Napoleon on War

Read over and over again the campaigns of Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, Gustavus, Turenne, Eugene and Frederic. … This is the only way to become a great general and master the secrets of the art of war.

How many things apparently impossible have nevertheless been performed by resolute men who had no alternative but death.

Two armies are two bodies which meet and try to frighten each other.

I love a brave soldier who has undergone the baptism of fire.

The secret of war lies in the communications.

To have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war.

The moral is to the physical as three to one.

Victory belongs to the most persevering.

The torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one’s self to destiny.

Every soldier carries a marshal’s baton in his pack.

If they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that precede cannonshots.

Doctors will have more lives to answer for in the next world than even we generals.

An army marches on its stomach.

You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war.

There are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit. In the long run the sword will always be conquered by the spirit.

In war there is but one favorable moment; the great art is to seize it!

One bad general is worth two good ones.

Soldiers generally win battles; generals get credit for them.

There are certain things in war of which the commander alone comprehends the importance. Nothing but his superior firmness and ability can subdue and surmount all difficulties.

He that makes war without many mistakes has not made war very long.

The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier.

In time of revolution, with perseverance and courage, a soldier should think nothing impossible.

God is on the side with the best artillery

An army’s effectiveness depends on its size, training, experience, and morale, and morale is worth more than any of the other factors combined.

Between a battle lost and a battle won, the distance is immense and there stand empires.

If you had seen one day of war, you would pray to God that you would never see another.

In war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations; the balance of manpower and materials counts only for the remaining quarter.

Strategy is the art of making use of time and space. I am less concerned about the later than the former. Space we can recover, lost time never.

Courage is like love: it must have hope for nourishment.

It would be a joke if the conduct of the victor had to be justified to the vanquished.

In war, as in politics, no evil – even if it is permissible under the rules – is excusable unless it is absolutely necessary. Everything beyond that is a crime.

Remember , gentlemen, what a Roman emperor said: The corpse of an enemy always smells sweet.

If you wage war, do it energetically and with severity. This is the only way to make it shorter and consequently less inhuman.

There are in Europe many good generals, but they see too many things at once. I see one thing, namely the enemy’s main body. I try to crush it, confident that secondary matters will then settle themselves.

There is no man more pusillanimous than I when I am planning a campaign. I purposely exaggerate all the dangers and all the calamities that the circumstances make possible. I am in a thoroughly painful state of agitation. This does not keep me from looking quite serene in front of my entourage; I am like an unmarried girl laboring with child. Once I have made up my mind, everything is forgotten except what leads to success.

It should not be believed that a march of three or four days in the wrong direction can be corrected by a countermarch. As a rule, this is to make two mistakes instead of one.

In war, moral factors acount for three quarters of the whole; relative material strength accounts for only one quarter.

The basic principle that we must follow in directing the armies of the Republic is this: that they must feed themselves on war at the expense of the enemy territory.

Sometimes a single battle decides everything and sometimes, too, the slightest circumstance decides the issue of a battle. There is a moment in every battle at which the least manoeuvre is decisive and gives superiority, as one drop of water causes overflow.

You do not get peace by shouting: Peace. Peace is a meaningless word; what we need is a glorious peace.

What my enemies call a general peace is my destruction. What I call peace is merely the disarmament of my enemies. Am I not more moderate than they?

If the art of war were nothing but the art of avoiding risks, glory would become the prey of mediocre minds. I have made all the calculations, fate will do the rest.

He who makes war for National independence must be enabled to count upon the union of all resources, all the wishes, and the concurrence of all the National authorities.

An Emperor confides in national soldiers, not in mercenaries.

The fate of a Nation may sometimes depend upon the position of a fortress.

Men soon get tired of shedding their blood for the advantage of a few individuals, who think they amply reward the soldiers‘ perils with the treasures they amass.

It is the business of cavalry to follow up the victory, and to prevent the beaten army from rallying.

The keys of a fortress are always well worth the retirement of the garrison when it is resolved to yield only on those conditions. On this principle it is always wiser to grant an honorable capitulation to a garrison which has made a vigorous resistance than to risk an assault.

Charges of cavalry are equally useful at the beginning, the middle and the end of a battle. They should be made always, if possible, on the flanks of the infantry, escpecially when the latter is engaged in front.

An army ought to only have one line of operation. This should be preserved with care, and never abandoned but in the last extremity.

When you determine to risk a battle, reserve to yourself every possible chance of success, more particularly if you have to deal with an adversary of superior talent, for if you are beaten, even in the midst of your magazines and your communications, woe to the vanquished!

When you have resolved to fight a battle, collect your whole force. Dispense with nothing. A single battalion sometimes decides the day.

The transition from the defensive to the offensive is one of the most delicate operations in war.

The first qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only the second; hardship, poverty, and want are the best school for a soldier.

In war, the general alone can judge of certain arrangements. It depends on him alone to conquer difficulties by his own superior talents and resolution.

Never lose sight of this maxim, that you should establish your cantonments at the most distant and best protected point from the enemy, especially where a surprise is possible. By this means you will have time to unite all your forces before he can attack you.

Artillery is more essential to cavalry than to infantry, because cavalry has no fire for its defense, but depends on the sabre.

A general-in-chief should ask himself several times in the day, ‚What if the enemy were to appear now in my front, or on my right, or my left?“

In war, the moral element and public opinion are half the battle.

Unity of command is essential to the economy of time. Warfare in the field was like a siege: by directing all one’s force to a single point a breach might be made, and the equilibrium of opposition destroyed.

War must be made as intense and awful as possible in order to make it short, and thus to diminish its horrors.

I believe one bad general to be worth two good ones.

War is like government, a matter of tact.

The art of war is to gain time when your strength is inferior.

An army which cannot be regularly recruited is a doomed army.

A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.

Generals who save troops for the next day are always beaten.

A man like me troubles himself little about a million men.

Great battles are won with artillery.

I have destroyed the enemy merely by marches.

In war you see your own troubles; those of the enemy you cannot see. You must show confidence.

My generals are a parcel of post inspectors.

My enemies make appointments at my tomb.

The worse the troops the greater the need of artillery.

The spectacle of a field of battle after the combat, is sufficient to inspire Princes with the love of peace, and the horror of war.

Much shedding of blood, many great actions, and triumphs, toil and perseverance are the end of all things human.

Revolutions are good times for soldiers of talent and courage.

It is easier to brave and threaten, than to conquer an enemy.

Reprisals are but a sad resource.

We should always go before our enemies with confidence, otherwise our apparent uneasiness inspires them with greater boldness.

Ability is nothing without opportunity.

Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.

Sources: Napoleonguide

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