there is perhaps some temerity in publishing a work upon war, at the moment when the apostles of perpetual peace alone are heard.
But the industrial fever and the increase of riches expected from it, will not always be the only divinities to which societies will sacrifice.
War is ever a necessary evil, not only for elevating or saving States, but yet for guaranteeing even the social body from dissolution, as the illustrious Ancillon
has so judiciously observed in his brilliant picture of the revolutions of the European
I am decided then upon the publication of this Summary, preceding it by some explanations upon the divers metamorphoses which it has undergone, and upon the motives which have prompted them.
His Majesty the Emperor
having ordered the translation of my Treatise upon grand military operations, which had never been terminated as a complete work, I resolved first to fill the omissions in it by writing, in 1829, the Analytical Compend
of the principal combinations of war. Executed rather precipitately, and conceived with the only object of serving as an appendant to my aforesaid Treatise, this first essay ought not to be considered as a separate work.
Called last year to give it some developments in order to make it serve for the instruction of an august prince, I rendered it sufficiently complete to accord it a brevet d'emancipation
and to make of it a work independent of every other.
Several new articles on wars of opinion and national wars, upon the supreme direction of the operations of war, upon the moral
of armies, upon lines of defense, upon zones and lines of operations, upon strategic reserves and transient bases, finally upon strategy in mountain warfare, on the manner of judging of the movements of the enemy and on grand detachments, have made of it an altogether new work, without speaking of the numerous ameliorations made in the other articles.
Despite those changes.
however, it appeared at first under its old title; but, yielding to the opinion of the publishers themselves, I was convinced of the necessity of giving it a new one in order to distinguish it from the partial essays which had preceded it. I named it then Summary of the art of war, or new analytical compend
, (precis de l'art de la guerre on nouveau tableau analytique
I give the second edition of this Summary.
as my last word upon the great speculative combinations of war; it will be augmented still by several interesting articles on the bases and fronts of operations, on logistics (la logistique
) or the practical art of moving armies, on remote grand invasions, on strategic lines, and manoeuvres for turning lines of battle.
Besides that, almost all the other articles have received new developments.
Not having been able to extend farther investigations upon the practical details of the art to which my limits and my object are equally opposed, I have indicated the works in which those details are found taught as far as feasible.
It is to the proper application of the speculative combinations of grand warfare that all those details ought to tend; but every one will naturally proceed to this application according to his character, his genius, his capacity; here precepts become difficult and serve only as approximate landmarks.
I shall be happy if my readers find in this book the essential bases of those combinations, and if they accept it with kindness.
I ask pardon for its style, above all for the constant repetition of technical expressions; now that the art of making phrases has become so common, every one has the right to be difficult; but the real merit of a didactic work, full of complicated definitions, is incontestably that of being perspicuous: now, to succeed in this, it is necessary to make up one's mind to those frequent repetitions of words and even of ideas which nothing could replace, and not to aim at elegance of phrases.
I shall be reproached perhaps with having pushed rather far the mania for definitions; but I own I make a merit of it: for in order to lay down the basis of a science until now little known, it is essential to have an understanding before all upon the different denominations that must be given to the combinations of which it is composed; otherwise it would be impossible to designate them and to qualify them.
I do not dissemble that some of mine might yet be ameliorated, and as I have no pretension to infallibility, I am quite ready to be the first to admit those which should be more satisfactory.
Finally, if I have often cited the same events as examples, I have decided to do so for the convenience of readers who have not all the campaigns in their memory or in their library.
It will suffice thus to be acquainted with the events cited in order to render the demonstrations intelligible; a greater series of proofs will not be wanting to those who are acquainted with modern military history.
march 6th, 1837.