Sunday, April 29, 2018

The Napoleonic Wars, A Pictorial Post

Troopers of the 12th Dragoons Guarding the Emperor
Painting by Édouard Detaille
Not in the mood to write much. I'm in a bit of a dry spell I think. So I thought I'd share some of my favorite paintings with you.


British 15th Light Dragoons at Sahagún
Lasalle, Beau Sabreur
Young Bonaparte
Marshal Louis-Nicolas Davout
The Emperor's Finest Soldier
Louis Lepic, Colonel of the Grenadiers à Cheval of the Imperial Guard at Eylau
"Heads up! Those are bullets, not turds!"
The Polish Charge at Somosierra
Wellington at Waterloo, the Emperor's Last Battle
The paintings make it look pretty.

It was not, not even remotely.


  1. You must like Charge of the Scots Greys as much as I do, since it is up there twice!

    1. I didn't see that one twice. Though I did see the 4th Hussars at Friedland twice, which has been corrected.

      Perhaps your eyes are better than mine.

    2. They all look alike on a 4 inch Kindle screen!

  2. Though provoking post.

    Here's a bit of local history and a connection to soldiers in the paintings.

    My wife and I were visiting Bethlehem Pennsylvania and we walked through the cemetery of the Moravian Church in town.
    During our stroll we spotted a tombstone that said "Veteran of the Napoleonic Wars."
    I cannot remember the name so I hit the internet for some research.
    A bit of digging later I found a book that lists every occupant of the cemetery entitled, "Guide to the old Moravian Cemetery of Bethlehem, PA 1742-1897," and if you jump through enough electronic hoops you can search the book.
    I searched the book for any mention of the word "army" and found the cemetery holds the remains of at least four veterans of the Napoleonic Wars.

    Charles Matthew Kafka, 1770-1857, born at Dresden, Saxony, a shoe-
    maker by trade. He served in Napoleon's army, and took part in
    the battle of the Pyramids in Egypt and in the Russian campaign.
    After Napoleon's deposition he came to America and married the
    widow A.Rosina Neisser, m. n. Beckel.

    John Christoph Heine, 1794-1858, from -Untertriebe, near Plauen,
    Saxony. He served in the German Army against Napoleon, having
    joined the famous " Luetzow Corps,'' and fought in the battles of
    Leipzig and Waterloo. In 1829 he married Cath. Sophia Hess, and
    ten years later came to Bethlehem. He lost his life through an acci-
    dent in a sand pit.

    John Godfrey Herbst, 1793-1866, born at Meuselwitz, near Leipzig, Sax-
    ony ; served in the army against Napoleon I. Coming to America
    in 1819, he married the widow A. M. Thiele, m.n. Euters, and taught
    in various district schools.

    George Henry Woehler, 1790-1868, from Schaumburg-Lippe, Germany.
    Entering the army of Napoleon I at the age of 17, he fought in
    numerous battles, was taken prisoner by the British and compelled
    to take service in the English ai*my, until he was again captured by
    the French. After Napoleon's escape from Elba, he fought in the
    battle of Waterloo. He came to America in 18 17. His first wife,
    Sarah Ehret, died in 1833 at Hope, Ind. Returning to Bethlehem in
    1855, he was married to Aug. Bittrich.

    The men in your paintings were real people.

    1. I need a spell checker that will ask me, "John, do you mean thought instead of though?"

    2. Yes, they were very real and suffered much. There were many of the old French army who went to the Americas after the Bourbon restoration in 1815.

    3. Ya know, I didn't notice the "though" until you mentioned it. Amazing how the brain fills in the missing letters.

    4. "The Fighting Kentuckian" with John Wayne and Oliver Hardy (yes, that Hardy) touches upon what OldAFS said at 6:37AM.

      A bunch of not nice guys trying to take land away from a French General who basically took his whole command and their families to Alabama.

      Good flick.

    5. Watch the Duke, learn History. Ahh, the good old days.

      And, damn, Hardy sure could seat a horse. So much for 'fat guys are not athletic.'

    6. We "robust" types can be very athletic, just not in a pretty way.

  3. Sarge, for posts like these you've GOT to be registered as a National Treasure!

  4. Having once, long, long ago, in a galaxy far, far away, been a Marine grunt, I can identify with the lowly enlisted men. And I cannot help but wonder, how the heck did the keep all that kit in military order. Can you imagine having to march everywhere in lousy boots, wearing a wool uniform, with a twelve pound hat, a twenty pound weapon, your bed roll, and eating gear, and white clay, whatever the Brasso equivalent of the day was, and a unit of fire. They were remarkable soldiers.

