Chapter 1: the policy of war.
We shall give this title to the combinations by which a statesman should judge when a war is suitable, opportune, or even indispensable, and to determine the divers operations which it will necessitate in order to attain its end.
A state is led to war:
To claim rights or to defend them;
To satisfy great public interests, such as those of commerce, of industry, and of all that concerns the prosperity of nations;
To sustain neighbors whose existence is necessary to the security of the state, or to the maintainance of the political equilibrium;
To fulfil stipulations of alliances, offensive and defensive;
To propagate doctrines, to suppress or defend them;
To extend its influence or its power by acquisitions necessary to the safety of the state;
To save menaced national independence;
To avenge outraged honor;
Through a mania for conquests, and through a spirit of invasion
It is presumed that these different kinds of war have some influence on the nature of the operations which they will require, in order to arrive at the end proposed, upon the magnitude of the efforts which it will be necessary to make to that effect, and upon the extent of the enterprises which we shall be at liberty to form.
Without doubt each of those wars can be offensive or defensive; even he who should be the aggressor will, perhaps, be anticipated, and reduced
to defend himself, and the attacked will be able to take immediately the initiative if he has known how to prepare himself for it. But there will yet be other complications arising from the respective situation of the parties.
1. War may be made singly against another power.
2. It may be made singly against several states allied to each other.
3. It may be made with a powerful ally against a single enemy.
4. A party may be the principal in the war, or only an auxiliary.
5. In this latter case, it may intervene from the commencement of the war, or in the midst of a struggle already more or less engaged.
6. The theatre of war may be transported into the enemy's country, into an ally's territory, or into one's own territory.
7. If a war of invasion be made, it may be neighboring or remote, wise and well considered, or extravagant.
8. A war may be national, either against us, or against the enemy.
9. Finally, there exist civil and religious wars equally dangerous and deplorable.
War once decided upon, without doubt it should be made according to the principles of the art, but it will be admitted, however, that there may be a great difference in the nature of the operations that shall be undertaken, according to the divers chances to be run. For example, two hundred thousand French wishing to subject Spain
, aroused against them as one man, would not manoeuvre like two hundred thousand French wishing to march upon Vienna
, or any other capital, there to dictate peace (1809); and they would not do the guerillas of Mina
the honor to combat them in the same manner that they fought at Borodino
Without going so far for examples, could it be said that the two hundred thousand French of whom we have just spoken, ought equally to march upon Vienna
, whatever should be the moral condition of the governments, and of the population between the Rhine
and the Inn
, and between the Danube
and the Elbe
It is conceived that a regiment ought always to fight very nearly the same, but it is not so with generals-in-chief.
To these different combinations, which belong more or less to diplomatic policy, may be added others, which have relation only to the conduct of armies.
We shall give to the latter the name of military policy
, or the philosophy of war
, for they belong exclusively neither to diplomacy, nor to strategy, and are none the less for that of the highest importance
in the plans of the cabinet, as well as in those of a general of an army.
Let us commence by analyzing the combinations which relate to diplomacy.
Article I: offensive wars for claiming rights.
When a state has rights over a neighboring country, it is not always a reason for claiming them by main force.
The convenience of the public interest must be consulted before determining thereto.
The most just war will be that which, founded upon incontestable rights, shall yet offer to the state positive advantages, proportionate to the sacrifices and the chances to which it is exposed.
But there present themselves unfortunately, in our day, so many rights contestable and contested, that the greater part of wars, although founded in appearance upon heritages, testaments and marriages, are in reality no more than wars of convenience.
The question of the Spanish
succession under Louis XIV, was the most natural in right, since it reposed on a solemn testament supported by family ties, and by the general wish of the Spanish
nation; nevertheless it was, one of the most contested by all Europe
; it produced a general coalition against the legitimate legatee.
II, profiting by a war of Austria
, evokes old parchments, enters Silesia
by main force, and seizes upon that rich province, which doubles the strength of the Prussian monarchy.
The success and importance of this resolution made it a master stroke; for, if Frederick had not succeeded, it would have been unjust however to blame him for it: the magnitude of the enterprise and its opportuneness could excuse such an irruption, as far as an inroad is excusable.
In such a war, there are no rules to give; to know how to wait and to profit is everything
. Offensive operations ought to be proportioned to the end proposed.
The first is naturally that of occupying the provinces claimed; the. offensive can afterwards be pushed according to circumstances and the respective forces, to the end of obtaining the cession desired,
by menacing the adversary at home; all depends upon the alliances which one will have been able to secure, and upon the military means of the two parties.
the essential in such an offensive, is to have a scrupulous care not to awaken the jealousy of a third party, who might come to the succor of the power which it is proposed to attack.
it is for policy to forsee this case, and to parry an intervention, by giving all the guaranties necessary to one's neighbors.
Article II: wars defensive in policy and offensive militarily.
A state attacked by its neighbor, who claims old rights upon a province, rarely decides to yield it without combat, and through pure conviction of those rights, it prefers to defend the territory demanded of it, which is always more honorable and more natural.
But, instead of remaining passively on the frontier, awaiting its aggressor, it may suit it to take the initiative or offensive; all depends then on the reciprocal military positions.
There is often an advantage in making a war of invasion; there is often one also in awaiting the enemy at home.
A power, strongly constituted within itself, which has no cause for divisions, nor fear from a third aggression upon its own territory, will always find a real advantage in carrying hostilities upon the enemy's soil.
