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Title: The Art of War
Author: Jomini, Henri, baron, 1779-1869
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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A New Edition, with Appendices and Maps.








Originally published in 1862


In the execution of any undertaking there are extremes on either hand
which are alike to be avoided. The rule holds in a special manner in
making a translation. There is, on the one side, the extreme of too
rigid adherence, word for word and line for line, to the original, and
on the other is the danger of using too free a pen. In either case the
sense of the author may not be truly given. It is not always easy to
preserve a proper mean between these extremes. The translators of
Jomini's Summary of the Principles of the Art of War have endeavored to
render their author into plain English, without mutilating or adding to
his ideas, attempting no display and making no criticisms.

To persons accustomed to read for instruction in military matters, it is
not necessary to say a word with reference to the merits of Jomini. To
those not thus accustomed heretofore, but who are becoming more
interested in such subjects, (and this class must include the great mass
of the American public,) it is sufficient to say, and it may be said
with entire truth, that General Jomini is admitted by all competent
judges to be one of the ablest military critics and historians of this
or any other day.

The translation now presented to the people has been made with the
earnest hope and the sincere expectation of its proving useful. As the
existence of a large, well-instructed standing army is deemed
incompatible with our institutions, it becomes the more important that
military information be as extensively diffused as possible among the
people. If by the present work the translators shall find they have
contributed, even in an inconsiderable degree, to this important object,
they will be amply repaid for the care and labor expended upon it.

To those persons to whom the study of the art of war is a new one, it is
recommended to begin at the article "Strategy," Chapter III., from that
point to read to the end of the Second Appendix, and then to return to
Chapters I. and II. It should be borne in mind that this subject, to be
appreciated, must be studied, map in hand: this remark is especially
true of strategy. An acquaintance with the campaigns of Napoleon I. is
quite important, as they are constantly referred to by Jomini and by all
other recent writers on the military art.

U.S. Military Academy,
West Point, N.Y.
January, 1862.





  ART. I.--Offensive Wars to Recover Rights.

  ART. II.--Wars which are Politically Defensive, and Offensive in a
            Military View.

  ART. III.--Wars of Expediency.

  ART. IV.--Wars with or without Allies.

  ART. V.--Wars of Intervention.

  ART. VI.--Wars of Invasion, through a Desire of Conquest or for other

  ART. VII.--Wars of Opinion.

  ART. VIII.--National Wars.

  ART. IX.--Civil and Religious Wars.

  ART. X.--Double Wars, and the Danger of Undertaking Two at the Same Time.


  ART. XI.--Military Statistics and Geography.

  ART. XII.--Different Causes which have an Influence over the Success of a

  ART. XIII.--The Military Institutions of States.

  ART. XIV.--The Command of Armies and the Supreme Control of Operations.

  ART. XV.--The Military Spirit of Nations and the Morale of Armies.

Definition of Strategy and Tactics.

  ART. XVI.--The System of Offensive or Defensive Operations.

  ART. XVII.--The Theater of Operations.

  ART. XVIII.--Bases of Operations.

  ART. XIX.--Strategic Lines and Points, Decisive Points of the Theater
             of War, and Objective Points of Operation.

  ART. XX.--Fronts of Operations, Strategic Fronts, Lines of Defense,
            and Strategic Positions.

  ART. XXI.--Zones and Lines of Operations.

  ART. XXII.--Strategic Lines of Maneuver.

  ART. XXIII.--Means of Protecting Lines of Operations by Temporary Bases
               or Strategic Reserves.

  ART. XXIV.--The Old and New Systems of War.

  ART. XXV.--Depots of Supply, and their Relations to Operations.

  ART. XXVI.--Frontiers, and their Defense by Forts and Intrenched
              Lines.--Wars of Sieges.

  ART. XXVII.--Intrenched Camps and Têtes de Ponts in their Relation to

  ART. XXVIII.--Strategic Operations in Mountainous Countries.

  ART. XXIX.--Grand Invasions and Distant Expeditions.

  Epitome of Strategy.


  ART. XXX.--Positions and Defensive Battles.

  ART. XXXI.--Offensive Battles and Orders of Battle.

  ART. XXXII.--Turning Maneuvers, and Too Extended Movements in Battle.

  ART. XXXIII.--Unexpected Meeting of Two Armies on the March.

  ART. XXXIV.--Surprises of Armies.

  ART. XXXV.--Attack of Cities, Intrenched Camps or Lines, and Coups de
              Main generally.


  ART. XXXVI.--Diversions and Great Detachments.

  ART. XXXVII.--Passage of Rivers and other Streams.

  ART. XXXVIII.--Retreats and Pursuits.

  ART. XXXIX.--Cantonments and Winter Quarters.

  ART. XL.--Descents, or Maritime Expeditions.


  ART. XLI.--A few Remarks on Logistics in general.

  ART. XLII.--Reconnoissances, and other Means of Gaining Accurate
              Information of the Enemy's Movements.


  ART. ART. XLIII--Posting Troops in Line of Battle.

  ART. XLIV.--Formation and Employment of Infantry.

  ART. XLV.---Formation and Employment of Cavalry.

  ART. XLVI.---Formation and Employment of Artillery.

  ART. XLVII.--Employment of the Three Arms together.









The art of war, as generally considered, consists of five purely
military branches,--viz.: Strategy, Grand Tactics, Logistics,
Engineering, and Tactics. A sixth and essential branch, hitherto
unrecognized, might be termed _Diplomacy in its relation to War_.
Although this branch is more naturally and intimately connected with the
profession of a statesman than with that of a soldier, it cannot be
denied that, if it be useless to a subordinate general, it is
indispensable to every general commanding an army: it enters into all
the combinations which may lead to a war, and has a connection with the
various operations to be undertaken in this war; and, in this view, it
should have a place in a work like this.

To recapitulate, the art of war consists of six distinct parts:--

1. Statesmanship in its relation to war.

2. Strategy, or the art of properly directing masses upon the theater of
war, either for defense or for invasion.

3. Grand Tactics.

4. Logistics, or the art of moving armies.

5. Engineering,--the attack and defense of fortifications.

6. Minor Tactics.

It is proposed to analyze the principal combinations of the first four
branches, omitting the consideration of tactics and of the art of

Familiarity with all these parts is not essential in order to be a good
infantry, cavalry, or artillery officer; but for a general, or for a
staff officer, this knowledge is indispensable.



Under this head are included those considerations from which a statesman
concludes whether a war is proper, opportune, or indispensable, and
determines the various operations necessary to attain the object of the

A government goes to 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

To defend the threatened independence of the state;

To avenge insulted honor; or,

From a mania for conquest.

It may be remarked that these different kinds of war influence in some
degree the nature and extent of the efforts and operations necessary for
the proposed end. The party who has provoked the war may be reduced to
the defensive, and the party assailed may assume the offensive; and
there may be other circumstances which will affect the nature and
conduct of a war, as,--

1. A state may simply make war against another state.

2. A state may make war against several states in alliance with each

3. A state in alliance with another may make war upon a single enemy.

4. A state may be either the principal party or an auxiliary.

5. In the latter case a state may join in the struggle at its beginning
or after it has commenced.

6. The theater of war may be upon the soil of the enemy, upon that of an
ally, or upon its own.

7. If the war be one of invasion, it may be upon adjacent or distant
territory: it may be prudent and cautious, or it may be bold and

8. It may be a national war, either against ourselves or against the

9. The war may be a civil or a religious war.

War is always to be conducted according to the great principles of the
art; but great discretion must be exercised in the nature of the
operations to be undertaken, which should depend upon the circumstances
of the case.

For example: two hundred thousand French wishing to subjugate the
Spanish people, united to a man against them, would not maneuver as the
same number of French in a march upon Vienna, or any other capital, to
compel a peace; nor would a French army fight the guerrillas of Mina as
they fought the Russians at Borodino; nor would a French army venture to
march upon Vienna without considering what might be the tone and temper
of the governments and communities between the Rhine and the Inn, or
between the Danube and the Elbe. A regiment should always fight in
nearly the same way; but commanding generals must be guided by
circumstances and events.

To these different combinations, which belong more or less to
statesmanship, may be added others which relate solely to the management
of armies. The name Military Policy is given to them; for they belong
exclusively neither to diplomacy nor to strategy, but are still of the
highest importance in the plans both of a statesman and a general.


Offensive Wars to Reclaim Rights.

When a state has claims upon another, it may not always be best to
enforce them by arms. The public interest must be consulted before

The most just war is one which is founded upon undoubted rights, and
which, in addition, promises to the state advantages commensurate with
the sacrifices required and the hazards incurred. Unfortunately, in our
times there are so many doubtful and contested rights that most wars,
though apparently based upon bequests, or wills, or marriages, are in
reality but wars of expediency. The question of the succession to the
Spanish crown under Louis XIV. was very clear, since it was plainly
settled by a solemn will, and was supported by family ties and by the
general consent of the Spanish nation; yet it was stoutly contested by
all Europe, and produced a general coalition against the legitimate

Frederick II., while Austria and France were at war, brought forward an
old claim, entered Silesia in force and seized this province, thus
doubling the power of Prussia. This was a stroke of genius; and, even if
he had failed, he could not have been much censured; for the grandeur
and importance of the enterprise justified him in his attempt, as far as
such attempts can be justified.

In wars of this nature no rules can be laid down. To watch and to profit
by every circumstance covers all that can be said. Offensive movements
should be suitable to the end to be attained. The most natural step
would be to occupy the disputed territory: then offensive operations may
be carried on according to circumstances and to the respective strength
of the parties, the object being to secure the cession of the territory
by the enemy, and the means being to threaten him in the heart of his
own country. Every thing depends upon the alliances the parties may be
able to secure with other states, and upon their military resources. In
an offensive movement, scrupulous care must be exercised not to arouse
the jealousy of any other state which might come to the aid of the
enemy. It is a part of the duty of a statesman to foresee this chance,
and to obviate it by making proper explanations and giving proper
guarantees to other states.


Of Wars Defensive Politically, and Offensive in a Military Point of

A state attacked by another which renews an old claim rarely yields it
without a war: it prefers to defend its territory, as is always more
honorable. But it may be advantageous to take the offensive, instead of
awaiting the attack on the frontiers.

There are often advantages in a war of invasion: there are also
advantages in awaiting the enemy upon one's own soil. A power with no
internal dissensions, and under no apprehension of an attack by a third
party, will always find it advantageous to carry the war upon hostile
soil. This course will spare its territory from devastation, carry on
the war at the expense of the enemy, excite the ardor of its soldiers,
and depress the spirits of the adversary. Nevertheless, in a purely
military sense, it is certain that an army operating in its own
territory, upon a theater of which all the natural and artificial
features are well known, where all movements are aided by a knowledge of
the country, by the favor of the citizens, and the aid of the
constituted authorities, possesses great advantages.

These plain truths have their application in all descriptions of war;
but, if the principles of strategy are always the same, it is different
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. The fact of these modifications has been used to
prove that war knows no rules. Military science rests upon principles
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.

For instance, the plan of a war against France, Austria, or Russia would
differ widely from one against the brave but undisciplined bands of
Turks, which cannot be kept in order, are not able to maneuver well, and
possess no steadiness under misfortunes.


Wars of Expediency.

The invasion of Silesia by Frederick II., and the war of the Spanish
Succession, were wars of expediency.

There are two kinds of wars of expediency: first, where a powerful state
undertakes to acquire natural boundaries for commercial and political
reasons; secondly, to lessen the power of a dangerous rival or to
prevent his aggrandizement. These last are wars of intervention; for a
state will rarely singly attack a dangerous rival: it will endeavor to
form a coalition for that purpose.

These views belong rather to statesmanship or diplomacy than to war.


Of Wars with or without Allies.

Of course, in a war an ally is to be desired, all other things being
equal. Although a great state will more probably succeed than two weaker
states in alliance against it, still the alliance is stronger than
either separately. The ally not only furnishes a contingent of troops,
but, in addition, annoys the enemy to a great degree by threatening
portions of his frontier which otherwise would have been secure. All
history teaches that no enemy is so insignificant as to be despised and
neglected by any power, however formidable.


Wars of Intervention.

To interfere in a contest already begun promises more advantages to a
state than war under any other circumstances; and the reason is plain.
The power which interferes throws upon one side of the scale its whole
weight and influence; it interferes at the most opportune moment, when
it can make decisive use of its resources.

There are two kinds of intervention: 1. Intervention in the internal
affairs of neighboring states; 2. Intervention in external relations.

Whatever may be said as to the moral character of interventions of the
first class, instances are frequent. The Romans acquired power by these
interferences, and the empire of the English India Company was assured
in a similar manner. These interventions are not always successful.
While Russia has added to her power by interference with Poland,
Austria, on the contrary, was almost ruined by her attempt to interfere
in the internal affairs of France during the Revolution.

Intervention in the external relations of states is more legitimate, and
perhaps more advantageous. It may be doubtful whether a nation has the
right to interfere in the internal affairs of another people; but it
certainly has a right to oppose it when it propagates disorder which may
reach the adjoining states.

There are three reasons for intervention in exterior foreign
wars,--viz.: 1, by virtue of a treaty which binds to aid; 2, to maintain
the political equilibrium; 3, to avoid certain evil consequences of the
war already commenced, or to secure certain advantages from the war not
to be obtained otherwise.

History is filled with examples of powers which have fallen by neglect
of these principles. "A state begins to decline when it permits the
immoderate aggrandizement of a rival, and a secondary power may become
the arbiter of nations if it throw its weight into the balance at the
proper time."

In a military view, it seems plain that the sudden appearance of a new
and large army as a third party in a well-contested war must be
decisive. Much will depend upon its geographical position in reference
to the armies already in the field. For example, in the winter of 1807
Napoleon crossed the Vistula and ventured to the walls of Königsberg,
leaving Austria on his rear and having Russia in front. If Austria had
launched an army of one hundred thousand men from Bohemia upon the Oder,
it is probable that the power of Napoleon would have been ended; there
is every reason to think that his army could not have regained the
Rhine. Austria preferred to wait till she could raise four hundred
thousand men. Two years afterward, with this force she took the field,
and was beaten; while one hundred thousand men well employed at the
proper time would have decided the fate of Europe.

There are several kinds of war resulting from these two different

1. Where the intervention is merely auxiliary, and with a force
specified by former treaties.

2. Where the intervention is to uphold a feeble neighbor by defending
his territory, thus shifting the scene of war to other soil.

3. A state interferes as a principal party when near the theater of
war,--which supposes the case of a coalition of several powers against

4. A state interferes either in a struggle already in progress, or
interferes before the declaration of war.

When a state intervenes with only a small contingent, in obedience to
treaty-stipulations, it is simply an accessory, and has but little voice
in the main operations; but when it intervenes as a principal party, and
with an imposing force, the case is quite different.

The military chances in these wars are varied. The Russian army in the
Seven Years' War was in fact auxiliary to that of Austria and France:
still, it was a principal party in the North until its occupation of
Prussia. But when Generals Fermor and Soltikoff conducted the army as
far as Brandenburg it acted solely in the interest of Austria: the fate
of these troops, far from their base, depended upon the good or bad
maneuvering of their allies.

Such distant excursions are dangerous, and generally delicate
operations. The campaigns of 1799 and 1805 furnish sad illustrations of
this, to which we shall again refer in Article XXIX., in discussing the
military character of these expeditions.

It follows, then, that the safety of the army may be endangered by these
distant interventions. The counterbalancing advantage is that its own
territory cannot then be easily invaded, since the scene of hostilities
is so distant; so that what may be a misfortune for the general may be,
in a measure, an advantage to the state.

In wars of this character the essentials are to secure a general who is
both a statesman and a soldier; to have clear stipulations with the
allies as to the part to be taken by each in the principal operations;
finally, to agree upon an objective point which shall be in harmony with
the common interests. By the neglect of these precautions, the greater
number of coalitions have failed, or have maintained a difficult
struggle with a power more united but weaker than the allies.

The third kind of intervention, which consists in interfering with the
whole force of the state and near to its frontiers, is more promising
than the others. Austria had an opportunity of this character in 1807,
but failed to profit by it: she again had the opportunity in 1813.
Napoleon had just collected his forces in Saxony, when Austria, taking
his front of operations in reverse, threw herself into the struggle with
two hundred thousand men, with almost perfect certainty of success. She
regained in two months the Italian empire and her influence in Germany,
which had been lost by fifteen years of disaster. In this intervention
Austria had not only the political but also the military chances in her
favor,--a double result, combining the highest advantages.

Her success was rendered more certain by the fact that while the theater
was sufficiently near her frontiers to permit the greatest possible
display of force, she at the same time interfered in a contest already
in progress, upon which she entered with the whole of her resources and
at the time most opportune for her.

This double advantage is so decisive that it permits not only powerful
monarchies, but even small states, to exercise a controlling influence
when they know how to profit by it.

Two examples may establish this. In 1552, the Elector Maurice of Saxony
boldly declared war against Charles V., who was master of Spain, Italy,
and the German empire, and had been victorious over Francis I. and held
France in his grasp. This movement carried the war into the Tyrol, and
arrested the great conqueror in his career.

In 1706, the Duke of Savoy, Victor Amadeus, by declaring himself hostile
to Louis XIV., changed the state of affairs in Italy, and caused the
recall of the French army from the banks of the Adige to the walls of
Turin, where it encountered the great catastrophe which immortalized
Prince Eugene.

Enough has been said to illustrate the importance and effect of these
opportune interventions: more illustrations might be given, but they
could not add to the conviction of the reader.


Aggressive Wars for Conquest and other Reasons.

There are two very different kinds of invasion: one attacks an adjoining
state; the other attacks a distant point, over intervening territory of
great extent whose inhabitants may be neutral, doubtful, or hostile.

Wars of conquest, unhappily, are often prosperous,--as Alexander, Cæsar,
and Napoleon during a portion of his career, have fully proved. However,
there are natural limits in these wars, which cannot be passed without
incurring great disaster. Cambyses in Nubia, Darius in Scythia, Crassus
and the Emperor Julian among the Parthians, and Napoleon in Russia,
furnish bloody proofs of these truths.--The love of conquest, however,
was not the only motive with Napoleon: his personal position, and his
contest with England, urged him to enterprises the aim of which was to
make him supreme. It is true that he loved war and its chances; but he
was also a victim to the necessity of succeeding in his efforts or of
yielding to England. It might be said that he was sent into this world
to teach generals and statesmen what they should avoid. His victories
teach what may be accomplished by activity, boldness, and skill; his
disasters, what might have been avoided by prudence.

A war of invasion without good reason--like that of Genghis Khan--is a
crime against humanity; but it may be excused, if not approved, when
induced by great interests or when conducted with good motives.

The invasions of Spain of 1808 and of 1823 differed equally in object
and in results: the first was a cunning and wanton attack, which
threatened the existence of the Spanish nation, and was fatal to its
author; the second, while combating dangerous principles, fostered the
general interests of the country, and was the more readily brought to a
successful termination because its object met with the approval of the
majority of the people whose territory was invaded.

These illustrations show that invasions are not necessarily all of the
same character. The first contributed largely to the fall of Napoleon;
the second restored the relation between France and Spain, which ought
never to have been changed.

Let us hope that invasions may be rare. Still, it is better to attack
than to be invaded; and let us remember that the surest way to check the
spirit of conquest and usurpation is to oppose it by intervention at the
proper time.

An invasion, to be successful, must, be proportioned in magnitude to the
end to be attained and to the obstacles to be overcome.

An invasion against an exasperated people, ready for all sacrifices and
likely to be aided by a powerful neighbor, is a dangerous enterprise, as
was well proved by the war in Spain, (1808,) and by the wars of the
Revolution in 1792, 1793, and 1794. In these latter wars, if France was
better prepared than Spain, she had no powerful ally, and she was
attacked by all Europe upon both land and sea.

Although the circumstances were different, the Russian invasion of
Turkey developed, in some respects, the same symptoms of national
resistance. The religious hatred of the Ottoman powerfully incited him
to arms; but the same motive was powerless among the Greeks, who were
twice as numerous as the Turks. Had the interests of the Greeks and
Turks been harmonized, as were those of Alsace with France, the united
people would have been stronger, but they would have lacked the element
of religious fanaticism. The war of 1828 proved that Turkey was
formidable only upon the frontiers, where her bravest troops were found,
while in the interior all was weakness.

When an invasion of a neighboring territory has nothing to fear from the
inhabitants, the principles of strategy shape its course. The popular
feeling rendered the invasions of Italy, Austria, and Prussia so prompt.
(These military points are treated of in Article XXIX.) But when the
invasion is distant and extensive territories intervene, its success
will depend more upon diplomacy than upon strategy. The first step to
insure success will be to secure the sincere and devoted alliance of a
state adjoining the enemy, which will afford reinforcements of troops,
and, what is still more important, give a secure base of operations,
depots of supplies, and a safe refuge in case of disaster. The ally must
have the same interest in success as the invaders, to render all this

Diplomacy, while almost decisive in distant expeditions, is not
powerless in adjacent invasions; for here a hostile intervention may
arrest the most brilliant successes. The invasions of Austria in 1805
and 1809 might have ended differently if Prussia had interfered. The
invasion of the North of Germany in 1807 was, so to speak, permitted by
Austria. That of Rumelia in 1829 might have ended in disaster, had not a
wise statesmanship by negotiation obviated all chance of intervention.


Wars of Opinion.

Although wars of opinion, national wars, and civil wars are sometimes
confounded, they differ enough to require separate notice.

Wars of opinion may be intestine, both intestine and foreign, and,
lastly, (which, however, is rare,) they may be foreign or exterior
without being intestine or civil.

Wars of opinion between two states belong also to the class of wars of
intervention; for they result either from doctrines which one party
desires to propagate among its neighbors, or from dogmas which it
desires to crush,--in both cases leading to intervention. Although
originating in religious or political dogmas, these wars are most
deplorable; for, like national wars, they enlist the worst passions, and
become vindictive, cruel, and terrible.

The wars of Islamism, the Crusades, the Thirty Years' War, the wars of
the League, present nearly the same characteristics. Often religion is
the pretext to obtain political power, and the war is not really one of
dogmas. The successors of Mohammed cared more to extend their empire
than to preach the Koran, and Philip II., bigot as he was, did not
sustain the League in France for the purpose of advancing the Roman
Church. We agree with M. Ancelot that Louis IX., when he went on a
crusade in Egypt, thought more of the commerce of the Indies than of
gaining possession of the Holy Sepulcher.

The dogma sometimes is not only a pretext, but is a powerful ally; for
it excites the ardor of the people, and also creates a party. For
instance, the Swedes in the Thirty Years' War, and Philip II. in France,
had allies in the country more powerful than their armies. It may,
however, happen, as in the Crusades and the wars of Islamism, that the
dogma for which the war is waged, instead of friends, finds only bitter
enemies in the country invaded; and then the contest becomes fearful.

The chances of support and resistance in wars of political opinions are
about equal. It may be recollected how in 1792 associations of fanatics
thought it possible to propagate throughout Europe the famous
declaration of the rights of man, and how governments became justly
alarmed, and rushed to arms probably with the intention of only forcing
the lava of this volcano back into its crater and there extinguishing
it. The means were not fortunate; for war and aggression are
inappropriate measures for arresting an evil which lies wholly in the
human passions, excited in a temporary paroxysm, of less duration as it
is the more violent. Time is the true remedy for all bad passions and
for all anarchical doctrines. A civilized nation may bear the yoke of a
factious and unrestrained multitude for a short interval; but these
storms soon pass away, and reason resumes her sway. To attempt to
restrain such a mob by a foreign force is to attempt to restrain the
explosion of a mine when the powder has already been ignited: it is far
better to await the explosion and afterward fill up the crater than to
try to prevent it and to perish in the attempt.

After a profound study of the Revolution, I am convinced that, if the
Girondists and National Assembly had not been threatened by foreign
armaments, they would never have dared to lay their sacrilegious hands
upon the feeble but venerable head of Louis XVI. The Girondists would
never have been crushed by the Mountain but for the reverses of
Dumouriez and the threats of invasion. And if they had been permitted to
clash and quarrel with each other to their hearts' content, it is
probable that, instead of giving place to the terrible Convention, the
Assembly would slowly have returned to the restoration of good,
temperate, monarchical doctrines, in accordance with the necessities and
the immemorial traditions of the French.

In a military view these wars are fearful, since the invading force not
only is met by the armies of the enemy, but is exposed to the attacks of
an exasperated people. It may be said that the violence of one party
will necessarily create support for the invaders by the formation of
another and opposite one; but, if the exasperated party possesses all
the public resources, the armies, the forts, the arsenals, and if it is
supported by a large majority of the people, of what avail will be the
support of the faction which possesses no such means? What service did
one hundred thousand Vendeans and one hundred thousand Federalists do
for the Coalition in 1793?

History contains but a single example of a struggle like that of the
Revolution; and it appears to clearly demonstrate the danger of
attacking an intensely-excited nation. However the bad management of the
military operations was one cause of the unexpected result, and before
deducing any certain maxims from this war, we should ascertain what
would have been the result if after the flight of Dumouriez, instead of
destroying and capturing fortresses, the allies had informed the
commanders of those fortresses that they contemplated no wrong to
France, to her forts or her brave armies, and had marched on Paris with
two hundred thousand men. They might have restored the monarchy; and,
again, they might never have returned, at least without the protection
of an equal force on their retreat to the Rhine. It is difficult to
decide this, since the experiment was never made, and as all would have
depended upon the course of the French nation and the army. The problem
thus presents two equally grave solutions. The campaign of 1793 gave
one; whether the other might have been obtained, it is difficult to say.
Experiment alone could have determined it.

The military precepts for such wars are nearly the same as for national
wars, differing, however, in a vital point. In national wars the country
should be occupied and subjugated, the fortified places besieged and
reduced, and the armies destroyed; whereas in wars of opinion it is of
less importance to subjugate the country; here great efforts should be
made to gain the end speedily, without delaying for details, care being
constantly taken to avoid any acts which might alarm the nation for its
independence or the integrity of its territory.

The war in Spain in 1823 is an example which may be cited in favor of
this course in opposition to that of the Revolution. It is true that the
conditions were slightly different; for the French army of 1792 was
made up of more solid elements than that of the Radicals of the Isla de
Leon. The war of the Revolution was at once a war of opinion, a national
war, and a civil war,--while, if the first war in Spain in 1808 was
thoroughly a national war, that of 1823 was a partial struggle of
opinions without the element of nationality; and hence the enormous
difference in the results.

Moreover, the expedition of the Duke of Angoulême was well carried out.
Instead of attacking fortresses, he acted in conformity to the
above-mentioned precepts. Pushing on rapidly to the Ebro, he there
divided his forces, to seize, at their sources, all the elements of
strength of their enemies,--which they could safely do, since they were
sustained by a majority of the inhabitants. If he had followed the
instructions of the Ministry, to proceed methodically to the conquest of
the country and the reduction of the fortresses between the Pyrenees and
the Ebro, in order to provide a base of operations, he would perhaps
have failed in his mission, or at least made the war a long and bloody
one, by exciting the national spirit by an occupation of the country
similar to that of 1807.

Emboldened by the hearty welcome of the people, he comprehended that it
was a political operation rather than a military one, and that it
behooved him to consummate it rapidly. His conduct, so different from
that of the allies in 1793, deserves careful attention from all charged
with similar missions. In three months the army was under the walls of

If the events now transpiring in the Peninsula prove that statesmanship
was not able to profit by success in order to found a suitable and solid
order of things, the fault was neither in the army nor in its
commanders, but in the Spanish government, which, yielding to the
counsel of violent reactionaries, was unable to rise to the height of
its mission. The arbiter between two great hostile interests, Ferdinand
blindly threw himself into the arms of the party which professed a deep
veneration for the throne, but which intended to use the royal authority
for the furtherance of its own ends, regardless of consequences. The
nation remained divided in two hostile camps, which it would not have
been impossible to calm and reconcile in time. These camps came anew
into collision, as I predicted in Verona in 1823,--a striking lesson, by
which no one is disposed to profit in that beautiful and unhappy land,
although history is not wanting in examples to prove that violent
reactions, any more than revolutions, are not elements with which to
construct and consolidate. May God grant that from this frightful
conflict may emerge a strong and respected monarchy, equally separated
from all factions, and based upon a disciplined army as well as upon the
general interests of the country,--a monarchy capable of rallying to its
support this incomprehensible Spanish nation, which, with merits not
less extraordinary than its faults, was always a problem for those who
were in the best position to know it.


National Wars.

National wars, to which we have referred in speaking of those of
invasion, are the most formidable of all. This name can only be applied
to such as are waged against a united people, or a great majority of
them, filled with a noble ardor and determined to sustain their
independence: then every step is disputed, the army holds only its
camp-ground, its supplies can only be obtained at the point of the
sword, and its convoys are everywhere threatened or captured.

The spectacle of a spontaneous uprising of a nation is rarely seen; and,
though there be in it something grand and noble which commands our
admiration, the consequences are so terrible that, for the sake of
humanity, we ought to hope never to see it. This uprising must not be
confounded with a national defense in accordance with the institutions
of the state and directed by the government.

This uprising may be produced by the most opposite causes. The serfs may
rise in a body at the call of the government, and their masters,
affected by a noble love of their sovereign and country, may set them
the example and take the command of them; and, similarly, a fanatical
people may arm under the appeal of its priests; or a people enthusiastic
in its political opinions, or animated by a sacred love of its
institutions, may rush to meet the enemy in defense of all it holds most

The control of the sea is of much importance in the results of a
national invasion. If the people possess a long stretch of coast, and
are masters of the sea or in alliance with a power which controls it,
their power of resistance is quintupled, not only on account of the
facility of feeding the insurrection and of alarming the enemy on all
the points he may occupy, but still more by the difficulties which will
be thrown in the way of his procuring supplies by the sea.

The nature of the country may be such as to contribute to the facility
of a national defense. In mountainous countries the people are always
most formidable; next to these are countries covered with extensive

The resistance of the Swiss to Austria and to the Duke of Burgundy, that
of the Catalans in 1712 and in 1809, the difficulties encountered by the
Russians in the subjugation of the tribes of the Caucasus, and, finally,
the reiterated efforts of the Tyrolese, clearly demonstrate that the
inhabitants of mountainous regions have always resisted for a longer
time than those of the plains,--which is due as much to the difference
in character and customs as to the difference in the natural features of
the countries.

Defiles and large forests, as well as rocky regions, favor this kind of
defense; and the Bocage of La Vendée, so justly celebrated, proves that
any country, even if it be only traversed by large hedges and ditches or
canals, admits of a formidable defense.

The difficulties in the path of an army in wars of opinions, as well as
in national wars, are very great, and render the mission of the general
conducting them very difficult. The events just mentioned, the contest
of the Netherlands with Philip II. and that of the Americans with the
English, furnish evident proofs of this; but the much more extraordinary
struggle of La Vendée with the victorious Republic, those of Spain,
Portugal, and the Tyrol against Napoleon, and, finally, those of the
Morea against the Turks, and of Navarre against the armies of Queen
Christina, are still more striking illustrations.

The difficulties are particularly great when the people are supported by
a considerable nucleus of disciplined troops. The invader has only an
army: his adversaries have an army, and a people wholly or almost wholly
in arms, and making means of resistance out of every thing, each
individual of whom conspires against the common enemy; even the
non-combatants have an interest in his ruin and accelerate it by every
means in their power. He holds scarcely any ground but that upon which
he encamps; outside the limits of his camp every thing is hostile and
multiplies a thousandfold the difficulties he meets at every step.

These obstacles become almost insurmountable when the country is
difficult. Each armed inhabitant knows the smallest paths and their
connections; he finds everywhere a relative or friend who aids him; the
commanders also know the country, and, learning immediately the
slightest movement on the part of the invader, can adopt the best
measures to defeat his projects; while the latter, without information
of their movements, and not in a condition to send out detachments to
gain it, having no resource but in his bayonets, and certain safety only
in the concentration of his columns, is like a blind man: his
combinations are failures; and when, after the most carefully-concerted
movements and the most rapid and fatiguing marches, he thinks he is
about to accomplish his aim and deal a terrible blow, he finds no signs
of the enemy but his camp-fires: so that while, like Don Quixote, he is
attacking windmills, his adversary is on his line of communications,
destroys the detachments left to guard it, surprises his convoys, his
depots, and carries on a war so disastrous for the invader that he must
inevitably yield after a time.

In Spain I was a witness of two terrible examples of this kind. When
Ney's corps replaced Soult's at Corunna, I had camped the companies of
the artillery-train between Betanzos and Corunna, in the midst of four
brigades distant from the camp from two to three leagues, and no Spanish
forces had been seen within fifty miles; Soult still occupied Santiago
de Compostela, the division Maurice-Mathieu was at Ferrol and Lugo,
Marchand's at Corunna and Betanzos: nevertheless, one fine night the
companies of the train--men and horses--disappeared, and we were never
able to discover what became of them: a solitary wounded corporal
escaped to report that the peasants, led by their monks and priests, had
thus made away with them. Four months afterward, Ney with a single
division marched to conquer the Asturias, descending the valley of the
Navia, while Kellermann debouched from Leon by the Oviedo road. A part
of the corps of La Romana which was guarding the Asturias marched behind
the very heights which inclose the valley of the Navia, at most but a
league from our columns, without the marshal knowing a word of it: when
he was entering Gijon, the army of La Romana attacked the center of the
regiments of the division Marchand, which, being scattered to guard
Galicia, barely escaped, and that only by the prompt return of the
marshal to Lugo. This war presented a thousand incidents as striking as
this. All the gold of Mexico could not have procured reliable
information for the French; what was given was but a lure to make them
fall more readily into snares.

No army, however disciplined, can contend successfully against such a
system applied to a great nation, unless it be strong enough to hold all
the essential points of the country, cover its communications, and at
the same time furnish an active force sufficient to beat the enemy
wherever he may present himself. If this enemy has a regular army of
respectable size to be a nucleus around which to rally the people, what
force will be sufficient to be superior everywhere, and to assure the
safety of the long lines of communication against numerous bodies?

The Peninsular War should be carefully studied, to learn all the
obstacles which a general and his brave troops may encounter in the
occupation or conquest of a country whose people are all in arms. What
efforts of patience, courage, and resignation did it not cost the troops
of Napoleon, Massena, Soult, Ney, and Suchet to sustain themselves for
six years against three or four hundred thousand armed Spaniards and
Portuguese supported by the regular armies of Wellington, Beresford,
Blake, La Romana, Cuesta, Castaños, Reding, and Ballasteros!

If success be possible in such a war, the following general course will
be most likely to insure it,--viz.: make a display of a mass of troops
proportioned to the obstacles and resistance likely to be encountered,
calm the popular passions in every possible way, exhaust them by time
and patience, display courtesy, gentleness, and severity united, and,
particularly, deal justly. The examples of Henry IV. in the wars of the
League, of Marshal Berwick in Catalonia, of Suchet in Aragon and
Valencia, of Hoche in La Vendée, are models of their kind, which may be
employed according to circumstances with equal success. The admirable
order and discipline of the armies of Diebitsch and Paskevitch in the
late war were also models, and were not a little conducive to the
success of their enterprises.

The immense obstacles encountered by an invading force in these wars
have led some speculative persons to hope that there should never be any
other kind, since then wars would become more rare, and, conquest being
also more difficult, would be less a temptation to ambitious leaders.
This reasoning is rather plausible than solid; for, to admit all its
consequences, it would be necessary always to be able to induce the
people to take up arms, and it would also be necessary for us to be
convinced that there would be in the future no wars but those of
conquest, and that all legitimate though secondary wars, which are only
to maintain the political equilibrium or defend the public interests,
should never occur again: otherwise, how could it be known when and how
to excite the people to a national war? For example, if one hundred
thousand Germans crossed the Rhine and entered France, originally with
the intention of preventing the conquest of Belgium by France, and
without any other ambitious project, would it be a case where the whole
population--men, women, and children--of Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne,
and Burgundy, should rush to arms? to make a Saragossa of every walled
town, to bring about, by way of reprisals, murder, pillage, and
incendiarism throughout the country? If all this be not done, and the
Germans, in consequence of some success, should occupy these provinces,
who can say that they might not afterward seek to appropriate a part of
them, even though at first they had never contemplated it? The
difficulty of answering these two questions would seem to argue in favor
of national wars. But is there no means of repelling such an invasion
without bringing about an uprising of the whole population and a war of
extermination? Is there no mean between these contests between the
people and the old regular method of war between permanent armies? Will
it not be sufficient, for the efficient defense of the country, to
organize a militia, or landwehr, which, uniformed and called by their
governments into service, would regulate the part the people should take
in the war, and place just limits to its barbarities?

I answer in the affirmative; and, applying this mixed system to the
cases stated above, I will guarantee that fifty thousand regular French
troops, supported by the National Guards of the East, would get the
better of this German army which had crossed the Vosges; for, reduced to
fifty thousand men by many detachments, upon nearing the Meuse or
arriving in Argonne it would have one hundred thousand men on its hands.
To attain this mean, we have laid it down as a necessity that good
national reserves be prepared for the army; which will be less expensive
in peace and will insure the defense of the country in war. This system
was used by France in 1792, imitated by Austria in 1809, and by the
whole of Germany in 1813.

I sum up this discussion by asserting that, without being a utopian
philanthropist, or a condottieri, a person may desire that wars of
extermination may be banished from the code of nations, and that the
defenses of nations by disciplined militia, with the aid of good
political alliances, may be sufficient to insure their independence.

As a soldier, preferring loyal and chivalrous warfare to organized
assassination, if it be necessary to make a choice, I acknowledge that
my prejudices are in favor of the good old times when the French and
English Guards courteously invited each other to fire first,--as at
Fontenoy,--preferring them to the frightful epoch when priests, women,
and children throughout Spain plotted the murder of isolated soldiers.


Civil Wars, and Wars of Religion.

Intestine wars, when not connected with a foreign quarrel, are generally
the result of a conflict of opinions, of political or religious
sectarianism. In the Middle Ages they were more frequently the
collisions of feudal parties. Religious wars are above all the most

We can understand how a government may find it necessary to use force
against its own subjects in order to crush out factions which would
weaken the authority of the throne and the national strength; but that
it should murder its citizens to compel them to say their prayers in
French or Latin, or to recognize the supremacy of a foreign pontiff, is
difficult of conception. Never was a king more to be pitied than Louis
XIV., who persecuted a million of industrious Protestants, who had put
upon the throne his own Protestant ancestor. Wars of fanaticism are
horrible when mingled with exterior wars, and they are also frightful
when they are family quarrels. The history of France in the times of the
League should be an eternal lesson for nations and kings. It is
difficult to believe that a people so noble and chivalrous in the time
of Francis I. should in twenty years have fallen into so deplorable a
state of brutality.

To give maxims in such wars would be absurd. There is one rule upon
which all thoughtful men will be agreed: that is, to unite the two
parties or sects to drive the foreigners from the soil, and afterward to
reconcile by treaty the conflicting claims or rights. Indeed, the
intervention of a third power in a religious dispute can only be with
ambitious views.

Governments may in good faith intervene to prevent the spreading of a
political disease whose principles threaten social order; and, although
these fears are generally exaggerated and are often mere pretexts, it is
possible that a state may believe its own institutions menaced. But in
religious disputes this is never the case; and Philip II. could have had
no other object in interfering in the affairs of the League than to
subject France to his influence, or to dismember it.


Double Wars, and the Danger of Undertaking Two Wars at Once.

The celebrated maxim of the Romans, not to undertake two great wars at
the same time, is so well known and so well appreciated as to spare the
necessity of demonstrating its wisdom.

A government maybe compelled to maintain a war against two neighboring
states; but it will be extremely unfortunate if it does not find an ally
to come to its aid, with a view to its own safety and the maintenance of
the political equilibrium. It will seldom be the case that the nations
allied against it will have the same interest in the war and will enter
into it with all their resources; and, if one is only an auxiliary, it
will be an ordinary war.

Louis XIV., Frederick the Great, the Emperor Alexander, and Napoleon,
sustained gigantic struggles against united Europe. When such contests
arise from voluntary aggressions, they are proof of a capital error on
the part of the state which invites them; but if they arise from
imperious and inevitable circumstances they must be met by seeking
alliances, or by opposing such means of resistance as shall establish
something like equality between the strength of the parties.

The great coalition against Louis XIV., nominally arising from his
designs on Spain, had its real origin in previous aggressions which had
alarmed his neighbors. To the combined forces of Europe he could only
oppose the faithful alliance of the Elector of Bavaria, and the more
equivocal one of the Duke of Savoy, who, indeed, was not slow in adding
to the number of his enemies. Frederick, with only the aid of the
subsidies of England, and fifty thousand auxiliaries from six different
states, sustained a war against the three most powerful monarchies of
Europe: the division and folly of his opponents were his best friends.

Both these wars, as well as that sustained by Alexander in 1812, it was
almost impossible to avoid.

France had the whole of Europe on its hands in 1793, in consequence of
the extravagant provocations of the Jacobins, and the Utopian ideas of
the Girondists, who boasted that with the support of the English fleets
they would defy all the kings in the world. The result of these absurd
calculations was a frightful upheaval of Europe, from which France
miraculously escaped.

Napoleon is, to a certain degree, the only modern sovereign who has
voluntarily at the same time undertaken two, and even three, formidable
wars,--with Spain, with England, and with Russia; but in the last case
he expected the aid of Austria and Prussia, to say nothing of that of
Turkey and Sweden, upon which he counted with too much certainty; so
that the enterprise was not so adventurous on his part as has been
generally supposed.

It will be observed that there is a great distinction between a war made
against a single state which is aided by a third acting as an auxiliary,
and two wars conducted at the same time against two powerful nations in
opposite quarters, who employ all their forces and resources. For
instance, the double contest of Napoleon in 1809 against Austria and
Spain aided by England was a very different affair from a contest with
Austria assisted by an auxiliary force of a given strength. These latter
contests belong to ordinary wars.

It follows, then, in general, that double wars should be avoided if
possible, and, if cause of war be given by two states, it is more
prudent to dissimulate or neglect the wrongs suffered from one of them,
until a proper opportunity for redressing them shall arrive. The rule,
however, is not without exception: the respective forces, the
localities, the possibility of finding allies to restore, in a measure,
equality of strength between the parties, are circumstances which will
influence a government so threatened. We now have fulfilled our task, in
noting both the danger and the means of remedying it.



We have already explained what we understand by this title. It embraces
the moral combinations relating to the operations of armies. If the
political considerations which we have just discussed be also moral,
there are others which influence, in a certain degree, the conduct of a
war, which belong neither to diplomacy, strategy, nor tactics. We
include these under the head of _Military Policy_.

Military policy may be said to embrace all the combinations of any
projected war, except those relating to the diplomatic art and strategy;
and, as their number is considerable, a separate article cannot be
assigned to each without enlarging too much the limits of this work, and
without deviating from my intention,--which is, not to give a treatise
on theses subjects, but to point out their relations to military

Indeed, in this class we may place the passions of the nation to be
fought, their military system, their immediate means and their reserves,
their financial resources, the attachment they bear to their government
or their institutions, the character of the executive, the characters
and military abilities of the commanders of their armies, the influence
of cabinet councils or councils of war at the capital upon their
operations, the system of war in favor with their staff, the established
force of the state and its armament, the military geography and
statistics of the state which is to be invaded, and, finally, the
resources and obstacles of every kind likely to be met with, all of
which are included neither in diplomacy nor in strategy.

There are no fixed rules on such subjects, except that the government
should neglect nothing in obtaining a knowledge of these details, and
that it is indispensable to take them into consideration in the
arrangement of all plans. We propose to sketch the principal points
which ought to guide in this sort of combinations.


Military Statistics and Geography.

By the first of these sciences we understand the most thorough knowledge
possible of the elements of power and military resources of the enemy
with whom we are called upon to contend; the second consists in the
topographical and strategic description of the theater of war, with all
the obstacles, natural or artificial, to be encountered, and the
examination of the permanent decisive points which may be presented in
the whole extent of the frontier or throughout the extent of the
country. Besides the minister of war, the commanding general and his
chief of staff should be afforded this information, under the penalty of
cruel miscalculations in their plans, as happens frequently in our day,
despite the great strides civilized nations have taken in statistical,
diplomatic, geographical, and topographical sciences. I will cite two
examples of which I was cognizant. In 1796, Moreau's army, entering the
Black Forest, expected to find terrible mountains, frightful defiles and
forests, and was greatly surprised to discover, after climbing the
declivities of the plateau that slope to the Rhine, that these, with
their spurs, were the only mountains, and that the country, from the
sources of the Danube to Donauwerth, was a rich and level plain.

The second example was in 1813. Napoleon and his whole army supposed the
interior of Bohemia to be very mountainous,--whereas there is no
district in Europe more level, after the girdle of mountains surrounding
it has been crossed, which may be done in a single march.

All European officers held the same erroneous opinions in reference to
the Balkan and the Turkish force in the interior. It seemed that it was
given out at Constantinople that this province was an almost impregnable
barrier and the palladium of the empire,--an error which I, having lived
in the Alps, did not entertain. Other prejudices, not less deeply
rooted, have led to the belief that a people all the individuals of
which are constantly armed would constitute a formidable militia and
would defend themselves to the last extremity. Experience has proved
that the old regulations which placed the elite of the Janissaries in
the frontier-cities of the Danube made the population of those cities
more warlike than the inhabitants of the interior. In fact, the projects
of reform of the Sultan Mahmoud required the overthrow of the old
system, and there was no time to replace it by the new: so that the
empire was defenseless. Experience has constantly proved that a mere
multitude of brave men armed to the teeth make neither a good army nor a
national defense.

Let us return to the necessity of knowing well the military geography
and statistics of an empire. These sciences are not set forth in
treatises, and are yet to be developed. Lloyd, who wrote an essay upon
them, in describing the frontiers of the great states of Europe, was not
fortunate in his maxims and predictions. He saw obstacles everywhere; he
represents as impregnable the Austrian frontier on the Inn, between the
Tyrol and Passau, where Napoleon and Moreau maneuvered and triumphed
with armies of one hundred and fifty thousand men in 1800, 1805, and

But, if these sciences are not publicly taught, the archives of the
European staff must necessarily possess many documents valuable for
instruction in them,--at least for the special staff school. Awaiting
the time when some studious officer, profiting by those published and
unpublished documents, shall present Europe with a good military and
strategic geography, we may, thanks to the immense progress of
topography of late years, partially supply the want of it by the
excellent charts published in all European countries within the last
twenty years. At the beginning of the French Revolution topography was
in its infancy: excepting the semi-topographical map of Cassini, the
works of Bakenberg alone merited the name. The Austrian and Prussian
staff schools, however, were good, and have since borne fruit. The
charts published recently at Vienna, at Berlin, Munich, Stuttgart, and
Paris, as well as those of the institute of Herder at Fribourg, promise
to future generals immense resources unknown to their predecessors.

Military statistics is not much better known than geography. We have but
vague and superficial statements, from which the strength of armies and
navies is conjectured, and also the revenue supposed to be possessed by
a state,--which is far from being the knowledge necessary to plan
operations. Our object here is not to discuss thoroughly these important
subjects, but to indicate them, as facilitating success in military


Other Causes which exercise an Influence upon the Success of a War.

As the excited passions of a people are of themselves always a powerful
enemy, both the general and his government should use their best efforts
to allay them. We have nothing to add to what has been said on this
point under the head of national wars.

On the other hand, the general should do every thing to electrify his
own soldiers, and to impart to them the same enthusiasm which he
endeavors to repress in his adversaries. All armies are alike
susceptible of this spirit: the springs of action and means, only, vary
with the national character. Military eloquence is one means, and has
been the subject of many a treatise. The proclamations of Napoleon and
of Paskevitch, the addresses of the ancients to their soldiers, and
those of Suwaroff to men of still greater simplicity, are models of
their different kinds. The eloquence of the Spanish Juntas, and the
miracles of the Madonna del Pilar, led to the same results by very
different means. In general, a cherished cause, and a general who
inspires confidence by previous success, are powerful means of
electrifying an army and conducing to victory. Some dispute the
advantages of this enthusiasm, and prefer imperturbable coolness in
battle. Both have unmistakable advantages and disadvantages. Enthusiasm
impels to the performance of great actions: the difficulty is in
maintaining it constantly; and, when discouragement succeeds it,
disorder easily results.

The greater or less activity and boldness of the commanders of the
armies are elements of success or failure, which cannot be submitted to
rules. A cabinet and a commander ought to consider the intrinsic value
of their troops, and that resulting from their organization as compared
with that of the enemy. A Russian general, commanding the most solidly
organized troops in Europe, need not fear to undertake any thing against
undisciplined and unorganized troops in an open country, however brave
may be its individuals.[1] Concert in action makes strength; order
produces this concert, and discipline insures order; and without
discipline and order no success is possible. The Russian general would
not be so bold before European troops having the same instruction and
nearly the same discipline as his own. Finally, a general may attempt
with a Mack as his antagonist what it would be madness to do with a

The action of a cabinet in reference to the control of armies influences
the boldness of their operations. A general whose genius and hands are
tied by an Aulic council five hundred miles distant cannot be a match
for one who has liberty of action, other things being equal.

As to superiority in skill, it is one of the most certain pledges of
victory, all other things being equal. It is true that great generals
have often been beaten by inferior ones; but an exception does not make
a rule. An order misunderstood, a fortuitous event, may throw into the
hands of the enemy all the chances of success which a skillful general
had prepared for himself by his maneuvers. But these are risks which
cannot be foreseen nor avoided. Would it be fair on that account to
deny the influence of science and principles in ordinary affairs? This
risk even proves the triumph of the principles, for it happens that they
are applied accidentally by the army against which it was intended to
apply them, and are the cause of its success. But, in admitting this
truth, it may be said that it is an argument against science; this
objection is not well founded, for a general's science consists in
providing for his side all the chances possible to be foreseen, and of
course cannot extend to the caprices of destiny. Even if the number of
battles gained by skillful maneuvers did not exceed the number due to
accident, it would not invalidate my assertion.

If the skill of a general is one of the surest elements of victory, it
will readily be seen that the judicious selection of generals is one of
the most delicate points in the science of government and one of the
most essential parts of the military policy of a state. Unfortunately,
this choice is influenced by so many petty passions, that chance, rank,
age, favor, party spirit, jealousy, will have as much to do with it as
the public interest and justice. This subject is so important that we
will devote to it a separate article.


[Footnote 1: Irregular troops supported by disciplined troops may be of
the greatest value, in destroying convoys, intercepting communication,
&c., and may--as in the case of the French in 1812--make a retreat very


Military Institutions.

One of the most important points of the military policy of a state is
the nature of its military institutions. A good army commanded by a
general of ordinary capacity may accomplish great feats; a bad army with
a good general may do equally well; but an army will certainly do a
great deal more if its own superiority and that of the general be

Twelve essential conditions concur in making a perfect army:--

1. To have a good recruiting-system;

2. A good organization;

8. A well-organized system of national reserves;

4. Good instruction of officers and men in drill and internal duties as
well as those of a campaign;

5. A strict but not humiliating discipline, and a spirit of
subordination and punctuality, based on conviction rather than on the
formalities of the service;

6. A well-digested system of rewards, suitable to excite emulation;

7. The special arms of engineering and artillery to be well instructed;

8. An armament superior, if possible, to that of the enemy, both as to
defensive and offensive arms;

9. A general staff capable of applying these elements, and having an
organization calculated to advance the theoretical and practical
education of its officers;

10. A good system for the commissariat, hospitals, and of general

11. A good system of assignment to command, and of directing the
principal operations of war;

12. Exciting and keeping alive the military spirit of the people.

To these conditions might be added a good system of clothing and
equipment; for, if this be of less direct importance on the field of
battle, it nevertheless has a bearing upon the preservation of the
troops; and it is always a great object to economize the lives and
health of veterans.

None of the above twelve conditions can be neglected without grave
inconvenience. A fine army, well drilled and disciplined, but without
national reserves, and unskillfully led, suffered Prussia to fall in
fifteen days under the attacks of Napoleon. On the other hand, it has
often been seen of how much advantage it is for a state to have a good
army. It was the care and skill of Philip and Alexander in forming and
instructing their phalanxes and rendering them easy to move, and capable
of the most rapid maneuvers, which enabled the Macedonians to subjugate
India and Persia with a handful of choice troops. It was the excessive
love of his father for soldiers which procured for Frederick the Great
an army capable of executing his great enterprises.

A government which neglects its army under any pretext whatever is thus
culpable in the eyes of posterity, since it prepares humiliation for its
standards and its country, instead of by a different course preparing
for it success. We are far from saying that a government should
sacrifice every thing to the army, for this would be absurd; but it
ought to make the army the object of its constant care; and if the
prince has not a military education it will be very difficult for him to
fulfill his duty in this respect. In this case--which is, unfortunately,
of too frequent occurrence--the defect must be supplied by wise
institutions, at the head of which are to be placed a good system of the
general staff, a good system of recruiting, and a good system of
national reserves.

There are, indeed, forms of government which do not always allow the
executive the power of adopting the best systems. If the armies of the
Roman and French republics, and those of Louis XIV. and Frederick of
Prussia, prove that a good military system and a skillful direction of
operations may be found in governments the most opposite in principle,
it cannot be doubted that, in the present state of the world, the form
of government exercises a great influence in the development of the
military strength of a nation and the value of its troops.

When the control of the public funds is in the hands of those affected
by local interest or party spirit, they may be so over-scrupulous and
penurious as to take all power to carry on the war from the executive,
whom very many people seem to regard as a public enemy rather than as a
chief devoted to all the national interests.

The abuse of badly-understood public liberties may also contribute to
this deplorable result. Then it will be impossible for the most
far-sighted administration to prepare in advance for a great war,
whether it be demanded by the most important interests of the country at
some future time, or whether it be immediate and necessary to resist
sudden aggressions.

In the futile hope of rendering themselves popular, may not the members
of an elective legislature, the majority of whom cannot be Richelieus,
Pitts, or Louvois, in a misconceived spirit of economy, allow the
institutions necessary for a large, well-appointed, and disciplined army
to fall into decay? Deceived by the seductive fallacies of an
exaggerated philanthropy, may they not end in convincing themselves and
their constituents that the pleasures of peace are always preferable to
the more statesmanlike preparations for war?

I am far from advising that states should always have the hand upon the
sword and always be established on a war-footing: such a condition of
things would be a scourge for the human race, and would not be possible,
except under conditions not existing in all countries. I simply mean
that civilized governments ought always to be ready to carry on a war in
a short time,--that they should never be found unprepared. And the
wisdom of their institutions may do as much in this work of preparation
as foresight in their administration and the perfection of their system
of military policy.

If, in ordinary times, under the rule of constitutional forms,
governments subjected to all the changes of an elective legislature are
less suitable than others for the creation or preparation of a
formidable military power, nevertheless, in great crises these
deliberative bodies have sometimes attained very different results, and
have concurred in developing to the full extent the national strength.
Still, the small number of such instances in history makes rather a list
of exceptional cases, in which a tumultuous and violent assembly, placed
under the necessity of conquering or perishing, has profited by the
extraordinary enthusiasm of the nation to save the country and
themselves at the same time by resorting to the most terrible measures
and by calling to its aid an unlimited dictatorial power, which
overthrew both liberty and law under the pretext of defending them. Here
it is the dictatorship, or the absolute and monstrous usurpation of
power, rather than the form of the deliberative assembly, which is the
true cause of the display of energy. What happened in the Convention
after the fall of Robespierre and the terrible Committee of Public
Safety proves this, as well as the Chambers of 1815. Now, if the
dictatorial power, placed in the hands of a few, has always been a plank
of safety in great crises, it seems natural to draw the conclusion that
countries controlled by elective assemblies must be politically and
militarily weaker than pure monarchies, although in other respects they
present decided advantages.

It is particularly necessary to watch over the preservation of armies in
the interval of a long peace, for then they are most likely to
degenerate. It is important to foster the military spirit in the armies,
and to exercise them in great maneuvers, which, though but faintly
resembling those of actual war, still are of decided advantage in
preparing them for war. It is not less important to prevent them from
becoming effeminate, which may be done by employing them in labors
useful for the defense of the country.

The isolation in garrisons of troops by regiments is one of the worst
possible systems, and the Russian and Prussian system of divisions and
permanent corps d'armée seems to be much preferable. In general terms,
the Russian army now may be presented as a model in many respects; and
if in many points its customs would be useless and impracticable
elsewhere, it must be admitted that many good institutions might well be
copied from it.

As to rewards and promotion, it is essential to respect long service,
and at the same time to open a way for merit. Three-fourths of the
promotions in each grade should be made according to the roster, and the
remaining fourth reserved for those distinguished for merit and zeal. On
the contrary, in time of war the regular order of promotion should be
suspended, or at least reduced to a third of the promotions, leaving the
other two-thirds for brilliant conduct and marked services.

The superiority of armament may increase the chances of success in war:
it does not, of itself, gain battles, but it is a great element of
success. Every one can recall how nearly fatal to the French at Bylau
and Marengo was their great inferiority in artillery. We may also refer
to the great gain of the heavy French cavalry in the resumption of the
cuirass, which they had for so long thrown aside. Every one knows the
great advantage of the lance. Doubtless, as skirmishers lancers would
not be more effectual than hussars, but when charging in line it is a
very different affair. How many brave cavalry soldiers have been the
victims of the prejudice they bore against the lance because it was a
little more trouble to carry than a saber!

The armament of armies is still susceptible of great improvements; the
state which shall take the lead in making them will secure great
advantages. There is little left to be desired in artillery; but the
offensive and defensive arms of infantry and cavalry deserve the
attention of a provident government.

The new inventions of the last twenty years seem to threaten a great
revolution in army organization, armament, and tactics. Strategy alone
will remain unaltered, with its principles the same as under the Scipios
and Cæsars, Frederick and Napoleon, since they are independent of the
nature of the arms and the organization of the troops.

The means of destruction are approaching perfection with frightful
rapidity.[2] The Congreve rockets, the effect and direction of which it
is said the Austrians can now regulate,--the shrapnel howitzers, which
throw a stream of canister as far as the range of a bullet,--the Perkins
steam-guns, which vomit forth as many balls as a battalion,--will
multiply the chances of destruction, as though the hecatombs of Eylau,
Borodino, Leipsic, and Waterloo were not sufficient to decimate the
European races.

If governments do not combine in a congress to proscribe these
inventions of destruction, there will be no course left but to make the
half of an army consist of cavalry with cuirasses, in order to capture
with great rapidity these machines; and the infantry, even, will be
obliged to resume its armor of the Middle Ages, without which a
battalion will be destroyed before engaging the enemy.

We may then see again the famous men-at-arms all covered with armor,
and horses also will require the same protection.

While there is doubt about the realization of these fears, it is,
however, certain that artillery and pyrotechny have made advances which
should lead us to think of modifying the deep formation so much abused
by Napoleon. We will recur to this in the chapter on Tactics.

We will here recapitulate, in a few words, the essential bases of the
military policy which ought to be adopted by a wise government.

1. The prince should receive an education both political and military.
He will more probably find men of administrative ability in his councils
than good statesmen or soldiers; and hence he should be both of the
latter himself.

2. If the prince in person does not lead his armies, it will be his
first duty and his nearest interest to have his place well supplied. He
must confide the glory of his reign and the safety of his states to the
general most capable of directing his armies.

3. The permanent army should not only always be upon a respectable
footing, but it should be capable of being doubled, if necessary, by
reserves, which should always be prepared. Its instruction and
discipline should be of a high character, as well as its organization;
its armament should at least be as good as that of its neighbors, and
superior if possible.

4. The matériel of war should also be upon the best footing, and
abundant. The reserves should be stored in the depots and arsenals.
National jealousy should not be allowed to prevent the adoption of all
improvements in this matériel made in other countries.

5. It is necessary that the study of the military sciences should be
encouraged and rewarded, as well as courage and zeal. The scientific
military corps should be esteemed and honored: this is the only way of
securing for the army men of merit and genius.

6. The general staff in times of peace should be employed in labors
preparatory for all possible contingencies of war. Its archives should
be furnished with numerous historical details of the past, and with all
statistical, geographical, topographical, and strategic treatises and
papers for the present and future. Hence it is essential that the chief
of this corps, with a number of its officers, should be permanently
stationed at the capital in time of peace, and the war-office should be
simply that of the general staff, except that there should be a secret
department for those documents to be concealed from the subalterns of
the corps.

7. Nothing should be neglected to acquire a knowledge of the geography
and the military statistics of other states, so as to know their
material and moral capacity for attack and defense, as well as the
strategic advantages of the two parties. Distinguished officers should
be employed in these scientific labors, and should be rewarded when they
acquit themselves with marked ability.

8. When a war is decided upon, it becomes necessary to prepare, not an
entire plan of operations,--which is always impossible,--but a system of
operations in reference to a prescribed aim; to provide a base, as well
as all the material means necessary to guarantee the success of the

9. The system of operations ought to be determined by the object of the
war, the kind of forces of the enemy, the nature and resources of the
country, the characters of the nations and of their chiefs, whether of
the army or of the state. In fine, it should be based upon the moral and
material means of attack or defense which the enemy may be able to bring
into action; and it ought to take into consideration the probable
alliances that may obtain in favor of or against either of the parties
during the war.

10. The financial condition of a nation is to be weighed among the
chances of a war. Still, it would be dangerous to constantly attribute
to this condition the importance attached to it by Frederick the Great
in the history of his times. He was probably right at his epoch, when
armies were chiefly recruited by voluntary enlistment, when the last
crown brought the last soldier; but when national levies are well
organised money will no longer exercise the same influence,--at least
for one or two campaigns. If England has proved that money will procure
soldiers and auxiliaries, France has proved that love of country and
honor are equally productive, and that, when necessary, war may be made
to support war. France, indeed, in the fertility of her soil and the
enthusiasm of her leaders, possessed sources of temporary power which
cannot be adopted as a general base of a system; but the results of its
efforts were none the less striking. Every year the numerous reports of
the cabinet of London, and particularly of M. d'Yvernois, announced that
France was about to break down for want of money, while Napoleon had
200,000,000 francs[3] in the vaults of the Tuileries, all the while
meeting the expenses of the government, including the pay of his armies.

A power might be overrunning with gold and still defend itself very
badly. History, indeed, proves that the richest nation is neither the
strongest nor the happiest. Iron weighs at least as much as gold in the
scales of military strength. Still, we must admit that a happy
combination of wise military institutions, of patriotism, of
well-regulated finances, of internal wealth and public credit, imparts
to a nation the greatest strength and makes it best capable of
sustaining a long war.

A volume would be necessary to discuss all the circumstances under which
a nation may develop more or less strength, either by its gold or iron,
and to determine the cases when war may be expected to support war. This
result can only be obtained by carrying the army into the territory of
the enemy; and all countries are not equally capable of furnishing
resources to an assailant.

We need not extend further the investigation of these subjects which are
not directly connected with the art of war. It is sufficient for our
purpose to indicate their relations to a projected war; and it will be
for the statesman to develop the modifications which circumstances and
localities may make in these relations.


[Footnote 2: It will be recollected that the author wrote this many
years ago, since which time the inventive genius of the age has been
attentively directed to the improvement of fire-arms. Artillery, which
he regarded as almost perfect, has certainly undergone important
improvements, and the improved efficiency of small arms is no less
marked, while we hear nothing now of Perkins's steam-guns; and as yet no
civilized army has been organized upon the plan the author suggests for
depriving these destructive machines of their efficiency.--TRANSLATORS.]

[Footnote 3: There was a deficit in the finances of France at the fall
of Napoleon. It was the result of his disasters, and of the stupendous
efforts he was obliged to make. There was no deficit in 1811.]


The Command of Armies, and the Chief Control over Operations.

Is it an advantage to a state to have its armies commanded in person by
the monarch? Whatever may be the decision on this point, it is certain
that if the prince possess the genius of Frederick, Peter the Great, or
Napoleon, he will be far from leaving to his generals the honor of
performing great actions which he might do himself; for in this he would
be untrue to his own glory and to the well-being of the country.

As it is not our mission to discuss the question whether it is more
fortunate for a nation to have a warlike or a peace-loving prince,
(which is a philanthropic question, foreign to our subject,) we will
only state upon this point that, with equal merit and chances in other
respects, a sovereign will always have an advantage over a general who
is himself not the head of a state. Leaving out of the question that he
is responsible only to himself for his bold enterprises, he may do much
by the certainty he has of being able to dispose of all the public
resources for the attainment of his end. He also possesses the powerful
accessory of his favor, of recompenses and punishments; all will be
devoted to the execution of his orders, and to insure for his
enterprises the greatest success; no jealousy will interfere with the
execution of his projects, or at least its exhibition will be rare and
in secondary operations. Here are, certainly, sufficient motives to
induce a prince to lead his armies, if he possess military capacity and
the contest be of a magnitude worthy of him. But if he possess no
military ability, if his character be feeble, and he be easily
influenced, his presence with the army, instead of producing good
results, will open the way for all manner of intrigues. Each one will
present his projects to him; and, as he will not have the experience
necessary to estimate them according to their merits, he will submit his
judgment to that of his intimates. His general, interfered with and
opposed in all his enterprises, will be unable to achieve success, even
if he have the requisite ability. It may be said that a sovereign might
accompany the army and not interfere with his general, but, on the
contrary, aid him with all the weight of his influence. In this case his
presence might be productive of good results, but it also might lead to
great embarrassment. If the army were turned and cut off from its
communications, and obliged to extricate itself, sword in hand, what sad
results might not follow from the presence of the sovereign at

When a prince feels the necessity of taking the field at the head of his
armies, but lacks the necessary self-confidence to assume the supreme
direction of affairs, the best course will be that adopted by the
Prussian government with Blücher,--viz.; he should be accompanied by two
generals of the best capacity, one of them a man of executive ability,
the other a well-instructed staff officer. If this trinity be
harmonious, it may yield excellent results, as in the case of the army
of Silesia in 1813.

The same system might apply in the case where the sovereign judges it
proper to intrust the command to a prince of his house, as has
frequently happened since the time of Louis XIV. It has often occurred
that the prince possessed only the titular command, and that an adviser,
who in reality commanded, was imposed upon him. This was the case with
the Duke of Orleans and Marsin at the famous battle of Turin, afterward
with the Duke of Burgundy and Vendôme at the battle of Audenarde, and, I
think, also at Ulm with the Archduke Ferdinand and Mack. This system is
deplorable, since no one is responsible for what is done. It is known
that at the battle of Turin the Duke of Orleans exhibited more sagacity
than Marsin, and it became necessary for the latter to show full secret
authority from the king before the prince would yield his judgment and
allow the battle to be lost. So at Ulm the archduke displayed more skill
and courage than Mack, who was to be his mentor.

If the prince possess the genius and experience of the Archduke Charles,
he should be invested with the untrammeled command, and be allowed full
selection of his instruments. If he have not yet acquired the same
titles to command, he may then be provided with an educated general of
the staff, and another general distinguished for his talent in
execution; but in no case will it be wise to invest either of these
counselors with more authority than a voice in consultation.

We have already said that if the prince do not conduct his armies in
person, his most important duty will be to have the position of
commander well filled,--which, unfortunately, is not always done.
Without going back to ancient times, it will be sufficient to recall the
more modern examples under Louis XIV. and Louis XV. The merit of Prince
Eugene was estimated by his deformed figure, and this drove him (the
ablest commander of his time) into the ranks of the enemy. After
Louvois' death, Tallard, Marsin, and Villeroi filled the places of
Turenne, Condé, and Luxembourg, and subsequently Soubise and Clermont
succeeded Marshal Saxe. Between the fashionable selections made in the
Saloons of the Pompadours and Dubarrys, and Napoleon's preference for
mere soldiers, there are many gradations, and the margin is wide enough
to afford the least intelligent government means of making rational
nominations; but, in all ages, human weaknesses will exercise an
influence in one way or another, and artifice will often carry off the
prize from modest or timid merit, which awaits a call for its services.
But, leaving out of consideration all these influences, it will be
profitable to inquire in what respects this choice of a commander will
be difficult, even when the executive shall be most anxious to make it a
judicious one. In the first place, to make choice of a skillful general
requires either that the person who makes the selection shall be a
military man, able to form an intelligent opinion, or that he should be
guided by the opinions of others, which opens the way to the improper
influence of cliques. The embarrassment is certainly less when there is
at hand a general already illustrious by many victories; but, outside of
the fact that every general is not a great leader because he has gained
a battle, (for instance, Jourdan, Scherer, and many others,) it is not
always the case that a victorious general is at the disposition of the
government. It may well happen that after a long period of peace, there
may not be a single general in Europe who has commanded in chief. In
this case, it will be difficult to decide whether one general is better
than another. Those who have served long in peace will be at the head of
their arms or corps, and will have the rank appropriate for this
position; but will they always be the most capable of filling it?
Moreover, the intercourse of the heads of a government with their
subordinates is generally so rare and transient, that it is not
astonishing they should experience difficulty in assigning men to their
appropriate positions. The judgment of the prince, misled by
appearances, may err, and, with the purest intentions, he may well be
deceived in his selections.

One of the surest means of escaping this misfortune would seem to be in
realizing the beautiful fiction of Fénélon in Telemachus, by finding a
faithful, sincere, and generous Philocles, who, standing between the
prince and all aspirants for the command, would be able, by means of his
more direct relations to the public, to enlighten the monarch in
reference to selections of individuals best recommended by their
character and abilities. But will this faithful friend never yield to
personal affections? Will he be always free from prejudice? Suwaroff was
rejected by Potemkin on account of his appearance, and it required all
the art of Catherine to secure a regiment for the man who afterward shed
so much luster upon the Russian arms.

It has been thought that public opinion is the best guide; but nothing
could be more dangerous. It voted Dumouriez to be a Cæsar, when he was
ignorant of the great operations of war. Would it have placed Bonaparte
at the head of the army of Italy, when he was known only by two
directors? Still, it must be admitted that, if not infallible, public
sentiment is not to be despised, particularly if it survive great crises
and the experience of events.

The most essential qualities for a general will always be as
follow:--First, _A high moral courage, capable of great resolutions_;
Secondly, _A physical courage which takes no account of danger_. His
scientific or military acquirements are secondary to the above-mentioned
characteristics, though if great they will be valuable auxiliaries. It
is not necessary that he should be a man of vast erudition. His
knowledge may be limited, but it should be thorough, and he should be
perfectly grounded in the principles at the base of the art of war. Next
in importance come the qualities of his personal character. A man who is
gallant, just, firm, upright, capable of esteeming merit in others
instead of being jealous of it, and skillful in making this merit
conduce to his own glory, will always be a good general, and may even
pass for a great man. Unfortunately, the disposition to do justice to
merit in others is not the most common quality: mediocre minds are
always jealous, and inclined to surround themselves with persons of
little ability, fearing the reputation of being led, and not realizing
that the nominal commander of an army always receives almost all the
glory of its success, even when least entitled to it.

The question has often been discussed, whether it is preferable to
assign to the command a general of long experience in service with
troops, or an officer of the staff, having generally but little
experience in the management of troops. It is beyond question that war
is a distinct science of itself, and that it is quite possible to be
able to combine operations skillfully without ever having led a regiment
against an enemy. Peter the Great, Condé, Frederick, and Napoleon are
instances of it. It cannot, then, be denied that an officer from the
staff may as well as any other prove to be a great general, but it will
not be because he has grown gray in the duties of a quartermaster that
he will be capable of the supreme command, but because he has a natural
genius for war and possesses the requisite characteristics. So, also, a
general from the ranks of the infantry or cavalry may be as capable of
conducting a campaign as the most profound tactician. So this question
does not admit of a definite answer either in the affirmative or
negative, since almost all will depend upon the personal qualities of
the individuals; but the following remarks will be useful in leading to
a rational conclusion:--

1. A general, selected from the general staff, engineers, or artillery,
who has commanded a division or a corps d'armée, will, with equal
chances, be superior to one who is familiar with the service of but one
arm or special corps.

2. A general from the line, who has made a study of the science of war,
will be equally fitted for the command.

3. That the character of the man is above all other requisites in a

Finally, He will be a good general in whom are found united the
requisite personal characteristics and a thorough knowledge of the
principles of the art of war.

The difficulty of always selecting a good general has led to the
formation of a good general staff, which being near the general may
advise him, and thus exercise a beneficial influence over the
operations. A well-instructed general staff is one of the most useful of
organizations; but care must be observed to prevent the introduction
into it of false principles, as in this case it might prove fatal.

Frederick, when he established the military school of Potsdam, never
thought it would lead to the "right shoulder forward" of General
Ruchel,[4] and to the teaching that the oblique order is the infallible
rule for gaining all battles. How true it is that there is but a step
from the sublime to the ridiculous!

Moreover, there ought to exist perfect harmony between the general and
his chief of staff; and, if it be true that the latter should be a man
of recognized ability, it is also proper to give the general the choice
of the men who are to be his advisers. To impose a chief of staff upon a
general would be to create anarchy and want of harmony; while to permit
him to select a cipher for that position would be still more dangerous;
for if he be himself a man of little ability, indebted to favor or
fortune for his station, the selection will be of vital importance. The
best means to avoid these dangers is to give the general the option of
several designated officers, all of undoubted ability.

It has been thought, in succession, in almost all armies, that frequent
councils of war, by aiding the commander with their advice, give more
weight and effect to the direction of military operations. Doubtless, if
the commander were a Soubise, a Clermont, or a Mack, he might well find
in a council of war opinions more valuable than his own; the majority of
the opinions given might be preferable to his; but what success could be
expected from operations conducted by others than those who have
originated and arranged them? What must be the result of an operation
which is but partially understood by the commander, since it is not his
own conception?

I have undergone a pitiable experience as prompter at head-quarters, and
no one has a better appreciation of the value of such services than
myself; and it is particularly in a council of war that such a part is
absurd. The greater the number and the higher the rank of the military
officers who compose the council, the more difficult will it be to
accomplish the triumph of truth and reason, however small be the amount
of dissent.

What would have been the action of a council of war to which Napoleon
proposed the movement of Arcola, the crossing of the Saint-Bernard, the
maneuver at Ulm, or that at Gera and Jena? The timid would have regarded
them as rash, even to madness, others would have seen a thousand
difficulties of execution, and all would have concurred in rejecting
them; and if, on the contrary, they had been adopted, and had been
executed by any one but Napoleon, would they not certainly have proved

In my opinion, councils of war are a deplorable resource, and can be
useful only when concurring in opinion with the commander, in which case
they may give him more confidence in his own judgment, and, in addition,
may assure him that his lieutenants, being of his opinion, will use
every means to insure the success of the movement. This is the only
advantage of a council of war, which, moreover, should be simply
consultative and have no further authority; but if, instead of this
harmony, there should be difference of opinion, it can only produce
unfortunate results.

Accordingly, I think it safe to conclude that the best means of
organizing the command of an army, in default of a general approved by
experience, is--

1st. To give the command to a man of tried bravery, bold in the fight,
and of unshaken firmness in danger.

2d. To assign, as his chief of staff, a man of high ability, of open and
faithful character, between whom and the commander there may be perfect
harmony. The victor will gain so much glory that he can spare some to
the friend who has contributed to his success. In this way Blücher,
aided by Gneisenau and Muffling, gained glory which probably he would
not have been able to do of himself. It is true that this double command
is more objectionable than an undivided one when a state has a Napoleon,
a Frederick, or a Suwaroff to fill it; but when there is no great
general to lead the armies it is certainly the preferable system.

Before leaving this important branch of the subject, another means of
influencing military operations--viz.: that of a council of war at the
seat of government--deserves notice. Louvois for a long time directed
from Paris the armies of Louis XIV., and with success. Carnot, also,
from Paris directed the armies of the Republic: in 1793 he did well, and
saved France; in 1794 his action was at first very unfortunate, but he
repaired his faults afterward by chance; in 1796 he was completely at
fault. It is to be observed, however, that both Louvois and Carnot
individually controlled the armies, and that there was no council of
war. The Aulic council, sitting in Vienna, was often intrusted with the
duty of directing the operations of the armies; and there has never been
but one opinion in Europe as to its fatal influence. Whether this
opinion is right or wrong, the Austrian generals alone are able to
decide. My own opinion is that the functions of such a body in this
connection should be limited to the adoption of a general plan of
operations. By this I do not mean a plan which should trace out the
campaign in detail, restricting the generals and compelling them to give
battle without regard to circumstances, but a plan which should
determine the object of the campaign, the nature of the operations,
whether offensive or defensive, the material means to be applied to
these first enterprises, afterward for the reserves, and finally for the
levies which may be necessary if the country be invaded. These points,
it is true, should be discussed in a council of both generals and
ministers, and to these points should the control of the council be
limited; for if it should not only order the general in command to march
to Vienna or to Paris, but should also have the presumption to indicate
the manner in which he should maneuver to attain this object, the
unfortunate general would certainly be beaten, and the whole
responsibility of his reverses should fall upon the shoulders of those
who, hundreds of miles distant, took upon themselves the duty of
directing the army,--a duty so difficult for any one, even upon the
scene of operations.


[Footnote 4: General Ruchel thought at the battle of Jena that he could
save the army by giving the command to advance the right shoulder in
order to form an oblique line.]


The Military Spirit of Nations, and the Morale of Armies.

The adoption of the best regulations for the organization of an army
would be in vain if the government did not at the same time cultivate a
military spirit in its citizens. It may well be the case in London,
situated on an island and protected from invasion by its immense fleets,
that the title of a rich banker should be preferred to a military
decoration; but a continental nation imbued with the sentiments and
habits of the tradesmen of London or the bankers of Paris would sooner
or later fall a prey to its neighbors. It was to the union of the civic
virtues and military spirit fostered by their institutions that the
Romans were indebted for their grandeur; and when they lost these
virtues, and when, no longer regarding the military service as an honor
as well as a duty, they relinquished it to mercenary Goths and Gauls,
the fall of the empire became inevitable. It is doubtless true that
whatever increases the prosperity of the country should be neither
neglected nor despised; it is also necessary to honor the branches of
industry which are the first instruments of this prosperity; but they
should always be secondary to the great institutions which make up the
strength of states in encouraging the cultivation of the manly and
heroic virtues. Policy and justice both agree on this point; for,
whatever Boileau may say, it is certainly more glorious to confront
death in the footsteps of the Cæsars than to fatten upon the public
miseries by gambling on the vicissitudes of the national credit.
Misfortune will certainly fall upon the land where the wealth of the
tax-gatherer or the greedy gambler in stocks stands, in public
estimation, above the uniform of the brave man who sacrifices his life,
health, or fortune to the defense of his country.

The first means of encouraging the military spirit is to invest the army
with all possible social and public consideration. The second means is
to give the preference to those who have rendered services to the state,
in filling any vacancies in the administrative departments of the
government, or even to require a certain length of military service as a
qualification for certain offices. A comparison of the ancient military
institutions of Rome with those of Russia and Prussia, is a subject
worthy of serious attention; and it would also be interesting to
contrast them with the doctrines of modern theorists, who declare
against the employment of officers of the army in other public
functions, and who wish for none but rhetoricians in the important
offices of administration.[5] It is true that many public employments
demand a special course of study; but cannot the soldier, in the
abundant leisure of peace, prepare himself for the career he would
prefer after having fulfilled his debt to his country in the profession
of arms? If these administrative offices were conferred upon officers
retired from the army in a grade not lower than that of captain, would
it not be a stimulant for officers to attain that rank, and would it not
lead them, when in garrisons, to find their recreations elsewhere than
in the theaters and public clubs?

It may be possible that this facility of transfer from the military to
the civil service would be rather injurious than favorable to a high
military spirit, and that to encourage this spirit it would be expedient
to place the profession of the soldier above all others. This was the
early practice of the Mamelukes and Janissaries. Their soldiers were
bought at the age of about seven years, and were educated in the idea
that they were to die by their standards. Even the English--so jealous
of their rights--contract, in enlisting as soldiers, the obligation for
the whole length of their lives, and the Russian, in enlisting for
twenty-five years, does what is almost equivalent. In such armies, and
in those recruited by voluntary enlistments, perhaps it would not be
advisable to tolerate this fusion of military and civil offices; but
where the military service is a temporary duty imposed upon the people,
the case is different, and the old Roman laws which required a previous
military service of ten years in any aspirant for the public
employments, seem to be best calculated to preserve the military
spirit,--particularly in this age, when the attainment of material
comfort and prosperity appears to be the dominant passion of the people.

However this may be, still, in my opinion, under all forms of
government, it will be a wise part to honor the military profession, in
order to encourage the love of glory and all the warlike virtues, under
the penalty of receiving the reproaches of posterity and suffering
insult and dependency.

It is not sufficient to foster the military spirit among the people,
but, more than that, it is necessary to encourage it in the army. Of
what avail would it be if the uniform be honored in the land and it be
regarded as a duty to serve in the army, while the military virtues are
wanting? The forces would be numerous but without valor.

The enthusiasm of an army and its military spirit are two quite
different things, and should not be confounded, although they produce
the same effects. The first is the effect of passions more or less of a
temporary character,--of a political or religious nature, for instance,
or of a great love of country; while the latter, depending upon the
skill of the commander and resulting from military institutions, is
more permanent and depends less upon circumstances, and should be the
object of the attention of every far-seeing government.[6] Courage
should be recompensed and honored, the different grades in rank
respected, and discipline should exist in the sentiments and convictions
rather than in external forms only.

The officers should feel the conviction that resignation, bravery, and
faithful attention to duty are virtues without which no glory is
possible, no army is respectable, and that firmness amid reverses is
more honorable than enthusiasm in success,--since courage alone is
necessary to storm a position, while it requires heroism to make a
difficult retreat before a victorious and enterprising enemy, always
opposing to him a firm and unbroken front. A fine retreat should meet
with a reward equal to that given for a great victory.

By inuring armies to labor and fatigue, by keeping them from stagnation
in garrison in times of peace, by inculcating their superiority over
their enemies, without depreciating too much the latter, by inspiring a
love for great exploits,--in a word, by exciting their enthusiasm by
every means in harmony with their tone of mind, by honoring courage,
punishing weakness, and disgracing cowardice,--we may expect to maintain
a high military spirit.

Effeminacy was the chief cause of the ruin of the Roman legions: those
formidable soldiers, who had borne the casque, buckler, and cuirass in
the times of the Scipios under the burning sun of Africa, found them too
heavy in the cool climates of Germany and Gaul; and then the empire was

I have remarked that it is not well to create a too great contempt for
the enemy, lest the _morale_ of the soldier should be shaken if he
encounter an obstinate resistance. Napoleon at Jena, addressing Lannes'
troops, praised the Prussian cavalry, but promised that they would
contend in vain against the bayonets of his Egyptians.

The officers and troops must be warned against those sudden panics
which often seize the bravest armies when they are not well controlled
by discipline, and hence when they do not recognize that in order is the
surest hope of safety. It was not from want of courage that one hundred
thousand Turks were beaten at Peterwardein by Prince Eugene, and at
Kagoul by Romanzoff: it was because, once repulsed in their disorderly
charges, every one yielded to his personal feelings, and because they
fought individually, but not in masses and in order. An army seized with
panic is similarly in a state of demoralization; because when disorder
is once introduced all concerted action on the part of individuals
becomes impossible, the voice of the officers can no longer be heard, no
maneuver for resuming the battle can be executed, and there is no
resource but in ignominious flight.