  5. My favorite's the lady providing/selling refreshments. All the rest are good, but sort of of a muchness.

    Also, why is that guy loading his cannon BACKWARDS? I've never seen anyone put the ball in before the powder, or am I missing something?

    1. Nope, #2 is loading it backwards. Maybe that is what gun captain (?) is pointing and yelling about.

    2. The paintings make it look pretty.

      Nope. The paintings make it look more horrific than I thought it would be..............

    3. Good eye a bear. Missed that myself.

    4. Joe - and that's a Russian painter, you'd think a Russian would know about artillery.

    5. taminator013 - the uniforms are far too clean. But yeah, the horror of battle is conveyed by some of the better painters.

  6. Ok, everyone else covered what I was going to write. Especially about loading the cannon. A lot of nice paintings, but they don't show the gore that I've read about ( of course, if they did, few would want to look at them ). I'm very happy not to have been born into that era.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. You're right about not showing the gore. Of course, many of the artists were born after the period in question and many never saw a battlefield. If they had, they'd probably paint some other subject. Good observation Paul.

    2. Patrons don't pay for gore and dysentery. Patrons pay for 'heroic' art.

      That's why you rarely see any painting that show the infirmary with the big pot of onion or garlic soup and people sniffing gut wounds for the smell of said garlic or onions. Puts a whole new meaning to that nice bowl of French Onion Soup, doesn't it? (And, yes, I have pointed this out to people when we've been eating FOS. Tasty, and useful, FOS is. And I am an a$$hole....)

      Like that whole conversation on bayonets yesterday. Pretty to paint, but few today realize that those triangular needle bayonets created horrible wounds that were very hard to cure. Heck, bayonet wounds like that are hard for our current trauma centers, with all the fancy machines and tools and drugs, to fix.

    3. As usual, AW is correct; when I wrote " ...look at...", I didn't think to add ' buy '.


    4. Andrew makes some excellent points. (I did not know that about the soup, makes sense.)

    5. Paul, I never think to add "buy," then again, I'm a bit of a tightwad.

    6. Back in the Olde Tymes... pretty much up to to WWI, the smell of bowels would get the injured person a quick death, either by a sharp blade into the brain or, later, an overdose. Death by septic gut is a long, painful way to die.

      In fact, one of the greatest legacies of Napoleon's army is the Triage. Yes, that Triage. Wounded get sorted into three different groups and then get separated from each other. The severely treatable get operated or treated right away and then sent to a recovery area (usually uphill from the treatment area and upwind too.) The lightly wounded get treated after, or by their own mates, and are separated from the more severely wounded until cleared to go back to their units. The untreatable? Well, they were separated from everyone else by distance, usually behind a hill or any terrain feature that would block the view, preferably downwind of anyone else (the stench of impending death is almost as bad as one-day dead...) There, the untreatable would recover (to a greater or lesser extent) or die, slow and horribly, or quickly if he had friends that cared.

      We have much to thank the Napoleanic era for. Canned food, medical treatment. All built upon the suffering and death and lessons learned.

      Good things can come from horrible times. I just want to experience the good things without the horrible times.

    7. Too true, many advances have come about because of war.

      And I agree with that last bit, wholeheartedly!

  7. My observation (as set forth below) is really a question. We see a lot of dragoons depicted in these scenes at Waterloo and elsewhere and yes, the distinction between "light dragoons" and "heavy dragoons" deals with the size of the men and the size of the horses. But aren't dragoons technically mounted infantry? They are horse mobile, but are generally armed with fusils (fusil de chasse). I don't know of a painting in that Napoleonic Era that depicts dragoons dismounted, horses to the rear, with the troopers forming a skirmish line. Or am I missing something?

    There are paintings of dragoons charging on horseback, swords drawn. Which might have happened. But the sort of horseflesh relegated to dragoons was usually more of a "plow horse" standard than your prime Andalusian cavalry stallion. The horses provided transportation for the dragoons and they had swords or sabers (depending on the nationality and the formation), but charging required a different standard of mount.

