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  • Jomini

    Did General Antoine Jomini ever fought in any battles like in the Siege of Varna (1828) or Jena (1806) or did he just ride around and provide military commentary to help the other folks? Basically, did he ever fought/command in any battles or just did military theory?

    Archduke Charles!

  • #2
    Originally posted by AntiWarmanCake8 View Post
    Did General Antoine Jomini ever fought in any battles like in the Siege of Varna (1828) or Jena (1806) or did he just ride around and provide military commentary to help the other folks? Basically, did he ever fought/command in any battles or just did military theory?
    Jomini's function was that of a staff officer. While he was present at many battles he was either a aide de camp or a chief of staff,primarily to Ney.
    His works have some value but are no where near that of Clausewitz.
    If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks,glory would become the prey of mediocre minds. Napoleon


    • #3
      Jomini-Deserter, Renegade, and Incompetent

      Jomini began his service with the French as a volunteer aide-de-camp, was finally appointed an adjutant-commandant (the French staff equivalent of colonel in the line) and was a failure as a corps chief of staff, as noted by his failure to help Ney coordinate the envelopment of the allied left at Bautzen in 1813, and was actually fired by Ney, whose chief of staff he was, while the VI Corps was in Spain and Ney heard that Jomini was bad-mouthing him to Napoleon. Further, Jomini was a French deserter (he deserted in a pique after Bautzen) and had been in treasonous contact with the Russians at least from early 1812. In Russia he proved himself an incompetent military governor of Vilna and his first staff appointment for the invasion was as the expedition’s historian.

      Jomini had the very bad habit of not being able to get along with his contemporaries and had no regimental service where neophytes learn there profession. He may have worn a uniform for years, but he never really became a soldier. Ney appointed him as a civilian aide-de-camp after Jomini dedicated one of his first books to him. Ney also loaned him the necessary money to get the book published. Although he was a civilian on the staff, he wore his old Swiss uniform (he had been a major in the Swiss service but had irritated his comrades and had resigned his commission in 1802 and went to Paris).

      In the field with the VI Corps in the capacity as an ADC, he later portrayed himself as Ney’s chief of staff during the campaign, although the actuall ADC was General Adrien Dutaillis. While VI Corps was in the Tyrol, Jomini was dispatched to Imperial Headquarters with Ney’s reports and there he ran afoul of Berthier, demanding to be admitted to see Napoleon. Berthier, who was normally courteous to subordinates, gave Jomini a very blunt lesson in military courtesy. For that, which would have been a valuable lesson for someone to take note of, Jomini hated Berthier from then on.
      Jomini had the irritating habit of referring to himself as ‘colonel’ instead of his actual rank, which when he was given a French commission, it was as an adjutant-commandant. Through his misadventures as a French staff officer he never led troops in combat, was fired as Ney’s chief of staff once while the VI Corps was in Spain and Jomini in France which nearly landed him on Davout’s staff in Germany.

      In treasonous contact with the Russians between 1810 and 1812, Jomini went into Russia as the staff historian and was finally appointed as the military governor of Vilna. Here, he argued constantly with his immediate superior, General Hogendorp, the governor-general of Lithuania. Napoleon rebuked both men and ordered Jomini forward to take the post of governor of Smolensk, where he did nothing of note. After the Russian campaign he rejoined the Grande Armee in May 1813, was again Ney’s chief of staff, was now a general of brigade and both he and Ney botched Napoleon’s planned battle of annihilation at Bautzen.

      The armistice in the summer of 1813 saw Jomini having public arguments with Ney, he failed to send in his reports on time to the Imperial headquarters and was put under arrest for his failures. On 13 August he deserted to the Russians.

      Jomini always had service on various staffs. He never commanded troops or had service with them. His books are his legacy, and much of his history is either inexact or incorrect. He credits himself with being places and doing things that never happened and during the wars, he was not an important figure in the scheme of things at all. In the memoirs of the officers who served with him, he is practically ignored. He had an inflated sense of himself and his abilities and was a renegade, deserter, and a poor historian. He never was a soldier.

      Jomini did not have a basic military education and was not trained in any military specialty. Jomini had serious character flaws, was not honest in his historical writings, and claimed credit for things he hadn't done.

      Jomini was first shown for what he was by Col Elting's article 'Jomini: Disciple of Napoleon?' in a 1964 article in Military Review. It is excellent, very well documented, and clearly demonstrates that Jomini was not only no soldier, but a very poor historian. You can examine material further on Jomini in both editions of Makers of Modern Strategy, edited by Edward Earle and Peter Paret, respectively. Dr. Christopher Bassford has material on Jomini, including an excellent article on Clausewitz and Jomini which outlines what both men were, their successes and failures, and the character of both comes through very clearly. The article is on the Clausewitz homepage if you don't want to look up the books or Military Review. A summary of Col Elting's article on Jomini is contained in his book The Superstrategists.

      We are not now that strength which in old days
      Moved earth and heaven; that which we are we are; One equal temper of heroic hearts
      Made weak by time and fate but strong in will
      To strive to seek to find and not to yield.


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