Nations with powerful imaginations are particularly liable to panics;
and nothing short of strong institutions and skillful leaders can remedy
it. Even the French, whose military virtues when well led have never
been questioned, have often performed some quick movements of this kind
which were highly ridiculous. We may refer to the unbecoming panic which
pervaded the infantry of Marshal Villars after having gained the battle
of Friedlingen, in 1704. The same occurred to Napoleon's infantry after
the victory of Wagram and when the enemy was in full retreat. A still
more extraordinary case was the flight of the 97th semi-brigade, fifteen
hundred strong, at the siege of Genoa, before a platoon of cavalry. Two
days afterward these same men took Fort Diamond by one of the most
vigorous assaults mentioned in modern history.

Still, it would seem to be easy to convince brave men that death comes
more quickly and more surely to those who fly in disorder than to those
who remain together and present a firm front to the enemy, or who rally
promptly when their lines have been for the instant broken.

In this respect the Russian army may be taken as a model by all others.
The firmness which it has displayed in all retreats is due in equal
degrees to the national character, the natural instincts of the
soldiers, and the excellent disciplinary institutions. Indeed, vivacity
of imagination is not always the cause of the introduction of disorder:
the want of the habit of order often causes it, and the lack of
precautions on the part of the generals to maintain this order
contributes to it. I have often been astonished at the indifference of
most generals on this point. Not only did they not deign to take the
slightest precaution to give the proper direction to small detachments
or scattered men, and fail to adopt any signals to facilitate the
rallying in each division of the fractions which may be scattered in a
momentary panic or in an irresistible charge of the enemy, but they were
offended that any one should think of proposing such precautions. Still,
the most undoubted courage and the most severe discipline will often be
powerless to remedy a great disorder, which might be in a great degree
obviated by the use of rallying-signals for the different divisions.
There are, it is true, cases where all human resources are insufficient
for the maintenance of order, as when the physical sufferings of the
soldiers have been so great as to render them deaf to all appeals, and
when their officers find it impossible to do any thing to organize
them,--which was the case in the retreat of 1812. Leaving out these
exceptional cases, good habits of order, good logistical precautions for
rallying, and good discipline will most frequently be successful, if not
in preventing disorder, at least in promptly remedying it.

It is now time to leave this branch, of which I have only desired to
trace an outline, and to proceed to the examination of subjects which
are purely military.


[Footnote 5: For instance, in France, instead of excluding all officers
from the privilege of the elective franchise, it should be given to all
colonels; and the generals should be eligible to the legislature. The
most venal deputies will not be those from military life.]

[Footnote 6: It is particularly important that this spirit should
pervade the officers and non-commissioned officers: if they be capable,
and the nation brave, there need be no fear for the men.]




The art of war, independently of its political and moral relations,
consists of five principal parts, viz.: Strategy, Grand Tactics,
Logistics, Tactics of the different arms, and the Art of the Engineer.
We will treat of the first three branches, and begin by defining them.
In order to do this, we will follow the order of procedure of a general
when war is first declared, who commences with the points of the highest
importance, as a plan of campaign, and afterward descends to the
necessary details. Tactics, on the contrary, begins with details, and
ascends to combinations and generalization necessary for the formation
and handling of a great army.

We will suppose an army taking the field: the first care of its
commander should be to agree with the head of the state upon the
character of the war: then he must carefully study the theater of war,
and select the most suitable base of operations, taking into
consideration the frontiers of the state and those of its allies.

The selection of this base and the proposed aim will determine the zone
of operations. The general will take a first objective point: he will
select the line of operations leading to this point, either as a
temporary or permanent line, giving it the most advantageous direction;
namely, that which promises the greatest number of favorable
opportunities with the least danger. An army marching on this line of
operations will have a front of operations and a strategic front. The
temporary positions which the corps d'armée will occupy upon this front
of operations, or upon the line of defense, will be strategic positions.

When near its first objective point, and when it begins to meet
resistance, the army will either attack the enemy or maneuver to compel
him to retreat; and for this end it will adopt one or two strategic
lines of maneuvers, which, being temporary, may deviate to a certain
degree from the general line of operations, with which they must not be

To connect the strategic front with the base as the advance is made,
lines of supply, depots, &c. will be established.

If the line of operations be long, and there be hostile troops in
annoying proximity to it, these bodies may either be attacked and
dispersed or be merely observed, or the operations against the enemy may
be carried on without reference to them. If the second of these courses
be pursued, a double strategic front and large detachments will be the

The army being almost within reach of the first objective point, if the
enemy oppose him there will be a battle; if indecisive, the fight will
be resumed; if the army gains the victory, it will secure its objective
point or will advance to attain a second. Should the first objective
point be the possession of an important fort, the siege will be
commenced. If the army be not strong enough to continue its march, after
detaching a sufficient force to maintain the siege, it will take a
strategic position to cover it, as did the army of Italy in 1796, which,
less than fifty thousand strong, could not pass Mantua to enter Austria,
leaving twenty-five thousand enemies within its walls, and having forty
thousand more in front on the double line of the Tyrol and Frioul.

If the army be strong enough to make the best use of its victory, or if
it have no siege to make, it will operate toward a second and more
important objective point.

If this point be distant, it will be necessary to establish an
intermediate point of support. One or more secure cities already
occupied will form an eventual base: when this cannot be done, a small
strategic reserve may be established, which will protect the rear and
also the depots by temporary fortifications. When the army crosses large
streams, it will construct _têtes de pont_; and, if the bridges are
within walled cities, earth-works will be thrown up to increase the
means of defense and to secure the safety of the eventual base or the
strategic reserve which may occupy these posts.

Should the battle be lost, the army will retreat toward its base, in
order to be reinforced therefrom by detachments of troops, or, what is
equivalent, to strengthen itself by the occupation of fortified posts
and camps, thus compelling the enemy to halt or to divide his forces.

When winter approaches, the armies will either go into quarters, or the
field will be kept by the army which has obtained decisive success and
is desirous of profiting to the utmost by its superiority. These winter
campaigns are very trying to both armies, but in other respects do not
differ from ordinary campaigns, unless it be in demanding increased
activity and energy to attain prompt success.

Such is the ordinary course of a war, and as such we will consider it,
while discussing combinations which result from these operations.

Strategy embraces the following points, viz.:--

1. The selection of the theater of war, and the discussion of the
different combinations of which it admits.

2. The determination of the decisive points in these combinations, and
the most favorable direction for operations.

3. The selection and establishment of the fixed base and of the zone of

4. The selection of the objective point, whether offensive or defensive.

5. The strategic fronts, lines of defense, and fronts of operations.

6. The choice of lines of operations leading to the objective point or
strategic front.

7. For a given operation, the best strategic line, and the different
maneuvers necessary to embrace all possible cases.

8. The eventual bases of operations and the strategic reserves.

9. The marches of armies, considered as maneuvers.

10. The relation between the position of depots and the marches of the

11. Fortresses regarded as strategical means, as a refuge for an army,
as an obstacle to its progress: the sieges to be made and to be covered.

12. Points for intrenched camps, _tétes de pont,_ &c.

13. The diversions to be made, and the large detachments necessary.

These points are principally of importance in the determination of the
first steps of a campaign; but there are other operations of a mixed
nature, such as passages of streams, retreats, surprises,
disembarkations, convoys, winter quarters, the execution of which
belongs to tactics, the conception and arrangement to strategy.

The maneuvering of an army upon the battle-field, and the different
formations of troops for attack, constitute Grand Tactics. Logistics is
the art of moving armies. It comprises the order and details of marches
and camps, and of quartering and supplying troops; in a word, it is the
execution of strategical and tactical enterprises.

To repeat. Strategy is the art of making war upon the map, and
comprehends the whole theater of operations. Grand Tactics is the art of
posting troops upon the battle-field according to the accidents of the
ground, of bringing them into action, and the art of fighting upon the
ground, in contradistinction to planning upon a map. Its operations may
extend over a field of ten or twelve miles in extent. Logistics
comprises the means and arrangements which work out the plans of
strategy and tactics. Strategy decides where to act; logistics brings
the troops to this point; grand tactics decides the manner of execution
and the employment of the troops.

It is true that many battles have been decided by strategic movements,
and have been, indeed, but a succession of them; but this only occurs in
the exceptional case of a dispersed army: for the general case of
pitched battles the above definition holds good.

Grand Tactics, in addition to acts of local execution, relates to the
following objects:--

1. The choice of positions and defensive lines of battle.

2. The offensive in a defensive battle.

3. The different orders of battle, or the grand maneuvers proper for the
attack of the enemy's line.

4. The collision of two armies on the march, or unexpected battles.

5. Surprises of armies in the open field.

6. The arrangements for leading troops into battle.

7. The attack of positions and intrenched camps.

8. _Coups de main_.

All other operations, such as relate to convoys, foraging-parties,
skirmishes of advanced or rear guards, the attack of small posts, and
any thing accomplished by a detachment or single division, may be
regarded as details of war, and not included in the great operations.


It is proposed to show that there is one great principle underlying all
the operations of war,--a principle which must be followed in all good
combinations. It is embraced in the following maxims:--

1. To throw by strategic movements the mass of an army, successively,
upon the decisive points of a theater of war, and also upon the
communications of the enemy as much as possible without compromising
one's own.

2. To maneuver to engage fractions of the hostile army with the bulk of
one's forces.

3. On the battle-field, to throw the mass of the forces upon the
decisive point, or upon that portion of the hostile line which it is of
the first importance to overthrow.

4. To so arrange that these masses shall not only be thrown upon the
decisive point, but that they shall engage at the proper times and with

This principle has too much simplicity to escape criticism: one
objection is that it is easy to recommend throwing the mass of the
forces upon the decisive points, but that the difficulty lies in
recognizing those points.

This truth is evident; and it would be little short of the ridiculous to
enunciate such a general principle without accompanying it with all
necessary explanations for its application upon the field. In Article
XIX. these decisive points will be described, and in Articles from
XVIII. to XXII. will be discussed their relations to the different
combinations. Those students who, having attentively considered what is
there stated, still regard the determination of these points as a
problem without a solution, may well despair of ever comprehending

The general theater of operations seldom contains more than three
zones,--the right, the left, and the center; and each zone, front of
operations, strategic position, and line of defense, as well as each
line of battle, has the same subdivisions,--two extremities and the
center. A direction upon one of these three will always be suitable for
the attainment of the desired end. A direction upon one of the two
remaining will be less advantageous; while the third direction will be
wholly inapplicable. In considering the object proposed in connection
with the positions of the enemy and the geography of the country, it
will appear that in every strategic movement or tactical maneuver the
question for decision will always be, whether to maneuver to the right,
to the left, or directly in front. The selection of one of these three
simple alternatives cannot, surely, be considered an enigma. The art of
giving the proper direction to the masses is certainly the basis of
strategy, although it is not the whole of the art of war. Executive
talent, skill, energy, and a quick apprehension of events are necessary
to carry out any combinations previously arranged.

We will apply this great principle to the different cases of strategy
and tactics, and then show, by the history of twenty celebrated
campaigns, that, with few exceptions, the most brilliant successes and
the greatest reverses resulted from an adherence to this principle in
the one case, and from a neglect of it in the other.



Of the System of Operations.

War once determined upon, the first point to be decided is, whether it
shall be offensive or defensive; and we will first explain what is meant
by these terms. There are several phases of the offensive: if against a
great state, the whole or a large portion of whose territory is
attacked, it is an _invasion_; if a province only, or a line of defense
of moderate extent, be assailed, it is the ordinary offensive; finally,
if the offensive is but an attack upon the enemy's position, and is
confined to a single operation, it is called the taking the
_initiative_. In a moral and political view, the offensive is nearly
always advantageous: it carries the war upon foreign soil, saves the
assailant's country from devastation, increases his resources and
diminishes those of his enemy, elevates the _morale_ of his army, and
generally depresses the adversary. It sometimes happens that invasion
excites the ardor and energy of the adversary,--particularly when he
feels that the independence of his country is threatened.

In a military point of view, the offensive has its good and its bad
side. Strategically, an invasion leads to deep lines of operations,
which are always dangerous in a hostile country. All the obstacles in
the enemy's country, the mountains, rivers, defiles, and forts, are
favorable for defense, while the inhabitants and authorities of the
country, so far from being the instruments of the invading army, are
generally hostile. However, if success be obtained, the enemy is struck
in a vital point: he is deprived of his resources and compelled to seek
a speedy termination of the contest.

For a single operation, which we have called the taking the
_initiative_, the offensive is almost always advantageous, particularly
in strategy. Indeed, if the art of war consists in throwing the masses
upon the decisive points, to do this it will be necessary to take the
initiative. The attacking party knows what he is doing and what he
desires to do; he leads his masses to the point where he desires to
strike. He who awaits the attack is everywhere anticipated: the enemy
fall with large force upon fractions of his force: he neither knows
where his adversary proposes to attack him nor in what manner to repel

Tactically, the offensive also possesses advantages, but they are less
positive, since, the operations being upon a limited field, the party
taking the initiative cannot conceal them from the enemy, who may detect
his designs and by the aid of good reserves cause them to fail.

The attacking party labors under the disadvantages arising from the
obstacles to be crossed before reaching the enemy's line; on which
account the advantages and disadvantages of the tactical offensive are
about equally balanced.

Whatever advantages may be expected either politically or strategically
from the offensive, it may not be possible to maintain it exclusively
throughout the war; for a campaign offensive in the beginning may become
defensive before it ends.

A defensive war is not without its advantages, when wisely conducted. It
may be passive or active, taking the offensive at times. The passive
defense is always pernicious; the active may accomplish great successes.
The object of a defensive war being to protect, as long as possible, the
country threatened by the enemy, all operations should be designed to
retard his progress, to annoy him in his enterprises by multiplying
obstacles and difficulties, without, however, compromising one's own
army. He who invades does so by reason of some superiority; he will then
seek to make the issue as promptly as possible: the defense, on the
contrary, desires delay till his adversary is weakened by sending off
detachments, by marches, and by the privations and fatigues incident to
his progress.

An army is reduced to the defensive only by reverses or by a positive
inferiority. It then seeks in the support of forts, and in natural or
artificial barriers, the means of restoring equality by multiplying
obstacles in the way of the enemy. This plan, when not carried to an
extreme, promises many chances of success, but only when the general has
the good sense not to make the defense passive: he must not remain in
his positions to receive whatever blows may be given by his adversary;
he must, on the contrary, redouble his activity, and be constantly upon
the alert to improve all opportunities of assailing the weak points of
the enemy. This plan of war may be called the defensive-offensive, and
may have strategical as well as tactical advantages.. It combines the
advantages of both systems; for one who awaits his adversary upon a
prepared field, with all his own resources in hand, surrounded by all
the advantages of being on his own ground, can with hope of success take
the initiative, and is fully able to judge when and where to strike.

During the first three campaigns of the Seven Years' War Frederick was
the assailant; in the remaining four his conduct was a perfect model of
the defensive-offensive. He was, however, wonderfully aided in this by
his adversaries, who allowed him all the time he desired, and many
opportunities of taking the offensive with success. Wellington's course
was mainly the same in Portugal, Spain, and Belgium, and it was the most
suitable in his circumstances. It seems plain that one of the greatest
talents of a general is to know how to use (it may be alternately) these
two systems, and particularly to be able to take the initiative during
the progress of a defensive war.


Of the Theater of Operations.

The theater of a war comprises all the territory upon which the parties
may assail each other, whether it belong to themselves, their allies, or
to weaker states who may be drawn into the war through fear or interest.
When the war is also maritime, the theater may embrace both
hemispheres,--as has happened in contests between France and England
since the time of Louis XIV. The theater of a war may thus be undefined,
and must, not be confounded with the theater of operations of one or the
other army. The theater of a continental war between France and Austria
may be confined to Italy, or may, in addition, comprise Germany if the
German States take part therein.

Armies may act in concert or separately: in the first case the whole
theater of operations may be considered as a single field upon which
strategy directs the armies for the attainment of a definite end. In the
second case each army will have its own independent theater of
operations. The _theater of operations_ of an army embraces all the
territory it may desire to invade and all that it may be necessary to
defend. If the army operates independently, it should not attempt any
maneuver beyond its own theater, (though it should leave it if it be in
danger of being surrounded,) since the supposition is that no concert of
action has been arranged with the armies operating on the other fields.
If, on the contrary, there be concert of action, the theater of
operations of each army taken singly is but a zone of operations of the
general field, occupied by the masses for the attainment of a common

Independently of its topographical features, each theater upon which one
or more armies operate is composed, for both parties, as follows:--

1. Of a fixed base of operations.

2. Of a principal objective point.

3. Of fronts of operations, strategic fronts, and lines of defense.

4. Of zones and lines of operations.

5. Of temporary strategic lines and lines of communications.

6. Of natural or artificial obstacles to be overcome or to oppose to the

7. Of geographical strategic points, whose occupation is important,
either for the offensive or defensive.

8. Of accidental intermediate bases of operations between the objective
point and the primary base.

9. Of points of refuge in case of reverse.

For illustration, let us suppose the case of France invading Austria
with two or three armies, to be concentrated under one commander, and
starting from Mayence, from the Upper Rhine, from Savoy or the Maritime
Alps, respectively. The section of country which each of these armies
traverses may be considered as a zone of the general field of
operations. But if the army of Italy goes but to the Adige without
concerted action with the army of the Rhine, then what was before but a
zone becomes for that army a theater of operations.

In every case, each theater must have its own base, its own objective
point, its zones and lines of operations connecting the objective point
with the base, either in the offensive or the defensive.

It has been taught and published that rivers are lines of operations
_par excellence._ Now, as such a line must possess two or three roads to
move the army within the range of its operations, and at least one line
of retreat, rivers have been called lines of retreat, and even lines of
maneuver. It would be much more accurate to say that rivers are
excellent lines of supply, and powerful auxiliaries in the establishment
of a good line of operations, but never the line itself.

It has also been maintained that, could one create a country expressly
to be a good theater of war, converging roads would be avoided, because
they facilitate invasion. Every country has its capital, its rich cities
for manufactures or trade; and, in the very nature of things, these
points must be the centers of converging routes. Could Germany be made a
desert, to be molded into a theater of war at the pleasure of an
individual, commercial cities and centers of trade would spring up, and
the roads would again necessarily converge to these points. Moreover,
was not the Archduke Charles enabled to beat Jourdan in 1796 by the use
of converging routes? Besides, these routes are more favorable for
defense than attack, since two divisions retreating upon these radial
lines can effect a junction more quickly than two armies which are
pursuing, and they may thus united defeat each of the pursuing masses

Some authors have affirmed that mountainous countries abound in
strategic positions; others have maintained that, on the contrary,
these points are more rare among the Alps than in the plains, but also
that if more rare they are more important and more decisive.

Some authors have represented that high ranges of mountains are, in war,
inaccessible barriers. Napoleon, on the contrary, in speaking of the
Rhetian Alps, said that "an army could pass wherever a man could put his

Generals no less experienced than himself in mountain-warfare have
united with him in this opinion, in admitting the great difficulty of
carrying on a defensive war in such localities unless the advantages of
partisan and regular warfare can be combined, the first to guard the
heights and to harass the enemy, the second to give battle at the
decisive points,--the junctions of the large valleys.

These differences of opinion are here noticed merely to show the reader
that, so far from the art having reached perfection, there are many
points that admit of discussion.

The most important topographical or artificial features which make up
the theater of a war will, in succeeding portions of this chapter, be
examined as to their strategic value; but here it may be proper to
remark that this value will depend much upon the spirit and skill of the
general. The great leader who crossed the Saint-Bernard and ordered the
passage of the Splugen was far from believing in the impregnability of
these chains; but he was also far from thinking that a muddy rivulet and
a walled inclosure could change his destiny at Waterloo.


Bases of Operations.

A base of operations is the portion of country from which the army
obtains its reinforcements and resources, from which it starts when it
takes the offensive, to which it retreats when necessary, and by which
it is supported when it takes position to cover the country defensively.

The base of operations is most generally that of supply,--though not
necessarily so, at least as far as food is concerned; as, for instance,
a French army upon the Elbe might be subsisted from Westphalia or
Franconia, but its real base would certainly be upon the Rhine.

When a frontier possesses good natural or artificial barriers, it may be
alternately either an excellent base for offensive operations, or a line
of defense when the state is invaded. In the latter case it will always
be prudent to have a second base in rear; for, although an army in its
own country will everywhere find a point of support, there is still a
vast difference between those parts of the country without military
positions and means, as forts, arsenals, and fortified depots, and those
other portions where these military resources are found; and these
latter alone can be considered as safe bases of operations. An army may
have in succession a number of bases: for instance, a French army in
Germany will have the Rhine for its first base; it may have others
beyond this, wherever it has allies or permanent lines of defense; but
if it is driven back across the Rhine it will have for a base either the
Meuse or the Moselle: it might have a third upon the Seine, and a fourth
upon the Loire.

These successive bases may not be entirely or nearly parallel to the
first. On the contrary, a total change of direction may become
necessary. A French army repulsed beyond the Rhine might find a good
base on Béfort or Besançon, on Mézières or Sedan, as the Russian army
after the evacuation of Moscow left the base on the north and east and
established itself upon the line of the Oka and the southern provinces.
These lateral bases perpendicular to the front of defense are often
decisive in preventing the enemy from penetrating to the heart of the
country, or at least in rendering it impossible for him to maintain
himself there. A base upon a broad and rapid river, both banks being
held by strong works, would be as favorable as could be desired.

The more extended the base, the more difficulty will there be in
covering it; but it will also be more difficult to cut the army off from
it. A state whose capital is too near the frontier cannot have so
favorable a base in a defensive war as one whose capital is more

A base, to be perfect, should have two or three fortified points of
sufficient capacity for the establishment of depots of supply. There
should be a _tête de pont_ upon each of its unfordable streams.

All are now agreed upon these principles; but upon other points opinions
have varied. Some have asserted that a perfect base is one parallel to
that of the enemy. My opinion is that bases perpendicular to those of
the enemy are more advantageous, particularly such as have two sides
almost perpendicular to each other and forming a re-entrant angle, thus
affording a double base if required, and which, by giving the control of
two sides of the strategic field, assure two lines of retreat widely
apart, and facilitate any change of the line of operations which an
unforeseen turn of affairs may necessitate.

The quotations which follow are from my treatise on Great Military

     "The general configuration of the theater of war may also have a
     great influence upon the direction of the lines of operations, and,
     consequently, upon the direction of the bases.

     [Illustration: Fig. 1.]

     "If every theater of war forms a figure presenting four faces more
     or less regular, one of the armies, at the opening of the campaign,
     may hold one of these faces,--perhaps two,--while the enemy
     occupies the other, the fourth being closed by insurmountable
     obstacles. The different ways of occupying this theater will lead
     to widely different combinations. To illustrate, we will cite the
     theater of the French armies in Westphalia from 1757 to 1762, and
     that of Napoleon in 1806, both of which are represented in Fig. 1,
     p. 79. In the first case, the side A B was the North Sea, B D the
     line of the Weser and the base of Duke Ferdinand, C D the line of
     the Main and the base of the French army, A C the line of the
     Rhine, also guarded by French troops. The French held two faces,
     the North Sea being the third; and hence it was only necessary for
     them, by maneuvers, to gain the side B D to be masters of the four
     faces, including the base and the communications of the enemy. The
     French army, starting from its base C D and gaining the front of
     operations F G H, could cut off the allied army I from its base B
     D; the latter would be thrown upon the angle A, formed by the lines
     of the Rhine, the Ems, and the sea, while the army E could
     communicate with its bases on the Main and Rhine.

     "The movement of Napoleon in 1806 on the Saale was similar. He
     occupied at Jena and Naumburg the line F G H, then marched by Halle
     and Dessau to force the Prussian army I upon the sea, represented
     by the side A B. The result is well known.

     "The art, then, of selecting lines of operations is to give them
     such directions as to seize the communications of the enemy without
     losing one's own. The line F G H, by its extended position, and the
     bend on the flank of the enemy, always protects the communications
     with the base C D; and this is exactly the maneuvers of Marengo,
     Ulm, and Jena.

     "When the theater of war does not border upon the sea, it is always
     bounded by a powerful neutral state, which guards its frontiers and
     closes one side of the square. This may not be an obstacle
     insurmountable like the sea; but generally it may be considered as
     an obstacle upon which it would be dangerous to retreat after a
     defeat: hence it would be an advantage to force the enemy upon it.
     The soil of a power which can bring into the field one hundred and
     fifty or two hundred thousand troops cannot be violated with
     impunity; and if a defeated army made the attempt, it would be none
     the less cut off from its base. If the boundary of the theater of
     war should be the territory of a weak state, it would be absorbed
     in this theater, and the square would be enlarged till it reached
     the frontiers of a powerful state, or the sea. The outline of the
     frontiers may modify the shape of the quadrilateral so as to make
     it approach the figure of a parallelogram or trapezoid, as in
     Figure 2. In either case, the advantage of the army which has
     control of two faces of the figure, and possesses the power of
     establishing upon them a double base, will be still more decided,
     since it will be able more easily to cut the enemy off from the
     shortened side,--as was the case with the Prussian army in 1806,
     with the side B D J of the parallelogram formed by the lines of the
     Rhine, the Oder, the North Sea, and the mountainous frontier of

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

The selection of Bohemia as a base in 1813 goes to prove the truth of my
opinion; for it was the perpendicularity of this base to that of the
French army which enabled the allies to neutralize the immense
advantages which the line of the Elbe would otherwise have afforded
Napoleon, and turned the advantages of the campaign in their favor.
Likewise, in 1812, by establishing their base perpendicularly upon the
Oka and Kalouga, the Russians were able to execute their flank march
upon Wiazma and Krasnoi.

If any thing further be required to establish these truths, it will only
be necessary to consider that, if the base be perpendicular to that of
the enemy, the front of operations will be parallel to his line of
operations, and that hence it will be easy to attack his communications
and line of retreat.

It has been stated that perpendicular bases are particularly favorable
in the case of a double frontier, as in the last figures. Critics may
object to this that it does not agree with what is elsewhere said in
favor of frontiers which are salient toward the enemy, and against
double lines of operations with equality of force. (Art. XXI.) The
objection is not well founded; for the greatest advantage of a
perpendicular base consists in the fact that it forms such a salient,
which takes in reverse a portion of the theater of operations. On the
other hand, a base with two faces by no means requires that both should
be occupied in force: on the contrary, upon one of them it will be
sufficient to have some fortified points garrisoned by small bodies,
while the great bulk of the force rests upon the other face,--as was
done in the campaigns of 1800 and 1806. The angle of nearly ninety
degrees formed by the portion of the Rhine from Constance to Basel, and
thence to Kehl, gave General Moreau one base parallel and another
perpendicular to that of his antagonist. He threw two divisions by his
left toward Kehl on the first base, to attract the attention of the
enemy to that point, while he moved with nine divisions upon the
extremity of the perpendicular face toward Schaffhausen, which carried
him in a few days to the gates of Augsburg, the two detached divisions
having already rejoined him.

In 1806, Napoleon had also the double base of the Rhine and Main,
forming almost a right re-entrant angle. He left Mortier upon the first
and parallel one, while with the mass of his forces he gained the
extremity of the perpendicular base, and thus intercepted the Prussians
at Gera and Naumburg by reaching their line of retreat.

If so many imposing facts prove that bases with two faces, one of them
being almost perpendicular to that of the enemy, are the best, it is
well to recollect that, in default of such a base, its advantages may be
partially supplied by a change of strategic front, as will be seen in
Article XX.

Another very important point in reference to the proper direction of
bases relates to those established on the sea-coast. These bases may be
favorable in some circumstances, but are equally unfavorable in others,
as may be readily seen from what precedes. The danger which must always
exist of an army being driven to the sea seems so clear, in the ease of
the establishment of the base upon it, (which bases can only be
favorable to naval powers,) that it is astonishing to hear in our day
praises of such a base. Wellington, coming with a fleet to the relief of
Spain and Portugal, could not have secured a better base than that of
Lisbon, or rather of the peninsula of Torres-Vedras, which covers all
the avenues to that capital on the land side. The sea and the Tagus not
only protected both flanks, but secured the safety of his only possible
line of retreat, which was upon the fleet.

Blinded by the advantages which the intrenched camp of Torres-Vedras
secured for the English, and not tracing effects to their real causes,
many generals in other respects wise contend that no bases are good
except such as rest on the sea and thus afford the army facilities of
supply and refuge with both flanks secured. Fascinated by similar
notions, Colonel Carion-Nizas asserted that in 1813 Napoleon ought to
have posted half of his army in Bohemia and thrown one hundred and fifty
thousand men on the mouths of the Elbe toward Hamburg; forgetting that
the first precept for a continental army is to establish its base upon
the front farthest _from_ the sea, so as to secure the benefit of all
its elements of strength, from which it might find itself cut off if the
base were established upon the coast.

An insular and naval power acting on the continent would pursue a
diametrically opposite course, but resulting from the same principle,
viz.: _to establish the base upon those points where it can be sustained
by all the resources of the country, and at the same time insure a safe

A state powerful both on land and sea, whose squadrons control the sea
adjacent to the theater of operations, might well base an army of forty
or fifty thousand men upon the coast, as its retreat by sea and its
supplies could be well assured; but to establish a continental army of
one hundred and fifty thousand men upon such a base, when opposed by a
disciplined and nearly equal force, would be an act of madness.

However, as every maxim has its exceptions, there is a case in which it
may be admissible to base a continental army upon the sea: it is, when
your adversary is not formidable upon land, and when you, being master
of the sea, can supply the army with more facility than in the interior.
We rarely see these conditions fulfilled: it was so, however, during the
Turkish war of 1828 and 1829. The whole attention of the Russians was
given to Varna and Bourghas, while Shumla was merely observed; a plan
which they could not have pursued in the presence of a European army
(even with the control of the sea) without great danger of ruin.

Despite all that has been said by triflers who pretend to decide upon
the fate of empires, this war was, in the main, well conducted. The army
covered itself by obtaining the fortresses of Brailoff, Varna, and
Silistria, and afterward by preparing a depot at Sizeboli. As soon as
its base was well established it moved upon Adrianople, which previously
would have been madness. Had the season been a couple of months longer,
or had the army not come so great a distance in 1828, the war would have
terminated with the first campaign.

Besides permanent bases, which are usually established upon our own
frontiers, or in the territory of a faithful ally, there are eventual or
temporary bases, which result from the operations in the enemy's
country; but, as these are rather temporary points of support, they
will, to avoid confusion, be discussed in Article XXIII.


Strategic lines and Points, Decisive Points of the Theater of War, and
Objective Points of Operations.

Strategic lines and points are of different kinds. Some receive this
title simply from their position, which gives them all their importance:
these are permanent geographical strategic points. Others have a value
from the relations they bear to the positions of the masses of the
hostile troops and to the enterprises likely to be directed against
them: such are strategic points of maneuver, and are eventual. Finally,
there are points which have only a secondary importance, and others
whose importance is constant and immense: the latter are called DECISIVE
strategic points.

Every point of the theater of war which is of military importance,
whether from its position as a center of communication, or from the
presence of military establishments or fortifications, is a geographical
strategic point.

A distinguished general affirms that such a point would not necessarily
be a strategic point, unless situated favorably for a contemplated
operation. I think differently; for a strategic point is such
essentially and by nature, and, no matter how far distant it may be from
the scene of the first enterprises, it may be included in the field by
some unforeseen turn of events, and thus acquire its full importance. It
would, then, be more accurate to state that all strategic points are not
necessarily decisive points.

Lines are strategic either from their geographical position or from
their relation to temporary maneuvers. The first class may be subdivided
as follows,--viz.: geographic lines which by their permanent importance
belong to the decisive points[7] of the theater of war, and those which
have value merely because they connect two strategic points.

To prevent confusion, we will elsewhere treat of strategic lines in
their relations to maneuvers,--confining ourselves here to what relates
to the _decisive and objective points_ of the zone of operations upon
which enterprises occur.

Although these are most intimately connected, since every objective
point ought necessarily to be one of the decisive points of the theater
of war, there is nevertheless a distinction between them; for all
decisive points cannot be at the same time the objective of operations.
We will, then, define the first, in order to be more easily guided in
our selection of the second.

I think the name of _decisive strategic point_ should be given to all
those which are capable of exercising a marked influence either upon the
result of the campaign or upon a single enterprise. All points whose
geographical position and whose natural or artificial advantages favor
the attack or defense of a front of operations or of a line of defense
are included in this number; and large, well-located fortresses occupy
in importance the first rank among them.

The decisive points of a theater of war are of several kinds. The first
are the geographic points and lines whose importance is permanent and a
consequence of the configuration of the country. For example, take the
case of the French in Belgium: whoever is master of the line of the
Meuse will have the greatest advantages in taking possession of the
country; for his adversary, being outflanked and inclosed between the
Meuse and the North Sea, will be exposed to the danger of total ruin if
he give battle parallel to that sea.[8] Similarly, the valley of the
Danube presents a series of important points which have caused it to be
looked upon as the key of Southern Germany.

Those points the possession of which would give the control of the
junction of several valleys and of the center of the chief lines of
communication in a country are also _decisive geographic points_. For
instance, Lyons is an important strategic point, because it controls the
valleys of the Rhone and Saône, and is at the center of communications
between France and Italy and between the South and East; but it would
not be a _decisive_ point unless well fortified or possessing an
extended camp with _têtes de pont_. Leipsic is most certainly a
strategic point, inasmuch as it is at the junction of all the
communications of Northern Germany. Were it fortified and did it occupy
both banks of the river, it would be almost the key of the country,--if
a country has a key, or if this expression means more than a decisive

All capitals are strategic points, for the double reason that they are
not only centers of communications, but also the seats of power and

In mountainous countries there are defiles which are the only routes of
exit practicable for an army; and these may be decisive in reference to
any enterprise in this country. It is well known how great was the
importance of the defile of Bard, protected by a single small fort, in

The second kind of decisive points are accidental points of maneuver,
which result from the positions of the troops on both sides.

When Mack was at Ulm, in 1805, awaiting the approach of the Russian army
through Moravia, the decisive point in an attack upon him was Donauwerth
or the Lower Lech; for if his adversaries gained it before him he was
cut off from his line of retreat, and also from the army intended to
support him. On the contrary, Kray, who, in 1800, was in the same
position, expected no aid from Bohemia, but rather from the Tyrol and
from the army of Mélas in Italy: hence the decisive point of attack upon
him was not Donauwerth, but on the opposite side, by Schaffhausen, since
this would take in reverse his front of operations, expose his line of
retreat, cut him off from his supporting army as well as from his base,
and force him upon the Main. In the same campaign the first objective
point of Napoleon was to fall upon the right of Mélas by the
Saint-Bernard, and to seize his line of communications: hence
Saint-Bernard, Ivrea, and Piacenza were decisive points only by reason
of the march of Mélas upon Nice.

It may be laid down as a general principle that the decisive points of
maneuver are on that flank of the enemy upon which, if his opponent
operates, he can more easily cut him off from his base and supporting
forces without being exposed to the same danger. The flank opposite to
the sea is always to be preferred, because it gives an opportunity of
forcing the enemy upon the sea. The only exception to this is in the
case of an insular and inferior army, where the attempt, although
dangerous, might be made to cut it off from the fleet.

If the enemy's forces are in detachments, or are too much extended, the
decisive point is his center; for by piercing that, his forces will be
more divided, their weakness increased, and the fractions may be crushed

The decisive point of a battle-field will be determined by,--

1. The features of the ground.

2. The relation of the local features to the ultimate strategic aim.

3. The positions occupied by the respective forces.

These considerations will be discussed in the chapter on battles.


There are two classes of objective points,--objective _points of
maneuver_, and _geographical objective points_. A geographical objective
point may be an important fortress, the line of a river, a front of
operations which affords good lines of defense or good points of support
for ulterior enterprises. _Objective points of maneuver_, in
contradistinction to _geographical objectives_, derive their importance
from, and their positions depend upon, the situation of the hostile

In strategy, the object of the campaign determines the objective point.
If this aim be offensive, the point will be the possession of the
hostile capital, or that of a province whose loss would compel the enemy
to make peace. In a war of invasion the capital is, ordinarily, the
objective point. However, the geographical position of the capital, the
political relations of the belligerents with their neighbors, and their
respective resources, are considerations foreign in themselves to the
art of fighting battles, but intimately connected with plans of
operations, and may decide whether an army should attempt or not to
occupy the hostile capital. If it be concluded not to seize the capital,
the objective point might be a part of the front of operations or line
of defense where an important fort is situated, the possession of which
would render safe the occupation of the neighboring territory. For
instance, if France were to invade Italy in a war against Austria, the
first objective point would be the line of the Ticino and Po; the
second, Mantua and the line of the Adige. In the defensive, the
objective point, instead of being that which it is desirable to gain
possession of, is that which is to be defended. The capital, being
considered the seat of power, becomes the principal objective point of
the defense; but there may be other points, as the defense of a first
line and of the first base of operations. Thus, for a French army
reduced to the defensive behind the Rhine, the first objective would be
to prevent the passage of the river; it would endeavor to relieve the
forts in Alsace if the enemy succeeded in effecting a passage of the
river and in besieging them: the second objective would be to cover the
first base of operations upon the Meuse or Moselle,--which might be
attained by a lateral defense as well as one in front.

As to the objective points of _maneuvers_,--that is, those which relate
particularly to the destruction or decomposition of the hostile
forces,--their importance may be seen by what has already been said. The
greatest talent of a general, and the surest hope of success, lie in
some degree in the good choice of these points. This was the most
conspicuous merit of Napoleon. Rejecting old systems, which were
satisfied by the capture of one or two points or with the occupation of
an adjoining province, he was convinced that the best means of
accomplishing great results was to dislodge and destroy the hostile
army,--since states and provinces fall of themselves when there is no
organized force to protect them. To detect at a glance the relative
advantages presented by the different zones of operations, to
concentrate the mass of the forces upon that one which gave the best
promise of success, to be indefatigable in ascertaining the approximate
position of the enemy, to fall with the rapidity of lightning upon his
center if his front was too much extended, or upon that flank by which
he could more readily seize his communications, to outflank him, to cut
his line, to pursue him to the last, to disperse and destroy his
forces,--such was the system followed by Napoleon in his first
campaigns. These campaigns proved this system to be one of the very

When these maneuvers were applied, in later years, to the long distances
and the inhospitable regions of Russia, they were not so successful as
in Germany: however, it must be remembered that, if this kind of war is
not suitable to all capacities, regions, or circumstances, its chances
of success are still very great, and it is based upon principle.
Napoleon abused the system; but this does not disprove its real
advantages when a proper limit is assigned to its enterprises and they
are made in harmony with the respective conditions of the armies and of
the adjoining states.

The maxims to be given on these important strategic operations are
almost entirely included in what has been said upon decisive points, and
in what will be stated in Article XXI. in discussing the choice of lines
of operations.

As to the choice of objective points, every thing will generally depend
upon the aim of the war and the character which political or other
circumstances may give it, and, finally, upon the military facilities of
the two parties.

In cases where there are powerful reasons for avoiding all risk, it may
be prudent to aim only at the acquisition of partial advantages,--such
as the capture of a few towns or the possession of adjacent territory.
In other cases, where a party has the means of achieving a great success
by incurring great dangers, he may attempt the destruction of the
hostile army, as did Napoleon.

The maneuvers of Ulm and Jena cannot be recommended to an army whose
only object is the siege of Antwerp. For very different reasons, they
could not be recommended to the French army beyond the Niemen, five
hundred leagues from its frontiers, because there would be much more to
be lost by failure than a general could reasonably hope to gain by

There is another class of decisive points to be mentioned, which are
determined more from political than from strategic considerations: they
play a great part in most coalitions, and influence the operations and
plans of cabinets. They may be called _political objective points_.

Indeed, besides the intimate connection between statesmanship and war in
its preliminaries, in most campaigns some military enterprises are
undertaken to carry out a political end, sometimes quite important, but
often very irrational. They frequently lead to the commission of great
errors in strategy. We cite two examples. First, the expedition of the
Duke of York to Dunkirk, suggested by old commercial views, gave to the
operations of the allies a divergent direction, which caused their
failure: hence this objective point was bad in a military view. The
expedition of the same prince to Holland in 1799--likewise due to the
views of the English cabinet, sustained by the intentions of Austria on
Belgium--was not less fatal; for it led to the march of the Archduke
Charles from Zurich upon Manheim,--a step quite contrary to the
interests of the allied armies at the time it was undertaken. These
illustrations prove that political objective points should be
subordinate to strategy, at least until after a great success has been

This subject is so extensive and so complicated that it would be absurd
to attempt to reduce it to a few rules. The only one which can be given
has just been alluded to, and is, that either the political objective
points should be selected according to the principles of strategy, or
their consideration should be postponed till after the decisive events
of the campaign. Applying this rule to the examples just given, it will
be seen that it was at Cambray or in the heart of France that Dunkirk
should have been conquered in 1793 and Holland delivered in 1799; in
other words, by uniting all the strength of the allies for great
attempts on the decisive points of the frontiers. Expeditions of this
kind are generally included in grand diversions,--to be treated of in a
separate article.


[Footnote 7: I may be reproached with inaccuracy of expression,--since a
line cannot be a _point_, and yet I apply to lines the name of decisive
or objective points. It seems almost useless to remark that _objective_
points are not geometric points, but that the name is a form of
expression used to designate the object which an army desires to

[Footnote 8: This only applies to continental armies, and not to the
English, who, having their base on Antwerp or Ostend, would have nothing
to fear from an occupation of the line of the Meuse.]


Fronts of Operations, Strategic Fronts, Lines of Defense, and Strategic

There are some parts of the military science that so closely resemble
each other, and are so intimately allied, that they are frequently
confounded, although they are decidedly distinct. Such are _fronts of
operations, strategic fronts, lines of defense_, and _strategic
positions_. It is proposed in this article to show the distinction
between them and to expose their relations to each other.


When the masses of an army are posted in a zone of operations, they
generally occupy strategic positions. The extent of the front occupied
toward the enemy is called the _strategic front_. The portion of the
theater of war from which an enemy can probably reach this front in two
or three marches is called the _front of operations_.

The resemblance between these two fronts has caused many military men to
confound them, sometimes under one name and sometimes under the other.

Rigorously speaking, however, the strategic front designates that formed
by the actual positions occupied by the masses of the army, while the
other embraces the space separating the two armies, and extends one or
two marches beyond each extremity of the strategic front, and includes
the ground upon which the armies will probably come in collision.

When the operations of a campaign are on the eve of commencing, one of
the armies will decide to await the attack of the other, and will
undertake to prepare a line of defense, which may be either that of the
strategic front or more to the rear. Hence the strategic front and line
of defense may coincide, as was the case in 1795 and 1796 upon the
Rhine, which was then a line of defense for both Austrians and French,
and at the same time their strategic front and front of operations. This
occasional coincidence of these lines doubtless leads persons to
confound them, while they are really very different. An army has not
necessarily a line of defense, as, for example, when it invades: when
its masses are concentrated in a single position, it has no strategic
front, but it is never without a front of operations.

The two following examples will illustrate the difference between the
different terms.

At the resumption of hostilities in 1813, Napoleon's front of operations
extended at first from Hamburg to Wittenberg; thence it ran along the
line of the allies toward Glogau and Breslau, (his right being at
Löwenberg,) and followed along the frontier of Bohemia to Dresden. His
forces were stationed on this grand front in four masses, whose
strategic positions were interior and central and presented three
different faces. Subsequently, he retired behind the Elbe. His real line
of defense then extended only from Wittenberg to Dresden, with a bend to
the rear toward Marienberg, for Hamburg and Magdeburg were beyond the
strategic field, and it would have been fatal for him to have extended
his operations to these points.

The other example is his position about Mantua in 1796. His front of
operations here really extended from the mountains of Bergamo to the
Adriatic Sea, while his real line of defense was upon the Adige, between
Lake Garda and Legnago: afterward it was upon the Mincio, between
Peschiera and Mantua, while his strategic front varied according to his

The front of operations being the space which separates the two armies,
and upon which they may fight, is ordinarily parallel to the base of
operations. The strategic front will have the same direction, and ought
to be perpendicular to the principal line of operations, and to extend
far enough on either flank to cover this line well. However, this
direction may vary, either on account of projects that are formed, or on
account of the attacks of the enemy; and it quite frequently happens
that it is necessary to have a front perpendicular to the base and
parallel to the original line of operations. Such a change of strategic
front is one of the most important of all grand maneuvers, for by this
means the control of two faces of the strategic field may be obtained,
thus giving the army a position almost as favorable as if it possessed a
base with two faces. (See Art. XVIII.)

The strategic front of Napoleon in his march on Eylau illustrates these
points. His pivots of operations were at Warsaw and Thorn, which made
the Vistula a temporary base: the front became parallel to the Narew,
from whence he set out, supported by Sierock, Pultusk, and Ostrolenka,
to maneuver by his right and throw the Russians on Elbing and the
Baltic. In such cases, if a point of support in the new direction can be
obtained, the strategic front gives the advantages referred to above. It
ought to be borne in mind in such maneuvers that the army should always
be sure of regaining its temporary base if necessary; in other words,
that this base should be prolonged behind the strategic front, and
should be covered by it. Napoleon, marching from the Narew by Allenstein
upon Eylau, had behind his left Thorn, and farther from the front of the
army the _tête de pont_ of Praga and Warsaw; so that his communications
were safe, while Benningsen, forced to face him and to make his line
parallel to the Baltic, might be cut off from his base, and be thrown
back upon the mouths of the Vistula. Napoleon executed another very
remarkable change of strategic front in his march from Gera upon Jena
and Naumburg in 1806. Moreau made another in moving by his right upon
Augsburg and Dillingen, fronting the Danube and France, and thereby
forcing Kray to evacuate the intrenched camp at Ulm.

The change of the strategic front to a position perpendicular to the
base may be a temporary movement for an operation of a few days'
duration, or it may be for an indefinite time, in order to profit by
important advantages afforded by certain localities, to strike decisive
blows, or to procure for the army a good line of defense and good
pivots of operations, which would be almost equivalent to a real base.

It often happens that an army is compelled to have a double strategic
front, either by the features of the theater of war, or because every
line of offensive operations requires protection on its flanks. As an
example of the first, the frontiers of Turkey and Spain may be cited. In
order to cross the Balkan or the Ebro, an army would be obliged to
present a double front,--in the first case, to face the valley of the
Danube; in the second, to confront forces coming from Saragossa or Leon.

All extensive countries necessitate, to a greater or less degree, the
same precaution. A French army in the valley of the Danube will require
a double front as soon as the Austrians have thrown sufficient troops
into the Tyrol or Bohemia to give rise to any anxiety. Those countries
which present a narrow frontier to the enemy are the only exception,
since the troops left on the frontier to harass the flanks of the enemy
could themselves be cut off and captured. This necessity of double
strategic fronts is one of the most serious inconveniences of an
offensive war, since it requires large detachments, which are always
dangerous. (See Article XXXVI.)

Of course, all that precedes relates to regular warfare. In a national
or intestine war the whole country is the scene of hostilities.
Nevertheless, each large fraction of an army having a defined aim would
have its own strategic front determined by the features of the country
and the positions occupied by the large bodies of the enemy. Thus,
Suchet in Catalonia and Massena in Portugal each had a strategic front,
while the front of some other corps of the army was not clearly defined.


Lines of defense are classified as strategical and tactical. Strategical
lines of defense are subdivided into two classes: 1. Permanent lines of
defense, which are a part of the defensive system of a state, such as
the line of a fortified frontier; 2. Eventual lines of defense, which
relate only to the temporary position of an army.

The frontier is a permanent line of defense when it presents a
well-connected system of obstacles, natural and artificial, such as
ranges of mountains, broad rivers, and fortresses. Thus, the range of
the Alps between France and Piedmont is a line of defense, since the
practicable passes are guarded by forts which would prove great
obstacles in the way of an army, and since the outlets of the gorges in
the valleys of Piedmont are protected by large fortresses. The Rhine,
the Oder, and the Elbe may also be considered as permanent lines of
defense, on account of the important forts found upon them.

Every river of any considerable width, every range of mountains, and
every defile, having their weak points covered by temporary
fortifications, may be regarded as _eventual lines of defense_, both
strategic and tactical, since they may arrest for some time the progress
of the enemy, or may compel him to deviate to the right or left in
search of a weaker point,--in which case the advantage is evidently
strategic. If the enemy attack in front, the lines present an evident
tactical advantage, since it is always more difficult to drive an army
from its position behind a river, or from a point naturally and
artificially strong, than to attack it on an open plain. On the other
hand, this advantage must not be considered unqualified, lest we should
fall into the system of positions which has been the ruin of so many
armies; for, whatever may be the facilities of a position for defense,
it is quite certain that the party which remains in it passive and
receiving all the attacks of his adversary will finally yield.[9] In
addition to this, since a position naturally very strong[10] is
difficult of access it will be as difficult of egress, the enemy may be
able with an inferior force to confine the army by guarding all the
outlets. This happened to the Saxons in the camp of Pirna, and to
Wurmser in Mantua.


There is a disposition of armies to which the name of strategic position
may be applied, to distinguish from tactical positions or positions for

Strategic positions are those taken for some time and which are intended
to cover a much greater portion of the front of operations than would be
covered in an actual battle. All positions behind a river or upon a line
of defense, the divisions of the army being separated by considerable
distances, are of this class, such as those of Napoleon at Rivoli,
Verona, and Legnago to overlook the Adige. His positions in 1813 in
Saxony and Silesia in advance of his line of defense were strategic. The
positions of the Anglo-Prussian armies on the frontier of Belgium before
the battle of Ligny, (1814,) and that of Massena on the Limmat and Aar
in 1799, were also strategic. Even winter quarters, when compact and in
face of the enemy and not protected by an armistice, are strategic
positions,--for instance, Napoleon on the Passarge in 1807. The daily
positions taken up by an army beyond the reach of the enemy, which are
sometimes spread out either to deceive him or to facilitate movements,
are of this class.

This class also includes positions occupied by an army to cover several
points and positions held by the masses of an army for the purposes of
observation. The different positions taken up on a line of defense, the
positions of detachments on a double front of operations, the position
of a detachment covering a siege, the main army in the meanwhile
operating on another point, are all strategic. Indeed, all large
detachments or fractions of an army may be considered as occupying
strategic positions.

The maxims to be given on the preceding points are few, since fronts,
lines of defense, and strategic positions generally depend upon a
multitude of circumstances giving rise to infinite variety.

In every case, the first general rule is that the communications with
the different points of the line of operations be thoroughly assured.

In the defense it is desirable that the strategic fronts and lines of
defense should present both upon the flanks and front formidable natural
or artificial obstacles to serve as points of support. The points of
support on the strategic front are called _pivots of operations_, and
are practical temporary bases, but quite different from pivots of
maneuver. For example, in 1796 Verona was an excellent pivot of
operations for all Napoleon's enterprises about Mantua for eight months.
In 1813 Dresden was his pivot.

Pivots of maneuver are detachments of troops left to guard points which
it is essential to hold, while the bulk of the army proceeds to the
fulfillment of some important end; and when this is accomplished the
pivot of maneuver ceases to exist. Thus, Ney's corps was the pivot of
Napoleon's maneuver by Donauwerth and Augsburg to cut Mack from his line
of retreat. A pivot of operations, on the contrary, is a material point
of both strategical and tactical importance, serves as a point of
support and endures throughout a campaign.

The most desirable quality of a line of defense is that it should be as
short as possible, in order to be covered with facility by the army if
it is compelled to take the defensive. It is also important that the
extent of the strategic front should not be so great as to prevent the
prompt concentration of the fractions of the army upon an advantageous

The same does not altogether apply to the front of operations; for if it
be too contracted it would be difficult for an army on the offensive to
make strategic maneuvers calculated to produce great results, since a
short front could be easily covered by the defensive army. Neither
should the front of operations be too extended. Such a front is
unsuitable for offensive operations, as it would give the enemy, if not
a good line of defense, at least ample space to escape from the results
of a strategic maneuver even if well planned. Thus, the beautiful
operations of Marengo, Ulm, and Jena could not have produced the same
results upon a theater of the magnitude of that of the Russian War in
1812, since the enemy, even if cut off from his line of retreat, could
have found another by adopting a new zone of operations.

The essential conditions for every strategic position are that it should
be more compact than the forces opposed, that all fractions of the army
should have sure and easy means of concentrating, free from the
intervention of the enemy. Thus, for forces nearly equal, all central or
interior positions would be preferable to exterior ones, since the front
in the latter case would necessarily be more extended and would lead to
a dangerous division of force. Great mobility and activity on the part
of the troops occupying these positions will be a strong element of
security or of superiority over the enemy, since it renders possible
rapid concentration at different and successive points of the front.

An army should never long occupy any strategic point without making
selection of one or two tactical positions, for the purpose of there
concentrating all the disposable force, and giving battle to the enemy
when he shall have unveiled his designs. In this manner Napoleon
prepared the fields of Rivoli and Austerlitz, Wellington that of
Waterloo, and the Archduke Charles that of Wagram.

When an army either camps or goes into quarters, the general should be
careful that the front be not too extended. A disposition which might be
called the strategic square seems best, presenting three nearly-equal
faces, so that the distance to be passed over would be about equal for
all the divisions in concentrating upon the common center to receive an

Every strategic line of defense should always possess a tactical point
upon which to rally for defense should the enemy cross the strategic
front. For instance, an army guarding a bank of a river, not being able
to occupy in force the whole line, ought always to have a position in
rear of the center selected, upon which to collect all his divisions, so
as to oppose them united to the enemy when he has succeeded in effecting
a passage.

For an army entering a country with the purpose either of subjugation
or of temporary occupation, it would always be prudent, however
brilliant may have been its earlier successes, to prepare a line of
defense as a refuge in case of reverse. This remark is made to complete
the subject: the lines themselves are intimately connected with
temporary bases, and will be discussed in a future article, (XXIII.)


[Footnote 9: This does not refer to intrenched camps, which make a great
difference. They are treated of in Article XXVII.]

[Footnote 10: It is a question here of positions of camps, and not of
positions for battle. The latter will be treated of in the chapter
devoted to Grand Tactics, (Article XXX.)]


Zones and Lines of Operations.

A zone of operations is a certain fraction of the whole theater of war,
which may be traversed by an army in the attainment of its object,
whether it act singly or in concert with other and secondary armies. For
example, in the plan of campaign of 1796, Italy was the zone of the
right, Bavaria that of the center, Franconia that of the left army.

A zone of operations may sometimes present but a single _line of
operations_, either on account of the configuration of the country, or
of the small number of practicable routes for an army found therein.
Generally, however, a zone presents several _lines of operations_,
depending partly upon the plans of the campaign, partly upon the number
of great routes of communication existing in the theater of operations.

It is not to be understood from this that every road is of itself a
_line of operations_,--though doubtless it may happen that any good road
in a certain turn of affairs may become for the time-being such a line;
but as long as it is only traversed by detachments, and lies beyond the
sphere of the principal enterprises, it cannot truly be called the real
line of operations. Moreover, the existence of several routes leading to
the same front of operations, and separated by one or two marches, would
not constitute so many lines of operations, but, being the
communications of the different divisions of the same army, the whole
space bounded by them would constitute but a single line.

The term _zone of operations_ is applied to a large fraction of the
general theater of war; the term _lines of operations_ will designate
the part of this fraction embraced by the enterprises of the army.
Whether it follow a single or several routes, the term _strategic
lines_ will apply to those important lines which connect the decisive
points of the theater of operations either with each other or with the
front of operations; and, for the same reason, we give this name to
those lines which the army would follow to reach one of these decisive
points, or to accomplish an important maneuver which requires a
temporary deviation from the principal line of operations. _Lines of
communications_ designate the practicable routes between the different
portions of the army occupying different positions throughout the zone
of operations.

For example, in 1813, after the accession of Austria to the Grand
Coalition, three allied armies were to invade Saxony, one Bavaria, and
another Italy: so that Saxony, or rather the country between Dresden,
Magdeburg, and Breslau, formed the zone of operations of the mass of the
forces. This zone had three _lines of operations_ leading to Leipsic as
an objective: the first was the line of the army of Bohemia, leading
from the mountains of Erzgebirge by Dresden and Chemnitz upon Leipsic;
the second was the line of the army of Silesia, going from Breslau by
Dresden or by Wittenberg upon Leipsic; the third was that of Bernadotte
from Berlin by Dessau to the same objective point. Each of these armies
marched upon two or more adjacent parallel routes, but it could not be
said that there were as many lines of operations as roads. The principal
line of operations is that followed by the bulk of the army, and upon
which depots of provisions, munitions, and other supplies are echeloned,
and over which, if compelled, it would retreat.

If the choice of a zone of operations involves no extensive
combinations, since there can never be more than two or three zones on
each theater, and the advantages generally result from the localities,
it is somewhat different with lines of operations, as they are divided
into different classes, according to their relations to the different
positions of the enemy, to the communications upon the strategic field,
and to the enterprises projected by the commander.

_Simple lines of operations_ are those of an army acting from a
frontier when it is not subdivided into large independent bodies.

_Double lines of operations_ are those of two independent armies
proceeding from the same frontier, or those of two nearly equal armies
which are commanded by the same general but are widely separated in
distance and for long intervals of time.[11]

_Interior lines of operations_ are those adopted by one or two armies to
oppose several hostile bodies, and having such a direction that the
general can concentrate the masses and maneuver with his whole force in
a shorter period of time than it would require for the enemy to oppose
to them a greater force.[12] _Exterior lines_ lead to the opposite
result, and are those formed by an army which operates at the same time
on both flanks of the enemy, or against several of his masses.

_Concentric lines of operations_ are those which depart from
widely-separated points and meet at the same point, either in advance
of or behind the base.

_Divergent lines_ are those by which an army would leave a given point
to move upon several distinct points. These lines, of course,
necessitate a subdivision of the army.

There are also _deep lines_, which are simply _long lines_.

The term _maneuver-lines_ I apply to momentary strategic lines, often
adopted for a single temporary maneuver, and which are by no means to be
confounded with the real _lines of operations_.

_Secondary lines_ are those of two armies acting so as to afford each
other mutual support,--as, in 1796, the army of the Sambre and Meuse was
secondary to the army of the Rhine, and, in 1812, the army of Bagration
was secondary to that of Barclay.

_Accidental lines_ are those brought about by events which change the
original plan and give a new direction to operations. These are of the
highest importance. The proper occasions for their use are fully
recognized only by a great and active mind.

There may be, in addition, _provisional_ and _definitive lines of
operations_. The first designate the line adopted by an army in a
preliminary, decisive enterprise, after which it is at liberty to select
a more advantageous or direct line. They seem to belong as much to the
class of temporary or eventual strategic lines as to the class of lines
of operations.

These definitions show how I differ from those authors who have preceded
me. Lloyd and Bulow attribute to these lines no other importance than
that arising from their relations to the depots of the army: the latter
has even asserted that when an army is encamped near its depots it has
no lines of operations.

The following example will disprove this paradox. Let us suppose two
armies, the first on the Upper Rhine, the second in advance of
Dusseldorf or any other point of this frontier, and that their large
depots are immediately behind the river,--certainly the safest, nearest,
and most advantageous position for them which could possibly be adopted.
These armies will have an offensive or defensive object: hence they
will certainly have lines of operations, arising from the different
proposed enterprises.

1. Their defensive territorial line, starting from their positions, will
extend to the second line which they are to cover, and they would both
be cut off from this second line should the enemy establish himself in
the interval which separates them from it. Even if Mélas[13] had
possessed a year's supplies in Alessandria, he would none the less have
been cut off from his base of the Mincio as soon as the victorious enemy
occupied the line of the Po.

2. Their line would be double, and the enemy's single if he concentrated
his forces to defeat these armies successively; it would be a double
exterior line, and the enemy's a double interior, if the latter divided
his forces into two masses, giving them such directions as to enable him
to concentrate all his forces before the two armies first referred to
could unite.

Bulow would have been more nearly right had he asserted that an army on
its own soil is less dependent on its primitive line of operations than
when on foreign ground; for it finds in every direction points of
support and some of the advantages which are sought for in the
establishment of lines of operations; it may even lose its line of
operations without incurring great danger; but that is no reason why it
has no line of operations.


At the beginning of this terrible and ever-varying struggle, Prussia and
Austria were the only avowed enemies of France, and Italy was included
in the theater of war only for purposes of reciprocal observation, it
being too remote for decisive enterprises in view of the end proposed.
The real theater extended from Huningue to Dunkirk, and comprised three
zones of operations,--the first reaching along the Rhine from Huningue
to Landau, and thence to the Moselle; the center consisting of the
interval between the Meuse and Moselle; the third and left was the
frontier from Givet to Dunkirk.

When France declared war, in April, 1792, her intention was to prevent a
union of her enemies; and she had then one hundred thousand men in the
zones just described, while Austria had but thirty-five thousand in
Belgium. It is quite impossible to understand why the French did not
conquer this country, when no effectual resistance could have been made.
Four months intervened between the declaration of war and the
concentration of the allied troops. Was it not probable that an invasion
of Belgium would have prevented that of Champagne, and have given the
King of Prussia a conception of the strength of France, and induced him
not to sacrifice his armies for the secondary object of imposing upon
France another form of government?

When the Prussians arrived at Coblentz, toward the end of July, the
French were no longer able to invade. This _rôle_ was reserved for the
allies; and it is well known how they acquitted themselves.

The whole force of the French was now about one hundred and fifteen
thousand men. It was scattered over a frontier of one hundred and forty
leagues and divided into five corps d'armée, and could not make a good
defense; for to paralyze them and prevent their concentration it was
only necessary to attack the center. Political reasons were also in
favor of this plan of attack: the end proposed was political, and could
only be attained by rapid and vigorous measures. The line between the
Moselle and Meuse, which was the center, was less fortified than the
rest of the frontier, and, besides, gave the allies the advantage of the
excellent fortress of Luxembourg as a base. They wisely adopted this
plan of attack; but the execution was not equal to the conception.

The court of Vienna had the greatest interest in the war, for family
reasons, as well as on account of the dangers to which a reverse might
subject her provinces. For some reason, difficult to understand,
Austria co-operated only to the extent of thirty battalions: forty-five
thousand men remained as an army of observation in Brisgau, on the
Rhine, and in Flanders. Where were the imposing armies she afterward
displayed? and what more useful disposition could have been made of them
than to protect the flanks of the invading army? This remarkable conduct
on the part of Austria, which cost her so much, may account for the
resolution of Prussia to retire at a later period, and quit the field,
as she did, at the very moment when she should have entered it. During
the campaign the Prussians did not exhibit the activity necessary for
success. They spent eight days uselessly in camp at Kons. If they had
anticipated Dumouriez at the Little Islands, or had even made a more
serious effort to drive him from them, they would still have had all the
advantage of a concentrated force against several scattered divisions,
and could have prevented their junction and overthrown them separately.
Frederick the Great would have justified the remark of Dumouriez at
Grandpré,--that, if his antagonist had been the great king, he
(Dumouriez) would already have been driven behind Châlons.

The Austrians in this campaign proved that they were still imbued with
the false system of Daun and Lascy, of covering every point in order to
guard every point.

The fact of having twenty thousand men in Brisgau while the Moselle and
Sarre were uncovered, shows the fear they had of losing a village, and
how their system led to large detachments, which are frequently the ruin
of armies.

Forgetting that the surest hope of victory lies in presenting the
strongest force, they thought it necessary to occupy the whole length of
a frontier to prevent invasion,--which was exactly the means of
rendering invasion upon every point feasible.

I will further observe that, in thin campaign, Dumouriez foolishly
abandoned the pursuit of the allies in order to transfer the theater
from the center to the extreme left of the general field. Moreover, he
was unable to perceive the great results rendered possible by this
movement, but attacked the army of the Duke of Saxe-Teschen in front,
while by descending the Meuse to Namur he might have thrown it back upon
the North Sea toward Meuport or Ostend, and have destroyed it entirely
in a more successful battle than that of Jemmapes.

The campaign of 1793 affords a new instance of the effect of a faulty
direction of operations. The Austrians were victorious, and recovered
Belgium, because Dumouriez unskillfully extended his front of operations
to the gates of Rotterdam. Thus far the conduct of the allies deserves
praise: the desire of reconquering these rich provinces justified this
enterprise, which, moreover, was judiciously directed against the
extreme right of the long front of Dumouriez. But after the French had
been driven back under the guns of Valenciennes, and were disorganized
and unable to resist, why did the allies remain six months in front of a
few towns and permit the Committee of Public Safety to organize new
armies? When the deplorable condition of France and the destitution of
the wreck of the army of Dampierre are considered, can the parades of
the allies in front of the fortresses in Flanders be understood?

Invasions of a country whose strength lies mainly in the capital are
particularly advantageous. Under the government of a powerful prince,
and in ordinary wars, the most important point is the head-quarters of
the army; but under a weak prince, in a republic, and still more in wars
of opinion, the capital is generally the center of national power.[14]
If this is ever doubtful, it was not so on this occasion. Paris was
France, and this to such an extent that two-thirds of the nation had
risen against the government which oppressed them. If, after having
beaten the French army at Famars, the allies had left the Dutch and
Hanoverians to observe what remained of it, while the English and the
Austrians directed their operations upon the Meuse, the Sarre, and the
Moselle, in concert with the Prussians and a part of the useless army
of the Upper Rhine, a force of one hundred and twenty thousand men, with
its flanks protected by other troops, could have been pushed forward. It
is even probable that, without changing the direction of the war or
running great risks, the Dutch and Hanoverians could have performed the
duty of observing Maubeuge and Valenciennes, while the bulk of the army
pursued the remains of Dampierre's forces. After gaining several
victories, however, two hundred thousand men were engaged in carrying on
a few sieges and were not gaining a foot of ground. While they
threatened France with invasion, they placed fifteen or sixteen bodies
of troops, defensively, to cover their own frontier! When Valenciennes
and Mayence capitulated, instead of falling with all their forces upon
the camp at Cambray, they flew off, excentrically, to Dunkirk on one
side and Landau on the other.

It is not less astonishing that, after making the greatest efforts in
the beginning of the campaign upon the right of the general field, they
should have shifted them afterward to the extreme left, so that while
the allies were operating in Flanders they were in no manner seconded or
aided by the imposing army upon the Rhine; and when, in its turn, this
army took up the offensive, the allies remained inactive upon the
Sambre. Do not these false combinations resemble those of Soubise and
Broglie in 1761, and all the operations of the Seven Years' War?

In 1794 the phase of affairs is wholly changed. The French from a
painful defensive pass to a brilliant offensive. The combinations of
this campaign were doubtless well considered; but it is wrong to
represent them as forming a new system of war. To be convinced of this,
it is only necessary to observe that the respective positions of the
armies in this campaign and in that of 1757 were almost identical, and
the direction of the operations is quite the same. The French had four
corps, which constituted two armies, as the King of Prussia had four
divisions, which composed two armies.

These two large bodies took a concentric direction leading on Brussels,
as Frederick and Schwerin had adopted in 1757 on Prague. The only
difference between the two plans is that the Austrian troops in Flanders
were not so much scattered as those of Brown in Bohemia; but this
difference is certainly not favorable to the plan of 1794. The position
of the North Sea was also unfavorable for the latter plan. To outflank
the Austrian right, Pichegru was thrown between the sea and the mass of
the enemy,--a direction as dangerous and faulty as could be given to
great operations. This movement was the same as that of Benningsen on
the Lower Vistula which almost lost the Russian army in 1807. The fate
of the Prussian army, cut off from its communications and forced upon
the Baltic, is another proof of this truth.

If the Prince of Coburg had acted with ability, he could easily have
made Pichegru suffer for this audacious maneuver, which was performed a
month before Jourdan was prepared to follow it up.

The center of the grand Austrian army intended to act upon the offensive
was before Landrecies; the army was composed of one hundred and six
battalions and one hundred and fifty squadrons; upon its right flank
Flanders was covered by the corps d'armée of Clairfayt, and upon the
left Charleroi was covered by that of the Prince de Kaunitz. The gain of
a battle before Landrecies opened its gates; and upon General Chapuis
was found a plan of the diversion in Flanders: only _twelve battalions_
were sent to Clairfayt. A long time afterward, and after the French were
known to have been successful, the corps of the Duke of York marched to
Clairfayt's relief; but what was the use of the remainder of the army
before Landrecies, after it was obliged by a loss of force to delay
invasion? The Prince of Coburg threw away all the advantages of his
central position, by allowing the French to concentrate in Belgium and
to beat all his large detachments in detail.

Finally, the army moved, leaving a division at Cateau, and a part having
been sent to the Prince de Kaunitz at Charleroi. If, instead of dividing
this grand army, it had been directed upon Turcoing, there would have
been concentrated there one hundred battalions and one hundred and
forty squadrons; and what must then have been the result of this famous
diversion of Pichegru, cut off from his own frontiers and shut up
between the sea and two fortresses?

The plan of invasion adopted by the French had not only the radical
error of exterior lines: it also failed in execution. The diversion on
Courtray took place on April 26, and Jourdan did not arrive at Charleroi
till the 3d of June,--more than a month afterward. Here was a splendid
opportunity for the Austrians to profit by their central position. If
the Prussian army had maneuvered by its right and the Austrian army by
its left,--that is, both upon the Meuse,--the state of affairs would
have been different. By establishing themselves in the center of a line
of scattered forces they could have prevented the junction of the
different fractions. It may be dangerous in a battle to attack the
center of a close line of troops when it can be simultaneously sustained
by the wings and the reserves; but it is quite different on a line of
three hundred miles in extent.

In 1795 Prussia and Spain retired from the coalition, and the principal
theater of war was shifted from the Rhine to Italy,--which opened a new
field of glory for the French arms. Their lines of operations in this
campaign were double; they desired to operate by Dusseldorf and Manheim.
Clairfayt, wiser than his predecessors, concentrated his forces
alternately upon these points, and gained victories at Manheim and in
the lines of Mayence so decisive that they caused the army of the Sambre
and Meuse to recross the Rhine to cover the Moselle, and brought
Pichegru back to Landau.

In 1796 the lines of operations on the Rhine were copied from those of
1757 and those in Flanders in 1794, but with different results. The
armies of the Rhine, and of the Sambre and Meuse, set out from the
extremities of the base, on routes converging to the Danube. As in 1794,
they were exterior lines. The Archduke Charles, more skillful than the
Prince of Coburg, profited by his interior lines by concentrating his
forces at a point nearer than that expected by the French. He then
seized the instant when the Danube covered the corps of Latour, to
steal several marches upon Moreau and attack and overwhelm Jourdan: the
battle of Wurzburg decided the fate of Germany and compelled the army of
Moreau to retreat.

Bonaparte now commences in Italy his extraordinary career. His plan is
to separate the Piedmontese and Austrian armies. He succeeds by the
battle of Millesimo in causing them to take two exterior strategic
lines, and beats them successively at Mondovi and Lodi. A formidable
army is collected in the Tyrol to raise the siege of Mantua: it commits
the error of marching there in two bodies separated by a lake. The
lightning is not quicker than Napoleon. He raises the siege, abandons
every thing before Mantua, throws the greater part of his force upon the
first column, which debouches by Brescia, beats it and forces it back
upon the mountains: the second column arrives upon the same ground, and
is there beaten in its turn, and compelled to retire into the Tyrol to
keep up its communications with the right. Wurmser, upon whom these
lessons are lost, desires to cover the two lines of Roveredo and
Vicenza; Napoleon, after having overwhelmed and thrown the first back
upon the Lavis, changes direction by the right, debouches by the gorges
of the Brenta upon the left, and forces the remnant of this fine army to
take refuge in Mantua, where it is finally compelled to surrender.

In 1799 hostilities recommence: the French, punished for having formed
two exterior lines in 1796, nevertheless, have three upon the Rhine and
the Danube. The army on the left observes the Lower Rhine, that of the
center marches upon the Danube, Switzerland, flanking Italy and Swabia,
being occupied by a third army as strong as both the others. _The three
armies could be concentrated only in the valley of the Inn_, eighty
leagues from their base of operations. The archduke has equal forces: he
unites them against the center, which he defeats at Stockach, and the
army of Switzerland is compelled to evacuate the Grisons and Eastern
Switzerland. The allies in turn commit the same fault: instead of
following up their success on this central line, which cost them so
dearly afterward, they formed a double line in Switzerland and on the
Lower Rhine. The army of Switzerland is beaten at Zurich, while the
other trifles at Manheim.

In Italy the French undertake a double enterprise, which leaves
thirty-two thousand men uselessly employed at Naples, while upon the
Adige, where the vital blows were to be given or received, their force
is too weak and meets with terrible reverses. When the army of Naples
returns to the North, it commits the error of adopting a strategic
direction opposed to Moreau's, and Suwaroff, by means of his central
position, from which he derives full profit, marches against this army
and beats it, while some leagues from the other.

In 1800, Napoleon has returned from Egypt, and every thing is again
changed, and this campaign presents a new combination of lines of
operations; one hundred and fifty thousand men march upon the two flanks
of Switzerland, and debouch, one upon the Danube and the other upon the
Po. This insures the conquest of vast regions. Modern history affords no
similar combination. The French armies are upon interior lines,
affording reciprocal support, while the Austrians are compelled to adopt
an exterior line, which renders it impossible for them to communicate.
By a skillful arrangement of its progress, the army of the reserve cuts
off the enemy from his line of operations, at the same time preserving
its own relations with its base and with the army of the Rhine, which
forms its secondary line.

Fig. 3 demonstrates this truth, and shows the respective situations of
the two parties. A and A A indicate the front of operations of the
armies of the Rhine and of the reserve; B and B B, that of Kray and
Mélas; C C C C, the passes of the Saint-Bernard, of the Simplon, of the
Saint-Gothard, and of the Splugen; D indicates the two lines of
operations of the army of the reserve; E, the two lines of retreat of
Mélas; H J K, the French divisions preserving their line of retreat. It
may thus be seen that Mélas is cut off from his base, and that, on the
contrary, the French general runs no risk, since he preserves all his
communications with the frontiers and with his secondary lines.

[Illustration: Fig. 3. THE STRATIGIC FIELD OF 1806.]

The analysis of the memorable events just sketched shows clearly the
importance of a proper selection of lines of maneuver in military
operations. Indeed, discretion on this point may repair the disasters of
defeat, destroy the advantages of an adversary's victory, render his
invasion futile, or assure the conquest of a province.

By a comparison of the combinations and results of the most noted
campaigns, it will be seen that the lines of operations which have led
to success have been established in conformity to the fundamental
principle already alluded to,--viz.: that _simple and interior lines
enable a general to bring into action, by strategic movements, upon the
important point, a stronger force than the enemy_. The student may also
satisfy himself that those which have failed contained faults opposed to
this principle. An undue number of lines divides the forces, and permits
fractions to be overwhelmed by the enemy.


From the analysis of all the events herein referred to, as well as from
that of many others, the following maxims result:--

1. If the art of war consists in bringing into action upon the decisive
point of the theater of operations the greatest possible force, the
choice of the line of operations, being the primary means of attaining
this end, may be regarded as the fundamental idea in a good plan of a
campaign. Napoleon proved this by the direction he gave his armies in
1805 on Donauwerth and in 1806 on Gera,--maneuvers that cannot be too
much studied by military men.

Of course, it is impossible to sketch in advance the whole campaign. The
objective point will be determined upon in advance, the general plan to
be followed to attain it, and the first enterprise to be undertaken for
this end: what is to follow will depend upon the result of this first
operation and the new phases it may develop.

2. The direction to be given to this line depends upon the geographical
situation of the theater of operations, but still more upon the position
of the hostile masses upon this strategic field. _In every case,
however, it must be directed upon the center or upon one of the
extremities. Only when the assailing forces are vastly preponderating
would it be otherwise than a fatal error to act upon the center and the
two extremities at the same time_.[15]

It may be laid down as a general principle, that, if the enemy divide
his forces on an extended front, the best direction of the maneuver-line
will be upon his center, but in every other case, when it is possible,
the best direction will be upon one of the flanks, and then upon the
rear of his line of defense or front of operations.

The advantage of this maneuver arises more from the opportunity it
affords of taking the line of defense in reverse than from the fact that
by using it the assailant has to contend with but a part of the enemy's
force. Thus, the army of the Rhine in 1800, gaining the extreme left of
the line of defense of the Black Forest, caused it to yield almost
without an effort. This army fought two battles on the right bank of the
Danube, which, although not decisive, yet, from the judicious direction
of the line of operations, brought about the invasion of Swabia and
Bavaria. The results of the march of the army of the reserve by the
Saint-Bernard and Milan upon the extreme right of Mélas were still more

3. Even when the extremity of the enemy's front of operations is gained,
it is not always safe to act upon his rear, since by so doing the
assailant in many cases will lose his own communications. To avoid this
danger, the line of operations should have a geographic and strategic
direction, such that the army will always find either to its rear or to
the right or left a safe line of retreat. In this case, to take
advantage of either of these flank lines of retreat would require a
change of direction of the line of operations, (Maxim 12.)

The ability to decide upon such a direction is among the most important
qualities of a general. The importance of a direction is illustrated by
these examples.

If Napoleon in 1800, after passing the Saint-Bernard, had marched upon
Asti or Alessandria, and had fought at Marengo without having previously
protected himself on the side of Lombardy and of the left bank of the
Po, he would have been more thoroughly cut off from his line of retreat
than Mélas from his; but, having in his possession the secondary points
of Casale and Pavia on the side of the Saint-Bernard, and Savona and
Tenda toward the Apennines, in case of reverse he had every means of
regaining the Var or the Valais.

In 1806, if he had marched from Gera directly upon Leipsic, and had
there awaited the Prussian army returning from Weimar, he would have
been cut off from the Rhine as much as the Duke of Brunswick from the
Elbe, while by falling back to the west in the direction of Weimar he
placed his front before the three roads of Saalfeld, Schleiz, and Hof,
which thus became well-covered lines of communication. If the Prussians
had endeavored to cut him off from these lines by moving between Gera
and Baireuth, they would have opened to him his most natural line,--the
excellent road from Leipsic to Frankfort,--as well as the two roads
which lead from Saxony by Cassel to Coblentz, Cologne, and even Wesel.

4. Two independent armies should not be formed upon the same frontier:
such an arrangement could be proper only in the case of large
coalitions, or where the forces at disposal are too numerous to act upon
the same zone of operations; and even in this case it would be better to
have all the forces under the same commander, who accompanies the
principal army.

5. As a consequence of the last-mentioned principle, with equal forces
on the same frontier, a single line of operations will be more
advantageous than a double one.

6. It may happen, however, that a double line will be necessary, either
from the topography of the seat of war, or because a double line has
been adopted by the enemy, and it will be necessary to oppose a part of
the army to each of his masses.

7. In this case, interior or central lines will be preferable to
exterior lines, since in the former case the fractions of the army can
be concentrated before those of the enemy, and may thus decide the fate
of the campaign.[16] Such an army may, by a well-combined strategic
plan, unite upon and overwhelm successively the fractions of the
adversary's forces. To be assured of success in these maneuvers, a body
of observation is left in front of the army to be held in check, with
instructions to avoid a serious engagement, but to delay the enemy as
much as possible by taking advantage of the ground, continually falling
back upon the principal army.

8. A double line is applicable in the case of a decided superiority of
force, when each army will be a match for any force the enemy can bring
against it. In this case this course will be advantageous,--since a
single line would crowd the forces so much as to prevent them all from
acting to advantage. However, it will always be prudent to support well
the army which, by reason of the nature of its theater and the
respective positions of the parties, has the most important duty to

9 The principal events of modern wars demonstrate the truth of two other
maxims. The first is, that two armies operating on interior lines and
sustaining each other reciprocally, and opposing two armies superior in
numbers, should not allow themselves to be crowded into a too contracted
space, where the whole might be overwhelmed at once. This happened to
Napoleon at Leipsic.[17] The second is, that interior lines should not
be abused by extending them too far, thus giving the enemy the
opportunity of overcoming the corps of observation. This risk, however,
may be incurred if the end pursued by the main forces is so decisive as
to conclude the war,--when the fate of these secondary bodies would be
viewed with comparative indifference.

10. For the same reason, two converging lines are more advantageous than
two divergent. The first conform better to the principles of strategy,
and possess the advantage of covering the lines of communication and
supply; but to be free from danger they should be so arranged that the
armies which pass over them shall not be separately exposed to the
combined masses of the enemy, before being able to effect their

11. Divergent lines, however, may be advantageous when the center of the
enemy has been broken and his forces separated either by a battle or by
a strategic movement,--in which case divergent operations would add to
the dispersion of the enemy. Such divergent lines would be interior,
since the pursuers could concentrate with more facility than the

12. It sometimes happens that an army is obliged to change its line of
operations in the middle of a campaign. This is a very delicate and
important step, which may lead to great successes, or to equally great
disasters if not applied with sagacity, and is used only to extricate an
army from an embarrassing position. Napoleon projected several of these
changes; for in his bold invasions he was provided with new plans to
meet unforeseen events.

At the battle of Austerlitz, if defeated, he had resolved to adopt a
line of operations through Bohemia on Passau or Ratisbon, which would
have opened a new and rich country to him, instead of returning by
Vienna, which route lay through an exhausted country and from which the
Archduke Charles was endeavoring to cut him off. Frederick executed one
of these changes of the line of operations after the raising of the
siege of Olmutz.

In 1814 Napoleon commenced the execution of a bolder maneuver, but one
which was favored by the localities. It was to base himself upon the
fortresses of Alsace and Lorraine, leaving the route to Paris open to
the allies. If Mortier and Marmont could have joined him, and had he
possessed fifty thousand more men, this plan would have produced the
most decisive results and have put the seal on his military career.

13. As before stated, the outline of the frontiers, and the geographical
character of the theater of operations, exercise a great influence on
the direction to be given to these lines, as well as upon the advantages
to be obtained. Central positions, salient toward the enemy, like
Bohemia and Switzerland, are the most advantageous, because they
naturally lead to the adoption of interior lines and facilitate the
project of taking the enemy in reverse. The sides of this salient angle
become so important that every means should be taken to render them
impregnable. In default of such central positions, their advantages may
be gained by the relative directions of maneuver-lines, as the following
figure will explain. C D maneuvering upon the right of the front of the
army A B, and H I upon the left flank of G F, will form two interior
lines I K and C K upon an extremity of the exterior lines A B, F G,
which they may overwhelm separately by combining upon them. Such was the
result of the operations of 1796, 1800, and 1809.

                        Fig. 4.

                              /  \
                             /    \
                            /      \
  F LLLLLLLLLLLLL G        /        \        A LLLLLLLLLLLLLL B
                          /          \
                         /            \
                        /              \
                       /                \
                      /                  \
                     /                    \
                    /                      \
                   /                        \
  H TTTTTTTTTTTTT I                          C TTTTTTTTTTTTTT D

14. The general configuration of the bases ought also to influence the
direction to be given to the lines of operations, these latter being
naturally dependent upon the former. It has already been shown that the
greatest advantage that can result from a choice of bases is when the
frontiers allow it to be assumed parallel to the line of operations of
the enemy, thus affording the opportunity of seizing this line and
cutting him from his base.

