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1

As the French Army rebuilt itself in the decades that followed Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Napoleonic memory [2][2] In this paper, I use the expression ‘Napoleonic memory’... became an important element of professional military discourse. This paper is a review of the most prestigious and influential French military journal of the nineteenth century, namely Le Spectateur Militaire, and it uses it as a prism through which to see how French officers used Napoleonic memory in their professional lives, and how the use of that memory changed over the journals’ first decade. [3][3] Twenty-one of the first twenty-two volumes of Le Spectateur...

2

The political changers wrought by the Bourbon Restoration constituted a massive challenge for the French army at absolutely every level. Military budgets were severely reduced in the years after 1815, forcing senior leaders to build an army very different from its Napoleonic predecessor. In 1818, a military commission was appointed with representatives from across the army and including both Napoleonic and Restoration generals. This commission proposed a compromise solution for the defence of France by creating a new army via the integration of a smaller professional army within a series of frontier defensive fortifications. In an environment where the fundamental nature of the French Army was being discussed and changed, the officer corps became involved as a corporate entity in a series of debates. With a shrinking and changing army, intellectual discourse became a way for officers not only to influence the debate, but also to build a reputation that could help them to compete in the context of an ever-shrinking number of meaningful commands and staff positions. [4][4] Gary P. Cox, The Halt in the Mud: French Strategic... Contemporaneously, a number of professional journals came into being. The first of these were little more than forums of opposition and had a very short lifespan. However, in 1826 a group of generals and former generals launched Le Spectateur Militaire as a professional journal to be focused on the operations and administration of armies with a particular emphasis on the combat arms of the infantry and the cavalry. [5][5] This was different from the predominantly engineering... Unlike its short-lived predecessors, this journal rapidly gained the approval of the Minister of War and became the pre-eminent professional journal of the army. And with its articles and editorials from junior officers to retired generals, it came to present a cross section of thinking within the army. [6][6] Paddy Griffith, Military Thought in the French Army,... As such, it became a sort of clearing house for military ideas and current debates. It is thus an excellent place for viewing the evolution of the manipulation of Napoleonic memory.

3

From the beginning, Le Spectateur Militaire organized itself as a professional military journal. In the main, the journal consisted of articles submitted by a wide variety of French officers, though contributions did occasionally also come from foreign sources, predominantly foreign military officers. Subjects written on included historical analysis of battles, sieges, and campaigns. The Napoleonic Wars featured prominently, but the wars of the eighteenth century  –  including the battles of the French Revolution, and the wars of Louis XIV and Frederick the Great  –  also featured regularly. Other articles focused on contemporary military issues such as advances in fortification, artillery, and infantry drill regulations. These contemporary articles often sparked debates that were conducted in the letters addressed to the editor, as readers disagreed with conclusions presented in the journal. Le Spectateur Militaire was often the forum for historical debates. These would start with the historical analysis of the articles, but would often include letters from the actual participants who disagreed with the historical narrative of events they experienced firsthand. Along with articles on contemporary military science, there was a constant focus on the state of foreign armies. This included reports of those armies and a short description of interesting articles from the various foreign military journals. Additionally, there was a detailed book review section that covered the latest publications in the military art that included a large number of military memoirs by key figures in the Napoleonic Wars. Le Spectateur Militaire was the journal of a French Army in the process of professionalizing itself in the wake of the Napoleonic experience. This is especially interesting not only because the Spectateur resembles the professional military journals of the present, but also because it shows how the French army was ahead of say that of the United States Army which took another sixty years to engender such an enterprise by its officer corps.

4

The subjects of Napoleon and the Napoleonic Wars were present throughout the first decade of Le Spectateur Militaire, and the general use and perception of Napoleon fell into two distinct five-year periods. The first period from 1826 to 1830 was characterized by a passionate defence of the Napoleonic legend. It is clear when reading the first few years of the journal that the general officers who launched the project did so in order to voice a form of opposition and protest, but this emphasis rapidly gave way to a more professional discourse. In the first five years, the historical articles focused on the campaigns and battles of the last years of the Empire. To be precise, it was the 1812 and 1813 campaigns that received the most focus. There were also a few articles that discussed the operations in Spain in 1809, the Wagram Campaign, and the battle of Waterloo. More than any other, the battle of Waterloo attracted recriminations as to who was responsible for the defeat; and it was never Napoleon. There were a few articles dedicated to the Wars of the French Revolution, and those mostly about the Army of Italy under Napoleon. However, there was a surprising lack of interest in the victorious campaigns of 1800, 1805, 1806, 1807, or most of the fighting in Spain. The emphasis was on 1812 and 1813, and in these first five years the purpose was the defence of Napoleon.