    Digressing even further - it's your blog and I'm taking liberties. In the US Army, pre-Civil War, many of the mounted men were dragoons, and were identified as such. During the war, both sides identified their cavalry for scouting and raiding as traditional cavalry and I don't think that they used "dragoon" formations. Following the Civil War, cavalry formations ALL fought as dragoons in the Western Campaigns. But they were not called dragoons. At least these are my observations. And they may be trivial.

    1. During the Napoleonic Era dragoons were not really used much as a form of mounted infantry. One reason for the popularity of dragoons, at least at the government level, is that they were less expensive than the cuirassiers, carabiniers, horse grenadiers, and the many versions of hussars, chasseurs, and lancers.

      Dragoons were, at least early in the period, taught how to fight on foot. Two divisions of dismounted French dragoons set out on the Austerlitz campaign, not because they were intended to be used as infantry but due to a lack of horses. Once horses were acquired, they put on their riding boots and became cavalry once more.

      So yes, technically dragoons were "mounted infantry." Colonel John Elting in his superb book, Swords Around A Throne, tells a great story of a dragoon officer who taught his men that on horseback, no infantry could stand against them, and that on foot they should never fear cavalry. Confusing the younger ones no end.

      The concept of mounted infantry never really caught on in Europe, even in World War I European cavalry were meant for scouting and exploiting a breakthrough or for cutting up a routing enemy. The French still had cuirassiers who would have looked familiar to both Napoleons!

      Not trivial observations at all LL, but a very American view of things. I think our Civil War saw cavalry being used more intelligently, as dismounted infantry (think Buford at Gettysburg) than they were in World War I but nearly all of the European powers.

      When you wish to provide us with such excellent commentary, it's never "taking a liberty," it's warmly welcomed and stimulating to my old brain housing group. I learn a lot from my readers.

  8. Ok, so I know bupkiss about military stuff beyond the fact that war is hell and not a wonderful day picnicking in the park...

    Thank you for these paintings, I think they are pretty interesting. I did notice all the horses in all the pictures. So not only did the dragoons have to keep their kit in spiffy shape, I assume, they also had to keep their horses tack in spiffy shape. After a hard day swinging a sword and getting all bloody and covered in gore and such...definitely doesn't sound like a fun time.

    From the pictures, it would appear that war, or battle if you will, was once a very close and personal, intimate activity. I would think that at least in modern times, it would be much more de-personalized...more drones and tanks, fewer horses.
    Not sure if that is a good thing or not.

    PS. If a picture is worth a thousand words, you just posted 61,000 wonder you are feeling wore out. That is a small to medium size book!!!

    1. Not just the horse's tack have to be kept in shape but the horse itself. Watered, fed, brushed down, hooves checked, and all before the soldier saw to his own needs. From what I have read, the French cavalry were not noted for taking care of their horses as well as they should have.

    2. I know more about the War of 1861 (The Late Unpleasantness) than the Napoleonic wars (even though I did a little research when a friend was trying to get me interested in Napoleonic wargaming). In that war a federal battery, on paper was 6 guns. Each gun was pulled by a team of 6 horses. Also with each gun was a caisson, again pulled by 6 horses. So the bare minimum was 72 horses (could, and did, go down quite a bit, but being hypothetical here). Add in horses pulling supply wagons, the artificers wagon, maybe a few spare horses, and you can hit 100 pretty quickly. That's a lot of horse flesh to harness up, feed, water, groom, picket, clean up after - if you are encamped for any length of time that manure has to be dealt with - and so on.

    3. The valiant horse has been marching to war with humankind for thousands of years.

      Captain Mercer, commander of a battery of the Royal Horse Artillery, wrote of the suffering of the horses nearly as much as the gunners themselves.

    4. One of the things they never get in the movies is that it was very common to target the horses, especially those of the heavier 'full cavalry' - the lancers, the chaussers and so forth. Chain shot on the field was often specifically detailed as anti-cavalry ammo. Heck, the Byzantines had a specific two handed slashing glaive/spear with a hook on the tip specifically designed to lop legs off of horses and rip open the unarmored bellies of said horses.

      Light cavalry, and good trained heavy cav, was trained to 'ride a horse to ground'(which is just what it sounds like, you ride your mount until you can basically jump or step off over the head and keep going.) But a cav trooper is dead meat once separated from his mates, and the easiest way to do it was to separate him from his horse.

      The paintings rarely show the carnage that falls upon the animals. Neither do the histories. "All Quiet on the Western Front" talks about veteran, crack German troops crying as they are shooting injured horses, and the screams of said horses, running with things on the outside that should be on the inside.

