Hello!,..My name is James R. Machin. I am a recently retired US Army Officer/ DOD/Federal employee that is almost 1/3rd the way through writing a NEW book about 'Quantifying and Qualifying' the fundamentals of Napoleonic Tactical Operations, Combat and Warfare,..Titled:
'COUP d'OEIL': (French pronunciation: [ku dœj]) is a term taken from French, that more or less literally means "stroke of [the] eye". It is mostly often used (in English) in a military context, where the Coup d'Oeil refers to the ability to discern at one glance the tactical advantages and disadvantages of the terrain.)
Just what we all need, yet another book about Napoleonic Warfare,...Right? ;^)
1. I apologize for the length and complexity of this initial posting! However, I wanted to provide EVERYONE with 'enough information upfront' about me, my background, the book's focus/approach/methodology and my purpose/intent to enable each of you to form your own initial impression. I have had enough experience posting to these websites to appreciate the fact that, "If I don't provide everyone with this initial information (baseline), upfront, 'it will quickly get lost in the fray' as additional Nap Series members respond.
2. I wanted this 1st posting to act as an overall 'General Reference', pertaining to the several key aspects, areas and issues that I wanted to present and discuss with you. These areas are highlighted in 'ALL BOLD CAPS' headings.
3. This initial posting is only the very tip of just on one of the many Icebergs that I have created over the last 30 years of my historical research and analysis. The much larger portion of this work, that covers ALL the details in each of the many areas I have outlined below, is part of the overall Glacier, that is acting as the source of these individual Icebergs. The Glacier itself is actually a 'Minitab 22' Napoleonic Combat Database that currently contains over 900+ Napoleonic combat records from 1796-1815. These combat records were derived from the books written by 30+ Authors, many of which are members of this Forum today. However, I want to make this perfectly clear to everyone involved, that "THERE IS ABSOLUTELY 'NO PLAGIARISM' INVOLVED IN THIS APPROACH AT ALL!"
These Author's works are only used to identify and act as the source of the historical Napoleonic engagement data, that provided me with sufficient information, to enable me to identify and populate the 80+ fields that provide the 'Combat Metrics' I needed to populate my 'Minitab 22' Napoleonic Combat Database. Basically, as crazy as this is going to sound to all of you, all I am looking for them to do is act as the historical source/reference that I used to answer this simple question, "Who won the historical engagement between participant X and Y?"
For example: "Who won the engagement between the final attack by the French Old Guard and the British forces defending against it, during the Battle of Waterloo 1815?" The answer is the "BRITISH",..Right? That's it!
I want all these authors to understand, that using their book(s), as one of my historical reference sources, should be viewed as "My own personal acknowledgement that, I recognize their historical competency, credibility and professionalism AND that I sincerely value all their hard work." I do and will acknowledge it upfront.
4. There are 80+ fields & variables that categorize, classify and measure the key metrics associated with each individual combat record. I've accumulated over ~80,000+ data points that ID Leadership, Army, Unit, Terrain, Weather, Tactical Units (Co. to Div), Force Ratios, Results, Retreats & etc. as well as a host of other very important combat factors and results. The only close example I can give you, as a reference, pertaining to its basic nature, is that on the surface, it looks similar in nature to what John A. Lynn provided in the Appendix of his 1996 edition of, "Bayonets of the Republic." EXCEPT!, mine is infinitely larger, is searchable and can provide the means to quantify, qualify, assess, analyze and report on how each of these individual factor (fields) influences and impacts the outcome of Napoleonic Tactical Combat. It took me six (6) years of very detailed research and analysis to compile, verify and validate its content.
5. This book will address both: 1) Napoleonic Theory (i.e., which includes, individual Army Doctrines, Army Cultures (i.e., Corporate level) and its evolution/impact over the course of the Napoleonic Wars AND 2) The Dynamics Napoleonic Tactical Operations, which will focus on and describing in detail, the nature and functioning of Napoleonic Tactical Combat (Fire, Maneuver, Communication, Tactical/Operational Situational Awareness, and Human Factors (i.e., Leadership, Morale, Cohesion, Casualties, Fatigue & etc.).
6. It is always my grand desire to "Say more, with Less!" ;^)
MY PURPOSE & INTENT
My primary purpose in posting this topic TODAY, is to start the historical book vetting process with other Napoleonic warfare authors, technical experts, and forum members that frequent this forum.
