Napoleon's Opponents
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I was asked to write this geeklist after I did two such lists on Napoleon's commanders. I hope this lives up to its predecessors.

I included some of the political figures of the era, although it focuses mainly upon the generals. Furthermore only one admiral is included. If it was a list on the French Revolutionary Wars many more naval commanders would have made such a list.
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1. Board Game: Austerlitz: The Battle of Three Emperors, 2 December 1805 [Average Rating:6.22 Overall Rank:7261]
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Alexander I

Few men ever had a more complex childhood than the son of Tsar Paul I. Alexander was torn between his devotion to his father and the charms of his grandmother, Catherine II. He learned both how to hide his emotions and manipulate others, buttressing each with nearly flawless manners. Catherine adored him, and tried to remove the erratic Paul from the succession. His father meanwhile tried to bring the nobles under control, favoring liberal reforms and a pro-French foreign policy. For these "sins" he was murdered and Alexander found himself on the throne. Like many young aristocrats of the era Alexander was an admirer of Rousseau, and he surrounded himself with reformers. Yet he was also realistic, and his measures were more restrained than his father's efforts. Foreign policy also shifted. Although at first willing to help Napoleon, his tutor Frédéric La Harpe convinced him that Napoleon was a tyrant. The execution of Louis, Duke of Enghien angered him. He supported the war party in Austria and was arguably the author of the War of the Third Coalition.

In 1805 Alexander hungered for military glory, and he accompanied the army sent to Austria, deciding strategy and leaving tactics and maneuvers to Kutuzov. He decided to bring on a battle at Austerlitz, being fooled into thinking Napoleon was weak. Kutuzov opposed it, and although the defeat taught Alexander he was no soldier, he never forgave Kutuzov. He also began to doubt his circle of liberal friends, who had in part goaded him into Austerlitz. When Prussia joined the fray in 1806, he declared war on France, which ended in defeat at Friedland in 1807. Now Alexander chose to become allied to Napoleon, who earnestly sought his friendship. With Bonaparte's blessing, Russia seized Finland in 1808 and much of Galicia in 1809. However, by 1810 the alliance had come apart. The Russian nobles despised Napoleon and the Continental System was damaging the economy. Alexander prevented Napoleon from marrying his sister, the beautiful Anna. In 1811 Alexander sought war with France, but the army was ill prepared and the generals bickered. Although Russia repelled Napoleon in 1812, in no small part because Alexander held firm, he knew his commanders had not performed well. He accompanied the army in 1813, egging his men forward. By the time the war was over Alexander had made Russia the premiere power in Europe. He tempered fears of overweening ambition with his support for alliances between nations. Meanwhile, he became a reactionary, falling under the spell of Metternich. Like Edmund Burke reborn, he championed order over liberty, and became deeply religious and suspicious. He died suddenly in 1825, leading to a moment of paranoia and causing a brief crisis in Russia that culminated in the Decembrist revolt.

An an era of vibrant personalities, Alexander I might be the most eccentric. Opinions on him varied wildly because in truth he had no central personality. He changed with the winds and clung to ideals in the hope of finding a personal anchor that never really existed. His legacy lies in his shift away from liberalism and the assertion of Russia into the center of European politics. His heirs would generally uphold both principles until the cataclysm of the First World War, when both policies destroyed the Tsars.

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2. Board Game: Rivoli 1797 [Average Rating:8.22 Overall Rank:4280]
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József Alvinczi

He was a Hungarian noble who hailed from Transylvania. By the age of 18 Alvinczi was a captain leading a grenadier company in the Seven Years' War. He had a reputation for courage and won promotion to major after his actions at Torgau. Seen as a bright young prospect, he was a favorite of Count Franz von Lacy, who was reforming the Austrian military. In the relatively bloodless War of the Bavarian Succession he took Habelschwerdt, a feat that won him the rank of general. He tutored the young Francis II, fought the Turks, and helped suppress a rebellion in Belgium.

For the War of the First Coalition, Alvinczi was named a division commander. At Neerwinden he led an attack that turned the tide of battle. Wounded in 1794, he briefly led the Army of the Upper Rhine before being assigned to strategic planning in Vienna. Seen as one of Austria's best generals, he was charged with retaking Italy and saving Mantua from Napoleon. Although his army of 50,000 was bigger than Napoleon's his commanders and men were mostly untried. Still, he gamely took Napoleon head on, defeating Massena at Bassano and then repulsing Napoleon's attack at Caldiero, which marked Napoleon's first battlefield defeat. These victories would have been greater if Alvinczi had not divided his forces and conducted so many secondary operations. At Arcola he was defeated, in part because of his uncharacteristic timidity and the dispersal of his forces. Although his health was failing, he rallied his troops and tried again at Rivoli. At first he carried the day, but he mistook the French retreat for a rout. Urging his men onward, they were shattered by a combined arms attack of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. It was among Napoleon's greatest battlefield victories. Alvinczi, disgraced and sickly, spent the rest of the war garrisoning Hungary, where he died in 1808 with the rank of field marshal.

The defeat of Alvinczi represented the end of an older style of warfare, for by eighteenth century standards, Alvinczi was good. Although he dispersed his men too much, he was adept at organization, could march hard, and was fairly aggressive and brave. The trouble was he was sickly and fighting one of history's greatest commanders, a man who fought with more energy and imagination than Alvinczi could muster.

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3. Board Game: Clash of the Eagles: Borodino & Friedland [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:6364]
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Pyotr Bagration

He was that rare thing Russia: a prominent Georgian. He selected a military career and soon proved to be a natural warrior, gaining fame for his actions against the Turks and Poles. Although slight in stature, he was a hard-fighter and a favorite of Alexander Suvorov. Dashing and of good-humor, he took soldiering seriously. His men loved him for his courage and called him "the eagle." The Russian nobility saw him as the best hope for a nation hungry for glory. His personal life though was a mess. Paul I had forced him to marry Catherine Skavronskaya, who though beautiful, was shamelessly unfaithful and racked up large debts. This was made worse by Bagration's gambling and tendency towards debauchery. He later fell in love with Alexander I's sister, Catherine, but marriage was forbidden.

Bagration led a corps in 1805. He won a small battle at Schöngrabern and at Austerlitz he fought superbly. However, Miloradovich gained more fame from the struggle. This caused a life-long enmity, in part because Bagration saw Miloradovich as a silly man. Bagration won further fame at Eylau and Heilsberg, although he was partially to blame for the defeat at Friedland. Still, he was a hero. Among the Russian populace he was called "The God of the Army" and Napoleon, who thought most Russian generals were fools, respected him. He gained further laurels against the Swedes and Turks, then led an army in 1812. Pugnacious by nature, he despised Barclay's retreat policy and forced a battle at Smolensk. At Borodino he was mortally wounded. Before dying he reconciled with Barclay. Honored as a hero of Russia, the Nazis blew up his grave and ransacked a museum devoted to his life. Joseph Stalin, an admirer, had Operation Bagration, the Soviet Union's greatest victory, named after him. In 2000, the bridge celebrating 850th anniversary of Moscow was named Bagration.

In many ways the worship of Bagration is a overstatement. While brave and capable his only time in independent command does not reflect well on him, although that is partially due to disputes with Barclay. Still, he ranks as one of the elite corps commanders of the era, on par with Lannes, Hill, and Yorck. It also helps that in a romantic age he fit the stereotypes of the era: charming, brash, brave, lustful, and heroic with a dash of fatalism.

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4. Board Game: Eagles Of The Empire: Preussisch-Eylau [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:4314]
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Levin von Bennigsen

Bennigsen came from a Hanoverian family of military minded nobles. He fought for Hanover in the Seven Years' War, but chose Russian service afterwords, fighting the Turks and the Poles. He became a favorite of Platon Zubov, who had him promoted and awarded lands and medals. When Paul I came to the throne he demoted Bennigsen, who now helped to plan the Tsar's murder. Although the coup was successful, Bennigsen was no longer trusted, and although employed in administrative duties, he was kept out of command field command in 1805. Nevertheless, he had a reputation for hard marching and fighting, and he took the military art seriously. If his rivals failed then Alexander I would turn to him.

After the disaster at Austerlitz, Alexander decided to try Bennigsen. In 1806 Mikhail Kamensky was ordered to coordinate two Russian armies, one of which was led by Bennigsen. On Boxing Day 1806 Bennigsen disobeyed orders and sought battle at Pułtusk, which he lost. Bennigsen blamed his fellow officers, sowing discord. Alexander I though was impressed by his pugnacity and made him overall commander. Bennigsen launched a daring winter offensive, which culminated in the bloody Battle of Eylau. Although a defeat, French losses were so high that hopes in Europe were raised. Still, Bennigsen's army was worn out and not until June could he again fight, although by then morale had dropped and his officers had lost faith in him. Once again, his maneuvers were superb, but his tactical skill was lacking. His victories at Guttstadt-Deppen and Heilsberg were Pyrrhic. At Friedland he was overly aggressive, and found himself caught out of position and all but routed from the field. It was a disgraceful defeat, and even the vaunted Russian Guards fled the field. His defeat forced Alexander I to make peace and Bennigsen was now out of favor. He returned in 1812 to serve as Kutuzov's chief of staff, but once again he quarreled and despite winning a victory at Tarutino, he was forced out of high command. He returned in 1813 and led the Russian reserves, playing a decisive role at Leipzig. He then besieged Hamburg. He retired afterwords and died blind but wealthy in Hanover. His son was subsequently prominent in Hanoverian affairs.

