Posts Tagged ‘Napoleon’
The good folks at the University of Oklahoma Press forwarded a review copy of Jeremy Black’s new book, The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon. In my usual fashion, I am making an initial post about the book before a full reading.
6″ x 9″ x 0″
1 B&W Illus., 3 Maps
Published: 2009, Oklahoma University Press
The quick perusal reveals several compelling reasons for recommending the book. First, it is written from “an Atlantic vantage point, which accounts for its contribution to the academic coverage of the war as the latter tend to reflect national perspectives, mostly American, but also Canadian.” (Black, xiv) It goes without saying that any serious scholar of military history would seek out the work of historians and indeed primary sources providing insights from a variety of vantage points. Second, Black speaks to the impact of the war not only on America but also on Canada. Black speculates on how the history of the United States would have been very different had it expanded into Canada, “not the least because the slave states of the South would have been in a decided minority.” (Black, xii) Third, Black covers the naval operations so crucial to the war’s outcome. Fourth, the books addresses the consequences of the war. Black discusses the war’s “impact on America’s politics, public culture, economy, and territorial expansion” as being even more important than the military results. (Black, xiii) Finally, the book promises to explore the implications of unwanted expeditionary war, a topic with relevancy today.
Professor Black’s new book is Volume 21 in the Campaigns and Commanders Series. Black, a prolific writer, has authored more than seventy (70) books. He is Professor of History at the University of Exeter and a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of America and the West at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia. He has lectured extensively around the world.
The Campaigns and Commanders Series at the University of Oklahoma Press include the following:
|The War of 1812 in the Age of Napoleon||21||By Jeremy Black|
|A Dragon’s Head and a Serpent’s Tail||20||By Kenneth M. Swope|
|With Zeal and with Bayonets Only||19||Matthew H. Spring|
|Once Upon a Time in War||18||Robert E. Humphrey|
|Borrowed Soldiers||17||Mitchell A. Yockelson;|
|The Far Reaches of Empire||16||John Grenier|
|Napoleon’s Enfant Terrible||15||John G. Gallaher|
|Three Days in the Shenandoah||14||Gary Ecelbarger|
|George Thomas||13||Christopher J. Einolf|
|Volunteers on the Veld||12||Stephen M. Miller|
|The Black Hawk War of 1832||10||Patrick J. Jung|
|William Harding Carter and the American Army||9||Ronald G. Machoian|
|Blood in the Argonne||8||Alan D Gaff|
|Blue Water Creek and the First Sioux War, 1854-1856||6||R. Eli Paul|
|The Uncivil War||5||Robert R. Mackey|
|Bayonets in the Wilderness||4||Alan D Gaff|
|Washita||3||Jerome A. Greene|
|Morning Star Dawn||2||Jerome A. Greene|
|Napoleon and Berlin||1||Michael V. Leggiere|
Bonaparte, Napoleon. Napoleon on the Art of War. trans. and ed by Jay Luvaas. New York: Touchstone, 1999.
Jay Luvaas has pulled together in a single work what Napoleon never set to paper – a cohesive, single treatise on his philosophy of war. Luvaas, a respected military historian, accomplished this by reviewing, organizing, translating and editing Napoleon’s writings over the course of his life including much of his correspondence. He has organized the book into a series of essays so that it is structured not unlike the work of other military theorists. It begins with Napoleon’s views on creating a fighting force and preparations for war. This is followed by his thoughts on military education – an area about which Napoleon was passionate – particularly as related to the study of “great captains” of history: Alexander the Great, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne and Frederick the Great.. A section on “combat in arms” reveals Napoleon’s brilliance in changing up formations utilizing the men, animals and weaponry at hand. “Generalship and the art of command,” army organization, strategy, fortification, the army in the field, and the operational art are also examined through Napoleon’s writings with additional historical references as well as reference to correspondence written about major Napoleonic campaigns. This book is instructive to the study of military philosophers and military thought in that it provides insight into one of the most influential militarists in history. Military thought leaders such as Clausewitz and Jomini were contemporaries of Napoleon and highly influenced themselves by strategizing to fight with or against him. The book fills a rather noticeable gap and would be an excellent addition to any examination of military philosophers and strategists.
This post continues the series of “Jomini on the Nature of War.” Part I: Introduction is available here, Part II: The Burgeoning Military Theorist here, Part III: The Founder of Modern Strategy here, Part IV: The Basics here, and Part V: Lines of Operation here.
Jomini cautions that there are a number of other circumstances that can affect the “nature and conduct of war” including that…
- “a state may simply make war against another state
- a state may make war against several states in alliance with each other
- a state in alliance with another may make war upon a single enemy
- a state may be either the principal party or an auxiliary
- in the latter case a state may join in the struggle at its beginning or after it has commenced.