Basically, I'd like to know what some of YOUR OWN questions, concerns, issues and comments are in advance, in respect to this book project and its focus so, that I can address and/or incorporate them into the book before going to print.
This book's main purpose & intent is to provide readers with 'historically valid' definitions, processes, tools and metrics specific to Napoleonic Warfare that the reader can use to measure, analyze and assess the actions of leaders and performance of tactical units on the Napoleonic Battlefield.
It follows the traditional military thinking of the U.S. Army, which focuses on the basis for identifying the means to simplify and summarize the factorization of the overall combat process: or in the U.S. Army ’s own words,..“the fundamental role of ground-combat troops is to ‘Shoot, Move, and Communicate’.” This simple, but
intuitively appealing approach enables me to identify, define and measure the critical elements that will drive the factorization of the overall Napoleonic combat process via these four (4) Battlefield Operating Systems (BOS):
*Note: ‘Support’ is added to the list because it ‘sustains & supports’ the other three Battlefield Operating Systems (BOS).
This approach uses a combination of operational research and statistical analysis processes and techniques to assess performance and to establish Napoleonic specific Shoot-Move-Communicate norms (i.e., the BOS norms).
The MAJOR benefit and difference that separates my book from the dozens that have been published in the past, is that "I can Quantify, Qualify, Document and Support my books finding & it's conclusions", with Hard Historical & Empirical Data pertaining to:
1) Quantifying the 'Combat Effectiveness' of each Napoleonic Army (i.e., France, Russia, England & etc.)
2) Identify the battlefield 'Tempo of Napoleonic Tactical Operations.' Tempo is the speed at which tactical operations move. It's typically defined in terms of kilometers per hour. Examples: Cold War era Tempo was ~15 kph, Airland Battle doubled the Tempo to ~30 kph.
3) Quantify the 'Competency/Effectiveness' of the majority of Napoleonic Leaders' (i.e., Napoleon, Wellington, Davout, Hill, Morand, Craufurd and LaSalle as well as the majority of the rest.)
4) Quantify the 'Combat Effectiveness of the majority of Napoleonic Tactical Units' (i.e., British 95th Rifles, French 57th Ligne, and Prussian 1st West Prussia)
5) Quantify 'Napoleonic Tactical Combat' in terms of 'Probability of Success' for each nationality.
6) Quantify Napoleonic Weapons Effectiveness. I am fortunate that Mr. Norm Gibson has agreed to support my book project. Mr. Gibson was weapon technical advisor and performed ALL the cannon and small arms firing special effects for the movie "Masters and Commanders". He owns and fires a host of AWI & Napoleonic weapons to include flintlock pistols, muskets, carbines, rifles, cannons and howitzers. Additionally, he has actually fired his 12lbs Napoleonic cannon and howitzer at all ranges 0-1200m, with both solid shot and explosive shells.
7) I have access to over 500+ DOD, US Army and NATO studies, reports and documents (many of which were classified), which Quantify/Qualify the Napoleonic Battlefield Environment (i.e., LOS, Observation, Movement, Terrain & Weather Effects and Fog of War), Napoleonic Combat, Weapons Effectiveness, Unit Morale/Cohesion and Situational Awareness, to name just a few.
8) MOST IMPORTANTLY,..I can address "Napoleonic Tactical/Operational Situational Awareness". Which has been largely ignored by the Military History community until now.
YES, I am aware of the potential controversy this book may cause the current Military History community but, I prefer to deal with now than later, after this book goes to print. Which is in keeping with Napoleon's own viewpoint, when he was credited with saying: "You cannot make an omelet without breaking some eggs."
MY BACKGROUND. After working 40 years as a US Army Officer, DOD Senior Analyst and as a Defense Contractor for two (2) Science, Technology and Engineering Companies, I really haven't had the opportunity (prior to retiring about 1.5 years ago), to even focus on writing my book. That's no longer the case today.
