Home > Full text of "The Strategy Of Indirect Approach"

Full text of "The Strategy Of Indirect Approach"





Call No. Accession No

Author: ft 0JU
Title : 1rt&fif<

This book should be returned on or before the date
last marked below.


24 Russell Square


Trainer of Troops for "War


JVly original study of the strategy of indirect ap-
proach was written in 1929. Published under the title
The Decisive Wars of History, it has-been out of print
for some time. In the years following its publication,
I continued to explore this line of thought, and from
the results of such further study compiled a number of
supplementary notes, which were privately circulated.
Since the course of the present war has provided
further examples of the value of the indirect approach,
and thereby given fresh point to the thesis, the issue of
a new edition of the book provides an opportunity to
include these hitherto unpublished notes in exten-
sion of Chapter XL The other principal additions to
Part I are a chapter (IV) devoted to the Byzantine
campaigns, of Belisarius in particular, which T. E.
Lawrence had urged me to include; and a chapter
(XII) on the * Concentrated Essence of Strategy'. I
have, also, amplified the parts of the book which deal
with the campaigns of Hannibal, Scipio, Caesar,
Cromwell, Marlborough, Frederick, Napoleon, and
Moltke. And at the end of the book comes a new
chapter, on Hitler's strategy.

When, in the course of studying a long series of mili-
tary campaigns, I first came to perceive the superiority



of the indirect over the direct approach, I was looking
merely for light upon strategy. With deepening reflec-
tion, however, I began to realize that the indirect
approach had a much wider application that it was
a law of life in all spheres : a truth of philosophy. Its
fulfilment was seen to be the key to practical achieve-
ment in dealing with any problem where the human
factor predominates, and a conflict of wills tends to
spring from an underlying concern for interests. In all
such cases, the direct assault of new ideas provokes a
stubborn resistance, thus intensifying the difficulty of
producing a change of outlook. Conversion is achieved
more easily and rapidly by unsuspected infiltration of
a different idea or by an argument that turns the flank
of instinctive opposition. The indirect approach is as
fundamental to the realm of politics as to the realm of
sex. In commerce, the suggestion that there is a bar-
gain to be secured is far more potent than any direct
appeal to buy. And in any sphere it is proverbial that
the surest way of gaining a superior's acceptance of a
new idea is to persuade him that it is his idea! As in
war, the aim is to weaken resistance before attempting
to overcome it ; and the effect is best attained by draw-
ing the other party out of his defences.

This idea of the indirect approach is closely related
to all problems of the influence of mind upon mind
the most influential factor in human history. Yet it is
hard to reconcile with another lesson : that true con-
clusions can only be reached, or approached, by pur-
suing the truth without regard to where it may lead or
what its effect may be on different interests.

History bears witness to the vital part that the ' pro-
phets ' have played in human progress which is evi-
dence of the ultimate practical value of expressing un-
reservedly the truth as one sees it. Yet it also becomes
clear that the acceptance and spreading of their vision


has always depended on another class of men
'leaders' who had to be philosophical strategists,
striking a compromise between truth and men's re-
ceptivity to it. Their effect has often depended as much
on their own limitations in perceiving the truth as on
their practical wisdom in proclaiming it.

The prophets must be stoned; that is their lot, and
the test of their self-fulfilment. But a leader who is
stoned may merely prove that he has failed in his
function through a deficiency of wisdom, or through
confusing his function with that of a prophet. Time
alone can tell whether the effect of such a sacrifice re-
deems the apparent failure as a leader that does
honour to him as a man. At the least, he avoids the
more common fault of leaders that of sacrificing the
truth to expediency without ultimate advantage to the
cause. For whoever habitually suppresses the truth in
the interests of tact will produce a deformity from the
womb of his thought.

Is there a practical way of combining progress to-
wards the attainment of truth with progress towards
its acceptance? A possible solution of the problem is
suggested by reflection on strategic principles which
point to the importance of maintaining an object con-
sistently and, also, of pursuing it in a way adapted to
circumstances. Opposition to the truth is inevitable,
especially if it takes the form of a new idea, but the
degree of resistance can be diminished by giving
thought not only to the aim but to the method of ap-
proach. Avoid a frontal attack on a long established
position ; instead, seek to turn it by a flank movement,
so that a more penetrable side is exposed to the thrust
of truth. But, in any such indirect approach, take care
not to diverge from the truth for nothing is more
fatal to its real advancement than to lapse into un-



The moaning of these reflections may be "made
clearer by illustration from one's own experience.
Looking back on the stages by which various fresh
ideas gained acceptance, it can be seen that the pro-
cess was eased when they could be presented, not as
something radically new, but as the revival in modern
terms of a time-honoured principle or practice that
had been forgotten. This required not deception, but
care to trace the connection since 'there is nothing
new under the sun'. A notable example was the way
that the opposition to mechanization was diminished
by showing that the mobile armoured vehicle the
fast-moving tank was fundamentally the heir of the
armoured horseman, and thus the natural means of
reviving the decisive role which cavalry had played in
past ages.



The first chapter of this book is in a general sense
the preface, explaining its purpose, scope, and theme.
These have evolved more gradually and less consecu-
tively than is usual in the preparation of a book, and
as the guiding idea has been that of an attempt to
distil the essence of one's reading and reflection over
a number of years, so the historical narrative is a con-
densed product of the notes made when studying each
of the several wars epitomized. It would have been
easier to have woven these notes into a narrative of
greater length, but the desire that the 'wood' should
not be obscured by the 'trees' has prompted a severe
pruning of unessential facts. If the foliage is too bare
for the taste of some readers, I would ask their for-
giveness on the score that, for the specialized student,
this book is intended as a guide in historical study
rather than as a compendium of history.

I would also utilize this 'preliminary' preface to
acknowledge the kindness of those who have read and
criticized the typescript and proofs at various stages.
For helpful comments and suggestions my thanks are
due, in particular, to my friends, Brigadiers J. G. Dill,
B. D. Fisher, J. F. C. Fuller, H. Karslake, Colonel the
Viscount Gort, Mr. E. G. Hawke, and T.E.S.

(Thes* were their ranks in 1929 when the original edition was
published. They are now General Sir John Dill, Lieut-General



Sir JJertie Fisher, Major-General J. F. C. Fuller, Lieut-General
Sir 'Henry Karslake, and General the Viscount Gort. The late
T. E. Lawrence was then serving in the ranks of the Royal Air
Force under the name of T. E. Shaw, legally assumed for the time,
and for reasons of discretion wished only his initials to appear in
the acknowledgement.)



PREFACE page ix















DC. 1854-1914 160








WESTERN THEATRE, 1914 page 219










I. GREECE facing page 20









Chapter I

Fools say that they learn by experience. I prefer to
profit by others' experience.' This famous saying,
quoted of Bismarck but by no means original to him,
has a peculiar bearing on military questions. For it has
often been remarked that the soldier, unlike the fol-
lowers of other professions, has but rare opportuni-
ties to practise his profession. Indeed, it might even
be argued that in a literal sense the profession of arms
is not a profession at all, but merely ' casual employ-
ment'. And, paradoxically, that it ceased to be a pro-
fession when the soldier of fortune gave way to the
'professional soldier' when mercenary troops who
were employed and paid for the purpose of a war were
replaced by standing armies which continued to be
paid when there was no war.

This logical, if somewhat extreme argument recalls
the excuse often made in the past for paying officers
a rate inadequate to live on, and by some of those
officers for doing an inadequate day's work the con-
tention being that the officer's pay was not a working
salary but a 'retainer', paid to him for the benefit of
having his services available in case of war.

If the argument that strictly there is no ' profession
of arms' will not hold good in most armies to-day
B 1


on the score of work, it is inevitably strengthened on
the score of practice by the increasing infrequency of
wars. Are we then left with the conclusion that armies
are doomed to become more and more 'amateurish'
in the popular bad sense of that much-abused and
misused word? For, obviously, even the best of peace
training is more 'theoretical' than 'practical' experi-

But Bismarck's aphorism throws a different and
more encouraging light on the problem. It helps us to
realize that there are two forms of practical experience,
direct and indirect. And that of the two, indirect prac-
tical experience may be the more valuable : because
infinitely wider. Even in the most active career, especi-
ally a soldier's career, the scope and possibilities of
direct experience are extremely limited. In contrast to
the military, the medical profession has incessant prac-
tice yet the great achievements in medicine and sur-
gery have usually been due to the research worker and
not to the general practitioner.

Direct experience is inherently too limited to form
a secure foundation for either theory or application.
At the best it produces an atmosphere, which is of
value in drying and hardening the structure of our
thought. The greater value of indirect experience lies
in its greater variety and extent. 'History is universal
experience' the experience not of another, but of
many others under manifold conditions.

Here we have the rational justification for military
history its preponderant practical value in the train-
ing and mental development of a soldier. But the bene-
fit depends, as with all experience, on its breadth : on
how closely it approaches the definition quoted above ;
and on the method of studying it.

Soldiers universally concede the general truth of
Napoleon's much*quoted dictum that in war ' the moral



is to the physical as three to one*. The actual arith-
metical proportion may be worthless, for morale is apt
to decline if weapons be inadequate, and the strongest
will is of little use if it is inside a dead body. But al-
though the moral and physical factors are inseparable
and indivisible, the saying gains its immortal value
because it expresses the idea of the predominance of
moral factors in all military decisions. On them con-
stantly turns the issue of war and battle. And in the
history of war they form the more constant factors,
changing only in degree whereas the physical factors
are fundamentally different in almost every war and
every military situation.

This realization affects the whole question of the
study of military history for practical use. The method
in the last few generations has been to select one or
two campaigns, and to study them exhaustively as a
means of developing both our minds and a theory of
war. But the continual changes in military means
from war to war, entail a grave danger, even a cer-
tainty, that our outlook will be nahrow r and the les-
sons fallacious. In the physical sphere, the one con-
stant factor is that means and conditions are invari-
ably inconstant.

In contrast, human nature varies but slightly in its
reaction to danger. Some men by race, by environ-
ment, or by training, may be less sensitive than others,
but the difference is one of degree, not fundamental.
The more localized the situation, and our study, the
more disconcerting and less calculable is such a differ-
ence of degree. It may prevent any exact calculation of
the resistance which men will offer in any situation,
but it does not impair the judgement that they will
offer less if taken by surprise than if they are on the
alert ; less if they are weary and hungry than if they
are fresh and well fed. The broader the psychological



survey the better foundation it affords for deductions.

The predominance of the psychological over the
physical, and its greater constancy, point to the con-
clusion that the foundation of any theory of war should
be as broad as possible. An intensive study of one
campaign unless based on an extensive knowledge of
the whole history of war is as likely to lead us into
pitfalls as onto the peaks of military achievement. But
if a certain effect is seen to follow a certain cause in a
score or more cases, in different epochs and diverse
conditions, there is ground for regarding this cause as
an integral part of any theory of war.

The thesis set forth in this book is the product of
such an * extensive' examination. It might, indeed, be
termed the compound effect of certain causes these
being connected with my task as military editor of the
Encyclopaedia Britannica. For while I had previously
delved into various periods of military history accord-
ing to my inclination, this task compelled a general
survey of all, often against my inclination. And a sur-
veyor even a tourist, if you will has at least a wide
perspective and can at least take in the general lie of
the land, where the miner knows only his own seam.
During this survey one impression grew ever stronger
that throughout the ages decisive results in war have
only been reached when the approach has been in-
direct. In strategy the longest way round is apt to be
the shortest way home.

More and more clearly has the fact emerged that a
direct approach to one's mental object, or physical ob-
jective, along the 'line of natural expectation' for the
opponent, has ever tended to, and usually produced
negative results. The reason has been expressed vividly
in Napoleon's dictum that 'the moral is to the physi-
cal as three to one'. It may be expressed scientifically
by saying that, while the strength of an enemy country



lies outwardly in its numbers and resources, these are
fundamentally dependent upon stability or * equili-
brium' of control, morale, and supply.

To move along the line of natural expectation con-
solidates the opponent's equilibrium, and, by stiffen-
ing it, augments his resisting power. In war, as in
wrestling, the attempt to throw the opponent without
loosening his foothold and balance can only result in
self-exhaustion, increasing in disproportionate ratio
to the effective strain put upon him. Victory by such a
method can only be possible through an immense mar-
gin of superior strength in some form, and, even so,
tends to lose decisiveness. In contrast, an examination
of military history not of one period but of its whole
course brings out the point that in almost all the de-
cisive campaigns the dislocation of the enemy's psy-
chological and physical balance has been the vital pre-
lude to a successful attempt at his overthrow.

This dislocation has been produced by a strategic
indirect approach, intentional or fortuitous. It may
take varied forms, as our analysis reveals. For the
strategy of indirect approach is inclusive of, but wider
than, the manoeuvre sur les derrieres which General
Camon's researches showed as being the constant aim
and key-method of Napoleon in his conduct of opera-
tions. While Camon was concerned primarily with the
logistical moves the factors of time, space, and com-
munications this analysis seeks to probe deeper to
the psychological foundations, and, in so doing, finds
an underlying relationship between many strategical
operations which have no outward resemblance to a
manoeuvre against the enemy's rear yet are, none the
less definitely, vital examples of the * strategy of in-
direct approach'.

To trace this relationship and to determine the char-
acter of the operations, it is not necessary, and is in-



deed irrelevant, to tabulate the numerical strengths
and the details of supply and transport. Our concern
is simply with the historical effects in a comprehensive
series of cases, and with the logistical or psychological
moves which led up to them.

If similar effects follow fundamentally similar moves,
in conditions which vary widely in nature, scale, and
date, there is clearly an underlying connection from
which we can logically deduce a common cause. And
the more widely the conditions vary, the firmer is this

But the objective value of a broad survey of war is
not limited to the research for new and true doctrine.
If a broad survey is ^n essential foundation for any
theory of war, it is equally necessary for the ordinary
military student who seeks to develop his own outlook
and judgement. Otherwise his knowledge of war will
be like an inverted pyramid balanced precariously on
a slender apex. At a university, the student only comes
to post-graduate research after he has had a general
grounding in history as a schoolboy, and then, as an
undergraduate, has developed this background by the
study of the constitutional and economic aspects, and
of special periods. Yet the military student, who com-
monly comes late to his subject, when the mind is less
supple than in adolescence, is expected to begin at a
point corresponding with post-graduate research.


Chapter II


The most natural starting-point for a survey is the
first ' Great War' in European history the Great Per-
sian War. We cannot expect much guidance from a
period when strategy was in its infancy; but the name
of Marathon is too deeply stamped on the mind and
imagination of all readers of history to be disregarded.
It was still more impressed on the imagination of the
Greeks ; hence its importance came to be exaggerated
by them and, through them, by Europeans in all sub-
sequent ages. Yet by the reduction of its importance
to juster proportions, its strategical significance is in-
creased. The Persian invasion of 490 B.C. was a com-
paratively small expedition intended to teach Eretria
and Athens petty states in the eyes of Darius to
mind their own business and abstain from encour-
aging revolt among Persia's Greek subjects in Asia

Eretria was destroyed and its inhabitants deported
for resettlement on the Persian Gulf. Next came the
turn of Athens, where the ultra-democratic party was
known to be waiting to aid the Persian intervention
against their own conservative party. The Persians,



instead of making a direct advance on Athens, landed
at Marathon, twenty-four miles north-east of it. There-
by they could calculate on drawing the Athenian army
towards them, thus facilitating the seizure of power in
Athens by their adherents, whereas a direct attack on
the city would have hampered such a rising, perhaps
even have rallied its force against them ; and in any
case have given them the extra difficulty of a siege.

If this was their calculation, the bait succeeded. The
Athenian army marched out to Marathon to meet the
supposed main mass of the enemy's armed forces
most literally fulfilling modern military doctrine. Un-
luckily for the Persians, a change of feeling had oc-
curred among their democratic adherents in Athens.
Even so, they proceeded to execute the next step in
their strategical plan. Under the protection of a cover-
ing force, they re-embarked the rest of the army in
order to move it round to Phalerum, land there, and
make a spring at unguarded Athens.

Thanks to the energy of Miltiades, the Athenians
took their one chance by striking without delay at the
covering force. And in the battle, the superior armour
and longer spears of the Greeks, always their supreme
assets against the Persians, combined with their novel
tactics to give them the victory although the fight
was harder than patriotic legend suggested, and most
of the covering force got safely away on the ships.
With still more creditable energy the Athenians coun-
ter-marched rapidly back to their city, and this rapid-
ity, combined with the dilatoriness of the disaffected
party, saved them. For when the Athenian army was
back in Athens, and the Persians saw that a siege was
unavoidable, they sailed back to Asia as their merely
punitive object was not worth purchasing at a heavy

Ten years passed before the Persians made a real



effort to repeat and reinforce the intended lesson. The
Greeks had been slow to profit by the warning, and it
was not until 487 B.C. that Athens began the expansion
of her fleet which was to be the decisive factor. Thus
it can with truth be said that Greece and Europe were
saved by a revolt in Egypt which kept Persia's atten-
tion occupied from 486 to 484 as well as by the death
of Darius, ablest of the Persian rulers of that epoch.

When the menace developed, in 481, this time on a
grand scale, its very magnitude not only consolidated
the Greek factions and states against it, but compelled
Xerxes to make a direct approach to his goal. For the
army was too big to be transported by sea, and so was
compelled to take an overland route. And it was too
big to supply itself, so that the fleet had to be used for
this purpose. The army was tied to the coast, and the
navy tied to the army each tied by the leg. Thus the
Greeks could be sure as to the line along which to ex-
pect the enemy's approach, and the Persians were un-
able to depart from it. The nature of the country
afforded the Greeks a series of points at which they
could firmly block the line of natural expectation and,
as Grundy has remarked, but for the Greeks' own
dissensions of interest and counsel 'it is probable that
the invaders would never have got south of Ther-
mopylae'. As it was, history gained an immortal story
and it was left to the Greek fleet to dislocate the in-
vasion irredeemably by defeating the Persian fleet at
Salamis while Xerxes and the Persian army watched
helplessly the destruction of what was not merely their
fleet, but, more vitally, their source of supply.

It is worth note that the opportunity for this deci-
sive naval battle was obtained by a ruse which might
be classified as a form of indirect approach Themis-
tocles's message to Xerxes that the Greek fleet was
ripe for treacherous, surrender. The deception, which



drew the Persian fleet into the narrow straits where
their superiority of numbers was discounted, proved
all the more effective because past experience endowed
the message with plausibility. Indeed, Themistocles'
message was inspired by his fear that the allied Pelo-
ponnesian commanders would withdraw from Sala-
mis, as they had advocated in the council of war thus
leaving the Athenian fleet to fight alone, or giving the
Persians a chance to use their superior numbers in the
open sea. On the other side there was only one voice
raised against Xerxes' eager desire for battle. It was
that of the sailor-queen, Artemisia, from Halicarnas-
sus, who urged the contrary plan of abstaining from a
direct assault and, instead, co-operating with the Per-
sian land forces in a move against the Peloponnesus.
She argued that the Peloponnesian naval contingents
would react to such a threat by sailing for home, and
thereby cause the disintegration of the Greek fleet. It
would seem that her anticipation was as well justified
as Themistocles' anxiety; that such a withdrawal
would have been carried out the very next morning
but for the fact that the Persian galleys blocked the
outlets, preparatory to attack. When the attackers ad-
vanced through the narrow straits, the Greek galleys
backed away; the Persian galleys thereupon quick-
ened their rate of rowing, and as a result became a
congested mass, helplessly exposed to the counter-
stroke which the Greek galleys delivered from either

In the seventy years that followed, one of the chief
factors which restrained the Persians from further in-
tervention in Greece would seem to have been the
power of indirect approach, to the Persians' own com-
munications, that Athens could wield this'deduction
is supported by the prompt revival of such interfer-
ence after the destruction of the Athenian fleet at Syra-



cuse. Historically, it is worth note that the use of
strategic mobility for an indirect approach was realized
and exploited much earlier in sea than in land war-
fare. The natural reason is that only in a late stage of
development did armies come to depend upon 'lines
of communication' for their supply. Fleets, however,
were used to operate against the sea-borne communi-
cations, or means of supply, of a hostile country; and
once this conception was established it was natural to
apply it as a means to a naval end a 'military' end at

With the passing of the Persian menace, the sequel
to Salamis was the rise of Athens to the ascendency in
Greek affairs. This ascendency was ended by the Pelo-
ponnesian War (431-404 B.C.). But the extravagant
duration of these twenty-seven years of warfare, and
their terrible drain not only on the chief adversaries
but on the luckless would-be neutrals may be traced
to the fluctuating and often purposeless strategy into
which both sides repeatedly drifted.

In the first phase Sparta and her allies attempted a
direct invasion of Attica. They were foiled by Peri-
cles' war policy of refusing battle on land while using
the superior Athenian army to wear down the enemy's
will by devastating raids.

The term 'war policy' is used of intent, although
the phrase 'Periclean strategy' is almost as familiar as
that of 'Fabian strategy' in a later age. Clear-cut
nomenclature is essential to clear thought, and the
term 'strategy' is best confined to its literal meaning
of ' generalship ' the actual direction of military force,
as distinct from the policy governing its employment
and combining it with other weapons : economic, poli-
tical, psychological. For such war policy the term
'grand strategy' has been coined, but, apt as it is, its
meaning is not so easily grasped. Hence although I



prefer * grand strategy' and have often used it else-
where, I shall here normally use the term 'war policy'
because analysis and classification are the dominant
purposes of this examination of history.

In contrast to a strategy of indirect approach which
seeks to dislocate the enemy's balance in order to pro-
duce a decision, the Periclean plan was simply a war
policy with the aim of gradually draining the enemy's
endurance in order to convince him that he could not
gain a decision. Unluckily for Athens, an importation
of plague tipped the scales against her in this moral
and economic attrition campaign. Hence in 426 B.C.
the Periclean strategy was made to give place to the
direct offensive strategy of Cleon and Demosthenes.
This cost more, and succeeded no better, despite some
brilliant tactical successes. And in the early winter of
424 B.C. Brasidas, Sparta's ablest soldier, wiped out
all the advantage that Athens had painfully won : by a
strategic move directed against the roots, instead of
the trunk, of the enemy power. Passing by Athens
itself, which he ignored, he marched swiftly north
through the length of Greece and struck at the Athe-
nian dominion in Chalcidice which has been aptly
termed the 'Achilles heel of the Athenian empire'. By
a combination of military force with the promise of
freedom and protection to all cities which revolted
against her, he so shook the hold of Athens there that
he drew her main forces thither. At Amphipolis they
suffered disaster, and Cleon, death. Though Brasidas
himself fell in the moment of victory, Athens was glad
to conclude a negative peace with Sparta.

In the succeeding years of pseudo-peace, repeated
Athenian expeditions failed to regain the lost footing
in Chalcidice. Then, as a last offensive resort, Athens
undertook an expedition against Syracuse, the key to
Sicily, whence came the overseas food supply of Sparta



and the Peloponnese generally. As a war policy of in-
direct approach it had the defect of striking, not at the
enemy's actual partners, but rather at his business
associates. And thereby, instead of distracting the
enemy's forces, it drew fresh forces into opposition.

Nevertheless, the moral and economic results of
success might well have changed the whole balance of
the war if there had not been an almost unparalleled
chain of blunders in execution. Alcibiades, the author
of the plan, was recalled from his joint command by
the intrigues of his political enemies. Rather than re-
turn to be put on trial for sacrilege, and meet a certain
death sentence, he fled to Sparta there to advise the
the other side how to thwart his own plan. And the
stubborn opponent of the plan, Nicias, was left in
command to carry it out. Instead by his obstinate
stupidity, he carried it to ruin.

With her army lost at Syracuse, Athens staved off
defeat at home by the use of her fleet, and in the nine
years of sea warfare which followed she came within
reach not only of an advantageous peace but of the
restoration of her empire. Her prospects, however,
were dramatically extinguished by the Spartan ad-
miral, Lysander, in 405 B.C. In the words of the Cam-
bridge Ancient History 'his plan of campaign . . . was-
to avoid fighting, and reduce the Athenians to ex-
tremities by attacking their empire at its most vulner-
able points ' The first clause is hardly accurate, for

his plan was not so much an evasion of battle as an
indirect approach to it so that he might obtain the
opportunity when, and where, the odds were heavily
in his favour. By skilful and mystifying changes of
course, he reached the entrance to the Dardanelles
and there lay in wait for the Pontic grain-ships on
their way to Athens. 'Sincethe grain-supply of Athens
was a life interest,' the Athenian commanders 'hurried



with their entire fleet of 180 ships to safeguard it.' For
four successive days they tried in vain to tempt Ly-
sander to battle, while he gave them every encourage-
ment to think they had cornered him. Thus, instead
of retiring to revictual in the safe harbour of Sestos,
they stayed in the open strait opposite him at Aegos-
potamoi. On the fifth day, when most of the crews had
gone ashore to collect food, he suddenly sallied out,
captured almost the whole fleet without a blo\V, and
'in one single hour brought the longest of wars to an

In this twenty-seven years' struggle, where scores of
direct approaches failed, usually to the injury of those
who made them, the scales were definitely turned
against Athens by Brasidas's move against her Chal-
cidice 'root'. The best-founded hopes of a recovery
came with Alcibiades's indirect approach on the
plane of grand strategy to Sparta's economic root in
Sicily. And the coup de grace, after another ten years'
prolongation, was given by a tactical indirect ap-
proach at sea, which was itself the sequel to a fresh in-
direct approach in grand strategy. For it should be
noted that the opportunity was created by menacing
the Athenians' 'national' lines of communication. By
taking an economic objective Lysander could hope at
the least to drain their strength ; through the exaspera-
tion and fear thus generated, he was able to produce
conditions favourable to surprise and so obtain a swift
military decision.

W. With the fall of the Athenian empire the next phase
in" Greek history is the assumption by Sparta of the
headship of Greece. Our next question is, therefore
what was the decisive factor in ending Sparta's ascen-
dancy? The answer is a man, and his contribution to
the science and art of warfare. In the years immedi-
ately preceding the rise of Epaminondas, Thebes had



released herself from Sparta's dominion by the method
later christened Fabian, of refusing battle a war
policy of indirect approach, but a strategy merely of
evasion while Spartan armies wandered unopposed
through Boeotia. This method gained them time to
develop a picked professional force, famous as the
Sacred Band, which formed the spear-head of their
forces subsequently. It also gained time and oppor-
tunity for disaffection to spread, and for Athens,
thereby relieved of land pressure, to concentrate her
energy and man-power on the revival of her fleet.
Thus in 374 the Athenian confederacy, which included
Thebes, found Sparta willing to grant an advantageous
peace. Although quickly broken, through an Athenian
maritime adventure, a fresh peace congress was con-
vened three years later by which time the Athenians
were tired of war. Here Sparta regained at the council
table much that she had lost on the field of war, and
succeeded in isolating Thebes from her allies. There-
upon Sparta eagerly turned to crush Thebes. But on ad-
vancing into Boeotia, her army, traditionally superior
in quality and actually superior in number (10,000 to
6,000) was decisively defeated at Leuctra by the new
model army of Thebes under Epaminondas, perhaps
the most original genius in military history.

He not only broke away from tactical methods es-
tablished by the experience of centuries, but in tactics,
strategy, and grand strategy alike laid the foundations
on which subsequent masters have built. Even his
structural designs have survived or been revived. For
in tactics the 'oblique order' which Frederick made
famous was but a slight elaboration of the method of
Epaminondas. At Leuctra, reversing custom, Epami-
nondas placed not only his best men but the most on
his left wing, and then, holding back his weak centre
and right, developed a crushing superiority against one



wing of the enemy the wing where their leader stood,
and thus the key of their will.

A year after Leuctra, Epaminondas led the forces
of the newly formed Arcadian League in a march
upon virgin Sparta itself. This march into the heart
of the Peloponnesian peninsula, so long Sparta's un-
challenged domain, was distinguished by the mani-
fold nature of its indirect approach. It was made in
mid-winter and by three separated, but converging,
columns thus * distracting' the forces and direction
of the opposition. For this alone it would be almost
unique in ancient, or, indeed, in pre-Napoleonic war-
fare. But with still deeper strategical insight, Epami-
nondas, after his force had united at Caryiae, twenty
miles short of Sparta, slipped past the capital and
moved up from the rear. This move had the additional
and calculated advantage of enabling the invaders to
rally to themselves considerable bodies of Helots and
other disaffected elements. The Spartans, however,
succeeded in checking this dangerous internal move-
ment by an emergency promise of emancipation ; and
the timely arrival at Sparta of strong reinforcements
from her Peloponnesian allies thwarted the chance of
the city falling without a set siege.

Epaminondas soon realized that the Spartans would
not be lured into the open, and that a prolonged in-
vestment meant the dwindling of his own hetero-
geneous force. He therefore relinquished the blunted
strategic weapon for a more subtle weapon a war
policy of indirect approach, true grand strategy. At
Mount Ithome, the natural citadel of Messenia, he
founded a city as the capital of a new Messenian state,
established there all the insurgent elements that had
joined him, and used the booty he had gained during
the invasion as an endowment for the new state. This
was to be a check and counterpoise to Sparta in



southern Greece ; by its secure establishment she lost
half her territory and more than half her serfs. Through
Epaminondas's foundation of Megalopolis, in Arca-
dia, as a further check, Sparta was hemmed in both
politically and by a chain of fortresses, so that the eco-
nomic roots of her military supremacy were severed.
When Epaminondas left the Peloponnese, after only a
few months' campaign, he had won no victory in the
field, yet his war policy had definitely dislocated the
foundations of Spartan power.

The politicians at home, however, had desired a
destructive military success, and were disappointed at
not achieving it. And with Epaminondas's subsequent,
if temporary, supersession, Theban democracy by
short-sighted policy and blundering diplomacy for-
feited the advantage won for it. Thus it enabled its
Arcadian allies, repudiating gratitude in growing con-
ceit and ambition, to dispute Theban leadership. In
362, Thebes was driven to a choice between the for-
cible reassertion of her authority and the sacrifice of
her prestige. Her move against Arcadia caused the
Greek states to divide afresh into two opposing coali-
tions. Happily for Thebes, not only was Epaminondas
at her service, but also the fruits of his grand strategy
for his creations of Messenia and Megalopolis now
contributed not merely a check to Sparta but a make-
weight to the Theban side.

Marching into the Peloponnese, he joined forces
with his Peloponnesian allies at Tegea, thus placing
himself between Sparta and the forces of the other
anti-Theban states, which had concentrated at Man-
tinea. The Spartans marched by a roundabout route
to join their allies, whereupon Epaminondas made a
sudden spring by night, with a mobile column, at
Sparta itself, and was only foiled because a deserter
warned the Spartans in time for them to double back
c 17


to their city. He then determined to seek a decision by
battle and advanced from Tegea against Mantinea,
some twelve miles distant, along an hour-glass shaped
valley. The enemy took up a strong position at the
mile-wide* waist'.

