My favorite Napoleonic battle is that of Austerlitz. Much of history proclaims that Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the best military and political leaders. However, the normally confident and collected Napoleon was concerned about the uphill battle he faced in the “Battle of Three Emperors”. Although he did not know it at the time, this would be one of his greatest victories, as the French Empire defeated the Third Coalition which included the Russian empire and the Holy Roman Empire. This remains as my favorite battle because Napoleon utilized not just military tactical strategy but also psychological fake out on his adversaries.
There are two key circumstances that allowed for Napoleon to make the moves he made in the Battle of Austerlitz; he was also the emperor of the nation and had the strength of the Grande Armee at his disposal. The former allowed him to make key military moves and determine the French army’s agenda without bureaucracy or time constraints and the latter allowed for military innovations that would prove crucial in defeating the opposing troops even before the formal battle began. In the late summer to early fall of 1805, Napoleon, had decided to direct his energy to the Rhine and move away from the English Channel push to handle the Russian and later Austrian threats. The French forces moved in a circular motion that put them behind the Austrian forces. This was an impressive execution of an innovative technique known as Ulm Maneuver. The Austrian general and his 23,000 troops surrendered while Russian troops moved northeast to wait for back up and allow for the potential of meeting up with any leftover Austrian troops.
Napoleon moved the French northeast as well, but were met with the threat of the unpredictable Prussians, the convergence of the Russian and Austrian troops, and weak lines of communication. Another example of Napoleon’s use of psychology was his urge to capitalize on the recent success at Ulm which meant forcing the two allies to battle and hopefully to defeat. Russian commander Kutuzov recognized what was coming and retreated to avoid the massive loss. With stall tactics and ruses from both ends, the Allies stayed back and the French followed suit… but not for long. Napoleon created a psychological trap to bait the Allies out of retreat. Napoleon, although morally questionable, had given the Allies the impression that the Grand Armee and such were weak and that his interests lied in peace talks. Napoleon did this through positioning about 50,000 French troops in the area that the 89,000 Allies could easily overtake. The reality was that Napoleon had already positioned reinforcements a short distance away from the location who could be quickly called on, making them a sizeable threat to the enticed Allies. Napoleon’s ruse went a step further as he sent a surveyor to the Allied forces to scout the competition and reported back to his foes that he wished to avoid battle, feigning intimidation. When armistice was offered Napoleon acted as if he was excited and looking to accept it. Many of the Allied forces leadership pushed for an immediate attack thinking they could quickly disarm an already weakened Napoleon regime. The trap was set.
At the start of the fight Napoleon did find himself inferior in number as the Allies had 85,000 soldiers. Most were Russians armed with over 300 guns compared to the 157 guns the 72,000 French were in possession of. Napoleon’s underdog status also made this a favorite for me because he turned his weakness into an advantage. This is not just a tactical lesson, this is a life lesson. One can turn a setback or failure into a success by outsmarting the obstacle. On November 28th the French troops discussed strategy and Napoleon hoping that the Allied forces would attack purposely weakened his right flank. Even after meeting with French leadership who was weary of the battle, Napoleon refused to retreat. Instead, anticipating a strong attack on the right, he realized that the Allies middle and left would be weakened by their heavy approach from the right. To keep up appearances he removed troops from the Pratzen Heights area further portraying a weakened right flank and weak French army. The reality was that his troops were positioned on a completely opposite side of the heights, where they would double back and retake the heights and then launch into the center of the Allied forces disarming them from their backside. Another interesting factor in Napoleon’s victory was that the troops who attacked the center were cloaked by mist, which lasted just long enough- if the mist dissipated too soon their cover would have been blown, if too late the French’s vision would have been compromised- to further the General’s goal. Another almost magical aspect of the Battle of Austerlitz was how nature had seemed to align with the French that day. Napoleon also showed great decision- making and leadership in appointing his best Marshal, Davout, to support the French’s weakened right flank. The right flank was also protected geographically by bodies of water.
