Napoleon Bonaparte’s Success

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Historians have studied everything there is to know about Napoleon Bonaparte in order to find the key distinguishing features that set him apart from all other military leaders of his time. Up until 1807—the date that many would argue was the year of his decline, the Emperor of France was gaining power, glory, and his army was sweeping victory after victory. While many historians believe that Napoleon’s military success came primarily from factors excluding his personal contributions, the more probable truth is that no other man could have changed and excelled at the art of war while ruling and empire in the way that Napoleon Bonaparte did. It was his unique, mental gifts, his decision-making skills on and off the battlefield, and his ability to adapt that made him so successful up to 1807. Some historians can argue that Napoleon gained his success from the slow progression of other nation’s armies through the modernization of warfare. Author and historian Robert Epstein writes that the dynamics of war changed between France and Austria when the Austrians adopted Napoleon’s corps system. However, the fact of the matter was that before 1807, Napoleon was better at overcoming his enemy: he could make quick decisions that proved crucial to his victories. He first demonstrated this during a revolution in 1793 in Toulon. This city in southern France rebelled by opening ports to Britain, and Napoleon quickly developed a plan to rid France of the English ships and their soldiers. Indeed, there will always be an army who will advance past the strategic or technological abilities of other armies in some way, but to construe this to mean that Napoleon was successful merely because he was the first to employ a system is obtuse. He created the corps system out of his own genius, and it worked. Napoleon deserves credit for the military tactics he created and executed with
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