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Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany

Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany
The Franco-Prussian War of 1813
2 Volume Set

Out of Print

Part of Cambridge Military Histories

  • Date Published: April 2015
  • availability: Unavailable - out of print
  • format: Multiple copy pack
  • isbn: 9781107098091
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  • This two-volume set is the first comprehensive history of the campaigns that determined control of Germany following Napoleon's catastrophic defeat in Russia. Michael V. Leggiere reveals how, in the spring of 1813, Prussia, the weakest of the Great Powers, led the struggle against Napoleon as a war of national liberation. Using German, French, British, Russian, Austrian and Swedish sources, he provides a panoramic history ranging from the mobilization of the belligerents, strategy and operations to coalition warfare, diplomacy and civil-military relations. He examines the strategy, military operations and battles in Germany from Napoleon's initial campaign which drove the Russo-Prussian army to the banks of the Oder and the verge of defeat to the epic four-day Battle of Nations at Leipzig and Napoleon's retreat to France. This study not only highlights the breakdown of Napoleon's strategy in 1813, but constitutes a fascinating study in coalition warfare, international relations, and civil-military relations.

    • A comprehensive two-volume military history of the German campaign during the Napoleonic Wars
    • Separate volumes examine the two distinctive phases of the spring and fall campaigns in 1813
    • An essential contribution to our broader understanding of the Napoleonic Wars and of Napoleon as a commander
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    Customer reviews

    15th Aug 2015 by Robbo

    Marketed as the first comprehensive history of the 1813 campaign in Germany, these volumes certainly live up to that claim. Leggiere, a professor of history at the University of North Texas has presented us with the most detailed account of that campaign yet written in English: one which is unlikely to be bettered in its depth of study, and is likely to become the standard work on the subject. The sub-title, the Franco-Prussian War of 1813, is somewhat misleading as these volumes describe the campaign of the Sixth Coalition against Napoleon in Germany during 1813, and in which Prussia depended heavily on the support of initially the Russian Army, and after the armistice of June to August, the intervention of Austria on the side of Russia and Prussia. In reality Prussia was a junior partner, although, as Leggiere suggests, the Prussians were the more energetic of the four allies, and it was Blucher’s manoeuvre that enabled the coalition to concentrate against and defeat Napoleon at Leipzig, the beginning of the end for the French emperor. Highly readable and extensive in its scope, and while addressing the contribution of each nation and all of the armies involved this history has a distinctly Prussian flavour. Although Leggiere provides us with an holistic study of the campaign in which he takes us into the minds and actions of all the participants, he emphasises the role of the Prussians and their desire for liberation from the French yoke, a view made evident in the Introduction and Chapters 1 and 2 of Volume 1. There we are led through the politics and machinations of the Prussian dilemma from the catastrophic defeat of 1806 to when they eventually joined the Russians in the war against Napoleon in March 1813. One has some sympathy for the Prussian king, Frederick William, as he sought to maintain the existence of his country in the face of dissent advocating a popular uprising that had little chance of success, calls for a treaty with Russia, and threats from Napoleon whose troops garrisoned the key forts throughout the country. The campaign is divided into two volumes. The first, and smaller, deals with the spring campaign to June 1813, when the Russian and Prussian forces were in retreat only to be reprieved by the Austrian initiated armistice, which makes a convenient break in the story. The second volume, and twice the length of the first, continues the story with the Austrian intervention on the side of the Allies and the autumn battles that led to Napoleon’s defeat at Leipzig and his retreat to the French frontier. In writing them Legiere has made a substantial and important contribution to our understanding of the events, both military and political, that resulted in the expulsion of the ‘Little Corporal’ from central Europe. Employing a wide range of sources from all participants, and liberally scattered with extensive quotes, these thoroughly researched volumes provide a detailed and keen insight into both the complex and internally divided alliance, that nonetheless stuck together, and the manoeuvres and battles employing what Legiere defines as ‘ the guiding principles that fundamentally helped destroy Napoleon’s empire: the ruthless application of all forces to a single objective, the interplay of the individual armies, the strategic utilisation of cavalry, and the exploitation of victory through pursuit.’ This is a magisterial work that takes us into the minds of the guiding hands of the coalition and the generals and senior staff officers, such that we gain an insight into their thinking and explains why certain decisions, actions or manoeuvres were taken, as we follow the armies on their marches and counter-marches, and through all the battles and skirmishes that were waged, not just the main events. The detail is breathtaking, but not to the extent of certain works that get down into the weeds of recalling the actions of individual regiments, battalions and companies. Rather it is set largely at the strategic and operational level that allows the reader to understand the whole campaign politically and militarily, the interactions of the various armies, corps and divisions on both sides, why the campaign played out as it did, and delves into the tactical level when describing the battles in a vivid and clear manner. His political and operational analysis is balanced and instructive, and Legiere wraps up each volume with a conclusion or ‘Assessment‘ that are models of their kind, tying together and evaluating the events covered in the previous chapters. As a serious campaign study, Napoleon and the Struggle for Germany provides a benchmark for others to emulate. The only criticism is with the maps. They do not adequately support this monumental piece of work, and if one is to follow Legiere’s fascinating narrative the reader would be wise to invest in one of those large book of road maps of central Europe, such as printed by Phillips, or at least a large scale map. Volume 1 is especially poor in this regard, and while Volume 2 has a better range and scale of maps they are too infrequent to follow many of the manoeuvres that frustrated Napoleon. On the other hand the notes at the end of each chapter are extensive, citing not only the sources but adding additional and interesting information on the topic under discussion. These volumes may not appeal to the general reader, but they will be appreciated by those with a strong interest in the Napoleonic Wars, or those undertaking research They are a rich source of information, and offer a valuable perspective on the campaign based on sound archival research and analysis.