The Battle of Austerlitz is a prime example of Napoleon’s genius in battle. On December 1st the Allied and French troops moved in the same direction as Napoleon had planned. The battle began early in the morning and the village of Sokolnitz changed hands several times throughout the day. As predicted the Allied troops attacked hard at the right. Kutuzov, being much wiser than the younger Alexander Tsar, stayed still and like Napoleon recognized the importance of Pratzen. He decided to defend the Heights which we know now was the beginning of the end for the Allies. There is another lesson to be learned from this part of Austerlitz. Kutuzov was wiser in his methods and an admirable adversary, while Tsar, young and inexperienced fell short in almost all of his tactical moves. Tsar should have respected the wisdom and experience of Kutuzov. Within 45 minutes the Allied center was weakened and Napoleon was satisfied. An hour in and Napoleon ordered one final blow to the enemy by having St. Hilaire charge up the middle shocking the Allies with the size of the French army coming towards them. In the end, the French only lost one battalion, the battalion of the 4th Line Regiment. When Napoleon had learned he sent his own Guard cavalry out to pick up the slack. This battle was amazing in that both sides had used all the resources at their disposal but Napoleon’s strategic maneuvers won the French empire the victory.
As a history buff, the battle of Austerlitz is my favorite because it effectively changed European politics as the French ended up occupying Vienna by destroying two armies, and dethroned the Austrian Empire as the biggest players. This battle and the events before it made the 18th century much different from the strict 17th century. The battle of Austerlitz set the stage for a near-decade of French domination of Europe. Another minor but immediate effect was baiting Prussia into a war. News of the Austerlitz victory uplifted the people of Paris who were downtrodden due to the country’s current financial crisis. History widely reports that 1806 marked the end of the Holy Roman Empire as well. Napoleon rewarded his forces well and it is even noted that he adopted the orphans of fallen soldiers, allowing them to bear his last name. The Battle of Austerlitz is my favorite as a true turning point in military strategy and world politics.
For years, Mexico was divided by deep economic inequality. The poor were unable to provide the most basic necessities for their families, while the rich ruling class was living in excess. Mexico’s society functioned in this manner without much unrest until the nineteenth century. By this time, peasants had had enough of the injustices and they soon started to fight back. They were ready to reclaim stolen land, and gain better treatment and basic human rights. This new band of revolutionaries needed a leader and Emiliano Zapata entered the scene as a man ready to lead them in the fight for land and equality. From the start of his career as mayor of a small village, Zapata proved to be faithfully committed to gaining rights for peasant farmers. As mayor, he was able to rally up the peasants to fight and reclaim stolen land (Welker). Zapata entered the Mexican Revolution as a peasant farmer and emerged as the greatest military leader to walk on Mexican soil. Zapata is an inspirational military figure because throughout his military career he had a zealous commitment to agrarian reform for the common people and his ideals have left a lasting legacy deeply embedded in Mexican culture.
In 1910, Mexico was caught in a frenzied political battle for power. Porfirio Díaz, a man often considered a dictator, had ruled Mexico for nearly three decades and his power was finally being threatened. Francisco Madero challenged Díaz in the election of 1910, but Madero lost the race. However, the public was aware that this election, like many others, had been rigged. Madero fled to the United States only to declare himself president of Mexico and return to confront Díaz. Emiliano Zapata saw his opportunity and quickly made a deal with Madero. Zapata agreed to assist Madero in his quest for the presidency if he enacted land reform upon his victory. Madero agreed and Zapata formed a peasant army of 5,000 men known as the Liberation Army of the South (“Emiliano Zapata Salazar”). The army was composed of inexperienced, ill-equipped men, but they entered the battle regardless. They believed that under Zapata, they would gain the land they deserved. The army marched to Cuautla and after a six-day battle, they emerged victorious. They blocked the road to Mexico City forcing Díaz to resign and flee to France. Madero and Zapata were victorious and Madero became president.