5

Authors in these first few years clearly identified Napoleon as a military genius, even during the 1812 and 1813 campaigns. There were several articles that either analyzed new books on the art of war, or produced an overview of the history of the military art, and at all of these instances Napoleon was named among the great captains of history. [7][7] “Philosophie de la Guerre”, in Le Spectateur Militaire,... These served to reinforce the image of Napoleon as a genius of war. Other articles of a more professional nature pointed out the changes to military sciences that Napoleon used on the battlefield. These included his use of the corps system, his operational marching tempo, and his tactical organization among others. [8][8] “A M. le Directeur du Spectateur militaire”, in Le... Then there were those authors who continued to conclude that Napoleon made good decisions throughout, right up to the end of the Empire. There were articles that praised Napoleon’s system, his operations, and his impact on Europe. [9][9] Pelet, “Bataille de la Moskowa”, in Le Spectateur Militaire,... In the most extreme example, General Jean Jacques Pelet in his multi-part series on the 1813 campaign went as far as to defend Napoleon by accusing the Allies of warmongering and not being serious about Napoleon’s peace overtures. [10][10] Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la champagne... He cited the Trachtenberg plan negotiated during the armistice as the best example of the Allies taking advantage of the armistice in the summer of 1813 to prepare for war, whilst this is a narrative usually associated with Napoleon.

6

There is an opposition flavour in these first years, particularly when the articles strongly defend Napoleon by blaming other subordinate commanders; of these, the most often blamed are Ney and Grouchy. Frequently however the culprits are indicated more generally, such as for example when the French people in 1814 were held responsible for the defeat. [11][11] Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne... These articles blaming subordinate commanders and other factors for Napoleon’s defeat led into wider debates between different factions in the current French political and social debates of the 1820s. Issue two of the first volume of the Spectateur carried on a multi-part series defending General Gourgaud’s attack on General Ségur’s critical history of the 1812 campaign. [12][12] Marbot, “Suite de l’examen des ouvrages de MM. les... This was not surprising as Gourgaud was one of the companions of St Helena and one of the founding generals of the journal, and as such his pro-Napoleon perspective came through in this examination of the two points of view. The issue of Grouchy and Waterloo came to the fore with a number of articles blaming the former for Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo and for failing to pursue at Ligny. [13][13] “Cours d’art et d’histoire militaires”, in Le Spectateur... Grouchy even posted several letters to the editor as part of the debate. [14][14] “Lettre de M. le marquis de Grouchy á M. le lieutenant-général... References, veneration, and personal experience were the principle ways in which the contributors of Le Spectateur Militaire invoked the ghost of Napoleon.

7

The most interesting aspect of Le Spectateur Militaire during this period was the tremendous influence of General Jean Pelet. No other single author wrote as many articles for the journal through 1830, had more reviews of his memoirs and historical works, and responded to criticism of his arguments. His historical work in this period was prolific. His work on the 1813 Campaign was the largest serial set of articles in Le Spectateur Militaire ever, consisting of over 300 pages in twelve articles over an eighteen month period from 1826 through 1829. The purpose of his study was to defend Napoleon’s decisions and actions through the identification of sound strategic principles in the operations. Beginning with the manoeuvring prior to the battle of Bautzen running to the end of the battle of Leipzig, Pelet argued that Napoleon was defeated because his subordinate commanders were not able enough, smart enough, or obedient enough, and that his army was composed of second rate allies and untrained French troops. [15][15] Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne... The most impressive thing about Pelet’s history or analysis was his use of primary source documents. Throughout the articles, Pelet reproduced for his readers pertinent orders and correspondence to illustrate his points. He made extensive use of Napoleon’s correspondence (published in 1819) to demonstrate the ways in which certain French generals in the field misunderstood and disobeyed the Emperor’s orders and intent. In fact, in the first article Pelet referred to the importance of using these documents so that readers can reach their own conclusions and verify his. This use of primary sources in an objective way reflected the new source driven history practiced by the German historian Leopold von Ranke.