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2015
    • format: Multiple copy pack
    • isbn: 9781107098091
    • dimensions: 236 x 160 x 70 mm
    • weight: 2.47kg
    • contains: 41 b/w illus. 54 maps
    • availability: Unavailable - out of print
  • Table of Contents

    Volume 1. The War of Liberation, Spring 1813: Preface
    1. Odd man out
    2. A new coalition
    3. Saxony
    4. The Saale
    5. Großgörschen
    6. The Elbe
    7. Bautzen
    8. The Prussian Thermopylae
    9. Silesia
    Assessment
    Bibliography
    Index. Volume 2. The Defeat of Napoleon: Introduction
    1. Trachenberg and Reichenbach
    2. The Silesian army
    3. 'The infamous conduct of the Prussians'
    4. Löwenberg
    5. Goldberg
    6. The Katzbach
    7. Blücher's hare hunt
    8. 'Nothing more remains than to have them shot dead'
    9. Lusatia
    10. The Middle Elbe
    11. The Mulde
    12. Hide and seek
    13. Opening round
    14. 'A battle of the most obstinate and sanguinary class'
    15. The battle of Leipzig
    16. Race to the Rhine
    Assessment
    Bibliography
    Index.

  • Author

    Michael V. Leggiere, University of North Texas
    Michael V. Leggiere earned his PhD from Florida State University in 1997 after completing work at FSU's Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution. His first book, Napoleon and Berlin: The Franco-Prussian War in North Germany, 1813 (2002) won the La Société Napoléonienne Internationale 2002 Literary Award. His article, 'From Berlin to Leipzig: Napoleon's Gamble in North Germany, 1813', which appeared in the January 2003 volume of The Journal of Military History, won the Society for Military History's 2004 Moncado Prize for excellence in military history. Dr Leggiere's second book, The Fall of Napoleon: The Allied Invasion of France, 1813–1814 (Cambridge, 2007) won the La Société Napoléonienne Internationale 2008 Literary Award. Dr Leggiere's third book, Blücher: Scourge of Napoleon, was published in February 2014. Dr Leggiere has conducted extensive archival research in Paris, Vienna, and Berlin in 1994, 1995, 1998, 2001, 2002, 2004, and 2009 and topographic research in Germany, France, and Poland in 1998, 2002, and 2013. He is an active member of the Society for Military History, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era. In 2005 he received the La Société Napoléonienne Internationale Legion of Merit Award for Outstanding Contributions to Napoleonic Studies.

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