Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

· selves victors that this unexpected ap- the battle of Marengo. In some of

parition turns the scale of battle. these, as at Wagrañ and Jena, the Their advantages cannot have been samé concentration, arising from a acquired without loss, tumult, and more than usual number of reserves, disorder, and it is while they are in enabled the French general to render that state that they are suddenly his own line impenetrable, whilst he pressed by fresh troops, who in this turned his enemy's flank, or availed moment are permitted to indulge all himself of any opening in their line to their national vivacity of courage and pierce it. But these latter uses to enterprize. Thus in one of Buona- which reserves may be applied, are parte's bulletins concerning the bat. only resorted to by Buonaparte when ile of Friedland, it is stated, that af- the conduct of the opposing general ter the conflict had continued a great is more than usually incautious. part of the day, the emperor resol. It remains to shew in what man. ved to put an end to it, (here is a ner the French masqué their formaproof he was rather apprehensive of tion, and occupy the attention of the the result,) and came up with a strong enemy along the full extent of their reserve. We must leave it to those long order of battle, while in fact who wish to prosecute the study, to they only oppose a short and contrace this principle of movement (it densed front to the centre of their is a general one, and subject to various line. This is accomplished by means modifications) through the great ge- of their numerous light troops, which neral actions fought by Buonaparte, * were at first formed after the exam. cautioning him at the same time, that ple of the irregular sharpshooters of he is not to expect to discover it in America, as the readiest mode of the encounter of small armies, where training their conscripts. But the geall the ground is under the eye of nius of the French soldier seems parboth generals, and where neither could ticularly adapted to this light and make a strong detachment in reserve skirmishing species of warfare. The without the other being aware of its loose order, or rather the dispersion existence, and making a similar reserve of these tirailleurs, enables a number on his side to encounter it. He must comparatively small to occupy the also observe, that in some of Buona. attention and harass the movements parte's grand engagements, although of the enemy's extended front, if unthe principle of the formation be the provided with similar forces. Thus same, yet its operation is not so sim. these numerous irregulars act as a ple or so obvious at first sight as in screen to their own lines, while it is

• We again fortify an opinion formed long before the printing of his work, by the evidence of the Russian Staff-Officer, (if such he be) whose essay we have already quoted:"Les victoires d'Iéna, de Ratisbonne, de Wagram, furent dues au même principe, à le même maneuvre. Ainsi que je l'ai adancé, les Français laissent ordinairement commencer a leurs ennemis les premiers mouvemens Or, ces premiers mauvemens n'étant jumais qu'une attaque isolée au lieu d'être dirigés comme dedant dtre le commencement d'un mouvement général, quelque désordre qu'ils puissent cam ser dans la ligne des Français, ces derniers ont dans l'emploi immédiat de leur tím serve les moyens non-seulement de réparer leur defection ; ils rendront faneste leurs ennemis, le mouvement victorieur mais inconsidérég d'une troupe qu'on ne sou.

vient pas."

[ocr errors]

impossible for those who are assail. been almost uniformly victorious, and ed by them to discern whether they how avails it to what their victories are supported by battalions, or in can be ascribed ? Our answer is two. what order the French general is fold. Such an investigation as we árraying bis forces in the rear of this have attempted leads us to due apswarm of hornets. Thus they re- preciation oi the talents of Buonaparte, main in complete ignorance of the instead of blind terror or blinder adFrench disposition, and dare not of miration. We have no wish to insi. course attempt to change their own; nuate a disrespect for his talents, haand while the wings waste their force, ving (as they unfortunately possess) nay sometimes sustain heavy loss in the disposal of such extraordinary encountering this harassing, and, as force at their command ; in the words it were, unsubstantial enemy, their of a warrior speaking of his enemy, centre' has to sustain the full weight we grant him of the French line, concentrated as we have described it. This mode -Strong, and skilful to his strength, of warfare was peculiarly severe on

Fierce to his skill, and to his fierceness 1

liant. the Austrians; for it happened, by some unfortunate fatality, that in her But it will remain to be inquired passion for the Prussian discipline, whether his genius is of such a transthat power judged it fit to convert cendant and overpowering nature as the greater part of her Croats, the a distant contemplation of his exfinest light troops in the world, into ploits might induce us to believe

. heavy battalions, and thus diminished His plan, of which we have endea. their strength of this particular de- voured to develope the principle