8

In addition to the epic nature of his military history, Pelet brought something else to Le Spectateur Militaire in particular and the study of Napoleon in general. Unique among the officers writing articles in this period, Pelet created a coherent analysis of Napoleon’s generalship in the 1813 campaign and extended that analysis to describe Napoleon’s system of war. For Pelet, Napoleon had a very definite system of war, and that system focused primarily on strategy. As such, Pelet used the 1813 campaign to illustrate the ways in which Napoleon’s subordinates failed to see and implement the emperor’s strategic vision. At the beginning of the campaign, Pelet argued that Napoleon’s objective was Berlin and it was Ney who did not execute his orders fast enough to steal a march on the Prussians. [16][16] Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne... As a result, Napoleon was forced into the battle of Bautzen where once again Ney’s failure to march according to Napoleon’s design led to a less than decisive victory. After the failure of the armistice to establish a peace between Napoleon and the Allies (which Pelet blamed squarely on evil allied machinations), Pelet recognized in Napoleon’s operations a form of offensive-defensive. This explained why the Emperor kept so many troops stationed on the periphery and at strategically important cities far away from the battles that would dominate the campaign, such as the over 100,000 men in detachments under the command of Davout in Hamburg and Kellermann at the Zitau gap leading into Austrian territory. [17][17] Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne... While the offensive-defensive allowed Napoleon to rapidly concentrate against Schwarzenberg at Dresden, the requirements to maintain so many troops on his strategic flanks made his concentrations less effective. The failure to achieve a decisive victory at Dresden combined with the failure of his subordinates at the battles of Dennewitz and Katzbach set up a very different battle of Leipzig than Pelet believed the Emperor envisioned.

9

As a capstone analysis of the entire campaign, Pelet used the battle of Leipzig to illustrate what he identified as the elements of Napoleon’s system of war. Sounding much like Jomini and other theorists of the past century, Pelet identified six main elements in Napoleon’s offensive operations on the first day of the battle of Leipzig, 16 October 1813. The first was Napoleon’s use of interior lines to concentrate his smaller army against his numerically superior enemy. Next he praised Napoleon’s use of initiative by going on the offensive and directing diverging movements against the decisive point. He identified Napoleon’s signature use of simultaneous attacks on the enemies center and flank that led to all of the Emperor’s great victories. He then commended Napoleon’s use of lines and bases of operations, the advantages of unity of command in the Grande Armée, and his understanding of the effect of terrain when choosing a battlefield. [18][18] Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne... Pelet’s comments combined with his analysis of the entire campaign of 1813 created what he considered a complete understanding of Napoleon’s system of war. This was the first and only time a French officer attempted that endeavor in Le Spectateur Militaire. He also added a brief analysis of the 1814 campaign in his last few articles. In it, he criticized the large, unwieldy, and exhausted army that defended France. He praised Napoleon’s organization for the defense and his reinforcement of key fortresses and garrisons, but in the end blamed him for not being pragmatic enough in the defense, and for expecting the French people to come to his support enough to drive the foreign armies back. [19][19] Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne... This was an interesting historical analysis of the campaign in particular and Napoleonic warfare in general, but it was also part of Pelet’s efforts to influence the French army as it searched for a role in restoration France.

10

In 1818, Pelet was the secretary to the tremendously important defence committee that established France’s strategic goals and priorities and which recommended changes to the army that would dominat its organization through the remainder of the nineteenth century. With limited resources in terms of money and men, and what looked like an unfriendly Europe following the Napoleonic Wars, the French Army had a very difficult strategic problem following Waterloo. Pelet argued in the face of engineers who looked only to fortresses, championing rather a French army of professional soldiers supported by a reserve of militia and veterans. For Pelet reserves would man the garrisons and fortifications, whilst the smaller professional army would manoeuvre to engage the invading army and crush it in a decisive battle. This battle would use a pragmatic “chessboard” approach to a defence in depth that would wear the enemy down and leave them vulnerable to attack. [20][20] Cox, 61-65. Pelet’s strategic ideas meshed perfectly with his understanding of the Napoleonic era, and not surprisingly all these ideas had been put forward in his articles on 1813. He praised Napoleon’s strategic vision, his ability to bring his enemies to battle, and the effectiveness of concentrating smaller numbers against bigger enemies. He blamed the large non-professional army of 1813 led by subordinate commanders who did not understand his vision and could not follow orders for Napoleon’s defeat. And Pelet’s critique of Napoleon’s handling of the 1814 campaign dovetailed with his concept of a new French army that would take a more pragmatic approach to the defence of France and would not rely on the French people. He expressed these ideas in a series of other articles in Le Spectateur Militaire defining strategy and outlining his own system of tactics. [21][21] Pelet, “De la Division”, in Le Spectateur Militaire,... The topics included a thorough discussion of infantry tactics and the maneuver of infantry corps. Through his writings on history and military theory, Pelet (uniquely within the officer corps of this period) created a complete and internally consistent analysis of the Napoleonic period, and he used that understanding to influence the French army of the 1820s and 30s.

