newspapers. In 1764 the French bought Corsica from Genoa to prevent the British from taking the island. In 1768 Paoli, supported by generous funds from Britain, seized a French garrison at Borgo and led a guerrilla war that was only defeated once France sent thousands of soldiers. The fall of Corsica almost led to war between the nations and brought down Prime Minister Grafton's government while isolating Britain from its European allies. Paoli lived in exile in Britain, becoming a favorite of George III. He was exalted as a romantic hero of the era, praised by Voltaire and befriended by James Boswell. Meanwhile his remaining supporters, labeled "bandits" fought out a prolonged but pointless guerrilla war. Corsica was also split between a countryside that supported Paoli and the cities, where the French ruled. Carlo Buonaparte and his pregnant wife Letizia first took to the hills. They returned to Ajaccio and allied themselves to the French. Soon after, on August 15, 1769, Letizia gave birth to their second son, Naboolione (later Napoleone) di Buonaparte. He was named for an uncle who died fighting the French.

The Buonaparte clan was among the great families of Corsica, with a tradition of sons who had entered the legal and clerical profession. In 1769 they were poor, caught up in legal disputes and suffering from Carlo's penchant for gambling and fine clothes. Carlo served the French ably, being named Corsica's Representative to the Court of Louis XVI in 1778. With Carlo absent, Letizia had to raise their numerous children, the most difficult being the young Napoleone, whom she had to beat to keep in line. Still, the affection between the two was deep and life-long. As a youth Napoleone was aggressive and inquisitive. Corsica also imbued in him an attachment to family, homeland, and an obsession with loyalty that fostered in him a certain naivety in his dealings with others, but also a vindictive streak. Carlo, although absent, worked hard to get his children a proper education. Joseph, the handsome family favorite, was sent to the ministry and the misfit Napoleone entered the new military school at Brienne. As a student he was a loner, industrious but arrogant. He had few friends, the two closest being the unscrupulous Louis Bourrienne and the libertine Alexander des Mazins. His favorite authors were Plutarch and Polyibus, fostering his life long obsession with everything Roman. He found the arrogance of the wealthy nobles insufferable. He spoke French with an Italian accent, a habit he never dropped. His love for Corsica blossomed into a deep longing and he was given to openly declaring his hero worship for Paoli, to whom he eventually began to write letters. Yet, even as he despised the Bourbons, he came to admire French culture, thought, and military prowess. He was very much like many of his future generals: a frustrated minor noble who took an active interest in the Enlightenment. For most this meant reform. For Napoleone it meant independence for Corsica. To that end he read about revolutions and British history in order to learn the lessons of the past.

From Brienne he hoped to become a naval officer but Carlo could only grant his son a spot in the artillery. Napoleone's teachers, impressed with his skill, made sure it was the elite school at Auxonne, headed by Jean-Pierre du Teil. This was an exciting time to be a young officer. France had boasted of having Europe's most powerful military, but the Seven Years War saw both her army and navy disgraced in numerous battles. Now the French were instituting reforms. To this end Napoleone read the military writings of Maurice de Saxe, the Saxon noble who led the French to victory at Fontenoy. He also read the works of Victor de Broglie, France most successful general in the Seven Years War who created a uniform military structure, which included the division. Brogile's proteges, Jacques de Guibert and Pierre Bourcet, also wrote books, which argued for the need for speed and flexibility in war. Much of what Napoleone and his colleagues accomplished was from studying the thoughts of these men. Napoleone also studied the campaigns of the great generals, both of his era and of the ancient world. His favorites were Alexander the Great and Frederick the Great. He also closely examined the campaigns of George Washington and admired the father of America to his dying day.

Carlo had died of stomach cancer, leaving the family destitute, and Napoleone with little money. At the age of 20 he was a passionate but lonely and humorless man. He lived in Paris with rather limited funds and generally avoided the company of women, although he lost his virginity to a desperate homeless girl whom he found sobbing on the streets. Napoleone appeared to the outside world as a shabby, coarse man, who enjoyed solitude and cheap wine. He worked hard and read voraciously, but ate and slept little, creating health problems that only got worse with age. He fancied himself a writer, and was obsessed with Jean Jacques Rousseau and the nascent romantic movement. To this end he wrote essays, a ghost story, and even started a history of Corsica. He was often absent from his military duties. In short he was the picture book example of aimless ambition, of a young man struggling to find his way. On the surface, he seems melancholy, and he wrote an essay in defense of suicide. Napoleon Bonaparte, as he was soon to call himself, was essentially an introverted man. He read throughout his life, carrying a personal library on every campaign, and he could discuss almost anything, with history, mathematics, literature, and philosophy remaining his favorite subjects. His early Paris existence was perhaps best suited to his personality. He would later recall that, "the happiest days of my life were from sixteen to twenty, during the semestres, when I used to go about...from one restaurateur to another, living moderately, and having a lodging for which I paid three louis a month. They were the happiest days of my life. I was always so much occupied, that I may say I never was truly happy upon the throne."

Pasquale Paoli
18 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
2. Board Game: Liberté [Average Rating:7.17 Overall Rank:734]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Death of Youthful Dreams

In 1789 his unit was sent to quell a riot in Seurre. This small disturbance was part of the larger upheaval that would rock the very foundations of the world: the French Revolution. The causes were varied and included royal incompetence, French military decline, war debt from backing the American Revolution, wage stagnation, rises in the cost of food, the decline in the importance of the nobility, agitation from intellectuals, and a hundred other reasons. As unique, volatile, and earth-shaking as the event was to be, it shared something in common with all revolutions. It was brought about because the government was too weak to be feared, too incompetent to carry on, and yet just imperious enough to anger most of the population.

Napoleon's regiment mutinied and he decided to make for Corsica, plotting a revolution of his own. Napoleon was at this time a mess of contradictions. Although a radical Jacobin, he feared crowds and had little patience for democracy. He advocated a meritocracy but openly favored the petty nobles that made up his family and friends. On one point he was consistent. He despised Louis XVI because he was weak, and increasingly yearned for a dictator. In Corsica he allied himself with the radical Jacobins, in opposition to both the royalists, who maintained control of the the island and openly denounced the new government, and the middle path staked out by Paoli. Napoleon's boyhood hero had returned a changed man. He was fatter, a confirmed Anglophile, and supported a constitutional monarchy. He returned at the behest of the national assembly, which viewed him as a heroic revolutionary punished by the Bourbons. It was an exaggeration, and Paoli soon became something of a dictator. His main opponent was Antoine Saliceti, a Corsican Jacobin. The Bonapartes sided with Saliceti.

Napoleon's anti-Catholic tirades made him unpopular and he insulted Paoli when he critiqued his military operations in 1769. Discouraged, Napoleon returned to France. His friend, the philosophe Guillaume Raynal, encouraged his work on a history of Corsica and an essay, "The Discourse on Happiness," that he submitted to the Academy of Lyon in 1791. Napoleon's work was rejected as a rambling imitation of Rousseau. Napoleon gave up trying to be a writer. Upon returning to Corsica, Paoli's enmity was more apparent and he even offered Napoleon a commission in the British army in order to get rid of him. Napoleon's brief return to Corsica ended when he convinced the local militia commander to seize Ajaccio. Napoleon was recalled to Pars and court-martialed, but by now things had turned for the worse. Austria and Prussia, backed by an army of royalist exiles, were threatening to invade, and the government decided to declare war. Once it began the French forces did poorly and Louis XVI actively undermined the government, hoping his absolute authority would be restored. Napoleon, now a captain, witnessed the fall of the king and the massacre of the Swiss Guards. He now despised the disorder of democracy but also carried a life-long aversion to execution and murder. Yet, he admired Maximilien Robespierre for his iron will and ability to hold the nation together as rebellions broke out and Britain, Spain, Piedmont, and the Netherlands joined the war against France, creating a grand coalition. Napoleon was no longer a convinced Jacobin, but he stuck with Saliceti and he had a new nationalist ardor for France. It was perhaps because he saw the revolution as the best means to advance himself, and it appears the attempts of the other European nations to end France's experiment with meritocracy angered him. The effect was not the same for all. His old friend Mazis fled for Portugal, where he received a commission in their army. The young Wellington was shocked by the Revolution and the death of some French friends. He loved the old regime and spoke French well, despising the Francophobe sentiments of other British conservatives. The Revolution shocked him. He burned his violin and resolved to become a great soldier and defeat the Revolution, just as Napoleon decided to embrace the new France being forged in fire.

Some of Napoleon's new sentiments were because of his disappointment with Paoli. He rejected Corsican nationalism and the guerrilla tactics of his former hero. Still, upon returning again to his home he found out that Paoli had tried to fix things with the Bonapartes and Napoleon showed one of his greatest weaknesses: he was too willing to forgive. He decided to again trust Paoli while he planned an expedition to conquer Sardinia. Napoleon had 6,000 French and Corsican troops on hand, but the operation was canceled after Maddalena Island was seized. It was Napoleon's first true military action and he showed a talent for planning. Yet, the plan failed because of a sailor's mutiny and due to Paoli's intrigues. His former hero now called him a "brat" and a "rogue." When Napoleon's younger brother, the bright and ambitious Lucien, openly denounced Paoli, the Bonapartes were condemned in the terms of vendetta. Fleeing for their lives with other pro-French Corsicans, they took up residence in Toulon in June 1793. Their fortunes were never lower. Paoli, long distrusted by the Jacobins in Paris, asked the British to occupy Corsica in 1794. Admiral Samuel Hood landed troops. Resistance was light, but their was a sharp scrap at Calvi, where then-Captain Horatio Nelson lost sight in his right eye. The ever independent minded Paoli argued with the British and was forced into exile in 1796. Napoleon still dreamed of conquering Corsica, but soon he found himself trying to hold the family together. He was now the lord of the clan since Joseph, for all his intelligence and charisma, was not strong enough. The French desperately needed trained officers, and Napoleon was soon commanding artillery in the Army of Italy. He had avoided fighting with the rag-tag army under Jean Carteaux, which was busy suppressing rebels and carrying out mass executions when a rebellion broke out in Toulon on October 1, 1793. Hood occupied the port and Letizia and the children fled.

The Massacre of the Swiss Guards
17 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
3. Board Game: La Révolution française: La patrie en danger 1790-1796 [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:7416]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Rising Young Talent

Just as Toulon was falling to the British, Napoleon was again trying his hand at writing, this time a propaganda piece titled Supper at Beaucaire, a work of Jacobin nationalism that gained him the attention of Augustin Robespierre, Maximilien's younger brother. Along with Saliceti, he got Napoleon command of the artillery forces now besieging Toulon. Napoleon quickly reorganized and energized the dispirited troops. He took to cursing, and his direct manner and ability to live on the cheap, a trait acquired through decades of relative poverty, made him popular with the troops. He also drew the attention of several promising young officers who formed his intimate circle. Among these were the brave Jean Baptiste de Muiron and the learned, but hard fighting Andoche Junot, who would later go insane. There was Claude Victor, a natural optimist and former foot soldier, as well as the more severe Géraud Duroc and the sober Louis Suchet. The young artist Bacler d'Albe was also present, and would become Napoleon's chief map-maker. Napoleon's new best friend though was Auguste de Marmont, an acquaintance from his early days with the artillery. These men formed Bonaparte's first inner circle and each would fight with him in the coming years.

The siege of Toulon tried Napoleon's patience. He intrigued against his superiors, Carteaux and Doppet, both of whom were incompetent. Under the capable Jacques Dugommier, Napoleon led a daring attack that resulted in a flesh wound and the capture of Charles O'Hara, the British ground commander. This was all the more impressive since O'Hara was among Britain most capable generals, having distinguished himself in the American Revolution. Hood abandoned Toulon and Napoleon was the hero of the hour. Napoleon came to the attention of Paul Barras, the textbook definition of a slimy politician. More importantly, he was noticed by Lazare Carnot, the Minister of War, who's reforms were saving the French from defeat. Napoleon was made a general and commander of artillery for the Army of Italy. He improved the coastal defenses of southern France and drew up plans to invade Italy. Napoleon's plans for an attack on Saorgio, Italy resulted in victory although Napoleon openly criticized the tactics used by André Masséna. Napoleon's rising star also included better success with women. He began the kind of dalliances he had avoided in 1790. The most serious of these was with his sister in law, Desirée Clary.

The death of the Robespierre brothers and the destruction of the Jacobin Party led to brief jail time for Napoleon, who was considered for execution. Released, he now quarreled with the Army of Italy's high command. Napoleon's plans for Italy were aggressive. He believed that "he who remains in his entrenchments is beaten." When his ideas were spurned, he tried to invade Corsica, only to be stopped by the Royal Navy. The plan was scrapped and Napoleon never again looked to Corsica for glory, although by 1796 the British had abandoned the island. The ultimate low came when he tried to avoid assignment to the Vendee, where a rebellion was still going on. It was a fateful decision, for Napoleon might have learned about guerrilla warfare. The Directory, the new government of France, left him in limbo and his star seemed to fall. He was a pariah and there were plans to ship him off to Turkey as a military adviser. His Toulon circle had dispersed for other assignments, with only Junot remaining nearby. Desirée, briefly his fiancee, now ignored him. In the summer of 1795, he moved from moods of melancholy to mirth, and in desperation he returned to the world of literature. He wrote his most polished and anguished work, a short story called Clisson and Eugénie. It departed from his earlier love for historical fiction, which had included tales set in Restoration London, medieval Arabia, and Corsica. The story was a typical tragic romance: Clisson is called to war, Eugénie falls for a young officer who gives her a letter by Clisson, who in turn seeks destruction in battle as his love life is dashed upon the rocks.

Napoleon was saved when the coup of 13 Vendémiaire (French Revolutionary calendar) occurred. A mixed mob of royalist and Catholics rallied around Richer de Sévigny and General Dancien. Barras, commander of the Army of the Interior, was helpless. Napoleon was on hand along with Joachim Murat, a fiery Jacobin. Napoleon had him fetch artillery. Using these cannons Napoleon slaughtered the mob and restored order. He was now the toast of France and the hero of the hour. Barras made him commander of the Army of the Interior. His plans for an invasion of Italy received wider attention. Yet for a time his attentions went elsewhere. He fell in love with Joséphine de Beauharnais, the beautiful and charismatic widow of General Alexandre de Beauharnais, who had been guillotined for losing Mainz in 1793. Joséphine was a fixture of Paris life, for while lacking funds and suffering from blackened teeth, she was supremely charming and wore the fashion of the day well: light clothes which emphasized her large breasts. While imprisoned by the Jacobins she had taken General Louis Hoche as a lover. She was also the mistress of Barras, who was annoyed with her extravagant living. Napoleon was smitten with her. She found him intriguing, and saw that he was a man on the make. So she lied about her age and wealth and made Napoleon her lover. On March 9, 1796 they were married, a union denounced by the other Bonapartes. Two days later Napoleon, at the behest of Barras, was sent to command the Army of Italy. It was a painful parting, and on the road to Nice he wrote Joséphine love letters, some of them quite explicit. He also poured over maps and plans with his staff, mostly made up of friends from Toulon and Paris. He was 26, in love, and supremely confident.

