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manner suited to the nature and re- rear of each other, and none of which is sources of their own armies.
brought into action until that in from The King of Prussia, whose of it has for a time sustained the troops were excellently disciplined, heat of the contest, and, by doing so, and whose numerical force was usu- exhausted the strength of the enemy. ally much inferior to that of his an An army so placed may be termed an tagonist, applied his principle of open column of divisions, each of maneuvre in the oblique order, in- which in turn either makes or susclining his line so as to turn his an tains attack. (No. 3.) In either tagonist's Aank. Thus his order, case, their advantage over the extendthough moving obliquely, retained ed order, so pertinacionsly adhered the ancient principle of extension, to by the Austrian tacticians, is deand continued to be a line, though monstrable. not drawn parallel to that of his ene In the case of attack, the numerimy. It suited his purpose well, but cal superiority and preponderating it did not apply equally to that of weight of a column impelled against the armies of France. These want an extended line, must undoubtedly ed (at least at the commencement of break it. Now, an order of batik, the revolutionary war,) the skill and consisting of a number of lines short discipline which the Prussian regi- in extension in proportion to the ments possessed, and they had the depth with which they are formed numerical superiority which the Prus- behind cach other, is, upon the gene sian monarch wanted. It was, there- ral and abstract view, an open cofore, their object so to employ their lumn, moving on the principle, and armies, that they might derive the ut- possessing all the advantage and dis most advantage from that superiority, advantage, of that order. The leadand encounter the least possible risque ing division, supported as it is by from their deficiency in practice and those behind it, and acting de fortes discipline. It was plain that the foible, probably breaks the extended subdivisions of Frederick might not line of the enemy. It is true, tha only be arranged in line, but that the manæuvre is a hazardous one, for they might be placed behind each the division which so penetrates a other in reserve ; by which we do enemy's line is immediately exposed not mean the usual reserve used in all to a murderous cross-fire from the disciplined armies, which supports the divided portions betwixt which it has troops in action, and is in fact very passed, and whom the slightest altenearly engaged as soon as they,--but a ration or inclination will place on both substitution and succession of several its flanks; and such a body, if unsup strong divisions, or corps d'armée, ported, is almost certainly destrosplaced at a considerable distance in the ed. *
The French are also partial to the attack by brigades in column, which have, on their scale of action, the same effect, and are liable to the same disadvantages, as the formation of their general order of battle. Thus, at the battle of Vimiera, Ce neral Loison's brigade of 2500 men were thrown into confusion, and driven backi with great slaughter, when their column was flanked by three or four hundred of the 50th regiment under Colonel Walker. Thus, also, the charging columns at Basam suffered the most dreadful carnage. And this mode of resisting the French attack in column is said to have been particularly recommended by the late General Moore.
It is here that their system of re to make any sacrifice of lives.; for serve enables the French to avail they well know that, if it be once atthemselves of the numerical superiori. tained, valour and discipline are alike ty of their whole army. If that first unavailing, and the best troops are exdivision is defeated, those who escape posed to be destroyed by those of a throw themselves into the rear of the very inferior description, if the offi. reserve, for facilitating which the cers of the latter know but how to French regiments are often exercised avail themselves of the position they in the manoeuvre of rallying upon a have gained. new position after total dispersion ; Hitherto we have supposed the the second reserve advances to sup- simple case of the French divi. port or to revenge it, and advances sions attacking in successiou a sta perhaps at the moment when the ene- tionary line ; but the advantage of my, having made a flank movement their disposition is the same, if the upon the first line, are themselves ex. enemy has either originally begun the posed to be Aanked by the second. attack or has become the assailant, If the enemy, by reinforcements or and advanced in pursuit after sustain. obstinate valour, defeats the second ing and repelling the first charge of Teserve, a third advances to the the French. In either case the atcharge, with all the advantage of fresh tacking enemy has the disadvantage and unbroken strength, against a foe of encountering a succession of dewho has already undergone the loss, tached corps d'armée, each of which fatigue, and confusion of having sus- he finds drawn up in its own position, tained two desperate attacks. If the prepared with every advantage of attack of the third reserve also is sus freshness and good order to renew a tained, that of the fourth becomes combat, which his troops have susirresistible, unless the system which tained for the whole day. That we exposes an extended line to the at- may not be accused of vague and tacks of a concentrated succession of theoretical reasoning, we will detail attacks, is in the mean time abandon the incidents of the battle of Ma. ed, and a similar concentration of rengo, in which the Austrians were force affords relief to the party at. assailants, and where the French sus. tacked, and counteracts the move tained the attack upon the principle, ments of the French. But if, on the and solely by means of their numeother hand, the centre of the army rous and powerful reserves. thus attacked be at length broken, Upon the 13th June, 1800, the Auswhile its wings, either by distance or trian General, Melas, having united by being themselves occupied, are his forces with those of General Otto, prevented from closing to its relief, then in retreat before Buonaparte, total defeat may be considered as un- judged himself able to commence avoidable. Its ranks are broken, its offensive operations. He crossed flanks exposed, and flight alone can the Bormida at day-break to attack save any part of it. It is for this ad- the French army under Buonaparte, vantage that the French are willing which, as the following detail shews, The French, however, usually possess such superiority of numbers as renders them prodigal of the lives of their soldiers, for the certainty, or even the chance, of cars. ing an important point.
