I'm writing a research paper on Napoleon; on how his tactics make him the best military general of all time

There are many battles I could use that illustrate his tactical prowess, but I am not sure how I should structure them

Should I make each section of the paper on a specific section of the war and outline his tactical victories in each section? Or should I make each section a particular tactic and outline all his successes with that tactic.

I am leaning towards the former; but I don't know which of the coalitions (1st coalition, 2nd, etc) I should use; this is only a 1000 word paper


You will have a difficult time convincing me that Napoleon was the best battlefield technician of all time, when he was (at best!) only the third most expert French practitioner of that art during the Napoleonic Era; Davout and likely Desaix would head that list, and all of Soult, Lannes and Massena can at least be argued as more expert than Napoleon).

Similarly as a dynastic founder Napoleon's complete ineptitude at diplomacy place him a long ways down that list.

While Napoleon's construction and use of the Imperial Guard, and Artillery Reserve were masterful, most of French tactical doctrine and organization was already in place as the result of events leading up to Valmy. He would certainly have to place behind Alexander (or Philip if you prefer), Marius, and Temujin among architects of the military force they wielded.

As an innovator of tactics and strategies Napoleon is unexceptional, making use of the tools available in marginally more productive ways. Of his well published developments only the Battallione Carre is truly novel.

Where Napoleon did excel was as a charismatic leader of men. He was able to surround himself with an array of extremely talented subordinates who often despised, and would refuse to cooperate with, each other; bind them to himself with exceptional loyalty; and energize them to attain heights even they did not believe them selves capable of.

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    How does any of this answer the question? – yannis Feb 18 '14 at 12:46
  • @YannisRizos while I agree this doesn't answer the question, the question itself as it is written is simply OT. This at least should somehow help the OP, so I'm ok with it. – o0'. Feb 22 '14 at 20:21
  • Your 3rd paragraph is also missing Maurice of Nassau and Gustav Adolph of Sweden :) And replace Temujin with Subatai Bat'atur (sp?) :) – DVK Sep 5 '14 at 16:59

Tactics are hard to sort out, you should go a bit higher and look at the 'operational level' - the movements of the parts of the army. This will be easier to see and describe in a small paper. The campaigns of 1796 and 1797 are very good for him separating the other side into parts and taking them in turn. Then you could look at the 1805 sweep past Ulm and the 1806 drive around the Prussians before Jena/Auerstadt and the pursuit afterward.

Napoleon wanted the other side beaten before the final battle really started, rather than rely on some trick to win a close fight.

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