Shelves: military-theory This eye-opening book about the nature of combat was just amazing. It is short, sweet, and fascinating throughout. Traditional studies of battles often suffer from being too schematic in their portrayal of combat. The reader is given battle maps with rigid formations moving in predictable fashions. While this is a misrepresentation of reality it may be unavoidable if battles are to be represented at all. That is why this book and books like it are important to the student of military history, This eye-opening book about the nature of combat was just amazing.

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Ancient and Modern Battle 2. Moral Elements in Battle 3. Material and Moral Effect 4. The Theory of Strong Battalions 5. Masses—Deep Columns 2. Skirmishers—Supports—Reserves—Squares 3.

Firing 4. Cavalry and Modern Appliances 2. Cavalry Against Cavalry 3. Cavalry Against Infantry 4. Introduction 2. Fire at Will—Its Efficacy 7. Cavalry An Extract from Xenophon 2. The obscure gunner never knew that he had done away with one of the most intelligent officers of our army, one of the most forceful writers, one of the most clear-sighted philosophers whom sovereign genius had ever created.

Ardant du Picq, according to the Annual Register, commanded but a regiment. He was fitted for the first rank of the most exalted. He fell at the hour when France was thrown into frightful chaos, when all that he had foreseen, predicted and dreaded, was being terribly fulfilled.

New ideas, of which he was the unknown trustee and unacknowledged prophet, triumphed then at our expense. The disaster that carried with it his sincere and revivifying spirit, left in the tomb of our decimated divisions an evidence of the necessity for reform. When our warlike institutions were perishing from the lack of thought, he represented in all its greatness the true type of military thinker.

The virile thought of a military thinker alone brings forth successes and maintains victorious nations. Fatal indolence brought about the invasion, the loss of two provinces, the bog of moral miseries and social evils which beset vanquished States. The heart and brain of Ardant du Picq guarded faithfully a worthy but discredited cult.

Too frequently in the course of our history virtues are forsaken during long periods, when it seems that the entire race is hopelessly abased. The mass perceives too late in rare individuals certain wasted talents—treasures of sagacity, spiritual vigor, heroic and almost supernatural comprehension.

Such men are prodigious exceptions in times of material decadence and mental laxness. They inherit all the qualities that have long since ceased to be current. They serve as examples and rallying points for other generations, more clear-sighted and less degenerate. On reading over the extraordinary work of Ardant du Picq, that brilliant star in the eclipse of our military faculties, I think of the fatal shot that carried him off before full use had been found for him, and I am struck by melancholy.

Our fall appears more poignant. His premature end seems a punishment for his contemporaries, a bitter but just reproach. Fortunately, more honored and believed in by his successors, his once unappreciated teaching contributes largely to the uplift and to the education of our officers.

They will be inspired by his original views and the permanent virtue contained therein. They will learn therefrom the art of leading and training our young soldiers and can hope to retrieve the cruel losses of their predecessors.

Ardant du Picq amazes one by his tenacity and will power which, without the least support from the outside, animate him under the trying conditions of his period of isolated effort. In an army in which most of the seniors disdained the future and neglected their responsibilities, rested satisfied on the laurels of former campaigns and relied on superannuated theories and the exercises of a poor parade, scorned foreign organizations and believed in an acquired and constant superiority that dispenses with all work, and did not suspect even the radical transformations which the development of rifles and rapid-fire artillery entail; Ardant du Picq worked for the common good.

In his modest retreat, far from the pinnacles of glory, he tended a solitary shrine of unceasing activity and noble effort. He burned with the passions which ought to have moved the staff and higher commanders.

He watched while his contemporaries slept. Toward the existing system of instruction and preparation which the first blow shattered, his incorruptible honesty prevented him from being indulgent. While terrified leaders passed from arrogance or thoughtlessness to dejection and confusion, the blow was being struck. Served by his marvelous historical gifts, he studied the laws of ancient combat in the poorly interpreted but innumerable documents of the past.

In this study he developed to perfection his psychological attainments. By the use of these attainments he simplified the theory of the conduct of war. By dissecting the motor nerves of the human heart, he released basic data on the essential principles of combat. He discovered the secret of combat, the way to victory.

Never for a second did Ardant du Picq forget that combat is the object, the cause of being, the supreme manifestation of armies. Every measure which departs therefrom, which relegates it to the middle ground is deceitful, chimerical, fatal. All the resources accumulated in time of peace, all the tactical evolutions, all the strategical calculations are but conveniences, drills, reference marks to lead up to it.

His obsession was so overpowering that his presentation of it will last as long as history. Man is the incomparable instrument whose elements, character, energies, sentiments, fears, desires, and instincts are stronger than all abstract rules, than all bookish theories.

War is still more of an art than a science. The inspirations which reveal and mark the great strategists, the leaders of men, form the unforeseen element, the divine part. Generals of genius draw from the human heart ability to execute a surprising variety of movements which vary the routine; the mediocre ones, who have no eyes to read readily therein, are doomed to the worst errors. Ardant du Picq, haunted by the need of a doctrine which would correct existing evils and disorders, was continually returning to the fountain-head.

