Command And Cohesion

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This study brings together military history and intellectual history to provide a better understanding of the factors that influence military thinking and practice. In particular, Ramsay covers thought concerning the evolution of British minor tactics between 1870 and 1918, from the era of the black powder rifle wielded by a career soldier to the age of the citizen soldier in the Great War. The development of new military technologies in the last quarter of the 19th century led to novel tactical systems, which included new, decentralized methods of tactical command and control at a time when mass, citizen-based armies were becoming the norm in Europe. While the British Army's system of command and control evolved to meet these new combat conditions, its response was conditioned by the officers' assessment of the rank and file who served in its peacetime volunteer army as well as by the corporate interests of the professional officer corps. This development marked a watershed in military practice and theory, the transition from closely supervised small units under the immediate command of a career officer, to decentralized tactics under the direction of a junior officer or NCO who had been a civilian before the war.

Using models such as those proposed by Thomas Kuhn in his Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Ramsay treats military theory in the same manner as intellectual historians have regarded other areas of reasoning, to illustrate the forces that can shape military theory and to provide an explanation of those that may impede necessary changes in military thinking. To date, tactical studies have rarely looked below the battalion level of command; thus, the technology of the First World War has been extensively studied, but the psychology far less so. This is ironic given that armies of the First World War relied more than any earlier armies on conscripted civilians from a political and social culture that strove to suppress violence in civil society. As a result, this book will interest sociologists and psychologists who seek insight into the history of their disciplines, as well as cultural and social historians who study British history.

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Editorial Reviews

In a synthesis of intellectual and military history, Ramsay (history, Kansas State U.) examines British efforts to wage war on land during the First World War. He outlines the concept of minor tactics and small-unit leadership from the last quarter of the 19th century through the first decades of the 20th, showing how it was shaped by the background of civil-military relations. He also proposes a model for analyzing change in military theory. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

Meet the Author

M.A. RAMSAY is Assistant Professor of History at Kansas State University.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Developments in Warfare, 1814-1914 15
2 British Military Culture, 1814-1914 49
3 The Evolution in British Tactics, 1870-1914 75
4 War, Society, and the British Army After 1900 113
5 The British Army and the Citizen Soldier, 1914-16 145
6 The British Citizen Soldier at War, 1914-18 175
Conclusion 197
App. A William Darryl Henderson's Outline of Responsibilities for Cohesive Combat Units 209
App. B Weekly Diets of a British Soldier in the Winter of 1914-15 and a Laborer's Family of Eight 210
App. C Responsibilities of the Various Schools Available to the British Army, 1 November 1916 to 1 April 1917 211
App. D Platoon Training, Circa 1918 215
App. E "Report by Captain A. G. Kenchington's 'B' Company [7th Buffs] on Operations of 1st July 1916" 218
Bibliography 223
Index 241
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