« ElőzőTovább »
generalled, on the whole, at Fribourg. Yet he showed what he was in these passages of arms; and his skilful retreat after the rout of Mergertheim, his march down the Rhine after the siege of Philipsbourg, and his operations to prevent Mercy and Charles of Lorraine from effecting their junction, are fine specimens of scientific strategy. In the next two campaigns he was in supreme command; and the admi
to unite with his allies on the Maine, and to carry the war to the Lech and the Inn, completely baffling the imperialist chiefs, are remarkable for their daring and skill. We pass over his unhappy defection at the beginning of the war of the Fronde; but when he rejoined the royal standard, it may truly be said that he saved the monarchy by his prudence, constancy, and profound generalship. These campaigns, though a bloody civil contest, have in this respect a peculiar interest, that Turenne was opposed to the Grand Condé, and his superiority over his fiery adversary is manifest to an impartial critic. Occasionally, no doubt, the astonishing boldness and energy of Condé gained an advantage; but the science of Turenne in the long run prevailed, and the tactics by which he baffled his foe near Gien, on the Loire, in 1652, his firmness in maintaining his hold on Paris, his temporizing campaign of 1653, his skill in raising the siege of Arras, and the series of operations in the following years, crowned by the decisive victory of the Dunes, in which he rolled the war back into the Low Countries, all reveal the presence of commanding pow. ers.
the thoughts of the future chief to the question whether operations in the field might not accomplish more than campaigns of sieges. Turenne obtained a regiment from Louis XIII. in 1629, when only nineteen; and from this time forward he was a soldier of France, and acquired a reputation that never ceased to grow. The manner of life of the young colonel was characteristic of the coming man. Of a staid, disciplined, and self-contained na-rable movements by which he continued ture, Turenne shunned the license and waste of Paris; and he devoted his time to improving his corps, with such success that he could justly boast, that "it had scarcely a match in the king's service." The military career of the great future general begins, properly speaking, a few years afterwards, when, in 1635, Richelieu threw the sword of France into the balance of fortune trembling throughout the course of the Thirty Years' War. Turenne, during the next eight years, served under La Valette, Saxe-Weimar, and Harcourt; and he distinguished himself on many occasions as a fearless and thoroughly capable officer. Unlike, however, his great rival Condé, and other commanders of the first order, his powers were only developed by degrees; his name is not linked, in early manhood, with days like those of Rocroy and Arcola; and, whether because the occasion was wanting, or because, as we think, his genius was one that required time and thought to be fully matured, he did not force his way to the foremost rank until he had passed through a long and trying probation. At last, having slowly won his way to the grade of general, he gave proof of his capacity for large operations of war, in the Italian campaign of 1643; he baffled the commanders opposed to him in a series of movements round Alessandria; and he terminated an admirably conducted contest by the reduction of a great part of Piedmont. His reward was the bâton of a marshal of France, though Mazarin, it is said, conferred the distinction rather from political views and motives than from a consciousness that it was the reward of merit.
In the War of Devolution Turenne did little; but he planned, and in the main directed, the memorable campaign of 1672, the most brilliant of those of Louis XIV. It was by his advice that Maastricht was masked, and that the lines for invading Holland were selected by the combined armies; and this splendid strategy, attended with success, unparalleled before in European warfare, if in its execution it failed at one point, was absolutely faultTurenne, during the next thirty years, less in its fine conceptions. When the indisputably was the first soldier of Eu- tide turned, and indignant Germany rose rope. We can only glance at his numer- to the aid of the Dutch Republic, Turenne ous campaigns, all characterized by the played a grand and decisive part in defend. peculiar features which have marked him ing France against the hosts of her foes, out as a truly great captain. In 1644-5 he and it was mainly due to his transcendent was opposed to Mercy, an admirable chief, gifts that she obtained a favorable peace and he was second in command to the at Nimeguen. In these operations TuGrand Condé-a hero, but somewhat renne displayed capacity of the highest wanting in prudence; and he suffered a order; he admirably illustrated the strateheavy defeat in the Tauber, and was out-gic maxim that a bold offensive is the
best defence; and the manœuvres by which he more than once divided enemies converging on him, and above all the march in which, in 1674, he moved behind the screen of the Vosges, and suddenly broke in on his astounded foes, are marked by real strategic genius. In 1673 he was, no doubt, outgeneralled by Montecuculi, a worthy antagonist; but he had his revenge in 1675; and he had gained a decided advantage over the imperialist chief, and was probably on the very edge of victory, when he met a soldier's death on the Sassbach.