, is scription of force at the moment when indeed well fitted to ensure the most the fate of battle was about to depend numerous of two encountering armies upon it. Theexcellenceof those light the full superiority of its numbers ; corps which Austria retained could but there is no brilliant genius re: not supply their great inferiority of quisite to the formation. It is not numbers; and thusin that sort of minor an invention like Frederick's discobattle of advanced guards, which is very of a new principle of moving an maintained by the light troops, and of extended line. The latter is like the which it is usually the object not to discovery of a mechanical power, beat back the enemy, but todistract his and must in one shape or other be attention, and, by engaging him in a useful while armies are opposed to confused struggle with a foe not the each other. The system of Buona. less formidable because yielding and parte is only a peculiar mode of em almost invisible, to bring him up to ploying the same power previously their own line crippled and disheart. discovered, which may be destroyed ened, the French acquired a supe- by any counteracting system, or sua riority, which enabled them, without perseded by any improvement on the the least risque of being outAanked, application of the principle upon to contract their own line within the which it turns. In all his great ele extent necessary for employing the so- gagements, (that of Austerlitz often-mentioned principle of reserves. Haps excepted,) Buonaparte seems

But it may be asked, to what tends never even to have attempted manicu this exposition? The French have vering, that is, he never

pero

attempted to

gain for his army a position which both parties, the more his numerical must give it an immediate and deci. superiority will be likely to gain the ded advantage over the enemy. Now ascendant. Independent, therefore, this art we take to be the consumma. of the waste of human blood, which tion of military ability, as being that by conquerors seldom attend to, Buonawhich military skill supplies the lack parte's road to victory seems greatly both of strength and of numbers. to depend upon his bringing a preIn the battles of the King of Prussia dominating force into the field, and and other distinguished generals, we upon his enemy's pertinacious adhe. are led to augur the fortune of the rence to the infatuated system of exday from the dispositions their ability posing an extended line to the action enabled them to make relative to their of a deep and reinforced column. enemy; and in the progress of the But the second object of our reaction we gradually observe our ex- marks is yet more important. Not pectationsrealized. But Buonaparte's only do we think the system of dispositions never authorize any con- Buonaparte too obvious and too clusion as to his final success; and coarse to claim the praise of very the imperfection of his positions, as high genius for the general who has well as the inferiority of his troops, trusted so constantly to it, but we is frequently conspicuous by the de- conceive that it also admits of being feat of his army during the greater easily counteracted. * Supposing part of the day, until at length the that an enemy not inferior, at least fortune is turned by that in which not very much inferior in numbers, his secret seems to consist, the ap- encountered Buonaparte with a line pearance, namely, of a numerous re condensed like his own, covered in serve, fresh and in order. But it may front by sharp-shooters, supported be asked, is thať not ability which se by numerous and powerful reserves, cures to itself the effect of bringing and capable, from its concentration, up the last reserve ? Undoubtedly it of suddenly executing general and is, but of a subordinate and somewhat combined movements, his ordinary vulgar nature. It is the

game

of scheme is entirely disconcerted, and chess player, who, conscious of supe- the two armies meet upon equal riority by a single piece, goes on ex terms. Now where this is the case, changing man for man, because he uniform experience shews, 1st, That knows that the lower he can reduce the bravery of the French, however

a

The Russian Staff-officer gives the grand secret in a few words:"Jái dit que la bataille d'Austerlitz avoit été pour Bonaparte le présuge de ses victoires futures, qu'il était le maitre Du GRAND SECRET. D'après ce que je viens de dire, et on ne peut contester que mes assertions ne reposent sur des faits nombreux, ce Grand Secret n'a pu en étre un que pour les généraux sans intelligence que les souverains du continent, ont constamment opposés à l'usurpateur. Qu'y a-t-il en effet de plus connu que l'emploi d'un corps de réserve, et de plus simple que l'usage qu'en font les Français ? Ils l'emportent par leurs mobilité, l'ensemble dans les mouvemens.... Généraux ! qui cherchent en vain la cause d'un tel avantage, ou feignez de ne pas l'apercevoir, supprimez vos bagages, ordonnez à vos génèraux subalternès d'étudier leurs manæuvres, de combatere a la tête de leurs divisions : aux capitaines de l'infanterie d'être à pied à la tête de leurs compagnies : changez l'orgunisation et la come position de vos élats-majors, et vous serez aussi les maîtres du Grand Secret."

