Command and Control, sometimes in modern parlance called Command, Control, and Communications or C-3 (cubed), consists of three main functions.
These are one, administration, that is supply, justice, and pay mainly, two, morale, that is seeing that the fighting forces are in good spirits, know what they are fighting for, and believe in both it and themselves, and lastly three, operational control, that is the direction of units on campaign and in battle.
This last is what those of us with war gaming backgrounds tend to focus on, as do in truth, most military historians.
A whole book could be written on the reasons for this focus but here we're just going to acknowledge it and move on after making one very important point. That point is that this focus only really makes sense in the modern world that originated in the mid-eighteenth century. Before that issues of morale first of all, and from the earliest times, were the most important ones. Later with the military revolution in early modern Europe and the growth in the size of armies questions of logistics came to be more important.
A modern focus on operations for any time prior to the mid-eighteenth century is anachronistic.
Command in the sense of directing units on campaign and in battle was minimal prior to the mid-eighteenth century and indeed in some aspects right up to the First World War. The reasons for this lie in limited technical means for communications in the area of operations and, in addition, significant logistical and social constraints.
Armies were limited in size and they maneuvered mostly in one solid block. The commander accompanied that block and most often combined both political and military authority. That is he was the King, or Emperor, or at least a powerful high ranking politician of some sort.
Martin van Creveld in his "Command In War" calls this the The Stone Age of Command and goes into some detail explaining why it was so.
To quote: "The fact that communications were slow and insecure explains why commanders were always relunctant to send out detachments (the term, remaining in usage until the middle of the nineteenth century speaks for itself): once detached they would become all but impossible to control". He places the effective range of communications at between 10 and 20 miles. Say 16 to 30 kilometers. Not much further than one could see from a high hill. It doesn't seem far but in fact armies were losing track of each other within 20 miles and just beyond up until the mid nineteenth century. Battle field control was even more constrained to just a few miles. The largest size an effective army could have was between 30,000 and 50,000 men. A larger size could provide for necessary detachments, but an army as a whole could not be controlled on the battlefield if it was larger.
The military revolution of the seventeenth and early eighteenth century exacerbated the problems. It made larger armies possible at the same time as it required them to spread out more for tactical reasons. Shock weapons like pikes and swords might reward concentration, but artillery and firearms favored more dispersed formations that both presented less of a target and allowed each individual soldier to fire effectively.
The first staffs were formed to help feed and organize these larger armies not to control them in battle. As van Creveld writes "the principal problem facing them for the greater part of a campaign was not how to fight the enemy but how to exist in the field. It was in order to deal with this problem that staffs and staff work were invented."
Battlefield control was rudimentary at the very best. Commanders could control deployment in a rough way and intervene at one or two critical points or times mostly to bolster morale or bring a critical reserve to bear but that was all. It was hard to force a decisive battle, because most often battles required mutual constant given how clumsy and time consuming it was to deploy for them. Hannibal's ambushes of whole armies remained the exception prior to the mid eighteenth century.
It was the Prussians in the 1740s that took the first steps to solve this issue.
The Prussian Army was good but still outnumbered. It needed more than mere tactical excellence.
Frederick needed to win decisive battles. Prussia could not sustain a long war of attrition. He had to achieve those decisive battles with forces usually only two thirds the size of those possessed by his opponents.
He solved the problem by leveraging the advantages of his commanding in person and the superior quality of his soldier's drill to more rapidly deploy his forces for battle than had hietherto been achieveable. Deploy them with some sort of advantage his enemies were too slow and clumsy to be able to counter, usually superior weight on one flank. His enemy shattered, or out of place at least, his outstanding cavalry would clinch victory for him. If all went well. It didn't always and his system failed to guarantee victory, but it resulted in it often enough that we call him Federick the Great and that Prussia moved from being a minor state to one of the Powers of Europe.
The French were Prussian allies in the War of Austrian Succession (1740-1748) in which Frederick stole the rich province of Silesia from Maria Thereasa's Austria. They were deeply impressed by the superior military performance of the Prussians.
