Anvil Game Studios

Author Topic: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals  (Read 2838 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Jelly

  • Midshipman's Mate
  • *
  • Posts: 190
  • cry havoc and let slip the doggos of war
  • Faction: Neutral
Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« on: June 28, 2017, 05:12:13 pm »
Time to get the historical juices flowing. Based on their military record, dependability and overall usefulness to Napoleon, how would you rank Napoleon's Marshals? For the sake of this list, I will ignore the four honourary Marshals created by Napoleon (Kellermann, Lefebvre, Pérignon and Sérurier), as their respectable batons were primarily earned through their actions in the revolution.

Tier One
  • Davout - unassailable in his ranking as Napoleon's best Marshal, a solid tactician who never lost a battle (although he lost an obscure skirmish at Issy in 1815), his position cemented by his absolute loyalty to Napoleon.

Tier Two
  • Lannes - one of Napoleon's most daring Marshals and one of his closest friends, an excellent tactician, he delayed the Austrians for two days at Aspern-Essling before being mortally wounded by a spent cannonball.
  • Suchet - a brilliant administrator,  relatively successful in Peninsula before forced to execute a textbook withdrawal of the army from Spain into France. Like Davout, was wasted in the Hundred Days' Campaign.

Tier Three
  • Masséna - a talented but flawed leader, perhaps the only Marshal who came close to Napoleon in terms of tactical genius, however his excellent performances in Switzerland and Italy were marred by his performance in the Peninsula.
  • Soult - strategically and logistically brilliant, but despite being tactically aware, he was often poor in its execution and delegated too much to his subordinates. Replacing Berthier as Napoleon's chief-of-staff in the Hundred Days' Campaign, his administration was quite sloppy.
  • Berthier - although leaving much to be desired as a tactician and strategist, he was an administrator without peer, enabling the army to perform to the ability that it did, as he was able to translate Napoleon's orders into simple messages to subordinates.
  • Ney - "the bravest of the Brave", inspired those all around him with his elan, he was an excellent, yet impulsive, cavalry commander, performing a series of lauded rear-guard actions in the Peninsula. Would be higher in the rankings if not for his significant role in the defeat in the Hundred Days' Campaign.

Tier Four
  • Marmont - a good tactician, excellent strategist and skilled artillery officer, his impressive service was marred by his 'betrayal' of Napoleon.
  • Poniatowski - a dashing cavalry commander, though never fully trusted by Napoleon.
  • Bessières - another excellent cavalry commander, as demonstrated at Aspern-Essling and Wagram, but proved out of his depth as a corps commander, let alone as a Marshal.
  • Murat - a flamboyant and impulsive cavalry commander, his zenith was at Marengo, but he showed little tactical awareness and his accomplisments were usually the result of luck.
  • Mortier - one of Napoleon's more reliable Marshals, he was a courageous infantry commander, most successful in leading rearguards.
  • Victor - a capable commander, it was his actions which kept the last line of escape open at the Berezina for the stragglers. His reputation was tarnished by his vote in favour of Ney's execution.
  • Oudinot - loved by those under his command, he was a fearless commander and was respected by all.

Tier Five
  • Grouchy - an exceptional cavalry commander, his successes, such as his commands at Eylau and Friedland, are usually ignored because of his failure to aid Napoleon at Waterloo. Incredibly unlucky really, unfairly hated by delusional Bonapartists.
  • Augereau - a good tactician and an expert trainer of men, his career was relatively unremarkable after participating in Napoleon's early campaigns. Never fulfilled his potential.
  • MacDonald - a mixed career, after defeats in Italy and a link to a plot which meant to overthrow Napoleon, he spent six years out of favour. His biggest triumph was at Wagram.
  • Moncey - although an able Marshal with some success in Spain, he was only given secondary commands, he also refused to partake in the Russian campaign.
  • St. Cyr - a calm and talented commander, though unremarkable.

Tier Six
  • Bernadotte - determined and relatively capable, as was demonstrated at Austerlitz, his failures to aid Davout at Jena, Auerstadt and then at Wagram, saw him dismissed by Napoleon. He became King of Sweden, and would eventually join with the allies at Leipzig.
  • Brune - unimpressive and unremarkable, gained a reputation for corruption.
  • Jourdan - experienced but unsuccessful, gained the nickname "the Anvil" after being beaten so much.