Bennigsen is a baffling man. Overly aggressive, his operational maneuvers gave Napoleon fits. His tactical dispositions though were poor, and arguably he was only saved at Eylau by the snow. Worst of all Bennigsen was both an intriguer and a man who loved to argue, which made matters worse in a Russian army notorious for bickering. In short he was talented and deeply flawed, and therefore quite human.

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5. Board Game: La Bataille de Leipzig [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked]
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Gebhard Leberecht von Blücher

Blücher came from an old family that traced its military roots back to the 1200s. As a young hussar, he fought with Sweden against the Prussians in the Seven Years' War, only to defect after being captured. A fiery and impulsive character known for drinking, wenching, and gambling, he was often a subject of controversy. Despised by Frederick II, he was out of the Prussian Army from 1773-1787. He returned to help suppress the 1787 Dutch Revolution and fought against the French from 1793-94. By 1801 he was a general and widely recognized as Prussia's finest cavalry commander. He was also a vocal supporter of declaring war against France.

Blücher led an elite cavalry unit in 1806. At Auerstedt he ordered many foolish charges that destroyed his command. He led the rearguard and narrowly avoided capture at Prenzlau, only to be smashed by Murat at Lübeck. He surrendered soon after, a humiliation that made him a rabid Francophobe. He led the war party after 1806, supported military reforms, and tried to get Prussia to join the coalition in 1809 and 1812. Banished from court, he only received command when war came in 1813. Although bested by Napoleon at Bautzen, he managed to inflict a stinging defeat at Katzbach. When his allies vacillated, Blücher had them press onto Leipzig, where he fought like a lion. However, he marched too hard into France in 1814, and his forces were chewed up by Napoleon during the famous "Six Days Campaign." Still, he tirelessly pressed his men forward, although he seems to have been unpopular with the allied generals, in part because he encouraged looting throughout France. He also wanted to destroy parts of Paris and personally murder Napoleon. In 1815 he was again beaten by Napoleon, this time at Ligny, but he avoided destruction and dealt the critical blow at Waterloo and pursued the French, fighting and winning the last battle of the Napoleonic Wars at Issy. By now he was 72 years old, and he died a gambling man, honored by his nation.

Blücher was not a great general. He was impetuous and often lost control of the battle and himself. His understanding of terrain was poor and his personal dispositions in battle got him into trouble numerous times. Although loved by his men, he could also be cruel, and had no problem personally beating a fleeing soldier. His greatest strength though was his energy and his ability to acknowledge his limitations. He understood that he was not a great intellect and he recognized talent when he saw it. Blücher provided the gusto while supporting brilliant staff officers, such as Gneisenau and Müffling, who reformed the army and contributed the brains needed for high command operations. Still, he rightfully remains a hero of German nationalism and myth. The expression "rangehen wie Blücher" ("attack it like Blücher") is apparently still used today.

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6. Board Game: Auerstaedt 1806 [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
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Charles Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick

Brunswick came from a prominent German family. He won fame in the Seven Years' War, first in the defeat at Hastenback, and then under his uncle, the able Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick. A supporter of Enlightenment ideals, he traveled Europe, conversed with learned men, and enacted reforms in his native land. He made his native Brunswick an ally of Prussia. Highly thought of by Frederick II, he was chosen to lead the Prussian Army in 1792. Although his initial invasion was a success, the harsh Brunswick Manifesto helped rally France, and at Valmy he was forced to turn back. Although he managed to retake Mainz in 1793 he resigned in disgust over the machinations of Frederick William II and disputes with the Austrians.

Brunswick supported war with France, heading the war party. In 1806 he was given command of the Prussian army. Nevertheless, the Prussian command was racked by bickering. The army's organization was a mess, and represented the need to placate all factions rather than any sound organization. Although it would have been smarter to await Russian reinforcements, Brunswick, contemptuous of the French, supported a more aggressive maneuver. Hohenlohe, the second in command, hated Brunswick and opposed his aggressive plans. In the end Brunswick's plans were accepted, but Hohenlohe's complaints also insured that an offensive would be made while simultaneously a defensive position was taken at Ertfurt. After much debate and the advance south to the Rhine was slowly made. Napoleon out-maneuvered the Prussians and caught Brunswick as he was retreating. While Napoleon was destroying Hohenlohe's rearguard at Jena Brunswick's men found the retreat path blocked at Auerstaedt. Brunswick ordered a full attack, but was soon shot in the head and became blind. The battle fell apart and his army was routed from the field. Brunswick lingered in extreme pain, finally dying almost a month after Auerstaedt. To give him some glory, a lie was told that Brunswick died leading his men in a charge.

Like most of the aspiring young officers of the Seven Years' War, Brunswick failed in the French Revolution. Some of it was age, and also the transformation of warfare. It is strange that a man who helped to pioneer light infantry tactics in 1758 failed to upgrade them in 1792 or worst of all in 1806. With Brunswick died an old way of both war and command. The future held only ever more bitter conflicts, reactionary governments, and bloody passions. It was not the kind of world that the younger Brunswick would have enjoyed.

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7. Board Game: Bailen [Average Rating:7.39 Unranked]
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Francisco Javier Castaños

Castaños hailed from Biscay and had roots with the Basque, which made him unpopular at the court in Madrid. His patron was Alejandro O'Reilly, an Irishman in Spanish service who had saved the life of Charles III, reformed the Spanish military, and put down a revolt in Louisiana. Castaños saw action against the French in 1794 and opposed the Treaty of Basel.

Out of favor until 1808, he raised a small army in Andalusia and openly opposed the French occupation. At Baylen he captured a corps commanded by the capable Pierre Dupont, until then one Napoleon's rising stars. The results stunned Europe, leading to a rebellion across Spain and Britain's pledge to send troops to Portugal while convincing both Austria and Russia that France could be beaten. However, the victory also came at a cost. Napoleon arrived with the bulk of his army and overran Spain, while the victory convinced the Spaniards that they did not need to reform their military and that the best way to deal with the French was to attack. As a result, Spanish victories were few after Baylen, and Castaños was himself roundly thrashed by Jean Lannes at Tudela. Wellington saw the victory as causing more harm than good, although he viewed Castaños as Spain's best commander. Although sickness and court intrigue often sidelined him, he managed to fight with the British at Albuera. He constantly argued for greater cooperation with the British and after Burgos Wellington had him made commander of the Spanish Army, only to see him removed due to court intrigue. Castaños did command the Spanish Army in 1815, and with the ascension of Ferdinand VII he held numerous military and administrative posts, while being formally named Duke of Baylen. He opposed political reform and was a royal tutor until his death in 1852

Castaños was a daring commander with a surprising flexibility. Unlike Cuesta he welcomed British aid and was one of the few Spanish generals, along with Pedro la Romana, not treated with Anglo-Saxon contempt. However, his blunt manner, hatred for all things French, and Basque connections made him politically unpopular. If one needed any evidence of Spanish dysfunction, it is surely the fact that Castaños was only sporadically employed after 1808. His dispatch from Baylen is a classic: "This army, so superior to ours, has not only been beaten and routed, but has been constrained to lay down its arms, and give up its artillery, and has suffered the lowest military degradation, which the French have been hitherto accustomed to impose upon all the other nations of Europe; and the Imperial Eagles, the proud insignia of their triumph, have become the trophies of the Spanish Army of Andalusia on the fields of Baylen."

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8. Board Game: Risk: Édition Napoléon [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:3503]
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Robert Stewart, Lord Castlereagh

He was, like Wellington, a product of the Irish Protestant elite. Castlereagh was an ace student and a Whig as a young man. The French Revolution made him turn more to the right and he allied himself to William Pitt the Younger. He wanted to keep Ireland close to Britain, commanded a regiment of the Irish militia, and generally supported Catholic emancipation. His wife Amelia was a darling of both English and Irish society, and was instrumental in his rise. His desire for reform perished in the rebellion of 1798. He helped put in place the Act of Union, which abolished the Irish Parliament, while Castlereagh's last attempt to push through Catholic emancipation was scuttled by George III. At any rate, Castlereagh became a regular in the British cabinet and was notorious for his use of bribery. Although a poor public speaker, he had a way of gaining the loyalty of men, through both bribes and strangely enough his open and honest manner. He also may have been homosexual.

Castlereagh supported war with France, and was involved in military planning. His support for the disastrous Walcheren invasion led to a duel with George Canning. However, he had the support of Wellington and his brother Richard. In 1812 he was named foreign secretary and head of the House of Commons following the murder of Spencer Perceval. Castlereagh orchestrated the alliance against France. His promise of subsidies to Prussia and Austria were important in getting both nations to join the war in 1813. In 1814 he formed the Quadruple Alliance, which was a blueprint for the reactionary policies of the Congress of Vienna. Castlereagh was devoted to peace, and believed that a alliance of the great powers would avoid the kind of constant conflict that had characterized Europe since the Thirty Years' War. Castlereagh also supported lenient terms with France as the best way to buttress the restored Bourbon monarchy. To this end he was engaged in continental diplomacy and held continuous conferences with European leaders. He also supported conservative repression both at home and abroad. The cracks in this system were grave though. Spanish and Portuguese colonies declared independence and even though Napoleon was beaten in 1815, his sudden return to power showed just how weak the Bourbons really were. Although his father's death made him Lord Londonderry in 1821, he began to go insane, due both to gout and the constant attacks of his critics. He slit his own throat in 1822. Things changed after his death. British politicians again came to gradually accept reform measures. However, without a diplomat of Castlereagh's skill, Britain withdrew from its more active role in European foreign affairs.