With his advance we are on the borderline between
strategy and tactics ; but this is a case where arbitrary
division is false, all the more because the sources of
his victory are to be found in his indirect approach to
the actual contact. At first, Epaminondas marched
direct towards the enemy camp, causing them to form
up in battle order facing his line of approach the line
of natural expectation. But when several miles distant,
he suddenly changed direction to the left, turning in
beneath a projecting spur. This surprise manoeuvre
threatened to take in enfilade the enemy's right wing;
and to dislocate still further their battle dispositions,
he halted, making his troops ground arms as if about
to encamp. The deception succeeded ; the enemy were
induced to relax their battle order, allowing men to
fall out and the horses to be unbridled. Meanwhile,
Epaminondas was actually completing his battle dis-
positions similar to, but an improvement on, those
of Leuctra behind a screen of light troops. Then, on
a signal, the Theban army took up its arms and swept
forward to a victory already assured by the disloca-
tion of the enemy's balance. Unhappily, Epaminondas
himself fell in the moment of victory, and in his death,
contributed not the least of his lessons to subsequent
generations by an exceptionally dramatic and con-
vincing proof that an army and a state succumb
quickest to paralysis of the brain.

The next decisive campaign is that which, just over
twenty years later, yielded to Macedon the supremacy
of Greece. All the more significant because of its
momentous results, this campaign is an illuminating



example of how policy and strategy can assist each
other and also how strategy can turn topographical
obstacles from its disadvantage to its advantage. The
challenger, though a Greek, was an 'outsider', while
Thebes and Athens were united in the effort to form
a Pan-Hellenic League to oppose the growing power
of Macedon. They found a foreign backer in a Persian
king strange comment upon past history and human
nature. Once more it is the challenger who is seen to
have grasped the value of the indirect approach. Even
the pretext for Philip of Macedon's attempt to secure
the supremacy was indirect, for he was merely invited
by the Amphictyonic Council to aid in punishing Am-
phissa, in western Boeotia, for a sacrilegious offence.
And it is probable that Philip himself prompted this
invitation, which rallied Thebes and Athens against
him, but at least ensured the benevolent neutrality of
other states.

After marching southwards, Philip suddenly di-
verged at Cytinium from the route to Amphissa the
natural line of expectation and iristead occupied and
fortified Elatea. That initial change of direction fore-
shadowed his wider political aims ; at the same time it
suggests a strategic motive which events tend to con-
firm. The allied Thebans and Boeotians barred the
passes into Boeotia, both the western route from Cyti-
nium to Amphissa, and the eastern pass of Parapo-
tamii, leading from Elatea to Chaeronea. The first
route may be likened to the upper stroke of an L, the
route from Cytinium to Elatea as the lower stroke,
and the prolongation across the pass to Chaeronea as
the upward finish of the lower stroke.

Before initiating a further military move, Philip
took fresh steps to weaken his opponents politically,
by forwarding the restoration of Phocian communi-
ties earlier dispersed by the Thebans; morally, by



getting himself proclaimed as the champion of the
God of Delphi.

Then he sprang suddenly, in the spring of 338 B.C.,
after clearing his path by a stratagem. Having already,
by occupying Elatea, distracted the strategic attention
of the enemy towards the eastern route which had
now become the line of natural expectation he dis-
tracted the tactical attention of the force barring the
western route by arranging that a letter which spoke
of his return to Thrace should fall into its hands.
Then he moved swiftly from Cytinium, crossed the
pass by night and debouched into western Boeotia at
Amphissa. Pressing on to Naupactus, he opened up
his communications with the sea. He was now on the
rear of, if at a distance from, the defenders of the
eastern pass. Thereupon they fell back from Parapo-
tamii not only because if they stayed their line of
retreat might be cut, but also because there was no
apparent value in staying. Philip, however, once more
diverged from the line of expectation, and made yet
another indirect approach. For, instead of pressing
eastwards from Amphissa through hilly country which
would have aided resistance, he switched his army
back through Cytinium and Elatea, turned south-
ward through the now unguarded pass of Parapo-
tamii, and descended upon the enemy's army at Chae-
ronea. This manoeuvre went far towards assuring his
victory in the battle that followed ; its effect was com-
pleted by his tactics. He lured the Athenians out of
position by giving way before them, and then, when
they had pressed forward on to lower ground, break-
ing their line with a counterstroke. As the result of
Chaeronea, the Macedonian supremacy was estab-
lished in Greece.

Fate cut off Philip before he could extend his con-
quests to Asia, and it was left to his son to conduct


10 20 40



the campaign that he had intended. Alexander had as
legacy not only a plan and a model instrument the
army which Philip had developed 1 but a conception
of grand strategy. Another heirloom of decided
material value was the possession of the Dardanelles
bridge-heads, seized under Philip's direction in 336 B.C.
If we study a chart of Alexander's advance we see that
it was a series of acute zig-zags. A study of its history
shows that there were deeper reasons than the logisti-
cal for this indirectness. Indeed, his logistical strategy
is direct and devoid of subtlety. The cause would ap-
pear to be, first, that in the youthful Alexander, bred
to kingship and triumph, there was more of the
Homeric hero than in the other great captains of his-
tory 2 ; and, still more perhaps, that he had such justifi-
able confidence in the superiority of his instrument
and his own battle-handling of it that he felt no need
to dislocate preparatorily his adversaries' strategic
balance. His lessons for posterity lie at the two poles
war-policy and tactics.

Starting from the eastern shore of the Dardanelles,
he first moved southward and defeated the Persian
covering force at the Granicus river. Here the enemy
at least had the shrewdness to appreciate that if they


1 Philip had spent three years of his youth as a hostage in Thebes
when Epaminondas was at his peak and the impressions Philip
then received can be clearly traced in the subsequent tactics of the
Macedonian army.

* At the start of his invasion of Asia, Alexander romantically
re-enacted the Homeric story of the expedition against Troy.
While his army was waiting to cross the Dardanelles, Alexander
himself with a picked detachment landed near Ilium, at the spot
where the Greeks were supposed to have moored their ships in the
Trojan War, and then advanced to the site of the original city,
where he Offered sacrifice in the temple of Athena, staged a mimic
battle, and delivered an oration at the reputed burial-mound of
Achilles, his traditional ancestor. After these symbolical per-
formances, he rejoined his army, to conduct the real campaign.



could concentrate against, and kill, the over-bold
Alexander himself, they would paralyse the invasion
at its birth. They failed but narrowly in this pur-

^ Alexander next moved south on Sardis, the political
and economic key to Lydia, and thence west to Ephe-
sus, restoring to these Greek towns their former demo-
cratic government and rights, as a means to secure his
own rear in the most economical way.

He had now returned to the Aegean coast, and he
pursued his way first south and then eastward along it
through Caria, Lycia, and Pamphylia. In this approach
his object was to dislocate the Persian command of
the sea by depriving the Persian fleet of freedom to
move, through depriving it of its bases. At the same
time, by freeing these sea-ports, he deprived the enemy
fleet of much of its man-power, which was recruited
from them.

Beyond Pamphylia, the coastline of, the rest of Asia
Minor was practically barren of ports. Hence he now
turned north again to Phrygia, and eastwards as far as
Ancyra (modern Ankara) consolidating his hold on,
and securing his rear in, central Asia Minor. This
done, he turned south through the Cilician '* Gates' on
the direct route towards Syria, where Darius III was
concentrating to oppose him. Here, through the failure
of his intelligence service, and his own assumption that
the Persians would await him in the plains, Alexander
was strategically out-manoeuvred. While Alexander
made a direct approach, Darius made an indirect, and,
moving up the higher reaches of the Euphrates, came
through the Amanic Gates on Alexander's rear. The
latter, who had been so careful to secure his chain
of bases, now found himself cut off from th&n. But,
turning back, he extricated himself at the battle of
Issus by the superiority of his tactics and his tactical



instrument. And no great captain used the indirect
approach more in his tactics.

Thereafter he again took an indirect route, down
the coast of Syria instead of pressing on to Babylon,
the heart of the Persian power. Grand strategy clearly
dictated his course. For if he had dislocated, he had
not yet destroyed the Persian command of the sea ; so
long as it existed it might be the means of indirect
approach to his own rear. And Greece, especially
Athens, was unpleasantly restive. His advance into
Phoenicia disrupted the Persian fleet, for what re-
mained was mainly Phoenician. Most of it came over
to him, and the Tyrian portion fell with the fall of
Tyre. Even then he again moved southward, into
Egypt, a move more difficult to explain on naval
ground, except as an additional precaution. It is more
intelligible, however, in the light of his political pur-
pose of occupying the Persian empire and consolidat-
ing his own in substitution. For this purpose Egypt
was an immense economic asset.

At last he marched northwards again to Aleppo,
then turned eastwards and made a direct approach
against the new army which Darius had assembled
near Mosul. Once again, at Gaugamela, Alexander
and his army showed their complete superiority to an
army that was the least serious of the obstacles in
Alexander's path to his grand strategic goal. The oc-
cupation of Babylon followed.

Alexander's succeeding campaigns, until he reached
the borders of India, were militarily a ' mopping up ' of
the Persian empire, if politically the consolidation of
his own. But he forced the Uxian defile and the Persian
6 Gates' by an indirect approach, and when he was
confronted on the Hydaspes by Porus, he produced a
masterpiece of indirectness which showed the ripening
of his own strategical powers. By laying in stores of



corn, and by distributing his army widely along the
western bank, he mystified his opponent as to his in-
tentions. Repeated noisy marches and counter-marches
of Alexander's cavalry first kept Porus on tenterhooks,
and then, through repetition, dulled his reaction as
by a sleeping draught. Having thus fixed Porus to a
definite and static position, Alexander left the bulk of
his army opposite it, and himself with a picked force
made a night crossing eighteen miles upstream. By the
surprise of this indirect approach he dislocated the
mental and moral equilibrium of Porus, as well as the
moral and physical equilibrium of his army. In the
ensuing battle, Alexander, with a fraction of his own
army, was enabled to defeat almost the whole of his
enemy's. If this preliminary dislocation had not oc-
cured there would have been no justification, either in
theory or in fact, for Alexander's exposure of an iso-
lated fraction to the risk of defeat in detail.

In the long wars of the ' Successors ' which followed
Alexander's death and rent his empire asunder, there
are numerous examples of the indirect approach. His
generals were abler men than Napoleon's marshals,
and their experience had led them to grasp the deeper
meaning of economy of force. While many of their
operations are worth study, the present analysis is re-
stricted to the decisive campaigns of ancient history,
and in these wars of the Diadochi only the last, in
301 B.C., can be definitely so termed. The claim of this
to decisiveness can hardly be challenged, for in the
measured words of the Cambridge Ancient History, by
its issue 'the struggle between the central power and
the dynasts was ended' and 'the dismemberment of
the Graeco-Macedonian world became inevitable'.

By 302 B.C., Antigonus, who claimed to stand in
Alexander's place, was at last within reach of his goal
of securing the empire for himself. Expanding from



his original Satrapy of Phrygia, he had won control of
Asia from the Aegean to the Euphrates. Opposing
him, Seleucus had held on to Babylon with difficulty;
Ptolemy was left only with Egypt; Lysimachus was
more secure in Thrace ; but Cassander, the most for-
midable of the rival generals and the keystone of the
resistance to Antigonus's almost realized dream, had
been driven from Greece by Antigonus's son Deme-
trius who in many characteristics was a second
Alexander. Called upon for unconditional surrender,
Cassander replied by a stroke of strategic genius. The
plan was arranged at a conference with Lysimachus,
and Ptolemy's aid towards it was sought, while he in
turn got in touch with Seleucus by sending messengers
on camels across the Arabian desert.

Cassander kept only some 31,000 men to face
Demetrius's invasion of Thessaly with 57,000 and
lent the rest of his army to Lysimachus. The latter
crossed the Dardanelles eastwards, while Seleucus
moved westwards towards Asia Minor, his army in-
cluding 500 war elephants obtained from India.
Ptolemy moved northwards into Syria, but on receiv-
ing a false report of Lysimachus's defeat, returned to
Egypt. Nevertheless, the convergent advance fronj
both sides on the heart of his empire constrained Anti-
gonus to recall Demetrius urgently from Thessaly,
where Cassander had succeeded in keeping him at bay
until the indirect move against his strategic rear in
Asia Minor called him off as Scipio's fundamentally
similar move later forced HannibaFs return to Africa.
And at the battle of Ipsus, in Phrygia, Cassander's
strategy was consummated by his partners' decisive
tactical victory, which ended in the death of Anti-
gonus and the flight of Demetrius. In this battle, it is
worth remark, the war elephants were the decisive in-
strument, and, fittingly, the tactics of the victors were



essentially indirect. After their cavalry had disap-
peared from the scene with Demetrius in hot pur-
suit, their elephants cut off his return. Even then, in-
stead of assaulting Antigonus's infantry, Lysimachus
demoralized them by threat of attack and arrow fire
until they began to melt. Then Seleucus struck, with a
thrust at the point where Antigonus himself stood.

When the campaign had opened the scales were
heavily weighted and steeply tilted on the side of Anti-
gonus. Rarely has the balance of fortune so dramatic-
cally changed. It would seem clear that Antigonus's
balance had been upset by the indirect approach which
Cassander planned. This dislocated the mental equili-
brium of Antigonus, the moral equilibrium of his
troops and his subjects, and the physical equilibrium
of his military dispositions.


Chapter III


The next conflict decisive in its results, and in
effect on European history, was the struggle between
Rome and Carthage in which the Hannibalic, or
Second Punic, War was the determining period. This
falls into a series of phases or campaigns, each decisive
in turning the current of the war into a fresh course.

The first phase opens with Hannibal's advance from
Spain towards the Alps and Italy, and the natural
closing-point appears to be the annihilating victory of
Trasimene, which left Rome unshielded, save by her
walls and garrison, to Hannibal's immediate approach
had he chosen to make it.

The reason commonly assigned for Hannibal's ini-
tial choice of the circuitous and arduous land route in
preference to the direct sea route is that of Rome's
supposed 'command of the sea'. But it is absurd to
apply the modern interpretation of this phrase to an
era when ships were so primitive, and their ability to
intercept a foe at sea so uncertain. Even to-day such
'command' has limitations. But beyond this reflection
there is a significant sidelight in a passage of Polybius
(iii. 97) when, speaking of the very time of Trasimene,



he refers to the Roman Senate's anxiety lest the Car-
thaginians 'should obtain a more complete mastery
of the sea'. Even in the closing stage of the war, after
the Romans had won repeated victories at sea, de-
prived the Carthaginian fleet of all its Spanish bases,
and were established in Africa, they were powerless to
prevent Mago landing an expeditionary force on the
Genoese Riviera, or Hannibal sailing tranquilly back
to Africa. It seems more probable that Hannibal's in-
direct and overland route of invasion was due to the
aim of rallying the Celts of Northern Italy against

Next, we should note the indirectness even of this
land march, and the advantage gained thereby. The
Romans had dispatched the consul, Publius Scipio
(father of Africanus), to Marseilles, with the object of
barring Hannibal's path at the Rhdne. Hannibal,
however, not only crossed this formidable river un-
expectedly high up, but then turned still further north-
ward to. take the more devious and difficult route by
the Is&re valley, instead of the straightfer but more easily
barred routes near the Riviera. When the elder Scipio
arrived at the crossing three days later he was 'aston-
ished to find the enemy gone ; for he had persuaded
himself that they would never venture to take this (nor-
therly) route into Italy ' (Polybius.). By prompt decision
and speedy movement, leaving part of his army behind,
he^got back to Italy by sea in time to meet Hannibal on
the plains of Lombardy. But here Hannibal had the
advantage of suitable ground for his superior cavalry.
The victories of the Ticinus and the Trebia were the
sequel, and their moral effect brought Hannibal re-
cruits and supplies 'in great abundance'.

Master of the north of Italy, Hannibal wintered
there. The following spring, anticipating Hannibal's
continued advance, the new consuls took their armies,



the one to Ariminum (Rimini) on the Adriatic, the
other to Arretium (Arezzo) in Etruria thereby com-
manding the eastern and western routes respectively
by which Hannibal could advance towards Rome.
Hannibal decided on the Etrurian route, but instead
of advancing by one of the normal roads, he made
thorough inquiries, through which 'he ascertained
that the other roads leading into Etruria were long
and well known to the enemy, but that one which
led through the marshes was short, and would
bring them upon Flaminius by surprise. This was
what suited his peculiar genius, and he therefore
decided to take this route. But when the report was
spread in his army that the commander was going to
lead them through the marshes, every soldier felt
alarmed . . .' (Polybius).

Normal soldiers always prefer the known to the un-
known ; Hannibal was an abnormal general and hence,
like other great captains, chose to face the most
hazardous conditions rather than the certainty of meet-
ing his opponents in a position of their own choosing.

For four days and three nights Hannibal's army
marched 'through a route which was under water',
suffering terribly from fatigue and enforced want of
sleep, while losing many men and more horses. But on
emerging he found the Roman army still passively en-
camped at Arretium. Hannibal attempted no direct
attack. Instead, as Polybius tells us, 'he calculated
that, if he passed the camp and made a descent into
the district beyond, Flaminius partly for fear of
popular reproach and partly from personal irritation
would be unable to endure watching passively the
devastation of the country but would spontaneously
follow him . . . and give him opportunities for attack'.
Here we have a mental application of the manoeuvre
against the enemy's rear, based on searching inquiries



about his opponent's character. And it was followed
by a physical execution. Pressing along the road to
Rome, Hannibal laid and achieved the greatest am-
bush in history. In the misty dawn of the following
morning, the Roman army, in hot pursuit along the
hill-bordered skirts of the Lake of Trasimene, was
caught by surprise in a trap front and rear and anni-
hilated. Readers of history all remember the victory,
but are apt to overlook the mental thrust that made
it possible. But Polybius, although lacking our advan-
tage of two thousand more years' experience of war-
fare, drew the correct moral 'for as a ship, if you
deprive it of its steersman, falls with all its crew into
the hands of the enemy ; so, with an army in war, if
you outwit or out-manoeuvre its general, the whole
will often fall into your hands '.

We now enter the second phase of the war. Why,
after Trasimene, Hannibal did not march on Rome is
a mystery of history and all solutions are but specu-
lation. Lack of an adequate siege-train is an obvious
reason, but may not be the complete explanation. All
we know for certain is that the succeeding years were
spent by Hannibal in trying to break Rome's hold on
her Italian allies and to weld them into a coalition
against her. Victories were merely a moral impetus
towards this end. The tactical advantage would al-
ways be assured if he could obtain battle under con-
ditions favourable for his superior cavalry.

This second phase opens with a Roman, if strangely
un-Roman, form of the indirect approach, a form
which has given to history and to subsequent imita-
tions, many of them bad, the generic title * Fabian
strategy' although, strictly, it was a war-policy, ^not
a strategy. The war policy of Fabius was not merely
an evasion of battle to gain time, but calculated for its
effect on the moral of the enemy and, still more, for



its effect on their potential allies. Fabius realized Han-
nibal's military superiority too well to risk a military
decision. While seeking to avoid this, he aimed by
military pin-pricks to wear down the invaders' endur-
ance and, coincidently, prevent their strength being
recruited from the Italian cities or their Carthaginian
base. The key condition of the strategy by which this
war policy was carried out was that the Roman army
should keep always to the hills, so as to nullify Hanni-
bal's decisive superiority in cavalry. Thus this phase
becomes a mental tug-of-war between the Hannibalic
and the Fabian forms of strategy.

Hovering in the enemy's neighbourhood, cutting off
stragglers and foraging parties, preventing him from
gaining any permanent base, Fabius remained an elu-
sive shadow on the horizon, dimming the glamour of
Hannibal's triumphal progress. Thus Fabius, by his
immunity from defeat, thwarted the effect of Hanni-
bal's previous victories upon the minds of Rome's
Italian allies and checked them from changing sides.
This guerilla type of campaign also revived the spirit
of the Roman troops while depressing the Cartha-
ginians who, having ventured so far from home, were
the more conscious of the necessity of gaining an early

But attrition is a two-edged weapon and, even when
skilfully wielded, puts a strain on the users. It is es-
pecially trying to the mass of the people, eager to
see a quick finish and always inclined to assume that
this can only mean the enemy's finish. The more the
Roman people recovered from the shock of Hannibal 's
victory, the more they began to question the wisdom
of the Fabian treatment which had given them a
chance to recover. And their smouldering doubts were
naturally fanned by the ambitious hotheads in the
army, who were ever ready to criticize Fabius for his



4 cowardly and unenterprising spirit'. This led to the
unprecedented step of appointing Minucius, who was
both Fabius's chief subordinate and his chief critic, as
co-dictator. Whereupon Hannibal seized the oppor-
tunity to draw Minucius into a trap from which he
was barely rescued by Fabius's speedy intervention.

For a time this quieted criticism of Fabius. But when
his six months' appointment expired, neither he nor
his policy were popular enough to secure an extension.
And at the consular elections, one of the two chosen
was the impetuous and ignorant Varro, who had
earlier engineered Minucius's appointment. Moreover,
the Senate passed a resolution that they should give
battle to Hannibal. There was ground for this decision
in the devastation that Italy was suffering, and it was
backed up by the practical step of raising the largest
army, eight legions, which Rome had ever placed in
the field. But the Romans were to pay dearly for elect-
ing a leader whose offensive spirit was not balanced
by judgement.

His abler colleague, Paullus, wished to wait and
manoeuvre for a favourable opportunity, but such
caution did not accord with Varro's ideas ' So much
had been said about men taking the field not to set
sentinels, but to use their swords.' Varro's concep-
tion, and public promise, was to attack the enemy
wherever and whenever they found him. As a result,
he took the first opportunity of offering battle to Han-
nibal in the plain at Cannae. When Paullus argued
that they should try to draw Hannibal into country
more suitable for infantry action, Varro used his alter-
nate day of command to advance into close contact.
When Paullus kept the troops in their entrenched
camp next day, calculating that shortage of supplies
would soon force Hannibal to move away, Varro * be-
came more than ever inflamed with the desire for
D 33


fighting' according to Polybius's account. And that
feeling was shared by most of the troops, who chafed
at the delay. 4 For there is nothing more intolerable to
mankind than suspense ; when a thing is once decided,
men can but endure whatever out of the catalogue of
evils it is their misfortune to undergo.'

Next morning, Varro moved the Roman army out
of camp to provide the kind of battle which Hannibal
desired. As usual, the infantry of both sides were
posted in the centre, and the cavalry on the flanks
but Hannibal's detailed disposition was unconven-
tional. For he pushed forward the Gauls and Spani-
ards, who formed the centre of the infantry line, while
holding back his African foot, posted at each end of
the line. Thus the Gauls and Spaniards formed a
natural magnet for the Roman infantry, and were, as
intended, forced back so that what had been a line
bulging outwards became a line sagging inwards. The
Roman legionaries, flushed with their apparent suc-
cess, crowded into the opening where the press grew
ever denser, until they could scarcely use their
weapons. While they imagined that they were break-
ing the Carthaginian front, they were actually pushing
themselves into a Carthaginian sack. For at this junc-
ture Hannibal's African veterans wheeled inwards
from both sides, and automatically enveloped the
thickly packed Romans.

Meanwhile, Hannibal's heavy cavalry on the left
wing had broken through the opposing cavalry on
that flank and, sweeping round the Romans' rear, dis-
persed their cavalry on the other flank hitherto held
in play by the elusive Numidian horse. Leaving the
pursuit to the Numidians, the heavy cavalry delivered
the final stroke by bursting into the rear of the Roman
infantry, already surrounded on three sides and too
tightly jammed to offer effective resistance. Thence-



forward, the battle was merely a massacre. According
to Polybius, out of the 76,000 men of the Roman
army, 70,000 fell on the field of battle. Among them
was Paullus but the offensively-inspired Varro was
one of the few who successfully escaped. The disaster
broke up the Italian confederation for a time, but
failed to break Rome itself where Fabius helped to
rally the people for sustained resistance.

Rome's inflexible resolution henceforward in pur-
suing the strategy of evasion at any sacrifice combined
with the conditions of the age, with Hannibal's own
comparative weakness, and with his situation as the
invader of a primitively organized land to thwart
his aim. (Wheft Scipio later retorted with a counter-
invasion of Africa he found the more highly developed
economic structure of Carthage an aid to his purpose.)

The second phase of the war closed with yet another
type of the strategic indirect approach, when the con-
sul, Nero, bluffed the arch-bluffer and, slipping away
from before him, concentrated by forced marches
against Hasdrubal, who had just arrived with his
army in Northern Italy. After destroying him at the
Metaurus, and with him Hannibal's hope of ultimate
victory, Nero was back in his camp opposite Hannibal
before the latter realized that it had been empty.
Thereafter stalemate reigned in Italy the third phase.
During five years, Hannibal stood at bay in southern
Italy, and a succession of Roman generals retired lick-
ing their wounds from their too direct^ approaches to
the lion's lair.

Meantime Publius Scipio the younger had been sent
to Spain on a desperate venture tq redeem the disaster
which had there overtaken his dead father and uncle,
and to maintain, if possible, Rome's slender foothold
in the north-east corner of Spain against the vic-
torious and greatly superior Carthaginian forces in



that country. By swiftness of movement, superior tac-
tics, and skilful diplomacy he converted this defensive
object into an offensive, if indirect, thrust at Carthage
and at Hannibal. For Spain was Hannibal's real strate-
gic base; there he had trained his armies, and thither
he looked for reinforcements. By a masterly combina-
tion of surprise and timing, Scipio had first deprived
the Carthaginian armies of Cartagena, their main base
in Spain, as a prelude to depriving them of their allies
and overthrowing their armies.

Then, elected consul on his return to Italy, he was
ready for the second and decisive indirect approach,
long conceived by him, against Hannibal's strategic
rear. Fabius, now old and set in mind; voiced the or-
thodox view, urging that Scipio's duty was to attack
Hannibal in Italy. * Why do you not apply yourself to
this, and carry the war in a straightforward manner to
the place where Hannibal is, rather than pursue that
roundabout course according to which you expect
that when you have crossed into Africa, Hannibal will
follow you thither?' Scipio gained from the Senate a
bare permission to cross into Africa, but was refused
leave to levy troops. In consequence he set out on his
expedition with but 7,000 volunteers and two dis-
graced legions which had been relegated to garrison
duty in Sicily in penance for their share in the defeat
at Cannae. On landing in Africa, he was met by the
only cavalry force which Carthage had immediately
available. By a cleverly graduated retreat he lured it
into a trap and destroyed it. Thereby he not only
gained time to consolidate his position but also created
a moral impression which, on the one hand, induced
the home authorities to back him more generously
and, on the other, shook the hold of Carthage upon
her African allies save for the most powerful, Syphax.

Scipio then tried to secure the port of Utica, to



serve as his base, but was baffled in an attempt to take
it as swiftly as he earlier succeeded in capturing Carta-
gena. And he was forced to abandon the siege six
weeks later when Syphax brought an army of 60,000
men to reinforce the new Carthaginian forces which
Hasdrubal was raising. On the approach of the com-
bined armies, much superior to his own in numbers if
not in quality, Scipio fell back to a small peninsula,
where he fortified a prototype of Wellington's Lines of
Torres Vedras. Here he first lulled the commanders of
the investing forces into a feeling of security, then dis-
tracted their attention by ostensible preparations for
a sea-borne thrust against Utica, and finally made a
night move upon the enemy's two camps. The de-
moralizing and disorganizing effect of the surprise was
intensified by Scipio's subtle calculation in first launch-
ing an attack on Syphax's less orderly camp, where
the swarm of huts overflowed the fortified boundaries
and were made of inflammable reeds and matting. In
the confusion caused by setting fire to these huts the
assailants were able to penetrate into the camp itself,
while the blaze drew Hasdrubal's Carthaginians to
open their own gates and pour out to the rescue, imag-
ining that the conflagration was accidental for when
darkness fell, all had been quiet and normal in the
Roman camp, seven miles distant. When the gates of
the Carthaginian camp were thus opened, Scipio
launched upon them the second stroke of his attack, so
gaining entry without the cost of making a breach.
Both the hostile armies were dispersed, with the re-
puted loss of half their total strength.

If we have here outwardly crossed the border-line
from strategy into tactics, this * brilliant' success is in
reality a case where strategy not merely paved the way
for a victory in battle but executed it where, indeed,
the victory was merely the last act of the strategic



approach. For an unresisted massacre is not a battle.

After his bloodless triumph Scipio did not at once
move on Carthage. Why? If history does not give a
direct answer it affords clearer grounds for a deduc-
tion than in the case of Hannibal's neglect of Rome
after Trasimene and Cannae. Unless there is oppor-
tunity and favourable prospect for a quick surprise
assault, a siege is the most uneconomic of all opera-
tions of war. History, even down to 1914-1918, attests
this. And when the enemy has still a field army capable
of intervening, a siege is also the most dangerous for
until it is crowned by success the assailant is pro-
gressively weakening himself out of proportion to his

Scipio had to reckon not only with the walls of
Carthage but with the return of Hannibal a con-
tingency which was, indeed, his calculated aim. If he
could compel the capitulation of Carthage before
Hannibal could return, it would be a great advantage.
But it must be by a moral, and hence cheap, disloca-
tion of the city's resistance not by a heavy physical
expenditure of force which might leave him still facing
unbreached walls when Hannibal descended on his

Instead of moving on Carthage, Scipio systemati-
cally lopped off her supply areas and allies. Above all,
the relentless pursuit and overthrow of Syphax was a
detachment of force which abundantly justified itself.
For by restoring his own ally, Masinissa, to the throne
of Numidia he ensured for himself the cavalry re-
sources to counter Hannibal's best weapon.

To reinforce these forms of moral suasion he ad-
vanced to Tunis, in sight of Carthage, as 'a most
effective means of striking the Carthaginians with ter-
ror and dismay'. Coming on top of the other indirect
forms of pressure it was sufficient to dislocate the Car-



thaginians' will to resist, and they sued for peace. But
while the terms were awaiting ratification in Rome,
the provisional peace was broken when Carthage re-
ceived news of Hannibal's return, and of his landing
at Leptis.

Scipio was thus placed in a difficult and dangerous
position. For although he had not weakened himself
by an assault on Carthage, he had let Masinissa go
back to Numidia, to consolidate his new kingdom
after Carthage had accepted Scipio's peace terms. In
such circumstances, an orthodox general would either
have taken the offensive, in order to prevent Hannibal
reaching Carthage, or have stood on the defensive to
await relief. Instead, Scipio took a course that when
plotted geographically looks fantastic. For if Hanni-
bal's direct route from Leptis to Carthage be pictured
as travelling up the right-hand stroke of an inverted
V (A), Scipio, leaving a detachment to hold his camp
near Carthage, .marched away down the left-hand
stroke. Truly a most indirect approach ! But this route,
the Bagradas valley, took him into the heart of Car-
thage's main source of supplies from the interior. And
it also brought him nearer, with every step he marched,
to the Numidian reinforcements which Masinissa was
bringing in response to an urgent summons.

