Unlike Sun-Tzu or Karl von Clausewitz, Napoleon never wrote a unified essay on his military philosophy. Yet as one of the world's greatest strategists and tacticians, his wisdom and genius can be found in his many and varied writings. Jay Luvaas has spent more than three decades pouring through the 32 volumes of Napoleon's correspondence, carefully translating and editing all of his writings on the art of war, and arranging them in seamless essays. The resulting book captures the brilliant commander's views on everything from the preparation of his forces to the organisation, planning and execution of his battles, all buttressing Napoleon's view that 'in war there is but one favourable moment; the great art is to seize it.' From the specifics of Napoleon's use of cavalry and unique reliance upon artillery to an all-encompassing vision of life from a man of supreme confidence and success, NAPOLEON ON THE ART OF WAR is the only straightforward explanation of Napoleon's campaigns and philosophy by the man himself.
Jay Luvaas is a leading military historian and editor and translator of FREDERICK THE GREAT ON THE ART OF WAR. He has taught at Allegheny College, the US military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks, and the US Army War College, where he was the first Professor of Military History.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
This book has been in the making, off and on, since 1966, when my Frederick the Great on the Art of War was published. Had anyone suggested then that it would be three decades before Napoleon finally emerged, I probably would never have started this project.
The basic research was done in the first twenty years and perhaps six chapters were more or less complete when I left Allegheny College in 1982 for Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where I served as visiting professor of the U.S. Military History Institute at Carlisle Barracks. I set the book aside for that year intending to pick it up later, but then was invited to move across the street to the U.S. Army War College to become their first Professor of Military History.
Here I immediately became immersed in the effort to keep up with my students -- colonels and lieutenant colonels on the fast track and an occasional general officer -- and to publish materials relevant to their interests and needs. There was no time for my own work during the week. I could never find those long, unbroken periods that I needed to spend with Napoleon. Indeed, not until retiring from the War College two years ago did I have the time -- and the energy -- to return to the book.
My decade-long hiatus from Napoleon was probably a blessing in disguise, for my students at the War College had raised many issues that gave me new insights and questions to ask of Napoleon. Moreover, until the U.S. army rediscovered the operational art in the mid-1980s (see Chapter 10), I had not been aware of Napoleon's mastery of this intermediate level of war. A strong case could be made that Napoleon created the operational level of war as it is understood and practiced by soldiers today. Without the corps -- which Napoleon organized and manipulated so skillfully -- it would have been impossible for commanders to function effectively at the operational level.
But, behind the military genius was a man who often overreached himself. After World War I, Field Marshal Foch wrote what may have been Napoleon's most fitting epitaph: "He forgot that a man cannot be God; that above the individual is the nation, and above mankind the moral law: he forgot that war is not the highest aim, for peace is above war."
Copyright © 1999 by Jay Luvaas
Generalship and the Art of Command
"It is essential that a general should dissemble while appearing to be occupied, working with the mind and working with the body, ceaselessly suspicious while affecting tranquillity, saving of his soldiers and not squandering them except for the most important interests, informed of everything, always on the lookout to deceive the enemy and careful not to be deceived himself. In a word he should be more than an industrious, active, and indefatigable man, but one who does not forget one thing to execute another, and above all who does not despise those little details which pertain to great projects."
Frederick the Great,
Instructions to His Generals, 1747
In war men are nothing; one man is everything. The presence of the general is indispensable. He is the head, the whole of an army. It was not the Roman army that subdued Gaul, but Caesar; not the Carthaginian army that caused the republic to tremble at the gates of Rome, but Hannibal; not the Macedonian army that reached the Indus, but Alexander; not the French army that carried the war to the Weser and the Inn, but Turenne; and not the Prussian army that defended Prussia for seven years against the three greatest powers of Europe, but Frederick the Great....In war only the commander understands the importance of certain things, and he alone, through his will and superior insight, conquers and surmounts all difficulties. An army is nothing without the head.
