Napoleon's Influence on Lee Robert Term Paper

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" (p. 164) the army of Charles was defeated in this battle however, it was not destroyed. The total loss of life in this campaign for each side of the battle was astronomical.


The work of Lieutenant Colonel Herman L. Gilster entitled: "Robert E. Lee and Modern Decision Theory" published in the Air University Review (1972) states in the Battle of Chancellorsville, in Virginia in May 1863 involved a battle between the Union Army of the Potomac, headed by Major General Joseph L. Hooker and the Army of Northern Virginia, led by General Robert E. Lee. Specifically stated is:

During the campaign, Lee, with a force approximately half the size of Hooker's, repulsed the North's advance into Virginia and achieved a strategic victory that has been studied by students of military art throughout the world. However, today's critics of the quantitative-oriented decision tools being used by our military services say that this battle would never have transpired if these same tools had been used then. They feel that under the present decision-making process Lee would not have met Hooker's advance but instead would have retreated to southern Virginia or even into North Carolina. Contrary to that course, Lee decided to give battle, and he won a brilliant victory." (Gilster, 1972)

Gilster writes that in this battle "Lee had interpreted Hooker's strategy. Leaving Major General Jubal Early, C.S.A., with 10,000 men to face Sedgwick, Lee moved his units towards Chancellorsville. The first clash occurred on the afternoon of the first, and Hooker, apparently having lost his courage, gave up the initiative and recalled his much larger force to Chancellorsville into a defensive position. That night Lee and Lieutenant General "Stonewall" Jackson, aware of Hooker's hesitancy, conceived a daring plan. Lee would maintain his position with approximately 17,000 men and demonstrate against Hooker's front, while Jackson would take the remaining force, using Major General Jeb Stuart's cavalry as a screen, and turn the enemy flank." (1974) it took most of the next day for this movement by Lee's army however, just prior to sunset "Jackson struck Hooker's exposed flank. The battle raged during the night until the Federal Army gave way before Jackson's thrusts." (Gilster, 1974)

Tillburg (1990) states: "Lee had suffered an irreparable loss at Chancellorsville when "Stonewall" Jackson was mortally wounded. Now reorganized into three infantry corps under Longstreet, a.P. Hill, and R.S. Ewell, and a cavalry division under J.E.B. Stuart, a changed Army of Northern Virginia faced the great test that lay ahead. "Stonewall" Jackson, the right hand of Lee, and in the words of the latter the finest executive officer the sun ever shone on," was no longer present to lead his corps in battle'." (1990) the maneuver utilized by Lee in Chancellorsville was that of the 'envelopment'. (the Molossian Naval Academy, nd)


Te battle of Asper-Essling was one of defeat for Napoleon. One reason believed that Napoleon's army suffered defeat in this battle is because Napoleon "...failed to take into account the murderous violence of artillery fire of the Austrians."(Epstein, 1994) Epstein notes the "...high proportion of Austrian guns" to the men in the army of Napoleon. (p.101) in a letter to Eugene, Napoleon wrote that he believed his army has faced more than 400 guns in the battle of Asper-Essling. Because of this, Napoleon is said to have secured 683 guns prior to entering the Wagram Campaign. Smothers (2007) writes that mistakes made by Lee in the Civil War Battle of Antienam included that Lee, "...against the advice of his subordinate generals chose to fight in an area with the Potomac at his army's back and insufficient room to maneuver and totally outnumbered." However, while the confederate plans were known to McClellan leading the Union army he was nevertheless suffering "what Lincoln called the 'slows'." (Smothers, 2007) Antienam ended up being called a 'draw' with neither side winning this battle. Smothers writes that Lee made mistakes in two other battles: (1) the Battle of Fredericksburg: Lee defeated Burnside but chose the wrong battlefield. Burnside moved back North with no decisive victor in this battle; (2) During the Battle of Gettysburg "when he ordered a ruinous charge against entrenched Union forces up Missionary ridge." (Smothers, 2007)