If the War of Austrian Succession suggested the need for the French Military to reform, the disasterous outcome of the Seven Years War (1756-1763), particularily the French humilation in the battle of Rossbach, outright demanded it.
The French did not believe it was possible for their troops to be as well drilled and disciplined as the Prussians. Nor did they possess the same unity of command. These avenues to matching the speed with which the Prussians could deploy for battle being denied them they came up with an alternative method.
They decided that sub-dividing their armies for purposes of deployment would do the trick. The sub-divisions being smaller could each deploy faster. They could match the speed and flexibility of the monolithic but well drilled Prussian army.
Note that these divisions were not for control during battles per se, or for that part of campaigns leading up to a battle. They were for the sole purpose of speeding up deployment into the order of battle prior to the actual start of of an engagement.
The first experimental divisions came into being in the army of De Broglie in 1760 while the Seven Year's War was still in progress. They were to some extent the brainchild of Pierre Bourcet, De Broglie's chief of staff. He was to become one of France's leading military theorists and a major influence on the young Bonaparte.
Another officer who served in the French armies during the Seven Years War was Guibert.
Bourcet was well known within the French military but not so much outside of it. His influential "Principe de la Guerre de Montangne" was only circulated in manuscript form inside military circles and kept as a kind of state secret. Written in 1771 it wasn't printed until a hundred years afterwards.
Guibert's "Essai de tactique generale" published in 1772 in contrast won a public prize. In 1779 he published his "Defense du Systeme de Guerre Moderne". Guibert was also a respected member of French intellectual salon society. He became famous. His views had a wide following among civilian society as well as within the military.
Guibert proposed a division of the army that would be not "haphazard or temporary, but should be standaridized and permanent. Each division was to be commanded by a General and each was to be equal to the others. As the army moved each division would form a march column which marched on its own route. Beyond the greater mobility generated by marching in several columns, the system facilated a more rapid transition from the march order to a battle line."
In a sense Guibert was less advanced than Bourcet in regards to army sub-division. As LTC Wasson writes "Unlike Bourcet whose focus was campaign plans, Guibert was focused on plans of battle". Nevertheless he had many other suggestions for improving the French military advocating fluid and mobile non-attritional tactics. He also believed social and political reform was required for improved military performance. He caught the spirit of the times and did much to popularize the ideas of Bourcet and other French theorists as well as his own.
Guibert's ideas weren't adopted wholesale by the old regieme but incremental improvements were made throughout the 1770s and 1780s. These included improved small unit tactics and the organization and retention of a core of trained experienced staff officers after the American expedition. After the Revolution his ideas were the basis for the "Reglement of 1791" and for what formal organization the Revolutionary Armies had.
It remains a matter of ongoing debate to what extent Napoleon just implemented Guibert's ideas and to what extent he built upon them, but there is no doubt they had a significant influence. Not only directly on Napoleon but in preparing the ground for the innovations he made.
As a result of the efforts of Guibert and other French military reformers the Franch Army started the Revolutionary Wars divided into permanent brigades and divisions. They also had a small but significant number of staff officers and some idea of what to to do with them. Additionally the French enjoyed a superior system of artillery organization. Despite attrition among the officer corps and masses of untrained if enthusiastic new recruits, they also had a cadre of artillerymen and infantry trained in a new more flexible tactical system.
Well trained in both artillery tactics as well as versed in Guibert and Boucet's ideas Napoleon may not have innovated as such in his first command in Italy but he was at pains to use best current practise as much as he could. Among his first orders as the new chief of the Army of Italy were ones insisting that each commander have proper qualified staff officers appointed and that they should submit proper regular reports to his HQ. An HQ run by the talented Berthier, one of the staff officers retained from the forces that had fought in America.
The Army of Italy in 1796 was relatively small, less than 50,000 men, and the divisional system plus some ad hoc grouping of divisions for special tasks (advance guard, seige force, holding forces in the Tyrol or on the Adige) were sufficient to give a flexibility that leveraged Bonaparte's genius to ensure that his enemies were always reacting a day late and a dollar short.
