Precis de l'Art de Guerre

(The Art of War)

by General Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini

Introduction
Jomini - Biography
Amazon.com Link to get this book
Table of Contents
Chapter and Article Summaries

Introduction by Ralph Boerke [top]

I read this book back in the late 1980's, well skimmed through it as it is a manual of sorts.  I learned a bit from it - fronts, lines of force, points of force, lines of movement and so on.  I have recently purchased it and read it again (Dec 2000 - Jan 2001) and thought I should add it to my website as I intended to so many years ago.  Adding to the existing books in my series on the Art which include: Napoleon's "Art of War", Sun Tzu's "Art of War" and Frederick's "The King of Prussia's Military Instruction to his Generals".

This page is on Jomini's book with my own summations of the chapters.  I will start out with a few paragraphs speaking on the man and the time he wrote his book.  Then onto the book itself where I give the Table of Contents with links to my summations.  Some spellings are different and I've left them in, (ex. Intrenched for Entrenched).  The reader should be able to understand what they are.  As for the French terms used I will try to find the equivalent English terms and add them in brackets.


Jomini and his Book [top]

A.H. Jomini was born in Payerne, Vaud, Switzerland (French speaking part) in 1779.  He worked as a banker in Paris and in 1798 joined up with Napoleon.  He retired in 1801 and wrote a paper on the campaigns of Frederick the Great (Prussian King [1712-1786] who basically made Prussia a European power).  Jomini volunteered again in 1804 and was a staff officer in the French Army, and Napoleon made him a Colonel in Ney's Corps.  Jomini was at the battles of Austerlitz (1805), Jena (1806) and Eylau (1807), and was in Spain in 1808.  Later Jomini was governor of Vilna and then Smolensk while Napoleon was in Russia.  He was in the German campaigns of 1813 but then changed sides to the Russian Army in 1814.  He moved to Paris after the Napoleonic wars and died in 1869.

After the Napoleonic wars, Jomini wrote the "Art of War" - "Precis de l'Art de Guerre" - and it was published in 1838.

Jomini had Napoleon, Wellington, Von Clausewitz and Beethoven as contemporaries.  You may believe, as I do, that Beethoven's music is so powerful because of the times he lived in.  Jomini's "Art of War" and Von Clausewitz's "On War" are the two manuals which guided military thinkers up to and including W.W.I..  They did not see air power as a force in their times but what they said of land war (and war at sea) is still relevant even in today's military.  Before the Napoleonic era of warfare we had great generals from the classical civilizations like Alexander and Caesar to the renaissance Generals of Prince Eugene of Savoy and the Duke of Marlborough and ending with Frederick II of Prussia who's campaigns, politics and tactics were on the cusp of the new era in war.  But war after Napoleon would be different.  These books both show how the new wars will be fought and how to fight them.  Jomini's book is like a manual on what war is about and how best to conduct it.  Von Clausewitz's is more of a philosophical treatise mixed with technical matters like strategy and tactics. 'On War' was published in 1831 and Jomini had time to study it before publishing his own book.  Both books agree on many matters but a few differences do exist, such as, Von Clausewitz thought the defensive was more powerful while Jomini the offensive.  Jomini's was the text book for study by military minds in the 1800's including many US Civil war generals, until the Prussian victory over France in 1872 and Von Moltke's admonition that 'the Bible, Homer and (Von Clausewitz's) On War' were the three books worth reading.



Amazon.com carries the book I have: The Art of War, Baron Antoine Henri de Jomini.
Link to my Amazon Book Reviews [top]

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The Art of War

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Napoleon's Military Legacy : Interpreting Napoleon from Clausewitz and Jomini to Robert E. Lee (Napoleon Journal) cover
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Table of Contents: [top]

Translator's Preface
Definitions of the Branches of the Art of War

    Chapter I - The Relation of Diplomacy to War
Article I  Offensive Wars to Recover Rights
Article II Wars which are Politically Defensive, and Offensive in a Military View
Article III Wars of Expediency
Article IV Wars with or without Allies
Article V Wars of Intervention
Article VI Wars of Invasion, through a Desire of Conquest or for other Causes
Article VII Wars of Opinion
Article VIII National Wars
Article IX Civil and Religious Wars
Article X Double Wars, and the Danger of Undertaking Two at the same time