The battle of Waterloo was the last battle of Napoleon's career and was a defensive battle following wet weather. Robert M. Epstein, in the work entitled: "Napoleon's Last Victory and the Emergence of Modern War" writes that in his use of 'Napoleonic' war tactics, Robert E. Lee made a decision that Gettysburg should be a decisive war - and indeed it was because it was this battle that determined the winner of the Civil War. Epstein additionally states in Chapter 12 "The Emergence of Modern War" that the decisive victories of Napoleon "were only possible against the obsolete armies of the 'ancien regime'." Epstein writes that a war is considered modern "when it was marked by the fullest mobilization of the resources of the state, and when operational campaigns were used to achieve strategic objectives in the various theaters of operation." (1994) Additionally "those operational campaigns were characterized by the use of opposing symmetrical armies raised by conscription, organized into army corps, maneuvered in a distributed fashion so that tactical engagements are sequenced and often simultaneous, with decentralized command and control, and a common doctrine." (Epstein, 1994)

Rory Muir, in the work entitled: "Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon" relates that the smoke was so thick at Waterloo that is was described as "we breathed a new atmosphere - the air was suffocating hot, resembling that issuing from an oven. We were envelope din thick smoke' or 'we every instant expecting through the smoke to see the Enemy appearing under our noses, for the smoke was literally so thick that we could not see ten yards off." (1998; p. 21) Muir describes Waterloo as being a battlefield that was "unusually small" and one that had that day "a high density of soldiers and particularly intense fighting on positions which scarcely changed throughout the day. Evidently there was little or no wind, and both Hougoumont and La Haye Sainte caught fire, adding to the murk." (1998; p.24)

Tillburg (1990) states of the battle of Gettysburg:

The gently rolling farm lands surrounding the little town of Gettysburg, Pa., was fought one of the great decisive battles of American history. For 3 days, from July 1 to 3, 1863, a gigantic struggle between 75,000 Confederates and 97,000 Union troops raged about the town and left 51,000 casualties in its wake. Heroic deeds were numerous on both sides, climaxed by the famed Confederate assault on July 3, which has become known throughout the world as Pickett's Charge. The Union victory gained on these fields ended the last Confederate invasion of the North and marked the beginning of a gradual decline in Southern military power." (Tillberg, 1990)

Even the greatest among military commanders make mistakes. Some of these are exampled in Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo and Lee's defeat at Gettysburg. Robert E. Lee, Confederate field commander is known to have made a great mistake on July 3, 1863 in a wheat field in Pennsylvania. Nearly 13,000 Americans were ordered forward in what was suicide mission. There were three reasons that Lee ordered Pickett to charge:

1) Lee believed that it was the weakest point in the Union Defense Line (directly at the center); (2) Lee thought that Colonel Anderson's artillery would soften the Union Defenses enough to enable his infantry to carry the ride;

Lee was convinced that the Army of North Virginia was unable to be beaten on the field of battle. The Confederate Army of Northern Virginia numbered over 74,000 men and had defeated the Union army in the two previous battles. (Tillberg, 1990)

Furthermore, Lee had received reports from Confederate scouts that reinforcements were moving toward the Union army, which were damaged by the Confederate attacks. When Lee heard this he believed that the army must be weakest at its' center. The second point of consideration was that Lee's army was low on cannon shell therefore the prospect was of either division of artillery and attack of the Union at its flank again or concentration of artillery in what was to be one last assault upon the weakest part of the Union army. Lee had instilled a great amount of faith in Napoleonic tactics. Finally, Lee was sure that the Northern Virginia Army was an unbeatable force. Factors that Lee failed to consider the first of which was that while the Union Army did receive reinforcements on both flank sides the center of the Army was stronger than Lee had anticipated as there were approximately 20,000 as compared to the belief of Lee that there were only 5,000 at the center. Additionally, instead of…

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