Castlereagh, like Wellington, offers some fascinating contradictions. He was committed to peace and yet supported repression, even through violence. Personally honest, he had no problem using bribes to get his way. While he created the post-war alliance he opposed Alexander's Holy Alliance. In domestic affairs he was behind the times, since the ability of the old regimes to turn the clock back to 1788 was a sham. Yet his foreign policy in a sense anticipated the League of Nations and United Nations by over 100 years.

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9. Board Game: Medellin 1809 [Average Rating:6.03 Unranked]
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Gregorio García de la Cuesta

Cuesta hailed from a the minor nobility of Cantabria. He entered the Royal Spanish Guards Regiment in 1758 at age 17. Attached to the court, he was promoted to general with relatively little to show for it in the way of skill. This caused resentment among Spanish officers with combat experience, which in turn made Cuesta insecure and fussy. In the War of the First Coalition he had some success, capturing at least 4,000 French soldiers at Collioure. Although he later captured some 3,000 French troops after a two day campaign in the Pyrenees, this came after the Treaty of Basel, which ended the war. This caused some embarrassment, and Cuesta was marginalized by the perfidious Manuel de Godoy.

In 1805 Cuesta was returned to command and in 1808 he was given command of troops in Old Castile. His ramshackle army of 7,000 was ill prepared, and although Cuesta joined the insurrection he was unable to get his forces in fighting order. He quarreled with Joaquín Blake, and he was mostly to blame for the defeat at Medina de Rioseco. He tried to become commander of the entire Spanish Army, but was soon sacked due to intrigue and his failure to coordinate with other officers. Still, he returned to command when the Spanish Army fled to Portugal. He led his army on a successful campaign to retake Badajoz, but a lack of supplies and reinforcements meant that his gains were short-lived. His army was routed at Medellín, but his devotion to the cause, which included ignoring old wounds, now made him something of a hero. He planned a drive on Madrid and led an army in support of Wellington in 1809, but the two instantly despised one another. Cuesta quarreled, failed to provide supplies, and was open about his Anglophobia. His poorly disciplined troops practically broke at Talavera. After the battle he abandoned some 1,500 British wounded left in his care. Although he did himself few favors, the truth was Wellington's 1809 campaign was strategically unsound. Cuesta offered Wellington the perfect scapegoat for every failure. Cuesta soon resigned due to bad health and died of a stroke in 1811.

Cuesta was a disaster as a general. Although his bravery and devotion were second to none, he was quarrelsome and overly aggressive. Still, the failure of Wellington's 1809 campaign was not entirely his fault. For Wellington, who was disdainful towards the Spanish and rarely admitted any mistakes, the Anglophobic Cuesta was a perfect culprit. It did not help Cuesta that even his fellow Spaniards despised him.

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10. Board Game: Aspern-Essling 1809 [Average Rating:7.97 Overall Rank:3505]
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Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen

He was the younger brother of Francis II. A reserved man, Charles despised the life of court and was devoted to his military career, which began in 1792. He commanded troops throughout the campaign in Belgium, fighting at Jemappes, Neerwinden, Wattignies, and Fleurus. His mentor was the tough old Friedrich Hohenlohe-Kirchberg. In 1796 he was given Command of the Army of the Rhine. Although a mere 25 years old and out-numbered 2 to 1, he out-marched and out-fought two French armies under Jourdan and Moreau. He could not stop Napoleon during the tail-end of his Italian Campaign, but by then the situation was hopeless. It did however make Napoleon contemptuous of Charles. After good service in the 1799 campaign, he had to retire due to his ecliptic seizures, returning only briefly for another last-ditch defense in 1800.

Austria's nobles, beaten soundly by France, now turned to Charles in desperation. Yet his brother did not trust him, and at court the war party overruled his advice, favoring Mack's platitudes to aggression. In 1805 Charles was given in an army in Italy, but he had to retreat because of Mack's surrender at Ulm. He then lost a battle at Caldiero and was unable to help at Austerlitz. The disasters of 1805 led to his promotion, and he was given the task of military reform. He weeded out many bad officers and introduced both a corps structure and Landwehr reserves. However, he was still forced to retain more mediocre, but high ranking officers. Regardless, the Austrian army of 1809 was much better when Charles was again forced into battle. Although his initial invasion of Bavaria went well, he was was out-maneuvered by Napoleon at Landshut, taking heavy losses but avoiding destruction. He became the first general since 1799 to defeat Napoleon with his victory at Aspern-Essling. However, he failed to exploit his triumph and Austrian defeats in Italy, Dalmatia, Hungary, and Poland sapped his strength. British aid was not forthcoming and Russia had invaded. Still, Charles barely lost the hellish fight at Wagram, but it was enough to ruin his standing. He was marginalized at court and shunned in 1813. In 1815 he helped organize reserves but was otherwise out of action. He became a family man after 1815 and died in a tacit but happy exile.

Charles was plagued by ill health and he was unpopular with an Austrian nobility hungry for war and glory, although future generations lionized him as the Austrian military declined into incompetence. Charles was modest and morally scrupulous in an age filled with colorful generals. Napoleon, who scoffed at the abilities of Kutuzov and to a lesser degree Wellington, alternated in his opinion of Charles over time. At first he saw him as overrated, especially after his defeat at Aspern-Essling. This was a reaction to the sting of defeat, and after Waterloo Napoleon had kinder things to say, as he heaped his scorn on Wellington. Charles though, by advocating strategic points over decisive battles, was essentially out-dated. He was arguably the last great general in the tradition of Prince Eugene and Maurice de Saxe.

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11. Board Game: The Napoleonic Wars [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:1210]
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Louise of Mecklenburg-Strelitz

One of the greatest beauties of the era hailed from Hanover, and although a noble, her family was not particularly powerful. Her mother died when she was six and her father was a career man, leaving Louise in the care of his grandmother. Although originally raised to speak and write in French, a common custom at the time, a meeting with Friedrich Schiller caused her to shift to German. She became an early romantic. As a teenager she was beautiful, graceful, and intelligent. In a move that shocked Europe, the future Frederick William III, a serious minded but weak-willed man, chose her for his wife. The two were happily married. She became Queen of Prussia in 1797, being popular because of her beauty, support of the arts, and charity.

Prussian queens were known for their lack of influence, but Louise soon blazed new trails. She set the fashion scene of her day, while her support for German romanticism and the German language made both popular. Although vaguely in support of political reform, she took no decisive action. Her husband reformed fiances and promoted religious toleration, already a cornerstone of Prussian policy. Still, war clouds loomed and soon talk of Napoleon filled the court. Frederick William III abhorred war, and for a time Louise agreed with him. Eventually she joined war party which included Brunswick, Hohenlohe, and Prince Louis Ferdinand. By 1806 Louise was adamant and according to legend refused her husband sex, which drove him over the edge. War was declared, and Louise actively inspected the army, but the Prussians were smashed in battle. Brunswick and Prince Louis Ferdinand died in battle and Hohenlohe was captured. She failed to get Napoleon to soften his terms with Prussia, although he was impressed with her. Now something of a national hero, Louise supported wider political and military reforms. Her gaiety turned into a stern devotion to smash Napoleon. However, she perished in 1810. Universally mourned, a reformed Prussia would go on to play a decisive role in Napoleon's defeat. Frederick William III became a full-fledged reactionary and lecher. Obsessed with his dead wife, in 1814 he created the Order of Louise, presented to women for service to Prussia. Her memory lingered on. In 1923 the right-wing Queen Louise League was formed and Nazi Germany used her image in propaganda.

Napoleon remarked upon her death that Frederick William III had "lost his best minister." While in part meant as an insult, considering Napoleon's misogyny, it was not far off the mark either. Bonaparte understood the need for popularity and the power of the cult of personality. Louise had both. In the upper circles of Prussia, she provided the inspiration needed to recover from the disaster of 1806.

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12. Board Game: Vitoria 1813 [Average Rating:6.18 Unranked]
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Rowland Hill

Rowland Hill was born into a prominent family with 15 siblings. A healthy and kindly boy, with a love of animals and gardening, he had many friends. After his schooling he considered being a lawyer but opted for the military. His easy manner made him popular with the men. He also disliked the overly harsh discipline of the British army, and preferred the methods of John Burgoyne. He was schooled in a German military academy, served in staff positions during the 1793 siege of Toulon, and then raised the 90th Foot, which he led from 1794-1805, taking part in the capture of Minorca and Egypt. In 1805 he was made a general and posted to Ireland. He had a reputation as a military reformer, and he advocated improved light infantry tactics.

