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French Military Treatise

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS451

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

Dating to the period of the French Revolution and handwritten in French, this military treatise on French battle tactics is contained in 32 folders in one 0.25 linear-foot box. The text covers a wide variety of topics, such as encampment, mountain warfare, artillery, military reconnaissance, and attack and defensive tactics. The material includes references to Buonaparte, the Italian Campaign of 1796, the Cairo Campaign, Louis XVII, Le Duc de Castries, and Lord Camelford. This treatise is a fine primary source on French military history. The text is 136 pages in length. All but two of the pages are approximately 8" x 13" in size. The original order of the text as it arrived from the dealer has been maintained even though the material has been placed into 32 folders. Numerous drawings and troop calculations are included. An attempt has been made to translate the major headings and subheadings appearing in the text and to cite pertinent historical references. In this finding aid, phrases which were not translated remain in their original French and are enclosed in quotation marks. Also, question marks without parentheses indicate indecipherable or missing words while question marks inside parentheses indicate the processor's uncertainty of his translation. This treatise most likely dates between 1786 and 1799. It was probably written sometime during the French Revolutionary Wars (1792-1801), although parts may have been written shortly before or after. It is unclear if the material comprises a single document or several documents. It was penned by several different hands. Some pages are numbered while others are not, and some portions of text are repeated. One page (in folder 13) was dated August 15?, 1786, and another page (in folder 2) bears a watermark of 1795. However, other portions reference individuals or events coinciding with still other dates. For example, folder 1 includes a reference to Louis XVII (1785-1795), who held that name as titular king of France only between 1793 and 1795. Also, folder 10 makes reference to the Italian Campaign of 1796 and the Cairo Campaign (part of the Egyptian Campaign of 1798-1801). Folder 1 suggests that this treatise, or at least part of it, was dedicated to Le Duc de Castries. A page in folder 32 bears the name of Lord Camelford. It is unclear if this is his signature or merely a reference to him, and it is difficult to say if he had a hand in writing all or part of this treatise. That page in folder 32 also includes calculations of troop figures. It is unlikely that the Camelford mentioned is Thomas Pitt (1737-1793), the first Lord Camelford, an English politician and connoisseur of art. It is more likely that the reference is to Thomas Pitt (1775-1804), the second Lord Camelford, who assumed the title upon the death of his father in 1793. The son, a navy commander and duelist, set out for Paris as commander of the "Charon" in 1798 to secure a set of French charts. He never completed his mission, as he was arrested and questioned by authorities. Although he was released, the admiralty removed him from the list of commanders. He died at age 29 in 1804 from wounds suffered in a duel. It is unknown why Camelford's name is attached to this document.


  • 1786 - 1799

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.


0.25 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

Provenance: Purchased from Scott Petersen, November 1998. Status: Open Access. Processed by Scott Taylor with the assistance of Kathleen Fabian.

French Military Treatise
Scott S. Taylor. Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
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Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057