Bonura, M. A. (2014). A French Inspired War of War: French Influence on the U.S. Army from 1812 to the Mexican War. Army History.

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Editor(s Journal

The Winter 2014 issue of Army History presents an article by Michael A. Bonura, a major in the Army currently serving as a nuclear and counter-proliferation officer. This piece examines the influence of French military theory and doctrine on the U.S. Army in the years during and after the War of 1812. The American view of an army had always been traditionally tied to the colonial military experience and its dependence on local militias. The numerous and significant American defeats during the War of 1812, especially in the early years, highlighted the need for a larger and more professional standing army. The Army had no native guidebook for overcoming the obstacles and inherent challenges of building, training, administering, and fielding this new force. Bonura argues that senior Army leaders, like Winfield Scott, pushed for the American military establishment to adopt a French-inspired paradigm of war or “way of warfare.”


Bryan J. Hockensmith 
Managing Editor


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Tribal and irregular warfare, skirmishing, and militias characterized the American colonial military experience from the sixteenth through the eighteenth centuries. This tradition played a major role in shaping the campaigns, operations, and battles of the War of American Independence. However, the events of the War of 1812 led America to turn away from this colonial tradition to adopt a very different understanding of war. This was a result of the transatlantic influence of French military thought produced during the French Revolution. American defeats in the War of 1812 provided the military impetus for change, but it took the support of Winfield Scott, the hero of the battles of Chippewa and Lundy’sLane, and a wider acceptance of French culture for the American military establishment to adopt a French-inspired paradigm of war or “way of warfare“. […]

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