In 1808 he arrived in Portugal in command of a brigade. His actions at Vimeiro, Corunna, and Talavera won him corps command in 1810. Although recognized as the army's best fighting general, Wellington decided to make William Beresford his second in command, because of his firm grasp on logistics. Also, Wellington, a much more reserved man, saw Hill's familiarity with the troops, who dubbed him "Daddy Hill," as a liability. Hill meanwhile suffered from illness in 1811, but in 1812 he was consistently employed in independent command, although he was not present at the great victory of Salamanca or the defeat at Burgos. He played a prominent role in the victory at Vitoria. During the defense of the Pyrennes and the invasion of France Hill was in top form, winning his greatest accolades at the Nive. Hill led a corps ably at Waterloo, where he personally led a charge against the Imperial Guard. Although a favorite of George IV, Hill was retired until 1825, when Wellington gave him command of the British Army. Although a confirmed Tory, he tried to be fair in his administration by including prominent Whigs. He resigned due to health and died shortly thereafter.

Hill was among the best combat commanders of the Napoleonic Wars. Although an aristocrat, he had a way of earning the genuine love of his men, while his combat record leaves little doubt as to his abilities. He was, after 1810, one of the few officers who Wellington truly trusted.

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13. Board Game: JENA! [Average Rating:6.79 Overall Rank:4615]
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Frederick Louis, Prince of Hohenlohe

As a teenager he fought in the Seven Years' War, then formally entered Prussian service in 1768. Hohenlohe led a corps in the French Revolutionary Wars, and although he defeated Lazare Hoche at Kaiserslautern, Hoche out-maneuvered him in a later campaign. Hohenlohe was very popular in the Prussian Army. Brave and well versed in traditional military tactics, Hohenlohe was seen as the de facto commander of the Prussian Army after 1794.

Hohenlohe joined Louise and Brunswick in their calls for war with France. In 1806 Prussia joined the fray, but Brunswick was selected to lead the army. Relations between Brunswick and Hohenlohe were poor, and they openly bickered, with Hohenlohe supporting a defensive plan. As the army withdrew north, Hohenlohe was given the vital rearguard. He failed to hold the bridges at Jena or the nearby high ground. Riding among his cheering men, he was confident of victory. His pugnacity cost him the day. He maintained tightly packed lines in spite French barrages and light infantry attacks. Then the army came apart and was routed from the field after hours of hard combat. Hohenlohe tried to keep up the fight, but at Prenzlau Hohenlohe was bluffed into surrendering the remnants of his army, which in turn caused other Prussians to quit. Blücher, who admired Hohenlohe, withdrew in disgust and tried to keep fighting. Hohenlohe was held as a prisoner until 1808. He lived in seclusion, ignored a few attempts to get him to return, and died depressed and disgraced.

Hohenlohe strikes one as being like Blücher in his bluff manner and fighting ways, although strangely enough he doubted his abilities. While his disgrace can be called a matter of bad timing, Hohenlohe also lacked Blücher's eye for talent. He relied upon a subpar staff, which in part explains why his army was so poorly placed at Jena. It is possible that Blücher learned from this mistake when he supported the careers of Scharnhorst, Gneisenau, and other brilliant staff officers.

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14. Board Game: Hohenlinden 1800 [Average Rating:7.00 Unranked]
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Archduke John

John was the son of Leopold, future Holy Roman Emperor. Although a mere 18 years of age, John was given the Austrian army that invaded Bavaria in 1800. This was in part due to his jealousy over the laurels won by his brother Charles in 1796 and 1799. While only in nominal command, he still tried to exert some influence, only adding to an already confused command structure. He brought on the disastrous battle of Hohenlinden, which combined with the defeats at Marengo and Pozzolo, forced Austria to seek peace. Although he had failed, John still sought military glory. He studied engineering and fortifications, probably since his overt aggression had failed him in 1800. He generally supported Charles's reform efforts.

John's admirable services in Tyrol in 1805 won him some glory in a year of disasters. He continued to support Charles and pressed for the creation of the Landwehr. Given command of the invasion of Italy in 1809, he did well at first, but his maneuvers were slow. Although victorious at Sacile, he was forced to retreat. John was pugnacious, winning at Caldiero, but meeting defeat at the Piave River. Charles's defeat in Bavaria and Marmont's maneuvers in Dalmatia made his position impossible. He dispersed his forces, raised some Hungarians, and was beaten at Raab. He then failed to help his brother at Wagram. Once again, his marches were too ponderous and his strained relations with Charles now turned bitter. John left the army in a huff, turning to geology, mountain climbing, agriculture, and hunting. He modernized Styria and supported reform, even taking part in the Revolution of 1848. He died in retirement and was generally respected for his activities after 1809.

John was thrust into high command despite a lack of training and experience. In spite of some earnest efforts, he failed. He was not the sole author of his misfortune though. Hohenlinden was as much the fault of his fellow officers, and his situation in 1809 was very difficult. Still, unlike most military minded nobles, he understood that he was not meant for a fighting life and instead turned to nature, science, and reform. Unfortunately, many of his Austrian peers did not follow his example.

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15. Board Game: Dennewitz 20 [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.83 Unranked]
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Charles John

He was born Jean Baptiste Bernadotte in Pau, France. He was expected to be a lawyer, but in 1780 he chose the military. He was noted for his fine manners and dress. His early advocacy of republicanism and support for the execution of Louis XVI made him a high ranking officer and a favorite of the Jacobins. By 1799 he was Minister of War and plotted to overthrow the Directory. Napoleon beat him to it, but Bernadotte's position was saved by his marriage to Bonaperte's first fiancee, Désirée Clary. Bernadotte was named a marshal in 1804. He did well at Austerlitz, but he soon earned a reputation for slowness, first at Jena-Auerstadt where did not take part in either battle, and then at Eylau, where his bad positioning caused the battle to happen but he did not fight at the battle. Although he did defeat Blucher at Lübeck he failed to prevent the Spanish Army from escaping from Denmark. At Wagram he bungled his deployments and was relieved of command on the spot. Unless Napoleon was ousted, his career was over.

In 1810 he was he was offered the crown of Sweden because Charles XIII had no heir and was now elderly. Bernadotte was chosen for many reasons. His kind treatment of Swedish prisoners while on campaign and friendship with Swedish officials in Paris made him popular. It was hoped he would liberalize Sweden. The pro-French faction in Sweden wanted to align itself with Napoleon while the army wanted someone to reform the service after losing Finland to Russia in 1809. Napoleon saw it as a chance to get rid of him, but he also hoped Bernadotte would make Sweden more friendly to France. If not, Napoleon did not fear him, seeing Bernadotte as a lightweight. While Bernadotte did improve the army, he was decidedly anti-French and stayed neutral when Napoleon invaded Russia. Now dubbed Prince Charles John, he led the Swedish army in 1813 as a member of the Coalition. He formed the Trachenberg Plan, in which the Coalition would avoid fighting Bonaparte directly while concentrating against armies led by his subordinates, a strategy that had already been successful in Russia. Although Charles John was not the sole author of the plan he personally vindicated it with victories at Großbeeren and Dennewitz. However, Charles John was cautious, mostly because the small Swedish army could not absorb heavy losses, and this caution, as well his former ties to France, made him a subject of suspicion among the other Coalition members. After service at Leipzig he moved to attack Denmark in order to gain Norway, which he made the long-term objective of Swedish foreign policy. 1818 saw Bernadotte become Charles XIV, making him the founder of the Bernadotte dynasty that still holds the throne as of 2011. He ruled over Norway and Sweden in a period of uninterrupted peace and great internal improvements although he had become very conservative in matters of political freedom. He died in 1844 and was succeeded by Oscar I.

Bernadotte was always ambitious, but never did he have the gumption to rise the way Napoleon did, which the emperor loved to point out. Napoleon, by agreeing to his ascension to the Swedish throne, made one of his gravest mistakes and showed the lack of diplomatic skill that plagued him after 1807. As for Bernadotte, he was a capable commander in both organization and strategy, but always a little too slow. He also became a reviled figure in France due to his alliance with her enemies in 1813 and his full renunciation of republican ideals after 1810.

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16. Board Game: Napoleon at the Berezina [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:5702]
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Mikhail Kutuzov

Kutuzov came from a military family. Due to Peter I's reforms, Kutuzov joined the military as a private and had to work his way up the ranks. He was a favorite of Alexander Suvorov, learning from him the importance of morale and smooth relations with subordinates and superiors. He traveled widely and even met Frederick II. His study of George Washington's campaigns made him conclude that battle was not all that important to winning wars. He gained fame fighting the Turks and was a favorite of Paul I. As such he was horrified by his murder and his relations with Alexander I were strained.

Seen as Suvorov's protege, he was made the principle army commander in 1805. His role in Austerlitz remains controversial. Although he correctly saw the trap for what it was, he fell asleep during the planning and stalled his attack. Alexander blamed Kutuzov for the defeat and sent to lead troops against the Turks. Although this war was inconclusive, Kutuzov managed to gain favorable peace in 1812, freeing his men for the fight with Napoleon. With the Russian officer corps given to bickering, Alexander turned to Kutuzov. Although he bolstered the army's morale, he was forced to fight at Borodino. Defeated, his army withdrew and was incapable of hard combat for many weeks. Alexander might have relieved him, but Bagration was dead, Barclay was sick, and Bennigsen was despised. Already adverse to battle, Kutuzov also became pathologically afraid of Napoleon. While he followed Napoleon and caused his army no end of grief during its retreat, his unwillingness to bring on a full scale battle angered Alexander. Still, Kutuzov was the hero of the hour and Alexander dared not reproach him. Kutuzov opposed pursing Napoleon once he passed Vilna, convinced that the fall of Bonparte would only strengthen Britain. Then Kutuzov, already ill before Borodino, died from exertion, allowing Alexander to pursue his aggressive policy without interference.