    Chapter II - Military Policy
Article XI Military Statistics and Geography
Article XII Different Causes which have an Influence over the Success of a War
Article XIII The Military Institutions of States
Article XIV The Command of Armies and the Supreme Control of Operations
Article XV The Military Spirit of Nations and the Morale of Armies

    Chapter III - Strategy
Definition of Strategy and Tactics
The Fundamental Principles of War
Article XVI The System of Offensive or Defensive Operations
Article XVII The Theater of Operations
Article XVIII Bases of Operations
Article XIX Strategic Lines and Points, Decisive Points of the Theater of War, and Objective Points of Operation
Article XX Fronts of Operations, Strategic Fronts, Lines of Defense, and Strategic Positions
Article XXI Zones and Lines of Operations
Article XXII Strategic Lines of Maneuver
Article XXIII Means of Protecting Lines of Operations by Temporary Bases or Strategic Reserves
Article XXIV The Old and New Systems of War
Article XXV Depots of Supply, and their Relations to Operations
Article XXVI Frontiers, and their Defense by Forts and Intrenched Lines.  - Wars of Sieges
Article XXVII Intrenched Camps and Tetes de Ponts in Relation to Strategy
Article XXVIII Strategic Operations in Mountainous Countries
Article XXIX Grand Invasions and Distant Expeditions
Epitome of Strategy

    Chapter IV - Grand Tactics and Battles
Article XXX Positions and Defensive Battles
Article XXXI Offensive Battles and Orders of Battle
Article XXXII Turning Maneuvers, and Too Extended Movements in Battle
Article XXXIII Unexpected Meeting of Two Armies on the March
Article XXXIV Surprise of Armies
Article XXXV Attack of Cities, Intrenched Camps or Lines, and Coups de Main generally

    Chapter V - Several Operations of a Mixed Character, Which are Partly in the Domain of Strategy and Partly of Tactics
Article XXXVI Diversions and Great Detachments
Article XXXVII Passage of Rivers and other Streams
Article XXXVIII Retreats and Pursuits
Article XXXIX Cantonments and Winter Quarters
Article XL Descents, or Maritime Expeditions

    Chapter VI - Logistics, Or the Practical Art of Moving Armies
Article XLI A few Remarks on Logistics in General
Article XLII Reconnoissances, and other Means of Gaining Accurate Information of the Enemy's Movements

    Chapter VII - Formation and Employment Of Troops For Battle
Article XLIII Posting Troops in Line of Battle
Article XLIV Formation and Employment of Infantry
Article XLV Formation and Employment of Cavalry
Article XLVI Formation and Employment of Artillery
Article XLVII Employment of the Three Arms together

Conclusion
Supplement
Appendix
Second Appendix
Sketch of the Principle Maritime Expeditions



[top]

Chapter and Article Summaries (and paraphrasing) by Ralph Boerke, quotes from Jomini's Articles.

Translator's Preface [top]

Actually in my copy of the book, before this Preface is an Introduction by Charles Messenger which gives a good outline of Jomini's history and the use of his work in the past 150 years.
This translation was done by the US Military Academy West Point N.Y. January 1862.  The Preface tells the reader to go to Chapter III Strategy before looking at the first chapters.  Also use a map while studying this.  (Here on the web you can easily go to many sites which should have maps of Austerlitz or something similar).

Definitions of the Branches of the Art of War [top]

Art of War consists of five branches: Strategy, Grand Tactics, Logistics, Engineering, and Tactics.  A sixth branch could be: Diplomacy in its Relation to War (aka Statesmanship)
Jomini concentrates on Strategy, Grand Tactics, Logistics and Statesmanship



Chapter I - The Relation of Diplomacy to War [top][table of contents]

Statesmanship in its relation to War.
A Statesman can conclude a war is Proper, Opportune, or Indespensable.
Reasons Governments go to War:

The term Military Policy is used to link Diplomacy and Strategy when Jomini talks about subjects that do not fall exclusively into one subject or the other.
 