Unfortunately, Madero proved to be a false ally of land reform. He refused to return stolen land to the peasants and offered Zapata a large sum of money instead. Zapata refused his offer. Mexican politics was corrupt during this time and any other leader would have accepted the money. Zapata had fought alongside the peasants for their right to the land and he would not stop until his goal was achieved. When the peasants learned what Zapata had done, their respect for him rose even higher. They were inspired by his commitment to his ideals and they knew they could trust Zapata to aid them in the fight for justice.
For the remainder of the Mexican Revolution, Zapata gained more followers as he had proven to be the only true leader in agrarian reform. He was not afraid to fight alongside his men and he was respected because his actions were dictated by strong commitment to the common people. He rallied his army under the phrase “Tierra y Libertad,” Land and Liberty. His soldiers were men that would farm their land with rifles on their shoulders, fight when they were called, and return to farming after the battle (Welker). Instead of pillaging villages for supplies, they went door-to-door humbly asking for food and water. The army fought throughout southern Mexico and after each victory, Zapata distributed captured land among the peasants. He formed agrarian commissions to distribute land and insured there would be no favoritism or corruption. His army even built schools for peasant children (“Emiliano Zapata”). Under Zapata, the Liberation Army of the South had proven that Mexicans could have a democratic government where all people were treated equally regardless of economic status. His dedication to the people was legendary and he continued to inspire many peasants to fight for their beliefs.
After much political struggle, a man named Carranza became president of Mexico. He saw Zapata as his biggest threat. As long as he was alive, peasants would continue to resist corrupt power. Carranza paid Jesus Guajardo 52,000 pesos to kill Zapata. On April 10, 1919, Zapata was ambushed and shot multiple times by Guajardo’s men (“Emiliano Zapata Salazar”).
Zapata’s assassination had results Carranza did not expect. Zapata’s ideals did not die with him; instead, the common people now had a martyr. They continued to support Zapata’s generals by giving them weapons, supplies, and protection. They remembered what Zapata had said: “It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.” Zapatistas, supporters of Zapata, became local authorities and gained almost total control of southern Mexico. They were able to carry out agrarian reform and land distribution based on Zapata’s ideals. Although the Liberation Army of the South was unable to gain high political power, the Zapatista ideals lived on. Emiliano Zapata is remembered as a visionary who fought for the common people. His ideals influenced Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution that codified an agrarian reform program for Mexico. Finally, in the 1930s, president Lázaro Cárdenas carried out the reforms Zapata had envisioned (“Emiliano Zapata”). Zapata’s ideals continue to save Mexico from injustice to this day. In the 1990s an organization known as the Zapatista Army of National Liberation emerged to protect indigenous people from losing their land. In current struggles against drug cartels and corrupt government the people can be heard chanting “Zapata lives; the struggle continues.”
Zapata was a military man with strong ideals that no one could shake. From the moment he gained influential power, he remembered his humble roots and vowed to use his power to help his fellow countrymen. He was able to use Mexico’s political turmoil to fight for the rights of the common people. Zapata proved to be an inspirational figure by leading through example and remaining true to his ideals. His dedication was legendary and he gained many followers because they knew they could trust Zapata; he was an honest leader in a world of corrupt officials. His influence was so strong, not even death could tear him from the hearts of the people. They faithfully follow and carry out his ideals to this day. Emiliano Zapata is one of the greatest, most inspirational military leaders because he was a common man with uncommon courage.
“Emiliano Zapata.” The Storm that Swept Mexico. PBS, n.d. Web. 13 May 2014.
“Emiliano Zapata Salazar.” Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 15 May 2014.
Welker, Glenn. “Emiliano Zapata.” Indians.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 May 2014.
My family is a Marine Corps family. For us, there is nothing more inspiring than hearing “The Halls of Montezuma” or seeing the emblem of an eagle, globe, and anchor proclaiming semper fidelis. At the young age of 19, my grandfather answered the call to defend his country and the cause of freedom in a distant land. He served in the 6th Marine Division in WWII, fighting in Okinawa and Northern China. My brother grew up hearing the stories of the bravery of our grandfather’s generation and dreamed of one day carrying on the legacy of always faithful. He has now served three tours of duty and continues to serve stateside. My grandfather and brother are great military heroes, but it is the man between them who truly represents faithfulness to me. While my father has never served in the military, there is no one who more fully exhibits the Marine Corps motto of always faithful. My father shows that faithfulness is more than courageous military action, it is a lifestyle.