      And, Joe Lovell, the John Wayne movie, "The Horse Soldiers", has the assigned doctor, played by William Holden, comment to the Duke's character that the flavor of the coffee would be better if they penned the horses downstream of the camp. Ewwwwww. Also, Byzantine armies, following the example of Roman armies, had specific 'crap yards' for horses and other animals separate from the living areas of the troops.

      I think the old US cavalry rules for a cavalry march were, "Ride an hour, walk an hour." Kept horses fresher, you didn't have to have as many remounts. And cavalry artillery units were supposed to have extra teams to allow them to keep up with the mounted troops (along with being issued lighter field guns.)

      A medieval knight, by the way, could have a heavy warhorse for the charge of battle, a medium warhorse for the chase, and 1-2 riding horses for the boring not-fighting but moving from one place to another thingy. Charger and Destrier describe the role of the horse.

      Weird info is my mad skilz...

    5. My pet peeve with most period films, all the riders being shot out of the saddle and nary a horse being scratched.

    6. Oh, my pet peeve is deeper and older than that. Hate seeing anything west of Mongolia based before about 600 AD using STIRRUPS. And wasn't wide-spread until really the 11th century. One of the reasons why Norman Cavalry starting around 950 AD was the wide-spread adherence to the stirrup and the introduction of the couched lance (lance held in crook of arm) which allowed concentration of force of the horse and rider onto the lance, rather than just poking overhand like a spear. The Bayeaux Tapestry, which shows the Norman Conquest of England, shows that even in 1066 (and a little later) both techniques were still being used. (The overhand is predominately a light cavalry method, still used as late as WWII by Italian and Polish troopers. Whereas the couched lance is the heavy cavalry/shock cavalry tactic and went out of fashion when heavy cavalry went out of fashion.)

      I am not a geek. I am an Uber-geek to the 10th degree.

      And don't even get me started on the lack of shield use in medieval movies. Grrrrrrr... Or stupid two-sword stuff in medieval movies..... GrrrRRrrrrRRRrrrrrrrr.....

      Love to freak out people when I tell them one of the reason Robert the Bruce's forces beat the English was the Scots had better armor, in the French pattern, more modern by about 50 years than that English crap...

      Mayhaps I just got another level added to the Uber-Geek.

      Sorry for the two deleted comments, had to try to fix my stupid mistake of leaving the word 'Stirrups' out of the whole subject of the rant.

      And then I did it again. Some days I surprise myself with my stupidity.

    7. I refer to that as passionate typing, the brain outraces the fingers, words get left out.

      Look around, what deleted comments? 😁

    8. Oh, man, what else are you editing...... (Paranoia seeps in like a fog in San Fransisco.)

    9. Nah, I have the power to remove deleted comments. And that's about all the power I have.


    10. Oh, just remembered something about European Armies (including England) up till, hmmm, WWI. Camp-followers.

      Oh, sure, camp followers could be prostitutes, and quite a few were. But add in the priests (and nuns, for Catholic units) and farriers and mule-skinners (a mule wrangler, not actually a skinner of mules), storekeepers (the concept of uniformed quartermasters has always been an off-and-on thing (the Spensers, noble Scots family, is descended from William I's dispenser during the Conquest). Add to all that lot some wifes and children, who could be relied to help with the camp, and sewing and cleaning and such. And pensioned ex-soldiers who could keep up with the formation, paid by a squad or a unit for cooking and other camp chores.

      Then there are the uniformed non-fighters. Like batmen (no, not Bruce Wayne, but an officer's personal servant) and squires and for cavalry units, horse boys.

      All of these non-troops are why attacking a camp or the train (the wagons and supplies and camp followers and tents and all the non-fighting portion of a unit) was always a great way to demoralize a unit, or to remove it's ability to fight. Think Shakespeare's "Henry V" when the French send cavalry around the battle to attack 'the boys' (squires, sons, foster-sons and such) of the English."

      So, lots and lots of non-soldiers around to work on all the soldierly kit. And that leads into...

    11. Ah yes, the camp followers. Some there legally, actually authorized by the commanders for laundry etc, and the official sutlers, cantinières (or vivandières, take your pick) etc. Napoléon tried to regularize things, he had a gimlet eye for waste and knew the details of his army down to the last button, but in typical French fashion, things tended to be haphazard. Except in Davout's corps, when it went into Russia it was very well supplied and regulated, had everything mandated by the Emperor's orders.