Joséphine de Beauharnais
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
4. Board Game: Napoleon in Italy [Average Rating:6.87 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Italian Adventure

On the surface Napoleon had won army command through his considerable political connections. It was more than this, for he had proven himself capable at Toulon, in staff positions, and during 13 Vendémiaire. His advocacy of offensive operations in Italy assured him his command, although the Directory failed to supply him. This was because the Italian offensive was meant to draw troops away from the Rhine, where two French armies were tasked with invading Bavaria. Napoleon did not hesitate. The pliant Barras, procured supplies and reinforcements, while Joseph bought British goods through Genoa. To Carnot he promised victory. To his men, poorly paid and neglected in what was seen as a backwater theater, he promised loot. In his first prolmation he declared "Soldiers! You are naked, badly fed; the government owes you much but can give you nothing. Your patience, the courage that you show amidst these rocks are admirable; but bring you no glory … I will lead you to the world's most fertile plains, to rich provinces; great cities will be in your power; you will find there glory, honour and riches. Soldiers of Italy! You lack neither courage nor determination … You have no shoes, no coats, no shirts, almost no bread and your stores are empty; those of the enemy overflow with everything; it is up to you to conquer them. If you wish it, you can do it, let's go!"

His key subordinates offered bigger problems. Each was older and more experienced in battle. André Masséna, a hard fighting and morally dubious man, was upset since he expected command of the army. Pierre Augereau, who rivaled Masséna in his pursuit of wealth and women, was openly contemptuous. Fortunately Napoleon quickly won the support of Jean Sérurier, a harsh drillmaster but consummate professional, and the fiery Charles de Kilmaine, an Irish revolutionary. These men formed the core of his battle commanders in Italy. Napoleon, having restored the army's confidence and won over his officers wasted no time. The plan was for a quick march along the coast, followed by splitting the Austrian army, under the geriatric Johann Beaulieu, from the Piedmont. At Montenotte Masséna overcame steep resistance. After several small but sharp fights, the Austrians were thrown back and the victory at Mondovì knocked Piedemnot out of the war. Still, there were complications. The hard marching and lack of loot in war torn Piedmont led to desertion and the Austrian army was still in fighting trim. The men were growing restless. For one, Napoleon stayed in his tent, which was surprising since he had freely mixed with the men before Montenotte and even joked with them, at last gaining a sense of humor. The drive to Lodi changed all that. Napoleon drove his men hard and at Lodi he was at the front, extolling the troops and setting the guns. Although a costly victory, Napoleon now gained his full confidence and except for short periods, it never left him. His soldiers, amazed at their success and at Bonaparte's bravery, now loved him. Even Masséna and Augereau were singing his praises.

Napoleon's sudden victory, followed by the occupation of Milan, made him a hero. Where his previous letters to his political masters had been respectful, now he made demands for more troops while dictating strategy. On one point he did bend: the Directory, starved for cash, told him to forget nation building and concentrate on looting. Napoleon was more than willing anyway. Men scoured the countryside for art, and while measures were taken to limit the excesses of rape and murder, the French army achieved a reputation for plunder. A small rebellion broke out and was only suppressed through violence, a sad portent of things to come. Still, Napoleon worked to gain the trust of the Italians, who preferred French troops to those from Austria. By 1797 the Italians were raising their own formations. Meanwhile, Bonaparte set up newspapers and governments. He became a master of propaganda, wrote letters, and had his army chase the enemy with zeal. Louis Berthier, his superb chief of staff, said "we do not march, we fly!" Napoleon's greatest strength was his energy and his ruthless drive. He won men with victory and lush material rewards. He gave his subordinates much leeway, and used a mixture of compliments and denouncements to spurn his generals. In many ways, he was fully formed as a general at the age of 26, making him more like Alexander the Great than Frederick the Great, who stumbled at Mollwitz and in his 1744 campaign.

Napoleon's first great test came when Sigmund von Wurmser, an aged but hard fighting Austrian, led troops to relieve the siege of Mantua. Napoleon was caught off guard, with his forces spread far and wide. Unarguably it was Augereau who saved the day at Castiglione. By September Wurmser was himself trapped in Mantua, where sickness over took his command. Unfortunately, the French had been beaten on the Rhine by the Archduke Charles, a 25 year-old who was matching Napoleon's achievements in Italy. Rather than send the victorious Charles, a new Austrian army under József Alvinczi was sent. Although himself mediocre, Alvinczi defeated Masséna at Bassano. At Caldiero he dealt Napoleon his first defeat and could have won a great victory if he had more skill. Napoleon's daring attack at Arcole was itself a near disaster. Napoleon would have died if Muiron had not shielded Bonaparte and sacrificed himself and if Jean Lannes, a rising star in the army, had not fished Napoleon out of the Adige River. The victory was costly, but the siege of Mantua ground on. As winter came, Napoleon's troops were busy intimidating the Pope, training the new Italian formations, and awaiting the fall of Mantua. The Directory was ecstatic. The loot and the victories had propped up the government in spite of its defeats on the Rhine. The impressive French army was, in the hands of Napoleon and his generals, the most powerful fighting force on earth.

Gros' 1801 Materwork, Bonaparte at the Bridge at Arcole
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
5. Board Game: The Egyptian Campaign [Average Rating:6.18 Overall Rank:11793]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
From the Glory of Rivoli to the Agony of Acre

Alvinczi represented the old way of war that had been mastered by Austria. It was warfare of maneuver, siege, and lines of troops held together by harsh discipline and camaraderie. Napoleon had yet to truly beat the mediocre Alvinczi, who gained just enough victories to keep his command. On January 12, 1797, Alvinczi struck at Rivoli. Before Rivoli, Napoleon had won due to leadership, organization, and lastly his talent for operational maneuver. At Rivoli he now proved to be master of the battlefield. Using a combination of infantry and cavalry assault, with artillery support, he won a crushing victory worthy of Blenheim, Fontenoy, and Luethen. Wurmser soon surrendered Mantua. Charles was at long last sent to Italy, but there was little he could do. Napoleon now threatened Vienna, which sought peace.

Napoleon was now a force unto himself. He ruled over Italy, liberalizing institutions and occupying the Papal States. The Treaty of Campo Formio gave France Belgium and some Mediterranean islands. The moribund Republic of Venice was split up and Italian republics, loyal to France, were recognized. In France, Napoleon's personal newspaper trumpeted his victories. During the coup of 18 Fructidor he sent Augereau to ensure that the government remained friendly, although the great Carnot was ousted. He made friends with Charles de Talleyrand, the brilliant foreign minister who changed his allegiance with the winds of fortune. Together, they planned an invasion of first Britain, then Ireland, and then Egypt, where Napoleon hoped to emulate Alexander the Great. Yet he could not conquer Joséphine. She took other lovers, rarely wrote to him, and made only brief visits to the front. In going to Egypt, he was in part escaping domestic turmoil.

The Egyptian Expedition was the product of many hands. The navy supported it, and it was believed that in seizing Egypt and other eastern possessions that Britain's empire could be threatened. Many politicians liked the idea because it meant Napoleon would be in the east instead of in France, where he might seize power. It was however, a half-cooked scheme, relying on a vague hope that the Ottoman Empire, a traditional ally of France, would aid Napoleon. Still, Napoleon had some 30,000 troops and the services of some of France's best generals. The expedition left on May 19, 1798 and after conquering Malta and barely dodging a squadron under Nelson, Napoleon's men landed unopposed. The march was grueling. The men lacked supplies and many who shed their heavy uniforms in the day froze to death at night. The Turks saw the attack as an affront and started to send troops and the Mamelukes, great horsemen warriors, tortured the Frenchmen they captured. At the Battle of the Pyramids (which were not in sight during the fighting) Napoleon's army smashed the Mamelukes. It represented the final triumph of western arms over the east, for the losses were a ghastly 7,000 Mamelukes to 300 French. However, all were impressed by the ferocity of the Mamelukes. Napoleon made one such warrior, Roustan, his personal bodyguard, while a contingent of such warriors would accompany his army all the way until 1814. The triumph though was undercut when Nelson smashed the fleet at the Nile. The victory cut off Napoleon from France. Now seeing that he would be in Egypt for quite some time, Napoleon took to administration with the same fervor he showed in Italy. His men learned of Islam and some converted. Printing presses were thrown up, feeding a steady stream of propaganda. A bevy of scholars unearthed the treasures of the orient, carried out experiments, and founded the Institut d’Égypte, which stood until burned in 2011. Most all, the defeat of the Mamelukes ended their nearly 600 year reign in Egypt. The land of the Pharaohs would never be the same again.

It was however a difficult situation. Although Napoleon tried to be respectful to Islam, even boasting to be admirer of Muhamed, his administration was heavy-handed and the regular collection of taxes angered many. His troops were ill-disciplined and shocked the locals with their blasphemous behavior. A revolt in Egypt had to be suppressed while Thomas-Alexandre Dumas, Napoleon's cavalry commander, considered leading a mutiny. He was removed from command, but Jean Kléber, another popular and hard fighting general, openly criticized Napoleon. He confided to one friend that Napoleon was "the kind of general who needs a monthly income of 10,000 men.” Napoleon also now knew the depth of Joséphine's infidelity and his heart was broken. He took lovers and treated sex as a conquest, destroying one of the few tender aspects left in his personality. This new bitterness was on display when the army invaded Syria in 1799. There the Turks took to torturing the French, leading a frustrated Napoleon to execute thousands of prisoners after the fall of Jaffa. It was a rare lapse of conduct, for Napoleon despised execution. A plague struck the army, which Bonaparte escaped although he walked among the men, believing that courage warded off disease. The siege of Acre was foiled, in part because of the ships of Sidney Smith and the artillery of Antoine DePhelipoux, a classmate of Napoleon's who had fled to Turkey during the Revolution. Napoleon had failed where Alexander the Great, in his siege of Tyre, had succeeded. After smashing a Turkish Army at Mount Tabor, Napoleon returned to Egypt. It was the first time he had lost a campaign and it would be the last time until 1812.

Napoleon and the Sphinx
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
6. Board Game: Coup d'État [Average Rating:6.52 Overall Rank:6541]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Coup of the Century

Upon his return to Egypt Napoleon foiled British coastal raids. He smashed a Turkish army at Aboukir, where Murat led a powerful charge. This lent more fuel to his propaganda machine. He also discovered that France was on the verge of collapse. Austria had declared war and brought Russia along. Together they had overrun Italy, winning smashing victories at Trebbia and Novi. Charles, who Napoleon had dismissed as overrated in 1797, had regained the Rhine. An undeclared naval war with America made French privateers wealthy but hurt the struggling navy. Rebellions in the Vendee, Brittany, and Normandy had flared up. The British and Russians were in Holland and the invasion of Ireland was a total failure. If Napoleon remained in Egypt, he might be sacrificed. France needed him and he smelled an opportunity for power. He did not however abandon Egypt. He left Kléber in command, both to take a rival out of contention and because he knew that Kléber was a capable commander. Hard-fighting Bonaparte allies such as Junot, Louis Desaix, Jean Reynier, and Louis Friant also remained. Napoleon continued to dream of a return to the east until 1805, and even then he tried to repair relations with Turkey by sending men to modernize their military, a project that failed due to Janissary intrigues. But he knew his options were limited in Egypt. In France he could regain glory.

Napoleon returned to find the situation had stabilized. Masséna had turned the tide at Zurich. Guillaume Brune, a comrade from the Italian campaigns, had bested the British and Russians at Castricum. The Russian army was withdrawing from the war. Only on the Rhine did matters remain unsettled. When Napoleon arrived, news of Aboukir had proceeded him. Although bested in Syria, he claimed Egypt as France's colony and brought with him tales and artifacts of the east. He remained popular. The Directory though was not. Plots and rumors of plots could be found across France. French finances were a mess. The Disasters of 1799 had deprived the government of many of sources of income and the Directory was surviving on plundering expeditions. Lawlessness was pervasive and the Jacobins were resurgent. Led by Jean Bernadotte, a charismatic general and husband to Désirée, they planned to return the government to the people. The royalists were not idle either. They found an unlikely champion in Barras and were given gold by a desperate Britain. The moderate faction, led by the Lucien and Emmanuel Sieyès decided that only a dictatorship in the tradition of the Roman Republic could save France. They believed that they needed a figurehead general to give them legitimacy, since the army was the most popular institution in France. Jean Moreau and Jean-Baptiste Jourdan turned down their offers. Masséna was more interested in plunder and fornicating, although he was also needed at the front. Jacques MacDonald was unwilling and Barthélemy Joubert was dead. Napoleon had just arrived from Egypt, but he was at first unwilling. After nearly divorcing Joséphine, the two reconciled and were happy. His once unfailing energy had been sapped in Egypt. For a time it appeared that Barras or Bernadotte would win the day.

Although Napoleon was imperious and ambitious, the idea that he always planned to rule France is false. In Italy he considered uniting the nation and making himself dictator. He had similar plans for the east, and even thought of converting to Islam. Napoleon was a dreamer but also an opportunist. His goals shifted with circumstances. While it made his strategic vision limited, few men were as good at seizing the moment. He once said "audacity succeeds as often as it fails; in life it has an even chance." So it was that he now saw the Directory as weak. Its politicians insulted him, and the number of men calling for him to seize power grew. Moreau, himself snubbed, was ready to follow Bonaparte. Talleyrand joined in along with Roger Ducos and Joseph Fouche, rank opportunists of the highest order. When Napoleon came to Paris he might have been arrested, but François Lefebvre, commander of the garrison, had himself been snubbed and supported Bonaparte.

The coup of 18 Brumaire was a near catastrophe. When Napoleon confronted the Council of 500, he was thrown out and Lucien, who was president, had to flee. Outside the soldiers grew restless. Napoleon was stunned. His fear of crowds and mobs took hold. At that moment Sieyès told him to send in the grenadiers. Lucien followed it up with a dramatic gesture. He held his sword to his brother's heart and swore to run him through if he betrayed the revolution. Napoleon regained his bearings and called out "I wanted to speak to the deputies and they answered me with daggers." Murat led the troops into the hall and ended the Directory at point of the bayonet. Napoleon, Sieyès, and Ducos were made consuls, but Napoleon out-maneuvered his allies. With the aid of Claude Daunou, he had a constitution approved that made him First Counsel. Sieyès and Ducos were bought off with lands and political positions, and each remained loyal to Napoleon. Yet, the task before Bonaparte was Herculean. He was a mere 30 years of age, surrounded by enemies at home and abroad. His military genius could only succeed if matched with political acumen and administrative prowess.