There is a picture in my father’s office of a young rancher sitting on his horse in the middle of the pouring rain with a small calf huddled in his arms. His tight and weary face tells the story of his long search for this wayward creature. The man is drenched and dirty, his head hanging in exhaustion. Yet in the midst of the storm around him, his arms wrap around the tiny creature in a gentle and loving way. He has found his treasure, the long-lost member of his herd. I don’t really know where the picture originated, but it has always held a place of honor in my father’s workplace. This vision of faithfulness is the legacy of my father; a legacy not of glorious achievements or great defining moments, but of consistency and personal integrity. It is not something that is gained through a victorious battle, but through the small decisions made each day.
My parents began their life together on a farm in rural Nebraska. They operated a sheep feedlot and breeding operation. Sheep are gentle creatures that need a significant amount of personal care to become healthy and strong. During the lambing season my parents lived in the barn more than the house. After the first few formative weeks, danger is far from over for the new lambs. While sheep are intelligent, their herd instinct often takes over when danger arises. In Western Nebraska, the greatest predatory danger comes from coyotes, mountain lions, and the occasional wolf. Disease is also a concern, especially for herds in confinement. Sheep producers must be extremely vigilant; their very livelihood hinges on the health of these tender creatures.
Despite my father’s best efforts, a combination of poor lamb markets and uncontrollable weather brought my parents to financial ruin. They had no choice but to sell the farm and seek a more secure profession. My father remained in agriculture, but this time in the area of agronomy supply. He started out at a small farmers’ cooperative and, over the next two decades, rose to the position of CEO. It took a great deal of sacrifice and hard work, but my father held tight to his convictions throughout the entire process. In the midst of his failures and successes my father never forgot his humble beginnings. The faithfulness he learned raising sheep is the foundation of his business work ethic. This philosophy has carried my parents through many hard times and my father tries to instill it in those learning from him. Whenever a new intern arrives at the company, the first task my father assigns is cleaning the office bathroom. While this may seem like a menial (and slightly disgusting) task, it lays the foundation of a successful life strategy. If a person can take this task seriously and do it to the best of their ability, he or she can be faithful in anything.
This uncommon lesson left a strong impression on my brother and me. The way we saw our father work influenced our own career decisions. For my brother, it meant becoming a Marine and truly living semper fidelis. For me, my father’s legacy carries through to my academic work. It means looking for opportunities to serve and completing each task with excellence. This strategy enabled me to achieve valedictorian at my undergraduate institution and to pursue my current studies in law school. I am grateful for each new task and the opportunity it provides to challenge myself. While I do not know what job I will eventually hold, I will be faithful in the small things now knowing that I will be entrusted with larger responsibilities in the future. Even if great success does not follow, faithfulness itself is its own reward. This dedication is the legacy of my family, gained through fighting battles in the military and at home. I hope that our work continues to inspire generations to come.
Although the twenty first century can be consider a fairly new era, there has been many struggles. As matter of fact, some of them are of greatly importance for the moral development of human kind. For instance, the war against terrorism that the United States had been fighting since 9/11, has been the war that defends the liberal principal that the free world was based upon.
The war officially started on September 11, 2001, by the terrorist group named Al-Qaeda under their leader Osama-Bin Laden. Since then, The United States has tried to track down this group, however, it was only possible to detect the head of the terrorist group ten years after the attack in Wall Street. Even though it took a decade ago, victory came to the U.S when they manage to capture and kill the Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden.
Many have perceived ideas and have been told on whom Bin-Laden was, few know that he was a patient, charismatic, generous, and having had extraordinary strategic ability. He is remember for being a heartless soul who hated Christian and Jews and lived for annihilating then all. Bin Laden sadly believed that the U.S and everyone non-Muslim hated them for who they were. He contaminated his people with negative thoughts and lies about the American people.