Anxious to instruct promising officers, to temper them by irrefutable lessons, to mature them more rapidly, to inspire them with his zeal for historical incidents, he resolved to carry on and add to his personal studies while aiding them. Daring to take a courageous offensive against the general inertia of the period, he translated the problem of his whole life into a series of basic questions. He presented in their most diverse aspects, the basic questions which perplex all military men, those of which knowledge in a varying degree of perfection distinguish and classify military men.

The nervous grasp of an incomparable style models each of them, carves them with a certain harshness, communicates to them a fascinating yet unknown authority which crystallizes them in the mind, at the same time giving to them a positive form that remains true for all armies, for all past, present and future centuries. And the most opposing methods confuse the intelligence of military men.

A common error at the starting point. One might say that no one is willing to acknowledge that it is necessary to understand yesterday in order to know to-morrow, for the things of yesterday are nowhere plainly written.

The lessons of yesterday exist solely in the memory of those who know how to remember because they have known how to see, and those individuals have never spoken. I make an appeal to one of those. They speak, no doubt, for the heads of states and armies but they never show me what I wish to know—a battalion, a company, a squad, in action.

What becomes of this disposition or this march order under the isolated or combined influences of accidents of the terrain and the approach of danger? How about the firing? How did the men adapt themselves? This may be learned from the results: So many bullets fired, so many men shot down—when such data are available. How was the charge made? At what distance did the enemy flee before it? At what distance did the charge fall back before the fire or the good order and good dispositions of the enemy, or before such and such a movement of the enemy?

What did it cost? What can be said about all these with reference to the enemy? At what instant has he had a tendency to quit the line in order to remain behind or to rush ahead? When from the captain, the section leader, the squad leader? At what time, in short, if such a thing did take place, was there but a disordered impulse, whether to the front or to the rear carrying along pell-mell with it both the leaders and men?

The results of these roll-calls? Possibly, a closer examination might show that they are matters infinitely more instructive to us as soldiers than all the discussions imaginable on the plans and general conduct of the campaigns of the greatest captain in the great movements of the battle field. From colonel to private we are soldiers, not generals, and it is therefore our trade that we desire to know. But from a series of true accounts there should emanate an ensemble of characteristic details which in themselves are very apt to show in a striking, irrefutable way what was necessarily and forcibly taking place at such and such a moment of an action in war.

Take the estimate of the soldier obtained in this manner to serve as a base for what might possibly be a rational method of fighting. It will put us on guard against a priori and pedantic school methods. But experience is long and life is short. The experiences of each cannot therefore be completed except by those of others. In no other career has a professional ever reflected more clearly the means of pushing his profession to perfection; in no profession has a deeper penetration of the resources been made.

Because such opinion is on the verge of believing them to be incompatible and contradictory. Yet no calling other than the true military profession is so fitted to excite brain activity. No other profession is more complex nor more difficult, since it has for its aim and reason the instruction of men to overcome by training and endurance the fatigue and perils against which the voice of self-preservation is raised in fear; in other words, to draw from nature what is most opposed and most antipathic to this nature.

There is, however, much of routine in the customs of military life, and, abuse of it may bring about gross satires which in turn bring it into derision. To be sure, the career has two phases because it must fulfill simultaneously two exigencies. From this persons of moderate capacity draw back and are horrified.

They solve the question by the sacrifice of the one or the other. If one considers only the lower and somewhat vulgar aspect of military life it is found to be composed of monotonous obligations clothed in a mechanical procedure of indispensable repetition. If one learns to grasp it in its ensemble and large perspective, it will be found that the days of extreme trial demand prodigies of vigor, spirit, intelligence, and decision!

Regarded from this angle and supported in this light, the commonplace things of wearisome garrison life have as counterweights certain sublime compensations.

These compensations preclude the false and contemptible results which come from intellectual idleness and the habit of absolute submission. If it yields to their narcotic charms, the best brain grows rusty and atrophies in the long run. Incapable of virile labor, it rebels at a renewal of its processes in sane initiative.


Battle Studies

Uses examples from ancient times to the 19th century, when it was written. English Choose a language for shopping. Dennis rated it really liked it Sep 06, Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. Every measure that does not keep combat as the object of the army is fatal. We believe this work is culturally importan This is a pre historical reproduction that was curated for quality. AmazonGlobal Ship Orders Internationally. Filipe Amaral rated it it was amazing Sep 04, Oct 14, Oldcat rated it it was amazing.



Battle Studies by Ardant Du Picq is a work that deserves more recognition in the military community, particularly for those seeking a culture bagtle in their particular branch of service. English Choose a language for shopping. One person batgle this helpful. It must be based on the fact that we are not passively obedient instruments, but very nervous and restless people, who wish to finish things quickly and to know in advance where we are going.




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