1

ardent, is rather of a volatile and spi- ment of Sir Robert Wilson in his rited nature, than what we term stea. late publication, which he himself indiness and intrepidity; and, 2dly, that vites the reader to contrast with the where sufficient skill is united to partial and studiously confused bulthe latter qualities, they, like what is letins of Buonaparte, which form called bottom by the prize-fighters, part of his appendix. It may be secure superiority in a long action supposed strange, that the generals 3dly, The French general must be of a much more uncultivated people necessarily embarrassed and discon- should be able to imitate, and by certed by the neutralization of the imitating to foil, a system of tactich very plan on which he had rested for before which the generals of Austria conquest. For these combined rea. and Prussia had given way. But it sons, we conceive, that if deprived of should be remembered, that the Rarthe benefit of this favourite mancu- sians had conducted wars upon a very vre, the balance would probably in. broad scale, and though their opera. cline against the French : Nay, we tions were against barbarians, they are able to shew an example in mo were, perhaps for that very reason, dern war, where Buonaparte's own more certainly brought back to ge system was successfully employed neral principles, and freed from the against himself by the Russian Ge- prejudice of military men, who, ha. neral Benningsen, at the battles of ving only studied in one school, ex. Pultusk and Eylau. In sustaining pected their antagonist strictly to conthe French attack at Pultusk, the form to their own game and their Cossacks and other light troops of own rules for playing it. Let it be the Russians formed as it were an remembered, that it was a Russian outwork, or advanced battle, to their Emperor, who, by simply covering main-line, and not only completely his line-of-battle by a chain of closed overpowered the eclaireurs and ti redoubts, instead of the combined railleurs, who were thrown forward, fortified lines then in use, broke, at as usual, to protect and mask the ad. Pultowa, those Swedish infantry, vance of the French columns, but whom every general in Europe, nay, greatly embarrassed, interrupted, and Marlborough himself, regarded with crippled the columns themselves be- respect and apprehension. The fore they could reach the Russian French themselves were comparative position, properly so called. At ly undisciplined when they devised Eylau, the counterpart of the this very system of reserves, as af. French system was equally success- fording them the means of availing fully provided against and counter themselves of their numbers against acted by the Russians. Reserve af- the superior skill of their adversaries

. ter reserve was brought up by the We cannot forget the reproaches French, but at the close of a long cast upon Lord Wellington as a and desperate battle, the last reserve Seapoy General. Had he not brought into action was that of the learned his art upon a broad and exRussians. In both these battles, the tended plan, such as ludia alone has Russians had decidedly the advan- yet afforded to a British general, tage,

-a fact which might have re. where else could he have acquired the mained concealed from Europe, but art of providing for the necessities of for the clear, distinct, and able state. a large army, the principles of corne

bination necessary for conducting its could have known the fall of Bada. extended movements, in short, the jos when he broke up from Şanta. complicated branches of military rem, or that Soult anticipated the skill by which he is now driving be retreat of Massena when he himself fore him those hordes, whose gitat- fell back into Spain, instead of adest disgrace it is, that they canot vancing into Alemtejo, to make a shelter their abominable rapine and diversion, and afford support to the atrocity under the barbarous igno- enfant gaté whom Fortune was droprance of Seiks or. Mahrattas. ping out of her arms. But the ge

It may indeed be pleaded too just neral and inveterate eamity of the ly, that the acknowledged imperfec- peasantry entirely annihilated all tions in the Russian commissariat, the fair system of unity and constant the deficiencies oftheir staff, and, above correspondence, which in Germany all, the deplorable neglect of their the French armies maintained at any government to supply and reinforce given distance. Couriers, aids-detheir armies, deprived them of the camp, orderly men, and disguised spies, Fruits of victory ; while the active were alike the objects of suspicion to cnergy of Buonaparte drained his the Ordenanza, who, rather than whole acquisitions of every soldier, or miss securing their letters, would man who could be made such, to re- steadily rip up their bowels,-a sad sume the field with a force superior interruption to a regular and friendto that which had foiled and defeat. ly correspondence. And thus these ed him. These considerations, how. two great generals seem to have ever, do not respect our present sub- known little more of each other's mo. ject, which refers merely to the field of tions, than if they had been next battle, on which, we repeat, the Rus. door neighbours in London. The sians have neutralized Buonaparte's self-devoted patriotism, with which favourite manæuvre. It may be briefly the Portuguese destroyed every part noticed, that the inhabitants of the of their own property, which could peninsula, less fortunate in facing him afford supply or assistance to the inin the field, and who at Tudela experi- vading army, rendered the genius of enced discomfiture from the effects of the French for the commissariat de. that system which we have detailed, partment equally unavailing. Nay, have yet shewn, that when a gene. even les grands moyens themselves have ral battle is lost, the advantages of proved fruitless in a country, where the victory may be in a great degree Lord Wellington has declared, that intercepted. The inveterate and none, even of the lowest description, desperate hostility of the Spaniards forgot, through any compelled interand Portuguese, so widely diffused course with the French, the duty through the peasantry of the coun- which they owed to their country. try, has utterly destroyed the boast. We glance at these subjects, though ed

system of intercourse and com. distinct from that which we proposed munication, by which the march of to enlarge upon, merely to shew, one French column was made to that as the French system of tactics correspond with that of all who were in the field of battle is far from inacting in the same kingdom. Near fallible, so neither are the other as the events and positions were, it means which they employ in facilita. is almost impossible that Massena ting the operations of the campaign

« ZurückWeiter »