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University of Calgary
HTST 489
John Ferris

HTST489 November 25 Military intelligence from Napoleonic toAmerican Civil War Friday: In terms of intelligence, seeing navies and armies starting to reflect developments in science and social development. Nelson and Napoleon both approach intel systematically, collecting as much data as they can. Trying to makes those data points as precise as possible – Nelson's weather log, Napoleon's efforts to represent extraodinary detail about geospatial points on maps – both following patterns of data collection and analysis at the leading edge of western states. Political arithmetic, later known as statistics. Limits are obvious – for Nelson, if fleet is at sea, it's hard to find. In Napoleon's case, uses information in a way no one has before.Application of this intellligence to planning for war and initial stages of attacking an enemy. Without question, most systematic approach we know of. Beyond that, core system, resting on numerical superiority over an enemy, make sure every possible means of moving is covered by your forces. Tactically, Napoleon is like Hannibal, as is Nelson – outstanding commanders, but at a given point misunderstanding how the war will work. Both cases: issue is how do you develop intelligence for actions and develop war plans? Gaps start to emerge at operational level, at sea, finding difficulty gathering info. When Napoleon moves out of central Europe, the system doesn't work nearly as well. Localized sytem that solved local problems – in particular, his invasion of Russia has questionable maps, a lack of underestanding of the true scope of the country. Napoleon tries his normal modes of planning and occupation and they do not work. Once fighting the campaign, Napoleon is against an enemy with systematic intelligence superiority. Cossacks able to blind the French, ensure their knowledge of where the enemy is. Military historians generally agree Napoleon's quality deteriorates after 1809 – relying on sheer numbers rather than tactical skill. Wellington Another localized system. Only works in the peninsula – Spain and Portrugal – but there it is the most powerful and precise system of intelligence up til this stage. Partly fluke. The peninsula is bound by water on three sides, dominated by the royal navy. Handicaps french movements, allows england to gather intel easily. France starts a war with Spain that it doesn't need to, foolishly. Napoleon invades despite Spain being fine with being a satellite and having no interest in war. Start anti-French uprising in Spain. French are unable to knock out the Spanish government and army. Rise of juntas, district or provisional government following Spanish traditions. Not easy to conquer, large, strong government – France commits to hold a large piece of territory. Duke of Wellington in 1920s is looking at British plans to defend Ontario against US invasion following War of 1812. Wellington says you need limited fortifications, forts by rivers, canal systems to link river to fortifications. “Spain is a country where large armies starve and small armies are beaten” - pointing the dilemmas french will deal with in invading Spain. On land, British forces nothing to write home about. Can't send a large army ashore – army they're able to send into the peninsula has numbers around 20-25K UK soldiers. Small number, comparatively. Numerically small, trying to fight a large enemy in the country.Advantages of English - another country in the peninsula (Portrugal, english ally), English able to generate portuguese army of 25,000 men. Borrow portuguese strength. Small army, tiny ability to replace losses. Napoleon can afford to lose more men than Wellington. Wellington is able to evade this fullscale dilemma for a number of reasons. Wellington can see Spanish are a problem for the French. Spanish regular army often beaten in the field, but able to hold small territory in South of Spain. French would have to march over land to confront them.Additionally, French facing guerilla forces across Spain, challenging French control, French has to spread garrisons around. If supplyig an army anywhere on the front, need armed bodyguards and dispatch. Taking on the Spanish is not easy. Wellington uses his around 50K th men to force French into unwinnable stalemate. English army is last 18 century army on earth after French revolutionary forces smash the rest. French tend to attack in column while English move in line. Can fire on a column where 95% of the men can't see who's shooting at them. Wellington is one of the best tacticians of Napoleonic era – better than Napoleon. Careful about deploying forces, can't lose men -makes him more systematic in using geographic advantages. Wellington has a lot of experience in fighting in similar territory – almost a decade of experience in India, learned how difficult to fight in these circumstances, knows what a boon intel can be. Wellington creates combination of intel sources that bring him up to higher level in the period. Has himself, his eyes, his telescope. Wants to gather as much intel as he can on what's in the interior. Disadvantage is that english cavalry is not good at recon. As assault force, they've also got big limitations.Able to see quickly that he has other aids at his disposal. Guerillas invest the territory between him and the french.As an ally of Spain formally, has a very good picture of what's
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