      Didn't help, soldiers still gobbled down three days rations at one sitting and tossed any unwanted bits of kit they tired of carrying. Unless Davout was watching of course, man was a stickler!

    12. Who pays for all this stuff?

      Well, ultimately, just like today, it was the people being taxed that paid for it, one way or another. But things were different back then. Lots different.

      A lot of units were formed by rich persons of the right social circle, or by special interest groups. The unit formers either elected, selected or chose the head officers, and it was the forming people and the Officer(s) responsibility to equip the troops. Sure, there were 'uniform' standards, like the troops must wear clothes and shoes and have weapons, but a lot of the time the quality, quantity and style of the equipment (even down to guns, armor, swords, in some respects (weapon standards usually were 'must meet at least this level of quality (which could be quite low in some armies))). So this explains much of the variety of uniforms and associated equipment (like hats - military hats used to tell a story - unit, rank, position) found amongst even the regimented legions of France, let alone England, and not including all the 'kingdoms' composed of many many individual principalities, dukedoms, baronies, free cities, merchant guilds... where even in one moderate town there could be 8 units with more than 8 different uniforms... Just look at the pretty pictures above to see the variety of equipage found. It drives 'purists' of the wargaming variety totally bonkers.

      Part of all that equipage was 'upkeep.' Troops got paid to keep their crap up, and got fined if they didn't. And a lot of the stuff, like guns, backpacks and such - the unit issue stuff - was kept in armories to keep them clean and away from the filthy troopers' grubby paws when equipment was not in use. So stuff stayed clean(ish) and ready for use and issue.

      The super-clean uniforms on the battlefield thingy? Ah, only maybe if the unit was fighting right outside its quarters. Again it is either Hollyweird or art patrons that want pristine uniforms on the battlefield. Good representations show all the stuff getting dirtier and dirtier the farther the unit is from home base. Great example is in the Clint Eastwood movie "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly," where the three main characters run across a cavalry unit that looks 'grey' and the characters all say supporting things of the Confederacy, only to discover to their dismay that the troops are Union when the officer slaps all the dust off his uniform. Flags, Standards and Pennons are what really told who was whom on the field of battle. Flying a 'false flag' wasn't unknown on the field, just like on the ocean. Or a unit could keep the colors 'cased,' which means rolled up around the staff and covered in a case (tube) of leather or oiled/waxed cloth. The colors were kept clean by keeping them cased, and also kept the unit from being positively identified until too late, one way or another (great way to be shot by your own side's cannon, by the way.)

      So, long story short - stuff was kept up in the field by the troops, by support personnel and by camp followers. In garrison, kept up by the same and often stored away from the dirty troops once cleaned. (So, no real difference between then and now in a lot of ways...)

    13. Don't forget to add to the wonderful list of camp followers the following: pawn shops, casinos, patent medicine men, entertainers (non-horizontal hulu type entertainers - carnival workers, bards (oh, no, BARDS!!!!) and everything else you would find in a small town, all totally mobile.

      A good idea of what went into an army's logistic train back when would be to look at... Circus Trains. All the roustabouts, performers, permanent workers, support staff, etc. Whole families working as a complex machine, and picking up temp workers wherever they went.

    14. Got to have bards. (Why, why do we need bards?!?! Ah, to sing the praises of the generals.)

  9. Other than the guy loading the gun with the round reversed (it just struck me - they might be getting ready to blow the gun to keep it from being captured, with a powder charge already in the tube), the painting that really caught my eye was the 15th (?)
    Look at those guys IN the gully and the gun about to go over them.

    As to the horror, there is plenty of blood and guts shown, usually not in the center, but around the edges, although this one puts it pretty much in your face - it looks like some of the bodies are being used as field works.

    The leadership in that war, hell, just about all wars up until the modern age of repeating rifles, is astounding. Maybe not in terms of effectiveness on the field, but inspiring the men to wade into the phalanxes (phalanges?), shield walls, pike squares, tercios, squares, trenches, etc. put their heads down and keep coming as their losses mounted to 10%, 20%, maybe 50% or more. Or, on the other side, to stand your ground when four or five times your number was heading towards you - or couching your pike or bayoneted musket to accept the cavalry charge that you have been watching coming at you for the last five minutes with the final 30 seconds or so at the gallop, the ground shaking under your feet from the drumming of the hooves.

    1. Yes, the men in the gully, using their bodies to fill the gap so that the guns can be brought up, glad you noticed that.