The Fall of the Directory
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
7. Board Game: Bonaparte at Marengo [Average Rating:7.40 Overall Rank:1279]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
That Brief Moment of Peace

Napoleon's ability to hold power was based upon success and a web of alliances. It was not a true autocratic government. All of the men who brought him to power were given high offices. Old friends and allies were honored, with Carnot returning to the war ministry. Tax reform began to repair France's battered finances, while the Vendee rebellion was effectively ended and peace with America was secured. Joseph had made himself popular in intellectual circles, and for a time he won over Madame de Staël, Benjamin Constant, and François de Chateaubriand. Even exiled nobles became hopeful. Tsar Paul I now made himself Napoleon's friend and together they planned a conquest of the east. To this end Napoleon tried to send Kléber more supplies. As Napoleon expected, Kléber defeated a Turkish Army at Heliopolis, although he was outnumbered 6 to 1. However, he was assassinated, which led to the ascent of the incompetent Jacques Menou, who converted to Islam but with little benefit. Egypt was all but lost.

In spite of this and his new found joys with Joséphine, the war raged on. Austria and Britain turned down offers of peace, with the British Parliament openly baying for blood. Napoleon opted to break Austria. Moreau would go to the Rhine with most of the troops and Napoleon would go to Italy, where Masséna was being besieged at Genoa. Berthier brilliantly assembled 60,000 men from scratch, and Napoleon, emulating Hannibal, crossed the Alps into the Austrian rear. It took the enemy by surprise. Michael von Melas, an aged but tough minded veteran, withdrew his strung out and poorly supplied forces. The French were hailed as heroes in Italy. After Lannes won a minor victory at Montebello, Napoleon assumed the campaign was won. At Marengo he was taken by surprise. The stubborn stand of Victor's infantry, the timely arrival of Desaix's troops, Marmont's artillery barrage, and lastly a ferocious charge by Francois-Etienne Kellermann's heavy cavalry saved the day. It also helped that Melas was wounded half way in the fighting. Although Napoleon had shown that steely determination that made him a great general, the near disaster plagued his mind. In later years he would try to portray it as a brilliant bait and attack plan, the same way Ulysses Grant would try to downplay is surprise at Shiloh. It was not a brilliant victory for either man, and worst of all Desaix died in the fighting.

News of Marengo was greeted with cheers as Napoleon returned to Paris certain the war would end. After all, an armistice had been declared and negotiations looked promising. They were not. Britain flooded Austrian coffers with more money. The people of France felt betrayed by the hopes of Marengo, and soon there were talks of Jacobin and royalist plots. Still, if Charles had not been sick, he might have turned the tide, but Austria had to rely on lesser men. On December 3, 1800 Moreau smashed the Austrian army in a brilliant victory at Hohenlinden. Marengo was for the time overshadowed. In Italy on Christmas day Brune smashed an Austrian army at Pozzolo. The Austrians now sued for peace. For the first time ever, Napoleon became truly spiteful. Brune would not hold another major command and Moreau was slighted. This petty vindictiveness would only grow worse over time.

The Treaty of Lunéville was signed, expanding French domains in Germany. For a time Britain fought on, seizing Egypt in 1801 and in a shameless act of aggression, attacked the Danish. Yet the cost of war was now ruinous to both sides, as Britain had no way of gaining new allies. Nelson, hero of the Nile, was defeated at Boulogne, which further caused British hopes to sag. Paul I had arranged the Anti-British League of Armed Neutrality, which comprised Denmark-Norway, Sweden, Prussia, and Russia. Just as during the American Revolution, these nations were sick of British arrogance at sea and seizure of their ships if they traded with France. Now British trade was in danger of failing. Then Paul was murdered, in part because of his pro-French diplomacy. Still, Russia could not be relied upon. By 1802 The Treaty of Ameins was signed. It was mostly a trading of overseas possessions. Napoleon was at the height of his popularity. New tax dollars strengthened the fleet while Paris was built into the jewel of Europe. Prominent Britons flocked to Paris, including Charles James Fox and William Hazlitt. Napoleon, now counsel for life, seemed secure both in Europe and in France. Just as before Marengo, he was wrong.

Moreau at Hohenlinden
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
8. Board Game: Vive l'Empereur [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:8264]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
From Consul to Emperor

Napoleon's time as consul was perhaps the best of his life. In government he proved to be as forceful and imaginative as a reformer as he was a general in the field. The Napoleon of this time was not an ideologue or an overconfident bore. He elevated men of the highest caliber and gave them room to make their own judgments. Lazare Carnot and Laurent Truguet ran the army and navy ministries respectively. Charles Maurice de Talleyrand served ably as foreign minister. Although Joseph Fouché was morally dubious, he was a capable spy master and police chief, and oddly enough a devoted family man in an era of sexual license. These ministers and others were active members of the government. Napoleon heeded their advice and gave them latitude in their decisions.

Napoleon favored religious policies that were practical. In 1801 he settled the Revolution's disputes with the Church in the Concordat. He also gave the Jews greater freedoms in exchange for their tax dollars and military service. Napoleon greatly improved France's infrastructure. Across France, roads were built and the dilapidated sewer systems were upgraded. He allowed nobles to return without the threat of punishment. Napoleon also formally adopted the Metric System, an unpopular measure from the Revolution. However, his two greatest achievements in this time were the Banque de France and the Napoleonic Code. The bank was inspired by the Bank of England, and Napoleon hoped it would give France stability. At first he was not mindful of the banks activities, but gradually he gained more control over its operations. The bank, through its system of loans, created what the Bourbons and the revolutionaries had failed to achieve: basic financial stability. The Napoleonic Code, a sprawling legal document that sought to make laws accessible and rational, was considered by Bonaparte himself to be his finest achievement. Taken together, these actions represent the triumph of rationalization, bureaucracy, and centralization. They were exported to the various lands conquered by the French Army, transforming society from feudal into something more or less modern. In this way Napoleon was the embodiment of the enlightened despot, and considering his hero worship for Frederick the Great, he would not deny such a description.

Yet, it would be foolish to ignore the Napoleonic policies that failed or remain controversial, for many of Bonaparte's worst tendencies emerged in this brief golden period. Outside of the army, his strongest supporters were among the emerging middle class. Napoleon granted them economic favors and supported internal deregulation while seeking to control trade outside of Europe. He made sure the laws were favorable to the business class. Trade unions were broken and workers rights were limited. In 1802 censorship was introduced, which would expand over the years. Education was revamped and centralized, instilling civil and military values, but neglecting creativity and science. Perhaps his worst decision was the attempt to bring slavery back to Haiti, which ended in the destruction of a veteran army. Meanwhile, Britain was again looking for an excuse to fight, and Napoleon did not disappoint. By 1803, war was looming and the vast territory of Louisiana was untenable. Napoleon then sold it before the British could take it. While often called a blunder, Napoleon knew he could not hold it and he needed the money. He also knew that Thomas Jefferson was a Francophile and his Republican Party was openly pro-French. Selling the land would not only win him friends in Washington, but would also strengthen America, a nation Napoleon hoped might aid him in a war with Britain. While he perhaps overestimated American capabilities, he also believed America would over time replace Britain. He had become a thoroughgoing Anglophobe, so he enjoyed boosting a British rival.

War with Britain did come, and while Britain declared it and sought it, the ever pugnacious Napoleon did little to avert it with his insults and trade embargoes. Neither side could invade the other and for a time the war was confined to naval actions and a series of cloak and dagger attacks. The British landed agents and the Bourbons plotted their return. Together they tried to murder Napoleon. There had already been two attempts on his life. Then in January 1804 a Bourbon plot involving Moreau and the British was uncovered. In retaliation Louis, Duc de Enghien, a Bourbon, was kidnapped. Although the plot was real enough, Enghien was innocent. Napoleon now made a grave error: he chose to have the man executed. It surprised many, for Napoleon did not like execution, preferring imprisonment and exile. Yet, he felt threatened and seems to have reverted to the ways of the Corsican blood feud. This extended to other men as well. The perfidious General Charles Pichegru mysteriously died in his jail cell. Georges Cadoudal, the most active royalist conspirator of the era, was tried and guillotined, an increasingly rare practice. Moreau fled to America, which was then populated with French exiles. Yet Napoleon felt uneasy. All of Europe condemned the murder of Enghien, mostly because he was of royal blood. Napoleon, never one to react with caution, rashly crowned himself emperor in a grand display of power. He thought it might make him legitimate and acceptable to the other monarchs. By the same token he called himself "Emperor of the French" in order claim his power emanated from the French people, as opposed to the Bourbons who held that their power came from god and rank. Instead, Napoleon looked like a usurper to his foes and a reactionary to his admirers. Ludwig van Beethoven intended to dedicate his Symphony No. 3 to Bonaparte. Instead it now was "composed to celebrate the memory of a great man" and included a funeral march. Even without Beethoven's bluntness, the paintings commissioned to celebrate the coronation betray a simple fact: Napoleon never looked at ease. He seemed uncomfortable in the tall robes and lush clothes. He was a man of the field not of court, and his decision to become emperor was in many ways his undoing, for he now had to play a part he was unsuited for. When he told Joseph at the ceremony "if only our Father could see us now" he betrayed as much. The fact that Napoleon had even taken the royal route would have seemed ridiculous even in 1803.

Emperor Napoleon I
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
9. Board Game: Napoleonic Empire [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A New Rome

With the possibly exceptions of France and Prussia, Napoleon admired the Roman Empire most of all and sought to model his state after the ancient heroes. This in part explains his desire of military glory, religious inclusion, and centralized administration. These trappings were combined with the last vestiges of Bourbon France to create one of the most peculiar governments in history: the Napoleonic Empire. Its blend of Bourbon absolutism, Roman trappings, rationalized administration, and military supremacy makes it impossible to categorize. Some called it a military dictatorship. Others saw it as enlightened absolutism, and still others as a desperate attempt at legitimacy. It was perhaps all of the the above and much more, which may explain its ultimate failure. Napoleon later said "I found the crown of France in the gutter and I picked it up with the tip of my sword." This got at the heart of his illegitimacy. His was a monarchy through brute force. Nevermind if all the other dynasties began that way. That was the distant past, and no other founder of a dynastic line was as dynamic a force and Napoleon I. No other ruler instilled such hatred in his fellow monarchs.

The religious and administrative policies of the Consulate were continued, but now they had a more royalist agenda. Order was vigorously maintained. Although Napoleon dismissed the police by saying “They invent more than they discover and catch only fools" he used a secret police force and crime did decline considerably. Being Corsican, Napoleon was attached to his family though it was problematic. Joseph, while intelligent and charismatic, lacked the iron-will of his brother. Although a capable diplomat who helped to win over the intelligentsia, he believed in liberalism more than Napoleon's absolutism. Louis was closet to Napoleon in his youth, but they disagreed over governance. Lucien, the most talented of the brothers, outright opposed Napoleon's imperial ambitions. Jerome, the youngest, was loyal but useless and utterly debauched. Perhaps the greatest source of tension was over marriage. Napoleon failed to arrange Lucien's marriage. He made Louis marry the lovely but faithless Hortense de Beauharnais, Josephine's daughter. He forced Jerome to divorce his first wife, an American. The next area of disagreement was over governance. Napoleon intervened and disapproved of how Louis, Joseph, and Jerome ruled the kingdoms he gave them, often giving his generals greater latitude. Lucien, opposed to the imperial turn and his arranged marriage, went into self-imposed exile. Napoleon's sisters were also problematic. Most were charming, but their skills varied. Pauline was loyal but promiscuous. Élisa was talented but strong-willed, and she often bickered with Napoleon. Caroline was an intriguer on par with Talleyrand and Fouché.

Another doubled edged sword was Joséphine. Their marriage had never been better, and the new empress gave Napoleon's court a loveliness and light touch that was desperately needed. She cultivated great gardens and her natural empathy won over many. She was intelligent too, and a master of backgammon. Yet there were problems. For one, she had yet to bear Napoleon a child, which in the new royalist system was critical. However, Bonaparte took few if any lovers at this time and therefore had no proof of whether he was sterile. Caroline sought to correct this by bringing women to court, but for now Napoleon was utterly devoted to Josephine. Indeed, the Bonaparte clan despised Joséphine. Letizia at least had a good reason: she saw Joséphine as taking advantage of her son's rising star in 1796. She saw how Joséphine abused that love before 1799. The others were moved more by jealousy. Joséphine held court, she was popular, and her power over Napoleon was considerable.

The creation of a court was matched by the expansion of the arts in every stripe. Jacques-Louis David, Jacobin and one-time dictator of the French arts, returned to prominence. He infused Napoleon's court with a neoclassical style that combined Roman trappings with an august opulence. The result was a sumptuous court life unseen since 1789. The Consulate had been much more simple. Napoleon's main concerns then were his ministers and the bureaucrats as he strove to create a government of experts. Now he lorded over a court, the very thing that the French had annihilated in 1792. The result was that conservatives in France rallied to him, even as his Enlightenment inspired bureaucracy and crass coronation made him the enemy of most European conservatives. However, while meant to strengthen his position in France and Europe, the empire actually weakened it. As Stendhal pointed out, the new monarchy introduced all the old vices that had destroyed the Bourbons. There was a kind of moral decay. Gossip, sex, decor, and indulgences ruled where once practicality and simplicity held sway. Still being at the height of his mental and military powers, Napoleon was able to ward off the worst excesses of this profound political failure. His manners were still direct and rough, and he was open to ideas and engaging. He ate simply and avoided many of the court trappings that quickly overtook his family and lackeys. However, no man though can avoid the trap he sets for himself, not even a Napoleon. Without war, he would have succumbed far sooner.

Napoleon's Coat of Arms
14 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
10. Board Game: Before I Was a Marshal I Was a Grenadier [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Military Machine

The military that Napoleon wielded was undoubtedly the finest in the era of horse and musket. Much of its strength derived from an officer class promoted upon merit and trained in the fires of the French Revolutionary Wars. Carnot had revolutionized officer selection, but also mass conscription and the French supply system. Combined with Napoleon's great road projects, the French could raise and field large armies of well-trained and motivated troops, capable of hard marching and fighting. The main army, known as Grand Armee was massed at Boulogne and preparing to invade England. It represented the pinnacle of European military might. Not since Caesar's legions had defeated Pompey was a better European fighting force ever been assembled at one spot. Napoleon was confident of it and its mission. He proclaimed without hesitation that "The Triumph of my arms will be the triumph of good over that of evil."

