Cover

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Half Title, Series Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Table of Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Foreword

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pp. xi-xii

When Colonel Charles Jean Jacques Joseph Ardant du Picq fell on the field at Longeville-lés-Metz in August 1870 during the Franco-Prussian War, France lost her most astute military observer and commentator of the last half of the nineteenth century. Born in 1821, Ardant du Picq graduated from the Saint-Cyr military academy in 1844, ...

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Introduction: Toujours la question essentielle

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pp. xiii-l

At about seven o’clock one morning in August 1870, the French army’s 10e régiment d’infanterie de ligne halted its march along a road just south of Longeville-lés-Metz. The regiment had been on the move since before dawn. The troops had just started their coffee when they came under shellfire from two guns of the Prussian 2nd Horse Artillery ...

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About This Translation

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pp. li-lii

The original edition of Ardant du Picq’s Études sur le combat was published in Paris in 1880 by Hachette. This edition consisted of a compilation of du Picq’s unpublished essays. A family friend, one Captain Letellier, about whom little is known, undertook the compilation at the family’s request. ...

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Part One. Ancient Battle: Introduction

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pp. 3-4

Battle is the ultimate purpose of armies, and man is the ultimate instrument of combat. Nothing can be prescribed wisely in an army; its makeup, its organization, its discipline, its tactics—all of which are like the fingers of a hand—without an exact understanding of its ultimate instrument, man, and his morale at the defining instant of combat. ...

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I. Man in Primitive and Ancient Combat

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pp. 5-9

Man does not enter combat to fight, but for victory. He does everything he can to avoid the first and guarantee the second. War between savage peoples, between Arabs, even in our own day,1* is a war of ambush by small groups of men, each of whom at the moment of surprise chooses not his adversary but his victim, and is an assassin.2 ...

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II. Knowledge of Man Made Roman Tactics, the Successes of Hannibal, and Those of Caesar

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pp. 10-14

The tactics of the Greeks are embodied in the phalanx, Roman tactics in the legion; the tactics of the barbarians in the square phalanx, the wedge, or the diamond. ...

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III. Analysis of the Battle of Cannae

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pp. 15-23

Varro placed the cavalry on the right wing, and rested it on the river; the infantry was deployed near it and on the same line, the maniples drawn close to each other, with smaller intervals than usual, and the maniples presenting more depth than front. ...

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IV. Analysis of the Battle of Pharsalus and Some Characteristic Examples

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pp. 24-32

Here is Caesar’s description of the battle of Pharsalus:
As Caesar approached Pompey’s camp, he noted that Pompey’s army was placed in the following order: ...

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V. The Dynamics of Morale in Ancient Combat

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pp. 33-39

Now we have explained the dynamics of morale in ancient combat. The word “melee” used by the ancients was many times more powerful than the idea expressed; “melee” meant the crossing of weapons, not of men. ...

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VI. Under What Conditions Real Combatants Are Made and How the Fighting of Our Own Days, in Order to Be Done Well, Requires Them to Be More Resolute Than in Ancient Combat

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pp. 40-45

Allow us to repeat now what we said at the beginning of this study. Man does not enter battle to fight, but for victory. He does all he can to avoid the first and secure the second. The continued perfection of all the instruments of war has no other purpose than the annihilation of the enemy. Absolute bravery, which does not refuse combat even on unequal terms, trusting only in God or destiny ...

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VII. The Purpose of This Study and What Would Be Necessary to Complete It

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pp. 46-48

Other thoughts on this study must come from the meditations of the reader. To be of value in actual application these should be founded on a study of modern combat, and that study cannot be made from the accounts of historians alone. ...

Part Two. Modern Battle

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I. General Considerations

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pp. 51-73

I have heard philosophers reproached for studying too exclusively man in general and leaving aside the race, country, or era, so that their studies of him permit little real application, social or political. The opposite criticism can be made of military men, whatever the country. ...

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II. Infantry

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pp. 74-96

Now we want to explain the force created by the material effect of a column attack and by mass action in general. Today, we may read this singular rationale for attack by battalions in close columns: ...

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III. Cavalry

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pp. 97-113

It is said that cavalry is finished, that it cannot fight in battles with modern weapons. Isn’t the infantry affected as well?
Examples from the last two wars prove little: in a siege, in a country that is disputed, one does not employ the cavalry and thereby forfeits its audacity, which is almost its only weapon. ...

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IV. Artillery

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pp. 114-115

If artillery had no greater range than the rifle, we could not risk separating them so far from their support, as it would have to wait until the enemy was only 400 or 500 paces to fire. But with its increase in range, supports can be placed farther away. ...

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V. Command, General Staff, and Administration

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pp. 116-120

There is no lack of carefree generals who are never worried or harassed. They are never bothered about anything: “I advance. Follow me,” and off the columns march in incredible disorder. Were ten raiders to fall shouting upon the column, this disorder would dissolve into a rout, a disaster. But these gentlemen never contemplate such an eventuality. They are lucky. ...

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VI. Social and Military Institutions; National Characteristics

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pp. 121-130

The admiration of man for the great spectacles of nature is the admiration of force. In the mountains it is mass, a force, that impresses him, strikes him, makes him admire. In the calm sea, it is the mysterious, terrible force that he perceives, that he senses in this enormous mass of liquid; in the angry sea, force again. ...

Appendices

Appendix I. Memorandum on Infantry Battle

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pp. 131-158

Appendix II. Historical Documents

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pp. 159-170

Appendix III. Record of Military Service of Colonel Ardant du Picq

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pp. 171-172

Appendix IV. “Extract from the History of the 10th Infantry Regiment”

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pp. 173-176

Appendix V. A Brother’s Reminiscence

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pp. 177-180

Appendix VI. The Circular Letter

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pp. 181-183

Back Cover

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