11

1830 was a tumultuous year for France as another Revolution drove out Charles X and ushered in the July Monarchy. The army played a limited role in the defense of the Bourbon monarchy; however the change of government brought a similar change in Le Spectateur Militaire. The last vestiges of its opposition roots were swept away as the journal embraced even more vigorously the apolitical nature of the new French Army. The editor of the journal changed, and with him the old cadre of authors including Pelet. From 1831 through to 1836, readers would no longer get the arguments of the Napoleonic era, and gone in large part was an interest in the history of the Napoleonic Wars. Whatever the reason, the journal began to focus more on current theoretical debates in military science, the state of the French Army, and operations in Africa. The few remaining Napoleonic references fell into two general types; those articles which revered Napoleon as a master of war, and those that criticized his generalship or more interestingly left him out of the military history of the Napoleonic era.

12

While history became a smaller part of Le Spectateur Militaire from 1831 through to 1836, the history that did appear in its pages had a very different scope from that during the first five years. There was a series of articles focused on the French wars of religion from 1585 through 1590 as well as articles of general French military history that began with the reign of Henri IV. [22][22] Saint-Yon, “Fragment de l’histoire de la France, Guerres... The wars of Louis XIV were the subject of a number of articles, especially the battle of Malplaquet. [23][23] “Extraites de Mémoires Contemporains inédits sur la... There were even articles concerning the military history of the Seven Years’ War and Frederick the Great. [24][24] “Surprise de Schweidnitz en 1761”, in Le Spectateur... These articles broadened the history available to French military professionals and reflected the more eclectic tastes of the officer corps after 1830. Of the articles on the Napoleonic era, by far the most numerous focused on the Peninsular War. There were articles on sieges and operations throughout the peninsula. [25][25] “Extraites de Mémoires Contemporains inédits sur la... There were even articles from the English perspective on the military career of Wellington, the attack on the lines of Torres Vedras, and even an in-depth review of Napier’s War in the Peninsula. [26][26] “Réflexions sur les campagnes de Lord Wellington en... This reflected an interest in the combination of counter-insurgency and conventional operations of particular applicability to those officers then serving in Africa. There was far more interest in the Wars of the French Revolution than in the Napoleonic period. Several long articles recounted the operations in 1799 in Switzerland and Germany. [27][27] Molitor, “Campagne de 1799 en Suisse”, in Le Spectateur... There was a series of articles that presented the major sections of Voudoncourt’s Collection des vues de batailles, combats, etc., qui ont eu lieu en Italie pendant les campaigns des Francais en 1796, 1797 et 1800 published through the Depot de la guerre. [28][28] “Collection des vues de batailles”, in Le Spectateur... These volumes did include Napoleon, but followed Pelet’s examples of the use of primary source documents to place Napoleon in the context of the French experience.

