Antoine-Henri Jomini

Antoine-Henri Jomini

Overview
Antoine-Henri, baron Jomini (March 6, 1779 – March 24, 1869) was a general in the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and later in the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war. According to the historian John Shy, Jomini "deserves the dubious title of founder of modern strategy
Strategy
Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked...

."

Jomini was born in Payerne
Payerne
Payerne is a municipality in the Swiss canton of Vaud. It was the seat of the district of Payerne, and is now part of the district of Broye-Vully....

 in the canton
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

 of Vaud
Vaud
Vaud is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland and is located in Romandy, the French-speaking southwestern part of the country. The capital is Lausanne. The name of the Canton in Switzerland's other languages are Vaud in Italian , Waadt in German , and Vad in Romansh.-History:Along the lakes,...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, on March 6, 1779, where his father served as mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

. The Jominis "were an old Swiss family" of Italian descent with a decidedly pro-French outlook.
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Encyclopedia
Antoine-Henri, baron Jomini (March 6, 1779 – March 24, 1869) was a general in the French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and later in the Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war. According to the historian John Shy, Jomini "deserves the dubious title of founder of modern strategy
Strategy
Strategy, a word of military origin, refers to a plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. In military usage strategy is distinct from tactics, which are concerned with the conduct of an engagement, while strategy is concerned with how different engagements are linked...

."

Early life and business career


Jomini was born in Payerne
Payerne
Payerne is a municipality in the Swiss canton of Vaud. It was the seat of the district of Payerne, and is now part of the district of Broye-Vully....

 in the canton
Cantons of Switzerland
The 26 cantons of Switzerland are the member states of the federal state of Switzerland. Each canton was a fully sovereign state with its own borders, army and currency from the Treaty of Westphalia until the establishment of the Swiss federal state in 1848...

 of Vaud
Vaud
Vaud is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland and is located in Romandy, the French-speaking southwestern part of the country. The capital is Lausanne. The name of the Canton in Switzerland's other languages are Vaud in Italian , Waadt in German , and Vad in Romansh.-History:Along the lakes,...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, on March 6, 1779, where his father served as mayor
Mayor
In many countries, a Mayor is the highest ranking officer in the municipal government of a town or a large urban city....

. The Jominis "were an old Swiss family" of Italian descent with a decidedly pro-French outlook. As a young boy, Jomini "was fascinated by soldiers and the art of war," and hoped to join the military, but his parents pushed him towards a career in business. As a result, Jomini entered a business school in Aarau
Aarau
Aarau is the capital of the northern Swiss canton of Aargau. The city is also the capital of the district of Aarau. It is German-speaking and predominantly Protestant. Aarau is situated on the Swiss plateau, in the valley of the Aar, on the river's right bank, and at the southern foot of the Jura...

 at the age of 14.

In April 1795, Jomini left school and went to work at the banking house of Monsieurs Preiswerk in Basle. In 1796, he moved to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 where he worked first at another banking house and then as a stock broker
Stock broker
A stock broker or stockbroker is a regulated professional broker who buys and sells shares and other securities through market makers or Agency Only Firms on behalf of investors...

. After a short time in banking, however, "Jomini convinced himself that the tedious life of a banker was not to be compared with the life afforded in French Army," and decided to become a military officer as soon as he found an opportunity.

Swiss Army


In 1798, after the establishment of the Helvetic Republic
Helvetic Republic
In Swiss history, the Helvetic Republic represented an early attempt to impose a central authority over Switzerland, which until then consisted mainly of self-governing cantons united by a loose military alliance, and conquered territories such as Vaud...

, Jomini became an "eager revolutionary", following the example of Frédéric-César de La Harpe
Frédéric-César de La Harpe
Frédéric-César de La Harpe was a Swiss political leader and Vaudois patriot, who played a leading role in the creation of the Helvetic Republic.-Biography:...

 and found a position in the new Swiss government as a secretary for the Minister of War with the rank of captain. In 1799, after being promoted to the rank of major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

, Jomini took responsibility for reorganizing the operations of the ministry. In that capacity, he standardized many procedures, and used his position "to experiment with organizational systems and strategies."

After the peace of Lunéville
Treaty of Lunéville
The Treaty of Lunéville was signed on 9 February 1801 between the French Republic and the Holy Roman Emperor Francis II, negotiating both on behalf of his own domains and of the Holy Roman Empire...

 in 1801, Jomini returned to Paris, where he worked for a military equipment manufacturer. He found the job uninteresting, and spent most of his time preparing his first book on military theory: Traité des grandes operations militaires (Treatise on Major Military Operations). Michel Ney
Michel Ney
Michel Ney , 1st Duc d'Elchingen, 1st Prince de la Moskowa was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of France created by Napoleon I...

