Military history

Even until the Second World War, military science was written in English starting with capital letters, and was thought of as an academic discipline alongside Physics, Philosophy and the Medical Science. In part this was due to the general mystique that accompanied education in a World where as late as 1880s 75% of the European population was illiterate. The ability by the officers to make complex calculations required for the equally complex "evolutions" of the troop movements in linear warfare that increasingly dominated the Renaissance and later history, and the introduction of the gunpowder weapons into the equation of warfare only added to the veritable arcana of building fortifications as it seemed to the average individual. Until the early 19th century, one observer, a British veteran of the Napoleonic Wars, Major John Mitchell thought that it seemed nothing much had changed from the application of force on a battlefield since the days of the Greeks.[1] He suggested that this was primarily so because as Clausewitz suggested, "unlike in any other science or art, in war the object reacts".[2] Until this time, and even after the Franco-Prussian War, military science continued to be divided between the formal thinking of officers brought up in the "shadow" of Napoleonic Wars and younger officers like Ardant du Picq who tended to view fighting performance as rooted in the individual's and group psychology[3] and suggested detailed analysis of this. This set in motion the eventual fascination of the military organisations with application of quantitative and qualitative research to their theories of combat; the attempt to translate military thinking as philosophic concepts into concrete methods of combat. Military

implements, the supply of an army, its organization, tactics, and discipline, have constituted the elements of military science in all ages; but improvement in weapons and accoutrements appears to lead and control all the rest.[4] The breakthrough of sorts made by Clausewitz in suggesting eight principles on which such methods can be based, in Europe, for the first time presented an opportunity to largely remove the element of chance and error from command decision making process.[5] At this time emphasis was made on the Topography (including Trigonometry), Military art (Military science),[6] Military history, Organisation of the Army in the field, Artillery and Science of Projectiles, Field fortifications and Permanent fortifications, Military legislation, Military administration and Manoeuvres. The military science on which the model of German combat operations was built for the First World War remained largely unaltered from the Napoleonic model, but took into the consideration the vast improvements in the firepower and the ability to conduct "great battles of annihilation" through rapid concentration of force, strategic mobility, and the maintenance of the strategic offensive[8] better known as the Cult of the offensive. The key to this, and other modes of thinking about war remained analysis of military history and attempts to derive tangible lessons that could be replicated again with equal success on another battlefield as a sort of bloody laboratory of military science. Few were bloodier than the fields of the Western Front between 1914 and 1918. Fascinatingly the man who probably understood Clausewitz better than most, Marshal Foch would initially participate in events that nearly destroyed the French Army