In the first place, it will avoid the ravaging of its provinces, then it will carry on the war at the expense of its adversary, finally it will put all the moral chances on its side, by exciting the ardor of its people, and striking the enemy on the contrary with stupor, from the commencement of the war. Meanwhile, under the purely military point of view, it is certain that an army operating in its own country, upon an échiquier
of which all the natural or artificial obstacles are in its favor or in its power, where all its manoeuvres are free and seconded by the country, by its inhabitants and its authorities, may expect great advantages.
These truths, which seem incontestable, are susceptible of being applied to every kind of war; but if the principles of strategy are immutable, it is
not the same with the truths of the policy of war, which undergo modifications through the moral condition of the people, the localities, and the men who are at the head of armies and of states.
These are the divers shades which have given credit to the gross error that there are no fixed rules in war. We hope to prove that the military science has principles that could not be violated without defeat, when a skillful enemy has to be dealt with; it is the political and moral part of war alone which offers differences that cannot be subjected to any positive calculation, but which are nevertheless susceptible of being subjected to the calculations of probabilities.
It is necessary then to modify plans of operations according to circumstances, although in order to execute those plans it is necessary to remain faithful to the principles of the art. It will be admitted, for example, that a war against France
, could not be combined like a war against the Turks, or any Oriental
nation, whose brave but undisciplined hordes, are susceptible of no order, no rational manoeuvre, or of any steadiness under reverses.
Article III: wars of convenience.
The invasion of Silesia
by Frederick II, was a war of convenience; that of the Spanish
succession equally so.
There are two kinds of wars of convenience: those which a powerful state may undertake to give itself natural limits, to obtain an extremely important political or commercial advantage; those which it may make for diminishing the power of a dangerous rival, or for hindering its increase.
These latter enter, it is true, into wars of intervention; it is not probable that a state will attack singly a dangerous rival; it will do it scarcely bat by coalition, in the course of conflicts arising from relations with a third.
All these combinations being within the domain of policy rather than of war, and the military operations entering into the categories which we shall treat, we shall pass over in silence the little that might be said on this subject.
Article IV: wars with or without Allies.
It is natural that every war with an ally should be preferable to a war without allies, supposing besides, all the other chances equal.
Doubtless a great State will be more sure of succeeding, than two weaker States which should ally themselves against it; but yet is it better to have the reinforcement of a neighbor than to struggle alone; not only do you find yourself reinforced by the contingent which he furnishes you, but the enemy is enfeebled in a still greater proportion, for he will not have need merely of a considerable corps to oppose to that contingent, he will be obliged still to watch portions of his territory which otherwise would have been secure from insult.
It will be seen, in the following paragraph, that there are no allies so insignificant as to be disdained with impunity by a never so formidable State; a truth which, for the rest, could not be called in question without denying all the teachings of history.
Article V: wars of intervention.2
Of all wars that a State can undertake, the most suitable, the most advantageous for it, is certainly the war of intervention in a struggle already engaged.
The cause for it will easily be comprehended: a State which thus intervenes, puts in the balance all the weight of its power, in common with the power in favor of which it interferes; it enters therein when it wishes, and when the moment is most opportune for giving decisive action to the means it brings.
There are two kinds of intervention: the first is that which a State seeks to introduce in the interior affairs of its neighbors, the second is to intervene seasonably in its exterior relations.
Publicists have never been agreed as to the right of internal intervention; we shall not dispute with them upon the point of right, but we will say that the fact has often happened.
owed a part of their grandeur to those interventions, and the empire of the English Company
is no otherwise explained.
interventions do not always succeed; Russia
owes in part the development of her greatness to that which her sovereigns knew how to bring into the affairs of Poland
, on the contrary, came near being ruined for having attempted to interfere in the affairs of the French
These kinds of combinations are not in our province.
Intervention in the external relations
of one's neighbors, is more legitimate, more natural and more advantageous perhaps.
In fact, doubtful as it is, that a State has the right to meddle with what passes within the interior jurisdiction of its neighbors, equally certain is it that it will be accorded the right to oppose whatever of trouble and disorder the latter may carry outside, which could reach it.
Three motives may engage us to intervene in the exterior wars of our neighbors.
The first is a treaty of alliance offensive and defensive, which.
engages us to sustain an ally.
The second, is the maintainance of what is termed the political equilibrium: a combination of modern ages, as admirable as it appears simple, and which was, nevertheless, too often forgotten by those even who should have been its most fervent apostles.3
The third motive, is to profit by a war engaged, not only with the object of preventing bad consequences from it, but also for causing the advantages of it to turn to the profit of him who intervenes.
History offers a thousand examples of powers which have decayed for having forgotten these truths: “that a State decline when it suffers the immoderate aggrandizement of a rival State, and that a State, though it even be of the second order, can become the arbiter of the political balance, when it knows how seasonably to put a weight in that balance.”
This is enough to demonstrate the advantage of wars of intervention under an elevated political point of view.
With regard to the military point of view, it is plain that an army, appearing as a third party in a struggle already established, becomes preponderant.
Its influence will be all the more decisive, in proportion as its geographical situation shall have importance relatively to the positions of the two armies already at war. Let us cite an example.
