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FRENCH THOUGHT AND THE AMERICAN MILITARY MIND: A HISTORY OF FRENCH INFLUENCE ON THE AMERICAN WAY OF WARFARE FROM 1814 THROUGH 1941
BY MICHAEL ANDREW BONURA
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of History in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Awarded: Fall Semester 2008
Copyright © 2008 Michael Andrew Bonura All Rights Reserved
The members of the Committee approve the Dissertation of Michael Andrew Bonura defended on August 6, 2008.
____________________________ Frederick R. Davis Professor Directing Dissertation
____________________________ J. Anthony Stallins Outside Committee Member
____________________________ James P. Jones Committee Member
____________________________ Jonathan Grant Committee Member
____________________________ Darrin M. McMahon Committee Member
The Office of Graduate Studies has verified and approved the above named committee members.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS As everyone knows, a project of this size is the product of more than a single person, and many have helped me along the way. First and foremost I would like to thank Dr. Frederick R. Davis, my major professor, who agreed to take me on as a student after the retirement of Dr. Donald Horward. Dr. Davis took an early interest in my development as a Historian and continued to encourage my work and study in the Historian’s craft, even by letting me audit his Historical Methods course. He challenged me intellectually and academically and his continued long distance mentorship made this dissertation possible. I am eternally grateful and consider him not only a mentor, but also a friend. I would also like to thank the other members of my committee, Dr. Jim Jones, Dr. Jonathan Grant, Dr. Darrin McMahon, and Dr. Tony Stallins. From my first semester in graduate school, Dr. Jones was always available to challenge my assertions and broaden my horizons. I can truly say that I am a better scholar and citizen for having been exposed to his certain brand of education. Dr. Grant was as committed to my education as he is to all of the graduate students in the FSU Department of History. He always had advice and guidance when no one else did and contributed greatly to my development as a Historian. Dr. McMahon did the most to guide my intellectual development, often challenging me to read and think deeply about a variety of subjects. His mentorship, as both a Historian of the French Revolution and more generally as an Intellectual Historian, prepared me to interact intelligently with both my civilian and military peers at West Point. For this I am eternally grateful. I would also like to thank Dr. Stallins, who graciously agreed to join this committee at short notice and to spend his valuable time and energy helping me to defend my dissertation. A special thanks goes out to Dr. Donald Horward, who accepted me into the Department of History and the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution with an undistinguished undergraduate transcript. His mentorship and example has set a high standard of both scholarship and integrity that I will strive to live up to for the rest of my life. I truly would not be here today without his trust and confidence, and I hope my achievements reflect greatly upon him. I could not have successfully completed all of the requirements for this degree without the support and friendship of Chris Pignatiello. Chris was the only friendly face I knew my entire first summer at FSU and continued to be a bright part of my daily interaction in the department.
Since I left, she has kept me straight with deadlines, course numbers, and friendly advice. I promise to keep in touch. I would never have been able to complete this project on the current timeline if it had not been for the United States Military Academy Special Collections and Archives under the direction of Suzanne Christoff. The Special Collections provided the majority of my sources due to the depth and breadth of its holdings in both the warfare in the French Revolution, but also its holdings in obscure American military writings. I especially could not have completed my work but for the help of Valerie Dutdut, who cheerfully retrieved armload after armload of obscure Nineteenth Century regulations, and found several important works hiding in the collection. The support of the USMA Department of History has been incredible, and I want to especially thank COL Lance Betros, COL Matthew Moten, and COL Ty Seidule for their continued faith in my abilities as both an Officer and as a Historian. I continue to be indebted to one of my most important mentors and friends COL Kevin Farrell, who has continued in the last two years the job of mentoring me that he began when I was only Cadet Bonura. He provides sage advice when I bring the problems, frustrations, and heresies of the moment to his office. He continues to keep me on the path of righteousness and for that my debt is eternal. One of the best parts of being a part of the USMA Department of History is the interactions with my peers as both Officers and Historians. Many of the ideas and arguments I made throughout this dissertation were strengthened in the crucible of discussion with many of my peers, MAJ’s J. P. Clark, John Due, and Brian Schoelhorn being only a few of the most difficult to convince. My biggest debt in the intellectual growth of my project is to Dr. Jonathan Gumz who has listened to my ideas and has offered some of the most useful and interesting advice during this project. His advice and his friendship made this dissertation possible. I would also like to thank my family for continuing to support me in this endeavor. My mother Terri Bonura, who could not be more proud of her second son to earn a Ph.D., is always there for me and keeps me on track. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. To my brother Carlo Bonura, the first son with a Ph.D., he challenges me intellectually in ways few do and keeps me on my toes. To my mother-in-law Sandra Bethany, who has done everything she could to support my work, to include proofreading my chapters for me, Thank you for being a part of my life and my family.
Last but certainly not least is my undying love, devotion, and gratitude to the love of my life, my wife Kimberlee. I cannot imagine completing this dissertation without her unwavering love and support, and especially understanding of the demands of this kind of endeavor. She was a great sounding board, a great example for excellence in dissertations, and she was a source of inspiration and wisdom. I could not live without her and I certainly could not have finished this project without her.
TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT................................................................................................................................ viii INTRODUCTION......................................................................................................................... 1 CHAPTER 1: THE FRENCH COMBAT METHOD ............................................................. 10 SECTION 1: Military Art and Science before the French Revolution.............................. 11 The Military Revolution 1789-1804................................................................................... 11 The Linear Warfare of the Ancien Regime ...................................................................... 13 The French Debates from 1760-1788 ................................................................................ 15 SECTION 2: The New Warfare of the French Revolution................................................. 17 The Creation of the Citizen Soldier................................................................................... 17 The New Discipline of an Army of Citizen Soldiers......................................................... 18 The Regulations of 1791: A New System of Tactics......................................................... 21 The Regulations of 1792: A New Framework of Battle................................................... 23 SECTION 3: The French Combat Method in Action- Fleurus 1794 ................................. 31 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................... 34 CHAPTER 2: BRINGING THE FCM TO AMERICA .......................................................... 38 SECTION 1: Choosing the French Combat Method .......................................................... 38 From Steuben to a Multiplicity of Frameworks 1783-1808 ............................................ 38 The First Attempt to Bring the FCM to America 1808-1814.......................................... 41 No Standard Regulation and the British Alternative ...................................................... 43 Winfield Scott and the Grey Line on the Niagara 1814 .................................................. 45 America Adopts the FCM: The Regulations Board of 1814 ........................................... 49 SECTION 2: Institutionalizing The FCM ............................................................................ 51 The General Army Regulations of 1821 and 1825 ........................................................... 51 Scott’s Infantry Tactics of 1825 ......................................................................................... 54 The FCM and the Regulations from 1835 - 1847 ............................................................. 56 SECTION 3: The United States Military Academy and the FCM..................................... 60 Winfield Scott, Sylvanus Thayer, and USMA .................................................................. 60 The Gay de Vernon Text 1817-1838.................................................................................. 64 The Americanization of the FCM: D. H. Mahon 1832-1846........................................... 67 U. S. Officers in Mexico 1846-1848.................................................................................... 69 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................... 70 CHAPTER 3: THE FCM AND THE CIVIL WAR................................................................. 74 SECTION 1: The U. S. Army Regulations 1848-1865......................................................... 74 From Scott to Hardee: the FCM and the Rifled Musket ................................................ 74 Silas Casey and the 1862 Regulation................................................................................. 78 The General Army Regulations 1857-1865....................................................................... 82 SECTION 2: USMA and the FCM 1848-1865 ..................................................................... 85 Jomini and Cadet Education.............................................................................................. 85 American Military Theory: The Influence of D.H. Mahon ............................................ 87 The Military Literature of the Union 1861-1865 ............................................................. 93 The Military Literature of the Confederacy 1861-1865 .................................................. 96 SECTION 3: The FCM in Action in the Civil War ............................................................. 98 The FCM on the Battlefield 1861-1863 ............................................................................. 98 The FCM and the Modern Battlefield 1863-1865 .......................................................... 101 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 104
CHAPTER 4: THE FCM AND THE U.S. ARMY THROUGH WWI ................................ 107 SECTION 1: U.S. Army Tactical Regulations 1865-1918................................................. 107 Upton and the New Tactics of the FCM 1865-1891 ....................................................... 107 A Change of Focus: The Regulations from 1891-1911 .................................................. 111 A Return to Simplicity: The Regulations from 1911-1918............................................ 115 SECTION 2: The General Army Regulations 1865-1918 ................................................. 118 Stagnation: The General Army Regulations 1865-1889................................................ 118 The FCM and the Field Service Regulations 1905......................................................... 120 The FSR, German Influence, and the FCM: The 1910 FSR......................................... 121 SECTION 3: USMA, 50 Years of Theory and the FCM................................................... 124 The End of Pre-Civil War Texts: Mahon and Dufour .................................................. 124 American Theorists at West Point: Wheeler and Mercur ............................................ 126 The Modernization of Cadet Education: Fiebeger 1896-1918...................................... 130 SECTION 4: Army Post Graduate Education and the FCM ........................................... 134 The Fort Leavenworth Schools and Theoretical Education ......................................... 134 Morrison and a New Direction in Officer Education .................................................... 136 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 139 CHAPTER 5: THE END OF THE FCM IN AMERICAN WARFARE 1918-1941........... 143 SECTION 1: The U.S. Army Tactical Regulations 1918-1941 ......................................... 143 The AEF’s Provisional Infantry Drill Regulation 1919................................................. 143 Prewar Continuity and Little Change: 1921-1939......................................................... 146 Infantry Field Manual 7-8: A New System of Tactics ................................................... 148 SECTION 2: The Field Service Regulations 1918-1941.................................................... 150 Learning from WWI: The 1923 FSR .............................................................................. 150 THE MANUAL FOR COMMANDERS OF LARGE UNITS...................................... 152 An FCM Driven Synthesis: The Tentative 1939 FSR.................................................... 153 The End of the FCM: The 1941 FSR .............................................................................. 155 SECTION 3: The Undergraduate Education of the U.S. Army ....................................... 157 West Point Curriculum 1918-1928 .................................................................................. 157 1928-1941: The Rise of History and the Fall of the FCM ............................................. 159 The Reserve Officers Training Corps 1920-1941........................................................... 161 SECTION 4: CGSS and the Chief of Infantry................................................................... 163 The Command and General Service Schools ................................................................. 163 The Review of Military Literature, CGSS, and the Army............................................ 165 The Infantry School and the Mailing List ...................................................................... 169 The Chief of Infantry and the End of the FCM ............................................................. 170 Conclusion ............................................................................................................................. 171 CONCLUSION ......................................................................................................................... 174 BIBLIOGRAPHY ..................................................................................................................... 181 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................................................................................... 197
ABSTRACT The French Revolution had a tremendous impact on the social, political, and cultural development of the western world. Similarly, it had a revolutionary impact on warfare in both Europe and the United States. Although the U.S. had a distinctly British military tradition through the War of 1812, in the span of a single year, the U.S. Army adopted the French system of warfare or French Combat Method as the intellectual framework for the American way of warfare. This French Combat Method informed and guided the way in which American officers conceptualized the battlefield, how they organized their formations and their regulations, how they equipped them, and how they learned lessons from their experiences on the battlefield. This French influence dominated the American way of warfare from 1814 through the Civil War and World War I, and into the 1930’s. It was not until the catastrophic fall of France in 1940 that caused the U.S. Army to fundamentally change their intellectual framework.
INTRODUCTION The way an army fights is more than just the sum of its equipment, social composition, weaponry, and leadership. When armies conduct combat operations on the battlefield, they do so as the tip of an immense pyramid built of ideas about the fundamental nature of war. These ideas, when taken together, create a conceptualization or intellectual framework that pervades every aspect of an army’s decision making, from the adoption of a new technology to the creation of a new divisional organization. This conceptualization, sometimes called a way of warfare, shapes the way an army fights, prepares to fight, and thinks about fighting. It is at the same time vitally important to understand, both as practitioner and scholar, and yet difficult to differentiate the core ideas of that intellectual framework from its impact on the myriad of aspects of war and warfighting. Since the publication of Russell F. Weigley’s American Way of Warfare in 1973, historians and military professionals alike have argued about the traditions and cultural predilections that surround this concept. The end of the Cold War led to a boom in articles and monographs calling for a new American way of warfare to deal with the realities of yet another iteration of modern war. 1 The popularity of the concept almost requires another historical examination of the American way of warfare to match the detailed works on the German, Prussian, Russian, British, and French ways of war. Any new examination of the subject would have to come to much more detailed conclusions than Weigley’s original thesis that the American way of war consisted of a focus on the total destruction of the enemy in offensive
Russell Weigley first defined the concept of the way of war by stating that the strategy of Annihilation was the American way of war. Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973), xxii. Antulio Echevarria called it instead of a way of war an American way of battle, which complements Weigley’s thesis. Antulio J. Echevarria, Toward an American Way of War, (Carlisle: Strategic Studies Institute, 2004), vi. If Weigley is right in his assertion that the strategy of annihilation is the American way of warfare, then Max Boot argues that America actually has two ways of warfare, the other way characterized by small military interventions by regular forces, fought for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with national interests or battles of annihilation. Max Boot, Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power, (New York: Basic Books, 2002), xiv. And finally, a different approach entirely comes from the Military History Quarterly that describes the American way of warfare Winfield Scott’s Cerro Gordo envelopment and in a way reminiscent of Liddell Hart describes American warfare as a way of envelopment. Thomas Fleming, "Birth of the American Way of War," Military History Quarterly 15, (2003). While some argue that it is the winning spirit, marketplace ideology, and the American fighting soldier that make up the American way of warfare. Larry Schwikart, America's Victories: Why the U.S. Wins Wars and Will Win the War on Terror, (New York: Sentinel Press, 2006), xiv-xxv.
warfare. However, in order to understand the ideas that make up the American way of warfare requires a different understanding of the concept of a way of war. As stated above, it is extremely difficult to determine the important ideas that animate a way of warfare, as opposed to merely creating a panacea of all the things that a military does in the name of war. A way of warfare then becomes a mixture of strategy, foreign policy, military policy, military thought, military theory, doctrine and regulations. Like many concepts, a way of warfare which encompasses everything, in actuality encompasses nothing and supports an endless study of military minutia. However, the concept of an American way of warfare is a useful analytical tool to understand the development of the United States Army in the past, and how those developments shaped the future. For this purpose, a way of warfare is different than American strategy, policy, or doctrine, in that it informs their creation, development, and implementation. This vision of war, or theory of war, or preconceptions of war, provides a coherent intellectual framework for thinking and conceptualizing war. By establishing the intellectual framework of American warfare in the past, it is possible to understand why and how it was created, as well as why and how it changed in reaction to changes in the political, strategic and technological elements of modern warfare. This kind of study has the potential to reveal how and why it was replaced by a different framework, thus creating a new American way of warfare. While this concept provides a new perspective on the intellectual history of the United States Army, questions of origination, change and the evolution-revolution dichotomy have a long and varied historiography. While the study of conceptual frameworks does not have its own historiography, the study of how armies understand war and deal with change attracts a great deal of historical interest. These studies divide themselves basically into three groupings according to what the author describes as the driving force of change in the military: those that prioritize technology, battlefield experience, or ideas, as the most important element in change. This history is additionally divided into works that define warfare as either an evolutionary or revolutionary endeavor. Many of these works discuss more than one of the aforementioned forces, however one force always dominates the others. A theme that does run through all of these histories and studies of war is the conceptualization of war as a science. This scientific framework provides an understanding of how science learns, changes, and adapts to technology, which provides a different perspective to the study of the military.
The Twentieth Century saw a divergence of opinion in the scientific community on the nature of science, similar to the longstanding debate concerning the military profession and the art and science of war. William Whewell represents the traditional definition of science which many scientists would agree with today. For Whewell, science is an inductive process by which natural phenomena are observed, leading to laws of phenomena, which develop into ideas and theories through an evolutionary process, built on the work of brilliant minds. 2 In the 1930’s, this definition came under attack by German scientist and philosopher Karl Popper. Popper defined science as a deductive process which aimed not at truth, but at the increase of scientific knowledge. The defining trait of science was falsifiability, and the process was not evolutionary but dialectic. 3 In 1962, Thomas Kuhn furthered the debate by focusing on scientific revolutions and redefined science yet again. For Kuhn, science as practiced by most scientists was really normal science, which requires a paradigm to define questions and establish research agendas. When anomalies accumulate to the point where they interfere with normal science, a crisis occurs through which a new paradigm is established. With a new paradigm, normal science resumes making science not an evolutionary but rather a revolutionary process. 4 Finally, in the 1990’s, Steven Shapin, along with a number of historians in the History and Philosophy of Science, began to redefine science again focusing on the social aspects of the scientific process. For Shapin, science was inherently a social activity, focused on the manufacture of data and the use of scientific knowledge in other contexts, such as politics. Scientific knowledge created in private places, made through social interactions, and still the place modernity places its trust. 5 Many of these arguments apply to the military as a profession, and they provide a valuable perspective to these questions of the fundamental nature of war as much as they do for the fundamental nature of science. The historiography of military art and science has a similar divide between the evolutionary and revolutionary perspectives. The recent trend in the development of change in both military organizations and warfare itself is focused on its revolutionary nature. The Revolution in Military Affair or RMAs is the latest concept used to understand changes in
William Whewell, On The Philosophy of Discovery, (London: J.W. Parker & Sons, 1860). Karl Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, (New York: Basic Books, 1959). 4 Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution, (Chicago: University of Chicago ress, 1962). 5 Steven Shapin, A Social History of Truth: Civility and Science in Seventeenth-Century England (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
warfare that identifies fundamental changes in modern warfare. 6 These newer works overshadow the larger group that either implicitly or explicitly understands warfare and the way armies adapt to it as an evolutionary process. 7 These evolutionary studies usually have a technological focus, as the study of technology lends itself to an evolutionary process and organization. This connection between technology and evolutionary development is one of the reasons that this group dominates the traditional history of the military art and science. The focus on technology is perhaps the most prolific part of the historiography of warfare and change. In the past, this led to a series of works focused on the development of specific technologies, weapons or vehicles. 8 Technology also provides the organization of a series of general military histories. 9 In the recent technology historiography, technological innovation is the principle force guiding corresponding changes in organization, doctrine and tactics. 10 While most of these works include wider changes than just technology, they all focus on technology as either the implicit or explicit force of change. These arguments are extremely persuasive, as they are grounded in the technologies that changed the modern battlefield, but they don’t explain why some countries modernized and adapted better than others. Technology may be one of the most important changing factors of modern war, but it is not the most powerful tool of analysis for understanding the way militaries adapt to those changes.
MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, eds, The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001); David Jablonsky, The Owl of Minerva Flies at Twilight: Doctrinal Change and Continuity and the Revolution in Military Affairs, (Carlisle Barracks: Strategic Studies Institute, 1994); Antulio J. Echevarria, After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers Before the Great War, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2000); Leslie C. Eliason and Emily O. Goldman, eds, The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas, (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2003). 7 Military Service Publishing, The Evolution of Warfare, (Harrisburg, Military Service Publishing, 1947); Timothy T. Lupfer, The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the 1st World War, (Fort Leavenworth, Strategic Studies Institute, 1981); Christopher Bellamy, The Evolution of Modern Land Warfare Theory and Practise, (New York: Routledge, 1990); Bernard and Fawn M. Brodie, From Crossbow to H-Bomb (Bloomington, University of Indiana Press, 1973); Charles Townshend, ed., The Oxford History of Modern War, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000); Stephen Biddle, Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2004). 8 There are numerous histories of different weapons, one of the most academic studies of the history of military technology is Bernard and Fawn Brodie’s From Crossbow to H-Bomb. Brodie, From Crossbow to H-Bomb; Trevor Nevitt Dupuy, The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare, (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1980). 9 All of these general histories of warfare divide their parts and chapters by the changes in technology and how cultures deal with those changes. Charles Townshend, ed., The Oxford History of Modern War; Geoffrey Parker, ed., The Cambridge History of Modern Warfare, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005); and Archer Jones, The Art of War, (Urbana, University of Illinois Press, 1987). 10 The recent focus on technological innovation comes out of the Revolutions in Military Affairs debate that has affected military planning and development since the end of the Cold War. Williamson R. Murray and Allan R. Millett, eds, Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996); Leslie C. Eliason and Emily O. Goldman, eds, The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas, Jablonsky, The Owl of Minerva Flies at Twilight: Doctrinal Change and Continuity and the Revolution in Military Affairs .
Almost as persuasive as an argument of technological determinism is one that makes battlefield experience the driving force of change in the way armies conduct war. Some of these authors firmly believe that armies either learn or fail to learn from the bottom-up and that all real innovation occurs at the individual soldier level. 11 Some studies suggest that theory and doctrine are inconsequential on the battlefield, since few read it or understand it, and the intelligent avoid it like the plague. 12 Lastly, there are those who understand doctrine to be a conversation between the intellectual power of the army and its practitioners which produces, in its most pure form, the best possible doctrine vetted throughout the army and reflecting the most up to date lessons learned at the tactical level. 13 While there are many examples of battlefield adaptation throughout military history, there are simply too many counter examples to make it the driving force behind military adaptation. For every example of battlefield adaptation, there are many more of armies which refuse to change their tactics and therefore suffer incredible casualties or catastrophic defeat. Like technology, battlefield experience is affected by more than just marketplace competition or pragmatism. Ideas provide a much more comprehensive explanation of military change, one that integrates both technology and battlefield experience. Some historians refer to as a vision of war, which is the conceptual framework of an army that drives the way in which it approaches change, technology, doctrine, tactics, and experience. 14 In addition to general studies of the interaction between theory and thought on warfare, there are more specific studies which focus on how armies construct and implement these conceptual frameworks and ideas. Other works
Robert Goldthwaite Carter, The Art and Science of War Versus the Art of Fighting, (Washington D.C.: National Publishing Company, 1922); Isabel V. Hull, Absolute Destruction: Military Culture and the Practices of War in Imperial Germany, (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2005); Mark Ethan Grotelueschen, The AEF Way of War: The American Army and Combat in World War I, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007). 12 Both Paddy Griffith and Jay Luvaas came to similar conclusions concerning doctrine, its limited readership and detachment from the reality of the battlefield. Paddy Griffith, Military Thought in the French Army, 1815 - 1851, (New York: Manchester University Press, 1989); Jay Luvaas, The Military Legacy of the Civil War: The European Inheritance, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1988). 13 Lupfer, The Dynamics of Doctrine: The Changes in German Tactical Doctrine During the 1st World War. 14 J. F. C. Fuller, The Conduct of War 1789-1961: A Study of the Impact of the French and Russian Revolutions on War and its Conduct, (New Brunswick: Da Capo Press, 1961); Echevarria, After Clausewitz: German Military Thinkers Before the Great War; Basil Henry Liddell Hart, The Ghost of Napoleon, (London: Faber and Faber Limited, 1933); John I. Alger, The Quest For Victory: The History of the Principles of War, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1982); Sehuda L. Wallach, The Dogma of the Battle of Annihilation: The Theories of Clausewitz and Schlieffen and their Impact on the German Conduct of the Two World Wars, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1986); Dale Oliver Smith, U. S. Military Doctrine: A Study and Appraisal, (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1955).
focus on the impact of military history on military professionals and their way of war. 15 These works produce a wide variance of opinion concerning the utility of military history and most are more proscriptive than demonstrative in their belief in the efficacy of the study of military history for military professionals. Additionally, concede the fact that armies often deliberately cultivate military history that tends to focus only on history as a validation of ideas to which they already subscribe. 16 Much more useful to understanding how ideas impact the way armies conduct war is the growing on the military as a profession in much the same way as the sciences. The most provocative works on the way armies think in the past two decades have a focus on the military profession and the professionalization of the army. These works delve into the details of army bureaucracy and parochialism, dissecting professional politics and their impact on the ideas that form a conceptualization of warfare. 17 Brian Linn’s recent work Echo of Battle goes the farthest of any of these studies at attempting to pin down the way an army creates a way of war. Linn argues that the creation of a way of warfare is fundamentally an intellectual endeavor and that “only a few officers create and disseminate their services’ vision of warfare, the vast majority simply accepts it without question.” 18 He then focuses on the major trends that dominated the thinking of the different major factions within the army, and that the U.S. Army’s way of war was a constant compromise between these different factions. Linn’s work represents both the most ambitious intellectual history of the U.S. Army to date, and yet at the same time
It should not be surprising that military historians are prolific in their belief that military history is the best source of ideas or visions of war. Arden Bucholz, Hans Delbruck and the German Military Establishment, (Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1985); Dennis Hart Mahan, An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-Guard, Out-Post, and Detachment Service of Troops: and the manner of posting and handling them in presence of an enemy. With a historical sketch of the rise and progress of tactics,. intended as a supplement to the system of tactics adopted for the military service of the United States, and especially for the use of officers and volunteers, (New York: Wiley and Puttnam, 1847); Williamson Murray and Richard Hart Sinnreich, eds., The Past as Prologue: The Importance of History, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006); Carol Reardon, Soldiers and Scholars: The U.S. Army and the Uses of Military History, 1865-1920, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1990); Hew Strachan, European Armies and The Conduct of War, (Boston: Routledge, 1983); Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power on History 1660 - 1783, (New York: Hill and Wang, 1957); Trevor Nevitt Dupuy, Understanding War: History and a Theory of Combat, (New York: Paragon House Publishing, 1987); Jean-Lambert-Alphonse Colin, The Transformations of War, trans. L.H.R. Pope-Hennessy, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1977); Marc Milner David A. Charters, and J. Brent Wilson, eds., Military History and the Military Profession, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1992). 16 Luvaas, The Military Legacy of the Civil War, xix. 17 Stephen Peter Rosen, Winning the Next War: Innovation and the Modern Military, (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1991); Reardon, Soldiers and Scholars; Harold R. Winton, To Change an Army: General Sir John BurnettStuart and British Armored Doctrine, 1927-1938, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1988); David E. Johnson, Fast Tanks and Heavy Bombers: Innovation in the U. S. Army 1917-1945, (Ithica: Cornell University Press, 1978). 18 Brian McAllister Linn, The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 4.
demonstrates the theoretical limitations of focusing on professional differences amongst the Army itself. Such studies almost immediately focus on internal politics, popular opinions, and the writings of officers in any of a dozen professional journals, all of which, provide ample evidence of every conceivable opinion operating at once in the army. Focusing on the professional differences of the army’s individuals, prevents one from seeing the homogeneity of their conceptual way of warfare. What the historiography lacks is a study of American warfare focused on its intellectual framework and the underlying ideas that made up that framework. This methodology takes the focus away from policy, strategy, doctrine, and technology and produces a very different history of the United States Army and its institutional decisions concerning its way of warfare. It also demonstrates clearly the influence of ideas on the United States Army which have previously been misunderstood by historian and professionals focused on technological and experiential influences. By comparing the way that the United States Army changes, evolves, and participates in revolutions in warfare with the way that science changes, evolves, and precipitates revolutions also expands our understanding of the military as a profession and provides an important element in the creation of a way of warfare for the future. Any intellectual history of the United States Army requires an examination of the influence of foreign thought. Any of a number of European influences had an important influence on the American military tradition, but one of the most persistent is that of French thought. Beginning with French aid during the American Revolution, through the use of French tactics in the War of 1812, and the influence of Jomini and French tactical regulations in the Civil War, the French assistance in both equipment and training have linked the American and French Armies in a unique way. Studying the American way of warfare through the lens of French military thought and theory provides an excellent way to access both the interesting way that French thought has impacted the United States Army, and also the uniquely American developments in military thought and theory. As a time period to study the French influence on the Untied States Army, the period during which France and the French Army dominated Europe provides an opportunity to analyze its influence in America. Militaries tend to emulate victorious nations in thought and in practice. Therefore it is likely that French thought had its widest impact on the United States Army during the period when it dominated Europe. Additionally, when Germany eclipsed France as the
dominant military in Europe, the United States Army likely looked elsewhere for inspiration. Thus the period of this study begins in the War of 1812 when the United States Army became inculcated with the French military thought of the French Revolution and Napoleonic period, and ends with the catastrophic French defeat at the hands of the German Army in May of 1940. This French influence played an important part in the formation of the first American way of warfare. A study of the influence of French thought in America requires condensing the wide variance of French thought and battlefield activity throughout the era of the French Revolution and Napoleon into a system. The great military theorists Henri Antoine Jomini and Carl von Clausewitz made their careers trying to do this, and since almost every single theorist or military thinker since 1792 includes a study of Napoleon in his theory, this presents a problem of almost insurmountable dimensions. However, instead of attempting to create an arbitrary list of the attributes of Napoleonic warfare, the French influence should be analyzed using the French regulations and writings about the conduct of combat that existed and were available at the turn of the Nineteenth Century. Encapsulated by the French Règlement Concernant L’exercise et Manoeuvres de L’infanterie du 1er Août 1791 and the Reglement Provisoire sur Le Service de L’Infanterie En Campagne de 1792, the Armies of the French Revolution indoctrinated their officers and men in a new intellectual framework, which proved successful against the enemies of the Revolution. These two documents created a very specific intellectual framework of war that for the purpose of this study will be called the French Combat Method (FCM). The French Combat Method consisted of a simplified tactical system that provided commanders with a variety of tactical formations and movements including lines, attack columns, and skirmishers, and non-dogmatic formula for battle. The FCM organized its order of battle into lines, consisting of units deployed according to the initiative of the individual commanders, the aggressive use of a reserve, and a belief in the offensive action, culminating in a bayonet charge through the enemy’s formation. This method required a standard, universally trained infantry capable of accomplishing all infantry tasks, light and heavy. It was this heritage of the French Revolution, more so than any of Napoleon’s organizational changes or battlefield maneuvers, that the United States Army adopted beginning in the War of 1812. Just as the French Combat Method originated as the intellectual framework of the Armies of the French Revolution through the official regulations of the French Army, the majority of the
sources for this intellectual history are contained within institutional documents, regulations and textbooks, used by the United States Army to disseminate its intellectual framework across the ranks of the army and from one generation of officers and soldiers to another throughout the period. This is not a comprehensive study of American thought from 1814 through 1941 of every service, congressional debate, Secretary of War, General, officer, and soldier. Quite frankly, such a study would be exhaustive and would produce no perceivable pattern at all. The focus on institutional documents, while limited in scope, is profoundly more important regarding the intellectual framework of the American way of warfare. These documents are the primary methods of educating both the serving and future army about combat, battle and warfare. As such, they compose the official and sanctioned body of thought that guided the training, armament, organization, and employment of the U.S. Army. They also demonstrate how the U.S. Army integrated a wide variety of different battlefield conditions, military thought both foreign and domestic, technologies, and enemies into their doctrine, regulations, and military theory. More than the writings of any single individual, this body of publications constituted the intellectual framework of the American way of war. Studying the American intellectual framework from 1814 through 1941 facilitates the study of a complete example of the way in which armies adapt their ideas and conceptions to the modern battlefield. Chapter One focuses on the intellectual framework created by the French themselves in their regulations and documents in 1791 and 1792. Chapter Two traces its adoption by the United States Army during the War of 1812, and its institutionalization in both regulations and the officer corps as demonstrated by the Mexican-American War. Chapter Three examines the way in which the United States Army incorporated changes in technology into its way of warfare, both before and during the Civil War. Chapter Four focuses on the learning that occurred from both the Civil War and the first three years of the Great War in Western Europe, and how the American Expeditionary Force incorporated those lessons into its way of war. Finally, Chapter Five traces the intellectual developments during the inter-war period and culminates with the change from the French Combat Method of 1791 and 1792 through the transition to a different way of war by 1941. The study of the American way of war from the adoption of a French intellectual framework through its replacement by 1941 presents a case study of the way in which military art and science functions like the natural sciences, and shows which definition of science best represents the phenomena of war.
CHAPTER 1: THE FRENCH COMBAT METHOD
And so the day was over; the French could not be shifted, Kellermann had chosen the more favorable position; our men had been pulled out of the firing line and everything was back to where it was before. The greatest consternation spread through the army. Only that morning all they had had in mind was skewering the French and eating them for breakfast. Indeed, it was this unconditional confidence in this army and its commander which had seduced me into joining this perilous expedition. But now everyone kept his own counsel, did not meet the eyes of his comrades, and if he did give tongue, it was only to curse or complain. Just as darkness was failing, I and my companions had formed a circle, at the center of which we couldn’t even start a fire, as was usual. Most stayed silent, a few spoke but no one could come up with an opinion or verdict on the day’s events. Eventually, they turned to me and asked me what I thought about it, for in the past I had usually cheered them up and stimulated them with pithy epigrams; but on this occasion I just said: ‘From here and today there begins a new epoch in the history of the world, and you can say that you were there’. 1
It is only right that Goethe, one of the most brilliant minds of the century, declared the French Revolution a watershed moment in European History, on the battlefield that saved the new Republic from international intervention and provided it with the time required to ensure its survival. The French Revolution altered the relationship between the French people and their government, creating citizens of what would become the First Republic. The creation of a nation of citizens, combined with the removal of internal obstruction of military reform in the officer corps had a tremendous impact on Eighteenth Century warfare. Within the French Armies, there emerged a curious mix of the old and the new, of the techniques of the Ancien Regime invigorated with the motivations and resources of the Revolution.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Campaign in France in the Year 1792, trans. Robert Farie, (London: Chapman and Hill, 1849), 80-81.
This new system disregarded the limitations of Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century warfare and produced a string of victories over the armies of the monarchies of Europe. This French system of warfare, with its corresponding framework of ideas and theories, influenced military affairs far beyond the borders of France, making and impact around the world. Translated French documents transported this framework of war across the ocean to the United States of America and the U. S. Army at the turn of the Eighteenth Century. Therefore, an understanding of the American way of war is incomplete without an understanding, through the ideas, documents, and actions of the wars of the French Revolution, of this new intellectual framework of war and the battlefield. SECTION 1: Military Art and Science before the French Revolution The Military Revolution 1789-1804 There is a small cottage industry in the military history of both the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries that provides a multitude of interpretations of the elements that made the French way of warfare so overwhelmingly powerful as to defeat the armies of every single major power in continental Europe. 2 Some of these interpretations consider the French Revolution a truly watershed moment in history and focus on the fundamentally different nature of warfare that sprang from the revolutionary movement. They describe the different tactics of the French, the use of manpower, and the manner in which the Revolution used the innovations in military doctrine and technology since the Seven Years War. Others see the warfare of the French Revolution as the logical perfection of a system of warfare that had been evolving since the wars
Steven Ross uses a fairly standard interpretation of the French system focusing on its tactical flexibility (the ability to use both lines and columns) and places it in the context of an evolution of warfare. Steven T. Ross, From Flintlock to Rifle: Infantry Tactics, 1740-1866, (Rutherford:Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1978); Several historians share this opinion and consider the French tactical system a compromise between the line and the column. Robert S. Quimby, The Background of Napoleonic Warfare, (New York: Columbia University Press, 1957), 306-7; Ramsay Weston Phipps, The Armies of the First French Republic and the Rise of the Marshals of Napoleon I, ed. Charles Foskett Phipps and Elizabeth Sandars, (London: Oxford University Press, 1926), 39; Delbruck characterized it as a blending of the old and the new utilizing the line, column, and skirmishers. Hans Delbruck, The Dawn of Modern Warfare, trans. Walter J. Renfroe, (Lincoln: University of Nebraska, 1990), 400; Archibald Frank Becke, An Introduction to the History of Tactics, 1740-1905, (London: Hugh Rees, 1909), 18; Gunther Erich Rothenberg, The Art of Warfare In The Age of Napoleon, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1978), 115; Spencer Wilkenson refers to it as a system of flexibility. Spenser Wilkinson, The French Army Before Napoleon; Lectures Delivered Before the University of Oxford in Michaelmas Term, 1914, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1915), 63. John Lynn has three main ingredients for French success, one of which was what he called the full range of techniques available to French arms. John A. Lynn, The Bayonets of the Republic: Motivation and Tactics in the Army of Revolutionary France, 1791-94, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 215. While Jean-Paul Bertaud characterized the French system as comprised of a flanking movement and a strong general attack. Jean Paul Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution: From Citizen Soldiers to Instrument of Power, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988), 239.
of Louis XIV. This approach shows the similarities with Prussian doctrine, the extensive use of linear tactics, and credit all of the important theorists as heavily influenced by works and experiences from Frederick the Great and the Seven Years War. A third interpretation focuses on the expediency of the French system that rose from the battlefield to astound the armies modeled on the older Frederican model. This argument to experience and common sense was made from almost the beginning of the Wars of the French Revolution. 3 Gerhard von Scharnhorst, who spent years fighting this new French system, expressed this opinion in an essay describing the French in combat: “The French armies, compelled by the situation in which they found themselves and aided by their national genius, had developed a practical system of tactics that permitted them to fight over open or broken ground, in open or close order, but this without their being aware of their system.” 4
This statement of the primacy of the battlefield and expediency, made by one of the most influential reformers in the Prussian Army, demonstrates the persuasive nature of this argument. In addition to these approaches, almost all of the analyses of French warfare see it as an imperfect form of the system perfected by Napoleon. These previous analyses have two shortcomings: their scope and their characterization of the French system as a system of expedients formed on the field of battle. Defining of the powerful system of warfare created by the French Revolution requires an analysis of the intellectual framework that enabled its flexibility and effectiveness in combat. Hans Delbruck created perhaps the most useful conceptualization of this new system of warfare in his influential work The Dawn of Modern Warfare. In it, he referred to this fundamental revolution in warfare as the French Combat Method. Delbruck characterized this method as a combination of the linear tactics of the old regime, a renewed emphasis on light infantry and skirmisher tactics, and column attacks from the theoretical debates of the last half of
This thesis of common sense pervades much of the historiography on the evolution of tactics and doctrine. Paddy Griffith points to the dominance of circumstance, common sense and experience that provided the major catalyst to the creation of the French way of warfare, Paddy Griffith, The Art of War of Revolutionary France, 1789-1802, (Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, 1998), 232; Trevor Nevitt Dupuy claims that tactics are devised to suit the weapons systems and their capabilities, Trevor Nevitt Dupuy, The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare, 1. 4 Peter Paret, Yorck and the Era of Prussian Reform, 1807-1815, (Princeton, 1966), 258.
the 18th Century. 5 He identified the three major components of this new system, the increase in manpower, its extensive use of skirmishers, and its logistical system. 6 While this analysis does offer an explanation of French victory and has the potential of capturing the spirit of the French way of warfare, these elements are only a part of this new system of warfare. Thus, examining the ideas of the military philosophes of the Eighteenth Century and their embodiment in the regulations of the Revolution issued in 1791 and 1792 provides the intellectual framework of this FCM, and creates an analytical tool with which to understand American warfare in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries. The Linear Warfare of the Ancien Regime As the citizen-soldier enabled the realization of some of the strategic ideas and theories of the Eighteenth Century, it also allowed armies to follow a much more simple and powerful organization. Since the gunpowder revolution, military theorists and professionals sought to create infantry units uniformly equipped and trained with the musket. It was not until the invention of the socket bayonet that allowed the armies of Europe began to develop the larger infantry based armies armed entirely with smoothbore muskets, replacing both the Spanish Tercios and Swedish Brigades with their mixtures of muskets and pikes.7 These armies had specialized units of heavy line infantry and light infantry skirmishers. Theorists like Guibert cried out for the elimination of different types of infantry units and the creation of an infantry army capable of executing all infantry tasks. 8 However, the needs and requirements of European armies in the Eighteenth Century made such an army impossible. The recruited professional armies of the Eighteenth Century were a product of their political and military environments. With the devastation of the Thirty Years War not forgotten, rulers desired an army supplied from magazines and placed under a strict discipline to make those armies reliable both in war and peace. As the century progressed, and the corresponding increases in the power of the centralized state allowed for ever increasing military establishments, the quality of recruits and officers became at the same time both more mercenary
Delbruck, The Dawn of Modern Warfare, 400. Ibid., 414. 7 Strachan, European Armies and The Conduct of War, 27. 8 Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte Guibert, A General Essay on Tactics. With an Introductory Discourse, Upon the Present state of Politics, and the Military Science in Europe trans. LT Douglas, (London: J. Millan, 1781), 117.
and less reliable. 9 At the same time, uniformly equipped infantrymen required more and more precision drill not only to maneuver on the battlefield, but also to produce the firepower necessary to maximize the effectiveness of the inaccurate musket. 10 The realities of Eighteenth Century Europe led to the professional armies of the ancien regime. The linear warfare of the Eighteenth Century was a result of these technological, political, economic, and organizational constraints. With the increase in muskets and firepower in the infantry, the battlefield became a contest between armies to generate the higher volume of fire to break the enemy line or formation. This penetration was not generated by the shock of cavalry, or the maneuver of formations, but was a result of the ability to destroy enough of the enemy formation so that the remainder would break and run. In order to generate this kind of firepower, the reserves of old were deployed into the main battle formation to ensure that all possible firepower affected the enemy formations. The commanding general dictated the entire order of battle prior to the combat, deployed his whole force into a single formation, and launched his infantry against the infantry of the enemy. When the two formations collided, the better-trained and drilled units produced a higher volume of fire by continuing to operate their muskets amidst the carnage created by the short range volley fire of smoothbore muskets. 11 The discipline required to create effective infantry on the linear battlefield became the major factor in victory, and the limiting factor on Eighteenth Century warfare. The armies of Europe became organizations of specialists driven by a harsh and in some circumstances extreme discipline. The unreliable nature of recruited troops made the creation of special organizations an intelligent solution, which provided a picked corps of men who the general could be sure would carry out orders. While the exploits of grenadiers and other specially recruited formations are prevalent throughout the Eighteenth Century, they had a negative effect
Christopher Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, (New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1987), 18. 10 Rothenberg, The Art of Warfare In The Age of Napoleon, 13. 11 There is an extensive historiography on linear warfare, and the warfare of Frederick the Great. For more detailed descriptions the following works are all excellent sources on the battlefield conditions and tactics of the Eighteenth Century. Dennis Showalter, The Wars of Frederick the Great, (London: Longman Group, 1995); T. C. W. Blanning, The French Revolutionary Wars, 1787-1802, (New York: Arnold, 1996); John Childs, Armies and Warfare in Europe, 1648-1789, (New York Holmes and Meier, 1982); Delbruck, The Dawn of Modern Warfare; Theodore Ayrault Dodge, Napoleon: A History of the Art of War From the Beginning of the French Revolution to the End of the Eighteenth Century, (New York: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1904); Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, David Fraser, Frederick The Great, (New York: Fromm Intl, 2001); Strachan, European Armies and The Conduct of War.
on the regular line regiments. 12 For the regular line infantry regiments, discipline became the vehicle that inculcated the drill required to perform on the battlefield, and prevented what all military professional feared from his recruited troops: desertion. As the status of the private soldier declined, desertion became rampant and the harsh discipline of the Eighteenth Century was designed to prevent this threat to the army. The French Minister of War Saint-German stated in 1779 “as things stand now, armies must inevitably be composed of the filth of the nation, and everything which is useless and harmful to society. We must turn to military discipline as the means of purifying this corrupt mass, of shaping it, and of making in useful.” 13 These battalions could only be trained to perform specific battlefield tasks, thus line infantry trained only to fight as line infantry, and light infantry only as light infantry. Commanders considered it dangerous to the maintenance of discipline and effectiveness to have line infantry train or fight as skirmishers. 14 Not only did most of the generals of the time believe that the battle was really won and lost with the line infantry, and thus saw light infantry as having little part to play on the battlefield, it also provided soldiers an opportunity to desert. Europe in the Eighteenth Century required specialization and discipline in its armies in order to provide generals with a reliable army with which to wage war. The French Debates from 1760-1788 No element of the military art of Eighteenth Century Europe underwent more consideration, development, discussion and reform than battlefield tactics, and because of its disastrous performance during the Seven Years War, there was no country more interested in its evolution than France. French military professionals carried on a continual debate concerning the best form of tactics for the modern battlefield from the 1760s to the 1790s. Out of these debates there arose two distinct schools of thought, one supporting the ordre profound or the attack in column while the other continued to emphasize importance of the ordre mince, or linear warfare. The ordre profound had many proponents in the debates, but none as influential as JacquesAntoine-Hippolyte, Comte de Guibert and his famous Essai General de Tactic.
Duffy cites several examples where such picked bodies of grenadiers performed too much and almost became surrounded (as at the Battle of Prague in 1757), or where they were unable to effect the decision due to their concentration on a quiet and unimportant part of the battlefield (as at the Battle of Krefeld in 1758). He concludes that often these troops were called on to do too much and resulted in high casualties without commensurate benefits on the battlefield. Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 133-34. 13 Saint-Germain as cited in Ibid., 89-90. 14 Delbruck quotes from a memorandum produced probably in 1800 by Gneisenau expressing this resistance to using line infantry to skirmish. Delbruck, The Dawn of Modern Warfare, 403-06.