Corps were first formally introduced in 1800 in the larger, therefore clumsier Army of Germany, then under the direct command of Moreau. It's not entirely clear if they contributed significantly to the outcome of that campaign. Moreau was not as inclined to bold maneuver as Napoleon was. His decisive win at Hohenlinden seems to have been as much as a result of the clumsy blundering of the Austrians as anything he did. The forces in Italy under Napoleon himself were smaller and in any event his conduct of operations there was sufficiently less than brilliant that he found it necessary to indulge in some preemptive historical revision.
The true origin of modern military organization appears to lie with the creation of the Grande Armee between 1802 and 1805 ostensibly for the purpose of invading England.
Not only did Napoleon divide his army of mostly veterans into proper divisions and eight all-arms Corps with standing standardized staffs he trained them together. By the time 1805 rolled around he had the finest army in Europe. One of the best ever seen and arguably the first modern army with a workable articulated Corps structure.
His hopes of using it to conquer England came to naught. Instead as the summer waned he turned his new instrument against Austria.
Napoleon's first use of the Grande Armee culminated in the Maneuver of Ulm. Mostly through superior speed and flexibility he destroyed Austria's main army with out the need (or cost) of actually fighting a decisive battle. That done he pursued the Austrian remnants east and at Austerlitz shattered both them and their Russian allies.
The next year it was Prussia's turn. The twin battles of Jena and Auerstadt shattered the fossilized army of Frederick the Great more throughly than even the Austrians and Russians at Austerlitz.
The years 1805 and 1806 were the highpoints of the victories made possible by matching Napoleon's new military organization against outdated monolithic armies in the eighteenth century (and before) mode.
The year 1807 saw Napoleon once again attempting to finish off a badly wounded foe. He marched east into Poland and East Prussia looking to force Prussia's final surrender. In doing so he moved into a country poorer and with worse transportation links than the German and Italian theatres he'd previously fought in. He also encountered the Russians.
The Russians, always tough, had learned something from their defeat in 1805. Their staff work was better, but most of all they'd organized their armies to have greater articulation. They didn't exactly copy the French Corps system but they did organize themselves into large all arms divisions. It made a difference.
Napoleon's victory at Eylau was at best pyrrhic. The Grande Armee would never completely recover from it. Nevertheless the Corps system did much to win a major French victory at the battle of Friedland. That battle forced both the Prussians and the Russians to the peace table. A humiliating peace was imposed on the Prussians. The Russians at least nominally granted Napoleon what he wanted and pretended to be allies.
The Grande Armee had not been defeated. It was still plausible that Napoleon was invincible on the battlefield. Still neither it nor Napoleon had had things all their own way.
The year 1808 saw the Grande Army disbanded. Half of its troops remained in Germany as the Army of the Rhine. The other half Napoleon used to invade Spain.
The Austrians saw this as an opportunity and mobilized to attack. By the time January 1809 had rolled around Napoleon was worried enough to leave Spain. Spain was defeated but it had not yet been subdued. A weeping wound of a guerrilla war had been opened.
The Spanish War highlighted the main difficulty presented by the Corps systems for the armies of the time. It required Corps commanders. Men with the wit and determination to command small independant armies but willing to subordinate themselves to a higher command. In the absence of Napoleon himself most of his Marshalls were not willing to follow some else's orders in a reliable manner. It was an ongoing issue in Spain. In Italy in 1809 Eugene did not want to use the Corps system for this exact reason. He did not trust any of Napoleon's Marshalls would be willing to obey his, Eugene's, orders.
Issues of pride and prestige aside Corps commanders could be a political problem. Moreau, Soult, Bernadotte, Yorck, and others all provide examples of this. That the allied command, the Russians and Austrian's in particular, spent so much time in politicking also illustrates the problem. It was hard enough finding competant, but socially prestigious and trustworthy Army commanders, finding a half dozen or more Corps commanders with similar qualifications too was an even tougher problem.
Just the same not just the Russians, but the Austrians and English too, saw the need for better articulated armies and moved to implement at least permanent brigades and divisions.
Against the advice of their best military commander, the Archduke Charles, the Austrians marched into Bavaria in April of 1809 with about a half dozen newly formed Corps.