tions, war was a dreary round of battles and sieges, fought or undertaken without definite objects; armies encountered each other as if by chance, and months were spent in reducing a fortress-without, perhaps, any adequate gain; and though military operations were often vast-witness the invasions of the feudal agethey were comparatively aimless and illconcerted. Turenne took up the art at this point, and, profiting by experience derived from predecessors of undoubted powers, made war more a game of wellplanned manœuvres than ever had been A discriminating and intelligent esti- the case formerly; sought to attain sucmate of Turenne, as a great master of war, cess, less by the shock of arms than by is not to be found in this volume. What, rapid and well-combined marches; and in truth, could we expect from a writer regarded campaigns, not as merely occawho informs us that "Victory has ever sions on which hostile armies were to smiled on the strategist who has developed meet each other, but as large operations details, and worked out the niceties of in which great results were to be chiefly time and distance;" as though what Na- attained by the distribution of military poleon has justly called "the divine part force on selected points, and on which of the art of war," depended only on indus- battles and sieges were rather incidents in try, and not on genius! Not less absurd a series of well-directed movements, than is such a sentence as this, that "Turenne events necessarily of the first importance. was the first to indicate an oblique forma- This discovery, as we may almost call tion for attack, which Frederick the Great it, marks a new era in the annals of war, afterwards developed on the battle-field, and is a decisive proof of Turenne's genand Napoleon made an integral elementius. How did the great master apply his of strategy; as though the manifold method, and what was the character of his combinations of these great generals could strategy? Turenne always surveyed the be brought under a mere formula, and whole theatre of war; combined operaas though the "oblique order "-in this tions in it in such a way as to make the sense meaning that, if you can, you should force in his hands most effective; and circumvent your enemy is not as old as fought with a view to the entire campaign, perhaps the first recorded battle. We and not for the sake of barren victories. pass by this pedantic ignorance, and shall We see him carrying out these principles endeavor to present our own view of the of his art during the thirty years that he military characteristics of Turenne, and of commanded armies; but as Napoleon his position among great captains. He truly remarks, his military genius seemed has properly been called a consummate ever growing, and acquired new splendor strategist; but it is hardly true that he and power from experience. Thus, though was the sole author of strategy in the his able predecessor, Guébriant, undoubt. modern sense, for several operations of edly pursued a project of the kind, Tu Parma in the field, and especially of Gus- renne was the first general who effectively tavus Adolphus, reveal strategic genius at combined the operations of the French least equal to that of the renowned French and the allies in the later years of the marshal. Of Turenne, however, it may Thirty Years' War; and the result was be fairly said that he was, perhaps, the seen in his complete success in the camfirst commander since Roman times who paigns of 1646-48, when he carried the thoroughly perceived the supreme impor-war into the heart of Germany, and rolled tance of strategy as a cause of success in war; he was the first who completely grasped the truth that well-combined movements on a given theatre, bringing force to bear on decisive points, are the means of achieving great results; and he illustrated the theory, in his long career, by fine examples, which advanced the art of strategy to a high pitch of perfection. Before his time, with a few grand excep.