Although Guibert continued to support the primacy of the line over the column, he proposed a simplified system of evolutions that enabled an army to move from line to column to take advantage of the firepower of the line and the mobility, and offensive capability of the column. 15 His main improvement on the tactics of the day was the simplification of the evolutions of the line for the French soldiers, making the movements on the parade field, and subsequently on the battlefield, easier to execute. His rival in these theoretical debates was François Mesnil-Durand who put forth the strength of the ordre profound or the deep attack column. He made intelligent arguments for the power and successful nature of attacks in column and even caught the eye and approval of Marshal Victor-François de Broglie, the foremost soldier in France before the Revolution. The exercises at the camp of Vaussieux in 1778 were a series of large maneuvers that became essentially field trials between these two schools of thought, where both Guibert and Mesnil-Durand served on the Marshal’s staff. 16 Although there was no clear statement from Marshal de Broglie, it seemed clear to the participants that Guibert’s evolutions were indeed easier for troops to execute and that Mesnil-Durand’s attack columns failed to convince the majority of those present. These debates had reached a very detailed and fevered pitch before the outbreak of the Revolution institutionalized them into a regulation for the new armies. This debate between French military philisophes like Guibert, and Mesnil-Durand, led Marshal Victor-François de Broglie to command a series of exercises in 1778 at a camp in Vaussieux in Normandy. Although no official system was adopted following these exercises, the renewed discussion in pamphlets and books informed the continued reform movement in the French Army. 17 This reform movement produced a Provisional Ordinance of 1788 that was significantly different from the regulations used throughout the 1770s, and it synthesized all of the progress made since the 1750s. 18 However, the French Revolution derailed army reform until a committee formed under Colonel Vicomte de Noailles of the Chasseurs d’Alsace created another synthesis entirely. This synthesis became Règlement Concernant L’exercise et Manoeuvres de L’infanterie du 1er Août 1791 or the Regulations of 1791. However, this synthesis
Guibert, 120-23. John A. Lynn, Tools of War: Instruments, Ideas, and Institutions of Warfare, 1445-1871, (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1990), 161. 17 Strachan, European Armies and The Conduct of War, 27. 18 Quimby, The Background of Napoleonic Warfare, 302-04.
required the force of the French Revolution in order to make the dreams of the military committee into a reality. SECTION 2: The New Warfare of the French Revolution The Creation of the Citizen Soldier Any understanding of the French Combat Method has to begin with an analysis of the social impacts of the French Revolution. The idea that the changes in the French Army, and corresponding changes in the way that they fought, were a reflection of the changing social and political culture in France is not new to the historiography. Delbruck himself declared that following the Allied invasion of 1792, “gradually formed in France the new military system based on the new political idea and conditions.” 19 This is a common interpretation in historiography of the military aspects of the Revolution and states that the real change in warfare was linked to the other, more sweeping changes wrought on France and Europe by the Revolution. 20 The problem with Delbruck’s analysis, and correspondingly the majority of the historiography, is that they fail to pinpoint this change, or series of changes, which transformed warfare. The critical element of the French Combat Method, which describes this relationship between the political and the military changes of the Revolution, is the nation in arms. However, the nation in arms usually leads to an analysis of the Revolution’s ability to mobilize its population for war, but this is not the most important aspect with regard to the new system of warfare. At its heart lies the political changes of 1789, and was the product of the transformation of France from a nation of privilege to a nation of citizens. All of the fundamental changes that make up the Nation in Arms stem from this important transformation. Although far from realized, the creation of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, the August Decrees, and the abolition of Feudalism transformed France into a new kind of polity. As Clausewitz described it in his On War, “in 1793 a force appeared that beggared the imagination. Suddenly war again became the business of the people – a people of 30 millions, all of whom considered themselves to be citizens… the people became a participant in war.” 21 This new relationship between the people and war set the stage for the transformation
Delbruck, The Dawn of Modern Warfare, 395. MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, eds, The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050, 58. 21 Carl von Clausewitz, On War, ed. Peter Paret Michael Howard, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984), 591-2.
from the limited, linear warfare of the Eighteenth Century, and the new age of warfare ushered in by the Revolution. By creating a nation of citizens, it was possible for the Committee of Public Safety to mobilize the country for war in by making it the duty of all citizens to defend the La Patrie by issuing the Levee en Masse. Throughout his Essai General de Tactic, Guibert praised the virtue and capabilities of a citizen army as the way of the future, even though he downplayed their role in his Defense. 22 He described this new military as springing from “a free state, a people that could carry on war with little cost, because all citizens would arm themselves for the common defense, without crying out for pay.” 23 The Levee en Masse was the realization of this stronger, simpler, and more virile image of both the state and the military that Guibert identifies as the cornerstone for a new way of warfare. But the cornerstone was the citizen and not the 300,000 men credited to the Levee en Masse. The New Discipline of an Army of Citizen Soldiers If the creation of a nation of citizens produced an army to fight the wars of peoples, it was the simultaneous creation of the citizen-soldier that transformed this conscript army into a powerfully flexible military machine that by the end of the Wars of the French Revolution defeated the armies of every single member of the 1st Coalition. In the armies that fought for the Bourbon Monarchy, the infantry soldiers predominantly came from urban areas and represented segments of the population that were forced into the army in order to survive. 24 In comparison, Levee en Masse produced citizen-soldiers that more adequately represented the makeup of France, which changed the army from a predominantly urban to a predominantly rural force. 25 The wider pool of military manpower added to the connection between the army and the nation. In addition to the increased representative nature of the army, the quality of the men that filled the ranks also improved. 26 These new citizen-soldiers provided a better foundation upon which
Guibert was not alone in calling for a citizen army. In fact, a large number of philosophes wrote about citizen soldiers to include Rousseau, Mably, and Montesquieu, and there even appeared articles concerning them in Diderot’s Encyclopedie. Gordon A. Craig Peter Paret, Felix Gilbert, eds., Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), 107; Jacques-Antoine-Hippolyte Guibert, Defense du Systeme de Guerre Moderne (Neuchatel: Pollard, 1779). 23 Guibert, A General Essay on Tactics, vol. 2, 128. 24 Lynn, The Bayonets of the Republic, 43. 25 Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution, 132. 26 J. F. C. Fuller, The Conduct of War, 1789-1961; A study of the Impact of the French, Industrial and Russian Revolutions on War and Its Conduct, (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1961), 36.
to build an army, but their biggest advantage lay in a series of new and important motivations to fight for France. The creation of citizen-soldiers provided the armies of the Republic with a variety of new motivations that directly increased their effectiveness on the battlefield. The most fundamental change in these motivations is the change in foci in the interests of the individual soldier. The way in which a soldier defines his interest has an impact on his level of commitment to his military organization. 27 The citizen-soldiers of the revolution represented a fundamental change from this system, as the primary interest of the soldiers were linked to the survival and interests of the state. Therefore, the citizen-soldier of the French Revolution was fighting for his selfinterest in defense of his rights as a citizen of the French Republic. 28 This different way in which citizen soldiers identified interest requires a fundamentally different kind of discipline. In all armies, both conscripted and professional, discipline is one of the most important components of combat effectiveness. In the old regime, discipline was harsh and uncompromising because the interests of the soldiers of the old regime were more mercenary and an extremely small percentage were motivated by feelings of patriotism. 29 Officers believed that only through harsh discipline would soldiers remain in the ranks continuing to fire, despite the high casualty rates that the battlefields of linear warfare produced. 30 However, the citizen-soldier who identified his self-interest with that of the state required a different kind of discipline. Because of this difference in interest, the soldier willingly put himself under military discipline, not through coercion or material rewards, but because the survival of the state depended on his service. 31 Citizens also deserved better treatment simply because they were citizens, equally vested in the defense of the state with individual rights under law. It should not be surprising that the regulations determining military discipline issued in 1792 would be very different from those of the old regime. In 1792, the Convention drafted a new regulation governing the disciplining of troops of the new Republic. Gone were the humiliating corporal punishments of old. It was no longer legal
In his groundbreaking work Bayonets of the Republic, John Lynn used an interdisciplinary model of combat effectiveness to identify the concept of interest as central to troop motivation and by extension to combat effectiveness. Lynn, The Bayonets of the Republic, 23. 28 Ibid., 21. 29 Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 8-10. 30 Childs, Armies and Warfare in Europe, , 42. Duffy, The Military Experience in the Age of Reason, 99. Delbruck, The Dawn of Modern Warfare, 252-54. Strachan, European Armies and The Conduct of War, 15. 31 Lynn, The Bayonets of the Republic, 21.
to use floggings and other corporal punishments on the citizens of the new republic. The new regulations published in 1792 forbid officers “to injure, or distress those under their command by harsh, abusive, and unbecoming language or by a conduct tyrannical, overbearing or unjust.” 32 Military justice began to reflect the belief that justice was not designated by class or prerogative, but was the right of every citizen of France. These new regulations also clearly delineated the privileges of officers by rank to not only formalize the kinds of courtesies and privileges that officers could expect, but also to clear away the last vestiges of a society run by influence and prestige. 33 Discipline in this new republic was expected to be self-imposed by the soldier, not the result of coercion by sergeants and officers. By refashioning the citizen solider as the defender of the republic, the Revolution reinforced the impact of the new discipline codes, which effectively motivated large numbers of men to stay in the army, and encouraged a new resistance to desertion. While the desertion rates for the majority of the Eighteenth Century were a serious impediment to the conduct of war, the citizen armies of France had remarkably low desertion rates. The Levee en Masse was not a universal conscription, as the system allowed citizens to purchase their way out of serving, and quotas in some regions of France went unfilled for long periods of time. However, of the men that eventually became part of the French war machine, there was a surprisingly small amount of desertion. In 1793, desertion represented 8% of the total manpower, or between 40,000-50,000 men. 34 In 1794, following the intensive program of coercive measures and indoctrination of the Terror, desertion fell from 8% to 4%. 35 This figure should be compared to the rates of desertion throughout the Eighteenth Century, which averaged 25% across the armies of Europe. 36
France, Rules and regulations for the field exercise, and manoeuvres of the French Infantry, issued August 1, 1791. And the manoeuvres added, which have been since adopted by the Emperor Napoleon. Also, the manoeuvres of the field artillery with Infantry. Translated by Irenée Amelot de Lacroix. Edited by John Macdonald. 2 vols. Boston: T.B. Wait and Co., 1810, vol. 1, 191. 33 Ibid., 192-99. 34 Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution, 259. 35 Ibid., 260. 36 The desertion rates for the entirety of the Eighteenth Century would be almost impossible to reconstruct, but 25% is probably not too far off of the mark. The French suffered 25% desertion throughout the War of Spanish Succession, while in the Saxon infantry from 1717 through 1728 the desertion rate was approximately 40%. During the Seven Years’ War, the Prussians lost 80,000 men, the French 70,000, and the Austrians 62,000 men from desertion. 25% seems to be a general average of these figures. Strachan, European Armies and the Conduct of War, 9.
Even more surprising was that it was not uncommon for soldiers to leave the ranks to attend to personal affairs, the harvest, and family survival, and then reappear at the front ready to continue to serve the Republic. When brought to justice after voluntarily returning to his unit, Julien Simon stated that he “did not think I did anything wrong.” 37 This was diametrically opposed to the beliefs of many of the generals of the old regime as even Frederick the Great designed many of his principles of warfare around the belief that only the harsh discipline of Non-Commissioned Officers kept soldiers in the ranks. He began his famous Instructions by reminding his generals to avoid desertion by recommending against night movements, night attacks, and even billeting troops near wooded areas for fear of massive desertions. 38 This difference between the discipline of the Fredrickan soldiers and the citizen-soldiers of France had wide ranging effects on the capabilities of the Infantry. The French soldiers were not necessarily better than their ancien regime enemies, but their new discipline carried with it a series of advantages to the battlefield. In the old regime, it was only through harsh discipline that soldiers remained in the ranks both on the battlefield and moving to the battlefield. 39 The high desertion rates associated with this kind of discipline restricted the ability of commanders to move rapidly, to use different routes and thus increase mobility, to move and attack at night, and to promote initiative in junior officers. However, the citizen-soldier who identifies his self-interest with that of the state required a different kind of discipline and through this new discipline generated a new range of capabilities. These capabilities made possible the army that Guibert envisioned in 1771, one that could move and maneuver in ways undreamed of by the officers of Frederick the Great. This army allowed the French to re-write warfare with the Regulations of 1791 and 1792. The Regulations of 1791: A New System of Tactics The Regulations of 1791 provided French arms with a new flexible system of tactics. This new system created a variety of formations for commanders to use in order to take advantage of the terrain and the dispositions and weaknesses of the enemy. However, for all of its innovation, it still focused primarily on the line. The line fulfilled the same function for the French armies in 1793 as it did in 1763, as the formation that maximized the firepower of the
Bertaud, The Army of the French Revolution, 261. Thomas R. Phillips, ed., Roots of Strategy: The 5 Greatest Military Classics of All Time,(Harrisburg: Stackpole Books, 1985), 311-12. 39 Rothenberg, The Art of Warfare In The Age of Napoleon, 13.
standard issue infantry musket. 40 On the battlefield, musket fire delivered from line formations continued to cause the majority of casualties, and thus the line maintained its dominance. 41 They used linear formations primarily in the defense, to support skirmishers, and for attack. The armies of the Revolution used lines on the defense and were most widely used as a method of retreating or breaking contact with the enemy, an example of which was the 56th Infantry Regiment who covered the French retreat at Wattignies on 15 October 1793. 42 It was also critical that regular formations provided support for the French skirmishers in the event of an attack by enemy heavy infantry, as shown by General Houchard’s positioning of infantry in line behind the town of Rexpoede in September 1793, as the skirmishers engaged the enemy in front of the village. 43 Even in the midst of a military revolution, the tactical flexibility of the Regulations of 1791 gave commanders the ability to use the line when appropriate, while at the same time paving the way for the use of a small tactical column in the attack. In addition to the simplified linear tactics, the regulation also synthesized in all of the debates concerning the ordre profound and gave French arms a column. The tactics for the column were divided into two different uses, for movement to the battlefield and for column attacks on the battlefield. The principle method of deploying onto the battlefield was no longer the line with perfect alignment and precision drill. The regulation stipulated that the column was the principle movement technique until reaching the battlefield itself. Then the battalions would be ordered into the line, which the new regulations made easier than before, or they could advance into the attack. The basic attack column of the Regulations of 1791 was not a deep attack column, but rather a column by divisions. This column consisted of two companies abreast of each other, separated by a small gap between companies, which formed into a columns of platoons with three lines deep. This double company column was the primary means in which the French Infantry was to close with the enemy and deliver what the Revolution came to believe was the climax of the attack: the bayonet charge.
Jean-Lambert-Alphonse Colin, L'Infanterie au XVIIIe Siecle a Tactique, (Paris: Berger-Levrault, 1907), 273. Jean-Lambert-Alphonse Colin, La Tactique et la Discipline dans les Armées de la Révolution; Correspondance du Général Schauenbourg du 4 Avril au 2 Août 1793, (Paris: R. Chapelot et cie, 1902), xvii. 42 Using John Lynn’s 108 engagement study of the Armee du Nord, the use of the line for the defense was documented 22 times comprising 20% of the engagements, the defense at Wattignes being one of the most prominent. Lynn, The Bayonets of the Republic, 248. 43 Supporting light infantry with infantry in line was recorded 6 times in the 108 engagements of Lynn’s study comprising 5.5% of the engagements, of which the engagement at Rexpoede was one. Ibid., 250.
There was no other more revolutionary single tactical innovation in the Regulations of 1791 than the small attack column. Although the line was used for a variety of purposes, in the attack the revolutionary armies used the attack column. In the same study of the operations of the Army of the North, the column was utilized in 47 engagements out of 108 total, or 43.5% of the operations of the army as a whole. 44 Thirty-five percent of these engagements saw the use of the small attack column on the battlefield, such as General Lacroix’s attack during the battle of Tourcoing. 45 Additional columns used on the battlefield by the Armee du Nord included movement columns, columns as preliminary formations, and columns by platoons. 46 From the fall of 1792, the column became an integral part of the tactical options of the French armies, and a mainstay of French offensive operations. The Regulations of 1792: A New Framework of Battle With the exodus of royal officers, the new officer corps had to rapidly assimilate these new tactics in order to exercise effective command of their troops. Far from learning this doctrine from battlefield experience, the same committee that produced the tactical regulation produced a regulation entitled the Règlement Provisoire Sur le Service de L’infanterie au Campaign or Regulations of 1792. This regulation contained detailed descriptions on how to move, equip, encamp, picket, and secure battalions and divisions of the newly trained soldiers. However, more important than the Regulations pertaining to the command of troops was the short twenty-four page section entitled Instruction for the Day of Combat. This section provided a concise statement of how the new tactics functioned together on the battlefield. This regulation was extremely important in the education of the officers that led the armies of the Republic, and later the Empire to victory. Before significant numbers of French citizens went into battle to either defend or export the revolution, they spent a considerable amount of time in camps of instruction. The French army had a history of using camps of instruction for the purpose of tactical training, and during the 1770s for the evaluation of competing tactical doctrines. The most famous of these camps was the camp at Vassieux in 1778. 47 It was at this camp that Marshal Broglie evaluated the systems of Guibert’s smaller attack columns by division against the deep attack columns and
Lynn, The Bayonets of the Republic, 287-300. Ibid., 291. 46 Ibid., 291. 47 For a detailed examination of these trials and the debates which led to them there remains no study more comprehensive than Quimby, The Background of Napoleonic Warfare.
revised drill of Folard. In addition to the testing of doctrine, French units conducted tactical training and indoctrinated recruits at this camp. The armies of the Revolution were no different in their use of camps of instruction. These camps appeared throughout the armies of the Revolution, making an important contribution to combat effectiveness. The Armee du Nord established three of them for the purpose of training volunteer battalions from the Volunteers of 1791 and 1792. 48 It was in this way that the volunteers of 1791 received between four and eight months of training before they ever marched out to meet the enemies of the Republic. Such training turned raw recruits into the battalions that stood firm before the Prussian advance at Valmy. General Adam Philippe Custine then created camps of instruction for the officers and NCOs of his army, so that they could go forth into their units and train them in a more rapid and decentralized way. 49 These drillmasters were critical in the leavening of the army and the rapid increases in their combat effectiveness. Even the Armee du Pyrenees established camps of instruction while watching the Spanish armies. These camps provided both fortifications and the training necessary to take the offensive in 1793. 50 The armies which defended the Republic were not as untrained or undisciplined as the Republican myth purports. Indeed, with several months of training with the Regulations of 1791, it was no surprise that the French troops performed so well. Even though the new regulations represented a significant improvement on the drill system in use at the time of the French Revolution, they were new to both the professional soldiers and the new volunteers. This represented a problem for the wide dissemination of the new regulations across the armies of the Republic. 51 However, the new regulations themselves provided the answers. At the tactical level, one of the important changes made in the 1791 regulations was the simplicity of movement. The regulations committee made every effort to simplify the overly ceremonial and extraneous movements out of the drill when they adopted it. This was mainly the work of Guibert, and was his major contribution to the project. Additionally, the simplicity of drill lent itself to a simplicity of organization and instruction, which assisted in the wide dissemination through the camps of instruction used throughout the armies of France.
Phipps, The Armies of the First French Republic, vol. 1, 84-96. Ibid., vol. 1, 186. 50 Ibid., vol. 3, 145. 51 The old military truism being that” it is extremely perilous to change systems of tactics in an army in the midst of a war, and highly inconvenient even at the beginning of one.” Winfield Scott, Memoirs of Lieutenant-General Scott, 2 vols, (New York: Sheldon & Company, 1864), vol. 2, 259.
The regulation was designed for ease of instruction and organized around schools. For the new officers created by the French Revolution, the Regulations of 1792 provided a similar education in the basics of officership and a broader understanding of how the techniques taught in the Regulations of 1791 came together on the battlefield. This organization facilitated the instruction of the most important set of drill regulations to shape an army in the Eighteenth Century. Written following the Regulations of 1791, the Règlement Provisoire Sur le Service de L’infanterie au Campaign published in April 1792 came from the same regulations committee as the 1791 Regulations and provided the overarching conceptual framework required by the previous regulation. This Regulation enabled a brigade trained from the soldier to the battalion in the new regulations to function both on and off the battlefield. These instructions contained very specific descriptions concerning the duties of officers and sergeants as they pertained to the regular life of the unit. The instructions devoted sections to the organization of the baggage train, the planning and creation of encampments, the equipage of soldiers, and the formation of a general staff for the distribution of discipline and justice. 52 These instructions allowed for the disciplined and orderly introduction of the French recruits into military society. They prevented the arbitrary abuse of power that was too often associated with the royal army and allowed for the orderly assumption of camp life. In fact, the entire regulation focused on the importance of military discipline and how to achieve it in every aspect of the infantry soldier on campaign. In addition to these important functions of military and camp life, the Regulations of 1792 also provided instructions concerning the movement of troops during the campaign itself. Providing instructions for officers in the command and control of their formations during the movement phase of the campaign was extremely important. The instructions described in
The Regulation of 1792 contained the following sections: Section I- On Preparations for Campaigns, Section IIOn Reviews and Inspections, Section III- On the Formation of Brigades, Section IV- On Encampments, Section VOn the Establishments in an camp, and on the manner of occupying it, Section VI- On Police Guards, Section VIIOn the order and Detail to be followed in the Brigades, Section VIII- On the Superior Officers of the Piquet, Section IV- On the Organization of the Army, Section X- On the Mode Followed in the Army for Furnishing Guards, Section XI- On Giving and Receiving Orders, Section XII- On Retreat-Beating, Roll Calls and Beats of the Drum, Section XIII- On Assembly, Inspection and Marching off of Guards, Section XIV- On The Service or Duty of Guards, Section XV, Particular Instructions for Every Officer Commanding a Post, Section XVI- On Sentinels, Section XVII- On Detachments, Section XVIII- Instructions for the Commanders of Detachments, Section XIX- On Marches, Section XX- Instructions for the Day of Combat, Section XXI- On the Order of March, Section XXII- On the Interior Economy, Food Order, and Police of Armies, Section XXIII- On the Police, and Interior Economy of Head-Quarters, Section XXIV- On Distribution, or Articles Served Out, Section XXV- On Forage, Section XXVIOn Depots, or Stations for Convalescents, Section XXVII- On Safe Guards, or Protections, Section XXVIII- On Military Honors, Section XXIX- On Funeral Honors, Section XXXI- On Making Inventories, Section XXXII- On Cantonments at the Conclusion of a Campaign, Section XXXIII- On Reviews at the Conclusion of the Campaign, Section XXXIV- On Sieges, Section XXXV- On Camps.
detail how the baggage train moved in relation to the marching columns, how to control a marching column to avoid unnecessary fatiguing of the men, the proper way of attaining forage for the animals of the army, and the best way to provide security for the movements. 53 These instructions pertaining to the rapid movement and security of marching columns were important to the new French way of warfare. The simplified drill and manual of arms increased the speed of movement of the French units at the tactical level. This increase of speed required a more simplified and efficient organization at the brigade level and above, which this regulation provided very effectively. 54 The Regulation also covered a variety of subjects only indirectly related, but a part of the duties of infantry on campaign. These included military honors, funeral instructions, the organization of infantry troops on campaign, how to effectively manage manpower in the building of trench works and fortifications, and the reviews and cantonments necessary at the end of a campaign. The purpose of these sections was to increase the effectiveness of the army at the Brigade level and higher. This Regulation of 1792 pertaining to the service of infantry on campaign also created an efficient and effective means of controlling the newly trained French units. With an officer corps that was increasingly highly motivated but inexperienced, these instructions allowed them to inculcate in their units a useful military discipline. The preparations for movement in the Royal Army that would take hours now took minutes. The new efficiencies in the baggage trains, the march formations, and the drill itself allowed the French units to increase their quick step to 90 steps per minute, a significant improvement over their predecessors. If these detailed instructions concerning the discipline and functioning of an army on campaign were the only contribution of the Regulations of 1792 they would have had a positive impact on the military effectiveness of the French Armies. However, these new regulations played another important role in providing a unifying conceptual framework to the new system of tactics. Both these regulations and the Regulations of 1791, when taken as a whole, form an extremely well synchronized system for the movement, deployment, and combat of an infantry based army. Each of the sections in the regulation builds on and supports the other. The schools or disciplines for the instruction of the soldiers in the manual of arms and drill were designed to train the soldier from the recruit through the brigade. The sections concerning the other arms
France, Reglement Provisoire Sur le Service De L'infanterie au Campagne. (Paris: De Impremiere Royale, 1792), 109. 54 Ibid., 204-36.
were organized in the same way, and this drill complemented the infantry drill. In the Instructions, the building blocks of forming the brigade, organizing the baggage train, equipping the units, marching them on campaign, and securing them, all formed a coherent whole. This was perhaps the reason that the section which laid out the intellectual or conceptual framework, under which the entire system operated, was contained in a relatively small section. There was no need for a larger discussion of the military theory behind the integration of all of the arms functioning as ordered by the regulation on the battlefield. This single section was entitled Instruction for the Day of Combat, and within its thirteen pages was outlined almost the entirety of the French tactical system. The Instruction for the Day of Combat presented officers with a complete concept for the execution of war, which was extremely consistent with the changing nature of not only the system of tactics but the make up of the armies of the Revolution. Divided thematically into three parts, the first part focused on the individual soldier, how to inspire them, command them, and lead them into combat. The second part concerned the exercise of command and control by the general officers at the corps, wing, and division level. The last part consisted of a set of general principles and a description of the duties of all of the types of troops on the battlefield. Taken together, these three parts created the intellectual framework of a new system of war that that fundamentally changed warfare. The foundation of French victory throughout the Revolutionary and Napoleonic period was the French citizen-soldier and the unique capabilities he brought to the battlefield. The quality and type of recruit had an immense impact on the capabilities of armies throughout the Eighteenth Century. As the armies of Frederick the Great were composed of conscripts, foreigners, and impressed men whose discipline required iron drill and uncompromising justice, they constrained the capabilities of the army by not allowing troops to forage, pursue, conduct night or prolonged marches, or disperse on the battlefield. The soldiers of the French army from 1789 onward were citizens in every sense of the word. They had a civic duty to defend the republic and for a variety of reasons fought with honor in the ranks of the French armies. This change in motivation, and its subsequent change in the quality of troops, was evident in the beginning part of the Instructions when it discussed the best way to command the individual soldiers. The Instructions cautioned officers away from attempting to lie or deceive the troops in order to produce a stronger effort. Instead, revolutionary officers were encouraged
to accurately explain the situation before them, calling on their discipline, alacrity to obey the orders of their commanders, and their natural firmness and courage. Instead of coercive measures and deception to achieve combat effectiveness, the French officer had only to appeal to the civic duty of his soldiers, their innate courage and their acquired discipline in order to charge into the enemy ranks. 55 Continuing this discussion of leadership, the manual focused attention on the role of the officer during combat. The Instructions also made the officers place out in front of the formation, leading the charge, explaining that the best way to motivate revolutionary soldiers was by personal example. 56 These were the ways in which generals would lead their commands into battle and fully harness the increased capabilities of the new citizen-soldiers. The Instructions moved directly from leading troops from the front to exercising more effective command and control of the new tactical system. The Regulations of 1792 then described the most effective way of exerting control in order to take advantage of the increased capabilities of the French armies. An army comprised of citizen-soldiers and led from the front by officers intent on inspiring their commands, was explicitly driven by an offensive nature that permeated these new regulations. The Instructions make a point to encourage their officers never to fall back, always to press onward to victory. For additional emphasis, the Instructions put “the most resolute and determined, are always those who gain battle” in italics to emphasize the advantages of the offensive. 57 These passages in the Regulations relayed an offensive sentiment that pervaded revolutionary propaganda, both in and out of the military. These citizen-soldiers led into the attack required a more responsive exercise of command from the commanding general to the divisions. To facilitate rapid and offensive operations, and to avoid the limitations of the set piece battles of linear warfare, the Regulations encouraged generals to issue their plan of battle in a way that allowed subordinate commanders to understand the commander’s intent. 58 Following the issue of this guidance, the wing commanders, reserve commander and even the division commanders were authorized to take the latitude to make independent decisions that fit into the overall guidance given by the commanders. 59 Commanders could then capitalize on opportunities presented by the terrain and the actions of the enemy. In this way, French forces
Ibid., 110. Ibid., 111. 57 Ibid., 111. 58 Ibid., 111. 59 Ibid., 112.
would overpower their enemies with a rapidity of movement and decision making, against which enemy formations were unable to respond effectively. The individually motivated French citizen, led by officers encouraged to take the initiative, required only a comprehensive framework that integrated all of the new capabilities of the system of tactics in order to achieve victory on the battlefield. More important than the harnessing of citizen soldiers or an officer corps focused on taking the initiative in battle was the creation of a concise framework using both general principles and a description of the different types of troops on the battlefield which not only brought together the sections of the Regulations of 1791 and 92, but the entirety of the new system of tactics. These seven general principles provided officers with an effective checklist for the exercise of command before, during and after battle. The first two principles directed commanders to deploy their formation in a line with the reserve within supporting distance of the main line, and to deploy the divisions so that they are both mutually supporting and able to respond to enemy action. These principles reinforced the Regulation’s focus on the importance of initiative through deliberate positioning of division, so that they functioned both as a part of the battle plan as well as independently in response to unexpected enemy activity. 60 The next two principles proscribed attacks both in conception and execution. Attacks should be executed simultaneously to deny the enemy time to concentrate against any attack in particular, and all attacks should be carried out with vigor. This was the offensive nature of the citizen soldiers and the reliance on the bayonet transformed into military principle. Additionally, the Regulation cautioned commanders against relying on any single attack for victory. Instead, attacks should expect to meet resistance requiring several attacks carried through with spirit and alacrity. This was the way that the revolutionary armies would defeat their professional opponents. 61 The remaining two principles dealt with pursuit and retreat. The Regulation warned commanders from reckless pursuit following a successful charge and encouraged the commander to be deliberate sending only light troops and cavalry in immediate pursuit. The instructions also expressed caution in organizing the retreat, saying that if retreat becomes necessary, divisions should withdraw together, mutually supporting the withdrawal and
Ibid., 112. These two principles are on the same page, Ibid., 113
continuing to support each other against the enemy. 62 These principles provided commanders with an interesting blend of conventional wisdom and new theory, which allowed the French system to function more effectively on the battlefield. However, it was the corresponding conceptual framework for the integration of the newly trained and organized combat arms that would allow commanders to comply with these general principles. Following the seven general principles, the Instructions Relative to the Day of Battle proceeded to explain how the new French system would function on the battlefield. According to the instructions, the army would form up in one or two lines with the reserve positioned 300 paces to the rear (dependent on terrain) to facilitate a rapid reinforcement of the main lines. The artillery formed up in batteries, and would focus their fire on enemy troop formations and not on the enemy’s guns. This fire would either disrupt enemy formations advancing into the attack or would prepare the way for the French attack. During the artillery barrage, the light infantry would cover the formation out front targeting, enemy gunners and formations. These skirmishers would take advantage of cover afforded by the terrain and use aimed fire to attack the enemy. When the time came for the main battle, the light infantry would reform into close order and either advance or attack the enemy with volley fire. In the attack, the lines of infantry would advance in a calm disciplined fashion until 100 paces in front and then break the enemy’s lines with the bayonet. If the terrain or situation required an attack by fire, then the infantry would deploy into firing lines and pour a disciplined fire into the enemy ranks. Once the enemy ranks broke, a vigorous pursuit from the light troops and dragoons would maintain a pressure on the enemy. 63 In a simple, clear and concise statement, the Regulations of 1792 produced the conceptual framework that made this new system of warfare superior to its predecessor. With this simple six-page battlefield description, the instructions incorporated all of the advances in military theory arising from the debates and writings since the Seven Years War. The main battle consisted of one or two lines, with a flexible reserve positioned to the rear of the formation, as opposed to the linear order of battle that required all of the combat power engaging the enemy at the same time in order to defeat them. The artillery was consolidated into batteries and not dispersed to the regiments. The artillery focused its fire on the enemy troops and not the
Ibid., 114. This statement comprises only four pages of the Instructions. Ibid., 115-18.
traditional counter-battery fire capability. To cover both the guns and the main formation, skirmishers were out front attacking the enemy with fire. Although there were light infantry battalions performing this function for Frederick, the difference was that now the skirmishers would become an integral part of the main battle area, even reforming into their battalions and advancing into the attack with the line infantry. The attacking infantry would use a rapid rush onto the enemy formation with the bayonet to break the enemy formation. Then, once the enemy lines broke, the light infantry went out front once again in vigorous pursuit supported by the cavalry. This simple, yet clear, description of the French system in battle provided officers and commanders with a conceptual framework of battle that allowed them to maximize the effectiveness of these new regulations. Instead of merely executing new drill movements or different types of troops, the framework allowed commanders to integrate them dynamically on the battlefield. It was this rapid and dynamic integration that overpowered the line battalions of the enemies of France and ushered in a new era of European warfare. SECTION 3: The French Combat Method in Action- Fleurus 1794 It is clear after examining the French Combat method that Goethe was indeed correct when he stated that a new epoch of world history was born on the battlefields of the French Revolution. While the method is a combination of Eighteenth Century ideas, principles and techniques executed in a remarkably new and in some instances revolutionary fashion, there are three essential elements of this new way of war. The first of these is the impact of the Nation in Arms and its ability to create a different army made up of citizen-soldiers, whose interest was aligned with the state, where discipline was non-corporal because obedience was an act of self will on the part of every soldier. This new army and the nation that fielded it eliminated many of the self imposed limitations of the Eighteenth Century and led to the development of the second principle element of the French Combat Method, the fundamentally offensive nature of Revolutionary Strategy. The primacy of the offensive stressed the importance of mobility and simplicity of organization, which, coupled with the desire to create an ideologically Revolutionary army, led to the fielding of an army of uniform infantry battalions. This new kind of army could fight as line infantry or skirmishers, over mountains or in swamps, marching faster and farther than the armies of the ancien regime on less rations and no clothing. It could be routed on the battlefield,
and the remnants would reform to defend the frontiers or to continue the attack. The Nation in Arms created an army that was much more resilient than its relatively fragile old regime counterparts. The Battle of Fleurus provides an excellent example of almost all of the elements of the French Combat Method on a single battlefield and will help to show how all of these elements combined to provide the French victory over their enemies. In the Spring of 1794, the Allied Army had defeated the Armee du Nord and sent elements of it reeling backward from the Belgium frontier. This provided a unique opportunity for the Republic to create a powerful army on the Meuse River, which would threaten the lines of communication of the Allied Army under Coburg and would regain the initiative and the offensive before the Allies could take advantage of their recent victories. Although the concentration of elements of four armies was essentially by chance, it created an opportunity for the Armies of the Revolution. Thus it was that Jourdan, recently given command of the four divisions of the Armee du Moselle was given orders to move north towards Charleroi to threaten the Allies and linked up with two divisions from the right wing of the Armee du Nord and two divisions of the Armee du Ardennes. This concentration gave Jourdan, recent victor of the Battle of Wattignies, a force of some 79,000 troops with which to thrust into the heart of the enemy’s lines of communication and threaten the entirety of the Austrian Netherlands. Although they had recently beaten the Armee du Nord, Coburg and the Allied army was in a precarious position. The Allied Army in Belgium numbered approximately 52,000 men with an additional 2500 men of the garrison at Charleroi. Coburg could either continue to advance against Pichergru’s Army as it withdrew to the southwest, or he could concentrate his army together and relieve the recently renewed siege of Charleroi by Hatry’s Division on 16 June 1794. Coburg decided to relieve the siege of Charleroi, due to the importance of this fortress in the frontier defense of the Allied position in Belgium. This decision set into motion the events that would lead to the Battle of Fluerus. Once in command of the four divisions detached from the other armies, the Representatives en Mission declared Jourdan in overall command of the force and gave it a new name, the Armee du Sambre et Muese. In creating this new army, Carnot issued its first objective; to successfully conduct the siege of Charleroi and control that fortress in preparation
for further offensive operations in Belgium. In compliance with these orders, Hatry’s division and other attachments constituted 19,000 men, which continued to besiege the fortress, supported by a large siege train. As the siege went on, Jourdan arranged his 54,000 men in a semi-cirle protecting the siege, following the line of the Pieton River to the east of Charleroi, to the city of Gosselies, then in a line to the east to the city of Lambusart ending at the Sambre River. In support of this defensive perimeter, the divisions constructed field fortifications and posted infantry skirmishers in front of the main defensive positions. 64 This was the situation on 26 June when the Austrians began their attack. Although the Allied Army was better trained and prepared to conduct offensive operations, Coburg’s plan played into French strengths. Instead of concentrating his army to create a penetration in the French defensive perimeter, he divided his forces into five columns and began a concentric attack on the French. The attack began with the attack of two columns to the east of Charleroi against the river Pieton defenses of General Kleber’s divisions. The Austrian attack drove the French back to within a few miles of Charleroi, before Kleber himself rallied his men and executed a linear counterattack that forced the Austrians back west of the river. 65 While gathering additional battalions, from the center for his counterattack, Kleber also concentrated his artillery batteries not only to prevent the Austrian crossing of the Pieton, but also to support his counterattack. 66 After this counterattack, the Austrian columns to the west of Charleroi spent the rest of the battle engaging the French positions with skirmishers. However, the enemy main effort was directed against the French units to the north east of Charleroi near Fleurus. On the French Right flank, the two divisions under Marceau recently of the Armee du Ardennes, suffered tremendously under the attack of Beaulieu’s column. The French were deployed in open order as skirmishers and snipers in the wooded terrain along the banks of the Sambre river and inflicted casualties while delaying the Austrian attack. 67 The French were driven back in disorder before General Lefebvre rallied his adjacent division in the prepared fortifications west of the city of Lambusart. 68 Stopping the Austrian assault in these defensive
Phipps, The Armies of the First French Republic, vol. 2, 158. Lynn, The Bayonets of the Republic, 289. 66 Antoine Henri Jomini, Histoire Critique et Militaire des Guerres de la Révolution: rédigée sur de nouveaux documens, et augm. dúngrand nombre de cartess et de plans, 8 vols, (Paris: Anselin et Pochard, 1820-24), 142-43. 67 Blanning, The French Revolutionary Wars, 1787-1802, 114. 68 Phipps, The Armies of the First French Republic, vol. 2, 162.
positions and burning the village to help stop Bealiue, Lefebvre stabilized the French right flank. During this attack on Lambusart, two columns under the command of Archduke Charles began the enemy main attack through the skirmishers in Fleurus and into the French defensive positions of General Championet. The French were delaying the Austrian advance, but once Jourdan received word that Lefebvre was holding the right flank, he issued a series of orders for a renewed attack that turned the tide of battle. 69 Informed of the stability of both of his flanks, Jourdan ordered his reserve division into the attack. At just the right time, Hatry’s Division arrived from forcing the surrender of the Charleroi garrison earlier in the morning of 26 June and reconstituted Jourdan’s reserve. Hatry then conducted a vigorous attack into the flank of the enemy columns, while the 80th Regiment from Championet’s Division conducted a frontal attack. 70 The attack columns of both elements forced the Archduke to stop his attack to reorganize his columns. It was at this time that Coburg discovered that the garrison of Charleroi had surrendered and that there was no further reason to continue the assault. He gave orders for his columns to withdraw and the fatigued French divisions were unable to pursue, however this victory led to a series of French advances back into Belgium. On this single battlefield, all of the components of the French Combat Method came together for a French victory. The powerful new command style and standardized regulations allowed Jourdan to forge divisions from three different armies together into a cohesive whole. The different terrain of the Charleroi area allowed subordinate commanders to deploy their formations using all of the elements of the Regulations of 1791. On the broken terrain on the right, the French deployed battalions as skirmishers. In the center, field fortifications supported line formations, and on the left flank the river supported lines as well. When the Austrian main effort in the center appeared to be overpowering the French, Hatry’s Division, fresh from the siege of Charleroi, acted as a reserve that Jourdan employed in conjunction with a frontal attack that broke Coburg’s Army using attack columns and the bayonet. This combination of skirmishers, lines and attack columns, a reserve, and the initiative of subordinate commanders was the embodiment of the French Combat Method. Conclusion
Jomini, Histoire Critique et Militaire des Guerres de la Révolution, 146. Phipps, The Armies of the First French Republic, vol. 2, 163.
Although the French Combat Method was hardly perfected by 1794, all of the elements were available to French commanders to apply to the endless combinations of the enemy and the terrain. Some historians and contemporary observers concluded from the lack of this system in 1792 to its implementation by 1794 that it was the experiences on the battlefield that drove the development of the French Combat Method. However, this method rested on a tremendous intellectual framework which had been building since at least the 1740’s. The writings of Frederick the Great, De Saxe, Du Teil, De Broglie, von Bulow, and Bourcet as well as a significant number of articles on military science which appeared in Diderot’s Encyclopedia, all of which informed a literate and interested readership, both military and non-military. 71 In addition to these theorists, the military debates of the 1770’s, specifically the Guibert- MesnilDurand debate, moved these theories and ideas into the forefront of military thought in the officer corps, at the very least. In fact, the ideas of Guibert were not only widely discussed, but also achieved a wide state of agreement by military professionals, especially after the trials at the Camp of Vaussieux. 72 This is important, as all of the primary elements of the French Combat Method, with the exception of its focus on fortifications, are present in the ideas and writing of Guibert. However, this is not an attempt to revive Guibert as the true prophet of the military revolution. It only shows that the ideas and arguments behind the efficacy of the components of the French Combat method were discussed, published, and had a wide dissemination, prior to the French Revolution. When discussing and developing the regulations and doctrines of its armies, the Revolution deliberately produced a series of regulations, which embodied this intellectual tradition. The Regulations of 1791 institutionalized Guibert’s drill system for simplifying the evolutions required to move from line to column and back again. It also made these evolutions easy to understand and were organized in a manner that lent itself to becoming the lessons of a school of war for incoming recruits.73 Napoleon made no changes to this regulation and this document remained the French drill manual until the 1830’s for its simplicity and usefulness. The institutionalization of this discipline was one of the foundations upon which French victory rested. And perhaps even more important that the first two regulations was the French
John A. Lynn, "The Treatment of Military Subjects in Diderot's Encyclopedie," The Journal of Military History 65, no. No. 1 (2001): 145. 72 Colin, LiInfanterie au XVIIIe Siecle a Tactique, 279. 73 Colin, La Tactique et la Discipline dans les Armées de la Révolution; Correspondance du Général Schauenbourg du 4 Avril au 2 Août 1793, xii.
Regulations of 1792., which institutionalized most of the strategic concepts that made up the French Combat Method. The existence of ideas, books, theories, debates, and especially regulations does not automatically imply that an army read them, discussed them, or even cared anything about them. In fact, there is a sense that military organizations rarely read their own doctrine or regulations, and that the battlefield provides the ultimate test of effectiveness and institutes a continuous process of adjustment while military organizations discover what works. This argument does not explain the indoctrination of the French Combat Method onto the predominantly inexperienced and conscripted nature of the Armies of the French Revolution. In fact, there is a large quantity of evidence which shows the importance that field commanders placed on training, drill and instruction. Besides the well documented examples of the Armies du Nord and Du Moselle, which established several camps of instruction to train the new levies, but even in the leadership in the Armees du Pyrannes Ocidental and Oriental who created camps of instruction to build a trained and reliable infantry. These camps of instruction taught the lessons from the Regulation of 1791 and were a critical element of French victories. Therefore, Scharnhorst’s assessment that the French system of tactics emerged without a system and was merely a strategy of necessity is simply not accurate. The French Combat Method had a long intellectual framework that analyzed a variety of concepts and ideas in a large number of accessible treatise. This framework was institutionalized in a series of regulations that came out before the series of French defeats beginning in the spring of 1793. These regulations were utilized in some fashion in all of the Armies of the Revolution, through camps of instruction and trained cadre. It was the large intellectual framework that facilitated the transmission of the French Combat Method throughout Europe and enabled it to affect military thinking all the way into the Twentieth Century. The legacy of the French Combat Method influenced European and American warfare in a powerful way. The institutionalization and dissemination of the theorists, as well as the French regulations, provided easy access to the French way of war. In a the preface of an 1810 English translated copy of the Regulations of 1791, the translator begins his remarks with “the superiority of the French military tactics over those of all other nations, has been so thoroughly
ascertained, as to be very generally admitted.” 74 This belief in the power of the French system led to wide dissemination of the FCM across Europe and even to the United States.
France, Rules and Regulations, i.
CHAPTER 2: BRINGING THE FCM TO AMERICA The American Revolution provided the military tradition of the fledgling republic with a variety of European influences. On the one hand the colonial wars of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries made the Americans intimately familiar with the British way of war including tactics, discipline, administration and leadership. On the other hand, the inundation of foreign officers into the Continental Army exposed the new American tradition with a number of different continental influences, among the strongest was the French influence which made its biggest impact in the siege lines at the Battle of Yorktown. These conflicting influences created an important military discourse, which made the adoption of a single paradigm of warfare impossible in an age following the War for Independence, characterized by a reduction in the regular army and severe budget restraints. By the turn of the Nineteenth Century, events on the continent challenged the dominance of the intellectual framework behind the only set of drill regulations adopted by the Americans in 1779, Baron Von Steuben’s Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States or Blue Book. Although it was impossible for Americans to visit Europe in an official capacity to observe the military changes taking place on the continent, several translations of French regulations and commentaries by veterans and observers of the wars of the French Revolution began to filter back to the United States, which encouraged a vigorous debate between military officers and interested citizens. This debate failed to produce a consensus in the military establishment and America went to war in 1812 with no standard set of tactics or uniform way of understanding the operations of war. It was only through years of tactical failures that forced the United States Army to accept the French Combat Method at the hands of the victor of the Battle of Chippewa. This method, introduced in a series of Army Regulations, became the American way of warfare and enabled General Winfield Scott to achieve a rapid victory in the Mexican-American War. SECTION 1: Choosing the French Combat Method From Steuben to a Multiplicity of Frameworks 1783-1808 Although he appreciated the efforts of the militia units throughout the American Revolution, George Washington spent the entirety of the war attempting to create a European style standing army. From the siege of Boston through the end of 1776, Washington patiently
pushed the Continental Congress to give him the authority to enlist Americans into the Continental Army, to train them according to the European model, and to discipline his soldiers accordingly. Every year Washington sent the army into winter quarters with the hope that in the spring they would be capable of taking the field against the British regulars. 1 It was with this purpose in mind that Washington allowed foreign officers to hold key positions of responsibility in the Continental Army. Perhaps one of the most important was the first inspector General Baron Von Steuben, who was charged with the training and drilling of the young army and development of discipline in American arms. Of all of the foreign officers that served with the Continental Army, von Steuben was uniquely suited to modify European standards and techniques of drill and discipline to the Americans. Although he would have liked to adopt a purely Prussian model, Steuben worked largely from the British regulations of 1764 due to the American familiarity of the British system. 2 During the famous winter encampment of Valley Forge in 1777, Steuben worked with the Continentals on the basics of discipline and drill. He modified the British drill to take advantage of the differences between the Continental soldier and the average European. Through trial and error he generated a system of discipline that was suited to the new army and that rapidly improved the performance of the American Regular formations. By 1779, von Steuben produced the first and only American regulation of the Eighteenth Century, his Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States. This regulation would dominate the training and deployment of American units in the field, both militia and regular, through the War of 1812. Although becoming obsolete by the turn of the Nineteenth Century, the long influence of von Steuben’s regulations was truly a testament to the simplicity and eloquence of the system of discipline. The regulation followed the form that most of the regulations took in the Eighteenth century. 3 The real power of the regulation comes from its simplicity and brevity while at the
The best military histories of the American Revolution remain Don Higgibotham’s The War of American Independence and Robert Middlekauff’s The Glorious Cause. Both of these present Washington’s attempts at creating an army along European lines and his dislike of militia troops and irregulars. Don Higginbotham, The War of American Independence: Military Attitudes, Policies, and Practice, 1763-1789, (New York: MacMillan, 1971); Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause: The American Revolution, 1763-1789 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982). 2 Donald E. Graves, ""'Dry Books Of Tactics': U.S. Infantry Manuals of the War of 1812 and After."" Military Collector and Historian 38 (1986): 51. 3 It contained an early section pertaining to military customs and courtesies required by rank, then moves to a section focused on the soldiers individual drill or manual of arms. This was followed by a section describing the drill
same time discussing all of the important matters that the an American unit would need in order to take the field against a similarly trained and equipped European foe. It was the perfect regulation for an anti-military nation of militia companies, one that guided the armies of the United States as well as any single document prior to the War of 1812. Steuben’s Blue Book was one of the only elements of the American military tradition to survive the downsizing of the 1780’s through the War of 1812. The Continental Army disbanded immediately following the war and despite the best efforts of the officers, there was no real system for maintaining institutional knowledge. The army troops strength fell to only a handful, barely enough to guard the munitions storehouses and artillery park at West Point, NY. Both frontier requirements and the international situation presented enough of a need to congress to provide for an extremely small regular army. Federalists dominated this army, and when Jefferson ushered in the age of the Republican party, Federalist officers were superseded by politically appointed Republicans. 4 With the survival of the army at stake in a number of different ways, there was little time or energy to address updating or replacing the Blue Book. Although there was a growing acknowledgement of the new French system from the continent, the Blue Book remained the standard training manual for both the militia and the regular units of the United States Army. Following the decisive victories of the Grand Armeé against the Austrians at Austerlitz and the Prussians at Jena ad Auerstadt, there began to develop in America an interest in the French way of warfare by both officers and educated citizens. The first English translations of the French regulations of 1791 appeared in 1803 by British Colonel John Macdonald, although his first edition dedicated to President James Madison was not published in America until 1810. 5 He then translated and published the French regulations governing Infantry in actual service on
of the company and that of the battalion and how these units maneuver to and from the line formation. Not surprisingly, the movement formations and techniques are representative of the linear warfare brought to perfection by Frederick the Great and still practiced by all of the armies of Europe. The line was the primary formation of battle, the one in which both firing and bayonet charges took place. Columns are a movement formation, considered vulnerable, and the regulations provide a number of reaction commands to respond to enemy attack while in column. Towards the back of the small manual were sections pertaining to encampments, baggage trains, military administration, and the control required to create and maintain an efficient army. Frederich William von Steuben, Regulations for the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States, (Boston: William Norman, 1802). 4 Theodore J. Crackel, Mr. Jefferson's Army: Political and Social Reform of the Military Etablishment, 1801-1809 (New York: New York University Press, 1987), 13; William B. Skelton, An American Profession of Arms: The Army Officer Corps, 1784-1861, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1992), 72-73. 5 France, Règlement Concernant L’exercise et manoeuvres de L’infanterie du 1er Août 1791.
campaign in 1807. 6 These copies along with their French predecessors led to an exposure of the France Combat Method across a wide cross section of educated America. These publications captured the interest of the Secretary of War, who became dedicated to adopting the French system in the American Army. The First Attempt to Bring the FCM to America 1808-1814 While most of the American government was focused on reducing the cost of the army, the Republican Secretary of War William Eustice was focused on what he considered overdue and important reforms. Eustice served in the Revolutionary War as a surgeon and following the war served as the vice president of the Society of the Cincinnati from 1786 to 1810, which kept him involved and interested in the advancement of military art and science in America. 7 He served as the Secretary of War under James Madison from March 1809 until resigning under criticism for the initial conduct of the war in January 1813. He made his preference to the French discipline in communication with the Senate Committee on military affairs in 1810, even though it would be two years before he received Presidential permission to make this new system that of the United States Army. 8 Before the start of the War of 1812, he commissioned two different translations of the French regulations and the creation of an abridged form for the purpose of issuing a simplified version of the French system of discipline to the armies of the United States. Eustice commissioned the first of these in 1810 and completed just before the start of the War of 1812 and was Regulations for the Field Exercise, Manœvres, and Conduct of the Infantry of the United States by his acting Inspector General, Colonel Alexander Smyth. 9 The second was LTC William Duane’s A Hand Book for Infantry, which he derived from his two volume military compilation entitled the American Military Library begun in 1807 and completed in 1809. The United States Army first adopted the French Combat Method in 1812 before the war even started. After reviewing Smyth’s Regulations for the Field Exercise, Manœvres, and Conduct of the Infantry of the United States, Eustice ordered Smyth to test his regulations in a
France, Rules and regulations for the field exercise, and manoeuvres of the French Infantry, issued August 1, 1791. And the manoeuvres added, which have been since adopted by the Emperor Napoleon. Also, the manoeuvres of the field artillery with Infantry. Translated by Irenée Amelot de Lacroix. Edited by John Macdonald. 2 vols. Boston: T.B. Wait and Co., 1810. 7 William Gardner Bell, Secretaries of War and Secretaries of Defense: Portraits and Biographical Sketches, (Washington D. C.: Center of Military History, 1992), 30. 8 United States Congress, American State Papers. Class V: Military Affairs, vol. 1, (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1832-61), 295. 9 Ibid., vol. 1, 319.
camp of instruction just outside of Washington D. C. 10 Following the trials, Eustice asked the President to issue a Presidential Order decreeing the new regulations be adopted for use by the regular units of the United States Army. He did this on 30 March 1812, and even before the War of 1812, the United States Army had a new set of regulations built on the French model. Smyth’s Regulations were a condensed form of the French Regulations coupled with elements retained from Steuben’s regulations. In many ways, the organization of Steuben’s regulations and the French Regulations of 1791 are very similar. 11 Although Smyth’s regulations followed the general pattern of the French regulations, there were several modifications that made them unpopular with American officers. It was a simplification and consequently a condensed version of the French Regulations, being almost fifty percent smaller than the Regulations of 1791. 12 Aside from condensing the material, Smyth also changed the names to line up more with American sensibilities. 13 These changes remained at least consistent with the French tactics, but the second part of Smyth’s regulations was another abridgement, this time not of the French but of Steuben’s work. 14 Smyth’s regulations were the first American regulation primarily influenced by the French Combat Method, while adapting elements of Steuben’s system to the uses and needs of the American Army. It was a simple, well made document that while being widely distributed, was attacked and discredited before it was even mass produced by both the failures of the first year of the War of 1812 A disastrous war effort on the frontier through the first few months of the War of 1812 and a new Secretary of War, in addition to criticism from officers of both parties, led to the discrediting of Smyth’s work and the adoption of a different set of regulations. William Eustice, for all of his attempts to prepare the army for the War of 1812, took the lions share of the blame
Graves, "'Dry Books of Tactics'," 54. Both have a section up front concerning the positioning and duties of commanders. Then both have sections concerning the drill and instruction of the individual soldier, the drill and formations (mostly firing drills) at the Company level. Then movement formations at the Battalion level, and finishing with a section on evolutions of the line which is focused on the movements from column to line and back again as well as oblique movements. Alexander Smyth, Regulations for the Field Exercise, Manœvres, and Conduct of the Infantry of the United States (Philadelphia: T. & G. Palmer, 1812). 12 Graves, "'Dry Books of Tactics'," 56. 13 Thus the School of the Soldier became the Soldiers Drill, the Schools of the Company and Battalion became the Company and Battalion Drill, and instead of the evolutions of the line, Smyth created the Brigade Drill. Smyth, Regulations, v-viii. 14 Part two was a forty-five-page section concerning the interior administration of an army in the field. It formed an element of continuity as it communicated the Army that while the drill itself had changed, the way the American Army was marching, camping, guarding, commanding, and disciplining, was not changing from the Steuben model. Ibid., 165-209.
for the poor showing on the northern frontier against the Canadians and resigned in January 1813. His replacement John Armstrong took the post in February 1813 and immediately set about trying to increase the capabilities and size of the armies of the United States. 15 One of his first tasks became issuing new regulations that were easier to understand and more applicable to both the militia and the regular units of the army. Although his predecessor had chosen Smyth’s French system, Armstrong favored William Duane’s Handbook For Infantry. There were many reasons for this, it was already in print and in use by many of the militia units in the field, Duane was a powerful Republican figure, and it would provide both militia and regular a more useable system of discipline, the lack of which was blamed for the early losses of the war. William Duane created one of the most innovative and yet problematic of the French based regulations of the War of 1812. His handbook consisted of 112 pages and 8 plates, a mere third of the size of the original French regulations. 16 He began his work with an essay of military theory and the importance of drill. He then has a small section on the best way to discipline and instruct citizen soldiers, and launches into an eight-page glossary of terms, breaking down the meaning of a command of execution, or the depth of ranks. 17 This work was not just a condensed version of the French regulations like Smyth’s, but an attempt to take that system and truly simplify it for a uniquely American audience. It removed unnecessary movements or commands, and it begins with first principles and is perfect for a military tradition that up until 1812 had not really cared about military art or science at all. It was small, simple to understand and easy to train. This may be why it generated such controversy within both the militia and regular units of the armies fighting the War of 1812. No Standard Regulation and the British Alternative Whatever the benefits or merits of Duane’s French system, as the second complete change of regulations in a year and during a season of defeat, its introduction made discipline and training in the armies of the United States worse. Although Duane’s publicity campaign in his newspaper Aurora helped to get his handbook adopted in the spring of 1813, the senior leadership of the army on the frontier was extremely negative when polled by the Secretary of
Graves, "'Dry Books of Tactics'," 56-58. William Duane, A Hand Book for Infantry: Containing the First Principles of Military Discipline, Founded on Rational Method, Intended to Explain in a Familiar and Practical Manner, for the use of the Military Force of the United States, the Modern improvements in the Discipline & Movement of Armies, (Philadelphia: Printed for the Author, 1812). 17 Ibid., 17-25.
