Operational Command Is Something That Anyone Can Do--
an in-depth study of The Mask of Command
PART 3: Wellington
* * * "If I had failed, they would have shot me." -Wellington * * *
Just as unfortunate was Keegan's summary of Alexander's formula for success, was my outlook on the three remaining leadership sketches I knew I must now read. I hoped for the best as I started the second chapter, Wellington: The Anti-Hero. Although I consider myself a complete amateur in regards to Military History, especially when discussing such a highly recommended book, written by a military historian that has been in practice over twenty-five years, I must admit that the most I knew of Wellington (Arthur Wellesley) was as his role of the commander of the forces partly responsible for the second defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815. Although Keegan is quick to point out Wellington's many successful campaigns against unorganized enemy armies in India and his success during, for the most part, a defensive-offense, during the Iberian Peninsula Campaigns from 1808-1814, he focuses the majority of his attention on Wellington's claim to the true "warrior-spirit" and as the obvious hero (albeit the anti-hero type) of Waterloo.
The first claim can not be disputed, as Wellington first saw action (in the way of flying bullets) in 1794, and according to Keegan he endured "sixteen battles and eight sieges as a commander, [and] several more as a subordinate." However, it is the second claim, that it was Wellington's poise on the battlefield, his articulate attention to detail and troop movement at Waterloo that excelled him to greatness that I unfortunately disagreed with. Although his telling of Waterloo from Wellington's point of view was definitely interesting, and served to give the British side of the infamous demise of...