, one of Napoleon's top generals, read the book in 1803 and subsidized its publication. The book appeared in several volumes from 1804 to 1810, and was "quickly translated and widely discussed" throughout Europe.

French Army


In 1805, Jomini served in the campaign of Austerlitz
Battle of Austerlitz
The Battle of Austerlitz, also known as the Battle of the Three Emperors, was one of Napoleon's greatest victories, where the French Empire effectively crushed the Third Coalition...

 as a volunteer aide-de-camp
Aide-de-camp
An aide-de-camp is a personal assistant, secretary, or adjutant to a person of high rank, usually a senior military officer or a head of state...

on Ney's personal staff, and in December of that year, he was offered a commission as a colonel
Colonel
Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

 in the French Army. He joined without hesitation and served on Ney's staff. Jomini fought with Ney at the Battle of Ulm
Battle of Ulm
The Battle of Ulm was a series of minor skirmishes at the end of Napoleon Bonaparte's Ulm Campaign, culminating in the surrender of an entire Austrian army near Ulm in Württemberg....

 and served as his senior aide-de-camp at the Battle of Jena.

In 1806 Jomini published his views as to the conduct of the impending war with Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

. This, along with his knowledge of Frederick the Great
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

's campaigns, which Jomini had described in the Traité, led Napoleon to attach him to his own headquarters. Jomini was present with Napoleon at the Jena  and at Eylau
Battle of Eylau
The Battle of Eylau or Battle of Preussisch-Eylau, 7 and 8 February 1807, was a bloody and inconclusive battle between Napoléon's Grande Armée and a Russian Empire army under Levin August, Count von Bennigsen near the town of Preußisch Eylau in East Prussia. Late in the battle, the Russians...

 he won the cross of the Legion of Honour.

After the peace of Tilsit Jomini was made chief of the staff to Ney and created a Baron. In the Spanish campaign of 1808 his advice was often of the highest value to the marshal, but Jomini quarrelled with his chief, and was left almost at the mercy of his numerous enemies, especially Louis Alexandre Berthier
Louis Alexandre Berthier
Louis Alexandre Berthier, 1st Prince de Wagram, 1st Duc de Valangin, 1st Sovereign Prince de Neuchâtel , was a Marshal of France, Vice-Constable of France beginning in 1808, and Chief of Staff under Napoleon.-Early life:Alexandre was born at Versailles to Lieutenant-Colonel Jean Baptiste Berthier ,...

, the emperor's chief of staff.

Russian Army


Overtures had been made to him, as early as 1807, to enter the Russian service, but Napoleon, hearing of his intention to leave the French army, compelled him to remain in the service with the rank of general of brigade
Brigadier General
Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

.

For some years thereafter Jomini held both a French and a Russian commission, with the consent of both sovereigns. But when war between France and Russia broke out, he was in a difficult position, which he dealt with by taking a non-combat command on the line of communication.

Jomini was thus engaged when the retreat from Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 and the uprising of Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 transferred the seat of war to central Germany. He promptly rejoined Ney, took part in the Battle of Lützen
Battle of Lützen (1813)
In the Battle of Lützen , Napoleon I of France lured a combined Prussian and Russian force into a trap, halting the advances of the Sixth Coalition after his devastating losses in Russia. The Russian commander, Prince Peter Wittgenstein, attempting to undo Napoleon's capture of Leipzig, attacked...

. As chief of the staff of Ney's group of corps, he rendered distinguished services before and at the Battle of Bautzen
Battle of Bautzen
In the Battle of Bautzen a combined Russian/Prussian army was pushed back by Napoleon, but escaped destruction, some sources claim, because Michel Ney failed to block their retreat...

, and was recommended for the rank of general of division. Berthier, however, not only erased Jomini's name from the list but put him under arrest and censured him in army orders for failing to supply certain staff reports that had been called for.

How far Jomini was responsible for certain misunderstandings which prevented the attainment of all the results hoped for from Ney's attack at Bautzen, we cannot be sure. But the pretext for censure was in Jomini's own view trivial and baseless, and during the armistice Jomini did as he had intended to do in 1809–1810, and went into the Russian service. As things then were, this was tantamount to deserting to the enemy, and so it was regarded by many in the French army, and by not a few of his new comrades. It must be observed, in Jomini's defense, that he had for years held a dormant commission in the Russian army and that he had declined to take part in the invasion of Russia in 1812. More important—and a point that Napoleon commented upon—was the fact that he was a Swiss citizen, not a Frenchman.

His Swiss patriotism was indeed strong, and he withdrew from the Allied Army in 1814 when he found that he could not prevent the allies' violation of Swiss neutrality. Apart from love of his own country, the desire to study, to teach and to practise the art of war was his ruling motive. At the critical moment of the battle of Eylau he had exclaimed, "If I were the Russian commander for two hours!" On joining the allies he received the rank of lieutenant-general and the appointment of aide-de-camp from the tsar
Alexander I of Russia
Alexander I of Russia , served as Emperor of Russia from 23 March 1801 to 1 December 1825 and the first Russian King of Poland from 1815 to 1825. He was also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania....