The move attained its strategic object. The senate
of Carthage, aghast at the news that this vital territory
was being progressively devastated, sent messengers
urging Hannibal to intervene at once and bring Scipio
to battle. And Hannibal, although he had told them in
answer 'to leave such matters to him', was neverthe-
less drawn by the compulsion of conditions created
by Scipio to move west by forced marches to meet
Scipio, instead of north to Carthage. Thus Scipio had
lured him to an area of his own choosing, where Han-
nibal lacked the material reinforcement, stable pivot,



and shelter in case of defeat which he would have en-
joyed if the battle had taken place near Carthage.

Scipio had thrust on his enemy the need of seeking
battle, and he now exploited this moral advantage to
the full. When Masinissa joined him, almost coinci-
dently with Hannibal's arrival on the scene, Scipio fell
back instead of going forward, and thus drew Hanni-
bal to a camping-ground where the Carthaginians
suffered from lack of water and to a battleground in
the plain where Scipio's newly acquired advantage in
cavalry could have full play. He had taken the first
two tricks ; on the battlefield of Zama (more correctly,
Naraggara) he was enabled to take the rubber by tacti-
cally over-trumping Hannibal's former cavalry trump.
And when tactical defeat for the first time overtook
Hannibal, the consequences of his preliminary strate-
gic defeat also overtook him for there was no shelter-
ing fortress at hand where the defeated army could
rally before the pursuit annihilated it. The bloodless
surrender of Carthage followed.

The campaign of Zama made Rome the dominant
power in the Mediterranean world. The subsequent
extension of that supremacy, and its translation into
suzerainty continued without serious check, if not
without recurrent threat. Thus 202 B.C. forms a
natural conclusion for a survey of the turning points
and their military causes, in the history of the ancient
world. Ultimately the tide of Roman expansion was to
ebb, then that universal empire was to fall to pieces,
partly under barbarian pressure but still more from
internal decay.

During the period of 'the Decline and Fall', during
the centuries when Europe was shedding its old single-
coloured skin for a new skin of many colours, there is
profit to be got from a study of the military leader-
ship. Sometimes much profit, as in the case of Beli-



sarius and later generals of the Byzantine empire. But,
on the whole, decisiveness is too difficult of definition,
turning points too obscure, purposeful strategy too
uncertain, and records too unsafe, to provide a basis
for scientific deductions.

Before the power of Rome had climbed to its zenith
there was, however, one internal war that calls for exa-
mination, both because it was the stage for one of the
undisputed Great Captains of history and because it
vitally affected the course of history. For just as the
second Punic War gave the world to Rome, so the
Civil War of 50-45 B.C. gave the Roman world to
Caesar and Caesarism. When Caesar crossed the
Rubicon in December 50 B.C., his power rested only
upon Gaul and Illyricum ; Pompey was in control of
Italy and the rest of Rome's dominions. Caesar had
nine legions, but only one was with him at Ravenna ;
the remainder were far away in Gaul. Pompey had
ten legions in Italy, seven in Spain, and many detach-
ments throughout the empire. But those in Italy had
only cadres present with the eagles and a legion in
hand was worth more than two unmobilized. Caesar
has been criticized for his rashness in moving south
with such a fraction of his army. But time and surprise
are the two most vital elements in war. And beyond
his appreciation of them, Caesar's strategy was essen-
tially guided by his understanding of Pompey's mind.

From Ravenna there were two routes to Rome.
Caesar took the longer and less direct down the
Adriatic coast but he moved fast. As he passed
through this populous district many of the levies being
assembled for Pompey joined him instead a parallel
with Napoleon's experience in 1815. Morally dislo-
cated, the Pompeian party quitted Rome and fell back
to Capua while Caesar, interposing between the ene-
my's advanced force at Corfinium and their main force



under Pompey round Luceria, secured another
bloodless transfer of strength to himself. He then con-
tinued his advance south towards Luceria, the snow-
ball process likewise continuing; but his advance,
which had now become direct, stampeded the enemy
into a retreat to the fortified port of Brundisium (Brin-
disi) on the heel of Italy. And the very vigour with
which he followed them up hastened Pompey's deci-
sion to retire across the Adriatic to Greece. Thus an
excess of directness and a want of art, in the second
phase, had robbed Caesar of his chance of ending the
war in one campaign, and condemned him to four
more years of obstinate warfare all round the Medi-
terranean basin.

The second campaign now opened. Caesar, instead
of following up Pompey directly, turned his attention
and forces to Spain. For thus concentrating against
the * junior partner' he has been much criticized. But
his estimate of Pompey's inactivity was justified by
the event. This time Caesar began the campaign too
bluntly, and a direct advance on the enemy's main
forces at Ilerda, just across the Pyrenees, enabled them
to decline battle. An assault failed, and Caesar only
averted disaster by his personal intervention. The
morale of his men continued to sink until, just in time,
he changed his method of approach.

Instead of making any further attempt to press the
siege, Caesar devoted his energies to the creation of
an artificial ford which enabled him to command both
banks of the river Sicoris, on which Ilerda stood. This
threatened tightening of his grip on their sources of
supply induced Pompey's lieutenants to retire, while
there was time. Caesar allowed them to slip away un-
pressed, but instead sent his Gallic cavalry to get on
their rear and delay their march. Then, rather than
assault the bridge held by the enemy's rearguard, he



took the risk of leading his legions through the deep
ford, which was regarded as only traversable by
cavalry and, marching in a wide circuit during the
night, placed himself across the enemy's line of retreat.
Even then he did not attempt battle, but was content
to head off each attempt of the enemy to take a fresh
line of retreat using his cavalry to harass and delay
them while his legions marched wide. Firmly holding
in check the eagerness of his own men for battle, he
at the same time encouraged fraternization with the
men of the other side, who were growing more and
more weary, hungry, and depressed. Finally, when he
had shepherded them back in the direction of Ilerda,
and forced them to take up a position devoid of water,
they capitulated. It was a strategic victory as blood-
less for the defeated as for the victor and the less men
slain on the other side, the more potential adherents
and recruits for Caesar. Despite the substitution of
manoeuvre for direct assaults upon his enemy the
campaign had cost him only six weeks of his time.

But in his next campaign he changed his strategy
it lasted eight months before victory crowned his arms,
and even then was not complete. Instead of advancing
into Greece by the indirect land route through Illy-
ricum, Caesar decided on the direct sea route. There-
by he gained time initially but lost it ultimately. Pom-
pey had originally a large fleet, Caesar none and al-
though he had ordered the construction or collection
of ships on a large scale, only part were available.
Rather than wait, Caesar sailed from Brindisi with
barely half his assembled force. On landing at Palaeste
he headed up the coast for the important seaport of
Dyrrachium (Durazzo), but Pompey just reached there
first. Fortunately for Caesar, Pompey was as slow as
ever, and missed the chance of using his superior
strength before Antony, with the other half of Caesar's



army, could evade the opposing fleet and join him.
And even when Antony landed on the other side of
Dyrrachium, Pompey, though centrally placed, failed
to prevent Caesar and Antony effecting a junction at
Tirana. Pompey fell back, followed by his opponent,
who offered battle in vain. Thereafter the two armies
lay facing each other on the south bank of the river
Genusus, which itself was south of Dyrrachium.

The deadlock was broken by an indirect approach.
By a long and difficult circuit of some forty-five miles
through the hills, Caesar succeeded in placing himself
between Dyrrachium and Pompey before the latter,
who had only a straight twenty-five miles to cover,
awoke to the danger and hurried back to save his
base. But Caesar did not press his advantage ; and as
Pompey had the sea for supplies there was no induce-
ment to a man of his temperament to take the lead in
attack. Caesar then took the original but singularly
profitless course of constructing extensive lines of in-
vestment round an army which was not only stronger
than his own, but could supply itself easily, or move
away, by sea whenever it wished.

Even Pompey the passive could not forego the op-
portunity of striking at weak points of such a thin
line, and his success led Caesar into an attempt to re-
deem it by a concentrated counter-attack which failed
disastrously. Only Pompey's inertia saved Caesar's
demoralized troops from dissolution.

Caesar's men clamoured to be led afresh against
the enemy, but Caesar had learnt his lesson, and after
making good his retreat he reverted to a strategy of
indirect approach. Pompey had a better opportunity
to apply it at this juncture by recrossing the Adriatic
and regaining control of Italy, where his path would
have been smoothed by the moral impression of
Caesar's defeat. Caesar, however, showed more ap-



preciation of the possibilities of this westward move
as a danger to himself. He moved rapidly eastward
against Pompey's lieutenant, Scipio Nasica, who was
in Macedonia. Pompey, thereby mentally dominated,
was drawn to follow Caesar ; taking a different route,
he hurried to Scipio's support. Caesar arrived first,
but rather than throw his troops against fortifications,
he allowed Pompey to come up. This seeming loss of
an opportunity on Caesar's part may also have been
due to his view that, after Dyrrachium, a strong in-
ducement would be needed to make Pompey give
battle in the open. If so, that idea was correct, for al-
though Pompey had a two to one superiority in num-
bers, he took the risk of offering battle only under the
persuasion of his lieutenants. Just as Caesar had pre-
pared a series of manoeuvres to create the opportunity,
Pompey advanced and gave it to him at Pharsalus.
For Caesar's interest, the battle was undoubtedly pre-
mature and the closeness of the issue was the mea-
sure of its prematurity. Caesar's indirect approach had
been made to restore the strategic balance, and a
further one was needed to upset Pompey's balance.

After the victory of Pharsalus, Caesar chased Pom-
pey across the Dardanelles, through Asia Minor, and
thence across the Mediterranean to Alexandria
where Ptolemy assassinated him, thus saving Caesar
much trouble. But Caesar forfeited the advantage by
intervening in the quarrel between Ptolemy^and his
sister Cleopatra over the Egyptian succession, thereby
wasting eight months in an unnecessary diversion of
effort. It would seem that Caesar's recurrent and deep-
rooted fault was his concentration in pursuing the ob-
jective immediately in front of his eyes to the neglect
of his wider object. Strategically he was an alternating
Jekyll and Hyde,

The interval allowed the Pompeian forces to rally,



and to obtain a new lease of life in Africa and Spain.
In Africa Caesar's difficulties were increased by the
direct action already adopted by his lieutenant, Curio.
After landing, and winning an initial victory, Curio
had let himself be lured into a trap by King Juba, ally
of the Pompeian party, and there exterminated. Caesar
opened his African campaign with equal directness,
impetuosity, and insufficiency of force as in his Greek
campaign, ran his head into a noose, and was extricated
from it by his usual combination of luck and tactical
skill. After this he settled down in a fortified camp
near Ruspina to await the arrival of his other legions,
refusing all temptation to battle. The Jekyll of blood-
saving manoeuvre then became uppermost in Caesar
and for several months, even after his reinforce-
ments arrived, he pursued a strategy of extreme but
narrow indirectness of approach, manoeuvring re-
peatedly to inflict a series of pin-pricks whose wearing
and depressing effect on the enemy's morale was shown
in the swelling stream of desertions. At last, by a
somewhat wider indirect approach to the enemy's im-
portant base at Thapsus, he created a favourable op-
portunity for battle. And his troops taking the bit
in their teeth launched the attack and won the battle
without higher direction.

In the Spanish campaign which followed, and closed
the war, Caesar from the outset strove to avoid loss of
life and manoeuvred ceaselessly within narrow limits to
work his opponents into a position where he could
make a battle cast with the dice loaded for him. He
gained such an advantage at Munda, and gained the
victory, but the closeness of the struggle, and the
heavy cost of life therein incurred, point the distinc-
tion between economy of force and mere thriftiness of
force. Caesar's indirectness of approach appears nar-
row and wanting in surprise. In each of his campaigns


100 ZOO 300 400 500

Alexanders Route **


he strained the enemy's morale, but did not dislocate
it And the reason would appear to be that he was
more concerned to aim at the mind of the enemy's
troops than at the mind of their command. If his cam-
paigns serve to bring out the distinction between the
two qualities of indirect approach to the opposing
forces and to the opposing command they also bring
out most forcibly the difference between a direct and
an indirect approach. For Caesar met failure each
time he relied on the direct, and retrieved it each time
he resorted to the indirect.


Chapter IV


After Caesar's crowning victory at Munda, he was
granted 'perpetual dictatorship' of Rome, and the
Roman world. This decisive step, a contradiction in
terms, spelt the sterilization of the constitution. There-
by it paved the way for the conversion of the Republic
into the Empire which carried within its system the
germs of its own decay. The process, however, was
gradual if, on a long view, progressive. Five hundred
years passed between Caesar's triumph and the final
collapse of Rome. And even then a * Roman Empire'
continued for another thousand years in a different
location. This was due, first, to Constantine the Great's
transfer of the capital from Rome to Byzantium (Con-
stantinople), in 330 ; second, to the definite division, in
364, of the Roman world into an Eastern and a Western
Empire. The former kept its strength better than the
latter, which increasingly crumbled under barbarian
attacks and barbarian permeation until, near the end
of the fifth century A.D., the establishment of an in-
dependent kingdom of Italy following that of similar
kingdoms in Gaul, Spain, and Africa was accom-
panied by the deposition of the nominal Emperor of
the West.

E 49


In the middle of the sixth century there was, how-
ever, a period when the Roman dominion was revived
in the West from the East. During Justinian's reign
in Constantinople, his generals reconquered Africa,
Italy, and southern Spain. That achievement, associ-
ated mainly with the name of Belisarius, is the more
remarkable because of two features first, the extra-
ordinarily slender resources with which Belisarius un-
dertook these far-reaching campaigns; second, his
consistent use of the tactical defensive. There is no
parallel in history for such a series of conquests by
abstention from attack! And it may seem all the more
strange since they were carried out by an army that
was based on the mobile arm and mainly composed
of cavalry. Belisarius had no lack of audacity, but his
tactics were to allow or tempt the other side to do
the attacking. If that choice was, in part, imposed on
him by his numerical weakness, it was also a matter of
subtle calculation, both tactical and psychological.

His army bore little resemblance to the classical
pattern of the legionary army it was closer to the
medieval form, but more highly developed. To a sol-
dier of Caesar's time it would have been unrecogniz-
able as a Roman army, though a soldier who had
served with Scipio in Africa might have found the
trend of its evolution less surprising. Between Scipio
and Caesar, while Rome itself was changing from a
city-state into an Empire, the army had been trans-
formed from a short-service citizen force to a long-
service professional force. But military organization
had not fulfilled the promise of cavalry predominance
that was foreshadowed at Zama. The infantry were
the staple of the Imperial Roman Army, and the
cavalry (though the breed of horses had greatly im-
proved in size and speed) had become as subsidiary
as they had been in the earlier stages of the war



against Hannibal. As the need for greater mobility in
frontier defence became more evident, the proportion
of the cavalry was gradually increased, but it was
not until the legions were overwhelmed at Adrian-
ople, in 378, by the cavalry of the Goths, that the
Roman armies came to be reorganized in accordance
with this lesson. And in the generations that fol-
lowed, the pendulum swung to the other extreme.
Under Theodosius, the expansion of the mobile arm
was hastened by enlisting vast numbers of barbarian
horsemen. Later, the recruiting balance was to some
extent corrected, while the new type of organiza-
tion was systematized. By the time of Justinian and
Belisarius, the principal arm was formed by the
heavy cavalry, who were armed with bow as well
as lance, and clad in armour. The underlying idea
was evidently to combine the value of mobile fire-
power and of mobile shock-power as separately de-
monstrated by the Hun or Persian horse-archer and
the Gothic lancer in a single disciplined fighting man.
These heavy cavalry were supplemented by lightly
equipped horse-archers a combination which, both
in form and tactics, foreshadowed that of modern
light and heavy (or medium) tanks. The infantry like-
wise were of light and heavy types, but the latter, with
their heavy spears and close-locked formation, merely
served as a stable pivot round which the cavalry could
manoeuvre in battle.

In the early part of the sixth century the East-Roman
Empire was in a precarious situation. Its forces suf-
fered a number of humiliating defeats on the Persian
frontier, and its whole position in Asia Minor seemed
in danger. For a time pressure was relieved by a Hun-
nish invasion of Persia from the north, but war broke
out afresh on the frontier about 525 though in a
rather desultory way. It was here that Belisarius first



won distinction, by his* conduct of several cavalry
raids into Persian Armenia, and later by a spirited
counter-attack after the Persians had captured a fron-
tier castle. The contrast with the poor performance of
other leaders led Justinian to appoint him Com-
mander-in-Chief of the forces in the East when he
was well under thirty.

In 530, a Persian army of some 40,000 men ad-
vanced upon the fortress of Daras. To meet them
Belisarius had a force of barely half their strength,
mostly composed of raw recruits who had recently
arrived. Rather than stand a siege, he decided to risk
a battle, though on a position he had carefully pre-
pared for defensive-offensive tactics he could count
on the Persians' contempt for the Byzantines, as well
as their superiority in numbers, to make them take the
lead in attack. A wide and deep ditch was dug in front
of Daras, but near enough to the walls to allow the
defenders of the ditch to be supported by overhead
fire from the battlements. Here Belisarius placed his
less reliable infantry. A cross-trench ran forward at
right angles from each end, and from the ends of these
projecting trenches another straight one stretched out-
wards to the hills on either side of the valley. Along
these flanking extensions, which had wide passages at
intervals, bodies of heavy cavalry were posted ready
for counter-attack. The Hunnish light cavalry were
posted at the two inner corners so that, if the heavy
cavalry on the wings were driven back, they might re-
lieve the pressure by making a harassing sally on to
the attacker's rear.

The Persians, on arrival, were baffled by these dis-
positions, and spent the first day in exploratory skir-
mishing. Next morning, Belisarius sent a letter to the
Persian commander suggesting that the points in dis-
pute could be settled better by mutual discussion than



by fighting. He wrote "The'first blessing is peace, as
is agreed by all men who have even a small share of
reason. . , . The best general, therefore, is that one
which is able to bring about peace from war/ These
were remarkable words to come from a soldier so
young on the eve of his first great victory. But the
Persian commander replied that the promises of
Romans could never be trusted. In his mind, Beli-
sarius's message and his defensive attitude behind a
trench were merely signs of fear. So the attack was
launched. The Persians were careful not to push into
the obvious trap in the centre but their care played
into the hands of Belisarius. For it meant not only that
their effort was split but that the fighting was confined
to the cavalry 'on the wings to the arm in which
Belisarius was least outnumbered and on which he
could best rely. At the same time, his infantry were
able to contribute by their archery fire. The Byzantine
bow outranged the Persian, and the Persian armour
was not proof against the Byzantine arrow as the
Byzantine was against the Persian.

Against his left wing the Persian cavalry at first
made progress, but then a small cavalry detachment
which had been hidden behind a hill on the flank sud-
denly charged them in rear. This unexpected stroke,
coupled with the appearance of the Hunnish light
cavalry on their other flank, caused them to retreat.
Then, on the other flank, the Persian cavalry pressed
still deeper, up to the walls of the city, only to produce
a gap between their advancing wing and their static
centre a gap into which Belisarius threw all his avail-
able cavalry. This counterstroke at the weakened hinge
of the Persian line first drove the Persian cavalry wing
off the battlefield into a divergent line of flight, and
then turned on the exposed flank of the Persian in-
fantry in the centre. The battle ended in the decisive



defeat of the Persians the first they had suffered at
Byzantine hands for several generations.

After some further reverses the Persian King began
to discuss terms of peace with Justinian's envoy. The
negotiations were still in progress when the King of
the Saracens, an ally of the Persians, suggested a new
plan of campaign for an indirect stroke at the Byzan-
tine power. He argued that, instead of attacking where
the Byzantine frontier was strongly held and fortified,
there would be more profit in the unexpected. A force
composed of the most mobile troops available should
move west from the Euphrates across the desert
which had long been considered an impassable bar-
rier and pounce upon Antioch, the wealthiest city of
the East-Roman Empire. This plan was adopted, and
was carried far enough to prove that such a desert
crossing was practicable with a suitably constituted
type of army. Belisarius, however, had made his own
forces so mobile, and developed such an efficient sys-
tem of communication along the frontier, that he was
able to hasten down from the north in time to antici-
pate the enemy's arrival. Having frustrated the threat,
he was content to shepherd the invaders back on their
homeward course. Such restraint did not please his
troops. Aware of their murmurs he tried to point out
to them that true victory lay in compelling one's op-
ponent to abandon his purpose, with the least possible
loss to oneself. If such a result was obtained, there was
no real advantage to be gained by winning a battle
'for why should one rout a fugitive?' while the at-
tempt would incur a needless risk of defeat, and of
thereby laying the Empire open to a more dangerous
invasion. To leave a retreating army no way of escape
was the surest way to infuse it with the courage of

Such arguments were too reasonable to satisfy the



instinctive blood-lust of the soldiery. So to retain his
hold on them he gave rein to their desires and as a
result suffered his only defeat, in the process of proving
the truth of his warning. But the Persians' victory over
their pursuers was purchased at so heavy a price that
they were forced to continue their retreat.

After his successful defence of the East, Belisarius
was shortly sent on an offensive mission to the West.
A century earlier the Vandals, a Germanic people, had
ended their southward migration by occupying Roman
Africa, and establishing their capital at Carthage.
From there they conducted piracy on a great scale and
also sent out raiding expeditions to plunder the cities
of the Mediterranean seaboard. In 455 they had
sacked Rome itself, and subsequently inflicted an
overwhelming defeat on a great punitive expedition
sent from Constantinople. After some generations,
however, luxury and the African sun not merely
softened their manners but began to sap their vigour.
Then in 531 the Vandal King Hilderic, who had be-
friended Justinian in his youth, was deposed and im-
prisoned by a warlike nephew, Gelimer. Justinian
thereupon wrote Gelimer asking him to release his
uncle, and when this request was rebuffed he decided
to send an expeditionary force to Africa under Beli-
sarius. For it, however, he provided only 5,000 cavalry
and 10,000 infantry. Though they were picked troops,
the odds seemed heavily against them, since the Van-
dals were reputed to have nearly 100,000 troops.

When the expedition reached Sicily, Belisarius heard
some encouraging news that some of the best of the
Vandal forces had been sent to deal with a revolt in
Sardinia, then a Vandal possession, and that Gelimer
himself was away from Carthage at the moment. Beli-
sarius lost no time in sailing for Africa, and made a
successful landing at a point some nine days' march



/rom Carthage : in order to avoid the risk of intercep-
tion by the superior Vandal fleet. On hearing the news,
Gelimer hastily ordered the various contingents of the
army 'to converge on a defile near Ad Decimum,
the tenth milestone on the main road to Carthage,
where he hoped to surround the invaders. But this
plan was dislocated because Belisarius's rapid advance,
synchronized with a threat to Carthage by his fleet,
caught the Vandal troops in the process of assem-
bling; and a confused series of combats produced
such disorder among the Vandal forces that they not
only forfeited their opportunity of overwhelming Beli-
sarius, but were dispersed in all directions thus
leaving him a clear path into Carthage. By the time
Gelimer had reassembled his troops, and, having re-
called his expeditionary force from Sardinia, was ready
to take the offensive again, Belisarius had restored the
defences of Carthage which the Vandals had allowed
to fall into disrepair.

After waiting several months for the Vandals' ex-
pected attempt to eject him, Belisarius concluded from
their inactivity that their morale was low, and being
on his own side now assured of a secure place of re-
treat in case of defeat, he decided to venture upon the
offensive. Pushing his cavalry ahead, he came upon
the Vandals in camp at Tricameron, behind a stream,
and started the battle without waiting for his infantry
to come up. His idea would seem to have been that, by
his manifest weakness of numbers, he might tempt the
Vandals into an attack upon him, so that he could
counter-attack them as they were crossing the stream.
But a 'provocative' attack and simulated retreat failed
to draw them further than the brook in pursuit. There-
upon Belisarius took advantage of their caution to
push a much larger force across the stream undis-
turbed, and then, after developing an attack on their



centre, which fixed their attention, he extended the
attack along the whole front.

The Vandals' resistance promptly collapsed, and
they took refuge in their stockaded camp. During the
night Gelimer himself fled, and after his disappear-
ance his army scattered. This victory, followed up by
Belisarius's pursuit and ultimate capture of Gelimer,
settled the issue of the war. While the reconquest of
Roman Africa had looked a desperate venture in pros-
pect, it had proved astoundingly simple in execution.

That easy triumph encouraged Justinian to attempt
the reconquest of Italy and Sicily from the Ostrogoths
and as cheaply, if possible. He sent a small army up the
Dalmatian coast. He persuaded the Franks, by a prom-
ise of subsidies, to attack the Goths in the north. Under
cover of these diversions, he dispatched Belisarius to
Sicily with an expeditionary force of 12,000 men, in-
structing him to give out on arrival there that the
force was on its way to Carthage. He was then to
occupy the island if he found that it could be easily
taken ; if not, he was to re-embark without showing
his hand. In the event, there was no difficulty. Al-
though the Sicilian cities had been well treated by
their conquerors, they readily welcomed Belisarius as
their deliverer and protector. The small Gothic garri-
sons offered no serious resistance to him save at
Palermo, which he overcame by a stratagem. In con-
trast to his success, the attempted invasion of Dal-
matia ended in disaster. But as soon as this diversion-
ary advance was renewed by a reinforced Byzantine
army, Belisarius crossed the Straits of Messina to be-
gin the invasion of Italy.

Dissension among the Goths, and the negligence of
their King, cleared his path through southern Italy, as
far as Naples, which was strongly fortified and held
by a garrison equal in scale to his own force. Baulked



for a time, Belisarius eventually found a way of entry
through a disused aqueduct ; filtering a picked body
of men through the narrow tunnel, he combined a rear
attack with a frontal escalade at night, and thereby
gained control of the city.

The news of its fall caused such an outcry among
the Goths as to produce an uprising against their King,
and his replacement on the throne by a vigorous
general named Vitiges. But Vitiges took the typical
military view that it was necessary to finish the Pran-
kish war before concentrating against the new in-
vader. So, after leaving what he considered an ade-
quate garrison in Rome, he marched north to deal
with the Franks. But the people of Rome did not
share his view, and since the Gothic garrison felt that it
was not adequate to defend the city without their
help, Belisarius was able to occupy the city without
difficulty the garrison withdrawing as he approached.

Too late, Vitiges repented his decision, and, after
buying off the Franks with gold and territory, gathered
an army of 150,000 men to recapture Rome. To de-
fend it, Belisarius had a bare 10,000. But in the three
months' grace allowed him before the siege began, he
had remodelled the city's defences and built up l^rge
stocks of food. His method of defence, moreover, was
an active one with frequent well-judged sorties. In
these he exploited the advantage which his cavalry en-
joyed through being armed with bows, so that they
could harass thelenemy's cavalry masses while them-
selves keeping out of reach, or tease the Gothic lancers
into blind charges. Though the strain on the scanty
defenders was severe, the strength of the besieger was
shrinking much faster, especially through sickness. To
accelerate the process Belisarius boldly took the risk
of sending two detachments from his slender force to
seize by surprise the towns of Tivoli and Terracina,



which dominated the roads by which the besiegers
received their supplies. And when reinforcements
reached him from home, he extended his mobile raids
across to and up the Adriatic coast towards the
Goths' main base at Ravenna. Finally, after a year's
siege, the Goths abandoned the attempt and withdrew
northward their departure being hastened by the
news that a Byzantine raiding force had seized Rimini,
a town on their communications disturbingly close to
Ravenna. As the rear half of the Gothic army was
crowding over the Mulvian bridge, it suffered heavily
from a parting stroke which Belisarius launched
against it.

While Vitiges retreated north-east towards Ravenna,
Belisarius dispatched part of his force, with the fleet,
up the west coast to capture Pavia and Milan. He
himself, with a mere 3,000 men, rode across to the
east coast, where he was joined by a newly landed
reinforcement of 7,000, under Narses, the eunuch
Court. Chamberlain. Thence he hastened to the re-
lief of his endangered detachment at <Rimini, which
had allowed itself to be shut in by Vitiges. Mask-
ing the fortress of Osimo, where the Goths had
left a force of 25,000, Belisarius slipped past it
and advanced on Rimini, in two columns, while
another part of his force went by sea. This advance
from three directions was intended to give the
Goths an exaggerated impression of his strength. To
strengthen the impression, a far-stretched chain of
camp-fires were lighted by night. The stratagem suc-
ceeded, helped by the fear which Belisarius's name now
inspired, and the much larger Gothic army bolted in
panic on his approach.

Belisarius now, while keeping watch over Vitiges in
Ravenna, planned to clear his communications with
Rome by reducing the various fortresses that he had



slipped past in his rapid advance. With such small
numbers as he possessed this was not an easy problem,
but his method was to isolate, and concentrate upon
particular fortresses while using a far-flung curtain of
mobile detachments to keep any potential relieving
forces occupied in their own area. Even so, the task
took a considerable time, and was the more pro-
tracted because some of his generals who had in-
fluence at court to cover their disobedience were in-
clined to seek easier and wealthier objectives. Mean-
time Vitiges was prompted to send embassies to the
Franks and the Persians with the tempting suggestion
that there was now a great opportunity to turn the
tide of Byzantine expansion if they were to join in a
concerted attack on the Empire from both sides while
its forces were so widely stretched out. The King of
the Franks responded by crossing the Alps with a
large army.

The first to suffer were their expectant allies. For
after the passage of the Po near Pavia had been
opened to them by the Goths, who were there faced
by a Byzantine force, they attacked both sides im-
partially, and put them to flight. They then proceeded
to eat up the countryside. As their army was almost
entirely composed of infantry, their foraging range
was narrow, and before long they perished in thou-
sands from the results of the famine they had created.
Hamstrung by their own improvident folly they dared
not to push on in face of a mobile opponent, and were
with little difficulty induced by Belisarius to return
home. Belisarius was then able to tighten his grip on
Ravenna, and bring about the surrender of Vitiges.

At this point he was recalled by Justinian, osten-
sibly to deal with the Persians' renewed threat which
in itself was real. It would seem, however, that jealousy
was the deeper motive, since it had come to Justinian's



ears that the Goths had made peace proposals to Beli-
sarius on the basis of recognizing him as Emperor of
the West ^

While Belisarius was on his way home, Chosroes,
the new King of Persia, repeated the cross-desert
march that had been frustrated the time before, and
succeeded in capturing Antioch. Having despoiled this
and other Syrian cities of their wealth, he accepted
Justinian's offer of a large annual payment in return
for a new peace treaty. Justinian saved his own purse
by tearing up the treaty as soon as Chosroes had re-
turned to Persia, and Belisarius to Constantinople.
Thus only his subjects were the losers a result which
accorded with the normal experience of warfare.

In the next campaign King Chosroes invaded Col-
chis, on the Black Sea coast, and captured the Byzan-
tine fortress of Petra. At the same time Belisarius
arrived on the eastern frontier. Hearing that Chosroes
had gone off on a distant expedition, though it was
not yet known where, Belisarius immediately seized
the opportunity for a surprise inroad into Persian
territory. To extend the effect he dispatched his Arab
allies on a raid down the Tigris into Assyria. This well-
timed thrust proved to be an unconscious demonstra-
tion of the value of the indirect approach. For it
threatened the base of the Persian army that had in-
vaded Colchis, and thereby brought Chosroes hurry-
ing back to avert the severance of his communica-

Soon afterwards, Belisarius was recalled to Con-
stantinople this time because of domestic troubles.
During his absence from the East, the Persian King
launched an invasion of Palestine with the aim of cap-
turing Jerusalem, now the wealthiest city in the East,
since the destruction of Antioch. When the news
came, Justinian dispatched Belisarius to the rescue.



This time Chosroes had brought a very large army,
estimated at 200,000 men, and in consequence could
not take the desert route ; he had to march up the
Euphrates into Syria before turning south against
Palestine, Thus sure of the route that Chosroes would
have to follow, Belisarius concentrated his available
troops, few but mobile, at Carchemish, on the upper
Euphrates, whence they could threaten the flank of
the invader's line of advance near its most vulnerable
point the bend southward. When their presence was
reported to Chosroes, he sent an envoy to Belisarius
for the nominal purpose of discussing a possible basis
of peace and the real purpose of ascertaining the
strength and state of Belisarius's force which, actu-
ally, was less than a tenth, perhaps hardly a twentieth,
of the scale of the invading army.

Guessing the object of this mission, Belisarius
staged a military 'play '. He picked out the best of his
own men including contingents of Goths, Vandals,
and Moors who had enlisted in his service after being
taken prisoner and moved out to a point on the Per-
sian envoy's route of approach, so that the latter
might imagine that he had been met at what was one
of the outposts of a great army. And the soldiers were
instructed to spread out over the plain and kept con-
stantly in movement, so as to magnify their apparent
numbers. This impression was deepened by Beli-
sarius's air of light-hearted confidence and the care-
free behaviour of the troops as if they had nothing
to fear from any possible attack. The envoy's report
convinced Chosroes that it was too hazardous to con-
tinue his invasion with so formidable a force on the
flank of his communications. Then, by further con-
fusing manoeuvres of his cavalry along the Euphrates,
Belisarius bluffed the Persians into making a hurried
retreat across the river, and thence back home. Never



was an invasion, potentially irresistible, more econo-
mically defeated. And this miraculous result was
achieved by an indirect approach which, though pro-
fiting by a flanking position, was in itself purely psy-

Belisarius was once again recalled to Constanti-
nople through Justinian's jealous suspicion of his
ever-growing fame. Before long, the mismanagement
of affairs in Italy so imperilled the Byzantines' hold
upon it that Justinian was forced to send Belisarius
back there to restore the situation. Parsimony com-
bined with jealousy led the Emperor, however, to
allow his general the meagrest resources for the task,
which had grown to vast dimensions by the time Beli-
sarius arrived at Ravenna. For the Goths, under a new
king, Totila, had gradually rebuilt their strength, re-
gained all the north-west of Italy, and then overrun
the south. Naples had fallen to them and Rome was
threatened. Belisarius made a daring but unsuccessful
attempt to save Rome by sailing round the coast with
a detachment, and forcing a passage, up the Tiber.
Totila then dismantled the fortifications, left a force
of about 15,000 to pin down Belisarius's 7,000 on the
coast, and marched north with the aim of capturing
Ravenna in Belisarius's absence. But Belisarius out-
manoeuvred his 'warders', and slipped into Rome. It
would serve as a bait that no Goth of spirit could re-
fuse. In the three weeks before Totila returned with his
army, Belisarius had repaired the fortifications so well,
save for replacing the gates, that he was able to repulse
two successive heavy attacks. In these the Goths lost
so heavily that their confidence waned, and when they
made a third attempt later Belisarius delivered a
counterstroke that threw them back in confusion.
Next day they abandoned the siege and withdrew to



But despite repeated appeals Justinian only sent re-
inforcements in driblets, and thus, instead of being
able to attempt the reconquest of the country as a
whole, Belisarius was reduced to spending several
years in a 'tip and run' campaign among the for-
tresses, and from port to port. At last, seeing that it
was hopeless to expect that Justinian would ever trust
him with an adequately strong army, he obtained per-
mission to give up the task and return to Constanti-

Four years later, repenting of his decision to aban-
don Italy, Justinian decided to undertake a fresh ex-
pedition. Unwilling to put Belisarius in charge, lest he
might be creating a rival sovereign, he eventually gave
the command to Narses who had long been a keen
theoretical student of war, and who, in the crowning
phase of Belisarius's first Italian campaign, had been
given a chance to prove his practical skill.

Narses made full use of the greater opportunity
now offered him. In the first place, he made it a con-
dition of accepting the offer that he was provided with
a really strong and. well-equipped force. With this he
marched north round the Adriatic shore. His march
was assisted by the Goths' belief that his invasion
would necessarily come across the sea since they
assumed that the rugged coastal route, with its
numerous river-mouths, was too difficult for him to
attempt. But by arranging for a large number of boats
to keep pace with his overland advance, and using
them to form floating bridges, Narses made unex-
pectedly rapid progress, and reached Ravenna with-
out opposition. Losing no time, he pressed on south-
ward, circling past the various fortresses which barred
the way with the aim of forcing battle on Totila be-
fore his forces were fully assembled. Totila held the
main pass across the Apennines, but Narses slipped



over by a side path and came upon Totila at Taginae.

Here Narses had a superiority of force over the
Goths, in contrast to Belisarius's constant inferiority
in former campaigns. Nevertheless, having drawn his
full profit from the strategic offensive, Narses pre-
ferred the tactical defensive on meeting Totila. Count-
ing on the instinctive 'oflfensiveness' of the Goths to
make them take the lead in attack, he prepared a trap
for them on lines which foreshadowed the English
tactics at Crecy, against the French chivalry, eight hun-
dred years later. His design was based on an aware-
ness of the Goths' justified contempt for the frailty of
the Byzantine infantry in face of a cavalry charge. In
the centre of his line he placed a large body of dis-
mounted cavalry, to use their lances on foot, so that
they might appear to the enemy like a mass of infan-
try spearmen. On each flank of this central body he
placed his foot-archers, pushed well forward in a cres-
cent from which they could enfilade any assault on the
centre, with most of his mounted cavalry close in rear
of them. Well out to the left, under a hill, he posted q,
picked force of cavalry to deliver a surprise stroke
upon the Goths 5 rear as soon as they became deeply

This cleverly baited trap fulfilled its purpose. The
Gothic cavalry were launched against the supposedly
unreliable infantry in the enemy's centre. In their
charge they suffered badly from the converging hail of
arrows on their flanks, and were then checked in front
by the firm stand of the dismounted lancers while
increasingly galled by the archers who now closed in
on their flanks. As for the Gothic infantry, these hesi-
tated to come up in support for fear of being them-
selves attacked in rear by the horse-archers whom
Narses had posted near the flanking hill. After con-
tinuing the vain effort for some time, the disheartened
F 65


Gothic cavalry began to fall back, whereupon Narses
delivered a decisive counterstroke with his own cavalry ,
hitherto held in reserve. The defeat of the Goths was
so complete that Narses met with little further serious
resistance in carrying out the second reconquest of Italy .

The final subjugation of the Goths was accom-
plished just in time to leave Narses free to deal with a
new incursion of the Franks, made in response to the
Goths 5 desperate appeal. This time the Franks pushed
much deeper than before down into Campania, It
would seem that Narses, profiting by the experience
of their first invasion, wished to give them 'rope to
hang themselves' to avoid battle until their huge
strength had dwindled under the rigours of the march
and the toll of dysentery. They still numbered 80,000,
however, when he offered battle to them at Casilinum.
Here he devised a trap that was shrewdly fitted to their
characteristic tactics. An army of foot, they attacked
in a deep column, relying on weight and momentum.
Their weapons were of a close-range type the spear,
the throwing axe, and the sword.

At Casilinum Narses held his centre with spearmen
and bowmen, on foot. The charge of the Franks drove
them back, but then Narses wheeled in his cavalry
wings against their flanks. This halted them, and they
promptly faced outwards ready to meet a charge. But
he made no attempt to close with them, knowing that
their formation was too solid to be broken by shock.
Instead, he checked his cavalry just out of range of the
Franks' throwing axes, and ordered them to use their
bows raining arrows on a mass that could not re-
taliate without disjointing its own close-ranked forma-
tion. When, at last, they sought relief by breaking
their ranks, and edging away to the rear, he seized the
opportunity to charge home. This well-timed stroke
shattered them, and scarcely a man escaped.



At first glance the interest of the campaigns of Beli-
sarius and Narses appears to be tactical rather than
strategical, since so many of the movements lead
directly to battle and there are fewer examples of cal-
culated manoeuvring against the enemy's communica-
tions than in the campaigns of other Great Captains.
But closer examination modifies this impression. Beli-
sarius had developed a new-style tactical instrument
with which he knew that he might count on beating
much superior numbers, provided that he could in-
duce his opponents to attack him under conditions
that suited his tactics. For that purpose his lack of
numbers, when not too marked, was an asset, especi-
ally when coupled with an audaciously direct strategic
offensive. His strategy was thus more psychological
then logistical. He knew how to provoke the barbarian
armies of the West into indulging their natural in-
stinct for direct assault ; with the more subtle and skil-
ful Persians he was able at first to take advantage of their
feeling of superiority to the Byzantines, and later, when
they learnt respect for him, he exploitedtheir wariness
as a means of outmanoeuvring them psychologically.

He was a master of the art of converting his weak-
ness into strength ; and the opponent's strength into a
weakness. His tactics, too, had the essential charac-
teristic of the indirect approach that of uncovering
and dislocating a joint. When asked privately by
friends during his first Italian campaign the grounds
of his confidence in tackling such vastly superior forces,
he replied that in the first engagements with the Goths
he was on the look-out to discover their weaknesses,
and had observed that they were unable to bring their
numbers conceitedly into play. The reason, apart from
the embarrassment of excessive bulk, was that while
his own cavalry were all good mounted horsemen, the
Goths had no practice in this branch ; their horsemen



were trained to use only lances and swords, while their
foot-archers were accustomed to move behind and
under shelter of the cavalry. Thus the horsemen were
ineffective except in close combat, while having no
means of defending themselves against a mounted op-
ponent who kept just out of reach and rained arrows
upon them; as for their foot-archers, these would
never risk being caught in the open by the enemy's cav-
alry. The effect was that the Gothic cavalry were always
tryingto get to close quarters, and could be easily galled
into an ill-timed charge, whereas the infantry tended
to hang back when the shielding cavalry got far ahead
so that combination broke down, while a gap was
createdinto which flankcounterstrokes could be driven.

The tactical system and the defensive-offensive stra-
tegy which Belisarius developed became the foundation
of the Byzantine Empire's successful maintenance of its
position, and the Roman tradition, during the cen-
turies that followed while Western Europe was pass-
ing through the Dark Ages. The subsequent elabora-
tion of these methods, and the army's reorganization,
can be followed in the two great Byzantine military
text-books, the Strategicon of the Emperor Maurice
and the Tactica of Leo. This structure proved strong
enough to withstand many-sided barbarian pressure,
and even the tidal wave of Mohammedan conquest
which submerged the Persian Empire. Although out-
lying territories were lost, the main bastions of the
Byzantine Empire were kept intact, and from the reign
of Basil I in the ninth century the lost ground was pro-
gressively regained. Under Basil II, early in the eleventh
century, the Empire reached the highest point of its
power since Justinian, five hundred years before, and
stood more securely than it had in his time.

Fifty years later its security was dissipated and its
prospects forfeited within the space of a few hours.



Prolonged immunity from danger had led to ever-in-
creasing cuts in the military budget, and caused the
decay as well as the reduction of the army. Then the
rising power of the Seljuk Turks under Alp Arslan,
from 1063 onwards, brought a belated awakening to
the need for rearmament, and in 1068 the general
Romanus Diogenes was made emperor as a step
towards coping with the danger. Instead of allowing
himself time to train the army up to its former pitch
of efficiency, he embarked prematurely on an offen-
sive campaign. Encouraged by initial success on the
Euphrates, he led his forces deep into Armenia, and
near Manzikert met the main Seljuk army. Impressed
by the size of the Byzantine army, Alp Arslan offered
to open negotiations for a peace settlement, but
Romanus insisted that, prior to any discussions, the
Turkish Sultan must evacuate his camp and withdraw
which would have meant a loss of 'face' that he
could hardly be expected to accept. Following Alp
Arslan's refusal, Romanus launched an attack, and,
breaking with the Byzantine military tradition, allowed
himself to be drawn on further and furtherin a vaineflfort
to come to close quarters with an evasive and nimble
foe, whose clouds of horse-archers continually harassed
his advance. By duskhis troops wereexhausted, and their
formation became disjointed, when at last he ordered
a retirement ; the Turks now closed in round his flanks,
and under this encircling pressure his army broke up.
The defeat was so disastrously complete that the
Turks were soon able to overrun the greater part of
Asia Minor. Thus through the folly of a single hot-
headed general, whose offensive spirit was not balanced
by judgement, the Empire suffered a blow from which
it never recovered although it had sufficient power
of endurance to last, in a diminished form, for a further
four hundred years.


Chapter V

Ihis chapter serves merely as a link between the
cycles of ancient and modern history, as, although
several of the medieval campaigns are tempting as
illustrations, the sources for knowledge of them are
far more exiguous and less reliable than in earlier or
later times. For scientific truth in the deduction of
causes and effects, the safe course is to base our
analysis of history on established facts, and to pass
over certain periods, even at the sacrifice of valuable
confirmatory examples, where it is necessary to choose
between conflicting textual or historical criticism of
the evidence. It is true that controversy has raged
round the tactical rather than the strategical details of
medieval military history, but the dust thus raised is
apt to envelop both, in the view of the normal student
of war, and to make him perhaps excessively dubious
of deductions drawn from this period. But, without
including it in our specific analysis, certain of
its episodes may be worth sketching, not least
as a means to suggest their potential interest and

In the West during the Middle Ages the spirit of
feudal chivalry was inimical to military art, though
the drab stupidity of its military course is lightened by



a few bright gleams no fewer perhaps, in proportion,
than at any other period in history.

The Normans provided some of the earliest gleams,
and their descendants continued to illuminate the
course of medieval warfare. The value they put on
Norman blood led them to expend brains in substitu-
tion for it, with notable profit.

The date which every schoolboy knows, if he knows
no other, 1066, was marked by strategy and tactics as
skilful as their result was decisive, decisive not only
for the immediate issue but in its effect on the whole
course of history. William of Normandy's invasion of
England profited from a strategic distraction, and
thereby gained at the outset the virtues of an indirect
approach. This distraction was the landing of King
Harold's rebel brother, Tostig, and his ally, Harold
Hardrada, King of Norway, on the Yorkshire coast.
This had seemed less immediate a danger than Wil-
liam's invasion. But it matured earlier, and thus gave
added effectiveness to William's plans, even though it
was promptly defeated. Two days after the annihila-
tion of the Norse invaders at Stamford Bridge, William
landed on the Sussex coast.

Instead of advancing northward, he lured Harold
into a precipitate dash southwards with only a frac-
tion of his force by ravaging the lands of Kent and
Sussex. The further south Harold came, and the sooner
he gave battle, the further, both in distance and time,
would he be separated from his reinforcements. If this
was William's calculation, it was justified by events.
He brought Harold to battle within sight of the Chan-
nel coast, and decided the issue by a tactical indirect
approach ordering a feigned flight by part of his
force which led his opponents to dislocate their own
dispositions. And, in the final phase, the device of high
angle archery fire which caused Harold's death



might be classified as an indirect fire approach!

William's strategy after this victory is equally signi-
ficant. Instead of marching direct on London, he first
secured Dover, and his own sea communications. On
reaching the outskirts of London, he avoided any
direct assault, but made a circle, and a circular swathe
of devastation, round London to the west and then to
the north. Threatened with starvation, the capital sur-
rendered when William had reached Berkhamstead.

The next century witnessed a further proof of Nor-
man genius for war, in one of the most astonishing
campaigns in history. This was the conquest of the
greater part of Ireland, as well as the repulse of a
strong Norse invasion, by Earl ' Strongbow' and a few
hundred knights from the Welsh Marches an achieve-
ment remarkable for the extreme slenderness of the
means, the extreme difficulty of the forest and bog
country, and for the adaptability with which the con-
querors recast and reversed the conventional feudal
methods of war. They showed their skill and calcula-
tion by the way they repeatedly lured their opponents
to battle in open ground, where their mounted charges
had full effect; by the way they exploited feigned re-
treats, diversions, rear attacks to break up the oppos-
ing formation ; by the strategic surprises, night attacks,
and use of archery to overcome opposition when they
could not lure an enemy from the shelter of his de-

The thirteenth century, however, is more plentiful
still in strategic fruits. The first were gathered in 1216,
when King John saved his kingdom, after almost los-
ing it, by a campaign wherein pure strategy was un-
mixed with battles. His means were mobility; the
strong resisting power then possessed by fortresses ;
and the psychological power inherent in the dislike of
the townsmen for the barons and their foreign ally,



Louis of France. When Louis, after landing in east
Kent, occupied London and Winchester, John was too
weak to oppose him in battle ; and most of the country
was dominated by the barons. But John still preserved
the fortresses of Windsor, Reading, Wallingford, and
Oxford which commanded the line of the Thames
and separated the baronial forces north and south of
it while the key stronghold of Dover remained un-
taken in Louis's rear. John had fallen back to Dorset,
but when the situation became clearer, he marched
north, in July, to Worcester, securing the line of the
Severn and thus establishing a barrage to prevent the
tide of rebellion flowing further to the west and south-
west. Thence he moved east along the already secured
line of the Thames as if to relieve Windsor.

To confirm the besiegers in this belief, he sent a de-
tachment of Welsh archers to fire into their camp at
night, while he himself swerved north-east, and, thanks
to this start, won the race to Cambridge. He was now
able to establish a further barrage across the routes to
the north, while the main French forces were tied to
the siege of Dover. His success in circumscribing and
contracting the area of opposition and disaffection
spelt the failure of the rebels and their ally, even
though King John's own reign was ended by his death
in October. If he died of a surfeit of peaches and new
ale, their hopes died of a surfeit of strategic strong-

The next successful baronial insurrection was bro-
ken by the masterly strategy of Prince Edward, later
Edward I, in 1265. The sequel to King Henry Ill's
defeat at Lewes had been to establish the supremacy
of the baronial party throughout most of England, ex-
cept on the Welsh Marches. Thither Simon de Mont-
fort marched, crossing the Severn and pursuing his
triumphant path as far as Newport. Prince Edward,



who had escaped from the baronial army to join his
adherents in the border counties, dislocated de Mont-
fort's plans by seizing the Severn bridges behind him,
and then moving down on his rear. Edward not only
threw him back across the Usk, but, by a raid with three
galleys on his ships at Newport, frustrated his new
plan of transporting his army back to England. De
Montfort was thus forced to undertake a roundabout
and exhausting march north through the barren dis-
tricts of Wales, while Edward fell back to Worcester
to hold the Severn against his arrival. Then, when de
Montfort's son marched to his relief with an army
from eastern England, Edward utilized his central
position to crush each o the de Montforts in turn
while they were separated and blindfolded by march
and counter-march on his part which exploited mobi-
lity to achieve a couple of shattering surprises.

Edward, as king, was to make an even greater con-
tribution to military science in his Welsh wars, not
only in developing the use of the bow and the com-
bination of cavalry charges with archery fire, but, still
more, in his strategic method of conquest. The prob-
lem was to subdue a hardy and savage mountain race
who could evade battle by retiring to the hills, and
then re-occupy the valleys when the invader broke off
operations for the winter. If Edward's means were
comparatively limited he had an advantage in the fact
that the area of the country was also limited. His
solution was a combination of mobility and strategic
points. By building castles at these points, by con-
necting them with roads, and by keeping his opponents
constantly on the move so that they had no chance
to recuperate physically and psychologically, or re-
cover geographically, during the winter he split up
and wore down their power of resistance. As his
method was a reflection of the Roman, so it fore-



shadowed our own on the North-West frontier of India.

Edward's strategic gifts did not survive him, how-
ever, and in the Hundred Years* War there is nothing
to learn, ^ave negatively, from the strategy of his
grandson or his great-grandson. Their purposeless
parades through France were mostly ineffective ; and
the few which had greater results were the outcome of
their greater folly. For in the campaigns of Cr6cy and
Poitiers, Edward III and the Black Prince respectively
got themselves into perilous situations. These had the
extremely indirect and unintended merit that the very
predicament of the English incited their direct-minded
opponents to rush headlong into battle under condi-
tions all to their disadvantage and thus give the Eng-
lish the chance to rescue themselves from their pre-
dicament. For in a defensive battle, on ground chosen
by the English, their use of the longbow in face of the
futile tactics of the French chivalry gave them an
assured tactical superiority.

The severity of these defeats in battle proved, how-
ever, of ultimate advantage to the French. For in the
next stage of the war they adhered steadfastly to the
Fabian policy of the Constable du Guesclin. The stra-
tegy by which he carried out this policy was to avoid
battle with the main English army, while constantly
hampering the movement, and contracting the terri-
tory, of his opponents. Far removed from a passive
evasion of battle, his strategy exploited mobility and
surprise to a degree that few generals have matched
cutting off convoys, cutting up detachments, and cap-
turing isolated garrisons. Always taking the line of
least expectation, his surprise attacks on such garri-
sons, often by night, were helped both by his new and
rapid storm methods and by his psychologically cal-
culated choice of objectives where the garrisons were
discontented or the population ripe for treachery. So,



also, he fanned every flame of local unrest as an im-
mediate distraction to the enemy's attention and an
ultimate subtraction from their territory.

Within less than five years, du Guesclin had reduced
the vast English possessions in France to a slender
strip of territory between Bordeaux and Bayonne. He
had done it without fighting a battle. Indeed, he never
pressed the attack on even a small English force if it
had gained time to take up defensive dispositions.
Other generals have maintained, in common with
moneylenders, the principle 4 no advance without secur-
ity ' ; du Guesclin's principle was : 'No attack without

The next serious English attempt at foreign con-
quest was at least inspired by method, and by a closer
calculation of end and means after a rash beginning.
For Henry V's most famous campaign was his most
foolish. In the 'Edwardian' parade which culminated
at Agincourt, the French had only to block Henry's
path to ensure his collapse from hunger; but their
leaders had forgotten the lesson of Crecy and the
teaching of du Guesclin. They thought that with a
four-to-one superiority of force it would be shameful
to use this superiority for anything save a direct at-
tack. And as a result they provided a more shameful
repetition of Crecy and Poitiers. After this escape,
Henry V employed what may be called a 'block sys-
tem' strategy, seeking permanent conquest by metho-
dical extensions of territory, in which the population
was conciliated as a means to secure his tenure. The
interest and value of Henry's later campaigns lies in
their grand strategy rather than in their strategy.

In the realm of strategy our survey of the Middle
Ages may well close with Edward IV, who in 1461
gained his throne, and in 1471 regained it, after being
an exile, by his exceptional use of mobility.



In the first campaign the result was mainly due to
swiftness of judgement and movement. Edward was
engaged against the local Lancastrians in Wales when
he got word that the main Lancastrian army was com-
ing down from the north upon London. Turning back,
he reached Gloucester on the 20th of February
where he learnt of the Lancastrian victory at Saint Al-
bans on the 17th of February over the Yorkist force
under Warwick. Saint Albans to London was twenty
miles, Gloucester to London more than one hundred
miles ; and the Lancastrians had three days in hand.
But at Burford, on the 22nd of February, Edward was
joined by Warwick, and heard that the Corporation of
London was still arguing the terms of surrender with
the city gates shut. Edward left Burford next day,
entered London on the 26th of February, and was there
proclaimed king, while the discomfited Lancastrians
retired to the north. When he followed them up, he
risked much by attacking an army of superior strength
in its chosen position at Towton. But the advantage
was regained for him by the accident of a snowstorm
and its exploitation by his subordinate, Fauconberg,
who galled the blinded defenders with arrows until
they indulged in the fatal relief of a disordered charge.

In 1471 there was more subtlety and no less mobil-
ity in Edward's strategy. He had lost his throne in the
interval ; but with a loan of 50,000 crowns from his
brother-in-law, 1,200 followers, and some promissory
notes of assistance from his former supporters in Eng-
land, he attempted to retrieve his fortune. When he set
sail from Flushing, the coasts of England we
against him, but, following the line of
tion, he landed in the Humber on the
tion that as this district was Lancast
it would be unguarded. Moving swil
news of his landing could spread



gather, he reached York. Thence he marched down
the London road and neatly swerved past a force
blocking the way at Tadcaster. Keeping the lead from
this force, which turned to pursue him, his threat to the
next opposing force, which awaited him at Newark,
induced it to retire eastwards. Thereupon Edward
turned south-we$t to Leicester, where he gathered in
more adherents. He then headed for Coventry, where
Warwick, now hisbhief opponent, was assembling his
forces. Having dra^/n both his pursuers thither, and
having still further increased his force at the enemy's
expense, he turned south-east and marched straight on
London, which opened its gates to him. Now feeling
strong enough to accept battle, he marched out to
greet his long-baffled pursuers on their arrival at Bar-
net ; and here a fog-confused battle ended in his favour.

That same day the Lancastrian Queen, Margaret of
Anjou, landed at Weymouth with some French mer-
cenaries. Gathering her adherents in the West, she
marched to unite with the army which the Earl of
Pembroke had raised in Wales. By swiftness again,
Edward reached the edge of the Cotswolds while her
army was marching north along the Bristol-Gloucester
road in the valley below. And then, in a long day's
race one army in the valley, the other on the heights
above he caught hers in the evening at Tewkesbury,
having prevented it crossing the Severn at Gloucester
by sending orders ahead to the Constable to close the
gates. Nearly forty miles had been covered since day-
break. That night he Damped too close to the Lan-
castrians for them to escape. Their position was strong
defensively, but Edward used his bombards as well as
archers to gall them into a charge, and thus gained
a decisive advantage in the morning's battle.

Edward's strategy was exceptional in its mobility
but typical of the age in its lack of subtlety. Formedie-



val strategy had normally the simple and direct aim of
seeking immediate battle. If the result was not indeci-
sive it was usually decisive against those who sought
it, unless they could induce the defender to become
tactically the assailant.

The best example of strategy in the Middle Ages
comes not from the West but from the East. For the
thirteenth century, strategically distinguished in the
West, was made outstanding by the paralysing lesson
in strategy taught by the Mongols? to European chiv-
alry. In scale and in quality, in surprise and in mobil-
ity, in the strategic and in the tactical indirect ap-
proach, their campaigns surpass any in history. In
Jenghiz Khan's conquest of China we can trace his use
of Taitong-Fu to bait successive traps as Bonaparte
later utilized the fortress of Mantua. And by far-flung
movements with a combination of three armies he
finally broke up the moral and military cohesion of
the Kin empire. When in 1220 he invaded the Karis-
mian empire, whose centre of power lay in modern
Turkestan, one force distracted the enemy's attention
to the approach from Kashgar in the south ; then the
main mass appeared in the north ; and, screened by its
operations, he himself with his reserve army swung
wider still and, after disappearing into the Kizyl-
Kum desert, debouched by surprise at Bokhara in the
rear of the enemy's defensive lines and armies.

In 1241, his general, Sabutai, set out to instruct
Europe. While one army, as a strategic flank guard,
marched through Galicia engaging the attention of
the Polish, German, and Bohemian forces, besides in-
flicting successive defeats the main army iji three
widely separated columns swept through Hungary to
the Danube. In this advance, the two outer columns
formed both a shield and a cloak to the later released
move of the central column. Then, converging on the



Danube near Gran, only to be balked by the assembly
of the Hungarian army on the far bank, the Mongols,
by a skilfully graduated retirement, lured their op-
ponents away from the shelter of the river and the
reach of reinforcements.

Finally, by a swift night manoeuvre and surprise on
the Sajo river, Sabutai dislocated and annihilated the
Hungarian army and became master of the central
plains of Europe until he voluntarily relinquished
his conquest a year later, to the astonished relief of a
Europe which had no power to eject him. 1

1 The strategy and tactics of the Mongols are dealt with more
fully in the author's earlier book Great Captains Unveiled.




We come to the first 'Great War' of modern his-
tory, the Thirty Years' War. Incidentally, those who
use this description for the war of 1914-18 are belated
in their historical nomenclature, for even three cen-
turies previously the title was growing threadbare with
hard wear.

The Thirty Years' War reveals no campaign that
can be called decisive. The nearest was the final duel
between Gustavus and Wallenstein which, through the
former's death in the culminating battle of Lutzen,
was decisive in quenching the possibility of a great
Protestant confederation under Swedish leadership.
But for the French intervention, and Wallenstein's
murder, it might have been decisive in establishing a
united Germany more than three centuries before this
was achieved. Such results and possibilities were in-
directly gained, for the only pitched battle of the cam-
paign ended in defeat for those in whose favour it
tilted the scales of the war. This defeat, partly due to
the inferiority of Wallenstein's fighting machine to
that of the Swedes, was also partly due to Wallen-
stein's failure to profit tactically by his strategical op-
portunityfor he had obtained prior to the battle a
o 81


very real advantage. And it is worth while to note that
this had come through not one, but three, successive
indirect approaches which, indeed, had changed the
whole aspect of the war.

Called back to command a non-existent army by
the abject entreaties of the sovereign who had wronged
him, Wallenstein had gathered within three months
some 40,000 soldiers of fortune, drawn by the glamour
of his name. Despite the urgent appeal for aid from
Bavaria, then being overrun by Gustavus's all-con-
quering army, Wallenstein instead turned north against
Gustavus's weaker ally, the Saxons, and after throw-
ing them out of Bohemia, moved on towards Saxony
itself. He even compelled the reluctant Elector of
Bavaria to bring his army to join him, thus apparently
leaving Bavaria more defenceless than ever. But the
reality was otherwise, and Wallenstein's calculation
justified for the threat of losing Saxony, his junior
partner, compelled Gustavus to quit Bavaria and hurry
to the rescue. Before he could come up, Wallenstein
and the Elector had united. Faced with their com-
bined forces, Gustavus fell back on Nuremberg.
Thither Wallenstein followed, but finding the Swedes
strongly posted, remarked that ' battles enough had
been fought already, and it was time to try another
method'. Instead of pitting his new levies against the
long-invincible Swedes, he dug himself into a position
from which while his army rested securely, gaining
confidence daily he could command Gustavus's lines
of supply with his light horse. He maintained this
method and object unswervingly, deaf to all challenges
to battle, until the Swedish king, shadowed by the
gaunt spectre of famine, attempted a vain assault on
his position. The repulse was, militarily, only an un-
fortunate incident; politically, its echoes resounded
throughout Europe. If it had not dislocated, it had



disturbed the moral ascendency which Gustavus's
many victories had gained him, and thereby loosened
his hold over the German states. Wallenstein com-
binedarealistic grasp of the limitations of hismeans with
a far-seeing calculation of the grand-strategical end.

