Friday, May 08, 2015

The Central Position

One further consideration settled the matter in favor of an immediate offensive.  The political divergences between England and Prussia were common knowledge, and French intelligence sources soon revealed that this had led to important military repercussions.  Instead of sharing a single system of communications, each of the two armies in the Netherlands had set up a separate series, Wellington's stretching away from Brussels through Ninove and Alost to Ostend and La Manche, Blucher's away from Liege into Central Germany.  A sudden blow against the "hinge" linking the concentration areas of the two armies might well force one or both to retire along their diverging lines of communication.  This would cause an increasing interval to develop between the Allied armies and provide Napoleon with the opportunity of catching and defeating each in turn with local superiority of numbers, using the famed mobility of the French army to cover the intervening distances.  Tn the simplest terms this was the essence of the French plan for the campaign in the Netherlands, based on the strategy of "the central position."  While this blow was being mounted, Generals Rapp, Lamarque, Lecourbe, Suchet, Brune, Clausel and Decaen would be entrusted with holding the frontiers and suppressing any pro-Bourbonist internal revolts (one was already taing place in La Vendee).

~ The Campaigns of Napoleon, D. Chandler, p. 1017

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