was disposed in different divisions in rived to sustain his right wing. But the rear of each other, yet each suf. although the French right wing by ficient for a certain time to sustain this timely aid not only sustained the the attack, and waste the forces of attack of the enemy, but even recover: the assailants. Generals Gardanne ed some of the ground they had lost and Victor, with two divisions of the in the morning, they found themselves vanguard, defended the village of Ma- obliged to abandon this advantage, rengo from seven in the morning till in order that they might cover, and in about nine. Perceiving that the place their turn be protected by, the centre must be carried by the Austrians, and left wing, which continued a rewho advanced in columns, Gardanne treat that gradually assumed the apdefiled the greater part of his troops pearance of a route. The whole " by an oblique movement, so as to French line, including all the divi. flank them on their advance ; but this sions which had been successively enmanæuvre, as well as a charge of gaged, were now driven before the French cavalry on the advancing co- Austrians in the greatest disorder as lumn, was in vain, and the position far as San Juliano, a village consider. was stormed by the Austrians. A ably in the rear of that of Marengo, reserve under the command of Buo. where the conflict had commenced. naparte now succoured the defeated Thus far, therefore, the Austrians, vanguard; and this second division after a heavy loss and a toilsome of the French army, united with the struggle, had been victorious over remains of the divisions of Gardanne every division opposed to them, how. and Victor, again awaited the attack ever supported or reinforced. But of the victorious Austrians. The herethe secret of Buonaparte's tactics light troops of the Premier Consul may be remarked. In the front of were driven in upon his line ; his line San Juliano lay a fresh and untouchwas charged by the Austrian caval. ed French army. It was their last ry; and the stand made by Lasnes, reserve, under Dessaix, and was form, whose division supported that charge, ed in two lines, their fanks sustained was rendered ineffectual by the dis- by battalions en potence, and by close
order of the centre, which gave way, columns of infantry, by a train of Aly· and exposed Lasnes's fank. The ing artillery on the right, and on the
French line then yielded ground in left by the French cavalry under Kel. every direction. Buonaparte, not yet lerman, which, repulsed in the begin. an emperor, endeavoured to execute ning of the action, had been rallied an some movements to flank the advan- this point to renew the conflict. The cing Austrians, and offered to head position which they occupied was a the 720 brigade, which he ordered to species of defile, closed on one flank the service ; but his officers remon. by a wood, on the other by a very strated on the exposure tam chari extensive and thick plantation of vines, capitis, and it would seem the troops The retiring army of Buonaparte were unable or unwilling to execute threw themselves, rather in flight than so desperate a manæuvre under any retreat, behind this new and formidaineaner authority. The Consul then ble protection. Had they not known ordered a retreat by intervals upon that such was in their rear, it may be the troops of a third reserve, that of well doubted whether they would not General Monuier, whose division ar. have been utterly broken and almost
disbanded before they reached it. It Bormida with immense loss ; while was four afternoon when the Aus- the French, who the whole day had trians, who had been engaged in com. been beaten from position to posibat from seven in the morning, came in tion, being sustained by repeated refront of this new and untouched divi- serves, were at last enabled to wrest sion of the French army. They were victory out of the hands of an enemy instantly charged by Dessaix at the too fatigued to hold it. * head of the ninth light brigade, while In all the grand general actions of in that confusion which success, as Buonaparte, the same principle can well as defeat, always must occasion. be discovered, namely, that of com, Their progress was checked ; and bining a prompt and vigorous mode though Dessaix was slain and his fol. of action with a concentrated order lowers repulsed, yet Buonaparte had of battle, which it has been generally obtained time to bring his battalions his good fortune to oppose to indeci. into order, and, uniting them with the sion, want of energy, and a prejudice reserve, he advanced as to a new bat. in favour of extended line. Where tle. Even this charge of a new and circumstances, as in the battle of fresh division the Austrians for a time Wagram, have, as it were, compelled sustained; but the confusion it occa, his enemies to present a more collect. sioned among their fatigued and dis. ed front than usual, he has employed ordered ranks, gave an opportunity a still greater degree of concentrato Kellerman, who with his whole tion on his part, so as to ensure his cavalry attacked their flank, and for having the last reserve which can be ced six battalions, whom the rapidity brought up. In short, he does not and fury of his movement had sepa. gain the battle by the perseverance of rated from the rest, to throw down the soldiers engaged in it, but by re