his adversaries beyond the heads of the Danube. With like strategic insight, in the campaign of 1645, he neglected the useless siege of Fribourg, and marched down the Rhine to master and occupy the Palatinate already in sympathy French, while in 1646 he made his great march up and down the Rhine to effect his junction with the Swedes, and to overrun Franconia. In the war of the Fronde there were
of large operations in the field made no progress since it left his hands, until Napoleon appeared on the scene; Marlborough in this respect did not equal Turenne, and Frederick the Great was far his inferior; and this alone determines the eminent rank of the marshal among the masters of war.
fewer occasions for the exhibition of pure | him, too, by the test of success, no strat strategy; but Turenne manifested his egist has achieved more; his great comgreat powers in making Paris and the binations scarcely ever failed; disasters adjoining country the scene of the contest like those of Leipsic and Waterloo are not in the first instance; and the operations associated with his glorious name; and in which, in its later stages, he advanced this was largely due to the sound, sober into the Spanish Netherlands, are admi- sense which was a main element of his rable in their well-concerted movements. well-balanced nature. His strategic powThe genius, however, of this consumers were, in fact, so great that the science mate strategist is seen at its best in the memorable campaigns from 1672_to_1675. His plan for the invasion of the Dutch Republic is a masterpiece of military skill; the true lines of attack are always selected; the movements by which the allied armies were brought up to the walls of Amsterdam have been scarcely surpassed in modern war; and though it may be said that, in any event, the Low Countries would have been overrun, so greatly superior were the French forces, it may be confidently asserted that had the projects of Condé been followed by Louis XIV., the operations would have been much more tedious. Not less skilful, as we have observed, was Turenne's offensive defence of France; and as for the march along the Vosges, which surprised his enemies in 1674, it resembled in some degree the movement which confounded Mélas in 1800. In one combination, it should be added, which is a sure test of a strategist's powers, this great commander was very felicitous. Turenne, like Napoleon, often played the game of interposing between divided enemies, and beating them by well-directed strokes before their junction had been complete; and in this department of the highest generalship he has been surpassed by Napoleon alone. His operations in 1645 against Mercy and Charles of Lorraine, and again, in 1673, against the allies who endeavored to converge upon the Meuse, and to crush him with their united forces, are not as daring, as rapid, as dazzling, as those of the general of 1796, but they were well thought out and perfectly combined, and they were crowned with real if not brilliant suc
Original genius matured by experience, far-sighted judgment and calculation, tenacity, constancy, and cautious skill, were thus the main features of Turenne's strategy; and it should be added that, making allowance for the state of the theatres of war in that age, for bad and scanty roads, for unbridged rivers, and for the difficulty of making armies subsist, the celerity of his movements, the natural result of welllaid plans and mastery of art, was in the highest degree admirable. If we measure
In one respect, however, Turenne, we believe, judging him even by the standard of his age, fell short of the highest excellence, and in this particular he was surpassed by Gustavus Adolphus, and no doubt by Marlborough. If we survey Turenne's career as a whole, we see that, admirable as his conceptions were, he sometimes failed at the decisive moment in carrying them out in their full completeness; his staid and somewhat passionless nature had not the imagination and ardent force which, in Napier's phrase, caused Napoleon's battles to be the sweep of the wave that blots out the landscape;" and his execution of his fine projects was occasionally somewhat imperfect and halting. Thus, after the decisive victory of the Dunes, he might have overrun the Spanish Netherlands, and finished the war by taking Brussels; he directed the allied armies with wonderful skill, in 1672, to the gates of Amsterdam, but hesitated on the verge of success in this respect inferior to the Grand Condé, who earnestly advised a forward movement; and in 1674 he might have accomplished more when he had taken his astounded enemies by surprise. In all these instances a good apology may, we dare say, be made for the marshal; operations were in those days slow; political considerations may have weighed with him, and in 1672 he was crossed by Louvois; but the same phenomenon too often runs in his conduct of war not to make us convinced that they indicate a defect in his powers. On the other hand, the greatness of Turenne in defeat is entitled to the very highest praise; and here he shows almost at his best as a strategist. The French marshal may not have possessed the iron will of Frederick the Great, or the unflinching heroism of the veteran Blücher; he would not, perhaps, have
marched from Kolin to Rossbach; he would not, perhaps, have ventured to make a flank march from Wavre to Waterloo with an army beaten two days previously; but he effected by scientific skill what these great soldiers effected by daring; and his retreat on Hesse after the rout of Mergertheim; and his movements after he had been baffled by Montecuculi in 1673 are fine examples of the art by means of which he could pluck safety and even success from danger.
