letters to friends


Great quotes curated by a great man from the most authoritative book on Napoleon. I can’t help but relate this to the work we do.

‘living off the land’ allowed Napoleon a speed of manoeuvre (French) that was to become an essential element of his strategy. ‘The strength of the army, like powers in mechanics, is the product of multiplying the mass by the velocity.’ He encouraged everything that permitted faster movement, including the use of forced marches which more or less doubled the 15 miles per day a demi-brigade could move.

We move fast, faster than IHS and everyone about us… what was the picture that Carolyn sent us? “life in a fast-moving stream”

In warm weather the French did not sleep in tents, they ‘marched so rapidly that they could not have carried with them all the requisite baggage.

Carolyn, we are looking at you

“Napoleon’s armies moved at what is calculated to be twice the speed of Julius Caesar’s”

In the modern world we are 5 times faster than anything out there.

“Youth is almost indispensable in commanding an army, so necessary are high spirits, daring, and pride to such a task.”

I love this quote from the book because, for some miraculous reason we have kept our youth, it is like we never grew up and got cynical. We still believe like some weird peter pan syndrome.

“he reported that he had lost 150 men against Austria’s two thousand, even though casualty lists and count of corpses had undoubtedly told him the true numbers. He knew that with no real means of obtaining corroboration, the French people would believe the figures he chose to tell them.”

Once he got the public support he could would actually make these numbers real. Nobody knows what we are doing, for a long time nobody knew what was happing to Ft. McDermitt. They were playing the numbers game. A shell game of money and support. The tables have reversed. We control the numbers and now and write the new story.

“throughout his career, he displayed and extraordinary ability to present the terrible news as merely bad, bad news as unwelcome but acceptable, acceptable news as good and good news as a triumph!”

Enter stage right, Carolyn.

“Napoleon new that if he continued to win battles he would have the whip hand over the ‘Directory’ back in France, and he could control the future”

Simply put, we need to win.

“when the Austrian army suddenly blundered into the town. Napoleon calmly informed their parlementaire (officer sent the parley) that his ‘whole army was present and that ‘if in eight minutes his division had not laid down it’s arms, I would not spare an man’ he supported this ruse by issuing orders to Berthier about grenadier and artillery units that Berthier knew were entirely bogus. The Austrians only discovered once they had surrendered and been disarmed that there were no French forces nearby, and that they could have captured Napoleon with ease.”

Sometimes we just have to bluff. Thank you Peter for getting this aspect during negotiations.

On battle

“the game really is for us to throw the ball from one to the other, so as to deceive that old fox”

Here is a big one.

“Napoleon was highly conscious of the power of propaganda, and he now made a conscious effort to influence public opinion, which already heavily was in his favor. He began his new career as a press proprietor and journalist by dictating such sentences as ‘Bonaparte flies like lightening and strikes like a thunderbolt’ within ten days the journal was obliquely criticizing the ‘Directory’ he did not want the Italian campaign sidelined by bureaucracy.’

“in one year Napoleon had crossed the Apennines and the Alps, defeated no fewer than six Austrian armies, and killed, wounded or captured 120,000 Austrian soldiers. All this he had done before his 28th birthday.”

Well, never did that. But we have all done some cool shit and so have you.
This next part is the most important.

“Napoleon’s military philosophy and habits first became visible. He believed above all in the maintenance of a strong ‘esprirt de corps’ “remember it takes ten campaigns to create esprit de corps which can be destroyed in and instant”

“he understood the psychology of the ordinary soldier and power of pride. Plays, songs, proclamations, festivals, ceremonies, symbols, standards, medals. Napoleon instinctively understood what soldiers wanted, and he gave it to them.”

Peter as Santa Claus… And perhaps the most important.

“moral factors account for three-quarters of the whole; relative material strength account for only one-quarter”

His words not mine. But I concur.

Let’s do this