In the winter of 1807, Napoleon
crossed the Vistula, and ventured under the walls of Konigsberg
, having Austria
in his rear, and the whole mass of the Russian empire
before him. If Austria
had caused a hundred thousand men to debouch from Bohemia upon the Oder, it would have been finished, in all probability, with the omnipotence of Napoleon
; his army would have been too fortunate in opening itself a way to regain the Rhine
, and everything leads to the belief that it would not have succeeded.
preferred waiting to have its army increased to four hundred thousand men; it took then the offensive with this formidable mass two years after and was conquered; whilst that with a hundred thousand men engaged at the proper moment, she would have decided more surely and more easily the fate of Europe
If interventions are of different natures, the wars which result from them are also of several kinds.
1. You intervene as an auxiliary, in consequence of anterior treaties, and by means of secondary corps, the strength of which is determined.
2. You intervene as a principal party, to sustain a more feeble neighbor, whose States you go to defend, which carries the theatre of war far from your frontiers.
3. You intervene also as principal party, when you are in the neighborhood of the theatre of war, which supposes a coalition of several great powers against one.
4. You intervene in a struggle already begun, or before the declaration of war.
When you intervene only with a moderate contingent, in consequence of stipulated treaties, you are but an accessory, and the operations are directed by the principal power.
When you intervene by coalition and with an imposing army, the case is different.
The military chances of those wars are various.
army, in the Seven Years War, was, in reality, an auxiliary of Austria
; it was, however, a principal party in the north, until the occupation of
Old Prussia by its troops; but when Generals Fermor
conducted the army into Brandenburg
, then it no longer acted but in the Austrian interest; those troops, thrown far from their base, were at the mercy of a good or bad manoeuvre of their allies.
Such remote excursions expose to dangers, and are ordinarily very delicate for the general of an army.
The campaign of 1799, and of 1805, furnished sad proofs of this, which we shall recall in treating of those expeditions under the military aspect, (art.
It results from these examples, that those remote interventions often compromise the armies which are charged with them; but on the other hand, one has the advantage that his own country at least could not be so easily invaded, since the theatre of war is carried far from his frontiers; what makes the misfortune of a general, is here a benefit for the State
In wars of this nature, the essential thing is, to select a chief who is at once a politician and a military man; to stipulate well with your allies the part which each is to take in the operations; finally to determine an objective point which shall be in harmony with the common interests;
it is by the neglect of these precautions that the greater part of coalitions have failed, or struggled with difficulty against a power less strong as a whole, but more united.
The third kind of war of intervention, or of seasonableness, indicated above, that in a word which consists in intervening with all one's power, and in proximity with his frontiers, is more favorable than the others.
It is the situation in which Austria
would leave been found in 1807, had she known how to profit from her position; it is also that in which she was found in 1813.
Adjacent to Saxony
, where Napoleon
had just united his forces, taking in reverse, even the front of the French
operations on the Elbe
, she put two hundred thousand men in the balance, with almost a certainty of success; the empire of Italy
and her influence over Germany
, lost through fifteen years of reverses, were re-conquered in two months. Austria
had, in this intervention, not only the political chances, but moreover the military chances in her favor: a double result, which indicates the highest degree of advantages to which the chiefs of a State can aspire.
The cabinet of Vienna
succeeded all the more surely, as its intervention was not merely of the nature of those mentioned in article 3, that is to say, sufficiently contiguous to her frontiers to permit the greatest possible development of her strength, but because still she intervened in a struggle already commenced, in which she entered with all the weight of her means, and at the instant which suited her.
This double advantage is so decisive that we have seen, not only the great monarchies, but even very small States, become preponderant, by knowing how to seize this fitness of time.
Two examples will suffice to prove this.
In 1552, the Elector Maurice
, of Saxony
, dared to declare himself openly against Charles Fifth, master of Spain
, of Italy
, and of the Germanic empire; against Charles, victorious over Francis First, and pressing France
in his firm grasp.
This movement, which transported the war to the heart of the Tyrol, arrested the great man who menaced to swallow up everything.
In 1706, the Duke
, Victor Amedius
, declaring against Louis XIV, changes the face of affairs in Italy
, and brings back the French
army upon the banks of the Adige, to the walls of Turin
, where it experienced the bloody catastrophe which immortalized the Prince Eugene.
How insignificant statesmen will appear to those who have meditated upon these two events, and upon the great questions to which they apply!
We have said enough upon the advantages of these opportune interventions; the number of examples could be multiplied.
to infinity, but that could add nothing to the conviction of our readers.
Article VI: wars of invasion through a spirit of conquest or other causes.
It is important before all, to remark that there are two very different kinds of invasions: those which attack neighboring powers, and those which are carried to a distance, traversing vast countries, that population of which might be more or less neutral, doubtful or hostile.
Wars of invasion, made through a spirit of conquest, are not unfortunately always the most disadvantageous; Alexander, Caesar
, and Napoleon
, in the half of his career, have only too well proved this.
However, those advantages have limits fixed by nature even, and which it is necessary to guard against crossing, because one falls then into disastrous extremes.
, Darius among the Scythians, Crassus
and the Emperor Julian among the Parthians, finally, Napoleon
, furnish bloody testimony to those truths.
It must be owned, nevertheless, the mania for conquest was not always the only motive of the conduct of the latter; his personal position, and his struggle with England
urged him to enterprises, the evident object of which was to come out victorious in this struggle; love of war and its hazards was manifest in him, but he was still drawn on by necessity to bend under England
or to triumph in his efforts.
One might say that he was sent into this world to teach generals of armies and statesmen all that which they ought to avoid; his vietories are lessons of skill, activity and audacity; his disasters are moderating examples imposed by prudence.