Article  Offensive Wars to Recover Rights [top][table of contents]

Jomini talks a bit about rights and how rights can be doubtful and contested. 

He gives some examples such as the Spanish Succession which was determined by a will, by family ties and the consent of the Spanish people, yet was contested by all of Europe.

Basically he says might makes right or more precisely winning makes it right.
 

Article II Wars which are Politically Defensive, and Offensive in a Military View [top][table of contents]

"A state attacked by another which renews an old claim rarely yields it without war,... it may be advantageous to take the offensive, instead of awaiting the attack on the frontiers."

To go on the offensive or defensive is different for each situation.
 

Article III Wars of Expediency [top][table of contents]

Frederick in Silesia was a War of Expediency.

Two kinds: 
1) A powerful state takes some land for commercial or political reasons.
2) To lessen the power of a dangerous rival or to prevent his aggrandizement.

 

Article IV Wars with or without Allies [top][table of contents]

Alliances are generally more powerful even with a small ally.  This small ally may threaten the enemy at a place which would otherwise be secure.
 

Article V Wars of Intervention [top][table of contents]

To join into a war which has already started.  This is most advantageous as the power chooses when and where to join in and will wait for an opportune time when he sees one side can be defeated.

Three Reasons for Intervention:
1) Treaty
2) Maintain political equilibrium
3) Avoid a certain evil consequence if the war continues or to gain something by joining.

A long article with a few examples 

In modern times I can think of Germany in W.W.II declaring war on the US as a bad example of this.  In this case it was complicated. 
However for the USSR joining in the US-Japanese war in August 1945 and Turkey joining the allies against Germany in April 1945 are examples where the powers do benefit.

In pre W.W.I times I can think of England as the power balancer trying to maintain the equilibrium. 
 

ArticleVI Wars of Invasion, through a Desire of Conquest or for other Causes [top][table of contents]

Two types:
1) Attacks adjoining states
2) Attacks a distant point, over intervening territory of great extent whose inhabitants may be neutral, doubtful, or hostile.

A long article with examples.

Alexander and Caesar prospered.
Genghis Khan's war of invasion was without good reason and is a crime against humanity.
 

Article VII Wars of Opinion [top][table of contents]

"Wars of opinion, national wars, and civil wars are sometimes confounded"

Wars of opinion may be:
Intestine
Intestine and Foreign
Foreign or Exterior without being intestine or civil.

"Although originating in religious or political dogmas, these wars are the most deplorable; for, like national wars, they enlist the worst passions, and become vindictive, cruel, and terrible."

Jomini goes on with some examples.  The Crusades, Jihads, wars of the League, Thirty Years' War, are similar.  Religion is the pretext to obtain political power.  The successors of Mohammed cared more to extend their empires than to preach the Koran.  Philip II did not sustain the League in France for the purpose of advancing the Roman Church.

Dogma can also be an ally, getting the populous to join in the war.

Another long article.
 

Article VIII National Wars [top][table of contents]

Jomini deals with attacking a state where all of the people know that their state is in danger of losing its independence and thus the people will oppose an army that has invaded.

He goes on to give examples.

A very long article.
 

Article IX Civil and Religious Wars [top][table of contents]

"Religious wars are above all the most deplorable."
 

Article X Double Wars, and the Danger of Undertaking Two at the same time [top][table of contents]

A government should not undertake fighting two wars at the same time.

Examples of Napoleon, Louis XIV, Frederick the Great and Alexander.
 

Chapter II - Military Policy [table of contents][table of contents]

The term embraces the moral combinations relating to the operations of armies.

Some political considerations belong to neither diplomacy, strategy, nor tactics.  Those are included under Military Policy.
 