But if, instead of directing the operations upon the decisive point, the
line of operations be badly chosen, all the advantages of the
perpendicular base may be lost, as will be seen by referring to the
figure on page 79. The army E, having the double base A C and C D, if it
marched toward F, instead of to the right toward G H, would lose all the
strategic advantages of its base C D.

The great art, then, of properly directing lines of operations, is so to
establish them in reference to the bases and to the marches of the army
as to seize the communications of the enemy without imperiling one's
own, and is the most important and most difficult problem in strategy.

15. There is another point which exercises a manifest influence over the
direction to be given to the line of operations; it is when the
principal enterprise of the campaign is to cross a large river in the
presence of a numerous and well-appointed enemy. In this case, the
choice of this line depends neither upon the will of the general nor the
advantages to be gained by an attack on one or another point; for the
first consideration will be to ascertain where the passage can be most
certainly effected, and where are to be found the means for this
purpose. The passage of the Rhine in 1795, by Jourdan, was near
Dusseldorf, for the same reason that the Vistula in 1831 was crossed by
Marshal Paskevitch near Ossiek,--viz., that in neither case was there
the bridge-train necessary for the purpose, and both were obliged to
procure and take up the rivers large boats, bought by the French in
Holland, and by the Russians at Thorn and Dantzic. The neutrality of
Prussia permitted the ascent of the river in both cases, and the enemy
was not able to prevent it. This apparently incalculable advantage led
the French into the double invasions of 1795 and 1796, which failed
because the double line of operations caused the defeat of the armies
separately. Paskevitch was wiser, and passed the Upper Vistula with only
a small detachment and after the principal army had already arrived at

When an army is sufficiently provided with bridge-trains, the chances
of failure are much lessened; but then, as always, it is necessary to
select the point which may, either on account of its topography or the
position of the enemy, be most advantageous. The discussion between
Napoleon and Moreau on the passage of the Rhine in 1800 is one of the
most curious examples of the different combinations presented by this
question, which is both strategic and tactical.

Since it is necessary to protect the bridges, at least until a victory
is gained, the point of passage will exercise an influence upon the
directions of a few marches immediately subsequent to the passage. The
point selected in every case for the principal passage will be upon the
center or one of the flanks of the enemy.

A united army which has forced a passage upon the center of an extended
line might afterward adopt two divergent lines to complete the
dispersion of the enemy, who, being unable to concentrate, would not
think of disturbing the bridges.

If the line of the river is so short that the hostile army is more
concentrated, and the general has the means of taking up after the
passage a front perpendicular to the river, it would be better to pass
it upon one of the extremities, in order to throw off the enemy from the
bridges. This will be referred to in the article upon the passage of

16. There is yet another combination of lines of operations to be
noticed. It is the marked difference of advantage between a line at home
and one in a hostile country. The nature of the enemy's country will
also influence these chances. Let us suppose an army crosses the Alps or
the Rhine to carry on war in Italy or Germany. It encounters states of
the second rank; and, even if they are in alliance, there are always
rivalries or collisions of interest which will deprive them of that
unity and strength possessed by a single powerful state. On the other
hand, a German army invading France would operate upon a line much more
dangerous than that of the French in Italy, because upon the first could
be thrown the consolidated strength of Franco, united in feeling and
interest. An army on the defensive, with its line of operations on its
own soil, has resources everywhere and in every thing: the inhabitants,
authorities, productions, towns, public depots and arsenals, and even
private stores, are all in its favor. It is not ordinarily so abroad.

Lines of operations in rich, fertile, manufacturing regions offer to the
assailants much greater advantages than when in barren or desert
regions, particularly when the people are not united against the
invader. In provinces like those first named the army would find a
thousand necessary supplies, while in the other huts and straw are about
the only resources. Horses probably may obtain pasturage; but every
thing else must be carried by the army,--thus infinitely increasing the
embarrassments and rendering bold operations much more rare and
dangerous. The French armies, so long accustomed to the comforts of
Swabia and Lombardy, almost perished in 1806 in the bogs of Pultusk, and
actually did perish in 1812 in the marshy forests of Lithuania.

17. There is another point in reference to these lines which is much
insisted upon by some, but which is more specious than important. It is
that on each side of the line of operations the country should be
cleared of all enemies for a distance equal to the depth of this line:
otherwise the enemy might threaten the line of retreat. This rule is
everywhere belied by the events of war. The nature of the country, the
rivers and mountains, the morale of the armies, the spirit of the
people, the ability and energy of the commanders, cannot be estimated by
diagrams on paper. It is true that no considerable bodies of the enemy
could be permitted on the flanks of the line of retreat; but a
compliance with this demand would deprive an army of every means of
taking a step in a hostile country; and there is not a campaign in
recent wars, or in those of Marlborough and Eugene, which does not
contradict this assertion. Was not General Moreau at the gates of Vienna
when Fussen, Scharnitz, and all the Tyrol were in possession of the
Austrians? Was not Napoleon at Piacenza when Turin, Genoa, and the
Col-di-Tenda were occupied by the army of Mélas? Did not Eugene march by
way of Stradella and Asti to the aid of Turin, leaving the French upon
the Mincio but a few leagues from his base?


Some of my critics have disputed as to the meaning of words and upon
definitions; others have censured where they but imperfectly understood;
and others have, by the light of certain important events, taken it upon
themselves to deny my fundamental principles, without inquiring whether
the conditions of the case which might modify the application of these
principles were such as were supposed, or without reflecting that, even
admitting what they claimed to be true, a single exception cannot
disprove a rule based upon the experience of ages and upon natural

In opposition to my maxims upon interior lines, some have quoted the
famous and successful march of the allies upon Leipsic. This remarkable
event, at first glance, seems to stagger the faith of those who believe
in principles. At best, however, it is but one of those exceptional
cases from which nothing can be inferred in the face of thousands of
opposed instances. Moreover, it is easy to show that, far from
overthrowing the maxims it has been brought to oppose, it will go to
establish their soundness. Indeed, the critics had forgotten that in
case of a considerable numerical superiority I recommended double lines
of operations as most advantageous, particularly when concentric and
arranged to combine an effort against the enemy at the decisive moment.
Now, in the allied armies of Schwarzenberg, Blücher, Bernadotte, and
Benningsen, this case of decided superiority is found. The inferior
army, to conform to the principles of this chapter, should have directed
its efforts against one of the extremities of his adversary, and not
upon the center as it did: so that the events quoted against me are
doubly in my favor.

Moreover, if the central position of Napoleon between Dresden and the
Oder was disastrous, it must be attributed to the misfortunes of Culm,
Katzbach, and Dennewitz,--in a word, to faults of execution, entirely
foreign to the principles in question.

What I propose is, to act offensively upon the most important point with
the greater part of the forces, but upon the secondary points to remain
on the defensive, in strong positions or behind a river, until the
decisive blow is struck, and the operation ended by the total defeat of
an essential part of the army. Then the combined efforts of the whole
army may be directed upon other points. Whenever the secondary armies
are exposed to a decisive shock during the absence of the mass of the
army, the system is not understood; and this was what happened in 1813.

If Napoleon, after his victory at Dresden, had vigorously pursued the
allies into Bohemia, he would have escaped the disaster at Culm, have
threatened Prague, and perhaps have dissolved the Coalition. To this
error may be added a fault quite as great,--that of fighting decisive
battles when he was not present with the mass of his forces. At Katzbach
his instructions were not obeyed. He ordered Macdonald to wait for
Blücher, and to fall upon him when he should expose himself by hold
movements. Macdonald, on the contrary, crossed his detachments over
torrents which were hourly becoming more swollen, and advanced to meet
Blücher. If he had fulfilled his instructions and Napoleon had followed
up his victory, there is no doubt that his plan of operations, based
upon interior strategic lines and positions and upon a concentric line
of operations, would have met with the most brilliant success. The study
of his campaigns in Italy in 1796 and in France in 1814 shows that he
knew how to apply this system.

There is another circumstance, of equal importance, which shows the
injustice of judging central lines by the fate of Napoleon in
Saxony,--viz.: _that his front of operations was outflanked on the
right, and even taken in reverse, by the geographical position of the
frontiers of Bohemia_. Such a case is of rare occurrence. A central
position with such faults is not to be compared to one without them.
When Napoleon made the application of these principles in Italy, Poland,
Prussia, and France, he was not exposed to the attack of a hostile
enemy on his flanks and rear. Austria could have threatened him in 1807;
but she was then at peace with him and unarmed. To judge of a system of
operations, it must be supposed that accidents and chances are to be as
much in favor of as against it,--which was by no means the case in 1813,
either in the geographic positions or in the state of the respective
forces. Independently of this, it is absurd to quote the reverses at
Katzbach and Dennewitz, suffered by his lieutenants, as proof capable of
destroying a principle the simplest application of which required these
officers not to allow themselves to be drawn into a serious engagement.
Instead of avoiding they sought collisions. Indeed, what advantage can
be expected from the system of central lines, if the parts of the army
which have been weakened in order to strike decisive blows elsewhere,
shall themselves seek a disastrous contest, instead of being contented
with being bodies of observation?[18] In this case it is the enemy who
applies the principle, and not he who has the interior lines. Moreover,
in the succeeding campaign, the defense of Napoleon in Champagne, from
the battle of Brienne to that of Paris, demonstrates fully the truth of
these maxims.

The analysis of these two celebrated campaigns raises a strategic
question which it would be difficult to answer by simple assertions
founded upon theories. It is, whether the system of central lines loses
its advantages when the masses are very large. Agreeing with
Montesquieu, that the greatest enterprises fail from the magnitude of
the arrangements necessary to consummate them, I am disposed to answer
in the affirmative. It is very clear to me that an army of one hundred
thousand men, occupying a central zone against three isolated armies of
thirty or thirty-five thousand men, would be more sure of defeating them
successively than if the central mass were four hundred thousand strong
against three armies of one hundred and thirty-five thousand each; and
for several good reasons:--

1. Considering the difficulty of finding ground and time necessary to
bring a very large force into action on the day of battle, an army of
one hundred and thirty or one hundred and forty thousand men may easily
resist a much larger force.

2. If driven from the field, there will be at least one hundred thousand
men to protect and insure an orderly retreat and effect a junction with
one of the other armies.

3. The central army of four hundred thousand men requires such a
quantity of provisions, munitions, horses, and _matériel_ of every kind,
that it will possess less mobility and facility in shifting its efforts
from one part of the zone to another; to say nothing of the
impossibility of obtaining provisions from a region too restricted to
support such numbers.

4. The bodies of observation detached from the central mass to hold in
check two armies of one hundred and thirty-five thousand each must be
very strong, (from eighty to ninety thousand each;) and, being of such
magnitude, if they are drawn into a serious engagement they will
probably suffer reverses, the effects of which might outweigh the
advantages gained by the principal army.

I have never advocated exclusively either a concentric or eccentric
system. All my works go to show the eternal influence of principles, and
to demonstrate that operations to be successful must be applications of

Divergent or convergent operations may be either very good or very bad:
all depends on the situation of the respective forces. The eccentric
lines, for instance, are good when applied to a mass starting from a
given point, and acting in divergent directions to divide and separately
destroy two hostile forces acting upon exterior lines. Such was the
maneuver of Frederick which brought about, at the end of the campaign of
1767, the fine battles of Rossbach and Leuthen. Such were nearly all the
operations of Napoleon, whose favorite maneuver was to unite, by
closely-calculated marches, imposing masses on the center, and, having
pierced the enemy's center or turned his front, to give them eccentric
directions to disperse the defeated army.[19]

On the other hand, concentric operations are good in two cases: 1. When
they tend to concentrate a scattered army upon a point where it will be
sure to arrive before the enemy; 2. When they direct to the same end the
efforts of two armies which are in no danger of being beaten separately
by a stronger enemy.

Concentric operations, which just now seem to be so advantageous, may be
most pernicious,--which should teach us the necessity of detecting the
principles upon which systems are based, and not to confound principles
and systems; as, for instance, if two armies set out from a distant base
to march convergently upon an enemy whose forces are on interior lines
and more concentrated, it follows that the latter could effect a union
before the former, and would inevitably defeat them; as was the case
with Moreau and Jourdan in 1796, opposed to the Archduke Charles.

In starting from the same points, or from two points much less separated
than Dusseldorf and Strasbourg, an army may be exposed to this danger.
What was the fate of the concentric columns of Wurmser and
Quasdanovitch, wishing to reach the Mincio by the two banks of Lake
Garda? Can the result of the march of Napoleon and Grouchy on Brussels
be forgotten? Leaving Sombref, they were to march concentrically on this
city,--one by Quatre-Bras, the other by Wavre. Blücher and Wellington,
taking an interior strategic line, effected a junction before them, and
the terrible disaster of Waterloo proved to the world that the immutable
principles of war cannot be violated with impunity.

Such events prove better than any arguments that a system which is not
in accordance with the principles of war cannot be good. I lay no claim
to the creation of these principles, for they have always existed, and
were applied by Cæsar, Scipio, and the Consul Nero, as well as by
Marlborough and Eugene; but I claim to have been the first to point them
out, and to lay down the principal chances in their various


[Footnote 11: This definition has been criticized; and, as it has given
rise to misapprehension, it becomes necessary to explain it.

In the first place, it must be borne in mind that it is a question of
_maneuver-lines_, (that is, of strategic combinations,) and not of great
routes. It must also be admitted that an army marching upon two or three
routes, near enough to each other to admit of the concentration of the
different masses within forty-eight hours, would not have two or three
lines of operations. When Moreau and Jourdan entered Germany with two
armies of 70,000 men each, being independent of each other, there was a
double line of operations; but a French army of which only a detachment
starts from the Lower Rhine to march on the Main, while the five or six
other corps set out from the Upper Rhine to march on Ulm, would not have
a double line of operations in the sense in which I use the term to
designate a maneuver. Napoleon, when he concentrated seven corps and set
them in motion by Bamberg to march on Gera, while Mortier with a single
corps marched on Cassel to occupy Hesse and flank the principal
enterprise, had but a single general line of operations, with an
accessory detachment. The territorial line was composed of two arms or
radii, but the operation was not double.]

[Footnote 12: Some German writers have said that I confound central
positions with the line of operations,--in which assertion they are
mistaken. An army may occupy a central position in the presence of two
masses of the enemy, and not have interior lines of operations: these
are two very different things. Others have thought that I would have
done better to use the term _radii of operations_ to express the idea of
double lines. The reasoning in this case is plausible if we conceive the
theater of operations to be a circle; but, as every radius is, after
all, a line, it is simply a dispute about words.]

[Footnote 13: This assertion has been disputed. I think it is correct;
for Mélas, confined between the Bormida, the Tanaro, and the Po, was
unable to recruit for his army, barely able to maintain a communication
by couriers with his base, and he certainly would have been obliged to
cut his way out or to surrender in case he had not been reinforced.]

[Footnote 14: The capture of Paris by the allies decided the fate of
Napoleon; but he had no army, and was attacked by all Europe, and the
French people had, in addition, separated their cause from his. If he
had possessed fifty thousand more old soldiers, he would have shown that
the capital was at his head-quarters.]

[Footnote 15: The inferiority of an army does not depend exclusively
upon the number of soldiers: their military qualities, their _morale_,
and the ability of their commander are also very important elements.]

[Footnote 16: When the fractions of an army are separated from the main
body by only a few marches, and particularly when they are not intended
to act separately throughout the campaign, these are central strategic
positions, and not lines of operations.]

[Footnote 17: In the movements immediately preceding the battle of
Leipsic, Napoleon, strictly speaking, had but a single line of
operations, and his armies were simply in central strategic positions;
but the principle is the same, and hence the example is illustrative of
lines of operations.]

[Footnote 18: I am well aware that it is not always possible to avoid a
combat without running greater risks than would result from a check; but
Macdonald might have fought Blücher to advantage if he had better
understood Napoleon's instructions.]

[Footnote 19: It will not be thought strange that I sometimes approve of
concentric, and at other times divergent, maneuvers, when we reflect
that among the finest operations of Napoleon there are some in which he
employed these two systems alternately within twenty-four hours; for
example, in the movements about Ratisbon in 1809.]


Strategic Lines.

Mention has already been made of strategic lines of maneuvers, which
differ essentially from lines of operations; and it will be well to
define them, for many confound them. We will not consider those
strategic lines which have a great and permanent importance by reason of
their position and their relation to the features of the country, like
the lines of the Danube and the Meuse, the chains of the Alps and the
Balkan. Such lines can best be studied by a detailed and minute
examination of the topography of Europe; and an excellent model for this
kind of study is found in the Archduke Charles's description of Southern

The term _strategic_ is also applied to all communications which lead by
the most direct or advantageous route from one important point to
another, as well as from the strategic front of the army to all of its
objective points. It will be seen, then, that a theater of war is
crossed by a multitude of such lines, but that at any given time those
only which are concerned in the projected enterprise have any real
importance. This renders plain the distinction between the general line
of operations of a whole campaign, and these _strategic_ lines, which
are temporary and change with the operations of the army.

Besides territorial strategic lines, there are _strategic lines of

An army having Germany as its general field might adopt as its zone of
operations the space between the Alps and the Danube, or that between
the Danube and the Main, or that between the mountains of Franconia and
the sea. It would have upon its zone a single line of operations, or, at
most, a double concentric line, upon interior, or perhaps exterior,
directions,--while it would have successively perhaps twenty strategic
lines as its enterprises were developed: it would have at first one for
each wing which would join the general line of operations. If it
operated in the zone between the Danube and the Alps, it might adopt,
according to events, the strategic line leading from Ulm on Donauwerth
and Ratisbon, or that from Ulm to the Tyrol, or that which connects Ulm
with Nuremberg or Mayence.

It may, then, be assumed that the definitions applied to lines of
operations, as well as the maxims referring to them, are necessarily
applicable to strategic lines. These may be _concentric_, to inflict a
decisive blow, or _eccentric_, after victory. They are rarely _simple_,
since an army does not confine its march to a single road; but when they
are double or triple, or even quadruple, they should be _interior_ if
the forces be equal, or _exterior_ in the case of great numerical
superiority. The rigorous application of this rule may perhaps sometimes
be remitted in detaching a body on an exterior line, even when the
forces are equal, to attain an important result without running much
risk; but this is an affair of detachments, and does not refer to the
important masses.

Strategic lines cannot be interior when our efforts are directed against
one of the extremities of the enemy's front of operations.

The maxims above given in reference to lines of operations holding good
for strategic lines, it is not necessary to repeat them, or to apply
them to particular examples; but there is one, however, which deserves
mention,--viz.: that it is important generally, in the selection of
these temporary strategic lines, not to leave the line of operations
exposed to the assaults of the enemy. Even this may, however, be done,
to extricate the army from great danger, or to attain a great success;
but the operation must be of short duration, and care must have been
taken to prepare a plan of safe retreat, by a sudden change of the line
of operations, if necessary, as has already been referred to.

We will illustrate this by the campaign of Waterloo. The Prussian army
was based upon the Rhine, its line of operations extended from Cologne
and Coblentz on Luxembourg and Namur; Wellington's base was Antwerp,
and his line of operations the short road to Brussels. The sudden attack
by Napoleon on Flanders decided Blücher to receive battle parallel to
the English base, and not to his own, about which he seemed to have no
uneasiness. This was pardonable, because he could always have a good
chance of regaining Wesel or Nimeguen, and even might seek a refuge in
Antwerp in the last extremity; but if the army had not had its powerful
maritime allies it would have been destroyed. Beaten at Ligny, and
seeking refuge at Gembloux and then at Wavre, Blücher had but three
strategic lines to choose from: that which led directly to Maestricht,
that farther north on Venloo, or the one leading to the English army
near Mont St. Jean. He audaciously took the last, and triumphed by the
application of interior strategic lines,--which Napoleon here, perhaps
for the first time in his life, neglected. It will readily be seen that
the line followed from Gembloux by Wavre to Mont St. Jean was neither a
line of operations of the Prussian army nor a line of battle, but a
_strategic line of maneuver_, and was interior. It was bold, because he
exposed fully his own natural line of operations. The fact that he
sought a junction with the English made his movement accord with the
principles of war.

A less successful example was that of Ney at Dennewitz. Leaving
Wittenberg, and going in the direction of Berlin, he moved to the right
to gain the extreme left of the allies, but in so doing he left his
primitive line of retreat exposed to the attacks of an enemy superior in
force. His object was to gain communication with Napoleon, whose
intention was to join him by Herzberg or Luckau; but Ney should from the
beginning have taken all logistic and tactical means of accomplishing
this change of strategic line and of informing his army of it. He did
nothing of this kind,--either from forgetfulness, or on account of the
feeling of aversion he had to any thing like a retreat,--and the severe
losses at Dennewitz were the result.

Napoleon in 1796 gave one of the best illustrations of these different
combinations of strategic lines. His general line of operations extended
from the Apennines to Verona. When he had driven Wurmser upon Roveredo
and determined to pursue him into the Tyrol, he pushed on in the valley
of the Adige to Trent and the Lavis, where he learned that Wurmser had
moved by the Brenta on the Frioul, doubtless to take him in reverse.
There were but three courses open to him,--to remain in the narrow
valley of the Adige at great risk, to retreat by Verona to meet Wurmser,
or the last,--which was sublime, but rash,--to follow him into the
valley of the Brenta, which was encircled by rugged mountains whose two
passages might be held by the Austrians. Napoleon was not the man to
hesitate between three such alternatives. He left Vaubois on the Lavis
to cover Trent, and marched with the remainder of his forces on Bassano.
The brilliant results of this bold step are well known. The route from
Trent to Bassano was not the line of operations of the army, but a
_strategic line of maneuver_ still bolder than that of Blücher on Wavre.
However, it was an operation of only three or four days' duration, at
the end of which time Napoleon would either beat or be beaten at
Bassano: in the first case, he would open direct communication with
Verona and his line of operations; in the second, he could regain in
great haste Trent, where, reinforced by Vaubois, he could fall back
either upon Verona or Peschiera. The difficulties of the country, which
made this march audacious in one respect, were favorable in another; for
even if Wurmser had been victorious at Bassano he could not have
interfered with the return to Trent, as there was no road to enable him
to anticipate Napoleon. If Davidovitch on the Lavis had driven Vaubois
from Trent, he might have embarrassed Napoleon; but this Austrian
general, previously beaten at Roveredo, and ignorant of what the French
army was doing for several days, and thinking it was all upon him, would
scarcely have thought of resuming the offensive before Napoleon beaten
at Bassano would have been on his retreat. Indeed, if Davidovitch had
advanced as far as Roveredo, driving Vaubois before him, he would there
have been surrounded by two French armies, who would have inflicted upon
him the fate of Vandamme at Culm.

I have dwelt on this event to show that a proper calculation of time
and distances, joined to great activity, may lead to the success of many
adventures which may seem very imprudent. I conclude from this that it
may be well sometimes to direct an army upon a route which exposes its
line of operations, but that every measure must be taken to prevent the
enemy from profiting by it, both by great rapidity of execution and by
demonstrations which will deceive him and leave him in ignorance of what
is taking place. Still, it is a very hazardous maneuver, and only to be
adopted under an urgent necessity.


Means of protecting a Line of Operations by Temporary Bases or
Strategic Reserves.

When a general enters a country offensively, he should form eventual or
temporary bases,--which, of course, are neither so safe nor so strong as
his own frontiers. A river with _têtes de ponts_, and one or two large
towns secure from a _coup de main_ to cover the depots of the army and
to serve as points of assembling for the reserve troops, would be an
excellent base of this kind. Of course, such a line could not be a
temporary base if a hostile force were near the line of operations
leading to the real base on the frontiers. Napoleon would have had a
good real base on the Elbe in 1813 if Austria had remained neutral; but,
she having joined his enemies, this line was taken in reverse, and
became but a pivot of operations, favorable indeed for the execution of
a single enterprise, but dangerous for a prolonged occupation,
particularly in case of a serious reverse. As every army which is beaten
in an enemy's country is exposed to the danger of being cut off from its
own frontiers if it continues to occupy the country, these distant
temporary bases are rather temporary points of support than real bases,
and are in a measure eventual lines of defense. In general, we cannot
expect to find in an enemy's country safe positions suitable even for a
temporary base; and the deficiency must be supplied by a strategic
reserve,--which is purely a modern invention. Its merits and demerits
deserve notice.


Reserves play an important part in modern warfare. From the executive,
who prepares national reserves, down to the chief of a platoon of
skirmishers, every commander now desires a reserve. A wise government
always provides good reserves for its armies, and the general uses them
when they come under his command. The state has its reserves, the army
has its own, and every corps d'armée or division should not fail to
provide one.

The reserves of an army are of two kinds,--those on the battle-field,
and those which are intended to recruit and support the army: the
latter, while organizing, may occupy important points of the theater of
war, and serve even as strategic reserves; their positions will depend
not only on their magnitude, but also on the nature of the frontiers and
the distance from the base to the front of operations. Whenever an army
takes the offensive, it should always contemplate the possibility of
being compelled to act on the defensive, and by the posting of a reserve
between the base and front of operations the advantage of an active
reserve on the field of battle is gained: it can fly to the support of
menaced points without weakening the active army. It is true that to
form a reserve a number of regiments must be withdrawn from active
service; but there are always reinforcements to arrive, recruits to be
instructed, and convalescents to be used; and by organizing central
depots for preparation of munitions and equipments, and by making them
the rendezvous of all detachments going to and coming from the army, and
adding to them a few good regiments to give tone, a reserve may be
formed capable of important service.

Napoleon never failed to organize these reserves in his campaigns. Even
in 1797, in his bold march on the Noric Alps, he had first Joubert on
the Adige, afterward Victor (returning from the Roman States) in the
neighborhood of Verona. In 1805 Ney and Augereau played the part
alternately in the Tyrol and Bavaria, and Mortier and Marmont near

In 1806 Napoleon formed like reserves on the Rhine, and Mortier used
them to reduce Hesse. At the same time, other reserves were forming at
Mayence under Kellermann, which took post, as fast as organized, between
the Rhine and Elbe, while Mortier was sent into Pomerania. When Napoleon
decided to push on to the Vistula in the same year, he directed, with
much ostentation, the concentration of an army on the Elbe sixty
thousand strong, its object being to protect Hamburg against the English
and to influence Austria, whose disposition was as manifest as her

The Prussians established a similar reserve in 1806 at Halle, but it was
badly posted: if it had been established upon the Elbe at Wittenberg or
Dessau, and had done its duty, it might have saved the army by giving
Prince Hohenlohe and Blücher time to reach Berlin, or at least Stettin.

These reserves are particularly useful when the configuration of the
country leads to double fronts of operations: they then fulfill the
double object of observing the second front, and, in case of necessity,
of aiding the operations of the main army when the enemy threatens its
flanks or a reverse compels it to fall back toward this reserve.

Of course, care must be taken not to create dangerous detachments, and
whenever these reserves can be dispensed with, it should be done, or the
troops in the depots only be employed as reserves. It is only in distant
invasions and sometimes on our own soil that they are useful: if the
scene of hostilities be but five or six marches distant from the
frontier, they are quite superfluous. At home they may generally be
dispensed with: it is only in the case of a serious invasion, when new
levies are organizing, that such a reserve, in an intrenched camp, under
the protection of a fortress which serves as a great depot, will be

The general's talents will be exercised in judging of the use of these
reserves according to the state of the country, the length of the line
of operations, the nature of the fortified points, and the proximity of
a hostile state. He also decides upon their position, and endeavors to
use for this purpose troops which will not weaken his main army so much
as the withdrawal of his good troops.

These reserves ought to hold the most important points between the base
and front of operations, occupy the fortified places if any have been
reduced, observe or invest those which are held by the enemy; and if
there be no fortress as a point of support, they should throw up
intrenched camps or _têtes de ponts_ to protect the depots and to
increase the strength of their positions.

All that has been said upon pivots of operations is applicable to
temporary bases and to strategic reserves, which will be doubly valuable
if they possess such well-located pivots.


The Old System of Wars of Position and the Modern System of Marches.

_By the system of positions_ is understood the old manner of
conducting a methodical war, with armies in tents, with their supplies
at hand, engaged in watching each other; one besieging a city, the other
covering it; one, perhaps, endeavoring to acquire a small province, the
other counteracting its efforts by occupying strong points. Such was war
from the Middle Ages to the era of the French Revolution. During this
revolution great changes transpired, and many systems of more or less
value sprang up. War was commenced in 1792 as it had been in 1762: the
French encamped near their strong places, and the allies besieged them.
It was not till 1793, when assailed from without and within, that this
system was changed. Thoroughly aroused, France threw one million men in
fourteen armies upon her enemies. These armies had neither tents,
provisions, nor money. On their marches they bivouacked or were
quartered in towns; their mobility was increased and became a means of
success. Their tactics changed also: the troops were put in columns,
which were more easily handled than deployed lines, and, on account of
the broken character of the country of Flanders and the Vosges, they
threw out a part of their force as skirmishers to protect and cover the
columns. This system, which was thus the result of circumstances, at
first met with a success beyond all expectation: it disconcerted the
methodical Austrian and Prussian troops as well as their generals. Mack,
to whom was attributed the success of the Prince of Coburg, increased
his reputation by directing the troops to extend their lines to oppose
an open order to the fire of skirmishers. It had never occurred to the
poor man that while the skirmishers made the noise the columns carried
the positions.

The first generals of the Republic were fighting-men, and nothing more.
The principal direction of affairs was in the hands of Carnot and of the
Committee of Public Safety: it was sometimes judicious, but often bad.
Carnot was the author of one of the finest strategic movements of the
war. In 1793 he sent a reserve of fine troops successively to the aid of
Dunkirk, Maubeuge, and Landau, so that this small force, moving rapidly
from point to point, and aided by the troops already collected at these
different points, compelled the enemy to evacuate France.

The campaign of 1794 opened badly. It was the force of circumstances,
and not a premeditated plan, which brought about the strategic movement
of the army of the Moselle on the Sambre; and it was this which led to
the success of Fleurus and the conquest of Belgium.

In 1795 the mistakes of the French were so great that they were imputed
to treachery. The Austrians, on the contrary, were better commanded by
Clairfayt, Chateler, and Schmidt than they had been by Mack and the
Prince of Coburg. The Archduke Charles, applying the principle of
interior lines, triumphed over Moreau and Jourdan in 1796 by a single

Up to this time the fronts of the French armies had been large,--either
to procure subsistence more easily, or because the generals thought it
better to put all the divisions in line, leaving it to their commanders
to arrange them for battle. The reserves were small detachments,
incapable of redeeming the day even if the enemy succeeded in
overwhelming but a single division. Such was the state of affairs when
Napoleon made his _début_ in Italy. His activity from the beginning
worsted the Austrians and Piedmontese: free from useless incumbrances,
his troops surpassed in mobility all modern armies. He conquered the
Italian peninsula by a series of marches and strategic combats. His
march on Vienna in 1797 was rash, but justified by the necessity of
overcoming the Archduke Charles before he could receive reinforcements
from the Rhine.

The campaign of 1800, still more characteristic of the man, marked a new
era in the conception of plans of campaign and lines of operations. He
adopted bold objective points, which looked to nothing less than the
capture or destruction of whole armies. The orders of battle were less
extended, and the more rational organization of armies in large bodies
of two or three divisions was adopted. The system of modern strategy was
here fully developed, and the campaigns of 1805 and 1806 were merely
corollaries to the great problem solved in 1800. Tactically, the system
of columns and skirmishers was too well adapted to the features of Italy
not to meet with his approval.

It may now be a question whether the system of Napoleon is adapted to
all capacities, epochs, and armies, or whether, on the contrary, there
can be any return, in the light of the events of 1800 and 1809, to the
old system of wars of position. After a comparison of the marches and
camps of the Seven Years' War with those of the _seven weeks'_ war,--as
Napoleon called the campaign of 1806,--or with those of the three months
which elapsed from the departure of the army from Boulogne in 1805 till
its arrival in the plains of Moravia, the reader may easily decide as to
the relative merits of the two systems.

The system of Napoleon was _to march twenty-five miles a day, to fight,
and then to camp in quiet_. He told me that he knew no other method of
conducting a war than this.

It may be said that the adventurous character of this great man, his
personal situation, and the tone of the French mind, all concurred in
urging him to undertakings which no other person, whether born upon a
throne, or a general under the orders of his government, would ever dare
to adopt. This is probably true; but between the extremes of very
distant invasions, and wars of position, there is a proper mean, and,
without imitating his impetuous audacity, we may pursue the line he has
marked out. It is probable that the old system of wars of positions will
for a long time be proscribed, or that, if adopted, it will be much
modified and improved.

If the art of war is enlarged by the adoption of the system of marches,
humanity, on the contrary, loses by it; for these rapid incursions and
bivouacs of considerable masses, feeding upon the regions they overrun,
are not materially different from the devastations of the barbarian
hordes between the fourth and thirteenth centuries. Still, it is not
likely that the system will be speedily renounced; for a great truth has
been demonstrated by Napoleon's wars,--viz.: that remoteness is not a
certain safeguard against invasion,--that a state to be secure must have
a good system of fortresses and lines of defense, of reserves and
military institutions, and, finally, a good system of government. Then
the people may everywhere be organized as militia, and may serve as
reserves to the active armies, which will render the latter more
formidable; and the greater the strength of the armies the more
necessary is the system of rapid operations and prompt results.

If, in time, social order assumes a calmer state,--if nations, instead
of fighting for their existence, fight only for their interests, to
acquire a natural frontier or to maintain the political
equilibrium,--then a new right of nations may be agreed upon, and
perhaps it will be possible to have armies on a less extensive scale.
Then also we may see armies of from eighty to one hundred thousand men
return to a mixed system of war,--a mean between the rapid incursions of
Napoleon and the slow system of positions of the last century. Until
then we must expect to retain this system of marches, which has produced
so great results; for the first to renounce it in the presence of an
active and capable enemy would probably be a victim to his indiscretion.

The science of marches now includes more than details, like the
following, viz.: the order of the different arms in column, the time of
departure and arrival, the precautions to be observed in the march, and
the means of communication between the columns, all of which is a part
of the duties of the staff of an army. Outside and beyond these very
important details, there is a science of marches in the great operations
of strategy. For instance, the march of Napoleon by the Saint-Bernard
to fall upon the communications of Mélas, those made in 1805 by
Donauwerth to cut off Mack, and in 1806 by Gera to turn the Prussians,
the march of Suwaroff from Turin to the Trebbia to meet Macdonald, that
of the Russian army on Taroutin, then upon Krasnoi, were decisive
operations, not because of their relation to Logistics, but on account
of their strategic relations.

Indeed, these skillful marches are but applications of the great
principle of throwing the mass of the forces upon the decisive point;
and this point is to be determined from the considerations given in
Article XIX. What was the passage of the Saint-Bernard but a line of
operations directed against an extremity of the strategic front of the
enemy, and thence upon his line of retreat? The marches of Ulm and Jena
were the same maneuvers; and what was Blücher's march at Waterloo but an
application of interior strategic lines?

From this it may be concluded that all strategic movements which tend to
throw the mass of the army successively upon the different points of the
front of operations of the enemy, will be skillful, as they apply the
principle of overwhelming a smaller force by a superior one. The
operations of the French in 1793 from Dunkirk to Landau, and those of
Napoleon in 1796, 1809, and 1814, are models of this kind.

One of the most essential points in the science of modern marches, is to
so combine the movements of the columns as to cover the greatest
strategic front, when beyond the reach of the enemy, for the triple
object of deceiving him as to the objective in view, of moving with ease
and rapidity, and of procuring supplies with more facility. However, it
is necessary in this case to have previously arranged the means of
concentration of the columns in order to inflict a decisive blow.

This alternate application of extended and concentric movements is the
true test of a great general.

There is another kind of marches, designated as _flank marches_, which
deserves notice. They have always been held up as very dangerous; but
nothing satisfactory has ever been written about them. If by the term
_flank marches_ are understood tactical maneuvers made upon the field of
battle in view of the enemy, it is certain that they are very delicate
operations, though sometimes successful; but if reference is made to
ordinary strategic marches, I see nothing particularly dangerous in
them, unless the most common precautions of Logistics be neglected. In a
strategic movement, the two hostile armies ought to be separated by
about two marches, (counting the distance which separates the advanced
guards from the enemy and from their own columns.) In such a case there
could be no danger in a strategic march from one point to another.

There are, however, two cases where such a march would be altogether
inadmissible: the first is where the system of the line of operations,
of the strategic lines, and of the front of operations is so chosen as
to present the flank to the enemy during a whole operation. This was the
famous project of marching upon Leipsic, leaving Napoleon and Dresden on
the flank, which would, if carried out, have proved fatal to the allies.
It was modified by the Emperor Alexander upon the solicitations of the

The second case is where the line of operations is very long, (as was
the case with Napoleon at Borodino,) and particularly if this line
affords but a single suitable route for retreat: then every flank
movement exposing this line would be a great fault.

In countries abounding in secondary communications, flank movements are
still less dangerous, since, if repulsed, safety may be found in a
change of the line of operations. The physical and moral condition of
the troops and the more or less energetic characters of the commanders
will, of course, be elements in the determination of such movements.

The often-quoted marches of Jena and Ulm were actual flank maneuvers; so
was that upon Milan after the passage of the Chiusella, and that of
Marshal Paskevitch to cross the Vistula at Ossiek; and their successful
issue is well known.

A tactical maneuver by the flank in the presence of the enemy is quite a
different affair. Ney suffered for a movement of this kind at Dennewitz,
and so did Marmont at Salamanca and Frederick at Kolin.

Nevertheless, the celebrated maneuver of Frederick at Leuthen was a
true flank movement, but it was covered by a mass of cavalry concealed
by the heights, and applied against an army which lay motionless in its
camp; and it was so successful because at the time of the decisive shock
Daun was taken in flank, and not Frederick.

In the old system of marching in column at platoon distance, where line
of battle could be formed to the right or left without deployment, (by a
right or left into line,) movements parallel to the enemy's line were
not _flank marches_, because the flank of the column was the real front
of the line of battle.

The famous march of Eugene within view of the French army, to turn the
lines of Turin, was still more extraordinary than that of Leuthen, and
no less successful.

In these different battles, the maneuvers were tactical and not
strategic. The march of Eugene from Mantua to Turin was one of the
greatest strategic operations of the age; but the case above referred to
was a movement made to turn the French camp the evening before the


Depots of Supplies, and their Relation to Marches.

The subject most nearly connected with the system of marches is the
commissariat, for to march quickly and for a long distance food must be
supplied; and the problem of supporting a numerous army in an enemy's
country is a very difficult one. It is proposed to discuss the relation
between the commissariat and strategy.

It will always be difficult to imagine how Darius and Xerxes subsisted
their immense armies in Thrace, where now it would be a hard task to
supply thirty thousand men. During the Middle Ages, the Greeks,
barbarians, and more lately the Crusaders, maintained considerable
bodies of men in that country. Cæsar said that war should support war,
and he is generally believed to have lived at the expense of the
countries he overran.

The Middle Ages were remarkable for the great migrations of all kinds,
and it would be interesting to know the numbers of the Huns, Vandals,
Goths, and Mongols who successively traversed Europe, and how they lived
during their marches. The commissariat arrangements of the Crusaders
would also be an interesting subject of research.

In the early periods of modern history, it is probable that the armies
of Francis I., in crossing the Alps into Italy, did not carry with them
large stores of provisions; for armies of their magnitude, of forty or
fifty thousand men, could easily find provisions in the rich valleys of
the Ticino and Po.

Under Louis XIV. and Frederick II. the armies were larger; they fought
on their own frontiers, and lived from their storehouses, which were
established as they moved. This interfered greatly with operations,
restricting the troops within a distance from the depots dependent upon
the means of transportation, the rations they could carry, and the
number of days necessary for wagons to go to the depots and return to

During the Revolution, depots of supply were abandoned from necessity.
The large armies which invaded Belgium and Germany lived sometimes in
the houses of the people, sometimes by requisitions laid upon the
country, and often by plunder and pillage. To subsist an army on the
granaries of Belgium, Italy, Swabia, and the rich banks of the Rhine and
Danube, is easy,--particularly if it marches in a number of columns and
does not exceed one hundred or one hundred and twenty thousand men; but
this would be very difficult in some other countries, and quite
impossible in Russia, Sweden, Poland, and Turkey. It may readily be
conceived how great may be the rapidity and impetuosity of an army where
every thing depends only on the strength of the soldiers' legs. This
system gave Napoleon great advantages; but he abused it by applying it
on too large a scale and to countries where it was impracticable.

A general should be capable of making all the resources of the invaded
country contribute to the success of his enterprises: he should use the
local authorities, if they remain, to regulate the assessments so as to
make them uniform and legal, while he himself should see to their
fulfillment. If the authorities do not remain, he should create
provisional ones of the leading men, and endow them with extraordinary
powers. The provisions thus acquired should be collected at the points
most convenient for the operations of the army. In order to husband
them, the troops may be quartered in the towns and villages, taking care
to reimburse the inhabitants for the extra charge thus laid upon them.
The inhabitants should also be required to furnish wagons to convey the
supplies to the points occupied by the troops.

It is impossible to designate precisely what it will be prudent to
undertake without having previously established these depots, as much
depends upon the season, country, strength of the armies, and spirit of
the people; but the following may be considered as general maxims:--

1. That in fertile and populous regions not hostile, an army of one
hundred to one hundred and twenty thousand men, when so far distant from
the enemy as to be able safely to recover a considerable extent of
country, may draw its resources from it, during the time occupied by any
single operation.

As the first operation never requires more than a month, during which
time the great body of the troops will be in motion, it will be
sufficient to provide, by depots of provisions, for the eventual wants
of the army, and particularly for those of the troops obliged to remain
at a particular point. Thus, the army of Napoleon, while half of it was
besieging Ulm, would need bread until the surrender of the city; and if
there had been a scarcity the operation might have failed.

2. During this time every effort should be made to collect the supplies
obtained in the country, and to form depots, in order to subserve the
wants of the army after the success of the operation, whether it take a
position to recruit or whether it undertake a new enterprise.

3. The depots formed either by purchase or forced requisitions should be
echeloned as much as possible upon three different lines of
communication, in order to supply with more facility the wings of the
army, and to extend as much as possible the area from which successive
supplies are to be drawn, and, lastly, in order that the depots should
be as well covered as possible. To this end, it would be well to have
the depots on lines converging toward the principal line of operations,
which will be generally found in the center. This arrangement has two
real advantages: first, the depots are less exposed to the attempts of
the enemy, as his distance from them is thereby increased; secondly, it
facilitates the movements of the army in concentrating upon a single
point of the line of operations to the rear, with a view of retaking the
initiative from the enemy, who may have temporarily assumed the
offensive and gained some advantage.

4. In thinly-settled and unproductive regions the army will lack its
most necessary supplies: it will be prudent, in this case, not to
advance too far from its depots, and to carry with it sufficient
provisions to enable it, if compelled to do so, to fall back upon its
lines of depots.

5. In national wars where the inhabitants fly and destroy every thing in
their path, as was the case in Spain, Portugal, Russia, and Turkey, it
is impossible to advance unless attended by trains of provisions and
without having a sure base of supply near the front of operations. Under
these circumstances a war of invasion becomes very difficult, if not

6. It is not only necessary to collect large quantities of supplies, but
it is indispensable to have the means of conveying them with or after
the army; and this is the greatest difficulty, particularly on rapid
expeditions. To facilitate their transportation, the rations should
consist of the most portable articles,--as biscuit, rice, &c.: the
wagons should be both light and strong, so as to pass over all kinds of
roads. It will be necessary to collect all the vehicles of the country,
and to insure good treatment to their owners or drivers; and these
vehicles should be arranged in parks at different points, so as not to
take the drivers too far from their homes and in order to husband the
successive resources. Lastly, the soldier must he habituated to carry
with him several days' rations of bread, rice, or even of flour.

7. The vicinity of the sea is invaluable for the transportation of
supplies; and the party which is master on this element can supply
himself at will. This advantage, however, is not absolute in the case of
a large continental army; for, in the desire to maintain communications
with its depots, it may be drawn into operations on the coast, thus
exposing itself to the greatest risks if the enemy maneuver with the
mass of his forces upon the extremity opposite the sea. If the army
advance too far from the coast, there will be danger of its
communications being intercepted; and this danger increases with the
progress of the army.

8. A continental army using the sea for transportation should base
itself on the land, and have a reserve of provisions independent of its
ships, and a line of retreat prepared on the extremity of its strategic
front opposed to the sea.

9. Navigable streams and canals, when parallel to the line of operations
of the army, render the transportation of supplies much easier, and also
free the roads from the incumbrances of the numerous vehicles otherwise
necessary. For this reason, lines of operations thus situated are the
most favorable. The water-communications themselves are not in this case
the lines of operations, as has been asserted: on the contrary, it is
essential that the troops should be able to move at some distance from
the river, in order to prevent the enemy from throwing back the exterior
flank upon the river,--which might be as dangerous as if it were the

In the enemy's country the rivers can scarcely ever be used for
transportation, since the boats will probably be destroyed, and since a
small body of men may easily embarrass the navigation. To render it
sure, it is necessary to occupy both banks,--which is hazardous, as
Mortier experienced at Dirnstein. In a friendly country the advantages
of rivers are more substantial.

10. In default of bread or biscuit, the pressing wants of an army may be
fed by cattle on the hoof; and these can generally be found, in populous
countries, in numbers to last for some little time. This source of
supply will, however, be soon exhausted; and, in addition, this plan
leads to plunder. The requisitions for cattle should be well regulated;
and the best plan of all is to supply the army with cattle purchased

I will end this article by recording a remark of Napoleon which may
appear whimsical, but which is still not without reason. He said that in
his first campaigns the enemy was so well provided that when his troops
were in want of supplies he had only to fall upon the rear of the enemy
to procure every thing in abundance. This is a remark upon which it
would be absurd to found a system, but which perhaps explains the
success of many a rash enterprise, and proves how much actual war
differs from narrow theory.


The Defense of Frontiers by Forts and Intrenched Lines.--Wars of

Forts serve two principal purposes: first, to cover the frontiers;
secondly, to aid the operations of the campaign.

The defense of frontiers is a problem generally somewhat indeterminate.
It is not so for those countries whose borders are covered with great
natural obstacles, and which present but few accessible points, and
these admitting of defense by the art of the engineer. The problem here
is simple; but in open countries it is more difficult. The Alps and the
Pyrenees, and the lesser ranges of the Crapacks, of Riesengebirge, of
Erzgebirge, of the Böhmerwald, of the Black Forest, of the Vosges, and
of the Jura, are not so formidable that they cannot be made more so by a
good system of fortresses.

Of all these frontiers, that separating France and Piedmont was best
covered. The valleys of the Stura and Suza, the passes of Argentine, of
Mont-Genèvre, and of Mont-Cenis,--the only ones considered
practicable,--were covered by masonry forts; and, in addition, works of
considerable magnitude guarded the issues of the valleys in the plains
of Piedmont. It was certainly no easy matter to surmount these

These excellent artificial defenses will not always prevent the passage
of an army, because the small works which are found in the gorges may be
carried, or the enemy, if he be bold, may find a passage over some other
route hitherto deemed impracticable. The passage of the Alps by Francis
I.,--which is so well described by Gaillard,--Napoleon's passage of the
Saint-Bernard, and the Splugen expedition, prove that there is truth in
the remark of Napoleon, _that an army can pass wherever a titan can set
his foot_,--a maxim not strictly true, but characteristic of the man,
and applied by him with great success.

Other countries are covered by large rivers, either as a first line or
as a second. It is, however, remarkable that such lines, apparently so
well calculated to separate nations without interfering with trade and
communication, are generally not part of the real frontier. It cannot be
said that the Danube divides Bessarabia from the Ottoman empire as long
as the Turks have a foothold in Moldavia. The Rhine was never the real
frontier of France and Germany; for the French for long periods held
points upon the right bank, while the Germans were in possession of
Mayence, Luxembourg, and the _têtes de ponts_ of Manheim and Wesel on
the left bank.

If, however, the Danube, the Rhine, Rhone, Elbe, Oder, Vistula, Po, and
Adige be not exterior lines of the frontier, there is no reason why they
should not be fortified as lines of permanent defense, wherever they
permit the use of a system suitable for covering a front of operations.

An example of this kind is the Inn, which separates Bavaria from
Austria: flanked on the south by the Tyrolese Alps, on the north by
Bohemia and the Danube, its narrow front is covered by the three
fortified places of Passau, Braunau, and Salzburg. Lloyd, with some
poetic license, compares this frontier to two impregnable bastions whose
curtain is formed of three fine forts and whose ditch is one of the most
rapid of rivers. He has exaggerated these advantages; for his epithet of
"impregnable" was decidedly disproved by the bloody events of 1800,
1805, and 1809.

The majority of the European states have frontiers by no means so
formidable as that of the Alps and the Inn, being generally open, or
consisting of mountains with practicable passes at a considerable number
of points. We propose to give a set of general maxims equally
applicable to all cases.

When the topography of a frontier is open, there should be no attempt to
make a complete line of defense by building too many fortresses,
requiring armies to garrison them, and which, after all, might not
prevent an enemy from penetrating the country. It is much wiser to build
fewer works, and to have them properly located, not with the expectation
of absolutely preventing the ingress of the enemy, but to multiply the
impediments to his progress, and, at the same time, to support the
movements of the army which is to repel him.

If it be rare that a fortified place of itself absolutely prevents the
progress of an army, it is, nevertheless, an embarrassment, and compels
the army to detach a part of its force or to make _détours_ in its
march; while, on the other hand, it imparts corresponding advantages to
the army which holds it, covers his depots, flanks, and movements, and,
finally, is a place of refuge in case of need.

Fortresses thus exercise a manifest influence over military operations;
and we now propose to examine their relations to strategy.

The first point to be considered is their location; the second lies in
the distinction between the cases where an army can afford to pass the
forts without a siege, and those where it will be necessary to besiege;
the third point is in reference to the relations of an army to a siege
which it proposes to cover.

As fortresses properly located favor military operations, in the same
degree those which are unfortunately placed are disadvantageous. They
are an incubus upon the army which is compelled to garrison them and the
state whose men and money are wasted upon them. There are many in Europe
in this category. It is bad policy to cover a frontier with fortresses
very close together. This system has been wrongly imputed to Vauban,
who, on the contrary, had a controversy with Louvois about the great
number of points the latter desired to fortify. The maxims on this point
are as follow:--

1. The fortified places should be in echelon, on three lines, and
should extend from the frontiers toward the capital.[20] There should be
three in the first line, as many in the second, and a large place in the
third, near the center of the state. If there be four fronts, this would
require, for a complete system, from twenty-four to thirty places.

It will be objected that this number is large, and that even Austria has
not so many. It must be recollected that France has more than forty upon
only a third of its frontiers, (from Besançon to Dunkirk,) and still has
not enough on the third line in the center of the country. A Board
convened for the purpose of considering the system of fortresses has
decided quite recently that more were required. This does not prove that
there were not already too many, but that certain points in addition
should be fortified, while those on the first line, although too much
crowded, may be maintained since they are already in existence.
Admitting that France has two fronts from Dunkirk to Basel, one from
Basel to Savoy, one from Savoy to Nice, in addition to the totally
distinct line of the Pyrenees and the coast-line, there are six fronts,
requiring forty to fifty places. Every military man will admit that this
is enough, since the Swiss and coast fronts require fewer than the
northeast. The system of arrangement of these fortresses is an important
element of their usefulness. Austria has a less number, because she is
bordered by the small German states, which, instead of being hostile,
place their own forts at her disposal. Moreover, the number above given
is what was considered necessary for a state having four fronts of
nearly equal development. Prussia, being long and narrow, and extending
from Königsberg almost to the gates of Metz, should not be fortified
upon the same system as France, Spain, or Austria. Thus the geographical
position and extent of states may either diminish or increase the number
of fortresses, particularly when maritime forts are to be included.

2. Fortresses should always occupy the important strategic points
already designated in Article XIX. As to their tactical qualities, their
sites should not be commanded, and egress from them should be easy, in
order to increase the difficulty of blockading them.

3. Those which possess the greatest advantages, either as to their own
defense or for seconding the operations of an army, are certainly those
situated on great rivers and commanding both banks. Mayence, Coblentz,
and Strasbourg, including Kehl, are true illustrations and models of
this kind. Places situated at the confluence of two great rivers command
three different fronts, and hence are of increased importance. Take, for
instance, Modlin. Mayence, when it had on the left bank of the Main the
fort of Gustavusburg, and Cassel on the right, was the most formidable
place in Europe, but it required a garrison of twenty-five thousand men:
so that works of this extent must be few in number.

4. Large forts, when encompassing populous and commercial cities, are
preferable to small ones,--particularly when the assistance of the
citizens can be relied on for their defense. Metz arrested the whole
power of Charles V, and Lille for a whole year delayed Eugene and
Marlborough. Strasbourg has many times proved the security of French
armies. During the last wars these places were passed without being
besieged by the invading forces, because all Europe was in arms against
France; but one hundred and fifty thousand Germans having in their front
one hundred thousand French could not penetrate to the Seine with
impunity, leaving behind them these well-fortified points.

5. Formerly the operations of war were directed against towns, camps,
and positions; recently they have been directed only against organized
armies, leaving out of consideration all natural or artificial
obstacles. The exclusive use of either of these systems is faulty: the
true course is a mean between these extremes. Doubtless, it will always
be of the first importance to destroy and disorganize all the armies of
the enemy in the field, and to attain this end it may be allowable to
pass the fortresses; but if the success be only partial it will be
unwise to push the invasion too far. Here, also, very much depends upon
the situation and respective strength of the armies and the spirit of
the nations.

If Austria were the sole antagonist of France, she could not follow in
the footsteps of the allies in 1814; neither is it probable that fifty
thousand French will very soon risk themselves beyond the Noric Alps, in
the very heart of Austria, as Napoleon did in 1797.[21] Such events only
occur under exceptional circumstances.

6. It may be concluded from what precedes,--1st, that, while fortified
places are essential supports, abuse in their application may, by
dividing an army, weaken it instead of adding to its efficiency; 2d,
that an army may, with the view of destroying the enemy, pass the line
of these forts,--always, however, leaving a force to observe them; 3d,
that an army cannot pass a large river, like the Danube or the Rhine,
without reducing at least one of the fortresses on the river, in order
to secure a good line of retreat. Once master of this place, the army
may advance on the offensive, leaving detachments to besiege other
places; and the chances of the reduction of those places increase as the
army advances, since the enemy's opportunities of hindering the siege
are correspondingly diminished.

7. While large places are much the most advantageous among a friendly
people, smaller works are not without importance, not to arrest an
enemy, who might mask them, but as they may materially aid the
operations of an army in the field. The fort of Königstein in 1813 was
as useful to the French as the fortress of Dresden, because it procured
a _tête de pont_ on the Elbe.

In a mountainous country, small, well-located forts are equal in value
to fortified places, because their province is to close the passes, and
not to afford refuge to armies: the little fort of Bard, in the valley
of Aosta, almost arrested Napoleon's army in 1800.

8. It follows that each frontier should have one or two large fortresses
as places of refuge, besides secondary forts and small posts to
facilitate military operations. Walled cities with a shallow ditch may
be very useful in the interior of a country, to contain depots,
hospitals, &c, when they are strong enough to resist the attacks of any
small bodies that may traverse the vicinity. They will be particularly
serviceable if they can be defended by the militia, so as not to weaken
the active army.

9. Large fortified places which are not in proper strategic positions
are a positive misfortune for both the army and state.

10. Those on the sea-coast are of importance only in a maritime war,
except for depots: they may even prove disastrous for a continental
army, by holding out to it a delusive promise of support. Benningsen
almost lost the Russian armies by basing them in 1807 on
Königsberg,--which he did because it was convenient for supply. If the
Russian army in 1812, instead of concentrating on Smolensk, had
supported itself on Dunaburg and Riga, it would have been in danger of
being forced into the sea and of being cut off from all its bases.

The relations between sieges and the operations of active armies are of
two kinds. An invading army may pass by fortified places without
attacking them, but it must leave a force to invest them, or at least to
watch them; and when there are a number of them adjacent to each other
it will be necessary to leave an entire corps d'armée, under a single
commander, to invest or watch them as circumstances may require. When
the invading army decides to attack a place, a sufficient force to carry
on the siege will be assigned to this duty; the remainder may either
continue its march or take a position to cover the siege.

Formerly the false system prevailed of encircling a city by a whole
army, which buried itself in lines of circumvallation and
contravallation. These lines cost as much in labor and expense as the
siege itself. The famous case of the lines of Turin, which were fifteen
miles in length, and, though guarded by seventy-eight thousand French,
were forced by Prince Eugene with forty thousand men in 1706, is enough
to condemn this ridiculous system.

Much as the recital of the immense labors of Cæsar in the investment of
Alise may excite our admiration, it is not probable that any general in
our times will imitate his example. Nevertheless, it is very necessary
for the investing force to strengthen its position by detached works
commanding the routes by which the garrison might issue or by which the
siege might be disturbed from without. This was done by Napoleon at
Mantua, and by the Russians at Varna.

Experience has proved that the best way to cover a siege is to beat and
pursue as far as possible the enemy's forces which could interfere. If
the besieging force is numerically inferior, it should take up a
strategic position covering all the avenues by which succor might
arrive; and when it approaches, as much of the besieging force as can be
spared should unite with the covering force to fall upon the approaching
army and decide whether the siege shall continue or not.

Bonaparte in 1796, at Mantua, was a model of wisdom and skill for the
operations of an army of observation.


Besides the lines of circumvallation and contravallation referred to
above, there is another kind, which is more extended than they are, and
is in a measure allied to permanent fortifications, because it is
intended to protect a part of the frontiers.

As a fortress or an intrenched camp may, as a temporary refuge for an
army, be highly advantageous, so to the same degree is the system of
intrenched lines absurd. I do not now refer to lines of small extent
closing a narrow gorge, like Fussen and Scharnitz, for they may be
regarded as forts; but I speak of extended lines many leagues in length
and intended to wholly close a part of the frontiers. For instance,
those of Wissembourg, which, covered by the Lauter flowing in front,
supported by the Rhine on the right and the Vosges on the left, seemed
to fulfill all the conditions of safety; and yet they were forced on
every occasion when they were assailed.

The lines of Stollhofen, which on the right of the Rhine played the same
part as those of Wissembourg on the left, were equally unfortunate; and
those of the Queich and the Kinzig had the same fate.

The lines of Turin, (1706,) and those of Mayence, (1795,) although
intended as lines of circumvallation, were analogous to the lines in
question in their extent and in the fate which befell them. However well
they may be supported by natural obstacles, their great extent paralyzes
their defenders, and they are almost always susceptible of being turned.
To bury an army in intrenchments, where it may be outflanked and
surrounded, or forced in front even if secure from a flank attack, is
manifest folly; and it is to be hoped that we shall never see another
instance of it. Nevertheless, in our chapter on Tactics we will treat of
their attack and defense.

It may be well to remark that, while it is absurd to use these extended
lines, it would be equally foolish to neglect the advantages to be
derived from detached works in increasing the strength of a besieging
force, the safety of a position, or the defense of a defile.


[Footnote 20: The memorable campaign of 1829 is evidence of the value of
such a system. If the Porte had possessed masonry forts in the defiles
of the Balkan and a good fortress toward Faki, the Russians would not
have reached Adrianople, and the affair would not have been so simple.]

[Footnote 21: Still, Napoleon was right in taking the offensive in the
Frioul, since the Austrians were expecting a reinforcement from the
Rhine of twenty thousand men, and of course it was highly important to
beat the Archduke Charles before this force joined him. In view of the
circumstances of the case, Napoleon's conduct was in accordance with the
principles of war.]


The Connection of Intrenched Camps and Têtes de Ponts with Strategy.

It would be out of place here to go into details as to the sites of
ordinary camps and upon the means of covering them by advanced guards,
or upon the advantages of field-fortifications in the defense of posts.
Only fortified camps enter into the combinations of grand tactics, and
even of strategy; and this they do by the temporary support they afford
an army.

It may be seen by the example of the camp of Buntzelwitz, which saved
Frederick in 1761, and by those of Kehl and Dusseldorf in 1796, that
such a refuge may prove of the greatest importance. The camp of Ulm, in
1800, enabled Kray to arrest for a whole month the army of Moreau on
the Danube; and Wellington derived great advantages from his camp of
Torres-Vedras. The Turks were greatly assisted in defending the country
between the Danube and the Balkan Mountains by the camp of Shumla.

The principal rule in this connection is that camps should be
established on strategic points which should also possess tactical
advantages. If the camp of Drissa was useless to the Russians in 1812,
it was because it was not in a proper position in reference to their
defensive system, which should have rested upon Smolensk and Moscow.
Hence the Russians were compelled to abandon it after a few days.

The maxims which have been given for the determination of the great
decisive strategic points will apply to all intrenched camps, because
they ought only to be placed on such points. The influence of these
camps is variable: they may answer equally well as points of departure
for an offensive operation, as _têtes de ponts_ to assure the crossing
of a large river, as protection for winter quarters, or as a refuge for
a defeated army.

However good may be the site of such a camp, it will always be difficult
to locate it so that it may not be turned, unless, like the camp of
Torres-Vedras, it be upon a peninsula backed by the sea. Whenever it can
be passed either by the right or the left, the army will be compelled to
abandon it or run the risk of being invested in it. The camp of Dresden
was an important support to Napoleon for two months; but as soon as it
was outflanked by the allies it had not the advantages even of an
ordinary fortress; for its extent led to the sacrifice of two corps
within a few days for want of provisions.

Despite all this, these camps, when only intended to afford temporary
support to an army on the defensive, may still fulfill this end, even
when the enemy passes by them, provided they cannot be taken in
reverse,--that is, provided all their faces are equally safe from a
_coup de main_. It is also important that they be established close to a
fortress, where the depots may be safe, or which may cover the front of
the camp nearest to the line of retreat.

In general terms, such a camp on a river, with a large _tête de pont_
on the other side to command both banks, and near a large fortified city
like Mayence or Strasbourg, is of undoubted advantage; but it will never
be more than a temporary refuge, a means of gaining time and of
collecting reinforcements. When the object is to drive away the enemy,
it will be necessary to leave the camp and carry on operations in the
open country.

The second maxim as to these camps is, that they are particularly
advantageous to an army at home or near its base of operations. If a
French army occupied an intrenched camp on the Elbe, it would be lost
when the space between the Rhine and Elbe was held by the enemy; but if
it were invested in an intrenched camp near Strasbourg, it might with a
little assistance resume its superiority and take the field, while the
enemy in the interior of France and between the relieving force and the
intrenched army would have great difficulty in recrossing the Rhine.

We have heretofore considered these camps in a strategic light; but
several German generals have maintained that they are suitable to cover
places or to prevent sieges,--which appears to me to be a little
sophistical. Doubtless, it will be more difficult to besiege a place
when an army is encamped on its glacis; and it maybe said that the forts
and camps are a mutual support; but, according to my view, the real and
principal use of intrenched camps is always to afford, if necessary, a
temporary refuge for an army, or the means of debouching offensively
upon a decisive point or beyond a large river. To bury an army in such a
camp, to expose it to the danger of being outflanked and cut off, simply
to retard a siege, would be folly. The example of Wurmser, who prolonged
the defense of Mantua, will be cited in opposition to this; but did not
his army perish? And was this sacrifice really useful? I do not think
so; for, the place having been once relieved and revictualed, and the
siege-train having fallen into the hands of the Austrians, the siege was
necessarily changed into a blockade, and the town could only be taken by
reason of famine; and, this being the case, Wurmser's presence ought
rather to have hastened than retarded its surrender.

The intrenched camp of the Austrians before Mayence in 1795 would,
indeed, have prevented the siege of the place, if the French had
possessed the means of carrying on a siege, as long as the Rhine had not
been crossed; but as soon as Jourdan appeared on the Lahn, and Moreau in
the Black Forest, it became necessary to abandon the camp and leave the
place to its own means of defense. It would only be in the event of a
fortress occupying a point such that it would be impossible for an army
to pass it without taking it, that an intrenched camp, with the object
of preventing an attack upon it, would be established; and what place in
Europe is upon such a site?

So far from agreeing with these German authors, on the contrary, it
seems to me that a very important question in the establishment of these
camps near fortified places on a river, is whether they should be on the
same bank as the place, or upon the other. When it is necessary to make
a choice, by reason of the fact that the place cannot be located to
cover both banks, I should decidedly prefer the latter.

To serve as a refuge or to favor a debouch, the camp should be on the
bank of the river toward the enemy; and in this, case the principal
danger to be feared is that the enemy might take the camp in reverse by
passing the river at some other point; and if the fortress were upon the
same bank us the camp, it would be of little service; while if upon the
other bank, opposite to the camp, it would be almost impossible to take
the latter in reverse. For instance, the Russians, who could not hold
for twenty-four hours their camp of Drissa, would have defied the enemy
for a long time if there had been a fortification on the right bank of
the Dwina, covering the rear of the camp. So Moreau for three months, at
Kehl, withstood all the efforts of the Archduke Charles; while if
Strasbourg had not been there upon the opposite bank his camp would
easily have been turned by a passage of the Rhine.

Indeed, it would be desirable to have the protection of the fortified
place upon the other bank too; and a place holding both banks would
fulfill this condition. The fortification of Coblentz, recently
constructed, seems to introduce a new epoch. This system of the
Prussians, combining the advantages of intrenched camps and permanent
works, deserves attentive consideration; but, whatever may be its
defects, it is nevertheless certain that it would afford immense
advantages to an army intended to operate on the Rhine. Indeed, the
inconvenience of intrenched camps on large rivers is that they are only
very useful when beyond the river; and in this case they are exposed to
the dangers arising from destruction of bridges (as happened to Napoleon
at Essling,)--to say nothing of the danger of losing their provisions
and munitions, or even of a front attack against which the works might
not avail. The system of detached permanent works of Coblentz has the
advantage of avoiding these dangers, by protecting the depots on the
same bank as the army, and in guaranteeing to the army freedom from
attack at least until the bridges be re-established. If the city were
upon the right bank of the Rhine, and there were only an intrenched camp
of field-works on the left bank, there would be no certainty of security
either for the depots or the army. So, if Coblentz were a good ordinary
fortress without detached forts, a large army could not so readily make
it a place of refuge, nor would there be such facilities for debouching
from it in the presence of an enemy. The fortress of Ehrenbreitstein,
which is intended to protect Coblentz on the right bank, is so difficult
of access that it would be quite easy to blockade it, and the egress of
a force of any magnitude might be vigorously disputed.

Much has been recently said of a new system used by the Archduke
Maximilian to fortify the intrenched camp of Linz,--by masonry towers.
As I only know of it by hearsay and the description by Captain Allard in
the _Spectateur Militaire_, I cannot discuss it thoroughly. I only know
that the system of towers used at Genoa by the skillful Colonel Andreis
appeared to me to be useful, but still susceptible of
improvements,--which the archduke seems to have added. We are told that
the towers of Linz, situated in ditches and covered by the glacis, have
the advantage of giving a concentrated horizontal fire and of being
sheltered from the direct shot of the enemy. Such towers, if well
flanked and connected by a parapet, may make a very advantageous
camp,--always, however, with some of the inconveniences of closed lines.
If the towers are isolated, and the intervals carefully covered by
field-works, (to be thrown up when required,) they will make a camp
preferable to one covered by ordinary redoubts, but not so advantageous
as afforded by the large detached forts of Coblentz. These towers number
thirty-two, eight of which are on the left bank, with a square fort
commanding the Perlingsberg. Of these twenty-four on the right bank,
some seven or eight are only half-towers. The circumference of this line
is about twelve miles. The towers are between five hundred and six
hundred yards apart, and will be connected, in case of war, by a
palisaded covered way. They are of masonry, of three tiers of guns, with
a barbette battery which is the principal defense, mounting eleven
twenty-four pounders. Two howitzers are placed in the upper tier. Those
towers are placed in a wide and deep ditch, the _déblais_ of which forms
a high glacis which protects the tower from direct shot; but I should
think it would be difficult to protect the artillery from direct fire.

Some say that this has cost about three-fourths of what a complete
bastioned enceinte, necessary to make Linz a fortress of the first rank,
would have cost; others maintain that it has not cost more than a
quarter as much as a bastioned work, and that it subserves, besides, an
entirely different object. If these works are to resist a regular siege,
they are certainly very defective; but, regarded as an intrenched camp
to give refuge and an outlet upon both banks of the Danube for a large
army, they are appropriate, and would be of great importance in a war
like that of 1809, and, if existing then, would probably have saved the

To complete a grand system, it would perhaps have been better to
encircle Linz with a regular bastioned line, and then to have built
seven or eight towers between the eastern salient and the mouth of the
Traun, within a direct distance of about two and a half miles, so as to
have included for the camp only the curved space between Linz, the
Traun, and the Danube. Then the double advantage of a fortress of the
first rank and a camp under its guns would have been united, and, even
if not quite so large, would have answered for a large army,
particularly if the eight towers on the left bank and the fort of
Perlingsberg had been preserved.


_Têtes de ponts_ are the most important of all field-works. The
difficulties of crossing a river, particularly a large one, in the face
of the enemy, demonstrate abundantly the immense utility of such works,
which can be less easily dispensed with than intrenched camps, since if
the bridges are safe an army is insured from the disastrous events which
may attend a rapid retreat across a large river.

_Têtes de ponts_ are doubly advantageous when they are as it were
_keeps_ for a large intrenched camp, and will be triply so if they also
cover the bank opposite to the location of the camp, since then they
will mutually support each other. It is needless to state that these
works are particularly important in an enemy's country and upon all
fronts where there are no permanent works. It may be observed that the
principal difference between the system of intrenched camps and that of
_têtes de ponts_ is that the best intrenched camps are composed of
detached and closed works, while _têtes de ponts_ usually consist of
contiguous works not closed. An intrenched line to admit of defense must
be occupied in force throughout its whole extent, which would generally
require a large army; if, on the contrary, the intrenchments are
detached closed works, a comparatively small force can defend them.

The attack and defense of these works will be discussed in a subsequent
part of this volume.


Strategic Operations in Mountains.

A mountainous country presents itself, in the combinations of war, under
four different aspects. It may be the whole theater of the war, or it
may be but a zone; it may be mountainous throughout its whole extent, or
there may be a line of mountains, upon emerging from which the army may
debouch into large and rich plains.

If Switzerland, the Tyrol, the Noric provinces, some parts of Turkey and
Hungary, Catalonia and Portugal, be excepted, in the European countries
the mountains are in single ranges. In these cases there is but a
difficult defile to cross,--a temporary obstacle, which, once overcome,
is an advantage rather than an objection. In fact, the range once
crossed and the war carried into the plains, the chain of mountains may
be regarded as an eventual base, upon which the army may fall back and
find a temporary refuge. The only essential precaution to be observed
is, not to allow the enemy to anticipate the army on this line of
retreat. The part of the Alps between France and Italy, and the
Pyrenees, (which are not so high, though equally broad,) are of this
nature. The mountains of Bohemia and of the Black Forest, and the
Vosges, belong to this class. In Catalonia the mountains cover the whole
country as far as the Ebro: if the war were limited to this province,
the combinations would not be the same as if there were but a line of
mountains. Hungary in this respect differs little from Lombardy and
Castile; for if the Crapacks in the eastern and northern part are as
marked a feature as the Pyrenees, they are still but a temporary
obstacle, and an army overcoming it, whether debouching in the basin of
the Waag, of the Neytra, or of the Theiss, or in the fields of
Mongatsch, would have the vast plains between the Danube and the Theiss
for a field of operations. The only difference would be in the roads,
which in the Alps, though few in number, are excellent, while in Hungary
there are none of much value. In its northern part, this chain, though
not so high, becomes broader, and would seem to belong to that class of
fields of operations which are wholly mountainous; but, as its
evacuation may be compelled by decisive operations in the valleys of the
Waag or the Theiss, it must be regarded as a temporary barrier. The
attack and defense of this country, however, would be a strategic study
of the most interesting character.

When an extremely mountainous country, such as the Tyrol or Switzerland,
is but a zone of operations, the importance of these mountains is
secondary, and they must be observed like a fortress, the armies
deciding the great contests in the valleys. It will, of course, be
otherwise if this be the whole field.

It has long been a question whether possession of the mountains gave
control of the valleys, or whether possession of the valleys gave
control of the mountains. The Archduke Charles, a very intelligent and
competent judge, has declared for the latter, and has demonstrated that
the valley of the Danube is the key of Southern Germany. However, in
this kind of questions much depends upon the relative forces and their
arrangement in the country. If sixty thousand French were advancing on
Bavaria in presence of an equal force of Austrians, and the latter
should throw thirty thousand men into the Tyrol, intending to replace
them by reinforcements on its arrival on the Inn, it would be difficult
for the French to push on as far as this line, leaving so large a force
on its flanks masters of the outlets of Scharnitz, Fussen, Kufstein, and
Lofers. But if the French force were one hundred and twenty thousand
men, and had gained such successes as to establish its superiority over
the army in its front, then it might leave a sufficient detachment to
mask the passes of the Tyrol and extend its progress as far as Linz,--as
Moreau did in 1800.

Thus far we have considered these mountainous districts as only
accessory zones. If we regard them as the principal fields of
operations, the strategic problem seems to be more complicated. The
campaigns of 1799 and 1800 are equally rich in instruction on this
branch of the art. In my account of them I have endeavored to bring out
their teachings by a historical exposition of the events; and I cannot
do better than refer my readers to it.

When we consider the results of the imprudent invasion of Switzerland by
the French Directory, and its fatal influence in doubling the extent of
the theater of operations and making it reach from the Texel to Naples,
we cannot too much applaud the wisdom of France and Austria in the
transactions which had for three centuries guaranteed the neutrality of
Switzerland. Every one will be convinced of this by carefully studying
the interesting campaigns of the Archduke Charles, Suwaroff, and
Massena in 1799, and those of Napoleon and Moreau in 1800. The first is
a model for operations upon an entirely mountainous field; the second is
a model for wars in which the fate of mountainous countries is decided
on the plains.

I will here state some of the deductions which seem to follow from this

When a country whose whole extent is mountainous is the principal
theater of operations, the strategic combinations cannot be entirely
based upon maxims applicable in an open country.

Transversal maneuvers to gain the extremity of the front of operations
of the enemy here become always very difficult, and often impossible. In
such a country a considerable army can be maneuvered only in a small
number of valleys, where the enemy will take care to post advanced
guards of sufficient strength to delay the army long enough to provide
means for defeating the enterprise; and, as the ridges which separate
these valleys will be generally crossed only by paths impracticable for
the passage of an army, transversal marches can only be made by small
bodies of light troops.

The important natural strategic points will be at the junction of the
larger valleys or of the streams in those valleys, and will be few in
number; and, if the defensive army occupy them with the mass of its
forces, the invader will generally be compelled to resort to direct
attacks to dislodge it.

However, if great strategic maneuvers in these cases be more rare and
difficult, it by no means follows that they are less important. On the
contrary, if the assailant succeed in gaining possession of one of these
centers of communication between the large valleys upon the line of
retreat of the enemy, it will be more serious for the latter than it
would be in an open country; since the occupation of one or two
difficult defiles will often be sufficient to cause the ruin of the
whole army.

If the attacking party have difficulties to overcome, it must be
admitted that the defense has quite as many, on account of the necessity
of covering all the outlets by which an attack in force may be made
upon the decisive points, and of the difficulties of the transversal
marches which it would be compelled to make to cover the menaced points.
In order to complete what I have said upon this kind of marches and the
difficulties of directing them, I will refer to what Napoleon did in
1805 to cut off Mack from Ulm. If this operation was facilitated by the
hundred roads which cross Swabia in all directions, and if it would have
been impracticable in a mountainous country, for want of transversal
routes, to make the long circuit from Donauwerth by Augsburg to
Memmingen, it is also true that Mack could by these same hundred roads
have effected his retreat with much greater facility than if he had been
entrapped in one of the valleys of Switzerland or of the Tyrol, from
which there was but a single outlet.

On the other hand, the general on the defensive may in a level country
concentrate a large part of his forces; for, if the enemy scatter to
occupy all the roads by which the defensive army may retire, it will be
easy for the latter to crush these isolated bodies; but in a very
mountainous country, where there are ordinarily but one or two principal
routes into which other valleys open, even from the direction of the
enemy, the concentration of forces becomes more difficult, since serious
inconveniences may result if even one of these important valleys be not

Nothing can better demonstrate the difficulty of strategic defense in
mountainous regions than the perplexity in which we are involved when we
attempt simply to give advice in such cases,--to say nothing of laying
down maxims for them. If it were but a question of the defense of a
single definite front of small extent, consisting of four or five
converging valleys, the common junction of which is at a distance of two
or three short marches from the summits of the ranges, it would be
easier of solution. It would then be sufficient to recommend the
construction of a good fort at the narrowest and least-easily turned
point of each of these valleys. Protected by these forts, a few brigades
of infantry should be stationed to dispute the passage, while half the
army should be held in reserve at the junction, where it would be in
position either to sustain the advanced guards most seriously
threatened, or to fall upon the assailant with the whole force when he
debouches. If to this be added good instructions to the commanders of
the advanced guards, whether in assigning them the best point for
rendezvous when their line of forts is pierced, or in directing them to
continue to act in the mountains upon the flank of the enemy, the
general on the defensive may regard himself as invincible, thanks to the
many difficulties which the country offers to the assailant. But, if
there be other fronts like this upon the right and left, all of which
are to be defended, the problem is changed: the difficulties of the
defense increase with the extent of the fronts, and this system of a
cordon of forts becomes dangerous,--while it is not easy to adopt a
better one.

We cannot be better convinced of these truths than by the consideration
of the position of Massena in Switzerland in 1799. After Jourdan's
defeat at Stockach, he occupied the line from Basel by Schaffhausen and
Rheineck to Saint-Gothard, and thence by La Furca to Mont-Blanc. He had
enemies in front of Basel, at Waldshut, at Schaffhausen, at Feldkirch,
and at Chur; Bellegarde threatened the Saint-Gothard, and the Italian
army menaced the Simplon and the Saint-Bernard. How was he to defend
such a circumference? and how could he leave open one of these great
valleys, thus risking every thing? From Rheinfelden to the Jura, toward
Soleure, it was but two short marches, and there was the mouth of the
trap in which the French army was placed. This was, then, the pivot of
the defense. But how could he leave Schaffhausen unprotected? how
abandon Rheineck and the Saint-Gothard? how open the Valais and the
approach by Berne, without surrendering the whole of Switzerland to the
Coalition? And if he covered each point even by a brigade, where would
be his army when he would need it to give battle to an approaching
force? It is a natural system on a level theater to concentrate the
masses of an army; but in the mountains such a course would surrender
the keys of the country, and, besides, it is not easy to say where an
inferior army could be concentrated without compromising it.

After the forced evacuation of the line of the Rhine and Zurich, it
seemed that the only strategic point for Massena to defend was the line
of the Jura. He was rash enough to stand upon the Albis,--a line shorter
than that of the Rhine, it is true, but exposed for an immense distance
to the attacks of the Austrians. If Bellegarde, instead of going into
Lombardy by the Valtellina, had marched to Berne or made a junction with
the archduke, Massena would have been ruined. These events seem to prove
that if a country covered with high mountains be favorable for defense
in a tactical point of view, it is different in a strategic sense,
because it necessitates a division of the troops. This can only be
remedied by giving them greater mobility and by passing often to the

General Clausewitz, whose logic is frequently defective, maintains, on
the contrary, that, movements being the most difficult part in this kind
of war, the defensive party should avoid them, since by such a course he
might lose the advantages of the local defenses. He, however, ends by
demonstrating that a passive defense must yield under an active
attack,--which goes to show that the initiative is no less favorable in
mountains than in plains. If there could be any doubt on this point, it
ought to be dispelled by Massena's campaign in Switzerland, where he
sustained himself only by attacking the enemy at every opportunity, even
when he was obliged to seek him on the Grimsel and the Saint-Gothard.
Napoleon's course was similar in 1796 in the Tyrol, when he was opposed
to Wurmser and Alvinzi.

As for detailed strategic maneuvers, they may be comprehended by reading
the events of Suwaroff's expedition by the Saint-Gothard upon the
Muttenthal. While we must approve his maneuvers in endeavoring to
capture Lecourbe in the valley of the Reuss, we must also admire the
presence of mind, activity, and unyielding firmness which saved that
general and his division. Afterward, in the Schachenthal and the
Muttenthal, Suwaroff was placed in the same position as Lecourbe had
been, and extricated himself with equal ability. Not less extraordinary
was the ten days' campaign of General Molitor, who with four thousand
men was surrounded in the canton of Glaris by more than thirty thousand
allies, and yet succeeded in maintaining himself behind the Linth after
four admirable fights. These events teach us the vanity of all theory
_in details_, and also that in such a country a strong and heroic will
is worth more than all the precepts in the world. After such lessons,
need I say that one of the principal rules of this kind of war is, not
to risk one's self in the valleys without securing the heights? Shall I
say also that in this kind of war, more than in any other, operations
should be directed upon the communications of the enemy? And, finally,
that good temporary bases or lines of defense at the confluence of the
great valleys, covered by strategic reserves, combined with great
mobility and frequent offensive movements, will be the best means of
defending the country?

I cannot terminate this article without remarking that mountainous
countries are particularly favorable for defense when the war is a
national one, in which the whole people rise up to defend their homes
with the obstinacy which enthusiasm for a holy cause imparts: every
advance is then dearly bought. But to be successful it is always
necessary that the people be sustained by a disciplined force, more or
less numerous: without this they must finally yield, like the heroes of
Stanz and of the Tyrol.

The offensive against a mountainous country also presents a double case:
it may either be directed upon a belt of mountains beyond which are
extensive plains, or the whole theater may be mountainous.

In the first case there is little more to be done than this,--viz.: make
demonstrations upon the whole line of the frontier, in order to lead the
enemy to extend his defense, and then force a passage at the point which
promises the greatest results. The problem in such a case is to break
through a cordon which is strong less on account of the numbers of the
defenders than from their position, and if broken at one point the whole
line is forced. The history of Bard in 1800, and the capture of
Leutasch and Scharnitz in 1805 by Ney, (who threw fourteen thousand men
on Innspruck in the midst of thirty thousand Austrians, and by seizing
this central point compelled them to retreat in all directions,) show
that with brave infantry and bold commanders these famous
mountain-ranges can generally be forced.

The history of the passage of the Alps, where Francis I. turned the army
which was awaiting him at Suza by passing the steep mountains between
Mont-Cenis and the valley of Queyras, is an example of those
_insurmountable_ obstacles which can always be surmounted. To oppose him
it would have been necessary to adopt a system of cordon; and we have
already seen what is to be expected of it. The position of the Swiss and
Italians at Suza was even less wise than the cordon-system, because it
inclosed them in a contracted valley without protecting the lateral
issues. Their strategic plan ought to have been to throw troops into
these valleys to defend the defiles, and to post the bulk of the army
toward Turin or Carignano.