Kutuzov's fame rests in his command of the Russian army in 1812, his popularity with the men, and most importantly Tolstoy's hagiography. However, upon close examination Kutuzov must be considered a mediocrity. He lost both the battles he fought with Napoleon, and was so terrified of Napoleon that he botched the best chance to end the war in 1812. The later part was not lost on Bonaparte, who considered Kutuzov to be one of his most incompetent opponents. Kutuzov cared for his men and his ability to work with others was a miracle in the notoriously dysfunctional Russian Army. However, his role in causing Napoleon's defeat in Russia was only minimal.

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17. Board Game: Haslach 1805 / Elchingen 1805 [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:5904]
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Karl Mack von Leiberich

Mack was a Bavarian with ties to Austria. He joined the Austrian cavalry and distinguished himself in the brief War of the Bavarian Succession. Attached to the staff of Count Franz von Lacy, he earned his promotions through skill and charisma, marrying into the Austria high nobility and serving on Joseph II's staff in war with Turkey. He played a major role in the capture of Belgrade. However, he was disliked by Ernst von Laudon, who ran him out of the army. He returned in 1790, and suffered a head wound in a battle with the French but he later helped to convince Charles Dumouriez to defect. An accomplished quarter-master, in 1797 he was told to reorganize the Neapolitan army. Instead, he quarreled with Horatio Nelson. Fearing a mutiny in his army, he fled only to be captured by the French. In 1799 he escaped to Austria in disguise.

In 1804 the Austrian government was torn by factions. Charles championed a period of peace and reform, while other officers wanted to confront the French and ally themselves to Russia. Mack became the champion of the war party. He used his good graces with Francis II to convince him that the Austrian army would be ready in 1805. With Archduke Ferdinand in titular command, Mack invaded Bavaria in 1805 and awaited the Russians. Napoleon, by rapid march, now advanced to the Danube and overwhelmed an Austrian force at Wertingen. Mack remained curiously inactive, except for his constant reorganizations of his army and disputes with subordinates. French cavalry kept him ill-informed while French spies brought back false information. By October 8 he saw that he was trapped and had to break out, but he rightfully also saw a chance to shred Napoleon's communications and win a great victory. However, by now the arrogant Ferdinand was questioning him in front of his men and he had lost their confidence. Mack's attack plans were also overly complicated. At Günzburg he was driven back. At Haslach his force suffered a humiliating defeat despite out-numbering Dupont's division 5 to 1. His last breakout attempt at Elchingen ended in disaster. By this time he had lost some 12,000 men. Ferdinand escaped with around 20,000 cavalry but, they were sliced up by Murat's horsemen. Mack wanted to fight, but his officers called for surrender. Mack bowed to their pressure, surrendering nearly 30,000 men, 18 generals, 65 guns, and 40 standards. He offered Napoleon his sword and called himself "the unfortunate General Mack." Bonaparte told him "I give back to the unfortunate General his sword and his freedom, along with my regards to give to his Emperor." Napoleon hoped that with this gesture, Francis II might call it quits. He did not. Mack meanwhile was imprisoned until 1808 and died in obscurity in 1819, although Schwarzenberg had his rank and honors reinstated.

Known to history as "the unfortunate Mack," he rightfully earned infamy at Ulm. There were warning signs. His tenure in Italy was terrible and his high command experience was limited. Ulm was perhaps the most spectacular Austrian defeat of the war, and while Mack was aggressive and had strategic insight, he showed his lack of high command experience with his complicated plans and long pointless arguments with subordinates. One reason for his failure was possibly his head wound. Andoche Junot, a brave and capable officer, suffered a similar wound at Lonato in 1796. By 1813 he was parading naked in the streets. Mack's wound may explain his erratic behavior in Italy and at Ulm.

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18. Board Game: Empires in Arms [Average Rating:7.51 Overall Rank:612]
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Klemens von Metternich

He came from an influential German family. His father was a career diplomat, so Metternich's learning was left to his mother. Living near the French border, he was a Francophile at a young age. Unhappily married, he became a compulsory womanizer and only slowly worked his way up the diplomatic food chain, carrying out boring assignments in Germany, although he enjoyed his time in Dresden, where he took Catherine Bagration as his lover. His first major assignment was to Prussia, where he failed to convince Frederick William III to go to war with France in 1805.

Despite his failure in Berlin, Metternich was posted to Paris in 1806. He was popular and seems to have dodged scandal even as he had affairs with the wives of two of Napoleon's commanders: Caroline Murat and Laure Junot. In 1808 he openly bickered with Napoleon and was arrested the following year when Austria declared war. Despite his failures, Metternich was named foreign minister, and he manged to secure less odious peace terms while getting Marie Louise to marry Bonaprate. Metternich put Austria on a middle course, seeking to curb French power while trying to prevent the other nations from filling the vacuum of a possible French decline. To this end he supported neutrality after the Russian invasion failed. He then had Austria join the fighting after he became convinced that Napoleon was mad. Metternich's powers now bloomed. He managed to limit Russian influence while building a relationship with Castlereagh and ensuring that France had a relatively generous peace settlement. At the Congress of Vienna Metternich set the template for European peace based upon political repression and grand alliance between nations. Abroad it meant swift military action to ensure the status quo, similar to how Prussia had suppressed the Dutch Revolution of 1787. At home it meant only limited reform and a large police state ready to use violence in opposition to liberalism and nationalism. Metternich, as much a force at home as aboard, sought to enforce rigid conservatism, but his powers started to fail. His charm diminished with old age and even his modest reform proposals were destroyed by the very hidebound reactionaries he had cultivated. Ultimately the system failed in 1848 as revolution once again swept Europe, and while power was restored, the reforming spirit remained. Metternich lived in exile, and although he returned and was in power until his death in 1859, his influence had greatly diminished. Meanwhile, the new ideas of social Darwinism, imperialism, and nationalism set the template for the fall of the very royal houses that Metternich sought to uphold.

Metternich was more a symbol than anything else, for while shrewd and charming, he was better at frustrating others than he was at advancing his goals. His failures were numerous, and the famed system he founded proved to be a house of cards in the end. While the era of conservative peace was in some ways astonishing it was not without precedent: Walpole and Fleury forged a similar kind of peace, and without the consistent use of repression. That era though was one of kings. Metternich's greatest failure was that he did not understand the drift of history. I could pardon Metternich, for most men really do not understand their era, not even Napoleon, who himself increasingly relied on repression after 1807. I fault Metternich because he is trumpeted as a diplomatic genius, which he most certainly was not.

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19. Board Game: The Battle of Bautzen: Napoleon vs. Wittgenstein, 20-21 May 1813 [Average Rating:5.00 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Mikhail Miloradovich

Miloradovich's family had Serbian roots, and his ancestors had rebelled against the Turks. Miloradovich was a precocious child. Enrolled in the army as an infant, he was sent to various military schools in Germany and France, where he performed poorly. Although he loved to fight, he took more of an interest in poetry and storytelling, than in serious soldiering. He did win over Paul I and he gradually rose through the ranks. During Suvarov's brilliant Italian Campaign he earned a reputation for hard fighting and the pursuit of vice. Although Paul I was murdered Miloradovich remained popular. Constantine, Paul's second son, was among his closet friends, and although despised by Bagration, he was a favorite of Kutuzov.

Miloradovich's actions at Austerlitz remain a subject of controversy, but his reputation was saved by good service against the Turks. Recalled to Russia in 1812, he trained a militia corps and at Borodino was made a wing commander. He fought with customary bravery and skill. He was now known as "the Russian Murat" for his flamboyant style and pugnacity. At Tarutino he bested Murat. At Vyazma he temporarily cut off the French retreat, while at Karsnoi he destroyed Ney's rearguard. Now a hero of Russia, he became more arrogant. When Peter Wittgenstein replaced Kutuzov, Miloradovich openly protested on the behalf of the other officers. Although successful both at Bautzen and in removing Wittgenstein, Miloradovich was made a commander of the reserve, and played only a secondary role in the victories at Kulm and Leipzig. Made commander of the Imperial Guard and governor of St. Petersburg, he proved to be an utter failure. He lived in luxury and treated the local theaters as his private harem and the actresses as his concubines. He was forced to sell his land and serfs to cover his debts. He ignored warnings about the Decembrist revolt and died trying to put down the insurrection.

Miloradovich's fondness for literature and exaggerated exploits made him a hero in his day. Alexander Pushkin fought a duel when a man declared that Miloradovich had previously had Pushkin flogged. As Nikolay Raevsky, one of Russia's best generals, surmised, the writers of the age "turned me into a Roman, Miloradovich into a great man, Wittgenstein into the saviour of the fatherland, and Kutuzov into Fabius. I am not a Roman, and neither are these gentlemen." Miloradovich was colorful, charismatic, and good in a fight, but his record was not perfect. Indeed, he was probably promoted beyond his abilities. Although often compared to Murat in his lifetime, he was also a lot like Ney, in that he fought best in a rearguard actions and his career was erratic.

