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Military History

Military History

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Published by Jacobin Parcelle
Encyclopedia Series OF Conflict, War, and Peace : Military History
Encyclopedia Series OF Conflict, War, and Peace : Military History

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Published by: Jacobin Parcelle on Feb 17, 2009
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07/31/2010

 
A second new publication, which merits specialattention,isH. A.Wintersetal.,
BattlingtheElements:Weather and Terrain in the Conduct of War
1998. Theauthors examine the connections between majorbattles in world history and their geographic compo-nents, revealing what role weather, climate, terrain,soil, and vegetation have played in combat. Each of the 12 chapters offers a detailed and informativeexplanation of a specific environmental factor andthenlooksatseveralbattlesthathighlightitseffectsonmilitary operations. Among the many battles ex-amined are the American Revolution’s Bunker Hill,theCivilWar’sGettysburgandWildernesscampaigns,World War I’s Verdun and Flander’s Fields, WorldWar II’s beaches at Normandy and Iwo Jima, and theRhinecrossingatRemagen,Vietnam’sbattlesofDienBien Phu and the Ia Drang Valley, and Napoleon andHitler in Russia. As this thoughtful analysis makesclear,thoseleaderswhoknowmoreaboutthephysicalnature of battlefield conditions will have a significantadvantage over opposing leaders who do not.
5. Future Directions for Research and Study
With the recent and continuing great advances incommunications, surveillance and intelligence-gath-eringtechnology,computerprogrammingcapabilities,and weapons sophistication, applications of remotesensing, geographical information systems (GIS),battlefield simulation, and war gaming techniques canbe made by military geographers toward betterunderstanding of the complex relationship betweengeography and military matters. Perhaps the singlemost important lesson to be gained from this essayon military geography is the danger of neglecting ormisunderstanding geographic concepts and realitieswhen planning and executing military operations atany level. Clearly, General Eisenhower recognized thevalue of knowledge of military geography in theconduct of war when on April 22, 1959 he wrote in hisfrontispiece to Volume I of the
West Point Atlas of American Wars
that‘The‘‘Principles ofWar’’are not,inthefinalanalysis, limitedtoanyone typeofwarfareor even limited exclusively to war itself…but prin-ciples as such can rarely be studied in a vacuum;military operations are drastically affected by manyconsiderations, one of the most important of which isthe geography of the region.’
See also
: Military History
Bibliography
Bibliography of Military Geography
, Vols. 1–4 n.d. Departmentof Geography and Computer Science, United States MilitaryAcademy, West Point, NYBollinger H 1884