On August 23, 1997, Osama-Bin Laden first declared war on the United States. What was the reason for his rage? According to the London articles, The Guardian, Osama states, “…as I watched the destroyed towers in Lebanon, it occurred to me to punish the unjust the same way: to destroy towers in America so [they] could taste some of what we were tasting…”
On May 1, 2011, Operation Neptune Spear was well under way. Unbeknownst to the Pakistani government, the United States had been planning and was now making a reality the capture and death of the Al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden since before Barak Obama’s presidential term. With highly trained and the most elite of the Navy SEALs and specialized helicopters that reduced noise, suppressed heat, and allowed for radar evasion; these men went in their and took out one of the world’s most dangerous man all before sunrise. The names of the men who participated in this mission are kept secret to protect their identity. The leader of the Team Six Navy SEALs began a month before trying to prepare exactly how the operation would go about. At around one in the morning on May first the Navy SEALs came in, surround the 3 story building, killed four men, including Bin Laden, and flew back to Afghanistan all within a matter of a couple hours. It was a the perfect comeback for the United States because not only was it a sad memory of what this man did to their country but a breathe of fresh of to know the source of the threat was no longer a hazard to his people nor ours.
Not only did the U.S. use few resources but also had few soldiers and the way they approached the situation with organization and preciseness was absolutely incredible. It has been the most incredible victory of the 21st century because taken into account the human aspects of it, the religious points of view and the military tactics, it all was of high risk but still managed to complete it without having anyone and keeping it from Pakistani government. It is a war that not only will be written in books but will be passed down from generation to generation so that it can be a reminder of how the U.S. handled the situation.
My favorite Napoleonic battle is the Battle of Lodi, which took place on May 10, 1796 in the town of Lodi, unsurprisingly. The main players in this ordeal make the setting fairly intriguing from the very beginning: Napoleon Bonaparte with 20,000 men against Karl Philipp Sebottendorf, the leader of this Austrian-Neopolitan division with 10,000 men.
This ratio of numbers implied to me that the battle would be interesting as there was a clear underdog. The battle began when the French chased the Austrians to the poorly defended town of Lodi and had to fight their way across a wooden bridge.
To increase the suspense, Sebottendorf led a series of extremely successful defensive moves, pushing the French all the way back to the river. As a response and highly effective solution, the French cavalry swam swiftly below the bridge of Lodi and attacked the Austrians from the left. This fierce choice of action allowed the French to win the battle in a thrilling display of quick-thinking. I find it amazing that the officers were able to create such a strategic plan of action under such pressure, as it alludes to a sort of calculated yet creative mentality possessed by those in charge.
This level of skill never fails to impress me despite it being a thorough trend in military successes by any party. Even more impressive than the moves made by either side was the spectacular public response: victory at Lodi made quite the sensation in Paris. This boosted the morale of everyone involved in the French victory, even causing Napoleon to remark “it was Lodi that made me certain I could be a man of high destiny.” My favorite aspect of the battle is that Napoleon took advantage of a moment and sighted a cannon, a job usually done by the corporal. This earned him the nickname “Le Petit Corporal” by his men, which shows their genuine affection and admiration. This social victory to me is just as important as the battle victory because it shows a facet of his personality that may be lost in the grand scheme of Napoleon’s conquests.
In Napoleon’s own reports of the battle, he acted as though the Battle of Lodi were a grand tale of epic adventure, which despite the bias demonstrates his personal pride for his role in the events that unfolded. The French losses were not even reported, which adds to the mystique and allure for historians and Napoleon fans alike. The battle is outstanding to me not because it was decisive in any way; the Austrian army escaped despite 2,000 casualties which was not a colossal blow and more of a hindrance. What most impresses me is this battle’s place in the lore of Napoleon’s history and his legacy as a general, as well as the fact that Napoleon considered this battle proof that he was destined to be greater than other generals.
Why this specific battle meant so much to him is unclear to me when compared with the triumphs of his other battles, but it greatly interests me.