The Influence of Antoine Henri de Jomini
on Winfield Scott's Campaign
in the Mexican War
JAMES W. POHL*
THE NAME OF THE BARON ANTOINE HENRI DE JOMINI, IF FAMILIAR
to military historians, is less so to those who specialize in other areas.
A Swiss by birth and nationality, he went to Paris to study banking, which
had been his family's occupation for generations. During his stay in that
city he was caught up in the excitement of the Napoleonic wars; and
shortly thereafter he forsook a career in finance and entered the French
army. He proved to be a staff officer of considerable skill and soon became
a competent assistant to Michel Ney, one of the more prominent marshals
of France. After a relatively brief stay with the marshal, he moved on to
serve Napoleon himself. In 1813, however, before disaster befell La Grande
Armde, he quit the French command, in part because of unfair treatment
at the hands of Pierre Alexandre Berthier, Napoleon's chief of staff. He
then enrolled in the service of Czar Alexander. In this latter capacity, he
reformed much of the Russian military establishment, bringing into exist-
ence both the War College and the General Staff.'
Jomini was also a prolific writer-altogether he wrote twenty-seven vol-
umes. His chief interest was recent military history, thus his predilection
for the wars of Frederick the Great, the French Revolution, and Napoleon.
His earliest work, Traite des Grandes Operations Militaire (hereafter called
Treatise on Grand Military Operations), was basically an examination of
the campaigns of Frederick. The early volumes contained a number of
flattering, but accurate, analogies between the campaigns of Frederick and
those of Napoleon; and it was their publication which first attracted the
emperor's attention. The young Swiss officer was only twenty-five years old
*James W. Pohl is an associate professor of history at Southwest Texas State Univer-
sity. The author would like to acknowledge the courtesy of the New York Public Library,
the University of Arizona Library, the University of Texas Library, Austin, and the
Institute for Latin American Studies, University of Texas, Austin, for providing
access to their materials. He also would like to express his appreciation to Southwest
Texas State University for the grant which made this study possible.
lA brief synopsis of Jomini's life may be found in Crane Brinton, Gordon A. Craig,
and Felix Gilbert, "Jomini," Makers of Modern Strategy: Military Thought from Ma-
chiavelli to Hitler, ed. Edward Mead Earle (Princeton, 1971), 77-92.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 77, July 1973 - April, 1974. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117148/. Accessed April 16, 2014.