The tide of the battle newing it by means of numerous re. was then completely turned. The liefs. The perseverance is in the geAustrians, hitherto successful in every neral and his plan of tactics, not in the point, but now totally unsupported, troops ; and the principle consists not were routed and chaсed beyond the in requiring it from the latter, but in
* See" Recueil de Plans de Battailes, &c., gagnés par Bonaparte, en Italie et en Egypte, et par deux Officiers de son Etat Major. A Paris et Leipsic." The following observations on the same engagement, by an author calling himself a Russian Staff Officer, but whose style and information argue him to be a Frenchman, may be received as corroborating those in the text :- " La journée de Marengo, où le Grand Consul parut, et fut en effet si fort au-dessous de sa réputation, prouve qu'à cette époque il n'avait dans l'urt des battailes aucune supériorité sur ses rivaur ; mais elle lui apprit a connaitre une importante vérité ; savoir, qui'l n'est presque jamais un premier moudement qui décide la victoire, que au contraire elle reste definitivement au général qui, après quelques heures d'un engagement opiniatre, tient à sa dispositim un corps respectable de troupes fraiches. Le succès d'une réserve est dans ce cas rarement douleur, et il devient infailliblement la cause d'un succès décisif, si elle profite pour faire une attaque impel ueuse, des dérangemens, des fluctuations inévitables dụns la ligne ennemie, pendant le cours d'une action générale, et que son mouvement victorieur ait été incessamment soutenu par un changement analogue dans les mouvemens du corps de battoile.”—Essai sur le Systeme Militaire de Bonaparte, &c. p. C. H. S. Officier D'Etat-Major Moscovite. on, 1811. Dulau et op. et Pannier.
making up for their want of it. And mence the attack, and content them. it is a most admirable plan for a ge- selves with maintaining a severe fire neral, circumstanced like Buonaparte, of musquetry and artillery. No rewhom extended means of every kind, giment of infantry or cavalry is peras well as the great unity and promp. mitted to advance beyond the line of titude of combining different march- battle in order to charge ; for i ing columns upon a given position, French tactics they adhere strictly to enable always to appear in the field the military rule, that the particular with a numerical superiority. The movement of each battalion must alold mode, by which a general used to ways bear reference to the general avail himself of the advantage of movements of the whole body, -amule numbers, was by extending his wings, which is of course most easily at. so that their extremities might out. tended to in a condensed and concen fank and surround his enemy, as in trated array, through which order the battle of Rosbach. But by this can be transmitted with accuracy and extension the line is exposed to be promptitude. On the other hand, attacked by the concentrated force they are prompt to avail themselves of the enemy in any given point, as of the partial and unsustained advance really happened at that battle. (No. of any part of the opposing force. 4.) The system of Buonaparte is the Thus at Austerlitz the imperial horse very reverse of this, and consists, as we guards of Alexander precipitated have seen, in condensing his line, lea- themselves on the French line, and ving it in length barely equal at most broke through it. But it was an ti to the enemy's front, and often much supported movement of indignant is less extended, but strengthening, it patience ; and no sooner were they in depth, by placing one division in the rear of the line which they had in rear of another. It is this system broken, than they were themselves of repeated reserves which enables Aanked and routed, or cut to pieces him to avail himself of the superiori- by the cavalry of Buonaparte's ty of numbers to its fullest extent, serves. At Talavera, too, the grabe and to compel the enemy to put forth lant impetuosity of the guards endaztheir whole strength in struggling gered, by a rash advance, the victory with a force equal to their own, while of the day. But they were support he can bring up, at thechosen moment, ed and covered by directions of : reinforcements sufficient to throw the general, whose eye nothing escapes
. odds against them. That moment he The French then do not hazard these waits for with the utmost coolness and partial and dangerous movements, es patience, and even partial success does pecially in the commencement of an not induce him to anticipate its arrival action, considering it, and justly, as of by a premature motion in advance.
more importance to preserve the unity The post of the emperor, or quar- of their order, than to grasp hastily tier-general, is at the head of the at any subaltern advantage. They strong and numerous reserve which are aware that when the day is far supports the centre. From that point advanced, the victory must remain all orders are issued, and to that point, with that party who can last bring with inexpressible celerity, all come into the field a strong force of fresh munications are made. In general, troops. It is often in the very mo. the French permit the enemy to com- ment that the enemy suppose them.