, and rendered important assistance during the German campaign: an accusation that he had betrayed the numbers, positions and intentions of the French to the enemy was later acknowledged by Napoleon to be without foundation. As a Swiss patriot and as a French officer, he declined to take part in the passage of the Rhine at Basel
Basel
Basel or Basle In the national languages of Switzerland the city is also known as Bâle , Basilea and Basilea is Switzerland's third most populous city with about 166,000 inhabitants. Located where the Swiss, French and German borders meet, Basel also has suburbs in France and Germany...

 and the subsequent invasion of France.

In 1815 he was with Tsar Alexander in Paris, and attempted in vain to save the life of his old commander Ney
Michel Ney
Michel Ney , 1st Duc d'Elchingen, 1st Prince de la Moskowa was a French soldier and military commander during the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. He was one of the original 18 Marshals of France created by Napoleon I...

. This defense of Ney almost cost Jomini his position in the Russian service. He succeeded, however, in overcoming the resistance of his enemies and took part in the Congress of Vienna
Congress of Vienna
The Congress of Vienna was a conference of ambassadors of European states chaired by Klemens Wenzel von Metternich, and held in Vienna from September, 1814 to June, 1815. The objective of the Congress was to settle the many issues arising from the French Revolutionary Wars, the Napoleonic Wars,...

.

Post-war service and retirement


After several years of retirement and literary work, Jomini resumed his post in the Russian army, and in about 1823 was made a full General. Thenceforward until his retirement in 1829 he was principally employed in the military education of the Tsarevich Nicholas
Nicholas I of Russia
Nicholas I , was the Emperor of Russia from 1825 until 1855, known as one of the most reactionary of the Russian monarchs. On the eve of his death, the Russian Empire reached its historical zenith spanning over 20 million square kilometers...

 (afterwards Emperor) and in the organization of the Russian staff college, which was opened in 1832 and bore its original name of the Nicholas Academy up to the October Revolution of 1917. In 1828 he was employed in the field in the Russo-Turkish War
Russo-Turkish War, 1828-1829
The Russo–Turkish War of 1828–1829 was sparked by the Greek War of Independence. The war broke out after the Sultan, incensed by the Russian participation in the Battle of Navarino, closed the Dardanelles for Russian ships and revoked the Akkerman Convention....

, and at the Siege of Varna
Siege of Varna
Siege of Varna was a war episode during the Russo-Turkish War, 1828-1829.Varna was held by the Ottoman army...

 he was awarded the Grand Cordon of the Alexander Order.

This was his last active service. In 1829 he settled in Brussels
Brussels
Brussels , officially the Brussels Region or Brussels-Capital Region , is the capital of Belgium and the de facto capital of the European Union...

 which served as his main place of residence for the next thirty years. In 1853, after trying without success to bring about a political understanding between France and Russia, Jomini was called to St Petersburg to act as a military adviser to the Tsar during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

. He returned to Brussels upon the conclusion of peace in 1856. Later he settled at Passy near Paris. He was busily employed up to the end of his life in writing treatises, pamphlets and open letters on subjects of military art and history. In 1859 he was asked by Napoleon III to furnish a plan of campaign for the Italian War. One of his last essays dealt with the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 of 1866 and the influence of the breech-loading rifle. He died at Passy only a year before the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 of 1870-71.

Works and influence


Jomini's military writings are frequently caricatured: he took a didactic, prescriptive approach, reflected in a detailed vocabulary of geometric terms such as bases, strategic lines, and key points. His operational prescription was fundamentally simple: put superior combat power at the decisive point. In the famous theoretical Chapter 25 of the Traité de grande tactique, he stressed the exclusive superiority of interior lines.

As one writer rather partial to Carl von Clausewitz
Carl von Clausewitz
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war...

 – Jomini's great competitor in the field of military theory – put it:

Jomini was no fool, however. His intelligence, facile pen, and actual experience of war made his writings a great deal more credible and useful than so brief a description can imply. Once he left Napoleon's service, he maintained himself and his reputation primarily through prose. His writing style--unlike Clausewitz's--reflected his constant search for an audience. He dealt at length with a number of practical subjects (logistics, seapower) that Clausewitz had largely ignored. Elements of his discussion (his remarks on Great Britain and seapower, for instance, and his sycophantic treatment of Austria's Archduke Charles
Archduke Charles, Duke of Teschen
Archduke Charles of Austria, Duke of Teschen was an Austrian field-marshal, the third son of emperor Leopold II and his wife Infanta Maria Luisa of Spain...