Milita
 W 
r
-
Geographie der Schweiz
, 2nd edn.Orell Fussli and Company, Zurich, Switzerland.Brinkerhoff J R 1963 M.A. thesis, Columbia UniversityCohen S B 1973
Geography and Politics in a World Di 
ided 
, 2ndedn. Oxford University Press, NYCollins J M 1998
Military Geography for Professionals and thePublic
. National Defense University Press, Washington, DCGarver J B (ed.) 1981
Readings in Military Geography
. De-partmentof GeographyandComputer Science,UnitedStatesMilitary Academy, West Point, NYJackman A 1971 Military geography. In: Leestma R A (ed.)
ResearchInstituteLecturesonGeography
.U.S.ArmyEngineerTopographicLaboratoriesSpecialReportETL-SR-71-1,FortBelvoir, VAJohnson D W 1921
Battlefields of the World War
,
Western and Southern Fronts
,
A Study in Military Geography
. OxfordUniversity Press, NYMackinder H J 1904 The Geographical Pivot of History.
Geographical Journal 
23
: 421–37MaguireT M1891
Strategic Geography: The Theatres of War of the Rhine and Danube
. Edward Stanford, London.Mahan A T 1890
The Influence of Seapower on History,1660–1783
. Little, Brown, BostonNorris R E, Haring L L 1980
Political Geography
. Charles EMerrill, Columbus, OHO’Sullivan P, Miller J W Jr 1983
The Geography of Warfare
. St.Martin’s Press, NYO’Sullivan P 1991
Terrain and Tactics
. Greenwood Press, NYPeltier L C, Pearcy G E 1966
Military Geography
. D VanNostrand, Princeton, NJRuhierre H 1875
Ge
T
ographie Militaire de L’ Empire D’Alle-magne
, Sandoz et Fishbacher, Paris.Russell J A 1954 Military geography. In: James P E, Jones C F(eds.)
American Geography: In
entory & Prospect
. SyracuseUniversity Press, Syracuse, NYSpykmanN J1944
TheGeography ofthePeace
.Harcourt,Braceand World, New YorkSun Tzu 1963
Art of War
. Translated with introduction byGriffith S H, Clarendon Press, Oxford, UKThompson E R 1962 Ph.D. thesis, Syracuse University, NYWintersH A,GallowayG EJr,ReynoldsW J,RhyneD W1998
Battling the Elements: Weather and Terrain in the Conduct of War
. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD
J. B. Garver
Military History
The easy definition of military history is that it is thehistory of wars. And yet this is too imprecise. Warshavesocial, economic, and political dimensions whichhave been analyzed more by the historians of thosesubdisciplines than by military historians. That is notto say that there are not important links to be madebetween military history and other historical sub-disciplines, nor is it to deny that the good militaryhistorianendeavorstomakethoseconnections.Butinterms of their subject matter military historians havebeen concerned primarily with the histories of armedforces, not only in war but also in peace. Militaryhistory has therefore been more comfortable withwars fought by armies and navies than with warsfought between warrior societies, or before soldieringbecame a distinct profession.9863
Military History
 
