A classic of military thought that merits a place alongside the works of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu, Battle Studies was first published in Paris ten years after the death of its author, French army officer Charles Ardant du Picq (1821–1870). Updated to provide a more complete and accurate biographical and historical framework for understanding its meaning and import, this edition—deftly translated, introduced, and annotated by noted military historian Roger Spiller—offers a new generation of readers the benefit of Ardant du Picq's unique insight into the nature of warfare.
Nothing, Ardant du Picq asserts, can be prescribed wisely in an army "without an exact understanding of its ultimate instrument, man, and his morale at the defining instant of combat." Accordingly, Battle Studies, the first systematic exploration of human behavior in the extremities of combat, focuses squarely on the tactical realm its author knew so well. Eschewing grand military theories and strategies, Ardant du Picq draws on his real-world experience, especially during the Crimean War and the Siege of Sebastopol where he was captured, to examine what motivates a soldier to fight, what creates cohesion or disorder, what gives a commander tactical control, and what makes reason give way to instinct: in short, "the essence of the science of combat."