 
Article XI Military Statistics and Geography [top][table of contents]
Article XII Different Causes which have an Influence over the Success of a War [top][table of contents]
Article XIII The Military Institutions of States [top][table of contents]
Article XIV The Command of Armies and the Supreme Control of Operations [top][table of contents]
Article XV The Military Spirit of Nations and the Morale of Armies [top][table of contents]

Chapter III - Strategy [table of contents]
 
Definition of Strategy and Tactics [top][table of contents]
The Fundamental Principles of War [top][table of contents]
Article XVI The System of Offensive or Defensive Operations [top][table of contents]
Article XVII The Theater of Operations [top][table of contents]
Article XVIII Bases of Operations [top][table of contents]
Article XIX Strategic Lines and Points, Decisive Points of the Theater of War, and Objective Points of Operation [top][table of contents]
Article XX Fronts of Operations, Strategic Fronts, Lines of Defense, and Strategic Positions [top][table of contents]
Article XXI Zones and Lines of Operations [top][table of contents]
Article XXII Strategic Lines of Maneuver [top][table of contents]
Article XXIII Means of Protecting Lines of Operations by Temporary Bases or Strategic Reserves [top][table of contents]
Article XXIV The Old and New Systems of War [top][table of contents]
Article XXV Depots of Supply, and their Relations to Operations [top][table of contents]
Article XXVI Frontiers, and their Defense by Forts and Intrenched Lines.  - Wars of Sieges [top][table of contents]
Article XXVII Intrenched Camps and Tetes de Ponts in Relation to Strategy [top][table of contents]
Article XXVIII Strategic Operations in Mountainous Countries [top][table of contents]
Article XXIX Grand Invasions and Distant Expeditions [top][table of contents]
Epitome of Strategy [top][table of contents]

Chapter IV - Grand Tactics and Battles [table of contents]
 
Article XXX Positions and Defensive Battles [top][table of contents]
Article XXXI Offensive Battles and Orders of Battle [top][table of contents]
Article XXXII Turning Maneuvers, and Too Extended Movements in Battle [top][table of contents]
Article XXXIII Unexpected Meeting of Two Armies on the March [top][table of contents]
Article XXXIV Surprise of Armies [top][table of contents]
Article XXXV Attack of Cities, Intrenched Camps or Lines, and Coups de Main generally [top][table of contents]

Chapter V - Several Operations of a Mixed Character, Which are Partly in the Domain of Strategy and Partly of Tactics [table of contents]
 
Article XXXVI Diversions and Great Detachments [top][table of contents]
Article XXXVII Passage of Rivers and other Streams [top][table of contents]
Article XXXVIII Retreats and Pursuits  [top][table of contents]
Article XXXIX Cantonments and Winter Quarters [top][table of contents]
Article XL Descents, or Maritime Expeditions [top][table of contents]

Chapter VI - Logistics, Or the Practical Art of Moving Armies [table of contents]
 
Article XLI A few Remarks on Logistics in General [top][table of contents]
Article XLII Reconnoissances, and other Means of Gaining Accurate Information of the Enemy's Movements [top][table of contents]

Chapter VII - Formation and Employment Of Troops For Battle [table of contents]
 
Article XLIII Posting Troops in Line of Battle [top][table of contents]
Article XLIV Formation and Employment of Infantry [top][table of contents]
Article XLV Formation and Employment of Cavalry [top][table of contents]
Article XLVI Formation and Employment of Artillery [top][table of contents]
Article XLVII Employment of the Three Arms together [top][table of contents]

Conclusion [top] [table of contents]
Supplement [top]
Appendix [top]
Second Appendix [top]
Sketch of the Principle Maritime Expeditions [top]



[top]
Next (completed) Chapter in the Series: Ralph Boerke (on Axis & Allies)
 
Sun Tzu (Ping Fa)  done
Alexander of Macedonia  not started
Hannibal  not started
Roman Art of War (Republic and Ceasar)  not started
Viking Art of War  not started
Von Saxe not started
Frederick the Great  done
Napoleon done
Karl Von Clausewitz (On War)  semi complete
Jomini semi complete
Heinz Guderian not started
Ralph Boerke (on Axis & Allies)  done
Art of War email:
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