Napoleon Military Hierarchy

Napoleon Bonaparte was one of the greatest military giants and he established an extraordinary track record of success on the battlefields of Europe during the periods of 1803 to 1815.

Throughout his military period, he served in various different roles such as an emperor, a Consul and a General. The twelve year span from the year 1803 to 1815 is well known as the period of the Napoleonic wars. In this particular article, we will take a detailed look about the Napoleon military hierarchy.

Napoleon Bonaparte was born on 15th August, 1769 in Ajaccio, Corsica. He is known as the ‘little Corsican’. He started his military education at the age of 9 at the French military school. Napoleon attained huge military success with the help of his efficient organizational ability.

One of the most effective organizational systems designed by Napoleon was the versatile corps system. According to the versatile corps system, an army of about 15,000 soldiers could be organized into about eight corps, each containing the basic elements of arms and each provided with a uniformly structured staff hierarchy to manage the various operations of the army efficiently.

Another such hierarchical structure developed by Napoleon was the Command and Control structure. According to the structure, a command is a necessary function to be implemented in the army for its proper existence and operation.  The command and the control functions should be employed by a proper planning and coordination of the various forces and operations.

Before  napoleon military hierarchy came into action, the French Military Hierarchy was organized into several divisions. Each division was assigned a specific territory and a general officer was assigned to take control of each single division. The general officers were responsible for maintaining the law and order situations of each single division. But, after the French revolution occurred due to officers like Napoleon Bonaparte, the military hierarchy system underwent a reformation.

The French army was reorganized into various levels such as regiments, brigades, divisions and corps. The brigade consisted of two or more regiments and the division consisted of two or more brigades. Another key element of the French army organization was the general staff corps. Generally, a chief officer was assigned to each of the particular existing sections of the field armies.

The corps formation became the cornerstone of Napoleon’s Grand Armee. A typical corps in the Grand Armee consisted of around 28,000 infantry, 1,400 cavalry, artillerymen, engineering corps and staff corps. Napoleon engineered the organization in well manner so as to effectively defeat an enemy of the equal strength.

Napoleon’s organizational design was based on principle of division of labor. The Grand Armee of the military hierarchy was divided into individual army corps and each army corps consisted of its own Field Marshal and Staff. One unique quality that was prevalent in the military organization was that the staffs of the corps were interchangeable and they could be assigned different tasks at different periods of time.