War on a tour of the army in the field. 18 Most of the regular officers commanding on the frontier openly disobeyed the order to adopt the handbook reporting serious objections to the system it encapsulated. 19 However, the handbook was extremely popular with the militia units sent to the front, and although it was not formally adopted for the militia, Virginia and New York both adopted it for their units. This is a testament to the simplicity of the manual and the ease with which it makes disciplining units. Unfortunately, it seemed to matter less that the new regulations were good or bad, and more that they were being changed so often that had a bigger impact on their adoption by the armies of the United States. The rapidly changing regulations gave ultimate authority to commanders at the front as to the system of discipline with which to train their troops, and that really led to a situation where no system of discipline was in evidence in either regular or militia units. The Army had time to issue Smyth’s regulations out to all of the regular units prior to the outbreak of war, and the commanders were initially supportive of them. However, there was no time to train this new system prior to the initial campaign of the War of 1812. Additionally, Smyth’s regulations only applied to the regular army, Steuben’s Blue Book was still the official regulation governing the militia units. So on the northern frontier, militia and regular units were fighting using different standards and maneuvers. Additionally, the new French system was not just competing against Steuben’s outdated regulations, but also against the updated British system of discipline, which was proving itself both on the continent against Napoleon’s Armies as well as on the Canadian frontier. Of all of the European armies of the Napoleonic period, only the British remained aloof from the French system and continued on with refinements of their own system. The British regulations upon which Steuben fashioned the American Blue Book were the Regulations of
Graves, "'Dry Books of Tactics'," 58. Graves’s “Dry Books on Tactics” is one of the only academic analyses of the regulations of this period. He comes to the conclusion that Duane’s Handbook was unsuitable for the discipline of the regular army and that is why the army refused to adopt it willingly. Having read through the manual, it is the only regulation of its time to set forth its methodology in front, to give any attempt at explaining why discipline is important, and how this discipline is the most modern available. He synthesizes where COL Smyth only condensed, and he reduced every aspect of the French system not only to his understanding of common sense, but also for the American soldiers that would have to learn the system. Dr. Graves makes the comment that this was unsuitable to force on the army in the middle of a war, I would disagree and state that a simple discipline, easily taught and understood, is the only one that an army at war would have a chance of implementing. The 300 page French Regulations of 1791 would have been of little use to the undisciplined regular unit on the frontier or the newly formed militia company. I believe that the objections to Duane’s Handbook stemmed from two sources; the first being a dislike of the Republican Presidency, the War Department, and the General Officers advanced since 1800, and that the rapidly changing regulations gave the commanders at the front a rationalization to do whatever they wanted to with their commands.
1764. Following the American Revolution, these regulations underwent a serious revision in 1788 entitled the Principles of Military Movement by the then Colonel David Dundas. By 1792, an abridgement of Dundas’ work became the British standard entitled Rules and Regulations for the Formations, Field Exercises and Manoeuvres of His Majesty’s Forces. Dundas argued against placing too much faith into the open formations and light infantry tactics, which became popular in the British Army following the American Revolution. 20 Instead, he refocused the regulations on the discipline of heavy line infantry and their movements and produced a clear and concise standard that all branches of the army could use. This newer system entered into the fray of American military thought through the works of two Massachusetts militia officers, Epaphras Hoyt and Isaac Maltby who published treatises in 1811. 21 These works provided another system of discipline to compete with the older Steuben Blue Book as well as the newer ideas coming out of France. Winfield Scott and the Grey Line on the Niagara 1814 The War Department had an extremely difficult time forcing both the militia and regular units of the army to accept a uniform discipline of any sort. When Smyth’s regulations were out and Duane’s brought in, it reduced the legitimacy of uniform regulations. This environment of military discourse led to a total lack of discipline and standards in the American Armies fighting in Canada by making all of the system appropriate and acceptable. 22 In 1814, the Secretary of War Armstrong reported to Congress that since the beginning of the war, “no system of discipline has heretofore been practiced in training the armies of the United States either in line, by battalion, or by company.” 23 It was not until General Winfield Scott trained the only brigade in the entirety of the War of 1812 that not only stood its ground against British Regulars and beat
J. A. Houlding, Fit for Service: The Training of the British Army, 1715-1795 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1981), 238-39. 21 Of the two, Matlby’s Elements of War was by far the more influential and it was essentially an abridgement of the British abridgement of Dundas’ Principles of Military Movement. Graves, "'Dry Books of Tactics'," 54. 22 In the same theater of the war in May of 1814, the Commander of the Right Division at Plattsburgh Major General George Izard wrote to the Secretary of War Armstrong that “different systems of instruction have been adopted by the officers of the division. As uniformity is indispensable in this particular, I am about to authorize the former practice agreeably to Baron Steuben’s regulations – without, however, giving to the latter the formality of a general order until the first of June, when unless I receive instructions to the contrary, I shall adopt them as regulations for the troops under my command.” Izard to Armstrong, 7 May 1814, in George Izard, Official Correspondence with the Department of War Relative to the Military Operations of the American Army Under the Command of MG Izard of the Northern Frontier of the United States, (Philadelphia: Thomas Dobson, 1816), 3. 23 United States Congress, American State Papers. Class V: Military Affairs, vol. 1 525.
them using French regulations of 1791 that any part of the Armies of the United States had a system of discipline at all. Winfield Scott was part of a generation of officers that entered service in the war scare of 1808, and although he was a Federalist he made the Army his career. Scott was a lawyer prior to becoming an artillery officer in 1808. Following the war scare in 1808, Scott devoted his time to educating himself through an intensive reading program of all of the military classics available to Americans at the time. 24 When the War of 1812 broke out, Scott made sure that he was part of the regular army and fought in several skirmishes, to include getting captured in the attack on Queenston Heights. Following his release, he was promoted to Brigadier General and assigned to Major General Jacob Brown’s Army of the Niagara to support renewed offensive operations up the Niagara peninsula. On April, 1814, Scott arrived in Buffalo, took command of the two brigades of Brown’s Left Division, and executed Brown’s order to put the Division into a disciplined and trained condition in preparation for the summer campaigning season on the Niagara frontier. Scott ran the most thorough training program of any brigade sized element in the American Army and thereby trained the only unit capable of defeating the British in battle. Scott took over command of the Left Division of Military District No. 9 along the Niagara frontier. Given only vague orders by his superior officer, Major General Jacob Brown, Scott set about creating a camp of instruction. His command went from 1600 regulars in April to over 3500 men by June. He threw out Smyth’s regulations, Duane’s handbook and Steuben’s Blue Book and went back to his own understanding of the French system and two or three English translations of the regulations of 1791 that were available in the camp. 25 For almost two months, the men were drilled ten hours a day, seven days a week. Scott was a stickler for detail and he rode the men in his command hard instilling discipline, hygiene and tactical competence. He embraced the French idea of instilling discipline, not with harsh punishments, but with professional pride. He took great pains to improve the standard of living for his men. 26 He even authorized a
There are a number of excellent biographies of Winfield Scott, the following is a brief list of the best. Edward D. Mansfield, The Life of General Winfield Scott, (New York: A.S. Barnes and Co., 1848); Charles Winslow Elliott, Winfield Scott, the Soldier and the Man, (New York: MacMillan, 1937); Allan Peskin, Winfield Scott and the Profession of Arms (Kent: Kent State University Press, 2003); Timothy D. Johnson, Winfield Scott: The Quest for Military Glory (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1998). 25 Winfield Scott, Memoirs, vol. 1, 118-120. 26 Richard V. Barbuto, Niagara, 1814: America Invades Canada, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2000), 122-24.
deviation of the regulation blue cloth for the cheaper Grey cloth of the militia for his regulars to avoid marching them naked into battle. Scott’s focus on discipline made one of his Captains remark that “General Scott Drills and Damns, Drills and Damns, and Drills again.” 27 His men would welcome combat as a respite from the rigors of drill and when General Brown interpreted Armstrong’s deception plan as the order to attack Fort Niagara, Scott moved his brigade out of the camp of instruction. When the 1814 Niagara Campaign began in June, Scott’s Brigade led the way north against the British. Brown ordered his brigades to march north to Fort Erie to secure his supply lines. Once taking the fort, the Americans would move up the Niagara River and seize Fort Niagara itself. With Fort Erie falling easily to the Americans on July 3, Scott marched his brigade north when he began skirmishing with British and Indians near Chippawa. 28 The British Major General Phineas Riall sent his advanced guard out to reinforce Fort Erie, but when he learned of the forts surrender, he ordered his troops to gather at Chippawa separated from the American Army by the Chippawa River. Scott arrived at the River at the end of the 4th of July and anticipated to spend the rest of the 5th waiting for the rest of the army. 29 While Scott rested his brigade on the 5th, the British were infiltrating three infantry regiments close to the River and another full brigade into the woods on the American flank. When the militia reported British strength in the woods, Scott ordered his brigade into action. Scott’s plan was a simple one, but relied on the discipline and training of his brigade to achieve victory. He sent his militia into the woods to keep the British light infantry from impacting the open field north of the American camp. Then under enemy artillery fire, he marched his four regular regiments across the only bridge between him and the enemy, escaping casualties due to the distance and inaccuracy of the British guns. Once across the bridge, Scott ordered his regiments in line, showing the British that although they looked like militia in their gray uniforms, it was disciplined regulars that faced them. 30 Concerned that the British line would overlap his own, Scott ordered the space between regiments increased so that the 25th regiment would move to the west and be in a position to envelop the British right flank. As the
Donald E. Graves, The Battle of Lundy's Lane: On the Niagara in 1814, (Baltimore: Nautical and Aviation Publishing Company of America, 1993), 31-32. 28 While the majority of military historians of the Twentieth Century, to include the West Point Atlas of American Wars, spelled the battle and the creek Chippewa, the correct spelling of both ballet and creek is Chippawa. 29 Henry Adams, The War of 1812, ed. H. A. DeWeerd, (New York: Cooper Square Press, 1999), 175-76. 30 Jeffrey Kimball, "The Battle of Chippawa: Infantry Tactics in the War of 1812," Military Affairs 31, no. 4 (1967): 182.
lines approached each other, it was the British line that began to waver first under the storm of lead from the American regulars. Seeing the British falter, Scott ordered the 25th to execute a bayonet charge, which for the first time in the war caused the British to break and disperse. 31 The British retreated in good order only because the use of reserves to keep the Americans from storming across the bridge at Chippawa. Although Scott lost approximately twenty percent of his brigade killed and wounded, it was the disciplined ninety minutes of action, forged in his camp of instruction, which gave America its first victory over British Arms. Scott’s victory over the British at Chippawa was the result of good training and excellent discipline, but it is not as obvious whether it was a victory of the French system over the British. The benefits of the FCM included a more simplified drill and manual of arms, an ability to deploy between column and line more rapidly, the use of an attack column to add weight and shock to a bayonet charge, the use of skirmishers to support the main part of the battle, and the maintenance of a reserve. Scott failed to use any of these elements of the French system at Chippewa. He ordered his light infantry into the woods to handle the enemy’s light infantry away from the main battle line; he used columns to move his troops into position, but then formed them up into lines to face the British. He used his artillery in counter battery fire and to envelop the enemy, he simply increased the space between his regiments on line. In fact, the only difference between his drill and discipline and that of the British was the fact that the British lines were two ranks deep while the American lines were three ranks deep. 32 Looking at the victory this way, it was more a victory of discipline in the general sense than in the French Combat Method in a particular sense. A similar analysis of the Scott’s next and last battle of the War of 1812 may provide another example of how he and his brigade utilized the French method. After several weeks of maneuver, the British once more faced off against the Americans on the Niagara peninsula at the Battle of Lundy’s Lane. Scott once more in the lead moved north down the portage road to Queenston from the American camp in the greater Chippawa area. His brigade in columns identified the British position along a ridgeline cutting the road along which the British had positioned his regiments and guns. Scott deployed his brigade in lines facing the British and then sent the 25th Regiment around the enemy’s left flank. While the 25th Regiment
Barbuto, Niagara, 1814, 177-78. Kimball, "The Battle of Chippawa," 182.
under Jesup attempted to maneuver around behind the British, the rest of the brigade stayed in line 500 meters from the enemy taking heavy casualties from canister and grape shot.33 The 25th did in fact get behind the enemy and took a large number of casualties to include the British commanding officer General Riall, but the fortunate arrival of General Drummand kept the British in line and led to the American Retreat. By 9’Oclock at night, the American 2nd Brigade came up to relieve Scott and attempted to make an assault on the enemy’s guns. Ripley’s 2nd Brigade, after a sharp action, assaulted the enemy’s guns and repelled three separate enemy counterattacks as the night progressed. Scott’s brigade, now rested from the afternoons fighting, formed up in a single column with the idea of penetrating the enemy’s right flank and breaking his line with a column attack, however in the decreasing visibility the column got off course and ran parallel to the American and British lines of battle. 34 The ensuing crossfire of both British and American fire added to Scott’s casualties and forced him from the field of battle, himself wounded. Another analysis of this battle shows that once again, Scott used his well disciplined men to attack a British formation using the formations and maneuvers of the FCM. Scott’s attacks were linear as Jesop’s 25th Regiment was sent forward in the hopes that his actions would drive the British from the high ground and allow the rest of the Brigade to advance in line. When Scott attempted something uniquely French, the column attack by the remainder of his brigade at night, he never made it to the British lines at all. Thus the victor of Chippawa and the hero of Lundy’s Lane defeated the enemy using the kind of discipline that Steuben attempted to instill in the Continental Army, not the French Combat Method. However, it was Scott’s reputation for discipline, training and drill, which catapulted him to the top of the American Army and into the good graces of the War Department. America Adopts the FCM: The Regulations Board of 1814 Following the victory at Chippawa, the issue of regulations and drill was once again center stage for both the War Department and the Congress. Secretary of War Armstrong reported to Congress in November 1814 that the armies of the United States had practiced no system of discipline since the beginning of the war and blamed the poor performance of American arms on this delinquency. In the same report, he suggested that to remedy the situation
Barbuto, Niagara, 1814, 215-18. Scott, Memoirs, vol. 1, 143.
a board of officers should meet to discuss the adoption of a system of discipline, and that board would report its findings to the War Department for distribution across the army, after receiving the approval of both the President and the Congress. 35 Congress approved this suggestion and in December 1814, the War Department called together a board of army officers to recommend a system of discipline for use throughout all of the armies of the United States. This represented a victory for the War Department because since 1808 they wanted to institute a system of discipline across the armies of the United States, the FCM, and they finally had both Congressional approval and a champion who was not only a battlefield hero, but also favored the French system. Finally, after fighting the Federalist officers in both the militia and the regular army, the War Department had a champion of the French Combat Method that was acceptable to everyone involved in army regulations. It was no surprise that the president of this review board was none other than the victor of Chippawa, General Winfield Scott. Although Armstrong now had a powerful advocate of the French system, he continued to play a remarkably savvy political game to ensure its acceptance. When addressing the Congress in December of 1814, Armstrong recommended forming a board of officers to review and suggest a system of discipline for the armies of the United States. In his communication to the regulations review board, Armstrong ordered the board to “so modify the Rules and Regulations for the Field Service and Manoeuvres of the French Infantry as translated by MacDonald and to make them correspond with the organization of the army of the United States with such additions and retrenchments as the board may deem proper.” 36 The review board was not commissioned to come up with the best system of discipline for the army, but instead merely to comment on the French System. Thus by phrasing the order to the board in this way, Armstrong ensured that the FCM would be the system forwarded to the President and Congress as a fait accompli. By making Scott the president of the board he had every reason to believe that his plan would work as Scott probably used the MacDonald translation to train the Left Division at Buffalo. The Secretary of War’s plan worked brilliantly and within a few months the FCM supplanted the competing systems as the system of tactics for the Armies of the United States. The Review board met from the 4th of January through the 25th of February and recommended that the Macdonald translation of the French regulations of 1791 be adopted as the system of
United States Congress, American State Papers. Class V: Military Affairs, vol. 1 pg 523. By the General Order issued at the beginning of the Regulation. United States Army, Rules and Regulations for the Field Exercise and Manœuvres of Infantry, (New York: T. & W. Mercein, 1815).
discipline for the entirety of the War Department, both regular and militia. 37 Armstrong forwarded this report and recommendation to both the President and both houses of Congress and for the first time in American history, both the executive and legislative branches of government approved an Army regulation. 38 The resulting regulations became the Rules and Regulations for the Field Exercise and Manœuvres of Infantry published in 1815. 39 In the first pages of this regulation, the memorandum and resolutions from Congress, the President and the Secretary of War all stated that all parts of the American military were bound by law to implement this system of tactics. From this time onward, all organizations in the War Department would follow the regulations of 1815, and by extension the French Combat Method. SECTION 2: Institutionalizing The FCM The General Army Regulations of 1821 and 1825 Similar to the period before the war, following 1815 the militia remained the most important element for the defense of the United States. In his inaugural address of 4 March 1817, President James Monroe stated that while the Army, Navy and coastal fortification should be “regulated upon just principles as to the force of each and be kept in perfect order,” but also that it should “always to be held prominently in view that the safety of these States and of everything dear to a free people must depend in an eminent degree on the militia.” 40 The difference following the War of 1812 was the creation of a truly well organized militia that was reliable when the central government called on them to serve. State by state, the militia began to organize and train along the same lines as the regular army. In 1820, the War Department required the militia of all states to enforce the same system of discipline as the regular army. This was the kind of centralized control over the militias that the War Department was fighting for over a decade. This requirement came just in time for the major revisions of both the general army regulations of 1821 as well as the tactical regulations of 1825. The Army regulations of 1815 provided a uniform system of discipline for the armies of the United States, but they failed to provide a framework for understanding how these tactics
The General Order from the Secretary of War convened the board on the 4th of January 1815 in Baltimore and the board’s official recommendation was dated the 25th of February. Ibid., pages printed prior to the Regulations itself. 38 Donald E. Graves, ""'Dry Books Of Tactics': U.S. Infantry Manuals of the War of 1812 and After Part II."" Military Collector and Historian 39 (1986): 173. 39 The American Regulations of 1815 were an exact copy of MacDonald’s translation, the only changes occurring in typesetting as the Army’s version was printed as a single volume without any of MacDonald’s commentary or footnotes. It was a direct copy of the French Regulations of 1791. 40 Walter Millis, ed, American Military Thought, (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1966), 89-90.
combined to produce victory on the battlefield. Six years and one long visit to Europe later, Winfield Scott led another regulations board in 1821 whose mission was to create a general army regulation, called Military Institutes. 41 Organized along the lines of the French Regulations of 1792, the Military Institutes covered both general military topics as well as theoretical issues, which together outlined the French Combat Method. In this way, the Regulations of 1821 played a critical role in indoctrinating the armies of the United States with the new FCM. In many ways, the General Regulations of 1821 embodied the French field regulations of 1792 and by doing so directly incorporated many of the elements of the French system into the American way of warfare. It contained separate articles that covered topics like marching, baggage, discipline, and organization to name only a few. 42 These separate articles introduced a number of important elements of the FCM. Discipline, logistics, and marching were integral parts of the system that allowed the French to defeat Europe for almost twenty years. While most of the regulation contains variations on the corresponding French regulation, there was a small but extremely important four-page section on battles which more than any other section truly embodies the French Combat Method. The small section entitled Battles: General Dispositions provided the American military tradition with the intellectual framework of the French system more than any other part of either the Regulations of 1815 or 1821. These four pages embodied the ideas that outlined the intellectual framework for both the system of discipline and all of the other organizational and administrative changes of the FCM. Similar to the Instruction for the Day of Combat in the French Regulations of 1792, Battles provided officers a complete battlefield framework that demonstrated how the movements, formations and units of the FCM functioned together on the
In 1815 Winfield Scott made a research trip to Europe and arrived just after the Battle of Waterloo. He was able to interact with Allied officers and procure the most current military treatise for use in the construction of future regulations. Scott, Memoirs, vol. 1, 157. 42 There was a large section on esprit de corps and the feeling that must invigorate American armies, not too formal or tyrannical, but at the same time not too familiar either. This directly mirrored the French comments about discipline and the interaction between senior and subordinate. The American regulation also covered baggage trains in detail, remarking that officer baggage should be kept to a minimum, and the tentage and equipment for soldiers should be as mobile as possible. This followed the French pattern of increasing the speed of their armies by decreasing their baggage and logistical requirements. There was also a detailed section concerning marches, march formations, the speed, frequency of halts, and actions while moving through a variety of terrain. This style of marches was taken directly from the French and was designed to increase the speed of armies. United States Army, General Army Regulations, (Philadelphia, 1821), 90-130.
battlefield. 43 While these are the ideas that tie together the tactical elements of the FCM, the battles section then went on to tie these elements together through the concept of the offensive. At the end of the section on battles, the regulation stated very clearly that the new way of understanding war centered on the offensive in spirit, order and action. 44 Combined with the earlier sections, the General Army Regulations of 1821 as a whole represented an effort to copy the French Regulations of 1792, in both form and content. It seemed that the purpose of the board was more to make the language of the French Regulations of 1792 amenable to American ears while at the same time adjusting the details of the regulations to match the differences in the United States Army and the American military tradition. With this General Regulations of 1821, the major intellectual components of the FCM became ingrained in the United States Army. These regulations, the General Regulations of 1821 and the Army Regulations of 1815, remained in use until another regulations board met to examine their usefulness in 1825. This regulations board, once again under the presidency of Winfield Scott, would set the standard for the armies of the United States for the next decade at all levels of operations. The results of this comprehensive review were important not because they resulted in another doctrinal shift in the American way of warfare, but because they served to make the FCM a part of American tactics and continued the work of previous boards. Thus with very little change, the General Regulations of 1825 remained true to their proceeding regulations. The General Regulations of 1825 represented more of a change in formatting than in any real content. The new regulations used the same major subject headings; they used the same French words like tirailleurs when discussing light infantry, and even retained the opening quotations by Frederick the Great, Carnot, and Thiebault as well as the interesting Guibert quotation in the Battles section. The real changes in the regulations were in the appendixes and the section on the United States Military Academy. The new appendixes concern the more
The battles section began with a discussion of infantry dispositions, commenting that while in the attack the infantry should be in line and columns based on the enemy and the terrain. It outlined the purposes of the reserve and how that reserve functioned on the battlefield. It described the proper uses of skirmishers to occupy, harass, and disconcert enemy formations. Commanders should concentrate their artillery fire at the chosen point of attack. Attacks should strike the decisive point on the battlefield suddenly using feints and hidden troops. Skirmishers should fix the enemy to allow line infantry formations to offensively engage the enemy. Commanders were encouraged to issue clear orders and to trust in the initiative of subordinates, while being cautioned against attacks which hazard friendly lines of communication or are beyond mutually supporting distance. Ibid., 124-28. 44 To introduce the concept, Scott included a direct quote from Guibert, “It is only necessary to recapitulate the battles fought by great men- they have almost invariably attacked.” From this starting point, the section linked all of the elements of the French Combat method into the offensive in the same way as the French regulations. Ibid., 126.
technical services, the engineers and the artillery. For the engineers, several very technical tables, topographical charts, and soundings were added to the back of the general regulation. 45 In another effort of standardization within the armies of the United States, the artillery had an entire appendix devoted to the creation and implementation of the first technical school for the artillery. 46 It was the first attempt by the army to centralize its education and to provide its specialists more advanced instruction, but not the Army’s only educational institution. The last substantive change in the new General Regulations of 1825 dealt with the curriculum of the United States Military Academy. The general operation of the Military Academy remained the same in the 1825 document, to include reporting procedures, performance reports, and organizational structure. What changed in four years was not the curriculum, but the texts used for cadet instruction. The cadets had classes in mathematics, natural philosophy, engineering, chemistry, military art and science, and tactics. Aside from the adoption of Gay de Vernon’s A treatise on the science of war and Fortification, which will be discussed in the next section, there was only one other text for the instruction of tactics. The General Regulations of 1825 mandated that the primary document used for the instruction of tactics to cadets was the 1825 edition of Winfield Scott’s Infantry Tactics. The Military Academy would use the tactical regulations just recently reviewed and adopted by the War Department. These not only provided cadets the most up to date tactical instruction possible, but also ensured that an entire generation of graduates would understand the new system of discipline outlined in the Infantry Tactics of 1825. Scott’s Infantry Tactics of 1825 Along with the charter to create a general army regulation, Scott’s regulations board also undertook the task of reviewing, updating and revising the system of tactics set out in the Army Regulations of 1815 into the new Infantry Tactics of 1825. While this regulations board focused on creating useful general regulations, its goals in updating the 1815 infantry tactics were more modest. The Infantry Tactics of 1825 used the same format for the system of tactics; the schools
It appeared as if in 1825 there was a concerted effort to standardize the engineering, and especially topographical, language of the armies of the United States. This was probably a reflection of the various exploration and engineering missions that the army performed across the American frontier. The Topographic sketch models, formats for standardized engineering reports, and even a new table of topographic symbols could only serve to unify the engineering efforts of the entire War Department. United States Army, General Regulations for the Army, Military institutes (Washington D. C.: Davis and Force, 1825), 167-275. 46 The artillery school provided the technical training required for both enlisted soldiers and officers. Ibid., 398.
of the soldier, the company and the battalion and a section on the evolutions of the line. 47 What changed throughout the entirety of the regulation was the language used to describe the motions. 48 The titles of the articles were slightly different, but the movement techniques described in that article were identical. What Scott’s board did with the system of 1815 was to update the language from the French translation to a more American vernacular. Although this undoubtedly made the regulation more understandable for an American audience, it offered no real change to the ideas that the original French Regulations of 1791 expressed for the tactical deployment of troops in battle. However, there was one area in which the Infantry Tactics of 1825 added something distinct to the system of tactics adopted for use by the armies of the United States, and that was regulations pertaining to light infantry and riflemen. Specifically, the Exercises and Manoeuvres for Light Infantry and Riflemen formed a forty-page attachment to the School of the Battalion. This attachment began with a series of general principles for the employment of light infantry on the battlefield, the first of which clearly defined the object of the light infantry: to protect the advance or retreat of the main body and to cover and assist the manoeuvers of large bodies of troops. 49 This inclusion of skirmishers into the main battle line represented the addition of an important element of the French Combat Method into the American military tradition, but it was not the only important element of the FCM in this attachment to the School of the Battalion. The introduction to this section of the manual establishes as common practice the major element of the French system not included in the General Regulations of 1825, the creation of a uniform, non-specialized infantry based army. 50 This was one of the several ways that the French idea of a standard infantry, capable of executing a variety of manoeuvers to include both close and
In these four major sections the changes in the 1825 regulations were more semantic than substantive. Essentially, the movements and formations, the organizations, the manual of arms, even the diagrams used to demonstrate the basic movements and principles were almost exactly the same. 48 For example, in 1815, the first article in section V of the school of the battalion reads “to march in line to the front.” United States Army, Rules and Regulations for the Field Exercise and Manœuvres of Infantry, 182; In the 1825 edition, the same article in the school of the battalion is titled “to advance in line.” Winfield Scott, Infantry Tactics: or Rules for the Exercise and manoeuvres of the Infantry of the U. S. Army, (Washington D. C.: Davis and Force), vol. 2, 139. 49 Ibid., vol. 2, 170. 50 When introducing the concept of light Infantrymen and Riflemen into School of the Battalion, the regulation also states that “battalions of the line may be required, when acting on broken and intersected grounds to execute the light infantry manoeuvers both in closed and extended order… for this purpose any battalion or company may in the absence of light troops act as such.” Ibid., 171; Additionally, the Light Infantry Battalions habitually had the same order of battle, organization, manpower, equipment, and general course of instruction as the regular infantry battalions. Ibid., vol. 2, 190.
extended order operations, influenced American tactics. The rest of the light infantry section focuses on regulating with as much regularity as possible both the close and extended order manoeuvers of the light infantry. Just as the power of the French Regulations of 1791 was the ability to move between line and column as rapidly as possible, the Exercises and Manoeuvers of the light Infantry and Rifleman focused on the movement between line, column, open and extended order and the myriad of firing positions which increase the effectiveness of the light infantrymen. The main tactical element of this new manual of arms was the file. Most of the firing commands and movement formations in both closed and extended order were commanded and controlled by files. 51 This allowed the maximum flexibility in both advancing towards the enemy, and while withdrawing in contact with the enemies advanced guard. Files were the primary tactical unit of the skirmishing lines, as they moved over broken terrain, passed through defiles, protected the main body’s advance as well as protecting their retreat. To assist in the command and control of this dispersed element, an intricate system of drums and bugle calls signaled the change of formation as well as the shift from close to extended order.52 Fundamentally different from the way in which light infantry and regular formations functioned on the battlefield at Chippewa, these new regulations armed American forces with the same powerful tool that facilitated French victory on the continent for decades. The FCM and the Regulations from 1835 - 1847 These were the regulations that followed the small regular army of the United States out onto the frontier and south into Florida, fighting Indians in both directions. By 1832, the Army took over the Indian removal due to the corrupt civilian contractors causing problems on the frontier. The Seminole Indians, beaten in 1817-18, were refusing to move onto the reservation the government created in central Florida and in the early 1830’s the Seminoles declared the treaties invalid. It was under these conditions that the War Department conducted another comprehensive regulations review in 1835. Similar to the 1825 board, the 1835 board would again consider updating both the general regulations as well as the infantry tactics. This was the last set of regulations that Winfield Scott had a direct hand in crafting, and he found very little about the Infantry Tactics to change. The general organization was the same
Ibid., vol. 2, 176-80. Ibid., vol. 2, 189.
with many of the section headings identical to the 1825 edition. Scott kept the four main elements of the system of tactics; the schools of the soldier, company and battalion, with the evolutions of the line covering the movement and control of elements bigger than battalion level. Much of the new manual was exactly the same as the 1825 version, the same sequence of movements in the manual of arms, the same system of loading and firing the muskets, the same formations and movement techniques. Throughout most of the new regulation, there was the same kind of language changes that separated the 1825 Infantry Tactics from its 1815 predecessor. 53 Semantic changes were the only things the regulations board updated with the exception of the exercises for the light infantry. This section, while maintaining many of the ideas contained in the 1825 regulation was fundamentally reorganized and refocused for the new version of Infantry Tactics. While keeping the skirmishing missions of the light infantry, the new regulation provided for the close and extended light infantry drills from the regular infantry formations as opposed to movement by files. In 1835, Scott apparently achieved the end state that he set out to do in 1825 when he stated that the purpose of the exercises for the light infantry were to impose as much order and control on this inherently chaotic and dispersed enterprise. 54 It also followed the important trend in the FCM that created a standardized infantry capable of a variety of infantry tasks as opposed to a specialized infantry capable of only one mode of warfare. The new regulation placed more emphasis on commanders controlling their light infantry formations by voice command, although they maintained the drum and bugle commands for use across larger distances. Even though this section of the regulation changed substantially, it was more of an evolution of the light infantry in the framework established in 1825 as opposed to a fundamentally new way of using the light infantry. It appears as though the regulations board of 1835 saved all of their innovations for the general regulations.
For example, in the school of the battalion, the 1825 version began article 1917 concerning advancing in line with “in line…” while the 1835 edition has the exact same article numbered 1719 but it starts with “inline of battle…”. 54 In the 1825 version, the light infantry maneuvered in files while advancing and withdrawing. In fact their whole drill focused on manipulations of the files. The 1835 regulations discarded this system, and they seemed to apply the concept that while the regular line battalions must be able to perform the light infantry tasks, the same was true for the light infantry battalions being capable of regular infantry manoeuvers. With this in mind, the new Infantry Tactics follows more closely the schools of the company and battalion when describing the exercises for the light infantry. An abbreviated version of the regular infantry manoeuvers detailed how the light infantry were to form up with the regular battalions and companies. Winfield Scott, Infantry Tactics, (New York: George Dearborn, 1835), 185-95.
If the General Regulations of 1825 sought to standardize both the economy and operations of the entire army, the General Regulations of 1835 focused on fiscal responsibility and costs of army operations, the manning of outposts, conducting operations, and the battlefield with a new focus on administration and accountability. The new regulations were not really general at all. 55 The internal economy of the regiment focused less on the instruction or training of the regiment and more on the administrative duties of officers. 56 There was a much bigger section on the Army’s staff departments and these sections moved into the front half of the regulation. 57 The administration of men and pay seemed to consume the new regulation and left little room to discuss the running of outposts or the conduct of operations. The actions on the frontier made the inclusion of new sections on outposts and frontier organization useful to the new general regulation. 58 The administration of these departments took up a large part of the new regulations. But again, these new articles discuss the responsibility of officers for the safeguarding of government property. 59 One can only imagine the difficulties of maintaining discipline on the frontier when the regulations board focused on preventing gardens from interfering with defensive fortifications. The specificity of these general regulations demonstrated a change from the 1825 regulations from creating a general understanding of army operations both on and off the battlefield to one devoted almost solely with minute control over the everyday existence of the army throughout the country and the accountability of government property and finance. However, the epitome of this new emphasis was less clear in the new
They clearly outlined the specifics of marching, short halts, encampments, how one separates the infantry and cavalry while in camp and diagrams of their deployment. United States Army, General Army Regulations, (Washington D. C., 1835), 52-91. 56 It gave detailed examples of company and regimental books, of how and when to conduct mustering inspections of in-processing militia in times of crisis, of recruiting and regimental funds. Ibid., 125-76. 57 The staff departments included in the General Regulations of 1835 included the Military Departments of the country, the Adjutant General, Quartermaster, Engineering, Topographical, Ordinance, Commissary, Pay, and Medical Departments. The new system outlined expense reports, the costs of replacing government equipment if lost, the value and specifications of the ordinance used throughout the army, and especially a large section on uniforms, their proper wear, and the cost to purchase and maintain them. The ordinance department even published a costs scale for the artillery caisson equipment and updated this page annually so that each commander would know that the lock of the standard issue musket cost $3.04 or that a private on a three year enlistment would receive two blankets total, one in his first year and the second in his second year. 58 The United States was therefore “with a view to the general defense of the Union, and a convenient distribution of troops for that purpose, the country will be divided into military departments.” Army, General Army Regulations, , 117. 59 Thus outposts were to be meticulously maintained and defended at all costs. Commanders were reminded in the regulation that outposts that were seized and destroyed would result in a court of inquiry for the commander. Additionally, commanders were forbidden to plant gardens or graze animals on the glacis of outposts and were required to keep them in good military order at all times. Ibid., 51.
articles pertaining to administration then in the articles that the regulations board did not carry over from the 1825 edition. From 1821 through 1835, the general regulations of the United States Army provided an abbreviated but important framework for understanding the French Combat Method. However, the review board of 1835 removed all of articles pertaining to the conduct of war. The regulations that the board forwarded for adoption contain articles about baggage, marching, encampments and dozens of the small but important elements that an army requires to function both on the battlefield and in the garrison environment. What was missing are the numerous references in the 1821 and 25 regulations pertaining to the general dispositions on the battlefield, the defense of places, sieges, advanced guard formations, the theory of the staff, or even the section on l’esprit de corps. Without these sections, the general regulations became no more than an administrative manual, how to guide to property accountability and the physical care of soldiers in the armies of the United States. The ’35 regulations cut out all of the elements of the FCM and even of the military art as it was understood at the time. It was clear by the systematic removal of such material that the new general regulations would pertain only to the administrative functioning of the army. The theoretical education of the army must come from other sources. The lack of any articles pertaining to the intellectual framework of the FCM while at the same time clearly continuing to promote that combat method was a deliberate decision by Winfield Scott and the rest of the regulations board. While there remains no mention of this decision in his memoirs, or in the congressional testimony pertaining to the regulation, there are perhaps several explanations for this change. The fourteen years from 1821 through 1835 were important years for the indoctrination of the armies of the United States in the FCM. The general regulations were then one of the only means for distributing the FCM to officers throughout the War Department, both militia and regular who were either uneducated in the French system, resistant to the new system, or simply lacking a military education entirely. The sections covering the battlefield in the old regulation created a clear and concise way for army officers to understand how commanders were to make the new system of tactics produce victory on the battlefield. The review board must have considered these articles superfluous and unnecessary for the officer corps in the mid 1830s, and that a regulation that became more specific on army administration was more useful to officers on the frontier and in garrisons across the country.
The framework of the FCM included in the ’25 regulation was unnecessary in 1835, perhaps because this framework formed an important part of the education of junior officers prior to their commissioning. It was a tribute to the impact and education of the United States Military Academy at West Point where in its third decade of existence had begun to produce a uniformly professional officer, more than adequately instructed in the intellectual framework of the FCM that made the inclusion of it in the general regulation redundant. SECTION 3: The United States Military Academy and the FCM Winfield Scott, Sylvanus Thayer, and USMA In the age before a strong university system or the development of a professional education system for the army, the United States Military Academy (USMA) played a critical role in creating a professional officer corps prior to the outbreak of the Mexican-American War in 1846. More importantly for the purpose of this study, USMA became the primary way in which the officer corps became inculcated with the intellectual framework of the FCM. Monitored by a Board of Visitors that reported to the War Department, USMA spent a considerable amount of time educating and training cadets in the FCM using both the classroom and field environment. Like the basic level of Scott’s Infantry Tactics, cadet education in the FCM began with four years of tactical training both in infantry drill and artillery practice. The classroom instruction on military theory and the intellectual framework of the FCM had two distinct periods; the first using an English translation of a French text written during the Napoleonic period, and the second starting in 1830 with the lectures, instruction, and treatise written by Dennis Hart Mahon. Throughout all of these elements and time periods, USMA continued to educate class after class of graduates in the intellectual framework of the FCM. 60 Being a self-educated military officer, Winfield Scott was extremely supportive and involved with the Army’s only educational institution at West Point. In fact, most of the Army’s senior leadership as well as senior civilian leadership took an active interest in the education of future officers at America’s only national school. With the appointment of LTC Sylvanus Thayer as Superintendent in 1817, the curriculum at the military academy moved from a series of expedients to a truly systematic approach to the education and development of future army
There are many very important histories of West Point and Cadet Education. Among these are: Theodore J. Crackel, West Point: A Bicentennial History, (Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2002); Betros, Lance, ed. West Point: Two Centuries and Beyond. (Abilene: McWhiney Foundation Press, 2002). Stephen E. Ambrose, Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point, (Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 1999).
officers. This transformation was complete by 1820 and became an integral part of the army through the addition of a large appendix to the Army’s General Regulations of 1821 that detailed the purpose, course of instruction, discipline, and even daily schedule of cadet instruction. This allowed the Army as a whole, and especially the senior Army leadership, to have access to cadet education. This continued through the regulations of 1825 that reflected changes both in curriculum and brought Scott’s Infantry Tactics to the West Point as part of cadet instruction. Following the General Regulations of 1825, the Army removed the West Point appendix, but continued to monitor and comment on cadet education through the Board of Visitors. The United States Military Academy Board of Visitors played several key roles in the development of the academy curriculum, but also kept Army leadership continually involved in the education of future officers. The Board of Visitors, or BOV, consisted of generals, militia officers, congressmen, governors, and other civilian leaders whose mission every year was to evaluate both the semi annual cadet examinations as well as West Point’s curriculum, management, and physical property. They produced an annual report that commented on all of these areas of cadet education that went to both the War Department and Congress. In 1823, the BOV found “the pupils manifested a degree of intelligence and observation exceedingly satisfactory.” 61 The BOV observed the examinations and provided commentary on the fitness of the cadets. The BOV also made suggestions concerning every facet of the cadet experience, as they did in 1826 when they suggested the creation of a separate Department of Chemistry and Mineralogy. 62 These suggestions had a powerful influence in the War Department and Congress and provided the funding for much of the expansion of the academy. However, as important as the annual report was, the membership of the BOV demonstrated the continued interest of the Army leadership in officer development. 63
The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Report of the Board of Visitors The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Report of the Board of Visitors, 1823, 83. 62 The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Report of the Board of Visitors The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Report of the Board of Visitors, 1826, 11. 63 Many of the BOV members were veterans of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812, like General Mountfort Stokes who became a major general during the War of 1812 and then went on to become a senator and the Governor of North Carolina, and General Stephen Van Rensselaer who served as both a congressman and a college president. However, the highest-ranking generals in the Army took an active role as members of the BOV. Winfield Scott himself served as its president in 1831 along with Brigadier General Leavenworth, and presided over the BOV again in 1843, 44, and 45. The Commanding General of the Army Alexander Macomb acted as the BOV president in the following year in 1832. The board continued to have regular officers as presidents or members, if perhaps not quite as high ranking as these. This demonstrates not only the interest that the Army placed in its military academy, but also the way in which these senior leaders wanted to understand both the curriculum of cadet instruction, as well as
Although President Thomas Jefferson created the Military Academy under the Chief of Engineers and dedicated it to the various forms of engineering, the academy objective from early on, whether stated or not, was to create an officer corps educated in the military art. This was certainly the objective that the BOV understood when reviewing and reporting on the academy each year. In 1826, the BOV began their report with a restatement of what they thought the objective of the academy was: The object of the government in establishing this academy, was obviously to secure to the country the benefits of a special school, where instruction should be given, in every arm used in actual service. The academy here is, therefore, essentially a military academy; its organization and discipline are military; and its rules and arrangements form a part of the military institutes of the country. The instruction given under its provisions, is in the art of war, in its widest and most liberal interpretation. 64
From early on, the engineering, mathematics, language skills, philosophy and military science were all part of a curriculum designed to create a specialized officer corps educated in the art of war and trained for that purpose. In the 1st Class year, cadets took their engineering course for five hours a day, which covered military and civil engineering, field engineering, permanent engineering, and the science of war. 65 Added to this was at least one hour of infantry and artillery tactics. The preparation for service in the art of war, as opposed to service predominantly in the engineers or the artillery, was demonstrated in the commissioning statistics of the Military Academy throughout this period. West Point graduated more infantry officers from 1823 through 1846 than any other branch of service.66 In fact, the number of officers that the academic board approved for service in the Corps of Engineers was always less than four, and in some years was only one or two. These officers performed exceptionally well in the infantry, thanks to a deliberate curriculum that educated them not only in the engineering
their understanding of the French Combat Method. The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the officers and Cadets of the U.S. Military Academy, 1831; 1832; 1843. 64 The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Report of the Board of Visitors, 1826, 1. 65 The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Report of the Board of Visitors, 1826, 7. 66 A complete list of graduates by branch is contained in the centennial history set compiled in 1904 following the centennial events. This history included articles concerning every aspect of cadet life and USMA as an institution and is a great resource for data from 1802 through 1902. The centennial of USMA at West Point, NY 18021902,(Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1904), vol. 1, 505-08.
required to build bridges, fortifications, and obstacles, but also in the intellectual framework of the FCM. The Military Academy curriculum had two primary means of instructing cadets in the FCM. Starting in 1820 with the USMA curriculum contained in the General Regulation of the Army, cadets received instruction using the infantry regulations of the United States Army. By 1825, this meant that Winfield Scott’s Infantry Tactics became a part of every cadet’s experience and was an integral part of all four years of cadet education. Cadets spent most of their four years learning the School of the Soldier and Company. However, in their last two years they received instruction in the Schools of the Battalion and the Evolutions of the Line, in classroom and in field maneuvers. 67 The instruction in infantry tactics never wavered between 1821 and 1846 and thus West Point Graduates, even though they spent the entirety of that time on the frontier chasing Indians and manning outposts, knew the European style of Drill as it was in the French Regulations of 1791. This instruction was an extremely important part of cadet education and served these officers as well as their instruction in artillery in the Mexican-American War. Along with their instruction in infantry tactics, cadets also received instruction in artillery tactics. Although cadet instruction in infantry tactics occurred throughout their four years at West Point, artillery training was reserved for summer encampments and their 1st Class year. Through this instruction, cadets learned how to make cartridges, employ pyrotechnics, and fire a multitude of artillery pieces maintained at West Point for the purposes of cadet instruction. 68 In their 1st Class year especially, they learned to make cartridges, but more importantly to learn the theory of artillery employment and how to use it in conjunction with the other branches of the service. 69 To assist in this instruction, cadets utilized both current Army regulations governing artillery units, as well as several French texts on ballistics and the science of artillery. Just as their West Point experience gave them a firm knowledge of European style drill in a frontier constabulary army, cadet education in artillery provided them the same kind of understanding which would become important in both theaters of the Mexican-American War. For the more intellectual education in the FCM, the 1st Class Cadet course on engineering, which instructed cadets on civil engineering, field fortification, permanent fortification, and the science of war, contained almost all of the cadet instruction in military
The USMA Special Collections and Archives, Proceedings of the Academic Board, 1817-1832, 99. The USMA Special Collections and Archives, Proceedings of the Academic Board, 1832-1848, 100-02. 69 The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Board of Visitors Report, 1821.
theory. The 1st Class course on engineering went through several different forms until Sylvanus Thayer standardized the curriculum in 1817. By 1821, the course was taught according to methods and organization then in vogue in the French schools Thayer visited prior to his assumption of the Superintendency. The main course text was an English translation of a French text by Simon François, Gay de Vernon entitled A Treatise on the Science of War and Fortification. This text would dominate both the course and its instruction until the mid 1830’s when Dennis Hart Mahon came into the academy and began exchanging his own work for Vernon’s text. However, the French text and the engineering course that utilized it played a major role in inculcating a generation of officers in the FCM. The Gay de Vernon Text 1817-1838 From 1817 through the middle of the 1830’s, the 1st Class course on engineering followed the course of instruction modeled after the French military school system and designed around Gay de Vernon’s A Treatise on the Science of War and Fortification. Although the translation by Captain of Artillery John Michael O’Connor came under a certain amount of criticism, the text provided a generation of officers an education in what amounted to the FCM. 70 Baron Gay de Vernon was the first professor of engineering and fortification in the Ecole Polytechnique. Written in 1805 and approved by the Emperor Napoleon himself for use in the French military school system, A Treatise on the Science of War trained thousands of French officers before it became a part of USMA’s curriculum. The organization of the two volumes of A Treatise on the Science of War created an integrated course not only in engineering and fortification, but also in the art of war itself and the FCM in particular. Vernon’s Treatise was originally divided into three parts. The first section was a history of the science of war, covering formations, techniques and the evolution of the military art from the ancients through the military revolution to the Eighteenth Century. At 241 pages long, this section provided an excellent military history of warfare and spends a great deal of time discussing examples from the Eighteenth Century and the Wars of the French Revolution. The second section focused on Field and Temporary fortifications, especially entrenchments, bridges, obstacles, palisades, and the attack and defense of these temporary
The BOV reports from 1823 and 1825 reference perhaps going away from the translation and due to the stress on French language capabilities, a recommendation was made to revert to the original work. However, USMA continued to use the Connor translation. The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Annual Report of the Board of Visitors, 1823, 1825.
fortifications. At 141 pages long, this section provided an in-depth look at the place temporary fortifications plays on the battlefield, and once again as much as possible the examples were contemporary including Napoleon’s 1st Italian Campaign. The third part covered permanent fortification and began with a historical treatment of the subject followed by a theoretical look at the great engineers of the Eighteenth Century, which included Vaubon, Coehorn, and Carnot. At 385 pages long, this section provided more technical data and the techniques required to build fortifications, outworks, obstacles, gates, and fortified towns, but also included a long section on the attack and defense of such fortifications. The West Point version of Vernon’s Treatise included Connor’s translation of the first three section and added an appendix which Connor entitled A Summary of the Principles and Maxims of Grand Tactics and Operations. This appendix, which borrowed heavily from the works of Baron Antoine Henri Jomini, included the fundamental principles of military operations, sieges, marches, organization, and a discussion of grand tactics. 71 These four sections dominated the education of American officers in the FCM for almost two decades. All three parts of Vernon’s Treatise on the Science of War and Fortification served to educate future military officers in the intellectual elements of the FCM. Part one was obviously involved in educating the reader in the military history of Europe with the purpose of understanding warfare prior to and following the French Revolution. This part builds to a comparison between the pre revolutionary armies and the French armies of the Revolution, and allowed Vernon to point out the basic organizational differences between the two such as the move from specialized infantry to a more universally trained infantry that made up 80% of the army. 72 The other two parts of the work, which focused on fortification, was equally devoted to linking those engineering fields to the FCM through the integration of military history and campaign case studies. The parts on field fortification were full of the formulas, equations, and engineering tables that such building requires. However, it was also full of historical examples such as the field fortifications used at Malplaquet, and in the Army of the North during 1794. 73 Instead of a dry book of formulas, diagrams, and vectors, Vernon’s work focuses the study of
Simon Francois Gay de Vernon, A Treatise on the Science of War and Fortification: Composed for the Use of the Imperial Polytechnick School, and Military Schools; and Translated for the War Department, for the Use of the Military Academy of the United States: to which is added A Summary of The Principles and Maxims of Grand Tactics and Operations., trans. John Michael O'Connor, 2 vols, (New York: J. Seymour, 1817). 72 Ibid., vol. 1, 24-54. 73 Ibid., vol. 1, 353.
