Big Battalions: The Napoleonic Legacy

John Terraine studies the effects of Napoleonic doctrine upon the leadership of mass armies in the Industrial Age.

John Terraine | Published in History Today

In October 1914 Mr. Lloyd George, who was then Chancellor of the Exchequer, was visiting the Western Front. The so-called “Race to the Sea” was over; the encounter battles that had marked the climax of the simultaneous attempts of both sides to outflank the opposing line had ended in deadlock; in the First Battle of Ypres, and in the innumerable forgotten, but desperate, grapples along the front from Flanders to Switzerland, the structure of the War as it was largely to remain for over four years was being moulded. Already the symptoms of persistent deadlock were visible.

Lloyd George was calling upon General de Castelnau, commander of the French 2nd Army, an officer with a very high reputation for strategic ability who was later to rise to positions of special eminence at the General Headquarters of the French Army. Lloyd George wrote:

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