In that 40 years I've acquired these credentials, knowledge and experiences:
a) BA European History,
b) Minor in Military History
c) I've toured dozens of Napoleonic Battlefields while stationed in Europe.
d) I own a complete copy of M. Guibert's book "General Essay on Tactics", London, 1781 that is printed in 'ENGLISH'.
e) I own and have fired/used several Napoleonic French & British Muskets, Carbines, Pistols and Swords.
f) I have access to dozens of DOD/US Army historical related documents.
a) MS degree in 'Weapon System RDT&E and Management'.
b) I received my 'Green & Black Belt Diplomas' from the Defense Acquisition University in 'Lean Six Sigma' which focuses on statistical analysis and process control.
c) I am recognized by both DOD & US Army, as an expert in (1) 'Live-Constructive' Simulations, (2) Tactical Operational Research(OR) and (3) Weapon System Test & Experimentation.
d) I also worked for 5-years as a 'Senior Analyst' for two DOD Defense Contracting Companies.
e) I have access to over 500+ DOD, US Army and NATO studies, reports, analysis and documents on; Doctrine, Tactics, Warfare, Combat, Situational Awareness, Human Factors and the Battlefield Environment.
a) Commissioned Armor Officer
b) I commanded both an M60 and M1A1 Tank companies.
c) Worked on US Army Staffs at the BN, BDE, and Division levels.
d) Served a tour of duty in Iraq/Kuwait.
e) Member of the US Army Acquisition Corps.
MY HISTORICAL PHILOSOPHY.
You'll see by these three (3) quotes below that I am basically a 'Black & White' numbers guy by choice. But, I fully recognize and accept that warfare is both an 'Art & Science!'
Sun Tzu, wrote around 500 B.C. in "The Art of War":
1. "Now if estimates made in the temple before hostilities indicate victory it is because calculations show one's strength to be superior to that of his enemy; if they indicate defeat, it is because calculations show that one is inferior. With many calculations, one can win; with few one cannot. How much less chance of victory has one who makes none at all! By this means I examine the situation and the outcome will be clearly apparent."
Lord Kelvin Quotes (19th Century British Mathematician & Scientist):
2. "I often say that when you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it; But when you cannot measure it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind."
3. "Accurate and minute measurement seem to the 'non-scientific' imagination,
less lofty and dignified work than looking for something new. But nearly all the
grandest discoveries of science have been the rewards of accurate measurement
and patient long-continued labor in minute sifting of numerical results."
However, Paddy Griffith (before his death) has managed to soften my own focus a bit, with his own opinion that identifies two (2) main historical approaches to writing military history that he calls:
1) Hardware approach (i.e., numbers, weapons, OOB & etc.) as exemplified by COL Dupuy's work "Numbers, Predictions and War."
2) Compassionate approach (i.e., focusing on human factors & combat experiences) such as SLA Marshal's work "Men Against Fire."
Overall, Mr. Griffith recognizes that neither of these approaches on its own, can give us good tactical history. While I basically agree in principal with what Mr. Griffith has said, in my 30 years working in the DOD/US Army community, I've noted that you can no longer rely upon "the Historian's perspective alone", to provide you with good tactical military history (i.e., the complete picture of an event).
This notion is driven by background, education, training, knowledge, experience and 'PERSPECTIVE' of the Author himself. In respect to, recognizing and accepting the fact that every author is limited by his own ability to determine and address his own capabilities, limitations and resources in querying the nebulous nature of the Human based Military Historical record for valid data, information and answers to his research questions. No single person or single perspective can address all three (3) of these informational issues below:
1) Known-Knowns: Author is both aware of a known question/problem/issue that he must address and knows basically how and/or where to find the reliable historical data/information.
2) Known-Unknowns: Author can identify his historical data/information/research requirements, but may not be able to find or capable of addressing these known shortfalls.
3) Unknown-Unknowns: Author lacks awareness that there could be many unknown questions, issues, and concerns present within the body of his research, that he does not know about AND whether or not he is even capable of addressing them due to educational, knowledge and experience shortfalls.
'The Three (3) Apostles' of Historical Military Research.
From my own Military/Historical Research experience, I've recognized that any historical author needs to be aware of these three (3) skill sets to help ensure that his own perspective, knowledge, experiences AND LIMITATIONS, don't adversely impact his research:
1. Historian's Skills – Researching & Documenting historical events via 'primary source' data (Research)2. Analyst's Skills – Operational Research & Analysis (Math/Analysis)3. Military Skills – Knowledge and experience with Army Doctrine, Army Corporate Culture & User Experience (i.e., Soldier's perspective & insights).