Mikhail Miloradovich
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20. Board Game: Trafalgar [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
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Horatio Nelson

The Nelson family was a relatively modest one, although related to the Walpoles. In 1771 the 12 year old Nelson became a sailor, serving with his uncle Maurice Suckling. Although he suffered from seasickness, Nelson was a hard-working boy and as Suckling rose through the ranks he was able to support Nelson's promotion. By 1778 Nelson was fighting the Americans and before the year was out he was in command of the 12 gun brig HMS Badger. For the duration of war he seized French, American, and Spanish ships, and in spite of illness and the occasional bungle, he had gained a reputation as one of the bright new stars of the British navy. He was the protege of Samuel Hood, serving under him during the opening years of the French Revolutionary Wars. He won accolades for his aggressive actions in the British victory at Genoa in 1795, and again at St. Vincent, under the command of the capable John Jervis. Now a hero in Britain, he was given independent command. He was posted off Spanish waters, but he suffered defeat at Cadiz and at Santa Cruz de Tenerife. His gallantry in these actions also led to multiple wounds, including the loss of his arm. Nelson could rely on the support of Hood and Jervis, and others were blamed for his debacles in Spain. Nelson returned his countryman's trust with his smashing victory at the Nile. His reputation did suffer from his involvement in court intrigues in Naples, his support for oppressive measures, his tendency for insubordination, and his infamous affair with Emma Hamilton. His summary execution of Admiral Francesco Caracciolo and other Neapolitan revolutionaries, most of whom died on prison ships, shows that he was above all things a ruthless man. Still, he led his fleet ably against the Danish, although he was bested at Boulogne by Louis de Latouche-Tréville, France's best admiral. Nelson, ever greedy for glory and victory, in turn called Latouche-Tréville "a poltroon and a liar" and "miscreant" worthy only of "contempt." Latouche-Tréville's only "offense" was his abilities as a sailor.

Nelson's bravery, charisma, and his use of original and aggressive tactics had made him a hero. Among his sailors he was loved for his courage and opposition to overly harsh punishment. However, he was considered difficult by many officers and his quest for glory and penchant for petty squabbles had also made him many enemies. Regardless, when war returned, Nelson was made commander of the Mediterranean Fleet. Napoleon planned to invade England, and originally Latouche-Tréville was to lead the French fleet responsible for drawing Nelson out and then taking the English Channel. Then Latouche-Tréville died and his replacement was the incompetent Pierre-Charles Villeneuve. At first though, Villeneuve's fleet out-maneuvered Nelson. Then Villeneuve botched the later phase of the campaign, and Nelson soon had him blockaded at Cadiz. Villeneuve, knowing he would be replaced, sailed out of port with a mixed French and Spanish fleet to meet Nelson off Trafalgar. The ensuing battle was a great British victory, but Nelson was mortally wounded. By winning one of history's greatest victories, and paying with his life, Nelson was given a hero's funeral. Britain also needed a hero, for Napoleon had just smashed the Austrians at Ulm.

Nelson the man, with all his faults and virtues, was soon subsumed into Nelson the hero, honored in art and public sculpture, including a wonderful pedestal at Trafalgar Square. His victories are still studied and celebrated. But what of the man? He was empathetic, charismatic, daring, and imaginative, but also petty, selfish, vain, vengeful, and rash. Nelson despised Britain's enemies and thus had little respect for the French and the Americans. His career was not perfect. He lost battles and was all but humiliated by Latouche-Tréville at Boulogne. In short he is fascinating character, worthy of high praise, but as with any man, he is unworthy of the mindless hero-worship that often surrounds his career.

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21. Board Game: The Egyptian Campaign [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:7860]
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Jezzar Pasha and Sidney Smith

Jezzar Pasha was a Christian slave from Bosina who resided in Istanbul. A cruel man, he committed murder and decided to sell himself to some Egyptians, ostensibly to escape execution. He became a feared warrior, known for for his ruthlessness and military prowess. For his defense of Beirut against the Russians, he was named governor of Sidon. The fall and death of the great Daher el-Omar left a power vacuum, which Jezzar quickly filled. He levied heavy taxes and executed many subjects, in particular Jews and Christians. Sidney Smith by contrast was born into the high ranks of Britain aristocracy. He joined the navy and attained a reputation as a bolder fighter in the American Revolution and with his service to the Swedish fleet. During the French Revolution he became an expert in using his ships to support land operations, first at Toulon in 1793 and then in the English Channel. After two years in captivity, he was given commad of a captured warship in the Mediterranean Sea.

The unlikely pair of Jezzar and Smith faced a common foe. Napoleon had seized Egypt and then invaded Jezzar's lands. Jezzar had based himself at Acre and he had previously fortified the city. He had also hired some foreign officers, the best among them being Antoine DePhelipoux, a former classmate of Napoleon, who drilled Jezzar's gunners into a respectable force. Although a vicious man, Jezzar was also a canny fighter. He refused to submit to Napoleon when he besieged Acre. Smith, who had been given a free hand in the region and knew the Turks well, supplied Jezzar with weapons and marines. He also raided the coast, destroying supplies and siege guns. Napoleon's assaults on Acre failed and he to withdraw. Smith and Jezzar had defeated Napoleon, who would not meet another such defeat until 1809. Smith was now a hero and he accepted the submission of the French forces in Egypt, only to be overruled by Nelson, who wanted them destroyed. Smith held high commands throughout the wars, often sent to areas where naval forces had to support ground operations and where careful diplomacy was required. He ended his career as an anti-slavery crusader, campaigning at the Congress of Vienna for funds to launch a war against the Barbary Pirates. He was forced to flee to France due to debts incurred from his war services, and although he did return, he was never given another command. Jezzar held onto his position in Acre and died in 1804. He had ruled his lands with an iron fist for nearly thirty years.

Jezzar and Smith only had one thing in common: they both had unusual careers. They were also representative of their societies and governments. The once enlightened and reform minded Ottomans now relied upon petty tyrants like Jezzar, men who were able to hold power but do little else. Smith was a talented officer, a product of the Royal Navy at the height of its powers. However, his lack of battle experience delayed his rise, while his economic hardships did him no favors. He also bickered with two of the most lionized Britons of their day: Horatio Nelson and John Moore. While honored by his countrymen his best tribute came from Napoleon. Although he admired the English in his youth, Bonaparte became a notorious Anglophobe, but in the case of Smith he lavished him with praise. Perhaps only Napoleon, the ultimate Jack of all Trades, could admire a man who was sailor, general, and diplomat all in one.


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22. Board Game: La Bataille de Dresde [Average Rating:8.50 Unranked]
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Karl Philipp, Prince of Schwarzenberg

Karl was born into the illustrious house of Schwarzenberg. Named to the cavalry, he fought against the Turks and nearly died, his life being saved by the Polish hero Józef Poniatowski. In the war with France he became known for powerful cavalry charges. At Hohenlinden he led a division with great skill. By now he was seen as among Austria's rising talents, and was recognized as such by the Archduke Charles. He also was very charismatic and had few enemies.

At Ulm he led a division and hacked his way out of that trap with 2,000 cavalry. In 1808 he was sent to Russia and helped convince Tsar Alexander I to offer only token aid to Napoleon in 1809. After service at Wagram, he was made commander of the Austrian cavalry and negotiated the marriage between Napoleon and Marie Louise. However, a ball he gave in Marie Louise's honor ended in a fire that killed many, including his sister in law. Still, Napoleon was impressed with his manners and his combat record. He requested that he lead the Austrian army in the invasion of Russia. By 1813 he was a field marshal, and when Austria entered the war, Schwarzenberg was named commander of the Grand Army of Bohemia. It was a difficult position. Also, he was the senior commander of all armies, a condition of Austria's entrance. Schwarzenberg knew that the Austrian army could ill afford heavy losses and that Francis II and Metternich sought the defeat and not the overthrow of Napoleon. To make matters more complicated, the rulers of Austria, Russia, and Prussia and their courts were attached to his command. Under their gaze he bungled the attack on Dresden, which would have been a catastrophic defeat if not for the victory at Kulm. His role at the victory at Leipzig, where ironically Poniatowski died, was minimal. He invaded France in 1814, winning victories at Bar-sur-Aube, Arcis-sur-Aube, and then taking Paris. He led Austrian forces in 1815, and was honored for his efforts in the war. However, tragedy struck. His beloved sister died and he suffered a stroke. Depressed, he visited Leipzig in 1820 and died there.

Schwarzenberg's youthful exploits contrast sharply with his rather cautious army command. However, the 1813 and 1814 campaigns are not a good way to understand his abilities, since he had to deal with diplomacy each day and fight a campaign with many command handicaps. Still, his handling of Dresden was highly dubious and in army command he never won anything approaching a great victory. He was thoroughly competent and a superb soldier-diplomat. That is all the Coalition needed in the closing campaigns of the war.

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23. Board Game: The Russo-Swedish War [Average Rating:6.24 Overall Rank:7839]
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Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly

Barclay's ancestors were Scottish Highlanders from Clan Barclay who settled in Estonia in the 1600s. They were made Russian nobles and served in administration, with Barclay entering military service at a young age and fighting the traditional enemies of Russia: Sweden, Poland, and Turkey. Although a rising star in the army, he was not fully trusted due both his lineage and cold personality. In a Russian army rife with intrigue and backbiting, Barclay was often at the center of controversy.