engineering onto the battlefield and the national frontiers. And throughout the sections on history or engineering, the basic principles of the FCM stay at the center of the work. It would be difficult to devise a better or more complete vehicle for the indoctrination of the French system in America than this work by Gay de Vernon. As already mentioned, Vernon makes the reader understand the importance of the French Revolution and French warfare. 74 In the section concerning the impact of the French Revolution, aside from several direct quotations from Guibert’s Essai General de Tactique, Vernon stressed the importance of speed and mobility. 75 This was the great tactical system that Guibert provided the French Regulations of 1791 described as it fit into the greater system of war. As an engineering text, Vernon discussed the changes in artillery and the science of ballistics. 76 Even in the preface concerning field and permanent fortifications, Vernon stated clearly that offensive war was the most advantageous and that many times during offensive war armies must utilize defensive formations and frontier fortifications. 77 Vernon’s detailed sections on fortification and engineering by no means eclipsed his wider treatment of offensive and defensive warfare. 78 This French textbook written to educate junior officers throughout the Napoleonic era was a masterpiece of both the theoretical and practical elements of the FCM, as well as an education in the technical elements of military engineering. There are two remarkable aspects of Vernon’s work as they apply to the instruction of the FCM; the first was the way in which military history and campaign examples served to illustrate the elements of engineering throughout the entirety of the work, and the second is the way in which the work very deliberately emphasizes every aspect of the FCM again throughout its entirety. It was not surprising that Winfield Scott and the regulations board of 1835 did not feel a
Vernon comments on the organization of the army through the adoption of the universally trained infantryman, to include regular line infantrymen fighting as skirmishers as well as the skirmishers forming up in the order of battle and using the bayonet, all essential elements of the FCM. Ibid., vol. 1, 94. 75 Vernon focused on speed through marching with less baggage in march formations, getting onto the battlefield faster into order of battle, and then when conditions were right forming into attack columns and using the shock power of the bayonet. Ibid., vol. 1, 85-87. 76 Vernon dealt not only with the changes in the organization of the artillery, from scattered across the line to mobile batteries, as well as covering the ballistics of artillery fire with subsequent physics equations and tabular data. Ibid., vol. 1, 81, 134-5. 77 Ibid., vol. 1, 192, 242. 78 When Vernon spends 40 pages of Volume II discussing in detail Vaubonian fortification and the formulas, ratios, and diagrams required to construct such defensive works, he connects the science of building them with the science required to construct public works and architecture. Ibid., vol. 2, 36-72. He then follows this section with 90 pages concerning the attack and defense of such fortified places, using diagrams and even a hypothetical journal of the attack to describe the correct sequence of events. Ibid., vol. 2, 73-160.
great need to include the FCM into the General Regulations of 1835 after witnessing the instruction occurring at the Military Academy. Graduates from West Point could not help but be indoctrinated in the intellectual framework of the FCM, they not only received deliberate instruction in the topic, but the FCM pervaded all of their engineering courses military and civil. In this way, Gay de Vernon was the dominating influence on the military education of West Point Graduates until 1830 with the addition of Dennis Hart Mahon as Professor of Engineering who would guide cadet education until his death in 1871. The Americanization of the FCM: D. H. Mahon 1832-1846 Dennis Hart Mahon entered the Military Academy in 1820 and began what would become a 51-year association with West Point. Throughout his cadet career, Mahan had an almost perfect record of academic performance and good conduct, even becoming an assistant professor of mathematics to make up for faculty shortages during his time as a cadet. As General Macomb suggested to Thayer that he should populate his faculty with qualified graduates, Thayer groomed Mahan to come back to the academy as soon as possible. Fortunately for himself and the academy at large, when Mahan became ill due to infection and a poor constitution in 1826, he convinced the War department to send him to Europe to study abroad for what turned into four years. During that time he fell in love with Parisian culture, French engineering, and the course of military engineering at the French School at Metz that he completed in 1829. By 1830, Mahan was ready to return to the academy and take over the engineering department and specifically the 1st Class course in Military Engineering. Mahan’s course on Civil and Military Engineering, while changing the textbooks and syllabus of the previous course taught using the Vernon text, continued the education of cadets in the FCM. Shortly after his appointment as Professor of Engineering in 1830, Mahan began to create textbooks he felt were more appropriate to both his instruction and his audience. His problems with the Vernon text were mainly that it was too long for his survey course, too abstract in some parts, and that the examples Vernon used were obsolete by the 1830’s. 79 He felt that the supporting text should provide the cadets with more concrete material, more useful and pragmatic, and that the military examples would more directly support lecture material. 80 And although he disliked the appendix to Vernon’s Treatise, he maintained a Jominian focus in his
Thomas E. Griess, "Dennis Hart Mahan: West Point Professor and Advocate of Military Professionalism, 18301871" (Duke, 1968). 219. 80 Ibid., 219.
course on military engineering using a list of topics for the Science of War that included organization, principles of strategy, marches, order of battle, and the general composition of armies, all in line with Jomini’s Art of War. 81 His new curriculum was as dedicated to teaching cadets the intellectual framework of the FCM as the earlier course. During a complete revision of the curriculum in 1839, Mahan created the syllabus that he would use through the Mexican-American War that included both civil and military engineering with an emphasis on field and permanent fortifications and ended with a section on the Science of War. This course of instruction allocated 112 lessons per year to military engineering of which 61 dealt with military topics that included fortification and the science of war; the rest dealt with drawing and a civil engineering review. 82 This change in curriculum reflected Mahan’s engineering emphasis that placed civil and military engineering on a more equal footing. This change made Vernon’s two-volume work unsuited to the new course of study. To continue to provide cadets with a theoretical education in the military art, Mahan had to develop his own textbooks. Mahan began a tradition in the USMA Engineering Department of crafting textbooks and pamphlets specifically designed to support cadet education. Mahan produced his first set of lithographic notes in pamphlet form to provide cadets a textbook for theoretical instruction in the military art that replaced Vernon’s much larger two volume work. Entitled Composition of Armies and Strategy, these works provided cadets with the same kinds of topics found in Vernon in a much more accessible format. Cadets became familiar with the different combat arms in Composition of Armies and learned that the infantry was the most important and largest arm of every army. 83 Strategy included larger strategic concepts as well as a section on battles and several sections devoted to minor tactics. 84 The pamphlet as a whole created a brief but comprehensive survey of the most current military theory in the profession; however, it was the section on battle that provided cadets with a specific education in the FCM. Mahan’s Battle
The USMA Special Collections and Archives, Proceedings of the Academic Board, 1835-1842, 192-95. Griess, "Dennis Hart Mahan". 223. 83 This section also stated that the infantry was the basis for every organization, and was the only arm that can maneuver and fight. The cavalry, artillery, and engineers were all supporting arms. Dennis Hart Mahan, Composition of Armies and Strategy, (West Point: United States Military Academy Press, 1838), 1. 84 The strategy section dealt with the elements of strategy popular in that era such as lines of operations, bases of operations. It also included familiar topics from the 1821 and 1825 General Regulations like marches, convoys, reconnaissance. Ibid., 2-9.
section provided a complete intellectual framework for the battlefield.85 This section in particular, and the entire work as a whole ensured that cadets continued to learn both the tactics and drill of the FCM along with its corresponding intellectual framework. Thus when the FCM dropped out of the General Regulations, the officers educated at West Point internalized it through Mahan’s course and brought it with them to the battlefields of the Mexican-American War. U. S. Officers in Mexico 1846-1848 The Mexican-American War was the first opportunity for USMA graduates to show the benefits of their education, and they did so to great effect. They also demonstrated that an education in the FCM, no matter how long ago that education took place, still guided their conceptions of warfare. At the tactical level, they executed Scott’s Infantry Tactics effectively approaching the battlefield in column and then deploying into lines or attack columns supported by both artillery and skirmishers and effectively employing the bayonet.86 The American operations throughout the war were offensive in nature from the initial attack out of Fort Brown through the Mexico City Campaign. The FCM was present throughout the subsequent combats and battles. General David E. Twiggs’ Division utilized skirmishers almost exactly as the regulations dictated at both Monterrey under Zachary Taylor and again at Cerro Gordo under Scott himself. Taylor deployed almost the entire force into close order firing lines at Palo Alto with devastating effect. Riley’s Brigade utilized small attack columns in the attack on Contreras, while Worth’s Brigade used both lines and columns in the attack at Churubusco. 87 The FCM, especially its non-dogmatic tactics, proved so successful that their continued use as the intellectual framework for the United States Army seemed assured, just as the position of West Point graduates in the military tradition of the United States seemed assured.
This battle section described the battlefield in almost the exact way as both the French General Regulations of 1792 and the American General Regulations of 1821. Offensive operations were the only ones capable of victory. The order of battle was composed of two lines wit ha reserve, the lines being made up of divisions deployed according to the commands of their officers. The artillery cannonade attacked the enemy’s guns while the light infantry moved in close to harass the enemy and cover the main body. The first two lines developed the battlefield until a weak point in the enemy’s line developed, which prompted the deployment of the reserve and the immediate pursuit of the enemy. Ibid., 10-14. 86 Grady McWhiney and Perry D. Jamieson, Attack and Die: Civil War Military Tactics and the Southern Heritage, (Alabama: University of Alabama Press, 1982), 27. 87 These are only a few specific examples from the Mexican-American War and can be found in any number of good sources on the war including the following: K. Jack Bauer, The Mexican War, 1846-1848, (New York: MacMillan, 1973); Roswel Sabine Ripley, The War with Mexico, (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1849); John S. D. Eisenhower, So far from God: The U.S. War with Mexico, 1846-1848, (New York: Random House, 1989); Ulysses Simpson Grant, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, (New York: Modern Library, 1999).
West Point graduates performed so well that in a 1860 congressional review, Scott offered his immortalized fixed opinion about West Point graduates:
I give it as my fixed opinion, that but for our graduated cadets, the war between Mexico and the United States could and probably would have taken some 4 or 5 years with in its first half, more defeats than victories falling to our share. However, in the course of 2 campaigns, we have conquered a great nation and a peace, without the loss of a single battle or skirmish. 88
This demonstrated Scott’s belief in the benefit of this education. It also demonstrated that the FCM, not the Army’s experiences on the frontier, allowed Scott to win his great peace against a modern army. All of the elements of the FCM were present in the campaign. It was a mixed regular and volunteer force organized in mixed divisions, but all trained and equipped alike. The experience of the Mexican-American War played a critical role in the development of the officers that would shape battles and operations during the American Civil War. Conclusion When taken as a single unit, the intellectual changes in the American Way of Warfare from the post American Revolution Army to the American Army that fought in the MexicanAmerican War were nothing short of revolutionary. The American military tradition grew out of an Anglo military tradition, with all of its assorted assumptions about war. The Republican War Department spent eight years attempting to foist the French Regulations of 1791 onto the Armies of the United States without succeeding. There was no logical reason for the officer corps of the Armies of the United States to agree to adopt the French system of warfare, and in fact there was a large incentive for this population to continue to resist the French influence. As the War of 1812 progressed from American disaster to American disaster, the likelihood of changing the minds of Federalist officers seemed remote. The Republican political appointees failed miserably in battle and by 1814 a new crop of younger, smarter, more capable, and Federalist generals began to move into positions of power and command almost in spite of the War Department. These new generals had perhaps less reason to change to a French system
The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1881.
than their predecessors. In fact, no American officer alive had ever witnessed the FCM in operation. Because of the diplomatic estrangement of the United States and France, no officer was permitted to journey to Europe to see Napoleon drive his armies throughout Europe. In fact, the only style of warfare that the American armies had ever interacted with was the British, and although British arms had failed to subdue the Revolution, they beat every single American force organized against them in the first several years of the War of 1812. If any system of warfare should have impressed the Federalist generals of 1814, it was the British, whose discipline and training continuously defeated American arms. In fact, the only general officer of any political persuasion that attempted to train his unit in the French system was Winfield Scott. Winfield Scott took over the training of his brigade and element of Brown’s division in February 1814 outside of Buffalo, New York. He drilled his brigade personally until he created a cadre of trainers, which then descended on his companies and battalions and taught every man the proper French drill of 1791. He had only one French copy of the manual and one English translation, and with it he trained the most disciplined force of the American side of any time in the war. And yet this most French of officers utilized no legitimate element of the FCM in his victory at Chippawa. In this battle, Scott formed his brigade into its order of battle and stood toe to toe with his British enemy, pouring volley after volley into the British ranks, while his skirmishers fought the British light infantry in the woods just as Frederick the Great would have done, and was able to route the enemy by sending the 25th Regiment in its linear formation around the enemy’s flank. In the final analysis, it was the discipline trained in Buffalo that gave Scott the victory, and not the French system at all. In this case the FCM was as useful as the Steuben Blue Book of 1779. In his second battle at Lundy’s Lane, Scott once again spent most of the day in a linear order of battle, except on this field, the British deployed their artillery better and made Scott’s brigade pay for their discipline under fire. And following the reinforcement of Ripley’s Brigade, Scott reformed the shattered remnants of his brigade into a French style attack column, which failed to ever find the British formations and served only to expose those brave men to both British and American fire as Scott’s column got off course in the limited visibility, going between friendly and enemy lines. Thus the American victory at the Battle of Chippawa provided American officers with no battlefield evidence of the power of the French system,
And yet, in the course of six months following the Battle of Chippawa, the Armies of the United States adopted a translation of the French system of 1791 as their system of infantry tactics. Whether they agreed with it or not, the American officer corps reached a consensus following the issuing of the Regulations of 1815, and gone forever were the days of individual commanders disregarding regulations to train their commands in the manner of their choosing. It was the combination of a national hero, the Federalist General Winfield Scott, his loud dedication to the superiority of the French system, and a War Department that had looked forward to the adoption of this system, and which moved rapidly to secure both Congressional and Presidential support for the new regulations. Personal experience of the French system had nothing to do with the consensus, nor had battlefield exploits proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, as they arguably had in Europe, of the efficacy of the new French system. The consensus was build out of the popularity and force of character of one man, and the support of an unpopular War Department. This War Department moved fast to cement the hold of the FCM on the Armies of the United States. A series of regulations designed to make the French system more understandable changed the language of the infantry regulations, but preserved the important elements of the French Regulations of 1791. Scott convened two regulations boards to update the Regulations of 1815, one in 1825 and the other in 1835, and made only cosmetic changes to the system of tactics that guided both regular and militia training and combat. In addition to the tactical regulations, the War Department also created a series of general regulations. The first two general regulations, of 1821 and 25 respectively, contained not only the general regulations of the internal operations of the Army, but key and essential elements of the FCM. These elements included the conduct of marches, baggage trains, sieges, discipline, and even a small section outlining the proper method of conducting both offensive and defensive operations. This section was the first deliberate integration of the intellectual framework of the FCM into the American Way of Warfare. However, by 1835, Scott’s regulations board felt that there was no longer a need to include the FCM in the general regulations of the army.
Instead, by 1835, Scott and the Army senior leadership knew that the French system was being taught to the future officers of the United States Army. Using the Board of Visitors as a means of maintaining oversight of cadet education, by 1835 Scott and the rest of the Army senior leaders were quite content that cadets received instruction in both the intellectual framework of the FCM through an engineering course, but also four years of instruction in the French tactical system. As West Point became an ever increasing part of the officer corps, comprising 77% of the officer corps by 1860, it was safe to assume that if cadet education prized the French system then so would whole generations of Army officers. These West Point graduates brought the FCM with them as they fought in the Mexican-American War, and their training from the academy served them in good stead. If it was Scott’s personality and popularity that forced the FCM on the United States Army, then it was the victories on the battlefields of the Mexican-American War that enshrined it into the American way of warfare.
CHAPTER 3: The FCM AND THE CIVIL WAR With Winfield Scott’s reputation more prestigious than ever and the junior officers from the campaigns exposed to battlefield successes it seemed as though the FCM reigned supreme and would continue to do so for the foreseeable future. However, if regulations boards and professional interest characterized the integration of the FCM into the regulations in the period from 1814 through 1848, the period from 1848 through 1864 had a different character. Change characterized the American theoretical military thought in this period. From the War Department, the regulations dealt with the inclusion of the rifled musket in Hardee’s Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics and a new general regulation that brought combat and battle back into the Army’s vocabulary and downplayed the importance of administration. At West Point Dennis Hart Mahan created an American military art through the publication of his classic An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-Guard, Out-post, and Detachment Service of Troops, while at the same time the market for military texts continued to grow. These new ideas and new ways of thinking about war took American arms into the bloody crucible of the American Civil War, which generated its own attempts at change and reform. However, within the regulations, military publications, and West Point education, the operations, actions, and combats of the Civil War, the influence of the French Combat Method played a fundamental role in understanding the unfolding American way of war as it dealt with the realities of war intellectually and on the battlefield. SECTION 1: The U. S. Army Regulations 1848-1865 From Scott to Hardee: the FCM and the Rifled Musket The Army Winfield Scott commanded in Mexico fought largely according to his Infantry Tactics last updated in 1846. The soldiers were drilled in it along the gulf shores near Fort Brown, Texas as they arrived from the east coast. The officers educated at West Point spent four years working through all three of its volumes and having to execute the maneuvers both on the drill field and in recitation examinations. The 1846 edition of Scott’s Infantry Tactics was revised without his direct supervision. In his memoirs, Scott stated that the changes made to his tactics “abridged and emasculated down to utter uselessness” by the Secretary of War and the War Department in general. 1 As examined in the last chapter, the 1846 edition made substantive changes only in the light infantry part of the School of the Battalion and represented more
Scott, Memoirs, vol. 1, 258.
continuity with previous editions as opposed to significant change. As Scott’s Tactics went through four more editions, there were absolutely no changes made to the document at all. The version of Scott’s Tactics that West Point Cadets studied through 1870 was exactly the same as the edition that Scott used to during the Mexico Campaign in 1847. Where the editions from 1821 through 1846 made small changes to the editions in language, vocabulary, and phrasing, from 1846 onward the editions were exact reprints. 2 For the entirety of Winfield Scott’s tenure as the Commanding General of the Army, his French based tactical regulations trained generations of infantrymen for the armies of the United States. However, following the Mexican-American War, Scott removed himself from the regulations business ceding it to the War Department. The 1835 edition was the last set of regulations that the general oversaw without the benefit of a committee or oversight of any kind. In the 1850’s with the testing of rifles, percussion caps, and the revolutionary minie ball, the War Department began a review of tactical doctrine as well as weapons procurement. Scott, still the commanding general at the time, stated in his memoirs his disapproval of altering the French system at all. 3 But his disapproval doesn’t quite make sense when examining the infantry tactics still approved by the War Department due to the continuity between the 1835 and subsequent editions of the regulations. 4 Therefore Scott’s perceived abridgement and emasculation took the form of a tactical revision conducted under the auspices of Brevet Lt. Col. William J. Hardee. The War Department authorized a review committee to update American tactical regulations following the Mexican-American War and recent advances in technology. At the direction of Secretary of War Jefferson Davis, Hardee headed a regulations board in 1854 to adapt the American regulations to take into account both the percussion rifle and European developments. 5 Against Scott’s advice, the Hardee board produced Rifle and Light Infantry
A comparative study of all five editions of Scott’s Infantry Tactics, the 1847, 1854, 1857, 1861, 1870, revealed that the paragraphs were the same, the paragraph numbers were the same, the sections lined up perfectly, and even the explanatory plates remained unchanged. 3 In his words “his last edition of tactics, was soon, under the same protection (under the Secretary of War Jefferson Davis), abridged and emasculated down to utter uselessness,” and his last statement on the issue was that “it is extremely perilous to change systems of tactics in an army in the midst of a war, and highly inconvenient even at the beginning of one.” Scott, Memoirs, vol. 2, 159, 258. 4 Although he resided over the last revision in 1835, the amount of change between the 35 edition and the 46 reissue is remarkably small. The only experimenting that Secretary Davis authorized dealt with the light infantry regulations at the soldier and company level. The Scott devoted only thirty-five pages out of three volumes to the open skirmish order. The rest of the regulation remained essentially unchanged from 1846, and parts from as far back as 1825. 5 Skelton, An American Profession of Arms, 255.
Tactics in two volumes adopted for use by the U.S. Army on 29 March 1855. 6 Hardee’s Tactics represented the first attempt at American regulations to adapt the FCM to changes in military technology. 7 In some ways General Ulysses S. Grant’s comment that Hardee’s Tactics were nothing more than “common sense and the progress of the age applied to Scott’s system” may be the most accurate comment on the new regulations. 8 However, these regulations did bring some unique elements into American tactical thought and practice. The major difference between Scott’s regulations and Hardee’s Tactics was the organization of extremely similar material, and the changes all showed a deliberate effort to simplify both the manual and the drill. Thus Hardee’s Tactics updated the language of the regulation and removed obsolete passages. 9 In some instances, the new regulations eliminated entire sections of the Scott regulation. 10 This made Hardee’s regulations easier to instruct, explain, and implement. The other major revision of the Hardee work concerned the explanatory plates. Scott’s Tactics included plates at the back of every volume and referred to them throughout the work. The Hardee regulation inserted the plates when appropriate throughout the schools, which greatly improved the readability and usefulness of the regulation. This focus on utility and simplicity reflected a tradition within the FCM and continued in the changes made to the School of the Soldier in Hardee’s Tactics. The changes Hardee’s regulations board brought to the School of the Soldier focused on the training and organization of the individual soldier. The School of the Soldier introduced a new organization below the platoon level called the comrades in battle. 11 These comrades in battle consisted of four individual soldiers and functioned as an administrative organization. Although the only thing the School did was to create the organization, it would have a function
General Order from the Secretary of War in the frontispiece of the regulation. William Hardee, Rifle and Infantry Tactics: For the Exercise and Manoeuvres of Troops when Acting as Light Infantry or Riflemen, (Philadelphia: Lippincott, Grambo and Company, 1855). 7 Jamieson, Attack and Die, 47-55. 8 Grant, Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, 253. 9 For example, both regulations have a section in the School of the Soldier concerned with the principles of alignment in relation to close order drill and the deployment into lines. Scoots regulation stated that to align the rank, the commander “seeing nearly the whole rank aligned should them,” while the 1855 regulation stated that the commander “seeing the greater number of the rank aligned should align them.” These statements have essentially the same meaning, but when the older regulation discussed whole ranks the new one focused on the greater number of the rank. Scott, Infantry Tactics, vol. 1, pg 73, Hardee, Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, vol. 1, 67. 10 Following the article on alignment, the Scott’s Infantry Tactics contained a section entitled General Remarks on Alignment that provided the drill instructors with detailed techniques for teaching and maintaining proper posture and alignment where the 1855 regulations did not include this section moving directly on to the next lesson. 11 Ibid., vol. 1, 9.
in the skirmishing instructions later on in the School of the Company. In addition to the comrades in battle, the Hardee regulation was much more focused on the instruction of recruits. 12 While most of the instruction these recruits received was exactly the same as the 1830’s, there were significant differences in the tactical training. The tactical training of the individual soldier differed in two important ways from Scott’s Tactics concerning their marching and manual of arms. The first major innovation of Hardee’s tactics was the inclusion of faster rates of marching than available to commanders under Scott’s system. 13 The regulation emphasized the importance of this increased speed, ostensibly to negate the accuracy of aimed rifle fire, however the soldiers themselves presented a problem as their fitness levels made this increased time unattainable. To combat this lack of fitness, Hardee’s Tactics maintained a constant effort throughout the regulation to encourage commanders to accustom their troops to both the double quick time and the run. 14 Hardee also included a new manual of arms that incorporated the loading in 9 times of the percussion rifle, which replaced the 12 times it took to load the smoothbore musket, but also gave the infantrymen additional loading and firing positions. 15 This had the potential to change the way in which infantrymen deployed into battle and fought both on the offense and defense. The changes in the School of the Company brought this increase in tactical flexibility into the deployment of platoon and company formations. In line with the French drill at the time, Scott included the oblique step in
Sergeants and Corporals had an integral part of the instructions of new recruits, earning each of them a section of instructions on the duties of NCOs and the procedures for their use. Whereas in Scott’s regulations the officers were not only responsible for the training but the primary trainers, this 1855 regulation made this an NCO function, with officers supervising the training. The instruction itself was much more important in 1855, with detailed instructions on the instruction of recruits. Instructors needed to be sure to explain the movements or drills to the recruits first, followed by a demonstration before asking them to do it themselves. The psychology of instruction also received its due when the regulation cautioned instructors from providing too much information in any single minute, as the attention span of the recruit was fairly limited. 13 Scott’s regulations allowed for a common time of 90 steps per minute, a quick time of 110 steps per minute, a double quick time at 140 steps per minute, and the run, which could not be estimated. The regular infantry marched and fought at the common and quick times, leaving the double quick and the run for the troops on skirmishing duties who might need more speed. What Hardee did was to give the regular army the same common and quick times and run, but increased the double quick time to 165 steps per minute which could then be increased to 180 steps per minute at need for short periods of time. Scott, Infantry Tactics, vol. 1, 22; Hardee, Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, vol. 1, 17, 26-28. 14 Instructors exercised troops at the double quick before teaching them the School of the Company, and at regular intervals to increase their capability to achieve and maintain the double quick and run times. This increase in tactical speed was integrated with an increase in tactical flexibility concerning the manual of arms. Hardee, Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, vol.1, 24-25. 15 No longer just limited to loading and firing standing up, Hardee’s regulation provided for the loading and firing both kneeling and in the prone position. Ibid., vol. 1, 36-37.
his Tactics and still had it as a tactical option in 1862. 16 The other major change focused on simplifying the transition from column to line formations by platoons.17 The Skirmisher instructions were also moved into the School of the Company from the School of the Battalion where it appeared in Scott’s Infantry Tactics, but there was surprisingly little change to the skirmish order from the 1835 Regulation. 18 Although Hardee’s Tactics had a second volume that included the School of the Battalion, there were no changes in the content, and very little change in the format. The exceptions took the form of changing the language and not the spirit of the regulations as the commands and instructions remained essentially unchanged. With only two volumes to guide tactical deployments, the Army was forced to rely on the third volume of Scott’s Infantry Tactics for the School of the Brigade and the Evolutions of the Line. Thus Scott’s Infantry Tactics continued to influence the first two years in direct form until another major regulations review occurred under General Silas Casey in 1862. Due to the impossibility of using Hardee’s Tactics following his resignation and commissioning in the armies of the Confederate States of America, the War Department wanted an entire revision of the tactical regulations so that for each of the three volumes of Infantry Tactics would be under the same authorship, with the intention of bringing much needed uniformity to the tactical deployment of the Union armies. Casey did this with his Regulations of 1862 Silas Casey and the 1862 Regulation Casey’s 1862 Regulations provided both an update and an effort of standardization that the infantry regulations of the armies of the United States badly needed as it went into the second year of the Civil War. Unlike previous editions, Casey’s used a preface to provide context to the new regulations. In it, he acknowledged the debt that American tactical regulations owed to the
The oblique step required the formation to literally march diagonally while keeping torso alignment to the front in one of the most physically difficult drill movements of the French Regulations of 1791. While keeping the oblique fire, the 1855 board eliminated the unpopular oblique step entirely from the regulations. 17 In Scott’s regulations, a platoon had to halt in column and tighten up their alignment before the deployment to a line formation requiring a long period of time to deploy. The new regulation allowed platoons to deploy into lines from columns either at a halt or from the march. Thus a platoon could move directly into a line without having to halt and dress their alignment. The benefits of this change in the regulations were obvious and made a tremendous impact on the battlefield. 18 The comrades in battle showed back up in the skirmish order and these comrades had responsibility over a section of the skirmish lines. Although this seems like the proto-squad functioning below the platoon level with tactical responsibilities, these comrades in battle occupied the same frontage as an equal number of files in Scott’s instructions to infantry on skirmish duty. In fact, if there was a new spirit of skirmishers in the 1855 Regulations, it was one of control, as many of the new sections concerned the officers’ ability to direct both fires and collapsing the skirmish line back into a close order formation.
French. He directly linked the two major revisions in Infantry Tactics in 1835 and 1855 to the corresponding major changes in French regulations in 1831 and 1845. 19 The preface explained that the new edition was an effort to synthesize the important aspects of both the Scott Tactics from 1835 and reconcile it with Hardee’s changes in 1855 in order to produce a single coherent doctrine for operations at all levels of the army. In addition to synthesizing existing American doctrine under one system, Casey also updated the tactical system to take advantage of “changes in weapons both artillery and infantry”. 20 This was definitely new as no other tactical regulation of the armies of the United States explicitly attempted to adapt itself to changes in technology. Regardless the reason, there were important changes that the Casey regulations brought to American arms. Another first that Casey’s regulations brought to American tactical writings was in making the changes really noticeable to the practitioners by placing a majority of the new material in the front. Before the beginning paragraph of the regulation itself, the preface spelled out the major changes. In a succinct sentence, the new regulations would “increase rapidly the gait, intervals whatnot.” 21 While some of this was repeating the changes Hardee already made, changing the double quick time, many of them were new. To make the changes stand out many of them appeared in the beginning of the School of the Soldier, even though they were not traditionally material for this section. In the change to the brigade as the major tactical unit, several of the changes pertaining to the new organization appeared up front. The brigade would now be composed of several battalions, which subsumed independent companies and regiments into a more streamlined formation to ease in tactical maneuvers. 22 These changes remained consistent with the French Combat Method, which focused on delivering powerful offensive blows with attack columns and the bayonet. Once the regulation finished with these changes at the brigade level, Casey focused back on the individual soldier and remained surprisingly consistent with Hardee’s Tactics.
Silas Casey, Infantry Tactics: for the instruction, exercise, and manœuvres of the soldier, a company, line of skirmishers, battalion, brigade, or corps d'armée, (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1862), vol. 1, 5. 20 Ibid., vol. 1, 6. 21 Ibid., vol. 1, 5. 22 The intervals between battalions in the brigades would increase to twenty-two paces and the intervals between brigades to 150 paces. This had the effect of significantly expanding the frontage of American divisions and corps. Additionally, when brigades formed either a single or double line in the order of battle, the lead battalions would remain deployed into linear formations while the battalions in the second row remained in standard attack columns. Ibid., vol. 1, 9
Much like Hardee, the changes Casey brought to the majority of the regulation were changes of simplification. The remaining changes in the Casey’s School of the Soldier were predominantly superficial and more a reinforcement of Hardee’s changes. Once past the brigade changes, Casey’s regulation mirrors Hardee’s almost paragraph for paragraph. One of the most obvious changes was that while Casey continued the new tradition of inserting the plates into the regulation as opposed to a large plates section at the back of the volume, the illustrations changed for the new edition. 23 Aside from this, the only other change was an extension of the marching changes seen in Hardee’s Tactics Just as Hardee gave commanders the ability to deploy platoons from column to line from the march, Casey’s regulations increased the efficiency of these same drill movements. 24 Beyond the changes in the School of the Soldier, Casey changed very little of the School of the Battalion from Hardee’s revision in 1855. The major revision was the inclusion of regulations concerning the skirmisher company. 25 Aside from these minor changes, Casey’s School of the Battalion institutionalized all of the changes Hardee made seven years earlier. As Hardee had not updated the third volume of Scott’s Tactics, this was the way in which Casey was going to provide a completely updated tactical system that focused on the tactics from the soldier to the brigade. For the first two years of the war, the Union armies had to use Hardee’s Tactics for the schools of the soldier through the battalion, but for operations above the battalion level they had to turn back to the third volume of Scott’s Tactics that covered the brigade level and higher entitled the Evolutions of the Line. Casey’s regulations in 1862 provided a third volume that created a system for the deployment and maneuver of brigade sized elements and higher that not only updated these maneuvers from Scott’s system but also integrated all of the changes made in
These new plates were exact duplicates of the Hardee plates except that instead of a surprisingly French looking solider demonstrating the manual of arms, the demonstrator began to look much more American. Aside from the American looking uniform and equipment, Casey’s demonstrator had the horn emblem of the Army of the Potomac on his very Union cover. For example, the soldier in Casey’s Infantry Tactics at carry arms used the same body and rifle positioning as Hardee’s, but with different equipment. Ibid., vol. 1, 42. 24 Scattered throughout the School of the Soldier and the Company when appropriate now every movement in both column and line had an associated command that would allow the formation to halt and turn about one hundred and eighty degrees to face back along the line of march. This addition was undoubtedly inspired by the needs of the battlefield and commanders need for orders that would allow them to withdraw in contact in good order. 25 Although the School of the Soldier kept the skirmisher regulations almost exactly the same as the 1855 regulations, to include regulations for the deployment of an entire battalion as skirmishers, Casey’s regulations designated a special skirmisher company. As this designation changed the numbering conventions that controlled movements and formations for Hardee’s and Scotts’s maneuvers, Casey had to provide instructions for this new company. Therefore, the only substantive changes Casey made to the 1862 regulations was instructions for the skirmisher company in the brigade as it went from column to line, conducted a right wheel while in column, as it went from close order to open order. Casey, Infantry Tactics, vol. 2, 5-18.
the previous two volumes. In Casey’s preface to the first volume of his regulations, he stated that one of the major changes he instituted was to make the third volume focus more on the brigade level. Undoubtedly influenced by his experiences on the battlefield, his purpose was to make the brigade the primary tactical unit in order to facilitate more responsive maneuvers. Casey made this change by first changing the size of the brigade. Scott stated that the brigade could have any number of battalions in it depending on the situation, but his system provided commands using an eight-battalion brigade as the standard formation. Casey changed the standard organization of the brigade stating that while they would still be organized depending on circumstances that the maximum number of battalions to a brigade would be four, and that more brigades would form divisions. 26 This change was the heart of Casey’s brigade based system as smaller brigades would respond faster and more flexibly on the battlefield than larger eight battalion brigades. Into this new brigade framework, Casey integrated all of the changes from the subordinate schools such from the soldier through the battalion. The Brigade drill now took into account the new naming conventions for companies and instead of grenadier companies in the regulations, now skirmisher companies had their specific place in the formation. 27 In this way, Casey truly made the Scott system obsolete by providing commanders and officer in the field with a complete system. All of the instruction provided to soldiers would seamlessly transition to brigade operations, the benefit being more efficient and simplified drill in battle. In addition integrating these new elements, Casey also simplified Scott’s system by providing his new brigades with more specific instructions. Where Scott’s Tactics focused just on the infantry maneuvers of the brigade, Casey expanded this out to include specific instructions for command and control as well as the other combat arms. The same simplification that hallmarked the first two volumes continued in volume three becoming much more specific instructions. 28 The brigade now received a standard attachment of artillery and cavalry organic to its organization. 29 In the name of simplification, it
Casey, Infantry Tactics, vol.1. Ibid., vol. 3, pg 26. 28 Now, generals commanding brigades were to station themselves either seventy paces behind the center battalion or on the flank of the brigade. Ibid., vol. 3, 5 29 Attached to the brigade was one battery of eight guns and four squadrons of cavalry numbering 800 troopers. These formations received specific instructions as to their alignment with respect to the battalions of the brigade that they were to rigidly keep as the brigade maneuvered on the battlefield. Look in volume three pgs 5-8 for specific relationships of the artillery and cavalry.
seemed as though Casey removed much of the room that Scott gave to commanders with regard to the tactical use of the brigade formation. Far from encouraging innovative thought, these new regulations seemed to become more dogmatic in their adherence to the FCM inherited from Scott. This move to more clear expressions of doctrine manifested itself not only in the tactical regulations from 1855 through 62, but also in the General Army Regulations of the same period. The General Army Regulations 1857-1865 From the first General Army Regulation in 1821, the general regulations’ purpose was to provide a single way in which the army conducted business that included all of the elements of the War Department. Following the Mexican-American War, this trend continued with the General Regulations of 1847. This regulation continued the trend begun by the 1835 edition, which removed the intellectual elements of the FCM and replaced them with an emphasis on military administration and the general staff sections such as pay, medical, and the Adjutant General Corps. The 1847 regulation had no table of content, but only a subject index to navigate the document. 30 Much like the regulation of 1835, these general regulations were no longer meant to be read cover to cover, but instead became only a reference guide for the regular business of the Army. In this edition, there appeared new sections pertaining to the organization of geographic military departments, and the subordination of military officers to civilian control. These were perhaps responses to the civil military relations problems that occurred during the Mexican-American War. However, much of the regulation did not change, the paragraphs concerning outposts, Indian operations, troops on campaign, and reduced section concerning the general staff. In their entirety, there were no substantive changes in the general regulations of the 1840s. But much like the tactical regulations, the War Department of the 1850s made important changes to the general regulations. In 1857, the War Department procured a new General Army Regulation that harkened back to the regulation of 1821 in many ways and broke with the tradition of the regulations from 1835 through 1847. Although the regulation had a detailed index to make using it easier, a table of contents with the major section headings was prominently displayed at the beginning of the regulation. 31 This return to the table of contents followed a logical reorganization of the regulation placing subsequent sections into an order remarkably similar to the 1821 edition. This
United States Army, General Army Regulations, (Washington D. C.: War Department, 1847). United States Army, Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1857, (New York: Harpers, 1857).
new regulation also had none of the regulations pertaining to the general staff sections that held such a prominent place in the previous editions. Sections concerning the purchasing, pay, medical, quartermaster general and adjutant general lo longer had a place in the regulations. This decision seemed consistent with the decision to review Scott’s Tactics in 1855 in a War Department that wanted to refocus the Army regulations to European combat and warfare. While the new general regulation retained the sections concerning troops on campaign, troops in encampments and in garrison, and the sections concerning outpost duty, there was the return of several important sections removed in 1835. There were several new sections concerning skirmishers and reconnaissance. 32 These paragraphs seemed to take the changes from Hardee’s regulations and applied them to the applicable army operations. These sections also bore the mark of Dennis Hart Mahon, especially his Elementary Treastise on Advanced Guard, Outpost, and Detachment Service of Troops. 33 The sections on convoys, detachments, outposts, and reconnaissance all bore the intellectual mark of Mahan’s work. They were in essence a simplified version of his ideas put into explicit advice in regulation form. In addition to these new sections, the 1857 General Army Regulations also saw the return of the conceptual vision of the FCM to the doctrine of the United States Army. There were several sections of the 1821 General Regulation that laid out very clearly the way in which American Army’s would operate on the battlefield, and this framework was the FCM. It entered the American doctrine through a series of sections in the 1821 document entitled Battles, Sieges, and the Defense of Places. The General Regulations of 1857 brought all of these sections back into service. A comparison of the applicable sections in both regulations revealed a surprising amount of similarities. 34 This similarity in organization ran through all of the sections that the 1857 regulations borrowed from 1821. The shared sections also contained a remarkably
The several pages devoted to these topics encouraged daily reconnaissance patrols in the presence of the enemy, the appointment of intelligent officers to the conduct of these patrols, the usefulness of skirmishers and light troops as a covering force for the main body, and the importance of flankers in the security of the army on the march, attack, or camp. Ibid., 85-86. 33 Mahan, An Elementary Treatise, 105. 34 Like many of the regulations produced in new editions throughout the Nineteenth Century, very little changed from 1821 to 1857 except the specific wording of the paragraphs. The organization remained the same as both sections on Sieges began by explaining to the reader that siege operations usually required two infantry divisions and a brigade of cavalry. Army, General Army Regulations, 143; Army, Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1857, 99.
similar terminology and vocabulary. 35 The differences were consistent with the changes in language seen throughout all of the editions of the American regulations, which was simplified and updated. Finally, the sections remained similar in context as both regulations used artillery in the attack in the same way. 36 This trend also continued throughout these recycled sections. With the exception of a more thorough coverage of medical operations and the evacuation of casualties from the battlefield, the 1857 sections that describe the battlefield utilized the same intellectual framework as that of 1821. Officers commissioned and on active duty at the outbreak of the Civil War went into battle in an institution that visualized the movements and maneuvers of the various combat arms in the exact same way as those on duty from 1821 to 1835. However, much like tactical regulations, the War Department revised the general regulations as war became more likely in the early 1860s. The first revision of the general regulations occurred in 1861. This revision saw absolutely no changes in the sections pertaining to the battlefield or the FCM. In the same way as the tactical regulations prepared the armies of the Civil War to fight using the FCM, the general regulations provided the same intellectual framework for the battlefield as in both 1857 and 1821. 37 The second revision of the general regulations in 1863 was by far more important as far as the way in which the army viewed the battlefield. 1863 saw a revision of the tactical regulations in order to provide the Union armies with a single coherent tactical doctrine. At the same time the War Department undertook another revision of the general regulations. This was the opportunity for the army as a whole to change the way in which it visualized the battlefield, marching, baggage trains, sieges, or the defense of places to take advantage of the lessons and experiences learned throughout the war. Instead, the General Regulations of 1863 was an exact reprint of the 1861 edition updated with the changes in the articles of war made in the first two years of the war. 38 The sections concerning combat
From the 1821 regulations “Those small detachments left behind in advancing, will rejoin the guard when other troops come up to them.” Army, General Army Regulations, 125; while the 1857 regulations stated that “Detachments left by the advanced guard to hold points in the rear rejoin it when other troops come up.” Army, Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1857, 90. 36 From the 21 regulations “The artillery will be employed to silence the fire of the enemies batteries which cover the chosen point of attack.” Army, General Army Regulations, 162; while the 1857 regulations stated “In the attack, the artillery is employed to silence the batteries that protect the position.” Army, Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1857, 91. 37 United States Army, Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861 (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1861). 38 United States Army, Revised United States Army Regulations of 1861: With an appendix containing the changes and laws affecting army regulations and Articles of War to June 25, 1863, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1863).
remained unchanged since the 1857 edition. The general regulations preached the same battlefield sections that started the war, unaffected by anything that occurred in the first two years of the war. This dedication to the FCM in the Union regulations mirrored similar writings both in and out of the American military. SECTION 2: USMA and the FCM 1848-1865 Jomini and Cadet Education No single military theorist influenced French and American military thinking more than Antoine Henri Jomini. Acknowledged as one of the premier interpreters of Napoleon, today his legacy is understood as a conservative one harkening to the warfare of the Eighteenth Century and Frederick the Great than that of Napoleonic Warfare. Jomini’s theory was firmly grounded in the French Enlightenment and its project to analyze all human knowledge into first principles. It was in his masterpiece Précis de l'Art de la Guerre (The Art of War) written in 1838 that Jomini clearly defined his principles of war across several types of operations and different levels of war. Going through several editions of the Art of War, Jomini’s prolific writings dominated military debates through the 1860’s and continued to support his ideas and principles. His influence in America was so persuasive that a favorite anonymous quotation used by civil war historians for decades is that “many of the leading generals of the American Civil War carried a copy of Jomini’s Art of War in their pockets”. Whether or not the actual book was in their pockets is irrelevant to understanding Jomini’s impact on American Warfare. The more important issue lies in understanding the role Jomini played in officer education and American military thought. As briefly described in the last chapter, Jomini had a small place in the Thayer reforms to the curriculum beginning in 1817. Thayer reformed the engineering course at West Point into one focused on the science of war and to this end he introduced a translation of the text used by the French military engineering schools during the Napoleonic Era. This translation contained almost a hundred pages concerning the art of war, and the translator, CPT O’Connor of the US Corps of Engineers, identifies Jomini as the most important of the current military thinkers of Europe and was the inspiration of the addition to the Gay de Vernon text. 39 This additional
Simon Francois Gay de Vernon, A Treatise on the Science of War and Fortification: Composed for the Use of the Imperial Polytechnick School, and Military Schools; and Translated for the War Department, for the Use of the Military Academy of the United States: to which is added A Summary of The Principles and Maxims of Grand Tactics and Operations., trans. John Michael O'Connor, (New York, 1817), vol. 2, 386.
section provided the rudimentary elements of Jomini’s thoughts. These elements include “the science of war is founded upon concentration of force and celerity of movement,” and that to be successful one must “carry your mass against the enemy’s decisive point.” 40 These were central elements that Jomini transformed into his principles of war. It also includes sections on marches, sieges, fortifications, and uses examples of grand tactics from Frederick the Great and Napoleon’s first several campaigns in Italy and Germany. This small section familiarized the reader with Jominian thought and was the way in which cadets interacted with him through the Mexican-American War. As the curriculum required cadets to be able to read if not speak French, the library acquired works in French and in particular Jominian works in French. Throughout the 1820’s and 1830’s his works became available the USMA library, and cadets several of Jomini’s influential works were very popular with cadets. 41 From these volumes, Jomini’s conceptualization of war was already present and his art of war came to the academy, and at least interested cadets could read and understand Jomini’s principles of war. Jomini’s Summary of the Art of War was the masterpiece of a long life of writing and thinking about warfare and the conduct of war. The principles stated herein provide the most succinct expression of Jomini’s thought that became so widespread and influential in military thinking across the world and continues to influence military thought. While Jomini did not go as far as Guibert in singing the praises of citizen soldiers, he certainly described many of the important benefits derived from such manpower. 42 Beginning with the citizen soldier, Jomini described the benefits of an army committed to the French Combat Method. Such an army is
Ibid., vol. 2, 387 Library records for Saturday reading periods showed that these two works of Jomini were popular with cadets across a variety of years, to include Cadet Robert E. Lee. Antoine Henri Jomini, Traité des Grandes Opérations Militaires: contenant l'histoire critique des campagnes de Frédéric II, comparées à celles de l'empereur Napoléon : avec un recueil des principes généraux de l'art de la guerre, (Paris: Chez Magimel, 1811-16); Antoine Henri Jomini, Histoire Critique et Militaire des Guerres de la Révolution. 42 He points to a “good recruiting system, a good organization, a well organized system of national reserves, good instruction of officers and men in drill and internal duties as well as those of a campaign, a strict but not humiliating discipline, and keeping alive the military spirit of the people.” While they are not exclusive to a citizen army, these all stem from the citizen basis of the French Combat Method. Having citizens motivated in the defense of their country produces manpower both in times of dire need as well as continually throughout a long war. These citizens are organized into battalions and given inspired officers and training in military drill and discipline. The discipline that such soldiers require is not harsh, but is certainly strict and requires non of the external force of the ancien regime. And the citizen, who identifies his duty to serve and defend his nation, both generates and reflects the military spirit necessary for victory. Antoine Henri Jomini, The Art of War, trans. G. H. Hendell and W. P. Craighill, (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1862), 39.
predominantly infantry, with cavalry and artillery as auxiliary corps. 43 This army would have a standard organization in which regular infantrymen could skirmish and skirmishers could form up and act as regular infantrymen. 44 This type of army could also take advantage of the new French system of attack columns and lines to respond to both the terrain and the enemy. 45 He recommended only offensive operations to attain decisive results, the defense only used to prepare for future offensive operations. 46 In order to conduct the offensive operations which Jominian warfare requires, armies would have to become faster and more mobile. 47 This new speed was a function of creating an infantry motivated by civic duty and disciplined with different methods. Such an army would be able to conduct re-supply operations without reducing their speed or numbers through desertion. This motivation and discipline would also allow the army to operate in divisions both on marches and during tactical operations. 48 These sections outlined in a very scientific way the lessons of the FCM learned throughout the battlefields of the Wars of the French Revolution. In addition to more mobile armies, Jomini’s armies could also utilize all of the techniques of war perfected by centuries of European warfare. They could utilize field fortifications in the form of fortified camps in order to protect their forces and facilitate further offensive operations. They could also conduct siege operations to eliminate fortresses controlling strategic points and lines of communications. In this way, Jomini’s great influence on American warfare was really the influence of the French Revolution and the FCM. American Military Theory: The Influence of D.H. Mahon Just as Jomini took almost forty years to create his masterpiece of military theory, it took decades for this theory to become an integral part of American officer education at West Point. Although Jomini’s writings entered the West Point curriculum at the inception of Thayer’s reforms in the form of maxims in an appendix to Vernon’s textbook on the science of war, it was not until after the Mexican-American War that America’s greatest military theorist of the Nineteenth Century, Dennis Hart Mahan, generated his own masterpiece on war. Mahan began to
Ibid., 265 Ibid., 325. 45 Ibid., 123, 273. 46 Ibid., 63-66, 179. 47 In several places he focuses on the importance of rapid marches to concentrate at the decisive points. To achieve this new level of speed armies would have to reduce its baggage requirements. They must have the ability to forage and procure supplies without the benefit of magazines or long supply trains. Ibid., 126-130. 48 Ibid., 254.
revise the military engineering class, which focused on the science of war, beginning in the mid1830s and produced textbooks on civil and military engineering, and military fortifications. However, Jomini’s thought pervaded Mahan’s initial foray into military theory with his Composition of Armies and Strategy. 49 It was not until 1847 that he completed his definitive treatise on war entitled An Elementary Treatise on Advanced-Guard, Out-post, and Detachment Service of Troops. Rapidly integrated into the course on the science of war, this work, and its second edition in 1862 laid the foundation of the French Combat Method, heavily influenced by Jominian thought, into sixteen years worth of junior officers, as well as both regular and volunteer officers who did not have the benefit of a West Point education. In the Elementrary Treatise Mahan had a particular audience and level of war that he directed his writings toward, and that was the education of cadets to be junior officers. To this end, the book created both an intellectual framework with which to approach combat at the battalion level and below, as well as a detailed how to guide for the command, control, deployment, and maneuvering of troops in the field. To accomplish both of these tasks, Mahan split the text into two distinct, although undifferentiated, parts. The first part comprises the first two chapters entitled the Historical Sketch of the Most Remarkable Epochs in the Military Art from the Time of the Greeks to the Present, and the second chapter entitled Tactics. 50 These are the two chapters appropriately placed at the beginning of the work which not only relay the authors beliefs about warfare through the historical sketch, but also detailed the basic elements of the French Combat System to include army organization in his chapter on tactics together reinforcing the intellectual framework that runs throughout American tactical regulations. The second part covered topics from the deployment of detachments, to reconnaissance, to surprises and ambuscades. These chapters provided both junior and senior officers with detailed instructions for the performance of those duties while in command of troops of a variety of types and sizes. Through both parts Mahan synthesized the writings and thoughts of Jomini and the French Combat System adapted to the American experience and communicated to several
In the first few pages of Strategy, Mahan provides the reader with the fundamental principle of war stated as “The object of every war ought to be to gain an advantageous peace, and this object can be attained alone by decisive strokes. The great art, therefore of a general consists in judging well both of the points and the moment when he can strike a decided blow with the greatest prospect of success. And the only real certainty of success held out is to appear on the point with forces superior to the enemy. It therefore results that the fundamental principle of war consists in operating with superior forces a combined movement on a decisive point.” This principle of war was clearly influenced by Jominian thought. Mahan, Composition of Armies and Strategy, 5. 50 Mahan, An Elementary Treatise, 7-48.
