9
   

God is on the side of the big battalions

 
 
fansy
 
Reply Mon 18 Jan, 2010 11:43 pm
Quote:
Napoleon famously said that “God is on the side of the big battalions

I know the meaning of the above quotation, but I don't know the size of a "big battation" in the French army.
 
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 01:11 am
@fansy,
....which implies you don't know the meaning of the quote !
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  2  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 05:02 am
Fresco is absolutely right--you don't know what the quote implies. A battalion, in French military practice, is an organic unit of a regiment. Regiments are the basic building blocks of larger formations. When a general is ordered to accomplish a goal, no one asks him what the strength of his battalions might be. If their strength is reduced through casualties and "wastage" (the effect of disease, non-combat injury and desertions), it doesn't have any influence, other than that a lower level commander may choose one battalion rather than another to carry out an order. And the French use of the term was not necessarily typical of how Europeans used the term. Among the English, for example, a battalion was what the French would have called a regiment.

Napoleon is using the term battalion in a rather non-military sense of just a general term for a military unit. And he is making a cynical remark. Many Christians might have alleged that God would see to it that the religiously righteous cause would win. By saying that God is on the side of the big battalions, Napoleon is denying that God has anything to do with the outcome of a battle. He is ridiculing the notion that God takes sides in human wars. A salutary remark for him to have made, in my opinion.
0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 12:03 pm
@fansy,
First and foremost it was Henri Turenne who had been given the credit for that saying not Napoleon and anyone who knew the history of that great General would have known he was not someone who would be under the impression that numbers alone were able to win battles or wars.

A large percent of his successful campaigns was fought with his enemies having the most soldiers.

0 Replies
 
BillRM
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 12:13 pm
@fansy,
Napoleon is given credit for the following quote:


God fights on the side with the best artillery.
Napoleon Bonaparte
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 12:38 pm
Regardless of to whom the quote is attributed, the point is clear: God has nothing to do with who wins a battle.
parados
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 12:43 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:

Regardless of to whom the quote is attributed, the point is clear: God has nothing to do with who wins a battle.


And why would anyone have to know the size of a "big battalion" before they get the point?
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 12:47 pm
@parados,
I would suspect that someone who is not an English speaker, and who did not understand the implication of the quote, might be reading it literally.

EDIT: Meaning someone who is not a native speaker of English, and who is learning the language.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 01:48 pm
@Setanta,
In fact, to get a complete picture of his requirements, this thread needs to be combined with fansy's other current one on the significance of military power in policy decisions.

http://able2know.org/topic/140449-1
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 02:20 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:
...this thread needs to be combined with fansy's other current one on the significance of military power.....

The US Army is way ahead of all of you internet bloggers:
http://www.newyorker.com/images/2010/01/25/p465/100125_r19246_p465.jpg
http://www.newyorker.com/humor/2010/01/25/100125sh_shouts_saunders?currentPage=all
roger
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jan, 2010 03:14 pm
@parados,
Well, yeah. We can assume that big battalions are bigger than little battalions.
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Jan, 2010 12:18 pm
@roger,
Quote:
On a huge hill,
Cragged and steep, TRUTH stands,
And hee that will
Reach her,
About must, and about must goe


John Donne
0 Replies
 
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Jan, 2010 12:34 pm
Set wrote:
A battalion, in French military practice, is an organic unit of a regiment.


Here's, Set, une batte à lion:

http://www.bbf.org/images/articles/4colourgbl.jpg
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Jan, 2010 03:53 pm
@Francis,
There's a book you will like, "Around the Cragged Hill", based on the poem I just posted, written by our greatest diplomat in the 20th century.
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 24 Jan, 2010 03:59 pm
@High Seas,
Cannot believe this brilliant diplomat starts a book by saying:

- Sex, is usually tedious, monotonous, at times ridiculous..
jimincairns
 
  1  
Reply Sat 20 Feb, 2010 09:35 pm
@BillRM,
The actual quote is 'God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best.' It was written by Voltaire.
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 11:37 am
@jimincairns,
Welcome, Jim - and keep in mind that BillRM isn't exactly our most distinguished French scholar on this site. You're correct (Dieu n’est pas pour les gros bataillons, mais pour ceux qui tirent le mieux). Are you interested in French literature primarily, or in military theory?
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 11:39 am
@Francis,
Well I did say he was (arguably) our greatest diplomat - I said nothing of his qualifications in the field you suddenly bring up!
Francis
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 11:54 am
@High Seas,
You have certainly noted that I said nothing about his qualifications as a diplomat.

Conversely, I object to him having any qualification in the aforementioned field..
High Seas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 21 Feb, 2010 11:57 am
@Francis,
True - and btw I have that book, he signed it for me once I stopped by at Princeton. However at the time he was already over 90 years old, so presumably this autobiographical snippet you focused on may have been clouded by the mists of fading memories Smile
 

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