Boney was just realizing the strategic goals of Carnot, at least intially - up to the Milano phase. In the established histiography it is always claimed that Bonaparte himself was involved in this scheming in 1795?? Is there any evidence about this, sources? And was Nabulieone the only one who was involved in advising Carnot - or others as well???
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coming back to this subject, while listening to
Again a very well presented and highly enjoyable podcast. Prof. Schneid's comments make a lot of sense, still it is just fixed again only and once only, and only only, due to Boney being there - on Italie. In my view one cannot see the success of Boney without what was going on in Germany at the same time.
Yes, so far no army tried to invade Austria via Italy, but then why? First, the art of operational war was done completely different in the 18th century so far and secondly this developed out of chance. The original plan was that the army of Italie and at least one of the German Armies, most likely Moreau's - should link up together and continuing the offenses on the Danube. While the French Armies did not brake through in Germany, then and only then Bonaparte took his chances to invade Austria via the Tagliamento and Isonzo by very difficult terrain and his army was beefed up with forces from the Rhine Army.
Another highly political French general, who very well could have been a contender for 18 brumaire - and totaly ignored is Hoche (who has much much highter political ambition than for example Moreau who was never a contender for 18 brumaire.
OK - I found quite a bit information in the Correspondances, 1st volume and also in Colin : L'Éducation de Napoléon.
As you know Napoleon was assigned to the topographic bureau which was sort of a general staff for operational plans, but no where near as sophisticated as later staffs. In 1795 the bureau had studied the Italian theater and possible plans of campaign. Napoleon had put various plans to the Directory. Scherer, before the battle of Loano, mentions these schemes in dispatches to Paris declaring that he would step down in favor of those making plans far from the front. Eventually, the Directory took both Scherer and Napoleon at their word, and it was one of these plans put forth by the bureau that Napoleon executed in 1796. The complete picture is more complex than this with Napoleon serving at times in the Italian theater and in Paris.
Following the successful execution of the initial plan to separate the Piedmontese from the Austrians, it seems that Napoleon had a general plan of campaign, but when decisions had to be made by Paris he would send detailed plans and the Directory would then send orders, mostly mirroring these plans.
My opinion is that Carnot was not really interested in the Italian theater which he viewed as on the strategic defensive. In general, his contribution to the general course of the war was mainly administrative and his plans of campaign were not particularly imaginative. They generally consisted of an advance on a wide front by armies too far separated to support each other, thus denying the French local concentration of force. For the most part the Austrians were able to parry these attacks until they had withdrawn enough troops from Germany to Italy to replace their losses incurred.
Martin-Boycott Brown is a good source.
There is a less well known book called The Gamble: Bonaparte in Italy by Ferrero. He is no fan, likely goes too far in his criticism and occasionally strikes off in tangents, but he has a lot of interesting details. It gives a quite different perspective on the Italian campaigns.
Another book by Adlow called Napoleon in Italy, is probably the most lucid analysis of a campaign that I have ever read. No doubt his decades of experience as a judge writing court opinions served him well.