decades worth of professional officers and the multitude of amateur officers and men that would comprise the armies that fought in the American Civil War. Mahon’s Elementary Treatise used every chapter to craft the intellectual framework created by the French Combat Method. To begin this endeavor, Mahan started his masterpiece with the evolution of the military art from antiquity to the “epoch of the French Revolution, and its Sequel.” 51 He began with the Greeks and Romans to understand the “fixed principles of victory, when acted on cannot fail to command victory” as demonstrated by Caesar. 52 From the Greeks and Romans he focused on the strength of the Roman system of citizen armies and their downfall when mercenaries produced poorly disciplined troops and defensively minded generals. 53 Mahan moved rapidly over the Feudal period to the age of Gustavus Adolfus and the age of gunpowder in which the ancient world was rediscovered and ancient military traditions were reborn, particularly the return of ancient discipline and organization. 54 After Gustavus came the wars of Louis XIV and the integration of both the flintlock musket and the bayonet. Mahan considered this period through the Seven Years War as one of military stagnation and criticized Frederick the Great for not taking advantage of rapid marching or bayonet charges. 55 In only a few pages, Mahan clearly established the French Revolution as the creation of the tactics used through the Nineteenth Century in America, as well as the general outlines of that system. 56 With this chapter Mahan created the meta-narrative of the French Combat Method and
Ibid., 29. Ibid., 9. 53 The Romans failed because, “By substituting for that glow of patriotism with which an army drawn wholly from the bosom of the people is ever found to be animated, the mercenary spirit and its consequences, he aimed a vital blow against the only real safeguard of a nation’s honor, a national army.” This belief in the power of the army composed of citizens in sharp contrast to mercenary professional army sets the stage for the French Revolution. Mahan combines this flaw with the operations the Roman Generals chose for their mercenary armies. Thus not only was the dependence on mercenaries fatal to the empire because these armies grew weak, unable to respond to the offensive actions of their enemies, and bound to their engines of war and artillery. It was the lack of offensive action that led to the military failure of the Roman system. Ibid., 16-19. 54 For Mahan the most important improvements came from adopting the brigade formation, which was more mobile and maneuverable. These advances fit well with the offensive operations of the citizen army as seen through the fall of the ancient world. Ibid., 22. 55 Ibid., 25 56 He began by likening the French citizens to the Americans during the opening stages of the American War of Independence. Mahan’s narrative lays out the story of the French Combat Method. From the necessity of war sprang clouds of skirmishers when drill was wanting, under the cover of these clouds of marksmen the compact attack column filled with revolutionary ardor scattered the lines of the ancien regime. Then, once France was out of danger, able generals brought discipline back to the French armies, and the skirmishers and column attacks became more deliberate and powerful. To these French armies came Napoleon, who aimed these skirmishers and columns to destroy and scatter his enemies in a single blow, in the decisive moment, in which the entire army functioned like a single whole. Ibid., 28-31
rooted it the ancient world as if the driving force of history led to the developments of the French Revolution. Every aspect of the FCM had its beginnings in the past. Following this introductory chapter, the rest of Mahan’s Elementary Treatise provides the details of exactly how one commands, controls, and deploys the French system. If the historical introduction created Mahan’s narrative of the French system, then his chapter on tactics fleshed out it’s mechanics and organization. He began by stating that the longstanding debates between the deep or linear orders of battle were over signaled by the fact that all civilized nations utilized the same system. 57 He then attributed this system to the French and made a direct comparison between the martial capabilities of the French and American peoples, stating that the British tradition relied too much on the knowledge of the individual whereas the French system was the fruit of the experiences of a “body of officers.” 58 Mahan then laid out the basic elements of tactics for the French system. The units deployed into two or three ranks, divided and subdivided into battalions, squadrons, companies and batteries that facilitated a simple functionality on the battlefield. 59 This functionality reinforced the rational foundation of the system itself. He then built these simple organizations into the divisional and corps system familiar to the French system. 60 Following Mahan’s intellectual elements of the French system, this brief but detailed explanation of the mechanics of the system in battle provided the reader with the basic elements of an army whose full potential could only be achieved through the organizational changes which accompanied the French Revolution and Napoleonic periods. The remainder of the work focused on minor tactics. The rest of the treatise focused on the details of employing the French Combat Method and divided well into two sections. The chapters concerning the manner of placing and handling troops, positions, and the advanced guard and advanced posts focused on the evolutions from the
This system “which is for infantry troops, either dispersed, or deployed in lines for firing; and columns of march, or attack, for movements.” Ibid., 32. 58 Ibid., 33. 59 Ibid., 35. 60 He started with the largest organization of an army into individual corps. These corps comprised an individual army with all of the major combat arms present, infantry, cavalry, and artillery capable of independent operations. These army corps provided Napoleon with an organization flexible enough to outmaneuver his enemies across Europe and although the American Army had never had to operate at the corps level, it still represented an important part of the French Combat Method. The next import organization component of the system was the divisional concept. Divisions were also self-contained units with a mixture of infantry and cavalry brigades, engineer units, and an artillery reserve that included horse artillery. These divisions provided the corps with their maneuverability while at the same time they represented a flexible combat unit with which to attack the enemy at the tactical level. He was clear that the infantry should compose 80% of an army and that it utilized both light and line infantry to attack the enemy with fire and the bayonet. Ibid., 37-38.
first section and explained the intricacies of the infantry fight in both the defense and offense. 61 The chapters on recon, detachments, convoys and surprises and ambuscades form the second section and were concerned with the variety of small unit actions at the junior officer level and focused on the exercise of command at the smallest level possible. 62 Both of these sections filled a need in the education of officers at West Point who would command small units, most likely detachments, in scattered garrisons on the coast or the frontier. In this way Mahan created a textbook that addressed the two main needs of officer education; military operations on the grand scale to prepare them for the long-term future and the details of detachments that prepared them for the immediate future. Mahan’s Elementary Treatise remained unchanged through several different editions from 1847 through 1862 and was in high demand as the Civil War expanded the armies on both sides and the demand for military tracts increased. This high demand led Mahan to produce a new edition of his masterpiece entitled Advanced Guard, Out-Post, and Detachment Service of Troops which came into print in 1862 and went through two other editions with the addition of twelve plates. This new edition, commonly referred to as Out-Post, contained the entirety of the Elementary Treatise with the addition of three chapters at the back of the book. 63 The first new chapter was entitled Principles of Strategy and Grand Tactics contained a beginning part that outlined the principles of strategy and a second part comprised of Napoleonic case studies. The second chapter entitled Battles was essentially an extended version of his earlier chapter on tactics, and a small additional chapter on the organization of the United States Military. These additional 121 pages, produced after the Peninsula Campaign of 1862, provided Mahan the opportunity to extend his arguments for the French Combat Method into the realm of grand tactics and strategy using historical examples and was remarkably unchanged by the experiences and news of the Civil War.
Mahan stated that whether in attack of defense, all units contain three elements; the advanced guard, the main body, and the reserve. This basic formation adapted to both offensive and defensive operations as well as a variety of terrain against all enemy formations. In the defensive, the advanced guard formed a picket line and provided harassment and early warning to the main body with the reserve in a position to respond to enemy attacks. When the enemy approached, the advanced guard would fall back towards the main body and form up on the flanks of the formation providing security while contributing to the firepower of the main body. In the attack, the same formation would interact with the enemy either on the move or in the defense. Once the skirmishers began to interact with the enemy, the attack column, covered by the fire of the skirmishers, would strike the weak spot of the enemy line and directly support by the reserve would put the defenders to flight Ibid., 48-51. 62 Ibid., 83-168. 63 The entirety of An Elementary Treatise became pages 1-168 of the 1862 edition. These pages were directly copied from one edition to another.
Mahan’s chapter on the principles of strategy and grand tactics began with a fifty page essay covering the definitions and elements that make up the principles and then fifty pages of historical case studies to demonstrate the efficacy of the principles. 64 This led into a discussion of the lines of operations and objectives. 65 Mahan definitely adapted the arguments to the American landscape, but the ideas themselves are not revolutionary and closely resembled the corresponding sections in Jomini’s Art of War. Beginning with these principle considerations, Mahan then focused the remainder of his essay exploring the two types of campaign planning to achieve victory: defensive and strategical campaigns. 66 Offensive operations he called strategical operations, which were the only operations that led to decisive results. 67 With a system founded on the FCM, Mahan chose historical examples from the Napoleonic era to support his analysis. To demonstrate the applicability of his principles, Mahan used Napoleonic examples from his first moments on the battlefield to some of his last. The campaigns Mahan chose were Napoleon’s first campaigns in Italy from 1796-97, the Ulm-Austerlitz Campaign in 1805, and the Campaign of 1814. At first glance these campaigns seem to be unconnected except that Mahan analyzed them as examples of his principles in action. All three campaigns have Napoleon fighting numerically superior enemies, they required great maneuvers, and they all utilized defensive operations to facilitate offensive ones. Mahan referred to this as the defensive offensive and within this one concept. 68 In it he combined all of his principles and statements in the earlier part of the chapter and produced a historical narrative of the FCM in action. Even
Following an initial disclaimer concerning the dynamic problems of the battlefield that defy dogmatic or geometric solutions, Mahan sets out the three principle strategic considerations. These considerations were an army’s base of operations, lines of operations, and objectives. Mahan stated the considerations a general must take into account when deciding upon his base of operations, the geographic location, the access to resources, and its relationship to the boarders of the enemy. Dennis Hart Mahan, Advanced-Guard, Out-Post, and Detached Service of Troops: With the essential principles of strategy and grand tactics for the use of officers of the militia and volunteers., (New York, 1862), 172-4. 65 Mahan described the importance of understanding how the lines of communication impact the ability for armies to move from their base on to the enemy and whether a single or multiple lines are possible. Mahan combined these concepts together in his sections on objectives, identifying the relative importance of capitals, strategic points, geographic locations, and their impact on operations. Ibid., 176-83. 66 His emphasis in defensive campaign planning focused primarily on defending the frontier as a means of transitioning to offensive operations. For Mahan, defending the frontier with a combination of strong points and mobile forces facilitated the best possible transition to offensive operations, which were the only ones that would lead to victory. With this focus, Mahan described more mobile operations under the guise of defensive campaigns than he did the defense of strong points or frontier fortifications. Ibid., 189. 67 He focused less on the movements involved in gaining an advantageous position over the enemy and more about marches and strategic movement. The focus of strategical operations was to concentrate forces against the enemy on the battlefield from dispersed positions, and thus to create a preponderance of force at a time and place of your choosing. Ibid., 197. 68 Ibid., 251.
during the 1814 Campaign with Napoleon losing to the Allies, Mahan praised his use of the defensive-offensive with its use of concentration, its relation to the French frontier, its operations aimed at the enemy’s lines of communication. With Mahan’s magnus opus completed and instructing cadets, the West Point education continued on much as it had before 1846. Cadets were still required to take four years of classes, which included four years of infantry tactics and drill, artillery tactics, gunnery, and pyrotechnics, and courses that changed very little in content if not in instructors. Cadets continued to take French reading and language, mathematics, composition, rhetoric, and their capstone senior class in military science and art. 69 Mahan continued to teach this course much as he had when only using lithographs of the different subjects. Combined with teaching his Elementary Treatise was the same rigorous course on fortification and military engineering. Graduates continued to sketch Vaubanian glacis and trace Italian citadels along with building bridges and civil engineering. Keeping Fort Clinton in tact and maintained as a prime example of Vaubanian fortification on the plain, cadets achieved the engineering acumen that made West Point famous for it’s engineers. 70 With an education as indirectly focused on teaching the French Combat Method, it should not be surprising that when war broke out in 1861 its opening years took on a very familiar form. The Military Literature of the Union 1861-1865 Following the first several major battles and campaigns of the war there was a large demand for military works both European and American. All of the major military works published in America since the War of 1812 came out in new editions. Civilian publishers made new print runs of many American military classics like Henry Halleck’s Elements of Strategy, Scott’s Tactics, Hardee’s Tactics and both versions of Mahan’s Outpost. 71 In addition to these reprints, a series of new publications came out in response to demand from the armies
The Official Registers of Officers and Cadets of the U. S. Military Academy for each of the years from 1848 through 1864 contains a detailed description of the cadet coursework and daily schedules for each year group to include instructors and textbooks. The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1848-1864. 70 Fort Clinton was a part of the original Revolutionary War fortifications at West Point. Following the war, it was the only part of the fortifications maintained on post and by Mahan’s day was integral in the practical instruction on fortification through the 1890s. 71 Halleck’s work saw a second edition with additional references to the Mexican-American War and the Crimean War in 1860, with a third edition published in 1862 with no additional changes. Mahan’s works were republished in 1862 and again in an expanded edition, which contained a strategy and composition of the U.S. Army section in 1864. Francis A. Lord, They Fought For The Union, (Harrisburg, 1960), 44-46.
themselves. The best known of these was Brigadier General Dan Butterfield’s Camp and Outpost Duty for Infantry published in 1862 following both the Peninsula and Antietam Campaigns. Butterfield’s work sprang from a series of general orders published to the Army of the Potomac combined with orders he gave to his brigade regulating the discipline and sanitation of camp life along with advice and techniques for the individual soldier in Combat. This was the first work influenced solely from the education of its author and the experiences of the battlefield. The majority of Butterfield’s work focused on the individual soldiers place in both camp life and in combat. In the sections concerning camp and military life, sanitation and health take a prominent place in Butterfield’s work. The chapters instructed soldiers in the proper measures to take when constructing camps, pitching their tents, keeping their canteens full, property accountability through the Quartermaster, and the various duties of officers of the day and policing the camp. 72 Butterfield also kept this focus on order as he transitioned into instructions for the individual soldiers during combat. The combat section of Butterfield’s manual demonstrated the impact of months of combat on the applicability of the French Combat Method as imparted through the infantry regulations both before and after 1862. Butterfield’s work stressed control throughout all of his combat sections. He spent a lot of time covering skirmishing and outpost duty, and encouraged skirmishers to remain constantly ready to reform into their close order formations against large bodies of the enemy. 73 When on the march, Butterfield cautioned soldiers to avoid speeding up or slowing down to avoid constricting the marching column. They were forbidden to leave the ranks or even to carry the wounded from the battlefield. 74 Instead of more decentralized operations, Butterfield was as concerned as Frederick the Great with soldiers leaving the battlefield and instituted measures to prevent the erosion of his formations through non combat
These instructions provided a basic understanding to the soldier of the importance of health and sanitation in order to reduce the high rates of disease in the Union armies. The comments to the duties of officers in policing the camp provided the junior officers and NCOs a framework with which to maintain camps, bivouacs, and formations in a much more disciplined and healthy manner. The instructions to officers policing the camp directly supported this new focus on sanitation and order. Daniel Butterfield, Camp and Outpost Duty for Infantry: With standing orders, extracts from the revised regulations for the army, rules for health, maxims for soldiers, and duties of officers, (New York, 1862), 42-109. 73 Soldiers on these duties had to remain prepared for combat at all times, keeping their bayonets affixed even when out of contact. Upon enemy contact, the skirmishers were to concentrate onto the reserve, and then conduct a withdrawal back into the regular formation. Thus instead of encouraging soldiers to fight in their open order taking advantage of the terrain and weapons, Butterfield encouraged them to form back into their close order formations. Ibid., 14, 15, 20. 74 To this end, flankers were ordered to prevent desertion and shirking by keeping soldiers in formation . Ibid., 3637.
operations. This call for order and discipline carried on into his description of the main infantry battle. For the regular line infantry fighting in close order, Butterfield described both offensive and defensive techniques in combat. His section entitled Maxims on War began with offensive operations, specifically with the infantry charge. 75 Thus on the offense, the charge was the primary mechanism for victory and even when faced with a resolute enemy, the answer lay in the aggressiveness of the charge, which should be repeated until the enemy breaks. Butterfield’s work did an excellent job of simplifying the major concepts of the FCM and putting them in a format accessible to both the junior officer and the common soldier. These precepts remained consistent with both the regulations from Scott, Hardee, and Casey, but also consistent with Jomini and Mahan. This was not surprising as Butterfield received endorsements from both McClellan and Mahan prior to publishing. 76 Mahan actually proofread the manuscript and Butterfield published Mahan’s corrections as part of his finished product. Butterfield also made several references to the importance of reading both Mahan’s Outpost and the army regulations and to keep a copy of both close at hand. Butterfield’s work thus represented both the newest synthesis of American tactical manual and at the same time was extremely representative of the military writing of the Civil War in the first half of the war. Beginning in 1863, the civilian book trade was as profitable as ever, and continued to demonstrate the demand for military writings. What characterized this second period of publishing was the lack of original publications from 1863 through the end of the war. The first interesting trend was the demand for reprinting of earlier works. These included an 1863 reprint of Butterfield’s Camp and Outpost Duty, the works of Halleck and Mahan, as well as reprints of American regulations to include Scott, Hardee, and Casey. 77 These reprints remained unaffected by what was occurring on the battlefield. As the birth of modern war began to fundamentally change the nature of warfare, the practitioners of that war, professional, amateur, and interested
When infantry formations executed a charge successfully, the skirmish companies of the brigade should immediately deploy to maintain pressure on the retreating enemy infantry while the rest of the brigade reforms to support the skirmishers. When the initial charge fails to drive the enemy back, Butterfield encouraged commanders to “ incite your men, surpass your adversary in ardor, and enter head foremost into the opposed mass.” When on the defense, infantry formations were to deploy into lines to await the enemy attack. Butterfield instructed the soldiers to hold their fire until the enemy was close enough for a bayonet charge, let loose a volley across the line, and then rush into the disorganized enemy formations with the bayonet. Thus the infantry was not to begin engaging the enemy formations at the farthest extent of their range, but to rely on the shock effect of volley fire at close range. Ibid., 110-11. 76 Ibid., viii, ix. 77 Lord, They Fought For The Union, 44-50.
civilian turned en masse back to earlier writings. The most interesting trend in publishing was the resurgence in foreign works translated into English with the majority of these translations from the French. In 1863, General George Cullum published a translation of French General Delabarre-Dupacq entitled Elements of Military Art and History that outlines military operations using French Army examples. In 1864 Captain William Craighill, formerly a professor at USMA under Mahan who translated Jomini in 1862, translated the French General Dufour’s Strategy and Tactics which was barely an updated work along the lines of Jomini’s Art of War. 78 Even General Halleck found time to publish a translation of Jomini’s Military and Political Life of the Emperor Napoleon with an accompanying atlas in 1864. 79 The demand for these foreign works increased throughout the war as more and more Americans became involved in the conflict. The dominance of French authors, many of the works translated were originally published decades before the Civil War, demonstrated the predisposition of the American Military Tradition towards the French military experience. The Military Literature of the Confederacy 1861-1865 The trends in military writing and publications in the Confederacy followed along similar lines as their enemies. In 1861 there were a number of publications that emerged as the South left the Union. Not surprisingly, there was a strong reprint market for many of the established works that were in vogue in the North to include Hardee’s Tactics, several of Mahan’s books, and even Scott’s Tactics. 80 These works remained in print and circulated throughout the war. In addition to these books, the Confederacy also saw an increase in foreign translations in 1861, especially French works. Out of the several French works translated at the beginning of the war, R. Millon Cay’s Skirmisher Drill and Bayonet Exercise was representative of the lot. While at the same time espousing the merits and details of open order skirmishing. One of the interesting focuses of the manual was on the integration of the bayonet into skirmishing which at one point the author
Dufour’s work utilizes a very similar format for his study of strategy and tactics, which includes definitions that resemble Jomini closely, a focus on strategic points and lines of operation that are almost directly lifted from the Art of War, and a culminating section focused on decisive battle. Guillaume Henri Dufour, Strategy and Tactics, trans. Captain William Craighill, (New York, 1864). 79 Antoine Henri Jomini, Military and Political Life of the Emperor Napoleon, Translated by Henry Halleck, (New York, 1864). 80 Editions of all of the major works printed in the North were reprinted in the South, Mahan’s 1862 version of Outpost was printed in both Richmond and New Orleans. Virgil Ney, The Evolution of the United States Army Field Manual: Valley Forge to Vietnam, (Fort Belvoir: Combat Operations Research Group, 1986), 33.
attributed French victory in the Crimea to skirmishing and the bayonet. 81 This emphasis on skirmishing and the bayonet remained consistent with the FCM and the Confederate operations throughout the war. However, just as demand for foreign works increased throughout the war, so did the demand in the South as well as the demand for original works as well and the demand remained for works steeped in the FCM. The military works published in the last half of the war in the Confederacy mirrored that of the Union in its increased desire for both foreign and American works that provided detailed expositions on the FCM. A representative example of Confederate military writing was the 1863 publication of General P. G. T. Beauregard’s Principles and Maxims. This work was a series of short statements of principle concerning combat and battle at a variety of levels. Beauregard began with a restatement of both Jomini’s and Mahan’s essential principle of war that “the whole science of war rests in placing in the right position at the right time a mass of troops greater than your enemy.” 82 Following this basic principle, the maxims and principles focus on the primacy of the attack, the ability of rapid and aggressive attack to overcome enemy fortifications, and a restatement of the importance of both column and line in combat, and even a caution against fire by file for skirmishers due to the inability of commanders to accurately control such fires. 83 Beauregard’s entire book supported a majority of the FCM explicitly, and even in the principles that were specifically focused on the American topography and battle were the application of the FCM. Southern publishers also turned to Europe in droves and published several translations of French works. These works were primarily French in origin and represented current editions. Two that stand out were Marshal Marmont’s Spirit of Military Institutions and a French compilation of maxims and Jomini’s Art of War produced in 1757 and translated into English in 1864. 84 Both of these works followed the Northern appetite for foreign texts that validated their beliefs about war centered on the elements of the FCM.
In addition to expressing this opinion of the reasons for French victory, the work begins with the following statement concerning the efficacy of the bayonet. “The value of the bayonet exercise is not a matter of speculation. Its practicability is no longer an open question. It has been brought to its present actual efficiency through a succession of trials, all of them improved by practice first on the drill field and then on the battlefield.” R. Millon Cay, Skirmishers Drill and Bayonet Exercise, (Richmond, 1861), 1-4. 82 Gustave Toutant Beauregard, Principles and Maxims of the Art of War, Outpost Service, General Instructions for Battle, (Charleston: Evans & Cogswell, 1863), 3. 83 Ibid., 10, 27, 31. 84 Auguste Frédéric Louis Viesse de Marmont, Mémoires du Duc de Raguse de 1792 à 1832, Imprimés sur le Manuscrit Original de l'Auteur, trans. Frank Schaller, (Charleston: Evans and Coghill, 1859); Thomas Robert Bugeaud, The Practice of War, trans. C.F. Pardigon, (Richmond: West & Johnson, 1863).
SECTION 3: The FCM in Action in the Civil War With the institutions of the armies of the United States, both by regulation and education at West Point, so dedicated to the French Combat Method the first half of the war saw both armies attempting to execute extremely similar strategies and tactics. The opening strategies of both the Union and the Confederacy looked surprisingly like the strategic principles laid down by Mahan since before the Mexican-American War. The Union concentrated the recruits of the massive volunteer armies mobilized to fight the war into camps of instruction where officers and NCOs built soldiers out of Citizens. 85 The non-specialized infantry armies that came out of these camps and into the attack remained organized and trained according to the American tactical system as set out by both Scott and Hardee. The opening battles and campaigns of the war demonstrated a remarkable dedication to both the prewar tactics and an overwhelming desire to conduct offensive operations with both musket fire and the bayonet. Even following the first several months of combat operations, American officers produced manuals expounding the French Combat Method to the inexperienced recruits and the veterans alike. However, as the war went on the battlefields and warfare of the Civil War began to change. With new regulations allowing for a more technological focus around the rifled musket, the experiences of the early years of the war drove armies to change their tactical doctrine. Throughout the battles of the latter period, the strength of the tactical defense required both sides to adapt their operations. Although these changes in warfare at all levels began to foreshadow elements of Twentieth Century warfare, through the very end of the Civil War the French Combat Method continued to wield a surprisingly powerful hold over officers, soldiers and operations. The FCM on the Battlefield 1861-1863 This influence had a powerful hold over the strategies of both the Union and Confederate operations as the Civil War began. In 1861, Winfield Scott was still the highest ranking officer in the US Army and produced a strategic plan to Lincoln as tensions increased in the early spring of 1861. This plan called the “Anaconda Plan” by contemporaries required the maintenance of an economic blockade of the South in the form of a naval blockade and offensive operations down the Mississippi River to isolate the Confederacy from the western states. 86 This was one of the
There were three great camps of instruction that processed the new recruits for service. The biggest camp was outside of Washington D.C. while the other two camps were situated to support the western theater at Cairo Illinois and St. Louis Missouri. Lord, They Fought For The Union, 32-33. 86 Allan Peskin, Winfield Scott and the Profession of Arms, 249-53.
most curious moments of the war as the proponent of the FCM in American warfare suddenly turned from this heritage to propose a definitely non-French solution to the sectional crisis. It was not surprising then that Union leadership, especially President Lincoln did not support Scott’s plan and instead ordered an offensive into Virginia as soon as his field commanders could move south, both in the east and in the west. This remained consistent with Mahan’s principles in that offensive operations were the only way to secure a decisive victory and that offensive operations fought on the enemy’s soil were always preferred over battles fought on your own soil. 87 Having said this, the Confederate strategy also followed in the tradition of the FCM. From the outset it was clear that although the Union armies outnumbered the Confederates that they would use a frontier defense integrating both fortifications and mobile field armies to concentrate against the enemy and defeat them in detail before they could penetrate into the interior. In the west, General Albert Sidney Johnston fortified Columbus, Forts Henry and Donelson, and supported them with armies at Bowling Green and the Cumberland Gap. 88 This was consistent with Mahan’s theory of the defense as the fortifications dominated strategic points along the western frontier and the field armies occupied positions that allowed them to respond to enemy advance in a number of directions.89 In the east, some positions were fortified in northern Virginia covering Manassas Junction, but the field armies in the Shenandoah River Valley and covering Washington D.C. provided the best frontier defense against Union invasion. In the manner of the FCM, both strategies were at their foundation offensive in nature. Scott’s Anaconda Plan, while taking advantage of Union power on the sea and the economic weakness of the Confederacy, was not offensive enough to be consistent with the FCM. While the strategic elements of the FCM were offensive, the operations and tactics of the first years of the Civil War were also offensive in nature. The first major battle of the civil war, the First Battle of Bull Run in 1861, consisted of offensive operations by both sides. 90 It was
Mahan, Advanced-Guard, Out-Post, and Detached Service of Troops, 189-197. Although there have been many works on the strategy of the Confederacy, I have found no work that does a better job of examining the Strategic dispositions and plan of the Western Confederacy better than William Swinton, The Twelve Decisive Battles of the War: A history of the eastern and western campaigns, in relation to the actions that decided their issue, (New York: Dick & Fitzgerald, 1867); Shelby Foote, The Civil War: A Narrative, (New York: Vintage Books, 1958), 168-76. 89 Mahan, Advanced-Guard, Out-Post, and Detached Service of Troops, 197-210. 90 General McDowell’s plan was to launch diversionary attacks across the creek while his main effort crossed at Stones Bridge on the Confederate left flank. Similarly, General PGT Beauregard stationed only enough combat
only due to the slow Union progress and the rapid marching of several Confederate brigades that allowed the Confederates to first stop and then counterattack the Union, driving them from the field. The tactics of the Battle of Bull Run demonstrated the full range of tactical options of American tactics at the beginning of the Civil War. 91 These tactics were consistent with both Scott’s Tactics and Hardee’s regulations and characterized the tactics of the first years of the war. Neither side changed their strategy or operations significantly following the Battle of Bull Run. The Union armies conducted a twin invasion of the South, one invasion beginning on the Tennessee and Cumberland Rivers and the other on the peninsula leading to Richmond. In the west, Grant led attacks on Forts Henry and Donelson breaking apart the Confederate defensive cordon before A. S. Johnston could respond. After falling back for several weeks, Johnston’s concentrated army attacked Grant’s army at Shiloh in a massive attack drove the Union forces back to the river. 92 In the Peninsula Campaign, McClellan’s army conducted a naval invasion from Yorktown to the gates of Richmond before being driven back. 93 Following up these operations were two Confederate offenses at the end of the summer in 1862, one into Kentucky and the other Maryland. Although these invasions were not successful, they clearly demonstrated the offensive focus of the strategy and operations on both sides. At every conceivable
power to control access across the Stones Bridge as he concentrated his main effort to cross the creek and fall onto the Federal left flank. 91 McDowell began his movement on the morning of the blank of 1861 in march columns headed for the bridge. These columns began to interact with Confederate brigades deployed as skirmishers in open order. As the Union forces forced the bridge, the Confederate brigades closed in their formations and withdrew in contact until they fell back to Jackson’s position on the ridgeline. Jackson deployed his regiments in lines along the crest of the ridge to maximize his forward firepower. Against this position, the Union forces launched attack columns against the Confederate lines. These Union attacks rapidly fell back and they deployed into lines to exchange fire through most of the day. As the day began to get dark, the Confederate counterattack made up of attack columns with the bayonet attacked into the Union flank, sending the fatigued Federals streaming back over Bull Run and back to their fortifications around Washington D.C. 92 Although the Confederate forces took as much damage as they gave, the Confederate plan for the following day was to continue the attack. This ragged uncoordinated attack was met with an overwhelming Union offensive that drove the Confederates to the south towards Corinth. The offensive nature of the operations was obvious as the Union troops did not fortify their camp or dig in for the night as they planned on continuing their invasion to the South. Similarly, when the initial Confederate attack went nowhere, they continued the attack on the following day hoping in the power of the offensive to continue its effect on the Union armies. 93 McClellan’s landing at Yorktown and subsequent 6 week siege allowed Johnston to concentrate against the Union attack. Although the Confederates withdrew towards Richmond, they launched their great counterattack at Seven Pines before occupying the defensive fortifications at Richmond. During this battle, General Albert Sydney Johnston was wounded and command fell to General Robert E. Lee to conduct the defense of Richmond. He immediately ordered a counterattack against McClellan’s army concentrating not only his own force but Jackson’s corps from offensive operations in the Shenandoah Valley. The ensuing Seven Days Battles drove the Union army from Richmond and eventually back to Washington D.C.
opportunity, the offensive seemed to be the only option for commanders. Both sides began with the attack and the spirit of the bayonet. The Union immediately ordered invasions of the South in both theaters. Even at the strategic level, the Confederacy immediately instituted a frontier offensive-defensive, and when this failed to defend the west the border two invasions into Union territory. From the beginning of the war, fortifications played an important role in the fighting. The initial Confederate defense in the west was built on river fortifications and these fortifications became the first Union objectives in the west. When faced with fortifications, both permanent and field fortifications, the generals of the Civil War responded in accordance with the FCM and their education at the hand of Mahan and attempted to take them through aggressive offensive action and the bayonet. Upon reaching the defenses of Fort Donelson, Grant immediately ordered a frontal attack that failed to penetrate the Confederate lines. Although McClellan in the Peninsula approached the Confederate fortifications cautiously and with artillery, when Lee took command of the army he immediately concentrated his forces and launched seven days of offensive operations culminating with the frontal attacks on the numerically superior and well dug in Union armies at Malvern Hill. As the war went on, more and more often armies began to utilize field fortifications in both theaters of the war. Where the Union armies did not dig in at Shiloh, armies on both sides began to make fortification a standard by 1863. The increase in fortification has led many historians to see the foundations of modern war in the evolution of warfare during the Civil War. The FCM and the Modern Battlefield 1863-1865 The Civil War demonstrated how an industrialized nation waged war in the Nineteenth Century and many then and since saw in its evolutions the origins of the warfare in the Twentieth Century. This trend towards modern war began back with Gay de Vernon and Mahan, both of which taught the graduates of West Point the fundamentals of fortification both permanent and field. Combined with the growing dominance of the tactical defense attributed to the accuracy of the rifled musket and especially the minie ball, entrenchments became more important and a more regular feature of the battlefield. The War Department focused on integrating this new technology into the American military in the early 1850s that was what sparked the Hardee committee and regulations. This return of the dominance of firepower led the line to return as the primary formation capable of attacking or conducting a hasty defense. This increase in firepower
also led combat in the latter part of the Civil War away from bayonet attacks and infantry charges to essentially at the point where Union soldiers met their Confederate opponents broke down into skirmishing combat. These skirmisher tactics and open order fighting began to resemble the decentralized tactics of the end of the Great War and required ever larger armies. This argument attempts to explain the course of the Civil War through the interactions between the armies and an ever increasingly lethal series of technological advances. 94 Although the trend leading to the dominance of the tactical defense had its origins well before the Civil War, the Battle of Fredericksburg marked a watershed in the tactical dispersion of American Armies that continued to the end of the war. 95 From this point on every major engagement of the war included defensive fortification. Hooker fortified his advanced position at Chancelorsville and was able to ward off Lee’s envelopment while the Union line on the fishhook at Gettysburg provided another strong position for the Confederates to attack themselves to death. Lee took note of this lesson as well and conducted one of the most masterful defensive campaigns in the Wilderness against Grant’s aggressive maneuvers. The Confederates became so good at entrenching that the positions at Cold Harbor and later on at Richmond closely resembled the trenches of the First World War. Historians ever since have criticized European militaries from not paying closer attention to the American Civil War in order to learn these lessons prior to their bloodletting on the Western Front. 96 Although there was no mistaking the advances in technology and fortification during the Civil War, understanding the war as a moment of evolution of the military art on the way to the mechanized battlefields of the First and Second World War does not adequately explain the persistence of the FCM on American operations on both sides until the end of the war. While the improvements in technology altered the face of battle, it did little to alter the conceptual framework of the generals fighting the war. Throughout both theaters, the major elements of the
This argument to the birth of modern warfare in the Civil War has a large historiography. Here are some of its greatest adherents. Archer Jones, Civil War Command and Strategy: The process of victory and defeat, (New York: Free Press, 1992), 37-40; Edward Hagerman, The American Civil War and the Origins of Modern Warfare: ideas, organization, and field command (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1988), 293-98. 95 By November 1862 the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia sat on the frontier preparing to meet the Union armies along the Rappahanock. Through poor logistical planning, the rapid movement of the Army of the Potomac onto the strategic flank of the Confederates turned into an opposed river crossing against heavy Confederate fortifications. The resulting Battle of Fredericksburg became a shocking example of the dominance of the defense as Union corps after corps were fed into assaults against the Confederate positions only to be broken by the strong defenses. 96 Luvaas, The Military Legacy of the Civil War.
FCM continued to dominate the battlefield. Strategically, both sides continued to preference offensive operations throughout the end of the war. At the tactical level, the offensive also dominated the second half of the war and the majority of these attacks conformed to the basic tenants of the FCM. This dedication ran not only through the types of operations of both sides, but also informed decisions concerning technology and organization. Despite the increasing advantage of the defensive over the offensive, both Union and Confederate commanders continued to craft offensive strategies to end the war. For the Union, the decision to remain on the offensive seemed most reasonable considering the nature of the Northern war objectives, especially after Lincoln’s decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862. 97 It was the Union’s offensive operations that finally overwhelmed Confederate resources and led to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse. However, the Confederacy also continued to subscribe to an offensive strategy. 98 In both theaters of the war, Confederate leadership favored the offensive, and in the rare case when they did not, as in the case of Joseph E. Johnston’s withdrawal in contact in front of Sherman’s army throughout 1864, they replaced him with the overly aggressive John Bell Hood. Just as the initial strategies at the beginning of the war reflected the FCM, so too did their strategies during the last two years of the war. This preference for offensive strategies led to a corresponding use of the offensive tactically. The lessons of the strength of the tactical defense did not seem to stop commanders on both sides from continuing to hurl men against fortifications. The Confederates continued to mount such attacks at Chickamagua, Peach Tree Creek, and Franklin with disastrous results as their manpower resources made such losses irreplaceable. The Union attacks at Kennesaw Mountain, Cold Harbor, and the Battle of the Crater at Petersburg were all attacks that combined skirmishers with lines and attack columns and attempted to get close enough for a bayonet attack
Two massive Union Armies continued to pressure the smaller Confederate armies in the West in both Tennessee and Vicksburg in 1863, while Lincoln’s pressure led Hooker to try another offensive maneuver at Chancellorsville. While offensives in the West culminated in the battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga, it was the coordinated 1864 campaigns that would seal the fate of the Confederacy. Grant orchestrated four separate offensive drives against Confederate armies in 1864, Sherman south to Atlanta, Sigel down the Shenandoah, Butler up the Peninsula, and Grant overland to Richmond. 98 Gettysburg was yet another invasion of the North in 1863 followed by the reinforcement of Bragg by Longstreet’s corps culminating in the Battle of Chickamauga. In 1864 to meet the Union attacks, Lee ordered one of his last offensive maneuvers during the Battle of the Wilderness, as well as ordering Jubal Early north to operate against Washington D. C. in July. In the West, Johnston was replaced with John Bell Hood and immediately launched a series of attacks against Sherman’s forces outside of Atlanta. When these attacks failed, he moved north and threatened Union lines of Communication by invading Tennessee culminating in the Union victory at Nashville.
to cause the enemy to break following the dictates of the FCM. When they differed from the standard FCM attack, they did so exploring the different ways in which the basic formations of the FCM could be adapted to meet terrain and the enemy. Upton’s attack at Spotsylvania was a classic example of this kind of innovation, where he used a variation on the theme of the attack column to organize his attack on the Confederate lines. 99 The intellectual framework created by the FCM informed the choices of these commanders on the battlefield seemingly more than previous experience or battlefield realities. Conclusion After examining the tactical regulations, the general regulations, the writings of military theorists both American and European, and comparing them to the training, organization, and combat operations during the American Civil War show that there was a definite coherency between the intellectual framework of the French Combat Method and the execution of American officers and soldiers both Union and Confederacy. While it may or may not have been true that “many of the leading American generals of the American Civil War carried a copy of (Jomini’s) The Art of War in their pockets,” they certainly carried the FCM in their minds when planning and executing operations throughout the war. 100 This is not surprising when one examines the undergraduate military education of many of the principle commanders throughout the Civil War from West Point. The education of these commanders is important because while the number of West Point officers that fought in the war was relatively small, these officers had tremendous impact on the training and development of soldiers and other officers through example, general orders, and camps of instruction. Although historians generally disregard the military preparation of cadets at USMA during the Nineteenth Century, nothing could be farther from the truth. 101 The West Point curriculum began with a four-year program of studies in all three volumes of Scott’s Infantry Tactics, Hardee’s light infantry and rifle supplement, and a detailed course in the ballistics and operation of artillery. In addition to this, cadets were required to pass recitations in the general
Although his attack achieved success, when the technique was dogmatically applied to Hancock’s entire Corps, the attack resulted in heavy Union losses and no penetration of the newly constructed Confederate line. 100 Jomini, The Art of War, Front Jacket. 101 William Skelton described that the tactical training “was conducted in a dogmatic manner, restricted mostly to the absorption of standard tactical manuals”, and that “ most cadets found their formal education of limited value for the duties that would occupy the greater part of their careers, whether as frontier commanders, bureau officers in Washington, or combat leaders in the Mexican and Civil Wars.” Skelton, An American Profession of Arms, 172.
army regulations in a classroom setting. As a capstone requirement, Mahan’s military engineering course exposed them not only to the fundamentals of military engineering, but also to the military art through his several publications on the subject. Examining each of the component parts of this education provides an understanding of the FCM deeply embedded in the American way of war. The Tactical Regulations from 1848 through 1864 continued to perform the functions that they did for the French military committee in 1791, one of simplicity. Each succeeding edition updated the language and made the drill movements and formations more practical and basic. Such changes decreased the time required to move from one formation or movement to the other and thus continued to provide to commanders a flexible non-dogmatic set of tools with which to engage the enemy on the battlefield. When technology and new weapons required changes in the regulations, the succession of regulations boards worked very hard to integrate these as seamlessly as possible into the existing framework. The American system of tactics exemplified the FCM in 1864 as much as it did in 1815. Although there was a twenty-two year gap in the General Army Regulations from 1835 through 1857 when the FCM was not included, these regulations provided an Army wide intellectual framework for understanding the battlefield. The direct continuity between the battles sections in the 1821 Regulation and those reinserted into the 1857 Regulation demonstrated the resiliency of these ideas in American warfare. After such a long time when there was no need for their inclusion in the Regulations, the War Department decided to put battle back into American doctrine that they went immediately back to the 1821 sections was astounding. What was even more impressive was the way in which the writings of both Mahan and Jomini reflected the basic concepts outlined in the 1821 Regulations. The exposure of cadets to these writers provided them with an academic education in the FCM that far exceeded the basic elements stated in the Regulations. Mahan especially gave the cadets a detailed understanding of the FCM adapted to the American military tradition in the same way as the abbreviated sections in the General Regulations. Cadets that received this education became officers prepared intellectually to grapple with the specific problems of the Civil War. Throughout the war, officers, both West Pointers and non-West Pointers, found solutions to the unique problems of the Civil War. This war that provided the first real exposure to industrialized wars utilizing not only advances in weapons technology, but also railroads,
telegraphs, and a host of other innovations over theaters of war that were immensely difficult in terms of terrain and infrastructure. The sheer numbers involved, the high numbers of casualties, and the increasing lethality of the modern battlefield provided an education all its own to the millions of men who fought in the war. And yet, these officers responded to the experience of battle using the FCM as a guide. Its basic principles, beliefs, and intellectual framework continued to guide commanders’ decision through the end of the war. Although the United States Army would receive a system of tactics more focused on extended infantry formations, the FCM emerged from yet another American war strong, persuasive, and widely adhered.
CHAPTER 4: THE FCM AND THE U.S. ARMY THROUGH WWI The experiences of the Civil War created an environment of change throughout the United States Army in the desire to institutionalize the learning that took place throughout the war. All of the documents, regulations, and seminal works on the science of war underwent change during this period. The system of tactics employed by the Army underwent several changes, not the least of which changing from having a central author to becoming a truly joint construction. Following an almost twenty-three year lapse, beginning in 1889 the Army’s General Regulations continued to provide the most clear expression of its intellectual framework concerning war and battle. Beginning in 1905, these General Regulations became the Field Service Regulations, which became the first and most detailed discussion of the integration of the combatant arms on the modern battlefield. Following greater trends in American society, the officer corps began to identify itself as a profession. In the process of professionalization, the War Department and the Army increased their focus on education. At West Point, the Engineering Department continued to create texts on the military art for cadet instruction designed to educate them in the theoretical elements of war. Although West Point provided an undergraduate education for officers, the Army identified the need for post-graduate education after the Civil War and by the 1880s created the School of Application of Infantry and Cavalry at Fort Leavenworth. Following the Root reforms of 1904, the Army also developed a War College to support the newly created General Staff. Both of these post-graduate institutions played critical roles in the education of officers. While the fiftytwo years between the Civil War and World War I was a half century of growth and development, there remained throughout the period a commitment to the fundamental elements of the French Combat Method, even through the American experience in World War One. SECTION 1: U.S. Army Tactical Regulations 1865-1918 Upton and the New Tactics of the FCM 1865-1891 Following the publishing and adoption of Casey’s tactical regulations in 1862, there were no further changes to American tactics throughout the rest of the Civil War. It was not until after the Civil War that the War Department contemplated a new system of tactics. It was not until June 11th, 1867 that the Secretary of War ordered the formation of a board at West Point with the sole purpose of determining whether a new system of tactics produced by Brevet Major-General
Emory Upton should be adopted for the armies of the United States. 1 Upton made his reputation with the Army of the Potomac during the Overland Campaign and especially his performance during the Battle of Spotsylvania. Following the war, Upton created a new system of tactics to replace Casey’s system and approached the War Department in early 1867. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton assembled an august board to determine whether they would adopt this new system of tactics comprised of Generals Grant and Meade and several other regular officers. The board met at West Point on June 11, and was able to generate a report favorable to the Upton system for Stanton’s Approval by 1 August 1867. With the Secretary of War’s approval, the armies of the United States had their new system of tactics in 1867, which would govern American tactics until the 1890s. Like Casey’s tactical regulations in 1863, Upton’s regulations began with a preface that included a summary of changes and improvements. In a succinct way, the preface began by informing the reader that the present system was applicable to all arms of the service, and was designed for the more rapid instruction of new recruits than the previous systems. 2 This universal application was one of the general improvements of the system, but Upton also simplified the individual drill as well. The special advantages of the Upton system included dispensing with “manoeuvering by the rear rank, by inversion, and the countermarch, and substitutes therefore rapid and simple conversions of front, and changes from column into line.” 3 This reduced the problems on the battlefield experienced on several occasions where the countermarch or inversion produced a chaotic situation that the enemy took advantage of, from now on all movements would maintain a solid front. The rest of the changes improved the ability to go from column to line in a variety of circumstances, and that the entire drill manual was possible from either the single or double rank, to include skirmishing. 4 Upton brought these important changes to the American system of tactics integrating the experiences of the Civil War into the tactical regulations. When Casey produced his revision of Hardee’s Infantry Tactics in 1862, he attempted to update the regulations to take into account experiences on the battlefield. In this way, Casey began his regulations with a renewed emphasis on the brigade level. When Upton introduced his
Special Order 300, 11 June 1867 in Emory Upton, A New System of Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank: Adapted to American Topography and Improved Fire-Arms, (New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1867). 2 Ibid., iii. 3 Ibid., iii. 4 Ibid., iv.
new system of tactics, he chose not to follow the emphasis on the brigade formation or the skirmisher companies. Instead of building on Casey’s ideas, Upton went back to Hardee’s 1855 update of Scott’s Infantry Tactics. It was Hardee’s regulations that Upton changed to fit the movements and maneuvers by fours. 5 It was from Hardee’s regulations that Upton took out the bayonet exercises from the School of the Soldier, and dropped platoon movements entirely from the Schools of the Company and Battalion. 6 And when Upton used the same concepts as the Hardee regulation, he did so often by directly copying sections or paragraphs. 7 Upton’s regulations were a combination of Hardee’s revised edition in 1855 and his own battlefield experience and ideas, much like Casey’s edition in 1862. In many ways, Upton did the same thing to the tactical regulations that Casey did during the 1862 change, which was to rewrite the regulation to make universal a change in the organization and mechanics of the drill. Upton’s most significant change to the tactical system was the adoption of movements by fours and the single rank drill. 8 After adjusting the School of the Company, Upton then adjusted the regulations of the battalion and brigade to fit the new formations by fours. 9 Upton’s regulations also increased the amount of control of officers over their formations. 10 This emphasis on control impacted the deployment as skirmishers which now had several commands where before the soldiers broke into open order with only one command. 11 Upton also added in commands that would allow the companies and battalions to
This is in direct conflict with Stephen Ambrose who argued that Upton “copied the bulk of his Infantry Tactics from Silas Casey’s earlier work on the subject.” Having compared all three documents side by side, Upton’s divergence from Casey’s brigade focus and skirmisher designation returned to the earlier work of Hardee to change. Stephen E. Ambrose, Upton and the Army, (Batan Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1964), 63. 6 Upton, A New System of Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank, 45, 99. 7 Many of the paragraphs retained the same flavor as the 1855 regulations, a majority of the manual of arms, loading procedures, firings at the front and oblique, and many of the general remarks on alignment, deployment, and control were exact copies. For example: “At this command the recruits will cast their eyes to the front and remain firm.” Hardee, Rifle and Light Infantry Tactics, vol. 1, pg 68., Upton, A New System of Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank, 48. 8 Although both Hardee and Casey included a formation of four soldiers as a sub-unit called the comrades in battle, they were more of an administrative and motivational formation than a tactical one. Under Upton, the four man front totally changed the mechanics of infantry drill. In the School of the Company, all of the marching formations functioned on fours, to go from line to column, to change front, to wheel about was now done by calling off by fours prior to executing. Upton, A New System of Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank, 59. 9 Ibid., 143, 235. 10 One of the requirements of changing the manual to accommodate movements in fours was a new series of commands and drill movements. The Upton regulations brought a significant number of commands far and above the Casey regulations. There were new steps like the balance step and saluting commands. Ibid., 15-18. 11 Ibid., 102.
execute all of the formations from lines to columns to skirmishers from a single rank. 12 These changes to the single rank allowed commanders to be more specific with their formations on the battlefield and made them more responsive and created a new system of tactics for the U. S. Army. The Upton Regulations of 1867 defined the new “American School” of tactics until he chaired a board in 1873 designed not only to update his own system as the basis for a system of tactics applicable to all of the combatant arms. 13 Thus in 1874 Upton produced a new edition of his tactics, which would become the American standard until another major revision in 1891. As Upton’s 1867 infantry tactics modified Hardee’s Infantry Tactics to create a new system, he eliminated many of the obsolete sections in light of the experience of the Civil War. 14 Like its predecessor, the 1874 Regulations contained a preface with a list of changes made to the 1867 edition. 15 By 1874, Upton returned to the Hardee system again by including an updated bayonet exercise and the integration of platoon movements into his system of fours that he removed in 1867 making the system focused on the battlefield. 16 Upton believed that his new system simplified the drill movements that were too complex during the Civil War, and provided the tactical commanders with movements that he expected them to utilize in direct contact with the enemy. As a system of tactics, the 1874 Upton was substantively an update of the 1867 regulation. The majority of the Schools of instruction remained exactly the same, used the same explanatory plates, and the same drill commands. When applicable at the company and battalion level, he inserted platoon movements into the drill by fours to provide the commanders more control and tactical options by utilizing the existing platoon organization.17 Upton also added
These commands to form a single rank also increased the amount of control the commander exerted over his formation. Ibid., 211. 13 Perry D. Jamieson, Crossing the Deadly Ground: United States Army Tactics, 1865-1899, (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1994), 3. 14 Some of his more striking changes included removing the bayonet exercises from the School of the Soldier and the elimination of the movement by platoons entirely in favor of the movement by fours. 15 This list of changes included a section on bayonet exercise, target practice and platoon movements. Emory Upton, Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank: Adapted to American Topography and Improved Fire-Arms, (New York: D Appleton and Company, 1874), viii. 16 Although Upton made it clear to the reader that the Schools of the Brigade and higher required no changes, this new system in 1874 ensured that “the movements explained in the tactics are confined as nearly as possible to those finding practical application in war.” Ibid., 7. 17 The platoon movements did not change any of the movements by fours at the squad, company, battalion or brigade level. It seemed as though this move back to platoon drill movements was in line with the spirit of the Upton system, which provided more specific control to the commanders while at the same time simplifying the drill. These
new sections on bayonet exercises and target practice. The section on bayonet exercises brought the bayonet back to infantry training that Upton removed six years earlier, although this new bayonet exercise was nothing like its predecessor. 18 Regardless of the professional discussions that considered the bayonet an obsolete military technology, the bayonet was reborn in the 1874 regulation. 19 Immediately following the bayonet exercise was a new section focused on target practice to enable soldiers to perfect the fire aspect of the infantry rifle. This new section contained elements of the science of marksmanship, techniques of accurate fire, and advice concerning target practice. 20 These sections equipped American soldiers to use the infantry rifle which provided both fire and shock, these bayonet exercises prepared them to execute the shock element and target practice to execute the fire element. The inclusion of new sections concerning bayonet exercises, target practice, and the inclusion of platoon movement into Upton’s original system produced a tactical doctrine that remained valid for seventeen years. The Upton reprints in 1881 and 1888 were exact copies of the original, with no changes at all down to the page and section numbers. It was not until the early 1890’s before the fervor over obsolete tactics caused a number of boards to form and discuss the problem, the most important of which was the board convened at Fort Leavenworth in the 1890s. A Change of Focus: The Regulations from 1891-1911 Following an attempt at revising the Army’s tactical regulations in Washington, D. C. itself, the War Department convened a board at Fort Leavenworth to recommend a new system
platoon movements facilitated changes from columns of fours into columns of platoons and back, lines of platoons into columns of fours, and the deployment of skirmishers from the platoon formations. Ibid., 85-116. 18 The bayonet exercises, which remained essentially unchanged from Scott to Hardee to Casey included only two very simple movements; an infantry guard against infantry, and an infantry guard against cavalrymen. There was no real defensive or offensive movement and the bayonet charge, at least according to the regulation, required nothing more than the musket in the bayonet charge position as outlined in the School of the Soldier. However, Upton’s revised bayonet exercise thirteen pages of both offensive and defensive movements. The regulations outlined six different kinds of defensive parries using four different ranges of motion. Then the regulation provided nine different thrusts to be executed both in the advance and in the retreat with detailed diagrams of the movements. Ibid., 56-63. 19 Jameson provides several high ranking Civil War officers, including McClellan stating that the bayonet was worthless with some officers preferring soldiers carrying entrenching tools. Jamieson, United States Army Tactics, 1865-1899, 11-12. 20 Soldiers had access to diagrams explaining the concepts of line of sight and the ballistics of rifle fire. They were then exposed to advice concerning aiming against a wide variety of targets, from those obscured by smoke to those on inclines and far away. Detailed charts and firing techniques from long extended shots to close encounters provided the new recruit or veteran solider how to become a marksman with the rifle. Upton even suggested to instructors to designate soldiers by their marksmanship skills, creating a three tiered system to do so. Upton, Infantry Tactics Double and Single Rank, 68-72.
of tactics in 1889. This board, comprised of junior officers and presided over by Lieutenant Colonel John C. Bates, spent considerable time pouring over systems and recommendations from the army at large. 21 Working closely with the School of Application for Infantry and Cavalry at Fort Leavenworth, this board produced its regulations that the War Department adopted in 1891. In several ways the Infantry Drill Regulations of 1891 continued a trend of simplification, reorganization, and rapidity of movement between formations in addition to an attempt at modernization. In many ways, the 1891 Regulations continued to adapt the FCM driven tactical regulations to the realities of the modern battlefield. This regulation began with several basic sections that covered definitions and commands. 22 Presenting general definitions used throughout the regulations was a deliberate move toward simplification. The regulations board also eliminated the single rank drill that made Upton so unique. The 1891 regulations instructed that all units conducted close order drill in double rank. 23 In addition to this removal, the 1891 regulations eliminated wheeling from the tactics entirely and introduced diagonal transitions between formations and directions. 24 The 1891 Regulation also changed the step and speed of infantry movement and the physical training required for soldiers to achieve the new speed. 25 This increase in infantry speed had the same impact on the tactics that it did in Hardee’s day, which made the infantry more survivable in the face of rifles. 26 The 1891 regulation encouraged commanders to conduct “setting up” exercises or what became calisthenics. 27 The new system of tactic required more physically fit soldiers in order to execute the remarkably new section of the drill manual entitled the Extended Order.