From Nuremberg, Gustavus marched south against
Bavaria once more and Wallenstein turned north
against Saxony. The master move brought Gustavus
to heel as promptly as before ; but by superb marching
he came up before Wallenstein could intimidate the
Saxons into a separate peace. And in the desperate
battle of Lutzen which followed, the Swedish irmy
redeemed its strategic set-back by a tactical success ;
but at the price of its leader's death. This entailed the
forfeiture of his project of a great protestant combina-
tion under Swedish direction. For sixteen years longer
the war dragged out its weary and wasteful length,
leaving Germany a desert, and yielding to France the
predominant place in the polity of Europe.

The outstanding contrast between the civil wars,
1642-52, in Great Britain, and the wkrs of the same
century on the continent, is that of the decision-compel-
ling spirit which marked the former. The spirit which
breathed through this last great conflict in our own
country is excellently expressed in Defoe's Memories
of a Cavalier * we never encamped or entrenched . . .
or lay fenced with rivers or defiles. Twas the general
maxim of the war where is the enemy? Let us go and
fight him.'

Yet despite this offensive spirit the First Civil War
continued four years, without any battle proving clear-
ly decisive, except tactically and when it ultimately
flickered out in 1646, left the Royalist embers still so
numerous and so glowing that, with the aid of discord
among the victors, the flames could burst out afresh,
two years later, in a greater blaze than ever.



In examining the reasons for this indecisiveness
where the spirit of decisiveness was so manifest, we
may note that the military campaigns took the form
of repeated direct advances by one side or the other,
interspersed with what in modern language would be
called * mopping up' operations, which had but a local
and transient effect at the price of a drain of

At the outset the Royal forces were based on the
West and Midlands; the Parliamentary forces, on
London. The first Royalist advance on London came
to an ignominious end at Turnham Green, often styled
the Valmy of the Civil War, a bloodless ending which
was the moral sequel to the bloody inconclusiveness of
the Battle of Edgehill, fought by the main armies
earlier in the advance.

Thenceforward, Oxford and its surrounding towns
became the fortified pivot of the Royalists. On the
edge of this zone the two main armies for long con-
fronted each other ineffectively, while a see-saw strug-
gle between local forces and detachments went on in
the west and north. At last, in September 1643, the
urgent need of the besieged city of Gloucester com-
pelled the main Parliamentary army under Lord Essex
to advance to its relief by a restricted dfetour past the
flank of the Oxford zone. This enabled the Royalists
to bar his homeward path ; but, again, a direct clash
at Newbury yielded an indecisive result.

Natural war-weaimess might now have brought the
struggle to a negotiated end but for Charles's political
blunder in making a truce with the Irish rebels. This,
by its appearance of bringing Catholic Irish to subdue
Protestant England, brought instead the greater coun-
ter-weight of Presbyterian Scotland into the scales
against the Royal cause. Encouraged by the fact that
a Scottish army was advancing to engage the northern


Royalists, the Parliamentarians now again concen-
trated their strength for a direct advance on the Ox-
ford zone an advance which brought no greater re-
sult than the occupation of a few outlying fortresses.
The king, indeed, was even able to detach Rupert for
a swift concentration with the northern Royalists
against the Scots. Unhappily for him, tactical defeat
at Marston Moor more than undid the effect of this
strategic opportunity. But the victors profited little.
Once more the ineffectiveness of the direct and main
move on Oxford produced loss of heart and desertion
and, save for the inflexible purpose of men like Crom-
well, might have led to a peace of war-weariness. For-
tunately for the Parliament, the Royal cause was
crumbling even worse, internally far more than from
external blows. Thus it was a morally and numerically
inferior foe, only preserved so long by faulty Parlia-
mentary strategy, that Fairfax and Cromwell with the
new model army overthrew at Naseby in 1 645. Yet even
this tactically decisive victory did not prevent the war
continuing for another year.

It is a different picture when we come to the Second
Civil War, with Cromwell as the ruling mind and the
twenty-eight-year-old John Lambert as his brilliant
assistant. When it became known, late in April 1648,
that the Scots were raising an army to invade England
in support of the Royalists, Fairfax prepared to march
north to meet them, while Cromwell was sent west to
deal with the Royalist risings in South Wales. Then,
however, further outbreaks in Kent and East Anglia
tied Fairfax to those parts while the invasion of the
north was developing. Lambert was left with only a
small force to delay the invaders which he did most
effectively by the indirect course of constantly threaten-
ing their flank as they marched down the west coast
route, while checking any attempt of theirs to cross



the Pennines and rally their friends in Yorkshire.

At last, on the fall of Pembroke (the llth of July
1648), Cromwell was able to move north. Instead of
advancing direct to meet the Scots, he marched in a
sweeping curve by Nottingham and Doncaster col-
lecting suppli|p on the way then north-westward to
join Lambert at Otley on the flank of the Scottish
army which was strung out between Wigan and Pres-
ton, with a corps of 3,500 under Langdale covering
the left flank. Cromwell had only 8,600 men, including
Lambert's horse and the Yorkshire militia, against
some 20,000 of the enemy. But his descent on the tail of
the Scottish column at Preston dislocated its balance,
and caused it to turn and meet him in successive frac-
tions. On Preston Moor, Langdale's corps was over-
thrown. Then, pressing the pursuit fiercely, Cromwell
rolled up the Scottish column, driving it through
Wigan to Uttoxeter and Ashbourne, where checked
in front by the midland militia and pressed in rear by
Cromwell's cavalry it surrendered on the 25th of
August. This victory was decisive; not only did it
crush the foes of the Parliament, but it enabled the
army to ' purge' the Parliament, and to bring the king
to trial and execution.

The subsequent invasion of Scotland is really a
separate war, waged by the newly established regime,
to forestall the plan of the king's son, the future
Charles II, to regain the lost throne by Scottish aid.
Thus it hardly comes in the category of campaigns
which have decisively affected the course of history.
At the same time it furnishes remarkable evidence of
how strongly Cromwell was imbued with the strategy
of indirect approach. When he found the Scottish
army, under Leslie, in position across his path to Edin-
burgh, a mere contact-making engagement satisfied
him of the strength of Leslie's situation. Although


within sight of his goal, and short of supplies, he had
such self-restraint as to abstain from a frontal assault
on disadvantageous ground. Despite his innate eager-
ness for battle he would not venture it unless he could
draw the enemy into the open and get a chance to
strike at an exposed flank. Hence he feUJ^ack on Mus-
selburgh, and then to Dunbar, to re-provision his
forces. Within a week he advanced afresh and at Mus-
selburgh issued three days' rations as a preliminary to
a wide manoeuvre through the hills of Edinburgh and
the enemy's rear. And when Leslie succeeded in mov-
ing across to bar his path directly at Corstorphine
Hill (the 21st of August 1650), Cromwell, though now
far from his base, sought yet another approach by a
manoeuvre to his left, only to be blocked afresh by
Leslie at Gogar. Most men would have gambled on a
direct battle. But not Cromwell. Cutting his loss in
sick, due to exposure and fatigue he fell back on
Musselburgh and thence to Dunbar, drawing Leslie
after him. He would not, however, embark his army,
as some of his officers urged, but waited at Dunbar in
the hope that the enemy would make a false move that
might become his opportunity.

Leslie, however, was a shrewd opponent, and his
next move deepened Cromwell's danger. Leaving the
main road, Leslie made a circuit round Dunbar dur-
ing the night of September the 1st, and occupied
Doon Hill, overlooking the road to Berwick. He also
sent a detachment to seize the pass at Cockbumspath
seven miles further south. Thus next morning Crom-
well found himself cut off from England,
was all the worse because his supplies we
short and his sick-list lengthening.

It had been Leslie's plan to wait on
anticipation that the English would try
way along the road to Berwick, and the



upon them. But the ministers of the kirk were eager
to see the jaws of 'the Lord's' trap close upon 'the
Moabites', and their clamour was reinforced by signs
that the invader might be contemplating escape by
sea. Moreover, the weather on the 2nd was so tem-
pestuous as almost to drive the Scottish troops off the
bare crest of Doon Hill. About 4 p.m. they were seen
to be descending the slopes and taking up a position
on the lower ground near the Berwick road, where
they had more shelter from the rain, while their front
was covered by the Brock burn which ran through a
ravine until it neared the sea.

Cromwell and Lambert were together watching the
movement, and into their minds, simultaneously, came
the thought that 'it did give us an opportunity and
advantage to attempt upon the Enemy'. For the Scots'
left wing was wedged between the hill and the steep-
sided burn, and would have difficulty in helping the
right wing if an attack was concentrated there. At a
council of war that evening Lambert put the case for
an immediate stroke against the Scots' right wing, to
roll up their line, while at the same time concentrating
the artillery against their cramped left wing. His argu-
ments carried the council, and in recognition of his
initiative Cromwell entrusted him with the conduct of
the opening moves. During the night, 'a drakie nicht
full of wind and weit', the troops were moved into
position along the north side of the burn. After mar-
shalling the guns opposite the Scots' left wing, Lam-
bert rode back to the other flank at daybreak to lead
the cavalry's attack near the sea. Helped by surprise,
both they and the infantry in the centre were able to
cross the burn without difficulty, and although their
further advance was temporarily checked, the inter-
vention of the English reserves turned the scales on
the seaward flank, and enabled Cromwell to roll up


the Scottish line from right to left into a corner,
between hill and burn, from which the Scottish troops
could only extricate themselves by breaking into flight.
Thus by a tactical indirect approach, following in-
stantly upon the over-confident opponent's slip, Crom-
well shattered a force twice his own strength sealing
with triumph a campaign in which he had refused all
temptation, even to the apparent hazard of his for-
tunes, to abandon his strategy of indirect approach.

The victory of Dunbar gave Cromwell the control
of southern Scotland. It practically wiped the army of
the Kirk, and the Covenanters as a political factor, off
the balance-sheet of the war. Only the pure Royalist
element of the Highlands was left to oppose him. The
process of settlement was delayed by Cromwell's grave
illness ; meantime Leslie had breathing space to or-
ganize and train the new Royalist army beyond the

When, late in June 1651, Cromwell was fit enough
to resume operations, he was faced with a difficult
problem. His solution, for subtlety and toasterly cal-
culation, compares favourably with any strategic com-
bination in the history of war. Although now, for the
first time, the superiority in numbers was on his side,
he was faced by a canny adversary established in a
region of marsh and moorland which afforded every
natural advantage to the weaker side in barring the
approach to Stirling. Unless Cromwell could over-
throw the resistance within a brief time he would be
doomed to spend another trying winter in Scotland,
with inevitable suffering to his troops and the likeli-
hood of increasing difficulties at home. And to dis-
lodge the enemy would not suffice, for a partial suc-
cess would only disperse the enemy into the High-
lands, where they would remain a thorn in his side.

Let us watch the unfolding of Cromwell's plan.



First he menaces Leslie in front, storming Callander
House, near Falkirk. Then he passes, in stages, his
whole army across the Firth of Forth and marches on
Perth, thereby not only turning Leslie's defensive bar-
rier across the direct approach to Stirling but gaining
possession of the key to Leslie's supply area. By this
manoeuvre he had, however, uncovered the route to
England. Here lies the supreme artistry of Cromwell's
plan. He was on the rear of an enemy now threatened
with hunger and desertion and he left a bolt-hole
open. As one of his opponents said, 'We must either
starve, disband, or go with a handful of men into Eng-
land. This last seems to be the least ill, yet it seems
very desperate.' They naturally chose it, and at the end
of July started on the march south into England.

Cromwell, foreseeing this, had prepared their recep-
tion with the aid of the authorities at Westminster.
The militia was called out promptly, all suspected
Royalists were kept under surveillance, hidden stores
of arms were seized. Once more the Scots moved down
the west coast route. Cromwell dispatched Lambert's
cavalry to follow them, while Harrison moved obli-
quely across from Newcastle to Warrington, and Fleet-
wood moved north with the midland militia. Lambert
slipped round the flank of the enemy, *and joined
Harrison on the 13th of August. The two then op-
posed an elastic delaying resistance to the oncoming
invader. Cromwell, meantime, was marching, twenty
miles a day in August heat, down the east coast route
and then south-westwards. Thus four forces were con-
verging on the trapped invader. Charles's turn away
from the route for London towards the Severn valley
only delayed for a few days, and failed to disturb, the
closing of the jaws. On the 3rd of September, the anni-
versary of Dunbar, the battlefield of Worcester pro-
vided Cromwell with his 4 crowning mercy '.


and the Lowlands


Land over 500
Main Roads

Stanford, London.


armies. He, too, was manoeuvred into a position where
Turenne had him at a disadvantage, on the Sasbach ;
but at the outset of the action Turenne was killed by a
cannon-shot and with his fall the balance of the war
changed again.

Why is the decisiveness of this winter campaign of
Turenne's in such startling contrast with the rest of the
campaigns of the seventeenth century in Europe? It
was an age when generals, however limited their hori-
zon, were at least supremely skilful in manoeuvre. But
in this art they were so well matched that even flank
moves which in other ages might have succeeded, were
adroitly parried. And a real dislocation of the op-
ponent's system was only this once achieved. Turenne
is famous as the one Great Captain who improved
continuously with age, and there is thus a special sig-
nificance in the way in which, after commanding in
more campaigns than any other general in all history,
he reached in his last campaign a solution of the prob-
lem of achieving a decision in seventeenth-century
warfare. For he did it without departing from the
golden rule of those times that highly-trained soldiers
were too costly to be squandered.

It would seem that his experience had taught him
that under such conditions a decisive result could only
be gained by a strategic plan in which the approach
was radically more indirect than any yet conceived.
Thus, at a time when all manoeuvres were based on
fortress pivots which formed the protected supply
depots for the maintenance of the field armies he cut
loose from such a base of operations, and sought in
the combination of surprise and mobility not only a
decision but his security. It was a just calculation, not
a gamble. For the dislocation mental, moral, and
logistical created among the enemy, afforded him
throughout an ample margin of security.


Chapter VII


The War of the Spanish Succession (1701-13) is re-
markable for its curiously dual nature. In policy it was
both an extreme case of war with a limited aim, and a
decisive struggle to enforce or break the predominant
power of France under Louis XIV. In strategy it main-
ly comprised a futile series of direct approaches or
scarcely more purposeful indirect moves, yet was
punctuated by a number of brilliant indirect ap-
proaches, mainly associated with the illustrious name
of Marlborough. The significant interest of these lies
in the way that they mark the several turning-points
of the war.

The coalition against France comprised Austria,
Great Britain, several of the German states, Holland,
Denmark, and Portugal. Louis XIV's main support
came from Spain, Bavaria, and at the outset, Savoy.

It was in Northern Italy that the war opened, while
the other armies were preparing. The Austrians, under
Eugene, assembled in Tyrol, and made ostentatious
preparations for a direct advance. Thereupon, the
opposing army, under Catinat, placed itself to block
their path at the Rivoli defile. But Eugfcne, having
secretly reconnoitred a difficult passage through the



mountains long unused by troops, came down to the
plains by a wide circuit to the east. Pressing his advan-
tage by subsequent manoeuvres which repeatedly de-
luded his opponents as to his intentions, he finally
drew them into a disastrous attack upon him at Chiari,
and established his position firmly in northern Italy.
The result of this indirect approach not only gave the
allies a valuable moral tonic at the outset of their
struggle with the reputedly invincible armies of the
Grand Monarque, but dealt a crippling blow to the
French and Spanish power in Italy. One important
sequel was that the Duke of Savoy, an instinctive ad-
herent of the stronger party, changed sides.

In 1702 the main struggle began. The largest French
army was assembled in Flanders, where the French
had fortified the sixty-mile long Lines of Brabant
from Antwerp to Huy, on the Meuse, to secure the
rear of their proposed advance. At the threat of in-
vasion, the instinct of the Dutch was to sit tight within
their fortresses. Marlborough had a different concep-
tion of war. But he did not exchange this passive de-
fensive for a direct offensive against the French army,
under Boufflers, then marching towards the Rhine.
Instead, uncovering the precious fortresses, he moved
swiftly towards the Lines of Brabant, and the French
line of retreat. Boufflers, at once feeling the pull of this
moral ' lassoo ', hurried back. Physically tired and mor-
ally dislocated, the French army might have been an
easy victim for Marlborough, who was waiting ready
to embrace it ; but the Dutch^deputies, content to see
the invasion called off, opposed die consummation by
battle. Twice more that year Boufflers was drawn into
a trap by Marlborough, and each time the hesitations
of the Dutch helped to extricate him.

The next year Marlborough planned a subtle man-
oeuvre to gain possession of Antwerp and thereby


penetrate the fortified breakwater. By a direct advance
westward from Maastricht he hoped to rivet the French
main army, under Villeroi, to the southern end of the
Lines. Next, a Dutch force under Cohorn was to
attack Ostend, assisted by the fleet, while another
Dutch force, under Spaar, moved on Antwerp from
the north-west these moves from the seaboard being
intended to make the French commander at Antwerp
look over his shoulder, and draw away part of the
forces holding the northern end of the Lines. Four
days later, a third Dutch force, under Opdam, would
strike at them from the north-east, while Marlborough
would give Villeroi the slip and race northward to join
in the converging stroke at Antwerp. The first phase
opened promisingly ; Marlborough's threat drew Vil-
leroi's army down towards the Meuse. Then, however,
Cohorn dropped the Ostend move in favour of a nar-
rower move near Antwerp in conjunction with Spaar
which did not have the same distracting effect. And
Opdam, to his danger, moved prematurely. Moreover,
when Marlborough started on his switch-march to the
north, he did not succeed in giving Villeroi the slip ; in
fact, Villeroi beat him in the race by sending Boufflers
ahead with 30 of his cavalry squadrons and 3,000
grenadiers holding on to their stirrup-leathers. This
mobile force covered nearly forty miles in twenty-four
hours, and on the 1st of July, together with the Ant-
werp garrison, fell upon Opdam, whose force was
badly mauled before it made good its escape. What
Marlborough had proudly christened 'the Great De-
sign' was completely wrecked.

Following this disappointment, Marlborough pro-
posed a direct assault upon the Lines just south of
Antwerp. The Dutch commanders rejected his pro-
posal, with good reason since it would have meant
a frontal attack upon a fortified position held by nearly
H 97


equal forces. Along with his brilliance in manoeuvre,
Marlborough showed at times, especially times of dis-
appointment, a touch of the reckless gambler. British
writers of history, dazzled by his exploits as well as his
personal charm, are apt to be unjust to the Dutch
who had more at stake than Marlborough. Danger
was too close to their country for them to regard war
as a fascinating game or a great adventure ; they were
acutely aware that, like Admiral Jellicoe, two cen-
turies later, they * could lose the war in an afternoon 5
if they courted a battle in circumstances that carried
a serious risk of decisive defeat.

In face of the unanimous judgement of the Dutch
generals, Marlborough gave up the idea of assaulting
the Antwerp sector, and turned back to the Meuse,
where he covered the siege of Huy. While there he
again urged, late in August, an attack on the Lines,
with somewhat better justification since the southern
sector was more favourable. But his arguments failed
to convince the Dutch.

Marlborough's intense disgust with the Dutch made
him the more susceptible to the arguments that Wratis-
law, the Imperial envoy, now skilfully urged in favour
of switching his forces to the Danube. The conjunc-
tion of these two influences produced in 1704, with the
aid of Marlborough's broad strategic outlook, one of
the most striking examples in history of the indirect
approach. Of the main hostile armies, one under Vil-
leroi was in Flanders ; one under Tallard lay on the
upper Rhine between Mannheim and Strasbourg, \vith
smaller linking forces; and a combined army of
Bavarians and French, under the Elector of Bavaria
and Marsin, was near Ulm and the Danube. This last
was pushing menacingly forward from Bavaria to-
wards Vienna. Marlborough planned to switch the
English part of his army from the Meuse to the Dan-


ube, and then to strike decisively at the Bavarians, the
junior partner of the enemy firm. This long-range
move to a point so far from his base, and from the
direct interests which he was shielding in the north,
was audacious by any standard, but much more so by
that of the cautious strategy of his time. Its security
lay in the dislocating effect of its surprise. This was
contained in the 'variable' direction of his march,
which at each stage threatened alternative objectives,
and left the enemy in doubt as to his actual aim.

When he moved south up the Rhine it first appeared
that he might be taking the Moselle route into France ;
then, when he pressed on beyond Coblenz, it looked as
if he might be aiming at the French forces in Alsace
and by making Visible preparations to bridge the Rhine
at Philipsburg, he reinforced this natural delusion.
But on reaching the neighbourhood of Mannheim,
whence his obvious direction was south-west, he
turned south-east instead, vanished into the wooded
hills bordering the valley of the Neckar, and thence
marched across the base of the Rhine-Danube tri-
angle towards Ulm. The mask of strategic ambiguity
which had covered his march helped to compensate its
rather slow pace averaging about ten miles a day
for some six weeks. After meeting Eugene and the
Margrave of Baden at Gross Heppach, Marlborough
moved on with the forces of the latter, while the former
went back to detain, or at least to delay, the French
armies on the Rhine whither Villeroi had belatedly
followed Marlborough from Flanders. 1

But although Marlborough had placed himself on
the rear of the Franco-Bavarian army in relation

1 Until Marlborough definitely quitted the Rhine valley he had
always the power of making a swift return down the river to Flan-
ders by embarking his troops in the boats that had been collected.
This was a further cause of distraction to the French commanders.



to France, he was still on their front in relation to
Bavaria. This geographical juxtaposition combined
with other conditions to hinder the exploitation of his
strategic advantage. Of these conditions, one was
general to the age ; the rigidity of the tactical organiza-
tion of armies, which made difficult the completion of
a strategic manoeuvre. A general could draw the ene-
my to ' water', but could not make him drink could
not make him accept battle against his inclination. A
more particular handicap was that Marlborough had
to share the command with the cautious Margrave of

The combined armies of the Elector of Bavaria and
Marshal Marsin occupied a fortified position on the
Danube at Dillingen, east of Ulm and midway between
there and Donauworth. As Marshal Tallard's army
might move eastward from the Rhine, Ulm was a pre-
carious place at which to seek an entry into Bavaria.
Marlborough decided that he must gain a crossing at
Donauworth, the natural terminus of his new line of
communications which had been changed, for greater
security, to the easterly route through Nuremberg.
With Donauworth in his possession, he would have a
safe passage into Bavaria and could manoeuvre secure-
ly on either bank of the Danube.

Unfortunately, the flank move across the face of the
enemy's position at Dillingen was rather too obvious in
purpose and slow in pace, so that the Elector was able
to dispatch a strong detachment to defend Donau-
worth. Although Marlborough made greater haste in
the last stage of the march, the enemy were able to
extend the entrenchments of the Schellenberg, the hill
covering Donauworth, by the time Marlborough ar-
rived on the 2nd of July. Rather than allow the enemy
time to complete the defences, he delivered his attack
the same evening. The first assault was bloodily re-



pulsed, with the loss of more than half the troops en-
gaged, and it was only when the bulk of the allied
armies arrived, giving them a superiority of more than
four to one, that weight of numbers began to turn the
scales. Even then, the issue was decided through a
flanking movement which found and penetrated a
weakly-held sector of the entrenchments. Marlborough
admitted, in a letter, that the capture of Donauworth
'a coute un peu cher\ Criticism of his tactics here
was all the more general since the decisive manoeuvre
had been conducted by the Margrave.

The enemy's main forces now withdrew to Augs-
burg. Thereupon Marlborough, pressing south into
Bavaria, devastated the countryside, burning hundreds
of villages and all the crops as a lever to force the
Elector of Bavaria to terms or to accept battle at a
disadvantage. The purpose of this brutal expedient, of
which he was privately ashamed, was nullified by an-
other condition of the time that, war being the affair
of rulers rather than of their peoples, the Elector was
slow to be affected by inconveniences at second hand.
Thus Tallard had time to come up from the Rhine,
and he arrived at Augsburg on the 5th of August.

Fortunately, his appearance on the scene was offset
by that of Eugene, who took the bold course of slip-
ping away from before Villeroi in order to join Marl-
borough. Just previously it had been arranged that,
under cover of the forces of Marlborough and Eugene,
the Margrave should move further down the Danube
to besiege the enemy-held fortress of Ingolstadt. Then,
on the 9th, news came that the combining enemy ar-
mies were moving north, towards the Danube. It
looked as if their aim was to strike at Marlborough's
communications. Nevertheless, Marlborough and
Eugdne allowed the Margrave to continue his diver-
gent march towards Ingolstadt thereby reducing



their combined forces to 56,000 men in face of the
enemy's total of some 60,000, which might be in-
creased. Their willingness to dispense with the Mar-
grave was understandable in view of their distaste for
his caution, but their readiness to release his forces
was remarkable because of their decision to seek battle
at the first opportunity. It showed great confidence in
their own qualitative superiority over the enemy
perhaps over-confidence in view of the closeness of the
battle which followed.

Fortunately for them, there was quite as much con-
fidence on the other side. The Elector of Bavaria was
eager to take the offensive, although most of his own
troops had not yet arrived. When Tallard argued that
it would be wiser to wait for them, and meantime
entrench, the Elector scoffed at such caution. Tallard
sarcastically retorted: 'If I were not so convinced of
your Highness's integrity, I should imagine that you
wished to gamble with the King of France's forces
without having any of your own, to see at no risk what
would happen. ' It was then agreed, as a compromise,
that the French forces should make a preliminary
bound to a position near Blenheim, behind the little
river Nebel, on the way to Donauworth.

Here the next morning, the 13th of August, they
were caught by the sudden advance of the Allies along
the north bank of the Danube. Marlborough struck
direct at the French right, near the Danube, while
Eug&ie swung inland against the French left the
narrow space between the river and the hills allowed
little room for manoeuvre. The Allies' only advantage,
apart from their spirit and training, lay in the unex-
pectedness of their action in seeking battle under such
circumstances. This partial measure of surprise hin-
dered the two French armies from making properly
co-ordinated dispositions, so that they fought in order



of encampment rather than in order of battle. This
resulted in a scarcity of infantry in the wide central
sector. But the disadvantage did not become apparent
until late in the day, and might never have become
important but for other slips. The first stage of the
battle went adversely for the allies. The attack of Marl-
borough's left wing on Blenheim failed with heavy
loss, and the attack of his right wing on Oberglau also
failed. Eugene's attack further to the right was twice
repulsed. And when Marlborough's troops in the
centre were in process of crossing the Nebel, their
head was smitten by a French cavalry charge that was
barely repelled. Owing to a misunderstanding that was
lucky for them, this counterstroke was carried out by
fewer squadrons -than Tallard intended. But it was
followed by another counterstroke, on their exposed
flank, from Marsin's cavalry which was interrupted
in the nick of time by a counter-counterstroke from
part of Eugene's cavalry, unhesitatingly released by
him in response to Marlborough's appeal.

If disaster had been averted, nothing more than a
precarious equilibrium had been achieved. And unless
Marlborough could push on he would be in a bad
hole with the marshy Nebel at his back. But Tallard
was now to pay dearly for his miscalculation in allow-
ing Marlborough to cross the river unopposed or
rather, for the ineffective execution of his design. For
once Tallard's cavalry counterstrokes had failed in
their purpose of overwhelming the van of Marl-,
borough's centre, the remainder of it was able to form
up across the river during the ensuing lull. And al-
though Tallard had 50 battalions of infantry alto-
gether to Marlborough's 48, he had only 9 in the cen-
tral sector to oppose 23 owing to the fault in the
initial dispositions, which he had not readjusted while
there was time. When these few squares of infantry



were eventually overwhelmed by weight of numbers
and close-quarter artillery fire, Marlborough was able
to push through an open gap, thereby cutting off the
congested mass of the French infantry near the Dan-
ube at Blenheim, and also laying bare Marsin's flank.
The latter was able to disengage himself from Eugene
and withdraw without being seriously pressed, but a
large part of Tallard's army was penned against the
Danube and forced to surrender.

It was a victory gained at heavy cost, and at still
heavier risk in dispassionate analysis it becomes
clear that the scales were turned more by the stoutness
of the rank and file, together with the miscalculations
of the French command, than by Marlborough's skill.
But the ultimate fact of victory sufficed to make the
world overlook what a gamble the battle had been.
And the shattered 'invincibility' of French arms
changed the whole outlook of Europe.

The allied armies, following up the French retreat,
advanced to the Rhine and crossed it at Philipsburg.
But the cost of victory at Blenheim now became
apparent in the general disinclination to further exer-
tions save on Marlborough's own part and the
campaign petered out.

For 1705 Marlborough devised a plan for the in-
vasion of France by which he would avoid the entang-
ling network of the Flanders fortresses. While Eugene
engaged the French forces in northern Italy, and the
Dutch stood on the defensive in Flanders, the main
allied army, under Marlborough, would advance up
the Moselle on Thionville, and the Margrave's army
would make a converging advance across the Saar.
But the design was marred by a series of hitches. Sup-
plies were not delivered as promised, transport was
lacking, allied reinforcements fell much below expec-
tation, and the Margrave showed a reluctance to co-



operate which might be traced to jealousy, but also
had a better justification in an inflamed wound from
which he subsequently died. Nevertheless, Marlbor-
ough persisted in his plan when every condition of
success had faded and it had become a direct ap-
proach in the narrowest sense. He pushed up the
Moselle, apparently in the hope that his very weak-
ness would tempt the French to battle. But Marshal
Villars preferred to see Marlborough become weaker
still through shortage of food. And Villeroi took the
offensive in Flanders with such effect as to make the
Dutch urgently call for aid. This dual pressure led
Marlborough to break off the venture though in the
bitterness of his disappointment he made the Mar-
grave his scapegoat. He even sent to Villars a letter of
apology, for his retreat, in which he placed the entire
responsibility on the Margrave's shoulders.

Marlborough's swift march back to Flanders
promptly relieved the situation there. On his approach
Villeroi gave up the siege of Liege and retired within
the Lines of Brabant. Marlborough then devoted his
mind to the elaboration of a scheme for piercing'this
barrier. By a feint at a weakly fortified sector near the
Meuse he drew the French southward, and then,
doubling back, broke through a strongly-fortified but
weakly-held sector near Tirlemont. He failed, how-
ever, to exploit the opportunity by a prompt advance
on Louvain and over the Dyle. That failure, it would
seem, was due partly to the fact that he had deceived
his allies even more thoroughly than the enemy, but
still more to a momentary exhaustion of his own
energy. None the less, the famous Lines were no
longer a barrier.

