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Battle Studies   By: (1821-1870)

Book cover

First Page:

Suzanne L. Shell, Charles Franks and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team

BATTLE STUDIES ANCIENT AND MODERN BATTLE

BY COLONEL ARDANT DU PICQ FRENCH ARMY

TRANSLATED FROM THE EIGHTH EDITION IN THE FRENCH BY

COLONEL JOHN N. GREELY FIELD ARTILLERY, U.S. ARMY

AND MAJOR ROBERT C. COTTON GENERAL STAFF (INFANTRY), U.S. ARMY Joint Author of "Military Field Notebook"

1921

[Transcriber's note: Footnotes have been moved to the end of the book.]

[Illustration: COLONEL ARDANT DU PICQ]

[Illustration: Letter from Marshal Foch to Major General A. W. Greely Dated Malsherbe, October 23, 1920]

TRANSLATION OF A LETTER FROM MARSHAL FOCH TO MAJOR GENERAL A. W. GREELY, DATED MALSHERBE, OCTOBER 23, 1920

MY DEAR GENERAL:

Colonel Ardant du Picq was the exponent of moral force , the most powerful element in the strength of armies. He has shown it to be the preponderating influence in the outcome of battles.

Your son has accomplished a very valuable work in translating his writings. One finds his conclusions amply verified in the experience of the American Army during the last war, notably in the campaign of 1918.

Accept, my dear General, my best regards. F. FOCH.

PREFACE

BY FRANK H. SIMONDS Author of "History of the World War," "'They Shall Not Pass' Verdun," Etc.

In presenting to the American reading public a translation of a volume written by an obscure French colonel, belonging to a defeated army, who fell on the eve of a battle which not alone gave France over to the enemy but disclosed a leadership so inapt as to awaken the suspicion of treason, one is faced by the inevitable interrogation "Why?"

Yet the answer is simple. The value of the book of Ardant du Picq lies precisely in the fact that it contains not alone the unmistakable forecast of the defeat, itself, but a luminous statement of those fundamental principles, the neglect of which led to Gravelotte and Sedan.

Napoleon has said that in war the moral element is to all others as three is to one. Moreover, as du Picq impressively demonstrates, while all other circumstances change with time, the human element remains the same, capable of just so much endurance, sacrifice, effort, and no more. Thus, from Caesar to Foch, the essential factor in war endures unmodified.

And it is not the value of du Picq's book, as an explanation of the disasters of 1870, but of the triumphs of 1914 18, which gives it present and permanent interest. It is not as the forecast of why Bazaine, a type of all French commanders of the Franco Prussian War, will fail, but why Foch, Joffre, Pétain will succeed, that the volume invites reading to day.

Beyond all else, the arresting circumstances in the fragmentary pages, perfect in themselves but incomplete in the conception of their author, is the intellectual and the moral kinship they reveal between the soldier who fell just before the crowning humiliation of Gravelotte and the victor of Fère Champenoise, the Yser and the colossal conflict of 1918 to which historians have already applied the name of the Battle of France, rightly to suggest its magnitude.

Read the hastily compiled lectures of Foch, the teacher of the École de Guerre, recall the fugitive but impressive words of Foch, the soldier, uttered on the spur of the moment, filled with homely phrase, and piquant figure and underlying all, one encounters the same integral conception of war and of the relation of the moral to the physical, which fills the all too scanty pages of du Picq.

"For me as a soldier," writes du Picq, "the smallest detail caught on the spot and in the heat of action is more instructive than all the Thiers and the Jominis in the world." Compare this with Foch explaining to his friend André de Mariecourt, his own emotions at the critical hour at Fère Champenoise, when he had to invent something new to beguile soldiers who had retreated for weeks and been beaten for days... Continue reading book >>




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