When we consider the _tactical_ difficulties of this kind of war, and
the immense advantages it affords the defense, we may be inclined to
regard the concentration of a considerable force to penetrate by a
single valley as an extremely rash maneuver, and to think that it ought
to be divided into as many columns as there are practicable passes. In
my opinion, this is one of the most dangerous of all illusions; and to
confirm what I say it is only necessary to refer to the fate of the
columns of Championnet at the battle of Fossano. If there be five or six
roads on the menaced front, they should all, of course, be threatened;
but the army should cross the chain in not more than two masses, and the
routes which these follow should not be divergent; for if they were, the
enemy might be able to defeat them separately. Napoleon's passage of the
Saint-Bernard was wisely planned. He formed the bulk of his army on the
center, with a division on each flank by Mont-Cenis and the Simplon, to
divide the attention of the enemy and flank his march.

The invasion of a country entirely covered with mountains is a much
greater and more difficult task than where a dénouement may be
accomplished by a decisive battle in the open country; for fields of
battle for the deployment of large masses are rare in a mountainous
region, and the war becomes a succession of partial combats. Here it
would be imprudent, perhaps, to penetrate on a single point by a narrow
and deep valley, whose outlets might be closed by the enemy and thus the
invading army be endangered: it might penetrate by the wings on two or
three lateral lines, whose outlets should not be too widely separated,
the marches being so arranged that the masses may debouch at the
junction of the valleys at nearly the same instant. The enemy should be
driven from all the ridges which separate these valleys.

Of all mountainous countries, the tactical defense of Switzerland would
be the easiest, if all her inhabitants were united in spirit; and with
their assistance a disciplined force might hold its own against a triple

To give specific precepts for complications which vary infinitely with
localities, the resources and the condition of the people and armies,
would be absurd. History, well studied and understood, is the best
school for this kind of warfare. The account of the campaign of 1799 by
the Archduke Charles, that of the campaigns which I have given in my
History of the Wars of the Revolution, the narrative of the campaign of
the Grisons by Ségur and Mathieu Dumas, that of Catalonia by Saint-Cyr
and Suchet, the campaign of the Duke de Rohan in Valtellina, and the
passage of the Alps by Gaillard, (Francis I.,) are good guides in this


Grand Invasions and Distant Expeditions.

There are several kinds of distant expeditions. The first are those
which are merely auxiliary and belong to wars of intervention. The
second are great continental invasions, through extensive tracts of
country, which may be either friendly, neutral, doubtful, or hostile.
The third are of the same nature, but made partly on land, partly by sea
by means of numerous fleets. The fourth class comprises those beyond the
seas, to found, defend, or attack distant colonies. The fifth includes
the great descents, where the distance passed over is not very great,
but where a powerful state is attacked.

As to the first, in a strategic point of view, a Russian army on the
Rhine or in Italy, in alliance with the German States, would certainly
be stronger and more favorably situated than if it had reached either of
these points by passing over hostile or even neutral territory; for its
base, lines of operations, and eventual points of support will be the
same as those of its allies; it may find refuge behind their lines of
defense, provisions in their depots, and munitions in their
arsenals;--while in the other case its resources would be upon the
Vistula or the Niemen, and it might afford another example of the sad
fate of many of these great invasions.

In spite of the important difference between a war in which a state is
merely an auxiliary, and a distant invasion undertaken for its own
interest and with its own resources, there are, nevertheless, dangers in
the way of these auxiliary armies, and perplexity for the commander of
all the armies,--particularly if he belong to the state which is not a
principal party; as may be learned from the campaign of 1805. General
Koutousoff advanced on the Inn to the boundaries of Bavaria with thirty
thousand Russians, to effect a junction with Mack, whose army in the
mean time had been destroyed, with the exception of eighteen thousand
men brought back from Donauwerth by Kienmayer. The Russian general thus
found himself with fifty thousand men exposed to the impetuous activity
of Napoleon with one hundred and fifty thousand, and, to complete his
misfortune, he was separated from his own frontiers by a distance of
about seven hundred and fifty miles. His position would have been
hopeless if fifty thousand men had not arrived to reinforce him. The
battle of Austerlitz--due to a fault of Weyrother--endangered the
Russian army anew, since it was so far from its base. It almost became
the victim of a distant alliance; and it was only peace that gave it the
opportunity of regaining its own country.

The fate of Suwaroff after the victory of Novi, especially in the
expedition to Switzerland, and that of Hermann's corps at Bergen in
Holland, are examples which should be well studied by every commander
under such circumstances. General Benningsen's position in 1807 was less
disadvantageous, because, being between the Vistula and the Niemen, his
communications with his base were preserved and his operations were in
no respect dependent upon his allies. We may also refer to the fate of
the French in Bohemia and Bavaria in 1742, when Frederick the Great
abandoned them and made a separate peace. In this case the parties were
allies rather than auxiliaries; but in the latter relation the political
ties are never woven so closely as to remove all points of dissension
which may compromise military operations. Examples of this kind have
been cited in Article XIX., on political objective points.

History alone furnishes us instruction in reference to distant invasions
across extensive territories. When half of Europe was covered with
forests, pasturages, and flocks, and when only horses and iron were
necessary to transplant whole nations from one end of the continent to
the other, the Goths, Huns, Vandals, Normans, Arabs, and Tartars overran
empires in succession. But since the invention of powder and artillery
and the organization of formidable standing armies, and particularly
since civilization and statesmanship have brought nations closer
together and have taught them the necessity of reciprocally sustaining
each other, no such events have taken place.

Besides these migrations of nations, there were other expeditions in the
Middle Ages, which were of a more military character, as those of
Charlemagne and others. Since the invention of powder there have been
scarcely any, except the advance of Charles VIII. to Naples, and of
Charles XII. into the Ukraine, which can be called distant invasions;
for the campaigns of the Spaniards in Flanders and of the Swedes in
Germany were of a particular kind. The first was a civil war, and the
Swedes were only auxiliaries to the Protestants of Germany; and,
besides, the forces concerned in both were not large. In modern times no
one but Napoleon has dared to transport the armies of half of Europe
from the Rhine to the Volga; and there is little danger that he will be

Apart from the modifications which result from great distances, all
invasions, after the armies arrive upon the actual theater, present the
same operations as all other wars. As the chief difficulty arises from
these great distances, we should recall our maxims on deep lines of
operations, strategic reserves, and eventual bases, as the only ones
applicable; and here it is that their application is indispensable,
although even that will not avert all danger. The campaign of 1812,
although so ruinous to Napoleon, was a model for a distant invasion. His
care in leaving Prince Schwarzenberg and Reynier on the Bug, while
Macdonald, Oudinot, and Wrede guarded the Dwina, Victor covered
Smolensk, and Augereau was between the Oder and Vistula, proves that he
had neglected no humanly possible precaution in order to base himself
safely; but it also proves that the greatest enterprises may fail simply
on account of the magnitude of the preparations for their success.

If Napoleon erred in this contest, it was in neglecting diplomatic
precautions; in not uniting under one commander the different bodies of
troops on the Dwina and Dnieper; in remaining ten days too long at
Wilna; in giving the command of his right to his brother, who was
unequal to it; and in confiding to Prince Schwarzenberg a duty which
that general could not perform with the devotedness of a Frenchman. I do
not speak now of his error in remaining in Moscow after the
conflagration, since then there was no remedy for the misfortune;
although it would not have been so great if the retreat had taken place
immediately. He has also been accused of having too much despised
distances, difficulties, and men, in pushing on as far as the Kremlin.
Before passing judgment upon him in this matter, however, we ought to
know the real motives which induced him to pass Smolensk, instead of
wintering there as he had intended, and whether it would have been
possible for him to remain between that city and Vitebsk without having
previously defeated the Russian army.

It is doubtless true that Napoleon neglected too much the resentment of
Austria, Prussia, and Sweden, and counted too surely upon a _dénouement_
between Wilna and the Dwina. Although he fully appreciated the bravery
of the Russian armies, he did not realize the spirit and energy of the
people. Finally, and chiefly, instead of procuring the hearty and
sincere concurrence of a military state, whose territories would have
given him a sure base for his attack upon the colossal power of Russia,
he founded his enterprise upon the co-operation of a brave and
enthusiastic but fickle people, and besides, he neglected to turn to the
greatest advantage this ephemeral enthusiasm.

The fate of all such enterprises makes it evident that the capital point
for their success, and, in fact, the only maxim to be given, is "never
to attempt them without having secured the hearty and constant alliance
of a respectable power near enough the field of operations to afford a
proper base, where supplies of every kind may be accumulated, and which
may also in case of reverse serve as a refuge and afford new means of
resuming the offensive." As to the precautions to be observed in these
operations, the reader is referred to Articles XXI. and XXII., on the
safety of deep lines of operations and the establishment of eventual
bases, as giving all the military means of lessening the danger; to
these should be added a just appreciation of distances, obstacles,
seasons, and countries,--in short, accuracy in calculation and
moderation in success, in order that the enterprise may not be carried
too far. We are far from thinking that any purely military maxims can
insure the success of remote invasions: in four thousand years only five
or six have been successful, and in a hundred instances they have nearly
ruined nations and armies.

Expeditions of the third class, partly on land, partly by sea, have been
rare since the invention of artillery, the Crusades being the last in
date of occurrence; and probably the cause is that the control of the
sea, after having been held in succession by several secondary powers,
has passed into the hands of England, an insular power, rich in ships,
but without the land-forces necessary for such expeditions.

It is evident that from both of these causes the condition of things now
is very different from that existing when Xerxes marched to the conquest
of Greece, followed by four thousand vessels of all dimensions, or when
Alexander marched from Macedonia over Asia Minor to Tyre, while his
fleet coasted the shore.

Nevertheless, if we no longer see such invasions, it is very true that
the assistance of a fleet of men-of-war and transports will always be of
immense value to any army on shore when the two can act in concert.
Still, sailing-ships are an uncertain resource, for their progress
depends upon the winds,--which may be unfavorable: in addition, any kind
of fleet is exposed to great dangers in storms, which are not of rare

The more or less hostile tone of the people, the length of the line of
operations, and the great distance of the principal objective point, are
the only points which require any deviation from the ordinary operations
of war.

Invasions of neighboring states, if less dangerous than distant ones,
are still not without great danger of failure. A French army attacking
Cadiz might find a tomb on the Guadalquivir, although well based upon
the Pyrenees and possessing intermediate bases upon the Ebro and the
Tagus. Likewise, the army which in 1809 besieged Komorn in the heart of
Hungary might have been destroyed on the plains of Wagram without going
as far as the Beresina. The antecedents, the number of disposable
troops, the successes already gained, the state of the country, will all
be elements in determining the extent of the enterprises to be
undertaken; and to be able to proportion them well to his resources, in
view of the attendant circumstances, is a great talent in a general.
Although diplomacy does not play so important a part in these invasions
as in those more distant, it is still of importance; since, as stated in
Article VI., there is no enemy, however insignificant, whom it would not
be useful to convert into an ally. The influence which the change of
policy of the Duke of Savoy in 1706 exercised over the events of that
day, and the effects of the stand taken by Maurice of Saxony in 1551,
and of Bavaria in 1813, prove clearly the importance of securing the
strict neutrality of all states adjoining the theater of war, when their
co-operation cannot be obtained.


       *       *       *       *       *

The task which I undertook seems to me to have been passably fulfilled
by what has been stated in reference to the strategic combinations which
enter ordinarily into a plan of campaign. We have seen, from the
definition at the beginning of this chapter, that, in the most important
operations in war, _strategy_ fixes the direction of movements, and that
we depend upon _tactics_ for their execution. Therefore, before treating
of these mixed operations, it will be well to give here the combinations
of grand tactics and of battles, as well as the maxims by the aid of
which the application of the fundamental principle of war may be made.

By this method these operations, half strategic and half tactical, will
be better comprehended as a whole; but, in the first place, I will give
a synopsis of the contents of the preceding chapter.

From the different articles which compose it, we may conclude that the
manner of applying the general principle of war to all possible theaters
of operations is found in what follows:--

1. In knowing how to make the best use of the advantages which the
reciprocal directions of the two bases of operations may afford, in
accordance with Article XVIII.

2. In choosing, from the three zones ordinarily found in the strategic
field, that one upon which the greatest injury can be done to the enemy
with the least risk to one's self.

3. In establishing well, and giving a good direction to, the lines of
operations; adopting for defense the concentric system of the Archduke
Charles in 1796 and of Napoleon in 1814; or that of Soult in 1814, for
retreats parallel to the frontiers.

On the offensive we should follow the system which led to the success
of Napoleon in 1800, 1805, and 1806, when he directed his line upon the
extremity of the strategic front; or we might adopt his plan which was
successful in 1796, 1809, and 1814, of directing the line of operations
upon the center of the strategic front: all of which is to be determined
by the respective positions of the armies, and according to the maxims
presented in Article XXI.

4. In selecting judicious eventual lines of maneuver, by giving them
such directions as always to be able to act with the greater mass of the
forces, and to prevent the parts of the enemy from concentrating or from
affording each other mutual support.

5. In combining, in the same spirit of centralization, all strategic
positions, and all large detachments made to cover the most important
strategic points of the theater of war.

6. In imparting to the troops the greatest possible mobility and
activity, so as, by their successive employment upon points where it may
be important to act, to bring superior force to bear upon fractions of
the hostile army.

The system of rapid and continuous marches multiplies the effect of an
army, and at the same time neutralizes a great part of that of the
enemy's, and is often sufficient to insure success; but its effect will
be quintupled if the marches be skillfully directed upon the decisive
strategic points of the zone of operations, where the severest blows to
the enemy can be given.

However, as a general may not always be prepared to adopt this decisive
course to the exclusion of every other, he must then be content with
attaining a part of the object of every enterprise, by rapid and
successive employment of his forces upon isolated bodies of the enemy,
thus insuring their defeat. A general who moves his masses rapidly and
continually, and gives them proper directions, may be confident both of
gaining victories and of securing great results therefrom.

The oft-cited operations of 1809 and 1814 prove these truths most
satisfactorily, as also does that ordered by Carnot in 1793, already
mentioned in Article XXIV., and the details of which may be found in
Volume IV. of my History of the Wars of the Revolution. Forty
battalions, carried successively from Dunkirk to Menin, Maubeuge, and
Landau, by reinforcing the armies already at those points, gained four
victories and saved France. The whole science of marches would have been
found in this wise operation had it been directed upon the decisive
strategic point. The Austrian was then the principal army of the
Coalition, and its line of retreat was upon Cologne: hence it was upon
the Meuse that a general effort of the French would have inflicted the
most severe blow. The Committee of Public Safety provided for the most
pressing danger, and the maneuver contains half of the strategic
principle; the other half consists in giving to such efforts the most
decisive direction, as Napoleon did at Ulm, at Jena, and at Ratisbon.
The whole of strategy is contained in these four examples.

It is superfluous to add that one of the great ends of strategy is to be
able to assure real advantages to the army by preparing the theater of
war most favorable for its operations, if they take place in its own
country, by the location of fortified places, of intrenched camps, and
of _têtes de ponts_, and by the opening of communications in the great
decisive directions: these constitute not the least interesting part of
the science. We have already seen how we are to recognize these lines
and these decisive points, whether permanent or temporary. Napoleon has
afforded instruction on this point by the roads of the Simplon and
Mont-Cenis; and Austria since 1815 has profited by it in the roads from
the Tyrol to Lombardy, the Saint-Gothard, and the Splugen, as well as by
different fortified places projected or completed.



Battles are the actual conflicts of armies contending about great
questions of national policy and of strategy. Strategy directs armies to
the decisive points of a zone of operations, and influences, in advance,
the results of battles; but tactics, aided by courage, by genius and
fortune, gains victories.

Grand tactics is the art of making good combinations preliminary to
battles, as well as during their progress. The guiding principle in
tactical combinations, as in those of strategy, is to bring the mass of
the force in hand against a part of the opposing army, and upon that
point the possession of which promises the most important results.

Battles have been stated by some writers to be the chief and deciding
features of war. This assertion is not strictly true, as armies have
been destroyed by strategic operations without the occurrence of pitched
battles, by a succession of inconsiderable affairs. It is also true that
a complete and decided victory may give rise to results of the same
character when there may have been no grand strategic combinations.

The results of a battle generally depend upon a union of causes which
are not always within the scope of the military art: the nature of the
order of battle adopted, the greater or less wisdom displayed in the
plan of the battle, as well as the manner of carrying out its details,
the more or less loyal and enlightened co-operation of the officers
subordinate to the commander-in-chief, the cause of the contest, the
proportions and quality of the troops, their greater or less enthusiasm,
superiority on the one side or the other in artillery or cavalry, and
the manner of handling these arms; but it is the _morale_ of armies, as
well as of nations, more than any thing else, which makes victories and
their results decisive. Clausewitz commits a grave error in asserting
that a battle not characterized by a maneuver to turn the enemy cannot
result in a complete victory. At the battle of Zama, Hannibal, in a few
brief hours, saw the fruits of twenty years of glory and success vanish
before his eyes, although Scipio never had a thought of turning his
position. At Rivoli the turning-party was completely beaten; nor was the
maneuver more successful at Stockach in 1799, or at Austerlitz in 1805.
As is evident from Article XXXII., I by no means intend to discourage
the use of that maneuver, being, on the contrary, a constant advocate of
it; but it is very important to know how to use it skillfully and
opportunely, and I am, moreover, of opinion that if it be a general's
design to make himself master of his enemy's communications while at the
same time holding his own, he would do better to employ strategic than
tactical combinations to accomplish it.

There are three kinds of battles: 1st, defensive battles, or those
fought by armies in favorable positions taken up to await the enemy's
attack; 2d, offensive battles, where one army attacks another in
position; 3d, battles fought unexpectedly, and resulting from the
collision of two armies meeting on the march. We will examine in
succession the different combinations they present.


Positions and Defensive Battles.

When an army awaits an attack, it takes up a position and forms its line
of battle. From the general definitions given at the beginning of this
work, it will appear that I make a distinction between _lines of battle_
and _orders of battle_,--things which have been constantly confounded. I
will designate as a _line of battle_ the position occupied by
battalions, either deployed or in columns of attack, which an army will
take up to hold a camp and a certain portion of ground where it will
await attack, having no particular project in view for the future: it is
the right name to give to a body of troops formed with proper tactical
intervals and distances upon one or more lines, as will be more fully
explained in Article XLIII. On the contrary, I will designate as an
_order of battle_ an arrangement of troops indicating an intention to
execute a certain maneuver; as, for example, the parallel order, the
oblique order, the perpendicular order.

This nomenclature, although new, seems necessary to keeping up a proper
distinction between two things which should by no means be
confounded.[22] From the nature of the two things, it is evident that
the _line of battle_ belongs especially to defensive arrangements;
because an army awaiting an attack without knowing what or where it will
be must necessarily form a rather indefinite and objectless line of
battle. _Order of battle_, on the contrary, indicating an arrangement of
troops formed with an intention of fighting while executing some
maneuver previously determined upon, belongs more particularly to
offensive dispositions. However, it is by no means pretended that the
line of battle is exclusively a defensive arrangement; for a body of
troops may in this formation very well proceed to the attack of a
position, while an army on the defensive may use the oblique order or
any other. I refer above only to ordinary cases.

Without adhering strictly to what is called the system of a war of
positions, an army may often find it proper to await the enemy at a
favorable point, strong by nature and selected beforehand for the
purpose of there fighting a defensive battle. Such a position may be
taken up when the object is to cover an important objective point, such
as a capital, large depots, or a decisive strategic point which controls
the surrounding country, or, finally, to cover a siege.

There are two kinds of positions,--the _strategic_, which has been
discussed in Article XX., and the _tactical_. The latter, again, are
subdivided. In the first place, there are intrenched positions occupied
to await the enemy under cover of works more or less connected,--in a
word, intrenched camps. Their relations to strategic operations have
been treated in Article XXVII., and their attack and defense are
discussed in Article XXXV. Secondly, we have positions naturally strong,
where armies encamp for the purpose of gaining a few days' time. Third
and last are open positions, chosen in advance to fight on the
defensive. The characteristics to be sought in these positions vary
according to the object in view: it is, however, a matter of importance
not to be carried away by the mistaken idea, which prevails too
extensively, of giving the preference to positions that are very steep
and difficult of access,--quite suitable places, probably, for temporary
camps, but not always the best for battle-grounds. A position of this
kind, to be really strong, must be not only steep and difficult of
access, but should be adapted to the end had in view in occupying it,
should offer as many advantages as possible for the kind of troops
forming the principal strength of the army, and, finally, the obstacles
presented by its features should be more disadvantageous for the enemy
than for the assailed. For example, it is certain that Massena, in
taking the strong position of the Albis, would have made a great error
if his chief strength had been in cavalry and artillery; whilst it was
exactly what was wanted for his excellent infantry. For the same reason,
Wellington, whose whole dependence was in the fire of his troops, made a
good choice of position at Waterloo, where all the avenues of approach
were well swept by his guns. The position of the Albis was, moreover,
rather a strategic position, that of Waterloo being simply a

The rules to be generally observed in selecting tactical positions are
the following:--

     1. To have the communications to the front such as to make it
     easier to fall upon the enemy at a favorable moment than for him to
     approach the line of battle.

     2. To give the artillery all its effect in the defense.

     3. To have the ground suitable for concealing the movements of
     troops between the wings, that they may be massed upon any point
     deemed the proper one.

     4. To be able to have a good view of the enemy's movements.

     5. To have an unobstructed line of retreat.

     6. To have the flanks well protected, either by natural or
     artificial obstacles, so as to render impossible an attack upon
     their extremities, and to oblige the enemy to attack the center, or
     at least some point of the front.

     This is a difficult condition to fulfill; for, if an army rests on
     a river, or a mountain, or an impenetrable forest, and the smallest
     reverse happens to it, a great disaster may be the result of the
     broken line being forced back upon the very obstacles which seemed
     to afford perfect protection. This danger--about which there can be
     no doubt--gives rise to the thought that points admitting an easy
     defense are better on a battle-field than insurmountable

     7. Sometimes a want of proper support for the flanks is remedied by
     throwing a crotchet to the rear. This is dangerous; because a
     crotchet stuck on a line hinders its movements, and the enemy may
     cause great loss of life by placing his artillery in the angle of
     the two lines prolonged. A strong reserve in close column behind
     the wing to be guarded from assault seems better to fulfill the
     required condition than the crotchet; but the nature of the ground
     must always decide in the choice between the two methods. Full
     details on this point are given in the description of the battle of
     Prague, (Chapter II. of the Seven Years' War.)

     8. We must endeavor in a defensive position not only to cover the
     flanks, but it often happens that there are obstacles on other
     points of the front, of such a character as to compel an attack
     upon the center. Such a position will always be one of the most
     advantageous for defense,--as was shown at Malplaquet and Waterloo.
     Great obstacles are not essential for this purpose, as the smallest
     accident of the ground is sometimes sufficient: thus, the
     insignificant rivulet of Papelotte forced Ney to attack
     Wellington's center, instead of the left as he had been ordered.

     When a defense is made of such a position, care must be taken to
     hold ready for movement portions of the wings thus covered, in
     order that they may take part in the action instead of remaining
     idle spectators of it.

The fact cannot be concealed, however, that all these means are but
palliatives; and the best thing for an army standing on the defensive is
to _know_ how to take the offensive at a proper time, and _to take it_.
Among the conditions to be satisfied by a defensive position has been
mentioned that of enabling an easy and safe retreat; and this brings us
to an examination of a question presented by the battle of Waterloo.
Would an army with its rear resting upon a forest, and with a good road
behind the center and each wing, have its retreat compromised, as
Napoleon imagined, if it should lose the battle? My own opinion is that
such a position would be more favorable for a retreat than an entirely
open field; for a beaten army could not cross a plain without exposure
to very great danger. Undoubtedly, if the retreat becomes a rout, a
portion of the artillery left in battery in front of the forest would,
in all probability, be lost; but the infantry and cavalry and a great
part of the artillery could retire just as readily as across a plain.
There is, indeed, no better cover for an orderly retreat than a
forest,--this statement being made upon the supposition that there are
at least two good roads behind the line, that proper measures for
retreat have been taken before the enemy has had an opportunity to press
too closely, and, finally, that the enemy is not permitted by a flank
movement to be before the retreating army at the outlet of the forest,
as was the case at Hohenlinden. The retreat would be the more secure if,
as at Waterloo, the forest formed a concave line behind the center; for
this re-entering would become a place of arms to receive the troops and
give them time to pass off in succession on the main roads.

When discussing strategic operations, mention was made of the varying
chances which the two systems, the _defensive_ and the _offensive_, give
rise to; and it was seen that especially in strategy the army taking the
initiative has the great advantage of bringing up its troops and
striking a blow where it may deem best, whilst the army which acts upon
the defensive and awaits an attack is anticipated in every direction, is
often taken unawares, and is always obliged to regulate its movements by
those of the enemy. We have also seen that in tactics these advantages
are not so marked, because in this case the operations occupy a smaller
extent of ground, and the party taking the initiative cannot conceal his
movements from the enemy, who, instantly observing, may at once
counteract them by the aid of a good reserve. Moreover, the party
advancing upon the enemy has against him all the disadvantages arising
from accidents of ground that he must pass before reaching the hostile
line; and, however flat a country it may be, there are always
inequalities of the surface, such as small ravines, thickets, hedges,
farm-houses, villages, &c., which must either be taken possession of or
be passed by. To these natural obstacles may also be added the enemy's
batteries to be carried, and the disorder which always prevails to a
greater or less extent in a body of men exposed to a continued fire
either of musketry or artillery. Viewing the matter in the light of
these facts, all must agree that in tactical operations the advantages
resulting from taking the initiative are balanced by the disadvantages.

However undoubted these truths may be, there is another, still more
manifest, which has been demonstrated by the greatest events of history.
Every army which maintains a strictly defensive attitude must, if
attacked, be at last driven from its position; whilst by profiting by
all the advantages of the defensive system, and holding itself ready to
take the offensive when occasion offers, it may hope for the greatest
success. A general who stands motionless to receive his enemy, keeping
strictly on the defensive, may fight ever so bravely, but he must give
way when properly attacked. It is not so, however, with a general who
indeed waits to receive his enemy, but with the determination to fall
upon him offensively at the proper moment, to wrest from him and
transfer to his own troops the moral effect always produced by an onward
movement when coupled with the certainty of throwing the main strength
into the action at the most important point,--a thing altogether
impossible when keeping strictly on the defensive. In fact, a general
who occupies a well-chosen position, where his movements are free, has
the advantage of observing the enemy's approach; his forces, previously
arranged in a suitable manner upon the position, aided by batteries
placed so as to produce the greatest effect, may make the enemy pay very
dearly for his advance over the space separating the two armies; and
when the assailant, after suffering severely, finds himself strongly
assailed at the moment when the victory seemed to be in his hands, the
advantage will, in all probability, be his no longer, for the moral
effect of such a counter-attack upon the part of an adversary supposed
to be beaten is certainly enough to stagger the boldest troops.

A general may, therefore, employ in his battles with equal success
either the offensive or defensive system; but it is indispensable,--1st,
that, so far from limiting himself to a passive defense, he should know
how to take the offensive at favorable moments; 2d, that his
_coup-d'oeil_ be certain and his coolness undoubted; 3d, that he be able
to rely surely upon his troops; 4th, that, in retaking the offensive, he
should by no means neglect to apply the general principle which would
have regulated his order of battle had he done so in the beginning; 5th,
that he strike his blows upon decisive points. These truths are
demonstrated by Napoleon's course at Rivoli and Austerlitz, as well as
by Wellington's at Talavera, at Salamanca, and at Waterloo.


[Footnote 22: It is from no desire to make innovations that I have
modified old terms or made new. In the development of a science, it is
wrong for the same word to designate two very different things; and, if
we continue to apply the term _order of battle_ to the disposition of
troops in line, it must be improper to designate certain important
maneuvers by the terms _oblique order of battle_, _concave order of
battle_, and it becomes necessary to use instead the terms _oblique
system of battle_, &c.

I prefer the method of designation I have adopted. The _order of battle_
on paper may take the name _plan of organization_, and the ordinary
formation of troops upon the ground will then be called _line of

[Footnote 23: The park of Hougoumont, the hamlet of La Haye Sainte, and
the rivulet of Papelotte were for Ney more serious obstacles than the
famous position of Elchingen, where he forced a passage of the Danube,
in 1805, upon the ruins of a burnt bridge. It may perhaps be said that
the courage of the defenders in the two cases was not the same; but,
throwing out of consideration this chance, it must be granted that the
difficulties of a position, when properly taken advantage of, need not
be insurmountable in order to render the attack abortive. At Elchingen
the great height and steepness of the banks, rendering the fire almost
ineffectual, were more disadvantageous than useful in the defense.]


Offensive Battles, and Different Orders of Battle.

We understand by offensive battles those which an army fights when
assaulting another in position.[24] An army reduced to the strategic
defensive often takes the offensive by making an attack, and an army
receiving an attack may, during the progress of the battle, take the
offensive and obtain the advantages incident to it. History furnishes
numerous examples of battles of each of these kinds. As defensive
battles have been discussed in the preceding article, and the advantages
of the defensive been pointed out, we will now proceed to the
consideration of offensive movements.

It must be admitted that the assailant generally has a moral advantage
over the assailed, and almost always acts more understandingly than the
latter, who must be more or less in a state of uncertainty.

As soon as it is determined to attack the enemy, some order of attack
must be adopted; and that is what I have thought ought to be called
_order of battle_.

It happens also quite frequently that a battle must be commenced without
a detailed plan, because the position of the enemy is not entirely
known. In either case it should be well understood that there is in
every battle-field a decisive point, the possession of which, more than
of any other, helps to secure the victory, by enabling its holder to
make a proper application of the principles of war: arrangements should
therefore be made for striking the decisive blow upon this point.

The decisive point of a battle-field is determined, as has been already
stated, by the character of the position, the bearing of different
localities upon the strategic object in view, and, finally, by the
arrangement of the contending forces. For example, suppose an enemy's
flank to rest upon high ground from which his whole line might be
attained, the occupation of this height seems most important, tactically
considered; but it may happen that the height in question is very
difficult of access, and situated exactly so as to be of the least
importance, strategically considered. At the battle of Bautzen the left
of the allies rested upon the steep mountains of Bohemia, which province
was at that time rather neutral than hostile: it seemed that, tactically
considered, the slope of these mountains was the decisive point to be
held, when it was just the reverse, because the allies had but one line
of retreat upon Reichenbach and Gorlitz, and the French, by forcing the
right, which was in the plain, would occupy this line of retreat and
throw the allies into the mountains, where they might have lost all
their _matériel_ and a great part of the personnel of their army. This
course was also easier for them on account of the difference in the
features of the ground, led to more important results, and would have
diminished the obstacles in the future.

The following truths may, I think, be deduced from what has been stated:
1. The topographical key of a battle-field is not always the tactical
key; 2. The decisive point of a battle-field is certainly that which
combines strategic with topographical advantages; 3. When the
difficulties of the ground are not too formidable upon the strategic
point of the battle-field, this is generally the most important point;
4. It is nevertheless true that the determination of this point depends
very much upon the arrangement of the contending forces. Thus, in lines
of battle too much extended and divided the center will always be the
proper point of attack; in lines well closed and connected the center is
the strongest point, since, independently of the reserves posted there,
it is easy to support it from the flanks: the decisive point in this
case is therefore one of the extremities of the line. When the numerical
superiority is considerable, an attack may be made simultaneously upon
both extremities, but not when the attacking force is equal or inferior
numerically to the enemy's. It appears, therefore, that all the
combinations of a battle consist in so employing the force in hand as to
obtain the most effective action upon that one of the three points
mentioned which offers the greatest number of chances of success,--a
point very easily determined by applying the analysis just mentioned.

The object of an offensive battle can only be to dislodge the enemy or
to cut his line, unless it is intended by strategic maneuvers to ruin
his army completely. An enemy is dislodged either by overthrowing him at
some point of his line, or by outflanking him so as to take him in flank
and rear, or by using both these methods at once; that is, attacking him
in front while at the same time one wing is enveloped and his line

To accomplish these different objects, it becomes necessary to make
choice of the most suitable order of battle for the method to be used.

At least twelve orders of battle may be enumerated, viz.: 1. The simple
parallel order; 2. The parallel order with a defensive or offensive
crotchet; 3. The order reinforced upon one or both wings; 4. The order
reinforced in the center; 5. The simple oblique order, or the oblique
reinforced on the attacking wing; 6 and 7. The perpendicular order on
one or both wings; 8. The concave order; 9. The convex order; 10. The
order by echelon on one or both wings; 11. The order by echelon on the
center; 12. The order resulting from a strong combined attack upon the
center and one extremity simultaneously. (See Figs. 5 to 16.)

[Illustration: Fig. 5.[25]


____________________________|____________________________ B ]

Each of these orders may be used either by itself or, as has been
stated, in connection with the maneuver of a strong column intended to
turn the enemy's line. In order to a proper appreciation of the merits
of each, it becomes necessary to test each by the application of the
general principles which have been laid down. For example, it is
manifest that the parallel order (Fig. 5) is worst of all, for it
requires no skill to fight one line against another, battalion against
battalion, with equal chances of success on either side: no tactical
skill is needed in such a battle.

There is, however, one important case where this is a suitable order,
which occurs when an army, having taken the initiative in great
strategic operations, shall have succeeded in falling upon the enemy's
communications and cutting off his line of retreat while covering its
own; when the battle takes place between them, that army which has
reached the rear of the other may use the parallel order, for, having
effected the decisive maneuver previous to the battle, all its efforts
should now be directed toward the frustration of the enemy's endeavor to
open a way through for himself. Except for this single case, the
parallel order is the worst of all. I do not mean to say that a battle
cannot be gained while using this order, for one side or the other must
gain the victory if the contest is continued; and the advantage will
then be upon his side who has the best troops, who best knows when to
engage them, who best manages his reserve and is most favored by

[Illustration: Fig. 6.

                                       |       |
                                       |       |
                     A                 |       |B

The parallel order with a crotchet upon the flank (Fig. 6) is most
usually adopted in a defensive position. It may be also the result of an
offensive combination; but then the crotchet is to the front, whilst in
the case of defense it is to the rear. The battle of Prague is a very
remarkable example of the danger to which such a crotchet is exposed if
properly attacked.

[Illustration: Fig. 7.

                                B            ____|___

The parallel order reinforced upon one wing, (Fig. 7,) or upon the
center, (Fig. 8, page 190,) to pierce that of the enemy, is much more
favorable than the two preceding ones, and is also much more in
accordance with the general principles which have been laid down;
although, when the contending forces are about equal, the part of the
line which has been weakened to reinforce the other may have its own
safety compromised if placed in line parallel to the enemy.

[Illustration: Fig. 8.

                B _________________

[Illustration: Fig. 9.]

The oblique order (Fig. 9) is the best for an inferior force attacking a
superior; for, in addition to the advantage of bringing the main
strength of the forces against a single point of the enemy's line, it
has two others equally important, since the weakened wing is not only
kept back from the attack of the enemy, but performs also the double
duty of holding in position the part of his line not attacked, and of
being at hand as a reserve for the support, if necessary, of the engaged
wing. This order was used by the celebrated Epaminondas at the battles
of Leuctra and Mantinea. The most brilliant example of its use in modern
times was given by Frederick the Great at the battle of Leuthen. (See
Chapter VII. of Treatise on Grand Operations.)

[Illustration: Fig. 10.
                       C   |
                        \  |
                         \ |
                         / |
                        /  |
                       /   |
                      C    |


[Illustration: Fig. 11.

|                            |
|                            |
| ___________A______________ |
|                            |
|                            |
|                            |
|                            |
|                            |
|                            |
|-B                        B-|
|                            |
|                            |
|                            |
|                            |
|                            |

The perpendicular order on one or both wings, as seen in Figs. 10 and
11, can only be considered an arrangement to indicate the direction
along which the primary tactical movements might be made in a battle.
Two armies will never long occupy the relative perpendicular positions
indicated in these figures; for if the army B were to take its first
position on a line perpendicular to one or both extremities of the army
A, the latter would at once change the front of a portion of its line;
and even the army B, as soon as it extended itself to or beyond the
extremity of A, must of necessity turn its columns either to the right
or the left, in order to bring them near the enemy's line, and so take
him in reverse, as at C, the result being two oblique lines, as shown in
Fig. 10. The inference is that one division of the assailing army would
take a position perpendicular to the enemy's wing, whilst the remainder
of the army would approach in front for the purpose of annoying him; and
this would always bring us back to one of the oblique orders shown in
Figures 9 and 16.

The attack on both wings, whatever be the form of attack adopted, may be
very advantageous, but it is only admissible when the assailant is very
decidedly superior in numbers; for, if the fundamental principle is to
bring the main strength of the forces upon the decisive point, a weaker
army would violate it in directing a divided attack against a superior
force. This truth will be clearly demonstrated farther on.

[Illustration: Fig. 12.]

The order concave in the center (Fig. 12) has found advocates since the
day when Hannibal by its use gained the battle of Cannæ. This order may
indeed be very good when the progress of the battle itself gives rise to
it; that is, when the enemy attacks the center, this retires before him,
and he suffers himself to be enveloped by the wings. But, if this order
is adopted before the battle begins, the enemy, instead of falling on
the center, has only to attack the wings, which present their
extremities and are in precisely the same relative situation as if they
had been assailed in flank. This order would, therefore, be scarcely
ever used except against an enemy who had taken the convex order to
fight a battle, as will be seen farther on.

[Illustration: Fig. 12, _bis_.]

An army will rarely form a semicircle, preferring rather a broken line
with the center retired, (Fig. 12, _bis_.) If several writers may be
believed, such an arrangement gave the victory to the English on the
famous days of Crécy and Agincourt. This order is certainly better than
a semicircle, since it does not so much present the flank to attack,
whilst allowing forward movement by echelon and preserving all the
advantages of concentration of fire. These advantages vanish if the
enemy, instead of foolishly throwing himself upon the retired center, is
content to watch it from a distance and makes his greatest effort upon
one wing. Essling, in 1809, is an example of the advantageous use of a
concave line; but it must not be inferred that Napoleon committed an
error in attacking the center; for an army fighting with the Danube
behind it and with no way of moving without uncovering its bridges of
communication, must not be judged as if it had been free to maneuver at

[Illustration: Fig. 13.]

The convex order with the center salient (Fig. 13) answers for an
engagement immediately upon the passage of a river when the wings must
be retired and rested on the river to cover the bridges; also when a
defensive battle is to be fought with a river in rear, which is to be
passed and the defile covered, as at Leipsic; and, finally, it may
become a natural formation to resist an enemy forming a concave line. If
an enemy directs his efforts against the center or against a single
wing, this order might cause the ruin of the whole army.[26]

The French tried it at Fleurus in 1794, and were successful, because
the Prince of Coburg, in place of making a strong attack upon the center
or upon a single extremity, divided his attack upon five or six
diverging lines, and particularly upon both wings at once. Nearly the
same convex order was adopted at Essling, and during the second and
third days of the famous battle of Leipsic. On the last occasion it had
just the result that might have been expected.

[Illustration: Fig. 14

_____                              _____
    _____                      _____
        _____              _____
             _____  B  _____
The order by echelon upon the two wings Fig. 14 is of the same nature as
the perpendicular order, (Fig. 11,) being, however, better than that,
because, the echelons being nearest each other in the direction where
the reserve would be placed, the enemy would be less able, both as
regards room and time, to throw himself into the interval of the center
and make at that point a threatening counter-attack.

[Illustration: Fig. 15

            ___|__     __|___
         _____              _____
    _____B                      B_____
_____                                _____


The order by echelon on the center (Fig. 15) may be used with special
success against an army occupying a position too much cut up and too
extended, because, its center being then somewhat isolated from the
wings and liable to overthrow, the army thus cut in two would be
probably destroyed. But, applying the test of the same fundamental
principle, this order of attack would appear to be less certain of
success against an army having a connected and closed line; for the
reserve being generally near the center, and the wings being able to act
either by concentrating their fire or by moving against the foremost
echelons, might readily repulse them.

If this formation to some extent resembles the famous triangular wedge
or _boar's head_ of the ancients, and the column of Winkelried, it also
differs from them essentially; for, instead of forming one solid
mass,--an impracticable thing in our day, on account of the use of
artillery,--it would have a large open space in the middle, which would
render movements more easy. This formation is suitable, as has been
said, for penetrating the center of a line too much extended, and might
be equally successful against a line unavoidably immovable; but if the
wings of the attacked line are brought at a proper time against the
flanks of the foremost echelons, disagreeable consequences might result.
A parallel order considerably reinforced on the center might perhaps be
a much better arrangement, (Figs. 8 and 16;) for the parallel line in
this case would have at least the advantage of deceiving the enemy as to
the point of attack, and would hinder the wings from taking the echelons
of the center by the flank.

This order by echelons was adopted by Laudon for the attack of the
intrenched camp of Buntzelwitz. (Treatise on Grand Operations, chapter
xxviii.) In such a case it is quite suitable; for it is then certain
that the defensive army being forced to remain within its intrenchments,
there is no danger of its attacking the echelons in flank. But, this
formation having the inconvenience of indicating to the enemy the point
of his line which it is desired to attack, false attacks should be made
upon the wings, to mislead him as to the true point of attack.

[Illustration Fig 16.]

The order of attack in columns on the center and on one extremity at the
same time (Fig. 16) is better than the preceding, especially in an
attack upon an enemy's line strongly arranged and well connected. It may
even be called the most reasonable of all the orders of battle. The
attack upon the center, aided by a wing outflanking the enemy, prevents
the assailed party falling upon the assailant and taking him in flank,
as was done by Hannibal and Marshal Saxe. The enemy's wing which is
hemmed in between the attacks on the center and at the extremity, having
to contend with nearly the entire opposing force, will be defeated and
probably destroyed. It was this maneuver which gave Napoleon his
victories of Wagram and Ligny. This was what he wished to attempt at
Borodino,--where he obtained only a partial success, on account of the
heroic conduct of the Russian left and the division of Paskevitch in the
famous central redoubt, and on account of the arrival of Baggavout's
corps on the wing he hoped to outflank. He used it also at
Bautzen,--where an unprecedented success would have been the result, but
for an accident which interfered with the maneuver of the left wing
intended to cut off the allies from the road to Wurschen, every
arrangement having been made with that view.

It should be observed that these different orders are not to be
understood precisely as the geometrical figures indicate them. A general
who would expect to arrange his line of battle as regularly as upon
paper or on a drill-ground would be greatly mistaken, and would be
likely to suffer defeat. This is particularly true as battles are now
fought. In the time of Louis XIV. or of Frederick, it was possible to
form lines of battle almost as regular as the geometrical figures,
because armies camped under tents, almost always closely collected
together, and were in presence of each other several days, thus giving
ample time for opening roads and clearing spaces to enable the columns
to be at regular distances from each other. But in our day,--when armies
bivouac, when their division into several corps gives greater mobility,
when they take position near each other in obedience to orders given
them while out of reach of the general's eye, and often when there has
been no time for thorough examination of the enemy's position,--finally,
when the different arms of the service are intermingled in the line of
battle,--under these circumstances, all orders of battle which must be
laid out with great accuracy of detail are impracticable. These figures
have never been of any other use than to indicate approximate

If every army were a solid mass, capable of motion as a unit under the
influence of one man's will and as rapidly as thought, the art of
winning battles would be reduced to choosing the most favorable order of
battle, and a general could reckon with certainty upon the success of
maneuvers arranged beforehand. But the facts are altogether different;
for the great difficulty of the tactics of battles will always be to
render certain the simultaneous entering into action of the numerous
fractions whose efforts must combine to make such an attack as will give
good ground to hope for victory: in other words, the chief difficulty is
to cause these fractions to unite in the execution of the decisive
maneuver which, in accordance with the original plan of the battle, is
to result in victory.

Inaccurate transmission of orders, the manner in which they will be
understood and executed by the subordinates of the general-in-chief,
excess of activity in some, lack of it in others, a defective
_coup-d'oeil militaire_,--every thing of this kind may interfere with
the simultaneous entering into action of the different parts, without
speaking of the accidental circumstances which may delay or prevent the
arrival of a corps at the appointed place.

Hence result two undoubted truths: 1. The more simple a decisive
maneuver is, the more sure of success will it be; 2. Sudden maneuvers
seasonably executed during an engagement are more likely to succeed than
those determined upon in advance, unless the latter, relating to
previous strategic movements, will bring up the columns which are to
decide the day upon those points where their presence will secure the
expected result. Waterloo and Bautzen are proofs of the last. From the
moment when Blücher and Bulow had reached the heights of Frichermont,
nothing could have prevented the loss of the battle by the French, and
they could then only fight to make the defeat less complete. In like
manner, at Bautzen, as soon as Ney had reached Klix, the retreat of the
allies during the night of the 20th of May could alone have saved them,
for on the 21st it was too late; and, if Ney had executed better what
he was advised to do, the victory would have been a very great one.

As to maneuvers for breaking through a line and calculations upon the
co-operation of columns proceeding from the general front of the army,
with the intention of effecting large detours around an enemy's flank,
it may be stated that their result is always doubtful, since it depends
upon such an accurate execution of carefully-arranged plans as is rarely
seen. This subject will be considered in Art. XXXII.

Besides the difficulty of depending upon the exact application of an
order of battle arranged in advance, it often happens that battles begin
without even the assailant having a well-defined object, although the
collision may have been expected. This uncertainty results either from
circumstances prior to the battle, from ignorance of the enemy's
position and plans, or from the fact that a portion of the army may be
still expected to arrive on the field.

From these things many people have concluded that it is impossible to
reduce to different systems the formations of orders of battle, or that
the adoption of either of them can at all influence the result of an
engagement,--an erroneous conclusion, in my opinion, even in the cases
cited above. Indeed, in battles begun without any predetermined plan it
is probable that at the opening of the engagement the armies will occupy
lines nearly parallel and more or less strengthened upon some point; the
party acting upon the defensive, not knowing in what quarter the storm
will burst upon him, will hold a large part of his forces in reserve, to
be used as occasion may require; the assailant must make similar efforts
to have his forces well in hand; but as soon as the point of attack
shall have been determined, the mass of his troops will be directed
against the center or upon one wing of the enemy, or upon both at once.
Whatever may be the resulting formation, it will always bear a
resemblance to one of the figures previously exhibited. Even in
unexpected engagements the same thing would happen,--which will, it is
hoped, be a sufficient proof of the fact that this classification of the
different systems or orders of battle is neither fanciful nor useless.

There is nothing even in Napoleon's battles which disproves my
assertion, although they are less susceptible than any others of being
represented by lines accurately laid down. We see him, however, at
Rivoli, at Austerlitz, and at Ratisbon, concentrating his forces toward
the center to be ready at the favorable moment to fall upon the enemy.
At the Pyramids he formed an oblique line of squares in echelon. At
Leipsic, Essling, and Brienne he used a kind of convex order very like
Fig. 11. At Wagram his order was altogether like Fig. 16, bringing up
two masses upon the center and right, while keeping back the left wing;
and this he wished to repeat at Borodino and at Waterloo before the
Prussians came up. At Eylau, although the collision was almost entirely
unforeseen on account of the very unexpected return and offensive
movement of the Russians, he outflanked their left almost
perpendicularly, whilst in another direction he was endeavoring to break
through the center; but these attacks were not simultaneous, that on the
center being repulsed at eleven o'clock, whilst Davoust did not attack
vigorously upon the left until toward one. At Dresden he attacked by the
two wings, for the first time probably in his life, because his center
was covered by a fortification and an intrenched camp, and, in addition,
the attack of his left was combined with that of Vandamme upon the
enemy's line of retreat. At Marengo, if we may credit Napoleon himself,
the oblique order he assumed, resting his right at Castel Ceriole, saved
him from almost inevitable defeat. Ulm and Jena were battles won by
strategy before they were fought, tactics having but little to do with
them. At Ulm there was not even a regular battle.

I think we may hence conclude that if it seems absurd to desire to mark
out upon the ground orders of battle in such regular lines as would be
used in tracing them on a sketch, a skillful general may nevertheless
bear in mind the orders which have been indicated above, and may so
combine his troops on the battle-field that the arrangement shall be
similar to one of them. He should endeavor in all his combinations,
whether deliberately arranged or adopted on the spur of the moment, to
form a sound conclusion as to the important point of the battle-field;
and this he can only do by observing well the direction of the enemy's
line of battle, and not forgetting the direction in which strategy
requires him to operate. He will then give his attention and efforts to
this point, using a third of his force to keep the enemy in check or
watch his movements, while throwing the other two-thirds upon the point
the possession of which will insure him the victory. Acting thus, he
will have satisfied all the conditions the science of grand tactics can
impose upon him, and will have applied the principles of the art in the
most perfect manner. The manner of determining the decisive point of a
battle-field has been described in the preceding chapter, (Art. XIX.)

Having now explained the twelve orders of battle, it has occurred to me
that this would be a proper place to reply to several statements made in
the Memoirs of Napoleon published by General Montholon.

The great captain seems to consider the oblique order a modern
invention, a theorist's fancy,--an opinion I can by no means share; for
the oblique order is as old as Thebes and Sparta, and I have seen it
used with my own eyes. This assertion of Napoleon's seems the more
remarkable because Napoleon himself boasted of having used, at Marengo,
the very order of which he thus denies the existence.

If we understand that the oblique order is to be applied in the rigid
and precise manner inculcated by General Ruchel at the Berlin school.
Napoleon was certainly right in regarding it as an absurdity; but I
repeat that a line of battle never was a regular geometrical figure, and
when such figures are used in discussing the combinations of tactics it
can only be for the purpose of giving definite expression to an idea by
the use of a known symbol. It is nevertheless true that every line of
battle which is neither parallel nor perpendicular to the enemy's must
be oblique of necessity. If one army attacks the extremity of another
army, the attacking wing being reinforced by massing troops upon it
while the weakened wing is kept retired from attack, the direction of
the line must of necessity be a little oblique, since one end of it
will be nearer the enemy than the other. The oblique order is so far
from being a mere fancy that we see it used when the order is that by
echelons on one wing, (Fig. 14.)

As to the other orders of battle explained above, it cannot be denied
that at Essling and Fleurus the general arrangement of the Austrians was
a concave line, and that of the French a convex. In these orders
parallel lines may be used as in the case of straight lines, and they
would be classified as belonging to the parallel system when no part of
the line was more strongly occupied or drawn up nearer to the enemy than

Laying aside for the present further consideration of these geometrical
figures, it is to be observed that, for the purpose of fighting battles
in a truly scientific manner, the following points must be attended

     1. An offensive order of battle should have for its object to force
     the enemy from his position by all reasonable means.

     2. The maneuvers indicated by art are those intended to overwhelm
     one wing only, or the center and one wing at the same time. An
     enemy may also be dislodged by maneuvers for outflanking and
     turning his position.

     3. These attempts have a much greater probability of success if
     concealed from the enemy until the very moment of the assault.

     4. To attack the center and both wings at the same time, without
     having very superior forces, would be entirely in opposition to the
     rules of the art, unless one of these attacks can be made very
     strongly without weakening the line too much at the other points.

     5. The oblique order has no other object than to unite at least
     half the force of the army in an overwhelming attack upon one wing,
     while the remainder is retired to the rear, out of danger of
     attack, being arranged either in echelon or in a single oblique

     6 The different formations, convex, concave, perpendicular, or
     otherwise, may all be varied by having the lines of uniform
     strength throughout, or by massing troops at one point.

     7. The object of the defense being to defeat the plans of the
     attacking party, the arrangements of a defensive order should be
     such as to multiply the difficulties of approaching the position,
     and to keep in hand a strong reserve, well concealed, and ready to
     fall at the decisive moment upon a point where the enemy least
     expect to meet it.

     8. It is difficult to state with precision what is the best method
     to use in forcing a hostile army to abandon its position. An order
     of battle would be perfect which united the double advantages of
     the fire of the arms and of the moral effect produced by an onset.
     A skillful mixture of deployed lines and columns, acting
     alternately as circumstances require, will always be a good
     combination. In the practical use of this system many variations
     must arise from differences in the _coup-d'oeil_ of commanders, the
     _morale_ of officers and soldiers, their familiarity with maneuvers
     and firings of all sorts, from varying localities, &c.

     9. As it is essential in an offensive battle to drive the enemy
     from his position and to cut him up as much as possible, the best
     means of accomplishing this is to use as much material force as can
     be accumulated against him. It sometimes happens, however, that the
     direct application of main force is of doubtful utility, and better
     results may follow from maneuvers to outflank and turn that wing
     which is nearest the enemy's line of retreat. He may when thus
     threatened retire, when he would fight strongly and successfully if
     attacked by main force.

     History is full of examples of the success of such maneuvers,
     especially when used against generals of weak character; and,
     although victories thus obtained are generally less decisive and
     the hostile army is but little demoralized, such incomplete
     successes are of sufficient importance not to be neglected, and a
     skillful general should know how to employ the means to gain them
     when opportunity offers, and especially should he combine these
     turning movements with attacks by main force.

     10. The combination of these two methods--that is to say, the
     attack in front by main force and the turning maneuver--will render
     the victory more certain than the use of either separately; but,
     in all cases, too extended movements must be avoided, even in
     presence of a contemptible enemy.

     11. The manner of driving an enemy from his position by main force
     is the following:--Throw his troops into confusion by a heavy and
     well-directed fire of artillery, increase this confusion by
     vigorous charges of cavalry, and follow up the advantages thus
     gained by pushing forward masses of infantry well covered in front
     by skirmishers and flanked by cavalry.

     But, while we may expect success to follow such an attack upon the
     first line, the second is still to be overcome, and, after that,
     the reserve; and at this period of the engagement the attacking
     party would usually be seriously embarrassed, did not the moral
     effect of the defeat of the first line often occasion the retreat
     of the second and cause the general in command to lose his presence
     of mind. In fact, the attacking troops will usually be somewhat
     disordered, even in victory, and it will often be very difficult to
     replace them by those of the second line, because they generally
     follow the first line at such a distance as not to come within
     musket-range of the enemy; and it is always embarrassing to
     substitute one division for another in the heat of battle, at the
     moment when the enemy is putting forth all his strength in
     repelling the attack.

     These considerations lead to the belief that if the general and the
     troops of the defensive army are equally active in the performance
     of their duty, and preserve their presence of mind, if their flanks
     and line of retreat are not threatened, the advantage will usually
     be on their side at the second collision of the battle; but to
     insure that result their second line and the cavalry must be
     launched against the victorious battalions of the adversary at the
     proper instant; for the loss of a few minutes may be irreparable,
     and the second line may be drawn into the confusion of the first.

     12. From the preceding facts may be deduced the following truth:
     "that the most difficult as well as the most certain of all the
     means the assailant may use to gain the victory consists in
     strongly supporting the first line with the troops of the second
     line, and these with the reserve, and in a proper employment of
     masses of cavalry and of batteries, to assist in striking the
     decisive blow at the second line of the enemy; for here is
     presented the greatest of all the problems of the tactics of

     In this important crisis of battles, theory becomes an uncertain
     guide; for it is then unequal to the emergency, and can never
     compare in value with a natural talent for war, nor be a sufficient
     substitute for that intuitive _coup-d'oeil_ imparted by experience
     in battles to a general of tried bravery and coolness.

     The simultaneous employment of the largest number of troops of all
     arms combined, except a small reserve of each which should be
     always held in hand,[27] will, therefore, at the critical moment of
     the battle, be the problem which every skillful general will
     attempt to solve and to which he should give his whole attention.
     This critical moment is usually when the first line of the parties
     is broken, and all the efforts of both contestants are put
     forth,--on the one side to complete the victory, on the other to
     wrest it from the enemy. It is scarcely necessary to say that, to
     make this decisive blow more certain and effectual, a simultaneous
     attack upon the enemy's flank would be very advantageous.

     13. In the defensive the fire of musketry can be much more
     effectively used than in the offensive, since when a position is to
     be carried it can be accomplished only by moving upon it, and
     marching and firing at the same time can be done only by troops as
     skirmishers, being an impossibility for the principal masses. The
     object of the defense being to break and throw into confusion the
     troops advancing to the attack, the fire of artillery and musketry
     will be the natural defensive means of the first line, and when the
     enemy presses too closely the columns of the second line and part
     of the cavalry must be launched against him. There will then be a
     strong probability of his repulse.


[Footnote 24: In every battle one party must be the assailant and the
other assailed. Every battle is hence offensive for one party and
defensive for the other.]

[Footnote 25: The letter A in this and other figures of the twelve
orders indicates the defensive army, and B the offensive. The armies are
represented each in a single line, in order not to complicate the
figures too much; but it should be observed that every order of battle
ought to be in two lines, whether the troops are deployed in columns of
attack, in squares, or checkerwise.]

[Footnote 26: An attack upon the two extremities might succeed also in
some cases, either when the force was strong enough to try it, or the
enemy was unable to weaken his center to support the wings. As a rule, a
false attack to engage the center, and a strong attack against one
extremity, would be the best method to use against such a line.]

[Footnote 27: The great reserves must, of course, be also engaged when
it is necessary; but it is always a good plan to keep back, as a final
reserve, two or three battalions and five or six squadrons. Moreau
decided the battle of Engen with four companies of infantry; and what
Kellermann's cavalry accomplished at Marengo is known to every reader of


Turning Maneuvers, and too extended Movement in Battles.

We have spoken in the preceding article of maneuvers undertaken to turn
an enemy's line upon the battle-field, and of the advantages which may
be expected from them. A few words remain to be said as to the wide
détours which these maneuvers sometimes occasion, causing the failure of
so many plans seemingly well arranged.

It may be laid down as a principle that any movement is dangerous which
is so extended as to give the enemy an opportunity, while it is taking
place, of beating the remainder of the army in position. Nevertheless,
as the danger depends very much upon the rapid and certain _coup-d'oeil_
of the opposing general, as well as upon the style of warfare to which
he is accustomed, it is not difficult to understand why so many
maneuvers of this kind have failed against some commanders and succeeded
against others, and why such a movement which would have been hazardous
in presence of Frederick, Napoleon, or Wellington might have entire
success against a general of limited capacity, who had not the tact to
take the offensive himself at the proper moment, or who might himself
have been in the habit of moving in this manner.

It seems, therefore, difficult to lay down a fixed rule on the subject.
The following directions are all that can be given. Keep the mass of the
force well in hand and ready to act at the proper moment, being careful,
however, to avoid the danger of accumulating troops in too large bodies.
A commander observing these precautions will be always prepared for any
thing that may happen. If the opposing general shows little skill and
seems inclined to indulge in extended movements, his adversary may be
more daring.

A few examples drawn from history will serve to convince the reader of
the truth of my statements, and to show him how the results of these
extended movements depend upon the characters of the generals and the
armies concerned in them.

In the Seven Years' War, Frederick gained the battle of Prague because
the Austrians had left a feebly-defended interval of one thousand yards
between their right and the remainder of their army,--the latter part
remaining motionless while the right was overwhelmed. This inaction was
the more extraordinary as the left of the Austrians had a much shorter
distance to pass over in order to support their right than Frederick had
to attack it; for the right was in the form of a crotchet, and Frederick
was obliged to move on the arc of a large semicircle to reach it.

On the other hand, Frederick came near losing the battle of Torgau,
because he made with his left a movement entirely too extended and
disconnected (nearly six miles) with a view of turning the right of
Marshal Daun.[28] Mollendorf brought up the right by a concentric
movement to the heights of Siptitz, where he rejoined the king, whose
line was thus reformed.

The battle of Rivoli is a noted instance in point. All who are familiar
with that battle know that Alvinzi and his chief of staff Weyrother
wished to surround Napoleon's little army, which was concentrated on the
plateau of Rivoli. Their center was beaten,--while their left was piled
up in the ravine of the Adige, and Lusignan with their right was making
a wide _détour_ to get upon the rear of the French army, where he was
speedily surrounded and captured.

No one can forget the day of Stockach, where Jourdan conceived the
unfortunate idea of causing an attack to be made upon a united army of
sixty thousand men by three small divisions of seven thousand or eight
thousand men, separated by distances of several leagues, whilst
Saint-Cyr, with the third of the army, (thirteen thousand men,) was to
pass twelve miles beyond the right flank and get in rear of this army of
sixty thousand men, which could not help being victorious over these
divided fractions, and should certainly have captured the part in their
rear. Saint-Cyr's escape was indeed little less than a miracle.

We may call to mind how this same General Weyrother, who had desired to
surround Napoleon at Rivoli, attempted the same maneuver at Austerlitz,
in spite of the severe lesson he had formerly received. The left wing of
the allied army, wishing to outflank Napoleon's right, to cut him off
from Vienna, (where he did not desire to return,) by a circular movement
of nearly six miles, opened an interval of a mile and a half in their
line. Napoleon took advantage of this mistake, fell upon the center, and
surrounded their left, which was completely shut up between Lakes
Tellnitz and Melnitz.

Wellington gained the battle of Salamanca by a maneuver very similar to
Napoleon's, because Marmont, who wished to cut off his retreat to
Portugal, left an opening of a mile and a half in his line,--seeing
which, the English general entirely defeated his left wing, that had no

If Weyrother had been opposed to Jourdan at Rivoli or at Austerlitz, he
might have destroyed the French army, instead of suffering in each case
a total defeat; for the general who at Stockach attacked a mass of sixty
thousand men with four small bodies of troops so much separated as to be
unable to give mutual aid would not have known how to take proper
advantage of a wide detour effected in his presence. In the same way,
Marmont was unfortunate in having at Salamanca an adversary whose chief
merit was a rapid and practiced tactical _coup-d'oeil_. With the Duke of
York or Moore for an antagonist, Marmont would probably have been

Among the turning maneuvers which have succeeded in our day, Waterloo
and Hohenlinden had the most brilliant results. Of these the first was
almost altogether a strategic operation, and was attended with a rare
concurrence of fortunate circumstances. As to Hohenlinden, we will
search in vain in military history for another example of a single
brigade venturing into a forest in the midst of fifty thousand enemies,
and there performing such astonishing feats as Richepanse effected in
the defile of Matenpoet, where he might have expected, in all
probability, to lay down his arms.

At Wagram the turning wing under Davoust contributed greatly to the
successful issue of the day; but, if the vigorous attack upon the center
under Macdonald, Oudinot, and Bernadotte had not rendered opportune
assistance, it is by no means certain that a like success would have
been the result.

So many examples of conflicting results might induce the conclusion that
no rule on this subject can be given; but this would be erroneous; for
it seems, on the contrary, quite evident that, by adopting as a rule an
order of battle well closed and well connected, a general will find
himself prepared for any emergency, and little will be left to chance;
but it is specially important for him to have a correct estimate of his
enemy's character and his usual style of warfare, to enable him to
regulate his own actions accordingly. In case of superiority in numbers
or discipline, maneuvers may be attempted which would be imprudent were
the forces equal or the commanders of the same capacity. A maneuver to
outflank and turn a wing should be connected with other attacks, and
opportunely supported by an attempt of the remainder of the army on the
enemy's front, either against the wing turned or against the center.
Finally, strategic operations to cut an enemy's line of communications
before giving battle, and attack him in rear, the assailing army
preserving its own line of retreat, are much more likely to be
successful and effectual, and, moreover, they require no disconnected
maneuver during the battle.


[Footnote 28: For an account of these two battles, see Chapters II. and
XXV. of the Treatise on Grand Military Operations.]


Unexpected Meeting of Two Armies on the March.

The accidental and unexpected meeting of two armies on the march gives
rise to one of the most imposing scenes in war.

In the greater number of battles, one party awaits his enemy in a
position chosen in advance, which is attacked after a reconnoissance as
close and accurate as possible. It often happens, however,--especially
as war is now carried on,--that two armies approach each other, each
intending to make an unexpected attack upon the other. A collision
ensues unexpected by both armies, since each finds the other where it
does not anticipate a meeting. One army may also be attacked by another
which has prepared a surprise for it,--as happened to the French at

A great occasion of this kind calls into play all the genius of a
skillful general and of the warrior able to control events. It is always
possible to gain a battle with brave troops, even where the commander
may not have great capacity; but victories like those of Lutzen,
Luzzara, Eylau, Abensberg, can only be gained by a brilliant genius
endowed with great coolness and using the wisest combinations.

There is so much chance in these accidental battles that it is by no
means easy to lay down precise rules concerning them; but these are the
very cases in which it is necessary to keep clearly before the mind the
fundamental principles of the art and the different methods of applying
them, in order to a proper arrangement of maneuvers that must be decided
upon at the instant and in the midst of the crash of resounding arms.

Two armies marching, as they formerly did, with all their camp-equipage,
and meeting unexpectedly, could do nothing better at first than cause
their advanced guard to deploy to the right or left of the roads they
are traversing. In each army the forces should at the same time be
concentrated so that they may be thrown in a proper direction
considering the object of the march. A grave error would be committed in
deploying the whole army behind the advanced guard; because, even if the
deployment were accomplished, the result would be nothing more than a
badly-arranged parallel order, and if the enemy pressed the advanced
guard with considerable vigor the consequence might be the rout of the
troops which were forming. (See the account of the battle of Rossbach,
Treatise on Grand Operations.)

In the modern system, when armies are more easily moved, marching upon
several roads, and divided into masses which may act independently,
these routs are not so much to be feared; but the principles are
unchanged. The advanced guard must always be halted and formed, and then
the mass of the troops concentrated in that direction which is best
suited for carrying out the object of the march. Whatever maneuvers the
enemy may then attempt, every thing will be in readiness to meet him.


Of Surprises of Armies.

I shall not speak here of surprises of small detachments,--the chief
features in the wars of partisan or light troops, for which the light
Russian and Turkish cavalry are so well adapted. I shall confine myself
to an examination of the surprise of whole armies.

Before the invention of fire-arms, surprises were more easily effected
than at present; for the reports of artillery and musketry firing are
heard to so great a distance that the surprise of an army is now next to
an impossibility, unless the first duties of field-service are forgotten
and the enemy is in the midst of the army before his presence is known
because there are no outposts to give the alarm. The Seven Years' War
presents a memorable example in the surprise of Hochkirch. It shows that
a surprise does not consist simply in falling upon troops that are
sleeping or keeping a poor look-out, but that it may result from the
combination of a sudden attack upon, and a surrounding of, one extremity
of the army. In fact, to surprise an army it is not necessary to take it
so entirely unawares that the troops will not even have emerged from
their tents, but it is sufficient to attack it in force at the point
intended, before preparations can be made to meet the attack.

As armies at the present day seldom camp in tents when on a march,
prearranged surprises are rare and difficult, because in order to plan
one it becomes necessary to have an accurate knowledge of the enemy's
camp. At Marengo, at Lutzen, and at Eylau there was something like a
surprise; but this term should only be applied to an entirely unexpected
attack. The only great surprise to be cited is the case of Taroutin, in
1812, where Murat was attacked and beaten by Benningsen. To excuse his
imprudence, Murat pretended that a secret armistice was in force; but
there was really nothing of the kind, and he was surprised through his
own negligence.

It is evident that the most favorable manner of attacking an army is to
fall upon its camp just before daybreak, at the moment when nothing of
the sort is expected. Confusion in the camp will certainly take place;
and, if the assailant has an accurate knowledge of the locality and can
give a suitable tactical and strategic direction to the mass of his
forces, he may expect a complete success, unless unforeseen events
occur. This is an operation by no means to be despised in war, although
it is rare, and less brilliant than a great strategic combination which
renders the victory certain even before the battle is fought.

For the same reason that advantage should be taken of all opportunities
for surprising an adversary, the necessary precautions should be used to
prevent such attacks. The regulations for the government of any
well-organized army should point out the means for doing the last.


Of the Attack by Main Force of Fortified Places, Intrenched Camps or
Lines.--Of Coups de Main in General.

There are many fortified places which, although not regular fortresses,
are regarded as secure against _coups de main_, but may nevertheless be
carried by escalade or assault, or through breaches not altogether
practicable, but so steep as to require the use of ladders or some other
means of getting to the parapet.

The attack of a place of this kind presents nearly the same combinations
as that of an intrenched camp; for both belong to the class of _coups de

This kind of attack will vary with circumstances: 1st, with the strength
of the works; 2d, with the character of the ground on which they are
built; 3d, with the fact of their being isolated or connected; 4th, with
the morale of the respective parties. History gives us examples of all
of these varieties.

For examples, take the intrenched camps of Kehl, Dresden, and Warsaw,
the lines of Turin and Mayence, the intrenchments of Feldkirch,
Scharnitz, and Assiette. Here I have mentioned several cases, each with
varying circumstances and results. At Kehl (1796) the intrenchments were
better connected and better constructed than at Warsaw. There was, in
fact, a _tête de pont_ nearly equal to a permanent fortification; for
the archduke thought himself obliged to besiege it in form, and it would
have been extremely hazardous for him to make an open attack upon it. At
Warsaw the works were isolated, but of considerable relief, and they had
as a keep a large city surrounded by loopholed walls, armed and defended
by a number of desperate men.

Dresden, in 1813, had for a keep a bastioned enceinte, one front of
which, however, was dismantled and had no other parapet than such as was
suited to a field-work. The camp proper was protected by simple
redoubts, at considerable distances apart, very poorly built, the keep
giving it its sole strength.[29]

At Mayence and at Turin there were continuous lines of circumvallation;
but if in the first case they were strong, they were certainly not so at
Turin, where upon one of the important points there was an insignificant
parapet with a command of three feet, and a ditch proportionally deep.
In the latter case, also, the lines were between two fires, as they were
attacked in rear by a strong garrison at the moment when Prince Eugene
assailed them from without. At Mayence the lines were attacked in front,
only a small detachment having succeeded in passing around the right

The tactical measures to be taken in the attack of field-works are few
in number. If it seems probable that a work may be surprised if attacked
a little before day, it is altogether proper to make the attempt; but if
this operation may be recommended in case of an isolated work, it is by
no means to be expected that a large army occupying an intrenched camp
will permit itself to be surprised,--especially as the regulations of
all services require armies to stand to their arms at dawn. As an attack
by main force seems likely to be the method followed in this case, the
following simple and reasonable directions are laid down:--

     1. Silence the guns of the work by a powerful artillery-fire,
     which at the same time has the effect of discouraging the

     2. Provide for the troops all the materials necessary (such as
     fascines and short ladders) to enable them to pass the ditch and
     mount the parapet.

     3. Direct three small columns upon the work to be taken,
     skirmishers preceding them, and reserves being at hand for their

     4. Take advantage of every irregularity of the ground to get cover
     for the troops, and keep them sheltered as long as possible.

     5. Give detailed instructions to the principal columns as to their
     duties when a work shall have been carried, and as to the manner of
     attacking the troops occupying the camp. Designate the bodies of
     cavalry which are to assist in attacking those troops if the ground
     permits. When all these arrangements are made, there is nothing
     more to be done but to bring up the troops to the attack as
     actively as possible, while a detachment makes an attempt at the
     gorge. Hesitancy and delay in such a case are worse than the most
     daring rashness.

Those gymnastic exercises are very useful which prepare soldiers for
escalades and passing obstacles; and the engineers may with great
advantage give their attention to providing means for facilitating the
passage of the ditches of field-works and climbing their parapets.

Among all the arrangements in cases of this kind of which I have read,
none are better than those for the assault of Warsaw and the intrenched
camp of Mayence. Thielke gives a description of Laudon's dispositions
for attacking the camp of Buntzelwitz, which, although not executed, is
an excellent example for instruction. The attack of Warsaw may be cited
as one of the finest operations of this sort, and does honor to Marshal
Paskevitch and the troops who executed it. As an example not to be
followed, no better can be given than the arrangements made for
attacking Dresden in 1813.

Among attacks of this class may be mentioned the memorable assaults or
escalades of Port Mahon in 1756, and of Berg-op-zoom in 1747,--both
preceded by sieges, but still brilliant _coups de main_, since in
neither case was the breach sufficiently large for a regular assault.

Continuous intrenched lines, although seeming to have a better
interconnection than lines of detached works, are more easily carried,
because they may be several leagues in extent, and it is almost
impossible to prevent an enemy from breaking through them at some point.
The capture of the lines of Mayence and Wissembourg, which are described
in the History of the Wars of the Revolution, (Chapters XXI. and XXII.,)
and that of the lines of Turin by Eugene of Savoy in 1706, are excellent
lessons for study.

This famous event at Turin, which has been so often referred to, is so
familiar to all readers that it is unnecessary to recall the details of
it; but I cannot pass it by without remarking how easily the victory was
bought and how little it should have been expected. The strategic plan
was certainly admirable; and the march from the Adige through Piacenza
to Asti by the right bank of the Po, leaving the French on the Mincio,
was beautifully arranged, but its execution was exceedingly slow. When
we examine the operations near Turin, we must confess that the victors
owed more to their good fortune than to their wisdom. It required no
great effort of genius upon the part of Prince Eugene to prepare the
order he issued to his army; and he must have felt a profound contempt
for his opponents to execute a march with thirty-five thousand allied
troops of ten different nations between eighty thousand Frenchmen on the
one side and the Alps on the other, and to pass around their camp for
forty-eight hours by the most remarkable flank march that was ever
attempted. The order for the attack was so brief and so devoid of
instruction that any staff officer of the present day ought to write a
better. Directing the formation of eight columns of infantry by brigade
in two lines, giving them orders to carry the intrenchments and to make
openings through them for the passage of the cavalry into the camp, make
up the sum total of all the science exhibited by Eugene in order to
carry out his rash undertaking It is true he selected the weak point of
the intrenchment; for it was there so low that it covered only half the
bodies of its defenders.

But I am wandering from my subject, and must return to the explanation
of the measures most suitable for adoption in an attack on lines. If
they have a sufficient relief to make it difficult to carry them by
assault, and if on the other hand they may be outflanked or turned by
strategic maneuvers, it is far better to pursue the course last
indicated than to attempt a hazardous assault. If, however, there is any
reason for preferring the attack by assault, it should be made upon one
of the wings, because the center is the point most easily succored.
There have been cases where an attack on the wing was expected by the
defenders, and they have been deceived by a false attack made at that
point, while the real attack took place at the center, and succeeded
simply because unexpected. In these operations the locality and the
character of the generals engaged must decide as to the proper course to
be pursued.

The attack may be executed in the manner described for intrenched camps.
It has sometimes happened, however, that these lines have had the relief
and proportions of permanent works; and in this case escalade would be
quite difficult, except of old earthen works whose slopes were worn away
from the lapse of time and had become accessible for infantry of
moderate activity. The ramparts of Ismail and Praga were of this
character; so also was the citadel of Smolensk, which Paskevitch so
gloriously defended against Ney, because he preferred making his stand
at the ravines in front, rather than take shelter behind a parapet with
an inclination of scarcely thirty degrees.

If one extremity of a line rests upon a river, it seems absurd to think
of penetrating upon that wing, because the enemy collecting his forces,
the mass of which would be near the center, might defeat the columns
advancing between the center and the river and completely destroy them.
This absurdity, however, has sometimes been successful; because the
enemy driven behind his lines rarely thinks of making an offensive
return upon the assailant, no matter how advantageous it might seem. A
general and soldiers who seek refuge behind lines are already half
conquered, and the idea of taking the offensive does not occur to them
when their intrenchments are attacked. Notwithstanding these facts, I
cannot advise such a course; and the general who would run such a risk
and meet the fate of Tallard at Blenheim could have no just cause of

Very few directions can be given for the defense of intrenched camps and
lines. The first is to be sure of having strong reserves placed between
the center and each wing, or, to speak more accurately, on the right of
the left wing and on the left of the right wing. With this arrangement
succor can be easily and rapidly carried to a threatened point, which
could not be done were there but one central reserve. It has been
suggested that three reserves would not be too many if the intrenchment
is very extensive; but I decidedly incline to the opinion that two are
quite enough. Another recommendation may be given, and it is of great
importance,--that the troops be made to understand they must by no means
despair of finally defending a line which may be forced at one point;
because, if a good reserve is at hand, it may take the offensive, attack
the assailant, and succeed in driving him out of the work he may have
supposed in his power.


These are bold enterprises undertaken by a detachment of an army for the
capture of posts of different strength or importance.[30] They partake
of the nature both of surprises and attacks by main force, for both
these methods may be employed in carrying an attempt of this sort to a
successful issue. Although _coups de main_ seem to be entirely tactical
operations, their importance certainly depends on the relations of the
captured posts to the strategic combinations in hand. It will become
necessary, therefore, to say a few words with reference to coups de main
in Article XXXVI., when speaking of detachments. However tiresome these
repetitions may seem, I am obliged to state here the manner of executing
such operations, as it is evidently a part of the subject of the attack
of intrenchments.

I do not pretend to say that the rules of tactics apply to these
operations; for their name, _coups de main_, implies that ordinary rules
are not applicable to them. I desire only to call attention to them, and
refer my readers to the different works, either historical or didactic,
where they are mentioned.

I have previously stated that important results may often follow from
these enterprises. The capture of Sizeboli in 1828, the unsuccessful
attack of General Petrasch upon Kehl in 1796, the remarkable surprises
of Cremona in 1702, of Gibraltar in 1704, and of Berg-op-zoom in 1814,
as well as the escalades of Port Mahon and Badajos, give an idea of the
different kinds of _coup de main_. Some are effected by surprise, others
by open force. Skill, stratagems, boldness, on the part of the
assailant, and fear excited among the assailed, are some of the things
which have an influence upon the successful issue of _coups de main_.

As war is now waged, the capture of a post, however strong, is no longer
of the same importance as formerly unless it has a direct influence upon
the results of a great strategic operation.

The capture or destruction of a bridge defended by intrenchments, that
of a large convoy, of a small fort closing important passes, like the
two attacks which were made in 1799 upon the fort of Lucisteig in the
Grisons; the capture of Leutasch and Scharnitz by Ney in 1805; finally,
the capture of a post not even fortified, but used as a great depot of
provisions and munitions much needed by the enemy;--such are the
enterprises which will justify the risks to which a detachment engaging
in them may be exposed.

Posts have been captured by filling up the ditches sometimes with
fascines, sometimes with bags of wool; and manure has been used for the
same purpose. Ladders are generally necessary, and should always be
prepared. Hooks have been used in the hands and attached to the shoes of
soldiers, to help them in climbing rocky heights which commanded the
intrenchment. An entrance was effected through the sewers at Cremona by
Prince Eugene.

In reading such facts, we must draw from them not rules, but hints; for
what has been done once may be done again.


[Footnote 29: The number of defenders at Dresden the first day (August
25) was twenty-four thousand, the next day, sixty-five thousand, and the
third day, more than one hundred thousand.]

[Footnote 30: The distinction between the importance and the strength of
a post must be observed; for it may be very strong and of very little
importance, and vice aversá.]




Of Diversions and Great Detachments.

The operations of the detachments an army may send out have so important
a bearing on the success of a campaign, that the duty of determining
their strength and the proper occasions for them is one of the greatest
and most delicate responsibilities imposed upon a commander. If nothing
is more useful in war than a strong detachment opportunely sent out and
having a good _ensemble_ of operations with the main body, it is equally
certain that no expedient is more dangerous when inconsiderately
adopted. Frederick the Great regarded it as one of the essential
qualities of a general to know how to make his adversary send out many
detachments, either with the view of destroying them in detail or of
attacking the main body during their absence.

The division of armies into numerous detachments has sometimes been
carried to so great an extent, and with such poor results, that many
persons now believe it better to have none of them. It is undoubtedly
much safer and more agreeable for an army to be kept in a single mass;
but it is a thing at times impossible or incompatible with gaining a
complete or even considerable success. The essential point in this
matter is to send out as few detachments as possible.

There are several kinds of detachments.

     1. There are large corps dispatched to a distance from the zone of
     operations of the main army, in order to make diversions of greater
     or less importance.

     2. There are large detachments made in the zone of operations to
     cover important points of this zone, to carry on a siege, to guard
     a secondary base, or to protect the line of operations if

     3. There are large detachments made upon the front of operations,
     in face of the enemy, to act in concert with the main body in some
     combined operation.

     4. There are small detachments sent to a distance to try the effect
     of surprise upon isolated points, whose capture may have an
     important bearing upon the general operations of the campaign.

I understand by diversions those secondary operations carried out at a
distance from the principal zone of operations, at the extremities of a
theater of war, upon the success of which it is sometimes foolishly
supposed the whole campaign depends. Such diversions are useful in but
two cases, the first of which arises when the troops thus employed
cannot conveniently act elsewhere on account of their distance from the
real theater of operations, and the second is that where such a
detachment would receive strong support from the population among which
it was sent,--the latter case belonging rather to political than
military combinations. A few illustrative examples may not be out of
place here.

The unfortunate results for the allied powers of the Anglo-Russian
expedition to Holland, and of that of the Archduke Charles toward the
end of the last century, (which have been referred to in Article XIX.,)
are well known.

In 1805, Napoleon was occupying Naples and Hanover. The allies intended
an Anglo-Russian army to drive him out of Italy, while the combined
forces of England, Russia, and Sweden should drive him from Hanover,
nearly sixty thousand men being designed for these two widely-separated
points. But, while their troops were collecting at the two extremities
of Europe, Napoleon ordered the evacuation of Naples and Hanover,
Saint-Cyr hastened to effect a junction with Massena in the Frioul, and
Bernadotte, leaving Hanover, moved up to take part in the operations of
Ulm and Austerlitz. After these astonishing successes, Napoleon had no
difficulty in retaking Naples and Hanover. This is an example of the
failure of diversions. I will give an instance where such an operation
would have been proper.

In the civil wars of 1793, if the allies had sent twenty thousand men to
La Vendée, they would have accomplished much more than by increasing the
numbers of those who were fighting fruitlessly at Toulon, upon the
Rhine, and in Belgium. Here is a case where a diversion would have been
not only very useful, but decisive.

It has already been stated that, besides diversions to a distance and of
small bodies, large corps are often detached in the zone of operations
of the main army.

If the employment of these large corps thus detached for secondary
objects is more dangerous than the diversions above referred to, it is
no less true that they are often highly proper and, it may be,

These great detachments are chiefly of two kinds. The first are
permanent corps which must be sometimes thrown out in a direction
opposite to the main line of operations, and are to remain throughout a
campaign. The second are corps temporarily detached for the purpose of
assisting in carrying out some special enterprise.

Among the first should be especially enumerated those fractions of an
army that are detached either to form the strategic reserve, of which
mention has been made, or to cover lines of operation and retreat when
the configuration of the theater of the war exposes them to attack. For
example, a Russian army that wishes to cross the Balkan is obliged to
leave a portion of its forces to observe Shumla, Routchouk, and the
valley of the Danube, whose direction is perpendicular to its line of
operations. However successful it may be, a respectable force must
always be left toward Giurgevo or Krajova, and even on the right bank of
the river toward Routchouk.