They'd also improved their artillery, and made other reforms including the recruitment of Landwehr troops. These were part time troops recruited from patriotic members of the middle class. Against their strongest instincts the Hapsburgs found themselves fighting a nationalistic war.
As the Archduke had feared they were not yet ready for the war they'd started. The reforms especially the organizational ones had not yet had time to take hold. Their commanders and staffs were better organized but not yet used to their new tasks or working together.
They missed an initial chance to take advantage of French disorganization at the campaign's beginning and cut off and destroy Davout's Corps. They were pushed back beyond Vienna to the north of the Danube.
There in the battle of Aspern-Essling the Archduke handed Napoleon his first clear military setback as Emperor. Both the Archduke and his new Austrian army were showing themselves to be worthy foes. Napoleon could be stopped.
In the follow on battle of Wagram Napoleon forced a French victory, brutally and at high cost. Worse although the Austrian army was defeated it was not shattered. As Epstein emphasizes in his book the Corps system gave armies organized with it a resilency much greater than that of the old monolithic armies.
Austria made peace but much of Napoleon's old military mystique had been lost. The reactionaries of Europe began to hope they could rollback the unwelcome changes he seemed determined to protect.
The French war of 1812 against the Russians was likely not determined by organizational issues so much as logistical and political ones. Certainly, however, the fact that Napoleon's forces had grown beyond a size his organization could easily handle and that on the other side the Russians were flexible enough to mostly evade decisive battle while being resiliant enough to remain intact after the battles that did occur like Smolensk and Borodino wasn't unimportant.
It was, however, 1813 that showed the Allies had learned the lessons Napoleon had taught them. Their new articulated armies were much harder to bring to battle at good odds and even when beaten failed to disintegrate.
That Napoleon failed in the spring of 1813 to capitalize on his victories at Lutzen and Bautzen is usually blamed on his lack of any effective cavalry. No doubt this is a valid point. That the Prussian and Russian forces could be defeated in battle and not shatter, but rather retreat as cohesive forces also no doubt owes much to their new better articulated organization.
The forces that fought around Leipzig in the fall of 1813 were the largest Europe had ever seen. That they could maneuver effectively was a result of the organizational revolution that Napoleon's Grande Armee had epitomized in 1805 and 1806.
Without his former qualitative advantage Napoleon was unable to stand against the forces of all the rest of Europe. Neither were the French people enthusiastic to fight long hard wars of attrition.
However dramatic the events of 1814 and 1815 they merely ratified what the battles of 1813 had determined.
The French Army of Italy was organized into permanent brigades and divisions from the beginning. Additionally Bonaparte was willing to trust individuals like Massena, Serurier, Kilmaine, and Joubert with command over multiple divisions as de facto Corps commanders. In the meantime the Austrians relied upon rigid plans and parcelling out battalions to the individual commanders of "columns" on an ad hoc basis. Not so strangely the French forces were much more flexible and quick to act and French units proved much more cohesive and resilient in the face of set-backs. It made all the difference.
Given the flexible nature of the terminology used prior to 1800 it's hard to determine exactly when and with who the idea of the genuinely modern Army Corps originated. Such sub-divisions were written about as early as the 1750s by French theorists. The ideas aren't easy to distinguish from those regards divisions.
Lt Durham in his thesis on the subject writes that the "corps system had been previously established by France's National Assembly in 1794. In 1799, Napoleon consolidated his political power becoming First Consol of France. He began to combine his divisions into army corps, a combination of infantry, artillery, and a brigade of cavalry, plus detachments of engineeers, pontoniers (engineers that build pontoon bridges), and a staff (Horward, 1988)"
Still I would say that 1800 was the year in which a modern Corps system was first implemented. On March 1st Napoleon directed Moreau to divide his army into four combined arms Corps. At this point we see the modern system of battalions organized into regiments, themselves organized into brigades, the brigades making up divisions, and divisions formed into Corps fully implemented. Key is the point that these formations weren't simply ad hoc sub-divisions but rather, at least at the division and corps level, balanced combined arms forces capable of operating independently and with the staff resources to both do so efficiently and to properly co-ordinate with their peers and superior command elements.
