Literary and historical conventions have long painted the experience of soldiers during World War I as simple victimization. Leonard Smith, however, argues that a complex dialogue of resistance and negotiation existed between French soldiers and their own commanders. In this case study of wartime military culture, Smith analyzes the experience of the French Fifth Infantry Division in both pitched battle and trench warfare. The division established a distinguished fighting record from 1914 to 1916, yet proved in 1917 the most mutinous division in the entire French army, only to regain its elite reputation in 1918. Drawing on sources from ordinary soldiers to well-known commanders such as General Charles Mangin, the author explains how the mutinies of 1917 became an explicit manifestation of an implicit struggle that took place within the French army over the whole course of the war.
Smith pays particular attention to the pivotal role of noncommissioned and junior officers, who both exercised command authority and shared the physical perils of men in the lower ranks. He shows that "soldiers," broadly defined, learned to determine rules of how they would and would not fight the war, and imposed these rules on the command structure itself. By altering the parameters of command authority in accordance with their own perceived interests, soldiers and commanders negotiated a behavioral space between mutiny and obedience.
Originally published in 1994.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
"This is a serious book by a hard-working young historian on an important subject. It contains much good material, and it is particularly good at separating the combat experience into its components, distinguishing between the formal offensive, ... routine trench warfare, ... and its small events, such as patrols and raids, of which he provides some highly original narratives. It is excellent on the aetiology of the mutinies and often fascinating on the forms they took. The accounts of the exchanges between soldiers and officers ring with authenticity."--Times Literary Supplement
Table of Contents:
List of Illustrations
List of Tables
I Introduction: The Theory of War, Obedience, and Military Authority 3
II The Army and the Republic in Provincial France: Military Life in Rouen before August 1914 20
III The Battles of August-September 1914: The Pieces of Defeat, Victory, and Proportionality 39
IV The New 5[superscript e] DI and the New War: The Social World of Trench Warfare 74
V From Percee to Grignotage: The 1915 Offensives at Neuville-St. Vaast 99
VI The Crisis in Pitched Battle: Verdun, 1916 125
VII The Crisis in Trench Warfare: Les Eparges 155
VIII The Implicit Struggle Becomes Explicit: The Mutinies of 1917 175
IX The Grandeur and Miseries of Proportionality: June 1917-November 1918 215
X Conclusion 244