Jamieson, United States Army Tactics, 1865-1899, 99. It began with three pages of definitions that included tactics, wing, pace, and deploy. Along with this set of definitions were a series of hand and arm signals for commanders to control tactical movements, and a series of general principles that closely resembled the Upton general principles. United States Army, Infantry Drill Regulations 1891, (Washington D. C., 1891), 3-9. 23 Removing the movements by single rank facilitated the reduction in movements for the close order drill simplifying the system. Ibid., 8. 24 The same Uptonian system by fours no longer wheeled from column to line and back, they moved directly diagonally using guides. Ibid., 81. 25 The quick step increased from 110 to 120 steps per minute and the stride from 28 to 30 inches, while the double time increased from 165 to 180 steps per minute and the stride increased from 30 to 33 inches. Ibid., 20-21. 26 The problem with this increase during the Civil War was the lack of an increase in the physical fitness of the soldiers who were unable to maintain the faster marching speeds over long distances. 27 It provided soldiers and instructors with seventeen different exercises for both the upper and lower body. This was a significant increase in these kinds of exercises, as Upton included only 4 mostly arm exercises in conjunction with the manual of arms. Army, Infantry Drill Regulations 1891, 14-19.
The 1891 Regulations created a close order drill for each of the schools, and then created a separate set of skirmish order drills for the soldier through the brigade. The drill that concerned movement of formations in line and column comprised the close order drill. What had historically been the purview of the skirmisher instructions now became the extended order drill. This new section made it implicitly clear that the close order drill would only allow commanders to get their formations to the battlefield, while the extended order drill became the drill of combat, and the squad its’ primary organization. 28 With no update of the General Army Regulations since 1861, the 1891 Regulations included a detailed section on the tactical employment of the squads in the new extended order on the battlefield. Infantry formations on the battlefield would now consist of a skirmish line of scouts, a firing line, and a support line. 29 As the scouts closed the distance to the enemy positions they fell back into the skirmish line. The skirmish line continued to advance by rushes using cover and concealment receiving reinforcements from the firing line until gaining fire superiority and a close proximity to the enemy. 30 At this time, the support element joined the firing line with bayonets fixed and led the charge that overwhelmed the enemy and drove them from their position. 31 This tactical regulation absorbed all of the important elements of the military art from the Army’s General Regulations of 1821, updated it with the new infantry drill, and made it accessible to the entire Army. The power of this regulation was enough to last for thirteen years and through one revision in 1901. This 1901 revision did not change a single paragraph or definition, and only included a new manual of arms for the Springfield breech-loading rifle issued throughout the
The heart of this new order was the squad, and there were separate sections that concerned the section, platoon, company, battalion, and regiment. The instructions pertained in the squad section of the Extended Order made the squad the principle organization in combat, and the one in which the soldiers brought their individual fire to bear on the enemy. It was at the squad level that fire commands controlled the firing line in either volley fire, fire at will, or rapid fire. Soldiers were also cautioned against becoming separated from the squad and that it was with the squad that the intervals between skirmishers increased or decreased. Ibid., 187-94. 29 The formation, usually company sized elements, advanced towards the enemy until effective enemy long-range artillery required assuming the extended order. At this time, the platoon designated as the skirmishers would advance at the run deploying scouts in front of their lead elements. Following this platoon, the second platoon split in half forming both the firing line and the support line. Ibid., 207. 30 Ibid., 209. 31 Enemy counterattack notwithstanding, reinforcements from battalion provided the exploitation force to take advantage of the successful charge and the formation reformed itself into the three lines to resume combat operations. Interestingly enough, companies in the defense utilized the same formation, the only difference being that the support element usually provided the counterattack force. Ibid., 210.
Army in 1895. 32 With the creation of both drill movements, tactical movements, and a battlefield framework of how they integrate in the presence of the enemy, this regulation created the first fully complete piece of modern doctrine for the United States Army. In 1904, the Army formed another regulations board at the order of Secretary of War William Taft to revise the infantry drill regulation in light of the newly adopted Springfield model 1903 magazine fed rifle. While the Infantry Drill Regulations 1904 added very little new material with the exception of a new manual of arms and firing commands, the board did significantly reorganize the 1891 system. 33 The 1904 regulation made a concerted effort to streamline the system of tactics by attacking redundancy, providing for as many multi-purpose movements and commands as possible and by organizing all of the material by school. The first major change was the combination of the close order and extended order drills into their respective schools. For example, the School of the Company now included a first section of all of the close order drill movements found in 1891, as well as the company level extended order formations and drills. 34 This combination occurred throughout all of the schools of the regulation and facilitated the removal of redundancy, while a renewed focus on the squad advanced the Upton changes of 1874. The 1904 regulation created a School of the Squad that included more specific movements at the same time that it allowed the regulations to decrease other aspects of the 1891 drill. In the new system, the setting-up exercises reverted back to the limited scope introduced by Upton, while the bayonet exercises and guidance for the instruction of soldiers were eliminated. 35 To make the drill more clear and concise, a new specific set of diagrams and drill movements in the close order going between line and column, and more detailed commands to deploy the squad into extended order. 36 While the School of the Soldier still instructed recruits in the basic military movements and manual of arms, the School of the Squad became the basis of the drill movements of the entire regulation. This provided commanders with more precision at the lower levels and reduced repetition throughout the regulation. Like Upton’s system seemed
United States Army, Infantry Drill Regulations 1901 and The Manual of Arms with appendix, (Washington D. C.: Governemnt Printing Office, 1901), 340. 33 United States Army, Infantry Drill Regulations 1904, (New York: D Appleton and Company, 1904). 34 Ibid., 61, 84. 35 Ibid., 21-25. 36 Ibid., 40.
to focus on the individual soldier’s place on the battlefield, this regulation clearly felt that the squad was the building block of every single larger formation in the Army. This new focus on the squad led directly to changes in the Schools of the Company and Battalion of both control and organization. By referencing the drill of the squad, the close order drill for the company became much shorter and simpler. 37 In the place of detailed instructions, 1904 referenced the squad drill. 38 Thus the platoon drill that Upton revived and that 1891 made so much use of became irrelevant to the new drill. The School of the Company extended order focused on the company attack in a line of squads and replaced the detailed attack sequence described in the 1891 regulation. While there was a brief mention of a three echeloned attack and defense for companies operating alone, the School of the Battalion became the focus of the entire 1904 system. The battalion now executed the three-echeloned attack of the 1891 platoon. 39 This was the first time the regulations addressed the infantry attack in all of its parts and the details were vague when compared with the 1891 Regulation. 40 Even the Schools of the Regiment, Brigade, Division, and Corps were essentially the same as in 1891 except that the battalion drill that they referenced had a different focus than before. This reorganized, simplified, and reduced system of tactics introduced the new Springfield 1903 into the army, and would remain in effect until the next major revision led by one of the leading personalities in the advancement of the Army’s post-graduate education, Lieutenant Colonel John Morrison. A Return to Simplicity: The Regulations from 1911-1918 Already making a name for himself at the School of the line at Fort Leavenworth, and publishing an acclaimed work on minor tactics that became the standard at the Leavenworth schoolhouse in 1909, Morrison became the obvious choice to head a new regulations board to construct a more modern system of tactics. In August of 1911, the U.S. Army produced another
Using the same plates as in 1891, the new company drill focused on turning movements and a simple exchange between line and column in fours. Ibid., 67-72. 38 Platoon drill no longer had its own section but only a paragraph stating that commanders could use all of the company movements for platoons by merely substituting platoon for company. Ibid., 76-77. 39 The platoon and company sections of 1891 detailed the three lines of the attack, how they were to interact with each other, and how to culminate the attack and the battalion drill focused on coordinating these company attacks in a bigger sector. In 1904, the battalion was the primary tactical level that dealt with the three echelons of the attack. The only diagram of the extended order attack appeared in the School of the Battalion, and the accompanying details of the formation from distances between lines to anticipated deployment ranges did not appear in the new system. Ibid., 117. 40 The rest of the School of the Battalion was the same as the previous drill. It was the same from discouraging frontal attacks for coordinated frontal and flank attacks, to additional sections on marching, camps, and the advanced guard. Ibid., 121-27.
system of tactics that with very few modifications would carry the American Expeditionary Force onto the battlefields of Europe in 1917. While this new regulation brought nothing new to the movements or the infantry attack, it changed the tone and scope of the American system of tactics from the regulations of the last half-century. With the opening lines of the document, “success in battle is the ultimate object of all military training; success may be looked for only when the training is intelligent and thorough,” Morrison reoriented the drill back to what he believed was the most important function of the infantry in battle. 41 Although several of the drill revisions in the past referenced a battlefield focus, this 1911 regulation used Occam’s razor on the 1891 and 1904 systems to produce a much less dogmatic document. 1911 accomplished this by reducing the close order drill, an emphasis on the dynamic requirements of the battlefield, and the creation of an entirely new part of the regulations focused on combat. In this 1911 document, Morrison turned against a tradition of specificity back to providing commanders with a variety of techniques to achieve victory. Although every American tactical regulation since their inception in 1815 attempted to simplify their predecessor’s drill, Morrison’s 1911 regulations reduced the drill down to its component parts without changing the intellectual framework for battle from 1891. Following the introduction, 1911 began with a shorter list of definitions and a longer set of general principles of movement. 42 These were the signals used at every level to issue these commands and thus throughout the schools, the commands required no explanation or detailed descriptions. The squad remained the basis of all drill throughout the regulation. 43 Explained without the use of any diagrams, this new system of drill movement functioned on a system of guides based on the new command of “follow me”. 44 Without the requirement of precision drill on the battlefield, guiding squads off of the corporal, the sections off of the sergeants, and the platoons and above by ordering the sections and squads around, infantry drill became truly simple. Although the
United States Army, Infantry Drill Regulations 1911, (New York: Ridabock and Co., 1911), 9. These principles established a single set of commands that consisted of arm, whistle, bugle, and flags that designated all of the basic commands of the army such as forward, halt, change direction, double time, and so on. Ibid., 15-19. 43 It still had its own school and its own set of drill explanations that concerned turning on a pivot, changing direction, marching in line, and moving from line to column and back as well as the manual of arms. However, this simple drill, which required no diagrams, functioned as the basic form of the drill executed by companies, battalions, regiments, and brigades. Ibid., 26-37. 44 Ibid., 37.
Schools of the Company and Battalion still executed the same movements as they did before, the forms were less specific and contributed to an overall sense of an approved tactical solution. The new set of regulations went a long way in the direction of reversing the specific nature of the extended order section of its 1891 predecessor. While 1891 offered commanders with specific tactical recommendations, the 1911 document was deliberately vague on the subject. The regulation provided Commanders with a series of close and extended order formations to use on the battlefield without any official solutions. 45 Although the entire regulation included 10 plates, only one of them sketched out infantry combat in the recommended three lines and approximate distances. 46 This sentiment carried over through the Combat section, which combined the traditional sections concerning minor tactics with an introductory section dealing with a variety of very general topics on battle. 47 This 1911 document did not provide the specific details of infantry operations, gave commanders and soldiers a set of general principles and then encouraged them to go out and practice them in training exercises as realistic as possible without an overarching plan of attack like its 1891 predecessor. In fact, one of the only criticisms that applied to the regulation was that perhaps it was too vague and provided too little advice or detailed technique for its infantry. Regardless, this eminently flexible system of tactics took Americans to Europe in 1917. The Infantry Drill Regulations printed especially for the AEF for their training and deployment to Europe was the Infantry Drill Regulations 1911 Corrected to April 15, 1917. 48 The only changes made to the 1911 regulation in 1917 were the addition of three appendices, which all dealt with additional regulations for equipment that predated the 1911 regulation. 49 Similar to Upton’s 1873 bayonet exercises, this new appendix was clearly intended for soldiers to achieve a high level of effectiveness with the bayonet. After deploying to Europe and beginning to train
Following sections describing company actions in extended order, the regulations reminded the reader that “the above are suggestions, other and better formations may be devised to fit particular cases.” Ibid., 59. 46 The regulation did not want commanders to generate standard operating procedures, and even discouraged them from trying to standardize rushing techniques. It actually notified the reader that they were “not authorized to employ a fixed method of rushes.” Ibid., 80. 47 The Combat section began with the quotation “the art of leadership consists of applying sound tactical principles to concrete cases on the battlefield.” Ibid., 93. 48 United States Army, Infantry Drill Regulation 1911 Corrected to April 15, 1917, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1917). 49 These included the 1895 Springfield Rifle, the 1906 Infantry Field Equipment, and a new bayonet manual. The new bayonet manual contained bayonet exercises that stressed footwork, parries and thrusts to “teach soldiers how to make effective use of the rifle and bayonet in personal combat.” Ibid., 227.
with the French Army, the War Department issued another edition of the 1911 Regulations. 50 This edition included the entire original 1911 regulation, all of the 1917 appendices, and one additional appendix, which introduced the manual of arms for the 1917 Enfield rifle. 51 This simplified and general tactical regulation was good enough for the American Army throughout the rest of World War I. SECTION 2: The General Army Regulations 1865-1918 Stagnation: The General Army Regulations 1865-1889 The General Regulations of 1863 continued in effect until well after the end of the Civil War. Unlike the tactical regulations that underwent revision only a few years after the war, the general regulations were not updated for several decades. These general regulations became the focus of an unusual Congressional debate as to the constitutionality of congressional approval of the legal governance of the Army. From 1863 through 1881 there were several attempts to update and revise the general army regulations that were all defeated on the floors of either the Senate or the House of Representatives for a variety of reasons. 52 During this time, the 1863 regulations remained in effect, modified by a system of General Orders issued from the Adjutant General’s Office. It was not until 1889 that a new set of general regulations called just the Army Regulations of 1889 produced an updated system for the governance of the army. This new Army Regulation followed almost the exact same organization s the 1863 General Regulation. This 1889 regulation included sections concerning leave policies, furloughs, all of the major departments of the general staff, pay and subsistence for the internal economy of the army. 53 The 1889 regulation contained all of the sections of the 1863 general regulations with the exception of the large fifty-page section entitled Troops in Campaign. This was the section in which the intellectual framework of the French Combat Method was brought back to the Army General Regulations from the regulations of 1821 to the 1857 and 1863 editions. The 1889 Army
To assist the Americans preparing for combat and to supply the huge numbers of newly formed units with regulations, the War Department produced the Infantry Drill Regulations 1911 Corrected to May 6 1918.Aside from several training pamphlets and circulars created by the AEF staff in Europe which only adjusted specific parts to a very select few of the techniques of the Allied forces, the 1911 change 1918 Regulations shaped the battlefield. United States Army, Infantry Drill Regulations 1911 Corrected to May 16 1918, (New York: The Sherwood Company, 1918). 51 Ibid., 235. 52 Guido Norman Lieber, Remarks on the Army Regulations and Executive Regulations in General, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1898), 67-77. 53 United States Army, Regulations for the Army of the United States 1889, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1889), vii-viii.
Regulations stated in the preface that the section entitled Troops in Campaign would be published separately. 54 The Army Regulations came out with new editions in 1895, 1901, 1908, and 1913 and all of them followed the basic organization of the 1889 regulation and none of them included the Troops in Campaign. It seemed that just like the period from 1835 through 1857, the Army Regulations concerned just the administrative functions of the Army and not any of the intellectual framework of an army at war. Following the new Army Regulations of 1889, the War Department published a separate pamphlet form of the Troops in Campaign in 1892. This small fifty-five-page work followed the organization of the Troops in Campaign section of the 1863 General Army Regulations almost exactly. Beginning with a small section on army organization, the book had sections concerning baggage trains, entrenched posts, post gardens, camps, and the processing of prisoners of war. 55 Although slightly different in their language and especially army organization, the subject matter very closely resembled the 1863 version. The rest of the work focused on marches, convoys, advanced guards, outposts, sieges and even a section on battles. 56 While the subject matter was similar to 1863, the details of the sections began to differ. In the sections on advanced guard, outposts, and marches the Troops in Campaign began to incorporate the language used by both Mahan, Hamley, and the works on minor tactics coming out of West Point in the early 1890s. 57 However, it was the battle section that was the most revealing section of the entire pamphlet. The battle section, which in the 1863 and previous general regulations provided commanders with an intellectual framework for the battlefield and how the different combat arms operated to achieve victory, was only a single paragraph. This paragraph referenced only the dynamic circumstances of the battlefield and did not mention any of the innovative battlefield descriptions contained in the 1891 Infantry Drill Regulations. The War Department published another edition of the Troops in Campaign in 1903. This new edition was an exact copy of the 1892 edition and still included no significant battle section. 58 It seemed as if the War Department was waiting for the newly invigorated schools at Fort Leavenworth to produce a more integrated version of the Troops in Campaign, which they did in 1905.
Ibid. United States Army, Troops in Campaign: Regulations for the Army of the United States, (Washington D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1892), 3-18. 56 Ibid., 25-54. 57 These works were covered in detail in subsequent sections of this chapter. 58 United States Army, Troops in Campaign: Regulations for the Army of the United States, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1903).
The FCM and the Field Service Regulations 1905 In 1903, the War Department achieved a strategic victory by finally getting Congress to authorize the creation of a General Staff. This staff was to be focused on preparing the Army to fight, and its first major contribution to this endeavor was to author the Field Service Regulations of 1905. 59 In the tradition of the Troops in Campaign, this regulation sought to create a comprehensive doctrine of how the American Army functioned on the battlefield. In many ways, the Field Service Regulation or FSR updated the information in the Troops in Campaign. The FSR began with the army organization section that outlined the tables of organization for the standard army units company through division with all of the associated service troops. 60 This organization was much more specific and detailed than the 1903 Troops in Campaign section. It also included detailed sections on the services of information and security, which included reconnaissance, outpost duty, advanced guard and rear guard actions, marches, and patrols. 61 While these details updated these sections as to modern equipment and organization, the principles of these kinds of minor tactics remained unchanged from the writings and regulations since the Civil War. While these sections maintained continuity with the General Regulations of 1863, there were significant additions that made the FSR an important addition to American military thought. These new sections were a section outlining the duties of the staff and a reinvigorated battle section. While sections concerning staffs and battle were present in previous regulations, these new sections deviated from the American tradition into forms that reflected the direction of military thought as a whole and Army post-graduate education more specifically. This new section on the staff made control a function of the staff. The new FSR recommended that staffs, and especially the Chief of Staff, be given a certain level of independence to translate the will of the commander into orders. 62 This reflected both the increasing scope of warfare that requires ever expanding formations and more organizational control. The FSR also provided a system or format for orders with a whole section that detailed their creation, purpose, and use on the battlefield. 63 These orders allowed commanders to control the modern battlefield.
“Prepared by the General Staff under the direction of the Chief of Staff,” United States Army, Field Service Regulations 1905, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1905), title page. 60 Ibid., 12-13. 61 Ibid., 39-70. 62 Ibid., 15. 63 Ibid., 27-36.
Following the sections focused on the minor tactics of security and information, the FSR included a comprehensive section on combat. This combat section functioned in the same way the Troops in Campaign section functioned in the General Regulations in the nineteenth Century. Combat was split into both offensive and defensive sections and the regulation stated “decisive results can usually be obtained only by the offensive, the defensive only assumed with a view to going on the offensive.” 64 This statement was the culmination of similar statements made in both the tactical regulations and the military theory in 1905. Then the Jominian influence came out in its most clear form when the regulation then stated that the three main principles of the offensive included fixing the enemy in place to draw reserves into the line, concentrating forces to strike the decisive point, and then employ troops in the pursuit. This was a fairly close paraphrase of the principles of war Jomini wrote in his Summary of the Art of War. From this Jominian beginning, the FSR made it clear that superiority of fire was the way to apply force effectively on the battlefield without specifying the tactics used to achieve it, that frontal attacks were still effective with this superiority, and that the attack culminated with rapid fire and the bayonet. 65 None of this was new to the American military thinking by 1905. And the section concerned with the defensive was as limited and ancillary as it was in the previous tactical regulations and military thought; with the exception that entrenching was recommended on the modern battlefield. This FSR of 1905 gave the American Army back a more general regulation that focused on the intellectual framework of battle and one that was absolutely embedded in the American tradition. The FSR, German Influence, and the FCM: The 1910 FSR However, this tradition was difficult for the officers at the time to perceive, and historians since have understood this as the era of the Prussianization of American military thinking. American officers spoke in terms of the dominance of Prussian thought and tactics in America. 66 Historians have made a direct connection between the German Field Service Regulations and the 1905 FSR, stating that the 1905 FSR was merely a translation of the German FSR, updated with new American organization. These claims are simply not true. While some of the changes in the 1905 FSR were clearly influenced by German doctrine, the orders process being the best example, the FSR of 1905 was quite different from the German FSR of 1900.
Ibid., 101. Ibid., 102-05. 66 Gilbert Younger, "The Present Tendencies of German Tactics," Infantry Journal 3 (1907): 30-55.
Although the German FSR included sections on army organization, reconnaissance, marches, and the communication between staffs and troops, there was no general framework for battle as there was in 1905. 67 Instead of providing a description of how the army was to function together on the battlefield, the German FSR spent half of its pages describing the field exercises required to train the army. 68 While the American Army did adopt a similar system copied and modified from the Germans, there was no mention of it in the FSR. Similarly, there was plenty of opportunity to make the FSR more German as Fort Leavenworth was instructed to modify the FSR of 1905 to match the instruction of the School of the Line and the Staff School. The Leavenworth Board did so and put together the 1910 FSR, but the result was no more American than German and remained consistent with the FCM.. The 1910 FSR represented a modification of its 1905 predecessor more influenced by American developments than through German influence. Due to fluctuating American organization and equipment, the organization section of the FSR 1910 was much smaller than its predecessor. 69 The 1910 FSR also had a different organization placing all of the sections and chapters on reconnaissance, security, marches, camps, transportation, and everything ending with the section on combat. However, this new Combat chapter utilized major paragraphs from the 1905 FSR. 70 Even more so than in 1905, commanders still had to make their decisions regarding troop formations and dispositions according to the dictates of the enemy and the terrain. Far from a translation of German regulations, the FSR’s of both 1905 and 1910 were the culmination of over fifty years of American thought and traditions concerning their general regulations and their conceptualization of war. The only thing that remained to do following 1910 was to modernize the FSR with the modern battlefield. This was exactly the focus of the 1913 revision of the FSR. The 1913 edition was essentially the same document as the 1910 version with a few additions to take into account changes in technology. In 1913, two pages were devoted to aeronautical reconnaissance that referenced balloons, planes, and radios. 71 These technological changes only modified the
German Army, The Field Service Regulations 1900, trans. H. S. Brownrigg, (London: Harrison and Sons, 1900). The German FSR included detailed descriptions of markers, umpires, and the manner in which casualties were adjudicated for their war games. Ibid., 158-202 69 United States Army, Field Service Regulations 1910, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1910), 10. 70 The 1910 FSR still held the offensive superior, still dictated bayonets to finish the charge facilitated by fire superiority, and did not provide specific schematics for standardizing operations. Ibid., 157. 71 United States Army, Field Service Regulations 1913, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1913), 5455.
regulations and added nothing new. The combat section remained exactly the same for both the offensive and defensive parts. The only other new material appeared in several appendices added to the end of the regulations. These appendices created a wealth of reference material such as time tables for marches and mobilization, abbreviations and map symbols, standard army field message format, and several diagrams concerning the best way to build trenches. 72 The additions to the 1913 FSR added to the usefulness of the regulations, especially for staff officers, but changed none of the major sections from 1910. It was not until 1914 that the Army decided on the general regulation that was good enough to carry them through the end of the First World War. Just one year later, the FSR underwent another revision focused almost solely on organization and not on content. The FSR received a complete reorganization into three parts; organization, operations, and administration. The complex organizational charts so prominent in the beginning of the 1913 FSR were once again removed from the small organization part. 73 With the exception of an appendix in the back with total war strengths for the different army organizations, there was no focus on the units of the army. Moving into the Part II, Operations, all of the chapters received new names, but consisted of the same paragraphs as the previous edition. 74 This carries through until reaching the Combat chapter, which followed the same pattern as the 1905 FSR. In 1914, there was no longer any real separation between the offensive and defensive operations. The FSR now provided a set of general principles up front and a section concerned with combined arms operations. 75 These principles advised readers of the importance of offensive operations, fire superiority, the requirement of leaders to be up front, and the importance of reserves. Gone were any specifics on the attack, and in their place only general statements focused on different types of attacks such as holding or enveloping. This regulation also continued to denounce detailed planning throughout all of the phases of the attack because such plans had to take into account changes in friendly and enemy situations, and held to the belief that fire alone was not enough to defeat the enemy and that the
Ibid., 203-34. United States Army, Field Service Regulations 1914, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), 1011. 74 For example, the indications of the enemy sections has the exact same figures in both the 1913 and 1914 editions. Army, Field Service Regulations 1913, 53; Army, Field Service Regulations 1914, 18. 75 Army, Field Service Regulations 1914, 67-68.
bayonet and the charge still had a very important role in the final stage. 76 Even through this reorganization of the Combat chapter, the 1914 FSR said nothing new on the subject of war or battle, and used the same ideas to convey an image of the battlefield as they had since 1905. The 1914 FSR was corrected in both 1917 and 1918, but these corrections changed only the reference material in the appendices, and very specific data in the organization and orders chapters. The Combat chapter remained the same and provided commanders in the AEF their guidance to conduct warfare at the conclusion of World War One. SECTION 3: USMA, 50 Years of Theory and the FCM The End of Pre-Civil War Texts: Mahon and Dufour With the end of the Civil War, the education of cadets in the military art and science at West Point continued to develop an American adaptation of the intellectual framework of the FCM. Cadet education remained much the same as they had before. Along with a continuing education in infantry and artillery tactics, Dennis Hart Mahan continued to be the Professor of Engineering into the 1870’s. His courses remained almost unchanged since well before the war and as far as the principle text assigned to cadets concerning the military art, Mahan continued to assign his Advanced Guard, Outpost, and Detached Service from 1862. As previously studied, Mahan’s work was essentially an exact copy of the sections of his 1847 work entitled An Elementary Treatise on Advanced Guard, Outpost, and Detached Service including tactics, reconnaissance, marches, and convoys. The 1862 edition included an extensive section entitled Strategy and Battles. These sections gave definitions for the different elements of strategy and the different types of battles and combinations available to commanders. In addition to these sections, Mahan included a long historical section examining several of Napoleon’s campaigns. This 1862 edition seemed to increase the breadth and depth of cadet education concerning the art of war and the science of the general: strategy. Mahan’s influence remained constant at the academy until 1872 when he was forced to retire and was replaced by Colonel Junius B. Wheeler. The academy brought Wheeler in from outside the department to take over the Department of Civil and Military Engineering. For his first year as the Professor of Civil and Military Engineering, Wheeler made no changes to
Mahan’s reading list and only one change to the course in his second year in 1873. 77 This change was to replace Mahan’s Advanced Guard, Outpost, and Detached Service, with a translation of a French work entitled Strategy and Tactics by General G. H. Dufour. His work, translated by a former assistant professor of civil and military engineering at the academy Captain W. P. Craighill, came out during the Civil War and was well received by the Union army. Craighill translated the most recent French version of Dufour’s original work which first appeared as Cour de Tactic in the 1840’s and in the translation he changed the parts of the book devoted specifically to the Swiss Army to the American Army. Wheeler chose this Craighill translation to guide cadet instruction from 1873 through 1879, and it provided cadets with a comprehensive study of the same kinds of concepts as Mahan’s previous works if from a different perspective. Distinct in presentation than either Mahan or Jomini, Dufour began his work with an entire section devoted to definitions of the art of war from strategy to tactics. Dufour defined strategy as the grand movements of war while tactics were the details of those movements. 78 He accorded military history a privileged place in the study of war. 79 The clear language and organization of Dufour’s text leant itself to his principles and covered topics in a way that cadets familiar with Mahan’s work would understand. The majority of the rest of the work contained nothing that significantly challenged either Mahan or Jomini. Dufour wrote chapters on bases of operations, lines of operations, strategic points, campaign planning, the offense, the defense, marches, defending the frontier, pursuits, retreats, and the organization of an army. In these sections he simplified and clearly stated the ideas and observations of the age. Most of his examples to illustrate these principles and ideas came from the Napoleonic period.80 The combination of basic principles and the military history of the Napoleonic Wars revealed in the work a dedication to the intellectual framework at the heart of the French Combat Method.
The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1872 and 1873. 78 Dufour, Strategy and Tactics, 7. 79 He described Hannibal and Napoleon’s movement across the Alps as a function of strategy and thus unchanging, while the tactics of the two periods changed dependant on the arms and equipment of the two time periods. In this sense, the student of the military art can only use history to learn about strategy and should purposefully avoid detailed reading of ancient tactics as modern tactics have nothing to gain from a study of the ancient. From this conclusion concerning the unchanging nature of strategy, Dufour then stated his three basic principles of war. The three important principles of war were the point of departure for the operation, the point to be obtained, and the direction to be followed. Ibid., 10-11. 80 From Napoleon’s movement across the alps in 1800 to Massena’s perfect retreat to the failed French defense of Soissons in 1814, Dufour takes every opportunity to cite examples from the Napoleonic period Ibid., 14, 30, 43, 48, 52, 59, 72,
Dufour’s middle chapter on battles really outlined the major components of the FCM and treated them as scientific principles in the same way as the multitude of other topics in his chapters. In many ways, the sequence of his standard battle and the incorporation of the various combat arms resembled the battle section in the American General Army Regulations of 1821. Dufour began with the infantry formed up in either two or three ranks in the order of battle. 81 This order of battle consisted of two lines with a reserve and could execute operations and movements frontally, in parallel, or in the oblique. 82 Dufour then went on to describe how the skirmishers would precede the attack columns and operate under the guns of the artillery until either the enemies flank or center broke under the weight of bayonets. 83 This framework of the battlefield does not differ at all from either the American or French understanding of the FCM. American Theorists at West Point: Wheeler and Mercur Since becoming the Professor of Civil and Military Engineering at West Point, Wheeler began to change the curriculum in a number of ways to include replacing Mahan’s works with more updated volumes of his own creation. In 1874, Wheeler produced an updated version of Mahan’s Elementary Course of Permanent Fortifications and by 1878 he replaced Mahan’s Civil Engineering text with one of his own. The following year Wheeler produced his replacement for Dufour entitled A Course of Instruction in the elements of the Art and Science of War. He would use this text for the next decade in the instruction of cadets in military theory and the art of war. In the introduction, Wheeler established the purpose of the work and its audience as cadets and their education in the military art. 84 He then went on to state clearly the intellectual purpose of the book that believed “history is the basis upon which the principles of the ‘science of war’ are founded,” and that “the constant endeavor has been to state principles and rules intelligently and concisely as possible.” 85 Wheeler’s course incorporated history in a systematic way to demonstrate the principles of the art of war. 86 In this way Wheeler’s work was more a work of synthesis than one of original thought or theory. However, the points where he differs from the
Ibid., 89. Ibid., 173-78. 83 Ibid., 184-204. 84 Junius Brutus Wheeler, A course of instruction in the elements of the art and science of war. For the use of the cadets of the United States Military Academy. , (New York: D. Van Nostrand, 1878), title page. 85 Ibid., v. 86 He stated that the text was in line with the writings and opinions of the former masters of the art, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, and Archduke Charles, and that it was also consistent with the theoretical works then in vogue from Jomini and Hamley, while he even incorporated elements of the Army General Regulations of 1863. Ibid., vi.
opinions and theories of the past masters were almost as revealing as the majority of the work that remained unchanged from Mahan’s early works. He began as Dufuour began with a section focused on definitions of war and strategy, and then utilized an organization familiar through both Mahan and Jomini. His definition of war and its relation to politics was one of the more interesting additions to cadet education. Wheeler defined war as a struggle between nations carried on by force that has both military and political elements. In this understanding of war, the military strategy could be offensive while the political strategy is defensive. 87 He also defined war as inherently a science, studied through history and the battlefield. 88 This identification with science, and the physical sciences in particular, remains a constant theme of both the work and the military theory and philosophy of the turn of the century. Wheeler used the vocabulary of Jomini with lines, points, and bases. 89 He then moved onto the historical composition of armies privileging the infantry based army. 90 Even the chapter on Battle was familiar as it described the best order of battle as one with two lines and a reserve, that skirmishers supported by artillery should start and develop a battle, that while the flank is always weaker, that attacking the enemies center provides the best results, and that an active defense that incorporates offensive elements is always superior to a passive defense because offensive operations always produced the best effect.91 However, he also stated that the open order line of skirmishers had replaced the close order linear formation as the primary formation to deliver firepower to the front, that massed attacks were a thing of the past although bayonets and charges still had a very small role to play, and that modern technology made cavalry charges obsolete. 92 Wheeler also included several new sections that dealt directly with many of the technological aspects of the modern battlefield, but in the end he concluded
Although Jomini has an entire chapter devoted to statesmanship in relation to war, this was the first time in the American context that the political received an equal footing with the importance of the military with regards to war as a whole. Wheeler ended his treatise with another verbalization of this relationship stating “the object of a war is to destroy the resources of the enemy, in this way making him powerless and willing to accede to the demands of government.” Ibid., 5-6, 325. 88 For Wheeler, war was both science and art based on scientifically derived theories based on the study of history. To prove this point, he referenced Jomini’s thoughts on the matter using a Jominian quotation on the importance of theories of war generated through the understanding of principles demonstrated by events on the battlefield. Ibid., 78. 89 Starting with strategical movements, he laid out a system of theaters of operations, bases of operations, objectives and lines of operations, interior and exterior lines, strategical fronts and points, and plans of campaign both offensive or defensive. Ibid., 11-44. 90 Ibid., 44-53. 91 Ibid., 124-28. 92 Ibid., 62-63.
that technology had not impacted the principles of the science of war. 93 This chapter reflected the ideas in the battle section in the Army General Regulations of 1863 and remained committed to educating cadets in the intellectual framework of the FCM for a decade. Wheeler’s text influenced cadets at West Point until replaced in 1889 by James Mercur’s Elements of the Art of War. James Mercur was no stranger to the Academy having served as an Assistant Professor of Natural and Experimental Philosophy from 1868 to 1872 as a 1st Lieutenant. He replaced Junius Wheeler as the Professor of Civil and Military Engineering in 1884. Mercur made no rapid changes to a program that Wheeler updated, having replaced all of Mahan’s texts with texts of his own except Mahan’s Stereotomy. Mercur replaced Wheeler’s text in Permanent Fortification in 1888, and his next textbook replacement was of Wheeler’s Elements of the Art of War with his own version in 1889. 94 Mercur designed his treatise, like Wheeler’s, for the instruction of cadets at West Point and as such represented another important link in the intellectual development of the junior officers of the United States Army. If Wheeler’s text facilitated cadet instruction in the art of war, Mercur’s text produced an even more concise treatise on the subject for cadet instruction. He organized the book into chapters on Army Organization, The Art of War, Tactics, Grand Tactics, Logistics, and Strategy. By far, this text focused at the level of the battlefield that junior officers would most likely experience. The sections on tactics, and logistics took up a large proportion of the work while the Army Organization chapter laid out the principle duties of every level of a unit, as well as the duties of staff officers. 95 In a subtle way, Mercur described the functioning of the staff but also stated that both staff and line officers required education and intelligence on the battlefield. This intelligence and education would now be put to a slightly different set of principles of the art of war. Mercur provided two general principles, the first to determine the place of battle to
In addition to these lessons learned, Wheeler’s modern war chapter introduces concepts like railroads and industrial mobilization, transport timetables, and telegraphic signaling systems. These technological marvels were included into the modern war chapter to provide cadets with an image of the changing nature of their profession. However, the last word of the treatise was surprisingly committed to the unchanging nature of the scientific principles Wheeler set out to provide to cadets. In the last few pages of the work, Wheeler stated that although technology changes that the principles of strategy, grand tactics, and even tactics itself remained largely unchanged in the 1880s. Ibid., 317-25. 94 The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1868-1889. 95 The company remained the unit of discipline, the battalion the tactical unit, and the regiment the administrative unit. Using the definitions of each type of unit, Mercur concisely introduced cadets to the army organization and how their units fit into the bigger picture. In addition to these units, the work detailed the duties and capabilities of the staffs and in particular the general staff. James Mercur, Elements of the Art of War: Prepared for the use of the cadets of the United States Military Academy, (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1889), 4-6, 9-12.
maximize victory and minimize defeat, and the second to concentrate a stronger force at this battlefield. 96 To comply with these principles of war, Mercur prized the importance of marches and logistics as the most important ingredient of battlefield success. From these principles, the work then focused a large section on the tactics modern warfare required to be stronger at the right place on the battlefield. Tactics and minor tactics made up the majority of this new text designed to prepare junior officers for the modern battlefield. For the modern armies of both America and Europe, the principle arm remained the infantry and the best infantry drill was the simplest and in skirmish or extended order. 97 Mercur then revised Wheeler’s opinions concerning the importance of close order formations on the battlefield and argued for the small attack column. 98 Although cadet instruction for a decade recommended away from attack columns at all cost, Mercur brought it back in a limited fashion. To support this skirmisher line, the best possible formation was to have two lines in the order of battle in supporting distance of the skirmish line with a mobile reserve. 99 This battlefield framework reflected that of the tactical regulations and was still utilized the FCM. The remaining chapters of Elements of the Art of War conformed with much of the military theory from Mahan to Wheeler. 100 In this way the cadets received a very modern and relevant education in the art of war, and while this new text did not integrate history into the body of the text as Wheeler or Dufour did, Mercur provided the cadets with a historical case study as complete as it was relevant. At the end of his chapter on Grand Tactics, he included a translation of the official German account of the Battle of Gravelotte from 16 – 18 August 1870
Ibid., 16. Modern infantry tactics focused on the “offensive to give the fullest effect to the rifle fire,” and much like skirmisher tactics of yore, to get close to the enemy formations to deliver a disruptive fire. Ibid., 20. 98 In a passage that resembled the 1821 concept of battle, cadets learned that open order infantry would approach the enemy, assemble a sufficient number of rifles together within a short distance of the enemy, and then rush him with the bayonet in order to break the enemy formation. In order to achieve this close fighting formation, Mercur uses a Jomini quotation recommending the attack column by divisions of no greater than the battalion level with a twocompany front. Ibid., 20-21. 99 Ibid., 27-28. 100 He included in depth sections on cavalry and artillery tactics describing in detail the offensive and defensive support these arms gave to the infantry. He then detailed sections on reconnaissance, convoys, marches, defiles, ambushes, and outposts. These sections reflected the concise organization and thought of the author, but added very little new to the art of war. In the last chapter on strategy, Mercur reflected the importance of new technologies in much the same way that Weeler did when he addressed partisans, logistics, rail transportation, mobilization and deployment by timetable and the importance of producing and disseminating orders on the battlefield. In his way, Mercur reflected his times by stating that the nation that mobilized first achieved a decisive advantage over his adversary. Ibid., 270.
in order to demonstrate the principles from the entire text.101 In the course of sixty-five pages, Mercur provided a tactical narrative of the battle that included detailed maps, excerpts of German and French orders, and demonstrated the art of war at a variety of levels from a multitude of perspectives that did indeed validate the principles stated in the preceding 172 pages. This work was the central text of cadet education until almost the turn of the twentieth century when stronger trends in U.S. Army education intersected for a brief period with the education of cadets. The Modernization of Cadet Education: Fiebeger 1896-1918 The man that brought the Army’s first sanctioned textbook on strategy and tactics into cadet education was Mercur’s replacement as the Professor of Civil and Military Engineering, Lieutenant Colonel Gustav Joseph Fiebeger. Fiebeger graduated fifth in the USMA class of 1879. After serving four years in the Corps of Engineers, he came back to the Academy as an Instructor in the Department of Civil and Military Engineering from 1883 through 1888. With exposure to the department under the last two Professors of Civil and Military Engineering, there were few candidates that had more qualifications to lead one of the most important departments at the Academy in 1896. 102 Like his predecessors, Fiebeger made few changes to the curriculum in the first years as a full Professor. However, the Army’s whole scale adoption of Arthur Wagner’s Organization and Tactics as the basic text at the U.S. Infantry and Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth as well as the basic primer for new Officer examinations required for promotion, made Wagner’s text the driving intellectual force of the entire Army. The first change Fiebeger made to the West Point Engineering curriculum was to replace Mercur’s Elements of the Art of War with Wagner’s Organization and Tactics in 1899. Although critical for the cadets in terms of their performance on the officer promotion examinations, Wagner’s text also provided a thorough survey of the current state of military thought and history. Wagner used his preface to explain both the purpose and scope of his treatise and made an argument for the importance of such a text in officer education. In the first paragraph, Wagner made the relationship between battlefield experience and study in the preparation of officers. He noted that the best school of war was the battlefield itself, but for the officers that do not have such a school that only the deliberate study based on actual events and historical examples can
Ibid., 172-238. The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1879-1899.
hope to substitute for battle. 103 After this call for the study of history, Wager then described the military profession as unlike the sciences in that every combat and action was variable dependent on differences in enemy, terrain, and situation. He clearly stated that the purpose of his text was to create a system to “furnish a standard, in the main correct, from which an officer in action can vary according to the conditions presented and they do not leave him altogether without a guide.” 104 In this way, he created a system of principles of war from strategy to grand tactics and finally to minor tactics in the tradition of Jomini and Mahan. The main difference between Wagner’s work and his predecessors was perhaps his use of historical and factual evidence to demonstrate the efficacy of his principles. In this pursuit, Wagner used historical events from Antiquity through the most current of military events along with the current military policies and thought across Europe. He even included an extensive list of titles used in the preparation of his work. 105 This combination of history and current theory made Organization and Tactics useful not only for the professional education of the Army, but also for cadets in an academic environment. The organization of the text focused primarily on the three different arms, the infantry, artillery, and cavalry, and how they function individually and collectively on the battlefield. To set up the proper function of these arms, Wagner focused his introduction to include definitions of strategy and tactics, which did not significantly differ from Wheeler or Mercur. 106 Unlike Mahan and other texts used for cadet instruction, Wagner focused a majority of his text on grand tactics and the multitude of actions each of the three arms takes in the persecution of battle, and spends little time on the minor tactics. He explained that the infantry remained the most important arm and that the weapons of the infantry were the rifle for firepower and the bayonet
Arthur L. Wagner, Organization and Tactics, (Kansas City: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing Co., 1897), viii. Ibid., x. 105 Some of the more mentionable titles on his list of books included Upton’s Armies of Asia and Europe, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, Marmont’s Esprit des Institutions Militaires, Alison’s History of Europe, Thiers’ History of the Consulate and Empire, Hamley’s Operations of War, Von Moltke’s History of the Franco-German War, Journal of the Military Service Institution of the United States, the memoirs of Grant and Sherman, Boguslawski’s The Progress of Tactics from 1859 to 1890, and the Attack of the Future, and perhaps most interestingly Clausewitz’s War. Ibid., xiii-xvi. 106 For him, strategy was “the art of moving an army in the theater of operations…as to increase the probability of victory,” while tactics were “the art of disposing and maneuvering troops on the field of battle.”106 Leading logically from this division between strategy and tactics, Wagner stated that all strategy should lead to a battle, that maneuver itself was no longer an effective way to achieve victory. In addition to dividing the art of war between tactics and strategy, Wagner also established the differences between minor tactics and grand tactics. Minor tactics involved the movements and actions of small bodies of troops while grand tactics concerned the movements of larger bodies of troops, composed of all arms, in battle. Ibid., 1-2.
for shock. 107 In addition to these weapons, the entrenching tool now became as important to the infantrymen as his weapons. 108 However, Wagner was very cautious in his inclusion of field fortifications into modern warfare, however he believed that fortifications had a negative effect on the offensive spirit of troops. 109 Wagner’s description of the battlefield conformed remarkably well to the current of American thought through the turn of the Twentieth Century. His description of the battlefield with the skirmish line as the firing line supported by another line and reserve, and that the attack culminated in an assault. 110 In the chapters concerning cavalry and artillery, Wagner incorporated those arms into the general theory of the attack. Once again this intellectual framework reinforced the education of the FCM to cadets and officers alike. While Wagner’s Organization and Tactics remained the central text on the military art for cadet instruction, Fiebeger began to make changes to the curriculum throughout his tenure. The first series of major changes occurred in 1906 with the adoption of several new texts and a renewed use of military history for cadet instruction. In 1906, Fiebeger included the U.S. Army Field Service Regulations as one of the main texts in the course on military engineering and the art of war. This denoted another instance where cadet instruction incorporated works designed for the use by the regular army like Wagner’s treatise. In addition to the FSR, Fiebeger introduced two textbooks to the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering, The Campaign and Battle of Gettysburg, and Campaigns and Battles. He designed these two texts as a narrative description of the battles based on primary evidence to enable the cadets to study the campaigns critically and intellectually. 111 This facilitated not only historical analysis of the battle
Ibid., 50. Ibid., 54. 109 Using quotations from both Sherman and Hood from the Civil War, Wagner cautioned against using fortifications in all situations or at all times as it seemed to have a detrimental effect on both soldier morale and their ability to execute offensive operations. “great as the use of intrenchments will be in future, they must not be invariably relied upon. The morale of the men will inevitably suffer if they be allowed to intrench at every step and under all circumstances, and intrenchments may thus prove a curse rather than a blessing.” Ibid., 177. 110 The skirmish line thus became the primary means of advancing on the enemy to close distances. Casualties in the skirmish line were immediately replaced from the second rank until the skirmish line got close enough for the final assault. The remaining elements of the skirmish line supported for the effort by the rest of the second line would execute the assault using shock power to break the enemy formation. The third line would then advance through the first two and establish a strong defensive position on the recently enemy territory to prevent an effective enemy counterattack. Ibid., 114-41. 111 While Campaigns and Battles discusses twenty great campaigns in military history in as brief a manner as possible to relay the vital information required for analysis, Fiebeger compiled Gettysburg primarily from the Official Records of the War of Rebellion. From this source, he included large direct quotations of orders and correspondence and four map sheets showing troop movements and major actions over the four days.
but prepared cadets for what would become an annual trip to the battlefield of Gettysburg itself. Fiebeger took his classes from 1906 until 1918. 112 Visiting battlefields to experience both historical education and professional development mirrored a similar trend in the Army’s post graduate education. The inclusion of both the FSR and the military history volumes supported the historical mode of instruction that Wagner utilized in his work and made historical analysis an even more important facet of officer education. The next change occurred in 1908 with the addition of Fiebeger’s first work on the art of war entitled Elements of Strategy. This work was a logical step in the inclusion of historical analysis into cadet instruction. It was fundamentally different from Wagner’s Organization and Tactics, which focused on how the three combatant arms functioned both individually and combined on the battlefield with very little emphasis on operations at the strategic level. Fiebeger’s treatise focused entirely on strategy and strategic operations and did not discuss the tactical aspects of the battlefield at all. His first chapter defined strategy through the use of quotations by both Jomini and Clausewitz, and also defined the components of strategic operations such as lines of operation, bases of operations, objectives of operations, and plans of campaigns. 113 In order to update his study, Fiebeger then included several statements from the writings of von Moltke written between 1866 and 1870 concerning simplicity of operations, the decisive nature of destroying the enemy’s army, and the importance of pre war preparation to victory. 114 While the detailed definition of strategy with its constituent elements of policy and military operations was different than its predecessors, the terminology used to define strategic operations was already familiar to the FCM and the American way of warfare. To compliment the Elements of Strategy, Fiebeger wrote his Army Organization and introduced it to the curriculum in 1912. This was a very short volume, only 59 pages, designed to instruct cadets on the organization of modern armies. In its opening pages, Fiebeger divided army organization into three major components, combat, administration, and supply. 115 He then dedicated the rest of the text defining the purpose of the three components, the kinds of troops that carried out these functions, and as a whole explained how this organization made the army
He did this staffride to the battlefield to “familiarize them with the effects of topography on the employment of troops in the field.” The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1906. 113 Gustav Joseph Fiebeger, Elements of Strategy, (West Point: United States Military Academy Press, 1900), 1-6. 114 Ibid., 102-05. 115 Gustav Joseph Fiebeger, Army Composition, (West Point: United States Military Academy Press, 1910), 5.
run more efficiently. Fiebeger used the opportunity that each of these elements provided to describe the composition of both American formations and European armies and by contrast to demonstrate to cadets why the American organization was better suited for the United States Army. 116 This comparative analysis provided a significant amount of the analysis of Wagner in comparing the European systems with the American organization from the FSR of 1910. Army Organization was the last addition that Fiebeger personally contributed to the education of cadets, although it was not the last change he made to the curriculum. The following year in 1913, Fiebeger made his last change to the curriculum with the removal of Wagner’s Organization and Tactics. The U. S. Infantry and Cavalry School had gone away from Wagner in 1907-08 in favor of a pamphlet system and map exercises. However, Wagner’s text seemed to make a great contribution to cadet education until 1913 and the publication of another FSR. The 1914 FSR seemed to contain all of the pertinent material concerning the combatant arms in the attack and defense. Fiebeger’s Elements of Strategy was superior as an analytical tool to teach strategy along with a study of historical campaigns And with the publication of Army Organization that both compared the European and American systems and educated cadets as to the specific purpose of all of the elements of the modern army, there was no longer a need for the almost twenty year old Wagner text. Significantly, this was the last change in curriculum until after World War One. SECTION 4: Army Post Graduate Education and the FCM The Fort Leavenworth Schools and Theoretical Education Following the Civil War, there was a general realization by the United States Army that education was important to the maintenance of an effective military. To this end, Ulysses S. Grant reopened the Artillery School at Old Point Comfort Virginia in 1867. 117 The School began by focusing on the technical education of artillery officers and their craft, but within a decade, the curriculum was increased to include military art, science, and history. With Upton on the faculty of the Artillery School and improving the instruction of the military art urging for the creation of an institution for the entire army, Commanding General of the Army William Tecumseh Sherman ordered a school of application organized at Fort Leavenworth in May of
Ibid., 8-9. Harry P. Ball, Of Responsible Command, (Carlisle Barracks: The Alumni Association of the United States Army War College, 1994), 21.
1881. 118 As the Army’s only institution of post-graduate education, both institutions had to generate original curriculum. This forced them to choose texts and writings already in print and available for instruction. Both institutions chose a popular work of military theory by the retired British General Edward Hamley. Rising to become the Commandant of the Staff School, Hamley produced one of the most influential works in military theory of the last half of the Nineteenth Century entitled The Operations of War Explained and Illustrated. While the first edition appeared in 1866, by 1878 Hamley produced a fourth edition that included the most recent campaigns in modern history and the corresponding changes in the military art. 119 Hamely’s treatise contained thematic chapters pertaining to the study of strategy, grand tactics, and minor tactics much like Jomini and Mahan. However, unlike those authors, Hamley demonstrated the efficacy of his definitions and principles through the explicit use of military history. Using historical case studies, He discussed topics of offensive and defensive war. 120 All of these sections reflected the opinions of the American authors discussing and writing about these issues from Mahan to the present. In addition to this fairly standard treatment of military topics, Hamley also included his understanding of the changes in the military art. While previously, skirmishers protected close columns that penetrated the enemy lines and led to victory, now on the modern battlefield columns had to dissolve into skirmish lines to deliver their firepower and attack. 121 While this fit into the writings at West Point (in fact both Wheeler and Mercur referenced Hamley in their works) it was the principle way in which this new theory entered the Army’s post graduate institutions before American authors created works good enough to supplant their European peers. The American in particular that produced a work of military theory was Arthur Wagner and the work was his Organization and Tactics. Written in 1895, Organization and Tactics became the first work of its kind to receive official sanction by the War Department, had many
Timothy K. Nenninger, The Leavenworth Schools and the Old Army: Education, Professionalism, and the Officer Corps of the United States Army, 1881-1918, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1978), 22. 119 Edward Bruce Hamley, The Operations of War Explained and Illustrated (London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1878), v. 120 The historical examples ranged from the great campaigns and battles of the Eighteenth Century, to the American Civil War, and the Franco-Prussian War while the topics included theaters of war, lines of communication, central position, bases of operations, and even restated Jomini’s great principle of war that “ the object of modern battles is to bring to a certain point on the battlefield a superior number of troops to bear upon the enemy.” Ibid., 358. 121 Ibid., 425.
of its chapters reprinted in the Cavalry Journal, and was even adopted as part of the officer examination program. 122 As discussed earlier in detail as a West Point textbook, Wagner’s work represented an incredible moment of unity in the Army’s educational institutions. Using his text at the Army’s undergraduate academy, the Artillery School, and the School of Application of Infantry and Cavalry provided officers of different generations and at different points in their careers all reading and discussing the same military theory at the same time. Add to this number the readers of the Cavalry and Infantry journals, and the junior officers preparing for their examinations for promotion, and officers in unheard of numbers all utilized this one text at the same time. In its various editions, Organization and Tactics was the central text of the Military Academy until 1913, and the Fort Leavenworth Schools until 1908 when a new curriculum appeared under the guidance of General J. Franklin Bell and Major John Morrison. Morrison and a New Direction in Officer Education Returning from observing the Russo-Japanese War, Bell recruited Morrison as the head of the Department of Military Art in the newly formed School of the Line from 1907 to 1909. During this time Morrison designed the curriculum of the course that officers would receive prior to deploying to Europe with the AEF. 123 Using the applicatory method, in which officers worked through tactical problems using regulations and general principles on a variety of maps and organizations, Morrison designed a four-part program. The first two parts focused on operations from the squad through the regimental level using his Studies in Minor Tactics. The third part focused on troop leading in its entirety and utilized Otto F. Griepenkerl’s Letters on Applied Tactics translated from the German. The fourth part of the program was a review of the first three using map problems and terrain exercises, while the fifth part of the program focused on divisional operations and orders and used Albert Buddecke’s Tactical Decisions and Orders also translated from the German. 124 As part of the Root Reforms, the Army also established the War College in 1903 as a part of the new General Staff and although it did not have students until 1904 it lacked a real curriculum of studies until the assignment of Major Eben Swift in 1906. Coming from Fort Leavenworth, Smith instituted the study of the military art and copied many of the innovations of the Leavenworth Schools to include map exercises and battlefield staff rides. Swift also brought
Reardon, Soldiers and Scholars, 105-06. Nenninger, The Leavenworth Schools and the Old Army, 89-90. 124 Ibid., 90-91.
Griepenkerl’s Letters on Applied Tactics to the War College as it’s principle text on the military art. 125 In the decade prior to World War I, it seemed that German military thought dominated the U.S. Army. As the oldest of the three works and the volume adopted by the two largest post graduate schools, Major-General Griepenkerl’s Letters on Applied Tactics had by far the greater impact on the development of the military art. With its first edition in German in 1890, by 1906 the author referenced in the preface to his sixth edition that there were translated versions in French, English, Japanese, and Greek. The English translation by Major C. H. Barth was commissioned at the request of General Bell and Major Swift. The author’s purpose in his work was to provide officers an aid to their personal development in the military art of both tactics and orders. Having spent the last several years mentoring junior officers via correspondence, he compiled a series of problems that progressed from the simple to the more complex.126 Griepenkerl organized his problems in the form of twenty-five letters, each containing the problem, a discussion of the principles to take into consideration when constructing the solution, and then the prompt for the next problem. In this way, the letters not only taught the form of the orders, but also provided a primer for the general principles of the German military art. The military art Griepenkerl propounded was very similar to that already taught in American military schools. Many of the letters dealt with minor tactics. Starting at the beginning, the readers solved problems dealing with marching to the front and flank, advanced guard, rear guard, and outpost operations. The solutions that accompanied these letters made no change from the works of Mahan or Wagner and easily fit into a course of instruction based on American works on the subject. There were only two letters that dealt with the important subjects of the attack and the occupation of a defensive position, but these letters also varied very little from the 1905 FSR and other American thought. Griepenkerl counseled his readers to concentrate for attacks, that the attacker had an advantage in initiative over the passive defender, that fire superiority was integral for success, and that one should deploy from columns and movement formations at the last possible moment before assuming a more extended order. 127 In addition to these suggestions, he recommended that commanders be at the head of columns to control their
Ball, Of Responsible Command, 100. Otto F. Griepenkerl, Letters on Applied Tactics: Problems dealing with the operations of detachments of the three arms, trans. C. H. Barth, (Kansas City: Hudson Press, 1906), ix. 127 Ibid., 179-82.
movements, that flank attacks require secondary frontal attacks to succeed, that attacks still required depth and the effective use of reserves. 128 Because of its comprehensiveness and scope of operations at the brigade level, this work provided American officers an excellent resource to develop skills in accordance with American regulations and military thought. The next oldest text used in part five of Morrison’s program in the military art at Leavenworth was Albert Buddecke’s Tactical Decisions and Orders. The fifth part of Morrison’s program focused on operations at the division level, and for this purpose Buddecke’s work was imminently suited. An officer attached to the German General Staff, Buddecke was perfectly placed to not only understand the intricate workings of the orders process at the divisional level, but also received the education that allowed him to commit the principles he observed at work into an effective treatise. In a slightly different format than Griepenkerl, Buddecke created the operations log of a division over eight continuous days of combat, such that the reader received situation reports and reconnaissance, orders from higher headquarters, and prompts to issue orders to subordinate units.129 Buddecke reminded readers that the utilization of the infantry gave the battle its flavor, to deploy as close to the enemy as possible, and that holding attacks in front support flank attacks. 130 In the defense, he stated that commanders should only adopt the defense with the intention of resuming the offensive at the earliest opportunity. 131 This work extended the scope and argument made by Griepenkerl and was a work of specialization and not innovation. Morrison and the Department of Military Art at the Leavenworth School of the Line had access to both of these texts by the time he engineered his study of minor tactics. To facilitate the smaller unit operations at the regimental level and below, Morrison led the Department of the Military Art to produce Studies in Minor Tactics in 1908. This extremely popular work, continued to influence regular and volunteer officers both in and out of the army’s
These principles meshed almost seamlessly with the American thought and doctrine of the first decade of the Twentieth Century. Even on the defensive Griepenkerl stated principles familiar to American officers that in the defense clear fields of fire were important, that the key to the defense was the deployment of reserves, and that they should be wary in “applying cast iron rules and forms to all sorts of tactical situations.” Ibid., 182-85, 235. 129 This format allowed him to integrate the minor tactics outlined by Griepenkerl of advanced guard, outpost, reconnaissance, and resupply operations. The continuous operations format also allowed him to discuss the general principles of both the attack and the defense. Albert Buddecke, Tactical Decisions and Orders: A study in troopleading (based on the operations of an independent division) for individual instruction, trans. Arthur Conger, (Kansas City: Hudson Press, 1908), 11. 130 Ibid., 134-46. 131 This was because “the offensive alone is the key to victory” and that the power of the defense lay in the occupation of a good position and the effective utilization of reserves. Ibid., 170-80.
postgraduate educational system through the First World War. 132 Very similar to Griepenkerl’s letters, Morrison created seventeen chapters each of which focused on an aspect of minor tactics at the small unit level. 133 Their only example of an infantry attack was of a frontal attack that consisted of the deployment of a firing line of platoons. These platoons advanced by alternate rushes, achieved superiority of fire over the enemy, and when they had advanced close enough at the run the commander deployed the reserve to overwhelm the enemy with a charge. 134 In the single example of defensive operations, the work recommended assuming a defensive posture only with the idea of changing to the offensive, that the defensive position required a clear field of fire, and that the defense necessitated a strong reserve. 135 The similarity between this work and the FSRs of 1905 was deliberate as Studies in Minor Tactics referenced the FSR at every opportunity. The similarity between the American and German military thought showed perhaps less American aping of foreign armies, but demonstrated a remarkable level of international consensus in the basic elements of modern warfare. Conclusion Military thought, regulations, and doctrine made an incredible journey of both continuity and change during the fifty-two years between the Civil War and the Great War. In one way, the intellectual framework of war in the American military tradition made a classic revolution from the starting point, through changes, and back to the starting point. In the tactical regulations, Casey’s battlefield recommendations lasted only 5 years before they were replaced by Upton’s system. Instead of building from Casey’s foundation, Upton went to back and worked off of a regulation in existence prior to the war based on his own battlefield experiences but still a thought experiment. Upton’s new system changed the system of tactics from a system focused on lines and columns to one in which the firepower and shock came exclusively from the skirmish line. The new system remained an essentially linear way of looking at the battlefield and was adjusted to modern warfare through the intellectual framework of the FCM. The rest of the
The demand for this work required three editions and over 10,000 copies sold by 1909. John Morrison, Studies in Minor Tactics, (Fort Leavenworth: Army Service Schools Press, 1909), iii-v. 133 With chapters that focused on infantry and cavalry outposts, advanced guard, patrolling, and convoy operations the reader first read a situation or problem, and then read a general solution provided by the Department of Military Art. Through the use of these solutions, Morrison’s work, like his German predecessors, created a series of general principles of the military art. 134 Ibid., 132-38. 135 Ibid., 148- 53.
tactical changes through World War One remained an effort to update the language and to make the system more efficient and simple. Examined another way, it seemed that through the 1891 Regulations that there existed in American tactical thought an emphasis on battlefield control in response to the experiences of the Civil War. This control led to a more formalized extended order that provided commanders more commands and more precision in execution. This control led the 1891 Regulations to offer specific recommendations on tactical deployment that included engagement ranges and distances between lines in the attack. It was not until Fort Leavenworth took over the business of updating regulations that the specific recommendation returned to the non-dogmatic system of tactical options required by the FCM. At the time Fort Leavenworth was filled with some of the Army’s most intelligent and deep thinkers, and thus it should not be surprising that these men returned to the tenants of the FCM when recommending regulations changes in 1911. The story of the General Army Regulations, and subsequently the Field Service Regulations follows a different path than the tactical regulations, but ends in the same place. After eighteen years of using the 1861 Regulations, the War Department finally convinced Congress that the Civil War era regulation was obsolete and drafted an administrative regulation in conjunction with a pamphlet entitled Troops on Campaign. This pamphlet was in essence a copy of the 1861 section concerning the battlefield, which was in turn a copy of the 1821 section on battle. The FSR’s continued to modernize the language and the technology of the American way of warfare while remaining consistent with the FCM. It was truly remarkable how pervasive this American interpretation of the FCM was during the period from the Civil War through the Great War. Prior to the Civil War, there were two official sources of education in the military art, USMA and the General Army Regulations. With only two sources, it was possible to have a consensus between the two so that the Army received the same education in the art of war and the FCM. However, the explosion of official educational institutions following the Civil War made such a consensus impossible to mandate from any single source of authority. USMA continued to develop its curriculum totally separate from the Army’s schools with the fourteen-year use of Wagner’s Organization and Tactics. The Leavenworth Schools developed out of a different tradition, with a different purpose, and used a fundamentally different approach in tactical problems and the applied method. The regulations boards met in a wide variety of circumstances, some connected with the Leavenworth Schools
and some in isolation. And yet, through the widest possible media, works, materials, and curricula, every educational institution of the United States Army taught the same intellectual framework of the battlefield, the framework of the FCM, to every officer commissioned from 1865 through 1918. The real test of American commitment to the FCM came when it interacted with the German armies on the battlefields of World War One. It should then not be surprising that early on in the creation of the American First Army that Pershing disseminated a system of open warfare for American forces. When the AEF began to deploy to Europe and entered into training camps, Pershing and the GHQ issued training guidance that was consistent with the FSR and pre war doctrine. Pershing and American officers in Europe began to call this “open warfare” even though there was no official definition of open warfare except the tenants described in the FSR. 136 Pershing himself described the Allied doctrine as not aggressive, and continued throughout the war to preference the power of American rifleman in offensive operations. 137 The warfare Pershing supported closely resembled the 1914 FSR with skirmishers preceding a firing line, and fire superiority created by a combination of riflemen and auxiliary arms. While the old mythology of the American experience in the Great War made them out to be unthinking and dogmatic amateurs, new research showed that the American divisions learned quite a bit from their Allied tutors. American divisions increased the number of automatic weapons in their formations, and improved dramatically infantry-artillery coordination, which led to increased fire support for American infantry attacks. 138 In addition to these new elements in American warfare, some divisions used squad and platoon-sized columns to advance behind the rolling barrage as opposed to skirmish or firing lines. 139 However, even with these new additions to the tactics of the infantry attack, they still resembled wave attacks along FSR guidelines, especially at Cantigny. 140 Additionally, these innovations from below adapted American tactics in the same way that Upton adapted them in 1867, by evolving them according
Rod Paschall, Defeat of Imperial Germany 1917-1918, (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1989), 170. John J. Pershing, My Experiences in the World War, (New York: Frederick A. Stokes Co., 1931), 152-53. 138 Mark Grotelueschen’s The AEF Way of War, is a new and extremely important work in the military history of the AEF in WWI. He not only looks in depth at AEF training and doctrine, but examines several divisions and formations throughout the war to examine exactly what the Americans learned during the war. He concludes that while American senior leaders learned very little from the war that American doctrine changed significantly from their past and embraced new concepts of firepower. Grotelueschen, The AEF Way of War, 347. 139 Ibid., 46. 140 Charles E. Heller and William A. Stoft, eds., America's First Battles (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1986), 172; Paschall, Defeat of Imperial Germany 1917-1918, 192.
to the dictates of both the environment and the FCM. While some understood the American experience in World War One as revolutionary and fundamentally different, these changes continued to fit into the tradition of American military thought. The intellectual framework that the 1914 FSR created, and Pershing continued to follow, adjusted to WWI combat in a manner consistent with its traditional framework, the trends that emerged since the Civil War, and with the French Combat Method. The 1914 FSR provided a system of attack, predicated on planning and orders not formulaic but determined by enemy action and the terrain, that integrated artillery fire and machine gun fire into a fairly linear infantry attack, where the principle ingredient for success was fire superiority. WWI taught American divisions that instead of rifles providing this fire superiority, enemy defenses required artillery and machineguns to ensure success. Although this was a change from the FSR, it remained consistent with the intellectual framework. Riflemen were not supplanted from combat, nor were they given a subservient position in the battle. Artillery and machine guns achieved fire superiority in the same manner that riflemen did in the prewar theory. Even the adoption of squad and platoon columns to support the artillery barrage continued to follow the principles laid down in 1914 and before that formations remained in close order until the last minute on the battlefield because deploying into firing lines decreased the speed of the attacking infantry. As far as the French Combat Method, the main attack remained the job of a nonspecialized infantry protected until contact with the main enemy line with either artillery or skirmishers or both, that advances by rushes through enemy positions. These attacks were designed to be non-standard and the result of decisions of the ground commanders, and supported by formations in lines behind the main attack within supporting distance. The battlefields of World War One provided the AEF with exposure to a number of different systems of tactics, and even different battlefield frameworks. It provided the AEF in lessons of the lethality and bloody realities of modern combat. However, like the Civil War, these experiences tended to reinforce their belief in the FCM, and committed the senior officers and policy makers that tactical adaptation was all the existing vision of war required to lead them to victory in the future.
CHAPTER 5: THE END OF THE FCM IN AMERICAN WARFARE 1918-1941 The experiences of the AEF in Europe had a tremendous impact on the way the Army equipped, organized, and trained their units for war, and also the way they thought about war. Throughout the inter war period, the American experience in the Great War served to reinforce many of the pre-existing principles of American Warfare. Unlike many of the other armies that fought on the Western Front, the American Army came away vindicated in its ideas about the battlefield, the offensive, and infantry operations. While the regulations and theoretical writings of the 1920s and 1930s wrestled with new technologies and capabilities, they did so in a manner consistent with their intellectual framework, the framework of the FCM. This internal consistency led to simultaneous developments throughout the spectrum of Army Education. The undergraduate education at the United States Military Academy and in a rejuvenated Reserve Officer Training Corps program throughout the country educated a new generation of officers in the FCM. For more senior officers, the Command and General Service Schools and the Infantry School continued their education, and for those not able to attend the resident courses at Fort Leavenworth or Fort Benning, both institutions produced journals to carry education out to the Army. While these institutions continued to educate officers in the intellectual framework of war and the battlefield of the FCM, even the advocacy of the Chief of Infantry Branch Chief could not retain it in the face of events from the battlefields of Europe in 1940 and the rise of a new intellectual framework of the American way of warfare. SECTION 1: The U.S. Army Tactical Regulations 1918-1941 The AEF’s Provisional Infantry Drill Regulation 1919 By the end of the first American offenses in the Great War, it had become clear that American tactical regulations and training required a significant adjustment, and it was not until 1919 that the War Department authorized the writing, publishing, and distribution of a new drill regulation. Although the American Expeditionary Force published a series of training circulars and even general combat instructions throughout 1918, none of these attempts survived the American experiences in the Battles of St Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne. 1 The need was so great that the commanding general of the U. S. First Army, Lieutenant General Hunter Liggett,
Grotelueschen, The AEF Way of War, 53-55.
published his own pamphlets detailing combat operations. 2 To remedy this situation, the War Department authorized the Infantry Drill Regulations (Provisional) 1919, prepared at the Headquarters of the AEF in France, and adopted by the War Department to replace the Regulations of 1911 then in use. 3 Originating from the battlefield in Europe, this regulation had a fundamentally different organization and tone than the updated 1911 regulations. The Provisional 1919 combined the best and simplified elements of the drill regulations of 1911 and the combat sections of the 1914 Field Service Regulation. 1919 produced a simplified chapter containing all of the necessary elements of both close and extended order drill and the Schools of the Soldier through the Regiment. Added to this drill chapter was a chapter focused on combat operations from the squad through the brigade and included sections on supporting artillery and tanks. In the great American tradition of simplifying drill regulations, the drill chapter of the Provisional 1919 Regulations was a triumph of both standardization and simplicity. In a brief 92 pages, 1919 laid out the close and extended order drill for every infantry unit of a division. Beginning with the delineation that close order drill was for ceremonies and extended order drill for the battlefield, the new regulations used the platoon as the unit to model this new drill. 4 This platoon drill, like the manual of arms for the individual soldier or the squad formations, were exactly the same as the 1911 regulations. 5 The extended order was also no different from 1911 to 1919. 6 This simplified drill chapter prepared soldiers and officers to move and deploy their formations across Europe. The 1919 regulations also prepared soldiers and officers to conduct combat operations on the Western Front. In addition to the simplified drill regulations, chapters two and three focused on topics until now left to the Field Service Regulations. Chapter two described all of the new infantry weapons organic to the infantry squad including automatic rifles, machine guns, grenades, and mortars. However, when describing the rifle, the regulation declared, “The rifle is by far the most
Kenneth Finlayson, An Uncertain Trumpet: The Evolution of U. S. Army Infantry Doctrine, 1919-1941, (Westport: Greenwood Press, 2001), 41. 3 United States Army, Infantry Drill Regulations (Provisional) 1919, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1919), 3. 4 Ibid., 11. 5 The new system removed all of the differences between squad and platoon drill, while at the same time informing companies that they would only command their platoons to move through the various formations and movements as opposed to executing its own drill formations or movements. Ibid., 66. 6 The squad remained the principle unit of skirmishing, individual soldiers trained in the use of the rifle and cover to advance, and the deployment from column to line was identical. Ibid., 45-47.
formidable weapon of the infantry soldier.” 7 Calling all of the other weapons as auxiliary, the rifle and by extension the riflemen, still trained in the use of the bayonet, remained the main element of American fighting power. Following this chapter on weapons, the Provisional Drill Regulations included a brief chapter of general comments entitled Chapter Three: Combat, which was the same heading of the similar chapter in the 1914 FSR. 8 In general, these statements communicated the same intellectual framework for battle and war as the FSR, essentially unchanged even after over a year of combat on the Western Front. Following a general discussion of combat, the 1919 Regulations discussed offensive operations. Although this new infantry drill regulation devoted a small chapter on the general framework for infantry combat, it devoted the longest chapter of the work entitled Chapter Four: Offensive Combat. Although, like the chapter on general combat, there was not much new material in Offensive Combat, it did begin rather differently. Unlike the FSR, there was no chapter or even section on defensive combat. As a rationale, the regulation stated, “an infantry that knows how to attack will know how to defend, because it is easier to defend than to attack.” 9 The rest of the chapter resembled both the FSR and the instructions published by the AEF throughout 1918. 10 The criticism of both the War Department and AEF instructional documents was its lack of description of the open warfare that Pershing wanted to see on the battlefield. The Provisional Regulations addressed this issue by including sections on open or movement warfare, and also a fairly detailed section on positional or trench warfare. 11 These innovations from the battlefield remained consistent with an evolution of tactics informed by the FCM. This regulation seemed to address many of the complaints of the Drill Regulations of 1911 and the 1914 FSR and for the first time in American history, both the drill and the
Ibid., 86. Much of this chapter was not new at all, but a repetition of the FSR. Chapter Three informed soldiers and officers that commanders were the ones that coordinated the separate arms into a single team, that all infantry must function in all conditions and equipment, that high morale was still integral in mastering the enemies fire and executing the final assault with the bayonet, and that they should never attempt to create fixed forms for tactics or movements. Ibid., 93. 9 Ibid., 96. 10 The 1919 Regulations described the battlefield using a firing line reinforced when needed by at least the support element and the reserve, with forward movement by rushes and infiltration culminating in either an assault or the construction of hasty field entrenchments to hold the ground gained and allow follow on forces to continue the attack. Ibid., 98-108. 11 For trench warfare, the regulation adapted the framework for open warfare onto the realities of the German defense in depth supported by artillery and machine gun fire. In response to this, American forces deployed in depth in a series of lines or waves consisting of deployed squads and platoons supported by integrated artillery fire and tanks, both supporting auxiliary arms, culminating in the final assault. Ibid., 110-14, 158.
intellectual framework for combat resided in a single manual designed for distribution to the platoon and squad level. This was the lesson learned by the general staff in France, to provide a more coherent doctrine for their formations that included not new techniques or movements, but a clear statement of American tactics as they existed in 1918. Prewar Continuity and Little Change: 1921-1939 With the Great War over and demobilization underway, the U.S. Army settled down to the business of regulating a professional army. The AEF headquarters redeployed from France and reintegrated into the existing general staff sections, and units returned to their bases and forts to resume their peacetime duties. With this demobilization of the AEF, the Army also demobilized the Provisional Regulations of 1919 in a manner of speaking. Following the National Defense Act of 1920, which reorganized several important parts of the United States Military, the Army produced a new Infantry Drill Regulation in 1921. This regulation, and the regulations that succeeded it through 1939, returned to the tradition of 1911 and included only the close and extended drill movements in addition to the manual of arms and individual instructions for the soldier. The Infantry Drill Regulations from 1920 through 1939 seemed more like a series of updates to the 1911 framework, then any attempt to redesign the system of tactics or to build upon the 1919 provisional system. Using the exact same drill movements and commands, the Regulations throughout the 1920s included new sections covering the manual of arms for the Automatic Rifle, the close order and extended drill for the squad through the company level, and even a section devoted to the proper wear and packing of individual infantry equipment. 12 While both the close order and extended order drill closely resembled that of 1911, the instructions included throughout the regulation reflected the same principles of all of the regulations and instructions produced in the Great War. 13 These regulations captured the state of military training and equipment as they appeared in the AEF at the end of the World War Two. However, mechanization affected the American Army during the inter war years. It was not until the 1930s that the impacts of mechanization appeared in the tactical regulations of the United States Army.
The United States Infantry Association, Infantry Drill Manual, (Annapolis: National Service Publishing Company, 1928). 13 The Regulations instructed soldiers that all members of squads were trained as scouts, that as skirmishers the use of terrain and cover was imperative, and that in the extended order there was still a firing line, a supporting element and a reserve. Ibid., 99-102.
Beginning with tentative regulations for field-testing in 1932, the Army integrated its mechanization into their system of tactics for infantry combat by 1939. Approved for testing by the Chief of Staff of the Army Douglas MacArthur, the Tentative Infantry Drill Regulations of 1932 introduced a series of new formations into the infantry organization. 14 For the rifle formations, squad through company, there was no change in the close order drill and little change in the extended order. 15 In addition to this squad wedge, both the platoon and the company would also deploy using a triangular formation of one unit up and two units back forming a triangle. 16 However, these formations were provided for the use of the commander with no real explanation of how these would change the battlefield. In addition to the new infantry formations, 1932 tested out a number of other new formations such as the machine gun company, and the howitzer company, both of which were integral parts of the new infantry regimental organization. Almost an entire year of testing and the economic restraints placed on the Army by the economic crises facing America during the 1930s led the Army to a brand new set of drill regulations in a new format. Following the fall of Poland and an extremely tense international situation, the United States Army produced a new drill regulation, a new system of tactics that integrated all of the technological advancements made to date into the infantry formation. Prepared under the direction of the Chief of Infantry, and not the general staff, Chief of Staff of the Army, General George C. Marshall approved the new Basic Field Manual, FM 22-5: Infantry Drill Regulations in July of 1939. 17 The 1939 Regulation was a refinement of the 1932 document. Instead of several different formations with several different kinds of drill, 1939 moved in the direction of so many American regulations and simplified the system again for an ever-increasing number of vehicles and different pieces of equipment. 18 There was a manual of arms for all of the personal weapons of the infantry to include the automatic rifle and the pistol. 19 But just like the 1932
United States Army, Tentative Infantry Drill Regulation 1932 (For Service Test Only), (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1932), ii. 15 The only substantive change was that in addition to lines and columns, the infantry squad now had a wedge formation. Ibid., 60. 16 Ibid., 60-61. 17 United States Army, Basic Field Manual, FM 22-5: Infantry Drill Regulations, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1939). 18 There was now a drill for foot troops, for units with animal transportation, and for units with motorized and wagon units. Ibid., iii. 19 For the rifle formations, very little changed from the 1932 Regulations. The infantry squad retained the wedge formation in addition to the line and the column. The platoon picked up several new variations on the triangular
Tentative Regulations, the 1939 version contained no descriptions as to the usage of these new formations on the battlefield. FM 22-5 was concerned only with providing commanders a series of tools in order to move and deploy their formations. Infantry Field Manual 7-8: A New System of Tactics In 1940, the United States Army created something entirely new for the instruction, training, and combat performance of its infantry. Unlike the 1919 Provisional Regulations, the new manual did not attempt to combine the purposes of drill regulation and FSR into a single product. In fact, the FM 22-5 produced in 1941 was essentially the same manual its 1939 predecessor as far as the details and commands of close and extended order drill manual. 20 What the Army created was the Infantry Field Manual FM 7-8: The Organization and Training of Infantry- The Rifle Battalion in October 1940. This manual took the principles of the 1939 FSR and applied them to the battalion organization and below in a way that went beyond the framework of the FCM. For the first time ever, the Army had a manual that gave very specific guidance on the employment of its system of tactics. By providing specific tactical guidance on the training, organization and employment of troops in combat, FM 7-8 heralded a new era of American thinking about war. In many ways, the new field manual communicated the same things that both the tactical regulations and FSRs had throughout the inter war period. FM 7-8 began with an emphasis on the fighting man, a commitment to the decisive nature of offensive operations, and the belief that the principle mission of the infantry gave purpose to the rest of the combatant arms. 21 Some of these beliefs about warfare like the focus on the offensive were very old, while the dependent nature of the supporting arms was a product of mechanization and World War I. Even the basic organization of the infantry battalion changed very little between 1939 and 1940. It consisted of three rifle companies and a weapons company, with a variety of rifles, automatic rifles, machine guns, and mortars. 22 Although updated for the new weapons systems available to the infantry battalion in 1940, they continued to play a remarkably old part on the battlefield. It was in
formation referenced in 1932. Platoons in 1939 could now deploy into column of threes, column of twos, platoon column, line of squads, one squad forward and two squads back, or two squads forward and one squad back. Ibid., 163. 20 United States Army, Basic Field Manual FM 22-5: Infantry Drill Regulations. Prepared under direction of the Chief of Infantry, (New York: Military Book Company, 1939). 21 United States Army, Infantry Field Manual FM 7-8: Organization and Tactics of Infantry - The Rifle Battalion, (Wahsington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1940), 1, 19-20. 22 Ibid., 313-22.
combining and coordinating the combatant arms that was one of the more revolutionary moments of the 1940 FM. Since before the First World War, American regulations gave primacy to the infantry, but also preached a combined effort. FM 7-8 was no different with an emphasis on coordination of the combatant arms, but this regulation made combined arms a reality and that reality changed the sequence of the attack in the American way of warfare. There was a difference in the language used in the statement concerning the primacy of the infantry mission. To accomplish the missions of closing with and destroying the enemy, while infantry formations normally occupied the central role, FM 7-8 introduced infantry supporting a mass tank attack and a large section detailing the coordination between foot infantry and tanks on the battlefield. 23 This integration of the combatant arms produced a combined arms combat different than the way rifle platoons advancing under the cover of machine gun fire and tanks in the regulations prior to 1939. In FM 7-8, when the advance slowed, infantry commanders were now advised to “improve the teamwork between rifle units and supporting weapons, obtain additional fire support, or engage reserves.” 24 This focus on integration was new in 1941 and brought the combined arms operations referenced first in the 1939 FSR and made them a reality. This emphasis of combining operations was not only at the battalion level, but filtered down to the infantry squad and platoon. This change at the infantry squad and platoon level was one of the more revolutionary moments of FM 7-8. Since 1821, the U.S. Army was a predominantly infantry army composed of a standard and not specialized infantry that could execute all of the same tasks. FM 7-8 heralded a change to this universality and introduced specialization into the infantry organization. In the section devoted to the individual soldier, there were fifteen pages of individual tasks that all soldiers regardless of position or specialization had to receive training on. 25 However, none of these skills were really the skills of the rifleman. The infantry now required its soldiers to acquire specialized training in one of four main categories; overhead or staff personnel, weapons crews, rifle platoons and squads, and intelligence platoons. 26 Only the riflemen trained in outpost duty, patrolling, and the infantry attack. The weapons crews trained specifically on their tasks in the attack and defense, and the
Ibid., 43-46. Ibid., 48. 25 These basic skills include map reading, cover and concealment, construction of obstacles, entrenching, range estimation, sentinel and messenger duty, and night duty to name a few. Ibid., 135-45. 26 Ibid., 150.
intelligence platoon focused more on scouting and reconnaissance. While the rifle company integrated the weapons crews into the platoons for operations, every rifle platoon itself had three rifle squads and an automatic rifle squad to provide automatic fire to the Platoon Leader to support his own operations. 27 This specialization of the infantry in both weapons system and organization represented a significant departure from the tradition of a standard, flexible infantry and was revolutionary. FM 7-8 went onto contribute another revolutionary moment to the American intellectual framework of warfare by describing exactly how to employ these new formations and specialties on the battlefield. While American Drill regulations provided commanders with a set of formations and movements for them to combine on the battlefield, American general regulations provided only an intentionally general set of principles for their use on the battlefield. FM 7-8 provided commanders with some very descriptive applications on the battlefield. While FM 22-5 provided the new system of extended order with the squad wedge and the triangular platoon formations, it was FM 7-8 that provided the guidance on how to use them together with the supporting weapons in an integrated or combined manner. 28 Instead of wire diagrams unassociated with a map or an enemy, FM 7-8 introduced battlefield diagrams that showed platoon and squad dispositions against an imaginary enemy on a map with terrain. 29 While the descriptions of these combat sequences stressed the importance of initiative on the part of the commanders in applying these principles to a variety of situations, this was the first time that American regulations were so specific in communicating its intellectual framework for battle and combat. SECTION 2: The Field Service Regulations 1918-1941 Learning from WWI: The 1923 FSR Although the AEF produced a number of documents, the Combat Instructions and Provisional Regulations were the most influential of these, the Field Service Regulations that Pershing modeled his orders and operations was an updated version of the 1914 FSR. While this document was good enough when supported by the provisional documents of the AEF, following the end of the war it was no longer a good enough document to keep updating. Especially
Ibid., 178-79. The detailed sections on the plan and execution of the attack described the benefits of both the platoons operating in lines of squads and a variety of triangular formations with either one squad forward and two squads back or vice versa in the attack against an enemy in a defense in depth. Ibid., 180-86. 29 Figures sixteen through 18 were full-page topographic maps with detailed dispositions of rifle platoons and machineguns in the assault. Ibid., 268-69.
following the National Defense Act of 1920 and the updating of the tactical regulations, the FSR needed a new version, one that incorporated not only the experiences of the Great War, but also captured the changes in technology both during and after the war. The acting Chief of Staff of the Army Major General John Leonard Hines directed the creation of a new version in 1923. 30 This version, revised by the General Staff and approved by the Secretary of War modernized American thinking about war in a number of different ways through the integration of new technologies and new language to describe the American battlefield. In many ways, the 1923 FSR updated the 1914 FSR to include the emerging technologies of the Great War into the existing American tradition. With the exception of a new section devoted to the combatant arms, the 1923 FSR utilized the same organization and major chapter headings as in 1914. 31 The new FSR did not include the tables of organization for regular Army units like its predecessor but it discussed many of the same topics like reconnaissance, security, and administration. The new regulations incorporated technology throughout the 1914 sections and chapters. Discussions of the tank arose in the combat chapter, much like the inclusion of the radio and telephone into the communications section. 32 Including technology in this fashion did more to advance the theories, principles and assumptions of the 1914 FSR than it did to create a new framework. Discussions of the tank and new artillery techniques served to incorporate these technologies, but did little to change the basic principles. The way to victory remained the concentration of combat power at the decisive point, that the destruction of the enemy army through offensive action was the only way to gain decisive results and that reserves remained the commander’s weapons. 33 The basic tenants of the 1914 FSR remained essentially unchanged by both the Great War and the advances in technology. However, along with the introduction of new technologies in the 1923 FSR, there was a new vocabulary that demonstrated a change from the previous system. From almost the first page of the 1923 FSR, there was a new language used to describe operations on the battlefield, and this new language was the language of combined arms operations. While the idea of combining the operations of the different combatant arms to ensure the success of the infantry was not new to American warfare, the language of combined arms
United States Army, Field Service Regulations United States Army 1923, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1923), iii. 31 Ibid., v-vii 32 Ibid., 28. 33 Ibid., 77-80.
operations that began in 1923 was significantly different. The new regulations begin with the statement that the FSR was the foundation for the training of the combined arms for war, and that only the combination of all of the arms produced victory on the modern battlefield. 34 The subtle change from support of the infantry itself to the infantry mission was important in that it prized the close integration of different systems to achieve victory and not the support of the operations of just one arm. This new language appeared throughout the FSR and seemed to herald a change from the American tradition and the French Combat Method, but by 1923 although the language was new the principles and thought that made up the rest of the FSR was not. This language of combined arms warfare failed to change the way the FSR, and by extension the American Army, conceived of the integration on the battlefield. While the introduction preached the language of the importance of the infantry mission over the infantry itself, the discussions of the combatant arms and the combat chapter continued the tradition of explaining all other arms as supporting infantry systems. The tank appeared in 1923 as an arm that combined both shock and firepower and that “its essential mission is to assist the progression of the infantry.” 35 Instead of focusing on the tank as an element of the infantry mission, whether providing fire superiority or assaulting the enemy position, the tank was relegated to infantry support. When integrated into the discussion about the combined arms on the battlefield this idea of infantry support became more pronounced. When assembling for offensive operations, the commander attached auxiliary arms to the infantry units to insure their success, to include both tanks and artillery. 36 While the arms changed and the language ushered in a new era of combined operations, there was very little real change in the 1923 FSR. It was more of an update of the 1914 document and provided the Army a basic framework for the exercises and unit testing of the 1930’s. The Manual for Commanders of Large Units While it would be sixteen years until the Army had a new FSR, the Chief of Staff of the Army directed the publication of a provisional manual for commanders that integrated new technology, equipment, and capabilities into the existing framework. This became the Manual for Commanders of Large Units (Provisional) or MCLU published in 1930. Unlike the FSR, the
This new focus on integration led directly to a more important change away from the support of infantry operations to support of the overall mission. It was the mission of the infantry that became the “coordinating principle which underlies the employment of the combined arms” on the battlefield. Ibid., iii, 11. 35 Ibid., 13. 36 Ibid., 82.
MCLU focused on the command, staff, and combat functions of an army, corps, and division with additional sections on cavalry and special operations. 37 Instead of having general sections on offensive and defensive warfare, the MCLU included descriptions of them as they applied to an army, corps, and division. This produced a more focused and specific document than the FSR, one that integrated tanks, artillery, airplanes and cavalry into the existing doctrine. 38 This manual gave commanders much more detailed explanations of how the 1923 FSR functioned on the battlefield and in important ways modernized American doctrine throughout the 1930s. While the MCLU updated the 1923 FSR to include the new capabilities of organizations and equipment, it did very little to change the basic principles of American warfare. Embedded into the offensive and defensive sections for armies, corps, and divisions were the same fundamental principles from the FSR. Commanders learned that the offensive and counteroffensive produced decisive results, that tanks were supporting weapons allocated by the corps commander, that attacks occurred in several lines and included both frontal and enveloping attacks, and that the infantry still formed the assault element. 39 These were the same basic principles outlined in the FSR, and although the MCLU privileged some types of attacks differently than the FSR, it remained within the same framework. Updated only once in 1936 when the Army published a new edition, the only substantive additions in the entire decade concerned the functioning of the mechanized cavalry brigade on the battlefield. 40 Although modernized in small ways, the Army’s intellectual framework remained the same throughout the inter war period, until after field-testing produced a new infantry regimental organization in 1936. This new organization prompted the creation of a new FSR. An FCM Driven Synthesis: The Tentative 1939 FSR As the Army fought the Great Depression and it’s corresponding reductions in both resources and training time it attempted to innovate in a number of different spheres. Technologically, the Army began to develop a motorized capability for both troops and logistics on the battlefield. The Tank Corps developed both light and medium tanks testing a variety of chassis and weapons systems. The Infantry Branch conducted yearly tests on new infantry organizations and by the middle of the decade decided on a new infantry regiment that had fewer
United States Army, Manual for Commanders of Large Units, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1930), iv. 38 Ibid., 30-33. 39 Ibid., 16-22. 40 1936 Change document insert found in Ibid., 16.
riflemen but more firepower with the general issuance of the self-loading M1 Garand rifle. 41 With these changes in technology and organization, the Chief of Staff of the Army directed the General Staff, in particular G-3 Training Branch, to review the 1923 FSR and to produce a tentative replacement for it. Beginning in 1937, it took almost two full years to produce a completed draft in April of 1939. 42 The G-3 circulated this draft for comment to the Command and General Service Schools, and following several months of revisions, the Chief of Staff of the Army General George C. Marshall, approved distribution of the tentative FSR of 1939 that officially replaced the 1923 version. The 1939 FSR reflected more than a decade of change and attempted to institutionalize these innovations throughout the army. The finished product was perhaps the most modern adaptation of the French Combat Method ever produced. The experience of the Great War demonstrated the effectiveness of subdividing commands for specific battlefield missions, and the 1939 FSR recommended the practice with caution. 43 This trend continued in the new section called “Combined Arms in the Attack.” This section began by encouraging commanders to coordinate the many weapons systems and combat arms together on the battlefield. But when they discussed tank operations, the FSR cautioned commanders against tying tank units directly to foot troops due to the potential loss of mobility. 44 On the battlefield, commanders maintained these supporting weapons apart from their rifle formations and employed them as a mobile reserve of fire or shock action. The new FSR continued the tradition from 1923 of victory being a team effort by all of the combatant arms stating, “no one arm wins battles.” 45 Like the 1923 edition, this language failed to signal real change in the intellectual framework of a predominantly infantry army. When the FSR stated the mission of the infantry, it still declared that the infantry was “essentially the arm of close combat” and that in order to achieve victory the commander
"The New Infantry Regiment," The Mailing List: A compilation of instructional matter prepared at the Infantry School and issued from time to time 11 (1936): 6-8. 42 For a description of the administrative process of the fielding of this FSR, reference Finlayson, An Uncertain Trumpet, 125-30. 43 However, it also described this process as temporary and designed more to clearly define command relationships more than integrating different formations. While not a call to create a standard infantry, with a standard organization by discouraging permanent task organization the FSR clearly supported maintaining unit integrity. United States Army, Tentative Field Service Regulations F.M. 100-5 Operations, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1939), 4. 44 Ibid., 141. 45 Ibid., 5.
attached the other arms to the infantry as the situation demanded. 46 The introduction of new formations in 1939, such as tank regiments and mechanized cavalry, continued to perform their traditional functions of cavalry and supporting heavy weapons. These changes modernized the existing doctrine and produced no significant change. The sections that covered combat operations also demonstrated no fundamental change in 1939. The offensive remained the only decisive form of combat, and the FSR continued to encourage the use of fire and movement, of holding and enveloping attacks as it had in 1914. 47 While the new FSR eliminated the use of linear formations or deployments, there remained a linear approach to the offensive. Commanders now used terrain lines to regulate the advance with a base unit controlling the formation. At the same time infantry formations deployed in depth followed by a supporting echelon of heavy weapons and a reserve. 48 This framework resembled the linear battlefield framework of the FCM, allowing subordinate commanders to choose their tactical formations while at the same time maintaining two distinct lines of units with a reserve. Taken as a whole the 1939 FSR retained all of the fundamental elements of the FCM adapted to modern weapons and organizations. Tanks, machine guns, aviation assets, and trucks all provided commanders with the modern ways in which to support the infantry attack conducted by an infantry that remained focused on the rifle and the bayonet. The End of the FCM: The 1941 FSR When the ink was dry on the 1939 FSR for only six months, events occurring in Europe caused a massive reorientation of American military thought and by 1941 the creation of an entirely new intellectual framework of war emerged. While the President authorized a small increase in the size of the army in 1939 when France mobilized for war, it was not until May of 1940 that the President allocated one billion dollars for the War Department that change became the order of the day. 49 Coinciding with the tales of German victories across France, by October 1940 the Army had a new system of tactics in place and a variety of new weapons, vehicles, and divisions. At the same time as the Army increased its size and budget, the general staff made careful studies of both the military operations abroad and the large unit maneuvers at home
Ibid., 6. Ibid., 27-28, 129. 48 Ibid. 49 George Catlett Marshall, Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff of the United States Army July 1 1939, to June 30, 1941 to the Secretary of War, ed. Center of Military History United States Army, (Washington, D. C. Center of Military History, 1941), 6.
reaching the conclusion that warfare would no longer be fought according to the rules of 1939. 50 With the additional funds, equipment and manpower authorized in 1940, the Army needed a new FSR to take into considerations the events and lessons of the war in France. Many of the concepts of the 1939 FSR carried over into the new 1941 document, providing a significant amount of continuity between the American framework dominated by the FCM and the new framework of 1941. Americans continued to believe in the efficacy of the offensive, in its culmination in a decisive battle, in the requirement of fire superiority for success and that victory still required a concentration of superior forces at the decisive place and time. 51 These hallmarks of American warfare became part of the new framework throughout the entirety Second World War. The minor tactics such as outposts, reconnaissance, security, and marches also remained essentially unchanged from the 1939 edition. 52 The importance of these operations continued to inform American officers on the battlefield and allowed them to accomplish their missions. The objectives of these missions also did not change from previous FSRs, however what did change was the army that carried out these missions and the way in which they accomplished them. With the exception of the emphasis on the offensive, the American intellectual framework changed dramatically from its FCM roots. While the FSRs since 1923 described success on the battlefield as a combined effort, the 1941 FSR made it a reality. Where before the infantry was the arm of close combat, it was now became an arm of close combat. 53 This removed the infantry from its prized position and made the infantry mission the mission of all of the combatant arms. When in 1939 tactical groupings were temporary, by 1941 divisions habitually task organized several Combat Teams in each division consisting of a regiment of infantry or armor, a battalion of artillery, and an element of the other essential arms. 54 The creation of integrated combat teams enabled commanders to truly break from the tradition of linear control of infantry on the battlefield. No longer would commanders utilize lines of units in the attack, now there was only the attacking echelon and the reserve. The command could now either order units from his reserve to meet new threats on the battlefield, or issue new combat
Ibid., 21. United States Army, Field Service Regulations FM 100-5 Operations, (Washington D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1941), 22-23, 97, 121. 52 Ibid., 40-89. 53 Ibid., 5. 54 Ibid., 3.
orders to change the direction of units already committed in the attack. 55 With new combined arms organizations, commanders gained a whole new level of flexibility and maneuverability on the battlefield. This new organization did not just exist inside the divisions, but also changed the divisions themselves. The new FSR contained sections defining the roles and organizations of motorized, armored, and cavalry divisions each with unique formations and capabilities. 56 Gone was the universal standard infantry of the past, where all infantry soldiers were capable of accomplishing all infantry tasks. Now armored and motorized formations added new specialized capabilities to the American Army, and with it new specialized training. Gone also was the influence of the French Combat Method in American warfare. SECTION 3: The Undergraduate Education of the U.S. Army West Point Curriculum 1918-1928 The end of WWI brought very little change to the undergraduate education of future officers at the United States Military Academy. Still under the leadership of the Professor of Civil and Military Engineering Gustav Fiebeger, the First Class course on military engineering and the military art remained essentially unchanged from its pre-war organization. Fiebeger continued to use his own volumes for cadet instruction that included his Elements of Strategy, and Army Organization. 57 Although 1918 was the last year of the annual Gettysburg staff ride for First Class Cadets, Fiebeger’s course remained heavily focused on the study of the military art through the use of military history. To facilitate this, he published The World War in 1921 to bring the availability of campaign studies for cadet instruction up to the present.58 Until his retirement in 1922, Colonel Fiebeger maintained his focus on the use of military history in the study of the military art. His replacement, LTC William Augustus Mitchell continued his predecessors program, asking the Academic Board to approve the acquisition of a new text that provided cadets with the current army organization and equipment. 59 This request remained
Ibid., 123-30. Ibid., 256-64. 57 The USMA Special Collections and Archives, The Official Register of the Officers and Cadets of the United States Military Academy, 1918-1922. 58 With an associated atlas, Fiegeber’s history of World War One is a short but adequate examination of the principles battles to facilitate historical analysis by cadets in the same way as earlier compilations of selected campaigns. Gustav Joseph Fiebeger, The World War: A Short Account of the Principle Land Operations on the Belgian, French, Russian, Italian, Greek, and Turkish Fronts, (West Point: United States Military Academy Press, 1921). 59 The USMA Special Collections and Archives, Proceedings of the Academic Board, 1922, 169.
consistent with Fiebeger’s program, however major changes in the curriculum at West Point made Mitchell’s request unnecessary. In 1923, for the first time in the Academy’s history, the education of cadets in the military art passed from the Department of Civil and Military Engineering to the Department of Tactics. By a resolution of the Academic Board, the Department of Tactics would design and run a new course specifically focused on the military art. This course would cover topics historically covered by the First Class Engineering course, and was authorized to take twelve lessons from that course in conjunction with other reallocations to provide cadets with another academic class in the first term. 60 This relegated the engineering course to topics of a purely engineering nature, and allowed the tactics instructors to educate cadets not only on the practical elements of their profession, but also on the theoretical. This new course broke abruptly with the focus on military history and instead used a new textbook for instruction in the military art. The Department of Tactics turned to the Command and General Staff School at Fort Leavenworth for direction, and utilized their newly published Command, Staff and Tactics for cadet instruction. For the second time in the Academy’s history, the instruction of cadets mirrored the instruction used by the Army’s postgraduate schools. In 1923, the same year that the War Department produced a new FSR, the Command and General Service Schools at Fort Leavenworth produced a single volume entitled Command, Staff, and Tactics. They produced this volume as a way to make the advances in army education available for the officers of the National Guard and the Reserves. 61 It followed the same general organization as the 1923 FSR, using most of the same chapter headings if in different orders. These included chapters on all of the combatant arms, marches, shelter, security and reconnaissance, as well as offensive and defensive combat. It taught that the infantry was the primary combat branch, which all other branches were auxiliary to it that offensive warfare was decisive, and that infantry attacks consisted of two waves in supporting distance with a reserve. 62 As if the 1923 FSR was not clear enough, this text presented the same material in an even more direct and succinct way. Thus the cadets that took the Military Art course offered by the Department of Tactics received a course of instruction on the fundamentals of the 1923 FSR.