It likely helped that the Corps system was one point of military theory Moreau and Napoleon agreed on. According to Durham "The system had been experimentally used by ... Moreau"
As mentioned above Moreau was not given to the bold strokes intended to bring on decisive battle that Napoleon was and so it's hard to be certain what contribution the new Corps system might have made to the eventual French victory. Certainly at Hohenlinden the various French Corps co-operated much more effectively than the Austrian columns did. The Corps system might have helped with that or it may have simply been that the Austrian columns were making their way along a limited road network in dense woods whereas Moreau had deployed most of his units on the defensive in more open terrain.
In the end we definitely have Corps being used, but we do not yet see them making a decisive difference.
Certainly Hohenlinden did not set off the soul searching and consequent reforms that Austerlitz later did.
The corps system might have been experimented with prior to 1800 and first properly implemented in that year, but it wasn't until 1805 when the new Grande Armee went into battle and revolutionized warfare with the victories of Ulm and Austerlitz.
The Grande Armee was the product of a Napoleon fully in power. He had the freedom, resources, and time to build his ideal army.
The Grande Armee was initially formed as the Army of England (a.k.a. the "Armee des Cotes de l'Ocean") deployed in six Corps that were deployed across Northern France from Brittany to the Lowlands.
To quote part of Elting's excellant summary: "The birth of the Grande Armee may be set at May 18, 1803, when England repudiated the Treaty of Amiens". As he goes on to write "In June 1803 the 'Armee des Cotes de l'Ocean' was activated along the English Channel in six big camps centered on (from west to east) Brest, Montreuil, Boulogne, St.Omer, Bruges, and Utrecht. The troops concentrated there were at first referred to collectively as the 'the Camp of Brest,' etc., and later as 'corps'; in 1805 they received numerical designations."
In August 1805 the best part of the "Armee des Cotes de l'Ocean" was used to create the "Grande Armee". The new army was deliberately not named geographically so as to give not hint as to where Napoleon planned to deploy it. An obfuscation that echoed the one he employed with the Army of the Reserve in 1800.
Elting writes "There were some 150,000 men moving according to Berthier's scheduling in six corps and the Cavalry Reserve: twenty divisions of infantry, thirteen of cavalry, the Imperial Guard, artillery, engineers, and trains. Behind it a greatly diminished Armee des Cotes (approximately 30,000 under Brune) remained to watch the Channel." (Note: Bernadotte's I Corps was essentially the repurposed Army of Hanover so in the end the Grande Armee had seven Corps as well as the Cavalry Reserve and Guard.)
Of its training and composition Elting writes "The Grande Armee of 1805 had had close to three years of training and discipline. Only one-third of its soldiers (including practically all of the officers and NCOs) were veterans of at least six years' service" ... "Possibly one soldier in thirty was a veteran of the Royal Army and retained its traditions of exact discipline and precision" ... "A larger proportion were from the volunteers of 1792-94" ... "The most numerous had been the conscripts called up in 1799-1800" ... "The rest were new soldiers, but thoroughly drilled and indoctrinated."
The Grande Armee had advantages besides its superior organization.
On the other hand there is little doubt that its superior organization leveraged the Grande Armee's other advantages, it's training, Napoleon's operational genius, and an experienced officer corps.
The Austrians were totally unprepared for this new model army. They stuck a large army of 50,000 men out on a limb in the upper Danube valley at Ulm. Napoleon's Corps swept around it and isolated it before his enemy managed to figure out what was happening. Cut off and surrounded by superior forces the 50,000 man army nominally commanded by the Archduke Ferdinand but actually by the "unfortunate Mack" surrendered without fighting a major battle. This on the 20th of October.
With his new corps system organization Napoleon could maneuver an army of 150,000 men faster and with more flexibility than the Austrian could one of 50,000.
Ulm was a major blow to the Austrians but adding their remaining forces to those of their arriving allies, the Russians, they could, at least on paper, more than match Napoleon's numbers.