Before demising this as nonsense, I'd advise you to assess your own personal skill status, using the those three (3) information classifications above and ask yourself "Do I have ability to actually use and perform these skills and functions myself?" Because, I can assure you that there are very few people in this world, that have the education, knowledge and experience to check the box on all three skills! Any shortfalls, equate to potential 'Holes' in your historical research.
THE THEORY OF COMBAT
Definition of a Theory of Combat
A 'Theory of Combat' is the document you create to guide your research and support your thesis statement and provides 'consistency & continuity throughout the effort. It may be defined as the embodiment of a set of laws, doctrine, and operational art that governs your study of any particular era of military combat.
a) It discern patterns in the interactions and relationships among the major elements of combat that operate through a set of distinct combat processes.
b) It identify particular patterns of interactions and relationships which consistently shape or determine the outcome of combat (defined in some manner)
c) It express the patterns so identified in quantitative terms, (i.e., as functional relationships between sets of independent and dependent variables).
Elements of a Theory of Combat
Any scientific theory of a dynamic system must involve the following elements:
(a) independent variables (inputs),
(b) dependent variables (outputs, Cc) system processes (relating inputs to outputs
Applying such a conceptual framework to military combat at the tactical level, we envision the elements of a theory of combat as consisting of the following:
(1) independent variables of combat (inputs to combat),
(2) dependent variables of combat (mission-oriented outputs),
(3) combat processes (relating combat inputs to outputs over time).
There's allot more to military history than stringing together 'primary source quotes' times, people, events, locations & etc., within a chronological narrative. However, in order to leverage the full potential of Statistical Analysis, You have to identify, organize and define your historical data & databases in respects to the Objective (thesis statement) and its Tasks, Conditions and Standards and then meet these requirements. This is especially important if you intend to use Statistical SW tools like the one I use, Minitab 22.
1. Minimum sample size for Quantitative/Qualitative Research.
Based on studies that have been done in academia on this very issue, 30 seems to be an ideal sample size for the most comprehensive view. A sample size of 30 often increases the confidence interval of your population data set enough to warrant assertions against your findings.
2. Central Limit Theorem.
The central limit theorem (CLT) states that the distribution of sample means approximates a normal distribution as the sample size gets larger, regardless of the population's distribution.
Sample sizes equal to or greater than 30 are often considered sufficient for the CLT to hold.
A key aspect of CLT is that the average of the sample means and standard deviations will equal the population mean and standard deviation.
A sufficiently large sample size can predict the characteristics of a population more accurately.
TRAPS & PITFALLS OF HISTORICAL DATA COLLECTION & ANALYSIS
During my 30 years of military history research for this book, I've uncovered dozens of examples like the ones I am providing you below. Where sources are at odds with each other. And the problem seems to me, to be getting worse, not better, as time goes on. Obviously, this is largely due to the internet and the inability to enforce any type of professional standards. However, I do want to provide you with these main points:
1. You need, 'a minimum of at least three (3) historical data points' to even begin determining ‘If You have identified a reliable indicator, pattern or fact' OR If any valid pattern exists at all.
2. You need ~30 data points to be able to start leveraging the Central Limit Theorem in Statistics, which enables you to draw statistically reliable inference about the historical data you intend to use.
3. Historians are notorious for 'Hanging their hats on, just one data point,' regardless of its quality (i.e., primary source data or not). Doing so can quickly end up being a big mistake, if you are NOT careful.
Here's are two (2) example taken from five (5) different author's books and one (1) from Google Earth (i.e., 6x Data Points in all) that clearly illuminates the reason why You need 'a minimum of three (3) data points!'
Example #1: The 1st French Attack on the 'Vimerio Hill' position.
Data Point #1: Weller, Jac, "Wellington In The Peninsula", Nicholas Vane, London 1967, page 47.
"The first volley from the 1/50th was fired at a range slightly over 100 yards; others followed regularly at 15-second intervals as the range gradually shortened. Slowly, the flanks of the 50th wrapped around the column",..."The French recoiled at each volley; finally broke and fled to the rear with riflemen in hot pursuit."
Data Point #2: Oman, C. W. C., "A History of the Peninsular War", Oxford, 1902, pages 254-5.