The USMA Special Collections and Archives, Proceedings of the Academic Board, 1925, 49. Command and General Service Schools, Command, Staff, and Tactics, (Fort Leavenworth: Command and General Service School Press, 1923), title page. 62 Ibid., 31-35.
They learned how to think about the battlefield and conceptualize war in the same terms and the same way as the 1923 FSR, and the rest of the United States Army. While this new course continued the tradition adopted by Fiebeger in including the FSR in the First Class Military Engineering course, the Department of Tactics had none of the military history of the course it replaced. 1928-1941: The Rise of History and the Fall of the FCM After five years of theoretical instruction of cadets by the Department of Tactics, the Superintendent and the Academic Board eliminated the Military Art course and returned the subject to the Professor of Civil and Military Engineering. In the intervening years, Mitchell maintained the department’s historical collection by assigning historical engineering case studies as senior projects. 63 With the return of the lessons devoted to the military art, Mitchell returned the focus on military history. To respond to the perceived need for an increase in cadet instruction in the military art that led to the creation of a new course, an ever-increasing amount of the First Class course was devoted to the military art. By 1933, The Department of Natural and Experimental Philosophy became the Department of Mechanics that took over all topics that dealt with mechanical engineering. 64 This freed Mitchell to devote over half of the military engineering course to the study of the military art. To support his expanded curriculum, Mitchell requested that Dodge’s Napoleon, Ropes, Livermore, Wood and Edwards books on the civil war as course texts. For the first time in cadet education, their first class civil and military engineering course focused its study of the military art through a survey military history course. Mitchell’s survey military history course laid the groundwork for cadet education in the military art through the Twenty-First Century in concept and organization. By 1939, cadets took eighty-six lessons in military history, each of which was eighty minutes long. 65 With the Tactics Department teaching courses in minor tactics, the desire of the military history course was not to provide cadets with a “Leavenworth course, but as history demonstrates principles of higher tactics and strategy cadets would receive a basic foundation of the great commanders and campaigns of history.” 66 This was exactly what the course provided, beginning with five lessons
Unsigned memorandum on the Course in Civil and Military Engineering for the academic year 1927-28, National Archives, Group 404, Series 70, 5A, Box 1. 64 Crackel, West Point: A Bicentennial History, 203. 65 Professor of Military Art and Engineering to the Superintendent, 24 January, 1940, National Archives, Group 404, Series 70, 5A, Box 3. 66 Ibid.
on the great generals of antiquity, then covering the campaigns of Frederick the Great, Napoleon, the American Civil War, The Great War, and several lessons on recent conflicts like the SinoJapanese War. The required reading was intense and cadets read some of the best military history available. Added to the purely historical lessons were several devoted to military theorists such as Jomini, Clausewitz, and Schlieffen. Cadets read and discussed these theorists’ lives and writings and how they thought about war. However, what was missing from this course was the central text on strategy and operations that provided cadets in previous eras with an intellectual framework of war. As the focus of cadet instruction in the military art focused on military history, it traded a theoretical education with one based on case studies from history. The Civil and Military Engineering Department created their course so that cadets became familiar with the application of fundamental principles throughout history. However, in order to understand the application of fundamental principles, cadets had to learn those principles prior to the course. Thus the department created its own reading for lesson number one entitled “Notes on Combat Maneuvers.” In this twenty-three-page document, cadets learned the basics of marches and advances, types of offensive operations, envelopments, pursuits and defense action. 67 This initial lesson focused on definitions of basic principles allowed instructors to embed these principles throughout the course. Although the creation of a coherent framework of war threaded throughout the 86 lessons of history was incredible enough, what was even more incredible was the intellectual framework itself. The “Notes on Combat Maneuvers” took its definitions right out of the 1923 and 1939 FSRs. The way that cadets learned to identify holding and enveloping attacks, frontal attacks and penetrations, and the defense was exactly the same way that the army conceptualized these things. In this way, West Point provided cadets with a complete education in the FCM prior to 1940. Following the fundamental changes in the Army’s conceptual framework between May 1940 and May 1941, cadets continued to receive a robust military history course in their first class year. This course continued to include a wide survey of military history from Alexander to Frederick, Napoleon, Grant and Foch. Cadets also continued to receive an orientation of the principles of war through their reading of “Notes on Combat Maneuvers” which remained
Instructors notes for Lesson 2 entitled “Notes on Combat maneuvers,” National Archives, Group 404, Series 70, 5A, Box 2.
unchanged through 1941. However, by the academic year 1942-43, the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering produced a new edition of the “Notes on Combat Maneuvers.” 68 This new edition discussed many of the same fundamental concepts as the earlier version, except that in 1942 cadets learned about armored divisions, combined attacks, types of the offensive all with heavy references to the 1941 FSR. 69 Like the earlier Notes, the 1943 edition taught cadets from the 1941 FSR the intellectual framework of war that the army adopted. The graduates of 1943 entered the army prepared with the new American intellectual framework so that they were as educated and ready as any other part of the American officer corps. The Reserve Officers Training Corps 1920-1941 Although Congress established the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) during the Civil War, it was not until after the Great War that the program became an important part of the undergraduate education of the American officer corps. Just like the impetus for new tactical regulations, the National Defense Act of 1920 reinvigorated the ROTC program at universities and secondary schools across the country. Universities began to form ROTC detachments to formally provide them the training and education so that upon graduation they were qualified to become junior officers. 70 To provide this education, a panel of active duty and retired officers from across the army came together to produce The ROTC Manual. This manual outlined a four year program in the instruction of a variety of basic soldier and officers tasks and topics, to include theoretical discussions of the military art. Every year there was a new edition of the ROTC Manual, some of them contained new material, and some were the same as the year before. The series attempted to remain current with the instruction of both the Infantry School at Fort Benning, and the Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. These manuals provided the ROTC graduates with their undergraduate educations. Not surprisingly, the evolution of these manuals followed the changes in both the tactical regulations and FSRs during the interwar period. During the 1920s, the ROTC Manual reflected the institutionalization of the lessons learned from the First World War. ROTC students learned that all of the other auxiliary arms existed to allow the infantry to advance, that the offensive remained both the decisive and most powerful form of operations, and that all infantry attacks
Department of Military Art and Engineering, Notes on Combat Maneuvers (West Point: United States Military Academy press, 1943), 3-4. 69 Ibid., 7. 70 P.S. Bond and J. B. Sweet, ed., The R.O.T.C. Manual Infantry, (Baltimore: The National Service Publishing Co, 1929), vol. 1, 4.
required fire superiority for success. 71 Additionally, the manual went on to describe the standard infantry formation comprised of a line of scouts supported by another line of units 500 meters behind, and a reserve an additional 100 meters to the rear, and informed the student that these principles of infantry attack applied in all kinds of warfare on the modern battlefield. 72 The manuals of the 1920’s formed a combination of the Army’s tactical doctrine and the 1923 FSR. ROTC graduates learned the basics of combat and war in a predominantly infantry army organized and trained with the same doctrine that the AEF used in 1918. It was not until the 1930s that the manual showed signs of change. As the Army entered the 1930s with a desire to modernize its equipment, organization and doctrine, the ROTC attempted to remain as up to date with Army developments as possible. The biggest change to the ROTC curriculum during the 1930s was the modernization of organizations and equipment. Students continued to learn that the rifle and bayonet were the principle weapons of the infantry, and that they continued to deploy in three successive lines of different sized units in different formations. 73 This framework for the attack was not significantly different from that of the 1920s, however the organizations that executed the attack did change. In the 1930s, students learned that some infantry soldiers fought using tanks alongside rifle platoons, and that victory required a combination of all of the arms, however the infantry remained the basic combat arm and the only arm that could advance without support. 74 This change reflected the changes throughout the army that began to talk in terms of combined operations, but continued to describe an infantry dominant battlefield. Similarly, it was the 1940s that brought about fundamental changes in the ROTC program. By 1941, the ROTC Manual reflected the Army’s current doctrine and demonstrated a revolutionary change from the principles taught just two years earlier. In some ways, the 1941 manual continued the traditions of American combat with an emphasis on offensive operations as decisive and the use of both fixing and flanking elements. 75 These elements remained the same throughout both the Army’s tactical and general regulations. However, the ROTC program also began teaching new ideas and concepts to their students. There were to be no more lines, but
Ibid., vol. 2, 258, 287-88. Ibid., vol. 1, 102, vol. 2, 286. 73 P.S. Bond and J. B. Sweet, ed., The R.O.T.C. Manual Infantry, (Harrisburg: The Military Service Publishing Co., 1939), vol. 2, 152. 74 Ibid., vol. 1 140. 75 P.S. Bond and J. B. Sweet, ed., The R.O.T.C. Manual Infantry, (Harrisburg: The Military Service Publishing Co., 1941), vol. 3, 629.
only wedges and clusters of squads, platoons, and companies, and there was a proliferation of specialty platoons that now conducted independent operations such as the anti-tank and machine gun platoons. 76 In this new framework, the formations created throughout the later 1920s and 1930s supported each other not in a series of lines, but in an ever changing formations of subordinate units. The creation of different kinds of platoons also demonstrated the disappearance of the standard infantryman from the battlefield and the introduction of the specialized fighting soldier. Like the 1940 FM 7-5, the ROTC Manual instructed students that the infantry mission was the focus of combined arms operations, and that while tanks continued to support infantry movement, infantry movement also began to support tank attacks. 77 This significant removal of the rifleman from the central role on the battlefield represented one of the bigger changes throughout the interwar period. The ROTC program of 1941 captured the Army’s changing intellectual framework of war rapidly and accurately and formed the undergraduate military education for an ever-increasing part of the officer corps. SECTION 4: CGSS and the Chief of Infantry The Command and General Service Schools Coming out of the Great War with an excellent reputation earned by their graduates throughout Europe, the Command and General Service Schools (CGSS) at Fort Leavenworth became the Army’s premier graduate educational program. Following the war the Army War College became tied more directly to the General staff and devoted its time to strategic war planning, while the branch schools like the Artillery School and the newly created Infantry Schools focused on junior officer education and branch parochial issues, leaving the graduate education field to CGSS alone. In this capacity, CGSS served not only as a two-year academic program, but also as the printing press of the officer corps, providing graduate level texts to field units, national guard officers, and reserve officers. As the heart of Army education, CGSS had an immense impact on the American intellectual framework of war throughout the inter war years. Beginning in 1920, CGSS began a decade of publication that provided the Army with several key texts concerning the military art and American warfare. The first of these texts was the five volume series entitled Tactical Principles and Decisions that served as the central CGSS text in updated editions until the 1940s. These four volumes of text and a whole volume devoted
Ibid., vol. 3, 637, 726-35. Ibid., vol. 3, 640.
to maps provided the CGSS students with a basic course of instruction in American warfare. They covered all conceivable topics from minor tactics, to offensive and defensive operations, to combat orders, logistics, and the coordination of the different branches and weapons systems of the army. Students learned of the decisive nature of offensive operations, the necessity of both the assault and fire superiority. In diagramming the standard attacks in both open and stabilized warfare, CGSS described the attack in a very linear fashion, at one point even describing that all attacks are a function of either a column of firing lines, or as much fire power as possible deployed into the main firing line. 78 This linear approach to the battlefield remained consistent with the 1914 FSR as well as subsequent FSRs through 1939. Throughout the texts, CGSS expanded out into four volumes what the 1923 FSR did in only 185 pages, so that students received a thorough understanding of the concepts embedded in the new FSR. Although Tactical Problems and Decisions provided students with a course of study in both the theoretical and practical elements of the military art, the two year course for officers at Fort Leavenworth was predominantly application based. From the turn of the century, Fort Leavenworth perfected the American version of the applicatory method in both hypothetical tactical problems as well as historical analysis. 79 In the post War period, CGSS continued this tradition and integrated both textbooks, coursework, and lectures into a variety of exercises designed to educate officers in American warfare. In order to supply students with a full complement of map exercises and tactical problems, CGSS developed a compendium of these exercises entitled Problems. This massive single volume, and the very large box of maps that accompany each of the problems formed the main instruction and exercises of the students over their time at Fort Leavenworth. 80 The Problems changed with the changes in the military art during the interwar period. In the 1920’s, they reflected the doctrines and organization of the AEF with several lines of platoons and scouts out in from in the company attack as well as the integration of the reserves and supporting weapons. 81 By 1930, the Problems included tactical situations with attached tank platoons to the regiment attacks as they progressed forward in liens
Command and General Service School, Tactical Problems and Decisions, (Fort Leavenworth: Command and General Service School Press, 1920), 4-8. 79 Command and General Service School, Problems: The First Year Course, (Fort Leavenworth: Command and General Service School Press, 1931), MH 35. 80 Command and General Service School, Problems, (Fort Leavenworth: Command and General Service School Press, 1926). 81 Ibid., TT24, TE 3-1.
with a reserve and artillery. 82 By the middle of the decade, the tactical problems discussed the use of mechanical cavalry, tank battalions as a part of the GHQ, and improved artillery coordination in the attack. 83 This progression followed the same progression of American thought throughout the army in its tactical and general regulations as well as its undergraduate education. In addition to the education of officers assigned to Fort Leavenworth for the two year course, CGSS provided an outlet for professional education of the Army as a whole. The first foray as an educational outreach for the Army was the publication of Command, Staff, and Tactics in 1923. This text, discussed earlier as a part of the USMA curriculum, provided reserve and National Guard officers a way to continue their professional education in a manner consistent with the current FSR. This edition continued to circulate into the 1930s along with many of the other CGSS texts. While different editions updated the data used in the instruction of officers, the curriculum changed very little. By the end of the 1930s, students at CGSS continued to use updated versions of the same documents; the Problems, Manual for Commanders of Large Units, and Tactical Problems and Decisions. This mirrored the trend in the Army of updating the intellectual framework of the 1914 FSR with new technology as opposed to the creation of a new doctrine or conceptualization of war. CGSS educated its students in the FCM through the most current FSRs and military thought, and by 1923 created another outlet for the professional education of the Army as a whole. The Review of Military Literature, CGSS, and the Army Starting in the early 1920s, CGSS produced a quarterly journal throughout the inter war period designed to provide a resource for American officers for professional reading. Beginning as The Instructor’s Summary of Military Articles and then simply titled The Review of Military Literature or RML, this journal had a wide spread influence on the dissemination of professional ideas and information throughout the United States Army at large. The journal’s purpose was to present military professionals with a list of current articles and monographs published throughout the world as a way to keep current on the developments in the military art and science. 84 It accomplished this goal in the form of abstracts and book reviews of both domestic and foreign
Command and General Service School, Problems: The First Year Course, TT 25. Command and General Service School, Problems: The CGSS 2nd Year Course, (Fort Leavenworth: Command and General Service School Press, 1934), TT- 238. 84 Memorandum from LTC R. Townsend Heard to the Editor of Military Review (previously the RML) in the front cover, 3 February 1940, Military Review 20, no. 76 (1940).
literature. 85 The staff and faculty of CGSS translated all of the foreign articles and wrote all of the book reviews without calling for submissions from the rest of the Army. In its first decade, the journal was the primary medium for Fort Leavenworth to instruct the rest of the Army through choosing foreign articles and writing book reviews. The RML was an incredible resource for the current state of military literature from across the world. The staff of the journal read the latest editions of military periodicals from all of the major armies from predominantly Europe and produced abstracts of them and in many cases included large translated passages. Publication from France included journals from the Ecole Superieure de Guerre and the different branches of the French Army especially the Infantry. Articles appeared from several different journals of the British Army, the Belgium Army and the Russian Army. Interestingly enough, however, was the number of articles in the RML from the German Army, especially from the Militär-Wochenblatt. The book review section also included monographs on a variety of military topics from all of these countries and more. The selection of articles and books provided if not a complete picture of the state of military thought and thinking in other armies, it at least provided a wide selection of such thought. Through 1932, these articles and books provided writings that essentially followed our conceptualization of war and the battlefield. For example, in 1923 an article from a French journal stated that while attacks of the future would include both infantry and tanks “infantry is still the only arm, which can complete a victory and hold the ground won.” 86 Through the early 1930’s foreign articles allowed CGSS to not only expose American officers to military thought outside of the United States, but also allowed them to continue to educate officers in their own intellectual framework. Due to changes in the direction of foreign military literature, the journal had to change its methods to continue to accomplish those two very important missions. Beginning really in 1932, many of the armies of Europe began to discuss different ideas of war through their military literature focused on the integration of new technology on their armies as well as the legacies of the Great War on the battlefields of the future. The RML continued to provide a variety of articles from across Europe, but their subjects began to delve into concepts either not covered in the 1923 FSR, or divergent from them. The British, French
Command and General Service School, "Digest of Selected Articles," Instructor's Summary of Military Articles 2, no. 9 (1923):i. 86 Ecole Superieure de Guerre, “Translations from a Series of Conferences,” Instructor’s Summary of Military Articles 2, no. 9 (1923): 16-17.
and German journals became very interested in armored formations and the mechanization of infantry formations. The German Army in particular began investigating armored units as early as November 1932. 87 This focus on mechanization included a focus on the reports from foreign military maneuvers. Due to the restrictions on the German Army, they were very interested in other countries maneuvers, writing articles about the British maneuvers of 1933 and the French maneuvers of 1932, 1933, and 1935. 88 Thus American officers could read about the developments of armored and mechanized formations while the U.S. Army focused on integrating motor transport and tanks into the existing organization. In addition to the organization, articles covering modern mechanized and tank combat filled the German and French journals. The French expressed both their own views on the subject, and examined the Russian armored doctrine, while the Germans compared the French and British to their own. 89 Even though these ideas disagreed with the American conceptualization and the 1923 FSR, American officers had the opportunity to read about these developments in foreign countries. As the foreign literature diverged from American doctrine and thought, the RML created new sections of their journal to continue to educate American officers in American warfare. When foreign thought failed to provide a good way of educating American officers, CGSS included sections designed not only to showcase their instructors, but also to publish course material that students received at Fort Leavenworth. Beginning in 1933 there appeared a new section called “Original Military Studies.” CGSS staff and faculty wrote these studies that usually ranged from twenty-five to forty pages long and focused on some aspect of the military art. 90 These studies were generally of two types, either historical or theoretical analysis. Of the two, historical analysis made up the bulk of these studies throughout the inter war years. Focused primarily on the history of the World War, the original historical studies also covered a wide
MAJ A. Vollmer, "Modern Mobile Units," The Review of Military Literature 12, no. 48 (1933): 90; MAJ Fred During, "The Organization of New and Modern Divisions," The Review of Military Literature 15, no. 56 (1935): 66. 88 MAJ A. Vollmer, "A Mechanized Brigade Against an Infantry Division From British Maneuvers," The Review of Military Literature 13, no. 50 (1933): 14; CPT Fred During, "French Maneuvers Testing Motorization," The Review of Military Literature 13, no. 51 (1933): 20; MAJ A. Vollmer, "French Autumn Maneuvers," The Review of Military Literature 14, no. 52 (1934): 51; MAJ Fred During, "The French Maneuvers of 1935," The Review of Military Literature 16, no. 61 (1935): 61. 89 MAJ Willoughby, "Russian Ideas on the Use of Modern Tanks," The Review of Military Literature 12, no. 48 (1933): 97-98; MAJ Willoughby, "Reflections on the Combat of Modern Tanks," The Review of Military Literature 14, no. 53 (1934): 30; CPT Fred During, "Infantry in the Attack: French and English Views," The Review of Military Literature 14, no. 54 (1934): 50; MAJ Fred During, "The Combat of Tank Versus Tank," The Review of Military Literature 16, no. 60 (1936): 35. 90 C.G.S.S. Command and General Service School, "Original Military Studies: Contributions by Graduates of CGSS," The Review of Military Literature 13, no. 51 (1933):78.
range of other topics and time periods. 91 In addition to the historical analysis, there were also theoretical articles that covered topics from the science of war to future Field Service Regulations. 92 Both the historical and the theoretical studies investigated the implications of our intellectual framework on war as seen through the Great War or the battlefields of the future. None of them really challenged the basic principles of American warfare or the way in which American officers conceptualized the battlefield, and neither did the CGSS academic memorandum that began to appear in the same issue of the RML as the original military studies. In addition to the original military studies by CGSS staff and faculty, RML began to include a section of training and academic memorandum issued during the Fort Leavenworth courses. This section called “Academic Notes” was written in the same style as the Tactical Principles and Decisions and provided the most updated course material taught to officers at the Command and General Service Schools. These academic notes dealt with topics from minor tactics to operations, all of which reflected the major topics of the 1923 FSR and the Manual for Commanders of Large Units. 93 These academic notes updated the instruction at Fort Leavenworth, but again provided no fundamentally new ideas or theoretical material for American officers. However, this would change in 1940 with a new format for the journal and a new focus. In the first quarter of 1940, the RML became Military Review and ushered in a fundamentally new format and a new intellectual conceptualization of war and the battlefield. Military Review had many of the same sections and components as the RML, including abstracts of foreign articles, book reviews, and original studies from CGSS. Starting in 1940, the journal began focusing more space for the original studies and the new face of Academic Notes, which became articles that provided the most current doctrine available. These new articles introduced the most current developments in armored, motorized, and airborne units, integrated close air support, and the creation of a separate armor branch to name only a few. Just as the ISMA and
MAJ E. S. Johnston, "The Evolution of Infantry Tactics 1914-1918," The Review of Military Literature 14, no. 55 (1934): 5; MAJ M. S. Eddy, "A Critical Analysis of the Operations of the German Forces Opposed to the American 1st Division from 1-11 October 1918," The Review of Military Literature 15, no. 58 (1935): 5; CPT J. T. Watson, "A Critical Analysis of Night Attacks by British Troops in the World War," The Review of Military Literature 14, no. 54 (1934): 5. 92 MAJ E. S. Johnston, "A Science of War," The Review of Military Literature 13, no. 53 (1934): 89; MAJ E. S. Johnston, "Field Service Regulations of the Future," The Review of Military Literature 15, no. 58 (1936): 5. 93 C.G.S.S. Command and General Service School, "The Mechanized Cavalry Brigade," The Review of Military Literature 14, no. 54 (1934): 139; C.G.S.S. Command and General Service School, "The Tactical Forms of the Attack," The Review of Military Literature 14, no. 55 (1934): 161.
RML allowed CGSS to educate the army abroad in American warfare, Military Review changed with the new framework driving American doctrine from 1940-41 and rapidly adjusted its format and focus to continue to provide officers with the most current American thought and doctrine available. Fort Leavenworth changed their curriculum as rapidly as the format of their journal, all of which reflected an intellectual framework that bore little resemblance to either the 1939 FSR or the French Combat Method. The Infantry School and the Mailing List If the Command and General Service Schools took charge of the Army’s graduate education both resident and by correspondence, then the Infantry School took over the postgraduate education of infantry officers and development of all things infantry. Through the Great War, both the infantry and cavalry branch schools were collocated at Fort Leavenworth alongside the other upper level courses. Following the war as CGSS began to focus on different levels of Army education, the Infantry School moved to Fort Benning and the Chief of Infantry became the infantry’s branch proponent to the general staff and the Chief of Staff of the Army. 94 The Infantry School ran a wide variety of courses for infantry soldiers and officers in minor tactics. Even more important than these courses was the periodical published by the school called The Mailing List.” The Infantry School designed it to publish the latest developments in infantry tactics throughout the army and they stated on the cover page that it was “a compilation of instructional matter prepared at the Infantry School and issued from time to time containing the latest thought on infantry.” 95 This was exactly what the periodical did publishing a variety of articles covering different topics each issue from new tables of organization to training tips to small tactical problems and their use to train the infantry squad. The Mailing List became a compendium of infantry thought in the United States Army. As the latest on infantry thought, The Mailing List was extremely conservative. Through 1935, the periodical kept track of the many infantry organizational and equipment tests directed by the Chief of Infantry, as well as articles that detailed the deployment of infantry formations. In 1936, the Mailing List ran a series of detailed articles about the new infantry regimental organization. This organization returned to a more pure rifle organization removing many of the integrated supporting weapons to the regimental and divisional level and kept the rifle battalions
Infantry School Study, "The History of the Infantry School," The Mailing List 21 (1941): 277. The Title page of The Mailing List 11 (1936): i.
purely rifle formations. As a rationale, the Infantry School cited the Chief of Staff of the Army from a report in 1935 that stated, “the rifle battalion must abandon the attempt to include within themselves every type of tactical power of which they may occasionally need.” 96 This was a call for a return to the universally trained and organized infantry of the Nineteenth Century, and definitely to the FCM. There was even a revealing article that defined and defended the use of lines in both conception and combat operations as merely loose lines of extended formations. 97 The following volumes through the year 1941 contained articles that applied the tenants of the FSR, both 1923 and 1939 to the small infantry unit level.98 The Mailing List continued to defend the framework of the FSR and the basic principles of the French Combat Method even after the German victories in 1940. It was not until the summer of 1941 following the retirement of the Chief of Infantry, Major General George Lynch, that The Mailing List and the Infantry School produced articles and published information in the new framework. The Chief of Infantry and the End of the FCM Major General George Lynch served as the Chief of Infantry from 1937 through 1941, and as such was the last great defender of the French Combat Method in the American way of warfare. Lynch was extremely vocal in the defense of what he believed to be the basic principles of war. These principles were the embodiment of the FCM in American warfare, and they appeared throughout General Lynch’s speeches and articles in the period just before the FCM left American warfare. He believed that the infantry had the main mission in combat, that decisive results could only be achieved through offensive action, that the infantry tank’s primary mission was to open the way for infantry and that the current tanks that focused on leading and accompanying tank missions could do neither well. 99 He argued against task organizing units for specific tactical missions because it broke down unit cohesion, that with the introduction of the M-1 rifle that all riflemen should be armed with them and not with the automatic rifle, and that riflemen attack in several echelons and a reserve supported by auxiliary weapons. 100 When taken as a whole, General Lynch described the French Combat Method modernized for new equipment
Infantry School Study, "The New Infantry Regiment," The Mailing List 11 (1936): 1. Infantry School Study, "Lines and Formations," The Mailing List 11 (1936): 171. 98 Infantry School Study, "Small Infantry Problems," The Mailing List 18 (1939): 277; Infantry School Study, "The Infantry Battalion in the Attack," The Mailing List 22 (1941): 81. 99 George Lynch, "infantry," The Infantry Journal 47, no. 1 (1940): 67-70; George Lynch, "Infantry tanks," The Infantry Journal 45, no. 1 (1938): 5. 100 George Lynch, "The Tactics of the New Infantry Regiment," The Infantry Journal 46, no. 2 (1939): 98-105.
and capabilities. He spent his entire time as the Chief of Infantry preaching its merits and fighting for its retention. However, General Lynch fought so fiercely for the FCM because he knew the growing strength of its detractors. From the middle of 1938 through the end of 1940, he waged a campaign against rising currents throughout the Army and the War Department, and his battleground was The Infantry Journal. The Infantry Journal was published by the Infantry Association and provided a place for active duty and retired officers to publish their opinions, experiences, and observations. While it usually had a recurring section entitled “Notes From the Chief” which published promotion data and other news, General Lynch began to publish articles defending his intellectual framework of warfare. He was aware of the opposition and wrote “the recent discussion on the subject of organization have brought out the fact that really all fundamental differences on this question can be traced to two conflicting conceptions, one which would base all organization on material and the other on tactical mission. The one would build up units of assorted specialists, the other would insist on common tactical training for those having a common mission and hold specialization within the unit to a minimum… 101
By acknowledging his opposition, Lynch showed himself to understand the precarious position of his beliefs. He continued to fight for a common infantry armed with the rifle and bayonet, supported by auxiliary arms, one that attacked in a controlled, linear fashion, and one with flexible tactics. His fight for the FCM in American warfare lasted until his retirement on 1 May 1941, a mere three weeks before the publication of the 1941 FSR with its fundamentally new intellectual framework. Both defender and framework were swiftly discarded in light of the adoption of a new American way of warfare. Conclusion For the inter war period, no single experience weighed more heavily on military development than World War I. The tactical and general regulations created and suggested by Pershing’s staff and Headquarters served as the model for almost the entire twenty years between the First and Second World Wars. Lessons learned on the battlefield concerning infantryartillery-tank coordination were deeply embedded in our regulations. While at the same time,
George Lynch, "Recent Discussion," The Infantry Journal 45, no. 4 (1938): 296.
unlike our allies, the American experience in Europe confirmed our notions of offensive, open warfare. The Infantry Drill Regulations of 1921 and the 1923 FSR conformed to the doctrines of 1914 with very minor changes acting to update those notions to modern equipment. Following this movement for new Army regulations in the early 1920s, there came an almost unique period in Army thought and education. All of the Army’s educational institutions, undergraduate, branch specific post-graduate, and graduate education taught the intellectual framework of the 1923 FSR. The theoretical work carried out by the Command and General Service Schools merely applied the ideas and concepts from the 1923 FSR to problems at the Army, Corps, and Divisional level. The Infantry School followed the same process to the same end by adapting the FSR to the tactics of the infantry regiment and below, finding new and better ways to employ new technology and organizations into the old framework. The journals coming out of these official institutions carried this consensus throughout the rest of the Army stationed at home and overseas. While the U.S. Army continued to think and change according to the framework of the FSR, there were elements both domestically and abroad that were interested in fundamentally changing the framework to a more modern system. Armies across Europe began to deviate from their World War One heritages at the beginning of the 1930’s, and conducted tests and maneuvers to figure out the mechanization process. Many of them wrote prolifically about the potentials of armored warfare and task organization. The Army did an impressive job of staying on top of these developments through both the RML and Military Review. Even The Infantry Journal published translated articles by Heinz Guderian himself in the 1930s. With all of these new ideas circulating, the Tentative 1939 FSR followed in the traditional American way of warfare, heavily influenced by the French Combat Method. It was not until the German victories swept across Europe that began the twelve-month transition to a new intellectual framework, a new way of warfare. By the summer of 1941, the Army transformed the way it thought about warfare, and the way it organized itself to fight. The tactical regulations were proscriptive and detailed diagramming the basic fundamentals of warfare for the squad through the battalion. The 1941 FSR ushered in a new non-linear way of looking at the battlefield, with task organized units conducting a form of combined operations that looked entirely new. Specialization was the watchword of the U.S. Army as new kinds of divisions required new kinds of soldiers and
training, no longer could all infantry soldiers execute all of the tasks required for victory on the battlefield. Even more surprising than the change in American warfare, was the rapidity that its educational institutions changed to begin teaching it. The undergraduate programs at ROTC’s across the country and USMA on the Hudson changed their curriculums in accordance with the changes in the FSR. The Army periodicals and journals aggressively published articles educating their readers with the new organizations and methods of operating on the battlefield. Fort Leavenworth and Fort Benning rapidly changed their resident courses to reflect the 1941 FSR and the new FM 7-8. As rapidly as Winfield Scott ushered in the French Combat Method across the Army in 1815, Major General Lynch saw its replacement in 1941.
CONCLUSION When taken in its entirety, the American Army had a simple and extremely consistent intellectual framework for war and the battlefield from its inception in 1814 through its replacement in 1940-1941. This intellectual framework provided the Army with a consensus on the nature of war, of organization, and of technology, so that for over a century the American Army had a distinctive way of war. This way of war was, at its heart, based on the elements and intellectual framework of the French Combat Method. The French Combat Method emerged from the early days of the French Revolution where, unhindered by the obstacles to reform of the Ancien Regime, the French Army was able to fundamentally change its own way of warfare. These changes culminated reforms begun in 1757 with the French defeat at Rossbach, and consisted of almost forty years of debate, thought, experimentation, and finally, institutionalization in a series of regulations. Taken together, the French Règlement Concernant L’exercise et Manoeuvres de L’infanterie du 1er Août 1791 and the Reglement Provisoire sur Le Service de L’Infanterie En Campagne of 1792 created the French Combat Method. The basic principles of this method were the creation of a simplified tactical system that provided commanders with non-dogmatic tactical formations and movements that required them to adapt those tactics to the enemy and the terrain; introduced an order of battle that consisted of deploying units into a series of lines with a reserve; utilized a system of non-contiguous lines which allowed commanders to choose their own formations, so that brigades could be in lines and columns and skirmish order all in the same line; integrated skirmishers into the main battle area screening the movement of the attack columns and the lines of the main effort; focused on offensive operations which produced decisive results and culminated that offensive action with a bayonet charge; replaced the specialized infantry of the Eighteenth Century with a universal infantry, capable of executing all infantry tasks, light and heavy. This FCM enabled the Armies of the French Revolution to not only defend the Republic, but also to carry the revolution across its borders for over twenty years. Following its inception after the War of 1812, the FCM guided American warfare through the victories during the Mexican-American War, which proved its efficacy on the battlefield, and thereafter became institutionalized in the West Point curriculum. During the Civil War, both sides returned to the tenants of the FCM through the General Army Regulations,
foreign and domestic military texts, and even through the bloody campaigns of the war. The Army then spent the next fifty-three years integrating technological advances into the FCM, and the battlefields of Europe in World War One served to once again reinforce a belief in the efficacy of the FCM in American warfare. It guided American developments throughout the inter war period, and even through 1939 informed organizations, mechanization, and infantry training. It was not until the fall of France in May through June of 1940 at the hands of the German Werhmacht that initiated a transformation which took less than twelve months to complete. The longevity of the influence of the FCM in the American way of warfare was the product of a number of different, yet interrelated, reasons. The first of these reasons was the personality and influence of the man that brought the FCM to the United States Army, Winfield Scott. After two years of defeats on the Canadian border, the victory at Chippawa on 5 July 1814 seemed like a miracle. Stories of the gray clad 1st Brigade went far and wide and provided the first victory of the U.S. Army against the regulars of the British Army. Even the defeat at Lundy’s Lane and the retreat to Fort Erie did nothing to reduce the wounded hero’s celebrity. When the issue of tactical regulations came up again at the end of 1814, as it had on numerous occasions since the beginning of the war, there seemed to no better choice to preside over the board than the recuperating General Winfield Scott. Scott was able, with only a single month in committee, to get a unanimous vote for the adoption of a direct English translation of the French regulations of 1791. It was his prestige as the hero of Chippawa that allowed Scott to demand that both Congress and the President approve of the new system, something that had never occurred since the founding of the Republic. Scott’s reputation remained strong enough through the 1820’s to see that the French system became institutionalized in his Infantry Tactics, and although he fell out of favor in the 1830s, he remained one of the top ranking Army Generals. In the mid 1840’s, Scott was named Commanding General, and he was able to institutionalize not only his reputation as a commander, but also the FCM throughout the Army. He then continued to influence the Army as the Commanding General, even after the War Department removed him from regulations reform. Never before in American military history had one man instituted a system of tactics, and then fostered adherence to that system for forty-seven years. Scott’s patronage made sure that American officers understood the advantages of the FCM without recourse to their personal politics, only to their professional opinions.
This period of gestation allowed American officers to inculcate themselves in the powerful system of warfare of the FCM. In the continuing debate over the creation of Revolutions in Military Affairs (RMAs), one of the requirements for effectively preparing for the warfare of the future is an actual enemy. Having such an enemy to prepare against allows an army to generate specific organizations and solutions to specific problems, as opposed to preparing for war against a hypothetical enemy, which would produce unfocused training and nonspecific doctrine. 1 However, the French created their regulations of 1791 and 1792 against just such a hypothetical enemy. The creation of these regulations was inherently an Enlightenment project, whose purpose was to discover the first principles of tactics and warfare and then to design a system around those principles. Unfettered by conservative agendas within the old army, the committee of the French Revolution was able to take the best elements from all of the tactical debates and created a simple, cohesive system of war. As a whole, the FCM provided a flexible, non-dogmatic approach to warfare. As opposed to the dogmatic deployments and principles of linear warfare, the FCM provided the French Army with a number of simplified movements, formations, and maneuvers that allowed commanders to deploy their units on the battlefield. The FCM required commanders to understand both the enemy situation and the terrain of the battlefield, before determining the appropriate formation or movement. The uniform nature of the French infantry allowed every unit to perform all battlefield functions, so they could fight in close or skirmish order, in either lines or attack columns, in open or broken terrain. The FCM provided a system that was eminently flexible and useful in every conceivable battlefield situation. The flexible nature of FCM allowed for a tremendous amount of adaptation as technology changed the face of modern warfare. Because it did not require specific formations or techniques, the changes that occurred in the tactics of the American Army following the Civil War continued to fit into the system. The change from attack columns and close lines to extended lines and supporting units continued to provide a simplified and flexible set of tactics for American commanders. When the machine gun and the automatic rifle changed infantry formations in the attack and defense, the U.S. Army continued to adhere to the FCM’s principles of uniform infantry, simplified tactics, use of reserves, and a linear deployment of units on the battlefield. Through 1939, the Chief of Infantry wanted to return to a more pure infantry
MacGregor Knox and Williamson Murray, eds, The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050.
organization that would allow the American Army to fight using the FCM on the modern battlefield. Accommodating the technology of modern warfare made it easy to continue to use the FCM. Even though the FCM adapted to the changes in warfare leading up to the Second World War, keeping the same intellectual framework facilitated the education of that framework over time. One of the most remarkable aspects of the American way of warfare is how consistently the same intellectual framework was taught across an ever-increasing number of educational institutions. When West Point was the Army’s only real educational institution, it was simple for Thayer and Mahan to educate cadets in the intellectual framework adopted through the General Regulations of 1821. Following the Civil War, several branch schools began to provide an additional level of education, and yet through the First World War these very disparate institutions continued to expose students to the FCM. By the 1930’s, the undergraduate army education became dispersed across America’s universities and colleges in Reserve Officers Training Corps programs as well as the United States Military Academy, not to mention the branch schools, and the Command and General Services Schools. Despite different syllabi, textbooks, and objectives, each of them educated their populations in the fundamental elements of the FCM. Thus, a self perpetuating cycle emerged. The FCM was simple and easy to apply to an evolving modern battlefield, so the Army continued to educate its officers in it, who in turn matured in this system and educated succeeding generations in the same intellectual framework, which they learned. Especially in the rapidly changing technological era, from the adoption in the 1880s of the smokeless gunpowder metallic center-fired cartridge, through the mechanization of the 1930s, consistency in the Army’s vision of the battlefield and how to operate in it undoubtedly demonstrates the FCM’s longevity in American military thought. Despite its simplicity, adaptability, and internal consistency, there was nothing inevitable about the adoption or the perpetuation of the FCM in American warfare. All of the major conflicts fought by America from 1814 through 1939 provided new capabilities in equipment and organization, and new experiences on the battlefield, which could have led to the genesis of a new system. However, following all of the major American conflicts, defenders of the FCM attained positions of power and authority and strove to continue the process of adaptation, without supplanting the framework. Upton and Wagner in their own ways produced tactical changes in accordance with the existing vision of warfare through the turn of the century.
Leading up to the First World War, Morrison, Swift, Fiebeger, and Pershing all supported the FCM, even through their experiences on the Western Front. As the inter-war period saw the development of new weapons, new vehicles, and new ideas from Europe, the framework once again attracted defenders. None were more vocal than the Chief of Infantry, Major General George Lynch. He became the Chief of Infantry on the heels of a new infantry regimental organization of 1936, which turned its back on the integration of auxiliary weapons systems at the smaller unit level, in vogue since the Great War. Lynch and the infantry of 1937 fought against any perceived threat to the FCM in American warfare, from specialization to mechanization to task organization. This campaign was enough to encourage a new FSR along the lines of an updated and modernized FCM in 1939, along with another organizational change that returned special weapons back to the auxiliary place they belonged. Lynch praised this new organization for its modernization, just in time to respond to potential problems across the globe. These defenders and proponents all served to keep the FCM alive throughout a long history, although not even the powerful recommendations or defenses of General Lynch prevented the rapid dismantling of the American way of warfare in 1940. The fall of France differed from any of the other major conflicts of the Nineteenth and early Twentieth Centuries. The long and bloody Civil War provided the impetus only to change the minor tactics of the U.S. Army, so as to avoid a repeat of the bloodshed of Fredericksburg, Antietam and Shiloh. The Franco-Prussian War and the Russo Japanese War both provided examples of poor training and execution of a system that American officers recognized as familiar in other words, it validated American understandings of war. The First World War reaffirmed Pershing faith in the 1914 FSR, and while he authorized combat training circulars and pamphlets that authorized changes in technique and organization in the AEF, he remained committed to the principles of the FCM. However, U. S. military commanders were stunned by the catastrophic defeat, in six weeks, of the French Army at the hands of the rejuvenated German Army. Such a defeat was unprecedented in the American military experience. Even aside from the American adoption of the FCM, there were strong connections between the American and French Armies. Throughout the Nineteenth Century, American regulations repeatedly cited French regulations as inspirations to provide legitimacy for change. West Point used French texts a number of times throughout its history to teach the military art to First Class Cadets. In 1917, when the U.S. Army began to
deploy and train in Europe, it was the French, not the British, that provided trainers, equipment, manuals, and advisors for the creation of the 1st American Army. Ties to the French Army were strong enough even without the FCM. What turned a traditional relationship into catastrophe was that the French Army was very similar to the U.S. Army, in terms of organization, battlefield framework, and thought. Seeing the French Army surrender in six weeks was like seeing the American Army beaten in six weeks. The sight of the destruction of the French Army and the failure of the French Combat Method shocked the United States Army into abandoning the intellectual framework that had guided its conceptualization and execution of war for 127 years. However, it took more than just the crisis presented by the fall of France to create a revolution in the American way of warfare. This was not the first crisis of the United States Army since 1814. The Civil War provided the same kinds of experiences, the same kind of demonstration of the lethality of the modern battlefield, and while there was no Guderian to imitate, there existed the components of change at the tactical and strategic level. Additionally, World War I again provided a crisis on the battlefield, with the introduction of modern technology onto the battlefield. The AEF experienced this warfare; along with the British, French and Germans, they experimented with integrated tactical units and a variety of organizational changes. They even witnessed the German infiltration tactics and the Allied use of tanks against the German defense in depth, yet that crisis was also not enough to change the American way of war. What the Civil War and World War I lacked was an advocate of change, a personality to seize the moment of crisis, and provide a catalyst for the creation of a new intellectual framework. Just as it took the power and personality of Winfield Scott to bring the FCM to the American way of war, it took an equally strong personality to bring about its replacement, General George Catlett Marshall, Chief of Staff of the Army. Marshall shared Scott’s dedication to professional development, to officer education, and serious thought about the army and war. Perhaps the relationship between personality and revolution is the biggest difference between the structure of a scientific revolution and that of a revolution in the intellectual framework of war. In many ways, Kuhn’s idea of a paradigm describes the power of the FCM in the American way of warfare. The paradigm of the FCM created a specific worldview which drove policy and decision making for 127 years. This worldview interpreted all events, past, present, and future, through the framework of the FCM. However, it was not the Kuhnian accumulation
of anomalies that led to a crisis in France in 1940, but the failure of both a military system and the leadership of its officer corps. Yet it was the Fall of France that provided the crisis necessary for the revolution in the American way of war of 1940-1941, even though the U.S. Army was not directly affected by this crisis. In order for a military to change its intellectual framework or paradigm, it takes a crisis and a powerful leader to lead to a revolution and the creation of a new paradigm. Perhaps for the military art, the Zeitgeist requires the Great Man as much as the Great Man requires the Zeitgeist.
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Michael Bonura was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. on 26 November 1974. Moving to New Mexico in 1980, he graduated from Cibola High School in 1993 and was accepted into the United States Military Academy. After four grueling years, he graduated as a member of the Class of 1997 and was commissioned an Armor Lieutenant. Spending the first three years in Vilseck, Germany, he came back to the U.S. when he was promoted to Captain in December 2000. After a short period in the U.S., Michael volunteered to go to Korea in August of 2000. He took command of Apache Troop, 4-7 CAV at Camp Garry Owen, Korea two kilometers from the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Command consisted of twelve hard months of field training and Divisional alerts. Following the tour in Korea, Michael went to Tennessee to help train the only Armored Cavalry Regiment in the National Guard, the 2nd SQN, 278th ACR in Kingsport Tennessee. He was then accepted into the Army’s Advanced Civil Schooling Program and was accepted into the Masters Degree program at Florida State University in 2004. He received his Masters Degree in May 2004, and completed his Doctoral Comprehensive Exams in June of the same year. In July, Michael reported for duty at the United States Military Academy to become an instructor in the History Department. In August 2006, Michael began teaching cadets military history in the Department’s flagship survey course The History of the Military Art from 450 Through the Present. This two semester course is a capstone course for the seniors as they begin the transition from cadets to junior officers and is an important part of both their academic and professional development. In addition to this course, Michael created and taught a course entitled The History of Warfare in the Age of Revolutions which examined the three great revolutions of the turn of the Nineteenth Century through the warfare of those revolutions, and the freshman survey Western Civilization course. In January 2007 Michael was promoted to major, and in September 2008 he was made an Assistant Professor.
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