Napoleon as General

Bonaparte has sometimes been acclaimed as the greatest military commander in history. In our final article in this series, David Gates reviews his contribution to the art and science of warfare.

In many regards, Napoleon's genius was more practical than theoretical. As a military reformer, he was not so much an innovator as someone who was obliged to build on or adapt existing concepts, largely because he was constrained by the technological possibilities of his time. Indeed, in this respect he lived during an era of such prolonged consistency that many of his contemporaries, notably the soldier and, later, celebrated military theorist Antoine-Henri de Jomini, persuaded themselves that the 'essential nature' of warfare could not change.

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