It has become passe to declare Napoleon as lacking in military innovation. This is more a construction of both his British critics and the current obsession with technology, for no new weapons were introduced and Napoleon ignored the rifle. He did not reform tactical doctrines, but he did adjust them. His preference for firepower instead of bayonet charges became the norm. Most of all, he made great use of use of combined arms, utilizing infantry, artillery, and cavalry in unison to create smashing victories, such as those at Rivoli and Marengo. He did not, like Carnot, revolutionize war as an institution. he did not mass more artillery than his opponents until his later campaigns. Rather his preference for lighter guns, backed up by lavish artillery trains, allowed him to use his guns more effectively than any other nation. His abilities as military reformer lay with his organizational skill. He created the corps concept, in which an army could be broken into smaller self-contained armies. It remains the basis for conventional military organizations to this day. His staff was expanded and he relied upon a chief of staff, Louis Berthier, like no one had before. His use of maps was creative, with pins and rulers being used to judge distances. His objective in warfare was decisive battle, and was achieved with forced marches. He centralized the artillery and cavalry so as to give him greater tactical flexibility. In short, while not a revolutionary on par with Carnot, Napoleon left his mark on warfare through the creation of corps organizations, centralization of more specialized assets, a commitment to decisive battle, and the use of a large and flexible staff.

As always though, Napoleon combined Enlightenment rationalism with Bourbon trappings, and to a degree his military was regressive. The army was still a meritocracy, where religious blasphemy was welcome and hatred of the Bourbons and the Old Regime untied most the officers. Still, Napoleon brought back the pageantry of war. Uniforms, especially in the cavalry, were opulent. The trappings of Rome were there too, including golden eagles for units. The elite Consular Guard became the Imperial Guard, a private and elite corps loyal to Napoleon and led by his hardcore supporters. Military and civil service was recognized in the Legion of Honor, with the military getting most of the honor. The high command was filled out with marshals, a rank that became extinct during the Revolution. This was done to create a military aristocracy of merit while also hearkening back to the great French marshals of the past, such as Turenne, Villars, and Maurice. It also introduced some stability by ensuring that high command would be given only to those of a certain rank, avoiding the chaos the French army command during the Revolution. Napoleon made sure every political faction was represented, including rivals and critics such as Jourdon and Bernadotte. Still, the move angered many republicans, especially since Napoleon favored his friends and comrades from the Italian and Egyptian campaigns.

Many rightfully saw the beginnings of a new military aristocracy that would with time grow as corrupt and feeble as the one that failed Louis XV during the Seven Years' War. The officers bickered, and lavished with presents, fought for Napoleon's favor. Many were shameless looters, a tradition acquired back when the cash starved Directory welcomed booty. "Living off the land," was a boon and a curse, for while it made French armies more flexible they left devastation wherever they went. Outside of parts of Italy and Germany, the army was unpopular. Furthermore, the people increasingly were weary of war. Draft dodging became a problem and drumming up recruits was difficult. To this end, Napoleon limited conscription until 1812 and placed his financial burdens on foreign lands, which increasingly furnished more troops. Still, there were always a core of officers and men willing to risk their life for plunder, money, and glory. While Napoleon marched hard and expected much, the discipline was lax compared to other nations. Napoleon disliked harsh punishments, and he made a point to win the hearts of his men with rewards, both honorary and financial. He recognized the common soldier as a man and treated them with a kind of avuncular style, best shown in his military reviews where he would pinch their cheeks and make crass jokes. Still, his system emphasized glory, a quest for military success as the path to honor. In a sense then bravery, which is much more honest and visceral, was gradually downplayed in the pomp of the Napoleonic war machine.

The New Uniform Designs
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
11. Board Game: Austerlitz 1805: Partie Sud [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:6728]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Sun of Austerlitz

Napoleon incessantly trained his army for the long awaited invasion of Britain. Not since William of Orange in 1689 had a foreign army invaded British soil but if anyone could it was Napoleon. His force was large and superbly trained and led, unarguably the greatest single army ever assembled in the era of horse and musket. By contrast, his navy was out-numbered by the British, and while French ships were better designed, British sailors and leadership were at their peak. Still, Napoleon's chances were fair, and the operation he planned might have worked. Indeed, the most difficult part of the naval operation, baiting the British fleet, had been intrusted to Latouche Tréville. He was France's best admiral and he had even defeated Horatio Nelson. Then, Tréville died and his replacement was the incompetent Pierre-Charles Villeneuve.

As 1805 wore on Napoleon became less convinced that an invasion could be pulled off. The British had used subsidies to create a new alliance against France. By the summer of 1805 Sweden, Russia, and Austria had declared war, with Austria invading Bavaria and Italy. So Napoleon had to turn away from Britain and deal with Austria. He decided not to enter Italy, where the main Austrian army was, but instead march through southern Germany. Such a move angered Prussia and might draw them into the war. It also had to be carried out in the cold rain, which lowered morale slowed down the advance. Still, the Austrians were in disarray. Their commander, Mack von Liebereich, was unbalanced due to a head wound. He bickered with his officers and failed to march out of Napoleon's way. He might have cut Napoleon's rear, but at Günzburg he was turned back. At Haslach his force suffered a humiliating defeat despite out-numbering Pierre Dupont's division 5 to 1. Mack's last breakout attempt at Elchingen ended in disaster. By this time he had lost some 12,000 men. Although around 20,000 cavalry escaped, they were sliced up by Murat's horsemen. Mack wanted to fight, but his officers forced him to surrender nearly 30,000 men, 18 generals, 65 guns, and 40 standards. He offered Napoleon his sword and called himself "the unfortunate General Mack." Bonaparte told him "I give back to the unfortunate General his sword and his freedom, along with my regards to give to his Emperor." Instead, Mack was thrown in jail and never called on again.

Ulm was a victory not of Napoleon's design but a product of his superb army. With the fall of Vienna in November and Masséna winning victories in Italy, Austria should have caved. However, everything else seemed to turn aganist Napoleon. Villeneuve, against Napoleon's wishes, had sought battle and was crushed. Nelson was dead, but the British fleet reigned supreme. Francis II took the remnants of the Austrian army north to join with the Russians, while Klemens von Metternich tried to lure Prussia into the fray. Ulm would be an empty triumph if Napoleon could not follow it up. So he chased chased Francis, over extending himself. The Russian commander, Mikhail Kutuzov, hoped to lure Napoleon into a trap by retreating into Galicia. From Italy, Charles's army was approaching to threaten Napoleon's rear. Prussia was at last slowly mobilizing. Without a victory, all would be lost. Napoleon did not despair. Instead, he hatched a scheme. He would lure the Russians into a battle by feigning weakness. Napoleon knew that the young Tsar Alexander I despised him. Alexander I hungered for military glory and he accompanied the army sent to Austria, deciding strategy and leaving tactics and maneuvers to Kutuzov. Napoleon, to fake his weakness, asked Alexander for peace terms. Spurned on by his overconfident staff and court lackeys, Alexander I decided to bring on a battle.

At Austerlitz Napoleon picked the lower ground and weakened his right in order to bait Alexander. It was a risk, since his line of retreat was guarded on the right. Fortunately, the Coalition command bickered. Kutuzov had slept during the battle planning and provided little guidance, and there was a general sense of unease as the Austrian and Russian forces deployed in the wet cold night. Napoleon did not know this, and the night before the battle was tense. Brandy was given to the men and Napoleon, detecting their weariness, walked among them. In the cold, great bonfires were lit. The men hailed their emperor with shouts, since December 2nd was the first anniversary of his coronation. That morning Napoleon spoke not of battles, but of the theater with Junot, now attached to his staff. Then, the roar of cannon was heard. The attack on Bonaprate's right had begun and was successful for a time. Then, Napoleon pressed the center and the Coalition right. Louis Davout, a hard fighting and strict commander, came up after a forced march, smashing into the Coalition's left flank. The Coalition army withdrew in disorder. Napoleon's victory was complete, his triumph perhaps the greatest of his era. To his army, Napoleon said "Soldiers! I am pleased with you" and then handed out rewards. In France wild celebrations were held. In Britain, William Pitt the Younger, openly sobbed and lost all hope of victory, succumbing as he soon did to illnesses. French power was at its peak. Napoleon had officially joined Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Caesar, and Marlborough in the pantheon of legendary commanders. As the now humbled Alexander I admitted, "We are babies in the hands of a giant."

Napoleon Explains his Plans Before Austerlitz
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
12. Board Game: Jena-Auerstadt [Average Rating:5.96 Overall Rank:11908]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lightening War

Napoleon's triumph at Austerlitz was sealed two days later when Austria gave up. Talleyrand saw a chance to win an ally through a lenient peace, but Napoleon was not one to pass up a chance to expand French power and boost his allies in Italy and Germany. The Holy Roman Empire was dissolved. Lands were ceded to Bavaria, Wurttemberg, and Baden. Worst of all, Austria had to pay war indemnities and give Venice to the Kingdom of Italy. With this stroke, Austrian decline was set, a process that would culminate in defeat and revolution in 1918. The peace though was not the diplomatic revolution that some claimed, for France's terms were no more harsh than those imposed by Frederick the Great in the War of the Austrian Succession or Britain after the Seven Years War. Rather, Napoleon was now becoming a true slayer of kings, for unlike before, he wanted to wed peace to political change. In Germany and Italy, government was remade along liberal and Napoleonic lines and ancient prerogatives were trampled. Napoleon might be an emperor, but to him war was hardly the sport of kings.

Napoleon's political ambitions in Germany now brought him into direct conflict with Prussia. Napoleon in turn did little to mollify the Prussians, practically daring them to fight. However, once they chose war, his reaction was one of disbelief. Publicly he was confident of victory, but privately he feared Prussian military prowess. Fortunately, the Prussians squabbled and made a rather clumsy advance rather than wait for Russian aid. Napoleon assembled his army and marched into the Prussian rear, meeting them at Jena. It was a small crossroads city, best known for its college. There, many leading German artists and thinkers taught and studied. Among them was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel. Upon seeing Napoleon, he quipped that he saw "world history riding on horseback." The coming days would inspire him and a generation of Germans to recast the way they saw the world.

On October 14, 1806, just north of Jena, Napoleon found and destroyed the Prussian rear guard in a masterful attack. To the north, at Auerstadt, Davout met and defeated the main Prussian army. The twin victories were on par with Cannae, as panicking Prussians were run down by French cavalry. The ensuing campaign was like none before. French soldiers marched mercilessly north, sweeping up isolated Prussians and smashing their forces wherever they went. Austerlitz might have been the greater personal and tactical victory, but this was a campaign unequaled in the age of horse and musket. Although Napoleon rather disingenuously tried to diminish Davout's victory at Auerstadt, he nonetheless had overseen his greatest campaign. In Prussia, the disaster at Jena was a cause of crisis and reform. The old system was transformed in the coming years and Prussia began its long road to German unification. As Hegel recalled, it was "the end of history" or at least the end of the old Prussian system.

When Napoleon marched into Berlin, it was with the Marsallie blaring, a song he actually hated and outlawed in France. Napoleon was a conservative in France, but in Europe he had replaced his former hero, Robespierre, as the villain of the age. Napoleon visited Frederick the Great's tomb, then took his personal emblems as war trophies back to Paris. Still, the war went on, and there was no immediate end in sight. The Prussian remnants withdrew to Poland and merged with a Russian army. Swedish forces bolstered Prussian garrisons along the Baltic Sea. In Naples, a small British army won a victory at Maida, the first major defeat suffered by Napoleon's French Empire. A guerrilla war soon started that took years for the French to win. Most of all, Britain was unyielding. After Austerlitz, some desired peace, but the Tories held sway. Faced by a British blockade and the Royal Navy's harassment of neutral shipping, Napoleon now instituted his Continental System. He barred trade with Britain in all nations either ruled by or allied to France. The effect on the economies of Europe was ruinous. French industry was improving but could not meet the demand for British goods. Smuggling now flourished and combined with Napoleonic taxation and conscription, Bonaparte's allies began to simmer with rage. So long as victory followed victory, Napoleon might keep up his system, but Russia and Britain remained unbowed. Before Jena, Napoleon merely meant to make France a peer without equal. Now he sought to make all of Europe into a French sphere. He wanted nothing less than a new Roman Empire. In his mind Britain, with its oligarchic tendencies, powerful merchant class, and "mercenary" army, was a perfect stand in for Carthage.

Reviewing the Guard at Jena
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
13. Board Game: Eagles of the Empire: Friedland [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:9573]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Frozen Wastes and Summer Glory

The fall of Berlin did not cause Prussia to submit because the Russians had come west with an army. Napoleon might have stayed in Berlin and awaited warmer weather, but he instead chose a winter campaign. The strain on his men was incredible, as snow and mud made fast marches difficult. Thankfully, the army was greeted with cheers as they marched into Poland. Napoleon represented much to these people. France was Poland's traditional ally and many were inspired by both revolutionary and nationalistic ideologies. Most of all, Napoleon had defeated the very nations that had dismembered Poland. It was perhaps only natural that he created the Duchy of Warsaw, a non-autonomous state which he hoped would provide him with troops and supplies.

Napoleon's stay in Poland was tumultuous. The winter campaign frayed nerves and even the ever loyal Lannes began to openly criticize him. Talleyrand correctly judged that the Duchy of Warsaw would only make bitter enemies out of Austria, Prussia, and Russia. It was perhaps at this moment that Talleyrand joined the anti-Bonaparte faction, although retaining a healthy respect for Napoleon's prowess. More intimately, Napoleon's marriage was starting to come apart for the long campaign caused him to seek out mistresses. Eléonore Denuelle de La Plaigne was among them, a dalliance set up by Caroline. It was essentially a ploy to separate Napoleon from Joséphine and it worked. Plaigne bore Napoleon a bastard, proving that he was not impotent. Of greater import was his affair with Marie Walewska. She had made her move at the behest of Polish patriot and future French marshal, Józef Poniatowski. The affair became lifelong and bore Napoleon a bastard as well. It also made Napoleon even more friendly to Polish interests.

These events though would shape the future more than the ongoing campaign, which at first went well for the Coalition. The Battle of Pułtusk was inconclusive and Napoleon was forced to march north in pursuit of the Russians. Thousands of troops had to be detained in the great sieges of Stralsund, Danzig, and Kolberg, the later featuring a particularly plucky stand by the Prussians. At Eylau Napoleon's divided army had to confront the Russians and Prussians. It was the most bloody battle of the wars up to that point, fought in a driving snowstorm. Both sides blundered, and Napoleon was saved from destruction only when Murat made a desperate cavalry charge. In the end the Russians quit the field and the Prussians were shattered, but French losses were such that Napoleon's enemies were heartened. Another victory like Eylau would ruin the French army. As Marshal Michel Ney said "What a massacre! And all for nothing."

