With Musket, Canon and Sword: Battle Tactics of Napoleon and His Enemies

Brent Nosworthy, Author Da Capo Press $35 (536p) ISBN 978-1-885119-27-8
When discussing battles, military historians sometimes ignore details of tactics, ordnance and organization. Nosworthy (The Anatomy of Victory), by contrast, here emphasizes the central importance of these factors to the conduct of war--through infantry, cavalry and artillery--in the Napoleonic era. In doing so, he challenges conventional wisdom. Far from improvising tactics according to circumstances, French armies, he shows, possessed a large and coherent body of doctrine. The bayonet charge was at least as important to British tactics, meanwhile, as was the firepower of the ""thin red line""; British musketry, Nosworthy contends, wasn't all that superior to that of the French. The author's major contribution, though, is to connect directly the tactical systems developed by Frederick the Great with those of this later era. That evolution rather than revolution shaped tactics between 1740 and 1815 is a drastic revision of generally accepted theory, making this work indispensable for all students of the period. Illustrations not seen by PW. Military Book Club alternate. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
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