The Art of War

Language: English
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Under this head are included those considerations from which a statesman concludes whether a war is proper, opportune, or indispensable, and determines the various operations necessary to attain the object of the war.

A government goes to war,—

To reclaim certain rights or to defend them;

To protect and maintain the great interests of the state, as commerce, manufactures, or agriculture;

To uphold neighboring states whose existence is necessary either for the safety of the government or the balance of power;

To fulfill the obligations of offensive and defensive alliances;

To propagate political or religious theories, to crush them out, or to defend them;

To increase the influence and power of the state by acquisitions of territory;

To defend the threatened independence of the state;

To avenge insulted honor; or,

From a mania for conquest.

It may be remarked that these different kinds of war influence in some degree the nature and extent of the efforts and operations necessary for the proposed end. The party who has provoked the war may be reduced to the defensive, and the party assailed may assume the offensive; and there may be other circumstances which will affect the nature and conduct of a war, as,—

1. A state may simply make war against another state.

2. A state may make war against several states in alliance with each other.

3. A state in alliance with another may make war upon a single enemy.

4. A state may be either the principal party or an auxiliary.

5. In the latter case a state may join in the struggle at its beginning or after it has commenced.

6. The theater of war may be upon the soil of the enemy, upon that of an ally, or upon its own.

7. If the war be one of invasion, it may be upon adjacent or distant territory: it may be prudent and cautious, or it may be bold and adventurous.

8. It may be a national war, either against ourselves or against the enemy.

9. The war may be a civil or a religious war.

War is always to be conducted according to the great principles of the art; but great discretion must be exercised in the nature of the operations to be undertaken, which should depend upon the circumstances of the case.

For example: two hundred thousand French wishing to subjugate the Spanish people, united to a man against them, would not maneuver as the same number of French in a march upon Vienna, or any other capital, to compel a peace; nor would a French army fight the guerrillas of Mina as they fought the Russians at Borodino; nor would a French army venture to march upon Vienna without considering what might be the tone and temper of the governments and communities between the Rhine and the Inn, or between the Danube and the Elbe. A regiment should always fight in nearly the same way; but commanding generals must be guided by circumstances and events.

To these different combinations, which belong more or less to statesmanship, may be added others which relate solely to the management of armies....