Sunday, February 26, 2012
What I'm Reading Right Now
Interesting read so far and I'm only up to August 1812 and the Russian rear guard action at Vitebsk. Cate does a good job of pulling together the political, economic and personal factors that drove these two empires to war. His main thesis seems to be that the war was a result of Napoleon's ego and he could have avoided it if he hadn't been blinded by hubris.
He also has a good grip on the logistics governing the movements of the various armies. Even by July the French corps were running out of supplies and horses. Troops and horse were already dying along the roadside of starvation or exposure. It's hard to bring the Russians to a decisive battle if you don't have enough draft horses to pull your artillery. As wargamer's playing out campaigns on a map we all to often think of set movement rates and blame the Generals for being dilatory. Jerome wanted to catch Bagration, his starved troops were just too exhausted to keep up.
Since I haven't read much of the campaign before, this is all news to me. I thought the French weren't really beset by supply or weather problems until the retreat. But apparently some units (especially among the German and Italian allies who were lowest in priority for supplies) were reduced to 25% strength before the first major battle.
Certainly worth the $2!