College of Arts and Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in History (PhD)


Phillip Cuccia


French military tactics, Jomini, Napoleon, Mahan, Manassas, First Bull Run, Gettysburg, Vicksburg, West Point




Between 1796 and 1815 the Napoleonic Wars had Europe in a constant state of conflict. Ultimately, a shifting coalition of Europeans defeated the French Emperor, but not before the world was changed forever. The Napoleonic Wars planted the seeds of the unified states of Germany and Italy, the United States doubled in size with the Louisiana Purchase, and perhaps most significantly, the definition of modern warfare became aligned with French military tactics. On the heels of the French Revolution, Napoleon had come remarkably close to conquering Europe through the combination of his leadership, audacity, and mastery of the art of war. Based on historical analysis, in particular the campaigns of Napoleon and Frederick the Great, Antoine Henri de Jomini distilled the key elements of French warfighting into teachable principles in his book, Précis de l'art de la guerre. When the curriculum at the United States Military Academy at West Point shifted from a civil engineering focus to include more military science, French military science became the basis for those lessons. The preeminence of French warfare was virtually unquestioned when the United States Civil War broke out less than half a century later. Fate would have it that the prominent military leaders for both the Union and the Confederacy were graduates of the United States Military Academy at West Point and were equally schooled in French military tactics. This dissertation explores the assertion that all other things being equal, the leader in the Civil War who most effectively applied French military tactics, as described in Jomini’s principles, at the First Battle of Bull Run, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the Vicksburg Campaign, would emerge victorious on the battlefield.

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