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This study examines the campaign to defend southwest France waged by Marshal Nicholas Soult against the Anglo-Allied Army of Arthur Wellesley from 1 July 1813 until 14 April 1814 to garner insights that are applicable to today’s officer. In the first stages of the campaign Marshal Soult conducts an operational offensive across the Pyrenees Mountains but is defeated at the Battle of Sorauren. After this battle, Soult retreats back into France and attempts to defend the French frontier by occupying three successive river lines. Wellesley attacks and defeats Soult’s army at each of these lines forcing the French to ultimately retire on Toulouse where the campaign ends.
A study of this campaign illustrates that there are a number of intangible factors that effect the success of a campaign. These factors include the impact of the commander’s vision on the conduct of the campaign, as demonstrated by his active involvement in the operations, the decisions he makes during the campaign, as well as his ability to translate strategic guidance into a sound operational plan. Other intangible factors identified include the effects of soldiers’ morale on operations and the commander’s employment of forces in the manner in which they are trained.