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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Napoleonic Era

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Napoleonic Era Discuss the many wars fought around the globe around the time of Napoleon. This forum is dedicated to the memory of Ben Weider and our late friend and long time ACG Staff member, Michael Brown, better known here as Post Captain.

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  #1  
Old 11 May 12, 18:04
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Question Austria or Prussia?

In the Napoleonic Wars, which had the best army - not leaders? The Austrians or the Prussians?
Was the Prussians cavalry better than the Austrian?
Was the Austrian artillery better than the Prussian?
Did this change after the reforms of 1809?



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  #2  
Old 11 May 12, 20:51
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Time to break out Christopher McNab's Armies of the Napoleonic Wars!

I'll get back to you.
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Old 11 May 12, 22:58
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First of all I am very much a amateur Historian, so you big guns be gentle with me or I will cry.

Tio me the Austrian Army has to be the better of the two, both in its Cavalry and Artilleryfurthermore I believe this difference was quite substantial by 1813.

Where the Prussian advantage lay was in its command and control area. Prussians post 1806 were forced to become innovators and to adapt to an entirely new set of circumstances; a situation that enabled the young up and comers to shine through.

I will now go cringe in fear.
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Old 12 May 12, 01:30
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Post

Prussia had fought at the start of the Rev wars but after that until 1806 had not. It was not until after Jena/Auderstatdt that the Prussians reformed but only then quietly as they were under military occupation.
Austria had been pretty much continous all the way through. The Austrian armies did not start reforming until after Austerlitz
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Old 13 May 12, 06:38
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Austrian cavalry and artillery was superior to that of Prussia throughout the entire period.

The Prussian cavalry lost the reputation it had gained during the Seven Years' War under such commanders as Seydlitz and Zieten at Jena and Auerstadt. The Imperial Austrian cavalry, though it had little tradition of acting in mass, was excellently trained and usually, at least on the battlefield, competently led. It performed excellently in 1809.

Artillery-wise, the Prussians had the worst artillery arm of the five main belligerents during the period, and the Bavarian and Wurttemberger artillery was much superior to it also.

Frederick had treated his savant arms (artillery and engineers) as red-headed step-children and the artillery especially never caught up, though it was state of the art in the 1740s and was the model the Austrians used to improve their artillery in the 1750s.

The first Prussian artillery school wasn't opened until 1791 and there was no unified Prussian artillery system until 1816, after the wars were concluded. They had invented the screw quoin, later adopted by both the Austrians and the Russians, in the 1740s but initiative and technological development were basically squashed by Frederick. They outnumbered the French in guns at both Jena and Auerstadt, but were outfought by the French artillery, both horse and foot.

The Austrian artillery was excellent in both material and personnel. They had no actual horse artillery, their cavalry batteries being a mobile artillery arm, but usually there was no special training or organization for them as with the artillery arms of the other four major powers. Further, instead of the cavalry batteries supported the mounted arm, it was the other way round, which was awkward. The Austrian artillery was superior to both the Prussian and Russian artillery arms, and under such commanders as Josef Smola performed excellently throughout the wars. Like the British, Russians, and Prussians, they had no written doctrine that dealt with issues above the company/batttery, and it appears that their battery commanders were somewhat older than would be expected, but they always performed well in the field.

The Austrian problems were at the command, staff, and organizational level. Austrian staff officers were excellent (and had been especially prized by Suvorov in 1799-1800), but the staffs themselves in organization and functioning were surpassed by the French model, which was somewhat adopted by the Prussians on Scharnhorst's urging. For the Prussians, their general staff was in an embryonic form by 1815.

The Prussians, urged by younger officers such as Scharnhorst, had begun reforms in the army prior to 1806. Some infantry battalions had been trained 'in the French manner' (such as the one Clausewitz was in at Auerstadt), but it took the disaster and shock of 1806 to stimulate large-scale change (as the disasters of the Seven Years' War had done to the Frech army). The Prussians never had, however, either a cavalry or artillery reserve at army level and until 1815 the Prussian army never served together independently. Blucher's Army of Silesia of 1813-1814 was made up of both Russians and Prussians.

Sincerely,
M
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Old 05 Jun 12, 22:13
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Austrians were better. They had their flaws but they was better then the Prussians, at least from a artillery/cavalry standpoint.
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Old 06 Jun 12, 00:43
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and let us not forget that unlike Kevin and Elting etc.
Still jealous EH Dave...
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Old 06 Jun 12, 03:14
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well, except N3, who was duly annihilated at Sedan in 1870.
The same that did so great in Italy against Austria (1859), and better than the British during the crimean war (1853-56)
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Old 06 Jun 12, 12:10
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Introducing or seeking to perpetuate mythology is about as pointless as spiteful posts attempting to obtain a reaction.
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Isn't this what U do regularly Dave like the postings on Amazon.com of recent...
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Old 06 Jun 12, 16:20
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Spiteful posts...someone is expert in that..methinks. Now to wait for the 'you must study the archives and have knowledge of German language, before you can study history'... bullcrap..Us empty vessels get bored with mediocrity quite easily...excuse the yawn..you master hollins must be used to it, if you gave lectures.

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Old 06 Jun 12, 17:57
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'Introducing or seeking to perpetuate mythology is about as pointless as spiteful posts attempting to obtain a reaction.'

So why don't you explain to us why you always do this? It is getting just a little old and quite dry...

Sincerely,
M
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Old 07 Jun 12, 23:48
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Originally Posted by DaveHollinsMBA View Post
I suspect you will find that neither was down to the staff system, but rather more to Austria's impoverishment and difficulty maintaining a standing army in the 19th century.
The tenacity and courage of the French foot soldier won the war of 1859 against Austria, always advancing against the entrenched Austrians and their murderous fire.
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Old 09 Jun 12, 07:15
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Prussia, it is just because...look at the Napoleonic Era books and read 'em from there you will see Prussia beats up Austria...
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Old 09 Jun 12, 09:39
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Which books?

Prussia was the most thoroughly defeated of any of France's enemies during the period 1792-1815.

Their army was almost totally destroyed in three weeks in 1806-the only units that escaped the collapse were those in East Prussia.

The state itself collapsed, having an almost apathetic citizenry.

The Austrian state was much more robust in opposition to Napoleon and fought against on more occasions than anyone else. Prussia was not finally successful in 1813-1814 until the Austrians came in on the allies side in August 1813. Prior to that the combined Prussian/Russian armies were defeated by the French and pushed back to the Oder.

Sincerely,
M
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Old 11 Jun 12, 10:02
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Originally Posted by WWIIWWIpilot View Post
Prussia, it is just because...look at the Napoleonic Era books and read 'em from there you will see Prussia beats up Austria...
Maybe in 1866..... But not in the Napoleonic era. At least Austria handed Napoleon a defeat in 1809 (not a decisive defeat but a loss nonetheless) and when they did lose at Wagram at least they took 30,000+ Frenchmen down with them and put up a hell of a fight. Prussia was decimated in 1806.
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