This book at last makes available a penetrating exchange between two of history's most famous soldiers concerning the dramatic events of the Waterloo campaign of 1815. The Duke of Wellington is considered one of the greatest military commanders in British history; General Carl von Clausewitz is often seen as the greatest military thinker in the history of Western civilization. Both men were prominent participants in the campaign of 1815. Wellington commanded the Anglo-Allied army, while the much younger ...
This book at last makes available a penetrating exchange between two of history's most famous soldiers concerning the dramatic events of the Waterloo campaign of 1815. The Duke of Wellington is considered one of the greatest military commanders in British history; General Carl von Clausewitz is often seen as the greatest military thinker in the history of Western civilization. Both men were prominent participants in the campaign of 1815. Wellington commanded the Anglo-Allied army, while the much younger Clausewitz was chief-of-staff of the Prussian 3rd Corps. Wellington went on to become prime minister of Great Britain and commander-in-chief-for-life of the British Army. Clausewitz went on to write VOM KRIEGE (ON WAR), a seminal and still hotly debated treatise on the theory and philosophy of war. Via the works of his disciple, military historian Hans Delbrück, he also became the founder of modern, "scientific" military history.
Despite considerable interest in Clausewitz in Britain and America, Wellington's once-famous response to Clausewitz was largely ignored by historians of Waterloo writing in English after 1914, and no efforts were made to publish a translation of Clausewitz's original campaign study before this project was launched in the 1990s. Hence the importance of this book's examination of the exchange of ideas between these two famous soldiers. It contains Wellington's official 1815 report on the battle of Waterloo; two of Clausewitz's post-battle letters to his wife; previously unpublished correspondence within Wellington's circle discussing Clausewitz's work; a completely new translation of Clausewitz's strategic analysis of the entire campaign (including for the first time the rare maps to which he refers); Wellington's detailed 1842 essay--the only serious essay Wellington ever wrote on the subject--responding to Clausewitz's analysis; and analytical essays by prominent experts on Clausewitz, Wellington, and Waterloo. This book makes clear the importance of grasping the views of these two famous participants and will be of great interest to readers wishing to learn more about the Battle of Waterloo, the campaign of 1815, the development of Clausewitz's thinking on war and military history, Clausewitz's evaluation of key command decisions, and Wellington's reactions to Clausewitz's analysis and criticisms.
About the Editors
DR. CHRISTOPHER BASSFORD, a former U.S. Army artillery officer, is Professor of Strategy at the National War College in Washington, DC. He is the author of Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1994) and The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988). He is also one of the editors of the Boston Consulting Group's business-oriented Clausewitz On Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist (New York: Wiley, 2001). As a US Marine Corps doctrine writer, he authored MCDP 1-1, Strategy and MCDP 1-2, Campaigning (both 1997). He is the internet editor of The Clausewitz Homepage.
DR. DANIEL MORAN is Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California. He is co-editor with Peter Paret of Clausewitz's Historical and Political Writings (Princeton University Press, 1992). Recent works include The People in Arms (co-edited with Arthur Waldron, Cambridge, 2003) and Wars of National Liberation (Harper-Collins, 2006).
DR. GREGORY W. PEDLOW has been Chief of the Historical Office at NATO's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), near Mons, Belgium, since 1989. He is the author of The Survival of the Hessian Nobility, 1770-1870 (Princeton University Press, 1988); The CIA and the U-2 Program, 1956-1962 with Donald E. Welzenbach (Center for the Study of Intelligence, 1998); NATO Strategy Documents, 1949-1969 (NATO, 1997); and articles on 19th-century Germany, NATO and the Cold War, and the Waterloo campaign of 1815.
Long overdue, we now have two English translations of The 1815 Campaign, one by Peter Hofschröer, the other by a team of Napoleonic and Clausewitz scholars, Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow.... Either of these volumes would be a welcome addition to the bookshelf of any serious student of military affairs, but On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815 is clearly the richer of the two.
Military History Buff
I suppose you could call the debate between Wellington and Clausewitz "The Second Battle of Waterloo". What struck me most about the book are the smoothe, reader-friendly translation and the expert judgment of Bassford and Pedlow. Lots of informative tables, terrific maps, etc.
As someone who has followed Napoleonic scholarship for many years I found this book to be one of the most interesting I have yet read. This book, by and large, offers up Clausewitz's assessment of the Hundred Days, and especially the Waterloo campaign itself. Also included is additional material from Wellington, which involves his own critique/defense of Clausewitz's remarks. In a nutshell, I now know a great deal more about these events because I read this book.
General Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) was a Prussian army officer during the wars of the French Revolution and Napoleon. He is most famous as the author of ON WAR, a philosophical treatise on the nature of war that remains the center of hot debate (at least 10 books on him have been published in English in the last four years alone). But he also wrote several histories, including one on the campaign of 1815.
Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington (1769-1851), is one of the most famous British commanders of all time, victor over Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo. Other than his official battle report, Wellington wrote only one serious essay concerning that battle, and that essay was in response to Clausewitz's study.