Turenne did not attain pre-eminence in the art of tactics, in the lower sense, that is in handling troops on the field of battle. In this respect he was very inferior to his illustrious rival, Condé, whose insight in the actual shock of arms, whose mastery of his devoted soldiery, and whose inspiration as a great warrior has been seldom equalled by any commander. His judg ment, too, though profound, was slow; he was not always able to seize the occasion, an essential quality of a great tactician; nor did he possess the marvellous coup d'œil, the faculty of perceiving the point where to strike, which was the distinctive mark of Marlborough's genius. Moreover, though he was a great organizer, and administrator in an age of progress in war, no improvements in tactics are due to him; he effected little, if any, changes in the customary routine of the order of battle; and, from first to last, though infantry as an arm was being largely developed and growing more important, he adhered to the old formations of cavalry as wings, of footmen in masses holding the centre, and of artillery extended along the front, without regard to the accidents of the ground. It should be added that scarcely any general of nearly equal powers won so few pitched battles; the Dunes was his most decisive victory, and even this was not a great signal triumph; the fame of Sintzheim and Turckheim is dim beside that of Rocroy and Nordlingen, and is wholly effaced by Blenheim and Ramillies; and Turenne, for so great a commander, suffered rather more than his share of defeats, not, indeed, ruinous, but not doubtful. But in the higher departments of tactics, where the art blends as it were with strategy, in the dispositions that just precede battles, Turenne's powers were of the highest order; and here, again, he attained greatness. Thus his combinations to defeat Condé near Gien, on the Loire, were completely successful, and show true genius, as Napoleon points out; and the flank march to the Glotterthal, which, after the bloody strife at Fribourg, at last dis
lodged Mercy from his positions, and compelled that able chief to retreat, is a fine exhibition of the higher tactics. Thus, too, he skilfully took advantage of the fall of the tide at the battle of the Dunes, and turned the Spanish right by a well-directed movement along the strand which had become uncovered; this being, perhaps, the best instance of his coup d'œil in the actual field, but, as Napoleon says, nothing very wonderful. Taken altogether, Turenne cannot rank among tacticians of the first order; he was not before the ideas of his time; and in this respect he cannot be compared with the first tactical genius of the eighteenth century, the warrior of Leuthen, Rosbach, and Prague, who, misunderstood as he has been by sciolists, did really great things in this sphere of his art.
A few other points in the life and the character of this great man remain to be noticed. As an administrator, Turenne, we have said, was eminent; he contributed largely to the immense changes which took place in the French army during the second half of the seventeenth century. That army, when Richelieu came into power, was little more than a feudal militia, sustained by a small regular force; its organization was very defective, and it was wholly inferior as an instrument of war to the renowned and veteran legions of the house of Austria. The French army of the Thirty Years' War, apart from a few household regiments, was a mere assemblage of untrained bands, in the power of the superior noblesse quickly called together and as quickly dissolved; the infantry were only levies of peasants ill-armed, undisciplined, and weak in numbers; and though the cavalry was a much better force, its formations and tactics were rude and ill planned; and the artillery, as an arm, was very imperfect, and there were no corps of scientific officers. Within fifty years all this had been changed, and the French army, completely transformed, had become the terror and wonder of Europe, so much so that it was deemed invincible until Marlborough broke the spell at Blenheim. By this time its numbers had been more than doubled, it had become a standing army in the true sense of the word, with gallant nobles, indeed, as its officers, but through all its branches controlled by the crown, and it had all the characteristics of a great regular force, administered and organized with intelligent care. The infantry had been increased fourfold, and the arrays of peasants had become regiments of real soldiers, under
strict discipline, and provided with a superior arm; the cavalry was brought to a high point of perfection by improved ma nœuvres and systematic training; the artillery had made extraordinary progress through changes effected in the matériel and in the hierarchy of the commanding officers; scientific corps had been fully developed, and all the administrative services had made such an advance that their celerity and efficiency was deemed marvellous.
This great change, far beyond the changes in the organization of war in our time, was due mainly to three men, Turenne, Louvois, and the illustrious Vauban, and contemporary evidence shows that Turenne was the master-mind in the immense reform. This circumstance alone entitles the marshal to a high place in the Temple of Fame, and it is seldom, indeed, that genius in command and in military administration are found combined. It should be added that the rare capacity and reflective powers of this renowned soldier were displayed in the closet as well as the field. Turenne, after the death of Mazarin, was a trusted adviser of Louis XIV., and he proved himself sagacious and deep in counsel. He showed much diplomatic skill in conducting the negotiations for the sale of Dunkirk; he justly maintained that the alliance of France with Portugal was a French interest, as affording a check on the Spanish monarchy; and had his prudent and statesmanlike counsels prevailed in the war of 1672, the Dutch Republic would have probably become a submissive ally and vassal of France, and the history of Europe have run another course. As for other features of Turenne's character, we can only cast a passing glance at them. Staid, solid, calm, and reserved in nature, he did not possess the magical influence of the Grand Condé over the French soldiery, impressionable, fiery, and quick in execution, but no commander was ever more revered; and amiable qualities were so blended in him with the sterner powers of a great captain, that he was known in the camp by the name of our "Father," the symbol of willing respect and obedience. Proofs, in fact, abound of the extreme kindliness and even tenderness of this noble character; no general, perhaps, has given more attention to the requirements of the men he led, or has been more sparing of their lives and blood; and this alone shows that the one
act of cruelty associated with the name of Turenne, the devastation of the Palatinate by fire, was wholly due to the orders of Louvois. For the rest, this great warrior, in an age of license, was a chaste, upright, and just-minded man. There was more of the Dutch than the French nature in the elements that make up his character, and his massive and somewhat heavy features, lit up, however, by eyes of power, which reveal genius and thought within, show that he had more affinity with the great house of Nassau than with the fickle and brilliant Lords of Sedan.
Colonel Hozier compares Turenne with Wellington, but the comparison seems to us far from just. No doubt the two men had some common qualities; both were far-sighted and sagacious chiefs, both were singularly chary of their soldiers' blood, both rather avoided than courted battles. But Turenne was one of the first of strategists, while Wellington did not excel in strategy; Turenne was scarcely a firstrate tactician, while_Wellington was a master in defence; Turenne was far in advance of his time in all that pertains to the art of war, and this was not the case with the great duke. On the whole, history will, we think, place the French chief on a higher level of fame than our illustrious and revered countryman, though he won us Waterloo or Salamanca, and did not display more great qualities than those which sustained Wellington at Torres Vedras, the masterpiece of his military career. Turenne, in fact, was, we believe, the first of the great commanders of the seventeenth century; not so much, prob. ably, on account of his genius- for in this he may have been surpassed by Gus. tavus -nor yet on account of his famous exploits for in these he was far behind Marlborough - but because, through a long and glorious career, he developed the scientific part of war in a way that had not been seen before, and because his is one of the foremost names in military administration that has been ever known. As a strategist, indeed, Turenne holds a second place to Napoleon alone; and if he never gave proof of the astonishing powers seen in 1796 and 1800, if he never achieved the immense success of Ulm, Austerlitz, Jena, and Friedland, still, in this supreme part of the art of war, he was more judicious than the great Corsican. He did not display his over-confidence - he was more sound and prudent, if less dazzling.