French revolution and today’s warfare

Warfare means the process of military struggle and military operations between enemies. Theoretical and practical aspects of warfare are inseparably connected with political, economic, ideological and religious conditions of corresponding state order. The methods of warfare also depend on the level of production, economic conditions, geographical conditions and historical development of the country. Warfare requires the application of military science, tactics and strategy in order to be conducted effectively.

History teaches that revolutions in the art of conducting a war may take place under the influence of social and political factor, when the revolution regiments principally new soldier, who is not a hireling, but a citizen. Let’s see how the revolution may influence on how warfare is practiced today on the example of French revolution.

French revolution resulted in deep changes in the methods of warfare. Revolutionary struggle, where a necessity commands, is characterized by a great will to win ”“ and as a result the new order pierces its way through. The attempts to push French soldier on the way of counter-revolution remained unsuccessful. The French army, filled up with urban poor, joined the Revolution. This fact defined its further development. This development was determined by revolutionary spirit of national army of France. This spirit made impossible the pedantic drill and gave way to the development of skills and initiative of an individual. As a result, a new flexible tactics of warfare was developed.

The attention of the French revolutionaries was riveted on the improvements of technique and weapons ”“ on the improvement of the details of gun, of the qualities of gunpowder, on putting into operation of optical telegraph.

The personality of Napoleon Bonaparte ”“ one of the greatest military leaders of history – is inseparably connected with the French revolution. The tactical talent of Napoleon Bonaparte had the decisive importance for the organisation of army, tactics and strategy of warfare. His military skills were developed due to the study of military history and due to the thinking about the theories of great military thinkers. The principles of the military art of Western Europe of the end of XVIII century and of the beginning of XIX century were generalized in the works of Napoleon I.

Napoleon Bonaparte put into practice the massed application of artillery and cavalry. He skilfully used reserves to win the battle.

The organizational structure of armies viewed considerable improvement. There were created permanent bodies of troops – divisions and corps, capable to act independently and to solve urgent tasks. Divisions, acting independently of each other, were able to cooperate in order to achieve common purpose. Before different units had to be united together in order to begin the operation. And under Napoleon Bonaparte each of units could carry out the task independently.

General quantity of troops grew up many times. The character and the methods of warfare were also changed. Strategic aims were being achieved through active attacks, when main forces were concentrated in one direction to destroy the army of enemy in decisive battle.

The activity of strategic defence also grew up. The purpose of strategic defence was to hold the positions and the territory and to create conditions to defeat the enemy.

Tactics had undergone drastic changes. It was based on decision, force superiority and strong reserves. Battalion columns had the decisive importance. Infantry units moved in extended order in front of battalion columns. The attack of infantry was supported by artillery fire and by cavalry.

There is no doubt that Napoleon Bonaparte played a great role in the improvement of new methods of warfare at the end of XVIII century and at the beginning of XIX century. His innovations influenced considerably the development of military science.

The French revolution provoked radical turn in the area of theory and practice of warfare. French revolutionaries did not understand that they had opened a new epoch in the art of war. We may say that the first estimation of revolutionary conquests in the area of warfare belonged not to the fighters for revolution, but to their opponents, who felt heavy attacks of revolutionary armies and understood the weakness of armies of old mode.

Leave a Reply