The spring was spent working on sieges and licking wounds. The Russians managed to win tactical victories in early June at Guttstadt-Deppen and Heilsberg, but neither battle turned the tide and with Napoleon absent at each, they were of limited propaganda value to the Coalition. The Russian general, Levin von Bennigsen, was talented, but his maneuvers were poor and he was unpopular in the army. Napoleon believed that Russians soldiers were unmatched in raw courage but their commanders were the worst in Europe. Napoleon only needed to fight a battle to his advantage. The opportunity came on June 14 when Lannes engaged Bennigsen at Friedland. Napoleon, sensing a chance at victory, fed his army into the battle. By day's end he had shattered the Russians. The victory was all the more impressive when regular French troops repelled the vaunted Russian guards. French leadership and artillery had carried the day. In the space of less than two years, Napoleon had won another brilliant victory.

Murat and his Cavalry at Eylau
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
14. Board Game: The Administrative Waltz [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Top of the Mountain

Napoleon lacked the strength to invade Russia, but the victory at Friedland all but convinced Alexander I to seek peace terms. At Tilsit the two emperors met and settled upon a formal alliance. Napoleon's peace terms were generous because he sought Russian aid and believed that Russia could guarantee the security of his empire in the east. In return for Russian support against Britain and Sweden, Napoleon renounced his alliance with the Ottoman Empire and granted Alexander I the right to take Finland. Although celebrated in France, the alliance stood on a foundation of sand. Alexander I charmed Napoleon, but secretly he despised him. Russian nobles were hostile to French political ideas and they desired British goods. More importantly, Napoleon gave the Russians much but had no way to enforce his will or entice them to be loyal. While peace was secured, Napoleon would find his Russian allies were fickle at best. If he had been too cruel to Austria, he was perhaps too generous with Russia.

Prussia was a different matter altogether. Napoleon forced upon them a harsh peace. He was in part driven by anger, since he felt Prussia had first sought war in 1806 and then fought on for too long. Prussia was forced to give up land containing some 1,000,000 subjects. They had to pay the French off in spite of economic ruin from the war. Worst of all, the proud army was kept at a maximum of 40,000 regulars. All of this was done in spite of the pleading of Talleyrand and the beautiful Queen Louise of Prussia. The peace with Prussia made Napoleon increasingly unpopular in higher circles both in France and aboard. As for Prussia, the ruinous peace had a special effect on the nation. It caused widespread economic, political, and particularly military reforms, all with the goal of avenging Jena. Although Prussia was too weak to oppose Napoleon in the near future, if Bonaparte's fortunes ever sagged he could be sure to have a bitter enemy.

Tilsit was both the pinnacle of Napoleon's powers and the decline. Napoleon had forged the greatest European empire since the decline of Rome. He had won numerous victories on par with the most celebrated battles in history. As a consequence, Napoleon's confidence now became arrogance. In a letter to of the Minister of the Interior he said “Peace has been made with the foreigners; now I am going to make war on your offices.” This indicated a new way of carrying out policy. Before Tilsit, Napoleon's ministers had some freedom and were encouraged to be honest. Now Napoleon began to fire such men, leaning on pliable fellows who's main talent was organization. Increasingly, Napoleon became a micro-manger, which only tired him out and insured that some pressing matters were not properly attended to. Relations with Talleyrand worsened. After Napoleon threatened to execute him, Talleyrand said “The emperor is charming this morning.” Talleyrand was then removed after a public thrashing, in which Napoleon called him "a silk-stocking filled with shit." His replacement, Jean-Baptiste de Nompère de Champagny, had only one great talent: loyalty. The army too started to suffer. The victory at Friedland covered up a marked decline in its efficiency, brought on mostly by the brutal winter campaign. Although still formidable, Napoleon began to increasingly rely upon foreign troops, mostly from Germany, Italy, and Poland. These troops were of uneven quality. The officer corps had proven to be proficient, but the generous spoils made many greedy, and the strain of war was starting to eat away at the abilities of several top commanders. Many, including Augereau and Masséna, were becoming war weary and their skills were waning.

The worst blunder of all though was Napoleon's decision to make compliance with the Continental System a prerequisite for peace. In the past, Napoleon had rarely sought war, although he prosecuted it with a vengeance. With the Milan Decree he chose to dictate trade policy to every nation in Europe. French trade goods could not match those of Britain, except in terms of foodstuffs and textiles, France's traditional exports. In that sense the system was a success, as French industry boomed to meet demand, tying Napoleon even further to the bourgeois. British exports decreased, and combined with some French privateer efforts, Britain's economy slumped. Still, the main effect was a multiplication of enemies and animosities. Most nations, particularly Russia, carried on robust smuggling operations. Louis Bonaparte, king of Holland, was removed for his opposition to the Continental System. Others openly flouted the entire system and were repaid with violence. When Sweden refused, Napoleon supported Russia's 1808 invasion. When Portugal also refused, Napoleon sent Junot with an army. By 1808 Napoleon knew that Spain was also tacitly allowing trade with Britain. Not even allies could be trusted in the new Napoleonic Empire.

Talleyrand, Napoleon, and Queen Louise of Prussia
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
15. Board Game: Bailen [Average Rating:7.14 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Turning Point

The 1807 invasion of Portugal was a success, except that Junot failed to seize the royal family, which fled to Brazil. While this occurred Napoleon decided to remove Charles IV, the feckless king of Spain. The Portuguese invasion offered a way to stealthy move troops into Spain and station them at key points. Napoleon's reasons were varied. Charles IV was incompetent and there was support for greater French involvement in Spain. Napoleon was seen outside of France as a radical reformer. Many Spaniards hoped that greater French influence would transform institutions and improve Spain's military prowess. At first the French troops were cheered as they marched through the countryside. Mostly though, Napoleon feared that Spain, without reforms, could not be trusted to remain an ally or aid in the war effort. By putting Joseph on the throne, he would place the nation in his orbit. With this in mind, Napoleon was planning his first full-blown war of aggression.

When the French seized the countryside, they were faced by a general uprising. Conservative nobles and priests filled the vacuum created when the feckless Bourbons gave up the throne. At first though the French won the day, and the uprising in Madrid was brutally suppressed by French and Mameluke cavalry. Thousands were killed across the nation. Many Spaniards, both neutral and sympathetic to France, now turned on the conquerors. Across the country a new kind of warrior emerged: the guerrilla. These irregulars would harass the French, losing in pitch battles, but sometimes winning skirmishes and tying up troops. Then came the worst news of all: at Bailén Dupont's corps was forced to surrender. Francisco Javier Castaños, the victorious Spanish general proclaimed "This army, so superior to ours, has not only been beaten and routed, but has been constrained to lay down its arms, and give up its artillery, and has suffered the lowest military degradation, which the French have been hitherto accustomed to impose upon all the other nations of Europe; and the Imperial Eagles, the proud insignia of their triumph, have become the trophies of the Spanish Army of Andalusia on the fields of Baylen." The battle made the situation in Spain impossible. Russia, until then an ally, now became lukewarm. Russian troops in Portugal refused to aid the French, while the naval war with Britain in the Baltic Sea slacked off. Then another disaster occurred. Junot's small army was captured after being defeated by the British at Vimeiro. The commander, Arthur Wellesley, exceeded expectations. Most of all, the British army, which for decades had known defeat more than victory, had shown that under a good commander they could win. Wellesley would in time become a great commander.

The French were pushed almost completely out of Spain, but the Spanish bickered. Instead of a king, local warlords emerged, most of them incompetent and reactionary nobles. Several juntas formed and fighting broke out among the Spaniards. Some of the more talented commanders, such as Castaños, were undermined by intrigue. Napoleon gathered the cream of his army across the Pyrenees. He burst across the mountain passes, angrier than ever. At every turn he threatened Spaniards with annihilation, apparently to make Joseph seem like a savoir by comparison. The campaign showed Napoleon in top form. In a rough and unforgiving countryside his army marched hard. At Tudela his forces, including many Polish troops, smashed the Spanish. A victory at Somosierra, which featured a fierce Polish cavalry charge, led to the fall of Madrid in December 1808. The British, who failed to capitalize on Vimeiro, had to flee for the sea. Having won the day, Napoleon put Joseph on the throne and returned to France.

Yet, the war in Spain raged onward. At Saragossa some 50,000 perished in the bloodiest siege of the Napoleonic Wars. It was the Stalingrad of the era. In March 1809 Nicolas Soult, one of France's best commanders, invaded Portugal, only to find the Portuguese army had been reorganized by William Beresford and Miguel Forjaz. Wellesley, temporarily sidelined after Vimeiro by political intrigue, returned and pushed on Madrid. Although victorious at Talavera, the whole venture was ill-conceived and the Coalition had to fall back to Lisbon. Stalemate ensued, but even this seemed extraordinary for in 1807 France looked unstoppable. While the Madrid campaign showed Napoleon at his military best, his political and diplomatic acumen was obviously faltering. Britain was reinvigorated. In Russia anti-French circles were emboldened and in Austria, where Charles had been quietly revamping the army, sabre rattling resumed.

Surrender at Bailen
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
16. Board Game: The Last Success: Napoleon's March to Vienna, 1809 [Average Rating:7.69 Overall Rank:5139]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Last Success

In war weary Austria, a set of circumstances came together that brought them back into the conflict. Although Ulm and Austerlitz had taken much of the swagger out of the "war party," they were emboldened by France's Spanish ills. Prussia indicated that it might join the war and Russia tacitly confirmed that they would not invade Austria. The final impetus came both from English gold and the fear that Austria may not be able to sustain its military. Only new conquests could fill the broken Austrian treasury. So in 1809, Austria declared war. Her army was in the middle of reforms, and while much better than it was at Ulm, it was still not ready. Yet, even the normally cautious Charles supported war. With Napoleon tied up in Spain, Austrian hopes were high. They invaded Bavaria and might overrun Germany.

Napoleon, resting at home, rushed to the front. By this time, his marriage with Josephine had collapsed, due both to her infertility and his affairs. Bonaparte did not tell her of the coming campaign, but the empresses found out and whisked her way into his carriage. In the cold morning February, they held each other in a final tender embrace. Over in Germany, Charles was marching. Berthier had formed an army, a mixed collection of veterans, German allies, and raw recruits, but he was out-generaled by Charles. Davout's corps was in danger of being destroyed. Napoleon took charge and in a desperate series of battles and maneuvers, out-fought and out-maneuvered Charles. It was a close run thing, and Napoleon himself was wounded at Ratisbon. In Prussia, a popular revolt nearly forced the kingdom to side with Austria, but Napoleon's victories reinforced Prussian caution. Napoleon seized Vienna after shelling the city. Prussia now disavowed any intentions of fighting. For a time, victory seemed certain, but Charles did not concede and Napoleon rashly struck out at him at Aspern-Essling. The battle was a bitter struggle, but in the end, the French were forced back. Napoleon had suffered his first great battlefield defeat.

French reverses in Spain had now been matched by a personal defeat. In addition to the heavy losses Jean Lannes was mortally wounded. Although their friendship had strained, Napoleon wept. Lannes was a comrade from the early days in Italy, a man who learned the trade of war under Napoleon and become one of the era's best and bravest. Napoleon said with affection "I found him a pygmy, and lost him a giant." Yet Napoleon was lucky, for Charles had not won a decisive victory. His losses had also been heavy, but most of all he found that his subordinates were slow and unwilling to carry out his reforms to the tee. The imperial court feared that Charles might usurp the throne, and thus its support was lukewarm. In the moment of his greatest triumph, Charles demurred. In the six weeks that followed, Napoleon planned his revenge. He was helped by victories in Italy, Dalmatia, and Poland, which allowed him to draw reinforcements.

When the French recrossed the Danube it was done boldly but carefully. The ensuing battle of Wagram was a vast dance of death, a struggle filled with pitiless charges, blunders, massed artillery barrages, and flank attacks. In the end, the Austrians had to retire, but they were not routed. This was not a repeat of Rivoli, Marengo, or Austerlitz. As a sign that the old days were over, the dashing horseman Antoine La Salle, a man known for bravery, drinking, and womanizing, fell dead trying to break the Austrian rearguard. Wagram showed that Napoleon could still win a battle, but the battles themselves were getting larger. His staff was too small for engagements like Wagram and such battles stretched his own abilities. The French soldier and his allies were still good, but no longer the machine of 1805-1808 that was a terror on par with Caesar's legions. Napoleon was not unaware of this change. He knew his army was declining, that the Austrians and his opponents were learning, and that men like Lannes were irreplaceable. Yet, his reaction was to amass larger armies and simplify his tactics, preferring massed artillery and frontal assaults to the maneuvers of old. Wagram was the turning point for Napoleon. The campaign showed that Napoleon was still the master of operational maneuver. He also kept his head together in the midst of defeat. Yet, he still thought decisive battle was the path to victory, but his own battle plans were now lacking imagination. Napoleon was also ignoring the importance of guerrilla warfare. In the mountainous Tyrol province, a home-grown rebellion was at first successful, and suppressed only through extreme violence. Rather than adjust to the changing circumstances of the Napoleonic Wars, he increasingly relied on raw numbers even as his ability to control such numbers diminished. The old Napoleon, the one who first burst upon the scene at Toulon, was now being eclipsed by the Napoleon of Waterloo.

Voltigeurs crossing the Danube Before Wagram
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
17. Board Game: Not Tonight Josephine [Average Rating:6.88 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Decadence and Decay

The Treaty of Schönbrunn was perhaps the harshest peace Napoleon ever imposed, not counting the ongoing war in Spain. Austria gave land to France, Russia, and Bavaria. The negotiations were punctured by an assassination attempt, when Friedrich Staps tried to stab Bonaparte. Staps then refused a tacit and personal pardon from Napoleon. Upon his execution he shouted "Long live freedom! Long live Germany!" The French Revolution had destroyed the legitimacy of monarchies and replaced it with the nation. Napoleon took this further as he humbled the great families of Europe. Yet, while the people were turning away from kings in favor of nationalism Napoleon marched ever closer to becoming a monarch. This turn to monarchy did not work to his ultimate advantage. He still wanted to be accepted by his fellow kings, who nevertheless rejected him. While the peace with Austria was harsh, it still left that kingdom intact and able to fight. Napoleon believed he had humbled them and could bind the most conservative nobility in Europe, to his star.

The march into monarchy continued with the divorce of Joséphine. She was paid off in grand style, but Napoleon gave her little mind in the coming years. His thoughts instead turned towards a new wife. He preferred a Russian princess, no doubt to secure his flank. Alexander I delayed, and in the void the Austrians offered Marie Louise. She was an immature girl, pretty but shallow, lacking the wit, charm, and warmth of Josephine. Napoleon assented, and the marriage made him happy. Ever the misogynist, he could indulge himself more with Marie. Best of all, she bore him a son, the future Napoleon II. With his new wife and child, and after years of constant war and politics, Napoleon succumbed to the court life he had crafted. The first assassination attempt led him to become emperor. The second caused him to embrace the role. He had always eaten little and thus stayed in shape, but the effect of a sedentary life led him to become fat. Like a Bourbon king, he went on hunting trips, and was terribly awful at the sport. Fine foods and wine entered his dinner plans. He became more humorless and less incisive in his thoughts. He slowed the pace of reform that marked the days of the consulship. He left the war to his generals in the years of 1810 and 1811. Napoleon the general and dynamic leader had at last given way to Napoleon the monarch.

In the younger days, Napoleon would listen to contrary opinions. He sought the best men. Increasingly, the government was filled with administrators whose talent was efficiency and loyalty. Among the marshals a decline of ability was beginning with Napoleon confessing that even the trusted Murat was "a very brave man in the field of battle, but he is more cowardly than a woman or a monk when not in the presence of the enemy. He has no moral courage." Berethier, called "the emperor's wife," was mistreated and mocked, which in turn led to a decline in his abilities. In France, censorship grew and conservatives and republicans chaffed. Both felt the early promise of Napoleon fade away. Old allies, such as Talleyrand, became active enemies. Most simply became neutral. It was not that Napoleon was particularly oppressive or that France under him was even lacking in innovation. Nicéphore Niépce invented the first combustible engine in 1807. In 1809 Nicolas Appert discovered that jarred food lasted longer. By 1810 canning was being tested and by 1814 it was being used in the French army. Innovation was possible in the empire. Rather, a slow administrative decay and a kind of simmering antipathy pervaded the nation. The old excitement of the Consulship and Austerlitz had worn off.

This antipathy was not outright rage. After all, under Napoleon jobs were plentiful, wars were won, and banditry was kept in check. He could still rely upon the support of the army and the bourgeois, who benefited from lax regulation, low taxes, the Napoleonic Code, and Napoleon's attack on trade unions. Still, military service was evaded by many and Napoleon's once broad support among the lower class declined. The spirit of royalism and republicanism never faded away. Indeed, both groups hoped that exiles would return to save them, with the royalists pinning their hopes on the obese Louis XVIII, tucked away in Britain. Moreau was the hero the republicans sought. Their hopes grew as Napoleon's former allies now spoke ill of him. Friends, such as Marmont, doubted if he was the same man. In the countryside, men dodged the draft and workers grumbled. Napoleon had placed a disproportionate burden of taxes and military service on the allied provinces. They too showed signs of strain. This same strain, this feeling that the empire was stagnating, could be seen in the ongoing war in Spain.

Marie Louise with Napoleon II
11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
18. Board Game: Wellington's War: The Peninsular Campaign 1809-1814 [Average Rating:7.73 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Spanish Ulcer

Joseph, who never wanted the Spanish throne, told his brother "Your glory will be shipwrecked in Spain. My tomb will be a monument to your lack of power to support me." It was a prophetic statement. Napoleon's departure from Spain did not end the ravages of war. Spanish guerrillas continued to attack French troops and without Napoleon's presence, the French generals bickered. Although the Spanish troops were, outside of a few elite regiments, notoriously poorly led and trained the failure of Napoleon's officers to coordinate made destroying the Spanish army impossible. Brilliant victories could be won and in a straight fight guerrillas and partisans were hardly a match. However, there was no end to them, and much of this had to do with French depravity. Murder, thievery, and rape were too common. Many French generals stole liberally, and Soult himself planned to become king of Portugal. Napoleon's penchant for giving out rewards had made his men and particularly his generals greedy and used to lavish living. The Spanish reacted to avarice and brutality with no holds barred fighting. In an era of seemingly constant warfare, the battles for Spain were widely considered the most savage.

Although the British army had evacuated earlier in 1809, they returned in the spring of 1809. The British now had the steady hand of Lord Wellesley, a stern man but a brilliant tactician. He was utterly fearless in regards to the French. To one friend he said "They have...a new system of strategy which has out-manoeuvred and overwhelmed all the armies of Europe...they may overwhelm me, but I don't think they will out-manoevre me. First, because I am not afraid of them, as everybody else seems to be; and secondly, because if what I hear of their system of manoevre, is true, I think it a false one as against steady troops. I suspect all the continental armies were more than half beaten before the battle was begun - I, at least, will not be frightened beforehand." He was certainly not a perfect soldier, and contrary to British myth he did lose some battles. Still, his methods were perfect for countering the French. The British army itself, although small and often led by poor officers, had perhaps the best foot soldiers around. They were on a whole professional, loyal to their regiment, and mercilessly drilled. Best of all, Britain's wealth allowed the small army to practice shooting in a way few soldiers could in other armies. In general, the British proved to be master marksmen and steady when under attack. Wellington, as he was known after his victory at Talavera, could thus threaten the French with a small but elite army. The French therefore had to keep enough troops to fight an irregular war and contain the British. It was a difficult situation for any general, and only good luck or Napoleon himself could win the day.

Still, the French army was led by able generals. Many of Napoleon's best units were committed to the war and among Spain's liberals, French rule gained wide support. Although Joseph was clearly not a great king, his support for reform probably made his position stronger than it should have been. Suchet proved in eastern Spain that competent administration, supported by good generalship, and judicious use of force could maintain French dominance. With neither side holding a decisive advantage, the war dragged on, ebbing back and forth. Wellington's victory at Talavera was limited by French victories elsewhere. Although Soult won a smashing victory at Ocaña, he could not take Cadiz.

In 1810 Napoleon chose not to lead the invasion of Portugal. Instead he sent Masséna, who although fresh from another brilliant performance at Wagram, was feeling exhausted. Although defeated in several battles and undermined by subordinates and colleagues, Masséna drove all the way to the gates of Lisbon. Wellington though had fortified the city, and with a constant flow of supplies from the sea, he held out. In 1811 Masséna's army melted away and Wellington reclaimed Portugal. However, the twin battles of Fuentes de Oñoro and Albuera were too indecisive to grant either side a considerable advantage. In 1812 the French prepared to renew the offensive, this time with Marmont leading the way. As usual, a lack of forage and Spanish guerrillas sapped his army's strength. At Salamanca Marmont was wounded and his army was driven off. Wellington marched into Madrid, but as at Talavera, he overextended himself. His defeat at Burgos forced him all the way back to Portugal. Still, the French had to abandon northwestern and southwestern Spain and Madrid was vulnerable. Although Burgos resurrected French hopes, it was obvious that the war in Spain had crippled Napoleon. He even later admitted "That unfortunate war destroyed me...my disasters are bound up in that fatal knot." Yet, without a victory elsewhere in Europe, the Peninsular War, as it was known in Britain, would prove fruitless. It was in essence a holding action. Wellington could not conquer France, even with the entire Spanish army on his side. Austria and Prussia were too weak to alter the situation. All eyes turned to Russia.

The Horrors of the War in Spain Inspired Goya
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
19. Board Game: Borodino: Battle of the Moskova, 1812 [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:5487]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
1812 Overture

While Napoleon left Masséna to finish the work in Spain and Portugal, he tried feverishly to repair the deteriorating situation with Russia. It was a pointless effort. Anti-French sentiment in Russia was too high and her people desired British goods more than French ones. In 1811 Russia restored formal trade with Britain. The army was massed and Russian generals hoped to invade the French empire once again. Napoleon moved quickly by massing troops and offering fresh threats and peaces overtures. By 1812 though, war was imminent and Napoleon quickly gathered the largest army Europe had ever seen, hoping that it might it at last bring Russia to the peace table before an invasion could be launched. Along with his new foreign minister, Hugues-Bernard Maret, Napoleon went on a diplomatic blitz. Together they dragooned Austria and Prussia into sending men to fight. The army was drawn from across Europe, and even included regiments from Spain and Croatia. Only half of the horde Napoleon amassed was even French. These 600,000 soldiers out-numbered what the Russians could field. Yet, Alexander I did not panic. Russia secured peace with the Ottoman Empire and Sweden, securing the flanks and freeing troops. The Russians were emboldened by Eylau, Aspern-Essling, and the Peninsular War, and as a consequence almost lost the campaign.

Russian hopes would have hardly mattered if Napoleon was the same man as before but he was not. Two years of soft living had made him a homebody. He was now unused to camp life, and the same Bonaparte who mingled with his men before Austerlitz now withdrew to his tent and its pleasures. It was partially due to embarrassment. He was now fat, which made him slightly effeminate in appearance. His once great powers of concentration had left him. He was now given to illness, fatigue, lapses of memory, and inattention. His former daring had become caution, as he massed his army and fruitlessly waited for events to improve. He rightly feared the expanse of Russia, yet was willing to go all the way if need be. When he did invade, he left too much responsibility with the indolent Jerome. The opening moves failed to gain an advantage and Napoleon's army was drawn into Russia. This was because the main Russian commander, Barclay de Tolly, was so overawed by French numbers that he decided to retreat, although his fellow generals wanted to fight. In following Tolly, Napoleon doomed his army. His forces were organized to live off the land, an easier prospect in Germany, France, and to a lesser degree Italy. In Russia the backwards economy, mixed with scorched earth tactics and partisan attacks, made foraging difficult. Sickness and hunger destroyed the army. In addition, the French staff and administrative systems were over-stretched and opportunities to smash the Russians were lost. In an effort to scare Russia into submission, Napoleon had massed too many men and the French cavalry were no longer the vaunted force of 1805 or even 1808. The army was melting away.

Napoleon was aided only by Russian incompetence. Their generals bickered and a desperate Alexander I was forced to turn to Kutuzov, although the two distrusted each other. Against his judgement, Kutuzov was ordered to turn and fight for Moscow. At Borodino, a massive battle was fought. Napoleon, fearful that the Russians would escape, attacked their defensive works to pin them. He turned down Davout's offer of a flank attack, afraid the Russians might retreat before it could be accomplished. So a series of frontal assaults were made. At one point Napoleon was asked to commit the Imperial Guard. He demurred, his aggressive sapped by illness. The ensuing slaughter ended in a French victory and the fall of Moscow. Russians everywhere panicked and all seemed lost. Kutuzov was too battered to attack, and Napoleon, feeling exhausted and at the edge of the world, simply awaited Alexander's surrender. The Tsar though did not budge and Napoleon failed to accept reality. Although there were amusements, he became agitated and even self-pitying. When one officer commented on how lonely Moscow seemed, Napoleon, his eyes downcast, admitted that it reminded him of his own loneliness. When the first snowflakes fell, Napoleon knew he had to leave. Then, Murat was beaten at Tarutino, showing that Kutuzov was again ready for battle. If Napoleon stayed any longer, Moscow would become a tomb.

At this point the invasion was already a disaster. It was up to Napoleon to salvage what he could or maybe even win a victory in the midst of defeat, as at Austerlitz. Napoleon chose the later, but an incomplete victory at Maloyaroslavets ended his hopes. After barely escaping a squad of Cossacks, Napoleon chose to retreat on the advice of his friend, Jean-Baptiste Bessières. Murat argued for a retreat over the ground they had advanced over. Davout suggested a longer and more dangerous route, but one promising better forage. Napoleon sided with Murat. It was a blunder. Food was scare and the local populace had formed even larger partisan bands. Combined with the cold, Napoleon's army melted away. Kutuzov did not so much pursue as follow. Although his men won victories at Vyazma and Krasnoi, he remained afraid of Napoleon and never closed in for the kill. Along the Berezina River, converging Russian columns were barely held off, and once again Kutuzov had failed to drive his men. It was a victory in the midst of defeat, for Napoleon had escaped with a core of veterans and most of his high command. Indeed, when roused from illness and lethargy, Napoleon was as deadly as he was in 1797. Still, the campaign was a disaster, and at one point the French rearguard was made up of Ney, Victor, and less than 100 men. The Russian campaign made Ney a legend. He was now known as "The Bravest of the Brave" and became so popular that Napoleon increasingly relied upon him. After the Berezina Napoleon rushed off to France. General Claude Malet, a disappointed republican, had briefly seized power. Napoleon had to secure his throne and raise a new army. For the most brilliant general of his age, the Russian experience was a shock. His entire system of warfare had not only failed, it ended in ruin. When he publicly quipped that "There is only one step from the sublime to the ridiculous" he meant it from the bottom of his Corsican heart.

Ney's Attack at Borodino
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
20. Board Game: Jours de Gloire Campagne IV: Allemagne 1813, de Lützen à Leipzig [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:6260]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Battle of Nations

For a time there was stalemate. Kutuzov's army was too weak to press on and the old general opposed invasion. Something of an Anglophobe, he thought Napoleon was useful as a counter to Britain. Then Kutuzov succumbed to his illnesses and Alexander I pressed ahead. Sweden sent troops and Prussia revolted. Her military had been reformed and rebuilt. It was now led by the Francophobe Gebhard von Blücher, a hard driving man, lacking in skill but not spirit. Prussian troops joined the Russians in pressing west towards France. Napoleon though had not been idle. In the most impressive administrative feat of his career, he scrapped together a large army of conscripts, Peninsular War veterans, and German allies. With this army he plunged into Germany and won two battles at Lützen and Bautzen. Neither engagement was decisive, but the victory drunk Coalition was thrown in a panic. Napoleon was still a dangerous opponent. Yet, Napoleon was himself in shock. Old friends were lost in the slaughter, including Duroc and Bessières. The victories were incomplete and he decided his troops needed more training. So, when the Coalition offered Napoleon a seven-week truce, he agreed. During this time he hoped to gather more troops, especially cavalry. However, he could not make new marshals to lead his army. Ney, the hero of Russia, was essentially shell-shocked and was often unable to carry out Napoleon's orders. Soult had to be sent back to Spain and Murat was more worried about his kingdom in Naples than his cavalry corps. Worst of all, Davout's enemies at court marginalized him, and he was kept out of active command for 1813.

Still, Lützen and Bautzen caused much consternation in the Coalition. The Russian generals still bickered, the Prussian army lacked experience, and Sweden was too small to carry the burden. Then fortune smiled. In Spain, Wellington won a decisive victory at Vitoria, crushing French hopes on the Iberian peninsula. His army now threatened France's borders, giving the Coalition renewed hope. Austria had been considering which side to join. After an interview, Metternich believed that Napoleon had gone mad and counseled outright war, although he did not support removing Bonaparte from the throne. Francis II sided with Metternich. With defeat in Spain and now Austria in the war, Napoleon was out-numbered. Still, the Coalition was fragile and peace overtures were often made. Napoleon rebuffed them all. Partially it came from years of duplicity and war mongering from monarchs who called Napoleon a usurper, ogre, thug, and brute. Most of all, Napoleon's overweening confidence was too great. Recalling the Romans after Cannae and their refusal to panic, his arrogance was barely shaken by the disasters in Spain and Russia. He would win it all or nothing at all.

Napoleon might have won the war if the Coalition had not adopted the Trachenberg Plan. Created by Bernadotte, Napoleon's old rival who was now the heir to the Swedish throne, it stipulated that unless at a great advantage, the Coalition would avoid attacking Napoleon and concentrate upon the armies led by his marshals. It was similar to the Fabian strategy that Rome used against Hannibal. It helped that Davout and Soult were elsewhere, Lannes was dead and Masséna was retired. The early weeks of the fighting vindicated the plan. Napoleon won a smashing victory at Dresden. For the pursuit that might have won the war, he sent Dominique René Vandamme. Although morally repulsive, with Napoleon once saying "If I had two of you, the only solution would be to have one hang the other" he was a good fighter. Indeed, Napoleon also said if he had to invade hell he'd give Vandamme the vanguard. At Kulm Vandamme was defeated and captured. Brought before Alexander I, he was defiant, declaring "I am neither a plunderer nor a brigand but in any case, my contemporaries and history will not reproach me for having soaked my hands in the blood of my father." Kulm was matched with other setbacks. Along the Katzbach River a French corps was destroyed and two drives on Berlin ended in defeat. As the Coalition concentrated, Napoleon withdrew towards France. His German allies, demoralized by the war and inspired by emerging German nationalism, deserted in mass. Napoleon lashed out. He blamed his men and his comrades. An enraged Augereau shouted back "Give me back the old soldiers of Italy..."

On October 16, at Leipzig Napoleon's out-numbered army was pinned in place. The battle that raged outside the city was on a scale undreamed of. Napoleon had some 200,000 men and confronted nearly 400,000 Coalition forces. So diverse were the armies involved that it was dubbed "the Battle of Nations." The slaughter matched the scale. In four days of back and forth fighting over 100,000 men were killed or wounded. At one point Napoleon's artillery, placed on Gallows Heights, racked the Coalition with fire. Napoleon later said "Had I possessed 30,000 artillery rounds at Leipzig today I would be master of the world." In the end, despite some spirited leadership, the bigger battalions carried the day. Napoleon began to withdraw on the morning of the third day, but the Elster River lacked enough bridges and when the last one was blown on accident, it stranded thousands of soldiers. Many drown crossing the river, including Poniatowski, who had recently been named a marshal. Most surrendered after hours of street fighting. The rest of the French army withdrew in good order, but there was no hiding the obvious. Napoleon's last chance to secure an empire was lost. He might have had peace. The Austrians were certainly willing to withdraw, since they could barely maintain their army in the field. Napoleon refused and in doing so he lost his last slim chance to retain power. The rest of his life after Leipzig was only a bloody anti-climax. The Napoleonic dream, or nightmare if you will, died at Leipzig.

Gebhard Leberecht von Blucher
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
21. Board Game: Napoleon at Bay: Defend the Gates of Paris, 1814 [Average Rating:7.63 Overall Rank:5633]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Levée Dans Petit

Napoleon's army drifted towards France and it seemed that Bonaparte was finished. Unsurprisingly, Bavaria, a long time French ally, declared war, putting its army on Napoleon's retreat path. The men of this army had fought with Napoleon and its commander, Karl Philipp von Wrede, had previously sought a French marshal's baton. At Wagram he suffered a minor wound and told MacDonald "Tell the Emperor I die for him. I recommend to him my wife and children." MacDonald replied: "I should think you will be able to make this recommendation to him yourself." Napoleon later said "I could make him a Count, but not a General." It was perhaps only fitting that Wrede's army was swept aside at Hanau. Still, the point was less to destroy Napoleon than to show a willingness to oppose him and avoid vengeful peace terms. In this sense, Hanau was a political victory. It also did little to bolster Napoleon's fortunes. After the battle he out-maneuvered a Coalition trap and returned to France in defeat and disgrace. At this point Murat left for Naples and, on the advice of Caroline, he joined the Coalition to save his throne. Napoleon was enraged by the betrayal.

Napoleon tried to call up the ghosts of 1792. He appealed to French patriotism and called for a "Levee en Masse." Instead, he was met with indifference. He believed it was a simple matter of winning and losing, saying "A people who have been brought up on victories often do not know how to accept defeat." There was more to it than that. His support of censorship, attacks on workers rights, and nearly 10 years of constant warfare had stretched France to the limit. His autocracy, however rational, was contrary to republican ideals. His disregard of tradition was antithetical to royalists. Napoleon could not scrape together a large army, and with Wellington invading France and pinning Soult, he could expect no help from that quarter. The only good news was that Eugène de Beauharnais, Joséphine's talented and loyal son, was able to hold Italy through a series of battlefield victories.

The Coalition took a gamble. They could await spring, but they feared giving Napoleon time to recreate his armies. They feared a repeat of 1792, when France appeared ready to fall and then beat back the invaders. So they invaded. Their forces were marching in the snow and far from their supplies. Atrocities, particularly among the Prussians, were common. Appert's canning factory was razed. Their armies dwindled from desertion and disease. Napoleon, sensing an opportunity, threw himself into the defense of France. In the famous Six Days Campaign, Napoleon inflicted 18,000 losses on his enemies at the cost of only 3,400 troops. Much of this was due to deft maneuvering and a reliance upon the elite Imperial Guard. Still, the Coalition forces were too numerous and Napoleon could not raise a large enough army to turn the tide. By late March Paris was in enemy hands. Since the end of the Hundred Years' War, Paris had survived every war. Now, the key to France was in the pocket of foreigners. Tellingly, Paris fell due to Joseph's incompetence and the perfidy of Marmont, Napoleon's oldest friend. In years past Napoleon could trust both men and he made good use of their talents. It was a disturbing sign of how bad things had become. Napoleon was seemingly unmoved. To the south at Fontainebleau he prepared his counterattack.

At this point the situation completely unraveled. Marmont, coaxed by Talleyrand, surrendered his corps. At Fontainebleau the marshals mutinied. Led by Ney and MacDonald, they begged Napoleon to abdicate the throne. Bonaparte bowed to their pressure after a bitter argument. He then turned sentimental. Before the guard he wept and placed his tears on their flags. To MacDonald he declared "I have done so much for, and loaded with favors, so many others, who had abandoned and neglected me; and you, who owed me nothing, have remained faithful to me! I appreciate your loyalty all too late." Napoleon then gave him the sword of Murad Bey, a prized trophy from his Egyptian Campaign. Any hopes that Napoleon had of retaining the throne for his son vanished. Marmont's betrayal made his negotiating position weak. As a result, the infant Napoleon II did not ascend to the throne. The Coalition decided to bring back the Bourbons. The grossly overweight Louis XVIII, who Wellington quipped had legs the size of a small woman's waist, was ruler of France. As for Napoleon, he could not be executed. He was too popular with the French army. Nor could a man of such skill and ambition be allowed to roam free. He was given the rulership over Elba, a small island between Corsica and Italy, the position a virtual prison. Unarguably, it was the darkest time of Napoleon's life. He took poison but the substance had lost its lethality, so it instead made him violently ill. He may not have needed it. In his ride south to the Mediterranean Sea he was the subject of rebukes, threats, and thrown objects. Upon meeting the estranged Augereau, Napoleon was greeted with insults by a man who he once trusted with his life. His wife left him and took a lover and his son was now an Austrian ward. The dreams and pleasures of yesterday had become inescapable nightmares.

Now a Mockery
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
22. Board Game: The Emperor Returns [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:4981]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hundred Days

Elba was the most elaborate cage ever created. It was also a lonely place. Napoleon had not exchanged letters with Joséphine since 1812, so her death went at first unnoticed. When he found out he broke down and went into a two day seclusion. Sex had long been for him a game of conquest, a way to prove his superiority after the carnal humiliations of his youth. Now, his interest in the fairer sex waned and he even spurned Marie Walewska, his favorite mistress. Of his family, only Pauline, ever loyal and debauched, joined him. Yet, there were bright periods. Napoleon was ruler of the island, and without the pressures of war or the opulence of court, he returned to the ways of his consulate days. The administration was streamlined, farming and mining methods improved, and a military was created. Napoleon held the island with a small garrison of hardcore supporters and he was popular with the people. Yet, he felt threatened. Off the coast the Royal Navy kept a watchful eye. The indemnity he was promised from Louis XVIII was delayed. Tellingly, reports from France were grim. The economy was a mess and banditry was on the rise. Unemployed soldiers lived in poverty and often took to crime. Bonapartists and republicans were snubbed at court and the Bourbons were as unpopular and incompetent as ever. Soon, Napoleon's old allies were encouraging his return. Meanwhile, rumors from the Congress of Vienna, where the great powers were redrawing European relations, made Napoleon believe that he was living on borrowed time.

Essentially, Napoleon had nothing to lose. He was bored on Elba, fearful of being murdered or conquered, and hopeful that France could once again be his. On February 26, 1815 he left Elba to march on Paris. It was the oddest military campaign of all time, for Napoleon's "army" numbered no more than 600 men. The Bourbon army numbered in the thousands. One determined commander could have easily wiped out Napoleon. Furthermore, Napoleon landed in royalist territory. Few recruits were gained and many shut their doors. Yet, this campaign was arguably Napoleon's finest. He adorned himself in a mixture of Bonapartist and republican imagery and told everyone he would forsake the throne for the mere rank of general. His speeches were less about his glory instead about returning France to a place in the sun. He also forbade his men from firing upon the French people, going so far as to say it was better to be massacred by the Bourbons then to fire the first shot in a civil war. At Grenoble, Napoleon told the 5th Regiment "Here I am. Kill your Emperor, if you wish." The soldiers responded with, "Vive L'Empereur!" Ney, who had promised Louis XVIII to bring Napoleon back "in an iron cage," defected.

Louis XVIII fled. The coup had cost less blood than even Britain's Glorious Revolution. From there, things unraveled. Royalist areas revolted and had to be suppressed. Although old republicans, such as Gilbert de Lafayette, Brune, and Carnot, rallied to Napoleon, they soon found him resuming his autocratic ways. Rather than put Benjamin Constant's constitution to a vote, Napoleon forced it on the people. It was a good constitution, but the people were resentful over how it was implemented. As Napoleon become unpopular the Coalition made the perfect declaration: Bonaparte was the enemy, not France. If he was defeated, France would not suffer too greatly. So it was that Napoleon and Davout could barely raise 200,000 troops. The Coalition had at least 500,000 men on hand, with others forming up to invade. All of Europe declared war on France. Only Naples joined Napoleon, mostly because Murat wanted to save his kingdom. Murat was soon crushed and executed, but the old manner returned to him. To his executioners he said "I have braved death too often to fear it" and after kissing a carnelian on which the head of his wife was engraved, he called out, "Save my face! Aim for the chest! fire!" His actions at least made an invasion from the Alps unlikely for months.

In June 1815 Napoleon took some 120,000 troops into Belgium to confront Wellington and Blucher. His chances of victory were nil. For one, a military triumph would not rally the French people. They were sick of Napoleon's politics and were no longer dazzled by his military exploits. His success so far was more a testament to their distaste for the Bourbons. Napoleon's army, although made up of veterans, was weak at the top. Some of the best generals, including MacDonald, Victor, and Laurent Saint-Cyr, stuck with the Bourbons, often less out of love for Louis XVIII and more out of prudence. Berthier rebuffed Napoleon and then committed suicide after a Russian army entered his town. Many old friends were dead. Junot had steadily gone insane and killed himself in 1813. Davout's talents were needed in Paris, while Soult was ordered to fill Berthier's shoes, a role he was unsuited for. Ney was shell-shocked, but such was his popularity and importance in dethroning the Bourbons that he held a high command. Furthermore, the Coalition army in Belgium was not irreplaceable. Much of Blucher's Prussian army was made up of inexperienced landwehr. Wellington's force was mostly German, Dutch, and Belgian and many of his Peninsula veterans were only just returning from campaigning in America. An even larger army of Austrians and Russians was crossing the Rhine. Regardless, the campaign opened well enough. Napoleon out-maneuvered his enemies, beating the Prussians at Ligny while Ney won a victory over Wellington at Quatre Bras. Neither battle was decisive, and Napoleon started to feel ill. The pursuit was slow, and ultimately Napoleon unwisely decided to crush Wellington. At Waterloo Napoleon conceived the most uninspired battle-plan of his career. His men charged into the teeth of the enemy. Losses were horrific, and yet the French nearly carried the day until Blucher made a flank attack. Napoleon had lost battles before, but this was his first rout. His losses already high, doubled as thousands deserted or surrendered. For the Coalition it was still a near-run thing, with the normally stoic Wellington writing, "My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won."

Wellington at Waterloo
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
23. Board Game: Exiled [Average Rating:3.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Longwood House

Napoleon's army melted away in the long retreat south. Napoleon condemned using bloodshed to maintain his political position. Rather than plunge France into civil war, he fled for the coast. Davout decided to continue the war in the hopes of gaining a better armistice, and his strategy bore fruit. At La Suffel the vanguard of the Austrian army was held back. At Rocquencourt a brigade of Prussian hussars was destroyed in the last French victory of the Napoleonic Wars. A defeat at Issy convinced Davout that he could go no further. His lonely stand achieved some of its aims, although the White Terror soon broke out. Royalist mobs murdered Brune and thousands of others. Ney was executed as an example to the other disloyal commanders. Ney refused to wear a blindfold and his last words were: "Soldiers, when I give the command to fire, fire straight at my heart. Wait for the order. It will be my last to you. I protest against my condemnation. I have fought a hundred battles for France, and not one against her ... Soldiers, Fire!" Napoleon's destiny would have been the same if Blucher had his way. Napoleon though hoped to escape to America. Joseph and Jerome did, as well as other officers and veterans who feared for their lives or at least could not accept Bourbon rule. Napoleon though was trapped, and finally sought political asylum in Britain. It was likely that he meant it. Waterloo broke his spirit. He now suffered from seizures, hemorrhoids, and urination problems. When he came aboard HMS Bellerophon, a ship that fought at the Nile and Trafalgar, he at last submitted to British power. It was decided to send him to St. Helena, a small and remote island in the South Atlantic. He would not rule the island as he did Elba. He was a prisoner. In an act drenched with symbolism, HMS Bellerophon, after transferring him to the HMS Northumberland, was decommissioned as a fighting ship. The Napoleonic Wars were over.

St. Helena was at first not quite so terrible, and Napoleon lived in a fine estate with William Balcombe and his family. The governor of the island, the humorless Hudson Lowe, had other plans. Lowe, while hardly cruel, was cold, insulting, and stringent. Lowe had also led troops in Corsica and Elba in the 1790s, fighting Napoleon and his Jacobin allies. His posting to St. Helena reeked of an insult and he was a bitter man. He decided to place Napoleon at Longwood House. It was in disrepair and unhealthy due to heavy winds. Lowe's actions fed Napoleon's obnoxious Anglophobia. He once thought Wellington was a good general. Now he hated the man and proclaimed Charles as his finest opponent. He even went so far as to dismiss the victories of Marlborough. Paradoxically, his stock in Britain rose. His pursuit of gardening and public declarations of affinity for British manners, politics, and economics, were warmly greeted. Lord Byron made him a tragic figure in his poetry. The radical Whigs, in particular Thomas Cochrane and Henry Holland, were openly sympathetic. Obscure plots to rescue Bonaparte were hatched all over the world, including one by French veterans living in Texas and a more serious plan made by Creole elites in New Orleans. Napoleon neither dissuaded these attempts nor did he take part. He instead hoped that a friendly British government would free him.

Nothing was forthcoming. Instead, he slowly rotted away, rambling to his small circle of friends and allies. It was as if all he had been, both good and bad, simply bubbled out into nothing. The old repressive Napoleon gave way to a political romantic who merely wanted to rationalize Europe and give it peace. He believed he was undone only by reactionary forces that were jealous of his greatness. He spat upon those he blamed for his fall. Marshals such as Marmont and Emmanuel de Grouchy were reviled. Tender memories of Joséphine were mixed with misogynistic drivel. He made bold statements of favor to old friends, calling Davout "One of the purest glories of France." As to his entire career, he almost seemed to dismiss his victories. He declared that "War is becoming an anachronism; if we have battled in every part of the continent it was because two opposing social orders were facing each other, the one which dates from 1789, and the old regime. They could not exist together; the younger devoured the other. I know very well, that, in the final reckoning, it was war that overthrew me, me the representative of the French Revolution, and the instrument of its principles. But no matter! The battle was lost for civilization, and civilization will inevitably take its revenge. There are two systems, the past and the future. The present is only a painful transition. Which must triumph? The future, will it not? Yes indeed, the future! That is, intelligence, industry, and peace. The past was brute force, privilege, and ignorance. Each of our victories was a triumph for the ideas of the Revolution. Victories will be won, one of these days, without cannon, and without bayonets." Once a man of deep cynicism, he proclaimed "The great mass of society are far from being depraved; for if a large majority were criminal or inclined to break the laws, where would the force or power be to prevent or constrain them? And herein is the real blessing of civilization, because this happy result has its origin in her bosom, growing out of her very nature." The new Napoleon was neither the emperor, the consul, nor the general. He was the Bourbon officer, a marginalized dreamer, a romantic with a streak of cynicism, and most of all a frustrated man. Napoleon had once been a fan of Rousseau. He later condemned the man. Now he resembled his former hero's last days with his own insecure delirium and vague assertions. Napoleon had fought his last battle and won. It was the battle over his legacy and memory. His words of idealism gave heart to reformers who groaned under the new conservative order.

Napoleon's health faded rapidly. He was barely allowed to exercise and even though he was ailing, Lowe kept him at Longwood House. He died on May 5, 1821, his last words "France, the Army, the Head of the Army, Joséphine." Talleyrand scoffed at his death, believing that his baleful influence had disappeared altogether. By contrast Wellington dotted his home with Napoleonic memorabilia. He visited Napoleonic sites, criticized Bonaparte's campaigns in an effort to establish his own superiority, and even sought out his mistresses, sleeping with two of them. As for France, it was by this time strong but no longer the great power of the European continent. The fires of republicanism still burned although royalists ruled the day. The adherents of Bonapartism clung to their dreams. Napoleon was buried in a nameless grave, due to a dispute between Lowe and Napoleon's entourage. His body returned to France in 1841. It was a grand ceremony that ended in his tomb placed at Les Invalides. The elderly Marshal Jeannot de Moncey, a veteran of countless battles, gave a speech at the ceremony and then declared "Now, let's go home to die." Marmont of course was nowhere near the ceremony. After tutoring Napoleon II, who died as a young man, the Bourbons turned him out during a revolt, with duke d'Angouleme asking "Will you betray us, as you betrayed him?" He wandered around Italy, reliving former glories from his youth. When he perished in 1852 he was the last of the marshals.

The Death Bed
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
24. Board Game: Napoleon's Legacy [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
A Complicated Legacy

At first it seemed that Napoleon's project, and that of the Revolution he both betrayed and championed, was a dead letter in 1821. His defeat did not end despotism. As Lord Byron wrote in reference to Wellington, "And I shall be delighted to learn who, Save you and yours, have gain'd by Waterloo?" Over time though, the ideals were transformed, refined, and most of all survived the victories of Wellington, the machinations of Metternich, and the writings of Edmund Burke. The trinity of "liberté, egalité, fraternité" outlived those who had butchered in its name. In 1871 it was placed on the French currency and since then only replaced by Vichy France, with "travail, famille, patrie." Yet, even this offered Napoleon only limited glory, for his despotism, however enlightened, was still a betrayal of the Revolution. In that sense Napoleon's failure was total. He neither destroyed the old monarchies nor republicanism, although in the long term he weakened the former and strengthened the later. His unique project, a blending of the two, died with him.

Yet, much of what is modern is Napoleonic. His law code became the basis for order across Europe. His administration, rational and centralized, was the beginning of the modern state. He may have only squashed revolution in France for a time but he brought the ideals and institutions of that Revolution to the conquered people in Europe, making him a heroic figure in Italy, Poland, and parts of Germany. Nationalism, at first a mostly French property, became a European one in the fires of war. Napoleon saw his greatest achievement as spreading rational ideas of governance, mostly through his code. In this he was certainly correct, and it explains why his legacy goes beyond the famous battles of The Pyramids, Austerlitz, Borodino, and Waterloo.

Yet, it is in the realm of warfare that he is most remembered, and rightfully he is both praised and damned. On the one hand he embraced and built upon the emerging principles of war, including rational organization, conscription, rapid marches, mobile artillery, large staffs, and battles of annihilation. Most of all, he established the supremacy of promotion based upon merit. However, later thinkers and historians, even today, mischaracterize Napoleon's system has based upon elan in attack. As Philippe Pétain showed in his writings, Napoleon emphasized firepower, using artillery to break the enemy before an assault. Napoleon may not have changed the weapons, but he emphasized them in a different way, improving on a combined arms approach in the tradition of Marlborough, Maurice, and Frederick. These ideas and practices were emerging in French military doctrine, but Napoleon refined them and through his victories proved the superiority of this system. Military theorists, starting with Antoine-Henri Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz, both veterans of the Napoleonic Wars, reinterpreted warfare through their experience. They felt something drastic had happened, a feeling akin to what Hegel described at Jena. Under Napoleon, a new emphasis towards the destruction, not just the outmaneuvering of enemy armies, emerged. Invasions of enemy territory occurred over broader fronts which made wars costlier and more decisive. Napoleon institutionalized plunder of conquered territories; French museums contain art stolen by Napoleon's forces from across Europe. The political impact of war increased significantly; defeat for a European power meant more than the loss of territorial enclaves. Near-Carthaginian peaces intertwined with whole national efforts, intensified the revolutionary phenomenon of total war. Napoleon started these trends, although by 1918 his methods of war and peace looked tame.

Napoleon was also a symbol used and abused at will. Napoleon's image and memory was used as a sign of political defiance to the restored Bourbon monarchy. People from all walks of life, particularly Napoleonic veterans, drew on the Napoleonic legacy and its torturous connections with the ideals of 1789. Napoleon III's rise and fall destroyed the use of Bonaparte as symbol of resistance. Yet, Napoleon found new life as an example of the self-made man. The Napoleonic legend then became personal, divorced from the misery he wrought, an example to many of the heights one could gain and lose. Napoleon, by once declaring "what a novel my life has been" foresaw this obsession with his life story. He became a hero for an emerging middle-class who hoped to surpass the old order, just as Napoleon had humbled monarchs. Yet, over time this memory faded and in the 20th century he was replaced by other heroes, often entertainers, businessmen, and politicians. Just as importantly, wars have become a kind of Napoleonic nightmare as his principles of annihilation reached a horrendous climax on the Russian steppes and the islands of the Pacific. Adolf Hitler was his most infamous admirer, and since then comparisons between the two, however vapid, have not ended. Napoleon the law-giver and tragic figure, has increasingly become Napoleon the warmonger. As Jim Morrison once quipped at a concert "I'm tired of being a freaky musician. I want to be Napoleon! Let's have some more wars around here!" Napoleonic ambition and individualism, once inspiring and for some liberating, today look like a fit of selfish devastation. Our faith in politics and the law has fractured compared to the era of Thomas Paine. War is no longer seen as glorious or necessary. Europe at least, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, no longer marches to the sound of the guns. So we no longer march to Napoleon. The law-giver and war-monger has instead become a frustrated figure who's relevance has declined. The Napoleon of our current imagination is closer to the Bonaparte of 1814, the cruel and frustrated man, as opposed to the Napoleon of 1796, 1799, and even 1805.

Napoleon During the 1814 Campaign
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
25. Board Game: Positive Negative [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Sean Chick (Formerly Paul O'Sullivan)
United States
New Orleans
Louisiana
flag msg tools
designer
Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Cuimhnigidh ar Luimnech agus feall na Sassonach! Erin go Bragh! Remember Limerick! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
badge
Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
The Center Cannot Hold

Gustave Flaubert once said “Napoleon is like the great pyramid, he stands alone in a desert and jackals piss at his feet and writers climb up on him.” What do we make of a man who won victories like Rivoli and Austerlitz and yet had two massive armies destroyed in 1812 and 1813? What of a man who rarely declared war and yet did little to avoid war? A man who could champion the Revolution abroad even as he squashed it at home? What of the hopeless romantic and bitter misogynist? He once said, “Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self-interest.” He also said, "A man does not have himself killed for a few halfpence a day, or for a petty distinction. You must speak to the soul in order to electrify the man." He freed the Polish serfs and tried to re-enslave the Haitians. He tried to unite Europe but accurately quipped that “Europe is a molehill. It has never had any great empires, like those of the Orient, numbering six hundred million souls.” In truth we can reconcile a few of these. He was a complex man who's opinions changed over time. Yet, there are so many contradictions that we might conclude the man was liar, a genius, and/or the epitome of confusion.

You can pretty much distort Napoleon to make him a romantic hero or a bloodthirsty tyrant. Historians, such as Emil Ludwig and David Chandler, make excuses for his every blunder. Of the 1812 campaign Chandler vapidly declared that "the problems of space, time and distance proved too great for one of the greatest military minds that ever existed, but it was the failure of a giant surrounded by pygmies!" Meanwhile a whole host of historians paint him as a proto-Hitler, a forerunner to 20th century totalitarianism. To these men his every action is an inflection of evil. British conservative historians, ready to defend their island's history of ruthless conquest, are particularly nauseating in their attacks on Napoleon. This is ironic considering the policies they often favor, including union busting, expanded militaries, and increased corporate rights are essentially Napoleonic. Yet, he still looms as a boogeyman. Recently Andrew Roberts articulated this with his fear that Europe, its governments based upon the Napoleonic Code and not British common law, is ready to fulfill the Napoleonic dream. This is as absurd as the romantic vision of Napoleon as the lonely genius bested by the forces of reaction.

The truth lies not in between these ridiculous poles but elsewhere altogether. Napoleon was less a tyrant and more an enlightened despot. More importantly, Napoleon was a failure. His last battle was a rout. He died in jail, cut off from friends and family. His dream of a Europe controlled by rational principles with Paris as the capital, ended in a nightmare. History is littered with talented failures. Among the great generals there is Hannibal Barca and Charles XII. Like those men, Napoleon could be said to have taken on too great an enterprise. Yet, he limited himself. He could not make friends out of his fellow monarchs nor embrace the very republicanism he used and discarded at will. It was not a middle course. Rather, he wanted control and domination, even over the very ideologies that drove the period. Madame de Staël, one of Napoleon's harshest critics, once said “One must not be at war with everyone.” Napoleon made enemies more readily than friends and seemed to fight every nation and ideology. Yet, everyone saw in him the possibility to utterly transform Europe, which either inspired or frightened men. Byron, perhaps better than most, hit upon the ultimate tragedy of Napoleon. It was not that he lost his wars and his throne, but rather that "Never had mortal man such opportunity, Except Napoleon, or abused it more: You might have freed fallen Europe from the unity Of tyrants, and been blest from shore to shore: And now—what is your fame? Shall the Muse tune it ye? Now—that the rabble's first vain shouts are o'er? Go! hear it in your famish'd country's cries! Behold the world! and curse your victories!"

Napoleon had no center beyond ambition. He would do anything to protect it. He would betray youthful ideals and Joséphine to keep it. He would become that which he hated, a monarch in august robes, just to sustain it. He sacrificed happiness and arguably himself to it. He would accept nothing less than victory. He was infinitely flexible. Wellington once observed that Napoleon had no plan. He simply changed with circumstances, which made him dangerous. In 1797 he wanted to rule Italy. In 1798 he wanted to found an eastern empire. In 1799 he took France. He never planned it. The opportunity was simply there. Perhaps this is why he called Marengo his favorite victory. He should have lost, but his ability to be both flexible and willful was one reason he won the battle. This is why, once faced with the oblivion of defeat, which he said was like dying a thousand deaths a day, he fell into declarations that were by turns poetic, turgid, and spiteful. His ramblings on life, war, politics, and a hundred other subjects have the quality of occasional wisdom. Yet, they are mostly opaque and contradictory. His pronouncements feel like at best truth and wisdom, or at their worst wild fanciful delusion. There is no coherence and perhaps he saw this himself when he said, "What are we? What is the future? What is the past? What magic fluid envelops us and hides from us the things it is most important for us to know? We are born, we live, and we die in the midst of the marvelous." Napoleon is a mystery who can be anything you want at anytime. His life was long and twisted, and he spoke often with a strong and informed opinion. That is why his rise and fall can still fascinate. You can graft whatever meaning you want and see yourself or others in him. Napoleon is to Europe what Thomas Jefferson is to America: both a mirror and a fascinating puzzle who defies easy categories, cheap praise, and vapid condemnation. The only constants are glory, control, and ambition that form the heart of the Napoleonic dream.

Edouard Detaille's The Dream
13 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Loading... | Locked Hide Show Unlock Lock Comment     View Previous {{limitCount(numprevitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
{{error.message}}
{{comment.error.message}}
    View More Comments {{limitCount(numnextitems_calculated,commentParams.showcount)}} / {{numnextitems_calculated}} 1 « Pg. {{commentParams.pageid}} » {{data.config.endpage}}
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.