A few weeks later he formed a fresh design which
bore evidence of evolution in his generalship. If it was
crowned by no greater success, it revealed a greater



Marlborough. His previous manoeuvre in Flanders
had been based on pure deception, and for success
had required a speed of execution which was difficult
to attain with his Dutch clogs. This time he tried an
indirect approach by a route that offered alternative
objectives thus producing a wide distraction of the
opposing forces which diminished the need for superior
speed. Swinging south of Villeroi's position near Lou-
v^in, he advanced on a line which kept the enemy in
doubt as to his aim, since it threatened any of the
fortresses in that area Namur, Charleroi, Mons, and
Ath. Then, on reaching Genappe, he wheeled north up
the road through Waterloo towards Brussels. Villeroi
hurriedly decided to march back to the rescue of the
city. But just as the French were about to move,
Marlborough, who had made a fresh swerve back
eastwards during the night, appeared on the new front
they had taken up. Owing to his distracting move it
was an ill-knit front, if less vulnerable than their
marching flank would have been. He had arrived just
too soon for his own advantage, and the wary Dutch
generals thus found reason for resisting his desire to
deliver an immediate attack arguing that, whatever
the confusion on the other side, the enemy's actual
position behind the Ysche was stronger than at Blen-

In the next year's campaign Marlborough conceived
the idea of carrying out an indirect approach of far
wider scope by crossing the Alps to join Eugene. He
might thus drive the French out of Italy and gain a
back entrance to France, combining this land ap-
proach with amphibious operations against Toulon
and with Peterborough's operations in Spain. The
Dutch, modifying their usual caution, agreed to take
the risk of letting him go. The project was forestalled
by Villars's defeat of the Margrave of Baden and Vil-



leroi's advance in Flanders. This venturesome move
was due to Louis XIV's belief that to take the offen-
sive 'everythwere' would create such an impression of
strength as to give him the best chance of securing on
favourable terms the peace that he now needed and
desired. But to take the offensive in the theatre where
Marlborough lay was a short cut, not to peace, but
to a defeat that would spoil his aim. Marlborough
lost no time in seizing his opportunity it was, in his
judgement, the second time that the French had re-
deemed his prospects by their reluctance to stay quietly
within their lines when the game was in their hands.
He met them at Ramillies, where they had occupied
a concave position. He exploited his position on the
chord of the arc to execute a tactical form of indirect
approach. Following an attack on the French left,
which drew their reserves thither, he skilfully dis-
engaged his own troops on that wing, and switched
them across to press home the advantage gained on
his own left wing, where the Danish cavalry had pene-
trated a gap. This menace in rear coupled with the
pressure in front caused the collapse of the French.
And Marlborough exploited the victory by a pursuit
so effective that all Flanders and Brabant fell into his

That same year the war in Italy was virtually ended
by another example of the indirect approach. At the
outset Eugene had been forced back as far east as
Lake Garda and then into the mountains, while his
ally, the Duke of Savoy, was besieged in Turin. In-
stead of trying to fight his way forward, Eugene out-
manoeuvred and slipped his opponents, cut himself
adrift from his base, pressed on through Lombardy
into Piedmont and at Turin inflicted a decisive de-
feat on the numerically superior but mentally dislo-
cated enemy.



The tide of war had now ebbed to the frontiers of
France, both north and south. But in 1707 disunity of
purpose among the allies gave her time to rally, and
the next year she concentrated her main forces against
Marlborough. Tied by the leg to Flanders, and heavily
outnumbered, he turned the balance by a repetition of
the Danube move in reverse whereby Eugene brought
his army from the Rhine to join Marlborough. But
the French were now under the able Vendome, and
they advanced before Eugene could arrive. Having
induced Marlborough to fall back to Louvain by this
direct menace, Vendome scored the first trick by sud-
denly turning westwards thereby regaining Ghent,
Bruges, and practically all Flanders west of the Scheldt
without cost. But instead of marching to oppose him
directly, Marlborough hazardously thrust south-west-
wards, to interpose between him and the French fron-
tier. At Oudenarde, the initial advantage gained by a
strategic dislocation was pressed home by a tactical

If Marlborough could have carried out his own wish
for a prompt move on Paris it is possible that the war
might have been ended. Even as it was, Louis was
driven to seek peace that winter, offering terms that
amply met the allies' objects. But they rejected the sub-
stance for the shadow of his complete humiliation.
Marlborough himself was not blind to the value of the
offer, but he was better, and keener, at making war
than at making peace.

Thus the war had a fresh lease of life in 1709. Marl-
borough's project now was for an indirect military ap-
proach to a key political objective his idea being to
slip past the enemy's forces, mask their fortresses and
aim at Paris. But this was too bold even for Eugene's
stomach. Hence it was modified to a plan which
avoided a direct attack on the entrenched Lines cover-



ing the frontier between Douai and Bethune, but in-
stead was aimed to secure the flanking fortresses of
Tournai and Mons as a preliminary to an advance into
France down a route east of the fortified zone.

Once again Marlborough succeeded in deceiving his
opponents. His menace of a direct attack on the bar-
rier-line led them to draw off most of the garrison of
Tournai to reinforce it, whereupon Marlborough
doubled back and closed upon Tournai. But this place
resisted so stubbornly as to cost him two months'
delay. However, a fresh threat to the lines of La
Bassee enabled him to pounce upon Mons and invest
it unchecked. But the French moved across rapidly
enough to block his onward path and the further de-
velopment of his 'design. This frustration led him to
revert to a direct approach in which he showed too
little calculation of the consequences in relation to the
circumstances less wise than Cromwell before Dun-
bar. Although the assault on the well-entrenched and
prepared enemy holding the Malplaquet 'gateway'
ended in a victory, it was at such a disproportionate
cost that Villars, the defeated commander, was justi-
fied in writing to Louis, 'If God gives us another de-
feat like this, your Majesty's enemies will be des-
troyed.' His judgement was prophetic in so far as this
victory in battle proved to have cost the allies their
hopes of victory in the war.

In 1710 stalemate reigned, with Marlborough caged
behind the bars of the Ne Plus Ultra lines, which the
French had constructed from Valenciennes to the sea,
while his political opponents were given fresh leverage
to loosen his position at home. Fortune, too, turned
against those, who had forfeited her favours, for in
1711 Eugene's army was called away by the political
situation, and Marlborough was left to face a greatly
superior foe. Too weak to attempt or achieve any



decisive operation, he could at least assert his own
mastery by exploding the French boast in naming
their lines Ne Plus Ultra. This he did by the most un-
cannily indirect of all his approaches deceiving, dis-
tracting, doubling successively, until he was able to
slip through the lines without firing a shot. But two
months later he was recalled home to meet disgrace,
and in 1712 a war-weary England left her allies to fight

The Austrians and Dutch, now under Eugene, still
held their own for a time, and both sides were growing
equally exhausted. But in 1712 Villars produced a com-
pound manoeuvre that for deceptiveness, secrecy, and
rapidity was worthy of Marlborough, and in conse-
quence gained a cheap and decisive victory over the
allies at Denain. This completed the disintegration of
the coalition, and Louis was able to gain a peace very
different from what would have been his lot before
Malplaquet. One direct approach had, by its vain cost,
done much to undo the aggregate advantage which in-
direct approaches alone had built up. And it is not the
least significant feature that the issue was finally
settled, in the reverse way, by yet another example of
the indirect approach.

Although the allies had forfeited their primary ob-
ject of preventing Louis XIV's practical union of
France and Spain, England came out of the war with
a territorial profit. This owed much to the fact that
Marlborough's vision stretched beyond the limits of
his own theatre of war. As a military distraction and a
political asset, he had combined long-range operations
in the Mediterranean with his own in Flanders. The
expeditions of 1702 and 1703 helped to subtract Portu-
'gaLand Savoy from the enemy's balance and paved
the way For a move against their greater asset, Spain.
The next move, in 1704, gained Gibraltar. Then



Peterborough in Spain ably fulfilled a distracting
role, and in 1708 another expedition took Minorca.
If later operations in Spain were mishandled, and
less fortunate in result, England came out of the
war in possession of Gibraltar and Minorca, two
keys to the command of the Mediterranean, as well
as of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland in the North

Frederick's Wars

The indecisive results of the war of the Austrian
Succession, 1740-48, cannot be better illustrated than
in the fact that the most militarily successful nation
the French merely gleaned from it the phrase 'you
are as stupid as the Peace' to hurl at fellow-citizens
who were objects of dislike. Frederick the Great was
the one ruler to profit, or profiteer. He gained Silesia
early and then retired from the competition. Although
he came in again later, he risked much without gaining
more, except the right to embroider some illustrious
victories on his colours. The war, however, established
the prestige of Prussia as a great power.

The events which decided the cession of Silesia to
Prussia, by the early peace of Breslau in 1742, deserve
notice. At the opening of that year, the prospect
seemed to be fading. A combined advance by the
French and Prussians upon the Austrian main army
had been arranged. But the French were soon brought
to a standstill. Then Frederick, instead of continuing
westwards to unite with his ally, suddenly
southwards towards Vienna. Although
troops appeared before the enemy capit
fell back for the enemy army was
him off from his base. This advance of
usually been denounced as a mere an
tration ; yet in view of its sequel the


haps be harsh. For his rapid retreat, an apparent
sauve quipeut, drew the Austrians in pursuit of him
far into Silesia where, turning at bay, he inflicted a
sharp reverse, exploiting it by a vigorous pursuit. Only
three weeks later, Austria made a separate peace with
Frederick, by which Silesia was ceded. It may be un-
wise to draw strong deductions from this event, yet it
is at least significant that this sudden disposition to a
peace of sacrifice should have followed the one in-
direct approach of the war in this theatre even
though it comprised but a mere appearance before
Vienna and a small tactical victory, wrested appar-
ently from the jaws of defeat and far less spectacular
than many of Frederick's other victories.

If the war of the Austrian Succession was indecisive
in its general results, the other and succeeding major
war of the mid-eighteenth was no better from the
standpoint of European policy. The one country that
achieved results which decisively affected the course
of European history was England. And England was
not only an indirect participant in the Seven Years*
War (1756-63), but made her contribution and took
her profits indirectly. While the armies of Europe
were exhausting themselves and their states in direct
action, small detachments from England were turning
this weakness to advantage by acquiring the British
Empire. Moreover, the fact that Prussia, when on the
verge of exhaustion, obtained a peace of indecision
instead of humiliation, was as much due to the indirect
dislocation of the offensive power of France through
her colonial disasters, as it was to the abandonment of
Russia's intended coup de grdce to Prussia through the
death of the Tsaritsa. Fate was merciful to Frederick
the Great : by 1762 his long string of brilliant victories
in battle had left him almost stripped of resources and
incapable of further resistance.



Only one campaign between European forces in
this long series can truly be termed decisive either in
its military or political results the campaign which
ended in the English capture of Quebec. And that was
not only the briefest, but waged in a secondary theatre.
As the capture of Quebec and the overthrow of the
French dominion in Canada was made possible by the
capacity for grand-strategic indirect approach con-
tained in sea-power, so the actual military course of
the campaign was decided by a strategic indirect ap-
proach. The result is the more suggestive because this
apparently hazardous indirect approach was only un-
dertaken after the direct approach on the line of the
Montmorency had failed with serious loss of lives and,
still more, of morale. In justice to Wolfe, it must be
pointed out that he only resigned himself to this direct
approach after various baits the bombardment of
Quebec, as well as the exposure of isolated detach-
ments at Point Levis and near the Montmorency Falls
had failed to lure the French from their strong posi-
tion. But in the failure of these, compared with the
success of his final hazardous landing on the French
rear above Quebec, there is a lesson. To entice the
enemy out was not enough ; it was necessary to draw
him out. So also there is a lesson in the failure of the
feints by which Wolfe tried to prepare his direct ap-
proach. To mystify the enemy was not enough; he
must be distracted a term which implies combining
deception of the enemy's mind with deprivation of his
freedom to move for counter-action, and the disten-
sion of his forces.

Gambler's last throw as Wolfe's ultimate move
seemed on the surface, all these conditions were ful-
filled and the result was victory. Even so, to those
who habitually study military history in terms of
armed force, the degree of'dislocation caused in the
i 113


French forces would not seem to warrant the measure
of their collapse. Numerous theses have been written
to show what the French might have done, and how
they might well have repaired their situation. But
Quebec is an illuminating example of the truth that a
decision is produced even more by the mental and
moral dislocation of the command than by the physi-
cal dislocation of its forces. And these effects trans-
cend the geographical and statistical calculations
which fill nine-tenths of the normal book on military

If, as history shows, the main European channel of
the Seven Years' War was so indeterminate in its
course, despite so many tactical victories, it is worth
while to inquire into the cause. While the number of
Frederick's foes is the usual explanation, the sum of
his advantages is a counterbalance so strong as to
make the explanation not altogether adequate. We
need to probe deeper.

Like Alexander and Napoleon, and unlike Marl-
borough, he was free from the responsibility and limi-
tations which are imposed on a strategist in the strict
sense of the word. He combined in his person the
functions of strategy and grand strategy. Moreover, the
permanent association between him, as king, and his
army enabled him to prepare and develop his means
for the end which he chose. The comparative scarcity
of fortresses in his theatres of war was another advan-

Although faced by the coalition of Austria, France,
Russia, Sweden, and Saxony, with England as his
only ally, Frederick had at the outset, and until mid-
way through the second campaign, a superiority in
the actual forces available. In addition, he had the
two great assets of a tactical instrument superior to
any of his enemies, and of a central position.



This enabled him to practise what is commonly
called the strategy of * interior lines', striking out-
wards from his central pivot against one of the forces
on the circumference, and utilizing the shorter dis-
tance he had thus to travel to concentrate against one
of the enemy forces before it could be supported by
the others. Ostensibly, it would seem that the further
apart these enemy forces, the easier it must be to
achieve a decisive success. In terms of time, space, and
number, this is undoubtedly true. But once more the
moral element intrudes. When the enemy forces are
widely separated each is self-contained and tends to
be consolidated by pressure. When they are close to-
gether they tend to coalesce and 'become members
one of another ', mutually dependent in mind, morale,
and matter. The minds of the commanders affect each
other, moral impressions are quickly transfused, and
even the movements of each force easily hinder or dis-
organize thqge of the others. Thus while the antagonist
has less time and space for his action, the dislocating
results of it take effect more quickly* and easily.
Further, when forces are close together the enemy's
mere divergence from his approach to one of them
may become an unexpected, and therefore truly in-
direct approach to another. In contrast, when forces
are widely separated there is more time to prepare to
meet, or avoid, the second blow of the army which is
exploiting its central position.

The use of 'interior lines' as Marlborough used
them in his march to the Danube is a form of the in-
direct approach. But although it is an indirect ap-
proach in relation to the enemy forces as a whole, it is
not so in relation to the force that is the actual target,
unless this is taken unaware. Otherwise the move
needs to be completed by a further indirect approach
to the objective itself.



Frederick consistently used his central position to
concentrate against one fraction of the enemy, and he
always employed tactics of indirect approach. Thereby
he gained many victories. But his tactical indirect ap-
proach was geometrical rather than psychological
unprepared by the subtler forms of surprise favoured
by Scipio and for all their executive skill, these
manoeuvres were narrow. The opponent might be un-
able to meet the following blow, owing to the rigidity
of his mind or his formations, but the blow itself did
not fall unexpectedly.

The war opened at the end of August 1756 with
Frederick's invasion of Saxony to forestall the plans
of the Coalition. Profiting by initial surprise, Frederick
entered Dresden almost unopposed. When an Austrian
army came belatedly to the rescue, he advanced up the
Elbe to meet it and, repulsing it in a battle near Leit-
meritz, assured his occupation of Saxony. In April
1757, he crossed the mountains into Bohemia and
marched on Prague. On arrival, he found the Austrian
army posted in a strong position on the heights behind
the river. Thereupon, leaving a detachment to mask
his movement and watch the fords, he marched up-
stream during the night, crossed the river, and ad-
vanced against the enemy's right. Although his ap-
proach began in an indirect way, it became direct
before the manoeuvre was complete for the Austrian
army had time to change front, so that the Prussian
infantry found themselves attempting a frontal assault
across a fire-swept glacis. They fell in thousands. Only
the unexpected arrival of Zeiten's cavalry, which had
been sent on a wide detour, turned the scales of battle
and produced the retreat of the Austrians.

The subsequent siege of Prague was interrupted by
the advance, to the city's relief, of a fresh Austrian
army under Daun. When word came of its approach,



Frederick took as much of his force as he could spare
from the siege and moved to meet Daun. When he
encountered the Austrian army at Kolin on the 18th of
June, he found it strongly entrenched, and also nearly
twice as strong as his own. Once more, he attempted
a move past its right flank, but the manoeuvre was
so narrow that his columns, galled by the fire of the
enemy's light troops, were drawn off their course into
a direct and disjointed attack which ended in disas-
trous defeat. Frederick was forced to give up the siege
of Prague, and then to evacuate Bohemia.

Meantime the Russians had invaded East Prussia,
and a French army had overrun Hanover, while a
mixed army of the allies, under Hildburghausen, was
threatening to march on Berlin from the west. To pre-
vent the junction of the last two armies, Frederick
made a hurried march back through Leipzig, and suc-
ceeded in checking the menace. But he was then called
away by fresh danger in Silesia, and while he was on
his way thither an Austrian raiding force entered and
sacked Berlin. This force had hardly been chased
away before Hildburghausen again began to advance,
and Frederick raced to meet him. In the battle of
Rossbach that followed, the Allied army, twice
Frederick's strength, tried to copy Frederick's charac-
teristic manoeuvre and turn it against him. Not only
did the narrowness of the manoeuvre give him ample
warning, but the allies' hasty assumption that he was
retreating led them to 'distract' their own forces in
order to catch him up so that when he counter-
manoeuvred, not to face them, but to fall on their far
flank, they were almost instantaneously dislocated.
Thus here, through his opponents' bungling, Frederick
achieved a real indirect approach of surprise, not
merely of mobility. And this was by far the most
economical of all his victories, for at the price of only



500 casualties he inflicted 7,700 and dispersed an army
of 64,000.

Unhappily for him, he had drained his strength too
low in the previous battles to reap the full benefit.
He had still to deal with the Austrian army that he
had failed to break up at Prague and Kolin, and al-
though he succeeded at Leuthen, the victory there
won by his famous oblique advance a brilliantly
executed if rather obvious indirect approach cost him
more than he could afford.

Tttus the war continued, with the prospect dimmer,
in 1758. Frederick began by a real indirect approach
against the Austrians, marching right across their
front and past their flank to Olmtitz, twenty miles into
enemy territory. Even when he lost an important con-
voy of supplies, he did not fall back, but instead con-
tinued his march through Bohemia right round the
Austrian rear and into their entrenched base at Konig-
gratz. But he had now once more to pay forfeit for
the opportunities lost at Prague and Kolin, for the
Russian 'steam-roller' had at last got up steam and
had rolled forward to Posen, on the road to Berlin.
Frederick decided that he must forgo the completion
of his Bohemian campaign and march north to stop
the Russians. He succeeded, but the battle of Zorn-
dorf was another Prague. Once again Frederick cir-
cumvented the obstacle offered by the Russians' strong
position, marching right round their eastern flank in
order to strike them from the rear. But once again the
defender was able to achieve a change of front, and
convert Frederick's indirect approach into a frontal
attack. This had brought him into grave difficulties
before his cavalry commander, Seydlitz, intervened
by a circling stroke against the enemy's new flank
across ground that had been deemed impassable thus
giving his manoeuvre an unexpectedness which made



it, in effect, a truly indirect approach. But Frederick's
losses, if somewhat lighter than the Russians', were
the heavier in comparison with his resources.

With his human capital still more reduced he had to
leave the Russians to recuperate and move back
against the Austrians to suffer at Hochkirch, not
only a further reduction but a defeat, through undue
confidence that his old Austrian opponent, Daun,
would never take the initiative. Thus Frederick was
surprised in a double sense ; surrounded by night, he
was only saved from destruction through Zeiten's
cavalry keeping a passage open for his retreat. So, on
the war went in 1759, with Frederick's strength declin-
ing. At Kunersdorf he suffered the worst defeat of his
career, from the Russians, and at Maxen another from
Daun again due to misplaced confidence. Hence-
forth he could do no more than passively block the

But while the fortunes of Prussia were sinking into
twilight the sun was shining in Canada. Wolfe's pro-
gress there encouraged England to send troops direct-
ly to Germany, and by a victory over the French at
Minden, these offset Frederick's own disasters.

Nevertheless, his weakness was more marked than
ever in 1760. He gained a respite from the pressure in
the east by the ruse of letting the Russians capture a
dispatch worded * Austrians totally defeated to-day,
now for the Russians. Do what we agreed upon.' But
although the Russians promptly acted upon this gentle
hint, and retired, the * posthumous' defeat of the
Austrians at Torgau subsequently was another Pyrrhic
victory for Frederick. Paralysed by his own losses,
with only 60,000 men left in all, he could not venture
another battle and was even shut up in Silesia, cut off
from Prussia. Fortunately, the Austrian army's stra-
tegy was as nerveless as ever, while the Russian army's



rear services broke down with the consistency that
always marked them. And at this lingering crisis the
Tsaritsa died. Her successor not only made peace, but
began to contemplate aiding Frederick. For a few
months, France and Austria continued a desultory
war, but the former's strength was undermined by her
colonial disasters, and, with Austria now not only
inert but weary, peace was soon arranged leaving aU
the warring countries exhausted, and none, except
England, better off for the seven years' exuberant

If many lessons are to be culled from Frederick's
campaigns, the main one would appear to be, in brief,
that his indirectness was too direct. Or, to express it
in another way, that he regarded the indirect approach
as a matter of pure mobility, instead of a combina-
tion of mobility and surprise. Thus, despite all his
brilliance, his economy of force broke down.


Chapter VIII


Thirty years pass and the curtain rises on 'The Great
War' that was illumined by the genius of Napoleon
Bonaparte. As had been the case a century before,
France was the menace against which the powers of
Europe banded themselves. But this time the course
of the struggle was different. Revolutionary France
had many sympathizers, but they did not form the
governments of the nations, nor did they control the
armed forces of their states. Yet, beginning the war
alone, forcibly isolated as if infected by the plague,
she not only repulsed the combined effort to smother
her, but, changing in nature, became an expanding
military menace to the rest of Europe, and ultimately,
the military master of most of it. The clue to her
achievement of such power lies partly in natural,
partly in personal, conditions. The former sprang
from the national and revolutionary spirit which in-
spired the citizen armies of France, and in compensa-
tion for the precise drill which it made impossible,
gave rein instead to the tactical sense and initiative of
the individual. These new tactics of fluidity had for
their simple, yet vital pivot, the fact that the French
now marched and fought at a quick step of 120 paces



to the minute, while their opponents adhered to the
orthodox 70 paces. This elementary difference, in days
before mechanical science endowed armies with means
of movement swifter than the human leg, was one
factor in making possible the rapid transference and
reshuffled concentrations of striking power whereby
the French could in Napoleon's phrase, multiply
'mass by velocity' both strategically and tactically.

A second natural condition was the organization of
the army into permanent divisions the fractioning of
the army into self-contained and separately acting
parts. Initiated by de Broglie, the reform had taken
effect even before the Revolution. But then Carnot
initiated and Bonaparte developed the idea that these
divisions while operating separately should co-operate
to a common goal.

A third condition, linked with this, was that the
chaotic supply system and the undisciplined nature of
the Revolutionary armies compelled a reversion to the
old practice of 'living on the country'. And the dis-
tribution of the army in divisions meant that this prac-
tice detracted less from the army's effectiveness than
in old days. Where, formerly, the fractions had to be
collected before they could carry out an operation, now
they could be serving a military purpose while feeding

Moreover, the effect of 4 moving light' was to ac-
celerate their mobility, and enable them to move freely
in mountainous or forest country. Similarly, the very
fact that they were unable to depend on magazines
and supply-trains for food and equipment lent im-
petus to hungry and ill-clad troops in descending upon
the rear of an enemy who had, and depended on, such
direct forms of supply.

The personal conditions centred round the genius of
a leader Napoleon Bonaparte whose military abil-



ity was stimulated by study of military history and,
even more, by the food for thought provided in the
theories of the two most outstanding and original
military writers of the eighteenth century Bourcet
and Guibert. From Bourcet he learnt the principle of
calculated dispersion to induce the enemy to disperse
their own concentration preparatory to the swift re-
uniting of his own forces. Also, the value of a 'plan
with several branches', and of operating on a line
which threatened alternative objectives. Moreover,
the very plan which Napoleon executed in his first
campaign was based on one that Bourcet had designed
half a century earlier. From Guibert he acquired an
idea of the supreme value of mobility and fluidity of
force, and of the potentialities inherent in the new
distribution of an army in self-contained divisions.
Guibert had defined the Napoleonic method when he
wrote, a generation earlier : ' The art is to extend forces
without exposing them, to embrace the enemy without
being disunited, to link up the moves or the attacks
to take the enemy in flank without exposing one's own
flank. 9 And Guibert's prescription for the rear attack,
as the means of upsetting the enemy's balance, be-
came Napoleon's practice. To the same source can be
traced Napoleon's method of concentrating his mobile
artillery to shatter, and make a breach at, a key point
in the enemy's front. Moreover, it was the practical
reforms achieved by Guibert in the French army
shortly before the Revolution which fashioned the
instrument that Napoleon applied. Above all, it was
Guibert's vision of a coming revolution in warfare,
carried out by a man who would arise from a revolu-
tionary state, that kindled the youthful Napoleon's
imagination and ambition.

While he added littlp to the ideas he had imbibed,
he gave them fulfilment. Without his dynamic applica-



tion, the new mobility might have remained merely a
theory. Because his education coincided with his in-
stincts, and because these in turn were given scope by
his circumstances, he was able to exploit the full
possibilities of the new 'divisional' system. In develo-
ping the wider range of strategic combinations thus
possible, lay Napoleon's chief contribution to stra-

The amazement caused by the discomfiture, at Val-
my and Jemappes, of the first partial invasion of 1792
has tended to obscure the fact that France and the
Revolution were in far greater danger subsequently.
For it was only after the execution of Louis XVI that
the First Coalition was formed by England, Hol-
land, Austria, Prussia, Spain, and Sardinia and only
then that determination of spirit and resources of men
and material were thrown into the scales. If the con-
duct of the war by the invaders lacked purposeful and
skilful direction, the situation of the French grew
more and more precarious until fortune changed
dramatically in 1794 and the tide of invasion flowed
back. Henceforth, from being the resisting party,
France became the aggressor. What caused this ebb?
Certainly no strategic master-stroke ; but though the
aim was vague and limited, the significance of the
event is that the decision sprang from a strategic ap-
proach that was definitely indirect.

While the main armies were pitting themselves
against each other near Lille, with much bloodshed
but no finality, Jourdan's far-distant army of the
Moselle was ordered to assemble a striking force on
its left for an advance westwards through the Ar-
dennes, to operate towards Li6ge and Namur. Reach-
ing Namur after a hungry march, during which his
troops had lived on such supplies as they could pick
up from the countryside, Jourdan heard by message



and the distant sound of gun-fire that the right wing
of the main army was engaged unsuccessfully in front
of Charleroi. So, instead of laying formal siege to
Namur, he moved south-westwards towards Char-
leroi and the rear flank of the enemy. His arrival in-
timidated the fortress into surrender.

Jourdan seems to have had no wider object in view,
but the innate psychological 'pull' of such a move on
to the enemy's rear gave him what Napoleon and
other great captains sought as a calculated result.
Coburg, the enemy commander-in-chief, hurried back
eastwards, collecting such troops as he could on his
way. He threw them into an attack upon Jourdan,
who was entrenched to cover Charleroi. Although the
struggle, famous as the battle of Fleurus, was severe,
the French had the inestimable advantage of having
strategically dislocated the enemy and having drawn
him to attack with a fraction of his strength. The
defeat of this fraction was followed by the general
retreat of the allies.

When the French, in turn, assumed the role of in-
vaders, they failed, despite their superior numbers, to
achieve any decisive results in the main campaign
across the Rhine. Indeed the campaign was, in the end,
not merely blank, but blasted and by an indirect ap-
proach. In July 1796, the Archduke Charles, faced by
the renewed advance of the two superior armies of
Jourdan and Moreau, decided, in his own words, 'to
retire both armies (his own and Wartensleben's) step
by step without committing himself to a battle, and to
seize the first opportunity to unite them, so as to throw
himself with superior, or at least equal, strength on
one of the two hostile armies'. But the enemy's pres-
sure gave him no chance to practise this 'interior
lines' strategy direct in aim, .save for the idea of
yielding ground to gain an opportunity until a



French change of direction suggested a more auda-
cious stroke. It was due to the initiative of a cavalry
brigadier, Nauendorff, whose wide reconnaissance
showed him that the French were diverging from the
Archduke's front to converge on and destroy Wartens-
leben. He sent the inspired message: * If your Royal
Highness will or can advance 12,000 men against
Jourdan's rear, he is lost.' If the Archduke's execution
was not as bold as his subordinate's conception, it
was sufficient to bring about the collapse of the
French offensive. The disorderly retreat of Jourdan's
shattered army back to and over the Rhine, compelled
Moreau to relinquish his successful progress in
Bavaria and fall back similarly.

But while the main French effort on the Rhine
failed, and failed afresh later, the decision came from
a secondary theatre, Italy where Bonaparte suc-
ceeded in converting a precarious defensive into a
decisive indirect approach to a victorious issue. The
plan was already in his mind two years before, when
he had been a staff-officer in this zone, and subse-
quently in Paris it had taken definite form. Just as the
plan itself was a reproduction of the 1745 plan, im-
proved by application of the lessons of that campaign,
so Bonaparte's key ideas had been moulded by the
masters who had guided his military studies during
his most impressionable years. That period of study
was brief he was only twenty-four when, as Captain
Bonaparte, he was given command of the artillery at
the siege of Toulon, and only twenty-six when he was
made commander-in-chief of the * Army of Italy'. If
he had packed much reading and thinking into a few
years, he had little leisure for reflection thereafter.
Dynamic rather than deep-thinking, he did not evolve
any clear philosophy of war. And his working theory,
so far as it found expression in his writings, was rather



a patchwork quilt lending itself to misinterpretation
by subsequent generations of soldiers who have hung
upon his words.