13

There were nevertheless several articles that revered Napoleon’s generalship and which gloried in his victories. In articles analyzing the battle of Austerlitz, one author placed responsibility for that decisive victory on Napoleon’s shoulders. [29][29] Auguste Petiet, “Souvenirs d’Austerlitz”, in Le Spectateur... In an article about the importance of the effect of terrain on war, Napoleon was counted among the masters of its use. [30][30] M. Lavallée, “Géographie physique, historique et militaire”,... Additionally, the emperor’s use of cavalry was referenced as a way to introduce arguments for its use on the modern battlefield. [31][31] Caraman, “Réflexions sur l’emploi de la cavalerie dans... There were several instances in which he was also referred to as one of the great captains of history. [32][32] Guingret, “De la Défense et des attaques”, in Le Spectateur... In one of the more interesting analyses, Napoleon was vindicated for his generalship during the 1812 campaign when the author praised his operations and blamed his defeat on the fact that even great men cannot control destiny. [33][33] Chrzanouski, “Observations sur la Champagne de Russie... The change in these articles with respect to the first five years would seem to have been brought about by the temporal distance from the Napoleonic period. At the beginning of the journal’s life the subject of Napoleon played an active part in the discussions and debates of the French profession of arms. However in this period, the articles that glorified Napoleon took a far more distant and historical view than the preceding section. The references could just as easily have been of Alexander or Caesar than of Napoleon.

14

And not only was there a reduction in works that praised Napoleon. In the second five years of the journal’s life there was also a growing number of works that criticized Napoleon or left him out of the military history of his era. This included articles on the Wars of the French Revolution in general, and even articles on battles and campaigns which Napoleon took an active part. [34][34] “Principes de la grande guerre”, in Le Spectateur Militaire,... These included articles on the battle of Marengo and Arcole that excluded references to the Emperor. [35][35] “Précis des opérations des armées françaises pendant... There were even articles claiming that Napoleon represented no Revolution in military affairs at all. One article used quotations from Napoleon’s memoirs in which the emperor referred to his debt to past masters in order to prove that there had really been nothing different in warfare since the seventeenth century. [36][36] Valaze, “Quelques mots sur le système de guerre actuelle,... Throughout the articles on military theory and tactics there began to be an increasing number of negative references to Napoleons 1813 campaigns. [37][37] De Ternay, “Traité de tactique”, in Le Spectateur Militaire,... How should we interpret the fact that the number of articles critical of Napoleon or excluding him began to equal or outnumber those of his admirers? Should we see this as evidence for an officer corps not quite as beholden to its Napoleonic heritage as it was in the period prior to the July Monarchy?

15

The first ten years of Le Spectateur Militaire (over 13,000 pages in the twenty-two volumes) was a remarkable beginning. And several interesting conclusions may be drawn. The first of which was how extensively and consistently it was a truly professional journal. The articles presented in Le Spectateur Militaire presented current events, theoretical and doctrinal debates all by active serving or retired officers. This discourse reflected the intellectual arguments and work being done by the French Army throughout this period. The journal also focused on current trends in military organization, regulations, doctrine, technology, and tactics by reviewing foreign military journals and reporting on foreign armies. This kept the French officer corps abreast of improvements across Europe, but it also encouraged innovation. Finally, the use of primary sources when analyzing battlefield decision making and military history presented the French officer corps with the raw materials needed for continued professional development. These elements were not to appear in a single journal in the United States Army for another fifty years, and it took until the turn of the nineteenth century for the American Army officer corps to achieve the same levels of professionalisation as the French Army in the 1820s and 1830s. This was an impressive feat for the officer corps of a French Army that was supposed to be insular, small minded, and focused only on the frontier.

16

The use of the Napoleonic era in arguments, historical articles, and doctrinal pieces presented a fairly clear chronological picture of how the French officer corps thought about and internalized Napoleon’s legacy with the period from 1826-1830 being one of consistent praise and adoration, and the second period from 1831-1836 which had a smaller number of pro-Napoleon authors when compared to those critical or ambivalent. However, what was lacking across this period was the use of the Napoleonic experience by a French author to create a complete theory of war or even of tactics. To a certain extent, both Clausewitz and Jomini used the Napoleonic experience in general and Napoleon’s generalship in particular to craft their respective treatises on war. There was no such French theorist of the same period. Pelet came closest to any, especially closer than any of the other authors in Le Spectateur Militaire. But while Pelet used Napoleon’s generalship to validate his own conceptualization of what the French Army should be during the Bourbon Restoration, he failed to carry his arguments further to create a more thorough understanding of Napoleon’s system as a theory of war. While many elements of such a theory were present in his multi-article series on 1813, Pelet never put these thoughts together in a single manuscript or argument.