A war of invasion without plausible motives, is an outrage against humanity, like those of Zingis Khan; but when it can be justified by a great interest and a laudable motive, it is susceptible of excuses, if not even of approbation.
The invasion of Spain
, executed in 1808, and that which had place in 1823, differ certainly as much in their object as in their results; the first, dictated by a spirit of invasion, and. conducted with cunning, menaced the existence of the Spanish Nation
, and was fatal to its author; the second, combatting only dangerous doctrines, and looking to general interests, succeeded all the better that it found a decisive point of support in the majority of the people whose territory it for a moment violated.
We shall not undertake to judge them according to natural right; such questions belong to the political right of intervention.
Far from discussing them, we merely present them here as proofs that an invasion is not always of the Zingis Khan
The first which we have just cited, contributed to the ruin of Napoleon
; the other replaced France
in the relative situation to Spain
which she ought never to have lost.
Let us entreat Heaven to render those invasions as rare as possible; but let us acknowledge that a State does better in invading its neighbors than in allowing itself to be attacked.
Let us acknowledge also that the most sure means against fostering the spirit of conquest and usurpation is to know how to intervene at the proper moment for placing barriers to it.
Supposing then, a war of invasion resolved upon and justified, not upon an immoderate desire of conquest, but upon sound State reasons, it is important to measure this invasion by the object proposed and by the obstacles which may be encountered in it, either from the country itself, or from its allies.
An invasion against a people exasperated and ready for all sacrifices, who can expect to be sustained in men and money by a powerful neighbor, is a hazardous enterprise; the war of Napoleon
, plainly proves this; the wars of the French Revolution
in 1792, 1793 and 1794, demonstrate it still better; for if this last power was taken, less unprovided than Spain
, neither had it a great alliance for assisting in its defence; it was assailed by all Europe
, both by land and by sea.
In view of such examples, of what interest could dry maxims be?
It is from the history of those great events that it is necessary to draw rules of conduct.
The invasions of the Russians in Turkey
, presented, in some respects, the same symptoms of national resistance; meanwhile it must be owned that the conditions were different; the religious hatred of the Ottomans might make them fly to arms; but settled in the midst of a Greek population twice as numerous as themselves, the Turks did not find, in a general insurrection, that support which they would have found if all the empire had been mussulman, or if they had mingled the interests of the Greeks with those of the conquerors, as France
knew how to do with the people of Alsace, the best Frenchmen
of the kingdom: in this case they would have been stronger; but there would have been no longer any religious fanaticism.
The war of 1828, has proved that the Turks were respectable only on their frontiers, where were found united their most warlike militia, whilst the interior is falling into ruins.
When an invasion has nothing to fear from the people, and when it is applied to a bordering State, then there are strategic laws which decide in regard to it and which must above all be consulted; this is what rendered the invasions of Italy
, of Austria
, and of Prussia
, so prompt.
Those military chances will be treated of in Article 30.
But when on the contrary, an invasion is remote and is to traverse vast countries to arrive at its end, it is policy much more than strategy to which it is necessary to have recourse in order to prepare for its success.
In fact, the first condition of this success will always be the sincere and devoted alliance of a power in the neighborhood of that it is wished to attack, since there will be found in its frank and interested concurrence, not only an increase of strength, but yet a solid base for establishing your depots beforehand, and for basing your operations, and finally, an assured refuge in case of need.
Now, in order to expect such an alliance, it is necessary that the power upon which you would count, have the same interest as yourself in the success of the enterprise.
If policy is especially decisive in remote expeditions, that is not saying that it is without influence even upon contiguous invasions, for a hostile intervention may arrest the most brilliant career of success.
The invasions of Austria
in 1805 and 1809, would probably have taken another turn if Prussia
had intervened in them; that of the north of Germany
in 1807, depended equally as much upon the cabinet of Vienna
Finally, that of Romelia in 1829, assured by measures of a wise and moderate policy, could have had fatal results if care had not been taken to remove every chance of an intervention by those negociations.
Article VII: wars of opinion.
Although wars of opinion, national struggles and civil wars are sometimes confounded in the same conflict, they differ meanwhile sufficiently from each other to make it our duty to treat of them separately.
Wars of opinion present themselves under three aspects: they are limited to an intestine struggle, that is to say, to civil war, or they are at the same time interior and exterior; it may happen also, but rarely, that they be confined to a conflict with the foreigner.
Wars of opinion or doctrine between two States,4
belong also to the class of wars of intervention, for they will always result either from doctrines which a party would impose upon its neighbors through propagandism, or from doctrines which it will be wished to combat and to put down, which leads in every case to intervention.
These wars, whether they arise from religious dogmas or from political dogmas, are not for that the less deplorable, for, as well as national wars,
they always excite violent passions which render them hateful, cruel and terrible.
The wars of Islamism, those of the Crusades, the Thirty Years War, Chose of the League, all offer, with more or less force, the symptoms of their species.
Doubtless, religion was sometimes a political pretext or means, rather than an affair of dogmas.
It is probable that the successors of Mahomet troubled themselves more with extending their empire than with preaching the Koran, and it was doubtless not for making the church of Rome triumph, that Philip II sustained the League of France
We agree even with M. Ancelot
, that Louis IX, when he made his crusade to Egypt
, thought more of the commerce of India
than of conquering the Holy Sepulcher
When it is thus, the dogma is not merely the pretext, it is also sometimes a powerful means, for it fulfills the double object of exciting the ardor of one's own people, and of creating for himself a party.
For example, the Swedes, in the Thirty Years War, and Philip II in France
, had in the, country an auxiliary more powerful.
than their own armies, But it happens also that the dogma which is combatted for has none but enemies, and then the struggle is terrible.
This was the case with the struggles of Islamism and the Crusades.
Wars of political opinions present nearly the same categories.
It is true that in 1792, extravagant societies were seen who really thought to spread the famous declaration of the rights of man over all Europe
, and governments, justly alarmed, took up arms doubtless with the only idea of rolling back the lava of this volcano into its crater and of stifling it therein.
But the means were not happy, for war and aggression are bad measures for arresting an evil which lies entirely in passions excited by a momentary paroxysm, all the less durable for being the most violent.
Time is the true remedy against all bad passions, and against anarchical doctrines.
An enlightened nation may submit an instant to the yoke of an exasperated and factious multitude, but those storms pass away and reason returns.
Attempting to arrest such a multitude by a foreign force is very like attempting to stay a mine at the moment when the match has just reached the powder and caused its explosion.
Is it not wiser to allow the mine to spring and to fill the funnel afterwards than to be exposed to being blown up with it?
A profound study of the French Revolution
has convinced me that if the Girondins and the National Assembly had not been menaced by
armaments, they never would have dared to lay a sacrilegious hand upon the feeble but venerable Louis XVI.
would never have been crushed by the Mountain
but for the reverses of Dumouriez and the menaces of invasion.
And if the parties had been left to jostle each other at their ease, it is probable that the National Assembly, instead of giving place to the terrible convention, would have returned by degrees to the restoration of good monarchical doctrines tempered according to the wants and immemorial usages of France
Considered under the military relation, those wars are terrible, for the invading army attacks not only the military forces of the enemy, but his exasperated masses.
It may be objected, it is true, that the violence of a party will procure of itself a support by the creation of a contrary party; it is incontestable that this result is more certain still than in religious struggles; but if the exasperated party hold all the resources of the public strength, the armies, the places, the arsenals, and if it support itself upon masses the most numerous, what can the support of a party destitute of all those means effect?
What were a hundred thousand Vendeans and a hundred thousand federalists able to do for the coalition of 1793?
History offers but a single example of a struggle like that of the French
revolution, and it seems to demonstrate all the danger of attacking an excited nation.
Meanwhile, the bad conduct of the military operations could have contributed also to this result, and in order to be able to deduce certain maxims from this war, it would be necessary to know what would have happened if, after the flight of Dumouriez, the allies, instead of destroying the fortresses with cannon shots, and of taking possession of them in their name, had written to the commandants of those fortresses, that they wanted neither France
, nor its places, nor its brave army, and had marched with two hundred thousand men upon Paris
Perhaps, they would there have restored the monarchy, but perhaps also they would not have returned, unless an equal force had protected their retreat upon the Rhine
This is what would be difficult to decide, since the trial was never made, and everything would have depended in this case upon the course which the French
army would have taken.
The problem then presents two equally grave hypotheses; the campaign of 1793 has resolved it but in one sense: it would be difficult to resolve it in the other; it is to experience alone that like solutions belong.
With regard to the military rules to be given for these wars, they are nearly the same as those for national struggles; they differ; however, in one capital point; it is that in the latter, the country ought to be occupied and subjected, the places besieged and reduced, the armies destroyed, all the provinces
subjugated; whereas, in affairs of opinion, it is not so much the object to subdue the country, and to occupy one's self with accessories; there are necessary sufficient means for moving directly to the end, without halting at any consideration of detail, and endeavoring, above all things, to shun whatever could alarm the nation as to its independence and the integrity of its territory.
The war made in Spain
in 1823, and of which we have spoken in the preceding article, is an example to cite in favor of those truths, and in opposition to that of the French Revolution
Doubtless the conditions were somewhat different, for the French
army of 1792, was composed of elements more solid than that of the radicals of the island of Leon
The war of the Revolution was at once a war of opinion, a national and civil war, whilst, if the first war with Spain
, in 1808, was altogether national, that of 1823 was a partial struggle of opinions without nationality: hence the enormous difference in the results.
The expedition of the Duke
d'angouleme was, moreover, well conducted in regard to execution.5
Far from amusing himself with taking places, his army acted conformably to the maxims above mentioned; after having pushed briskly to the Ebro, it was divided here to cut off at their sources, all the elements of the hostile strength, because it well knew that, seconded by a majority of the inhabitants of the country, it could be divided without danger.
If it had followed the instructions of the ministry, who prescribed to it to subdue methodically all the country and places situated between the Pyrenees
and the Ebro, in order to base itself militarily, it would, perhaps, have failed in its object, or at least, rendered the struggle long and bloody, by rousing the national pride with the idea of an occupation like that of 1807.
But, emboldened by the good reception of all the population, it comprehended that it was an operation more political than military, and that it was a question of leading on rapidly to the end. Its conduct, very different from that of the allies in 1793, merits the reflection of all those who should have like expeditions to direct.
It was, therefore, in less than three months under the walls of Cadiz
If what is passing at this day in the Peninsula
, attests that policy knew not how to profit from its success, and to found a suitable and solid
order of things, the fault was neither in the army nor its chiefs, but in the Spanish
government, which delivered up to violent reactionary counsels, was not equal to its mission.
Arbiter between two hostile interests, Ferdinand blindly threw himself into the arms of that one of the parties which affected a great veneration for the throne, but which counted to make the most of the royal authority for its own profit, without troubling itself about future consequences.
Society remained divided into two hostile camps, which it would not have been impossible to calm and to bring together in course of time.
Those camps have come anew to blows, as I had predicted at Verona
in 1823; a great lesson, from which it appears for the rest, that no person is disposed to profit in this beautiful and too unhappy country, although history is not wanting in examples to attest that violent reactions are, no more than revolutions, proper elements for constructing and consolidating.
God grant that there may result from this frightful conflict, a throne strong and respected, equally free of all factions, and supported upon a disciplined army as well as the general interests of the country: a throne, finally, capable of rallying this incomprehensible Spanish nation which, from qualities not less extraordinary than its defects, was ever a problem for those even whom we should have thought in the best condition to judge it.
Article VIII: national wars.
National wars, of which we have already been forced to say a few words in speaking of those of invasion, are the most formidable of all; this name can be given only to those which are made against a whole population, or at least against the majority of that population, animated by a noble fire for its independence; then every step is disputed by a combat; the army which enters into such a country holds in it only the field where it encamps; its supplies can only be obtained at the point of the sword, its convoys are every where menaced or carried away.
This spectacle of the spontaneous movement of a whole nation is rarely seen, and if it presents something grand and generous which commands admiration, the consequences of it are so terrible that, for the sake of humanity, we should desire never to witness it.6
Such a movement may be produced by the most opposite causes: a serf people can be raised in mass at the voice of its government, and its masters even set the example by putting themselves at its head, when they are animated by a noble love for their sovereign and for their country; in tile sane manner a fanatic people arm themselves at the voice of their monks, and a people excited by political opinions, or by the sacred love they bear for their institutions, precipitate themselves to meet the enemy in order to defend what they hold most dear.
The command of the sea enters for much in the results of a national invasion; if the people aroused has a great extent of coast, and is master of the sea, or in alliance with a power which commands it, then its resistance is centupled, not only through the facility had for feeding the fire of insurrection, of alarming the enemy on all points of the country which he occupies, but still by the difficulties which will be interposed to its supplies by the maritime route.
The nature of the country contributes also a great deal to the facility of a national defense; mountainous countries are always those in which a people is most formidable.
After those come countries cut up by vast forests.
The struggle of the Swiss against Austria
and against the Duke
of Burgundy; those of the Catalans in 1712 and in 1809; the difficulties which the Russians experience in subduing the people of Caucasus
; finally, the reiterated efforts of the Tyroleans, demonstrated sufficiently that mountain people have always resisted longer than those of the plains, as much through their character and manners, as from the nature of those countries.
Defiles and great forests favor, as well as cliffs, this kind of partial defense; and the Bocage of La Vendee, become so justly celebrated, proves that every difficult country, even though it be but intersected with hedges, ditches and canals, produces a like result when it is bravely defended.7
The obstacles which a regular army encounters, in wars of opinion as well as in national wars, are immense and render very difficult the mission of the General
charged with conducting it. The events which we have just cited, as also the struggle of the Low Countries
against Philip II, and that of the Americans
against the English
, furnish evident proofs of this: but the much more extraordinary struggle of La Vendee against the victorious Republic; those of Spain
and the Tyrol against Napoleon
; finally those, so desperate of the Morea against the Turks, and of Navarre against the forces of Queen Christine, are examples more striking still.
It is especially when the hostile populations are supported by a considerable nucleus of disciplined troops, that such a war offers immense difficulties.8
You have but an army, your adversaries have an army and a whole people raised in mass or at least in good part; a people turning every thing into arms, of which each individual conspires for your ruin, of which all the members, even the non-combattants have an interest in your perdition, and favor it by every means in their power.
You occupy little but the soil upon which you encamp; beyond the limits of this camp, every thing becomes hostile to you, and multiplies by a thousand means the difficulties which beset you at every step.
Those difficulties become especially exaggerated when the country is much cut up by natural accidents: each armed inhabitant knows the smallest footpaths and their terminations; he finds every where a parent, a brother, a friend, who seconds him: the chiefs are acquainted in the same manner with the country, and learning instantly the least of your movements, can take the most efficacious measures for defeating your projects, whilst that, deprived of all information, out of condition to risk detachments of scouts for obtaining it, having no other support than your bayonets, nor security but in the concentration of your columns, you act like blind men; each of your combinations becomes an illusion, and when, after the best concerted movements, the most rapid and fatiguing marches, you think you have reached the goal of your efforts and are about to strike in a clap of thunder, you find no other traces of the enemy than the smoke of his bivouacs.
Very like Don Quixot
, you tilt thus
against wind-mills, whilst your adversary is throwing himself upon your communications, breaking up the detachments left to guard them, surprising your convoys, your depots, and making upon you. a disastrous war in which you must necessarily succumb in the end.
I myself have had, in the war with Spain
, two terrible examples of this nature.
's Corps replaced that of Soult
I had cantoned the companies of the artillery train between Betanzos and Corunna
, in the midst of four brigades which were distant from them two to three leagues; no Spanish troops showed themselves within twenty leagues around; Soult
still occupied Santiago de Compostella
, Maurice Mathieu
's division was at Ferrol
and at Lugo; that of Marchand
and Betanzos; meanwhile one fine night those companies of the train disappeared, men and horses, without our ever being able even to learn what had become of them; a single wounded Corporal escaped, and assured us that peasants, conducted by priests or monks, had massacred them.
Four months afterwards, Marshal Ney
marched, with a single division to the conquest of the Asturias, and descended by the valley of the: Navia, whilst Kellerman debouched from Leon
by the route of Oviedo
A part of the corps of Romana, which guarded the Asturias, defiled by the slopes of the heights which enclosed the valley of the Navia
, at a league at most from our columns, without the Marshal
knowing a word of it; at the moment when the latter reached Gijon, the army of Romana fell in the midst of the isolated division of Marchand
, which, dispersed to guard all Galicia, came near being taken separately, and only escaped by the prompt return of the Marshal
The war with Spain
offered a thousand scenes as lively as this.
All the gold of Mexico
would not have sufficed for procuring the French
any information, and all that was given them was but a lure to make them fall the more easily into snares.
No army, however inured to war it may be, could struggle with success against such a system applied to a great people, unless it were by forces so formidable that it could occupy strongly all the important points of the country, cover its own communications, and still furnish active corps sufficiently large for beating the enemy wherever he should present himself.
But when this enemy himself has a tolerably respectable regular army for serving as a nucleus to the resistance of the population, what forces would not be necessary in order to be at once superior every where, and to assure remote communications' against numerous corps?
It is particularly important to study well the war in the Spanish Peninsula
in order to appreciate all the obstacles which a general and brave troops may encounter in the conquest or the occupation of a country thus roused.
What efforts of patience, of courage and of resignation were not necessary to the phalanxes of Napoleon
, of Massena
, of Soult
, of Ney
, and of Suchet, in order to hold out for six whole years against three or four hundred thousand armed Spaniards and Portuguese, seconded by the regular armies of the Wellingtons, the Beresfords, the Blakes, the Romanas, Cuestas
, Castagnos, Redings and Balesteros!
The means of succeeding in such a war are difficult enough; to display in the first place a mass of forces proportionate to the resistance and to the obstacles which are to be encountered; to calm the popular passions by all the means possible; to use them now and then; to display a great mixture of policy, of mildness and severity, and above all great justice; such are the first elements of success.
The examples of Henry IV in the wars of the League, of Marshal Berwick
in Catalonia, of Suchet in Aragon and in Valencia
, of Hoche
in Yendee, are models of different kinds, but which may be employed according to circumstances with the same success.
The admirable order and discipline, maintained by the armies of Generals Diebitsch
in the late war, are also models to cite, and contributed not a little to the success of their enterprises.
The extraordinary obstacles which a national struggle presents to an army wishing to invade a country, have led some speculative minds to de sire that there might never be any other wars, because then they would become more rare, and conquest becoming thus more difficult, would offer less attractions to ambitious chiefs.
This reasoning is more specious than just, for, in order to admit its consequences, it would be necessary to be able always to inspire populations with the disposition for flying to arms; afterwards it would be necessary to be certain that henceforth there would be no wars but those of conquest, and that all those legitimate, but secondary wars, which have for object only the maintainance of the political equilibrium, or the defense of public interests, should be banished for ever.
Otherwise, what means would there exist of knowing when and how it would be suitable to excite a national war?
For example, if a hundred thousand Germans passed the Rhine
, and penetrated into France
with the primitive object of opposing the conquest of Belgium
by this power, but with no other project of ambition against it, would it be necessary to raise en masse
, all the population of Alsace, of Lorraine
, of Champagne, of Burgundy, men, women and children, to make a Saragassa of every little walled town, and thus to bring about through reprisals the murder, pillage, and burning of the whole country?
If this be not done, and the
German army occupy those provinces at the end of certain successes, who will answer that it do not then seek to appropriate a part of them, although in the beginning it had no such intention?
The difficulty of answering these two questions thus proposed, would seem to militate in favor of national wars; but are there no means of repelling such an aggression without recourse to risings in mass, and a war of extermination?
Does there not exist a medium between those struggles of populations, and the ancient regular wars, made only by permanent armies?
Does it not suffice, in order to defend a country well, to organize a militia or landwehr
which, clad in uniform, and called by government to intervene in the struggle, would regulate thus the part which the populations were to take in the controversy, would not put them entirely out of the pale of the laws of nations, and would place just limits to a war of extermination?
For my part, I shall answer affirmatively, and in applying this, mixed system to the questions above propounded, I would guarantee that fifty thousand French regular troops, supported by the national guards of the East
, would have an easy affair with that German army which should have crossed the Vosges
; for, reduced to fifty thousand men by a host of detachments, it would have, on arriving near the Meuse, or in the Argonne, more than a hundred thousand men on its back.
It is precisely in order to succeed in this juste milieu
, that we have presented as an invariable maxim, the necessity of preparing for the army good national reserves; a system which offers the advantage of diminishing the expenses in time of peace, and of assuring the defense of the country in case of war. This system is nothing else than that employed by France
in 1792, imitated by Austria
in 1809, and by all Germany
In view of this I should not have expected the misplaced attacks of which it has been the subject.
I shall resume this discussion by affirming that without being an Utopian philanthropist or a condottieri
, one can wish that wars of extermination might be banished from the code of nations, and that the national defences, through a regulated militia, could suffice henceforth, with good political alliances, for assuring the independence of States.
As a military man, preferring loyal and chivalric war to organized assassination, I own, that if it were necessary to choose, I should ever prefer the good time when the French
guards politely invited each other to fire first, as was the case at Fontenoy
, to the frightful epoch when the curates, the women and the children organized over the whole soil of Spain
, the murder of isolated soldiers.
If, in the eyes of General R * * *, this opinion is yet a blasphemy, I
shall console myself without difficulty, at the same time acknowledging that there is a mean tern between these two extremes, which answers all wants, and which is precisely the system which has cost me so many unjust criticisms.
Article IX: civil and religious wars.
Intestine wars, when they are not connected with a foreign quarrel, are ordinarily the result of a struggle of opinions, of political or religious party spirit.
In the middle ages, they were oftener the shocks of feudal coteries.
The most deplorable wars are, without doubt, those of religion.
It is comprehended that a State may combat its own children, to prevent political factions which enfeeble the authority of the throne and the national strength; but that it should slaughter its subjects in order to force them to pray in Latin or in French
, and to acknowledge the supremacy of a foreign pontiff, is what reason can hardly conceive.
Of all kings, the most to be pitied was, without contradiction, Louis XIV, driving away a million of industrious protestants, who had put his grandfather upon the throne, a protestant like them.
Wars of fanaticism are horrible when mingled with external wars; they are frightful, even when they are only family quarrels.
The history of France
in the time of the League, will be a lasting lesson for nations and kings; it is difficult to believe that this people, yet so noble and chivalric under Francis First, should have fallen in twenty years into an excess of brutality so deplorable.
To give maxims for these kinds of wars would be absurd; there is but one upon which sensible men are agreed, this is to unite the two sects, or the two parties, in order to drive away the foreigner who should wish to meddle in the quarrel, then to explain to each other with moderation, to the end of mingling the rights of the two parties into a pact of reconciliation.
In fact, the intervention of a third power in a religious dispute, could never be other than an act of ambition.9
It is conceived that governments intervene in good faith against a political phrenzy, the dogmas of which may menace the social order; although ordinarily those fears are exaggerated and serve often as a pretext it is possible for a State to believe itself truly so menaced at home.
But in the matter of theological disputes, it is never the case, and the intervention of Philip II in the affairs of the League, could have no other object than the division or subjection of France
to his influence, to the end of dismembering her by degrees.
Article X: double wars, and the danger of undertaking two wars at once.
The celebrated maxim of the Romans, never to undertake two great wars at a time, is too well known and too well appreciated to require any demonstration of its wisdom.
A state may be constrained to make war against two neighboring peoples; but circumstances must be very inauspicious, when it does not find in this case, an ally which comes to its succor for its own preservation, and the maintainance of the political equilibrium.
It is rare also, that those two peoples leagued against it, have the same interest in the war, and engage therein all their means; now, if one of them be only an auxiliary, it will already be but an ordinary war.
Louis XIV, Frederick
, the Emperor Alexander and Napoleon
, sustained gigantic struggles against coalesced Europe
When such struggles arise from voluntary aggressions which could be avoided, they indicate a capital fault on the part of him who engages in them, but if they arise from imperious and inevitable circumstances, they must at least be remedied, by seeking to oppose means or alliances capable of establishing a certain ponderation of the respective forces.
The great coalition against Louis XIV, caused, as we have said, by his projects upon Spain
, took, nevertheless, its origin in the preceding aggressions which had alarmed all his neighbors.
He could oppose to leagued Europe
only the faithful alliance of the Elector of Bavaria
, and the more equivocal one of the Duke
, who himself was not slow to increase the number of the coalitionists.
sustained war against the three most powerful monarchies on the continent, with the support alone of subsidies from England
, and of fifty thousand auxiliaries from six different small States; but the division and feebleness of his adversaries were his best allies.
Those two wars, like that sustained by the Emperor Alexander in 1812, were almost impossible to avoid.
had all Europe
on her hands in 1793, in consequence of the extravagant provocations of the Jacobins, of the exaltation of the two parties, and of the Utopias of the Girondins who braved, they said, all the kings of the earth in counting on the support of the English
The result of those absurd calculations was a frightful disorder, from which France
extricated herself as by a miracle.
is then in a manner the only one of modern sovereigns who has voluntarily undertaken two, and even three frightful wars at once, those with Spain
, with England
and with Russia
; but yet did he support himself in the latter, with the concurrence of Austria
and of Prussia
, without speaking even of Turkey
and of Sweden
, upon which he counted with too much confidence, so that this enterprise was not so adventurous on his part as has generally been believed, judged according to the turn of affairs.
It is seen from what precedes, that there is a great distinction to be made between a war undertaken against a single State, in which a third should come to take a part by means of an auxiliary corps, and two wars conducted simultaneously at the most opposite extremities of a country, against two powerful nations which should engage all their resources to overwhelm him who should have menaced them.
For instance, the double
hand to hand struggle of Napoleon
in 1809, with Austria
, sus tained by England
, was much more grave for him, than if he had had to do only with Austria
, assisted by any auxiliary corps whatever, fixed by known treaties.
Struggles of this last kind enter in the category of ordinary wars.
It must be concluded then in general, that double wars should be avoided as much as possible; and that when the case happens, it is even better to dissemble the wrongs of one of our neighbors until the opportune moment arrives for requiring the redress of the just grievances of which we might have to complain.
However, this rule could not be absolute; the respective forces, the localities, the possibility of finding allies also on out side for re-establishing a sort of equilibrium between the parties, are so many circumstances which will have an influence on the resolutions of a State which should be menaced with a like war. We shall have accomplished our task, by pointing out at once the danger and the comedies which can be opposed to it.