This single example shows that it is sometimes necessary to have a
double strategic front, and then the detachment of a considerable corps
must be made to offer front to a part of the enemy's army in rear of the
main army. Other localities and other circumstances might be mentioned
where this measure would be equally essential to safety. One case is the
double strategic front of the Tyrol and the Frioul for a French army
passing the Adige. On whichever side it may wish to direct its main
column, a detachment must be left on the other front sufficiently strong
to hold in check the enemy threatening to cut the line of
communications. The third example is the frontier of Spain, which
enables the Spaniards to establish a double front,--one covering the
road to Madrid, the other having Saragossa or Galicia as a base. To
whichever side the invading army turns, a detachment must be left on the
other proportioned in magnitude to the enemy's force in that direction.

All that can be said on this point is that it is advantageous to enlarge
as much as possible the field of operations of such detachments, and to
give them as much power of mobility as possible, in order to enable them
by opportune movements to strike important blows. A most remarkable
illustration of this truth was given by Napoleon in the campaign of
1797. Obliged as he was to leave a corps of fifteen thousand men in the
valley of the Adige to observe the Tyrol while he was operating toward
the Noric Alps, he preferred to draw this corps to his aid, at the risk
of losing temporarily his line of retreat, rather than leave the parts
of his army disconnected and exposed to defeat in detail. Persuaded that
he could be victorious with his army united, he apprehended no
particular danger from the presence of a few hostile detachments upon
his communications.

Great movable and temporary detachments are made for the following

     1. To compel your enemy to retreat to cover his line of operations,
     or else to cover your own.

     2. To intercept a corps and prevent its junction with the main body
     of the enemy, or to facilitate the approach of your own

     3. To observe and hold in position a large portion of the opposing
     army, while a blow is struck at the remainder.

     4. To carry off a considerable convoy of provisions or munitions,
     on receiving which depended the continuance of a siege or the
     success of any strategic enterprise, or to protect the march of a
     convoy of your own.

     5. To make a demonstration to draw the enemy in a direction where
     you wish him to go, in order to facilitate the execution of an
     enterprise in another direction.

     6. To mask, or even to invest, one or more fortified places for a
     certain time, with a view either to attack or to keep the garrison
     shut up within the ramparts.

     7. To take possession of an important point upon the communications
     of an enemy already retreating.

However great may be the temptation to undertake such operations as
those enumerated, it must be constantly borne in mind that they are
always secondary in importance, and that the essential thing is to be
successful at the decisive points. A multiplication of detachments must,
therefore, be avoided. Armies have been destroyed for no other reason
than that they were not kept together.

We will here refer to several of these enterprises, to show that their
success depends sometimes upon good fortune and sometimes upon the skill
of their designer, and that they often fail from faulty execution.

Peter the Great took the first step toward the destruction of Charles
XII. by causing the seizure, by a strong detachment, of the famous
convoy Lowenhaupt was bringing up. Villars entirely defeated at Denain
the large detachment Prince Eugene sent out in 1709 under D'Albermale.

The destruction of the great convoy Laudon took from Frederick during
the siege of Olmutz compelled the king to evacuate Moravia. The fate of
the two detachments of Fouquet at Landshut in 1760, and of Fink at Maxen
in 1759, demonstrates how difficult it is at times to avoid making
detachments, and how dangerous they may be. To come nearer our own
times, the disaster of Vandamme at Culm was a bloody lesson, teaching
that a corps must not be thrust forward too boldly: however, we must
admit that in this case the operation was well planned, and the fault
was not so much in sending out the detachment as in not supporting it
properly, as might easily have been done. That of Fink was destroyed at
Maxen nearly on the same spot and for the same reason.

Diversions or demonstrations in the zone of operations of the army are
decidedly advantageous when arranged for the purpose of engaging the
enemy's attention in one direction, while the mass of the forces is
collected upon another point where the important blow is to be struck.
In such a case, care must be taken not only to avoid engaging the corps
making the demonstration, but to recall it promptly toward the main
body. We will mention two examples as illustrations of these facts.

In 1800, Moreau, wishing to deceive Kray as to the true direction of his
march, carried his left wing toward Rastadt from Kehl, whilst he was
really filing off his army toward Stockach; his left, having simply
shown itself, returned toward the center by Fribourg in Brisgau.

In 1805, Napoleon, while master of Vienna, detached the corps of
Bernadotte to Iglau to overawe Bohemia and paralyze the Archduke
Ferdinand, who was assembling an army in that territory; in another
direction he sent Davoust to Presburg to show himself in Hungary; but he
withdrew them to Brunn, to take part in the event which was to decide
the issue of the campaign, and a great and decisive victory was the
result of his wise maneuvers. Operations of this kind, so far from being
in opposition to the principles of the art of war, are necessary to
facilitate their application.

It readily appears from what goes before that precise rules cannot be
laid down for these operations, so varied in character, the success of
which depends on so many minute details. Generals should run the risk of
making detachments only after careful consideration and observation of
all the surrounding circumstances. The only reasonable rules on the
subject are these: send out as few detachments as possible, and recall
thorn immediately when their duty is performed. The inconveniences
necessarily attending them may be made as few as practicable, by giving
judicious and carefully-prepared instructions to their commanders:
herein lies the great talent of a good chief of staff.

One of the means of avoiding the disastrous results to which detachments
sometimes lead is to neglect none of the precautions prescribed by
tactics for increasing the strength of any force by posting it in good
positions; but it is generally imprudent to engage in a serious conflict
with too large a body of troops. In such cases ease and rapidity of
motion will be most likely to insure safety. It seldom happens that it
is right for a detachment to resolve to conquer or die in the position
it has taken, whether voluntarily or by order.

It is certain that in all possible cases the rules of tactics and of
field-fortification must be applied by detachments as well as by the
army itself.

Since we have included in the number of useful cases of detachments
those intended for _coups de main_, it is proper to mention a few
examples of this kind to enable the reader to judge for himself. We may
call to mind that one which was executed by the Russians toward the end
of 1828 with the view of taking possession of Sizeboli in the Gulf of
Bourghas. The capture of this feebly-fortified gulf, which the Russians
rapidly strengthened, procured for them in case of success an essential
_point d'appui_ beyond the Balkan, where depots could be established in
advance for the army intending to cross those mountains: in case of
failure, no one was compromised,--not even the small corps which had
been debarked, since it had a safe and certain retreat to the shipping.

In like manner, in the campaign of 1796, the _coup de main_ attempted by
the Austrians for the purpose of taking possession of Kehl and
destroying the bridge whilst Moreau was returning from Bavaria, would
have had very important consequences if it had not failed.

In attempts of this kind a little is risked to gain a great deal; and,
as they can in no wise compromise the safety of the main army, they may
be freely recommended.

Small bodies of troops thrown forward into the zone of the enemy's
operations belong to the class of detachments that are judicious. A few
hundred horsemen thus risked will be no great loss if captured; and they
may be the means of causing the enemy great injury. The small
detachments sent out by the Russians in 1807, 1812, and 1813 were a
great hinderance to Napoleon's operations, and several times caused his
plans to fail by intercepting his couriers.

For such expeditions officers should be selected who are bold and full
of stratagems. They ought to inflict upon the enemy all the injury they
can without compromising themselves. When an opportunity of striking a
telling blow presents itself, they should not think for a moment of any
dangers or difficulties in their path. Generally, however, address and
presence of mind, which will lead them to avoid useless danger, are
qualities more necessary for a partisan than cool, calculating boldness.
For further information on this subject I refer my readers to Chapter
XXXV. of the Treatise on Grand Operations, and to Article XLV. of this
work, on light cavalry.


Passage of Rivers and Other Streams.

The passage of a small stream, over which a bridge is already in place
or might be easily constructed, presents none of the combinations
belonging to grand tactics or strategy; but the passage of a large
river, such as the Danube, the Rhine, the Po, the Elbe, the Oder, the
Vistula, the Inn, the Ticino, &c, is an operation worthy the closest

The art of building military bridges is a special branch of military
science, which is committed to pontoniers or sappers. It is not from
this point of view that I propose to consider the passage of a stream,
but as the attack of a military position and as a maneuver.

The passage itself is a tactical operation; but the determination of the
point of passage may have an important connection with all the
operations taking place within the entire theater of the war. The
passage of the Rhine by General Moreau in 1800 is an excellent
illustration of the truth of this remark. Napoleon, a more skillful
strategist than Moreau, desired him to cross at Schaffhausen in order to
take Kray's whole army in reverse, to reach Ulm before him, to cut him
off from Austria and hurl him back upon the Main. Moreau, who had
already a bridge at Basel, preferred passing, with greater convenience
to his army, in front of the enemy, to turning his extreme left. The
tactical advantages seemed to his mind much more sure than the
strategical: he preferred the certainty of a partial success to the risk
attending a victory which would have been a decisive one. In the same
campaign Napoleon's passage of the Po is another example of the high
strategic importance of the choice of the point of crossing. The army of
the reserve, after the engagement of the Chiusella, could either march
by the left bank of the Po to Turin, or cross the river at Crescentino
and march directly to Genoa. Napoleon preferred to cross the Ticino,
enter Milan, effect a junction with Moncey who was approaching with
twenty thousand men by the Saint-Gothard pass, then to cross the Po at
Piacenza, expecting to get before Mélas more certainly in that direction
than if he came down too soon upon his line of retreat. The passage of
the Danube at Donauwerth and Ingolstadt in 1805 was a very similar
operation. The direction chosen for the passage was the prime cause of
the destruction of Mack's army.

The proper strategic point of passage is easily determined by
recollecting the principles laid down in Article XIX.; and it is here
only necessary to remind the reader that in crossing a river, as in
every other operation, there are permanent or geographical decisive
points, and others which are relative or eventual, depending on the
distribution of the hostile forces.

If the point selected combines strategic advantages with the tactical,
no other point can be better; but if the locality presents obstacles
exceedingly difficult to pass, another must be chosen, and in making the
new selection care should be taken to have the direction of the movement
as nearly as possible coincident with the true strategic direction.
Independently of the general combinations, which exercise a great
influence in fixing the point of passage, there is still another
consideration, connected with the locality itself. The best position is
that where the army after crossing can take its front of operations and
line of battle perpendicular to the river, at least for the first
marches, without being forced to separate into several corps moving upon
different lines. This advantage will also save it the danger of fighting
a battle with a river in rear, as happened to Napoleon at Essling.

Enough has been said with reference to the strategical considerations
influencing the selection of the point of crossing a river. We will now
proceed to speak of the passage itself. History is the best school in
which to study the measures likely to insure the success of such
operations. The ancients deemed the passage of the Granicus--which is a
small stream--a wonderful exploit. So far as this point is concerned,
the people of modern days can cite much greater.

The passage of the Rhine at Tholhuys by Louis XIV. has been greatly
lauded; and it was really remarkable. In our own time, General Dedon has
made famous the two passages of the Rhine at Kehl and of the Danube at
Hochstadt in 1800. His work is a model as far as concerns the details;
and in these operations minute attention to details is every thing. More
recently, three other passages of the Danube, and the ever-famous
passage of the Beresina, have exceeded every thing of the kind
previously seen. The two first were executed by Napoleon at Essling and
at Wagram, in presence of an army of one hundred and twenty thousand men
provided with four hundred pieces of cannon, and at a point where the
bed of the stream is broadest. General Pelet's interesting account of
them should be carefully read. The third was executed by the Russian
army at Satounovo in 1828, which, although not to be compared with the
two just mentioned, was very remarkable on account of the great local
difficulties and the vigorous exertions made to surmount them. The
passage of the Beresina was truly wonderful. My object not being to give
historical details on this subject, I direct my readers to the special
narratives of these events. I will give several general rules to be

     1. It is essential to deceive the enemy as to the point of
     passage, that he may not accumulate an opposing force there. In
     addition to the strategic demonstrations, false attacks must be
     made near the real one, to divide the attention and means of the
     enemy. For this purpose half of the artillery should be employed to
     make a great deal of noise at the points where the passage is not
     to be made, whilst perfect silence should be preserved where the
     real attempt is to be made.

     2. The construction of the bridge should be covered as much as
     possible by troops sent over in boats for the purpose of dislodging
     the enemy who might interfere with the progress of the work; and
     these troops should take possession at once of any villages, woods,
     or other obstacles in the vicinity.

     3. It is of importance also to arrange large batteries of heavy
     caliber, not only to sweep the opposite bank, but to silence any
     artillery the enemy might bring up to batter the bridge while
     building. For this purpose it is convenient to have the bank from
     which the passage is made somewhat higher than the other.

     4. The proximity of a large island near the enemy's bank gives
     great facilities for passing over troops in boats and for
     constructing the bridge. In like manner, a smaller stream emptying
     into the larger near the point of passage is a favorable place for
     collecting and concealing boats and materials for the bridge.

     5. It is well to choose a position where the river makes a
     re-entering bend, as the batteries on the assailant's side can
     cross their fire in front of the point where the troops are to land
     from the boats and where the end of the bridge is to rest, thus
     taking the enemy in front and flank when he attempts to oppose the

     6. The locality selected should be near good roads on both banks,
     that the army may have good communications to the front and rear on
     both banks of the river. For this reason, those points where the
     banks are high and steep should be usually avoided.

The rules for preventing a passage follow as a matter of course from
those for effecting it, as the duty of the defenders is to counteract
the efforts of the assailants. The important thing is to have the
course of the river watched by bodies of light troops, without
attempting to make a defense at every point. Concentrate rapidly at the
threatened point, in order to overwhelm the enemy while a part only of
his army shall have passed. Imitate the Duke of Vendôme at Cassano, and
the Archduke Charles at Essling in 1809,--the last example being
particularly worthy of praise, although the operation was not so
decidedly successful as might have been expected.

In Article XXI. attention was called to the influence that the passage
of a river, in the opening of a campaign, may have in giving direction
to the lines of operations. We will now see what connection it may have
with subsequent strategic movements.

One of the greatest difficulties to be encountered after a passage is to
cover the bridge against the enemy's efforts to destroy it, without
interfering too much with the free movement of the army. When the army
is numerically very superior to the enemy, or when the river is passed
just after a great victory gained, the difficulty mentioned is trifling;
but when the campaign is just opening, and the two opposing armies are
about equal, the case is very different.

If one hundred thousand Frenchmen pass the Rhine at Strasbourg or at
Manheim in presence of one hundred thousand Austrians, the first thing
to be done will be to drive the enemy in three directions,--first,
before them as far as the Black Forest, secondly, by the right in order
to cover the bridges on the Upper Rhine, and thirdly, by the left to
cover the bridges of Mayence and the Lower Rhine. This necessity is the
cause of an unfortunate division of the forces; but, to make the
inconveniences of this subdivision as few as possible, the idea must be
insisted on that it is by no means essential for the army to be
separated into three equal parts, nor need these detachments remain
absent longer than the few days required for taking possession of the
natural point of concentration of the enemy's forces.

The fact cannot be concealed, however, that the case supposed is one in
which the general finds his position a most trying one; for if he
divides his army to protect his bridges he may be obliged to contend
with one of his subdivisions against the whole of the enemy's force, and
have it overwhelmed; and if he moves his army upon a single line, the
enemy may divide his army and reassemble it at some unexpected point,
the bridges may be captured or destroyed, and the general may find
himself compromised before he has had time or opportunity to gain a

The best course to be pursued is to place the bridges near a city which
will afford a strong defensive point for their protection, to infuse all
possible vigor and activity into the first operations after the passage,
to fall upon the subdivisions of the enemy's army in succession, and to
beat them in such a way that they will have no further desire of
touching the bridges. In some cases eccentric lines of operations may be
used. If the enemy has divided his one hundred thousand men into several
corps, occupying posts of observation, a passage may be effected with
one hundred thousand men at a single point near the center of the line
of posts, the isolated defensive corps at this position may be
overwhelmed, and two masses of fifty thousand men each may then be
formed, which, by taking diverging lines of operations, can certainly
drive off the successive portions of the opposing army, prevent them
from reuniting, and remove them farther and farther from the bridges.
But if, on the contrary, the passage be effected at one extremity of the
enemy's strategic front, by moving rapidly along this front the enemy
may be beaten throughout its whole extent,--in the same manner that
Frederick tactically beat the Austrian line at Leuthen throughout its
length,--the bridges will be secure in rear of the army, and remain
protected during all the forward movements. It was in this manner that
Jourdan, having passed the Rhine at Dusseldorf in 1795, on the extreme
right of the Austrians, could have advanced in perfect safety toward the
Main. He was driven away because the French, having a double and
exterior line of operations, left one hundred and twenty thousand men
inactive between Mayence and Basel, while Clairfayt repulsed Jourdan
upon the Lahn. But this cannot diminish the importance of the advantages
gained by passing a river upon one extremity of the enemy's strategic
front. A commander-in-chief should either adopt this method, or that
previously explained, of a central mass at the moment of passage, and
the use of eccentric lines afterward, according to the circumstances of
the case, the situation of the frontiers and bases of operations, as
well as the positions of the enemy. The mention of these combinations,
of which something has already been said in the article on lines of
operations, does not appear out of place here, since their connection
with the location of bridges has been the chief point under discussion.

It sometimes happens that, for cogent reasons, a double passage is
attempted upon a single front of operations, as was the case with
Jourdan and Moreau in 1796. If the advantage is gained of having in case
of need a double line of retreat, there is the inconvenience, in thus
operating on the two extremities of the enemy's front, of forcing him,
in a measure, to concentrate on his center, and he may be placed in a
condition to overwhelm separately the two armies which have crossed at
different points. Such an operation will always lead to disastrous
results when the opposing general has sufficient ability to know how to
take advantage of this violation of principles.

In such a case, the inconveniences of the double passage may be
diminished by passing over the mass of the forces at one of the points,
which then becomes the decisive one, and by concentrating the two
portions by interior lines as rapidly as possible, to prevent the enemy
from destroying them separately. If Jourdan and Moreau had observed this
rule, and made a junction of their forces in the direction of
Donauwerth, instead of moving eccentrically, they would probably have
achieved great successes in Bavaria, instead of being driven back upon
the Rhine.


Retreats and Pursuits.

Retreats are certainly the most difficult operations in war. This remark
is so true that the celebrated Prince de Ligne said, in his usual
piquant style, that he could not conceive how an army ever succeeded in
retreating. When we think of the physical and moral condition of an army
in full retreat after a lost battle, of the difficulty of preserving
order, and of the disasters to which disorder may lead, it is not hard
to understand why the most experienced generals have hesitated to
attempt such an operation.

What method of retreat shall be recommended? Shall the fight be
continued at all hazards until nightfall and the retreat executed under
cover of the darkness? or is it better not to wait for this last chance,
but to abandon the field of battle while it can be done and a strong
opposition still made to the pursuing army? Should a forced march be
made in the night, in order to get as much start of the enemy as
possible? or is it better to halt after a half-march and make a show of
fighting again? Each of these methods, although entirely proper in
certain cases, might in others prove ruinous to the whole army. If the
theory of war leaves any points unprovided for, that of retreats is
certainly one of them.

If you determine to fight vigorously until night, you may expose
yourself to a complete defeat before that time arrives; and if a forced
retreat must begin when the shades of night are shrouding every thing in
darkness and obscurity, how can you prevent the disintegration of your
army, which does not know what to do, and cannot see to do any thing
properly? If, on the other hand, the field of battle is abandoned in
broad daylight and before all possible efforts have been made to hold
it, you may give up the contest at the very moment when the enemy is
about to do the same thing; and this fact coming to the knowledge of the
troops, you may lose their confidence,--as they are always inclined to
blame a prudent general who retreats before the necessity for so doing
may be evident to themselves. Moreover, who can say that a retreat
commenced in the daylight in presence of an enterprising enemy may not
become a rout?

When the retreat is actually begun, it is no less difficult to decide
whether a forced march shall be made to get as much the start of the
enemy as possible,--since this hurried movement might sometimes cause
the destruction of the army, and might, in other circumstances, be its
salvation. All that can be positively asserted on this subject is that,
in general, with an army of considerable magnitude, it is best to
retreat slowly, by short marches, with a well-arranged rear-guard of
sufficient strength to hold the heads of the enemy's columns in check
for several hours.

Retreats are of different kinds, depending upon the cause from which
they result. A general may retire of his own accord before fighting, in
order to draw his adversary to a position which he prefers to his
present one. This is rather a prudent maneuver than a retreat. It was
thus that Napoleon retired in 1805 from Wischau toward Brunn to draw the
allies to a point which suited him as a battle-field. It was thus that
Wellington retired from Quatre-Bras to Waterloo. This is what I proposed
to do before the attack at Dresden, when the arrival of Napoleon was
known. I represented the necessity of moving toward Dippoldiswalde to
choose a favorable battle-field. It was supposed to be a retreat that I
was proposing; and a mistaken idea of honor prevented a retrograde
movement without fighting, which would have been the means of avoiding
the catastrophe of the next day, (August 26, 1813.)

A general may retire in order to hasten to the defense of a point
threatened by the enemy, either upon the flanks or upon the line of
retreat. When an army is marching at a distance from its depots, in an
exhausted country, it may be obliged to retire in order to get nearer
its supplies. Finally, an army retires involuntarily after a lost
battle, or after an unsuccessful enterprise.

These are not the only causes having an influence in retreats. Their
character will vary with that of the country, with the distances to be
passed over and the obstacles to be surmounted. They are specially
dangerous in an enemy's country; and when the points at which the
retreats begin are distant from the friendly country and the base of
operations, they become painful and difficult.

From the time of the famous retreat of the Ten Thousand, so justly
celebrated, until the terrible catastrophe which befell the French army
in 1812, history does not make mention of many remarkable retreats. That
of Antony, driven out of Media, was more painful than glorious. That of
the Emperor Julian, harassed by the same Parthians, was a disaster. In
more recent days, the retreat of Charles VIII. to Naples, when he passed
by a corps of the Italian army at Fornovo, was an admirable one. The
retreat of M. de Bellisle from Prague does not deserve the praises it
has received. Those executed by the King of Prussia after raising the
siege of Olmutz and after the surprise at Hochkirch were very well
arranged; but they were for short distances. That of Moreau in 1796,
which was magnified in importance by party spirit, was creditable, but
not at all extraordinary. The retreat of Lecourbe from Engadin to
Altorf, and that of Macdonald by Pontremoli after the defeat of the
Trebbia, as also that of Suwaroff from the Muttenthal to Chur, were
glorious feats of arms, but partial in character and of short duration.
The retreat of the Russian army from the Niemen to Moscow--a space of
two hundred and forty leagues,--in presence of such an enemy as Napoleon
and such cavalry as the active and daring Murat commanded, was certainly
admirable. It was undoubtedly attended by many favorable circumstances,
but was highly deserving of praise, not only for the talent displayed by
the generals who directed its first stages, but also for the admirable
fortitude and soldierly bearing of the troops who performed it. Although
the retreat from Moscow was a bloody catastrophe for Napoleon, it was
also glorious for him and the troops who were at Krasnoi and the
Beresina,--because the skeleton of the army was saved, when not a single
man should have returned. In this ever-memorable event both parties
covered themselves with glory.

The magnitude of the distances and the nature of the country to be
traversed, the resources it offers, the obstacles to be encountered, the
attacks to be apprehended, either in rear or in flank, superiority or
inferiority in cavalry, the spirit of the troops, are circumstances
which have a great effect in deciding the fate of retreats, leaving out
of consideration the skillful arrangements which the generals may make
for their execution.

A general falling back toward his native land along his line of
magazines and supplies may keep his troops together and in good order,
and may effect a retreat with more safety than one compelled to subsist
his army in cantonments, finding it necessary to occupy an extended
position. It would be absurd to pretend that a French army retiring from
Moscow to the Niemen without supplies of provisions, in want of cavalry
and draft horses, could effect the movement in the same good order and
with the same steadiness as a Russian army, well provided with every
thing necessary, marching in its own country, and covered by an immense
number of light cavalry.

There are five methods of arranging a retreat:--

     The first is to march in a single mass and upon one road.

     The second consists in dividing the army into two or three corps,
     marching at the distance of a day's march from each other, in order
     to avoid confusion, especially in the _matériel_.

     The third consists in marching upon a single front by several roads
     nearly parallel and having a common point of arrival.

     The fourth consists in moving by constantly converging roads.

     The fifth, on the contrary, consists in moving along diverging

I have nothing to say as to the formation of rear-guards; but it is
taken for granted that a good one should always be prepared and well
sustained by a portion of the cavalry reserves. This arrangement is
common to all kinds of retreats, but has nothing to do with the
strategic relations of these operations.

An army falling back in good order, with the intention of fighting as
soon as it shall have received expected reinforcements or as soon as it
shall have reached a certain strategic position, should prefer the first
method, as this particularly insures the compactness of the army and
enables it to be in readiness for battle almost at any moment, since it
is simply necessary to halt the heads of columns and form the remainder
of the troops under their protection as they successively arrive. An
army employing this method must not, however, confine itself to the
single main road, if there are side-roads sufficiently near to be
occupied which may render its movements more rapid and secure.

When Napoleon retired from Smolensk, he used the second method, having
the portions of his army separated by an entire march. He made therein a
great mistake, because the enemy was not following upon his rear, but
moving along a lateral road which brought him in a nearly perpendicular
direction into the midst of the separated French corps. The three fatal
days of Krasnoi were the result. The employment of this method being
chiefly to avoid incumbering the road, the interval between the
departure of the several corps is sufficiently great when the artillery
may readily file off. Instead of separating the corps by a whole march,
the army would be better divided into two masses and a rear-guard, a
half-march from each other. These masses, moving off in succession with
an interval of two hours between the departure of their several
army-corps, may file off without incumbering the road, at least in
ordinary countries. In crossing the Saint-Bernard or the Balkan, other
calculations would doubtless be necessary.

I apply this idea to an army of one hundred and twenty thousand or one
hundred and fifty thousand men, having a rear-guard of twenty thousand
or twenty-five thousand men distant about a half-march in rear. The army
may be divided into two masses of about sixty thousand men each,
encamped at a distance of three or four leagues from each other. Each of
these masses will be subdivided into two or three corps, which may
either move successively along the road or form in two lines across the
road. In either case, if one corps of thirty thousand men moves at five
A.M. and the other at seven, there will be no danger of interference
with each other, unless something unusual should happen; for the second
mass being at the same hours of the day about four leagues behind the
first, they can never be occupying the same part of the road at the same

When there are practicable roads in the neighborhood, suitable at least
for infantry and cavalry, the intervals may be diminished. It is
scarcely necessary to add that such an order of march can only be used
when provisions are plentiful; and the third method is usually the best,
because the army is then marching in battle-order. In long days and in
hot countries the best times for marching are the night and the early
part of the day. It is one of the most difficult problems of logistics
to make suitable arrangements of hours of departures and halts for
armies; and this is particularly the case in retreats.

Many generals neglect to arrange the manner and times of halts, and
great disorder on the march is the consequence, as each brigade or
division takes the responsibility of halting whenever the soldiers are a
little tired and find it agreeable to bivouac. The larger the army and
the more compactly it marches, the more important does it become to
arrange well the hours of departures and halts, especially if the army
is to move at night. An ill-timed halt of part of a column may cause as
much mischief as a rout.

If the rear-guard is closely pressed, the army should halt in order to
relieve it by a fresh corps taken from the second mass, which will halt
with this object in view. The enemy seeing eighty thousand men in
battle-order will think it necessary to halt and collect his columns;
and then the retreat should recommence at nightfall, to regain the space
which has been lost.

The third method, of retreating along several parallel roads, is
excellent when the roads are sufficiently near each other. But, if they
are quite distant, one wing separated from the center and from the other
wing may be compromised if the enemy attacks it in force and compels it
to stand on the defensive. The Prussian army moving from Magdeburg
toward the Oder, in 1806, gives an example of this kind.

The fourth method, which consists in following concentric roads, is
undoubtedly the best if the troops are distant from each other when the
retreat is ordered. Nothing can be better, in such a case, than to unite
the forces; and the concentric retreat is the only method of effecting

The fifth method indicated is nothing else than the famous system of
eccentric lines, which I have attributed to Bulow, and have opposed so
warmly in the earlier editions of my works, because I thought I could
not be mistaken either as to the sense of his remarks on the subject or
as to the object of his system. I gathered from his definition that he
recommended to a retreating army, moving from any given position, to
separate into parts and pursue diverging roads, with the double object
of withdrawing more readily from the enemy in pursuit and of arresting
his march by threatening his flanks and his line of communications. I
found great fault with the system, for the simple reason that a beaten
army is already weak enough, without absurdly still further dividing its
forces and strength in presence of a victorious enemy.

Bulow has found defenders who declare that I mistake his meaning, and
that by the term _eccentric retreat_ he did not understand a retreat
made on several diverging roads, but one which, instead of being
directed toward the center of the base of operations or the center of
the country, should be eccentric to that focus of operations, and along
the line of the frontier of the country.

I may possibly have taken an incorrect impression from his language, and
in this case my criticism falls to the ground; for I have strongly
recommended that kind of a retreat to which I have given the name of the
parallel retreat. It is my opinion that an army, leaving the line which
leads from the frontiers to the center of the state, with a view of
moving to the right or the left, may very well pursue a course nearly
parallel to the line of the frontiers, or to its front of operations and
its base. It seems to me more rational to give the name of parallel
retreat to such a movement as that described, designating as eccentric
retreat that where diverging roads are followed, all leading from the
strategic front.

However this dispute about words may result, the sole cause of which was
the obscurity of Bulow's text, I find fault only with those retreats
made along several diverging roads, under pretense of covering a greater
extent of frontier and of threatening the enemy on both flanks.

By using these high-sounding words _flanks_, an air of importance may be
given to systems entirely at variance with the principles of the art. An
army in retreat is always in a bad state, either physically or morally;
because a retreat can only be the result of reverses or of numerical
inferiority. Shall such an army be still more weakened by dividing it? I
find no fault with retreats executed in several columns, to increase the
ease of moving, when these columns can support each other; but I am
speaking of those made along diverging lines of operations. Suppose an
army of forty thousand men retreating before another of sixty thousand.
If the first forms four isolated divisions of about ten thousand men,
the enemy may maneuver with two masses of thirty thousand men each. Can
he not turn his adversary, surround, disperse, and ruin in succession
all his divisions? How can they escape such a fate? _By concentration_.
This being in direct opposition to a divergent system, the latter falls
of itself.

I invoke to my support the great lessons of experience. When the leading
divisions of the army of Italy were repulsed by Wurmser, Bonaparte
collected them all together at Roverbella; and, although he had only
forty thousand men, he fought and beat sixty thousand, because he had
only to contend against isolated columns. If he had made a divergent
retreat, what would have become of his army and his victories? Wurmser,
after his first check, made an eccentric retreat, directing his two
wings toward the extremities of the line of defense. What was the
result? His right, although supported by the mountains of the Tyrol, was
beaten at Trent. Bonaparte then fell upon the rear of his left, and
destroyed that at Bassano and Mantua.

When the Archduke Charles gave way before the first efforts of the
French armies in 1796, would he have saved Germany by an eccentric
movement? Was not the salvation of Germany due to his concentric
retreat? At last Moreau, who had moved with a very extended line of
isolated divisions, perceived that this was an excellent system for his
own destruction, if he stood his ground and fought or adopted the
alternative of retreating. He concentrated his scattered troops, and all
the efforts of the enemy were fruitless in presence of a mass which it
was necessary to watch throughout the whole length of a line of two
hundred miles. Such examples must put an end to further discussion.[31]

There are two cases in which divergent retreats are admissible, and then
only as a last resource. First, when an army has experienced a great
defeat in its own country, and the scattered fragments seek protection
within the walls of fortified places. Secondly, in a war where the
sympathies of the whole population are enlisted, each fraction of the
army thus divided may serve as a nucleus of assembly in each province;
but in a purely methodical war, with regular armies, carried on
according to the principles of the art, divergent retreats are simply

There is still another strategical consideration as to the direction of
a retreat,--to decide when it should be made perpendicularly to the
frontier and toward the interior of the country, or when it should be
parallel to the frontier. For example, when Marshal Soult gave up the
line of the Pyrenees in 1814, he had to choose one of two directions for
his retreat,--either by way of Bordeaux toward the interior of France,
or by way of Toulouse parallel to the frontier formed by the Pyrenees.
In the same way, when Frederick retired from Moravia, he marched toward
Bohemia instead of returning to Silesia.

These parallel retreats are often to be preferred, for the reason that
they divert the enemy from a march upon the capital of the state and the
center of its power. The propriety of giving such a direction to a
retreat must be determined by the configuration of the frontiers, the
positions of the fortresses, the greater or less space the army may
have for its marches, and the facilities for recovering its direct
communications with the central portions of the state.

Spain is admirably suited to the use of this system. If a French army
penetrates by way of Bayonne, the Spaniards may base themselves upon
Pampeluna and Saragossa, or upon Leon and the Asturias; and in either
case the French cannot move directly to Madrid, because their line of
operations would be at the mercy of their adversary.

The frontier of the Turkish empire on the Danube presents the same
advantages, if the Turks knew how to profit by them.

In France also the parallel retreat may be used, especially when the
nation itself is not divided into two political parties each of which is
striving for the possession of the capital. If the hostile army
penetrates through the Alps, the French can act on the Rhone and the
Saône, passing around the frontier as far as the Moselle on one side, or
as far as Provence on the other. If the enemy enters the country by way
of Strasbourg, Mayence, or Valenciennes, the same thing can be done. The
occupation of Paris by the enemy would be impossible, or at least very
hazardous, so long as a French army remained in good condition and based
upon its circle of fortified towns. The same is the case for all
countries having double fronts of operations.[32]

Austria is perhaps not so fortunately situated, on account of the
directions of the Rhetian and Tyrolean Alps and of the river Danube.
Lloyd, however, considers Bohemia and the Tyrol as two bastions
connected by the strong curtain of the river Inn, and regards this
frontier as exceedingly well suited for parallel movements. This
assertion was not well sustained by the events of the campaigns of 1800,
1805, and 1809; but, as the parallel method has not yet had a fair trial
on that ground, the question is still an open one.

It seems to me that the propriety of applying the parallel method
depends mainly upon the existing and the antecedent circumstances of
each case. If a French army should approach from the Rhine by way of
Bavaria, and should find allies in force upon the Lech and the Iser, it
would be a very delicate operation to throw the whole Austrian army into
the Tyrol and into Bohemia, with the expectation of arresting in this
way the forward movement to Vienna. If half the Austrian army is left
upon the Inn to cover the approaches to the capital, an unfortunate
division of force is the consequence; and if it is decided to throw the
whole army into the Tyrol, leaving the way to Vienna open, there would
be great danger incurred if the enemy is at all enterprising. In Italy,
beyond the Mincio, the parallel method would be of difficult application
on the side of the Tyrol, as well as in Bohemia against an enemy
approaching from Saxony, for the reason that the theater of operations
would be too contracted.

In Prussia the parallel retreat may be used with great advantage against
an army debouching from Bohemia upon the Elbe or the Oder, whilst its
employment would be impossible against a French army moving from the
Rhine, or a Russian army from the Vistula, unless Prussia and Austria
were allies. This is a result of the geographical configuration of the
country, which allows and even favors lateral movements: in the
direction of its greatest dimension, (from Memel to Mayence;) but such a
movement would be disastrous if made from Dresden to Stettin.

When an army retreats, whatever may be the motive of the operation, a
pursuit always follows.

A retreat, even when executed in the most skillful manner and by an army
in good condition, always gives an advantage to the pursuing army; and
this is particularly the case after a defeat and when the source of
supplies and reinforcements is at a great distance; for a retreat then
becomes more difficult than any other operation in war, and its
difficulties increase in proportion to the skill exhibited by the enemy
in conducting the pursuit.

The boldness and activity of the pursuit will depend, of course, upon
the character of the commanders and upon the _physique_ and _morale_ of
the two armies. It is difficult to prescribe fixed rules for all cases
of pursuits, but the following points must be recollected:--

     1. It is generally better to direct the pursuit upon the flank of
     the retreating columns, especially when it is made in one's own
     country and where no danger is incurred in moving perpendicularly
     or diagonally upon the enemy's line of operations. Care must,
     however, be taken not to make too large a circuit; for there might
     then be danger of losing the retreating enemy entirely.

     2. A pursuit should generally be as boldly and actively executed as
     possible, especially when it is subsequent to a battle gained;
     because the demoralized army may be wholly dispersed if vigorously
     followed up.

     3. There are very few cases where it is wise to make a bridge of
     gold for the enemy, no matter what the old Roman proverb may say;
     for it can scarcely ever be desirable to pay an enemy to leave a
     country, unless in the case when an unexpected success shall have
     been gained over him by an army much inferior to his in numbers.

Nothing further of importance can be added to what has been said on the
subject of retreats, as far as they are connected with grand
combinations of strategy. We may profitably indicate several tactical
measures which may render them more easy of execution.

One of the surest means of making a retreat successfully is to
familiarize the officers and soldiers with the idea that an enemy may be
resisted quite as well when coming on the rear as on the front, and that
the preservation of order is the only means of saving a body of troops
harassed by the enemy during a retrograde movement. Rigid discipline is
at all times the best preservative of good order, but it is of special
importance during a retreat. To enforce discipline, subsistence must be
furnished, that the troops may not be obliged to straggle off for the
purpose of getting supplies by marauding.

It is a good plan to give the command of the rear-guard to an officer
of great coolness, and to attach to it staff officers who may, in
advance of its movements, examine and select points suitable for
occupation to hold the enemy temporarily in check. Cavalry can rally so
rapidly on the main body that it is evidently desirable to have
considerable bodies of such troops, as they greatly facilitate the
execution of a slow and methodical retreat, and furnish the means of
thoroughly examining the road itself and the neighborhood, so as to
prevent an unexpected onset of the enemy upon the flanks of the
retreating columns.

It is generally sufficient if the rear-guard keep the enemy at the
distance of half a day's march from the main body. The rear-guard would
run great risk of being itself cut off, if farther distant. When,
however, there are defiles in its rear which are held by friends, it may
increase the sphere of its operations and remain a full day's march to
the rear; for a defile, when held, facilitates a retreat in the same
degree that it renders it more difficult if in the power of the enemy.
If the army is very numerous and the rear-guard proportionally large, it
may remain a day's march in rear. This will depend, however, upon its
strength, the nature of the country, and the character and strength of
the pursuing force. If the enemy presses up closely, it is of importance
not to permit him to do so with impunity, especially if the retreat is
made in good order. In such a case it is a good plan to halt from time
to time and fall unexpectedly upon the enemy's advanced guard, as the
Archduke Charles did in 1796 at Neresheim, Moreau at Biberach, and
Kleber at Ukerath. Such a maneuver almost always succeeds, on account of
the surprise occasioned by an unexpected offensive return upon a body of
troops which is thinking of little else than collecting trophies and

Passages of rivers in retreat are also operations by no means devoid of
interest. If the stream is narrow and there are permanent bridges over
it, the operation is nothing more than the passage of a defile; but when
the river is wide and is to be crossed upon a temporary military bridge,
it is a maneuver of extreme delicacy. Among the precautions to be
taken, a very important one is to get the parks well advanced, so that
they may be out of the way of the army; for this purpose it is well for
the army to halt a half-day's march from the river. The rear-guard
should also keep at more than the usual distance from the main body,--as
far, in fact, as the locality and the respective forces opposed will
permit. The army may thus file across the bridge without being too much
hurried. The march of the rear-guard should be so arranged that it shall
have reached a position in front of the bridge just as the last of the
main body has passed. This will be a suitable moment for relieving the
rear-guard by fresh troops strongly posted. The rear-guard will pass
through the intervals of the fresh troops in position and will cross the
river; the enemy, coming up and finding fresh troops drawn up to give
him battle, will make no attempt to press them too closely. The new
rear-guard will hold its position until night, and will then cross the
river, breaking the bridges after it.

It is, of course, understood that as fast as the troops pass they form
on the opposite bank and plant batteries, so as to protect the corps
left to hold the enemy in check.

The dangers of such a passage in retreat, and the nature of the
precautions which facilitate it, indicate that measures should always be
taken to throw up intrenchments at the point where the bridge is to be
constructed and the passage made. Where time is not allowed for the
construction of a regular _tête de pont_, a few well-armed redoubts will
be found of great value in covering the retreat of the last troops.

If the passage of a large river is so difficult when the enemy is only
pressing on the rear of the column, it is far more so when the army is
threatened both in front and rear and the river is guarded by the enemy
in force.

The celebrated passage of the Beresina by the French is one of the most
remarkable examples of such an operation. Never was an army in a more
desperate condition, and never was one extricated more gloriously and
skillfully. Pressed by famine, benumbed with cold, distant twelve
hundred miles from its base of operations, assailed by the enemy in
front and in rear, having a river with marshy banks in front, surrounded
by vast forests, how could it hope to escape? It paid dearly for the
honor it gained. The mistake of Admiral Tschitchagoff doubtless helped
its escape; but the army performed heroic deeds, for which due praise
should be given. We do not know whether to admire most the plan of
operations which brought up the Russian armies from the extremities of
Moldavia, from Moscow, and from Polotzk to the Beresina as to a
rendezvous arranged in peace,--a plan which came near effecting the
capture of their formidable adversary,--or the wonderful firmness of the
lion thus pursued, who succeeded in opening a way through his enemies.

The only rules to be laid down are, not to permit your army to be
closely pressed upon, to deceive the enemy as to the point of passage,
and to fall headlong upon the corps which bars the way before the one
which is following the rear of your column can come up. Never place
yourself in a position to be exposed to such danger; for escape in such
a case is rare.

If a retreating army should strive to protect its bridges either by
regular _têtes de font_, or at least by lines of redoubts to cover the
rear-guard, it is natural, also, that the enemy pursuing should use
every effort to destroy the bridges. When the retreat is made down the
bank of a river, wooden houses may be thrown into the stream, also
fire-ships and mills,--a means the Austrians used in 1796 against
Jourdan's army, near Neuwied on the Rhine, where they nearly compromised
the army of the Sambre and the Meuse. The Archduke Charles did the same
thing at Essling in 1809. He broke the bridge over the Danube, and
brought Napoleon to the brink of ruin.

It is difficult to secure a bridge against attacks of this character
unless there is time for placing a stockade above it. Boats may be
anchored, provided with ropes and grappling-hooks to catch floating
bodies and with means for extinguishing fire-boats.


[Footnote 31: Ten years after this first refutation of Bulow's idea, the
concentric retreat of Barclay and Bagration saved the Russian army.
Although it did not prevent Napoleon's first success, it was, in the
end, the cause of his ruin.]

[Footnote 32: In all these calculations I suppose the contending forces
nearly equal. If the invading army is twice as strong as the defensive,
it may be divided into two equal parts, one of which may move directly
upon the capital, while the other may follow the army retiring along the
frontier. If the armies are equal, this is impossible.]


Of Cantonments, either when on the March, or when established in Winter

So much has been written on this point, and its connection with my
subject is so indirect, that I shall treat it very briefly.

To maintain an army in cantonments, in a war actively carried on, is
generally difficult, however connected the arrangement may be, and there
is almost always some point exposed to the enemy's attacks. A country
where large towns abound, as Lombardy, Saxony, the Netherlands, Swabia,
or old Prussia, presents more facilities for the establishment of
quarters than one where towns are few; for in the former case the troops
have not only convenient supplies of food, but shelters which permit the
divisions of the army to be kept closely together. In Poland, Russia,
portions of Austria and France, in Spain and in Southern Italy, it is
more difficult to put an army into winter quarters.

Formerly, it was usual for each party to go into winter quarters at the
end of October, and all the fighting after that time was of a partisan
character and carried on by the advanced troops forming the outposts.

The surprise of the Austrian winter quarters in Upper Alsace in 1674, by
Turenne, is a good example, from which may be learned the best method of
conducting such an enterprise, and the precautions to be taken on the
other side to prevent its success.

The best rules to be laid down on this subject seem to me to be the
following. Establish the cantonments very compactly and connectedly and
occupying a space as broad as long, in order to avoid having a too
extended line of troops, which is always easily broken through and
cannot be concentrated in time; cover them by a river, or by an outer
line of troops in huts and with their position strengthened by
field-works; fix upon points of assembly which may be reached by all the
troops before the enemy can penetrate so far; keep all the avenues by
which an enemy may approach constantly patrolled by bodies of cavalry;
finally, establish signals to give warning if an attack is made at any

In the winter of 1807, Napoleon established his army in cantonments
behind the Passarge in face of the enemy, the advanced guard alone being
hutted near the cities of Gutstadt, Osterode, &c. The army numbered more
than one hundred and twenty thousand men, and much skill was requisite
in feeding it and keeping it otherwise comfortable in this position
until June. The country was of a favorable character; but this cannot be
expected to be the case everywhere.

An army of one hundred thousand men may find it not very difficult to
have a compact and well-connected system of winter quarters in countries
where large towns are numerous. The difficulty increases with the size
of the army. It must be observed, however, that if the extent of country
occupied increases in proportion to the numbers in the army, the means
of opposing an irruption of the enemy increase in the same proportion.
The important point is to be able to assemble fifty thousand or sixty
thousand men in twenty-four hours. With such an army in hand, and with
the certainty of having it rapidly increased, the enemy may be held in
check, no matter how strong he may be, until the whole army is

It must be admitted, however, that there will always be a risk in going
into winter quarters if the enemy keeps his army in a body and seems
inclined to make offensive movements; and the conclusion to be drawn
from this fact is, that the only method of giving secure repose to an
army in winter or in the midst of a campaign is to establish it in
quarters protected by a river, or to arrange an armistice.

In the strategic positions taken up by an army in the course of a
campaign, whether marching, or acting as an army of observation, or
waiting for a favorable opportunity of taking the offensive, it will
probably occupy quite compact cantonments. The selection of such
positions requires great experience upon the part of a general, in order
that he may form correct conclusions as to what he may expect the enemy
to do. An army should occupy space enough to enable it to subsist
readily, and it should also keep as much concentrated as possible, to be
ready for the enemy should he show himself; and these two conditions are
by no means easily reconciled. There is no better arrangement than to
place the divisions of the army in a space nearly a square, so that in
case of need the whole may be assembled at any point where the enemy may
present himself. Nine divisions placed in this way, a half-day's march
from each other, may in twelve hours assemble on the center. The same
rules are to be observed in these cases as were laid down for winter



These are operations of rare occurrence, and may be classed as among the
most difficult in war when effected in presence of a well-prepared

Since the invention of gunpowder and the changes effected by it in
navies, transports are so helpless in presence of the monstrous
three-deckers of the present day, armed as they are with a hundred
cannon, that an army can make a descent only with the assistance of a
numerous fleet of ships of war which can command the sea, at least until
the debarkation of the army takes place.

Before the invention of gunpowder, the transports were also the ships of
war; they were moved along at pleasure by using oars, were light, and
could skirt along the coasts; their number was in proportion to the
number of troops to be embarked; and, aside from the danger of tempests,
the operations of a fleet could be arranged with almost as much
certainty as those of an army on land. Ancient history, for these
reasons, gives us examples of more extensive debarkations than modern

Who does not recall to mind the immense forces transported by the
Persians upon the Black Sea, the Bosporus, and the Archipelago,--the
innumerable hosts landed in Greece by Xerxes and Darius,--the great
expeditions of the Carthaginians and Romans to Spain and Sicily, that of
Alexander into Asia Minor, those of Cæsar to England and Africa, that
of Germanicus to the mouths of the Elbe,--the Crusades,--the expeditions
of the Northmen to England, to France, and even to Italy?

Since the invention of cannon, the too celebrated Armada of Philip II.
was the only enterprise of this kind of any magnitude until that set on
foot by Napoleon against England in 1803. All other marine expeditions
were of no great extent: as, for example, those of Charles V. and of
Sebastian of Portugal to the coast of Africa; also the several descents
of the French into the United States of America, into Egypt and St.
Domingo, of the English to Egypt, Holland, Copenhagen, Antwerp,
Philadelphia. I say nothing of Hoche's projected landing in Ireland; for
that was a failure, and is, at the same time, an example of the
difficulties to be apprehended in such attempts.

The large armies kept on foot in our day by the great states of the
world prevent descents with thirty or forty thousand men, except against
second-rate powers; for it is extremely difficult to find transportation
for one hundred or one hundred and fifty thousand men with their immense
trains of artillery, munitions, cavalry, &c.

We were, however, on the point of seeing the solution of the vast
problem of the practicability of descents in great force, if it is true
that Napoleon seriously contemplated the transportation of one hundred
and sixty thousand veterans from Boulogne to the British Isles:
unfortunately, his failure to execute this gigantic undertaking has left
us entirely in the dark as to this grave question.

It is not impossible to collect fifty French ships-of-the-line in the
Channel by misleading the English; this was, in fact, upon the point of
being done; it is then no longer impossible, with a favorable wind, to
pass over the flotilla in two days and effect a landing. But what would
become of the army if a storm should disperse the fleet of ships of war
and the English should return in force to the Channel and defeat the
fleet or oblige it to regain its ports?

Posterity will regret, as the loss of an example to all future
generations, that this immense undertaking was not carried through, or
at least attempted. Doubtless, many brave men would have met their
deaths; but were not those men mowed down more uselessly on the plains
of Swabia, of Moravia, and of Castile, in the mountains of Portugal and
the forests of Lithuania? What man would not glory in assisting to bring
to a conclusion the greatest trial of skill and strength ever seen
between two great nations? At any rate, posterity will find in the
preparations made for this descent one of the most valuable lessons the
present century has furnished for the study of soldiers and of
statesmen. The labors of every kind performed on the coasts of France
from 1803 to 1805 will be among the most remarkable monuments of the
activity, foresight, and skill of Napoleon. It is recommended to the
careful attention of young officers. But, while admitting the
possibility of success for a great descent upon a coast so near as the
English to Boulogne, what results should be expected if this armada had
had a long sea-voyage to make? How could so many small vessels be kept
moving, even for two days and nights? To what chances of ruin would not
so many frail boats be exposed in navigating the open seas! Moreover,
the artillery, munitions of war, equipments, provisions, and fresh water
that must be carried with this multitude of men require immense labor in
preparation and vast means of transportation.

Experience has shown clearly the difficulties attending such an
expedition, even for thirty thousand men. From known facts, it is
evident that a descent can be made with this number of men in four
cases:--1st, against colonies or isolated possessions; 2d, against
second-rate powers which cannot be immediately supported from abroad;
3d, for the purpose of effecting a temporary diversion, or to capture a
position which it is important to hold for a time; 4th, to make a
diversion, at once political and military, against a state already
engaged in a great war, whose troops are occupied at a distance from the
point of the descent.

It is difficult to lay down rules for operations of this character.
About the only recommendations I can make are the following. Deceive
the enemy as to the point of landing; choose a spot where the vessels
may anchor in safety and the troops be landed together; infuse as much
activity as possible into the operation, and take possession of some
strong point to cover the development of the troops as they land; put on
shore at once a part of the artillery, to give confidence and protection
to the troops that have landed.

A great difficulty in such an operation is found in the fact that the
transports can never get near the beach, and the troops must be landed
in boats and rafts,--which takes time and gives the enemy great
advantages. If the sea is rough, the men to be landed are exposed to
great risks; for what can a body of infantry do, crowded in boats,
tossed about by the waves, and ordinarily rendered unfit by sea-sickness
for the proper use of their arms?

I can only advise the party on the defensive not to divide his forces
too much by attempting to cover every point. It is an impossibility to
line the entire coast with batteries and battalions for its defense; but
the approaches to those places where large establishments are to be
protected must be closed. Signals should be arranged for giving prompt
notice of the point where the enemy is landing, and all the disposable
force should be rapidly concentrated there, to prevent his gaining a
firm foothold.

The configuration of coasts has a great influence upon descents and
their prosecution. There are countries where the coasts are steep and
present few points of easy access for the ships and the troops to be
landed: these few places may be more readily watched, and the descent
becomes more difficult.

Finally, there is a strategical consideration connected with descents
which may be usefully pointed out. The same principle which forbids a
continental army from interposing the mass of its forces between the
enemy and the sea requires, on the contrary, that an army landing upon a
coast should always keep its principal mass in communication with the
shore, which is at once its line of retreat and its base of supplies.
For the same reason, its first care should be to make sure of the
possession of one fortified harbor/ or at least of a tongue of land
which is convenient to a good anchorage and may be easily strengthened
by fortifications, in order that in case of reverse the troops may be
re-embarked without hurry and loss.




A few Remarks on Logistics in General.

Is logistics simply a science of detail? Or, on the contrary, is it a
general science, forming one of the most essential parts of the art of
war? or is it but a term, consecrated by long use, intended to designate
collectively the different branches of staff duty,--that is to say, the
different means of carrying out in practice the theoretical combinations
of the art?

These questions will seem singular to those persons who are firmly
convinced that nothing more remains to be said about the art of war, and
believe it wrong to search out new definitions where every thing seems
already accurately classified. For my own part, I am persuaded that good
definitions lead to clear ideas; and I acknowledge some embarrassment in
answering these questions which seem so simple.

In the earlier editions of this work I followed the example of other
military writers, and called by the name of _logistics_ the details of
staff duties, which are the subject of regulations for field-service and
of special instructions relating to the corps of quartermasters. This
was the result of prejudices consecrated by time. The word _logistics_
is derived, as we know, from the title of the _major général des logìs_,
(translated in German by _Quartiermeister_,) an officer whose duty it
formerly was to lodge and camp the troops, to give direction to the
marches of columns, and to locate them upon the ground. Logistics was
then quite limited. But when war began to be waged without camps,
movements became more complicated, and the staff officers had more
extended functions. The chief of staff began to perform the duty of
transmitting the conceptions of the general to the most distant points
of the theater of war, and of procuring for him the necessary documents
for arranging plans of operations. The chief of staff was called to the
assistance of the general in arranging his plans, to give information of
them to subordinates in orders and instructions, to explain them and to
supervise their execution both in their _ensemble_ and in their minute
details: his duties were, therefore, evidently connected with all the
operations of a campaign.

To be a good chief of staff, it became in this way necessary that a man
should be acquainted with all the various branches of the art of war. If
the term _logistics_ includes all this, the two works of the Archduke
Charles, the voluminous treatises of Guibert, Laroche-Aymon, Bousmard,
and Ternay, all taken together, would hardly give even an incomplete
sketch of what logistics is; for it would be nothing more nor less than
the science of applying all possible military knowledge.

It appears from what has been said that the old term _logistics_ is
insufficient to designate the duties of staff officers, and that the
real duties of a corps of such officers, if an attempt be made to
instruct them in a proper manner for their performance, should be
accurately prescribed by special regulations in accordance with the
general principles of the art. Governments should take the precaution to
publish well-considered regulations, which should define all the duties
of staff officers and should give clear and accurate instructions as to
the best methods of performing these duties.

The Austrian staff formerly had such a code of regulations for their
government; but it was somewhat behind the times, and was better adapted
to the old methods of carrying on war than the present. This is the only
work of the kind I have seen. There are, no doubt, others, both public
and secret; but I have no knowledge of their existence. Several
generals--as, for instance, Grimoard and Thiebaut--have prepared
manuals for staff officers, and the new royal corps of France has issued
several partial sets of instructions; but there is nowhere to be found a
complete manual on the subject.

If it is agreed that the old _logistics_ had reference only to details
of marches and camps, and, moreover, that the functions of staff
officers at the present day are intimately connected with the most
important strategical combinations, it must be admitted that logistics
includes but a small part of the duties of staff officers; and if we
retain the term we must understand it to be greatly extended and
developed in signification, so as to embrace not only the duties of
ordinary staff officers, but of generals-in-chief.

To convince my readers of this fact, I will mention the principal points
that must be included if we wish to embrace in one view every duty and
detail relating to the movements of armies and the undertakings
resulting from such movements:--

     1. The preparation of all the material necessary for setting the
     army in motion, or, in other words, for opening the campaign.
     Drawing up orders, instructions, and itineraries for the assemblage
     of the army and its subsequent launching upon its theater of

     2. Drawing up in a proper manner the orders of the general-in-chief
     for different enterprises, as well as plans of attack in expected

     3. Arranging with the chiefs of engineers and artillery the
     measures to be taken for the security of the posts which are to be
     used as depots, as well as those to be fortified in order to
     facilitate the operations of the army.

     4. Ordering and directing reconnoissances of every kind, and
     procuring in this way, and by using spies, as exact information as
     possible of the positions and movements of the enemy.

     5. Taking every precaution for the proper execution of movements
     ordered by the general. Arranging the march of the different
     columns, so that all may move in an orderly and connected manner.
     Ascertaining certainly that the means requisite for the ease and
     safety of marches are prepared. Regulating the manner and time of

     6. Giving proper composition to advanced guards, rear-guards,
     flankers, and all detached bodies, and preparing good instructions
     for their guidance. Providing all the means necessary for the
     performance of their duties.

     7. Prescribing forms and instructions for subordinate commanders or
     their staff officers, relative to the different methods of drawing
     up the troops in columns when the enemy is at hand, as well as
     their formation in the most appropriate manner when the army is to
     engage in battle, according to the nature of the ground and the
     character of the enemy.[33]

     8. Indicating to advanced guards and other detachments well-chosen
     points of assembly in case of their attack by superior numbers, and
     informing them what support they may hope to receive in case of

     9. Arranging and superintending the march of trains of baggage,
     munitions, provisions, and ambulances, both with the columns and in
     their rear, in such manner that they will not interfere with the
     movements of the troops and will still be near at hand. Taking
     precautions for order and security, both on the march and when
     trains are halted and parked.

     10. Providing for the successive arrival of convoys of supplies.
     Collecting all the means of transportation of the country and of
     the army, and regulating their use.

     11. Directing the establishment of camps, and adopting regulations
     for their safety, good order, and police.

     12. Establishing and organizing lines of operations and supplies,
     as well as lines of communications with these lines for detached
     bodies. Designating officers capable of organizing and commanding
     in rear of the army; looking out for the safety of detachments and
     convoys, furnishing them good instructions, and looking out also
     for preserving suitable means of communication of the army with its

     13. Organizing depots of convalescent, wounded, and sickly men,
     movable hospitals, and workshops for repairs; providing for their

     14. Keeping accurate record of all detachments, either on the
     flanks or in rear; keeping an eye upon their movements, and looking
     out for their return to the main column as soon as their service on
     detachment is no longer necessary; giving them, when required, some
     center of action, and forming strategic reserves.

     15. Organizing marching battalions or companies to gather up
     isolated men or small detachments moving in either direction
     between the army and its base of operations.

     16. In case of sieges, ordering and supervising the employment of
     the troops in the trenches, making arrangements with the chiefs of
     artillery and engineers as to the labors to be performed by those
     troops and as to their management in sorties and assaults.

     17. In retreats, taking precautionary measures for preserving
     order; posting fresh troops to support and relieve the rear-guard;
     causing intelligent officers to examine and select positions where
     the rear-guard may advantageously halt, engage the enemy, check his
     pursuit, and thus gain time; making provision in advance for the
     movement of trains, that nothing shall be left behind, and that
     they shall proceed in the most perfect order, taking all proper
     precautions to insure safety.

     18. In cantonments, assigning positions to the different corps;
     indicating to each principal division of the army a place of
     assembly in case of alarm; taking measures to see that all orders,
     instructions, and regulations are implicitly observed.

An examination of this long list--which might easily be made much longer
by entering into greater detail--will lead every reader to remark that
these are the duties rather of the general-in-chief than of staff
officers. This truth I announced some time ago; and it is for the very
purpose of permitting the general-in-chief to give his whole attention
to the supreme direction of the operations that he ought to be provided
with staff officers competent to relieve him of details of execution.
Their functions are therefore necessarily very intimately connected; and
woe to an army where these authorities cease to act in concert! This
want of harmony is often seen,--first, because generals are men and have
faults, and secondly, because in every army there are found individual
interests and pretensions, producing rivalry of the chiefs of staff and
hindering them in performing their duties.[34]

It is not to be expected that this treatise shall contain rules for the
guidance of staff officers in all the details of their multifarious
duties; for, in the first place, every different nation has staff
officers with different names and rounds of duties,--so that I should be
obliged to write new rules for each army; in the second place, these
details are fully entered into in special books pertaining to these

I will, therefore, content myself with enlarging a little upon some of
the first articles enumerated above:--

1. The measures to be taken by the staff officers for preparing the army
to enter upon active operations in the field include all those which are
likely to facilitate the success of the first plan of operations. They
should, as a matter of course, make sure, by frequent inspections, that
the _matériel_ of all the arms of the service is in good order: horses,
carriages, caissons, teams, harness, shoes, &c. should be carefully
examined and any deficiencies supplied. Bridge-trains, engineer-tool
trains, _matériel_ of artillery, siege-trains if they are to move,
ambulances,--in a word, every thing which conies under the head of
_matériel_,--should be carefully examined and placed in good order.

If the campaign is to be opened in the neighborhood of great rivers,
gun-boats and flying bridges should be prepared, and all the small craft
should be collected at the points and at the bank where they will
probably be used. Intelligent officers should examine the most favorable
points both for embarkations and for landings,--preferring those
localities which present the greatest chances of success for a primary
establishment on the opposite bank.

The staff officers will prepare all the itineraries that will be
necessary for the movement of the several corps of the army to the
proper points of assemblage, making every effort to give such direction
to the marches that the enemy shall be unable to learn from them any
thing relative to the projected enterprise.

If the war is to be offensive, the staff officers arrange with the chief
engineer officers what fortifications shall be erected near the base of
operations, when _têtes de ponts_ or intrenched camps are to be
constructed there. If the war is defensive, these works will be built
between the first line of defense and the second base.

2. An essential branch of logistics is certainly that which relates to
making arrangements of marches and attacks, which are fixed by the
general and notice of them given to the proper persons by the chiefs of
staff. The next most important qualification of a general, after that of
knowing how to form good plans, is, unquestionably, that of facilitating
the execution of his orders by their clearness of style. Whatever may be
the real business of a chief of staff, the greatness of a
commander-in-chief will be always manifested in his plans; but if the
general lacks ability the chief of staff should supply it as far as he
can, having a proper understanding with the responsible chief.

I have seen two very different methods employed in this branch of the
service. The first, which may be styled the old school, consists in
issuing daily, for the regulation of the movements of the army, general
instructions filled with minute and somewhat pedantic details, so much
the more out of place as they are usually addressed to chiefs of corps,
who are supposed to be of sufficient experience not to require the same
sort of instruction as would be given to junior subalterns just out of

The other method is that of the detached orders given by Napoleon to
his marshals, prescribing for each one simply what concerned himself,
and only informing him what corps were to operate with him, either on
the right or the left, but never pointing out the connection of the
operations of the whole army.[35] I have good reasons for knowing that
he did this designedly, either to surround his operations with an air of
mystery, or for fear that more specific orders might fall into the hands
of the enemy and assist him in thwarting his plans.

It is certainly of great importance for a general to keep his plans
secret; and Frederick the Great was right when he said that if his
night-cap knew what was in his head he would throw it into the fire.
That kind of secrecy was practicable in Frederick's time, when his whole
army was kept closely about him; but when maneuvers of the vastness of
Napoleon's are executed, and war is waged as in our day, what concert of
action can be expected from generals who are utterly ignorant of what is
going on around them?

Of the two systems, the last seems to me preferable. A judicious mean
may be adopted between the eccentric conciseness of Napoleon and the
minute verbosity which laid down for experienced generals like Barclay,
Kleist, and Wittgenstein precise directions for breaking into companies
and reforming again in line of battle,--a piece of nonsense all the more
ridiculous because the execution of such an order in presence of the
enemy is impracticable. It would be sufficient, I think, in such cases,
to give the generals special orders relative to their own corps, and to
add a few lines in cipher informing them briefly as to the whole plan of
the operations and the part they are to take individually in executing
it. When a proper cipher is wanting, the order may be transmitted
verbally by an officer capable of understanding it and repeating it
accurately. Indiscreet revelations need then be no longer feared, and
concert of action would be secured.

3. The army being assembled, and being in readiness to undertake some
enterprise, the important thing will be to secure as much concert and
precision of action as possible, whilst taking all the usual
precaution's to gain accurate information of the route it is to pursue
and to cover its movements thoroughly.

There are two kinds of marches,--those which are made out of sight of
the enemy, and those which are made in his presence, either advancing or
retiring. These marches particularly have undergone great changes in
late years. Formerly, armies seldom came in collision until they had
been several days in presence of each other, and the attacking party had
roads opened by pioneers for the columns to move up parallel to each
other. At present, the attack is made more promptly, and the existing
roads usually answer all purposes. It is, however, of importance, when
an army is moving, that pioneers and sappers accompany the advanced
guard, to increase the number of practicable roads, to remove
obstructions, throw small bridges over creeks, &c., if necessary, and
secure the means of easy communication between the different corps of
the army.

In the present manner of marching, the calculation of times and
distances becomes more complicated: the columns having each a different
distance to pass over, in determining the hour of their departure and
giving them instructions the following particulars must be
considered:--1, the distances to be passed over; 2, the amount of
_matériel_ in each train; 3, the nature of the country; 4, the obstacles
placed in the way by the enemy; 5, the fact whether or not it is
important for the march to be concealed or open.

Under present circumstances, the surest and simplest method of arranging
the movements of the great corps forming the wings of an army, or of all
those corps not marching with the column attached to the general
head-quarters, will be to trust the details to the experience of the
generals commanding those corps,--being careful, however, to let them
understand that the most exact punctuality is expected of them. It will
then be enough to indicate to them the point to be reached and the
object to be attained, the route to be pursued and the hour at which
they will be expected to be in position. They should be informed what
corps are marching either on the same roads with them or on side-roads
to the right or left in order that they may govern themselves
accordingly; they should receive whatever news there may be of the
enemy, and have a line of retreat indicated to them.[36]

All those details whose object it is to prescribe each day for the
chiefs of corps the method of forming their columns and placing them in
position are mere pedantry,--more hurtful than useful. To see that they
march habitually according to regulation or custom is necessary; but
they should be free to arrange their movements so as to arrive at the
appointed place and time, at the risk of being removed from their
command if they fail to do so without sufficient reason. In retreats,
however, which are made along a single road by an army separated into
divisions, the hours of departure and halts must be carefully regulated.

Each column should have its own advanced guard and flankers, that its
march may be conducted with the usual precautions: it is convenient
also, even when they form part of a second line, for the head of each
column to be preceded by a few pioneers and sappers, provided with tools
for removing obstacles or making repairs in case of accidents; a few of
these workmen should also accompany each train: in like manner, a light
trestle-bridge train will be found very useful.

4. The army on the march is often preceded by a general advanced guard,
or, as is more frequent in the modern system, the center and each wing
may have its special advanced guard. It is customary for the reserves
and the center to accompany the head-quarters; and the general advanced
guard, when there is one, will usually follow the same road: so that
half the army is thus assembled on the central route. Under these
circumstances, the greatest care is requisite to prevent obstructing the
road. It happens sometimes, however, when the important stroke is to be
made in the direction of one of the wings, that the reserves, the
general head-quarters, and even the general advanced guard, may be moved
in that direction: in this case, all the rules usually regulating the
march of the center must be applied to that wing.

Advanced guards should be accompanied by good staff officers, capable of
forming correct ideas as to the enemy's movements and of giving an
accurate account of them to the general, thus enabling him to make his
plans understandingly. The commander of the advanced guard should assist
the general in the same way. A general advanced guard should be composed
of light troops of all arms, containing some of the _élite_ troops of
the army as a main body, a few dragoons prepared to fight on foot, some
horse-artillery, pontoniers, sappers, &c., with light trestles and
pontoons for passing small streams. A few good marksmen will not be out
of place. A topographical officer should accompany it, to make a sketch
of the country a mile or two on each side of the road. A body of
irregular cavalry should always be attached, to spare the regular
cavalry and to serve as scouts, because they are best suited to such

5. As the army advances and removes farther from its base, it becomes
the more necessary to have a good line of operations and of depots which
may keep up the connection of the army with its base. The staff officers
will divide the depots into departments, the principal depot being
established in the town which can lodge and supply the greatest number
of men: if there is a fortress suitably situated, it should be selected
as the site of the principal depot.

The secondary depots may be separated by distances of from fifteen to
thirty miles, usually in the towns of the country. The mean distance
apart will be about twenty to twenty-five miles. This will give fifteen
depots upon a line of three hundred miles, which should be divided into
three or four brigades of depots. Each of these will have a commander
and a detachment of troops or of convalescent soldiers, who regulate the
arrangements for accommodating troops and give protection to the
authorities of the country, (if they remain;) they furnish facilities
for transmitting the mails and the necessary escorts; the commander sees
that the roads and bridges are kept in good order. If possible, there
should be a park of several carriages at each depot, certainly at the
principal one in each brigade. The command of all the depots embraced
within certain geographical limits should be intrusted to prudent and
able general officers; for the security of the communications of the
army often depends on their operations.[37] These commands may sometimes
become strategic reserves, as was explained in Art. XXIII.; a few good
battalions, with the assistance of movable detachments passing
continually between the army and the base, will generally be able to
keep open the communications.

6. The study of the measures, partly logistical and partly tactical, to
be taken by the staff officers in bringing the troops from the order of
march to the different orders of battle, is very important, but requires
going into such minute detail that I must pass it over nearly in
silence, contenting myself with referring my readers to the numerous
works specially devoted to this branch of the art of war.

Before leaving this interesting subject, I think a few examples should
be given as illustrations of the great importance of a good system of
logistics. One of these examples is the wonderful concentration of the
French army in the plains of Gera in 1806; another is the entrance of
the army upon the campaign of 1815.

In each of these cases Napoleon possessed the ability to make such
arrangements that his columns, starting from points widely separated,
were concentrated with wonderful precision upon the decisive point of
the zone of operations; and in this way he insured the successful issue
of the campaign. The choice of the decisive point was the result of a
skillful application of the principles of strategy; and the arrangements
for moving the troops give us an example of logistics which originated
in his own closet. It has been long claimed that Berthier framed those
instructions which were conceived with so much precision and usually
transmitted with so much clearness; but I have had frequent
opportunities of knowing that such was not the truth. The emperor was
his own chief staff officer. Provided with a pair of dividers opened to
a distance by the scale of from seventeen to twenty miles in a straight
line, (which made from twenty-two to twenty-five miles, taking into
account the windings of the roads,) bending over and sometimes stretched
at full length upon his map, where the positions of his corps and the
supposed positions of the enemy were marked by pins of different colors,
he was able to give orders for extensive movements with a certainty and
precision which were astonishing. Turning his dividers about from point
to point on the map, he decided in a moment the number of marches
necessary for each of his columns to arrive at the desired point by a
certain day; then, placing pins in the new positions, and bearing in
mind the rate of marching that he must assign to each column, and the
hour of its setting out, he dictated those instructions which are alone
enough to make any man famous.

Ney coming from the shores of Lake Constance, Lannes from Upper Swabia,
Soult and Davoust from Bavaria and the Palatinate, Bernadotte and
Augereau from Franconia, and the Imperial Guard from Paris, were all
thus arranged in line on three parallel roads, to debouch simultaneously
between Saalfeld, Gera, and Plauen, few persons in the army or in
Germany having any conception of the object of these movements which
seemed so very complicated.

In the same manner, in 1815, when Blücher had his army quietly in
cantonments between the Sambre and the Rhine, and Wellington was
attending _fêtes_ in Brussels, both waiting a signal for the invasion of
France, Napoleon, who was supposed to be at Paris entirely engrossed
with diplomatic ceremonies, at the head of his guard, which had been
but recently reformed in the capital, fell like a thunderbolt upon
Charleroi and Blücher's quarters, his columns arriving from all points
of the compass, with rare punctuality, on the 14th of June, in the
plains of Beaumont and upon the banks of the Sambre. (Napoleon did not
leave Paris until the 12th.)

The combinations described above were the results of wise strategic
calculations, but their execution was undoubtedly a masterpiece of
logistics. In order to exhibit more clearly the merit of these measures,
I will mention, by way of contrast, two cases where faults in logistics
came very near leading to fatal consequences. Napoleon having been
recalled from Spain in 1809 by the fact of Austria's taking up arms, and
being certain that this power intended war, he sent Berthier into
Bavaria upon the delicate duty of concentrating the army, which was
extended from Braunau as far as Strasbourg and Erfurt. Davoust was
returning from the latter city, Oudinot from Frankfort; Massena, who had
been on his way to Spain, was retiring toward Ulm by the Strasbourg
route; the Saxons, Bavarians, and Wurtembergers were moving from their
respective countries. The corps were thus separated by great distances,
and the Austrians, who had been long concentrated, might easily break
through this spider's web or brush away its threads. Napoleon was justly
uneasy, and ordered Berthier to assemble the army at Ratisbon if the war
had not actually begun on his arrival, but, if it had, to concentrate it
in a more retired position toward Ulm.

The reason for this alternative order was obvious. If the war had begun,
Ratisbon was too near the Austrian frontier for a point of assembly, as
the corps might thus be thrown separately into the midst of two hundred
thousand enemies; but by fixing upon Ulm as the point of rendezvous the
army would be concentrated sooner, or, at any rate, the enemy would have
five or six marches more to make before reaching-it,--which was a
highly-important consideration as the parties were then situated.

No great talent was needed to understand this. Hostilities having
commenced, however, but a few days after Berthier's arrival at Munich,
this too celebrated chief of staff was so foolish as to adhere to a
literal obedience of the order he had received, without conceiving its
obvious intention: he not only desired the army to assemble at Ratisbon,
but even obliged Davoust to return toward that city, when that marshal
had had the good sense to fall back from Amberg toward Ingolstadt.

Napoleon, having, by good fortune, been informed by telegraph of the
passage of the Inn twenty-four hours after its occurrence, came with the
speed of lightning to Abensberg, just as Davoust was on the point of
being surrounded and his army cut in two or scattered by a mass of one
hundred and eighty thousand enemies. We know how wonderfully Napoleon
succeeded in rallying his army, and what victories he gained on the
glorious days of Abensberg, Siegberg, Landshut, Eckmühl, and Ratisbon,
that repaired the faults committed by his chief of staff with his
contemptible logistics.

We shall finish these illustrations with a notice of the events which
preceded and were simultaneous with the passage of the Danube before the
battle of Wagram. The measures taken to bring to a specified point of
the island of Lobau the corps of the Viceroy of Italy from Hungary, that
of Marmont from Styria, that of Bernadotte from Linz, are less wonderful
than the famous imperial decree of thirty-one articles which regulated
the details of the passage and the formation of the troops in the plains
of Enzersdorf, in presence of one hundred and forty thousand Austrians
and five hundred cannon, as if the operation had been a military _fête_.
These masses were all assembled upon the island on the evening of the
4th of July; three bridges were immediately thrown over an arm of the
Danube one hundred and fifty yards wide, on a very dark night and amidst
torrents of rain; one hundred and fifty thousand men passed over the
bridges, in presence of a formidable enemy, and were drawn up before
mid-day in the plain, three miles in advance of the bridges which they
covered by a change of front; the whole being accomplished in less time
than might have been supposed necessary had it been a simple maneuver
for instruction and after being several times repeated. The enemy had,
it is true, determined to offer no serious opposition to the passage;
but Napoleon did not know that fact, and the merit of his dispositions
is not at all diminished by it.

Singularly enough, however, the chief of staff, although he made ten
copies of the famous decree, did not observe that by mistake the bridge
of the center had been assigned to Davoust, who had the right wing,
whilst the bridge on the right was assigned to Oudinot, who was in the
center. These two corps passed each other in the night, and, had it not
been for the good sense of the men and their officers, a dreadful scene
of confusion might have been the result. Thanks to the supineness of the
enemy, the army escaped all disorder, except that arising from a few
detachments following corps to which they did not belong. The most
remarkable feature of the whole transaction is found in the fact that
after such a blunder Berthier should have received the title of Prince
of Wagram.

The error doubtless originated with Napoleon while dictating his decree;
but should it not have been detected by a chief of staff who made ten
copies of the order and whose duty it was to supervise the formation of
the troops?

Another no less extraordinary example of the importance of good
logistics was afforded at the battle of Leipsic. In fighting this
battle, with a defile in rear of the army as at Leipsic, and in the
midst of low ground, wooded, and cut up by small streams and gardens, it
was highly important to have a number of small bridges, to prepare the
banks for approaching them with ease, and to stake out the roads. These
precautions would not have prevented the loss of a decisive battle; but
they would have saved the lives of a considerable number of men, as well
as the guns and carriages that were abandoned on account of the disorder
and of there being no roads of escape. The unaccountable blowing up of
the bridge of Lindenau was also the result of unpardonable carelessness
upon the part of the staff corps, which indeed existed only in name,
owing to the manner of Berthier's management of it. We must also agree
that Napoleon, who was perfectly conversant with the logistical measures
of an offensive campaign, had then never seriously thought what would
be proper precautions in the event of defeat, and when the emperor was
present himself no one thought of making any arrangement for the future
unless by his direction.

To complete what I proposed when I commenced this article, it becomes
necessary for me to add some remarks with reference to reconnoissances.
They are of two kinds: the first are entirely topographical and
statistical, and their object is to gain a knowledge of a country, its
accidents of ground, its roads, defiles, bridges, &c., and to learn its
resources and means of every kind. At the present day, when the sciences
of geography, topography, and statistics are in such an advanced state,
these reconnoissances are less necessary than formerly; but they are
still very useful, and it is not probable that the statistics of any
country will ever be so accurate that they may be entirely dispensed
with. There are many excellent books of instruction as to the art of
making these reconnoissances, and I must direct the attention of my
readers to them.

Reconnoissances of the other kind are ordered when it is necessary to
gain information of the movements of the enemy. They are made by
detachments of greater or less strength. If the enemy is drawn up in
battle-order, the generals-in-chief or the chiefs of staff make the
reconnoissance; if he is on the march, whole divisions of cavalry may be
thrown out to break through his screen of posts.


[Footnote 33: I refer here to general instructions and forms, which are
not to be repeated every day: such repetition would be impracticable.]

[Footnote 34: The chiefs of artillery, of engineers, and of the
administrative departments all claim to have direct connection with the
general-in-chief, and not with the chief of staff. There should, of
course, be no hinderance to the freest intercourse between these high
officers and the commander; but he should work with them in presence of
the chief of staff, and send him all their correspondence: otherwise,
confusion is inevitable.]

[Footnote 35: I believe that at the passage of the Danube before Wagram,
and at the opening of the second campaign of 1813, Napoleon deviated
from his usual custom by issuing a general order.]

[Footnote 36: Napoleon never did this, because he maintained that no
general should ever think seriously of the possibility of being beaten.
In many marches it is certainly a useless precaution; but it is often

[Footnote 37: It may be objected that in some wars, as where the
population is hostile, it may be very difficult, or impracticable, to
organize lines of depots. In such cases they will certainly be exposed
to great dangers; but these are the very cases where they are most
necessary and should be most numerous. The line from Bayonne to Madrid
was such a line, which resisted for four years the attacks of the
guerrillas,--although convoys were sometimes seized. At one time the
line extended as far as Cadiz.]


Of Reconnoissances and other Means of gaining Correct Information of
the Movements of the Enemy.

One of the surest ways of forming good combinations in war would be to
order movements only after obtaining perfect information of the enemy's
proceedings. In fact, how can any man say what he should do himself, if
he is ignorant what his adversary is about? As it is unquestionably of
the highest importance to gain this information, so it is a thing of the
utmost difficulty, not to say impossibility; and this is one of the
chief causes of the great difference between the theory and the practice
of war.

From this cause arise the mistakes of those generals who are simply
learned men without a natural talent for war, and who have not acquired
that practical _coup-d'oeil_ which is imparted by long experience in the
direction of military operations. It is a very easy matter for a
school-man to make a plan for outflanking a wing or threatening a line
of communications upon a map, where he can regulate the positions of
both parties to suit himself; but when he has opposed to him a skillful,
active, and enterprising adversary, whose movements are a perfect
riddle, then his difficulties begin, and we see an exhibition of the
incapacity of an ordinary general with none of the resources of genius.

I have seen so many proofs of this truth in my long life, that, if I had
to put a general to the test, I should have a much higher regard for the
man who could form sound conclusions as to the movements of the enemy
than for him who could make a grand display of theories,--things so
difficult to put in practice, but so easily understood when once

There are four means of obtaining information of the enemy's operations.
The first is a well-arranged system of espionage; the second consists in
reconnoissances made by skillful officers and light troops; the third,
in questioning prisoners of war; the fourth, in forming hypotheses of
probabilities. This last idea I will enlarge upon farther on. There is
also a fifth method,--that of signals. Although this is used rather for
indicating the presence of the enemy than for forming conclusions as to
his designs, it may be classed with the others.

Spies will enable a general to learn more surely than by any other
agency what is going on in the midst of the enemy's camps; for
reconnoissances, however well made, can give no information of any thing
beyond the line of the advanced guard. I do not mean to say that they
should not be resorted to, for we must use every means of gaining
information; but I do say that their results are small and not to be
depended upon. Reports of prisoners are often useful, but it is
generally dangerous to credit them. A skillful chief of staff will
always be able to select intelligent officers who can so frame their
questions as to elicit important information from prisoners and

The partisans who are sent to hang around the enemy's lines of
operations may doubtless learn something of his movements; but it is
almost impossible to communicate with them and receive the information
they possess. An extensive system of espionage will generally be
successful: it is, however, difficult for a spy to penetrate to the
general's closet and learn the secret plans he may form: it is best for
him, therefore, to limit himself to information of what he sees with his
own eyes or hears from reliable persons. Even when the general receives
from his spies information of movements, he still knows nothing of those
which may since have taken place, nor of what the enemy is going finally
to attempt. Suppose, for example, he learns that such a corps has passed
through Jena toward Weimar, and that another has passed through Gera
toward Naumburg: he must still ask himself the questions, Where are they
going, and what enterprise are they engaged in? These things the most
skillful spy cannot learn.

When armies camped in tents and in a single mass, information of the
enemy's operations was certain, because reconnoitering-parties could be
thrown forward in sight of the camps, and the spies could report
accurately their movements; but with the existing organization into
corps d'armée which either canton or bivouac, it is very difficult to
learn any thing about them. Spies may, however, be very useful when the
hostile army is commanded by a great captain or a great sovereign who
always moves with the mass of his troops or with the reserves. Such, for
example, were the Emperors Alexander and Napoleon. If it was known when
they moved and what route they followed, it was not difficult to
conclude what project was in view, and the details of the movements of
smaller bodies needed not to be attended to particularly.

A skillful general may supply the defects of the other methods by making
reasonable and well-founded hypotheses. I can with great satisfaction
say that this means hardly ever failed me. Though fortune never placed
me at the head of an army, I have been chief of staff to nearly a
hundred thousand men, and have been many times called into the councils
of the greatest sovereigns of the day, when the question under
consideration was the proper direction to give to the combined armies of
Europe; and I was never more than two or three times mistaken in my
hypotheses and in my manner of solving the difficulties they offered. As
I have said before, I have constantly noticed that, as an army can
operate only upon the center or one extremity of its front of
operations, there are seldom more than three or four suppositions that
can possibly be made. A mind fully convinced of these truths and
conversant with the principles of war will always be able to form a plan
which will provide in advance for the probable contingencies of the
future. I will cite a few examples which have come under my own

In 1806, when people in France were still uncertain as to the war with
Prussia, I wrote a memoir upon the probabilities of the war and the
operations which would take place.