"A few moments later Fane dashed the 50th and the reserve company of rifles against Thomieres' troops, and sent them flying down the slope in equal disorder. They could not be rallied till they got out of musketry range,.."
Data Point #3: Griffith, Paddy, "Forward Into Battle", Chichester, Sussex, England, A. Bird Publications LTD. 1981, pg. 18.
"Walker immediately advanced his gallant 50th to the crest of the hill, where he gave the word, 'Ready, present! and let every man fire when he has taken aim.' This order was most strictly obeyed, and produced a commencement of destruction and carnage which the enemy had not anticipated. Then Walker called out, raising his sword and waving it high over his head, 'Three cheers and charge, my fine fellows!,.."
Example #2: What does the 'Church at Vimerio' actually look like?
NOTE: I want to state clearly right now, that I am "NOT ATTACKING ANYONE's HONOR OR INTEGRITY WITH THIS SECOND EXAMPLE BELOW!"
I am providing it for two (2) Main Reasons:
1) In the last 30 days, while I was researching the French Reserve Grenadiers attack on the Vimerio Church, I found out that "I was 'GUILTY' of 'Hanging My own hat on, just one data point MYSELF!,..and it was because I chose Data Point #1 below and did not look any further, as I am now telling YOU. Not wanting to be a "Hypocrite", I wanted to 'fess up to this crime' and use it as my own personal example to underscore the reinforce the IMPORTANCE OF 3-Data Points!
2) It is "Never My Desire or Intent to Impinge the Honor and Integrity of any Living Author in Public." However, we are all Humans and as Humans, we all make mistakes. In addition, this example also illuminated the fact that I couldn't find another historical example (in my records) where all three (3) data point authors were dead, like the 1st example above. So, I am NOT going to provide You with the third and final Example, after this one, because of that fact.
Data Point #1: The Battle of Vimerio, Portugal: 21 August 1808 by Robert Burnham, Nap Series Archive, picture #5 - "The church that was the scene of hand-to-hand combat between Fane's light troops and Kellerman's Grenadiers."
Data Point #2: "Vimeiro 1808", Wellesey's first victory in the Peninsular, Osprey Publishing 2001 pg. 53. Caption: "The Church at Vimerio. Note its elevated site with a sturdy wall. The British troops used this position to resist the French by Maransin's troops."
Data Point #3: Google Earth data point. To reference it, zoom in on Vimerio and then on the Church labeled: "Igreja Matriz Vimerio". Click on the church icon on the north side of town and it will reveal the picture of the actual picture of 'Vimerio Church.'
OK. In 'Basic Analysis 123' terms, you are taught that:
- One (1) data point is simply an 'unsupported' discussion point.
- Two (2) data points, may indicate the development of a 'possible trend,' which still requires more data to confirm, depending on the 'positive or negative nature of each data point,' in respect to the answer you are seeking.
- Three (3) data points, is the first point, that a 'potential pattern'
may be developing, either 'positive or negative', depending on how many of each type of data you have collected (e.g., 2 ea.-positives and 1 ea.- negative, indicated the forming of an overall positive (i.e., supporting trend).
Analysis of Example #1: Looking at the three (3) data points I provided you above, Two (2) data points (i.e., #2 & #3) indicates that the British 50th, 'Fired a Volley & Charged' the French Column. Only one data point, #1, indicates that the 'British repulsed the French Column by Fire alone.' Thus, two (2) data points are saying one thing and only first one is saying indicating something different. This is why you need at least three (3) data points to break any ties.
Moreover, had you only found and accepted Jac Weller's version of this event as the gospel, You'll very likely find yourself being called out for Your mistake, by other Authors and Historians, who knew better.
Analysis of Example #2:Same analysis as above, except this one is REAL and I should have known better. However, it does highlight the fact that 'primary sources' like "Google Earth', may be considered a valid "single creditable source' by virtue of their indisputable nature and the quality of its evidence it can provide".
1. Measure Of Effectiveness (MOE): A qualitative or quantitative measure of aggregate performance or a characteristic of entity, model or system that indicates the degree to which it performs the task or meets an operational objective or requirement under specified conditions.
2. Measure Of Performance (MOP): The measure of how the system/individual performs its functions in a given environment (e.g., number of targets detected, reaction time, number of targets nominated, susceptibility of deception, task completion time). It is closely related to inherent parameters (physical and structural) but measures attributes of system behavior.