There wasn't much between the French and Vienna except Meerfeldt's Corps with maybe 10,000 men. He had another maybe 4,000 with a brigade cut-off in Salzburg. To the south, however, the Archduke John in the Alps had 40,000 men and the Archduke Charles another 40,000 in Italy though John's troops were scattered and Charle's had Messena's army of 37,000 to deal with. To the north the Archduke Ferdinand had about 18,000 in Bohemia. Most significantly approaching from the east were two Russian armies, one of 40,000 under Kutusov and further back another under Buxhowden of 37,000.
Dispersed as they were these Allied forces could not stop Napoleon from taking Vienna. However, as he moved east Napoleon's lines of communication became stretched and the troops he he had under his direct command diminished as he made detachments to hold what he had taken and protect those lines.
Come the end of November the Allies had concentrated 86,000 men under the Tzar Alexander at Olmutz in Moravia. Facing them in the general area from Vienna to Brunn Napoleon had 100,000 men available but dispersed and some necessarily tied down holding Vienna itself.
The Allies perceived themselves to have a local superiority over Napoleon who with the Corps of Lannes, Soult and Bernadotte, plus the Guard and Murat's cavalry had about 70,000 men in the immediate area of Brunn. Unknown to them Davout's Corps with an additional 6,000 men was on its way.
In the event the battle of Austerlitz on December the 2nd proved a trap for the Allies. Their attacks were ill co-ordinated while the French counter attack was brilliantly timed. Davout arrived in time on their left flank to complete their destruction. Their losses were heavy and their surviving units demoralized and without cohesion.
The corps system had proven itself in battle.
Not only had corps proven they made an army more flexible to maneuver and easier to feed, they had shown they made it more effective. Made up of troops, staffs, and commanders who had trained together and including both artillery and infantry along with a certain useful amount of cavalry, they could easily hold off attacks by equal sized or larger forces, and were also more effective in the attack.
The Grande Armee had its second outing against an old fashioned foe the next year in 1806.
The proud successors of Frederick the Great did not feel they had much to learn from either the French or the Austrians. They had made some ineffectual stabs at improving their staff work.
They also, just after mobilizing, formally divided up their forces into large divisions of between six and thirteen men. They assigned these traditional roles like "Advance Guard", "Left Wing", "Right Wing", "Center" and "Reserve". They were old men not stupid ones. In the event although this system might have been better than ad hoc assemblages of battalions thrown together on the eve of battle it wasn't much better as the men and commanders of the new divisions never got the time to learn how to work together effectively.
As Goerlitz sums it up: "In August 1806, Prussia mobilized once more. The organization into divisions which had so long been advocated was now hurriedly carried into effect,; but the Quartermaster-General's staff had no real authority and the Army and divisional staffs lacked the skill born of experience."
The Prussians also suffered from a lack of unity command. The King was much younger than his generals who'd been mostly selected on the basis of seniority.
They started the campaign in a variety of dispersed armies moving slowly west mostly north of the Thrungian Forest (Wald). The main and largest force was commanded by the Duke of Brunswick with six divisions and maybe 70,000 men in an area about Gotha and Erfurt. Ruchel was out ahead of him west on the road to Frankfurt at Eisenach with maybe 20,000 men in three divisions. The numbers in the armies vary, the Prussian command apparently unable to break the eigthteenth century habit of haphazard detachments and troop transfers between major units. To the south and east of Brunswick an army under Hohenlohe with five divisions totaling somewhere around 40,000 men marched on a broad front through Saxony and towards the Thrungian Forest. Behind them all a force under Eugen of Wurttemburg formed the reserve with maybe 16,000 men.
Neither the Prussians nor the French had any real idea of where the other sides forces were.
The French as it happened were marching south of Brunswick through the Thrungian Forest. They'd started off on October 8th.
They were in three columns each of several Corps. The northern one on the French left consisted of the V Corps, Lannes commanding, with 22,000 men, behind it Augereau's VII Corps with 18,000 men followed. The center French column was lead by the I Corps under Bernadotte with 21,000 men. It was followed by Davout's III Corps of 28,000 men, the cavalry reserve under Murat with 20,000 sabres, and the Guard with 9,000 men. The southern most, right column, was lead by Soult's IV Corps with 28,000 men followed by Ney's VI Corps of 19,000 men and finally 14,000 Bavarians under Wrede.