This tendency, as well as the natural effect of his
early experience, is illustrated in one of the most
significant and oft-quoted of his sayings 'The prin-
ciples of war are the same as those of a siege. Fire
must be concentrated on one point, and as soon as the
breach is made, the equilibrium is broken and the rest
is nothing.' Subsequent military theory has put the
accent on the first clause instead of on the last ; in par-
ticular, on the words 'one point' instead of on the
word 'equilibrium'. The former is but a physical meta-
phor, whereas the latter expresses the actual psycho-
logical result which ensures 'that the rest is nothing'.
His own emphasis can be traced in the strategic course
of his campaigns.

The word ' point ' even, has been the source of much
confusion, and more controversy. One school argues
that Napoleon meant that the concentrated blow
must be aimed at the enemy's strongest point, on the
ground that this, and this only, ensures decisive results.
For if the enemy's main resistance be broken, its rup-
ture will involve that of any lesser opposition. This
argument ignores the factor of cost, and the fact that
the victor may be too exhausted to exploit hi& success
so that even a weaker opponent may acquire a rela-
tively higher resisting power than the original. The
other school, better imbued with the idea of economy
of force, but only in the limited sense of first costs,
contends that the offensive should be aimed at the
enemy's weakest point. But where a point is obviously
weak this is usually because it is remote from any
vital artery or nerve centre, or because it is deliberately
left weak to draw the assailant into a trap.

Here, again, illumination comes from the actual



campaign in which Bonaparte put this maxim into
execution. It clearly suggests that what he really meant
was not 'point', but 'joint' and that at this stage of
his career he was too firmly imbued with the idea of
economy of force to waste his limited strength in
battering at the enemy's strong point. A joint, how-
ever, is both vital and vulnerable.

It was at this time, too, that Bonaparte used another
phrase that has subsequently been quoted to justify
the most foolhardy concentrations of effort ^against
the main armed forces of the enemy. 'Austria is our
most determined enemy. . . . Austria overthrown,
Spain and Italy fall of themselves. We must not dis-
perse our attacks but concentrate them.' But the full
text of the memorandum containing this phrase shows
that he was arguing, not in support of the direct attack
upon Austria, but for using the army on the frontier
of Piedmont for an indirect approach to Austria. In
his conception, northern Italy was to be the corridor
to Austria. And in this secondary theatre, his aim
following Bourcet's guidance was to knock out
the junior partner, Piedmont, before dealing with the
Senior partner. In execution, his approach became still
more indirect, and acquired a subtler form. For con-
tact with reality shattered the dream which, afjer his
initial success, he communicated to his government
4 In less than a month I hope to be on the mountains
of Tirol, there to meet the army of the Rhine, and
with it to carry the war into Bavaria.' It was through
the frustration of this project that his real opportunity
developed. By drawing Austria's forces into offen-
sives against him in Italy, and defeating them there,
he gained, twelve months later, an open road into
Austria. ^ f

When Bonaparte assumed command of the 'Army
of Italy', in March 1796, its troops were spread out


along the Genoese Riviera, while the allied Austrian
and Piedmont forces held the mountain passes into
the plains beyond. Bonaparte's plan was to make two
converging thrusts across the mountains at the fortress
of Ceva, and having gained this gateway into Pied-
mont, to frighten her government into a separate
peace by the threat of his advance on Turin. He hoped
that the Austrian forces would be still in their winter
quarters although if they should move to join their
allies nb had in liiind a feint towards Acqui to make
them withdraw in a divergent, north-easterly direction.
But in the event it was by fortune rather than design
that Bonaparte gained the initial advantage of separat-
ing the two armies. The opportunity was created by
an offensive move on the part of the Austrians who
made a bound forward to threaten Bonaparte's right
flank and forestall any French advance on Genoa.
Bonaparte countered this threat by a short-arm jab
towards the joint of the Austrian advance though
two more jabs at a neighbouring point were needed
before the Austrians accepted the repulse and fell back
on Acqui. Meantime, the bulk of the French army
was advancing on Ceva. Bonaparte's rash attempt, on
the 16th of April, to take the position by direct assault
was a failure. He then planned an encircling manoeuvre
for the 18th, and also changed his line of communica-
tions to a route further removed from possible Aus-
trian interference. The Piedmontese, however, with-
drew from the fortress before the new attack deve-
loped. In following them up, Bonaparte suffered an-
other expensive repulse when he tried another direct
assault, on a position where the Piedmontese had
chosen to make a stand. But at the next tim of asking
both their flanks were turned, a^(4 they were hustled
back into the plains. In the eyes of the Piedmontese
government, the threat to Turin from the oncoming
K 129


French now loomed much larger than the Austrians'
belated promise to march to their aid, by a necessarily
roundabout route. The 'equilibrium was broken', and
its psychological effect dispensed with any need for
physical defeat to make the Piedmontese appeal for
an armistice which removed them from the scales of
the war.

No commander's first campaign could have been
better suited to impress him with the vital importance
of the time factor all the more because it would seem
that if the Piedmontese had held out even a few days
longer Bonaparte might, for want of supplies, have
been obliged to retreat back to the Riviera. Whether
this reported admission of his be true or not, the im-
pression made on him is shown in his remark at the
time 'It may be that in future I may lose a battle,
but I shall never lose a minute. '

He was now superior to the Austrians alone (35,000
to 25,000). Did he advance directly upon them? No.
The day after the armistice with Piedmont had been
settled, he took Milan as his objective ; but Tortona
to Piacenza was his indirect way thither or, rather,
on to its rear. After deceiving the Austrians into a
concentration at Valenza to oppose his expected north-
eastward advance, he marched east instead, along the
south bank of the Po, and so, on reaching Piacenza,
he had turned all the Austrians' possible lines of re-

To gain this advantage he had not scrupled to vio-
late the neutrality of the Duchy of Parma, in whose
territory Piacenza lay, calculating that he might there
find boats and a ferry to compensate his lack of a
proper bridging train. But this disregard for neutral
rights had an ironically retributive effect. For when
Bonaparte swung north against the Austrians' rear
flank the latter decided to retire without loss of time


through an intervening strip of Venetian territory
thus saving themselves by following his example of
disrespect for the rules of war. Before he could use the
Adda as a river-barrier across their line of retreat, the
Austrians had slipped out of his reach, to gain the
shelter of Mantua and the famous Quadrilateral of
fortresses. In face of these stubborn realities, Bona-
parte's vision of invading Austria within a month
became a distant vista. And increasingly distant, be-
cause the Directory, growing anxious over the risks
of the move and its own straitened resources, ordered
him to march down to Leghorn, and 'evacuate* the
four neutral states on the way which meant, in the
language of the time, to plunder their resources. In
that process Italy was despoiled to such an extent that
it never recovered its former state of prosperity.

From a military point of view, however, this restric-
tion of Bonaparte's freedom of action proved the
proverbial 'blessing in disguise'. For by compelling
him to delay the pursuit of his dreams, it enabled him,
with the enemy's assistance, to adjust hife end to his
means until the balance of forces had turned far
enough to bring his original end within practicable
reach. To quote the judgement of Ferrero, the great
Italian historian :

'For a century the first campaign in Italy has been
described I am almost tempted to say, sung as a
triumphant epic of offensive movements, according
to which Bonaparte conquered Italy so easily because
he followed up attack with attack, with a boldness that
was equal to his good luck. But when the history of
the campaign is studied impartially, it is clear that the
two enemies attacked, or were attacked alternately,
and that in the majority of cases the attacker failed.'

More by force of circumstances than by Bonaparte's
design, Mantua became a bait to draw successive Aus-



triari relieving forces far from their bases, and into
his jaws. It is significant, however, that he did not
entrench himself in a covering position after the cus-
tom of the traditional general, but kept his forces
mobile, disposed in a loose and wide-flung grouping
which could be concentrated in any direction.

In face of the first Austrian attempt at relief, Bona-
parte's method was imperilled by his own reluctance
to give up the investment of Mantua, and only when
he cut loose this anchor was he able to use his mobility
to overthrow the Austrians, at Castiglione. He was
now ordered by the Directory to advance through the
Tyrol and co-operate with the main Rhine army. The
Austrians profited by this direct advance on his part
to slip away eastwards with the bulk of their force,
through the Val Sugana, down into the Venetian
plain, and then westwards to relieve Mantua. But
Bonaparte, instead of pursuing his advance north, or
falling back to guard Mantua, turned in hot chase of
their tail through the mountains, thereby retorting to
the enemy's indirect approach with one of his own
but with a more decisive aim than theirs. At Bassano,
he caught and crushed the rear half of their army. And
when he emerged into the Venetian plain in pursuit of
the other half, he directed the pursuers to cut the enemy
off from Trieste and their line of retreat to Austria,
not to head them off from Mantiia. Thus they became
a fresh addition to his Mantuan safe-deposit.

The locking up of so much of her military capital
drove Austria to a fresh expenditure. This time, and
not for the last time, the directness of Bonaparte's tac-
tics imperilled the successful indirectness of his stra-
tegy. When the converging armies of Alvintzi and
Davidovich drew near to Verona, his pivot for the
guarding of Mantua, Bonaparte hurled himself at the
former^ the stronger, and suffer ed a severe repulse



at Caldiero. But instead of retreating, he chose the
daring course of a wide manoeuvre round the southern
flank of Alvintzi's army and on to its rear. ,How des-
perate he felt was shown in the letter he wrote to warn
the Directory 'The weakness and exhaustion of the
army cause me to fear the worst. We are perhaps on
the eve of losing Italy. ' The delays caused by marshes
and water-courses increased the hazard of his man-
oeuvre, but it upset the enemy's plan of closing their
jaws on his army, supposed to be at Verona. While
Alvintzi wheeled to meet him, Davidovich remained
inactive. Even so, Bonaparte found it hard to over-
come Alvintzi's superior numbers. But when the scales
of battle were hanging in the balance at Arcola, Bona-
parte resorted to. a tactical ruse, a device rare for him
sending a few trumpeters on to the Austrian rear to
sound the charge. Within a few minutes the Austrian
troops were streaming away in flight.

Two months later, in January 1797, the Austrians
made a fourth and last attempt to save Mantua, but
this was shattered at Rivoli where Bonaparte's loose
group formation functioned almost perfectly. Like a
widespread net whose corners are weighted with stones,
when one of the enemy's columns impinged on it the
net closed in round the point of pressure and the
stones crashed together on the intruder. This self-pro-
tective formation which thus, on impact, became a
concentrated offensive formation, was Bonaparte's de-
velopment of the new divisional system by which an
army was permanently sub-divided into independently
moving fractions, instead of, as formerly, constituting
a single body from which only temporary detachments
were made. The group formation of Bonaparte's Ita-
lian campaigns became the more highly developed
bataillon carr&, with army corps replacing divisions, of
his later wars. Although at Rivoli this loaded net was



the means of crushing the Austrians' manoeuvring
wing, it is significant to note that the collapse of their
main resistance came from Bonaparte's audacity in
sending a single regiment of 2,000 men across Lake
Garda, in boats, to place themselves on the line of re-
treat of a "whole army. Mantua then surrendered, and
the Austrians who had lost their armies in the effort
to save this outer gate to their country had now to
watch, helplessly, Bonaparte's swift approach to the
defenceless inner gate. This threat wrung peace from
Austria while the main French armies were still but a
few miles beyond the Rhine.

In the autumn of 1798, the Second Coalition was
formed by Russia, Austria, England, Turkey, Portu-
gal, Naples, and the Papacy to cast off the shackles
of this peace treaty. Bonaparte was away in Egypt,
and when he returned the fortunes of France had sunk
low. The field armies were greatly depleted, the trea-
sury was empty, and the conscript levies were falling
off. Bonaparte, who on his return had overthrown
the Directory and become First Consul, ordered the
formation at Dijon of an Army of Reserve, composed
of all the home troops that could be scraped together.
But he did not use it to reinforce the main theatre
of war, and the main army on the Rhine, Instead, he
planned the boldest of all his indirect approaches
a swoop along an immense arc on to the rear of
the Austrian army in Italy. This had driven the small
French 'Army of Italy' back almost to the French
frontier and penned it into the north-west corner of
Italy. Bonaparte had intended to move through Swit-
zerland, to Lucerne, or Zurich, and then to descend
into Italy as far east as the Saint Gothard pass, or
even the Tyrol. But the news that the Army of Italy
was hajd pressed led him to take the shorter route by
the Saint Bernard pass. Thus, when he debouched



from the Alps at Ivrea, in the last week of ^lay 1800,
he was still on the right front of the Austrian army.
Instead of pressing south-east direct to the aid of Mas-
s&ia, who was shut up in Genoa, Bonaparte sent his
advanced guard due south to Cherasco, while, under
cover of this distraction, he slipped eastward to Milan
with the main body. Thus, instead of advancing to
meet the enemy in what he termed * their natural
position', facing west of Alessandria, he gained a
* natural position' across the Austrians' rear forming
tfiat strategic back-stop, or barrage, which was the
initial objective of his deadliest manoeuvres against
the enemy's rear. For such a position, offering natural
obstacles, afforded him a secure pivot from which to
prepare a stranglehold for the enemy, whose instinc-
tive tendency, when cut off from their line of retreat
and supply, was to turn and flow back, usually in
driblets, towards him. This conception of a strategic
barrage was Bonaparte's chief contribution to the
strategy of indirect approach.

At Milan he had barred one of the two Austrian
routes of retreat, and now, extending his barrage south
of the Po to the Stradella defile, he also blocked the
other. But here, for the moment, his conception had
somewhat outranged his means for he had only
34,000 men, and owing to Moreau's reluctance, the
corps of 15,000 that Bonaparte had ordered the Army
of the Rhine to send over the Saint Gothard pass was
late in arriving. Concern over the thinness of his bar-
rage became accentuated. And at this juncture Genoa
capitulated, thereby removing his 'fixative' agent. Un-
certainty as to the route the Austrians might now take,
and the fear that they might retire to Genoa, where
the British navy could revictual them, led hi* to for-
feit much of the advantage he had gained. For, credit-
ing his opponents with more initiative than tlfey pos-
' 135


sessed, he quitted his ' natural position ' at the Stradella
and pushed Westward to reconnoitre them, sending
Desaix with a division to cut the road from Alessan-
dria to Genoa. Thus he was caught at a disadvantage,
with only part of his army at hand, when the Austrian
army suddenly emerged from Alessandria and ad-
vanced to meet him on the plains of Marengo (the
14th of June 1800). The battle was long in doubt, and
even when Desaix's detachment returned the Aus-
trians were only driven back. But then Bonaparte's
strategic position became the lever which enabled him
to wring from the demoralized Austrian commander
an agreement that the Austrians were to evacuate
Lombardy and retire behind the Mincio. Although
the war was resumed in a desultory fashion beyond
the Mincio, the moral repercussion of Marengo was
manifested in the armistice which closed the war of the
Second Coalition six months later.

After several years of uneasy peace, the curtain that
had fallen on the French Revolutionary Wars rose on
a new act the Napoleonic wars. In 1805, Napoleon's
army of 200,000 men was assembled at Boulogne,
menacing a descent on the English coast, when it was
suddenly directed by forced marches to the Rhine.
It is still uncertain whether Napoleon seriously in-
tended a direct invasion of England, or whether his
threat was merely the first move in his indirect ap-
proach to Austria. Probably, he was acting on Bour-
cet's principle of 'a plan with branches'. When he
decided to take the eastward branch, he calculated
that the Austrians Would, as usual, send an army into
Bavaria to block the exits of the Black Forest. On this
basis he planned his wide manoeuvre round their
northern flank, across the Danube, and on to the
Lech his intended strategic barrage across their rear.
It was a repetition, on a grander scale, of the Stra-


delU manoeuvre and Napoleon himself emphasized
the parallel to his troops. Moreover, his superiority of
force enabled him, once the barrage was established,
to convert it into a moving barrage. This, closing
down on the rear of the Austrian army, led to its al-
most bloodless surrender at Ulm.

Having wiped out the weaker partner, Napoleon
had now to deal with the Russian army, under Kuto-
sov. This, after traversing Austria and gathering*
smaller Austrian contingents, had just reached the
Inn. A less immediate threat was the return of the
other Austrian armies from Italy and the Tyrol. The
size of his forces was now, for the first but not the
last time, an inconvenience to Napoleon. With such
large armies, the space between the Danube and the
mountains to the south-west was too cramped for any
local indirect approach to the enemy, and there was
not time for a wide movement of the range of the Ulm
manoeuvre. But so long as the Russians remained on
the Inn, they were in a 'natural position' forming
not only a shield to Austrian territory, but a shield
under cover of which the other Austrian armies could
come up from the south, through Carinthia, and join
them in presenting Napoleon with a solid wall of re-

Faced with this problem, Napoleon used a most
subtle series of variations of the indirect approach.
His first aim was to push the Russians as far east as
possible, so as to separate them from the Austrian
armies now returning from Italy. So, while advancing
directly east towards Kutosov and Vienna, he sent
Mortier's corps along the north bank of the Danube.
This threat to Kutosov's communications with Russia
was sufficient to induce him to fall back obliquely
north-eastwards, to Krems on the Danube. Napoleon
thereupon dispatched Murat on a dash across Kuto-



sov's new front, with Vienna as his goal. From Vienna,
Murat was directed northwards on Hollabrunn. Thus,
after first threatening the Russians' right flank, Napo-
leon now menaced their left rear. Owing to Murat's
mistaken agreement to a temporary truce, this move
failed to cut off the Russians, but it at least drove
them into a hurried retreat still further north-east to
Olmiitz, within close reach of their own frontier. Al-
though they were now separated from the Austrian
reinforcements, they were nearer to their own, and at
Olmiitz they actually received a large instalment. To
press them further back would only consolidate their
strength. Besides, time pressed, and the entry of Prus-
sia into the war was imminent.

Hence Napoleon resorted to the indirect approach
of tempting the Russians into taking the offensive by a
subtle display of his own apparent weakness. To face
the 80,000 men of the enemy army, he concentrated
only 50,000 at Briinn, and thence pushed out isolated
detachments towards Olmiitz. This impression of
weakness he supplemented by * doves of peace' to the
Tsar and the Austrian emperor. When the enemy
swallowed the bait, Napoleon recoiled before them to
a position at Austerlitz, designed by nature to fit his
trap. And in the battle which followed he used one of
his rare examples of the tactical indirect approach to
offset his equally rare inferiority of numbers on the
battlefield. Luring the enemy to stretch their left in an
attack on his line of retreat, he swung round his centre
against the weakened * joint' and thereby obtained a
victory so decisive that within twenty-four hours the
Emperor of Austria asked for peace.

Whe$, a few months later, -Napoleon turned to deal
with Prussia, he had a superiority of almost two to one
availablet-ap army that was 'grand' both in quantity
and quality against one that was defective in training



and obsolete in outlook. The effect of this assured
superiority on Napoleon's strategy was marked, and
had a growing influence on the conduct of his later
campaigns. In 1806, he still sought, and gained, the
advantage of initial surprise. To this end he had can-
toned his troops near the Danube, and thence swiftly
concentrated to the north, behind the natural screen
formed by the Thiiringian forest. Next, debouching
suddenly from the wooded range into the open coun-
try beyond, his bataillon carre drove straight ahead
towards the heart of the enemy country. Thus Napo-
leon found himself, rather than placed himself, on the
rear of the Prussian forces ; and in swinging round to
crush them at Jena, he seems to h^ve relied primarily
on sheer weight : the moral effect of his position being
incidental, although important.

So also in the campaign against the Russians which
followed, in Poland and East Prussia, Napoleon seems
concerned mainly with the single end of bringing his
enemy to battle confident that, when this happened,
his machine would overpower the enemy.* He still uses
the manoeuvre on to the enemy's rear, buit it is more
as a means of gripping them firmly, so that they can
be drawn into his jaws, than as a means of liquefying
their moral, so that mastication may be easier.

The indirect approach is here a means of distraction
and physical 'traction' rather than of distraction and
moral dislocation.

Thus in the Pultusk manoeuvre he aimed to draw
the Russians westwards so that when he advanced
north from Poland, he might cut them off from Russia,
The Russians slipped out of his jaws. In Jam
the Russians moved westwards on their o\
towards the remnant of their Ptnssian
zig, and Napoleon was quick to seize
to cut their communications with Prussia/ Hi6 Msl



tions, however, fell into the hands of the Cossacks,
and the Russian army fell back just in time. Napoleon,
thereupon, followed them up directly; and, finding
them in a frontal position at Eylau, ready to accept
battle, he relied on a purely tactical manoeuvre against
their rear. Its working suffered from the interference
of snowstorms, and the Russians, though mauled,
were not masticated. Four months later, both sides had
recuperated, and the Russians suddenly moved south
against Heilsburg, whereupon Napoleon wheeled his
bataillon carre east to cut them off from Konigsberg,
their immediate base. But this time he was so appar-
ently obsessed with the idea of battle that when his
cavalry, reconnoitring to the flank of his route, re-
ported the presence of the Russians in a strong posi-
tion at Friedland, he swung his forces straight at the
target. The tactical victory was won, not by surprise
or mobility, but by pure offensive power here ex-
pressed in Napoleon's new artillery tactics, the massed
concentration of guns at a selected point. This was
to become more and more the driving-shaft of his
tactical mechanism. If at Friedland, as often later, it
ensured victory, it did little to save lives. It is curious
how the possession of a blank cheque on the bank of
man-power had so analogous an effect in 1807-14 and
in 1914-18. And curious, also, that in each case it was
associated with the method of intense artillery bom-

The explanation may be that lavish expenditure
breeds extravagance, the mental antithesis of economy
of force to which surprise and mobility are the
means. This hypothesis is strengthened by the simi-
larity of effect seen in Napoleon's policy.

Napoleon was able, to use the glamour of his victory
at Friedland to reinforce the glamour of his personal-
ity in seducing the Tsar from his partners in the



Fourth Coalition. But he then risked his advantage,
and ultimately his einpire, by excess in exploiting it.
The severity of his terms to Prussia undermined the
security of the peace, his policy towards England con-
templated nothing short of her ruin, and his aggression
raised Spain and Portugal as fresh enemies. Here it is
apt to note that it was an indirect approach Sir John
Moore's brief 4 in and out 5 thrust against Burgos and
the communications of the French forces in Spain
which dislocated Napoleon's plans in Spain, gave the
national rising time and space to gather strength, and
thus ensured that the Iberian peninsula should hence-
forth be a running sore in Napoleon's side. Above all,
the moral influence of this first check to Napoleon's
irresistible progress gives it a decisive significance.
Napoleon had no chance to redeem it, for he was
called back by the threatened uprising of Prussia and
the fresh intervention of Austria. The latter matured,
and in the campaign of 1809, we see Napoleon again
trying, at Landshut and Vienna, to manoeuvre on to
the enemy's rear. But when hitches occur in the execu-
tion of these manoeuvres, Napoleon's impatience leads
him to gamble on a direct approach and battle, and at
Aspern-Essling he suffers in consequence his first great
defeat. If he retrieves it by the victoty of Wagram at
the same point, six weeks later, the price is high and
the peace thereby gained unstable.

The Peninsular War

But Napoleon had two years' grace in which to
operate on and cure the ' Spanish ulcer'. As Moore's
intervention had thwarted Napoleon's attempt to
check the inflammatory condition in its early stages, so
in the years that followed Wellington was to hinder all
remedial measures and enable the wound to fester, the
poison to spread, through the Napoleonic system. The

^ 141


French had beaten, and continued to beat any regular
Spanish forces, but the thoroughness of these defeats
was of the greatest benefit to the defeated. For it
ensured that the main effort of the Spanish was thrown
into guerrilla warfare. An intangible web of guerrilla
bands replaced a vulnerable military target, while enter-
prising and unconventional guerrilla leaders, instead of
hide-bound Spanish generals, conducted operations.
The worst misfortune for Spain, and hence for Eng-
land, was the temporary success of attempts to form
fresh regular forces. Fortunately they were soon beaten,
and as the French dispersed them so, coincidently, did
they disperse their own good fortune. The poison
spread again instead of coming to a head.

In this curious warfare, England's most profound
influence Was in aggravating the trouble and encourag-
ing the sources of it. Rarely has she caused a greater
distraction to her opponents at the price of so small a
military effort. And the effect produced in Spain was
in significant contrast with the slight results, indeed
the unhappy results, produced on the one hand by her
attempts at direct co-operation with her Continental
allies during these wars, and on the other by her ex-
peditions to trans-oceanic points too remote, geogra-
phically and psychologically, to affect her opponent.
From the standpoint of national policy and prosper-
ity the second class of expedition, however, had its
justification in adding Cape Colony, Mauritius, Cey-
lon, British Guiana, and several West Indian islands
to the British Empire.

But the rtfal effect of England's grand-strategic in-
direct approach in Spain has been obscured by the
traditional tendency of historians to become obsessed
with battles. Indeed, by treating the Peninsular War
as a chronicle of Wellington's battles and sieges it be-
comes meaningless. Sir John Fortescue did much to



correct this tendency and fallacy, despite the fact that
he was primarily concerned with the localized 'His-
tory of the British Army'. It is significant that as his
own researches deepened he gave more and more em-
phasis to the predominant influence of the Spanish
guerrillas on the issue of the struggle.

If thQ presence of the British expeditionary force
was an essential foundation for this influence, Welling-
ton's battles were perhaps the least effective part of
his operations. By them he inflicted a total loss of
some 45,000 men only counting killed, wounded and
prisoners on the French during the five years' cam-
paign until they were driven out of Spain, whereas
Marbot reckoned that the number of French deaths
alone during this* period averaged a hundred a day.
Hence it is a clear deduction that the overwhelming
majority of the losses which drained the French
strength, and their morale still more, was due to the
operations of the guerrillas, and of Wellington him-
self, in harrying the French and in making the country
a desert where the French stayed only to starve. Not
the least significant feature is that Wellington fought
so few battles in so long a series of campaigns. Was
this due to that essentially practical 'common-sense'
which biographers have declared to be the key to his
character and outlook? In the words of his latest
biographer 'direct and narrow realism was the es-
sence of Wellington's character. It was responsible for
his limitations and defects, but in the larger stage of
his public career it amounted to genius.' This diag-
nosis admirably fits the symptoms, both good and ill,
of Wellington's strategy in the peninsula.

The expedition which was to have such momentous
consequences was itself a subtraction of force from
the main and abortive effort on the Scheldt, and was
undertaken more from the hope of saving Portugal



than from any dfeep appreciation of its grand-strategic
potentialities in aggravating the 'Spanish ulcer 5 .
Castlereagh's uphill advocacy, however, was aided by
' Sir Arthur WeUesley's expression of opinion that, if
the Portuguese army and militia were reinforced by
20,000 British troops, the French would need 100,000
to conquer Portugal, a quantity they could not spare if
the Spanish still continued to resist. Expressed in a
different way, this might mean that 20,000 British
would suffice to cause the 'distraction' of nearly
100,000 French, part at least from the main theatre of
war in Austria.

As ah aid to Austria the expedition was to prove of
no avail, and as a shield to Portugal not altogether
satisfactory from a Portuguese standpoint. But as a
strain on Napoleon and an advantage to England it
bore fruit tenfold.

Wellesley was given 26,000 men, and in April 1809
he arrived at Lisbon. Partly as a result of the Spanish
insurrection, partly as a sequel to Moore's thrust at
Burgos and retreat to Corunna the French were
widely scattered over the peninsula. Ney was vainly
trying to subdue Galicia in the extreme north-western
corner. South of him, but in the north of Portugal,
Soult lay at Oporto, with his army itself dispersed in
detachments. Victor lay round Merida, facing the
southern route into Portugal.

Profiting by his central position, his unexpected
appearance, and the enemy's dispersion, Wellesley
moved north against Soult. Although he failed to cut
off Soult's most southerly detachments as he had
planned, he surprised Soult himself before the latter
could assemble his force, upset his dispositions v by a
crossing higher up the Douro, and developed this
incipient dislocation by heading Soult off from his
natural line of retreat. Like Turenne in 1675, Wellesley



mopped up the resistance without it ever having had
the chance to coagulate. And at the end of Soult's en-
forced retreat through the bleak mountains north-
ward into Galicia, his army had suffered loss and ex-
haustion out of all proportion to the fighting.

Wellesley's second operation, however, was neither
so profitable nor so well-conceived in its adjustment
of end and means. Victor, who had remained passively
at Merida, was recalled, after Soult's 'disappearace',
to Talavera, where he could cover the direct approach
to Madrid. A month later Wellesley decided to march
by this route on Madrid, pushing into the heart of
Spain and into the lion's jaws. For he offered a tar-
get on which all the French armies in Spain could
concentrate by the easiest routes. Moreover, by thus
rallying on their central pivot they had the chance of
knitting together the communications between them
when the armies were scattered these communica-
tions were their greatest source of weakness.

Wellesley advanced with only 23,000 men, sup-
ported by a similar number of Spanish ttoops under
the feeble Cuesta, whereas Victor in falling back had
brought himself within close reach of support from
two other French forces near Madrid. And the hostile
concentration was likely to total over 100,000, since
'through accident rather than design' as Fortescue
remarks the forces of Ney, Soult, and Mortier had
drifted Madrid-wards from the north. If fortune
favours the calculating bold, it often turns against the
rash. Hampered by Cuesta's irresolution and his own
supplies, Wellesley did not succeed in joining issue
with Victor until die latter was reinforced by Joseph
Bonaparte from Madrid. Constrained to fall back in
his turn, Wellesley emerged somewhat luckily from a
defensive battle at Talavera, but would have advanced
again if Cuesta had not refused. This was fortunate
L 145


for Wellesley, as Soult was descending upon his rear.
Cut off from the route by which he had come,
Wellesley escaped by slipping south of the Tagus ; but
only after a costly, demoralizing and exhausting re-
treat did he regain the shelter of the Portuguese fron-
tier. Want of food hampered the French pursuit. This
closed the campaign of 1809 and taught Wellesley the
worthlessness of Spanish regular forces a lesson he
might have learnt from Moore's experience. As a
reward for his efforts he was created Viscount Welling-
ton. He did more to deserve this the next year.

For in 1810, with Austria now driven to peace,
Napoleon was free to concentrate his attention on
Spain and Portugal until 1812. These two years
were the critical period of the Peninsular War. And
the inability of the French to accomplish their pur-
pose then is of greater historical significance than their
subsequent defeats, or Wellington's victories, in 1812
and 1813. The foundation of the British success lay in
Wellington's shrewd calculation of the economic fac-
tor the limited French means of subsistence and
his construction of the lines of Torres Vedras. His
strategy was essentially that of indirect approach to a
military-economic object and objective.

Before the main campaign opened he was aided by
the Spanish regular forces in their customary way.
They embarked on a winter campaign in which they
were so thoroughly crushed and dispersed that the
French, deprived of any target, were induced to
stretch themselves more widely still .over Spain in-
vading the rieh province of Andalusia in the south.