Since the war depends absolutely on the season, each month requires a different plan of campaign. The government must place entire confidence in its general, allow him great latitude and put forward only the objective he is to fulfill. A commander is not protected by an order from a minister or a prince who is absent from the theater of operations and has little or no knowledge of the most recent turn of events. Every commander responsible for executing a plan that he considers bad or disastrous is criminal: he must point out the flaws, insist that it be changed, and at last resort resign rather than be the instrument of the destruction of his own men. Every commander in chief who, as a result of superior orders, delivers a battle convinced that he will lose it, is likewise criminal.
A general in chief is the top officer in the chain of command. The minister or prince gives instructions to which he must adhere -- both in spirit and in conscience -- but these instructions are never military orders and do not require passive obedience. Even a direct military order requires only passive obedience when it is given by a superior who, being present at the time he gives it, knows the condition of affairs and can listen to the objections and provide explanations to those who must execute the order....
The conduct of the Duke d'Orléans before Turin in 1706 has been justified: historians have cleared him of all blame. The Duke d'Orléans was prince, he had been regent, and he was of an easygoing disposition. The writers have treated him favorably, while Marchin, resting dead on the battlefield, could not defend himself. We know, however, that as he lay dying he protested the decision to remain in the lines.
But who was the commander of the French army in Italy? The Duke d'Orléans, Marchin, la Feuillade, and Albergotti were all under his orders. It was up to him whether or not he would take the advice of a counsel of war; he was in the chair. It was his decision whether or not to conform to the opinion of the war council. The prince did not have trouble in his command. Nobody refused to obey him. Had he given the order for the army to leave its lines, if he could give the order to the left to cross the Dora to reinforce the right; if he could have given the positive order to Albergotti to recross the Po, and the generals had refused to obey under the pretext that they did not owe him obedience, then all would be welt and good. The prince would be exonerated. But, it is argued, Albergotti did not obey the order that he received to send a detachment to the right bank of the Po. He settled for making observations.
Well, that happens every day. It does not in itself constitute an act of disobedience. Had the prince sent him a positive order...it would have been obeyed....The Duke d'Orléans was recognized as commander in chief by the generals, officers, and men. None refused -- or could have refused -- to obey him. He is responsible for all that was done.
General Jourdan states in his Mémoires that the government had pressured him into fighting the battle of Stockach and he seeks thus to justify himself for the unfortunate consequences of this affair. But this justification could not be allowed even when he had received a positive and formal order, as we have demonstrated. When he decided to deliver battle, he believed that he had favorable chances to win it. He deceived himself.
But, might it not happen that a minister or prince should explain his intentions so clearly that no clause could be misunderstood and that he says to a commander: "Deliver battle; the enemy, by virtue of his numbers, the quality of his troops, and the position that he occupies will defeat you. No matter -- this is my will."
Should such an order be passively executed? No! If the general understands the benefit and consequently the morality of so strange an order, he must execute it. If he does not understand it, however, he should not obey.
Something of this sort often occurs in war. A battalion is left in a difficult position to save the army, but the battalion commander receives the positive order from his superior, who is present at the time he gives it and responds to all objections, if there are reasonable ones to make. It is a military order given by a commander who is present and to whom one owes passive obedience. But what happens if the minister or prince is with the army? Then he takes over command, he is the commander in chief. The previous commander is no more than a subordinate division commander.
It does not follow that a commander in chief must not obey a minister who orders him to give battle. On the contrary, he must do it every time that, in his judgment, the chances and probabilities are as much for as against him, for our observation only applies in the case where the chances appear to be entirely against him.
Unity of Command
Unity of command is of the first necessity in war. You must keep the army united, concentrate as many of your troops as possible on the battlefield, and take advantage of every opportunity, for fortune is a woman: if you miss her today, do not expect to find her tomorrow.
Napoleon to the Executive Directory, 14 May 1796
I believe it very impolitic to divide the Army of Italy in two; it is likewise contrary to the interests of the republic to place two different generals in command.