1. The Emergence of Military History as aSeparate Subdiscipline
Thucydideswrotethehistoryofawar,and—likesomeother ancient historians—himself saw service. But itwould not be reasonable to call him a militaryhistorian.Itrequiredthegrowthofprofessionalarmiesand the concomitant influence of the Enlightenmentfor the ancient historians who wrote about conflict tobe treated as military historians rather than ashistorians
tout court
.
1.1 The Influence of Professional Armies
In the 1590s, Maurice ofNassau developed systems of infantry drill and of military organization whichstandardizedtacticsandwhichwereemulatedthrough-out Europe. This was the basis for what in 1956Michael Roberts called the ‘military revolution’—aclutch of changes that occurred in warfare between1560 and 1660. The Thirty Years’ War in CentralEurope, the Fronde in France, and the British civilwars served to disseminate the principles of the‘military revolution,’ which found their seventeenth-century apogee in the Swedish army of GustavusAdolphus. Subsequent historians have elongated thechronology of the ‘military revolution.’ GeoffreyParker sees its origins as before 1560, in the growth of a new style of artillery-resistant fortification, the
traceitalienne
. Others have highlighted developments after1660,callingthegrowthinarmy sizeunderLouis XIVand the maintenance of armies in peace as well as inwar a ‘second military revolution’ (Rogers 1995). Theessential points are that over the course of the period1500 to 1800, armies as we now recognize themevolved, and that those armies then became the basisof imitation within Europe and the foundation of empire outside it.During the course of the eighteenth century thearistocracies of Europe, now subordinated to thecrown and state, made soldiering their vocation.Military academies were established, not only for thetraining of the scientific arms—the artillery andengineers—but also for the cavalry and infantry. Thecombination of institutional continuity and profes-sionalization promoted the study of war. The writingsof the ancients were supplemented by the effusions of eighteenth-century practitioners—including Mauricede Saxe, Henry Lloyd, and G. F. von Tempel-hoff—who combined theoretical musings with a dis-tillationoftheirownexperiences.Militaryhistoryhaddidactic rather than scholarly origins.
1.2 The Enlightenment
Thestudyofpastwarsasameansofimprovingpresentpractice was, at one level, entirely consistent with theprecepts of the Enlightenment. War, like any otherhuman activity, could be seen as a science, based onunchangingprinciples,themselvesderivedfromactualexperience.ThewarsofFredericktheGreat,achildof the Enlightenment and a major writer on war, servedto promote these connections. Over 70 works of military theory were published in the seventeenthcentury, but more than twice that in the eighteenth,and over 100 in the years 1756 to 1789 (Gat 1989).Napoleon was both a product of this tradition andits most distinguished advocate. William Napier, anunstinting admirer of the emperor, established Britishmilitary history with his account of the PeninsularWar. Although Napier eschewed theory, his historywasinfluencedbythemostimportantmilitarytheoristof the nineteenth century, A. H. Jomini. Jomini’s
Traite
T
des grandes ope
T
rations militaires
(first twovolumes 1804) became a five-volume history of thewars of Frederick the Great and Napoleon, with aresume
  !
of the general principles of war tacked on as aconclusion. His
Pre
T
cis de l 
art de la guerre
(1838),whichshapedthesyllabusesofmilitaryacademiesintothe twentieth century, put the theory first but stillrelied on history to make its points (Shy 1986, Alger1982).Carl von Clausewitz was critical of Jomini, but likehimwrotefarmorehistorythantheory.Moreover,hisprincipal work, the unfinished and posthumouslypublished
Vom Kriege
(1832), relies on history for itsevidential base. Clausewitz stressed his anxiety tobreakwiththenostrumsofearliermilitarywriters,buthe is no different from them in his readiness to cullmilitary history for normative purposes.At one level, therefore, the influence of the En-lightenment on the development of military historyoperated internally—it helped define how and bywhom war was fought. But its consequences were alsoexternal to the subject. The phenomenon of war itself appalledthe
 philosophes
 —notleastFrederick’sfriend,Voltaire.Theireffortstocurbandmoderateitseffects,stokedbythememoryoftheThirtyYears’Waranditsterrorsforthecivilianpopulation,tookshapethroughinternational law. War became an activity clearlydistinguished from peace, undertaken by specialistsseparated from civilian society but who, crucially,acted not on their own account but on behalf of thestate. For the
philosophes
, war was not necessarilyendemic in society. Those who built on the legacy of the Enlightenment, the liberals of Victorian Britain inparticular, could see it as an activity that was nothonorable but reprehensible, maintained by the ar-istocracy with the aim of sustaining their own hold onsociety, and replaceable by alternative forms of inter-state competition, particularly trade.
2. Academic Neglect of Military History
The legacy of liberalism was a belief that militaryhistory was not a proper study for universities. Ashistory gained a foothold in the curriculums of 9864
Military History
 