I made the three following hypotheses:--1st. The Prussians will await
Napoleon's attack behind the Elbe, and will fight on the defensive as
far as the Oder, in expectation of aid from Russia and Austria; 2d. Or
they will advance upon the Saale, resting their left upon the frontier
of Bohemia and defending the passes of the mountains of Franconia; 3d.
Or else, expecting the French by the great Mayence road, they will
advance imprudently to Erfurt.

I do not believe any other suppositions could be made, unless the
Prussians were thought to be so foolish as to divide their forces,
already inferior to the French, upon the two directions of Wesel and
Mayence,--a useless mistake, since there had not been a French soldier
on the first of these roads since the Seven Years' War.

These hypotheses having been made as above stated, if any one should ask
what course Napoleon ought to pursue, it was easy to reply "that the
mass of the French army being already assembled in Bavaria, it should be
thrown upon the left of the Prussians by way of Grera and Hof, for the
gordian knot of the campaign was in that direction, no matter what plan
they should adopt."

If they advanced to Erfurt, he could move to Gera, cut their line of
retreat, and press them back along the Lower Elbe to the North Sea. If
they rested upon the Saale, he could attack their left by way of Hof and
Gera, defeat them partially, and reach Berlin before them by way of
Leipsic. If they stood fast behind the Elbe, he must still attack them
by way of Gera and Hof.

Since Napoleon's direction of operations was so clearly fixed, what
mattered it to him to know the details of their movements? Being certain
of the correctness of these principles, I did not hesitate to announce,
_a month before the war_, that Napoleon would attempt just what he did,
and that if the Prussians passed the Saale battles would take place at
Jena and Naumburg!

I relate this circumstance not from a feeling of vanity, for if that
were my motive I might mention many more of a similar character. I have
only been anxious to show that in war a plan of operations may be often
arranged, simply based upon the general principles of the art, without
much attention being of necessity given to the details of the enemy's

Returning to our subject, I must state that the use of spies has been
neglected to a remarkable degree in many modern armies. In 1813 the
staff of Prince Schwarzenberg had not a single sou for expenditure for
such services, and the Emperor Alexander was obliged to furnish the
staff officers with funds from his own private purse to enable them to
send agents into Lusatia for the purpose of finding out Napoleon's
whereabouts. General Mack at Ulm, and the Duke of Brunswick in 1806,
were no better informed; and the French generals in Spain often suffered
severely, because it was impossible to obtain spies and to get
information as to what was going on around them.

The Russian army is better provided than any other for gathering
information, by the use of roving bodies of Cossacks; and history
confirms my assertion.

The expedition of Prince Koudacheff, who was sent after the battle of
Dresden to the Prince of Sweden, and who crossed the Elbe by swimming
and marched in the midst of the French columns as far, nearly, as
Wittenberg, is a remarkable instance of this class. The information
furnished by the partisan troops of Generals Czernicheff, Benkendorf,
Davidoff, and Seslawin was exceedingly valuable. We may recollect it was
through a dispatch from Napoleon to the Empress Maria Louisa,
intercepted near Châlons by the Cossacks, that the allies were informed
of the plan he had formed of falling upon their communications with his
whole disposable force, basing his operations upon the fortified towns
of Lorraine and Alsace. This highly-important piece of information
decided Blücher and Schwarzenberg to effect a junction of their armies,
which the plainest principles of strategy had never previously brought
to act in concert except at Leipsic and Brienne.

We know, also, that the warning given by Seslawin to General Doctoroff
saved him from being crushed at Borovsk by Napoleon, who had just left
Moscow in retreat with his whole army. Doctoroff did not at first credit
this news,--which so irritated Seslawin that he effected the capture of
a French officer and several soldiers of the guard from the French
bivouacs and sent them as proofs of its correctness. This warning, which
decided the march of Koutousoff to Maloi-Yaroslavitz, prevented Napoleon
from taking the way by Kalouga, where he would have found greater
facilities for refitting his army and would have escaped the disastrous
days of Krasnoi and the Beresina. The catastrophe which befell him would
thus have been lessened, though not entirely prevented.

Such examples, rare as they are, give us an excellent idea of what good
partisan troops can accomplish when led by good officers.

I will conclude this article with the following summary:--

1. A general should neglect no means of gaining information of the
enemy's movements, and, for this purpose, should make use of
reconnoissances, spies, bodies of light troops commanded by capable
officers, signals, and questioning deserters and prisoners.

2. By multiplying the means of obtaining information; for, no matter
how imperfect and contradictory they may be, the truth may often be
sifted from them.

3. Perfect reliance should be placed on none of these means.

4. As it is impossible to obtain exact information by the methods
mentioned, a general should never move without arranging several courses
of action for himself, based upon probable hypotheses that the relative
situation of the armies enables him to make, and never losing sight of
the principles of the art.

I can assure a general that, with such precautions, nothing very
unexpected can befall him and cause his ruin,--as has so often happened
to others; for, unless he is totally unfit to command an army, he should
at least be able to form reasonable suppositions as to what the enemy is
going to do, and fix for himself a certain line of conduct to suit each
of these hypotheses.[38] It cannot be too much insisted upon that the
real secret of military genius consists in the ability to make these
reasonable suppositions in any case; and, although their number is
always small, it is wonderful how much this highly-useful means of
regulating one's conduct is neglected.

In order to make this article complete, I must state what is to be
gained by using a system of signals. Of these there are several kinds.
Telegraphic signals may be mentioned as the most important of all.
Napoleon owes his astonishing success at Ratisbon, in 1809, to the fact
of his having established a telegraphic communication between the
head-quarters of the army and France. He was still at Paris when the
Austrian army crossed the Inn at Braunau with the intention of invading
Bavaria and breaking through his line of cantonments. Informed, in
twenty-four hours, of what was passing at a distance of seven hundred
miles, he threw himself into his traveling-carriage, and a week later he
had gained two victories under the walls of Ratisbon. Without the
telegraph, the campaign would have been lost. This single fact is
sufficient to impress us with an idea of its value.

It has been proposed to use portable telegraphs. Such a telegraphic
arrangement, operated by men on horseback posted on high ground, could
communicate the orders of the center to the extremities of a line of
battle, as well as the reports of the wings to the head-quarters.
Repeated trials of it were made in Russia; but the project was given
up,--for what reason, however, I have not been able to learn. These
communications could only be very brief, and in misty weather the method
could not be depended upon. A vocabulary for such purposes could be
reduced to a few short phrases, which might easily be represented by
signs. I think it a method by no means useless, even if it should be
necessary to send duplicates of the orders by officers capable of
transmitting them with accuracy. There would certainly be a gain of
rapidity.[39] attempt of another kind was made in 1794, at the battle of
Fleurus, where General Jourdan made use of the services of a balloonist
to observe and give notice of the movements of the Austrians. I am not
aware that he found the method a very useful one, as it was not again
used; but it was claimed at the time that it assisted in gaining him the
victory: of this, however, I have great doubts.

It is probable that the difficulty of having a balloonist in readiness
to make an ascension at the proper moment, and of his making careful
observations upon what is going on below, whilst floating at the mercy
of the winds above, has led to the abandonment of this method of gaining
information. By giving the balloon no great elevation, sending up with
it an officer capable of forming correct opinions as to the enemy's
movements, and perfecting a system of signals to be used in connection
with the balloon, considerable advantages might be expected from its
use. Sometimes the smoke of the battle, and the difficulty of
distinguishing the columns, that look like liliputians, so as to know to
which party they belong, will make the reports of the balloonists very
unreliable. For example, a balloonist would have been greatly
embarrassed in deciding, at the battle of Waterloo, whether it was
Grouchy or Blücher who was seen coming up by the Saint-Lambert road; but
this uncertainty need not exist where the armies are not so much mixed.
I had ocular proof of the advantage to be derived from such observations
when I was stationed in the spire of Gautsch, at the battle of Leipsic;
and Prince Schwarzenberg's aid-de-camp, whom I had conducted to the same
point, could not deny that it was at my solicitation the prince was
prevailed upon to emerge from the marsh between the Pleisse and the
Elster. An observer is doubtless more at his ease in a clock-tower than
in a frail basket floating in mid-air; but steeples are not always at
hand in the vicinity of battle-fields, and they cannot be transported at

There is still another method of signaling, by the use of large fires
kindled upon elevated points of the country. Before the invention of the
telegraph, they afforded the means of transmitting the news of an
invasion from one end of the country to the other. The Swiss have made
use of them to call the militia to arms. They have been also used to
give the alarm to winter quarters and to assemble the troops more
rapidly. The signal-fires may be made still more useful if arranged so
as to indicate to the corps of the army the direction of the enemy's
threatening movements and the point where they should concentrate to
meet him. These signals may also serve on sea-coasts to give notice of

Finally, there is a kind of signals given to troops during an action, by
means of military instruments. This method of signals has been brought
to greater perfection in the Russian army than in any other I know of.
While I am aware of the great importance of discovering a sure method of
setting in motion simultaneously a large mass of troops at the will of
the commander, I am convinced that it must be a long time before the
problem is solved. Signals with instruments are of little use except for
skirmishers. A movement of a long line of troops may be made nearly
simultaneous by means of a shout begun at one point and passed rapidly
from man to man; but these shouts seem generally to be a sort of
inspiration, and are seldom the result of an order. I have seen but two
cases of it in thirteen campaigns.


[Footnote 38: I shall be accused, I suppose, of saying that no event in
war can ever occur which may not be foreseen and provided for. To prove
the falsity of this accusation, it is sufficient for me to cite the
surprises of Cremona, Berg-op-zoom, and Hochkirch. I am still of the
opinion, however, that such events even as these might always have been
anticipated, entirely or in part, as at least within the limits of
probability or possibility.]

[Footnote 39: When the above was written, the magnetic telegraph was not




Posting Troops in Line of Battle.

Having explained in Article XXX. what is to be understood by the term
_line of battle_, it is proper to add in what manner it is to be formed,
and how the different troops are to be distributed in it.

Before the French Revolution, all the infantry, formed in regiments and
brigades, was collected in a single battle-corps, drawn up in two lines,
each of which had a right and a left wing. The cavalry was usually
placed upon the wings, and the artillery--which at this period was very
unwieldy--was distributed along the front of each line. The army camped
together, marching by lines or by wings; and, as there were two cavalry
wings and two infantry wings, if the march was by wings four columns
were thus formed. When they marched by lines, (which was specially
applicable to flank movements,) two columns were formed, unless, on
account of local circumstances, the cavalry or a part of the infantry
had camped in a third line,--which was rare.

This method simplified logistics very much, since it was only necessary
to give such orders as the following:--"The army will move in such
direction, by lines or by wings, by the right or by the left." This
monotonous but simple formation was seldom deviated from; and no better
could have been devised as war was carried on in those days.

The French attempted something new at Minden, by forming as many columns
as brigades, and opening roads to bring them to the front in line,--a
simple impossibility.

If the labor of staff officers was diminished by this method of camping
and marching by lines, it must be evident that if such a system were
applied to an army of one hundred thousand or one hundred and fifty
thousand men, there would be no end to the columns, and the result would
be the frequent occurrence of routs like that of Rossbach.

The French Revolution introduced the system of divisions, which broke up
the excessive compactness of the old formation, and brought upon the
field fractions capable of independent movement on any kind of ground.
This change was a real improvement,--although they went from one extreme
to the other, by returning nearly to the legionary formation of the
Romans. These divisions, composed usually of infantry, artillery, and
cavalry, maneuvered and fought separately. They were very much extended,
either to enable them to subsist without the use of depots, or with an
absurd expectation of prolonging the line in order to outflank that of
the enemy. The seven or eight divisions of an army were sometimes seen
marching on the same number of roads, ten or twelve miles distant from
each other; the head-quarters was at the center, with no other support
than five or six small regiments of cavalry of three hundred or four
hundred men each, so that if the enemy concentrated the mass of his
forces against one of these divisions and beat it, the line was pierced,
and the general-in-chief, having no disposable infantry reserve, could
do nothing but order a retreat to rally his scattered columns.

Bonaparte in his first Italian campaign remedied this difficulty, partly
by the mobility of his army and the rapidity of his maneuvers, and
partly by concentrating the mass of his divisions upon the point where
the decisive blow was to fall. When he became the head of the
government, and saw the sphere of his means and his plans constantly
increasing in magnitude, he readily perceived that a stronger
organization was necessary: he avoided the extremes of the old system
and the new, while still retaining the advantages of the divisional
system. Beginning with the campaign of 1800, he organized corps of two
or three divisions, which he placed under the command of
lieutenant-generals, and formed of them the wings, the center, and the
reserve of his army.[40]

This system was finally developed fully at the camp of Boulogne, where
he organized permanent army corps under the command of marshals, who had
under their orders three divisions of infantry, one of light cavalry,
from thirty-six to forty pieces of cannon, and a number of sappers. Each
corps was thus a small army, able at need to act independently as an
army. The heavy cavalry was collected in a single strong reserve,
composed of two divisions of cuirassiers, four of dragoons, and one of
light cavalry. The grenadiers and the guard formed an admirable infantry
reserve. At a later period--1812--the cavalry was also organized into
corps of three divisions, to give greater unity of action to the
constantly-increasing masses of this arm. This organization was as near
perfection as possible; and the grand army, that brought about such
great results, was the model which all the armies of Europe soon

Some military men, in their attempts to perfect the art, have
recommended that the infantry division, which sometimes has to act
independently, should contain three instead of two brigades, because
this number will allow one for the center and each wing. This would
certainly be an improvement; for if the division contains but two
brigades there is an open space left in the center between the brigades
on the wings: these brigades, having no common central support, cannot
with safety act independently of each other. Besides this, with three
brigades in a division, two may be engaged while the third is held in
reserve,--a manifest advantage. But, if thirty brigades formed in ten
divisions of three brigades are better than when formed in fifteen
divisions of two brigades, it becomes necessary, in order to obtain this
perfect divisional organization, to increase the numbers of the infantry
by one-third, or to reduce the divisions of the army-corps from three to
two,--which last would be a serious disadvantage, because the army-corps
is much more frequently called upon to act independently than a
division, and the subdivision into three parts is specially best for

What is the best organization to be given an army just setting out upon
a campaign will for a long time to come be a problem in logistics;
because it is extremely difficult to maintain the original organization
in the midst of the operations of war, and detachments must be sent out

The history of the grand army of Boulogne, whose organization seemed to
leave nothing farther to be desired, proves the assertion just made. The
center under Soult, the right under Davoust, the left under Ney, and the
reserve under Lannes, formed together a regular and formidable
battle-corps of thirteen divisions of infantry, without counting those
of the guard and the grenadiers. Besides these, the corps of Bernadotte
and Marmont detached to the right, and that of Augereau to the left,
were ready for action on the flanks. But after the passage of the Danube
at Donauwerth every thing was changed. Ney, at first reinforced to five
divisions, was reduced to two; the battle-corps was divided partly to
the right and partly to the left, so that this fine arrangement was

It will always be difficult to fix upon a stable organization. Events
are, however, seldom so complicated as those of 1805; and Moreau's
campaign of 1800 proves that the original organization may sometimes be
maintained, at least for the mass of the army. With this view, it would
seem prudent to organize an army in four parts,--two wings, a center,
and a reserve. The composition of these parts may vary with the strength
of the army; but in order to retain this organization it becomes
necessary to have a certain number of divisions out of the general line
in order to furnish the necessary detachments. While these divisions are
with the army, they may be attached to that part which is to receive or
give the heaviest blows; or they may be employed on the flanks of the
main body, or to increase the strength of the reserve. Bach of the four
great parts of the army may be a single corps of three or four
divisions, or two corps of two divisions each. In this last case there
would be seven corps, allowing one for the reserve; but this last corps
should contain three divisions, to give a reserve to each wing and to
the center.

With seven corps, unless several more are kept out of the general line
in order to furnish detachments, it may happen that the extreme corps
may be detached, so that each wing might contain but two divisions, and
from these a brigade might be occasionally detached to flank the march
of the army, leaving but three brigades to a wing. This would be a weak
order of battle.

These facts lead me to conclude that an organization of the line of
battle in four corps of three divisions of infantry and one of light
cavalry, with three or four divisions for detachments, would be more
stable than one of seven corps, each of two divisions.

But, as every thing depends upon the strength of the army and of the
units of which it is composed, as well as upon the character of the
operations in which it may be engaged, the arrangement may be greatly
varied. I cannot go into these details, and shall simply exhibit the
principal combinations that may result from forming the divisions in two
or three brigades and the corps in two or three divisions. I have
indicated the formation of two infantry corps in two lines, either one
behind the other, or side by side. (See Figures from 17 to 28

_Different Formations of Lines of Battle for Two Corps of Infantry._

[Illustration: Fig. 17. Two Corps deployed, One behind the Other.]

             First Corps.
----- -----       ^      ----- -----
2d Division.      |      1st Division.

            Second Corps.
----- -----       ^      ----- -----
2d Division.      |      1st Division.

[Illustration: Fig. 18. Two Corps formed Side by Side.]

Second Corps.     ^       First Corps.
----- -----       |       ----- -----
1st Division.     |       1st Division.
----- -----       |       ----- -----
2d Division.      |       2d Division.

[Illustration: Fig. 19. Two Corps of 2 Divisions of 3 Brigades each.]

               First Corps.

----- ----- -----   ^   ----- ----- -----
  2d Division.      |     1st Division.

               Second Corps.

----- ----- -----   ^   ----- ----- -----
  2d Division.      |     1st Division.

[Illustration: Fig. 20. Two Corps Side by Side.]

   Second Corps.    ^      First Corps.
----- ----- -----   |   ----- ----- -----
   1st Division.    |     1st Division.
----- ----- -----   |   ----- ----- -----
   2d Division.     |      2d Division.

[Illustration: Fig. 21. 2 Corps of 2 Divisions of 3 Brigades each.]

             First Corps.

2d Division.             1st Division.
----- -----              ----- -----
   -----                    -----

            Second Corps.

2d Division.             1st Division.
----- -----              ----- -----
   -----                    -----

[Illustration: Fig. 22. 2 Corps of 2 Divisions of 3 Brigades each,
placed Side by Side.]

Second Corps.     ^      First Corps.
1st Division.     |      1st Division.
 ----- -----      |       ----- -----
    -----         |          -----
 2d Division.     |       2d Division.
 ----- -----      |       ----- -----
    -----         |          -----

_Formation of Two Corps of Three Divisions of Two Brigades each._

[Illustration: Fig. 23.]

               First Corps.
 ----  ----  ^ ----  ----   ^ ----  ----
3d Division. | 2d Division. | 1st Division.

               Second Corps.
 ----  ----  ^ ----  ----   ^ ----  ----
3d Division. | 2d Division. | 1st Division.

[Illustration: Fig. 24.]

        Second Corps.          ^               First Corps.
 ----  ----  ^ ----  ----      |       ----  ----  ^ ----  ----
2d Division. | 1st Division    |      2d Division. | 1st Division
        ----   ----            |               ----  ----
        3d Division.           |              3d Division.

[Illustration: Fig. 25.]

  2d Corps.  ^  1st Corps.
 ----  ----  |  ----  ----
1st Division.| 1st Division.
 ----  ----  |  ----  ----
2d Division. | 2d Division.
 ----  ----  |  ----  ----
3d Division. | 3d Division.

       *       *       *       *       *

_Two Corps of Three Divisions of Three Brigades each._

[Illustration: Fig. 26. Two Divisions in the 1st Line, and one in the
2d Line.]

          First Corps.

---- ---- ---- | ---- ---- ----
 2d Division.  | 1st Division.

     ----    ----     ----
         3d Division.

          Second Corps.

---- ---- ---- | ---- ---- ----
 2d Division.  |  1st Division.

     ----    ----      ----
         3d Division.

[Illustration: Fig. 27. Same Order with 3d Brigade as Reserve, and the
2 Corps Side by Side.]

        Second Corps.           ^           First Corps.
2d Division. ^  1st Division.   |   2d Division. ^  1st Division.
 ----  ----  |   ----  ----     |    ----  ----  |   ----  ----
    ----     |      ----        |       ----     |      ----
      ---- ---- ----            |          ---- ---- ----
        3d Division.            |           3d Division.

[Illustration: _Shallower Formation: Twelve Brigades in the First Line,
and Six in the Second Line._

Fig. 28.]

        Second Corps.            ^           First Corps.
2d Division.   ^  1st Division.  |   2d Division. ^  1st Division.
---- ---- ---- |  ---- ---- ---- | ---- ---- ---- | ---- ---- ----
     ----    ----      ----      |      ----     ----    ----
         3d Division.            |           3d Division.

       *       *       *       *       *

Note.--In all these formations the unit is the brigade in line; but
these lines may be formed of deployed battalions, or of battalions in
columns of attack by divisions of two companies. The cavalry attached to
the corps will be placed on the flanks. The brigades might be so drawn
up as to have one regiment in the first line and one in the second.

The question here presents itself, whether it is ever proper to place
two corps one behind the other, as Napoleon often did, particularly at
Wagram. I think that, except for the reserves, this arrangement may be
used only in a position of expectation, and never as an order of battle;
for it is much better for each corps to have its own second line and its
reserve than to pile up several corps, one behind the other, under
different commanders. However much one general may be disposed to
support a colleague, he will always object to dividing up his troops for
that purpose; and when in the general of the first line he sees not a
colleague, but a hated rival, as too frequently happens, it is probable
he will be very slow in furnishing the assistance which may be greatly
needed. Moreover, a commander whose troops are spread out in a long line
cannot execute his maneuvers with near so much facility as if his front
was only half as great and was supported by the remainder of his own
troops drawn up in rear.

The table below[42] will show that the number of men in an army will
have great influence in determining the best formation for it, and that
the subject is a complicated one.

In making our calculations, it is scarcely necessary to provide for the
case of such immense masses being in the field as were seen from 1812 to
1815, when a single army contained fourteen corps varying in strength
from two to five divisions. With such large numbers nothing better can
be proposed than a subdivision into corps of three divisions each. Of
these corps, eight would form the main body, and there would remain six
for detachments and for strengthening any point of the main line that
might require support. If this system be applied to an army of one
hundred and fifty thousand men, it would be hardly practicable to employ
divisions of two brigades each where Napoleon and the allies used corps.

If nine divisions form the main body,--that is, the wings and the
center,--and six others form the reserve and detachments, fifteen
divisions would be required, or thirty brigades,--which would make one
hundred and eighty battalions, if each regiment contains three
battalions. This supposition brings our army up to one hundred and
forty-five thousand foot-soldiers and two hundred thousand in all. With
regiments of two battalions there would be required one hundred and
twenty battalions, or ninety-six thousand infantry; but if each regiment
contains but two battalions, each battalion should be one thousand men
strong, and this would increase the infantry to one hundred and twenty
thousand men and the entire army to one hundred and sixty thousand men.
These calculations show that the strength of the minor subdivisions must
be carefully considered in arranging into corps and divisions. If an
army does not contain more than one hundred thousand men, the formation
by divisions is perhaps better than by corps. An example of this was
Napoleon's army of 1800.

Having now endeavored to explain the best method of giving a somewhat
permanent organization to the main body of an army, it will not be out
of place for me to inquire whether this permanency is desirable, and if
it is not advantageous to deceive the enemy by frequently changing the
composition of corps and their positions.

I admit the advantage of thus deceiving the enemy; but it may be gained
while still retaining a quite constant organization of the main body. If
the divisions intended for detachments are joined to the wings and the
center,--that is, if those parts contain each four divisions instead of
three,--and if one or two divisions be occasionally added to the wing
which is likely to bear the brunt of an engagement, each wing will be a
corps properly of four divisions; but detachments will generally reduce
it to three, and sometimes two, while it might, again, be reinforced by
a portion of the reserve until it reached five divisions. The enemy
would thus never know exactly the strength of the different parts of the

But I have dwelt sufficiently on these details. It is probable that,
whatever be the strength and number of the subdivisions of an army, the
organization into corps will long be retained by all the great powers of
Europe, and calculations for the arrangement of the line of battle must
be made upon that basis.

The distribution of the troops in the line of battle has changed in
recent times, as well as the manner of arranging the line. Formerly it
was usually composed of two lines, but now of two lines and one or more
reserves. In recent[43] conflicts in Europe, when the masses brought
into collision were very large, the corps were not only formed in two
lines, but one corps was placed behind another, thus making four lines;
and, the reserve being drawn up in the same manner, six lines of
infantry were often the result, and several of cavalry. Such a formation
may answer well enough as a preparatory one, but is by no means the best
for battle, as it is entirely too deep.

The classical formation--if I may employ that term--is still two lines
for the infantry. The greater or less extent of the battle-field and the
strength of an army may necessarily produce greater depth at times; but
these cases are the exceptions, because the formation of two lines and
the reserves gives sufficient solidity, and enables a greater number of
men to be simultaneously engaged.

When an army has a permanent advanced guard, it may be either formed in
front of the line of battle or be carried to the rear to strengthen the
reserve;[44] but, as has been previously stated, this will not often
happen with the present method of forming and moving armies. Each wing
has usually its own advanced guard, and the advanced guard of the main
or central portion of the army is naturally furnished by the leading
corps: upon coming into view of the enemy, these advanced bodies return
to their proper positions in line of battle. Often the cavalry reserve
is almost entirely with the advanced guard; but this does not prevent
its taking, when necessary, the place fixed for it in the line of battle
by the character of the position or by the wishes of the commanding

From what has been stated above, my readers will gather that very great
changes of army organization took place from the time of the revival of
the art of war and the invention of gunpowder to the French Revolution,
and that to have a proper appreciation of the wars of Louis XIV., of
Peter the Great, and of Frederick II., they should consider them from
the stand-point of those days.

One portion of the old method may still be employed; and if, by way of
example, it may not be regarded as a fundamental rule to post the
cavalry on the wings, it may still be a very good arrangement for an
army of fifty or sixty thousand men, especially when the ground in the
center is not so suitable for the evolutions of cavalry as that near the
extremities. It is usual to attach one or two brigades of light cavalry
to each infantry corps, those of the center being placed in preference
to the rear, whilst those of the wings are placed upon the flanks. If
the reserves of cavalry are sufficiently numerous to permit the
organization of three corps of this arm, giving one as reserve to the
center and one to each wing, the arrangement is certainly a good one. If
that is impossible, this reserve may be formed in two columns, one on
the right of the left wing and the other on the left of the right wing.
These columns may thus readily move to any point of the line that may be

The artillery of the present day has greater mobility, and may, as
formerly, be distributed along the front, that of each division
remaining near it. It may be observed, moreover, that, the organization
of the artillery having been greatly improved, an advantageous
distribution of it may be more readily made; but it is a great mistake
to scatter it too much. Few precise rules can be laid down for the
proper distribution of artillery. Who, for example, would dare to advise
as a rule the filling up of a large gap in a line of battle with one
hundred pieces of cannon in a single battery without adequate support,
as Napoleon did successfully at Wagram? I do not desire to go here into
much detail with reference to the use of this arm, but I will give the
following rules:--

1. The horse-artillery should be placed on such ground that it can move
freely in every direction.

2. Foot-artillery, on the contrary, and especially that of heavy
caliber, will be best posted where protected by ditches or hedges from
sudden charges of cavalry. It is hardly necessary for me to add--what
every young officer should know already--that too elevated positions are
not those to give artillery its greatest effect. Flat or gently-sloping
ground is better.

3. The horse-artillery usually maneuvers with the cavalry; but it is
well for each army-corps to have its own horse-artillery, to be readily
thrown into any desired position. It is, moreover, proper to have
horse-artillery in reserve, which may be carried as rapidly as possible
to any threatened point. General Benningsen had great cause for
self-congratulation at Eylau because he had fifty light guns in reserve;
for they had a powerful influence in enabling him to recover himself
when his line had been broken through between the center and the left.

4. On the defensive, it is well to place some of the heavy batteries in
front, instead of holding them in reserve, since it is desirable to
attack the enemy at the greatest possible distance, with a view of
checking his forward movement and causing disorder in his columns.

5. On the defensive, it seems also advisable to have the artillery not
in reserve distributed at equal intervals in batteries along the whole
line, since it is important to repel the enemy at all points. This must
not, however, be regarded as an invariable rule; for the character of
the position and the designs of the enemy may oblige the mass of the
artillery to move to a wing or to the center.

6. In the offensive, it is equally advantageous to concentrate a very
powerful artillery-fire upon a single point where it is desired to make
a decisive stroke, with a view of shattering the enemy's line to such a
degree that he will be unable to withstand an attack upon which the fate
of the battle is to turn. I shall at another place have more to say as
to the employment of artillery in battles.


[Footnote 40: Thus, the army of the Rhine was composed of a right wing
of three divisions under Lecourbe, of a center of three divisions under
Saint-Cyr, and of a left of two divisions under Saint-Suzanne, the
general-in-chief having three divisions more as a reserve under his own
immediate orders.]

[Footnote 41: Thirty brigades formed in fifteen divisions of two
brigades each will have only fifteen brigades in the first line, while
the same thirty brigades formed in ten divisions of three brigades each
may have twenty brigades in the first line and ten in the second. But it
then becomes necessary to diminish the number of divisions and to have
but two in a corps,--which would be a faulty arrangement, because the
corps is much more likely to be called upon for independent action than
the division.]

[Footnote 42: Every army has two wings, a center, and a reserve,--in
all, four principal subdivisions,--besides accidental detachments.

Below are some of the different formations that may be given to

1st. In regiments of two battalions of eight hundred men each:--

     Div's. Brig's. Batt'ns. Men. Four corps of two divisions each, and
     three divisions for detachments.................. 11 = 22 = 88 =

     Four corps of three divisions each, and three divisions for
     detachments................... 15 = 30 = 120 = 96,000

     Seven corps of two divisions each, and one corps for
     detachments....................... 16 = 32 = 128 = 103,000

2d. In regiments of three battalions, brigades of six battalions:--

     Div's. Brig's. Batt'ns. Men. Four corps of two divisions each,
     besides detachments,............................... 11 = 22 = 132

     Four corps of three divisions each, besides
     detachments................................ 15 = 30 = 180 = 144,000

     Eight corps of two divisions each............ 16 = 32 = 192 =

If to these numbers we add one-fourth for cavalry, artillery, and
engineers, the total force for the above formations may be known.

It is to be observed that regiments of two battalions if eight hundred
men each would become very weak at the end of two or three months'
campaigning. If they do not consist of three battalions, then each
battalion should contain one thousand men.]

[Footnote 43: The term _recent_ here refers to the later wars of
Napoleon I.--Translators.]

[Footnote 44: As the advanced guard is in presence of the enemy every
day, and forms the rear-guard in retreat, it seems but fair at the hour
of battle to assign it a position more retired than that in front of the
line of battle.]

[Footnote 45: This disposition of the cavalry, of course, is made upon
the supposition that the ground is favorably situated for it. This is
the essential condition of every well-arranged line of battle.]


Formation and Employment of Infantry.

Infantry is undoubtedly the most important arm of the service, since it
forms four-fifths of an army and is used both in the attack and defense
of positions. If we must admit that, next to the genius of the general,
the infantry arm is the most valuable instrument in gaining a victory,
it is no less true that most important aid is given by the cavalry and
artillery, and that without their assistance the infantry might at times
be very seriously compromised, and at others could achieve only partial

We shall not here introduce those old discussions about the shallow and
the deep formations, although the question, which was supposed decided,
is far from being settled absolutely. The war in Spain and the battle of
Waterloo have again given rise to disputes as to the relative advantages
of fire and the shallow order, and of columns of attack and the deep
order. I will give my own opinion farther on.

There must, however, be no misconception on this subject. The question
now is not whether Lloyd was right in wishing to add a fourth rank,
armed with pikes, to the infantry formation, with the expectation of
producing more effect by the shock when attacking, or opposing a greater
resistance when attacked. Every officer of experience knows the
difficulty of moving in an orderly manner several deployed battalions in
three ranks at close order, and that a fourth rank would increase the
disorder without adding any advantage. It is astonishing that Lloyd, who
had seen service, should have insisted so much upon the material
advantage to be gained by thus increasing the mass of a battalion; for
it very rarely happens that such a collision between opposing troops
takes place that mere weight decides the contest. If three ranks turn
their backs to the enemy, the fourth will not check them. This increase
in the number of ranks diminishes the front and the number of men firing
upon the defensive, whilst in the offensive there is not near so much
mobility as in the ordinary column of attack. It is much more difficult
to move eight hundred men in line of battle in four ranks than in three:
although in the former case the extent of front is less, the ranks
cannot be kept properly closed.

Lloyd's proposal for remedying this diminution of front is so absurd
that it is wonderful how a man of talents could have imagined it. He
wishes to deploy twenty battalions, and leave between them one hundred
and fifty yards, or an interval equal to their front. We may well ask
what would befall those battalions thus separated. The cavalry may
penetrate the intervals and scatter them like dust before the whirlwind.

But the real question now is, shall the line of battle consist of
deployed battalions depending chiefly upon their fire, or of columns of
attack, each battalion being formed in column on the central division
and depending on its force and impetuosity?

I will now proceed to sum up the particulars bearing upon a decision of
the question in hand.

There are, in fact, only five methods of forming troops to attack an
enemy:--l, as skirmishers; 2, in deployed lines, either continuous or
checkerwise; 3, in lines of battalions formed in column on the central
divisions; 4, in deep masses; 5, in small squares.

The skirmishing-order is an accessory; for the duties of skirmishers
are, not to form the line of battle, but to cover it by taking advantage
of the ground, to protect the movements of columns, to fill up
intervals, and to defend the skirts of a position.

These different manners of formation are, therefore, reducible to four:
the shallow order, where the line is deployed in three ranks; the
half-deep order, formed of a line of battalions in columns doubled on
the center or in battalion squares; the mixed order, where regiments are
partly in line and partly in column; finally, the deep order, composed
of heavy columns of battalions deployed one behind the other.

[Illustration: Fig. 29.[46]

   Deployed order in two lines.
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----
----- ----- ----- ----- ----- -----


The formation into two deployed lines with a reserve was formerly used
to a great extent: it is particularly suitable on the defensive. These
deployed lines may either be continuous, (Fig. 29,) or checkerwise, or
in echelons.

[Illustration: Fig. 30.

Twelve battalions in columns of attack in two lines, with skirmishers in
the intervals.

    -----   -----   -----   -----   -----   -----
    -----   -----   -----   -----   -----   -----
    -----   -----   -----   -----   -----   -----
-----   -----   -----   -----   -----   -----
-----   -----   -----   -----   -----   -----
-----   -----   -----   -----   -----   -----


A more compact order is shown in Fig. 30, where each battalion is formed
into a column of attack, being by divisions upon the central division.
It is really a line of small columns

In the three-rank formation, a battalion with four divisions[47] will
have twelve ranks in such a column as shown above: there are in this way
too many non-combatants, and the column presents too good a mark for the
artillery. To remedy in part these inconveniences, it has been proposed,
whenever infantry is employed in columns of attack, to form it in two
ranks, to place only three divisions of a battalion one behind the
other, and to spread out the fourth as skirmishers in the intervals of
the battalions and upon the flanks: when the cavalry charges, these
skirmishers may rally behind the other three divisions. (See Fig. 31.)
Each battalion would thus have two hundred more men to fire, besides
those thrown into the two front ranks from the third. There would be,
also, an increase of the whole front. By this arrangement, while having
really a depth of but six men, there would be a front of one hundred
men, and four hundred men who could discharge their fire-arms, for each
battalion. Force and mobility would both be obtained.[48] A battalion of
eight hundred men, formed in the ordinary manner in a column of four
divisions, has about sixty files in each division, of which the first
alone--and only two ranks of that--discharge their pieces. Bach
battalion would deliver, therefore, one hundred and twenty shots at a
volley, whilst formed in the manner shown in Fig. 31 it would deliver
four hundred.

[Illustration: Fig. 31.]

While searching after methods of obtaining more fire when necessary, we
must not forget that a column of attack is not intended to fire, and
that its fire should be reserved until the last; for if it begins to
fire while marching, the whole impulsive effect of its forward movement
is lost. Moreover, this shallower order would only be advantageous
against infantry, as the column of four divisions in three
ranks--forming a kind of solid square--would be better against cavalry.
The Archduke Charles found it advantageous at Essling, and particularly
at Wagram, to adopt this last order, which was proposed by myself in my
chapter on the General Principles of War, published in 1807. The brave
cavalry of Bessières could make no impression upon these small masses.

To give more solidity to the column proposed, the skirmishers might, it
is true, be recalled, and the fourth division reformed; but this would
be a two-rank formation, and would offer much less resistance to a
charge than the three-rank formation,--particularly on the flanks. If to
remedy this inconvenience it is proposed to form squares, many military
men believe that when in two ranks squares would not resist so well as
columns. The English squares at Waterloo were, however, only in two
ranks, and, notwithstanding the heroic efforts of the French cavalry,
only one battalion was broken. I will observe, in conclusion, that, if
the two-rank formation be used for the columns of attack, it will be
difficult to preserve that in three ranks for deployed lines, as it is
scarcely possible to have two methods of formation, or, at any rate, to
employ them alternately in the same engagement. It is not probable that
any European army, except the English, will undertake to use deployed
lines in two ranks. If they do, they should never move except in columns
of attack.

I conclude that the system employed by the Russians and Prussians, of
forming columns of four divisions in three ranks, of which one may be
employed as skirmishers when necessary, is more generally applicable
than any other; whilst the other, of which mention has been made, would
be suitable only in certain cases and would require a double formation.

[Illustration: Fig. 32.]

There is a mixed order, which was used by Napoleon at the Tagliamento
and by the Russians at Eylau, where, in regiments of three battalions,
one was deployed to form the first line, and two others to the rear in
columns. (See Fig. 32.) This arrangement--which belongs also to the
half-deep order--is suitable for the offensive-defensive, because the
first line pours a powerful fire upon the enemy, which must throw him
into more or less confusion, and the troops formed in columns may
debouch through the intervals and fall with advantage upon him while in
disorder. This arrangement would probably be improved by placing the
leading divisions of the two battalions of the wings upon the same line
with the central deployed battalion. There would thus be a
half-battalion more to each regiment in the first line,--a by no means
unimportant thing for the delivery of fire. There may be reason to fear
that, these divisions becoming actively engaged in firing, their
battalions which are formed in column to be readily launched against the
enemy may not be easily disengaged for that purpose. The order may be
useful in many cases. I have therefore indicated it.

[Illustration: Fig 33.]

[Illustration: Fig 34.]

The order in very deep masses (see Figs. 33 and 34) is certainly the
most injudicious. In the later wars of Napoleon, twelve battalions were
sometimes deployed and closed one upon the other, forming thirty-six
ranks closely packed together. Such masses are greatly exposed to the
destructive effects of artillery, their mobility and impulsion are
diminished, while their strength is not increased. The use of such
masses at Waterloo was one cause of the French being defeated.
Macdonald's column was more fortunate at Wagram, but at a great
sacrifice of life; and it is not probable that this column would have
been victorious had it not been for the successes of Davoust and
Oudinot on the left of the archduke's line.

When it is decided to risk such a mass, the precaution should certainly
be taken of placing on each flank a battalion marching in file, so that
if the enemy should charge the mass in flank it need not be arrested in
its progress. (See Fig. 33.) Under the protection of these battalions,
which may face toward the enemy, the column may continue its march to
the point it is expected to reach: otherwise, this large mass, exposed
to a powerful converging fire which it has no means of returning, will
be thrown into confusion like the column at Fontenoy, or broken as was
the Macedonian phalanx by Paulus Emilius.

Squares are good in plains and to oppose an enemy who has a superiority
in cavalry. It is agreed that the regimental square is best for the
defensive, and the battalion square for the offensive. (See Figs. 35,
36, 37.)

[Illustration: Fig. 35.

Division in battalion squares.]

[Illustration: Fig. 36.

The same division in long battalion squares.]

[Illustration: Fig. 37.

Squared of regiments of three battalions.]

The figures may be perfect squares, or elongated to give a large front
and pour a heavier column of fire in the direction of the enemy. A
regiment of three battalions will thus form a long square, by wheeling
the center battalion half to the right and half to the left.

In the Turkish wars squares were almost exclusively used, because
hostilities were carried on in the vast plains of Bessarabia, Moldavia,
or Wallachia, and the Turks had an immense force of cavalry. But if the
seat of war be the Balkan Mountains or beyond them, and their irregular
cavalry be replaced by an army organized according to the proportions
usual in Europe, the importance of the square will disappear, and the
Russian infantry will show its superiority in Rumelia.

However this may be, the order in squares by regiments or battalions
seems suitable for every kind of attack, when the assailant has not the
superiority in cavalry and maneuvers on level ground advantageous for
the enemy's charges. The elongated square, especially when applied to a
battalion of eight companies, three of which would march in front and
one on each side, would be much better to make an attack than a deployed
battalion. It would not be so good as the column proposed above; but
there would be less unsteadiness and more impulsion than if the
battalion marched in a deployed line. It would have the advantage, also,
of being prepared to resist cavalry.

Squares may also be drawn up in echelons, so as entirely to unmask each
other. All the orders of battle may be formed of squares as well as with
deployed lines.

It cannot be stated with truth that any one of the formations described
is always good or always bad; but there is one rule to the correctness
of which every one will assent,--that a formation suitable for the
offensive must possess the characteristics of _solidity, mobility_, and
_momentum_, whilst for the defensive _solidity_ is requisite, and also
the power of delivering _as much fire as possible_.

This truth being admitted, it remains yet to be decided whether the
bravest troops, formed in columns but unable to fire, can stand long in
presence of a deployed line firing twenty thousand musket-balls in one
round, and able to fire two hundred thousand or three hundred thousand
in five minutes. In the later wars in Europe, positions have often been
carried by Russian, French, and Prussian columns with their arms at a
shoulder and without firing a shot. This was a triumph of _momentum_ and
the moral effect it produces; but under the cool and deadly fire of the
English infantry the French columns did not succeed so well at Talavera,
Busaco, Fuentes-de-Onore, Albuera, and Waterloo.

We must not, however, necessarily conclude from these facts that the
advantage is entirely in favor of the shallow formation and firing; for
when the French formed their infantry in those dense masses, it is not
at all wonderful that the deployed and marching battalions of which they
were composed, assailed on all sides by a deadly fire, should have been
repulsed. Would the same result have been witnessed if they had used
columns of attack formed each of a single battalion doubled on the
center? I think not. Before deciding finally as to the superiority of
the shallow order, with its facility for firing, over the half-deep
order and its momentum, there should be several trials to see how a
deployed line would stand an assault from a formation like Fig. 31,
(page 293.) These small columns have always succeeded wherever I have
seen them tried.

Is it indeed an easy matter to adopt any other order when marching to
attack a position? Can an immense deployed line be moved up into action
while firing? I think no one will answer affirmatively. Suppose the
attempt made to bring up twenty or thirty battalions in line, while
firing either by file or by company, to the assault of a well-defended
position: it is not very probable they would ever reach the desired
point, or, if they did, it would be in about as good order as a flock of

What conclusions shall be drawn from all that has been said? 1. If the
deep order is dangerous, the half-deep is excellent for the offensive.
2. The column of attack of single battalions is the best formation for
carrying a position by assault; but its depth should be diminished as
much as possible, that it may when necessary be able to deliver as heavy
a column of fire as possible, and to diminish the effect of the enemy's
fire: it ought also to be well covered by skirmishers and supported by
cavalry. 3. The formation having the first line deployed and the second
in columns is the best-suited to the defensive. 4. Either of them may be
successful in the hands of a general of talent, who knows how to use
his troops properly in the manner indicated in Articles XVI. and XXX.

Since this chapter was first written, numerous improvements have been
made in the arms both of infantry and artillery, making them much more
destructive. The effect of this is to incline men to prefer the
shallower formations, even in the attack. We cannot, however, forget the
lessons of experience; and, notwithstanding the use of rocket-batteries,
shrapnel-shot, and the Perkins musket, I cannot imagine a better method
of forming infantry for the attack than in columns of battalions. Some
persons may perhaps desire to restore to infantry the helmets and
breastplates of the fifteenth century, before leading them to the attack
in deployed lines. But, if there is a general return to the deployed
system, some better arrangement must be devised for marching to the
attack than long, continuous lines, and either columns must be used with
proper distances for deployment upon arriving near the enemy's position,
or lines drawn up checkerwise, or the march must be by the flanks of
companies,--all of which maneuvers are hazardous in presence of an enemy
who is capable of profiting by the advantages on his side. A skillful
commander will use either, or a combination of all, of these
arrangements, according to circumstances.

Experience long ago taught me that one of the most difficult tactical
problems is that of determining the best formation of troops for battle;
but I have also learned that to solve this problem by the use of a
single method is an impossibility.

In the first place, the topography of different countries is very
various. In some, as Champagne, two hundred thousand men might be
maneuvered in deployed lines. In others, as Italy, Switzerland, the
valley of the Rhine, half of Hungary, it is barely possible to deploy a
division of ten battalions. The degree of instruction of the troops, and
their national characteristics, may also have an influence upon the
system of formation.

Owing to the thorough discipline of the Russian army and its instruction
in maneuvers of every kind, it may maintain in movements in long lines
so much order and steadiness as to enable it to adopt a system which
would be entirely out of the question for the French or Prussian armies
of the present day. My long experience has taught me to believe that
nothing is impossible; and I do not belong to the class of men who think
that there can be but one type and one system for all armies and all

To approximate as nearly as we can to the solution of the problem, it
seems to me, we ought to find out:--1. The best method of moving when in
sight of the enemy, but beyond his reach; 2. The best method of coming
to close quarters with him; 3. The best defensive order.

In whatever manner we may settle these points, it seems desirable in all
cases to exercise the troops--1. In marching in columns of battalions
doubled on the center, with a view to deployment, if necessary, when
coming into musket-range, or even to attack in column; 2. In marching in
continuous deployed lines of eight or ten battalions; 3. In marching in
deployed battalions arranged checkerwise,--as these broken lines are
more easily moved than continuous lines; 4. In moving to the front by
the flanks of companies; 5. In marching to the front in small squares,
either in line or checkerwise; 6. In changing front while using these
different methods of marching; 7. In changes of front executed by
columns of companies at full distance, without deployment,--a more
expeditious method than the others of changing front, and the one best
suited to all kinds of ground.

Of all the methods of moving to the front, that by the flanks of
companies would be the best if it was not somewhat dangerous. In a plain
it succeeds admirably, and in broken ground is very convenient. It
breaks up a line very much; but by accustoming the officers and privates
to it, and by keeping the guides and color-bearers well aligned, all
confusion can be avoided. The only objection to it is the danger to
which the separated companies are exposed of being ridden down by
cavalry. This danger may be avoided by having good cavalry scouts, and
not using this formation too near the enemy, but only in getting over
the first part of the large interval separating the two armies. At the
least sign of the enemy's proximity the line could be reformed
instantly, since the companies can come into line at a run. Whatever
precautions may be taken, this maneuver should only be practiced with
well-disciplined troops, never with militia or raw troops. I have never
seen it tried in presence of an enemy,--but frequently at drills, where
it has been found to succeed well, especially in changing front.

I have also seen attempts made to march deployed battalions in
checkerwise order. They succeeded well; whilst marches of the same
battalions in continuous lines did not. The French, particularly, have
never been able to march steadily in deployed lines. This checkered
order would be dangerous in case of an unexpected charge of cavalry. It
may be employed in the first stages of the movement forward, to make it
more easy, and the rear battalions would then come into line with the
leading ones before reaching the enemy. Moreover, it is easy to form
line at the moment of the charge, by leaving a small distance only
between the leading and following battalions; for we must not forget
that in the checkered order there are not two lines, but a single one,
which is broken, to avoid the wavering and disorder observed in the
marches of continuous lines.

It is very difficult to determine positively the best formation for
making a serious and close attack upon an enemy. Of all the methods I
have seen tried, the following seemed to succeed best. Form twenty-four
battalions in two lines of battalions in columns doubled on the center
ready for deployment: the first line will advance at charging-pace
toward the enemy's line to within twice musket-range, and will then
deploy at a run; the voltigeur-companies of each battalion will spread
out in skirmishing-order, the remaining companies forming line and
pouring in a continued fire by file; the second line of columns follows
the first, and the battalions composing it pass at charging-step through
the intervals of the first line. This maneuver was executed when no
enemy was present; but it seems to me an irresistible combination of the
advantages of firing and of the column.

Besides these lines of columns, there are three other methods of
attacking in the half-deep order.

The first is that of lines composed of deployed battalions with others
in column on the wings of those deployed, (Fig. 32, page 295.) The
deployed battalions and the leading divisions of those in column would
open fire at half musket-range, and the assault would then be made. The
second is that of advancing a deployed line and firing until reaching
half musket-range, then throwing forward the columns of the second line
through the intervals of the first. The third is the order in echelons,
mentioned on page 193, and shown in Fig. 15 on that page.

Finally, a last method is that of advancing altogether in deployed
lines, depending on the superiority of fire alone, until one or the
other party takes to its heels,--a case not likely to happen.

I cannot affirm positively which of these methods is the best; for I
have not seen them used in actual service. In fact, in real combats of
infantry I have never seen any thing but battalions deployed commencing
to fire by company, and finally by file, or else columns marching firmly
against the enemy, who either retired without awaiting the columns, or
repulsed them before an actual collision took place, or themselves moved
out to meet the advance. I have seen _mêlées_ of infantry in defiles and
in villages, where the heads of columns came in actual bodily collision
and thrust each other with the bayonet; but I never saw such a thing on
a regular field of battle.

In whatever manner these discussions terminate, they are useful, and
should be continued. It would be absurd to discard as useless the fire
of infantry, as it would be to give up entirely the half-deep formation;
and an army is ruined if forced to adhere to precisely the same style of
tactical maneuvers in every country it may enter and against every
different nation. It is not so much the mode of formation as the proper
combined use of the different arms which will insure victory. I must,
however, except very deep masses, as they should be entirely abandoned.

I will conclude this subject by stating that a most vital point to be
attended to in leading infantry to the combat is to protect the troops
as much as possible from the fire of the enemy's artillery, not by
withdrawing them at inopportune moments, but by taking advantage of all
inequalities and accidents of the ground to hide them from the view of
the enemy. When the assaulting troops have arrived within musket-range,
it is useless to calculate upon sheltering them longer: the assault is
then to be made. In such cases covers are only suitable for skirmishers
and troops on the defensive.

It is generally quite important to defend villages on the front of a
position, or to endeavor to take them when held by an enemy who is
assailed; but their importance should not be overestimated; for we must
never forget the noted battle of Blenheim, where Marlborough and Eugene,
seeing the mass of the French infantry shut up in the villages, broke
through the center and captured twenty-four battalions which were
sacrificed in defending these posts.

For like reasons, it is useful to occupy clumps of trees or brushwood,
which may afford cover to the party holding them. They shelter the
troops, conceal their movements, cover those of cavalry, and prevent the
enemy from maneuvering in their neighborhood. The case of the park of
Hougoumont at the battle of Waterloo is a fine example of the influence
the possession of such a position, well chosen and strongly defended,
may have in deciding the fate of a battle. At Hochkirch and Kolin the
possession of the woods was very important.


[Footnote 46: In this and subsequent figures we suppose a division of
twelve battalions.]

[Footnote 47: The word _division_ being used to designate four or five
regiments, as well as two companies of a battalion, there is danger of
confusion in its use.]

[Footnote 48: In the Russian army the skirmishers are taken from the
third rank of each division,--which makes the column eight men in depth,
instead of twelve, and gives more mobility. To facilitate rallying the
skirmishers on the columns, it would be, perhaps, better to take the
whole fourth division for that purpose, thus giving nine ranks, or three
divisions of three ranks, against infantry, while against cavalry there
would be twelve ranks.]



The use a general should make of his cavalry depends, of course,
somewhat upon its numerical strength as compared with that of the whole
army, and upon its quality. Even cavalry of an inferior character may be
so handled as to produce very great results, if set in action at proper

The numerical proportion of cavalry to infantry in armies has varied
greatly. It depends on the natural tastes of nations making their
people more or less fit for good troopers. The number and quality of
horses, also, have something to do with it. In the wars of the
Revolution, the French cavalry, although badly organized and greatly
inferior to the Austrian, performed wonders. In 1796 I saw what was
pompously called the cavalry reserve of the army of the Rhine,--a weak
brigade of barely fifteen hundred horses! Ten years later I saw the same
reserve consisting of fifteen thousand or twenty thousand horses,--so
much had ideas and means changed.

As a general rule, it may be stated that an army in an open country
should contain cavalry to the amount of one-sixth its whole strength; in
mountainous countries one-tenth will suffice.

The principal value of cavalry is derived from its rapidity and ease of
motion. To these characteristics may be added its impetuosity; but we
must be careful lest a false application be made of this last.

Whatever may be its importance in the _ensemble_ of the operations of
war, cavalry can never defend a position without the support of
infantry. Its chief duty is to open the way for gaining a victory, or to
render it complete by carrying off prisoners and trophies, pursuing the
enemy, rapidly succoring a threatened point, overthrowing disordered
infantry, covering retreats of infantry and artillery. An army deficient
in cavalry rarely obtains a great victory, and finds its retreats
extremely difficult.

The proper time and manner of bringing cavalry into action depend upon
the ideas of the commander-in-chief, the plan of the battle, the enemy's
movements, and a thousand other circumstances which cannot be mentioned
here. I can only touch upon the principal things to be considered in its

All are agreed that a general attack of cavalry against a line in good
order cannot be attempted with much hope of success, unless it be
supported by infantry and artillery. At Waterloo the French paid dearly
for having violated this rule; and the cavalry of Frederick the Great
fared no better at Kunnersdorf. A commander may sometimes feel obliged
to push his cavalry forward alone, but generally the best time for
charging a line of infantry is when it is already engaged with opposing
infantry. The battles of Marengo, Eylau, Borodino, and several others
prove this.

There is one case in which cavalry has a very decided superiority over
infantry,--when rain or snow dampens the arms of the latter and they
cannot fire. Augereau's corps found this out, to their sorrow, at Eylau,
and so did the Austrian left at Dresden.

Infantry that has been shaken by a fire of artillery or in any other way
may be charged with success. A very remarkable charge of this kind was
made by the Prussian cavalry at Hohenfriedberg in 1745. A charge against
squares of good infantry in good order cannot succeed.

A general cavalry charge is made to carry batteries of artillery and
enable the infantry to take the position more easily; but the infantry
must then be at hand to sustain the cavalry, for a charge of this
character has only a momentary effect, which must be taken advantage of
before the enemy can return offensively upon the broken cavalry. The
beautiful charge of the French upon Gosa at the battle of Leipsic,
October 16, is a fine example of this kind. Those executed at Waterloo
with the same object in view were admirable, but failed because
unsupported. The daring charge of Ney's weak cavalry upon Prince
Hohenlohe's artillery at Jena is an example of what may be done under
such circumstances.

General charges are also made against the enemy's cavalry, to drive it
from the field of battle and return more free to act against his

Cavalry may be successfully thrown against the flank or rear of an
enemy's line at the moment of its being attacked in front by the
infantry. If repulsed, it may rally upon the army at a gallop, and, if
successful, it may cause the loss of the enemy's army. This operation is
rarely attempted, but I see no reason why it should not be very good;
for a body of cavalry well handled cannot be cut off even if it gets in
rear of the enemy. This is a duty for which light cavalry is
particularly fitted.

In the defensive, cavalry may also produce very valuable results by
opportune dashes at a body of the enemy which has engaged the opposing
line and either broken it through or been on the point of doing so. It
may regain the advantages lost, change the face of affairs, and cause
the destruction of an enemy flushed and disordered by his own success.
This was proved at Eylau, where the Russians made a fine charge, and at
Waterloo by the English cavalry. The special cavalry of a corps d'armée
may charge at opportune moments, either to co-operate in a combined
attack, or to take advantage of a false movement of the enemy, or to
finish his defeat by pressing him while in retreat.

It is not an easy matter to determine the best mode of attacking, as it
depends upon the object in view and other circumstances. There are but
four methods of charging,--in columns, in lines at a trot, in lines at a
gallop, and in open order,--all of which may be successfully used. In
charges in line, the lance is very useful; in _mêlées_, the saber is
much better: hence comes the idea of giving the lance to the front rank,
which makes the first onslaught, and the saber to the second rank, which
finishes the encounter usually in individual combats. Pistol-firing is
of very little use except for outpost-duty, in a charge as foragers, or
when light cavalry desires to annoy infantry and draw its fire previous
to a charge. I do not know what the carbine is good for; since a body of
cavalry armed with it must halt if they wish to fire with any accuracy,
and they are then in a favorable condition for the enemy to attack.
There are few marksmen who can with any accuracy fire a musket while on
horseback and in rapid motion.

I have just said that all the methods of charging may be equally good.
It must not be understood, however, that impetuosity always gives the
advantage in a shock of cavalry against cavalry: the fast trot, on the
contrary, seems to me the best gait for charges in line, because every
thing depends, in such a case, upon the _ensemble_ and good order of the
movement,--things which cannot be obtained in charges at a fast gallop.
Galloping is proper against artillery when it is important to get over
the ground as rapidly as possible. In like manner, if the cavalry is
armed with sabers, it may take the gallop at two hundred yards from the
enemy's line if it stands firmly to receive the attack. But if the
cavalry is armed with the lance, the fast trot is the proper gait, since
the advantageous use of that weapon depends upon the preservation of
good order: in a _mêlée_ the lance is almost useless.

If the enemy advances at a fast trot, it does not seem prudent to gallop
to meet him; for the galloping party will be much disordered, while the
trotting party will not. The only advantage of the gallop is its
apparent boldness and the moral effect it produces; but, if this is
estimated at its true value by the enemy, it is reasonable to expect his
firm and compact mass to be victorious over a body of horsemen galloping
in confusion.

In their charges against infantry the Turks and Mamelukes showed the
small advantage of mere impetuosity. No cavalry will penetrate where
lancers or cuirassiers at a trot cannot. It is only when infantry is
much disordered, or their fire poorly maintained, that there is any
advantage in the impetuous gallop over the steady trot. To break good
squares, cannon and lancers are required, or, better still, cuirassiers
armed with lances. For charges in open order there are no better models
for imitation than the Turks and the Cossacks.

Whatever method be adopted in charging, one of the best ways of using
cavalry is to throw several squadrons opportunely upon the flanks of an
enemy's line which is also attacked in front. That this maneuver may be
completely successful, especially in charges of cavalry against cavalry,
it should be performed at the very moment when the lines come in
collision; for a minute too soon or too late its effect may be lost. It
is highly important, therefore, that a cavalry commander should have a
quick eye, sound judgment, and a cool head.

Much discussion has taken place about the proper manner of arming and
organizing cavalry. The lance is the best arm for offensive purposes
when a body of horsemen charge in line; for it enables them to strike an
enemy who cannot reach them; but it is a very good plan to have a
second rank or a reserve armed with sabers, which are more easily
handled than the lance in hand-to-hand fighting when the ranks become
broken. It would be, perhaps, better still to support a charge of
lancers by a detachment of hussars, who can follow up the charge,
penetrate the enemy's line, and complete the victory.

The cuirass is the best defensive armor. The lance and the cuirass of
strong leather doubled seem to me the best armament for light cavalry,
the saber and iron cuirass the best for heavy cavalry. Some military men
of experience are inclined even to arm the cuirassiers with lances,
believing that such cavalry, resembling very much the men-at-arms of
former days, would bear down every thing before them. A lance would
certainly suit them better than the musketoon; and I do not see why they
should not have lances like those of the light cavalry.

Opinions will be always divided as to those amphibious animals called
dragoons. It is certainly an advantage to have several battalions of
mounted infantry, who can anticipate an enemy at a defile, defend it in
retreat, or scour a wood; but to make cavalry out of foot-soldiers, or a
soldier who is equally good on horse or on foot, is very difficult. This
might have been supposed settled by the fate of the French dragoons when
fighting on foot, had it not been seen that the Turkish cavalry fought
quite as well dismounted as mounted. It has been said that the greatest
inconvenience resulting from the use of dragoons consists in the fact of
being obliged at one moment to make them believe infantry squares cannot
resist their charges, and the next moment that a foot-soldier armed with
his musket is superior to any horseman in the world. This argument has
more plausibility than real force; for, instead of attempting to make
men believe such contradictory statements, it would be much more
reasonable to tell them that if brave cavalry may break a square, brave
foot-soldiers may resist such a charge; that victory does not always
depend upon the superiority of the arm, but upon a thousand other
things; that the courage of the troops, the presence of mind of the
commanders, the opportuneness of maneuvers, the effect of artillery and
musketry fire, rain,--mud, even,--have been the causes of repulses or of
victories; and, finally, that a brave man, whether on foot or mounted,
will always be more than a match for a coward. By impressing these
truths upon dragoons, they will believe themselves superior to their
adversaries whether they fight on foot or on horseback. This is the case
with the Turks and the Circassians, whose cavalry often dismount to
fight on foot in a wood or behind a cover, musket in hand, like

It requires, however, fine material and fine commanders to bring
soldiers to such perfection in knowledge of their duties.

The conviction of what brave men can accomplish, whether on foot or
mounted, doubtless induced the Emperor Nicholas to collect the large
number of fourteen or fifteen thousand dragoons in a single corps, while
he did not consider Napoleon's unfortunate experiment with French
dragoons, and was not restrained by the fear of often wanting a regiment
of these troops at some particular point. It is probable that this
concentration was ordered for the purpose of giving uniformity to the
instruction of the men in their duties as foot and mounted soldiers, and
that in war they were to be distributed to the different grand divisions
of the army. It cannot be denied, however, that great advantages might
result to the general who could rapidly move up ten thousand men on
horseback to a decisive point and bring them into action as infantry. It
thus appears that the methods of concentration and of distribution have
their respective advantages and disadvantages. A judicious mean between
the extremes would be to attach a strong regiment to each wing of the
army and to the advanced guard, (or the rear-guard in a retreat,) and
then to unite the remaining troops of this arm in divisions or corps.

Every thing that was said with reference to the formation of infantry is
applicable to cavalry, with the following modifications:--

1. Lines deployed checkerwise or in echelons are much better for cavalry
than full lines; whilst for infantry lines drawn up checkerwise are too
much disconnected, and would be in danger if the cavalry should succeed
in penetrating and taking the battalions in flank. The checkerwise
formation is only advantageous for infantry in preparatory movements
before reaching the enemy, or else for lines of columns which can defend
themselves in every direction against cavalry. Whether checkered or full
lines be used, the distance between them ought to be such that if one is
checked and thrown into confusion the others may not share it. It is
well to observe that in the checkered lines the distance may be less
than for full lines. In every case the second line should not be full.
It should be formed in columns by divisions, or at least there should be
left the spaces, if in line, of two squadrons, that may be in column
upon the flank of each regiment, to facilitate the passage through of
the troops which have been brought up.

2. When the order of columns of attack doubled on the center is used,
cavalry should be formed in regiments and infantry only in battalions.
The regiments should contain six squadrons, in order that, by doubling
on the center into divisions, three may be formed. If there are only
four squadrons, there can be but two lines.

3. The cavalry column of attack should never be formed _en masse_ like
that of infantry; but there should always be full or half squadron
distance, that each may have room to disengage itself and charge
separately. This distance will be so great only for those troops
engaged. When they are at rest behind the line of battle, they may be
closed up, in order to cover less ground and diminish the space to be
passed over when brought into action. The masses should, of course, be
kept beyond cannon-range.

4. A flank attack being much more to be apprehended by cavalry than in a
combat of infantry with infantry, several squadrons should be formed in
echelons by platoons on the flanks of a line of cavalry, which may form
to the right or left, to meet an enemy coming in that direction.

5. For the same reason, it is important to throw several squadrons
against the flanks of a line of cavalry which is attacked in front.
Irregular cavalry is quite as good as the regular for this purpose, and
it may be better.

6. It is also of importance, especially in cavalry, that the
commander-in-chief increase the depth rather than the extent of the
formation. For example, in a deployed division of two brigades it would
not be a good plan for one brigade to form in a single line behind the
other, but each brigade should have one regiment in the first line and
one in the second. Each unit of the line will thus have its own proper
reserve behind it,--an advantage not to be regarded as trifling; for in
a charge events succeed each other so rapidly that it is impossible for
a general to control the deployed regiments.

By adopting this arrangement, each general of brigade will be able to
dispose of his own reserve; and it would be well, also, to have a
general reserve for the whole division. This consideration leads me to
think that five regiments would make a good division. The charge may
then be made in line by brigades of two regiments, the fifth serving as
a general reserve behind the center. Or three regiments may form the
line, and two may be in column, one behind each wing. Or it may be
preferable to use a mixed order, deploying two regiments and keeping the
others in column. This is a good arrangement, because the three
regiments, formed in columns by divisions behind the center and flanks
of the line, cover those points, and can readily pass the line if it is
beaten back. (See Fig. 38.)

[Illustration: Fig. 38. Cavalry division of five regiments.

Cavalry deployed should be in checkered order rather than in full

7. Two essential points are regarded as generally settled for all
encounters of cavalry against cavalry. One is that the first line must
sooner or later be checked; for, even upon the supposition of the first
charge being entirely successful, it is always probable that the enemy
will bring fresh squadrons to the contest, and the first line must at
length be forced to rally behind the second. The other point is that,
with troops and commanders on both sides equally good, the victory will
remain with the party having the last squadrons in reserve in readiness
to be thrown upon the flank of the enemy's line while his front is also

Attention to these truths will bring us to a just conclusion as to the
proper method of forming a large mass of cavalry for battle.

Whatever order be adopted, care must be taken to avoid deploying large
cavalry corps in full lines; for a mass thus drawn up is very
unmanageable, and if the first line is checked suddenly in its career
the second is also, and that without having an opportunity to strike a
blow. This has been demonstrated many times. Take as an example the
attack made by Nansouty in columns of regiments upon the Prussian
cavalry deployed in front of Chateau-Thierry.

In opposing the formation of cavalry in more than two lines, I never
intended to exclude the use of several lines checkerwise or in echelons,
or of reserves formed in columns. I only meant to say that when cavalry,
expecting to make a charge, is drawn up in lines one behind the other,
the whole mass will be thrown into confusion as soon as the first line
breaks and turns.[49]

With cavalry still more than with infantry the _morale_ is very
important. The quickness of eye and the coolness of the commander, and
the intelligence and bravery of the soldier, whether in the _mêlée_ or
in the rally, will oftener be the means of assuring a victory than the
adoption of this or that formation. When, however, a good formation is
adopted and the advantages mentioned above are also present, the
victory is more certain; and nothing can excuse the use of a vicious

The history of the wars between 1812 and 1815 has renewed the old
disputes upon the question whether regular cavalry will in the end get
the better over an irregular cavalry which will avoid all serious
encounters, will retreat with the speed of the Parthians and return to
the combat with the same rapidity, wearing out the strength of its enemy
by continual skirmishing. Lloyd has decided in the negative; and several
exploits of the Cossacks when engaged with the excellent French cavalry
seem to confirm his opinion. (When I speak of excellent French cavalry,
I refer to its impetuous bravery, and not to its perfection; for it does
not compare with the Russian or German cavalry either in horsemanship,
organization, or in care of the animals.) We must by no means conclude
it possible for a body of light cavalry deployed as skirmishers to
accomplish as much as the Cossacks or other irregular cavalry. They
acquire a habit of moving in an apparently disorderly manner, whilst
they are all the time directing their individual efforts toward a common
object. The most practiced hussars can never perform such service as the
Cossacks, Tscherkesses, and Turks do instinctively.

Experience has shown that irregular charges may cause the defeat of the
best cavalry in partial skirmishes; but it has also demonstrated that
they are not to be depended upon in regular battles upon which the fate
of a war may depend. Such charges are valuable accessories to an attack
in line, but alone they can lead to no decisive results.

From the preceding facts we learn that it is always best to give cavalry
a regular organization, and furnish them long weapons, not omitting,
however, to provide, for skirmishing, &c., an irregular cavalry armed
with pistols, lances, and sabers.

Whatever system of organization be adopted, it is certain that a
numerous cavalry, whether regular or irregular, must have a great
influence in giving a turn to the events of a war. It may excite a
feeling of apprehension at distant parts of the enemy's country, it can
carry off his convoys, it can encircle his army, make his
communications very perilous, and destroy the _ensemble_ of his
operations. In a word, it produces nearly the same results as a rising
_en masse_ of a population, causing trouble on the front, flanks, and
rear of an army, and reducing a general to a state of entire uncertainty
in his calculations.

Any system of organization, therefore, will be a good one which provides
for great enlargement of the cavalry in time of war by the incorporation
of militia; for they may, with the aid of a few good regular squadrons,
be made excellent partisan soldiers. These militia would certainly not
possess all the qualities of those warlike wandering tribes who live on
horseback and seem born cavalry-soldiers; but they could in a measure
supply the places of such. In this respect Russia is much better off
than any of her neighbors, both on account of the number and quality of
her horsemen of the Don, and the character of the irregular militia she
can bring into the field at very short notice.

Twenty years ago I made the following statements in Chapter XXXV. of the
Treatise on Grand Military Operations, when writing on this subject:--

"The immense advantages of the Cossacks to the Russian army are not to
be estimated. These light troops, which are insignificant in the shock
of a great battle, (except for falling upon the flanks,) are terrible in
pursuits and in a war of posts. They are a most formidable obstacle to
the execution of a general's designs,--because he can never be sure of
the arrival and carrying out of his orders, his convoys are always in
danger, and his operations uncertain. If an army has had only a few
regiments of these half-regular cavalry-soldiers, their real value has
not been known; but when their number increases to fifteen thousand or
twenty thousand, their usefulness is fully recognized,--especially in a
country where the population is not hostile to them.

"When they are in the vicinity, every convoy must be provided with a
strong escort, and no movement can be expected to be undisturbed. Much
unusual labor is thus made necessary upon the part of the opponent's
regular cavalry, which is soon broken down by the unaccustomed fatigue.

"Volunteer hussars or lancers, raised at the time of war breaking out,
may be nearly as valuable as the Cossacks, if they are well officered
and move freely about from point to point."

In the Hungarians, Transylvanians, and Croats, Austria has resources
possessed by few other states. The services rendered by mounted militia
have proved, however, that this kind of cavalry may be very useful, if
for no other purpose than relieving the regular cavalry of those
occasional and extra duties to be performed in all armies, such as
forming escorts, acting as orderlies, protecting convoys, serving on
outposts, &c. Mixed corps of regular and irregular cavalry may often be
more really useful than if they were entirely composed of cavalry of the
line,--because the fear of compromising a body of these last often
restrains a general from pushing them forward in daring operations where
he would not hesitate to risk his irregulars, and he may thus lose
excellent opportunities of accomplishing great results.


[Footnote 49: To disprove my statement, M. Wagner cites the case of the
battle of Ramillies, where Marlborough, by a general charge of cavalry
in fall lines, succeeded in beating the French drawn up checkerwise.
Unless my memory deceives me, the allied cavalry was at first formed
checkered in two lines; but the real cause of Marlborough's success was
his seeing that Villeroi had paralyzed half his army behind Anderkirch
and Gette, and his having the good sense to withdraw thirty-eight
squadrons from this wing to reinforce his left, which in this way had
twice as many cavalry as the French, and outflanked them. But I
cheerfully admit that there may be many exceptions to a rule which I
have not laid down more absolutely than all others relating to cavalry
tactics,--a tactics, by the way, as changeable as the arm itself.]


Employment of Artillery.

Artillery is an arm equally formidable both in the offensive and
defensive. As an offensive means, a great battery well managed may break
an enemy's line, throw it into confusion, and prepare the way for the
troops that are to make an assault. As a defensive means, it doubles the
strength of a position, not only on account of the material injury it
inflicts upon the enemy while at a distance, and the consequent moral
effect upon his troops, but also by greatly increasing the peril of
approaching near, and specially within the range of grape. It is no less
important in the attack and defense of fortified places or intrenched
camps; for it is one of the main reliances in modern systems of

I have already in a former portion of this book given some directions as
to the distribution of artillery in a line of battle; but it is
difficult to explain definitely the proper method of using it in the
battle itself. It will not be right to say that artillery can act
independently of the other arms, for it is rather an accessory. At
Wagram, however, Napoleon threw a battery of one hundred pieces into the
gap left by the withdrawal of Massena's corps, and thus held in check
the Austrian center, notwithstanding their vigorous efforts to advance.
This was a special case, and should not be often imitated.

I will content myself with laying down a few fundamental rules,
observing that they refer to the present state of artillery service,
(1838.) The recent discoveries not yet being fully tested, I shall say
little with reference to them.

1. In the offensive, a certain portion of the artillery should
concentrate its fire upon the point where a decisive blow is to be
struck. Its first use is to shatter the enemy's line, and then it
assists with its fire the attack of the infantry and cavalry.

2. Several batteries of horse-artillery should follow the offensive
movements of the columns of attack, besides the foot-batteries intended
for the same purpose. Too much foot-artillery should not move with an
offensive column. It may be posted so as to co-operate with the column
without accompanying it. When the cannoneers can mount the boxes, it may
have greater mobility and be advanced farther to the front.

3. It has already been stated that half of the horse-artillery should be
held in reserve, that it may be rapidly moved to any required point.[50]
For this purpose it should be placed upon the most open ground, whence
it can move readily in every direction. I have already indicated the
best positions for the heavy calibers.

4. The batteries, whatever may be their general distribution along the
defensive line, should give their attention particularly to those points
where the enemy would be most likely to approach, either on account of
the facility or the advantage of so doing. The general of artillery
should therefore know the decisive strategic and tactical points of the
battle-field, as well as the topography of the whole space occupied. The
distribution of the reserves of artillery will be regulated by these.

5. Artillery placed on level ground or ground sloping gently to the
front is most favorably situated either for point-blank or ricochet
firing: a converging fire is the best.

6. It should be borne in mind that the chief office of all artillery in
battles is to overwhelm the enemy's troops, and not to reply to their
batteries. It is, nevertheless, often useful to fire at the batteries,
in order to attract their fire. A third of the disposable artillery may
be assigned this duty, but two-thirds at least should be directed
against the infantry and cavalry of the enemy.

7. If the enemy advance in deployed lines, the batteries should endeavor
to cross their fire in order to strike the lines obliquely. If guns can
be so placed as to enfilade a line of troops, a most powerful effect is

8. When the enemy advance in columns, they may be battered in front. It
is advantageous also to attack them obliquely, and especially in flank
and reverse. The moral effect of a reverse fire upon a body of troops is
inconceivable; and the best soldiers are generally put to flight by it.
The fine movement of Ney on Preititz at Bautzen was neutralized by a few
pieces of Kleist's artillery, which took his columns in flank, checked
them, and decided the marshal to deviate from the excellent direction he
was pursuing. A few pieces of light artillery, thrown at all hazards
upon the enemy's flank, may produce most important results, far
overbalancing the risks run.

9. Batteries should always have supports of infantry or cavalry, and
especially on their flanks. Cases may occur where the rule may be
deviated from: Wagram is a very remarkable example of this.

10. It is very important that artillerists, when threatened by cavalry,
preserve their coolness. They should fire first solid shot, next shells,
and then grape, as long as possible. The infantry supports should, in
such a case, form squares in the vicinity, to shelter the horses, and,
when necessary, the cannoneers. When the infantry is drawn up behind
the pieces, large squares of sufficient size to contain whatever they
should cover are best; but when the infantry is on the flanks, smaller
squares are better. Rocket-batteries may also be very efficient in
frightening the horses.

11. When infantry threatens artillery, the latter should continue its
fire to the last moment, being careful not to commence firing too soon.
The cannoneers can always be sheltered from an infantry attack if the
battery is properly supported. This is a case for the co-operation of
the three arms; for, if the enemy's infantry is thrown into confusion by
the artillery, a combined attack upon it by cavalry and infantry will
cause its destruction.

12. The proportions of artillery have varied in different wars. Napoleon
conquered Italy in 1800 with forty or fifty pieces,--whilst in 1812 he
invaded Russia with one thousand pieces thoroughly equipped, and failed.
These facts show that any fixed rule on the subject is inadmissible.
Usually three pieces to a thousand combatants are allowed; but this
allowance will depend on circumstances.

The relative proportions of heavy and light artillery vary also between
wide limits. It is a great mistake to have too much heavy artillery,
whose mobility must be much less than that of the lighter calibers. A
remarkable proof of the great importance of having a strong
artillery-armament was given by Napoleon after the battle of Eylau. The
great havoc occasioned among his troops by the numerous guns of the
Russians opened his eyes to the necessity of increasing his own. With
wonderful vigor, he set all the Prussian arsenals to work, those along
the Rhine, and even at Metz, to increase the number of his pieces, and
to cast new ones in order to enable him to use the munitions previously
captured. In three months he doubled the _matériel_ and _personnel_ of
his artillery, at a distance of one thousand miles from his own
frontiers,--a feat without a parallel in the annals of war.

13. One of the surest means of using the artillery to the best advantage
is to place in command of it a general who is at once a good strategist
and tactician. This chief should be authorized to dispose not only of
the reserve artillery, but also of half the pieces attached to the
different corps or divisions of the army. He should also consult with
the commanding general as to the moment and place of concentration of
the mass of his artillery in order to contribute most to a successful
issue of the day, and he should never take the responsibility of thus
massing his artillery without previous orders from the commanding


[Footnote 50: Greater mobility is now given to foot-artillery by
mounting the men on the boxes.]


Of the Combined Use of the Three Arms.

To conclude this Summary in a proper manner, I ought to treat of the
combined use of the three arms; but I am restrained from so doing by
considering the great variety of points necessary to be touched upon if
I should attempt to go into an examination of all the detailed
operations that would arise in the application of the general rules laid
down for each of the arms.

Several authors--chiefly German--have treated this subject very
extensively, and their labors are valuable principally because they
consist mainly of citations of numerous examples taken from the actual
minor engagements of the later wars. These examples must indeed take the
place of rules, since experience has shown that fixed rules on the
subject cannot be laid down. It seems a waste of breath to say that the
commander of a body of troops composed of the three arms should employ
them so that they will give mutual support and assistance; but, after
all, this is the only fundamental rule that can be established, for the
attempt to prescribe for such a commander a special course of conduct in
every case that may arise, when these cases may be infinitely varied,
would involve him in an inextricable labyrinth of instructions. As the
object and limits of this Summary do not allow me to enter upon the
consideration of such details, I can only refer my readers to the best
works which do treat of them.

I have said all I can properly say when I advise that the different arms
be posted in conformity with the character of the ground, according to
the object in view and the supposed designs of the enemy, and that they
be used simultaneously in the manner best suited to them, care being
taken to enable them to afford mutual support. A careful study of the
events of previous wars, and especially experience in the operations of
war, will give an officer correct ideas on these points, and the ability
to use, at the right time and place, his knowledge of the properties of
the three arms, either single or combined.


I am constrained to recapitulate the principal facts which may be
regarded as fundamental in war. War in its _ensemble_ is not a science,
but an art. Strategy, particularly, may indeed be regulated by fixed
laws resembling those of the positive sciences, but this is not true of
war viewed as a whole. Among other things, combats may be mentioned as
often being quite independent of scientific combinations, and they may
become essentially dramatic, personal qualities and inspirations and a
thousand other things frequently being the controlling elements. The
passions which agitate the masses that are brought into collision, the
warlike qualities of these masses, the energy and talent of their
commanders, the spirit, more or less martial, of nations and
epochs,[51]--in a word, every thing that can be called the poetry and
metaphysics of war,--will have a permanent influence on its results.

Shall I be understood as saying that there are no such things as
tactical rules, and that no theory of tactics can be useful? What
military man of intelligence would be guilty of such an absurdity? Are
we to imagine that Eugene and Marlborough triumphed simply by
inspiration or by the superior courage and discipline of their
battalions? Or do we find in the events of Turin, Blenheim, and
Ramillies maneuvers resembling those seen at Talavera, Waterloo, Jena,
or Austerlitz, which were the causes of the victory in each case? When
the application of a rule and the consequent maneuver have procured
victory a hundred times for skillful generals, and always have in their
favor the great probability of leading to success, shall their
occasional failure be a sufficient reason for entirely denying their
value and for distrusting the effect of the study of the art? Shall a
theory be pronounced absurd because it has only three-fourths of the
whole number of chances of success in its favor?

The _morale_ of an army and its chief officers has an influence upon the
fate of a war; and this seems to be due to a certain physical effect
produced by the moral cause. For example, the impetuous attack upon a
hostile line of twenty thousand brave men whose feelings are thoroughly
enlisted in their cause will produce a much more powerful effect than
the attack of forty thousand demoralized or apathetic men upon the same

Strategy, as has already been explained, is the art of bringing the
greatest part of the forces of an army upon the important point of the
theater of war or of the zone of operations.

Tactics is the art of using these masses at the points to which they
shall have been conducted by well-arranged marches; that is to say, the
art of making them act at the decisive moment and at the decisive point
of the field of battle. When troops are thinking more of flight than of
fight, they can no longer be termed active masses in the sense in which
I use the term.

A general thoroughly instructed in the theory of war, but not possessed
of military _coup-d'oeil_, coolness, and skill, may make an excellent
strategic plan and be entirely unable to apply the rules of tactics in
presence of an enemy: his projects will not be successfully carried out,
and his defeat will be probable. If he be a man of character, he will be
able to diminish the evil results of his failure, but if he lose his
wits he will lose his army.

The same general may, on the other hand, be at once a good tactician and
strategist, and have made all the arrangements for gaining a victory
that his means will permit: in this case, if he be only moderately
seconded by his troops and subordinate officers, he will probably gain a
decided victory. If, however, his troops have neither discipline nor
courage, and his subordinate officers envy and deceive him,[52] he will
undoubtedly see his fine hopes fade away, and his admirable combinations
can only have the effect of diminishing the disasters of an almost
unavoidable defeat.

No system of tactics can lead to victory when the _morale_ of an army is
bad; and even when it may be excellent the victory may depend upon some
occurrence like the rupture of the bridges over the Danube at Essling.
Neither will victories be necessarily gained or lost by rigid adherence
to or rejection of this or that manner of forming troops for battle.

These truths need not lead to the conclusion that there can be no sound
rules in war, the observance of which, the chances being equal, will
lead to success. It is true that theories cannot teach men with
mathematical precision what they should do in every possible case; but
it is also certain that they will always point out the errors which
should be avoided; and this is a highly-important consideration, for
these rules thus become, in the hands of skillful generals commanding
brave troops, means of almost certain success.