3. Uniformitarianism: "The physical sciences are essentially based on the principle of 'uniformitarianism', which holds that physical and biological processes, conditions , and operations do not change over time. Although human behavior in combat may not change appreciably over time, weapons (i.e. hardware) and organizational structures have and will continue to change appreciably via the continuous swing 'back & forth' for primacy between 'Technology & Doctrine'."
INTERPRETING THE HISTORICAL RECORD
Despite the large number of recorded battles in history, the number with usable analytical data has always been rather small. The population of all battles throughout human history cannot be accurately documented. Recorded history is only a sample of those events that took place, and as already described, that sample is fundamentally biased and accidental in nature. Thus, a useful database will have a sample of battle data that is representative of patterns observed in the population of all battles.
Granted there are many issues which must be considered when attempting to use historical data, including:
1) Potential bias in narrative accounts of the battle due to most accounts being written by the victor or for propaganda purposes.
2) Many reported results are qualitative, approximate or even subjective.
3) Many reported results for the same Battle disagree, including dispute over which side won. These disagreements about the outcomes are rare within the realm of battlefield engagements.
4) When determining force strengths, how should Artillery and support personnel be included?
5) When determining casualties should prisoners be included.
6) How should the effect of leadership, initiative, surprise, terrain and weather be included,
7) How is the boundary of a battle defined, should strategic airpower or naval gunfire support be included,
8) How should the effect of reserves be included, should the availability of uncommitted forces be included?
9) Should a battle be considered as a single event, or does it more closely resemble a related series of events (i.e., engagements) separated in time and space?
Most authors using historical data have attempted to address some of these issues, especially questions of how to determine force strength and casualties. However there remains a question regarding the accuracy of much of the original reporting, especially for battles prior to the 19th Century.
Definition: A representation of facts, concepts, or instructions in a formalized manner suitable for communication, interpretation, or processing by humans or by automatic means.
Data Verification And Validation (V&V):
The process of verifying the internal consistency and correctness of data and validating that it represents real world entities appropriate for its intended purpose or an expected range of purposes. The process has two perspectives: the 'Producer' (Author & Historian) and the 'User' (Military) process.
SITUATIONAL AWARENESS (SA).
Definition. “Knowledge and understanding of the current situation which promotes timely, relevant and accurate assessment of friendly, competitive and other operations within the battlespace in order to facilitate decision making."
Situational awareness itself, translates to the establishing of a clear and accurate, common, relevant picture of the battlespace for leaders at all levels and a reduction in the potential for fratricide.
During the Napoleonic period, a commander’s SA knowledge of the position and actions of his subordinate units/detachments depended on: 1) His Direct observation (via sight & sound), 2) The arrival of mounted messengers with orders dispatches and reports from his subordinates commanders, his superiors, and 3) Information obtained from local inhabitants. Thus, his overall awareness was always going to be a few hours out of date.
His knowledge of the enemy, meanwhile, was distilled from the sporadic reports of spies and scouts who had observed the position and movement of some enemy units and these reports were similarly belated, always incomplete and occasionally mistaken.
Situational awareness answers three (3) fundamental Napoleonic battlefield questions:
- Where am I?
- Where are my friends'?
- Where is the enemy ?
The sharing of timely information improves significantly the ability of commanders
and leaders to quickly make decisions, synchronize forces and fires, and increase the operational tempo.
Anyone who has ever commanded Soldiers in the field, will tell you, 'timely, accurate and useful Situational Awareness Information' is absolutely critical to the success completion of any military operation. This same thing is true throughout all of Military History (i.e., Uniformitarianism), whether it was three (3) days ago or 3,000 years ago!
My point here is that many of today's Military Historians, 1) Ignore SA, Don't understand it, or 3) Recognize its significance. My book will be one of the exceptions.
That's it for now! I sincerely appreciate any comments YOU care to offer up.
P.S. I don't know if it is by coincidence or divine intervention, but I just notice that Today is 'Friday, the 13th', It's 1300hrs here in Detroit and this posting is '13 pages long' in MS WORD. ;^)
Hopefully, its content is of some value to you and helps you to become more successful (i.e., luckier) beyond today. Enjoy!