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A classic of military thought that merits a place alongside the works of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, Battle Studies was first published in Paris ten years after the death of its author, French army officer Charles Ardant du Picq (1821–1870). Updated to provide a more complete and accurate biographical and historical framework for understanding its meaning and import, this edition—deftly translated, introduced, and annotated by noted military historian Roger Spiller—offers a new generation of readers the benefit of Ardant du Picq’s unique insight into the nature of warfare.
Nothing, Ardant du Picq asserts, can be prescribed wisely in an army “without an exact understanding of its ultimate instrument, man, and his morale at the defining instant of combat.” Accordingly, Battle Studies, the first systematic exploration of human behavior in the extremities of combat, focuses squarely on the tactical realm its author knew so well. Eschewing grand military theories and strategies, Ardant du Picq draws on his real-world experience, especially during the Crimean War and the Siege of Sebastopol where he was captured, to examine what motivates a soldier to fight, what creates cohesion or disorder, what gives a commander tactical control, and what makes reason give way to instinct: in short, “the essence of the science of combat.”
About the Author
Roger J. Spiller is the George C. Marshall Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Military History and former director of the Combat Studies Institute at the US Army Command and General Staff College. He is the author of An Instinct for War: Scenes from the Battlefields of History. He has also served as an advisor to Ken Burns on documentary television series on World War II and the Vietnam War.
Spiller, Roger J.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Introduction: Toujours la question essentielle
About This Translation
PART ONE: Introduction; Ancient Battle
I. Man in Primitive and Ancient Combat
II. Knowledge of Man Made Roman Tactics, the Successes of Hannibal, and Those of Ceasar
III. Analysis of the Battle of Cannae
IV. Analysis of the Battle of Pharsalus and Some Characteristic Examples
VI. Under What Conditions Real Combatants Are Made, Etc.
VII. The Purpose of This Study and What Would Be Necessary to Complete It.
PART TWO Modern Battle
I. General Considerations
1. Ancient and Modern Combat
2. Moral Elements in Combat
3. Material and Moral Effect
4. The Theory of the Strong Battalions
5. Combat Methods
1. MassesDeep Columns
4. MarchesCampsNight Attacks
1. Cavalry and Modern Weapons
2. Cavary against Cavalry
3. Cavarly against Infantry
4. Armor and Armaments
V. Command, General Staff, and Administration
VI. Social and Military Institutions, National Characteristics
Appendix I Memorandum on Infantry Fire
2. Succinct History of the Evolution of Firearms, from the Arquebus to Our Rifle
3. Progressive Introduction of Firearms into the Armament of the Infantryman
4. The Classes of Fire Employed with Each Weapon
5. Execution of Fire in the Presence of The Enemy
6. Fire at WillIts Efficacy
7. Fire by Rank Is a Fire to Occupy Men in the Ranks
8. The Deadly fire Is the Fire by Skirmishers
9. The Absolute Impossibility of Fire at Command
Appendix II Historical Documents
1. Cavalry (Extract from Xenophon)
2. Marius against the Cimbrians (Extract from Plutarch)
3. The Battle of the Alma (Extract from correspondence)
4. The Battle of the Alma (Extract from correspondence)
5. The Battle of Inkerman (Extracts from correspondence)
6. The Battle of Magenta (Extract from correspondence)
7. The Battle of Solferino (Extract from correspondence)
8. Mentana (Extract from correspondence)
Appendix III Record of Military Service of Colonel Ardant du Picq
Campaigns and Wounds
Appendix IV "Extract from the History of the 10th Infantry Regiment"
Appendix V A Brother's Reminiscence
Appendix VI The Circular Letter