1 - 6 from 6
The author of these "Études sur le Combat" was Colonel Ardent du Picq, who fell at the battle of Longeville-les-Metz, on August 15, 1870. He had predicted the calamity of that war, which he attributed to the mental decadence of the French army, and to the absence of any adequate General Staff organization. Ardent du Picq had received no encouragement from within or from without, and the reforms which he never ceased to advocate were treated as the dreams of an eccentric idealist. He died, unrecognized, without having lived to see carried out one of the reforms which he had so persistently advocated. His tongue was rough and his pen was dipped in acid; the military critic who ridiculed the "buffooneries" of his generals and charged his fellow-officers with trying to get through their day's work with as little trouble to themselves as possible, was not likely to carry much weight at the close of the Second Empire. But the scattered papers of the forgotten Colonel Ardent du Picq were preserved, and ten years after his death a portion of them was published. Every scrap which could be found of the work of so fruitful a military thinker was presently called for, and at the moment of the outbreak of the present war the "Études sur le Combat" had become the text-book of every punctilious young officer. It is still unknown how much of the magnificent effort of 1914 was not due to the shade of Ardent du Picq. Although the name of that author does not occur in the pages of "Ma Pièce," we are constrained to believe that Lintier had been, like so many young men of his class, an infatuated student of the "Études." He had comprehended the essence of military vitality and the secret of military grandeur. He had perceived the paramount importance of moral force in contending with formidable hostile organizations. Ardent du Picq, who possessed the skill of his nation in the manufacture of maxims, laid it down that "Vaincre, c'est d'être sûr de la victoire." He assented to the statement that it was a spiritual and not a mechanical ascendancy which had gained battles in the past and must gain them in the future. Very interesting it is to note, in the delicately scrupulous record of the mind and conscience of Paul Lintier, how, side by side with this uplifted patriotic confidence, the weakness of the flesh makes itself felt. At Tailly, full of the hope of coming battle, waiting in the moonlit forest for the sound of approaching German guns, suddenly the heroism drops from him, and he murmurs the plaintive verses of the old poet Joachim du Bellay to the echo of "Et je mourrai peut-être demain!" The delicate sureness with which he notes these changes of mood is admirable; and quickly the depression passes: "vite notre extraordinaire insouciance l'emporte, et puis, jamais heure a-t-elle été plus favorable