- the theater of war may be upon the soil of the enemy, upon that of an ally, or upon its own.
- if the war be one of invasions, it may be upon adjacent or distant territory: it may be prudent and cautious, or it may be bold and adventurous
- it may be a national war, either against ourselves or against the enemy
- the war may be a civil or a religious war.”[i]
He insists that war should always “be conducted according to the great principles of the art; but [that] great discretion must be exercised in the nature of the operations to be undertaken, which should depend upon the circumstances of the case.”[ii] “A regiment should always fight in nearly the same way; but commanding generals must be guided by circumstances and events.”[iii]
So the “principles of strategy are always the same,” but differences occur with the “political part of war, which is modified by the tone of communities, by localities, and by the characters of men at the head of states and armies.”[iv]
Jomini outlines these specific circumstances in a description of each type of war and the principles and rules to follow (or not follow) in every one. For example, in “Offensive Wars to Reclaim Rights,” he indicates that no rules can be laid down but to watch and to profit by every circumstance.[v] This leads to his conclusion that “war knows no rules.”[vi]
“Military science rests upon principle which can never be safely violated in the presence of an active and skillful enemy, while the moral and political part of war presents these variations. Plans of operations are made as circumstances may demand: to execute these plans, the great principles of war must be observed.”[vii]
[i] Jomini, Antoine Henri de. The Art of War, trans. by G. H. Mendell and W. P. Craighill., Special Edition, (El Paso: EL Paso Norte Press. 2005), 10-11.
[iv] Ibid., 13.
[v] Ibid., 12.
This post continues the series of “Jomini on the Nature of War.” Part I: Introduction is available here, Part II: The Burgeoning Military Theorist here, Part III: The Founder of Modern Strategy here, and Part IV: The Basics here.
“Principles were guides to action, not infallible mathematical calculations. The specific application of principles would vary with the thousand changing physical and psychological factors that made war ‘a great drama.’ Genius would defeat the military pendant, just as talent and experience would outdo the bumbling novice. But the principles themselves, whose truth is demonstrated by all military experience, could not be ignored without peril and, when followed, had ‘almost invariably’ (Presque en tout temps) brought victory.”[i]
Jomini’s arguments for “immutable ‘principle’ of war” rested on the concept of “lines of operation” by which he meant…
- “where an armed force fights,
- for what objective, and
- in what force relative to the total available military power of the state.”[ii]
He identified two types of lines of operation, those that are:
- deserts, and
- sheer distance through, over, and around which military operations must be conducted.”[iii]
- Also included in this category are man-made, permanent structures that constrict the conduct of warfare including: fortifications, military bases, political boundaries and road networks.[iv]
- Concerned exclusively with strategic choice about:
- where to fight,
- to what purpose,
- in what force, etc.[v]
[i - v] John Shy, “Jomini,” in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 154, 166.
Photo: Union entrenchments near Kenesaw Mountain, Ga., 1864. 111-B-531. The National Archives.
Map: First Manasas
This post continues from Jomini on the Nature of War: Part I Introduction here, Part II The Burgeoning Military Theorist here, and Part III The Founder of Modern Strategy here. Please note links in blue lead to additional information on those topics.
Jomini was a list maker and a categorizer which influenced the form of his thoughts on the nature of war. His work, The Art of War, begins with a definition of the art of war in terms of five military branches: Strategy, Grand Tactics, Logistics, Engineering and Minor Tactics.
Strategy – “the art of properly directing masses upon the theater of war either for defense or for invasion; the art of making war upon the map.”
Grand Tactics – “the art of posting troops upon the battle-field according to the accidents of the ground, of bringing them into actions, and the art of fighting upon the ground, in contradistinction to planning upon a map.” It is “the maneuvering of an army upon the battle-field, and the different formations of troops for attack.”
Logistics – “the art of moving armies and the execution of strategical and tactical enterprises” and “comprises the means and arrangements which work out the plans of strategy and tactics.”
Engineering – “the attack and defense of fortifications.
Jomini adds a sixth branch which he calls, “Diplomacy in its relation to War.” This he envisions as the role of the statesman in war and particularly in those activities which lead up to it. He provides the criteria from which a statesman can conclude whether a war is “proper, opportune, or indispensable.” He lists succinctly and thoroughly his perspective on the reasons why a government would choose to enter into war:
- “To reclaim certain rights or to defend them;
- to protect and maintain the great interests of the state, as commerce, manufactures, or agriculture;
- to uphold neighboring states whose existence is necessary either for the safety of the government or the balance of power;
- to fulfill the obligations of offensive and defensive alliances;
- to propagate political or religious theories, to crush them out, or to defend them;
- to increase the influence and power of the state by acquisitions of territory;
- to defend the threatened independence of the state;
- to avenge insulted honor; or
- from a mania for conquest.”