The expedition to Livorno, Rome, and Naples is a mere trifle; it must be made by divisions in echelons so that by a retrograde march one could move in force against the Austrians and threaten to envelop them at the slightest movement that they might make.
For that you need not only a single general, but even more important, nothing should hinder him in his march and his operations. I waged the campaign without consulting anyone. I could not have done it well had I been forced to reconcile my point of view with that of another. I won advantages over far superior forces and with a pressing shortage of everything because, convinced that I had your confidence, my march was as quick as my thoughts....If you weaken your means by dividing your forces, or break the unity of military thought in Italy...you will have lost the most favorable occa...
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Descrizione libro Free Press, 1999. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Codice libro della libreria DADAX0684851857
Descrizione libro Free Press, New York, NY, 1999. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. First Edition. (full book description) Free Press, New York, NY, 1999. 1st Edition NEW, Hard Cover, w/Dust Jacket. Size=6.5"x9.5", 196pp(Index). It's NEW!! NO ink names, DJ tears etc. This is a NEW book. ISBN 0684851857 SELLING WORLDWIDE since 1987. 99% OF OUR BOOKS ARE SHIPPED IN CUSTOM BOXES, WE ALWAYS PACK WITH GREAT CARE!. Book. Codice libro della libreria CONROY121647I
Descrizione libro Free Press, New York, NY, 1999. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. First Edition. (full book description) Free Press, New York, NY, 1999. 1st Edition NEW, Hard Cover, w/Dust Jacket. Size=6.5"x9.5", 196pp(Index). It's NEW!! NO ink names, DJ tears etc. This is a NEW book. ISBN 0684851857 SELLING WORLDWIDE since 1987. 99% OF OUR BOOKS ARE SHIPPED IN CUSTOM BOXES, WE ALWAYS PACK WITH GREAT CARE!. Book. Codice libro della libreria CONROY121648I
Descrizione libro Free Press, 1999. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. book. Codice libro della libreria 0684851857
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Descrizione libro Free Press, 1999. Hardcover. Condizione libro: New. Condizione sovraccoperta: Fine. 1st Edition. Dust jacket as been slightly stained on the top corner of the binding, otherwise this book is new 208 p. Contains: Illustrations. From Booklist: Whatever his political failings, Napoleon's reputation as a military genius remains undiminished. His broad strategies and battlefield tactics are still studied at military colleges around the world. Given his ignominious end in exile, it is understandable that Napoleon never penned his "definitive" memoirs. However, his genius is revealed in the massive volume of his personal letters and military correspondence. Luvaas, a military historian, has arranged Napoleon's essays and correspondence into a coherent exposition of his attitudes and beliefs regarding warfare. Napoleon reveals his great psychological insight, his mastery of organization, and his unceasing faith in an aggressive style of warfare. Perhaps inadvertently, he also reveals his egotism and belief in his own destiny, which would lead to his downfall. While military buffs will find special delight here, there is much in this work that can appeal to the well-informed general reader. Jay Freeman Book Description Napoleon. The passage of time has not dimmed the power of his name. A century and a half after his death, Napoleon remains the greatest military genius of the modern world. Yet unlike Machiavelli, Clausewitz, or Sun Tzu, his name has not crowned any single literary work. The subject of thousands of biographies and treatises on warfare, he is the author of none. Until now. The great general and conqueror of Europe may not have written any books, but he was a prolific writer. Thousands of his missives to subordinates survive, and these documents reflect the broad range of a fearless and incisive mind. From them, military historian Jay Luvaas has wrought a seamless whole. Luvaas has spent decades culling, editing, and arranging Napoleon's thoughts into coherent essays and arguments. In the remarkable result. Napoleon speaks without interruption in a work that will forever change the way we view him. Luvaas covers every subject Napoleon wrote about, from the need for preparation--"Simply. Codice libro della libreria 0001722
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