The correctness of this statement cannot be denied; and it only remains
to be able to discriminate between good rules and bad. In this ability
consists the whole of a man's genius for war. There are, however,
leading principles which assist in obtaining this ability. Every maxim
relating to war will be good if it indicates the employment of the
greatest portion of the means of action at the decisive moment and
place. In Chapter III. I have specified all the strategic combinations
which lead to such a result. As regards tactics, the principal thing to
be attended to is the choice of the most suitable order of battle for
the object in view. When we come to consider the action of masses on the
field, the means to be used may be an opportune charge of cavalry, a
strong battery put in position and unmasked at the proper moment, a
column of infantry making a headlong charge, or a deployed division
coolly and steadily pouring upon the enemy a fire, or they may consist
of tactical maneuvers intended to threaten the enemy's flanks or rear,
or any other maneuver calculated to diminish the confidence of the
adversary. Each of these things may, in a particular case, be the cause
of victory. To define the cases in which each should be preferred is
simply impossible.

If a general desires to be a successful actor in the great drama of war,
his first duty is to study carefully the theater of operations, that he
may see clearly the relative advantages and disadvantages it presents
for himself and his enemies. This being done, he can understandingly
proceed to prepare his base of operations, then to choose the most
suitable zone of operations for his main efforts, and, in doing so, keep
constantly before his mind the principles of the art of war relative to
lines and fronts of operations. The offensive army should particularly
endeavor to cut up the opposing army by skillfully selecting objective
points of maneuver; it will then assume, as the objects of its
subsequent undertakings, geographical points of more or less importance,
depending upon its first successes.

The defensive army, on the contrary, should endeavor, by all means, to
neutralize the first forward movement of its adversary, protracting
operations as long as possible while not compromising the fate of the
war, and deferring a decisive battle until the time when a portion of
the enemy's forces are either exhausted by labors, or scattered for the
purpose of occupying invaded provinces, masking fortified places,
covering sieges, protecting the line of operations, depots, &c.

Up to this point every thing relates to a first plan of operations; but
no plan can provide with certainty for that which is uncertain
always,--the character and the issue of the first conflict. If your
lines of operations have been skillfully chosen and your movements well
concealed, and if on the other hand your enemy makes false movements
which permit you to fall on fractions of his army, you maybe successful
in your campaign, without fighting general battles, by the simple use of
your strategic advantages. But if the two parties seem about equally
matched at the time of conflict, there will result one of those
stupendous tragedies like Borodino, Wagram, Waterloo, Bautzen, and
Dresden, where the precepts of grand tactics, as indicated in the
chapter on that subject, must have a powerful influence.

If a few prejudiced military men, after reading this book and carefully
studying the detailed and correct history of the campaigns of the great
masters of the art of war, still contend that it has neither principles
nor rules, I can only pity them, and reply, in the famous words of
Frederick, that "a mule which had made twenty campaigns under Prince
Eugene would not be a better tactician than at the beginning."

Correct theories, founded upon right principles, sustained by actual
events of wars, and added to accurate military history, will form a true
school of instruction for generals. If these means do not produce great
men, they will at least produce generals of sufficient skill to take
rank next after the natural masters of the art of war.


[Footnote 51: The well-known Spanish proverb, _He was brave on such a
day_, may be applied to nations as to individuals. The French at
Rossbach were not the same people as at Jena, nor the Prussians at
Prentzlow as at Dennewitz.]

[Footnote 52: The unskillful conduct of a subordinate who is incapable
of understanding the merit of a maneuver which has been ordered, and who
will commit grave faults in its execution, may produce the same result
of causing the failure of the plans of an excellent commander.]




My Summary of the Art of War, published in 1836, to assist in the
military instruction of the Hereditary Grand Duke of Russia, contained a
concluding article that was never printed. I deem it expedient to give
it now in the form of a supplement, and add a special article upon the
means of acquiring a certain and ready strategic _coup-d'oeil_.

It is essential for the reader of my Summary to understand clearly that
in the military science, as in every other, the study of details is easy
for the man who has learned how to seize the fundamental features to
which all others are secondary. I am about to attempt a development of
these elements of the art; and my readers should endeavor to apprehend
them clearly and to apply them properly.

I cannot too often repeat that the theory of the great combinations of
war is in itself very simple, and requires nothing more than ordinary
intelligence and careful consideration. Notwithstanding its simplicity,
many learned military men have difficulty in grasping it thoroughly.
Their minds wander off to accessory details, in place of fixing
themselves on first causes, and they go a long way in search of what is
just within their reach if they only would think so.

Two very different things must exist in a man to make him a general: _he
must know how to arrange a good plan of operations, and how to carry it
to a successful termination_. The first of these talents may be a
natural gift, but it may also be acquired and developed by study. The
second depends more on individual character, is rather a personal
attribute, and cannot be created by study, although it may be improved.

It is particularly necessary for a monarch or the head of a government
to possess the first of these talents, because in such case, although he
may not have the ability to execute, he can arrange plans of operations
and decide correctly as to the excellence or defects of those submitted
to him by others. He is thus enabled to estimate properly the capacity
of his generals, and when he finds a general producing a good plan, and
having firmness and coolness, such a man may be safely trusted with the
command of an army.

If, on the other hand, the head of a state is a man of executive
ability, but not possessing the faculty of arranging wise military
combinations, he will be likely to commit all the faults that have
characterized the campaigns of many celebrated warriors who were only
brave soldiers without being at all improved by study.

From the principles which I have laid down, and their application to
several famous campaigns, my readers will perceive that the theory of
the great combinations of war may be summed up in the following truths.

The science of strategy consists, in the first place, in knowing how to
choose well a theater of war and to estimate correctly that of the
enemy. To do this, a general must accustom himself to decide as to the
importance of decisive points,--which is not a difficult matter when he
is aided by the hints I have given on the subject, particularly in
Articles from XVIII. to XXII.

The art consists, next, in a proper employment of the troops upon the
theater of operations, whether offensive or defensive. (See Article
XVII.) This employment of the forces should be regulated by two
fundamental principles: the first being, _to obtain by free and rapid
movements the advantage of bringing the mass of the troops against
fractions of the enemy; the second, to strike in the most decisive
direction_,--that is to say, in that direction where the consequences of
his defeat may be most disastrous to the enemy, while at the same time
his success would yield him no great advantages.

The whole science of great military combination is comprised in these
two fundamental truths. Therefore, all movements that are disconnected
or more extended than those of the enemy would be grave faults; so also
would the occupation of a position that was too much cut up, or sending
out a large detachment unnecessarily. On the contrary, every
well-connected, compact system of operations would be wise; so also with
central strategic lines, and every strategic position less extended than
the enemy's.

The application of these fundamental principles is also very simple. If
you have one hundred battalions against an equal number of the enemy's,
you may, by their mobility and by taking the initiative, bring eighty of
them to the decisive point while employing the remaining twenty to
observe and deceive half of the opposing army. You will thus have eighty
battalions against fifty at the point where the important contest is to
take place. You will reach this point by rapid marches, by interior
lines, or by a general movement toward one extremity of the hostile
line. I have indicated the cases in which one or the other of these
means is to be preferred. (See pages 114 and following.)

In arranging a plan of operations, it is important to remember _"that a
strategic theater, as well as every position occupied by an army, has a
center and two extremities."_ A theater has usually three zones,--a
right, a left, and a central.

In choosing a zone of operations, select one,--1, that will furnish a
safe and advantageous base; 2, in which the least risk will be run by
yourself, while the enemy will be most exposed to injury; 3, bearing in
mind the antecedent situations of the two parties, and, 4, the
dispositions and inclinations of the powers whose territories are near
the theater of war.

One of the zones will always be decidedly bad or dangerous, while the
other two will be more or less suitable according to circumstances.

The zone and base being fixed upon, the object of the first attempts
must be selected. This is choosing an objective of operations. There are
two very different kinds: some, that are called _territorial or
geographical objectives_, refer simply to an enemy's line of defense
which it is desired to get possession of, or a fortress or intrenched
camp to be captured; _the others, on the contrary, consist entirely in
the destruction or disorganization of the enemy's forces, without giving
attention to geographical points of any kind_. This was the favorite
objective of Napoleon.[53]

I can profitably add nothing to what I have already written on this
point, (page 86;) _and, as the choice of the objective is by far the
most important thing in a plan of operations_, I recommend the whole of
Article XIX., (pages 84 and following.)

The objective being determined upon, the army will move toward it by one
or two lines of operations, care being taken to conform to the
fundamental principle laid down, and to avoid double lines, unless the
character of the theater of war makes it necessary to use them, or the
enemy is very inferior either in the number or the quality of his
troops. Article XXI. treats this subject fully. If two geographical
lines are used, it is essential to move the great mass of the forces
along the most important of them, and to occupy the secondary line by
detachments having a concentric direction, if possible, with the main

The army, being on its way toward the objective, before arriving in
presence of the enemy and giving battle, occupies daily or temporary
strategic positions: the front it embraces, or that upon which the enemy
may attack, is its front of operations. There is an important
consideration with reference to the direction of the front of operations
and to changes it may receive, which I have dwelt upon in Article XX.,
(page 93.)

The fundamental principle requires, even when the forces are equal, that
the front be less extensive than the enemy's,--especially if the front
remains unchanged for some time. If your strategic positions are more
closely connected than the enemy's, you can concentrate more rapidly and
more easily than he can, and in this way the fundamental principle will
be applied. If your positions are interior and central, the enemy cannot
concentrate except by passing by the mass of your divisions or by moving
in a circle around them: he is then exactly in a condition not to be
able to apply the fundamental principle, while it is your most obvious

But if you are very weak and the enemy very strong, a central position,
that may be surrounded on all sides by forces superior at every point,
is untenable, unless the enemy's corps are very far separated from each
other, as was the case with the allied armies in the Seven Years' War;
or unless the central zone has a natural barrier on one or two of its
sides, like the Rhine, the Danube, or the Alps, which would prevent the
enemy from using his forces simultaneously. In case of great numerical
inferiority it is, nevertheless, wiser to maneuver upon one of the
extremities than upon the center of the enemy's line, especially if his
masses are sufficiently near to be dangerous to you.

It was stated above that strategy, besides indicating the decisive
points of a theater of war, requires two things:--1st, that the
principal mass of the force be moved against fractions of the enemy's,
to attack them in succession; 2d, that the best direction of movement be
adopted,--that is to say, one leading straight to the decisive points
already known, and afterward upon secondary points.

To illustrate these immutable principles of strategy, I will give a
sketch of the operations of the French at the close of 1793. (See Plate

It will be recollected that the allies had ten principal corps on the
frontier of France from the Rhine to the North Sea.

The Duke of York was attacking Dunkirk. (No. 1.)

Marshal Freytag was covering the siege. (No. 2.)

The Prince of Orange was occupying an intermediate position at Menin.
(No. 3.)

The Prince of Coburg, with the main army, was attacking Maubeuge, and
was guarding the space between that place and the Scheldt by strong
detachments. (No. 4.)

Clairfayt was covering the siege. (No. 5.)

Benjouski was covering Charleroi and the Meuse, toward Thuin and
Charleroi, the fortifications of which were being rebuilt. (No. 6.)

Another corps was covering the Ardennes and Luxembourg. (No. 7.)

The Prussians were besieging Landau. (No. 8.)

The Duke of Brunswick was covering the siege in the Vosges. (No. 9.)

General Wurmser was observing Strasbourg and the army of the Rhine. (No.

The French, besides the detachments in front of each of the hostile
corps, had five principal masses in the camps of Lille, Douai, Guise,
Sarre Louis, and Strasbourg, (a, b, c, d, e.) A strong reserve, (g,)
composed of the best troops drawn from the camps of the northern
frontier, was intended to be thrown upon all the points of the enemy's
line in succession, assisted by the troops already in the neighborhood,
(i, k, l, m.)

This reserve; assisted by the divisions of the camp of Cassel near
Dunkirk, commenced its operations by beating corps 1 and 2, under the
Duke of York; then that of the Dutch, (No. 3,) at Menin; next that of
Clairfayt, (5,) before Maubeuge; finally, joining the army of the
Moselle toward Sarre Louis, it beat the Duke of Brunswick in the Vosges,
and, with the assistance of the army of the Rhine, (f,) drove Wurmser
from the lines of Wissembourg.

The general principle was certainly well applied, and every similar
operation will be praiseworthy. But, as the Austrians composed half the
allied forces, and they had their lines of retreat from the points 4, 5,
and 6 upon the Rhine, it is evident that if the French had collected
three of their large corps in order to move them against Benjouski at
Thuin, (No. 6,) and then fallen upon the Prince of Coburg's left by the
Charleroi road, they would have thrown the imperial army upon the North
Sea, and would have obtained immense results.

The Committee of Public Safety deemed it a matter of great importance
that Dunkirk should not be permitted to fell into the hands of the
English. Besides this, York's corps, encamped on the downs, might be
cut off and thrown upon the sea; and the disposable French masses for
this object were at Douai, Lille, and Cassel: so that there were good
reasons for commencing operations by attacking the English. The
principal undertaking failed, because Houchard did not appreciate the
strategic advantage he had, and did not know how to act on the line of
retreat of the Anglo-Hanoverian army. He was guillotined, by way of
punishment, although he saved Dunkirk; yet he failed to cut off the
English as he might have done.

It will be observed that this movement of the French reserve along the
whole front was the cause of five victories, neither of which had
decisive results, _because the attacks were made in front_, and because,
when the cities were relieved, the allied armies not being cut through,
and the French reserve moving on to the different points in succession,
none of the victories was pushed to its legitimate consequences. If the
French had based themselves upon the five fortified towns on the Meuse,
had collected one hundred thousand men by bold and rapid marches, had
fallen upon the center of those separated corps, had crushed Benjouski,
assailed the Prince of Coburg in his rear, beaten him, and pursued him
vigorously as Napoleon pursued at Ratisbon, and as he wished to do at
Ligny in 1815, the result would have been very different.

I have mentioned this example, as it illustrates very well the two
important points to be attended to in the strategic management of masses
of troops; that is, their employment at different points in succession
and at decisive points.[54]

Every educated military man will be impressed by the truths educed, and
will be convinced that the excellence of maneuvers will depend upon
their conforming to the principle already insisted upon; that is to say,
the great part of the force must be moved against one wing or the
center, according to the position of the enemy's masses. It is of
importance in battles to calculate distances with still greater
accuracy; for the results of movements on the battle-field following
them more rapidly than in the case of strategic maneuvers, every
precaution must be taken to avoid exposing any part of the line to a
dangerous attack from the enemy, especially if he is compactly drawn up.
Add to these things calmness during the action; the ability to choose
positions for fighting battles in the manner styled the defensive with
_offensive returns_, (Art. XXX.;) the simultaneous employment of the
forces in striking the decisive blow, (see pages from 202 to 204;) the
faculty of arousing the soldiers and moving them forward at opportune
moments; and we have mentioned every thing which can assist, as far as
the general is concerned, in assuring victories, and every thing which
will constitute him a skillful tactician.

It is almost always easy to determine the decisive point of a field of
battle, but not so with the decisive moment; and it is precisely here
that genius and experience are every thing, and mere theory of little

It is important, also, to consider attentively Article XLII., which
explains how a general may make a small number of suppositions as to
what the enemy may or can do, and as to what course of conduct he shall
himself pursue upon those hypotheses. He may thus accustom himself to be
prepared for any eventuality.

I must also call attention to Article XXVIII., upon great detachments.
These are necessary evils, and, if not managed with great care, may
prove ruinous to the best armies. The essential rules on this point are,
to make as few detachments as possible, _to have them readily movable_,
to draw them back to the main body as soon as practicable, and to give
them good instructions for avoiding disasters.

I have nothing to say relative to the first two chapters on military
policy; for they are themselves nothing more than a brief summary of
this part of the art of war, which chiefly concerns statesmen, but
should be thoroughly understood by military men. I will, however,
invite special attention to Article XIV., relating to the command of
armies or to the choice of generals-in-chief,--a subject worthy the most
anxious care upon the part of a wise government; for upon it often
depends the safety of the nation.

We may be confident that a good strategist will make a good chief of
staff for an army; but for the command in chief is required a man of
tried qualities, of high character and known energy. The united action
of two such men as commander-in-chief and chief of staff, when a great
captain of the first order cannot be had, may produce the most brilliant


[Footnote 53: The objective may be in some degree
_political_,--especially in cases of wars of intervention in the affairs
of another country; but it then really becomes geographical.]

[Footnote 54: The operations mentioned show the advantage of employing
masses at the decisive point, not because it was done in 1793, but
because it was not done. If Napoleon had been in Carnot's place, he
would have fallen with all his force upon Charleroi, whence be would
have attacked the left of the Prince of Coburg and cut his line of
retreat. Let any one compare the results of Carnot's half-skillful
operations with the wise maneuvers of Saint-Bernard and Jena, and be




The study of the principles of strategy can produce no valuable
practical results if we do nothing more than keep them in remembrance,
never trying to apply them, with map in hand, to hypothetical wars, or
to the brilliant operations of great captains. By such exercises may be
procured a rapid and certain strategic _coup-d'oeil_,--the most valuable
characteristic of a good general, without which he can never put in
practice the finest theories in the world.

When a military man who is a student of his art has become fully
impressed by the advantages procured by moving a strong mass against
successive fractions of the enemy's force, and particularly when he
recognizes the importance of constantly directing the main efforts upon
decisive points of the theater of operations, he will naturally desire
to be able to perceive at a glance what are these decisive points. I
have already, in Chapter III., page 70, of the preceding Summary,
indicated the simple means by which this knowledge may be obtained.
There is, in fact, one truth of remarkable simplicity which obtains in
all the combinations of a methodical war. It is this:--_in every
position a general may occupy, he has only to decide whether to operate
by the right, by the left, or by the front_.

To be convinced of the correctness of this assertion, let us first take
this general in his private office at the opening of the war. His first
care will be to choose that zone of operations which will give him the
greatest number of chances of success and be the least dangerous for him
in case of reverse. As no theater of operations can have more than three
zones, (that of the right, that of the center, and that of the left,)
and as I have in Articles from XVII. to XXII. pointed out the manner of
perceiving the advantages and dangers of these zones, the choice of a
zone of operations will be a matter of no difficulty.

When the general has finally chosen a zone within which to operate with
the principal portion of his forces, and when these forces shall be
established in that zone, the army will have a front of operations
toward the hostile army, which will also have one. Now, these fronts of
operations will each have its right, left, and center. It only remains,
then, for the general to decide upon which of these directions he can
injure the enemy most,--for this will always be the best, especially if
he can move upon it without endangering his own communications. I have
dwelt upon this point also in the preceding Summary.

Finally, when the two armies are in presence of each other upon the
field of battle where the decisive collision is to ensue, and are upon
the point of coming to blows, they will each have a right, left, and
center; and it remains for the general to decide still between these
three directions of striking.

Let us take, as an illustration of the truths I have mentioned, the
theater of operations, already referred to, between the Rhine and the
North Sea. (See Fig. 39.)

Although this theater presents, in one point of view, four geographical
sections,--viz.: the space between the Rhine and the Moselle, that
between the Moselle and the Meuse, that between the Meuse and the
Scheldt, and that between the last river and the sea,--it is
nevertheless true that an army of which A A is the base and B B the
front of operations will have only three general directions to choose
from; for the two spaces in the center will form a single central zone,
as it will always have one on the right and another on the left.

[Illustration: Fig. 39.]

The army B B, wishing to take the offensive against the army CC, whose
base was the Rhine, would have three directions in which to operate. If
it maneuvered by the extreme right, descending the Moselle, (toward D,)
it would evidently threaten the enemy's line of retreat toward the
Rhine; but he, concentrating the mass of his forces toward Luxembourg,
might fall upon the left of the army D and compel it to change front and
fight a battle with its rear toward the Rhine, causing its ruin if
seriously defeated.

If, on the contrary, the army B wished to make its greatest effort upon
the left, (toward E,) in order to take advantage of the finely-fortified
towns of Lille and Valenciennes, it would be exposed to inconveniences
still more serious than before. For the army CC, concentrating in force
toward Audenarde, might fall on the right of B, and, outflanking this
wing in the battle, might throw it upon the impassable country toward
Antwerp between the Scheldt and the sea,--where there would remain but
two things for it to do: either to surrender at discretion, or cut its
way through the enemy at the sacrifice of half its numbers.

It appears evident, therefore, that the left zone would be the most
disadvantageous for army B, and the right zone would be inconvenient,
although somewhat favorable in a certain point of view. The central zone
remains to be examined. This is found to possess all desirable
advantages, because the army B might move the mass of its force toward
Charleroi with a view of cutting through the immense front of operations
of the enemy, might overwhelm his center, and drive the right back upon
Antwerp and the Lower Scheldt, without seriously exposing its own

When the forces are chiefly concentrated upon the most favorable zone,
they should, of course, have that direction of movement toward the
enemy's front of operations which is in harmony with the chief object in
view. For example, if you shall have operated by your right against the
enemy's left, with the intention of cutting off the greater portion of
his army from its base of the Rhine, you should certainly continue to
operate in the same direction; for if you should make your greatest
effort against the right of the enemy's front, while your plan was to
gain an advantage over his left, your operations could not result as you
anticipated, no matter how well they might be executed. If, on the
contrary, you had decided to take the left zone, with the intention of
crowding the enemy back upon the sea, you ought constantly to maneuver
by your right in order to accomplish your object; for if you maneuvered
by the left, yourself and not the enemy would be the party thrown back
upon the sea in case of a reverse.

Applying these ideas to the theaters of the campaigns of Marengo, Ulm,
and Jena, we find the same three zones, with this difference, that in
those campaigns the central direction was not the best. In 1800, the
direction of the left led straight to the left bank of the Po, on the
line of retreat of Mélas; in 1805, the left zone was the one which led
by the way of Donauwerth to the extreme right, and the line of retreat
of Mack; in 1806, however, Napoleon could reach the Prussian line of
retreat by the right zone, filing off from Bamberg toward Gera.

In 1800, Napoleon had to choose between a line of operations on the
right, leading to the sea-shore toward Nice and Savona, that of the
center, leading by Mont-Cenis toward Turin, and that of the left,
leading to the line of communications of Mélas, by way of Saint-Bernard
or the Simplon. The first two directions had nothing in their favor, and
the right might have been very dangerous,--as, in fact, it proved to
Massena, who was forced back to Genoa and there besieged. The decisive
direction was evidently that by the left.

I have said enough to explain my ideas on this point.

The subject of battles is somewhat more complicated; for in the
arrangements for these there are both strategical and tactical
considerations to be taken into account and harmonized. A position for
battle, being necessarily connected with the line of retreat and the
base of operations, must have a well-defined strategic direction; but
this direction must also depend somewhat upon the character of the
ground and the stations of the troops of both parties to the engagement:
these are tactical considerations. Although an army usually takes such a
position for a battle as will keep its line of retreat behind it,
sometimes it is obliged to assume a position parallel to this line. In
such a case it is evident that if you fall with overwhelming force upon
the wing nearest the line of retreat, the enemy may be cut off or
destroyed, or, at least, have no other chance of escape than in forcing
his way through your line.

I will here mention as illustrations the celebrated battle of Leuthen
in 1757, of which I have given an account in the history of Frederick's
wars, and the famous days of Krasnoi, in the retreat from Moscow in

[Illustration: Fig. 40.]

The annexed figure (40) explains the combination at Krasnoi. The line A
A is Napoleon's line of retreat toward C. He took the position B B to
cover his line. It is evident that the principal mass of Koutousoff's
army D D should have moved to E E in order to fall on the right of the
French, whose army would have been certainly destroyed if it had been
anticipated at C; for everybody knows in what a state it was while thus
fifteen hundred miles from its true base.

There was the same combination at Jemmapes, where Dumouriez, by
outflanking the Austrian left, instead of attacking their right, would
have entirely cut them off from the Rhine.

At the battle of Leuthen Frederick overwhelmed the Austrian left, which
was in the direction of their line of retreat; and for this reason the
right wing was obliged to take refuge in Breslau, where it capitulated a
few days later.

In such cases there is no cause for hesitation. The decisive point is
that wing of the enemy which is nearest his line of retreat, and this
line you must seize while protecting your own.

When an enemy has one or two lines of retreat perpendicular to and
behind his position of battle, it will generally be best to attack the
center, or that wing where the obstacles of the ground shall be the
least favorable for the defense; for in such a case the first
consideration is to gain the battle, without having in view the total
destruction of the enemy. That depends upon the relative numerical
strength, the _morale_ of the two armies, and other circumstances, with
reference to which no fixed rules can be laid down.

Finally, it happens sometimes that an army succeeds in seizing the
enemy's line of retreat before fighting a battle, as Napoleon did at
Marengo, Ulm, and Jena. The decisive point having in such case been
secured by skillful marches before fighting, it only remains to prevent
the enemy from forcing his way through your line. You can do nothing
better than fight a parallel battle, as there is no reason for
maneuvering against one wing more than the other. But for the enemy who
is thus cut off the case is very different. He should certainly strike
most heavily in the direction of that wing where he can hope most
speedily to regain his proper line of retreat; and if he throws the mass
of his forces there, he may save at least a large portion of them. All
that he has to do is to determine whether this decisive effort shall be
toward the right or the left.

It is proper for me to remark that the passage of a great river in the
presence of a hostile army is sometimes an exceptional case to which the
general rules will not apply. In these operations, which are of an
exceedingly delicate character, the essential thing is to keep the
bridges safe. If, after effecting the passage, a general should throw
the mass of his forces toward the right or the left with a view of
taking possession of some decisive point, or of driving his enemy back
upon the river, whilst the latter was collecting all his forces in
another direction to seize the bridges, the former army might be in a
very critical condition in case of a reverse befalling it. The battle of
Wagram is an excellent example in point,--as good, indeed, as could be
desired. I have treated this subject in Article XXXVII., (pages 224 and

A military man who clearly perceives the importance of the truths that
have been stated will succeed in acquiring a rapid and accurate
_coup-d'oeil_. It will be admitted, moreover, that a general who
estimates them at their true value, and accustoms himself to their use,
either in reading military history, or in hypothetical cases on maps,
will seldom be in doubt, in real campaigns, what he ought to do; and
even when his enemy attempts sudden and unexpected movements, he will
always be ready with suitable measures for counteracting them, by
constantly bearing in mind the few simple fundamental principles which
should regulate all the operations of war.

Heaven forbid that I should pretend to lessen the dignity of the sublime
art of war by reducing it to such simple elements! I appreciate
thoroughly the difference between the directing principles of
combinations arranged in the quiet of the closet, and that special
talent which is indispensable to the individual who has, amidst the
noise and confusion of battle, to keep a hundred thousand men
co-operating toward the attainment of one single object. I know well
what should be the character and talents of the general who has to make
such masses move as one man, to engage them at the proper point
simultaneously and at the proper moment, to keep them supplied with
arms, provisions, clothing, and munitions. Still, although this special
talent, to which I have referred, is indispensable, it must be granted
that the ability to give wise direction to masses upon the best
strategic points of a theater of operations is the most sublime
characteristic of a great captain. How many brave armies, under the
command of leaders who were also brave and possessed executive ability,
have lost not only battles, but even empires, because they were moved
imprudently in one direction when they should have gone in the other!
Numerous examples might be mentioned; but I will refer only to Ligny,
Waterloo, Bautzen, Dennewitz, Leuthen.

I will say no more; for I could only repeat what has already been said.
To relieve myself in advance of the blame which will be ascribed to me
for attaching too much importance to the application of the few maxims
laid down in my writings, I will repeat what I was the first to
announce:--"_that war is not an exact science, but a drama full of
passion_; that the moral qualities, the talents, the executive foresight
and ability, the greatness of character, of the leaders, and the
impulses, sympathies, and passions of the masses, have a great influence
upon it." I may be permitted also, after having written the detailed
history of thirty campaigns and assisted in person in twelve of the most
celebrated of them, to declare that I have not found a single case where
these principles, correctly applied, did not lead to success.

As to the special executive ability and the well-balanced penetrating
mind which distinguish the practical man from the one who knows only
what others teach him, I confess that no book can introduce those things
into a head where the germ does not previously exist by nature. I have
seen many generals--marshals, even--attain a certain degree of
reputation by talking largely of principles which they conceived
incorrectly in theory and could not apply at all. I have seen these men
intrusted with the supreme command of armies, and make the most
extravagant plans, because they were totally deficient in good judgment
and were filled with inordinate self-conceit. My works are not intended
for such misguided persons as these, but my desire has been to
facilitate the study of the art of war for careful, inquiring minds, by
pointing out directing principles. Taking this view, I claim credit for
having rendered valuable service to those officers who are really
desirous of gaining distinction in the profession of arms.

Finally, I will conclude this short summary with one last truth:--

"The first of all the requisites for a man's success as a leader is,
that he be perfectly brave. When a general is animated by a truly
martial spirit and can communicate it to his soldiers, he may commit
faults, but he will gain victories and secure deserved laurels."

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Happening to be in Paris, near the end of 1851, a distinguished person
did me the honor to ask my opinion as to whether recent improvements in
fire-arms would cause any great modifications in the manner of making

I replied that they would probably have an influence upon the details of
tactics, but that, in great strategic operations and the grand
combinations of battles, victory would, now as ever, result from the
application of the principles which had led to the success of great
generals in all ages,--of Alexander and Cæsar as well as of Frederick
and Napoleon. My illustrious interlocutor seemed to be completely of my

The heroic events which have recently occurred near Sebastopol have not
produced the slightest change in my opinion. This gigantic contest
between two vast intrenched camps, occupied by entire armies and
mounting two thousand guns of the largest caliber, is an event without
precedent, which will have no equal in the future; for the circumstances
which produced it cannot occur again.

Moreover, this contest of cannon with ramparts, bearing no resemblance
to regular pitched battles fought in the center of a continent, cannot
influence in any respect the great combinations of war, nor even the
tactics of battles.

The bloody battles of the Alma and Inkermann, by giving evidence of the
murderous effect of the new fire-arms, naturally led me to investigate
the changes which it might be necessary to make on this account in the
tactics for infantry.

I shall endeavor to fulfill this task in a few words, in order to
complete what was published on this point twenty years ago in the
Summary of the Art of War.

The important question of the influence of musketry-fire in battles is
not new: it dates from the reign of Frederick the Great, and
particularly from the battle of Mollwitz, which he gained (it was said)
because his infantry-soldiers, by the use of cylindrical rammers in
loading their muskets, were able to fire three shots per minute more
than their enemies.[55] The discussion which arose at this epoch between
the partisans of the shallow and deep orders of formation for troops is
known to all military students.

The system of deployed lines in three ranks was adopted for the
infantry; the cavalry, formed in two ranks, and in the order of battle,
was deployed upon the wings, or a part was held in reserve.

The celebrated regulation for maneuvers of 1791 fixed the deployed as
the only order for battle: it seemed to admit the use of
battalion-columns doubled on the center only in partial combats,--such
as an attack upon an isolated post, a village, a forest, or small

The insufficient instruction in maneuvers of the troops of the Republic
forced the generals, who were poor tacticians, to employ in battle the
system of columns supported by numerous skirmishers. Besides this, the
nature of the countries which formed the theaters of operations--the
Vosges, Alps, Pyrenees, and the difficult country of La Vendée--rendered
this the only appropriate system. How would it have been possible to
attack the camps of Saorgio, Figueras, and Mont-Cenis with deployed

In Napoleon's time, the French generally used the system of columns, as
they were nearly always the assailants.

In 1807, I published, at Glogau in Silesia, a small pamphlet with the
title of "Summary of the General Principles of the Art of War," in which
I proposed to admit for the attack the system of lines formed of columns
of battalions by divisions of two companies; in other words, to march to
the attack in lines of battalions closed in mass or at half-distance,
preceded by numerous skirmishers, and the columns being separated by
intervals that may vary between that necessary for the deployment of a
battalion and the minimum of the front of one column.

What I had recently seen in the campaigns of Ulm, Austerlitz, Jena, and
Eylau had convinced me of the difficulty, if not the impossibility, of
marching an army in deployed lines in either two or three ranks, to
attack an enemy in position. It was this conviction which led me to
publish the pamphlet above referred to. This work attracted some
attention, not only on account of the treatise on strategy, but also on
account of what was said on tactics.

The successes gained by Wellington in Spain and at Waterloo with troops
deployed in lines of two ranks were generally attributed to the
murderous effect of the infantry-fire, and created doubt in some minds
as to the propriety of the use of small columns; but it was not till
after 1815 that the controversies on the best formation for battle wore
renewed by the appearance of a pamphlet by the Marquis of Chambray.

In these discussions, I remarked the fatal tendency of the clearest
minds to reduce every system of war to absolute forms, and to cast in
the same mold all the tactical combinations a general may arrange,
without taking into consideration localities, moral circumstances,
national characteristics, or the abilities of the commanders. I had
proposed to use lines of small columns, especially in the attack: I
never intended to make it an exclusive system, particularly for the

I had two opportunities of being convinced that this formation was
approved of by the greatest generals of our times. The first was at the
Congress of Vienna, in the latter part of 1814: the Archduke Charles
observed "that he was under great obligations for the summary I had
published in 1807, which General Walmoden had brought to him in 1808
from Silesia." At the beginning of the war of 1809, the prince had not
thought it possible to apply the formation which I had proposed; but at
the battle of Essling the contracted space of the field induced him to
form a part of his army in columns by battalions, (the landwehr
particularly,) and they resisted admirably the furious charges of the
cuirassiers of General d'Espagne, which, in the opinion of the archduke,
they could not have done if they had been deployed.

At the battle of Wagram, the greater part of the Austrian line was
formed in the same way as at Essling, and after two days of terrible
fighting the archduke abandoned the field of battle, not because his
army was badly beaten, but because his left was outflanked and thrown
back so as to endanger his line of retreat on Hungary. The prince was
satisfied that the firm bearing of his troops was in part due to this
mixture of small columns with deployed battalions.

The second witness is Wellington; although his evidence is, apparently,
not so conclusive. Having been presented to him at the Congress of
Verona in 1823, I had occasion to speak to him on the subject of the
controversies to which his system of formation for battle (a system to
which a great part of his success had been attributed) had given rise.
He remarked that he was convinced the manner of the attack of the French
upon him, in columns more or less deep, was very dangerous against a
solid, well-armed infantry having confidence in its fire and well
supported by artillery and cavalry. I observed to the duke that these
deep columns were very different from the small columns which I
proposed,--a formation which insures in the attack steadiness, force,
and mobility, while deep masses afford no greater mobility and force
than a deployed line, and are very much more exposed to the ravages of

I asked the illustrious general if at Waterloo he had not formed the
Hanoverian, Brunswick, and Belgian troops in columns by battalions. He
answered, "Yes; because I could not depend upon them so well as upon the
English." I replied that this admission proved that he thought a line
formed of columns by battalions was more firm than long deployed lines.
He replied, "They are certainly good, also; but their use always depends
upon the localities and the spirit of the troops. A general cannot act
in the same manner under all circumstances."

To this illustrious evidence I might add that Napoleon himself, in the
campaign of 1813, prescribed for the attack the formation of the
infantry in columns by divisions of two companies in two ranks, as the
most suitable,--which was identically what I had proposed in 1807.

The Duke of Wellington also admitted that the French columns at
Waterloo, particularly those of their right wing, were not small columns
of battalions, but enormous masses, much more unwieldy and much deeper.

If we can believe the Prussian accounts and plans of the battle, it
would seem that Ney's four divisions were formed in but four columns, at
least in their march to the attack of La Haye Sainte and the line
extending from this farm to the Papelotte. I was not present; but
several officers have assured me that at one time the troops were formed
in columns by divisions of two brigades each, the battalions being
deployed behind each other at six paces' interval.

This circumstance demonstrates how much is wanting in the military terms
of the French. We give the same name of _division_ to masses of four
regiments and to fractions of a battalion of two companies each,--which
is absurd. Let us suppose, for example, that Napoleon had directed on
the 18th of June, 1815, the formation of the line in columns by
divisions and by battalions, intending that the regulation of 1813
should be followed. His lieutenants might naturally have understood it
very differently, and, according to their interpretation of the order,
would have executed one of the following formations:--

1. Either the four divisions of the right wing would have been formed in
four large masses, each one of eight or twelve battalions, (according to
the strength of the regiments,) as is indicated in this figure for eight

2. Or each division would have been formed in eight or twelve columns of
battalions by divisions of two platoons or companies, according to the
system I have proposed, as in this figure, viz.:--

I do not mean to assert positively that this confusion of words led to
the deep masses at Waterloo; but it might have done so; and it is
important that in every language there should be two different terms to
express two such different things as a _division_ of twelve battalions
and a _division_ of a quarter of a battalion.

Struck with what precedes, I thought it proper to modify my Summary
already referred to, which was too concise, and in my revision of it I
devoted a chapter to the discussion of the advantages and disadvantages
of the different formations for battle. I also added some considerations
relative to a mixed system used at Eylau by General Benningsen, which
consisted in forming a regiment of three battalions by deploying the
central one, the other two being in column on the wings.

       *       *       *       *       *

After these discussions, I drew the conclusions:--

1. That Wellington's system was certainly good for the defensive.

2. That the system of Benningsen might, according to circumstances, be
as good for the offensive as for the defensive, since it was
successfully used by Napoleon at the passage of the Tagliamento.

3. That the most skillful tactician would experience great difficulty in
marching forty or fifty deployed battalions in two or three ranks over
an interval of twelve or fifteen hundred yards, preserving sufficient
order to attack an enemy in position with any chance of success, the
front all the while being played upon by artillery and musketry.

I have never seen any thing of the kind in my experience. I regard it as
impossible, and am convinced that such a line could not advance to the
attack in sufficiently good order to have the force necessary for

Napoleon was in the habit of addressing his marshals in these
terms:--"Take your troops up in good order, and make a vigorous assault
upon the enemy." I ask, what means is there of carrying up to the
assault of an enemy forty or fifty deployed battalions as a whole in
good order? They will reach the enemy in detachments disconnected from
each other, and the commander cannot exercise any control over the mass
as a whole.

I saw nothing of this kind either at Ulm, Jena, Eylau, Bautzen, Dresden,
Culm, or Leipsic; neither did it occur at Austerlitz, Friedland,
Katzbach, or Dennewitz.

I am not aware that Wellington, in any of his battles, ever marched in
deployed lines to the attack of an enemy in position. He generally
awaited the attack. At Vittoria and Toulouse he gained the victory by
maneuvers against the flanks; and at Toulouse Soult's right wing was
beaten while descending the heights to attack. Even at Waterloo, what
fate would have befallen the English army if, leaving the plateau of
Mont Saint-Jean, it had marched in deployed order to attack Napoleon in
position on the heights of La Belle Alliance?

I will be pardoned for these recapitulations, as they seem to be
necessary to the solution of a question which has arisen since my
Summary of the Art of War was written.

Some German generals, recognizing fully the advantages derived in 1813
from the system of columns of battalions, have endeavored to add to its
value by dividing up the columns and increasing their number, so as to
make them more shallow and to facilitate their deployment. With this
view, they propose, instead of forming four divisions or companies one
behind the other, to place them beside each other, not deployed, but in
small columns. That is, if the battalion consists of four companies of
two hundred and forty men each, each company is to be divided into four
sections of sixty each: one of these sections will be dispersed as
skirmishers, and the other three, in two ranks, will form a small
column; so that the battalion, instead of forming one column, will form
four, and the regiment of three battalions will form twelve small
columns instead of three--


3d Battalion. 2d Battalion. 1st Battalion. --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
--- --- --- --- ------ --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ------
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ------ --- --- --- --- --- ---
--- --- --- --- ---]

It is certain that it would be easier to march such a line against the
enemy than if deployed; but these diminutive columns of sixty
skirmishers and one hundred and eighty men in the ranks would never
present the same order and solidity as a single column of a battalion.
Still as the system has some advantages, it deserves a trial; and,
indeed, it has already been practiced in Prussia and Austria.

The same formation applies equally to battalions of six or eight
companies. In this case the battalion would not be formed by companies,
but by divisions of two companies,--that is, in three or four columns,
according to the number of companies.

Two serious inconveniences appear to me to attach to each of these
formations. If vigorously charged by cavalry, these small subdivisions
would be in great danger; and even in attacking the enemy's line, if
driven back and pursued, disorder would be more likely to occur than in
the columns of battalions. Still, either of them may be employed,
according to circumstances, localities, and the _morale_ of the troops.
Experience alone can assign to each its proper value. I am not aware
whether the Austrians applied these columns of companies at Custozza and
Novara, or whether these maneuvers have only been practiced in their
camps of instruction.

Be that as it may, there is another not less important question to be

"Will the adoption of the rifled small-arms and improved balls bring
about any important changes in the formation for battle and the now
recognized principles of tactics?"

If these arms aided the allies at the Alma and Inkermann, it was because
the Russians were not provided with them; and it must not be forgotten
that in a year or two all armies will alike be furnished with them, so
that in future the advantage will not be confined to one side.

What change will it make in tactics?

Will whole armies be deployed as skirmishers, or will it not still be
necessary to preserve either the formation of lines deployed in two or
three ranks, or lines of battalions in columns?

Will battles become mere duels with the rifle, where the parties will
fire upon each other, without maneuvering, until one or the other shall
retreat or be destroyed?

What military man will reply in the affirmative?

It follows, therefore, that, to decide battles, maneuvers are necessary,
and victory will fall to the general who maneuvers most skillfully; and
he cannot maneuver except with deployed lines or lines of columns of
battalions, either whole or subdivided into columns of one or two
companies. To attempt to prescribe by regulation under what
circumstances either of these systems is to be applied would be absurd.

If a general and an army can be found such that he can march upon the
enemy in a deployed line of forty or fifty battalions, then let the
shallow order be adopted, and the formation in columns be confined to
the attack of isolated posts; but I freely confess that I would never
accept the command of an army under this condition. The only point for a
regulation for the formation for battle is to forbid the use of very
deep columns, because they are heavy, and difficult to move and to keep
in order. Besides, they are so much exposed to artillery that their
destruction seems inevitable, and their great depth does not increase in
any respect their chances of success.

If the organization of an army were left to me, I would adopt for
infantry the formation in two ranks, and a regimental organization
according with the formation for battle. I would then make each regiment
of infantry to consist of three battalions and a depot. Each battalion
should consist of six companies, so that when in column by division the
depth would be three divisions or six ranks.

This formation seems most reasonable, whether it is desired to form the
battalion in columns of attack by divisions on the center of each
battalion, or on any other division.

The columns of attack, since the depth is only six ranks, would not be
so much exposed to the fire of artillery, but would still have the
mobility necessary to take the troops up in good order and launch them
upon the enemy with great force. The deployment of these small columns
could be executed with great ease and promptitude; and for the forming
of a square a column of three divisions in depth would be preferable in
several respects to one of four or six divisions.

In the Russian service each battalion consists of four companies of two
hundred and fifty men each; each company being as strong as a division
in the French organization. The maneuver of double column on the center
is not practicable, since the center is here merely an interval
separating the second and third companies. Hence the column must be
simple, not on the center, but on one of the four companies. Something
analogous to the double column on the center would be attained by
forming the first and fourth companies behind the second and third
respectively; but then the formation would be in two lines rather than
in column; and this is the reason why I would prefer the organization of
the battalion in six companies or three divisions.

By dividing each of the four companies into two platoons, making eight
in all, the formation of _double column on the center_ might be made on
the fourth and fifth platoons as the leading division; but then each
division would be composed of two platoons belonging to different
companies, so that each captain would have half of the men of his
company under the command of another officer, and half of his own
division would be made up of another company.

Such an arrangement in the attack would be very inconvenient; for, as
the captain is the real commander, father, and judge of the men of his
own company, he can always obtain more from them in the way of duty than
any stranger. In addition, if the double column should meet with a
decided repulse, and it should be necessary to reform it in line, it
would be difficult to prevent disorder, the platoons being obliged to
run from one side to the other to find their companies. In the French
system, where each battalion consists of eight companies, forming as
many platoons at drill, this objection does not exist, since each
company is conducted by its own captain. It is true that there will be
two captains of companies in each division; but this will be rather an
advantage than the reverse, since there will be a rivalry and emulation
between the two captains and their men, which will lead to greater
display of bravery: besides, if necessary, the senior captain is there,
to command the division as a whole.

It is time to leave these secondary details and return to the important
question at issue.

Since I have alluded to the system adopted by Wellington, it is proper
to explain it so that it can be estimated at its true value in the light
of historical events.

In Spain and Portugal, particularly, Wellington had under his command a
mass of troops of the country, in which he placed but little confidence
in regular formation in a pitched battle, on account of their want of
instruction and discipline, but which were animated by a lively hatred
of the French and formed bodies of skirmishers useful in harassing the
enemy. Having learned by experience the effects of the fury and
impetuosity of the French columns when led by such men as Massena and
Ney, Wellington decided upon wise means of weakening this impetuosity
and afterward securing a triumph over it. He chose positions difficult
to approach, and covered all their avenues by swarms of Spanish and
Portuguese riflemen, who were skilled in taking advantage of the
inequalities of the ground; he placed a part of his artillery on the
tactical crest of his position, and a part more to the rear, and riddled
the advancing columns with a murderous artillery and musketry fire,
while his excellent English infantry, sheltered from the fire, were
posted a hundred paces in rear of the crest, to await the arrival of
these columns; and when the latter appeared on the summit, wearied, out
of breath, decimated in numbers, they were received with a general
discharge of artillery and musketry and immediately charged by the
infantry with the bayonet.

This system, which was perfectly rational and particularly applicable to
Spain and Portugal, since he had there great numbers of this kind of
troops and there was a great deal of rough ground upon which they could
be useful as marksmen, needed some modifications to make it applicable
to Belgium. At Waterloo the duke took his position on a plateau with a
gentle slope like a glacis, where his artillery had a magnificent field
of fire, and where it produced a terrible effect: both flanks of this
plateau were well protected. Wellington, from the crest of the plateau,
could discover the slightest movement in the French army, while his own
were hidden; but, nevertheless, his system would not have prevented his
losing the battle if a number of other circumstances had not come to his

Every one knows more or less correctly the events of this terrible
battle, which I have elsewhere impartially described. I demonstrated
that its result was due neither to the musketry-fire nor to the use of
deployed lines by the English, but to the following accidental causes,

1. To the mud, which rendered the progress of the French in the attack
painful and slow, and caused their first attacks to be less effective,
and prevented their being properly sustained by the artillery.

2. To the original formation of very deep columns on the part of the
French, principally on the right wing.

3. To the want of unity in the employment of the three arms: the
infantry and cavalry made a number of charges alternating with each
other, but they were in no case simultaneous.

4. Finally and chiefly, to the unexpected arrival of the whole Prussian
army at the decisive moment on the right flank, if not the rear, of the

Every experienced military man will agree that, in spite of the mud and
the firmness of the English infantry, if the mass of the French infantry
had been thrown on the English in columns of battalions immediately
after the great charge of cavalry, the combined army would have been
broken and forced back on Antwerp. Independently of this, if the
Prussians had not arrived, the English would have been compelled to
retreat; and I maintain that this battle cannot justly be cited as proof
of the superiority of musketry-fire over well-directed attacks in

From all these discussions we may draw the following conclusions,

1. That the improvements in fire-arms will not introduce any important
change in the manner of taking troops into battle, but that it would be
useful to introduce into the tactics of infantry the formation of
columns by companies, and to have a numerous body of good riflemen or
skirmishers, and to exercise the troops considerably in firing. Those
armies which have whole regiments of light infantry may distribute them
through the different brigades; but it would be preferable to detail
sharp-shooters alternately in each company as they are needed, which
would be practicable when the troops are accustomed to firing: by this
plan the light-infantry regiments could be employed in the line with the
others; and should the number of sharp-shooters taken from the companies
be at any time insufficient, they could be reinforced by a battalion of
light infantry to each division.

2. That if Wellington's system of deployed lines and musketry-fire be
excellent for the defense, it would be difficult ever to employ it in an
attack upon an enemy in position.

3. That, in spite of the improvements of fire-arms, two armies in a
battle will not pass the day in firing at each other from a distance: it
will always be necessary for one of them to advance to the attack of the

4. That, as this advance is necessary, success will depend, as formerly,
upon the most skillful maneuvering according to the principles of grand
tactics, which consist in this, viz.: in knowing how to direct the great
mass of the troops at the proper moment upon the decisive point of the
battle-field, and in employing for this purpose the simultaneous action
of the three arms.

5. That it would be difficult to add much to what has been said on this
subject in Chapters IV. and V.; and that it would be unreasonable to
define by regulation an absolute system of formation for battle.

6. That victory may with much certainty be expected by the party taking
the offensive when the general in command possesses the talent of taking
his troops into action in good order and of boldly attacking the enemy,
adopting the system of formation best adapted to the ground, to the
spirit and quality of his troops, and to his own character.

Finally, I will terminate this article with the following remark: That
war, far from being an exact science, is a terrible and impassioned
drama, regulated, it is true, by three or four general principles, but
also dependent for its results upon a number of moral and physical


[Footnote 55: It is probable that Baron Jomini here refers to iron,
instead of cylindrical, ramrods. Before 1730, all European troops used
wooden ramrods; and the credit of the invention of iron ones is
attributed by some to the Prince of Anhalt, and by others to Prince
Leopold of Dessau. The Prussians were the first to adopt the iron
ramrod, and at the date of the battle of Mollwitz (1741) it had not been
introduced into the Austrian service.

Frederick did not adopt the cylindrical ramrod till 1777, thirty-six
years after the battle of Mollwitz. The advantage of the cylindrical
ramrod consisted in this,--that the soldier in loading saved the time
necessary to turn the ramrod; but obviously this small economy of time
could never have enabled him to load three times while the enemy loaded
once,--all other things being equal.--Translators.]

[Footnote 56: Columns by battalions closed in mass seemed only to be
intended to use in long columns on the march, to keep them closed, in
order to facilitate their deployment.]

[Footnote 57: We suppose each regiment to consist of two battalions: if
there should be three in each regiment, the deep column would then
consist of twelve lines of either twenty-four or thirty-six ranks, while
in the next figure there would be twelve battalions on the line instead
of eight, the depth not being increased.]


I have thought it proper to give here an account of the principal
maritime expeditions, to be taken in connection with maxims on descents.

The naval forces of Egypt, Phoenicia, and Rhodes are the earliest
mentioned in history, and of them the account is confused. The Persians
conquered these nations, as well as Asia Minor, and became the most
formidable power on both land and sea.

About the same time the Carthaginians, who were masters of the coast of
Mauritania, being invited by the inhabitants of Cadiz, passed the
straits, colonized Boetica and took possession of the Balearic Isles and
Sardinia, and finally made a descent on Sicily.

The Greeks contended against the Persians with a success that could not
have been expected,--although no country was ever more favorably
situated for a naval power than Greece, with her fifty islands and her
great extent of coast.

The merchant marine of Athens produced her prosperity, and gave her the
naval power to which Greece was indebted for her independence. Her
fleets, united with those of the islands, were, under Themistocles, the
terror of the Persians and the rulers of the East. They never made grand
descents, because their land-forces were not in proportion to their
naval strength. Had Greece been a united government instead of a
confederation of republics, and had the navies of Athens, Syracuse,
Corinth, and Sparta been combined instead of fighting among each other,
it is probable that the Greeks would have conquered the world before the

If we can believe the exaggerated traditions of the old Greek
historians, the famous army of Xerxes had not less than four thousand
vessels; and this number is astonishing, even when we read the account
of them by Herodotus. It is more difficult to believe that at the same
time, and by a concerted movement, five thousand other vessels landed
three hundred thousand Carthaginians in Sicily, where they were totally
defeated by Gelon on the same day that Themistocles destroyed the fleet
of Xerxes at Salamis. Three other expeditions, under Hannibal, Imilcon,
and Hamilcar, carried into Sicily from one hundred to one hundred and
fifty thousand men: Agrigentum and Palermo were taken, Lilybæum was
founded, and Syracuse besieged twice. The third time Androcles, with
fifteen thousand men, landed in Africa, and made Carthage tremble. This
contest lasted one year and a half.

Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont with only fifty thousand men:
his naval force was only one hundred and sixty sail, while the Persians
had four hundred; and to save his fleet Alexander sent it back to

After Alexander's death, his generals, who quarreled about the division
of the empire, made no important naval expedition.

Pyrrhus, invited by the inhabitants of Tarentum and aided by their
fleet, landed in Italy with twenty-six thousand infantry, three thousand
horses, and the first elephants which had been seen in Italy. This was
two hundred and eighty years before the Christian era.

Conqueror of the Romans at Heraclea and Ascoli, it is difficult to
understand why he should have gone to Sicily at the solicitation of the
Syracusans to expel the Carthaginians. Recalled, after some success, by
the Tarentines, he recrossed the straits, harassed by the Carthaginian
fleet: then, reinforced by the Samnites or Calabrians, he, a little too
late, concluded to march on Rome. He in turn was beaten and repulsed on
Beneventum, when he returned to Epirus with nine thousand men, which was
all that remained of his force.

Carthage, which had been prospering for a long time, profited by the
ruin of Tyre and the Persian empire.

The Punic wars between Carthage and Rome, now the preponderating power
in Italy, were the most celebrated in the maritime annals of antiquity.
The Romans were particularly remarkable for the rapidity with which they
improved and increased their marine. In the year 264 B.C. their boats or
vessels were scarcely fit to cross to Sicily; and eight years after
found Regulus conqueror at Ecnomos, with three hundred and forty large
vessels, each with three hundred rowers and one hundred and twenty
combatants, making in all one hundred and forty thousand men. The
Carthaginians, it is said, were stronger by twelve to fifteen thousand
men and fifty vessels.

The victory of Ecnomos--perhaps more extraordinary than that of
Actium--was the first important step of the Romans toward universal
empire. The subsequent descent in Africa consisted of forty thousand
men; but the greater part of this force being recalled to Sicily, the
remainder was overthrown, and Regulus, being made prisoner, became as
celebrated by his death as by his famous victory.

The great fleet which was to avenge him was successful at Clypea, but
was destroyed on its return by a storm; and its successor met the same
fate at Cape Palinuro. In the year 249 B.C. the Romans were defeated at
Drepanum, and lost twenty-eight thousand men and more than one hundred
vessels. Another fleet, on its way to besiege Lilybæum, in the same
year, was lost off Cape Pactyrus.

Discouraged by this succession of disasters, the Senate at first
resolved to renounce the sea; but, observing that the power of Sicily
and Spain resulted from their maritime superiority, it concluded to arm
its fleets again, and in the year 242 Lutatius Catullus set out with
three hundred galleys and seven hundred transports for Drepanum, and
gained the battle in the Ægates Islands, in which the Carthaginians lost
one hundred and twenty vessels. This victory brought to a close the
first Punic war.

The second, distinguished by Hannibal's expedition to Italy, was less
maritime in its character. Scipio, however, bore the Roman eagles to
Cartagena, and by its capture destroyed forever the empire of the
Carthaginians in Spain. Finally, he carried the war into Africa with a
force inferior to that of Regulus; but still he succeeded in gaining the
battle of Zama, imposing a shameful peace on Carthage and burning five
hundred of her ships. Subsequently Scipio's brother crossed the
Hellespont with twenty-five thousand men, and at Magnesia gained the
celebrated victory which surrendered to the mercy of the Romans the
kingdom of Antiochus and all Asia. This expedition was aided by a
victory gained at Myonnesus in Ionia, by the combined fleets of Rome and
Rhodes, over the navy of Antiochus.

From this time Rome had no rival, and she continued to add to her power
by using every means to insure to her the empire of the sea. Paulus
Emilius in the year 168 B.C. landed at Samothrace at the head of
twenty-five thousand men, conquered Perseus, and brought Macedonia to

Twenty years later, the third Punic war decided the fate of Carthage.
The important port of Utica having been given up to the Romans, an
immense fleet was employed in transporting to this point eighty thousand
foot-soldiers and four thousand horses; Carthage was besieged, and the
son of Paulus Emilius and adopted son of the great Scipio had the glory
of completing the victory which Emilius and Scipio had begun, by
destroying the bitter rival of his country.

After this triumph, the power of Rome in Africa, as well as in Europe,
was supreme; but her empire in Asia was for a moment shaken by
Mithridates. This powerful king, after seizing in succession the small
adjacent states, was in command of not less than two hundred and fifty
thousand men, and of a fleet of four hundred vessels, of which three
hundred were decked. He defeated the three Roman generals who commanded
in Cappadocia, invaded Asia Minor and massacred there at least eighty
thousand Roman subjects, and even sent a large army into Greece.

Sylla landed in Greece with a reinforcement of twenty-five thousand
Romans, and retook Athens; but Mithridates sent in succession two large
armies by the Bosporus and the Dardanelles: the first, one hundred
thousand strong, was destroyed at Chæronea, and the second, of eighty
thousand men, met a similar fate at Orchomenus. At the same time,
Lucullus, having collected all the maritime resources of the cities of
Asia Minor, the islands, and particularly of Rhodes, was prepared to
transport Sylla's army from Sestos to Asia; and Mithridates, from fear,
made peace.

In the second and third wars, respectively conducted by Murena and
Lucullus, there were no descents effected. Mithridates, driven step by
step into Colchis, and no longer able to keep the sea, conceived the
project of turning the Black Sea by the Caucasus, in order to pass
through Thrace to assume the offensive,--a policy which it is difficult
to understand, in view of the fact that he was unable to defend his
kingdom against fifty thousand Romans.

Cæsar, in his second descent on England, had six hundred vessels,
transporting forty thousand men. During the civil wars he transported
thirty-five thousand men to Greece. Antony came from Brundusium to join
him with twenty thousand men, and passed through the fleet of
Pompey,--in which act he was as much favored by the lucky star of Cæsar
as by the arrangements of his lieutenants.

Afterward Cæsar carried an army of sixty thousand men to Africa; they
did not, however, go in a body, but in successive detachments.

The greatest armament of the latter days of the Roman republic was that
of Augustus, who transported eighty thousand men and twelve thousand
horses into Greece to oppose Antony; for, besides the numerous
transports required for such an army, there were two hundred and sixty
vessels of war to protect them. Antony was superior in force on land,
but trusted the empire of the world to a naval battle: he had one
hundred and seventy war-vessels, in addition to sixty of Cleopatra's
galleys, the whole manned by twenty-two thousand choice troops, besides
the necessary rowers.

Later, Germanicus conducted an expedition of one thousand vessels,
carrying sixty thousand men, from the mouths of the Rhine to the mouths
of the Ems. Half of this fleet was destroyed on its return by a storm;
and it is difficult to understand why Germanicus, controlling both banks
of the Rhine, should have exposed his army to the chances of the sea,
when he could have reached the same point by land in a few days.

When the Roman authority extended from the Rhine to the Euphrates,
maritime expeditions were rare; and the great contest with the races of
the North of Europe, which began after the division of the empire, gave
employment to the Roman armies on the sides of Germany and Thrace. The
eastern fraction of the empire still maintained a powerful navy, which
the possession of the islands of the Archipelago made a necessity, while
at the same time it afforded the means.

The first five centuries of the Christian era afford but few events of
interest in maritime warfare. The Vandals, having acquired Spain, landed
in Africa, eighty thousand strong, under Genseric. They were defeated by
Belisarius; but, holding the Balearic Isles and Sicily, they controlled
the Mediterranean for a time.

At the very epoch when the nations of the East invaded Europe, the
Scandinavians began to land on the coast of England. Their operations
are little better known than those of the barbarians: they are hidden in
the mysteries of Odin.

The Scandinavian bards attribute two thousand five hundred vessels to
Sweden. Less poetical accounts assign nine hundred and seventy to the
Danes and three hundred to Norway: these frequently acted in concert.

The Swedes naturally turned their attention to the head of the Baltic,
and drove the Varangians into Russia. The Danes, more favorably situated
with respect to the North Sea, directed their course toward the coasts
of France and England.

If the account cited by Depping is correct, the greater part of these
vessels were nothing more than fishermen's boats manned by a score of
rowers. There were also _snekars_, with twenty banks or forty rowers.
The largest had thirty-four banks of rowers. The incursions of the
Danes, who had long before ascended the Seine and Loire, lead us to
infer that the greater part of these vessels were very small.

However, Hengist, invited by the Briton Vortigern, transported five
thousand Saxons to England in eighteen vessels,--which would go to show
that there were then also large vessels, or that the marine of the Elbe
was superior to that of the Scandinavians.

Between the years 527 and 584, three new expeditions, under Ida and
Cridda, gained England for the Saxons, who divided it into seven
kingdoms; and it was not until three centuries had elapsed (833) that
they were again united under the authority of Egbert.

The African races, in their turn, visited the South of Europe. In 712,
the Moors crossed the Straits of Gibraltar, under the lead of Tarik.
They came, five thousand strong, at the invitation of Count Julian; and,
far from meeting great resistance, they were welcomed by the numerous
enemies of the Visigoths. This was the happy era of the Caliphs, and the
Arabs might well pass for liberators in comparison with the tyrants of
the North. Tarik's army, soon swelled to twenty thousand men, defeated
Rodrigo at Jerez and reduced the kingdom to submission. In time, several
millions of the inhabitants of Mauritania crossed the sea and settled in
Spain; and if their numerous migrations cannot be regarded as descents,
still, they form one of the most curious and interesting scenes in
history, occurring between the incursions of the Vandals in Africa and
the Crusades in the East.

A revolution not less important, and one which has left more durable
traces, marked in the North the establishment of the vast empire now
known as Russia. The Varangian princes, invited by the Novgorodians, of
whom Rurik was the chief, soon signalized themselves by great

In 902, Oleg is said to have embarked eighty thousand men in two
thousand boats on the Dnieper: they passed the falls of the river and
debouched in the Black Sea, while their cavalry followed the banks. They
proceeded to Constantinople, and forced Leo the Philosopher to pay

Forty years subsequently, Igor took the same route with a fleet said to
have consisted of ten thousand boats. Near Constantinople his fleet,
terrified by the effects of the Greek fire, was driven on the coast of
Asia, where the force was disembarked. It was defeated, and the
expedition returned home.

Not discouraged, Igor re-established his fleet and army and descended to
the mouths of the Danube, where the Emperor Romanus I. sent to renew the
tribute and ask for peace, (943.)

In 967, Svatoslav, favored by the quarrel of Nicephorus with the King of
Bulgaria, embarked sixty thousand men, debouched into the Black Sea,
ascended the Danube, and seized Bulgaria. Recalled by the Petchenegs,
who were menacing Kiew, he entered into alliance with them and returned
into Bulgaria, broke his alliance with the Greeks, and, being reinforced
by the Hungarians, crossed the Balkan and marched to attack Adrianople.
The throne of Constantine was held by Zimisces, who was worthy of his
position. Instead of purchasing safety by paying tribute, as his
predecessors had done, he raised one hundred thousand men, armed a
respectable fleet, repulsed Svatoslav at Adrianople, obliged him to
retreat to Silistria, and took by assault the capital of the Bulgarians.
The Russian prince marched to meet him, and gave battle not far from
Silistria, but was obliged to re-enter the place, where he sustained one
of the most memorable sieges recorded in history.

In a second and still more bloody battle, the Russians performed
prodigies of valor, but were again compelled to yield to numbers.
Zimisces, honoring courage, finally concluded an advantageous treaty.

About this period the Danes were attracted to England by the hope of
pillage; and we are told that Lothaire called their king, Ogier, to
France to be avenged of his brothers. The first success of these pirates
increased their fondness for this sort of adventure, and for five or six
years their bands swarmed on the coasts of France and Britain and
devastated the country. Ogier, Hastings, Regner, and Sigefroi conducted
them sometimes to the mouths of the Seine, sometimes to the mouths of
the Loire, and finally to those of the Garonne. It is even asserted that
Hastings entered the Mediterranean and ascended the Rhone to Avignon;
but this is, to say the least, doubtful. The strength of their fleets is
not known: the largest seems to have been of three hundred sail.

In the beginning of the tenth century, Rollo at first landed in England,
but, finding little chance of success against Alfred, he entered into
alliance with him, landed in Neustria in 911, and advanced from Rouen on
Paris: other bodies marched from Nantes on Chartres. Repulsed here,
Rollo overran and ravaged the neighboring provinces. Charles the Simple
saw no better means of delivering his kingdom of this ever-increasing
scourge than to offer Rollo the fine province of Neustria on condition
that he would marry his daughter and turn Christian,--an offer which was
eagerly accepted.

Thirty years later, Rollo's step-son, annoyed by the successors of
Charles, called to his aid the King of Denmark. The latter landed in
considerable force, defeated the French, took the king prisoner, and
assured Rollo's son in the possession of Normandy.

During the same interval (838 to 950) the Danes exhibited even greater
hostility toward England than to France, although they were much more
assimilated to the Saxons than to the French in language and customs.
Ivar, after pillaging the kingdom, established his family in
Northumberland. Alfred the Great, at first beaten by Ivar's successors,
succeeded in regaining his throne and in compelling the submission of
the Danes.

The aspect of affairs changes anew: Sweyn, still more fortunate than
Ivar, after conquering and devastating England, granted peace on
condition that a sum of money should be paid, and returned to Denmark,
leaving a part of his army behind him.

Ethelred, who had weakly disputed with Sweyn what remained of the Saxon
power, thought he could not do better to free himself from his
importunate guests than to order a simultaneous massacre of all the
Danes in the kingdom, (1002.) But Sweyn reappeared in the following
year at the head of an imposing force, and between 1003 and 1007 three
successive fleets effected disembarkations on the coast, and unfortunate
England was ravaged anew.

In 1012, Sweyn landed at the mouth of the Humber and again swept over
the land like a torrent, and the English, tired of obedience to kings
who could not defend them, recognized him as king of the North. His son,
Canute the Great, had to contend with a rival more worthy of him,
(Edmund Ironside.) Returning from Denmark at the head of a considerable
force, and aided by the perfidious Edric, Canute ravaged the southern
part of England and threatened London. A new division of the kingdom
resulted; but, Edmund having been assassinated by Edric, Canute was
finally recognized as king of all England. Afterward he sailed to
conquer Norway, from which country he returned to attack Scotland. When
he died, he divided the kingdom between his three children, according to
the usage of the times.

Five years after Canute's death, the English assigned the crown to their
Anglo-Saxon princes; but Edward, to whom it fell, was better fitted to
be a monk than to save a kingdom a prey to such commotions. He died in
1066, leaving to Harold a crown which the chief of the Normans settled
in France contested with him, and to whom, it is said, Edward had made a
cession of the kingdom. Unfortunately for Harold, this chief was a great
and ambitious man.

The year 1066 was marked by two extraordinary expeditions. While William
the Conqueror was preparing in Normandy a formidable armament against
Harold, the brother of the latter, having been driven from
Northumberland for his crimes, sought support in Norway, and, with the
King of Norway, set out with thirty thousand men on five hundred
vessels, and landed at the mouth of the Humber. Harold almost entirely
destroyed this force in a bloody battle fought near York; but a more
formidable storm was about to burst upon his head. William took
advantage of the time when the Anglo-Saxon king was fighting the
Norwegians, to sail from St. Valery with a very large armament. Hume
asserts that he had three thousand transports; while other authorities
reduce the number to twelve hundred, carrying from sixty to seventy
thousand men. Harold hastened from York, and fought a decisive battle
near Hastings, in which he met an honorable death, and his fortunate
rival soon reduced the country to submission.

At the same time, another William, surnamed Bras-de-fer, Robert
Guiscard, and his brother Roger, conquered Calabria and Sicily with a
handful of troops,(1058 to 1070.)

Scarcely thirty years after these memorable events, an enthusiastic
priest animated Europe with a fanatical frenzy and precipitated large
forces upon Asia to conquer the Holy Land.

At first followed by one hundred thousand men, afterward by two hundred
thousand badly-armed vagabonds who perished in great part under the
attacks of the Hungarians, Bulgarians, and Greeks, Peter the Hermit
succeeded in crossing the Bosporus, and arrived before Nice with from
fifty to sixty thousand men, who were either killed or captured by the

An expedition more military in its character succeeded this campaign of
religious pilgrims. One hundred thousand men, composed of French,
Burgundians, Germans, and inhabitants of Lorraine, under Godfrey of
Bouillon, marched through Austria on Constantinople; an equal number,
under the Count of Toulouse, marched by Lyons, Italy, Dalmatia, and
Macedonia; and Bohemond, Prince of Tarentum, embarked with a force of
Normans, Sicilians, and Italians, and took the route by Greece on

This extensive migration reminds us of the fabulous expeditions of
Xerxes. The Genoese, Venetian, and Greek fleets were chartered to
transport these swarms of Crusaders by the Bosporus or Dardanelles to
Asia. More than four hundred thousand men were concentrated on the
plains of Nice, where they avenged the defeat of their predecessors.
Godfrey afterward led them across Asia and Syria as far as Jerusalem,
where he founded a kingdom.

All the maritime resources of Greece and the flourishing republics of
Italy were required to transport these masses across the Bosporus and in
provisioning them during the siege of Nice; and the great impulse thus
given to the coast states of Italy was perhaps the most advantageous
result of the Crusades.

This temporary success of the Crusaders became the source of great
disasters. The Mussulmans, heretofore divided among themselves, united
to resist the infidel, and divisions began to appear in the Christian
camps. A new expedition was necessary to aid the kingdom which the brave
Noureddin was threatening. Louis VII. and the Emperor Conrad, each at
the head of one hundred thousand Crusaders, marched, as their
predecessors had done, by the route of Constantinople, (1142.) But the
Greeks, frightened by the recurring visits of these menacing guests,
plotted their destruction.

Conrad, who was desirous of being first, fell into the traps laid for
him by the Turks, and was defeated in detachments in several battles by
the Sultan of Iconium. Louis, more fortunate, defeated the Turks on the
banks of the Mender; but, being deprived of the support of Conrad, and
his army being annoyed and partially beaten by the enemy in the passage
of defiles, and being in want of supplies, he was confined to Attalia,
on the coast of Pamphylia, where he endeavored to embark his army. The
means furnished by the Greeks were insufficient, and not more than
fifteen or twenty thousand men arrived at Antioch with the king: the
remainder either perished or fell into the hands of the Saracens.

This feeble reinforcement soon melted away under the attacks of the
climate and the daily contests with the enemy, although they were
continually aided by small bodies brought over from Europe by the
Italian ships; and they were again about to yield under the attacks of
Saladin, when the court of Rome succeeded in effecting an alliance
between the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa and the Kings of France and
England to save the Holy Land.

The emperor was the first to set out. At the head of one hundred
thousand Germans, he opened a passage through Thrace in spite of the
formal resistance of the Greeks, now governed by Isaac Angelus. He
marched to Gallipolis, crossed the Dardanelles, and seized Iconium. He
died in consequence of an imprudent bath in a river, which, it has been
pretended, was the Cydnus. His son, the Duke of Swabia, annoyed by the
Mussulmans and attacked by diseases, brought to Ptolemais scarcely six
thousand men.

At the same time, Richard Coeur-de-Lion[58] and Philip Augustus more
judiciously took the route over the sea, and sailed from Marseilles and
Genoa with two immense fleets,(1190.) The first seized Cyprus, and both
landed in Syria,--where they would probably have triumphed but for the
rivalry which sprang up between them, in consequence of which Philip
returned to France.

Twelve years later, a new Crusade was determined upon, (1203.) Part of
the Crusaders embarked from Provence or Italy; others, led by the Count
of Flanders and the Marquis of Montferrat, proceeded to Venice, with the
intention of embarking there. The party last mentioned were persuaded by
the skillful Dandolo to aid him in an attack upon Constantinople, upon
the pretext of upholding the rights of Alexis Angelus, the son of Isaac
Angelus, who had fought the Emperor Frederick and was the successor of
those Comnenuses who had connived at the destruction of the armies of
Conrad and Louis VII.

Twenty thousand men had the boldness to attack the ancient capital of
the world, which had at least two hundred thousand defenders. They
assailed it by sea and land, and captured it. The usurper fled, and
Alexis was replaced upon the throne, but was unable to retain his seat:
the Greeks made an insurrection in favor of Murzupha, but the Latins
took possession of Constantinople after a more bloody assault than the
first, and placed upon the throne their chief, Count Baldwin of
Flanders. This empire lasted a half-century. The remnant of the Greeks
took refuge at Nice and Trebizond.

A sixth expedition was directed against Egypt by John of Brienne, who,
notwithstanding the successful issue of the horrible siege of Damietta,
was obliged to give way before the constantly-increasing efforts of the
Mussulman population. The remains of his splendid army, after a narrow
escape from drowning in the Nile, deemed themselves very fortunate in
being able to purchase permission to re-embark for Europe.

The court of Rome, whose interest it was to keep up the zeal of
Christendom in these expeditions, of which it gathered all the fruits,
encouraged the German princes to uphold the tottering realm at
Jerusalem. The Emperor Frederick and the Landgrave of Hesse embarked at
Brundusium in 1227, at the head of forty thousand chosen soldiers. The
landgrave, and afterward Frederick himself, fell sick, and the fleet put
in at Tarentum, from which port the emperor, irritated by the
presumption of Gregory IX., who excommunicated him because he was too
slow in the gratification of his wishes, at a later date proceeded with
ten thousand men, thus giving way to the fear inspired by the pontifical

Louis IX., animated by the same feeling of fear, or impelled, if we may
credit Ancelot, by motives of a higher character, set out from
Aigues-Mortes, in 1248, with one hundred and twenty large vessels, and
fifteen hundred smaller boats, hired from the Genoese, the Venetians and
the Catalans; for France was at that time without a navy, although
washed by two seas. This king proceeded to Cyprus, and, having there
collected a still larger force, set out, according to Joinville's
statement, with more than eighteen hundred vessels, to make a descent
into Egypt. His army must have numbered about eighty thousand men; for,
although half of the fleet was scattered and cast away upon the coast of
Syria, he marched upon Cairo a few months later with sixty thousand
fighting-men, twenty thousand being mounted. It should be stated that
the Count of Poictiers had arrived also with troops from France.

The sad fortune experienced by this splendid army did not prevent the
same king from engaging in a new Crusade, twenty years later,(1270.) He
disembarked upon that occasion at the ruins of Carthage, and besieged
Tunis. The plague swept off half his army in a few months, and himself
was one of its victims. The King of Sicily, having arrived with powerful
reinforcements at the time of Louis's death, and desiring to carry back
the remains of the army to his island of Sicily, encountered a tempest
which caused a loss of four thousand men and twenty large ships. This
prince was not deterred by this misfortune from desiring the conquest of
the Greek empire and of Constantinople, which seemed a prize of greater
value and more readily obtained. Philip, the son and successor of Saint
Louis, being anxious to return to France, would have nothing to do with
that project. This was the last effort. The Christians who were
abandoned in Syria were destroyed in the noted attacks of Tripoli and
Ptolemais: some of the remnants of the religious orders took refuge at
Cyprus and established themselves at Rhodes.

The Mussulmans, in their turn, crossed the Dardanelles at Gallipolis in
1355, and took possession, one after the other, of the European
provinces of the Eastern Empire, to which the Latins had themselves
given the fatal blow.

Mohammed II., while besieging Constantinople in 1453, is said to have
had his fleet transported by land with a view to placing it in the canal
and closing the port: it is stated to have been large enough to be
manned by twenty thousand select foot-soldiers. After the capture of
this capital, Mohammed found his means increased by all those of the
Greek navy, and in a short time his empire attained the first rank of
maritime powers. He ordered an attack to be made upon Rhodes and upon
Otranto on the Italian main, whilst he proceeded to Hungary in search of
a more worthy opponent (Hunniades.) Repulsed and wounded at Belgrade,
the sultan fell upon Trebizond with a numerous fleet, brought that city
to sue for terms, and then proceeded with a fleet of four hundred sail
to make a landing upon the island of Negropont, which he carried by
assault. A second attempt upon Rhodes, executed, it is stated, at the
head of a hundred thousand men, by one of his ablest lieutenants, was a
failure, with loss to the assailants. Mohammed was preparing to go to
that point himself with an immense army assembled on the shores of
Ionia, which Vertot estimates at three hundred thousand men; but death
closed his career, and the project was not carried into effect.

About the same period England began to be formidable to her neighbors on
land as well as on the sea; the Dutch also, reclaiming their country
from the inroads of the sea, were laying the foundations of a power more
extraordinary even than that of Venice.

Edward III. landed in France and besieged Calais with eight hundred
ships and forty thousand men.

Henry V. made two descents in 1414 and 1417: he had, it is stated,
fifteen hundred vessels and only thirty thousand men, of whom six
thousand were cavalry.

All the events we have described as taking place, up to this period, and
including the capture of Constantinople, were before the invention of
gunpowder; for if Henry V. had cannon at Agincourt, as is claimed by
some writers, they were certainly not used in naval warfare. From that
time all the combinations of naval armaments were entirely changed; and
this revolution took place--if I may use that expression--at the time
when the invention of the mariner's compass and the discovery of America
and of the Cape of Good Hope were about to turn the maritime commerce of
the world into new channels and to establish an entirely new system of
colonial dependencies.

I shall not mention in detail the expeditions of the Spaniards to
America, or those of the Portuguese, Dutch, and English to India by
doubling the Cape of Good Hope. Notwithstanding their great influence
upon the commerce of the world,--notwithstanding the genius of Gama,
Albuquerque, and Cortez,--these expeditions, undertaken by small bodies
of two or three thousand men against tribes who knew nothing of
fire-arms, are of no interest in a military point of view.

The Spanish navy, whose fame had been greatly increased by this
discovery of a new world, was at the height of its splendor in the reign
of Charles V. However, the glory of the expedition to Tunis, which was
conquered by this prince at the head of thirty thousand fine soldiers
transported in five hundred Genoese or Spanish vessels, was balanced by
the disaster which befell a similar expedition against Algiers, (1541,)
undertaken when the season was too far advanced and in opposition to the
wise counsels of Admiral Doria. The expedition was scarcely under way
when the emperor saw one hundred and sixty of his ships and eight
thousand men swallowed up by the waves: the remainder was saved by the
skill of Doria, and assembled at Cape Metafuz, where Charles V. himself
arrived, after encountering great difficulties and peril.

While these events were transpiring, the successors of Mohammed were not
neglecting the advantages given them by the possession of so many fine
maritime provinces, which taught them at once the importance of the
control of the sea and furnished means for obtaining it. At this period
the Turks were quite as well informed with reference to artillery and
the military art in general as the Europeans. They reached the apex of
their greatness under Solyman I., who besieged and captured Rhodes
(1552) with an army stated to have reached the number of one hundred and
forty thousand men,--which was still formidable even upon the
supposition of its strength being exaggerated by one-half.

In 1565, Mustapha and the celebrated Dragut made a descent upon Malta,
where the Knights of Rhodes had made a new establishment; they carried
over thirty-two thousand Janissaries, with one hundred and forty ships.
John of Valetta, as is well known, gained an enduring fame by repulsing

A more formidable expedition, consisting of two hundred vessels and
fifty-five thousand men, was sent in 1527 to the isle of Cyprus, where
Nicosia was taken and Famagosta besieged. The horrible cruelties
practiced by Mustapha increased the alarm occasioned by his progress.
Spain, Venice, Naples, and Malta united their naval forces to succor
Cyprus; but Famagosta had already surrendered, notwithstanding the
heroic defense of Bragadino, who was perfidiously flayed alive by
Mustapha's order, to avenge the death of forty thousand Turks that had
perished in the space of two years spent on the island.

The allied fleet, under the orders of two heroes, Don John of Austria,
brother of Philip II., and Andrea Doria, attacked the Turkish fleet at
the entrance of the Gulf of Lepanto, near the promontory of Actium,
where Antony and Augustus once fought for the empire of the world. The
Turkish fleet was almost entirely destroyed: more than two hundred
vessels and thirty thousand Turks were captured or perished, (1571.)
This victory did not put an end to the supremacy of the Turks, but was a
great check in their career of greatness. However, they made such
vigorous efforts that as large a fleet as the former one was sent to sea
during the next year. Peace terminated this contest, in which such
enormous losses were sustained.

The bad fortune of Charles V. in his expedition against Algiers did not
deter Sebastian of Portugal from wishing to attempt the conquest of
Morocco, where he was invited by a Moorish prince who had been deprived
of his estates. Having disembarked upon the shores of Morocco at the
head of twenty thousand men, this young prince was killed and his army
cut to pieces at the battle of Alcazar by Muley Abdulmalek, in 1578.

Philip II., whose pride had increased since the naval battle of Lepanto
on account of the success he had gained in France by his diplomacy and
by the folly of the adherents of the League, deemed his arms
irresistible. He thought to bring England to his feet. The invincible
Armada intended to produce this effect, which has been so famous, was
composed of an expeditionary force proceeding from Cadiz, including,
according to Hume's narrative, one hundred and thirty-seven vessels,
armed with two thousand six hundred and thirty bronze cannon, and
carrying twenty thousand soldiers, in addition to eleven thousand
sailors. To these forces was to be added an army of twenty-five thousand
men which the Duke of Parma was to bring up from the Netherlands by way
of Ostend. A tempest and the efforts of the English caused the failure
of this expedition, which, although of considerable magnitude for the
period when it appeared, was by no means entitled to the high-sounding
name it received: it lost thirteen thousand men and half the vessels
before it even came near the English coast.

After this expedition comes in chronological order that of Gustavus
Adolphus to Germany,(1630.) The army contained only from fifteen to
eighteen thousand men: the fleet was quite large, and was manned by nine
thousand sailors; M. Ancillon must, however, be mistaken in stating that
it carried eight thousand cannon. The debarkation in Pomerania received
little opposition from the Imperial troops, and the King of Sweden had a
strong party among the German people. His successor was the leader of a
very extraordinary expedition, which is resembled by only one other
example mentioned in history: I refer to the march of Charles X. of
Sweden across the Belt upon the ice, with a view of moving from Sleswick
upon Copenhagen by way of the island of Funen,(1658.) He had twenty-five
thousand men, of whom nine thousand were cavalry, and artillery in
proportion. This undertaking was so much the more rash because the ice
was unsafe, several pieces of artillery and even the king's own carriage
having broken through and been lost.

After seventy-five years of peace, the war between Venice and the Turks
recommenced in 1645. The latter transported an army of fifty-five
thousand men, in three hundred and fifty vessels, to Candia, and gained
possession of the important post of Canea before the republic thought of
sending succor. Although the people of Venice began to lose the spirit
which made her great, she still numbered among her citizens some noble
souls: Morosini, Grimani, and Mocenigo struggled several years against
the Turks, who derived great advantages from their numerical superiority
and the possession of Canea. The Venetian fleet had, nevertheless,
gained a marked ascendency under the orders of Grimani, when a third of
it was destroyed by a frightful tempest, in which the admiral himself

In 1648, the siege of Candia began. Jussuf attacked the city furiously
at the head of thirty thousand men: after being repulsed in two
assaults, he was encouraged to attempt a third by a large breach being
made. The Turks entered the place: Mocenigo rushed to meet them,
expecting to die in their midst. A brilliant victory was the reward of
his heroic conduct: the enemy were repulsed and the ditches filled with
their dead bodies.

Venice might have driven off the Turks by sending twenty thousand men to
Candia; but Europe rendered her but feeble support, and she had already
called into active service all the men fit for war she could produce.

