Wars in Europe – Lessons from History

One of my summer reading books was “How far from Austerlitz” by Alistair Horne. With the war in Ukraine apparently bogged down in trench warfare with both sides claiming minor victories but in summary a quite static frontline for months it is worth considering how Napoleon managed to win his battles in central Europe.

The book covers the period 1805-1815 when Napoleon and his French led armies defeated several coalitions of Polish, Prussian, Austrian and Russian armies with England financing them but otherwise taking a back seat in the land battles until Waterloo.

How did Napoleon manage to defeat his opposition when he was often outnumbered? In summary by manoeuvre rather than fighting battles of attrition. A unified and single-minded command structure helped the French but ultimately the weight of overall numbers and economic realities defeated Napoleon.

There are a number of lessons to be learned from this book which I would recommend as an easy read even at 430 pages long.

As I said back in March: “The longer the war goes on, the more difficult it will be to reach an amicable solution as attitudes harden on both sides……” (see https://roliscon.blog/2022/03/08/ukraine-a-more-balanced-view/ ). The war in Ukraine is financially very damaging and has resulted in very high energy and food prices. It needs to be settled in some way and getting stuck in trench warfare which is what is happening is certainly not the solution.

Roger Lawson (Twitter https://twitter.com/RogerWLawson  )

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