« Last Edit: June 28, 2017, 05:21:53 pm by Jelly »

Offline Jackson

  • Global Moderator
  • Midshipman
  • ****
  • Posts: 390
  • Faction: Neutral
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2017, 03:25:23 am »
If anyone wants a refresher, here's a concise and accurate history of all the major figures of the French Empire, including the marshals.

Spoiler
[close]
-Freelance character designer for Holdfast: Nations At War.

Offline Sanders

  • Lieutenant
  • *
  • Posts: 1190
  • Faction: French Empire
  • Nick: Sanders
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2017, 04:48:04 am »
If anyone wants a refresher, here's a concise and accurate history of all the major figures of the French Empire, including the marshals.

Spoiler
[close]
Very Nice

Offline Jelly

  • Midshipman's Mate
  • *
  • Posts: 190
  • cry havoc and let slip the doggos of war
  • Faction: Neutral
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2017, 12:27:52 pm »
If anyone wants a refresher, here's a concise and accurate history of all the major figures of the French Empire, including the marshals.

Spoiler
[close]
if you can abide the royalist tone

Offline Jackson

  • Global Moderator
  • Midshipman
  • ****
  • Posts: 390
  • Faction: Neutral
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #4 on: June 29, 2017, 01:49:47 pm »
Seems accurate to me, especially the part about Napoleon committing incest with every single member of his immediate family.
-Freelance character designer for Holdfast: Nations At War.

Offline Jelly

  • Midshipman's Mate
  • *
  • Posts: 190
  • cry havoc and let slip the doggos of war
  • Faction: Neutral
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2017, 02:10:30 pm »
True enough, though the descriptions of the marshals are generally quite amusing; compare the sympathetic descriptions of the marshals who defected from Napoleon to the descriptions of marshals who came from a humble background.

Offline Etherton

  • Regiment Leaders
  • Post-Captain
  • *
  • Posts: 92
  • What do i put here?
  • Faction: British Empire
  • Nick: Ethertonne
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #6 on: July 02, 2017, 01:18:11 am »
+1 on Davout as i use his name in NW  ;D

Offline DΛRKWΛVΣ

  • Surgeon
  • *
  • Posts: 1206
  • Faction: Neutral
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #7 on: July 29, 2017, 01:07:29 pm »
+1 on Davout as i use his name in NW  ;D
Go away you!

Offline AggofanCZ

  • Able Seaman
  • *
  • Posts: 15
  • 56e Regiment d'Infanterie de Ligne CZ/SK
  • Faction: French Empire
  • Nick: AggofanCZ
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #8 on: August 09, 2017, 02:04:02 am »
Davout is, as many historians say, only marshall who could eventually be equal to Napoleon in battle. His nickname "iron marshall" is well deserved.
Bernadotte is too on right spot, with the lowest of low. Traitor of the empire and because of his hate towards Davout, he didn't help him at Jena and left thousands of french soldiers die. Althou, thanks to this, battle of Jena was Davouts greatest military victory in his career.

Offline Hughes

  • Surgeon's Mate
  • *
  • Posts: 47
  • Faction: Neutral
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 03:36:34 am »
Davout, tho honourable, a rare thing considering Soult & Suchet, never faced Wellington in battle.
Never had independent command in Spain or anywhere far from his master.

" le Brave des Braves" Marshal Ney knew the cauldron of independent command in both Iberia & Russia.

He stood alone; He died alone.

 

Offline Rivet

  • Midshipman's Mate
  • *
  • Posts: 117
  • Faction: French Empire
  • Nick: Rivet
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2017, 10:56:25 pm »
Quote
Tier Three
Masséna - a talented but flawed leader, perhaps the only Marshal who came close to Napoleon in terms of tactical genius, however his excellent performances in Switzerland and Italy were marred by his performance in the Peninsula.
Berthier - although leaving much to be desired as a tactician and strategist, he was an administrator without peer, enabling the army to perform to the ability that it did, as he was able to translate Napoleon's orders into simple messages to subordinates.

Not agree


Massena: (2 tier)
Napoleon didn't like him. Because Massena was an individualist. During Peninsular campaign Napoleon did not quite understand the situation of the French troops.
Bad supplies and not enough replenishments prevented equal fight with Brits.
Berthier: (1 tier)
Logistics genius. Without his skill Napoleon could not achieve such great victories.

Offline Mr. Mundy

  • Regiment Leaders
  • Standing Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 71
  • Faction: British Empire
  • Nick: [42ndRoF] Mundy
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2017, 10:12:49 am »
It's beyond me why you would put Berthier anywhere near Lannes or even on the same level of Ney and Soult. He was Napoleon's right hand; able to turn every thought of his he spit out into cohesive orders. But- once without him he crumbled.

Sure, he did have his moments of glory which one can attribute soley to him; one such example would be Arcola and Lodi, possibly even the entire Italy campaign. He achieved this either through military skill, which he then lost, or mere luck alone. Nevermind which one it was, the years of the empire were not a blessed time for him.

During said time he allowed himself mistakes of such magnitude that many a Marechal, possibly even Napoleon, didn't doubt he might be sabotaging the army on purpose.
The most prominent one of these 'mistakes' would propably be the following:
Prior to the Landshut Campaign had Napoleon dispatched Berthier with definite orders; Gather and concentrate the army at Ratisbon.
Berthier though was more inclined to follow his own, in his mint brilliant plan. Rather than doing as told, he scattered the army.
The other Marechals criticized his "suicidal measures", but as he was acting under Napoleons authority they complied. Only shortly before the Archduke attacked was Napoleon able to correct this utterly insane maneuver, and subsequently beat back the Austrians.

Napoleon himself once said (speaking of Berthier) that "[...] he was not fit to command 500 men."

"The shadow of the genius in which he walks mantles his stupidity, and, by the dim glory it casts over him, magnifies his proportions. [...] this is the secret of Berthier's fame."

Not to mention his treason. He was an, excuse the language, ass licker. He stuck with whoever was powerful, so much so that the King didn't want him anymore once Napoleon had fled from Elba. He might have claimed utter devotees to Napoleon many a time, but he still abandoned him mere days after he claimed he would fight to the death for him.
The very day Berthier proclaimed said he rode off to defend Charleville-Mezier.
After he had left, Napoleon spoke with the Duke of Basson. He said that "He will not return." The only answer he gave to the shocked disbelief that the Duke returned ("What? Would Berthier take such a farewell?") was that, again, "He will not return." The Emperor was not mistaken. Even he knew of Berthier's lesser character.



On my phone, will correct grammar and spelling later
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 10:47:58 am by Mr. Mundy »

Offline Dragoneer

  • Standing Officer
  • *
  • Posts: 87
  • Faction: French Empire
  • Nick: [4th] John Lee
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #12 on: October 20, 2017, 03:16:22 am »
agree with the Berthier sentiment, should definetively be rank 1-2, mainly because youre ranking the marshals not their combat ability, but on overall usefullness, and im pretty sure Berthier was the most important general for Napoleon because of his army administration skills, id also demote both Ney and Grouchy down a rank, because of how mindlessly incapable both of them were in the waterloo campaign, i guess you could also argue demoting Bessieres a rank, but meh....hes around there somewhere. I would probally end up with 3 Rank 1 marshals, Lannes, Berthier and maybe Davout
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 03:24:12 am by Dragoneer »

Offline svatda

  • Landsman
  • *
  • Posts: 1
  • Faction: French Empire
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2017, 11:14:30 am »
Berthier should be higher. Ney should be lower.

Offline Enigma

  • Regiment Leaders
  • Master's Mate
  • *
  • Posts: 154
  • GET. SOME.
  • Faction: French Empire
  • Nick: [85e] Enigma
Re: Ranking Napoleon's Marshals
« Reply #14 on: September 28, 2018, 12:49:19 pm »
agree with the Berthier sentiment, should definetively be rank 1-2, mainly because youre ranking the marshals not their combat ability, but on overall usefullness, and im pretty sure Berthier was the most important general for Napoleon because of his army administration skills, id also demote both Ney and Grouchy down a rank, because of how mindlessly incapable both of them were in the waterloo campaign, i guess you could also argue demoting Bessieres a rank, but meh....hes around there somewhere. I would probally end up with 3 Rank 1 marshals, Lannes, Berthier and maybe Davout

Maybe Davout?
I used to be an adventurer like you, then I took a cannonball to the crotch.