      Hhmm, maybe they are getting ready to blow up the gun with that reversed round.

      Your last paragraph speaks volumes, I can't imagine the guts it took to stand one's ground, let alone advance!

    2. The caisson rolling over them prepares them for the greater weight of the cannon to follow? Or else the wheels sink in to sagging chests and the damned gun gets stuck and they die for no good purpose, not even the lives of their brethren. Desperate times, indeed. Though life was worth less then than it is now -- nearly all of those men would've lost siblings to disease, and Death was a familiar.

      For leadership? It was definitely some leadership, but it was backed by an iron discipline unknown today. If they didn't fear their officers more than they feared the enemy, the leadership would've reckoned they were doing their job wrong. I don't entirely agree. A certain amount of discipline is needed, but hopefully not that of Mao or Stalin. Else, I would advocate immediate revolt.

    3. Uhh, I don't entirely disagree, I mean,

    4. Freudian slip? But yeah, you need discipline, but it can go too far. Especially back in the day.

  10. Most of us know at least something about what goes into training men to fight as soldiers--weapons and methods/tactics have changed throughout history but the need to teach men discipline and necessary skills hasn't. What I've always wondered was how cavalry horses were trained. It's one thing to train a man to use weapons and go into battle, but how do you condition a horse to go into a situation it would otherwise (quite "horse sensibly")avoid...?

    1. Ha! Got an answer for that. Look up "Spanish Riding School" and "Lippizaner Stallion" and you'll see. Lots of hard training to produce premier war horses.

      That really neat hop up on hind legs? Two reasons, one to suck a shot (delay from flash to shot) and other is to present the forehooves at head height to kick the living crap out of the foot-sloggers in front of it.

      A lot of training involved just familiarization to sound and smell. And unit tactics. It is a good thing that horses are herd animals, and the 'herd stallion' is the rider (or should be.)

    2. Jenk - Andrew has the answer. He's a useful guy isn't he?

    3. Now that I've finished cooking dinner (orange beef for her, beef and onions for me, on rice, yum) I shall elaborate a tad bit more.

      Training horses. Hmmm. A basic saddle-trained horse can be got in the span of a few hours (for hard-broke, think all those westerns where the cowboy is on a bucking bronco) to a week or more for soft-broke (getting the horse used to the feel of the saddle blanket, then the saddle, then added weights, then smaller humans (see above info on horse-boys) and then full sized humans.) Add a few weeks of a cavalry troop receiving fresh horses and then practicing 6-8 hours a day with them, and the horses would be ready for the basics of war - marching, charging, unit movement. Any time after that would just add layers of experience to the horses. It was up to individual troopers to train any special 'tricks' like coming when called or staying in place, or even 'freezing'(standing totally still, which turns a horse into an observation tower or sniper nest.) And the more a horse stays with a unit the more it sees the cavalry troop as 'the herd' to the point where one unit's horses would form a sub-herd amongst other sub-herds in a larger super-herd of the over-unit (company, regiment, army etc). All this creates a horse of war.

      As to a 'war horse' which is specifically a horse trained to fight, that is a different matter. As I said before, look up the "Spanish Riding School" and all the other great riding schools that have been around since before WWII, or schools based on the heritage of schools from before WWI, especially. These schools turn a horse trained to 'war' and the military way of doing things, into a battle machine.

      Usually, schools would start with colts or yearlings, touching them, getting them used to working with a group. Then, at the point the joints are formed and the horse has grown up (usually after 3 years old, there's a reason Derby horses don't race much past 4-5 years old, it kills their still forming joints) the training advances to saddle and specific movements, such as that prancing-thing where they kick the front hooves out while walking forward (kicking at oh, say, troops in its way) or the move where the horse kicks rearward on command, or bites, or... well, you get the point. Training could take up to the age of 10 years on the horse for a totally trained horse. And then the rider would have to go to the same school for at least familiarity, which could take up to 2 years for a really well-trained cav trooper. Which is why all the great riding schools are MILITARY RIDING SCHOOLS!!!!

      As a sidenote, I was at one 'medieval dinner' acting like a Franco-Norman noble, and someone from the group asked whether they preferred horses shod or unshod. My answer was, of course, correct. "Shod, the better to stomp through the peasants on my way to a real fight." Besides keeping the horse's hooves from splitting from rough ground, it also turned the hoof from a reasonably deadly weapon to a sure killer if used correctly.

