My dear Commandant,
You want me to recommend your new work to our comrades in the army. Is
that not unnecessary?
Useful, interesting and patriotic,
are values that recommend themselves sufficiently and my praise will
not add to its certain success.
With your knowledge of foreign languages you could get into the archives
of other countries for unpublished documents and thus give your book the
valuable character of being the most accurate of any similar subject.
This is the first time that the drama so varied in its exploration is
presented in a manner so complete, so real, so thrilling. You have
cleverly managed to trace the role of cavalry in this final period of the
First Empire, when the highest management of war was offset in part by
the preponderant influence of the number. No question was more essential
to be illuminated for so long to expose in all its truth, and we cannot
thank you enough for having accomplished this difficult task.
Your story is also eventful as a reflection of the action between the
In this diary marching at the double, we see the vain stirring of all
of the cavalry around which a legend was created if false. It collapses
to the clarity of truth. You show us at work, without
any understanding of the necessities of war, with its hesitations, its
indecision, its lack of audacity, its judgments without cause, preyed upon
by constant anxiety, letting itself at times be surprised, inquiring if
it is not bad at all, when the opponent is reduced to almost nothing
as he offers more counter attacks to the action of invading France. This
moving page of history speaks loudly.
By showing all the mistakes in the past, as the propylæum of the
campaign of 1870-71 where the German cavalry, in similar conditions, did
not fight any better than the cavalry, of the allies half a century ago.
This comparison is obvious; it gives more interest in your book and
makes it so informative. Proving once again that when rational exploration
is conducted in either in the past or the present, it will undoubtedly
inspire many of our brilliant cavalrymen with the desire to work towards
We learn more by faults than success.
In tracing the defective phases of exploration in all respects, you drive:
I hope the efforts to make exploration more perfect in the future, and you'll
have made an undeniable service to the army.
Paris, June 29, 1891.
It was not without some trepidation that we deliver for publication the
first volume of this book that has cost us more than ten years of research
and work and which, according to the plan we had originally traced, would
have been found in the second part, the conclusion of our Study of the
Cavalry of the Allied Armies during the 1813 Campaign.
We wanted to remain faithful to this special program and limit
it, by simply highlighting the essentially different processes employed
by the Allied cavalry during these two campaigns and compare the spirit
of initiative, the strength it had shown when it operated in a friendly
country, the relatively restrained role it played during the
campaign in France, the prudence, often carried up to being timid,
which, except in a few special cases, hindered the initiative, denaturing
the means of action of this arm from the day when coalition
forces entered the country.
But in 1814, if we except the raids carried out by the flying corps
of Geismar and of Meininger, in northern and central France, a few blows
of the hand more or less hardy and for the most part of secondary importance
attemptedby Scherbatov, Seslavin, Kaisarov, Tchernitcheff
and Thurn, the mass of the cavalry of Schwarzenberg and of Blücher
dared not do anything without the cooperation and in the immediate vicinity
of the armies of Bohemia and Silesia.
We therefore decided we needed to extend the overarching framework
of our study and follow step by step, day by day, the movements of armies.
We also found in the imperial and royal archives of the war in Vienna,
so many and so precious documents that, while continuing to focus attention
on the role of the cavalry, we have been led farther than we had intended.
Thus, by force of circumstances, we were led to try to write,
as M. General Lewal has asserted in his Preface, a journal marching
on the double, to highlight the weaknesses , errors, hesitations, the
defective organization of the command of Allied Armies, in a word a
reexamination on new basis the complete history of the campaign in
France. If we have not succeeded in this delicate and difficult task,
we hope that one will consider our efforts and find at least in its
length some interesting information, some useful lessons to ponder.
We will add one more word to the preceding lines. We
still have to pay the debt of gratitude we owe to the Austrian officers
whose courtesy and kindness made our research so easy. Also,
although several years have elapsed since then, we have not forgotten the
gracious and friendly host who had been in Vienna, as well as the Department
of Archives and the war we had in issuing this first volume was sent to
H. E. Feldzeugmeister the Baron Bock, Chief of the General Staff of the Austro-Hungarian
Army, his deputy, Field Marshal-lieutenant Galgotzy, and officers that
we had the good fortune to find at the K. K. Kriegs Archive,
a testimony, very weak, very late, but our sincere, deep and abiding gratitude.
Placed on the Napoleon Series: January 2011 - October 2016
Index | Battles
Index | The
Campaign of 1814, Volume II The
Campaign of 1814, Volume III | The
Campaign of 1814, Volume IV ]