by DR HUW J. DAVIES 200 years ago, almost to the hour, the battle of Waterloo commenced. The dramatic final showdown of 22 years of war, Waterloo had all the makings of a swashbuckling drama. It was the only occasion when Wellington and Napoleon encountered each other. Having escaped from the tiny Mediterranean island of… Read More Why was Waterloo important?
by Dr HUW J. DAVIES ‘Napoleon has humbugged me, by God; he has gained twenty-four hours’ march on me’. With these words, uttered in an anteroom at a ball famously hosted by the Duchess of Richmond three days before Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington, commanding an allied army composed of Dutch, Belgian, German, and British… Read More The Road to Waterloo
by DR HUW J. DAVIES Over the last few months, I have written on a number of occasions about how the British Army learned from its experiences – successful and unsuccessful – during the wars of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. This is important because accepted historiographical analysis has it that the British Army was… Read More Mechanisms of Knowledge Exchange in the Eighteenth Century British Army
by DR HUW J. DAVIES In 1799, the British Government assembled an expeditionary force for use in a joint operation with the Russians against French held Dutch ports. The campaign, commanded by the Duke of York, was a dismal failure, blighted by poor intelligence, inter-service friction and competing agendas on the part of the allied… Read More Forgotten Battles: The Anglo-Ottoman Campaign in Egypt, March-September 1801
by DR HUW J. DAVIES This month marks the conclusion of my first decade teaching at Staff College. In that time, I can think of two years that stand-out as containing fundamentally unexpected events, that have caused quite drastic adjustments to what I talk about when I teach. Those years were 2011 – the year… Read More Hot Potatoes for 2015
by DR HUW J. DAVIES Hidden away in a tiny archive in Connecticut, I found, to my surprise, a diary of a Grand Tour of Europe conducted in the 1770s. I might not have looked at it, had the catalogue not specified its author as a cavalry Captain in the British Army. With nothing left… Read More Learning and Innovation in the Eighteenth Century British Army
by DR HUW J. DAVIES A few weeks ago, I visited Stratfield Saye, the Berkshire country estate of the Duke of Wellington. Acquired in 1817 as a reward for the decisive victory he gained at Waterloo two years earlier, grand plans were drawn up to knock down the old house and erect an enormous palace… Read More What did officers read before Clausewitz?
by DR HUW J. DAVIES Two hundred years ago, diplomats from the Great Powers of Europe were redrawing the map of Europe. In April, Napoleon Bonaparte had abdicated, the French Empire defeated. Now it remained for Great Britain, Royalist France, Austria, Prussia and Russia to determine the fate of Europe. Napoleon’s escape from his exile… Read More The Concert of Europe: The Rise and Fall of the First United Nations
by DR HUW J DAVIES History is a dangerous thing. Parallels between contemporary events and history are all too easy to arrive at. In unskilled hands, historical events can be manhandled to seemingly deliver lessons and solutions to apparently intractable contemporary problems. This is ‘instrumentalising’ history. In reality, history can be misleading, its so-called ‘lessons’… Read More The Instrumentalisation of History
by DR HUW J. DAVIES and DR ROBERT T. FOLEY In recent years, particularly since difficulties have been encountered in Afghanistan and Iraq, military thinkers and practitioners have begun questioning the existence of the operational level of war. Some argue that the articulation of the concept was a distraction from adequate attention to the tactical… Read More The Operational Level of War and the Operational Art