Glory and Remorse: the Poles in the Spanish War of IndependenceTHE HISTORY OF THE POLES WHO FOUGHT IN THE RANKS OF NAPOLEON'S ARMYhttps://www.outono.net/elentir/2018/05/02/glory-and-remorse-the-poles-in-the-spanish-war-of-independence/
Admiration or hyperbole is just a matter of judgement of degree. If you are a fellow admirer, you see a fair assessment. You might even delude yourself into believing it to be a fact rather than an opinion. If you have a more balanced outlook, you see hyperbole. Hyperbole, like beauty, is therefore in the eyes of the beholder. “‘Vive L’Empereur’ that echoes yet across the centuries” Just too hyperbolic and romantic for me, I’m afraid. It sells books though, especially in the US where admiration for Napoleon (if that’s what we are calling his personality cult these days) is more widespread. But that’s probably saying more about me, the dry, soulless, boring empiricist. I think times have moved on from Swords, and that style is less appropriate to the Google Books and Gallica generation. Today I think there is more desire for a more open evidence-analysis-conclusion rather than the older ‘trust me, I’m an expert’ approach of three or four decades ago. Why trust the opinions of an open admirer, when the source material is readily available? No criticism of Elting personally or even Napoleon. As a friend of one and an admirer of the other, of course our opinions are likely to differ. However, I have little brains, but having applied them have to speak as they direct me. That doesn’t mean Swords will be eliminated from my bookshelf, just used carefully and cognisant of the perspective of the author.
Interesting article, pretty strange website.
Absolutely Hans, but some see the issue of the Poles being part of some anti-Russian agenda. I’m merely trying to point out how inappropriate that is.
Are you suggesting serving France is a good thing, if you are a Pole? If so, I can’t see how all the blood shed in the service of “the greatest man of the century” got them very far. Based on Napoleon’s record of ending up on a rock in the Atlantic, so not really contributing much to the nett cause of an independent Polish homeland. Or perhaps I’m missing the point?
Yes, my point. Not out of a sense of loyalty to an appointed or anointed monarch, from whom they were released, but personal attachment. “Eternal” “homage” “devotion” maybe, but these words all exceed those of mere support or allegiance, indeed they are those we associate with cult-like behaviour. They were not Elbanese so owed him nothing except as his person. It is really remarkable that Napoleon could achieve this, and much more interesting than writing it off as mere loyalty. The sheer magnetism required to command that level of devotion is staggering. It’s not derogative to articulate those powers he undoubtedly had. What is open to debate is how aware he was of them and how much credence he gave them. That for me is the real fascination, not the semantics of the label we give it. History periodically seems to throw up these commanding mesmeric figures, capable of moving not just individuals but whole nations. For good or ill (which is a different debate) that is what I believe Napoleon was.
This is utter nonsense, the reality is totally different, Boney stayed as along as possible in Paris, then he was travelling in a coach as often and as long as possible because he could use it as office, riding he had to do as well, as all other military commanders did, though he despised tents for his soldiers he just used those.
A few potatoes, what a laugh, look what kind of field kitchen he was taking into Russia with him.
And no - he would not necessarily ride with the advance guard, look at the Prussian campaign of 1806 for example.
In the Russian retreat he was eating plenty of food while his soldier died miserably around him.
I am not blaming that Boney used good living conditions and ample lodging, as cic he needed it to function and on top of that he had to run a state.
I haven't seen ever a worse description of Boney at a campaign, yes he would share occasionally hardships, and without any doubt he risked his life at battle, but other cic did the same, what is so extraordinary about it? Nothing special, Fredrick the Great did the same, Barclay de Tolly did ride in full parade dress into the battle of Borodino, much more exposed than Boney.
Why did the army follow him - success, especially in the 1805 - 1806 campaign, he swore in and corrupted that Grande Armée on his person, also he allowed plunder and it was an understanding that the soldiers were allowed to do it and they risked their lives for his glory.
A very good book, to describe the reality - as seen by contemporaries is
Coppens, Bernard : L'Aveuglement de Napoléon - Russie 1812,, Les Éditions Jourdan, Bruxelles - Paris, no year of publication.
It should dim to Boney, which apparently it didn't that his victories in the spring campaign, where hollow indeed, why otherwise would he agree to make an armistice?
This idea of a bonne bataille, he so vainly tried to achieve in 1812 - didn't work any longer at all, with the exception of Belle Alliance 1815 for the Allies though.
His only way to prevent Austria to keep out of joining the Alliance would be to make peace and give Austria back those territories he annexed or gave to Bavaria.
He was not any longer in the active driving seat as he was before 1812.
When Austria joint - he wasn't even able to change he geo strategical aims - and his kind of operational art of war, which was top notch in 1805 - 1806 - was not working any longer.
"Boney could have solved the Polish problem, he created it with the formation of the Duchy of Warsaw, in 1809 he could have created a Kingdom of Poland or at the latest in 1812."
That wouldn't have solved the diplomatic problem of Poland. It would have made it worse.
Boney could have solved the Polish problem, he created it with the formation of the Duchy of Warsaw, in 1809 he could have created a Kingdom of Poland or at the latest in 1812.
Despite the Poles sacrificed everything for Boney he played double games, when discussing the campaign of 1812 with Caulaincourt, already then he said again and again that he had no intention to create a stronger Poland.
I agree that a strong Poland would have been a big cause for Russia to not come to terms with Boney, which they didn't come to anyway.
Most of the Poles of course did not know about Boney betraying them and therefore still clung to the Boney propaganda - and for that reason they - at least the so called Polish squadron - served still in 1815.
Poles might see it differently.
Interesting and thought provoking. What it reveals to me is how nationalism can be subverted to a cult focussing on an individual. Even when that individual's interests run contrary to their nation or cultural sympathies. That a Squadron eventually found it's way to a muddy field in Belgium shows how a charasmatic leader and unit cohesion can work.