17

Lastly, the articles about, and references to, Napoleon in the first ten years of Le Spectateur Militaire reveal a great deal about what part of the Napoleonic Wars the French officers and veterans cared most about in the arguments and revisionist histories that came out after the wars. A reader might perhaps expect Napoleon’s glory to be represented by what we consider his greatest victories, Austerlitz, Jena-Auerstadt, Ulm, Marengo, Friedland, or his First Italian Campaign. Instead, it was the campaigns at the end of the empire that received the most attention. The invasion of Russia, the defence of France, and the Battle of Waterloo were written about and referenced more than any of the previously mentioned campaigns, and the most frequent subject of all was the fighting in 1813. Far and away, 1813 fascinated the French officer corps in this period more than any other campaigns in the entire Napoleonic era. Pelet used it to encapsulate Napoleon’s system, the references to it were more numerous than all of the other battle references combined. From the strategic level to battlefield tactics, it was 1813 which captured the professional imagination of Le Spectateur Militaire in its first decade.

Notes

[*]

This paper was presented at the Annual Conference of the Consortium on the Revolutionary Era, 1750-1850, 23-25 February 2012.

[1]

Major in the United States Army, currently serving in the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. From 2006 to 2009, he was Assistant Professor at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY.

[2]

In this paper, I use the expression ‘Napoleonic memory’ to mean the way in which Napoleon is remembered.

[3]

Twenty-one of the first twenty-two volumes of Le Spectateur Militaire as well as a large number of the other volumes of the journal can be found online as downloadable documents from Google books.

[4]

Gary P. Cox, The Halt in the Mud: French Strategic Planning from Waterloo to Sedan, Westview Press: San Francisco, 1994, p. 61-63, 84.

[5]

This was different from the predominantly engineering and artillery focus of the Journal des Sciences Militaires. See “The Periodical Publications of France”, in The Monthly Review: from January to April Inclusive, no 4, 1827, London, p. 464-465.

[6]

Paddy Griffith, Military Thought in the French Army, 1815-1851, Manchester University Press: New York, 1989, p. 63.

[7]

“Philosophie de la Guerre”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 2, no 9, 1827, p. 485; Janin, “Sur le projet de M. D. B.”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 9, no50, 1830, p. 181; Fragment sur l’art militaire”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 4, 1828, p. 383-388.

[8]

“A M. le Directeur du Spectateur militaire”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 5, no25, 1828, p. 54; “Philosophie de la Guerre”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 2, no9, 1827, p. 487; Chambray, “Changemens survenus dans l’art de la guerre depuis 1700 jusqu’en 1815”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 9, no49, 1830, p. 11, 21-23.

[9]

Pelet, “Bataille de la Moskowa”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 8, 1830, p. 149-150; Alexander Doin, “Napoléon et l’Europe”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 4, no19, 1828, p. 76-85; Pelet, “Réponse aux observations d’un général prussien”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 4, 1828, p. 147-187.

[10]

Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 1, no2, 1826, p. 158-159, 165.

[11]

Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 1, no1, 1826, p. 51; Alexander Doin, “Napoléon et l’Europe”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 4, no19, 1828, p. 76-85; Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 3, no18, 1827, p. 585; Pelet, “Bataille de la Moskowa”, Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 8, 1830, p. 148.

[12]

Marbot, “Suite de l’examen des ouvrages de MM. les généraux Ségur et Gourgaud”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 1, no2, 1826, p. 128-145, 228-245, 424-443.

[13]

“Cours d’art et d’histoire militaires”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 9, no49, 1830, p. 68; Janin, “Publications de MM. les généraux Grouchy et Gérard”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 9, no50, 1830, p. 189-90, 203; Heymés, “Relation de la Champagne de 1815”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 8, 1830, p. 552-568; Gérard, “Quelques documens sur la bataille de Waterloo”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 8, 1830, p. 469-470; “Lettre de M. le lieutenant-général Grouchy au directeur du Spectateur militaire”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 8, 1830, p. 610-611.

[14]

“Lettre de M. le marquis de Grouchy á M. le lieutenant-général Lamarque”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 6, no35, 1829, p. 401-402; “Lettre de M. le lieutenant-général Grouchy au directeur du Spectateur militaire”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 8, 1830, p. 610-611.

[15]

Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 1, no1, 1826, p. 50-51.

[16]

Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 1, no1, 1826, p. 52.

[17]

Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 1, no2, 1826, p. 164-167.

[18]

Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 3, no16, 1827, p. 365-68.

[19]

Pelet, “Des Principales Opérations de la Champagne de 1813”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 3, no18, 1827, p. 583-585.

