Description

    British Colonel John Graves Simcoe's Copy of Turpin de Crissé's Essay on the Art of War

    [Essay on the Art of War] [Lancelot] Turpin de Crissé. Essai sur l'art de la guerre. Paris: Chez Prault Fils l'aîné [et] Jombert, Imprimeur-Libraire du Roi, 1754.
    First edition. Two quarto volumes (11.125 x 8.4375 inches). [8], 443, [1, blank]; [4], 3, [1, errata], 204, [2, "Privilege du Roy"] pages plus [22] leaves of explanatory text for Plates I-XVIII and XXIII-XXV. Titles printed in red and black with engraved vignettes by Fr. Boucher. Twenty-five folding engraved plates by Dheulland after Lindenbaum, six engraved head-piece vignettes, five engraved tail-piece vignettes, decorative woodcut tail-pieces and initials.

    Contemporary French cat's paw calf. Spines decoratively tooled in gilt in compartments with five raised bands and two brown calf gilt lettering labels, board edges ruled in gilt, marbled endpapers, edges stained red. Bindings rubbed, spine extremities chipped, joints tender. Some mostly marginal dampstaining, heavier in Volume II. A very good copy. With the armorial bookplate of Lt. Col. Simcoe, Wolford Lodge, on the front pastedown of each volume.

    [Together with a copy of:] Philip R. N. Katcher. Encyclopedia of British, Provincial, and German Army Units 1775-1783. [Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole Books, [1973]. Octavo. 160 pages. Original gray cloth lettered in red on spine. Dust jacket.

    "Count Turpin de Crissé, a hussar officer and later a lieutenant-general, contributed extensively to the growth of military literature from the late 1740s. His many works included commentaries on Caesar (1769, 1785, and 1787), Montecuccoli (1769 and 1770), and Vegetius (1775, 1779, and 1783). His comprehensive Essai sur l'art de la guerre (1754 and 1757)-like the works of all the major military thinkers of the French Enlightenment-was well known throughout Europe and translated into German (1756 and 1785), English (1761), and Russian (1758)" (Azar Gat, A History of Military Thought: From the Enlightenment to the Cold War, p. 38).

    John Graves Simcoe (1752-1806) "was commissioned ensign on 27 April 1770, by purchase, in the 35th foot, then serving in England; he embarked with his regiment for Ireland in April 1773, and was promoted lieutenant (by purchase) on 12 March 1774, serving as adjutant from 27 March 1772 until leaving the 35th. He sailed from Cork in April 1775, the 35th forming part of the first embarkation of Irish reinforcements for the army at Boston, arriving there from 11 June. In the Boston garrison Simcoe purchased a captaincy in the 40th foot, on 27 December 1775; and with the 40th he served on the 1776 New York and 1777 Philadelphia campaigns, being severely wounded at Brandywine. After being refused permission to raise a corps from the free black inhabitants of Boston, on 15 October 1777 he took command of the Queen's rangers, a loyalist 'legion' of mixed light horse and foot; at first with the provincial rank of major, and later of lieutenant-colonel commandant, Simcoe made his name in the petite guerre of raids, reconnaissance, and outpost skirmishing that characterized its service...[and] his leadership made the Queen's rangers the most successful of the American loyalist corps. He was captured in 1779 and spent six months as a prisoner. He was made brevet lieutenant-colonel in the army, on 19 December 1781, not long after being invalided home to Exeter, ending his six and a half years' service in the American War of Independence. On 30 December 1782 Simcoe married Elizabeth Postuma Gwillim (1762-1850), daughter of Lieutenant-Colonel Thomas Gwillim of Old Court, Ross, Herefordshire...A wealthy heiress, she brought him a 5000 acre estate at Dunkeswell, near Honiton, Devon, on which they built Wolford Lodge, where they lived from 1788...After being put on half pay late in 1783 with the disbandment of the Queen's rangers, Simcoe devoted his years at Exeter to convalescence and study, publishing there in 1787 his important military work, the Journal of the Operations of the Queen's Rangers, the outstanding tactical study of the petite guerre to emerge from the eighteenth-century American wars, an invaluable training and tactical manual for officers soon to be engaged with the light forces of the French revolutionary armies" (ODNB).

    "While earlier military writing had concentrated on drill, discipline, and the attack and defense of fortifications, authors in the late 1740s and early 1750s began to write about partisan combat or la petite guerre...[and] many of the newer works contained useful advice for the regular officer who had to cope with guerillas. British officers were familiar with this literature. Both John Forbes and Henry Bouquet studied the work of Turpin de Crissé in French before their campaign against Fort Duquesne in 1758, and James Wolfe recommended Turpin's [Essai sur l'art de la guerre (Paris, 1754)] and La Croix's [Traité de la Petite Guerre (Paris, 1752)] books as part of the education of an aspiring officer as early as 1756...[In 1758] Forbes drew on personal experience in Flanders, a staff analysis of Braddock's defeat, and Turpin de Crissé's recent book on guerilla warfare to draw up a campaign plan that was both thoroughly European an highly successful" (Peter E. Russell, "Redcoats in the Wilderness: British Officers and Irregular Warfare in Europe and America, 1740 to 1760," The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd Ser., Vol. 35, No. 4 (Oct. 1978), pp. 641 and 646). It is quite possible that Colonel Simcoe studied these two volumes during his campaigns in America as well.


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