Napoleon's lightning conquest of Prussia, accomplished within a month in the autumn of 1806, was perhaps his most spectacularly successful campaign. The twin battles of Jena and Auerstadt, won on the same day, October 14th, by Napoleon himself and his most able Marshal, Davout, annihilated the Prussian army and on 25th October, exactly a month ...
Napoleon's lightning conquest of Prussia, accomplished within a month in the autumn of 1806, was perhaps his most spectacularly successful campaign. The twin battles of Jena and Auerstadt, won on the same day, October 14th, by Napoleon himself and his most able Marshal, Davout, annihilated the Prussian army and on 25th October, exactly a month after invading Prussia, Napoleon entered Berlin and enforced a humiliating peace on his beaten enemy. In his classic account of the campaign, published exactly 100 years ago, F. Loraine Petre explains how Prussia's once vaunted military might ossified in the twenty years after Frederick the Great's death, leading to timidity and political paralysis. What Field-Marshal Roberts in his foreword calls 'a selfish and suicidal policy' of ignoring France as she picked off neighbouring Austria led to defeat and occupation, but ultimately to much needed reform and the re-birth of the Prussian army with its ultimate revenge on Napoleon at Leipzig and Waterloo.
First published in 1907 in the United Kingdom, `Napoleon's Conquest of Prussia 1806' by Loraine Petre is a classic military history of one of Napoleon's great campaigns. The author has written five books on Napoleon and his campaigns and is recognised as one of the pre-eminent military historians of the early twentieth century. In this book, as in the others, he has utilised many first-hand accounts from the various participants to put together an interesting and detailed military study of Napoleons campaign.
This book is his first in the series of five titles published and in over 300 pages of narrative he tells the story of Napoleon's victory at Jena and Marshal Davout's triumph at Auerstadt on the 14th of October, 1806. The book then follows Napoleon's three-week relentless pursuit of the defeated Prussian forces in a classic military movement to destroy the armed might of Prussia once and for all. At the end of the campaign two-thirds of the Prussian army had been killed or made prisoner and four-fifths of Prussia was under Napoleon's control.
Bearing in mind that the book was written at the start of the twentieth century the style of writing contained in the narrative takes a little bit of getting use to but once you have adjusted to that period of time you find you are reading a classic military study. The book is supplied with three large fold-out maps to follow the different stages of the campaign and a number of black and white plates are also provided in the centre of the book.
Overall this is an interesting and enjoyable account of Napoleon's Prussian campaign of 1806 and as one previous reviewer has mentioned it makes a good starting point for further reading. For myself I enjoyed the book so much that I intend to read all five of the author's work.
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