Napoleon on War
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.
many things apparently impossible have nevertheless been
performed by resolute men who had no alternative but death.
armies are two bodies which meet and try to frighten each
love a brave soldier who has undergone the baptism of
secret of war lies in the communications.
have good soldiers, a nation must always be at war.
moral is to the physical as three to one.
belongs to the most persevering.
torment of precautions often exceeds the dangers to be
avoided. It is sometimes better to abandon one's self
soldier carries a marshal's baton in his pack.
they want peace, nations should avoid the pin-pricks that
will have more lives to answer for in the next world than
even we generals.
army marches on its stomach.
must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach
him all your art of war.
are only two forces in the world, the sword and the spirit.
In the long run the sword will always be conquered by
war there is but one favorable moment; the great art is
to seize it!
bad general is worth two good ones.
generally win battles; generals get credit for them.
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
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.
time of revolution, with perseverance and courage, a soldier
should think nothing impossible.
is on the side with the best artillery
army's effectiveness depends on its size, training, experience,
and morale, and morale is worth more than any of the other
a battle lost and a battle won, the distance is immense
and there stand empires.
you had seen one day of war, you would pray to God that
you would never see another.
war, three-quarters turns on personal character and relations;
the balance of manpower and materials counts only for
the remaining quarter.
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.
is like love: it must have hope for nourishment.
would be a joke if the conduct of the victor had to be
justified to the vanquished.
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.
, gentlemen, what a Roman emperor said: The corpse of
an enemy always smells sweet.
you wage war, do it energetically and with severity. This
is the only way to make it shorter and consequently less
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.
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.
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.
war, moral factors acount for three quarters of the whole;
relative material strength accounts for only one quarter.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Emperor confides in national soldiers, not in mercenaries.
fate of a Nation may sometimes depend upon the position
of a fortress.
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.
is the business of cavalry to follow up the victory, and
to prevent the beaten army from rallying.
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.
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.
army ought to only have one line of operation. This should
be preserved with care, and never abandoned but in the
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!
you have resolved to fight a battle, collect your whole
force. Dispense with nothing. A single battalion sometimes
decides the day.
transition from the defensive to the offensive is one
of the most delicate operations in war.
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.
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.
is more essential to cavalry than to infantry, because
cavalry has no fire for its defense, but depends on the
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?"
war, the moral element and public opinion are half the
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.
must be made as intense and awful as possible in order
to make it short, and thus to diminish its horrors.
believe one bad general to be worth two good ones.
is like government, a matter of tact.
art of war is to gain time when your strength is inferior.
army which cannot be regularly recruited is a doomed army.
soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored
Generals who save troops for the next day are always beaten.
man like me troubles himself little about a million men.
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.
generals are a parcel of post inspectors.
My enemies make appointments at my tomb.
The worse the troops the greater the need of artillery.
spectacle of a field of battle after the combat, is sufficient
to inspire Princes with the love of peace, and the horror
shedding of blood, many great actions, and triumphs, toil
and perseverance are the end of all things human.
are good times for soldiers of talent and courage.
is easier to brave and threaten, than to conquer an enemy.
are but a sad resource.
should always go before our enemies with confidence, otherwise
our apparent uneasiness inspires them with greater boldness.