Innovator or Imitator: Napoleon's Operational Concepts and the Legacies of Bourcet and Guibert.
ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES
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In 1805, a new style of operational warfare burst upon the fields of Europe as Napoleon Bonapartes Grand Army swept from the Rhine to the Danube surrounding the Austrian army at Ulm and initiating a revolution in military affairs RMA whose effects are still felt today. The question remains whether this new style of warfare was merely a natural outgrowth of the work of 18th century military thinkers, whose theories were imitated by a dynamic leader, or did Napoleon bring something new to warfare, a true innovation in the conduct of operational warfare This is the central question that this monograph will attempt to answer. David Chandler maintains that Napoleon contributed little new. As we struggle today with the implications of a possible RMA, it is important that we fully understand the forces that caused former RMAs to occur. For the historian, it is also important that we get our interpretations of past events as correct as possible. Was this a RMA that would have happened with any energetic leader who strictly followed the teachings of Bourcet and Guibert, as a sort of TTP put together by theorists, or did Napoleon take their theories, and meld them with his own ideas to create a new form of warfare and initiate a RMA Does a true RMA require more than just theories and doctrine, does it require an inquiring mind on the part of the practitioner as well These questions give relevance to the research question of this monograph. The writings of Bourcet and Guibert, and their influence on Napoleons conduct of operational warfare, and the development and utilization of the corps darmee system, have not received a thorough examination since Chandler published The Campaigns of Napoleon in 1966. This monograph will perform that task by analyzing Bourcets Principles de la Guerre de Montagnes, and Guiberts General Essay on Tactics, and then examining the linkage from these writings to Napoleons approach to campaigns and battles.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics