The aftermath of his failed invasion had shaken his reputation as a tactical genius and severely questioned his ability to lead to win battles. Napoleon’s two main fault that led to the fail campaign was his inability to discipline his men, and relying on methods from prior campaign to make egoistical preparation.
The campaign would eventually cost him his army and alliances from other countries. The invasion of Russia was due to Russian’s unwillingness to remain in the continental system. The Continental System was a foreign policy that embargo trades with Britain. The embargo was economically damaging for both sides. Let caused great hardship in England, followed with waves of business failure and employee strikes throughout the country. Russian economy was hurt under the embargo. Lost of lucrative trades putted Czar under pressure and eventually Russia withdrew from the Continental System.
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With the invasion in Napoleon’s mind, he set out his massive army over 400,000 to Moscow comprising armies from nations all over Europe. The army contains elements of Frenchmen, but it also encompassed Poles, Belgian, Dutchmen, Italian and Swiss. The total number of Napoleon’s Army (Grander Armed) outnumbered the Russian 2 to 1. However, with large number of men Napoleon failed to effectively discipline his men. One chief example, during his retreated from Moscow, his supplies dwindled because the Russian utilized scorch earth tactics to destroy any supplies they had so it prevent Napoleon’s army from using it.
The Grander Armed could not live off the land as they did prior campaigns because of weather and the harsh terrain of Russia. Hence the troops had to scavenge to survive, the troop in front where first to salvage the food and those who came from the rear were left with nothing. Commanders lost control of their men, as their troops only concern was to find provisions to survive, as of result there was little cohesion and obedience For example, during Napoleon’s retreat they reached Smokeless. It became a supplies depot for Napoleon during his campaign to Moscow.
At the sight of the city only one unit was in formation, while thousands of men crowded against high walls and gates of the city. The gates were closed against them in hope to prevent plundering and to facilitate even distribution of rations. The quartermasters were that responsible for the rations were ordered to deliver supplies only authorize officers with receipts in exchange for rations. However, the charging hungry men did not have to officers to enforced orders, nor could the men identify what regiment they were.
Finally, after hours of gate closed the men plunged across the icy river that distance them from supply house. “They left the river banks strewn with he half-dead bodies of the weak who had succumbed to impatience and the long hours of waiting. They left the still others on the icy slope they had to climb to reach upper part of the town. ” Those survived the icy slopes rushed to the regimental store houses, and pillaged the supplies. All sense of humanity was gone, those that were there first salvaged the supplies.
It was unfortunate for those in the rear, barely no provision left for them to be distributed. “Perhaps the most unfortunate were Prince Genus’s Italians… Crossing into Smokeless to only to find the gates closed. After three hours of pushing, shoving and arguing hey were the admitted, only to discover the supplies had been thoroughly pillaged (Smoking 2004) The incident in Smokeless reveal his failed ability to maintain discipline to his men. If he had restored order, it could have prevented further unnecessary deaths and disperse even ration to the units in the rear element.
Another aspect of leadership that he was that he assumed that his tactics and logistical planning in Prussia and Austria would work again in his Russian campaign, this assumption led to his incorrect planning of logistics. “Although Napoleon had great success in the past, he made tragic flaw of assuming what irked in previous situations would work again, despite the dramatic differences the Russian campaign represented from his previous conquest. ” (Rained, 2000). On the contrary belief, Napoleon took necessary preparation for his campaign in Russia.
His plan was to win war in twenty days by engaging the Russians in a major battle. Napoleon spent two years to make necessary preparations that he logically thought would be sufficient to provide for his army. However, his misunderstanding, coupled with wrong information had a big impact on his logistical planning. One example of his failed planning was his intention of utilizing the terrain to feed his army. Napoleon’s thought the crops in Russia was developed and WOUld adequately feed his horses which are the makeup of his cavalry and transportation. From the start, he overloaded supplies sufficient for his army.
However, the terrain along his planned route did not delivered edible forage; hence he lost a lot of his horse. A large number of his horses died from an outbreak of colic. The men on horses had to march by foot; the horses in turn were used from other details to fill in for the heavy artillery. The burden was increased with rains that made the road muddy hence it was very hard to move equipment. The overall burden crippled his ability to provide provision in a timely manner when needed and created a domino effect on his transportation of supplies, weapon and reduced his cavalry.
Throughout the campaign, the ever-dwindling supply of horses and the ever worsening weather contributed to the complete destruction of Napoleon’s ability to provide for his forces. ” (Rained J 2000) Napoleon’s incorrect assumptions and inability to discipline his men were the ultimate reasons he lost his army and the campaign. His wrong assumptions and miscalculation effected his planning of logistics and this played a pivotal role n his failed campaign.