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Thread: Did typhus defeat Napoleon's Grand Armeé?

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    Politics.ie Member Partizan's Avatar
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    Default Did typhus defeat Napoleon's Grand Armeé?

    Napoleon march to Russia in 1812: Typhus spread by lice was more powerful than Tchaikovsky’s cannonfire. - Slate Magazine

    The common perception is that it was the combination of the extreme Russian climate (General Winter) as well as the brilliant tactics of Marshal Kutuzov (Borodino, burning of Moscow and the continued harassment of the French forces by the Cossacks). However a new book just published claims that it was typhus that was the ultimate undoing of Napoleon's Grand Armeé. Typhus is spread by the faeces of lice in unhygenic conditions. It was a big killer in the Great Famine three decades later in Ireland.

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    Politics.ie Member seabhcan's Avatar
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    It was also very cold. Something that defeated Hitler a century later.

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    Politics.ie Member Partizan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seabhcan View Post
    It was also very cold. Something that defeated Hitler a century later.
    Yes but Napoleon did not have medical advancements and technology that Hitler possessed in 1941. Pre 20th century armies biggest killers were diseases like typhus than those taken in actual combat due to poor sanitation, hygiene and lack of knowledge of modern medicine. It was only after the Crimean War that armies began to implement improvements in conditions.
    Last edited by Partizan; 17th December 2012 at 01:54 PM.

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    Politics.ie Member Analyzer's Avatar
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    Being led by a meglamaniac did not help either.
    Coveney's ambition is the be Ireland's next EU Commissar and Ireland will pay a price as he builds his CV to position himself sufficiently loyal to the nEU empire.

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    Politics.ie Member neveragain's Avatar
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    Extremely harsh weather and an over-extended supply line did for him.
    With that combination an army would be hard pressed to survive a common cold.

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    Politics.ie Member between the bridges's Avatar
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    it was a combination of factors, weather etc, the Russian tactic of 'scorched earth' and attacks on Boneys stretched supply lines lead to starvation and diseases. Under the unofficial rules of war (at the time) if your capital was captured you had lost! the Russians didn't play by the rules. If the french and allies had been able to spend the winter in a fully supplied Moscow there may well have been a different outcome...
    Nec Aspera Terrent..Is Tuaisceart-Éireannach mé. Má tá meas agat ar mo chultúr, beidh meas agam ar do chultúr.

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    Politics.ie Member seabhcan's Avatar
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    Should also be noted that the invasion started in Summer and the original hope was that Russia would surrender.

    The parallels with the 1941 invasion are amazing.

    Napoleon invaded on June 24th. Hitler on June 22nd. Neither planned for a winter campaign.

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    Politics.ie Member firefly123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by seabhcan View Post
    Should also be noted that the invasion started in Summer and the original hope was that Russia would surrender.

    The parallels with the 1941 invasion are amazing.

    Napoleon invaded on June 24th. Hitler on June 22nd. Neither planned for a winter campaign.
    So when the conscripted EU army attacks we should head out in April. Sorted
    Life is hard
    That's why no-one survives

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    Cue the Minard graph, the greatest graph in all of statistics, a nascent beta curve. Look at the attrition rate from the three generals of cold, hunger and "the other one".

    Napoleon's horses also had the wrong shoes and the foraging which kept the Grand Armee going in earlier times was not on in Russia where the blunt cudgel of the Russian peasant dun them in just like they did a later army.

    Then you had the infamous crossing of the Berezina River with the Rooskies causing sheer havoc.

    Napoleon's Russia adventure gave us Minard's graph, Napoleon's defeat, Tolstoy's opus, the 1812 overture and Carl von Clausewitz's On War.

    Interesting times.

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    Politics.ie Member Analyzer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by firefly123 View Post
    So when the conscripted EU army attacks we should head out in April. Sorted
    April Fools Day preferably. Operation (Bar)Barrosso.
    Coveney's ambition is the be Ireland's next EU Commissar and Ireland will pay a price as he builds his CV to position himself sufficiently loyal to the nEU empire.

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