Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice

TitleSmall Wars: Their Principles and Practice
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication1896
AuthorsCallwell, Charles E.
Number of Pages559
PublisherPrinted for H.M. Stationery Office by Harrison and Sons

In 1886 Charles Edward Callwell, an officer of the British Army, wrote an essay "Lessons to be learned from the campaigns in which British Forces have been employed since the year 1865." This was expanded into the book Small Wars:Their Principles and Practice and published in 1896. Used as an official British Army textbook, revised versions were published in 1899 and 1906. The book analyzes and draws lessons from Western experience in fighting campaigns of imperial conquest. The quality of C. E. Callwell’s analysis, the sweep of his knowledge, and his ability to integrate information from an impressive variety of experiences resulted in Small War’s reputation as a minor classic. For the historian, Small Wars remains a useful and vital analysis of irregular warfare experiences ranging from Hoche’s suppression of the Vendée revolt during the French Revolution, to the British wars against semi-organized armies of Marathas and Sikhs in mid-nineteenth-century India.The military specialist discovers lessons applicable to what today is called “low-intensity conflict.” Callwell's message is clear, and it is relevant to current debates about conflicts as diverse as those in Bosnia, Somalia, and Vietnam. Technological superiority is an important, but seldom critical, ingredient in the success of low-intensity operations. An ability to adapt to terrain and climate, to match the enemy in mobility and inventiveness, to collect intelligence, and above all the capacity to “seize what the enemy prizes most,” will determine success or failure. This reprint adds vital historical dimension to the growing literature on unconventional conflict.

Short TitleSmall Wars
Reprint Edition1906
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