Each reason becomes a “type” of war on which Jomini elaborates with examples from history. The type of war, he suggests, “influences in some degree the nature and extent of the efforts and operations necessary for the proposed end.”
Should you have interest in reading de Jomini’s The Art of War, it is available both on Google Books here and at Project Gutenberg here.
Jomini, Antoine Henri de. The Art of War, trans. by G. H. Mendell and W. P. Craighill., Special Edition, (El Paso: EL Paso Norte Press. 2005), 9.
A map for the w:en:Battle of the Gebora, in 19 February 1811. Source can be found here. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document (refers to map) under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation license, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts, and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled “GNU Free Documentation license“.
This post continues from Jomini on the Nature of War: Part I Introduction here and Part II The Burgeoning Military Theorist here. Please note links in blue lead to additional information on those topics.
Baron Antoine-Henri de Jomini, who was a product of the Napoleonic era, attempted to make warfare “scientific.”[i] According to Shy, this led him to reduce the study of war “…to a preoccupation with ‘strategy’ – a set of prescriptive techniques for military analysis and planning that has continued to dominate thinking on the subject.”[ii]
“…His general approach to the problem of war, abstracting it from its political and social context, emphasizing decision-making rules and operations results, turning warfare into a huge game of chess, has been surprisingly durable. Jomini more than Clausewitz, deserves the dubious title of founder of modern strategy.”[iii]
- “strategy is the key to warfare
- all strategy is controlled by invariable scientific principles
- these principles prescribe offensive action to mass forces against weaker enemy forces at some decisive point in strategy is to lead to victory.”[iv]
What is a decisive point?
One whose attack or capture would imperil or seriously weaken the enemy.[v]
More in next post….
[i, ii, iii, iv, v] John Shy, “Jomini,” in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 144 – 146.
This post continues from Part I here. Please note links in blue lead to additional information on those topics.
Antoine-Henri Jomini (below right) was born on March 6, 1779 in the small town of Payerne (Payerne church pictured right) in western Switzerland. His family was an old and influential one; his father Benjamin active in local politics. Jomini grew up with the French Revolution and the sight of French soldiers was something he was familiar with even as a boy. He was a teenager working in banking in Paris when the Swiss Revolution of 1798 broke out, largely instigated by the French at the proding of exiled Swiss radicals. Jomini’s father joined the revolutionary cause and served in various political roles in the Helvetian Republic. Antoine-Henri caught the fever of revolution as well and returned home where, at the age of nineteen, he became the secretary to the Swiss minister of war. He attained military rank (captain) and a reputation for being bright, diligent, and full of ambition. By twenty-one, he had command of a battalion. [i]
It was during this time that he began a vigorous study of military history. John Shy suggests that Jomini was…
“obsessed by visions of military glory, with himself imitating the incredible rise of Bonaparte (below right) who was only ten years his senior, but in a telling phrase Jomini remembers being possessed, even then, by “le sentiment des principes” – the Platonic faith that reality lies beneath the superficial chaos of the historical moment in enduring and invariable principles, like those of gravitation and probability. To grasp those principle, as well as to satisfy the more primitive emotional needs of ambition and youthful impatience, was what impelled him to the study of war. Voracious reading of military history and theorizing from it would reveal the secret of French victory.” [ii]
The Luneville Treaty of 1801 (see exerpts here) ended the Napoleonic Wars and Jomini returned to Paris where he maintained a devotion to the study and writing of military theory. He had been enthralled by Napoleon’s leadership. It is beyond disptue that the French had achieved a breakthrough in warfare and Jomini was about trying to find out how they had done it.
“Answering this question, persuasively and influentially, would be Jomini’s great achievement. The wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon generated a vast, receptive audience for the kind of clear, simple, reassuring explanation that he would offer. Drawing overtly on the prestige of ‘science’ and yet almost religious in its insistent evangelical appeal to timeless verities, Jomini’s answer to this troubling question seemed to dispel the confusion and allay much of the fear created by French military victories.” [iii]
By 1804, Jomini had completed his Traité des grandes opérations militaires (Treastise on Great Military Operations). He managed to ingratiate himself to General Michel Ney (right), leader of Bonaparte’s Sixth Corps, who had served for a time as French viceroy in Switzerland. Ney helped him to publish this first book. It would find its way to Napoleon and Jomini’s life would be forever changed. [iv]
Jomini’s principles would also find their way to West Point in the years preceeding the American Civil War. In Part III, I’ll discuss what those principles were.
[i] Hugh Chisholm, The Encyclopedia Britannica: A Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, Literature and General Information. 11th Ed, Volume XV. (Cambridge, England: At the University Press, 1911), 495. Accessed online 2/23/2008: here.
[ii, iii, iv] John Shy, “Jomini,” in Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, ed. Peter Paret (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 144 – 149.
Photos: Public Domain – Wiki Commons