The siege, resumed some time after, lasted longer than that of Troy, and
each campaign was marked by fresh attempts on the part of the Turks to
carry succor to their army and by naval victories gained by the
Venetians. The latter people had kept up with the advance of naval
tactics in Europe, and thus were plainly superior to the Mussulmans, who
adhered to the old customs, and were made to pay dearly for every
attempt to issue from the Dardanelles. Three persons of the name of
Morosini, and several Mocenigos, made themselves famous in this
protracted struggle.

Finally, the celebrated Coprougli, placed by his merits at the head of
the Ottoman ministry, resolved to take the personal direction of this
war which had lasted so long: he accordingly proceeded to the island,
where transports had landed fifty thousand men, at whose head he
conducted the attack in a vigorous manner.(1667.)

In this memorable siege the Turks exhibited more skill than previously:
their artillery, of very heavy caliber, was well served, and, for the
first time, they made use of trenches, which were the invention of an
Italian engineer.

The Venetians, on their side, greatly improved the methods of defense by
mines. Never had there been seen such furious zeal exhibited in mutual
destruction by combats, mines, and assaults. Their heroic resistance
enabled the garrison to hold out during winter: in the spring, Venice
sent reinforcements and the Duke of Feuillade brought a few hundreds of
French volunteers.

The Turks had also received strong reinforcements, and redoubled their
efforts. The siege was drawing to a close, when six thousand Frenchmen
came to the assistance of the garrison under the leadership of the Duke
of Beaufort and Navailles,(1669.) A badly-conducted sortie discouraged
these presumptuous young men, and Navailles, disgusted with the
sufferings endured in the siege, assumed the responsibility, at the end
of two months, of carrying the remnant of his troops back to France.
Morosini, having then but three thousand exhausted men to defend a place
which was open on all sides, finally consented to evacuate it, and a
truce was agreed upon, which led to a formal treaty of peace. Candia had
cost the Turks twenty-five years of efforts and more than one hundred
thousand men killed in eighteen assaults and several hundred sorties. It
is estimated that thirty-five thousand Christians of different nations
perished in the glorious defense of the place.

The struggle between Louis XIV., Holland, and England gives examples of
great maritime operations, but no remarkable descents. That of James II.
in Ireland (1690) was composed of only six thousand Frenchmen, although
De Tourville's fleet contained seventy-three ships of the line, carrying
five thousand eight hundred cannon and twenty-nine thousand sailors. A
grave fault was committed in not throwing at least twenty thousand men
into Ireland with such means as were disposable. Two years later, De
Tourville had been conquered in the famous day of La Hogue, and the
remains of the troops which had landed were enabled to return through
the instrumentality of a treaty which required their evacuation of the

At the beginning of the eighteenth century, the Swedes and Russians
undertook two expeditions very different in character.

Charles XII., wishing to aid the Duke of Holstein, made a descent upon
Denmark at the head of twenty thousand men, transported by two hundred
vessels and protected by a strong squadron. He was really assisted by
the English and Dutch navies, but the expedition was not for that reason
the less remarkable in the details of the disembarkation. The same
prince effected a descent into Livonia to aid Narva, but he landed his
troops at a Swedish port.

Peter the Great, having some cause of complaint against the Persians,
and wishing to take advantage of their dissensions, embarked (in 1722)
upon the Volga: he entered the Caspian Sea with two hundred and seventy
vessels, carrying twenty thousand foot-soldiers, and descended to
Agrakhan, at the mouths of the Koisou, where he expected to meet his
cavalry. This force, numbering nine thousand dragoons and five thousand
Cossacks, joined him after a land-march by way of the Caucasus. The czar
then seized Derbent, besieged Bakou, and finally made a treaty with one
of the parties whose dissensions at that time filled with discord the
empire of the Soofees: he procured the cession of Astrabad, the key of
the Caspian Sea and, in some measure, of the whole Persian empire.

The time of Louis XV. furnished examples of none but secondary
expeditions, unless we except that of Richelieu against Minorca, which
was very glorious as an escalade, but less extraordinary as a descent.

[In 1762, an English fleet sailed from Portsmouth: this was joined by a
portion of the squadron from Martinico. The whole amounted to nineteen
ships of the line, eighteen smaller vessels of war, and one hundred and
fifty transports, carrying ten thousand men. The expedition besieged and
captured Havana.--TRS.]

The Spaniards, however, in 1775, made a descent with fifteen or sixteen
thousand men upon Algiers, with a view of punishing those rovers of the
sea for their bold piracies; but the expedition, for want of harmonious
action between the squadron and the land-forces, was unsuccessful, on
account of the murderous fire which the troops received from the
Turkish and Arab musketeers dispersed among the undergrowth surrounding
the city. The troops returned to their vessels after having two thousand
men placed _hors de combat_.

The American war (1779) was the epoch of the greatest maritime efforts
upon the part of the French. Europe was astonished to see this power
send Count d'Estaing to America with twenty-five ships of the line,
while at the same time M. Orvilliers, with a Franco-Spanish fleet of
sixty-five ships of the line, was to cover a descent to be effected with
three hundred transports and forty thousand men, assembled at Havre and
St. Malo.

This new armada moved back and forth for several months, but
accomplished nothing: the winds finally drove it back to port.

D'Estaing was more fortunate, as he succeeded in getting the superiority
in the Antilles and in landing in the United States six thousand
Frenchmen under Rochambeau, who were followed, at a later date, by
another division, and assisted in investing the English army under
Cornwallis at Yorktown, (1781:) the independence of America was thus
secured. France would perhaps have gained a triumph over her implacable
rival more lasting in its effects, had she, in addition to the display
made in the English Channel, sent ten ships and seven or eight thousand
men more to India with Admiral Suffren.

During the French Revolution, there were few examples of descents: the
fire at Toulon, emigration, and the battle of Ushant had greatly injured
the French navy.

Hoche's expedition against Ireland with twenty-five thousand men was
scattered by the winds, and no further attempts in that quarter were
made. (1796.)

At a later date, Bonaparte's expedition to Egypt, consisting of
twenty-three thousand men, thirteen ships, seventeen frigates, and four
hundred transports, obtained great successes at first, which were
followed by sad reverses. The Turks, in hopes of expelling him, landed
fifteen thousand men at Aboukir, but were all captured or driven into
the sea, notwithstanding the advantages this peninsula gave them of
intrenching themselves and waiting for reinforcements. This is an
excellent example for imitation by the party on the defensive under
similar circumstances.

The expedition of considerable magnitude which was sent out in 1802 to
St. Domingo was remarkable as a descent, but failed on account of the
ravages of yellow fever.

Since their success against Louis XIV., the English have given their
attention more to the destruction of rival fleets and the subjugation of
colonies than to great descents. The attempts made in the eighteenth
century against Brest and Cherbourg with bodies of ten or twelve
thousand men amounted to nothing in the heart of a powerful state like
France. The remarkable conquests which procured them their Indian empire
occurred in succession. Having obtained possession of Calcutta, and then
of Bengal, they strengthened themselves gradually by the arrival of
troops in small bodies and by using the Sepoys, whom they disciplined to
the number of one hundred and fifty thousand.

The Anglo-Russian expedition to Holland in 1799 was composed of forty
thousand men, but they were not all landed at once: the study of the
details of the operations is, however, quite interesting.

In 1801, Abercrombie, after threatening Ferrol and Cadiz, effected a
descent into Egypt with twenty thousand Englishmen. The results of this
expedition are well known.

General Stuart's expedition to Calabria, (1806,) after some successes at
Maida, was for the purpose of regaining possession of Sicily. That
against Buenos Ayres was more unfortunate in its results, and was
terminated by a capitulation.

In 1807, Lord Cathcart attacked Copenhagen with twenty-five thousand
men, besieged and bombarded the city, and gained possession of the
Danish fleet, which was his object.

In 1808, Wellington appeared in Portugal with fifteen thousand men.
After gaining the victory of Vimeira, and assisted by the general rising
of the Portuguese, he forced Junot to evacuate the kingdom. The same
army, increased in numbers to twenty-five thousand and placed under
Moore's command, while making an effort to penetrate into Spain with a
view of relieving Madrid, was forced to retreat to Corunna and there
re-embark, after suffering severe losses. Wellington, having effected
another landing in Portugal with reinforcements, collected an army of
thirty thousand Englishmen and as many Portuguese, with which he avenged
Moore's misfortunes by surprising Soult at Oporto, (May, 1809,) and then
beating Joseph at Talavera, under the very gates of his capital.

The expedition to Antwerp in the same year was one of the largest
England has undertaken since the time of Henry V. It was composed of not
less than seventy thousand men in all,--forty thousand land-forces and
thirty thousand sailors. It did not succeed, on account of the
incapacity of the leader.

A descent entirely similar in character to that of Charles X. of Sweden
was effected by thirty Russian battalions passing the Gulf of Bothnia on
the ice in five columns, with their artillery. Their object was to take
possession of the islands of Aland and spread a feeling of apprehension
to the very gates of Stockholm. Another division passed the gulf to
Umeå, (March, 1809.)

General Murray succeeded in effecting a well-planned descent in the
neighborhood of Tarragona in 1813, with the intention of cutting Suchet
off from Valencia: however, after some successful operations, he thought
best to re-embark.

The expedition set on foot by England against Napoleon after his return
from Elba in 1815 was remarkable on account of the great mass of
_matériel_ landed at Ostend and Antwerp. The Anglo-Hanoverian army
contained sixty thousand men, but some came by land and others were
disembarked at a friendly port.

The English engaged in an undertaking in the same year which may be
regarded as very extraordinary: I refer to the attack on the capital of
the United States. The world was astonished to see a handful of seven or
eight thousand Englishmen making their appearance in the midst of a
state embracing ten millions of people, taking possession of its
capital, and destroying all the public buildings,--results unparalleled
in history. We would be tempted to despise the republican and unmilitary
spirit of the inhabitants of those states if the same militia had not
risen, like those of Greece, Rome, and Switzerland, to defend their
homes against still more powerful attacks, and if, in the same year, an
English expedition more extensive than the other had not been entirely
defeated by the militia of Louisiana and other states under the orders
of General Jackson.

If the somewhat fabulous numbers engaged in the irruption of Xerxes and
the Crusades be excepted, no undertaking of this kind which has been
actually carried out, especially since fleets have been armed with
powerful artillery, can at all be compared with the gigantic project and
proportionate preparations made by Napoleon for throwing one hundred and
fifty thousand veterans upon the shores of England by the use of three
thousand launches or large gun-boats, protected by sixty ships of the

From the preceding narrative the reader will perceive what a difference
there is in point of difficulty and probability of success between
descents attempted across a narrow arm of the sea, a few miles only in
width, and those in which the troops and _matériel_ are to be
transported long distances over the open sea. This fact gives the reason
why so many operations of this kind have been executed by way of the

       *       *       *       *       *

[The following paragraphs have been compiled from authentic data:--

In 1830, the French government sent an expedition to Algiers, composed
of an army of thirty-seven thousand five hundred men and one hundred and
eighty pieces of artillery. More than five hundred vessels of war and
transports were employed. The fleet sailed from Toulon.

In 1838, France sent a fleet of twenty-two vessels to Vera Cruz. The
castle of San Juan d'Ulloa fell into their hands after a short
bombardment. A small force of about one thousand men, in three columns,
took the city of Vera Cruz by assault: the resistance was slight.

In 1847, the United States caused a descent to be made upon the coast of
Mexico, at Vera Cruz, with an army of thirteen thousand men, under the
command of General Scott. One hundred and fifty vessels were employed,
including men-of-war and transports. The city of Vera Cruz and the
castle of San Juan d'Ulloa speedily fell into the possession of the
forces of the United States. This important post became the secondary
base of operations for the brilliant campaign which terminated with the
capture of the city of Mexico.

In 1854 commenced the memorable and gigantic contest between Russia on
the one side and England, France, Sardinia, and Turkey on the other.
Several descents were made by the allied forces at different points of
the Russian coast: of these the first was in the Baltic Sea. An English
fleet sailed from Spithead, under the command of Sir Charles Napier, on
the 12th of March, and a French fleet from Brest, under the command of
Vice-Admiral Parseval Deschênes, on the 19th of April. They effected a
junction in the Bay of Barosund on the 11th of June. The allied fleet
numbered thirty ships and fifty frigates, corvettes, and other vessels.
The naval commanders wished to attack the defenses of Bomarsund, on one
of the Aland Isles, but, after a reconnoissance, they came to the
conclusion that it was necessary to have land-forces. A French corps of
ten thousand men was at once dispatched to Bomarsund under General
Baraguay-d'Hilliers, and the place was speedily reduced.

Later in the same year, the great expedition to the Crimea was executed;
and with reference to it the following facts are mentioned, in order to
give an idea of its magnitude:--

September 14, 1854, an army of fifty-eight thousand five hundred men and
two hundred pieces of artillery was landed near Eupatoria, composed of
thirty thousand French, twenty-one thousand five hundred English, and
seven thousand Turks. They were transported from Varna to the place of
landing by three hundred and eighty-nine ships, steamers, and
transports. This force fought and gained the battle of the Alma,
(September 20,) and thence proceeded to Sebastopol. The English took
possession of the harbor of Balaklava and the French of Kamiesch: these
were the points to which subsequent reinforcements and supplies for the
army in the Crimea were sent.

November 5, at the battle of Inkermann, the allied army numbered
seventy-one thousand men.

At the end of January, 1855, the French force was seventy-five thousand
men and ten thousand horses. Up to the same time, the English had sent
fifty-four thousand men to the Crimea, but only fifteen thousand were
alive, present, and fit for duty.

February 4, the French numbered eighty-five thousand; the English,
twenty-five thousand fit for duty; the Turks, twenty-five thousand.

May 8, 1855, General La Marmora arrived at Balaklava with fifteen
thousand Sardinians.

In the latter part of May, an expedition of sixteen thousand men was
sent to Kertch.

In August, the French force at Sebastopol had risen to one hundred and
twenty thousand men.

September 8, the final assault took place, which resulted in the
evacuation of the place by the Russians. The allies had then in battery
more than eight hundred pieces of artillery.

The fleet which co-operated with the land-forces in the artillery attack
of October 17, 1854, consisted of twenty-five ships. There were present
and prepared to attack in September, 1855, thirty-four ships.

October, 1855, an expeditionary force of nine thousand men was sent to
Kinburn, which place was captured.

Marshal Vaillant, in his report, as Minister of War, to the French
emperor, says there were sent from France and Algeria three hundred and
ten thousand men and forty thousand horses, of which two hundred and
twenty-seven thousand men returned to France and Algeria.

The marshal's report gives the following striking facts, (he refers only
to French operations:-)

The artillery _matériel_ at the disposal of the Army of the East
comprised one thousand seven hundred guns, two thousand gun-carriages,
two thousand seven hundred wagons, two millions of projectiles, and nine
million pounds of powder. There were sent to the army three thousand
tons of powder, seventy millions of infantry-cartridges, two hundred and
seventy thousand rounds of fixed ammunition, and eight thousand

On the day of the final assault there were one hundred and eighteen
batteries, which during the siege had consumed seven million pounds of
powder. They required one million sand-bags and fifty thousand gabions.

Of engineer materials, fourteen thousand tons were sent. The engineers
executed fifty miles of trenches, using eighty thousand gabions, sixty
thousand fascines, and one million sand-bags.

Of subsistence, fuel, and forage, five hundred thousand tons were sent.

Of clothing, camp-equipage, and harness, twelve thousand tons.

Hospital stores, six thousand five hundred tons.

Provision-wagons, ambulances, carts, forges, &c, eight thousand tons.

In all, about six hundred thousand tons.

It is not thought necessary to add similar facts for the English,
Sardinian, and Turkish armies.

In 1859, the Spaniards made a descent upon Morocco with a force of forty
thousand infantry, eleven squadrons of cavalry, and eighty pieces of
artillery, using twenty-one vessels of war with three hundred and
twenty-seven guns, besides twenty-four gun-boats and numerous

In 1860, a force of English and French was landed on the coast of China,
whence they marched to Pekin and dictated terms of peace. This
expedition is remarkable for the smallness of the numbers which
ventured, at such a great distance from their sources of supply and
succor, to land upon a hostile shore and penetrate into the midst of the
most populous empire in the world.

The French expedition to Syria in 1860 was small in numbers, and
presented no remarkable features.

Toward the close of the year 1861, the government of the United States
sent an expedition of thirteen thousand men to Port Royal, on the coast
of South Carolina, one of the seceding States. The fleet of war-vessels
and transports sailed from Hampton Roads, under command of Captain
Dupont, and was dispersed by a violent gale: the losses of men and
_matériel_ were small, however, and the fleet finally reached the
rendezvous. The defenses of the harbor having been silenced by the naval
forces, the disembarkation of the land-troops took place, General
Sherman being in command.

England, France, and Spain are now (January 16, 1862) engaged in an
expedition directed against Mexico. The first operations were the
capture, by the Spanish forces, of Vera Cruz and its defenses: the
Mexicans offered no resistance at that point. The future will develop
the plans of the allies; but the ultimate result of a struggle (if,
indeed, one be attempted by the Mexicans) cannot be doubted, when three
of the most powerful states of Europe are arrayed against the feeble and
tottering republic of Mexico.]


[Footnote 58: Richard sailed from England with twenty thousand foot and
five thousand horsemen, and landed in Normandy, whence he proceeded by
land to Marseilles. We do not know what fleet he employed to transport
his troops to Asia. Philip embarked at Genoa on Italian ships, and with
a force at least as large as that of Richard.]

[Footnote 59: See the account of the expedition to the



Abercrombie's descent on Egypt, 384.

Accidental lines, 103.

Action, concert of, how secured, 259.

Active armies and sieges, relation between, 152.

Advanced guard, 261, 262.
  attack of the enemy's, in retreats, 243.
  in armies meeting unexpectedly, 208.
  in battle, 288, 289.

Advance, line of, how determined, 71.

Advantages of awaiting invasion, 17.
  of elevated points for observation, 276.

Aggressive wars for conquest, 22.

Agincourt, order of battle at, 192.

Albis, position of, 181.

Alcazar, battle of, 378.

Alexander the Great, 173, 362.

Alfred the Great, 369.

Algiers, French descent on, in 1830, 386.
  Spanish descent on, 382.

Alise, investment of, by Cæsar, 153.

Allies, at Bautzen, 187.
  defeat of, at Zurich, 112.
  error of, in 1793, 107, 108.
  failure of diversion of, in 1805, 219.
  in war, 18.
  march of, upon Leipsic, 123.

Alps, passage of, by Francis I., 168.

American Revolution, French maritime efforts during, 383.

Anglo-Russian expedition to Holland, 384.

Angoulême, Duke of, expedition of, 28.

Antony, retreat of, from Media, 233.

Antwerp, English expedition to, 385.

Archduke Charles, 294.
  concentric retreat of, in 1796,238.
  interior lines of, 136.
  opinion of, as to small-column formation, 350.
  opinion of, as to the valley of the Danube, 162.
  success of, 110, 111.

Archduke Ferdinand, 53.

Armada, Spanish, 249, 378, 379.

Armament, French, at Eylau and Marengo, 47.
  superior, importance of, 47, 48.

Armies, auxiliary, 170.
  central, observations on, 126.
  command of, 52.
  French, in the Revolution, 135.
  how to act, 75.
  in intrenchments, 154.
  in peace, how preserved, 47.
  large, fitness of central lines for, 125.
  large, organization of, 286.
  meeting unexpectedly, advanced guard in, 208.
  morale of, 60, 178, 322.
  movements of, points to be attended to in, 254-256.
  of French Revolution, how subsisted, 142.
  of Louis XIV. and Frederick II., how subsisted, 142.
  of Napoleon, operations of, 136.
  promotions in, 47.
  standing, effect of, on distant invasions, 171.
  surprises of, 209.
  two, on interior lines, 117.
  two, on the same frontier, 116.
  unexpected meeting of two, 207.

Armor, defensive, for cavalry, 308.

Arms and organization of cavalry, 307, 308.

Arms for irregular cavalry, 313.

Army, best means of organizing the command of, 59.

Army corps, system of, 279.

Army, defensive, proper course for, 324.
  defensive, when it has the advantage, 202.
  head-quarters of, when the most important point, 107.
  how perfected, 43.
  importance of a good, 44.
  number of men in, often determines battle-formation for, 285.

Army of Boulogne, 280.
  of four corps, 281.
  of seven corps, 281.
  offensive, proper course for, 324.
  of invasion, line of defense important to, 99.
  of the Rhine in 1800, 115.
  permanent, necessary condition of, 49.
  proportion of cavalry in, 304.
  pursuing, has the advantage, 241.

Artillerists, directions for, in battle, 317.

Artillery, concentration of fire of,
  in offensive line of battle, 290.
  employment of, 315-318.
  heavy, in defensive line of battle, 290.
  importance of, to infantry, 290.
  matériel of the French army in the Crimea, 388.
  Napoleon's, at Wagrani, 289, 316.
  post of, in line of battle, 289.
  proportion of, 318.
  protection of infantry from the enemy's, 303.
  rules for use of, in battle, 316-318.
  use of, in the offensive, 316.
  who should command, 318.

Art of war, definition of, 13.
  principal parts of, 66.

Assailant, advantages of, 186.

Assailant's best means of victory, 202.

Assault, beat formation of infantry for, 298.
  of field-works, instances of well-arranged, 212.

Athens, naval power of, 361.

Attack, cavalry column of, 310.
  close, formation for, 301.
  column of, in two lines, 292.
  columns of, 293, 356.
  columns of, of single battalions, 298.
  five methods of forming troops for, 292.
  formation for, at Turin, 213.
  in columns, order of, 194.
  in front, 201.
  in rear, 207.
  of field-works, directions for, 211, 212.
  of fortified places, 210.
  of intrenched lines, 214.
  on flank, 203.
  on Sank, cavalry, 310.
  when order in squares suitable for, 297.

Attacks and marches, arrangements of, 258.
  in half-deep order, 302.

Audenarde, battle of, 53.

Augustus, armament of, 365.

Aulic Council, 59.

Austerlitz, 170, 179, 206.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.

Austria, course of, in the French Revolution, 106.
  force of, in the French Revolution, 106.
  fortresses of, 149.
  interest of, in the French Revolution, 105.
  intervention of, in 1813, 21.

Austrian army, situation of, in 1800, 112.
  camp before Mayence, 157.
  order at Essling and Fleurus, 200.

Austrians, surprise of, by Turenne, 246.
  why victorious in 1753, 107.

Austria's adaptation to parallel retreats, 240.

Authority of counselors, 53.


Balloons, difficulties in use of, 275, 276.
  how they might be useful, 275.
  used at Fleurus, 275.

Barbarossa, 373.

Bard, fort of, 152, 167.
  importance of defile of, 87.

Base of operations, where to be established, 84.

Bases of operations, definition of, 77
  of operations, how to be chosen, 79, 80.
  of operations, plurality of, 78.
  on the sea, 83, 84.
  temporary or eventual, 84.
  temporary, when necessary, 132.
  with two faces, 83.

Bassano, Napoleon's march on, 131.

Battalions, deployed, in checkerwise order, 301.

Battalion squares, 296.

Batteries, 317.

Battle, advanced guard in, 288, 289.
  calculation of distances in, 334.
  classification of orders of, useful, 197.
  combinations of, 187.
  concave order of, 191.
  convex order of, 192.
  critical moment of, 203.
  decisive moment of, 334.
  defensive arrangements for, 201.

Battle-field, decisive point of, how determined, 186.
  decisive point of, 187.
  strategic point of, when important, 187.

Battle-formation in small columns, 350.
  influence of topography upon, 299.

Battle, formation of troops for, 347-360.
  influence of orders of, on result of engagements, 197.
  line of, arrangement of cavalry in, 288.
  line of, before the French Revolution, 277.
  line of, definition of, 179.
  line of, distribution of troops in, 287.
  line of, post of artillery in, 289.
  lines of, for two infantry corps, different formations of, 282-284.
  oblique order of, 190.
  of Agincourt, 192.
  of Alcazar, 378.
  of Audenarde, 53.
  of Austerlitz, 170, 179, 198, 206.
  of Bautzen, 187, 196, 317.
  of Blenheim, 303.
  of Cannæ, 191.
  of Crécy, 192.
  of Ecnomos, 363.
  of Essling, 192, 193, 200, 350.
  of Fossano, 168.
  of Jena, 90, 198, 305.
  of Leipsic, 158, 192, 193, 198, 267, 305.
  of Lepanto, 378.
  of Leuthen, 140, 190, 229, 342.
  of Millesimo, 111.
  of Mollwitz, 348.
  of Prague, 189, 205.
  of Ramillies, 312.
  of Rivoli, 179, 198, 205.
  of Torgau, 205.
  of Turin, 53.
  of Ulm, 53, 90.
  of Ulm, won by strategy, 198.
  of Waterloo, 127, 129, 130, 181, 182, 183, 196, 198, 206, 294, 295,
               303-306, 354, 358, 359.
  offensive, object of, 188.
  offensive order of, 200.
  order of, 186.
  order of, at Leipsic, 193.
  order of, definition of, 180.
  orders of, 188.
  parallel order of, 188.
    reinforced, 189.
    when suitable, 189.
    with crotchet, 189.
  perpendicular order of, 190.
  position for, 341.
  posting troops in line of, 277.
  results of, depend on what, 178.
  rules for use of artillery in, 316-318.

Battle-order for cavalry, 312.

Battle-orders, various, 349.

Battles, 178.
  defensive, 179.
  elements of uncertainty regarding, 197.
  great difficulty of tactics of, 196.
  influence of musketry-fire in, 348.
  offensive, 186.
  of Napoleon, orders of, 198.
  rules for scientific, 200.
  success in, depends on maneuvering, 360.
  three kinds of, 179.
  what may interfere with success of, 196.

Bautzen, battle of, 187, 317.
  French at, 196.

Bellegarde, 166.

Benningsen, movement of, in 1807, 109.

Benningsen's artillery reserve at Eylau, 289.
  base on Königsberg in 1807, 152.
  position in 1807, 171.
  mixed system at Eylau, 352.

Beresina, passage of, 226, 245.

Berg-op-Zoom, assault of, 212.

Berthier at Leipsic, 267.

Berthier's error at Wagram, 267.
  error in campaign of 1809, 265.

Blenheim, battle of, 303.

Blücher, 53, 130.

"Boar's head" of the ancients, 194.

Bonaparte's career in Italy, 111.
  expedition to Egypt, 383.

Borodino, Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.

Boulogne, army of, 280.
  camp of, 279.

Bravery, first requisite for a leader, 345.

Bridges, how to secure, against fire-ships, &c., 245.
  in retreats, 244.
  means of destroying, 245.
  protection of, after passage, 229.

Bridge-trains, importance of, 121.

Brienne, Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.

Buntzelwitz, camp of, 154.

Burgundy, Duke of, 53.


Cæsar's investment of Alise, 153.
  maritime expeditions, 365.

Campaign, Napoleon's, of 1800, 137.
  of 1793, 107.
  of 1799, 111.
  of 1800, 112.
  of 1812, Napoleon's error in, 172.
  of the Spaniards in Flanders, 171.
  of the Swedes in Germany, 171.

Campaigns in mountains, instances of, 169.
  in winter, 68.
  of 1799 and 1800, 162.

Camp at Kehl, 167.
  intrenched, influence of, 155.
  intrenched, on which side of a river, 157.
  intrenched, on river, 156.
  of Boulogne, 279.
  of Drissa, 157.

Camps and lines, intrenched, defense of, 215.
  fortified, 154.
  intrenched, connection of, with strategy, 154.
  intrenched, instances of, 210, 211.
  intrenched, maxims on, 155, 156.
  intrenched, Prussian system of, 158.
  intrenched, use of, 156.
  intrenched, where to be established, 155.
  strategic square for, 99.

Candia, siege of, 380, 381.
  Turkish descent on, 379.

Cannæ, order of battle at, 191.

Cantonment of Napoleon on the Passarge, 247.

Cantonments, 246.
  duty of staff officers in, 256.
  rules for establishing, 246.
  selection of positions for, 247.

Canute, 370.

Capitals as strategic points, 87.

Capital, when the center of power, 107.

Capture of posts, means for, 216.
  when important, 216.

Carbine, in cavalry-charges, 306.

Carnot, 59.
  operations of, 136.

Carthage, destruction of, 364.

Carthaginians, expeditions of, 361, 362.

Cavalry, 303.
  advantages of large corps of, 309.
  arms and organization of, 307, 308.
  arrangement of, in line of battle, 288.
  at Ramillies, 312.
  battle-order for, 312.
  best formation of infantry against, 294.
  charge at Hohenfriedberg, 305.
  charge, general, 305.
  charges, four kinds of, 306.
  charges of the Turks, 307.
  defensive armor for, 308.
  divisions of five regiments, 311.
  duties of, 304.
  encounters of, against cavalry, 311.
  flank charges of, 307.
  formations of, 309-311.
  importance of, in retreats, 243.
  importance of, to infantry, 290.
  influence of, in a war, 313, 314.
  in the defensive, 306.
  irregular, 313.
  light, advantages of, 314.
  militia as, 314, 315.
  morale of, 312.
  must be supported by infantry, 304.
  proportion of, in an army, 304.
  reserves, 288, 311.
  when it should charge a line of infantry, 305.

Center, when proper point of attack, 187.

Central armies, 126.
  line of Napoleon in Saxony, 124.
  lines, application of, to large masses, 125.
  position, when untenable, 331.

Chæronea, 365.

Charges, irregular cavalry, 313.

Charles V. of Spain, expedition of, 377.
  VIII., retreat of, to Naples, 233.
  X. of Sweden, expedition of, 379.
  XII. of Sweden, descent of, on Denmark, 382.

Checkerwise formation of cavalry, 310.
  order, infantry, 301.

Chief of staff, 57, 253.

China, English and French expedition to, 389.

Choice of objective points, 90.

Circumvallation, lines of, 152.

Civil wars, 35.

Clairfayt, victories of, 110.

Clausewitz, erroneous assertion of, 178.
  opinion of, as to movements in mountainous countries, 166.

Coalition against France in 1793, 37.
  Frederick the Great, 36, 37.
  Louis XIV., 36.

Coasts, influence of, on descents, 251.

Coblentz, fortification of, 157, 158.
  towers of, 159.

Coburg, Prince of, 109, 193.

Column of attack, cavalry, 310.
  of attack in two lines, 292.

Columns of attack, 293, 294, 356.
  of attack of single battalions, 298.
  of four divisions in three ranks, 294.

Combinations of battle, 187.
  strategic, 72.

Combined use of the three arms, 203, 319, 320.

Commander, difficulty of selecting, 55.
  essential qualities for a, 55.
  importance of, 54.

Commander, first care of, on taking the field, 66.
  of artillery, duties of, 319.

Command of an army, best means of organizing, 59.
  of armies, 52.

Commissariat, connection of, with system of marches, 141.
  of Louis XIV. and Frederick II., 142.
  the, and strategy, 141.

Committee of Public Safety, 136.

Concave order of battle, 191.

Concentration of artillery-fire, 290.
  in retreat, advantages of, 238.

Concentric lines, 102.
  retreats, instances of, 238, 239.
  system, 126.

Concert of action, how secured, 259.
  in action, importance of, 42.

Conquest, difficulties of, in national wars, 31-34.
  wars for, instances of, 22.

Conrad III., Crusade of, 372.

Constantinople, expeditions against, by the Russians, 368.
  siege of, by the Crusaders, 373.
  siege of, by Mohammed II., 375.

Contempt for the enemy, 63.

Contravallation, lines of, 152.

Control of operations, 52.

Convergent operations, 126.

Converging lines more advantageous than divergent, 118.

Continuous intrenched lines, 213.

Control of the sea, importance of, in an invasion, 30.

Convex order of battle, 192.

Copenhagen, siege of, 384.

Cordon system, 165.

Corps, organization by, likely to be permanent, 287.
  organization of an army in four, 281.
  organization of an army in seven, 281.
  system of, 279.
  two, one behind the other, 285.

Cossacks, 272, 273, 313, 314.

Council of war at seat of government, 59.

Councils of war, value of, 58.

Counselors, authority of, 53.

Coup-d'oeil, strategic, 337-345.

Coups de main, 215.
  instances of, 216, 223.

Crécy, order of battle at, 192.

Crimea, details of the allied expedition to, 387-389.

Crimean War, 387.

Critical moment of battles, 203.

Crossing a river in presence of an enemy, 120.

Crotchet, parallel order of battle with, 189.

Crotchets, danger of, 182.

Crusade of 1203, 373.

Crusades, 25, 371-375.

Cuirass, 47, 308.

Cuirassiers, 308.

Culm, 221.

Cyprus, Turkish expedition against, 377.


Danes, incursions of, 368, 369.

Danger of two wars at once, 36.

Dangers of auxiliary armies, 170.

Danube, Napoleon's passage of, 226.
  valley of, key of Southern Germany, 162.

Decisive direction, 328.
  moment of battle, 334.
  point at Bautzen, 187.
  point, how affected by arrangement of forces, 187.
  point of battle-field, 187.
  point of battle-field, how determined, 88, 186.
  points, 337.
  points, defiles as, 87.
  points of the theater of war, 85.

Deep columns, 356.
  at Waterloo, 359.
  masses, 298, 302.
  order, disadvantages of, 298.

Defeat, 68.
  of the French at Waterloo, causes of, 359.

Defense, in mountainous countries, 163.
  line of, important to an army of invasion, 99.
  line of, should be short, 98.
  of frontiers, 146.
  of intrenched camps and lines, 215.
  rivers, mountains, and defiles as eventual lines of, 96.
  second lines of, 147.
  should not be passive, 185.
  tactical, of Switzerland, 169.
  maxims for frontier, 148, 149.

Defensive armor for cavalry, 308.
  army has the advantage, when, 202.
  army, proper course for, 324.
  arrangements for battle, 201.
  battles, 179.
  best formation of infantry for, 298.
  cavalry in, 306.
  characteristics of infantry formation for, 297.
  in descents, duty of, 251.
  line of battle, heavy artillery in, 290.

Defensive movements, when advised, 124.
  -offensive war, 74.
  or offensive system, either may be employed, 185.
  the, in a level country, 164.
  war, 72, 73.

Defiles as decisive points, 87.
  as eventual lines of defense, 96.
  in retreats, 243.

Definitive lines, 103.

Dennewitz, Ney's error at, 130.

Deployed battalions in checkerwise order, 301.
  lines in two ranks, 294.
  lines, two, formation of infantry in, 292.

Depots, establishment of, on march, 262.
  command of, 263.
  lines of, 263.
  of supplies, 141.
  of supplies, general maxims, 143.
  secondary, 262, 263.

Descents, 248.
  cases where made, 250.
  difficulties of, 250.
  duty of defensive in, 251.
  effect of modern inventions on, 248.
  more extensive in ancient times, 248.
  precautions after landing, 252.
  rules for conducting, 251.

D'Estaing's fleet, 383.

Detached orders of Napoleon, 259.
  works, importance of, 154.

Detachments, field of operations of, should be large, 220.
  four kinds of, 217.
  great, 217, 219, 334.
  great, instances of, 221, 222.
  great, why made, 220, 221.
  multiplication of, must be avoided,    221.
  necessary when there is a double strategic front, 220.
  of Napoleon in 1805, 222.
  precise rules for, cannot be laid down, 222.
  requisites in officers of, 224.
  small, how useful, 224.

Detachment to form strategic reserve, illustration of, 219.

Détours, 197, 204.

Difficulty of applying theories in war, 269.

Diplomacy in invasions, 24.

Direction, lines of, their importance illustrated, 116.
  of lines of operations, 115.

Discipline, importance of, 42.
  importance of, in retreats, 242.

Distances in battle, calculation of, 334.

Distant expeditions, 169.
  invasions across extensive territories, 171.
  invasions, maxim for, 173.
  invasions to aid an ally, 170.

Distribution of troops in line of battle, 287.

Divergent lines, 103.

Duke of York's expedition to Dunkirk, 91.
  to Holland in 1799, 91.

Dumouriez, errors of, in 1792, 106, 107.

Dunkirk, expedition to, 91.

Duties of cavalry, 304.
  of staff officers, 254-256.

Duty of a general, 324.
  of statesmen in offensive wars, 17.

Diversions in zone of operations, when advantageous, 222.

Division, improper use of the term, 351.

Divisions, cavalry, of five regiments, 311.
  defects of system of, 278.
    remedied by Napoleon, 278.
  formation by, when preferable, 286.
  organization of, 279, 280.
  system of, 278.

Doctoroff, warning given to, in 1812, by Seslawin, 273.

Double line of operations, when applicable, 117.
  when necessary, 116.
  lines of operations, 102, 110.
    when advantageous, 123.
  lines to be avoided, 330.
  passages of rivers, 230.
  strategic front, 95.
  wars, 36.
  wars of Napoleon, 37.

Dragoons, 308.
  concentration of, by Emperor
    Nicholas, 309.

Drepanum, 363.

Dresden, 305.
  intrenched camp at, 155, 211.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.
  victory at, 124.

Drissa, camp of, 155, 157.

Divergent lines, when advantageous, 118.
  operations, 126.
  retreats, when admissible, 239.

Diversions, 218.
  instances of, 218.
  when useful, 218.


Eccentric lines, 237.
  retreat. Bulow's use of the term,

Eccentric system, 126.

Echelon, order of battle by, 193.

Echelons, order in, 193.
  squares in, 297.

Ecnomos, victory of, 363.

Edward III. of England, 376.

Egypt, expedition of John of Brienne against, 374.

Ehrenbreitstein, 158.

Elchingen, Ney at, 182.

Elective governments, weakness of, 46.

Elevated points, advantage of, for observation, 276.

Elongated squares, 296, 297.

Employment of artillery, 315-318.

Encounters of cavalry against cavalry, 311.

Enemy, bodies of, near line of operations, 67.
  contempt for, 63.
  how dislodged, 188.
  how to drive from his position, 201, 202.
  should not be paid to leave a country, 242.

Enemy's movements, importance of knowing, 268.

England controls the sea, 173.
  invasion of, by Sweyn, 370.
  projected invasion of, by Napoleon, 249, 250, 386.

England's attack on Washington in 1814, 385.

English and French expedition to China, 389.

English, descents of, on France, 376.
  expedition against Napoleon in 1815, 385.
  expedition in 1762 against Havana, 382.
  maritime expeditions, 384-390.
  squares at Waterloo, 294.

Enthusiasm, importance of, 41.
  not military spirit, 62.

Epaminondas, 190.

Error of Napoleon in campaign of 1812, 172.

Error of the allies in 1793, 107, 108.

Errors in strategy, 91.

Essential bases of military policy, 49.

Essling, 192, 193, 200, 350.
  Napoleon at, 158.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.
  order of battle at, 192, 193.

Eugene at Turin, 153.
  march of, 141.

Eventual bases, 84.
  lines of defense, 96.

Expediency, wars of, 18.

Expedition of Prince Koudacheff, 273.
  to the Crimea, details of, 387-389.

Expeditions, assistance of fleets in, 174.
  distant, 169.
  marine, in modern times, 249.
  maritime, 361-390.
  of the ancients, 248.
  of the Middle Ages, 171.
  partly on land, partly by sea, 173.

Extended movements, when dangerous, 204.

Exterior lines of operations, 102.

Extermination, wars of, 34.

Eylau, 305, 306, 318, 352.
  French armament at, 47.
  Napoleon's march on, 94.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.
  Russian artillery reserve at, 289.
  Russian order at, 295.


Famous retreats, instances of, 233.

Field, strategic, of 1806, 113.

Field-works, directions for attack of, 211, 212.
  instances of well-arranged assaults on, 212.

Final reserves, 203.

Financial considerations, 50.

Fire-arms, influence of improvements in, on war, 347, 355, 359.

Fire-signals, how used, 276.

Flank attack, 203.
  attack, cavalry, 310.
  charges of cavalry, 307.
  marches, 139, 140.
  marches, where inadmissible, 140.
  tactical maneuver by, 140.

Flanks of companies, movement by, 300, 301.
  protection of, in tactical positions, 182.

Fleets, assistance of, in expeditions, 174.

Fleurus, 136, 193, 200.
  balloons used at, 275.
  order of battle at, 192.

Foot-artillery in line of battle, 289.
  in the offensive, 316.

Forests, advantages of, in retreats, 183.

Formation by divisions, when preferable, 286.
  for attack at Turin, 213.
  for battle in small columns, 350.
  for battle, Napoleon's system, 278, 279.
  for battle often determined by size of army, 285.
  for battle, Prussian and Austrian system, 354.
  for close attack, 301.
  of infantry for attack, five methods of, 292.
    in two ranks, 356.
  of troops for battle, 347-350.

Formations of cavalry, 309-311.
  of lines of battle for two infantry corps, 282-284.
  various, for infantry, 285.

Fortification of Coblentz, 157, 158.

Fortifications, remark upon, 151.

Fortified camps, 154.
  places, attack of, 210.
  places on the sea-coast, importance of, 152.
  places, when a misfortune, 152.

Fortresses at Mayence, 150.
  greatest advantages of, 150.
  large, when preferable, 150.
  number and position of, 149.
  of France and Austria, 149.
  on frontiers, 148.
  relation of, to strategy, 148, 150.

Forts in a mountainous country, 151.
  purposes of, 146.

Fossano, battle of, 168.

Four-rank formation of infantry, 291.

France adapted to parallel retreats, 240.
  coalition against, in 1793, 37.
  course and error of, in 1792, 105.
  fortresses of, 149.
  intention of, when declaring war in 1792, 105.
  invasions of, by the English, 376.

Francis I., passage of the Alps by, 168.

Frederick the Great, 36, 37.
  at Leuthen, 229.
  at Prague, 205.
  at Torgau, 206.
  commissariat of, 142.
  defensive-offensive operations of, 74.
  maneuver of, at Leuthen, 141.
  military genius of, 16.

Frederick II., Crusade of, 374.

French and English expedition to China, 389.

French armies in the Revolution, 135.
  armies, situation of, in 1800, 112.
  at Bautzen, 196.
  at Fleurus, why successful, 193.
  at Waterloo, 196.
  capture of Vera Cruz by, in 1838, 386.
  causes of defeat of, at Waterloo, 359.
  cavalry, 313.
  columns at Waterloo, 351.
  defeat of, at Stockach, 111.
  descent on Algiers in 1830, 386.
  errors in 1795, 136.
  expedition to Syria, 390.
  in Bohemia in 1742, 171.
  invasions of 1766 and 1795, 120.

French, maritime efforts of, during American Revolution, 383.
  operations in Italy, 112.
  operations of, at close of 1793, 331-333.
  operations of, in 1794, 108.
  order at Essling and Fleurus, 200.
  order at Minden, 278.
  plan in 1799, error of, 110.
  Revolution, 26-28.
  Revolution, armies of, how subsisted, 142.
  Revolution, course of Austria in, 106.
  Revolution, course of Prussia in, 105, 106.
  Revolution, interest of Austria in, 105.
  Revolution, lines of operations in the wars of, 104.
  Revolution, relation of Italy to, 104.
  Revolution, relation of Prussia and Austria to, 104.
  Revolution, theater of operations in, 104.
  Revolution, zones of operations in, 105.

Frontier defenses, maxims for, 148, 149.
  when a permanent line of defense, 96.

Frontiers, defense of, 146.
  disadvantage of fortresses on, 148.
  how to be fortified, 152.
  mountains as, 146.
  rivers as, 147.

Front of operations, 330, 338.
  of operations, extent of, 98.
  of operations, how varied, 93.
  strategic, change of, 94.
  strategic, not to be too extended, 98.

Fronts of operations, 92.

Fronts, strategic, 92.

Fundamental principle of war, 66.
  maxims of, 70.
  principles for employment of troops, 328.


Gallop, when best for cavalry charge, 306, 307.

General advanced guard, how composed, 262.
  cavalry charge, 305.

General, essential qualities of a, 55.
  importance of a skillful, 43.
  one of the greatest talents of, 74.
  qualities of a skillful, 334.
  what constitutes a, 327.

General principle of war, manner of applying, 175.
  staff, employment of, in time of peace, 49.
  staff, usefulness of, 57.

Genoa, panic at siege of, 64.

Geography, military, 39.

Geographical objective points, 88.

Germanicus, expedition of, 366.

Girondists, 26, 37.

Gosa, French charge on, 305.

Governments, elective, weakness of, 46.
  should not be unprepared for war, 46.

Grand tactics, 69, 70, 178.
  principles of, 360.

Great detachments, 217, 219, 334.
  instances of, 221, 222.
  why made, 220, 221.

Grouchy, 127.

Guard, advanced, 261, 262.
  in battle, 288, 289.
  in unexpected battles, 208.

Gunpowder, effect of invention of, on distant invasions, 171.

Gustavus Adolphus, expedition of, 375.


Half-deep order, infantry-formation, 295.
  attacks in, 302.

Halts and departures in retreats, hours of, 236.

Halts in retreats to relieve rear-guards, 236.

Hannibal at Cannæ, 191.
  at Zama, 179.

Harold, 370, 371.

Head-quarters of the army, when the most important point, 107.

Heights to be secured in mountainous countries, 167.

Hengist, 367.

Henry V. of England, descents of, on France, 376.

Hoche's expedition to Ireland, 383.

Hochkirch, 303.
  surprise of, 209.

Hohenfriedberg, 305.

Hohenlinden, 183, 206.

Holland, expedition to, 91.

Horse-artillery in line of battle, 289.
  in the offensive, 316.

Houchard, 333.

Hougoumont, 303.

Hungary, strategic character of the mountains of, 161.

Hypotheses as to the enemy's movements, 270.

Hypotheses of the author in 1806, 271.
  how events justified them, 272.


Igor, expeditions of, 368.

Illustrations of importance of logistics, 263-268.

Improvements in fire-arms, effect of, on infantry formations, 299.
  effects of, on war, 347, 355, 359.

Industrial pursuits secondary to heroic virtues, 60, 61.

Infantry, battle-formation of, in two lines, 287.
  best formation of, for assault, 298.
  best formation of, for the defensive, 298.
  cavalry must be supported by, 304.
  checkerwise formation, 310.
  formation of, in two deployed lines, 292.
  formations, effect of improvements in fire-arms on, 299.
  importance of, 290.
  in three-rank formation, 293.
  in what movements should be exercised, 300.
  lines of battle for, 282-284.
  mixed order, 295.
  mounted, 308.
  needs support of cavalry and artillery, 290.
  protection of, from enemy's artillery, 303.
  squares, 294, 296.
  supports of artillery, 316, 317.
  three-rank formation of, 291.
  various formations for, 285.
  when a line of, should be charged by cavalry, 305.

Information from partisans, 270.
  of enemy's movements, rules for gaining, 273, 274.
  of the enemy's movements, four means of acquiring, 269.

Initiative, advantages of, 184.

Institutions, military, 43.

Interior and simple lines, advantage of, 114.

Interior lines, observations on, 123.
  of Archduke Charles, 136.
  of operations, 102.
  of operations, why preferable, 127.
  should not be too much extended, 117.
  two armies on, 117.

Intervention, instances of, 20-22.
  kinds of, 19.
  reasons for, 19.
  wars of, 19.
  wars of, essentials in, 21.

Intestine wars, 35.

Intrenched camp, on which side of a river, 157.

Intrenched camps and lines, defense of, 215.
  connection of, with strategy, 154.
  how differ from têtes deponts, 160.
  influence of, 155.
  instances of, 210, 211.
  maxims on, 155, 156.
  on river, 156.
  Prussian system of. 158.
  use of, 156.
  where to be established, 155.

Intrenched lines, 146, 153.
  attack of, 214.
  continuous, 213.

Intrenched positions, 181.

Intrenchments, armies in, 154

Invaded country, how made to contribute to success, 142.

Invasion, advantage and disadvantage of, 72.
  advantages of awaiting, 17.
  army of, line of defense important to, 99.
  control of the sea important in, 30.
  difficult in national wars, 144.
  how rendered feasible, 106.
  of a mountainous country, 169.
  of England contemplated by Napoleon, 249, 250, 386.
  of Turkey by Russia, 23.
  two kinds of, 22.
  wars of, when advantageous, 17.

Invasions, diplomacy in, 24.
  distant, across extensive territories, 171.
  distant, effect of standing armies on, 171.
  distant, how affected by invention of gunpowder, 171.
  distant, maxim for, 173.
  distant, to aid an ally, 170.
  how to be carried on, 24.
  neutrality of states adjoining the theater of war important in, 174.
  of neighboring states, 174.
  of Spain, 23.
  when excusable, 23.

Investing a city, false system of, 152.
  force, how strengthened, 153.

Irregular cavalry, 313.
  arms for, 313.

Islamism, wars of, 25.

Italy, operations of the French in, 111, 112.
  parallel retreats in, 241.
  relation of, in the French Revolution, 104.

Ivar, expedition of, 369.


James II., expedition of, in Ireland, 381.

Jemmapes, 342.

Jena, battle of, won by strategy, 198.
  maneuvers at, 90.
  Napoleon's march on, 94.
  Ney's charge at, 305.

Jourdan, 229.
  at Stockach, 205.
  balloons used by, at Fleurus, 275.

Jourdan's passage of the Rhine in 1795, 120.

Julian, retreat of, from Parthia, 233.


Kagoul, panic at, 64.

Katzbach, 124.

Kehl, intrenchments at, 157, 210, 211.

Kolin, 303.

Koudacheff's expedition, 273.

Koutousoff, 170.

Krasnoi, combination at, 342.

Kray, 87.

Kunnersdorf, 304.


Lance, importance of, 47.
  when best for cavalry, 307.
  when useful, 306.

Lender, bravery the first requisite for, 345.

League, wars of the, 25.

Leipsic as a decisive and strategic point, 87.
  battle of, 192, 193, 267, 305.
  march of the allies upon, 123.
  march on, modified, 140. /
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.
  order of battle at, 193.

Lepanto, battle of, 378.

Leuthen, battle of, 190, 229, 342.
  maneuver of Frederick at, 140.

Level country, defensive in, 164

Light cavalry, advantages of, 314.

Ligny, 195.

Line of advance, how determined, 71.
  of battle, arrangement of cavalry in, 288.
  of battle before the French Revolution, 277.
  of battle, definition of, 179.
  of battle, defensive, heavy artillery in, 290.
  of battle, distribution of troops in, 287.
  of battle, offensive, concentration of artillery fire in, 290.
  of battle, posting troops in, 277.

Line of battle, post of artillery in, 289.
  of defense important to an army of invasion, 99.
  of defense should be short, 98.
  of operations, double, when necessary, 116.
  of operations, how protected, 132.
  of operations, single, when advantageous, 116.
  of retreat, 261, 341-343.

Lines and camps, intrenched, defense of, 215.
  and points, strategic, 85.
  central, application of, to large masses, 125.
  deployed, in two ranks, 294.
  double, to be avoided, 330.
  eccentric, 237.
  interior, observations on, 123.
  interior, two armies on, 117.
  intrenched, 146, 153.
  intrenched, attack of, 214.
  of battle for two infantry corps, different formations of, 282-284.
  of circumvallation, 152.
  of contravallation, 152.
  of defense, second, 147.
  of defense, eventual, 96.
  of defense, permanent, 95.
  of defense, strategical and tactical, 95.
  of depots, 263.
  of direction, importance of, illustrated, 116.
  of maneuver, importance of, 114.
  of operations, 100-103.
  of operations at home and in hostile countries, contrasted, 121.
  of operations, best direction of, 115.
  of operations, change of, 118.
  of operations, converging and divergent, 118.
  of operations, double, 110.
  of operations, double, when advantageous, 123.
  of operations, great art of directing, 120.
  of operations, how established, 114.
  of operations, how influenced, 119.
  of operations, illustration of, by strategic field of 1806, 113.
  of operations in fertile and barren countries, contrasted, 122.
  of operations in the wars of the French Revolution, 104.
  of operations, maxims on, 114.
  of operations, rivers as, 76.
  of operations, selecting of, 80.

Lines of operations, to have a geographic and strategic direction, 115.
  of Stollhofen, 154.
  of Turin, 153.
  of Turin, capture of, 213.
  parallel, 200.
  strategic, 128, 129.
  strategic, of Napoleon in 1796, 131.

Linz, towers of, 158.

Lloyd's proposed fourth rank in infantry formation, 291.

Logistics, 69, 252-268.
  derivation of the term, 253.
  faulty, instances of, 265-267.
  illustration of importance of, 263-268.
  of battle of Leipsic, 267.
  principal points of, 254-256.

Louis VII., Crusade of, 372.
  IX., Crusade of, 374.
  IX., expedition of, to Tunis, 375.
  XIV., coalition against, 36.
  XIV., commissariat of, 142.

Louvois, 59.

Lyons as a strategic and decisive point, 87.


Macdonald's column at Wagram, 295, 296.
  error at Katzbach, 124.

Mack, 164, 170.
  at Ulm, 53.

Magnesia, victory of, 364.

Malplaquet, 183.

Malta, descent of Mugtapha on, 377.

Maneuvering, success in battle depends on, 360.

Maneuver line, 114, 115.
  lines, 103.
  lines of, their importance, 114.
  objective points of, 88.
  pivots of, 98.
  tactical, by flank, 140.
  turning, 179, 206.

Maneuvers, 200, 201, 207.
  at Ulm and Jena, 90.
  for breaking through a line, 197.
  must conform to strategic principles, 333.
  objective points of, 89.
  of Napoleon in 1814,118.
  simplest, most likely to be successful, 196.
  strategic lines of, 128.
  sudden, generally better than predetermined, 196.
  transversal, 163.

Maneuvers, turning, rules for, 204.

Mantua, siege of, 111.
  Wurmser at, 156.

March, establishment of depots on, 262.

Marches and attacks, arrangements of, 258.
  effects of systems of, 138.
  flank, 139.
  instructions to generals commanding corps in, 260, 261.
  particulars to be considered in, 260.
  system of, 135, 138.
  rapid, 176.
  rules for, 257-263.
  transversal, in mountainous countries, 163.
  two kinds of, 260.

Marengo, French armament at, 47.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.

Maritime expeditions, 361-390.

Marmont at Salamanca, 206.

Marsin, 53.

Masonry towers, Archduke Maximilian's system of defense by, 158.

Massena, position of, in Switzerland in 1799,165, 166.

Massena's position of the Albis, 181.

Matériel of war, 49.
  should be inspected by staff officers, 257.

Maurice of Saxony, 22.

Maxim for distant invasions, 173.

Maxims for frontier defenses, 148, 152.
  of fundamental principle of war, 70.
  on intrenched camps, 155, 156.
  on lines of operations, 114-122.
  on operations in mountainous countries, 163.
  on strategic fronts, 98, 99.
  on strategic operations, 90.
  relative to supplies, 143-146.

Mayence, Austrian camp before, 157.
  fortresses at, 150.
  intrenched camp at, 211.

Mexico, expedition against, in 1862, 390.

Middle Ages, expeditions of the, 171.

Military education important to a ruler, 49.
  geography and statistics, importance
  of a knowledge of, 40.
  geography, Lloyd's essay on, 40.
  institutions, 43.
  institutions of Rome, 61.
  instruments, signals by, 276.
  operations influenced by a cabinet, 42.
  policy, 38.
  policy, essential bases of, 49.
  sciences, study of. 49.
  spirit, how encouraged, 61.
  spirit, how maintained, 63.
  spirit of nations, 60.
  statistics and geography, 39.

Militia as cavalry, 314, 315.

Millesimo, effect of the battle of, 111.

Minden, French order at, 278.

Mithridates, 364, 365.

Mixed order, infantry formation, 295.
  system of Benningsen at Eylau, 352.

Modern inventions, effect of, on character of naval armaments, 376.
  marine expeditions, 249.

Mohammed II., 375.

Molitor, General, 167.

Mollwitz, battle of, 348.

Montesquieu, opinion of, as to great enterprises, 125.

Moors, invasion of Europe by, 367.

Morale of armies, 60, 178, 322.
  of cavalry, 312.

Moreau at Engen, 203.
  base of operations of, in 1800, 82.
  retreat of, in 1796, 233.

Moreau's diversion toward Kastadt in 1800, 222.
  passage of the Rhine in 1800, 224, 225.

Morocco, Spanish descent on, in 1859, 389.

Moscow, retreat of the French from, 233.

Mountain-campaigns, instances of, 169.

Mountainous countries as principal fields of operations, 162.
  countries, cavalry in, 304.
  countries, defense in, 163.
  countries, heights to be secured in, 167.
  countries, strategic defense in, 164.
  countries, strategic positions of, 76.
  countries, the offensive in, 167.
  countries, transversal marches in, 163.
  country, character of a war in, 169.
  country, forts in a, 151.
  country, invasion of a, 169.

Mountains as eventual lines of defense, 96.
  as frontiers, 146.
  campaigns in, 169.
  importance of, when secondary, 161, 162.
  of European countries, relation of, to warlike operations, 161.
  strategic operations in, 160.

Mounted infantry, 308.
  militia, 315.

Movement by flanks of companies, 300, 301.

Movements, extended, when dangerous, 204.
  in which infantry should be exercised, 300.
  of armies, points to be attended to, 254-256.
  of the enemy, rules for gaining information of, 273, 274.

Murat, surprise of, at Taroutin, 209.

Murray's descent in 1813, 385.

Musketry-fire better for defensive, 203.
  influence of, in battles, 348.


Nansouty's charge at Chateau-Thierry, 212.

Naples, French army at, 112.

Napoleon, 111, 164, 166, 170, 171, 177, 185, 198, 218.
  and Grouchy at Waterloo, 127,130.
  at Austerlitz, 206.
  at Essling, 158.
  at Ligny, 195.
  at Ratisbon, 274.
  at Wagram, 195.
  double wars of, 37.
  English expedition against, in 1815, 385.
  his own chief staff officer, 264.
  operations of the armies of, 136.

Napoleon's artillery, 318.
  artillery at Wagram, 316.
  base of operations in 1806, 80-82.
  battles, orders of, 198.
  bold maneuvers in 1814, 118.
  campaign of 1800, 137.
  cantonment on the Passarge, 247.
  central lines in Saxony, 124.
  central position in 1813, why disastrous, 123.
  changes of line of operations, 118.
  choice of objective points, 89.
  concentric retreat in 1796, 238.
  defense in Champagne in 1814, 125.
  detachments in 1805, 222.
  error after his victory at Dresden, 124.
  error in the campaign of 1812, 172.
  favorite objective, 330.
  front of operations in 1796, 93.
  front of operations in 1813, 93.
  infantry, panic of, at Wagram, 64.
  line of defense in 1813, 93.
  logistics in 1806 and 1815, 264, 265.
  march on Bassano, 131.

Napoleon's march on Eylau, 94.
  march on Jena in 1806, 94.
  march on Naumburg in 1806, 94.
  march to Königsberg, 20.
  mode of issuing orders, 259.
  motives and necessities, 22.
  operations, comments on, 116.
  order at the Tagliamento, 295.
  passages of the Danube, 226, 266.
  passage of the Saint-Bernard, 168.
  passage of the Po in 1800, 225.
  projected invasion of England, 249, 250, 386.
  reserves, 133.
  retreat from Smolensk, 235.
  return from Egypt in 1800, 112.
  rule for the passage of an army, 147.
  strategic lines in 1796, 130, 131.
  strategic positions, 97.
  system of formation for battle, 278, 279.
  system of marches, 137.
  victories and disasters, lesson taught by them, 23.

National wars, character of, in mountainous countries, 167.
  wars, definition of, 29.
  wars, difficulties of conquest in, 31-34.
  wars, effect of the nature of the country in, 30.
  wars, how prevented, 33, 34.
  wars, how success attained in, 33.
  wars, invasion difficult in, 144.
  wars, military precepts for, 27.

Nations, military spirit of, 60.

Nature and extent of war, how influenced, 14.

Naumburg, Napoleon's march on, 94.

Naval armaments, effect of modern inventions on, 376.

Neutrality of states adjoining theater of war, important in invasions, 174.

Ney, 31, 168, 196.
  at Bautzen, 317.
  at Dennewitz, 130.
  at Elchingen, 182.
  at Jena, 305.

Nicholas I., concentration of dragoons by, 309.


Objective point, how held, 67.
  point, manner of approach to, 67.
  point of Napoleon in 1800, 87.
  point, selection of, 66.
  points, geographical, 88.
  points, how chosen, 90.

Objective points in strategy, how determined, 88.
  points of maneuver, 88, 89.
  points of operations, 85.
  points, political, 91.

Objectives of operations, 329, 330.

Objects of war, 14.

Oblique order, 199, 200.
  order, antiquity of, 199.
  order assumed by Napoleon at Marengo, 198.
  order of battle, 190.

Offensive, advantage of the, in strategy, 184.
  army, proper course for, 324.
  battle, object of, 188.
  battles, 186.
  characteristics of infantry formation for, 297.
  line of battle, concentration of artillery-fire in, 290.
  movements, when advised, 124.
  or defensive system, either may be employed, 185.
  order of battle, 200.
  system to be followed in, 176.
  the, disadvantages of, in tactical operations, 184.
  the, in mountainous countries, 167.
  use of artillery in, 316.
  war, 72, 73.
  war, duty of staff officers in, 258.
  war, reserves, how posted in, 133, 135.
  wars, duty of statesmen in, 17.
  wars, how conducted, 16.
  wars to reclaim rights, 16.

Oleg, expedition of, 867.

Open positions, 181.

Operations, base of, where to be established, 84.
  bases of, definition of, 77.
    how to be chosen, 79, 80.
    plurality of, 78.
  change of lines of, 118.
  control of, 52.
  divergent and convergent, 126, 127.
  double lines of, 102, 110, 123.
  exterior lines of, 102.
  fronts of, 92, 330, 338.
  in mountainous countries, maxims on, 163.
  interior lines of, 102.
  line of, how protected, 132.
  lines of, 100, 120.
  lines of, converging and divergent, 118.
  lines of, how established, 114.
  lines of, how influenced, 119.
  lines of, maxims on, 114.
  military, influenced by a cabinet, 42.
  objective points of, 85.
  objectives of, 329, 330.
  of 1809 and 1814, 176, 177.
  of the French at the close of 1793, 331-333.
  pivots of, 98.
  simple lines of, 101.
  system of, 72.
  system of, how to be judged, 125.
  system of, necessary in war, 50.
  theater of, 74, 75.
  theater of, between the Rhine and the North Sea, 338-340.
  theater of, how divided, 71.
  zone of, 66.
  zone of, how to select, 329.
  zones of, 100, 338.

Opinion, public, danger of, 55.
  wars of, 25.

Orchomenus, 365.

Order, checkerwise, battalions deployed in, 301.
  half-deep, attacks in, 302.
  half-deep, infantry formation, 295.
  importance of, 42.
  in deep masses, infantry formation, 295, 296.
  in echelons, 193.
  in squares, when suitable for attack, 297.
  mixed, infantry formation, 295,
  oblique, 199, 200.
  of attack in columns, 194.
  of battle, 186.
  of battle at Agincourt, 192.
    at Cannæ, 189.
    at Crécy, 192.
    at Essling, 192, 193.
    at Fleurus, 192.
    at Leipsic, 193.
    at Mollwitz, 348.
    at passage of a river, 192.
    by echelon, 193.
    convex, 192.
    definition of, 180.
    oblique, 190.
    offensive, 200.
    of the generals of the Republic, 349.
  of infantry as skirmishers, 292.
  shallow, infantry, 292.

Orders, best mode of issuing, 259.
  how issued by Napoleon, 259.
  inaccurate transmission of, 196.
  of battle, 188.
  of battle, classification of, useful, 197.

Orders of battle, influence of, on result of engagements, 197.
  of Napoleon's battles, 198.
  should be clear, 258.
  two methods of issuing, 258, 259.

Organization and arms of cavalry, 307, 308.
  by corps, likely to be permanent, 287.
  of an army in four corps, 281.
  in seven corps, 281.
  of divisions, 279, 280.
  of very large armies, 286.


Panics, cause and remedy of, 65.
  instances of, 64.
  officers and troops to be warned against, 63.

Parallel lines, 200.
  order of battle, 188.
  order of battle reinforced, 189.
  order of battle, when suitable, 189.
  order of battle with crotchet, 189.
  retreat, 237.
  retreats, countries adapted to, 240, 241.
  retreats, when preferable, 239.

Partisans, information from, 270.

Partisan troops, services of, illustrated, 273.

Paskevitch's passage of the Vistula in 1831, 120.

Passage of an army, Napoleon's rule for, 147.
  of a river, best position for, 226.
  of the Beresina, 226, 245.
  of the Danube by Napoleon, 266.
  of the Rhine in 1795, 120.
  of the Saint-Bernard by Napoleon, 168.
  of rivers, 224, 343.
  of rivers, double, 230.
  of rivers, famous modern, 226.
  of rivers in retreats, 243, 244.
  of rivers in retreats, rules for, 245.
  of rivers, rules for, 227.
  of rivers, rules for preventing, 228.

Peninsular War, 32.

Perfect army, essential conditions of, 43.

Permanent lines of defense, 95.

Perpendicular order of battle, 190.

Peter the Great, expedition of, against Persia, 382.

Peter the Hermit, 371.

Peterwardein, panic at, 64.

Philip II. of Spain, 378.

Pichegru, movements of, in 1794, 109.

Pistol-firing, in cavalry charges, 306.

Pivots of maneuver, 98.

Pivots of operations, 98.

Points, decisive, 337.
  decisive and objective, 86.
  decisive geographic, 87.
  decisive, how affected by arrangement of forces, 187.
  decisive, of battle-field, now determined, 186.
  decisive strategic, 86.
  of operations, objective, 85.

Political objective points, 91.
  objective points subordinate to strategy, 91.
  wars, 26.

Po, Napoleon's passage of, in 1800, 225.

Portable telegraphs, 275.

Port Mahon, assault of, 212.

Port Royal, expedition of U.S. government to, 390.

Position, defensive, means of retreat to be considered in, 183.
  for battle, 341.
  how to drive an enemy from, 201, 202.
  strong, essentials for, 181.
  system of wars of, 135.
  tactical, protection of flanks in, 182.

Positions, 179.
  for cantonments, selection of, 247.
  intrenched, 181.
  open, 181.
  strategic, 66, 97, 330, 331.
  tactical, 181.
  tactical, rules for selecting, 181.
  two kinds of, 180, 181.

Post, capture of, when important, 216.

Posting troops in line of battle, 277.

Posts, means for capture of, 216.

Prague, battle of, 189, 205.

Preservation of armies in time of peace, 47.

Prince, duty of, when not conducting his armies, 54.

Prince Eugene, 54, 141, 153, 213.
  of Coburg, error of, in 1794, 109.

Principle of decisive points of maneuver, 88.

Principles of strategy, 331.
  of strategy always the same, 17.

Promotions in armies, 47.

Protection by trees and brushwood, 303.

Provisional lines, 103.

Prussia, course of, in the French Revolution, 105, 106.
  parallel retreat in, 241.
  relation of, in the French Revolution, 104.

Prussian army at Waterloo, 129.
  reserves in 1806, 134.
  system of forming columns, 294.
  system of intrenched camps, 158.

Public opinion, danger of, 55.

Punic wars, 363, 364.

Pursuit, rules for, 242.

Pursuits, 241.

Pyramids, Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.

Pyrrhus, descent of, on Italy, 362.


Qualities of a skillful general, 334.


Ramillies, 312.

Ramrods, 348.

Rapid marches, 176.

Ratisbon, Napoleon at, 274.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.

Rear, attack in, 207.

Rear-guard in retreat, 243.

Rear-guards in retreat, 234.

Rear-guard in retreat, duty of, in passage of rivers, 244.

Reconnoissances, 268.
  give but limited information, 269.
  to gain information of the enemy's movements, 268.

Religion, wars of, 35.

Reports of prisoners, 269.

Reserve, cavalry, 311.
  final, 203.
  horse-artillery, advantages of, 289.

Reserves, cavalry, 288.
  importance of, 133, 134.
  in offensive war, how posted, 133, 135.
  nature of, 133.
  of Napoleon, 133.
  Prussian, in 1806, 134.
  strategic, 67, 133.

Retreat along converging roads, 236
  along diverging roads, 237.
  along parallel roads, 236.
  by several corps, 235.
  difficulty of deciding method of, 231.
  five methods of arranging, 234.
  in single mass, when preferable, 234.
  line of, 261, 341-343.
  means of, to be considered in a defensive position, 183.
  parallel, 237.
  well effected, should be rewarded, 63.

Retreats, 230.
  at night, 231.
  attack of the enemy's advanced guard in, 243.
  bridges in, 244.
  by diverging roads, danger of, 238.
  cavalry in, 243.
  circumstances influencing, 232, 233.
  concentration in, 238.
  concentric, instances of, 238, 239.
  defiles in, 243.
  divergent, when admissible, 239.
  duty of staff officers in, 256.
  firmness of Russians in, 64.
  halts in, to relieve rear-guard, 236.
  hours of departures and halts in, 236.
  in daylight, 231.
  instances of famous, 233.
  measures to insure success of, 242, 243.
  parallel, countries adapted to, 240, 241.
  parallel, when preferable, 239.
  passage of rivers in, 243, 244.
  Prince de Ligne's remark on, 230.
  rear-guard in, 234, 243.
  should be slow, 232.
  various kinds of, 231.

Reverse fire, 317.

Rhine, passages of, 120, 224, 226.

Rhodes, capture of, by the Turks, 377.

Richard Coeur-de-Lion, 373.

Richelieu, expedition of, against Minorca, 382.

River, best position for passage of, 226.
  crossing of, in presence of an enemy, 120.
  order of battle at passage of, 192.

Rivers as eventual lines of defense, 96.
  as frontiers, 147.
  as lines of operations, 76.
  double passage of, 230.
  famous modern passages of, 226.
  passage of, 224, 343.
  passage of, in retreats, 243, 244.
    rules for, 245.
  points of passage of, in presence of an enemy, 121.
  rules for passage of, 227.
  rules for preventing passage of, 228.

Rivoli 179, 205.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.

Rocket-batteries, use of, 318.

Rollo, 369.

Roman legions, cause of the ruin of, 63.
  nation, cause of the decline of, 60.

Romans, naval expeditions of, 363.

Rome, military institutions of, 61.

Rossbach, 207.

Ruler, a, should be able to arrange plans of operations, 328.

Rules for conducting descents, 251.
  for fighting battles scientifically, 203.
  for gaining information of enemy's movements, 273, 274.
  for offensive or defensive operations, 185.
  for passage of rivers, 227.
  for passage of a river in retreat, 245.
  for pursuit, 242.
  for preventing passage of rivers, 228.
  for use of artillery in battle, 316-318.
  to be observed in selecting tactical positions, 181.

Russian army, firmness of, in retreats, 64.
  army, skirmishers in, 293.
  base in 1828 and 1829, 84.
  cavalry, 314.
  expeditions in 1809, 385.
  order at Eylau, 295.
  retreat in 1812, 233.
  system of forming columns, 294.

Russians, early maritime expeditions of, 368, 369.


Saber, when best for cavalry, 308.
  when useful, 306.

Saint-Bernard, Napoleon's passage of, 168.

Saint-Cyr at Stockach, 205.

Saxons, expedition of, 367.

Saxony, Napoleon's central lines in, in 1813, 124.

Savoy, Duke of, 22.

Scandinavians, 366.

Science of marches, essential point in, 139.
  of marches, includes what, 138.

Sciences, military, study of, 49.

Scipio, 364.

Sea-coast as a base of operations, 83, 84.

Sea, control of, held by England, 173.
  control of, important in an invasion, 30.

Secondary lines, 103.

Sebastian of Portugal, descent of, on Morocco, 378.

Sebastopol, 347.

Secondary depots, 262, 263.

Shallow order, 298.
  order, infantry, 292.

Shumla, camp of, 155.

Siege, how covered, 153.
  of Candia, 380, 381.
  of Copenhagen, 384.
  of Mantua, 111.

Sieges and active armies, relations between, 112.
  duty of staff officers in, 256.
  wars of, 146.

Signaling by fires, 276.

Signals by military instruments, 276.
  simultaneous shouts as, 277.
  system of, 274.

Simple and interior lines, advantage of, 114.
  lines of operations, 101.

Simultaneous shouts as signals, 277.

Single line of operations, when preferable, 116.

Sizeboli, capture of, 223.

Skill, superiority in, 42.

Skirmishers, 359, 360.

Skirmishing-order, 292.

Small detachments, how useful, 224.

Smolensk, Napoleon's retreat from, 235.

Southern Germany, valley of the Danube the strategic key of, 162.

Sovereign as commander, 52.

Spain adapted to parallel retreats, 240.
  and Portugal, Wellington's tactics in, 358.
  invasions of, 23.
  war in, in 1823, 27.

Spanish Armada, 249, 378, 379.
  capture of Vera Cruz by, 390.
  descent on Algiers, 382.
  descent on Morocco in 1859, 389.

Spies, 269.
  best course for, 270.
  difficulties in their way, 270.
  use of, neglected in many modern armies, 270.
  when especially useful, 270.

Squares in echelons, 297.
  infantry, 294, 296, 297.
  in two ranks, 294.

Staff, chief of, 253,
  chief of, how selected, 57.
  general, usefulness of, 57.
  officers and general must act in concert, 257.
  officers, duties of, should be defined, 253.
  officers, duty of, in offensive war, 258.
  officers should inspect matériel, 257.
  officers, summary of duties of, 254-256.

Standing armies, effect of, on distant invasions, 171.

State, how rendered secure, 138.

Statesmanship, relation of, to war, 14.

Statesmen, duty of, in offensive war, 17.

Statistics, military, 39.

St. Domingo, expedition to, in 1802, 384.

Stockach, 179, 205.
  defeat of the French at, 111.

Strategic defense in mountainous countries, 164.

Stollhofen, lines of, 152.

Strategical and tactical lines of defense, 95.

Strategic combinations, 72.
  combinations, when better than tactical, 179.
  coup-d'oeil, 337-345.
  field of 1806, 113.
  front and line of defense may coincide, 92.
  front, change of, 94.
  front, double, 95.
  front not to be too extended, 98.
  front of Napoleon in his march on Eylau, 94.
  fronts, 92.
  fronts, maxims on, 98.
  lines, 128, 129.
  lines and points, 85.
  lines at Waterloo, 130.
  lines of maneuvers, 128.
  lines of Napoleon in 1796, 130, 131.
  operations in mountains, 160.
  operations, maxims on, 90.
  point, Leipsic as a, 87.
    Lyons as a, 87.
  point of a battle-field, when important, 187.
  points, capitals as, 87.
  position, essential conditions for, 99.
  positions, 66, 97, 330, 331.
  positions of mountainous countries, 76.
  positions of Napoleon, 97.
  reserves, 67, 133.
  square for camps, 99.

Strategy, 322, 337.
  advantage of the offensive in, 184.
  and the commissariat, 141.
  battles of Ulm and Jena won by, 198.
  connection of intrenched camps with, 154.
  connection of têtes de ponts with, 154.
  definition of, 66.
  directs movements, tactics executes them, 175.
  errors in, 91.
  how it should be studied, 337.
  illustration of, by operations of 1793, 331-333.
  illustrations of, 339-341.
  in what it consists, 328.
  objective points in, how determined, 88.
  one great end of, 177.
  points embraced by, 68.
  political objective points subordinate to, 91.
  principles of, 331.
  principles of, always the same, 17.
  province of, 178.
  relation of fortresses to, 148, 150.
  science of marches in, 138.
  system of, developed in 1800, 137.
  the art of, 69.

Strong position, essentials for a, 181.

Study of strategy, how made profitable, 337.

Successful retreat, how to insure, 242, 243.

Surprises of armies, 209.
  difficulty of, 209.

Suwaroff, 55, 170.

Suwaroff's expedition in Switzerland, 166.

Supplies, depots of, 141, 143.

Suza, position of Swiss and Italians at, 168.

Svatoslav, expedition of, 308.

Sweyn, 369, 370.

Switzerland, invasion of, by French Directory, 162.
  Massena in, in 1799, 165.
  Suwaroff in, 166.
  tactical defense of, 169.

Syria, French expedition to, 390.

System, concentric or eccentric, 126.
  of corps, 279.
  of divisions, 278.
  of marches, 135.
  of marches, effects of, 138.
  of marches, includes what, 138.
  of marches, relation of, to commissariat, 141.
  of marches the result of circumstances, 135.
  of operations, 72.
  of operations, how to be judged, 125.
  of signals, 274.
  of strategy developed in 1800, 137.
  of wars, change of, 135.
  of wars of position, 135.

Systems modified by forms of government, 45.


Tactical combinations, guiding principle in, 178.
  defense of Switzerland, 169.
  operations, disadvantages of the offensive in, 184.
  position, protection of flanks in, 182.

Tactical positions, 181.
  positions, rules for selecting, 181.

Tactics, 322.
  executes movements, strategy directs them, 175.
  grand, 69, 70.
  of battles, great difficulty of, 196.
  of Wellington in Spain and Portugal, 358.

Tagliamento, Napoleon's order at, 295.

Taroutin, surprise of Murat at, 209.

Telegraphs, portable, 275.

Temporary bases, 84.
  bases, when necessary, 132.

Têtes de ponts, 160.
  connection of, with strategy, 154.
  how differ from intrenched camps, 160.

Theater of operations, 74, 75.
  of operations between the Rhine and North Sea, 338-340.
  of operations, how composed, 75.
  of operations, how divided, 71.
  of operations in the French Revolution, 104.
  of war, border of the, 80, 81.
  of war, decisive points of the, 85.
  of war, definition of, 74.

Theories, difficulty of applying, in war, 269.
  use of, in war, 323.

Thirty Years' War, 25.

Three-rank formation of infantry, 291, 293.

Topographical and statistical reconnoissances, 268.

Torgau, battle of, 205.

Torres-Vedras, camp of, 155.
  intrenched camp at, 83.

Towers, masonry, 158.
  of Coblentz, 159.
  of Linz, 158.

Transversal maneuvers, 163.
  marches in mountainous countries, 163.

Trees, clumps of, should be occupied, 303.

Troops, distribution of, in line of battle, 287.
  employment of, 328.

Trot, when best for cavalry charge, 306, 307.

Turenne's surprise of the Austrian cantonments, 246.

Turin, battle of, 53.
  intrenched camp at, 211.
  lines of, 153, 213.

Turkey, invasion of, 23.

Turkish war of 1828 and 1829, 84.
  wars, squares in, 296, 297.

Turks, cavalry charge of, 307.
  naval expeditions of, 377, 378, 380.

Turning maneuvers, 179, 201, 206.
  maneuver, rules for, 204.

Two corps, one behind the other, 285.

Two-rank formation, 346.

Two wars at once, danger of, 36.


Ulm, battle of, 53.
  battle of, won by strategy, 198.
  camp of, 154.
  maneuvers at, 90.

Uncertainty regarding battles, elements of, 197.

Unexpected battles, advanced guard in, 208.
  meeting of two armies, 207.

United States, capture of Vera Cruz by, 387.
  English expeditions against, in 1814 and 1815, 385, 386.
  expedition to Port Royal, 390.

Use of spies neglected in many modern armies, 272.
  of the three arms combined, 203.


Vandals, 366.

Vandamme's disaster at Culm, lesson of, 221.

Venice, 379, 380.

Vera Cruz captured by the Spaniards, 390.
  taken by the French, 386.
  taken by the United States, 387.

Vessels, Roman, 363.
  Scandinavian, 366.

Victories, French, of 1793, why indecisive, 333.

Victory, assailant's best means of, 202.
  on what it depends, 309, 310.
  when it may be expected, 360.

Villages, importance of, on front of a position, 303.

Villars's infantry, panic among, 64.

Vistula, passage of, by Paskevitch, 120.


Wagram, 195, 206, 266, 317, 343, 350.
  Macdonald's column at, 295, 296.
  Napoleon's artillery at, 289, 316.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.
  panic at, 64.

War an art, 321.
  border of the theater of, 80, 81.
  character of, from Middle Ages to French Revolution, 135.
  circumstances which influence result of, 321.
  council of, at seat of government, 59.
  councils of, 58.
  decisive points of the theater of, 85.
  defensive-offensive, 74.
  definition of the art of, 13.
  fundamental principle of, 66, 70.
  governments should not be unprepared for, 46.
  how to be conducted, 15.
  influence of cavalry in a, 313, 314.
  influence of improvements in fire-arms on, 347, 355, 359.
  manner of applying general principle of, 175.
  matériel of, 49.
  maxims of fundamental principles of, 70.
  nature and extent of, how influenced, 14.
  not an exact science, 344, 350.
  objects of, 14.
  of the Crimea, 387.
  offensive and defensive, definition of, 72.
  offensive, duty of staff officers in, 258.
  operations of, how directed, 150.
  principal parts of the art of, 66.
  relation of statesmanship to, 14.
  theater of, definition, 74.
  use of theories in, 323.

Warsaw, intrenchments at, 211.

Wars, aggressive, for conquest, 22.
  change of system of, 135.
  civil, 35.
  defensive politically, offensive militarily, 17.
  double, 36.
  for conquest, instances of, 22.
  intestine, 35.
  natural character of, in mountainous countries, 167.
  national, definition of, 29.
  national, difficulties of conquest in, 31-34.
  national, effect of nature of the country on, 30.
  national, how prevented, 33, 34.
  national, invasion difficult in, 144.
  offensive, how conducted, 16.
  offensive, to reclaim rights, 16.
  of expediency, 18.
    kinds of, 18.
  of extermination, 34.
  of intervention, 19.
  of intervention, essentials in wars of, 21.
  of intervention, military chances in, 20.
  of invasion, when advantageous, 17.
  of opinion, 25.
  of opinion, character of, 26.
  of opinion, instances of, 25.
  of opinion, military precepts for, 27.
  of position, system of, 135.
  of religion, 35.
  of sieges, 146.
  political, 26.
  political part of, how modified, 17.
  Punic, 363, 364.
  Turkish, squares in, 296, 297.
  when most just, 16.
  with or without allies, 18.

Waterloo, 127, 183, 206, 295, 303-306, 354.
  Blücher at, 130.
  campaign of, 129, 130.
  English squares at, 294
  formations at, 351.
  French at, 196.
  Napoleon's order of battle at, 198.
  Ney at, 182,183.
  strategic lines at, 130.
  Wellington's position at, 181, 388.

Wellington, 181, 185, 353, 357, 358, 381, 382, 384, 385.
  and Blücher at Waterloo, 127, 130.
  at Salamanca, 206.
  at Torres-Vedras, 83.
  defensive-offensive operations of, 74.

Wellington's position at Waterloo, 181.

Weyrother, 205, 206.

William the Conqueror, 370, 371.

Winkelried, column of, 194.

Winter campaigns, 68.
  quarters, countries adapted to, 246.
  quarters, when dangerous, 247.
  quarters, when strategic, 97.

Woods, importance of possession of, 303.

Wurmser at Mantua, 156.
  eccentric retreat of, in 1796, 238.
  error of, 111.


Xerxes, 173.
  army of, 362.


Zama, battle of, 364.

Zimisces, 368.

Zone of operations, 66, 100, 338.
  of operations, how to select, 329.
  of operations in 1813, 101.

Zones of operations in the French Revolution, 105.

Zurich, defeat of the allies at, 112.

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