He led his troops ably at Pułtusk and at Eylau, where he suffered a serious wound while leading the rearguard. During the Finnish War he earned fame for making a rapid march across the frozen Gulf of Bothnia. Now a hero, he was made minister of war. He was not enthusiastic about renewed hostilities, and many thought Russia's sluggish mobilization in 1811 was due to his opposition. Confronted with Napoleon's vast horde in 1812, he opted to retreat and even ordered the burning of crops to starve Napoleon, although this strategy was followed only erratically. The men publicly booed Barclay and Bagration refused to coordinate with him. Defeated at Smolensk, Alexander I, who rightfully saw Barclay's as Russia's best but most unpopular general, replaced him with Kutuzov. Barclay might have sulked. Instead he fought like a lion at Borodino, at long last winning the love of his men and even the respect of Bagartion, who lay dying after the engagement. Barclay, although ill, insisted on fighting to the end. Now a hero, he was restored to high command during 1813, with his high point coming at Leipzig. He was among the first to enter Paris in 1814, and led the Russian army when it returned to Paris in 1815. He did not live long to celebrate his fame. His health rapidly declined and be died in 1818.

Barclay represents the limits of the Russian high command. He was obviously the best of their commanders, yet he was denied honor due to his birth. Although made a hero, his lack of charisma insured that Kutuzov, Bagration, and Miloradovich were celebrated after the war. To his credit, Alexander I stood by him and believed that he was superior to all of his peers.

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24. Board Game: Wellington's Victory: Battle of Waterloo [Average Rating:7.08 Overall Rank:2282]
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Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

He was born Arthur Wesley, into a family who had supported the Norman Conquest but had otherwise been unremarkable. Although native to Ireland, he considered himself English, although his experience on the emerald isle made him sensitive to Catholic concerns, which helped him in later dealing with the Spanish and the French. The young Wellesley was a sensitive and undistinguished boy. He hated his schooling at Eton, and was happiest in France, where he became a life long Francophile. He joined the army and acquired a gambling and drinking habit. An indifferent officer, his greatest love was for playing the violin. His older brother Richard was a rising politician, and with his support, Arthur rose to the rank of lieutenant-colonel in 1793. Considered a mediocrity, Wellesley's marriage proposal to Catherine Pakenham was turned down. Meanwhile, revolution had swept France, and several of his old French friends were executed. Enraged by both his failed love affair and the liberal use of the guillotine, Wellesley burned his violin, gave up drink and cards, and now devoted himself to soldiering. He also became hard-nosed and unromantic. He did well in the Flanders Campaign, winning a small scrap at Boxtel, but the experience soured him on the abilities of his fellow officers, although he fell short of advocating reform in the purchasing of ranks. Meanwhile, Richard was posted to India, and got his brother a field command there. He earned a reputation for hard but fair discipline, and his use of volley fire and counter-attacks. Like Napoleon in Italy, Wellington's best qualities were already on display.

When Wellesley returned to Britain in 1806 he was able to marry Pakenham, although the union was unhappy and he began to indulge in his only real vice: extramarital affairs. After a brief time in Denmark he was given command of a British army in Portugal. At Vimeiro he captured a French army under the deranged Andoche Junot. The secret of his success lay in part with his now infectious confidence. Of the French army he said: "They have...a new system of strategy which has out-manoeuvred and overwhelmed all the armies of Europe...they may overwhelm me, but I don't think they will out-manoevre me. First, because I am not afraid of them, as everybody else seems to be; and secondly, because if what I hear of their system of manoevre, is true, I think it a false one as against steady troops. I suspect all the continental armies were more than half beaten before the battle was begun - I, at least, will not be frightened beforehand." The victory represented the first time since 1780 that the British Army had won a great victory outside of India. However, the surrender, handled by his superiors, allowed the French to be sent back home. For a time Wellesley was out of command and under suspicion. The death of John Moore at Corunna, and the help of Richard, secured Wellesley's command of the army in Portugal. He drove on Madrid, and although victorious at Talavera, he had to retreat. He blamed the defeat on the Spanish army, beginning his custom of taking responsibility for every victory and passing the blame off for any reverse. Still, the battle boosted morale and earned Wellesley the title Duke of Wellington. He now proved to be an adept commander. He had the defenses of Lisbon strengthened while the Portuguese army was improved. When André Masséna invaded Portugal, Wellington was able to survive through battlefield victories and the impressive defenses he had built. In 1812 he captured the fortresses of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, followed by a masterful victory at Salamanca. Madrid fell, but after the defeat at Burgos Wellington had to withdraw back to Portugal. Nevertheless, in 1813 Wellington won the day at Vitoria with a daring attack plan. The victory convinced Austria to join the Coalition and it forced the French out of Spain. He repulsed a counterattack led by the capable Soult and then invaded France and drew troops away from the main French effort at Paris. Now a hero, Wellington was the obvious choice to command the army in 1815. Although he bungled the opening hours of the Waterloo campaign and had to quit the field at Quatre Bras, his line held at Waterloo. Now seen as one of history's greatest generals, he rose in politics to become a Tory prime minister. He sternly opposed voting reform and Jewish rights, but supported Catholic emancipation. He was later made commander of the army, but by then he was a rather bitter and forgetful old man. He left the army in disarray but was given one of the most sumptuous funerals in British history. Europe was in the grip of a kind of Napoleonic nostalgia and Wellington was easily, and perhaps not all that unwillingly, swept up in spirit of the times.

My feelings and thoughts on Wellington are complicated. As a man he fascinates me, and as a general, I find him to be one history's greatest. His flaws were few and his defeats were rare and with the exception of Burgos, minor. He was, through his reliance on positional warfare, supply depots, and respect for property, a throwback to the eighteenth century military tradition. He had an admirable wit and is infinitely quotable. He also had many fascinating character quirks. He disliked battlefield theatrics, but used them on occasion to good effect. Although known for being composed, he was at heart a sensitive man, as shown by his snappy comebacks and occasional emotional break downs. After Waterloo he said "My heart is broken by the terrible loss I have sustained in my old friends and companions and my poor soldiers. Believe me, nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won." He could be hard on his men, and he openly thought the French were better soldiers. He despised the foppishness of his fellow aristocrats. Unfortunately he was miserly with praise, greedy to take credit for every success, generous with condemnation, and one of the few great generals who micromanaged his army in battle. His outward moral rectitude made him a Victorian favorite, although he actually had many affairs and was himself a glory hound. He made his home a shrine to his victories, dotting it with Napoleonic memorabilia, and once played a card game with gold Napoleon coins as the betting chips. He visited Napoleonic sites, criticized Bonaparte's campaigns in his letters, and even sought out his mistresses, sleeping with two of them. In a sense, Napoleon's fame fanned the flames of his buried insecurity over his stature as a man and a general. I find his politics repulsive and to me he represents a narrow kind of conservatism. For instance, he scoffed at Lafayette's support for the Revolution of 1830, and said it was "a striking instance of how seldom men profit by experience." Did he not know that Lafayette was a child of the American Revolution? Like Edmund Burke, Wellington did not understand that revolution is part of the human condition. Furthermore, his triumph at Waterloo was hardly the victory of freedom over tyranny. On this point I shall turn then to Lord Byron, perhaps Wellington's most eloquent assailant:

"You are 'the best of cut-throats:'—do not start;
The phrase is Shakspeare's, and not misapplied:
War 's a brain-spattering, windpipe-slitting art,
Unless her cause by right be sanctified.
If you have acted once a generous part,
The world, not the world's masters, will decide,
And I shall be delighted to learn who,
Save you and yours, have gain'd by Waterloo?

I am no flatterer—you 've supp'd full of flattery:
They say you like it too—'t is no great wonder.
He whose whole life has been assault and battery,
At last may get a little tired of thunder;
And swallowing eulogy much more than satire, he
May like being praised for every lucky blunder,
Call'd 'Saviour of the Nations'—not yet saved,
And 'Europe's Liberator'—still enslaved."

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25. Board Game: Nations in Arms: Valmy to Waterloo [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:5318]
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Fag an bealac! Riam nar druid ar sbarin lann! Erin go Bragh! Remember Ireland and Fontenoy!
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Well, I'm afraid it'll have to wait. Whatever it was, I'm sure it was better than my plan to get out of this by pretending to be mad. I mean, who would have noticed another madman round here?
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Other Austrian Commanders

Johann Beaulieu was a veteran of both the War of the Austrian Sucession and the Seven Years' War, noted as a bold and brave youth. He won the opening battle of the War of the First Coalition at Mons. Sent to Italy in 1796, he was out-maneuvered by Napoleon and lost several battles. After the fall of Milan he went into retirement and never again led troops into battle.

Michelangelo Colli-Marchi was an intelligent and brave officer who had suffered many wounds in the Seven Years' War. He was given command of the Army of Piedmont in 1793, and although friends with Beaulieu, the two failed to coordinate. Soundly beaten at Mondovì, he later took command of the Papal Army, only to be crushed by Claude Victor at Castel Bolognese. He served as an ambassador in Italy until his death in 1808.