Debouching from the Forest the French handily defeated a pair of division sized detachments from Hohenlohe's force. Prince Louis commanding one of these forces was killed which seems to have substantially increased the disconcertation the battles produced in the Prussian command.
It wasn't until the 12th of October that Napoleon realized he'd succeeded in flanking the Prussian main forces to his north and decided on a wide wheel in that direction to trap them. The Prussians realized their peril about the same time.
In the event in large part due to their superior corps system the French moved faster.
On the 13th Lannes reached Jena and reported contact with a Prussian force of twelve to fifteen thousand men north of the town, and reports of a further 20,000 to 25,000 men between Jena and Weimar. Napoleon rushed to check this report and decided he was facing the Prussian main force.
Napoleon ordered a concentration at Jena, of all Lanne's V Corps, the Guard, Soult's IV Corps, Ney and Murat, to arrive in roughly that order. Starting with a force of 25,000 men on the night of the 13th he expected to have 145,000 men at Jena ready to fight a decisive battle by four in the afternoon of the 14th. Davout and Bernadotte's Corps would move down from the north to block the Prussian retreat and hopefully flank them during the climatic battle.
Again it was the sort of maneuver only possible with a corps system controlled through a well organized and experienced staff.
As turned out Napoleon was not facing the main Prussian army under Brunswick. He was facing Hohenlohes army. He began his attack on the morning of the 14th. Before the day was out he had decisively beaten him and also seen off two thirds of the army under Ruchel who'd reinforced Hohenlohe from the west. That was the battle of Jena.
The other third of Ruchel's army, the cavalry under Blucher, had already passed by Jena and was in company with the main army under Brunswick attempting to retreat via Auerstadt. There they met Davout's III Corps.
There another advantage of the Corps system, the resilence of the individual corps, was demonstrated.
Although outnumbered at least two to one Davout not only managed to hold off the Prussian main army, he defeated them.
The Prussian command was ill co-ordinated, it's tactics outdated, and its strength was fed in over the day in a piecemeal fashion. Still even with all the Prussian faults and errors it was a fine achievement on the part of Davout and his Corps.
Davout's victory at Auerstadt not only broke the main Prussian army it blocked the line of retreat for the remnants of that army and those of the armies of Hohenlohe and Ruchel that Napoleon had beaten at Jena.
The Prussian Army had been shattered in a mere day. The pursuit was on.
Even the English as isolated and conservative as they were, with their best minds and most energetic commanders mostly serving in the Royal Navy, were not immune to the ideas of the French military theorists and the object lesson of Austerlitz.
Although notorious for their army remaining a mostly eighteenth century one the English were not blind. They saw the advantages of articulated army.
Generally they had smaller armies and therefore less need of it, but at Vimeiro in 1808 Wellesley's forces fought organized into brigades. Moore later that year at Mayorqa reorganized his forces into divisions with two or three brigades and attached artillery.
Wellington when he returned to the Peninsula organized his army into divisions made up of brigades. If he tended to micro-manage it was likely more that his government did not supply him the qualified staff and subordinate commanders he needed. In the end he seems to have built up much of the required structure through personal effort. Politically there were reasons to denigrate military professionalism but he appears to have recognized it's practical necessity.
In Austria too the pragmatic necessity of avoiding major defeats in battle overrode normal political imperatives.
The result was as Epstein writes "The military reforms of 1806-1809 bore fruit. Austria was able to mobilize an army greater than ever before." ... "To top off the modernization attempts an army corps system was implemented for the field forces on February 2, 1809. There would be nine line and two reserve corps. Each line corps had twenty-five to thirty battalions, sixteen squadrons, and 64-84 guns. Each corps was divided into three divisions, one of which would serve as an advance guard division. The advance guard division consisted of a brigade of cavalry, a brigade of light infantry, and two light artillery batteries. The other divisions would be divided into three infantry brigades, each brigade of two regiments. Each brigade had its own artillery battery as did the cavalry brigade." ... "There was a corps artillery reserve of two to three batteries. The average strength of corps ranged from 29,000 to 31,900."
