Thoughts on the military and military activities of a diverse nature. Free-ranging and eclectic.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

La Grande Armee

This is coolbert:

Leon Degrelle is not correct when he says that the German Waffen SS in World War Two [WW2] constituted the first Pan-European military army? Napoleon too, was able to muster, at his command, a Pan-European force, but over 100 years earlier [1812]. A response to the realization that an enormous number of troops would be required to bring the war with Russia to a successful conclusion.

From the wiki entry:

"At its [La Grande Armee] height in 1812, consisted of 554,500 men:

• 300,000 Frenchmen and Dutchmen
• 95,000 Poles
• 30,000 Italians
• 24,000 Bavarians
• 20,000 Saxons
• 17,000 Westphalians
• 20,000 Prussians
• 35,000 Austrians
• 15,000 Swiss
• 3,500 Croats

Among the many contingents of La Grande Armee in addition to the normal French army units we find [taken from the appendix to the book, "The Russian Campaign"]:

* 3rd Corps - - Consisting in part of troops from Wurttemberg. [German]

* 4th Corps - - Consisting in part of the - - Italian Royal Guard, Italian Division, Italian Light Brigade, and the cavalry of the Italian Royal Guard. [Italian]

* 5th Corps - - Consisting of troops from Poland.

* 6th Corps - - Consisting of troops from Bavaria. [German]

* 7th Corps - - Consisting of troops from Saxony. [German]

* 8th Corps - - Consisting of troops from Westphalia. [Germany]

* 10th Corps - - Consisting in part of troops from Prussia. [German]

* Austrian Corps - - Consisting of troops exclusively from Austria. [Austrians, obviously. This particular Corps was a named Corps and not a numbered one. Counts as an eleventh Corps!]

* From the 3rd and 4th Corps of the Cavalry Reserve: Rosnitzky (Polish) and Thielmann (Saxon).

Please keep in mind that Germany, Italy, and Poland did not exist as the entities we understand today. At the time of Napoleon, were principalities, city-states, lesser kingdoms and dukedoms, etc. NOT having the same status as the modern nation-state. Think rather of ethnic and cultural entities. Bavaria, Saxony, Wurttemberger, Westphalia, for example, sharing a somewhat identical culture and speaking vary dialects of German as spoken at the time!

For the invasion of Russia, Napoleon had eleven corps under his command. So it can be seen that a significant portion [five of the eleven Corps] of the force the Emperor was able to marshal for the invasion of Russia did NOT consist of French troops.

It is also worth noting that the French First Corps consisted totally of French soldiers, five divisions and two light brigades worth, 65,000 men, under the command of the most ablest of French commanders, the Marshal Prince of Eckmuhl [Marshal Davout]. This was the main striking force of the French Army?

Napoleon demanded, expected, appreciated foreign contingents, and used them, but at the same time concentrated his own French soldiers where they would be most effective? The most reliant troops with the most reliant commander, first and foremost [that is in part why they are called the FIRST CORPS!!]




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