previous next

The Art of War.

every war is undertaken to obtain a certain object.

A war is a calamity; therefore the means giving the speediest attainment of our object are the best.

Only preconcerted and precise plans, in accordance with the rules of the military sciences, with our means and those of the enemy, with the configuration of the theater of war, will permit an energetic action, and, in consequence, a speedy termination of the war.

War can be offensive, purely defensive, or defensive with offensive return.

Offensive wars, if properly conducted, have many advantages; purely defensive ones will always end with submission.

Defensive, with offensive return, may be accompanied with great results.

The rules which ought to guide us in the adoption of our plans are defined in the military sciences called:--

1st. Strategy, or the art of directing the masses of our army on the theater of war for the attainment of our object.

2d. Grand Tactics, or the art to move and dispose of troops in the presence of the enemy. [10]

3d. Logistics, or the art of arranging our movements.

4th. The Art of Engineering defense and attack of places.

5th. Tactics of each Arm.

Every war is composed of marches, battles, sieges, erection of fortifications, and pauses of repose.

Each of these separate operations is to be conducted in accordance with the strict rules laid down in one of the five separate sciences.

The entire war, composed of these different operations may be looked at as a great drama, in which these different operations form the different acts.

As soon as our armies are ready to take the field, the nature of the war is to be fixed — if offensive, if defensive, or if of the offensive defense.

The next care will be the study of the theater of the war.

It will then be upon the rules of strategy upon which we must fix our base of operation, our lines of advance or retreat, our manoeuvres, our different objects before the attainment of the final and main object, our lines of defense, our places of refuge in case of defeat.

Our manoeuvers and marches will conduct us, sooner or later, in the presence of the enemy; it is then, by the rules of grand tactics, that we learn how to displace or destroy the obstacles the enemy puts in our way in the shape of his army.

In the application of grand tactics, we use certain figures and forms by which we dispose of our different army corps to enable there better to sustain the shock of the two masses.

Those figures and forms are given in the small tactics of every country. [11]

Our strategical movements may conduct us to overcome natural and artificial difficulties which we find in our way, as, for instance, rivers, fortifications, etc. It is then that the art of engineering will find its employment; and, finally, to arrive from one point to another, we must march in a certain order, we must be provided with provision and ammunition; and their logistics will tell us how to make our different arrangements.

There are three great maxims common to the whole science of war; they are--

1st. Concentrate your force, and act with the whole of it on one part only of the enemy's force.

2d. Act against the weakest part of your enemy — this center, if he is dispersed; his flank or rear, if concentrated. Act against his communications without endangering your own.

3d. Whatever you do, as soon as you have made your plan, and taken the decision to act upon it, act with the utmost speed, so that you may obtain your object before the enemy suspects what you are about.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: