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Friday, 16 October 2015


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Poor old Marshal Ney almost always gets a bad write-up about Waterloo. There was a military historian (wish I could remember his name) who took a different approach, roughly thus: "Ney had been commanding French troops in battle, with a fair degree of success, for the past twenty years. As I have not, I do not feel qualified to criticise his tactics."

Similarly, a naval historian (might even have been the mighty Corbett) pointed out that no-one alive had manoeuvred a fleet under sail. So it was a bit rich criticising Calder, or indeed, Villeneuve.

While such an attitude might mean a lot of military historians out of work, I have noticed a trend over past decades to at least consider that old generals (and admirals) had some idea of what they were about - even First World War generals!

As the saying goes in theatre-land, "Critics! Don'cha lurve 'em?" So you have a point, Admiral, and there can be no doubting Ney's personal courage, nor his abilities on the basis of what I read yonks ago concerning the retreat from Moscow where as commander of the rear guard he was well and truly tested. However, I suspect that under the pressure of leading the battle under the gaze of his CinC, he simply forgot to take the horse gunners with him.

Anyway, as an ex-Corporal I enjoy giving a General a rocket!

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