[20]

Cox, 61-65.

[21]

Pelet, “De la Division”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 2, no9, 1827, p. 260-282; Pelet, “Essai sur les manoeuvres d’un corps d’infanterie”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 4, 1828, p. 309-348; Pelet, “Sur les carrés d’infanterie”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 5, no25, 1828, p. 42.

[22]

Saint-Yon, “Fragment de l’histoire de la France, Guerres de religion”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 17, no97, 1834, p. 5-34; Sicard, “Recherches historiques sur les forces militaires de la France”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 14, no79, 1832, p. 61-79.

[23]

“Extraites de Mémoires Contemporains inédits sur la guerre de la Succession d’Espagne”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 16, no 92, 1833, p. 113-136; Sicard, “Recherches historiques sur les forces militaires de la France”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 14, no84, 1833, p. 613-636.

[24]

“Surprise de Schweidnitz en 1761”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 12, no71, 1831, p. 514-527; “Observations sur le Tableau analytique des principes combinaisons de la guerre”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 12, no72, 1831, p. 553; De Vault, “Mémoires militaires relatifs á la succession d’Espagne sous Louis XIV”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 21, no122, 1836, p. 121-141.

[25]

“Extraites de Mémoires Contemporains inédits sur la guerre de la Succession d’Espagne”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 16, no92, 1833, p. 113-136; “Observations sur ce qui concerne le général Duhesme”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 17, no99, 1834, p. 316-344.

[26]

“Réflexions sur les campagnes de Lord Wellington en Europe”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 15, no88, 1833, p. 365-391; Napier, “Histoire de la guerre de la Péninsule”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 19, no112, 1835, p. 433-442; “Mémoires sur les lignes de Torrés Védras”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 13, no75, 1832, p. 328; “De la guerre d’insurrection dans la Péninsule”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 18, no105, 1834, p. 277-303.

[27]

Molitor, “Campagne de 1799 en Suisse”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 11, no61, 1831, p. 109-132; “Bataille de Hohenlinden”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 22, no129, 1836, p. 260-266; “Précis des opérations des armées françaises”, Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 22, no130, 1837, p. 353-385.

[28]

“Collection des vues de batailles”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 16, no92, 1833, p. 179-200.

[29]

Auguste Petiet, “Souvenirs d’Austerlitz”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 17, no98, 1834, p. 161-186; “Sur la relation de la bataille d’Austerlitz”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 21, no124, 1836, p. 421-425.

[30]

M. Lavallée, “Géographie physique, historique et militaire”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 21, no123, 1836, p. 328.

[31]

Caraman, “Réflexions sur l’emploi de la cavalerie dans les batailles”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 18, no108, 1835, p. 585-588.

[32]

Guingret, “De la Défense et des attaques”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 19, no111, 1835, p. 273-292.

[33]

Chrzanouski, “Observations sur la Champagne de Russie en 1812”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 14, no80, 1832, p. 191.

[34]

“Principes de la grande guerre”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 11, no65, 1831, p. 435-438.

[35]

“Précis des opérations des armées françaises pendant les campagnes de 1800 et 1801”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 22, no131, 1837, p. 465-495.

[36]

Valaze, “Quelques mots sur le système de guerre actuelle, et sur le nombre des combattans á Malplaquet, Wagram, et la Moskowa”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 16, no95, 1833, p. 481-491; “Les sciences militaires ont-elles fait, en France, des progrès depuis 1789?”, Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 16, no96, 1834, p. 690-695.

[37]

De Ternay, “Traité de tactique”, in Le Spectateur Militaire, vol. 17, no98, 1834, p. 195, 430.

Résumé

English

With the Bourbon restoration, the French military had to deal with its Napoleonic past in a way that allowed it to compete with the other European armies. Thus, the Napoleonic era had both a political and military effect on the officer corps. Part of the process of rebuilding the army after 1815 was the strengthening of the military art through both educational institutions and journals. Although several different groups of officers attempted to launch military journals in the early 1820s, the political climate in France prevented them from being anything other than dry technical periodicals. It was not until 1826 when a group of general officers started Le Spectateur Militaire. This journal braved official censure and criticism by seeking to become a real forum for military discussion, debate, and education. It published book reviews, current military commentary, and editorials alongside historical articles of the Napoleonic Wars from the officers that fought them both still serving and retired. Although this journal started with opposition and Bonapartist sympathies, it rapidly grew into the most prestigious military journal in France, and had a wide European readership.
The curious circumstances of Le Spectateur Militaire make it an excellent window into the culture of the French officer corps, and how those officers individually and as group incorporated their Napoleonic past with their Bourbon present. This is especially true of the first decade of its print run from 1826 to 1836. This period was after the death of Napoleon and the French military intervention in Spain, and thus part of a great military revival in France. Additionally, this period saw the French intervention in Algiers in 1830, but ends right at the time that Marshal Thomas Robert Bugeaud took over in 1836 and lead what would become a change in the French military culture from the Napoleonic French army, to one more familiar with smaller conflicts and the policing duties of an emerging empire. This decade was characterized by two distinct periods. The first from 1826 through 1830 was a period of veneration of Napoleon and a fascination with the campaigns of the end of the empire from 1812 through 1815. The second period from 1831 through 1836 was characterized by a significant reduction of the interest in the military history of the Napoleonic era, and even a number of articles critical of Napoleon’s actions and legacy. In all, this period provides a unique picture of the political and military impact of Napoleon on a generation of French officers.

Français

Avec la restauration des Bourbons, l’armée française a dû faire face à son passé napoléonien d'une manière qui lui permette de rivaliser avec les autres armées européennes. Ainsi, l'ère napoléonienne a eu à la fois un effet politique et militaire sur le corps des officiers. Une partie du processus de reconstruction de l'armée après 1815 passa par le renforcement de l'art militaire, à la fois avec les établissements d'enseignement et la publication de revues. Bien que plusieurs groupes d’officiers aient tenté de lancer des revues militaires dans le début des années 1820, le climat politique en France les a empêchées d'être autre chose que des revues techniques arides. Ceci jusqu’en 1826, quand un groupe d'officiers généraux créèrent Le Spectateur Militaire. Ce journal a bravé la censure officielle et la critique en cherchant à devenir un véritable forum de discussion militaire, de débat et d’éducation. Il a publié des critiques de livres, des commentaires sur des questions militaires actuelles et des éditoriaux à côté d’articles historiques sur les guerres napoléoniennes, venant d’officiers qui s’étaient battus et étaient encore en service ou à la retraite. Bien que ce journal ait bénéficié à ses débuts de sympathies bonapartistes et de l'opposition, il est rapidement devenu le journal militaire le plus prestigieux en France, et a touché un large lectorat européen.
Les circonstances curieuses de la création du Spectateur militaire en font un excellent aperçu de la culture du corps des officiers français, et de la façon dont ces officiers, de manière individuelle ou collective, ont intégré leur passé napoléonien à leur présent bourbonien. Cela est particulièrement vrai pendant la première décennie de son tirage, de 1826 à 1836. Cette période suit la mort de Napoléon et l'intervention militaire française en Espagne, et fait donc partie d'un grand réveil militaire en France. Cette période a vu aussi l'intervention française à Alger en 1830, et se termine juste au moment où le maréchal Thomas Robert Bugeaud reprit du service en 1836, pour conduire ce qui allait devenir un changement dans la culture militaire française depuis l'armée napoléonienne, davantage confrontée à de petits conflits et aux devoirs de police d'un empire émergent. Cette décennie a été caractérisée par deux périodes distinctes. La première, de 1826 à 1830, a été une période de vénération de Napoléon et une fascination pour les campagnes de la fin de l'Empire de 1812 à 1815. La deuxième période, de 1831 à 1836, fut caractérisée par une réduction significative de l'intérêt pour l'histoire militaire de l'époque napoléonienne, et même par la parution d’un certain nombre d'articles critiques envers les actions de Napoléon et de son héritage. Dans l'ensemble, cette période offre une image unique de l'impact politique et militaire de Napoléon sur toute une génération d'officiers français.

Pour citer cet article

Bonura Michael, « Napoleonic Memory and the French Officer Corps: An Analysis of Le Spectateur Militaire from 1826 to 1836 », Napoleonica. La Revue, 3/2012 (N° 15), p. 106-118.

URL : http://www.cairn.info/revue-napoleonica-la-revue-2012-3-page-106.htm
DOI : 10.3917/napo.123.0106


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