(SAXE, Maurice, maréchal de). [RICOUART D’HÉROUVILLE DE CLAYE, Antoine de]. ~ Field Marshal Count Saxe’s plan for new-modelling the French Army, reviving its Discipline, and improving its Exercise. In which are shewn the Advantages of the Roman Legion; and a Proposal made for forming the French Infantry into thirty Legions: with three Tables, containing, the necessary Alterations to be made in their present Infantry for that Purpose, and the Pay of the several Ranks in the Legion. Together with that great Man’s thoughts on the true Causes of the French Victories and Defeats in the two last Wars; and his Delineation of the present State of the French army. Translated from the original French, with an additional Plan of the proposed Legion, and others of the Battalion, which were all omitted in the Original. London: Printed for T. Osborne, in Gray’s-Inn, ‘MCCCLIII’. [i.e. 1753].
12mo (162 × 95 mm), pp. , 197, , plus 3 letterpress and 1 engraved folding plates at end. Slight browning and dampstaining, the final plate with closed tear at gutter. Contemporary sprinkled calf, red morocco spine label. Rubbed, label worn. A good copy.
First edition in English of Memoires sur l'infanterie, ou, Traité des légions (which appeared in French the same year). Maurice marèchal de Saxe was one of the most heralded generals of the Ancien regime and was responsible for a string of French victories during the reign of Louis XV, not least the battle of Fontenoy (of 1745) in which his forces defeated a coalition of English, Austrian and Dutch troops. This book, attributed to him, though published posthumously is actually the work of his lieutenant général, Ricouart d'Hérouville. It uses the armies of ancient Rome as a yardstick for measuring the French army in its effectiveness, especially in the recruiting and training of soldiers. Immediately translated into English, it was influential on both sides of the Atlantic; a copy of this edition was notably owned by George Washington.
The verso of the title-page advertises a simultaneously-issued work: The History of Maurice Count Saxe... (also Osborne, 1753). The two works are distinct, but owners (including Washington, it would appear from the Library of Congress Catalogue) sometimes had them bound as a single 3 volume work. Scarce; not in the BL catalogue. ESTC lists copies at Cambridge, Bodley, Hull and Niedersachsische Staats- und Universitatsbibliothek in Europe and Royal Military College, Society of the Cincinnati and Library of Congress in North America. OCLC adds Cornell, Boston Athenaeum and Rutgers University.