Ignác Gyulai was a favorite of the Archduke Charles and had perhaps the best fighting record in the Austrian army. He escaped Ulm and then tried to negotiate a peace settlement with Napoleon. Along with his brother, he capably led troops in Italy and Dalmatia in 1809. He led a corps in 1813 and was thrashed at Dresden, but at Leipzig his attack on Napoleon's rear made Bonaparte commit his reserves away from the main battle at a critical time. He also distinguished himself at La Rothière.

Michael von Melas hailed from Transylvania and was an Austrian staff officer before joining the infantry in 1781. Although over 70 years old, he earned a fighting reputation during the French Revolution, and aided Suvarov in the reconquest of northern Italy. Although out-maneuvered by Napoleon in 1800, he struck back at Marengo. He was wounded, which in part led to defeat. He was inactive for the rest of the struggle and died a few months after Austerlitz.

Dagobert von Wurmser fought with the French in the War of the Austrian Succession and with the Austrians in the Seven Years' War, where he proved to be a brave and competent leader of horse. He led armies in the Rhine frontier during the French Revolution and had some success. Sent to defeat Napoleon in Italy in 1796, he relieved the siege of Mantua but was defeated in a series of battles and himself surrounded in Mantua. Always a hard fighter, he held out until January and died soon after. Napoleon respected him for his spirited defense of Mantua.



Other British Commanders

William Beresford was a taciturn and thorough officer, who after after a promising start in regimental command, was forced to surrender his small army in Argentina in 1806. He escaped in 1807 and the next year was tasked with reorganizing Portugal's army. He succeeded in his task and the Portuguese became a proficient fighting force. He was now Wellington's favorite and made second in command, but his questionable tactics at Albuera, the growing antipathy of his fellow officers, and occasional nervous breakdowns caused his decline in influence. He fought well at Salamanca and in the invasion of France, but took no part in Waterloo. He sought the permanent command of the Portuguese Army, which in spite of years of intrigue, he was unable to secure.

John Moore was a Scotsman who fought in the American Revolution, gaining accolades for his leadership at Penobscot Bay. Unlike most generals, he was a Whig who believed in political reform. He helped suppress the Irish rebellion of 1798 and openly deplored the atrocities committed. Although his combat record in Holland was uneven, he began to train Britain's light infantry units, emphasizing marksmanship and eschewing brutal punishments. His command in Scandinavia was lacking. He succeeded Wellington on the Peninsula, escaped certain destruction through a tough march, but he fell dead at Corunna. His passing was mourned by both sides, with Soult erecting a monument where he fell. Although an average combat commander, his training program made the British army formidable.

Charles O’Hara was the illegitimate son of General James O'Hara and his Portuguese mistress. By age 12 he was serving as a subaltern in the British army, fighting in Portugal in 1762. He fought in the American Revolution, developing a reputation as a fiery soldier, but also a hard taskmaster. At Yorktown Cornwallis could not face the prospect of surrender and had O'Hara do it for him. In 1784 he fled to Italy due to gambling debts but by 1793 he was back in British service, this time leading the forces that seized Toulon. He was captured during an attack led by the young Napoleon Bonaparte. Perhaps annoyed with being captured again, O'Hara avoided a meeting with Napoleon and sulked. He was then exchanged for Rochambeau, the French commander at Yorktown. Broken by wounds, he died soon after.

Thomas Picton was a Welshmen, who gained his first fame in attacking French colonies in the Caribbean. Although brave and hard fighting, he was a harsh disciplinarian known to beat his troops during battle. For a time he made money in the slave trade. In 1810 Wellington requested his services. Picton was given command of a division and fought superbly throughout the Peninsular War. His greatest moment came at Vitoria, when he disobeyed orders, attacked the center, and won the day. Never promoted to higher duties, in part because of his temper, he was nevertheless seen as among the best combat commanders of the entire war. He died at Waterloo in the opening hours of the battle. Although lauded in his day, the upper class never accepted him due to his rough manners and common touch.



Other Mameluke Commanders

Ibrahim Bey was originally a Georgian Christian, sold into slavery in Egypt. He became a Mameluke warrior and ruler of Egypt. Deposed by Napoleon in 1798, he led an uprising in 1800 that ended in the disastrous defeat at Heliopolis. He avoided a Mameluke purge in 1811 but died in poverty in 1817.

Murad Bey ruled Egypt with his friend Ibrahim when Napoleon landed in 1798. He supported a policy of cruelty, torturing French soldiers. Defeated at the Pyramids, he led a guerrilla campaign until won over by Kleber, but he died when the plague struck in 1801.



Other Prussian Commanders

Friedrich von Bülow was respected for his musical and military abilities. He won the Pour le Mérite for courage at the siege of Mainz. He was not present at Jena, but instead fought with L'Estocq at Eyalu. A committed reformer, he quarreled with Blücher, but was named a corps commander in 1813. He skilfully defended Berlin during the battles of Grossbeeren and Dennewitz. After service at Leipzig, he led troops into Holland and then into France. Given a corps in 1815, he led his men at Waterloo with his usual skill, but died at the height of his popularity in 1816.

Anton Wilhelm von L'Estocq was a veteran cavalry commander. He was in charge of the defenses in East Prussia in 1806 and chose not to surrender. Along with his protege, Gerhard von Scharnhorst, he opposed the French with rapid marches and fought at Eyalu. His corps was smashed and his relations with the Russians were poor. After peace was signed he supported Scharnhorst's reforms, but was too ill to lead field troops in 1813. He commanded garrisons until his death in 1815.

August von Gneisenau saw service with the Austrian and then the British army during the American Revolution where he became a convinced Anglophobe. He fought at Jena, was with L'Estocq in East Prussia, and held Kolberg in 1807, an event that was made into a Nazi propaganda film. Along with Scharnhorst, Clausewitz, Blücher, and Stein, he reformed the Prussian military. He served brilliantly as Blücher's chief of staff from Bautzen to Waterloo.

Ludwig Yorck was drummed out of the Prussian service for disobedience. He fought with the Dutch and French before returning to Prussia upon the death of Frederick II. He was among the first to begin light infantry training, but this was cut short by the disaster at Jena. He fought with Blücher at Lübeck and helped reorganize the Prussian army after 1807. He led troops in support of Napoleon in the 1812 Russian invasion. Seeing that Napoleon was finished, he defected to the Russians, forcing Prussia itself to side with the Coalition in 1813. As a corps commander, he attained a superb reputation, and his men were even feared by the French. After playing a major role in the capture of Paris he was sidelined in 1815. A hero of German nationalism, he was even the subject of biopic in 1931.



Other Russian Commanders

Constantine Pavlovich was, in spite of being the younger brother of Alexander I, an ugly and fat man. Although brave and obsessed with the trappings of military life, his skills were inconsiderable. His grotesque form and simple manners made him unpopular with female nobles; his first wife left him. His eccentric manners and occasional cruelty made him a target of derision. He admired Napoleon and argued for peace with him, even after the retreat from Moscow. However, his considerable position in the rigid hierarchy of day meant he often commanded the elite Russian Guards, and to his credit he did do well at both Novi and Fère-Champenoise. As governor of Poland his actions were repressive. He renounced the throne in 1823, refused to take power in 1825, and openly quarreled with Tsar Nicholas I. Despite his oppressive ways, he actually opposed stern reprisals during the 1830 revolt, but his death soon after, and reputation for erratic behavior, did not cause many to regret his passing.

Pavel Tchichagov was an avowed Anglophile, who studied the Royal Navy and married an English woman, which led to his imprisonment by Paul I. He was a favorite of Alexander I. He tried to reform the navy along British lines. In 1812 he led an army against Napoleon. Slow and unsteady, he failed to intercept Bonaparte's retreat at the Berezina River, which meant the war would go on. Now disgraced, he lived abroad in France and Italy and even managed to win his most coveted goal of all: British citizenship.

Peter Wittgenstein was of German descent, a fact that made him unpopular with the Slavic officers. He was a fine cavalry commander and in 1812 he defeated the French in several battles along the Dvina River, and just barely failed to capture Napoleon at the Berezina River. Along with Kutuzov, he was the hero of the hour. Instrumental in getting Yorck and his Prussian corps to defect, Alexander I made him army commander. However, a clique of generals, including Miloradovich, Barclay, Langeron, Platov, and Tormasov, tried to have him removed. Bested at Lützen and Bautzen, he was demoted to corps command. He fought well throughout the rest of 1813 and 1814 and held high commands in the post war army.



Other Spanish Commanders

Joaquín Blake was half-Irish and had distinguished himself in the American Revolution and the War of the First Coalition. His troops were usually well disciplined and his defeat at Medina de Rioseco had to do with Cuesta's failures. His maneuvers in 1808 and 1809 were skillful, but while he won a small battle at Valmaseda he was bested at Espinosa. He reformed the Spanish military in 1810, founding a general staff. His troops fought well at Albuera, but in 1812 he was captured along with the elite Irish regiments. Blake was a talented general, but only a genius could have led the Spanish Army to win consistent victories in the Peninsular War.

Benito de San Juan was a favorite of Godoy, who insured his rapid rise through the ranks. He failed to support needed reforms in the Spanish Army. He was given command of the forces tasked with defending Madrid from Napoleon. He was defeated at Somosierra, where he suffered several wounds. He tried to rally his men at Talavera. However, his association with Godoy, use of harsh discipline, and inability to hold Madrid led to a mutiny. He was executed by his own men.


Constantine Pavlovich, Karl Rove of the Napoleonic Wars
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