European higher education in the last third of thenineteenth century, war ought to have been central toits preoccupations. Indeed, at one level it was.Historiansoftheancientormedievalworldscouldnotneglectwarentirely,buttheystillpreferredtofocusonmore humane developments, on ‘progress’ in law,religion, or the machinery of state. Equally, nonineteenth-century scholar could neglect the impacton Europe of the Napoleonic Wars or the wars of German Unification—as Archibald Allison showedfor the former, and Heinrich Friedjung for the latter.But they neglected the conduct of war itself: war wasan aberration, inimical to the ‘Whig’ view of history.The advent of nuclear weapons in 1945, with theirthreat of a war so awful and so complete that war andpeace became absolute terms rather than points on ascale of relative values, completed this marginaliz-ation. Diplomatic historians looked at why warsoccurred, at how they were ended, and at efforts toavoidthemthereafter,butthehistoryofwaritself wasleft to its practitioners.This picture of academic neglect, still propagatedbut with much less reason in the twenty-first century,is overdrawn. There were major exceptions, even if itremains true that those exceptions prove the rule.The founding father of academic military history,Hans Delbru
    $ 
ck, served in the Franco-Prussian Warand believed that universities should recognize mili-tary history. He planned to do his
Habilitation
on amilitary historical topic, but both Heinrich vonTreitschke and Theodor von Mommsen, the leadinghistorians in Berlin, opposed the idea. Delbru
    $ 
ckpersisted with his enthusiasm and in 1883 announcedhis intention to write a general history of war in itspoliticalcontext.LeopoldvonRanketoldhimthatthestudy of war was not appropriate to a university, andwhen Delbru
    $ 
ck was appointed to a chair in 1895(ironically as Treitschke’s successor) it was in ‘uni-versalandworldhistory.’In1900,Delbru
    $ 
ckpublishedthe first of the four volumes of his history of war.Mommsentoldtheauthorthathewouldnothavetimeto read it (Bucholz 1985, Deist 1998).Delbru
    $ 
ck also alienated those to whom his workought to have appealed. He argued that Frederick theGreathadnotsoughtdecisivebattlebuthadpreferredto exhaust his enemies by maneuver. The Germanarmy’s general staff was incensed. Its own studies of Frederick’s campaigns were extensive, but their pur-poses were more didactic than scholarly. Institution-ally, this loyalty to Frederick (rather than toNapoleon) as the founding father of modern warpredisposed them to see him as the advocate of astrategy of ‘annihilationrather than of ‘attrition(Bucholz 1985, Lange 1995).At one level, therefore, Delbru
    $ 
ck was an isolatedfigure—virtually unique in the academic world of Wilhelmine Germany, and vilified by the one in-stitutionthatthought deeply about thehistory ofwar.But he was not uninfluential. He had been tutor to theKaiser, he was a Reichstag deputy and he edited the
Preussische Jahrbu
 W 
cher
. He emerged from World WarI a leading figure in Germany’s public and intellectuallife.Asarolemodelhislegacyspreadintwodirections.First, his interpretation of military history was essen-tially Clausewitzian; he studied war as a state activity,and as an agent for the implementation of strategy.Second, he treated war as a discrete phenomenon,possessing an integrity from the ancient world to themodern.Historicalknowledgesodefinedwasthebasisfor pronouncements on current strategic issues.Delbru
    $ 
ck’s institutional legacy proved more short-lived.Military history wasestablished attheFriedrichWilhelm University in Berlin after World War I. Butthe subject was usurped by the Nazis. For a long timeafter World War II there was no established chair of military history at a German university, with theexception of the post created for the Clausewitzscholar,WernerHahlweg,atMu
    $ 
nsterin1969.Onlyinthe 1990s did the subject reassert itself in researchterms,andaprofessorshipwasestablishedatPotsdam.In Britain, too, individual careers punctured theimage of academic neglect. The Regius Professor of ModernHistoryatOxfordbetween1904and1925,SirCharlesFirth,wasahistorianoftheEnglishCivilWarand of Cromwell’s army. The same university’sChichele Professor of Modern History from 1905, SirCharles Oman, wrote a massive and definitive historyof the Peninsular War. In the same year Oxfordcreated a lectureship in military history, strategy andtactics, and in 1909 established the Chichele chair inthe history of war. Thus in Britain, unlike Germany,the subject acquired an institutional focus. Two yearslater, Cambridge followed suit with the Vere Harms-worth chair of naval history. King’s College London,whose professor of modern history, J. K. Laughton,had been involved in the formation of the NavalRecords Society in 1893, formed a department of naval history in 1913 but failed to make an ap-pointment (N. A. M. Rodger in Hattendorf 1994).In Germany, the effect of World War I was toinstitutionalize personal initiative; in Britain, its effectwas to undermine the progress already made. SpenserWilkinson, who had been appointed to the Oxfordchair,hadbeenajournalist,and—likeDelbru
    $ 
ck—hadlinked the study of military history to current policyissues. But, unlike Delbru
    $ 
ck, Wilkinson did not jointhe public debate on the strategy of World War I. Heturned to scholarly studies of the eighteenth centuryand, his eyesight failing, became a marginal figure.Until the appointment of Sir Michael Howard to thechair in 1977, his successors lacked academic punch(Ernest Swinton), were tarred with the brush of  journalism (Cyril Falls), or were unproductive inpublication terms (Norman Gibbs). The burden of actual teaching throughout this period fell on C. T.Alkinson, whose output was considerable, but whotended to antiquarianism as well as personal eccen-tricity. In Cambridge, the Harmsworth chair married9865
Military History

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