The upshot being that: "Each corps was an effective combined arms unit capable of independent action. Although the corps staff were new and lacked the experience of their French counterparts, this was an improvement over the past, and it gave the Austrian army greater structural integrity and resilency."
In the event it was not enough to give the Austrians victory in 1809.
They came close to cutting off Davout's Corps early on in the campaign but failed to close the trap. The Archduke Charles stopped Napoleon at Aspern-Essling but was bludgeoned into defeat at Wagram. The Austrians had to sue for peace.
Napoleon was victorious again but he'd had to fight harder for it, he'd run more risks, and in the end only the costly application of brute force sufficed.
And with all that neither the Austrian state nor its army were shattered. Battered yes, completely broken no. The easy one sided victories that destroyed armies and humbled former great powers were done for.
The reformers in Prussian also preserved their King's state in a manner not entirely in accordance with his wishes. Many of them had quit his service while he was at peace with the French in order to fight the them as members of and consultants to the Russian military.
Much of the nationalistic fervor of the reformers propaganda and the reforms they instituted to make the Prussian more professional and therefore more middle class and less aristocratic were not entirely to the taste of the established order.
The previously existing Prussian officer corps was completely gutted at the higher levels. A mere handful of the hundreds of generals that existed in 1806 were retained.
The divisional system worked out earlier was retained, as the new staff system, but they were given real substance.
The Prussian army was drastically reduced in size, but much surreptious training took place under variety of mechanisms. Prussian officers refined their trade working as individuals for the Russinas, and as part of the Prussian contribution to the Grande Armee. When the time came in 1813, the Prussians supplied and financed by England, with enthusiastic voluteers who'd felt the humilation of French occupation, and last not least a cadre of officers experienced in the new way of making war were ready.
The Russians and Prussians of 1813 were able to advance to attack at Lutzen, survive defeat there intact, retreat cohesively fighting stubborn rear guard actions all the way back to Bautzen and remain intact yet again after yet another defeat there. Truly the new articulated Allied armies were much more resilient than the old monoliths. Napoleon finding his previous trick of expensively forcing a decisive defeat on clumsy, fragile eighteenth armies to have twice failed granted an armstice.
The armstice done with the Allies, with the addition of the Austrians, showed that their adoption of the corps system had given them the abilty to sustain and maneuver in the field armies of a greater size than ever seen before. They proved able to corner and crush Napoleon despite his ongoing superiority where ever he could be present in person.
Napoleon's personal genius couldn't offset the advantages of the institutional corps system that he had perfected.
The warfare that had been incessant between European states since the Dark Ages created an ongoing improvement in the conduct of war. At first in Middle Ages and Rennaisance by trial and error, by the 16th and 17th century by a conscious adoption of classical methods particularily those of the Romans, finally with the Enlightment attempts at scientific reform began.
These attempts were the strongest in France after its humilation in the Seven Years War (1756-1763) and prior to the Revolution (1789).
With the Revolution incremental reform became revolutionary.
The most significant of the military reforms was the development of an articulated army structure supported by proper staffs.
The Revolution also threw up a military genius in the form of Napoleon Bonaparte. In addition to his personal abilities as manifested on campaign and on the battlefield he extended and perfected the organizational reform of the French military.
He extended the articulation of the Revolutionary armies into brigades and divisions to a higher level of permanent unit, the corps. He refined and insisted on permanent and effective staffs at both the divisional and corps level. He built up a central general staff, albeit one very personal and heavily dependent on his personal genius. He made effective co-ordination possible by creating a system of fast effective communications, mostly by organizational means, regards post riders and couriers, but also by some technical innovations like the visual telegraph.
During the years 1805 and 1806 this new model of army achieved decisive battlefield results. For a few years at least the old order of Europe was completely changed.
In the end the old regieme only managed to overthrow Napoleon by adopting most of his innovations.
The system of army organization Napoleon pioneered is that we use to this day, and it has become so accepted, that it is difficult for modern minds to realize that it did not exist before the mid-eighteenth century.
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