) are clearly aimed at protecting his political position or expanding his readership. And, one might add, at minimizing Clausewitz's, for he clearly perceived the Prussian writer as his chief competitor. For Jomini, Clausewitz's death thirty-eight years prior to his own came as a piece of rare good fortune.


Jomini took the view that the amount of force deployed should be kept to the minimum in order to lower casualties and that war was a science, not an art. While in Russian service, Jomini tried hard to promote a more scientific approach at the general staff academy he helped to found. Prior to the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

, the translated writings of Jomini were the only works on military strategy that were taught at the United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy at West Point is a four-year coeducational federal service academy located at West Point, New York. The academy sits on scenic high ground overlooking the Hudson River, north of New York City...

 at West Point. The regular army officers who became the general officers for both the Union
Union (American Civil War)
During the American Civil War, the Union was a name used to refer to the federal government of the United States, which was supported by the twenty free states and five border slave states. It was opposed by 11 southern slave states that had declared a secession to join together to form the...

 and the Confederacy in that conflict began by following Jominian principles, but soon found that the peculiarities of American geography, particularly in the west, forced them to move beyond his geometric conventions and find other strategic solutions to the problems which confronted them.

Works by Jomini

  • Jomini, Henri. Traité de grande tactique, ou, Relation de la guerre de sept ans, extraite de Tempelhof, commentée at comparée aux principales opérations de la derniére guerre; avec un recueil des maximes les plus important de l'art militaire, justifiées par ces différents évenéments. Paris: Giguet et Michaud, 1805. In English translation as: Jomini, Antoine-Henri, trans. Col. S.B. Holabird, U.S.A. Treatise on Grand Military Operations: or A Critical and Military History of the Wars of Frederick the Great as Contrasted with the Modern System, 2 vols. New York: D. van Nostrand, 1865.
  • Jomini, Le Baron de. Précis de l'Art de la Guerre: Des Principales Combinaisons de la Stratégie, de la Grande Tactique et de la Politique Militaire. Brussels: Meline, Cans et Copagnie, 1838. In English translation as: Jomini, Baron de, trans. Major O.F. Winship and Lieut. E.E. McLean [USA]. The Art of War. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1854; Jomini, Baron de, trans. Capt. G.H. Mendell and Lieut. W.P. Craighill [USA]. The Art of War. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1862; reprinted, Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1971; reprinted, with a new introduction by Charles Messenger, London: Greenhill Books, 1992.
  • Jomini, Le Baron de. Histoire critique et militaire des campagnes de la Revolution (1806; new ed. 1819-1824), Paris and Brussels, 1806, 1824.
  • Jomini, Le Baron de. Vie Politique et Militaire de Napoleon recontèe par lui-meme au Tribunal de Cèsar d'Alexandre et de Frederic, 4vol., Anselin, Paris, 1827

Works cited

  • "Antoine Henri Jomini." Encyclopedia of World Biography Supplement, Vol. 23. Gale, 2003. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Gale, 2009.
  • Bassford, Christopher
    Christopher Bassford
    Christopher Bassford is an American military historian. Bassford graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in history and honors for his dissertation on tactical nuclear weapons and completed his MA in American diplomatic history at Ohio University. Subsequent to receiving his...

    . "Jomini and Clausewitz: Their Interaction." Paper presented to the 24th Meeting of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe at Georgia State University, 26 February 1993. Proceedings of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, XX (1992). Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University, 1994.
  • Keegan, John
    John Keegan
    Sir John Keegan OBE FRSL is a British military historian, lecturer, writer and journalist. He has published many works on the nature of combat between the 14th and 21st centuries concerning land, air, maritime, and intelligence warfare, as well as the psychology of battle.-Life and career:John...

    . The American Civil War. New York: Knopf, 2009.
  • Mertsalov, A.N. “Jomini versus Clausewitz” pages 11–19 from Russia War, Peace and Diplomacy edited by Mark and Ljubica Erickson, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004 ISBN 0297849131.

Other reading

  • Elting, John R. "Jomini: Disciple of Napoleon?" Military Affairs, Spring 1964, p. 17–26.
  • Lecomte, Ferdinand. Le Général Jomini, sa vie et ses écrits (1861; new ed. 1888).
  • Pascal, A. Observations historiques sur la vie, &c., du général Jomini (1842).
  • Sainte-Beuve, C.A.
    Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve
    Charles Augustin Sainte-Beuve was a literary critic and one of the major figures of French literary history.-Early years:...

    , Le Général Jomini (1869).
  • Shy, John. "Jomini." In Peter Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986.
  • Swain, Colonel [USA] Richard M. "`The Hedgehog and the Fox': Jomini, Clausewitz, and History." Naval War College Review, Autumn 1990, p. 98–109.

External links


} The Art of War Full text from Project Gutenberg Notice of the Present Theory of War, and of Its Utility Monographie du général Jomini