      Anyone relatively capable can train a horse for war. Only specialists can train a war horse.

    4. And the response from the Anglo-Irish knight was, "That's why you frogs go through so many peasants, boyo."

    5. One small addition: a horse can bite most of a man's face off. And, yes, it has happened. Personally, even if that was survivable back then, unless I had the finest wife in the world (which I do, actually), I would probably suicide. Maiming is more to be feared than simple death, and I am in agreement with that sentiment.

    6. War horses were taught to bite not-metal parts.

      I've seen a quarter horse pick up a stable boy by the shoulder, playfully. The stable boy didn't think it was so playful. Fortunately only bruising of body and pride occurred.

      Another uncounted part of the casualty count. How may decided not to live? Even with the strong anti-suicide policies of Christianity, how many drank themselves to death, or didn't take care of themselves, or just got to the point where they lost the will to live? And how many died because their family members warehoused them in some sort of Invalid Hospital?

      Sometimes it seems that the modern problems we have with our treatment of vets isn't so modern after all.

  11. Hey Old AFSarge;

    Excellent pictures, and the Napoleonic age is "drawn" for gallantry, noble spirit and many other things, but Napoleon was imitated because he was such a creative genius that the European and Americans practiced the same tactics, and this harmed the British in the Crimean campaign, as did the American civil war, they used Napoleonic linear tactics when the weapons were far deadlier and this trend continued through the Boer War and into the War to end all wars.

    1. Part of the problem was command and control. Commanders wanted to keep the troops in range of their voices in order to control things. Communications technology was behind weapons technology perhaps.

  12. Every day just shows how right I am about our Andrew(s).


    1. I have a wealth of minute information that when combined together makes way too much sense, or not, as the case may be. A little here, a little there, smidge of this, smattering of that, and, poof, Insta-Pundit. Or as Mrs. Andrew likes to say, "Mr. Wizard," usually in a snide and condescending tone as I over-pontificate about something that needed no pontificating about. (One of the reasons I truly love Mrs. Andrew is her mind works somewhat the same way, with a font of widespread knowledge that is splendid to behold.)

    2. Heh, Mr. Wizard, good callsign.

  13. Question: "What does Painting #4 depict?" My first thought was the Battle of Eylau, but that doesn't look quite right. Google is no help whatsoever as every reference seems to be to the Austro-Prussian War of 1866, which this is certainly not. I don't think it's Austro-Prussian at all, but it's certainly no later than Napoleonic. Perhaps War of the Austrian Succession?

    1. It's an incident on the retreat from Russia I believe. But it's definitely Napoleonic, the French standard on the right of the painting gives it away. (Yes, there was a Russian grenadier outfit that wore the old style grenadier caps, can't remember off hand which one and I am unable to look that up at the moment.)

  14. Battle of Eylau, at least if the innernet is to be believed. The second day, just prior to Murat's cavalry charge, Russian grenadiers fighting the French center. I think the big church is supposed to be a clue, based on some of the other paintings of the battle.

    (The Pavlovsk Grenadiers got to keep their miter caps longer, apparently.)

    1. Has to be! Thanks a bear!

      (And yes Pavlovsk Grenadiers and their old fashioned headgear. They kept those until the end of the period. The Tsar mandated that they were to keep the old fashioned headgear to honor their performance at Friedland.)

    2. That's funny, because Eylau was my first thought, but I'd never seen the church depicted from that angle. I did the "Search Google for Image" in Chrome and I found a lot sites that think it was 1866, which is laughable since that wasn't a winter campaign (aside from the uniforms). Those miter caps had me thinking it might be earlier than Napoleonic. Thanks bear!

    3. That's what threw me too, the church.

  15. Hi AFSarge, you are missing The execution of Marshall Ney by Gerome. You might like to add it in. It shows another side of the Napoleonics. I stayed in his old and now somewhat decrepit chateau last year, south of Chartres.

    1. Not missing it Stewart, just didn't include it. I've had these paintings in a folder for a few years now, just decided to share them recently.

      I am familiar with the painting you speak of. I actually served briefly with a kid who was a great-grand nephew of the marshal. Same last name, even looked a little like Le Rougeaud.

    2. Good stuff. I think it portrays the miserable side of being on the wrong side of a fight superbly. Keep up the fine work Sarge.

    3. Yes it does. A lot of emotion in that painting.

      Thanks Stewart.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)