Napoleon now took control, if from a distance, and
by the end of February 1810 had concentrated nearly
300,000 men in Spain with more to come. Of this
total, 65,000 were assigned to Massena for the task of
driving the British out of Portugal. If the number was



large, its small proportion to the whole is illuminating
evidence of the growing strain of the guerrilla war in
Spain. And Wellington, by the inclusion of British-
trained Portuguese troops, had made up his total to

Massena's invasion came by the north, past Ciudad
Rodrigo, and thus gave Wellington the longest time
and space for his strategy to take effect. His precau-
tions in stripping the country of provisions formed a
* transmission-brake' on Massena's advance, while his
half-way stand at Bussaco served as a * foot-brake'
which was strengthened by Massena's folly in com-
mitting his troops to a needless direct assault. Then
Wellington fell back to the lines of Torres Vedras
which he had constructed, across the mountainous
peninsula formed by the Tagus and the sea, to cover
Lisbon. On the 14th of October, four months and
barely two hundred miles from his start, Massena
came within sight of the lines a sight which struck
him with the full shock of surprise. Unable to force
them, he hung on for a month until compelled by
starvation to retreat to Santarem, thirty miles back,
on the Tagus. Wellington, shrewdly, made no attempt
to press his retreat or bring on a battle, but set himself
to confine Massena within the smallest possible area
so that he might have the greatest possible difficulty in
feeding his men. The French, now and later, had to
pay dearly for their faith in the optimistic illusions
encouraged by Napoleon's hyperbolical phrase : ' Sup-
plies? don't talk to me about them. Twenty thousand
men can live in a desert. '

Wellington maintained this strategy resolutely, des-
pite the indirect risk of a change of policy at home,
and the direct risk caused by Soult's advance in the
south, by way of Badajoz, which was made a diver-
sion to relieve the constriction of Massena. And he



withstood every effort of Mass6na to draw him into
an attack. He was both justified and rewarded, for at
last, in March, Massna had to go; and when the
starving wreckage of his army recrossed the frontier
he had lost 25,000 men, of whom only 2,000 had fallen
in action.

Meantime the Spanish guerrillas had been growing
ever more active and numerous. In Aragon and Cata-
lonia alone, two French corps (totalling nearly 60,000
men), instead of helping Mass6na's Army of Portugal,
had been practically paralysed during several months
by a few thousand guerrillas and troops used guerrilla-
wise. In the south, too, where the French were be-
sieging Cadiz, the very failure of the allies to exploit
their victory at Barrosa and raise the siege proved of
advantage to them by retaining the besieging troops
there on a vain task. Another distracting influence
during these years was the constant threat and fre-
quent fact of British landings, at points along the im-
mense coastline, made possible by sea-power.

Henceforth Wellington's greatest influence came
through his threats rather than his blows. For, when-
ever he threatened a point, the French were forced to
draw off troops thither, and thus give the guerrillas
greater scope in other districts. Wellington, however,
was not content with threats. Following up Massena's
retreat on Salamanca, he used his army to cover the
blockade of the frontier fortress of Almeida in the
north, while he directed Beresford to invest Badajoz
in the south. Thereby he tied up his own power of
mobility, and divided his force into two nearly equal
parts. But fortune favoured his course. Massena, hav-
ing rallied and slightly reinforced his army, came back
to the rescue of Almeida ; and at Fuentes de Onoro,
Wellington was caught in a bad position and seriously
imperilled. But he managed to beat off the attack



although he admitted, 'If Boney had been there, we
should have been beat. ' Near Badajoz, too, Beresford
marched out to meet Soult's relieving force ; after mis-
handling the fight and admitting defeat at Albuera,
the situation was saved for him by his subordinates
and troops if at an exorbitant cost. Wellington now
concentrated his efforts on the siege of Badajoz, but
without a siege train, until he had to raise the siege as
a result of the unfettered move southwards of Mar-
mont who had taken over Massena's army to join
Soult. The two now planned a united advance on
Wellington. Fortunately, fusion brought friction. And
Soult, alarmed by the fresh blaze-up of guerilla war in
Andalusia, retiirned thither with part of his army,
leaving Marmont in control. Thanks to Mannont's
extreme caution, the campaign of 1811 petered out

By his battles Wellington had risked much, indeed
all, and it would be hard to argue that they had gained
much advantage beyond that already produced and
promised by his earlier strategy. In view of his slender
margin of strength, they were not a profitable invest-
ment, for while his loss in them was less than the
French, it was proportionately much greater. But he
had tided over the most critical period. And now
Napoleon unwittingly came to his aid to make his
advantage secure. For Napoleon was preparing his
invasion of Russia. Thither his attention and his
strength were henceforth turned. This development
and the trying guerrilla situation caused a change of
plan in Spain, where the main French line of effort
was altered to an attempt to subdue Valencia and
Andalusia thoroughly before concentrating afresh
against Portugal. Compared with 1810, the French
troops were reduced by 70,000 ; and of those who re-
mained, no less than 90,000 were employed from



Tarragona on the Mediterranean coast to Oviedo on
the Atlantic coast in guarding the communications
with France against the guerrillas.

Thus given free scope and weakened opposition,
Wellington sprang suddenly on Ciudad Rodrigo and
stormed it, while a detachment under Hill stood guard
over his strategic flank and rear. Marmont was unable
to intervene, unable to retake the fortress because his
siege-train had been captured there, and unable also
to follow Wellington across the food-stripped country
between them. Under cover of this hunger-screen,
Wellington slipped south and stormed Badajoz in
turn if at a far greater cost, and by a narrower mar-
gin of time. At Badajoz he captured the French pon-
toon-train. As he promptly followed up this gain by
destroying the French bridge of boats across the
Tagus at Almaraz, he had now achieved a definite
strategic separation of the two armies of Marmont
and Soult, whose nearest way of communication was
now by the bridge at Toledo, over three hundred miles
from the mouth of the Tagus. Apart from this, Soult
was tied fast to Andalusia by a want of supplies and a
surfeit of guerrillas, while Wellington, now able to
operate secure from interference, concentrated two-
thirds of his strength for an advance on Marmont at
Salamanca. But the directness of his approach pro-
pelled Marmont back towards his source of reinforce-

The balance of numbers thus being restored, Mar-
mont manoeuvred against Wellington's communica-
tions, with all the more advantage because he had
none of his own to worry about. On several occasions
the two armies raced alongside each other in parallel
columns, only a few hundred yards apart, each seeking
a favourable chance to strike. The French, by their
capacity to out-march the British, tended to out-


manoeuvre them. But on the 22nd of July over-con-
fidence led Marmont into a slip which momentarily
dislocated his own forces. He allowed his left wing
to become too far separated from his right wing.
Wellington instantly exploited the opportunity by a
swift pounce upon the exposed wing. This produced
the defeat of the French army before further rein-
forcements reached it. Wellington did not, however,
achieve its real disruption in this battle of Salamanca ;
and he was still heavily inferior to the French in the
peninsula as a whole. He has been blamed for not
following up the defeated French forces, now under
Clausel. But having lost the immediate chance of dis-
persing them, it is unlikely that he could have regained
it before they reached the shelter of Burgos ; and such
a pursuit would have exposed him to the risk that
King Joseph from Madrid might have descended at
any moment on his own rear and communications.

Instead, he decided to make a move on Madrid
for its moral and political effect. His entry into the
capital was a symbol and a tonic to the Spanish, while
Joseph made a fugitive exit. But the defect of this
coup was that Wellington's stay could only be fleeting
if the French gathered in force ; and nothing was more
likely than the loss of Madrid to make their armies,
scattered on the circumference, rally on the centre.
Wellington cut his stay short without compulsion and
marched on Burgos. But the French system of * living
on the country' deprived such a stroke at their com-
munications with France of anything like a normal
influence on their situation. And even the limited in-
fluence was forfeited by the ineffectiveness of Welling-
ton's siege methods and means, whereby time dribbled
away that he could not afford to lose. For his very
success at, and after, the battle of Salamanca had
induced the French to abandon their tasks and terri-



tory in Spain in order to concentrate from all quarters
against him. In relation to their armies Wellington was
more dangerously placed than Moore before him, but
he fell back just in time ; and, when Hill joined him, he
felt secure enough to offer battle to the united French
armies at Salamanca once again. Their numerical
advantage was slight compared with earlier days,
90,000 to 68,000, and they did not care to accept the
challenge on a battlefield chosen by Wellington. Hence
Wellington continued his retreat to Ciudad Rodrigo.
And with his arrival there the curtain came down on
the campaign of 1812.

Although he was back once more on the Portuguese
frontier, and thus, superficially, no further forward,
actually the issue of the Peninsular War was decided.
For by abandoning the greater part of Spain to con-
centrate against him, the French had abandoned it to
the Spanish guerrillas and lost the chance of shaking
their grip. On top of this disaster came the news of
Napoleon's retreat from Moscow, which led to the
withdrawal of more French troops from Spain. Thus
when the next campaign opened the situation had
completely changed. Wellington, now reinforced to
100,000 men, less than half of whom were British, was
the aggressor and the superior, while the French, de-
moralized more by the strain of the incessant guerrilla
war than by military defeats, were almost at once
compelled to fall back behind the Ebro, and reduced
to the role of trying to hold on to the northern fringe
of Spain. Even there, the scales were turned against
them by the pressure of guerrillas in their rear, in
Biscay, and the Pyrenean districts which forced the
French to take away four divisions from their slender
strength to withstand this back pressure. Wellington's
gradual advance to the Pyrenees and into France
though flecked by occasional misadventures, success-



fully retrieved is no more than a strategic epilogue
to the story of the Peninsular War.

This happy conclusion could hardly have come but
for the moral and physical support of Wellington's
presence in the peninsula ; and his activities, by dis-
tracting the attention of the French in part to him,
repeatedly facilitated the spread of the guerrilla war.
Yet it is a question, and an interesting speculation,
whether his victories in 1812, by stirring the French to
cut their loss and contract their zone, did not improve
their prospects and make his own advance harder in
1813. For the wider and the longer they were dis-
persed throughout Spain, the more sure and more
complete would be their ultimate collapse. The Penin-
sular War was an outstanding historical example,
achieved by instinctive common sense even more than
by intention, of the type of strategy which a century
later Lawrence evolved into a reasoned theory, and
applied in practice if without so definite a fulfilment.

From observing the 'Spanish ulcer' we have now
to turn back to examine another type of strategical
growth, which was insidiously affecting Napoleon's
own mind.

Napoleon from Vilna to Waterloo

The Russian campaign of 1812 is the natural climax
to the tendencies already seen to be growing in
Napoleon's strategy that of relying more on mass
than on mobility, and on strategic formation rather
than on surprise. The geographical conditions merely
served to accentuate its weaknesses.

The very scale of Napoleon's forces, 450,000 men,
induced him to adopt an almost linear distribution,
which in turn entailed a direct approach along the line
of natural expectation. It is true that, like the Ger-
mans in 1914, he 'loaded' one end the left of his



line, and sought to swing it round in a vast sweep
upon the Russians at Vilna. But even allowing for his
brother Jerome's inertia in the role of fixing the enemy,
this manoeuvre was too cumbrous and too direct to
be an effective means of distracting and dislocating
the enemy, unless they had been of abnormal stupi-
dity. And, in the event, its limitations were exposed by
the Russians' deliberate adoption of a strategy of
evasion. As Napoleon pressed into Russia, after his
first blows 'in the air' he contracted his line into his
customary bataillon carre, and tried to swing it tacti-
cally on to the enemy's rear. But even when the Rus-
sians, changing to a 'battle' policy, were so foolish as
to push their heads towards Napoleon's open jaws,
these jaws closed so obviously, at Smolensk, that the
Russians slipped out; while at Borodino the jaws
broke off their own teeth. No example could have
better demonstrated the drawbacks of a convergent as
compared with a true indirect approach. The disas-
trous results of the subsequent retreat from Moscow
were due less to the severe weather the frost actually
was later than usual that year than to the demoraliza-
tion of the French army. And this was caused through
the frustration of its direct battle-aimed strategy by
the Russian strategy of evasion which in turn was
the strategic method here used to carry out what may
be classified as a war policy of indirect approach.

Moreover, the harm done to Napoleon's fortunes
by his defeat in Russia was immensely increased by
the moral and material effects of the ill-success of his
armies in Spain. And it is significant to note in assess-
ing the deadly effect of England's action here that, in
this campaign, England was following her traditional
war policy of ' severing the roots '.

When, in 1813, Napoleon, with fresh forces more
massive and less mobile than ever, was confronted



with the uprising of Prussia and with the invading
armies of Russia, he sought to crush them in his now
habitual way by the converging weight of his bataillon
carrd. But neither the battle of Lutzen nor the battle
of Bautzen was decisive, and thereafter the allies, by
an ever lengthening retirement, thwarted Napoleon's
further attempts to bring them to battle. Their evasive-
ness induced Napoleon to ask for a six weeks' suspen-
sion of hostilities ; and when it terminated Austria,
also, was arrayed with his enemies.

The autumn campaign, which followed, throws a
curious light on Napoleon's changed mentality. He
had 400,000 men, a total nearly equal to that of his
opponents. He used 100,000 for a convergent advance
against Berlin, but this direct pressure merely consoli-
dated the resistance of Bernadotte's forces in that
area, and the French were thrown back. Meantime,
Napoleon himself, with the main army, had taken up
a central position covering Dresden in Saxony. But
his impatience overcame him, and he suddenly began
to advance directly east upon Bliicher's 95,000.
Blucher fell back to lure him into Silesia, while
Schwarzenberg, with 185,000, began to move north-
ward down the Elbe from Bohemia, and across the
Bohemian mountains into Saxony on to Napoleon's
rear at Dresden. Leaving a detachment behind, Napo-
leon hurried back, intending to counter this indirect
approach with a still more deadly one. His plan was
to move south-west, cross the Bohemian mountains,
and place himself across Schwarzenberg's line of re-
treat through the mountains. The position he had in
mind was ideal for a strategic barrage. But the news
of the enemy's close approach made him lose his
nerve, and at the last moment he decided instead on a
direct approach to Dresden, and to Schwarzenberg.
This resulted in another victorious battle; but it was



only tactically decisive, and Schwarzenberg retreated
safely southward through the mountains.

A month later the three allied armies began to close
in upon Napoleon who, weakened by his battles, had
fallen back from Dresden to Dtiben, near Leipzig.
Schwarzenberg lay to the south, Bliicher to the north
and, unknown to Napoleon, Bernadotte was almost
round and behind his northern flank. Napoleon de-
cided on a direct, followed by an indirect, approach
first, to crush Bliicher and then to cut Schwarzenberg's
communications with Bohemia. In the light of his-
torical experience as set forth in earlier pages, it would
seem that the sequence was at fault. Napoleon's direct
move on Bliicher did not bring the latter to battle. Yet
it had one curious result, all the more significant be-
cause it was unpremeditated. The direct move upon
Bliicher was, quite unrealized, an indirect move upon
Bernadotte's rear. And, by unnerving Bernadotte, it
led him to fall back hurriedly northward, and so re-
moved him from Napoleon's line of retreat. Thereby
this 'blow in the air' at Bliicher saved N&poleon from
utter disaster a few days later. For when Bliicher and
Schwarzenberg closed in upon him at Leipzig, Napo-
leon accepted the gage of battle and suffered defeat
but, in his extremity, still had a path by which he
could extricate himself, and withdraw safely to France.

In 1814, the allies, now vastly superior in numbers,
made their converging invasion of France, Napoleon
was driven, for want of the numbers he had expended
through his imperial faith in the power of mass to
resharpen his old weapons of surprise and mobility.
Nevertheless, brilliant as his handling of them, the
accent should be put on the word 'his' for he was
too impatient, and too obsessed with the idea of
battle, to use them with the artistic subtlety of a
Hannibal or a Scipio, a Cromwell or a Marlborough.



By their use, however, he long postponed his fate.
And he made a discerning adjustment between his
end and his means. Realizing that his means were too
reduced to obtain him a military decision, he aimed
to dislocate the co-operation between the allied armies ;
and he exploited mobility more astonishingly than
ever to this end. Even so, remarkable as was his success
in retarding the enemy's advance, it might perhaps
have been more effective and enduring if his ability
to continue this strategy had not been diminished by
his inherent tendency to consummate every strategic
by a tactical success. By repeated concentrations
five of them marked by manoeuvres which struck the
target in rear against the separated fractions of
enemy, he inflicted a series of defeats on them : until
he was rash enough to make a direct approach and
attack on Bliicher at Laon, and suffered a defeat that
he could not afford.

With only 30,000 men left, he decided, as a last
throw, to move eastward to Saint Dizier, rally such
garrisons as he could find, and raise the countryside
against the invaders. By this move he would be across
Schwarzenberg's communications ; he had, however,
not only to place himself on the enemy's rear but to
raise an army there before he could act. And the prob-
lem was complicated not only by lack of time and lack
of a force, but by the peculiar moral sensitiveness of
the base he thereby uncovered. For Paris was not like
an ordinary base of supply. As a crowning mishap,
his orders fell into the enemy's hands, so that both
surprise and time were forfeited. Even then, so potent
was the strategic 'pull' of his manoeuvre, it was only
after heated debate that the allies resolved to move
into Paris, instead of turning back to counter his
move. Their move proved to be a * moral knock-out'
for Napoleon's cause. It has been said that the factor



which most influenced their decision was the fear that
Wellington, moving up from the Spanish frontier,
would reach Paris first. If this be true, it forms an
ironical final triumph for the strategy of indirect ap-
proach and its decisive 'pull'.

In 1815, after his return from Elba, the size of
Napoleon's forces seems to have sent the 'blood' to
his head again. Nevertheless, in his own fashion he
used both surprise and mobility, and in consequence
came within reach of a decisive result. If his approach
to the armies of Bliicher and Wellington was geogra-
phically direct, its timing was a surprise and its direc-
tion dislocated the enemy's 'joint'. But, at Ligny, Ney
failed to carry out the manoeuvre role allotted to him
the tactical indirect approach so that the Prussians
escaped decisive defeat. And when Napoleon turned
on Wellington at Waterloo his approach was purely
direct, thus entailing a loss of time, and of men, which
accentuated the greater trouble caused by Grouchy's
failure to keep Bliicher 4 distracted ' well away from the
battlefield. Thus Bliicher's appearance, even though
he merely arrived on Napoleon's flank, by its unex-
pectedness was psychologically an indirect approach
and as such was decisive.


Chapter DC

When the great 'Peace 5 Exhibition of 1851 ushered
in a fresh era of bellicosity, the first war of the new
series was as indecisive in its military course as in its
political end. Yet from the squalor and stupidity of
the Crimean War we can at least cull negative lessons.
Chief among them is the barrenness of the direct ap-
proach. When the generals wore blinkers it was natural
that an aide-de-camp should launch the Light Bri-
gade straight at the Russian guns. In the British army,
the directness which permeated every sphere of action
was so extremely precise and rigidly formal that it per-
plexed the French commander, Canrobert until some
years later he attended a Court Ball. Then light came
to him, and he exclaimed : 'The British fight as Vic-
toria dances.' But the Russians were no less deeply
imbued with the instinct of directness so that even
when a spasmodic manoeuvre was attempted, a regi-
ment, after marching all day, finally found itself back
facing Sebastopol as at daybreak.

In studying the depressing evidence of the Crimea
we cannot overlook, although we should not exag-
gerate, the fact that in the forty years which had
elapsed jince Waterloo the armies of Europe had be-
come more strictly professionalized. Its significance is
not as an -argument against professional armies, but
- l > 160


as an illustration of the latent dangers of a profes-
sional environment. These dangers are inevitably
accentuated on the higher levels, and with length of
service, unless counteracted by revivifying touch with
the outer world of affairs and thought. On the other
hand, the early stages of the American Civil War were
to reveal the weaknesses of an unprofessional army.
Training is essential to forge an effective instrument
for the general to handle. A long war or a short peace
afford the most favourable conditions for the produc-
tion of such an instrument. But there is a defect in the
system if the instrument is superior to the artist.

In this, as in other aspects, the American Civil War
of 1861-1865 offers an illuminating contrast. The mili-
tary leaders, especially in the South, were mainly
drawn from those who had made arms their profes-
sion, but the pursuit of this profession had in many
cases been varied with civil employment or leisure for
individual study. And the parade ground had not been
either the breeding ground or the boundary of their
strategical ideas. Nevertheless, despite* a refreshing
breadth of view and fertility of resource in what may
be termed local strategy, the conventional aim at first
ruled the major operations.

The American Civil War

In the opening campaign the opposing armies sought
each other in a direct advance, and the result was in-
decisive alike in Virginia and in Missouri. Then
McClellan, appointed to the command-in-chief of the
North, in 1862 conceived the plan of utilizing sea-
power to transfer his army on to the enemy's strategic
flank. This had richer prospects than a direct
land advance, but seems to have been con ^
as the means of a shorter direct appr
mond, the enemy's capital, than as af ihjiifrect ap-
M 161


proach in the true sense. But these prospects were
nullified by President Lincoln's reluctance to accept a
calculated risk in consequence of which he kept back
McDowell's corps for the direct protection of Wash-
ington. This deprived McClellan not only of part of
his strength but of the element of distraction essential
to the success of his plan.

Hence, on landing, McClellan lost a month in front
of Yorktown, and the plan had to be altered to a con-
vergent or semi-direct approach in conjunction with
McDowell, who was only allowed to advance over-
land along the direct approach from Washington to
Richmond. * Stonewall' Jackson's indirect operations
in the Shenandoah Valley then exerted such* a moral
influence on the Washington Government as again to
suspend McDowell's sharei in the main advance. Even
so, McClellan's advanced troops were within four
miles of Richmond, ready for the final spring, before
Lee was sufficiently strong to intervene. And even
after McClellan's tactical set-back in the Seven Days'
Battles, he had the strategical advantage perhaps a
greater one than in the previous phase. For the inter-
ruption of his flank march had not prevented him
switching his base southwards to the James River,
whereby he had not only secured his own communica-
tions but placed himself dangerously close to the
enemy's communications running southward from

The advantage was forfeited by a change of strategy.
Halleck, placed over McClellan's head from political
motives as general-in-chief, ordered McClellan's army
to be re-embarked and withdrawn northward to unite
with Pope's army in a direct overland advance. As so
often in history, a direct doubling of strength meant
not a doubling but a halving of the effect through
simplifying the enemy's 'lines of expectation 5 . Yet



Halleck's strategy fulfilled the obvious interpretation
of the principle of concentration thereby revealing
the pitfalls which underlie this conventional path to
the military goal. The ineffectiveness of the strategy
of direct approach which ruled throughout the second
half of 1862 was appropriately sealed by the bloody
repulse at Fredericksburg on the 13th of December.
And the continuance of this strategy in 1863 led, not
to a closer approach to Richmond, but to a Confeder-
ate invasion of Northern territory following the col-
lapse of the Union army's offensive.

The direct invasion was in turn repulsed at Gettys-
burg, an4 the close of the year saw both armies back
in their original positions, both too drained of blood
to do more than bare their teeth at each other across
the Rapidan and Rappahannock. It is significant that
in these campaigns of mutual direct approach, such
advantage as there was inclined in turn to the side
which stood on the defensive, content to counter the
other's advance. For in such strategical conditions the
defensive, by its mere avoidance of vain 'effort, is in-
herently the less direct form of two direct strategies.

The repulse of Lee's invasion at Gettysburg has
commonly been acclaimed the turning-point of the
war, but the claim is only justified in a dramatic sense,
and the sober verdict of historical opinion has more
and more emphasized that the decisive effects came
from the West. The first was as early as April 1862,
when Farragut's squadron ran past the forts guarding
the mouth of the Mississippi, and thereby gained the
bloodless surrender of New Orleans. It was the thin
end of a strategical wedge which split the Confederacy
up the vital line of this great river.

The second decisive effect was achieved higher up
the Mississippi on the same day (the 4th of July) as
Lee began his retreat from Gettysburg. This was the



capture of Vicksburg by Grant, which gave the Union
complete control of this vital artery. Thereby the
Confederacy was deprived permanently of the nourish-
ment of reinforcements and supplies from the Trans-
Mississippi states. But the grand-strategic effect of
this concentration against the junior partner should
not be allowed to overshadow the strategic means by
which it was achieved. The first advance on Vicks-
burg in December 1862 had been made by an over-
land route down the railway, combined with a water-
borne expedition under Sherman down the Missis-
sippi. When Grant's advance was hamstrung by Con-
federate cavalry raids on his communications, the
Confederate forces were able to concentrate against
Sherman's move, which thus became an essentially
direct approach and was repulsed without difficulty
when he tried to make a landing close to Vicksburg.
In February and March 1863, four unsuccessful at-
tempts were made to reach the goal by narrow out-
flanking manoeuvres. Then, in April, Grant resorted
to a truly indirect approach which had a likeness, not
merely in its audacity, to Wolfe's final bid for Quebec.
Part of the Union fleet and transports ran south-
ward past the Vicksburg batteries, by night, to a point
thirty miles below the fortress. The bulk of the army
moved thither overland, by the west bank of the
Mississippi ; and, under cover of Sherman's distracting
movements towards the north-east of Vicksburg, it
was transported to the east bank in face of weak op-
position. Then, when Sherman rejoined him, Grant
took the calculated risk of cutting himself loose from
his new temporary base and moving north-eastward
into the enemy's territory to place himself on the rear
of Vicksburg, and astride its communications with the
main Eastern states of the Confederacy. In this man-
oeuvre he made almost a complete circuit from his



starting-point. He thus appeared to put himself mid*
way between the enemy's upper and lower jaws
their two forces which were concentrating, respec-
tively, at Vicksburg and at Jackson, forty miles to the
east (Jackson was the junction of a lateral north and
south railway with the main east and west line): But
in reality he dislocated the action of these jaws.

It is worthwhile to note that, on arriving at this
railway, he found it advisable first to move Ids whole
army eastward to compel the enemy to evacuate Jack-
son. This illustrated the change in strategical condi-
tions brought about by the development of railways.
For while Napoleon had used the line of a river or
range of hills as his strategic barrage, Grant's strategic
barrage was constituted by the possession of a single
point a railway junction. Once this was secured, he
turned about and moved on Vicksburg, which was
now isolated, and remained isolated long enough to
ensure its capitulation seven weeks later. The strategic
sequel was the opening of the Chattanooga gateway
into Georgia, the granary of the Confederacy, and
thence into the Eastern states as a whole.

Defeat was now hardly avoidable by the Con-
federacy. Yet the Union almost forfeited the victory
already ensured. For in 1864, with the north growing
weary under the strain, the moral element became pre-
ponderant. The peace party was being daily swelled
from the ranks of the war- weary, the presidential elec-
tion was due in November, and unless Lincoln was to
be supplanted by a President pledged to seek a com-
promise peace, a solid guarantee of early victory must
be forthcoming. To this end, Grant was summoned
from the west to take over the supreme command.
How did he seek to gain the required early victory?
By reverting to the strategy which good orthodox
soldiers always adopt that of using his immensely



superior weight to smash the opposing army, or at
least to wear it down by a 'continuous hammering'.
We have seen that in the Vicksburg campaign he had
only adopted the true indirect approach after repeated
direct approaches had failed. He had then brought it
off with masterly skill but the underlying lesson had
not impressed itself on his mind. fc

Now, in supreme corpmand, he was true to his
nature. He decided on the old and direct overland ap-
proach southward from the Rappahannock towards
Richmond. But with a certain difference of aim for
the enemy's army rather than the enemy's capital was
his real objective. He directed his subordinate, Meade,
that 'wherever Lee goes, there you will go too'. And,
in justice to Grant, it should also be noted that if his
approach was direct in the broad sense, it was in no
sense a mere frontal push. Indeed, he continuously
sought to turn his enemy's flanks by manoeuvre, if
manoeuvre of a narrow radius. Further, he fulfilled all
the military precepts about keeping his army well con-
centrated and maintaining his objective undeterred by
alarms elsewhere. Even a Foch could not have sur-
passed his 'will to victory'. And those who practised a
similar method in 1914-18 might have felt envy of
him for the generous support given, and unfailing
confidence shown, by his political chief. It would be
hard to find conditions more ideal for the orthodox
strategy of direct approach in its best manner.

Yet by the end of the summer of 1864 the ripe fruit
of victory had withered in his hands. The Union
forces had almost reached the end of their endurance,
and Lincoln despaired of re-election a sorry repay-
ment for the blank cheque he had given his military
executant. It is an ironical reflection that the deter-
mination with which Grant had wielded his superior
masses, now fearfully shrunk after the fierce battles of



the Wilderness and Cold Harbour, had utterly failed
to crush the enemy's army, while the chief result the
geographical advantage of having worked round close
to the rear of Richmond was gained by the blood-
less manoeuvres which had punctuated his advance.
He had thus the modified satisfaction of being back,
after immense lo^s, in the position which McClellan
had occupied in 1 862.

But when the sky looked blackest it suddenly light-
ened. At the November elections, Lincoln was re-
turned to power. What factor came to the rescue, and
averted the probability that McClellan, the nominee
of the peace-desiring Democratic party, would re-
place him? Not Grant's campaign, which made practi-
cally no progress between July and December, and
definitely petered out with a costly double failure in
mid-October. By the verdict of historians, Sherman's
capture of Atlanta in September was the instrument
of salvation.

When Grant had been called to the supreme com-
mand, Sherman, who had played no small part in his
Vicksburg success, had succeeded him in the chief com-
mand in the west. Between the two there was a contrast
of outlook. While Grant's primary objective was the
opposing army, Sherman's was the seizure of strategic
points. Atlanta, the base of the army opposing him,
was not only the junction of four important railways,
but the source of vital supplies. As Sherman pointed
out, it was 'full of foundries, arsenals and machine
shops', besides being a moral symbol ; he argued that
'its capture would be the death-knell of the Con-
federacy'. And he sought to strike it by manoeuvre,
as far as possible, rather than battle deeply imbued
with the idea of success at the lowest possible price.

Whatever divergence of opinion may exist as to the
respective merits of Grant's objective and Sherman's,



it is obvious that the latter is better suited to the psy-
chology of a democracy. Perhaps only an absolute
ruler, firmly in the saddle, can hope to maintain un-
swervingly the military ideal of the * armed forces ' ob-
jectiveeven he would be wise to adjust it to the
realities of the situation, and to weigh the prospects of
fulfilling it. But the strategist who is the servant of a
democratic government has less rein. Dependent on
the support and confidence of his employers, he has
to work with a narrower margin of time and cost than
the 'absolute' strategist, and is more pressed for quick
profits. Whatever the ultimate prospects he cannot
afford to postpone dividends too long. Hence it may
be necessary for him to swerve aside temporarily from
his objective, or at least to give it a new guise by chang-
ing his line of operations. Faced with these inevitable
handicaps, it is fitting to ask whether military theory
should not be more ready to reconcile its ideals with
the inconvenient reality that its military effort rests on
a popular foundation that for the supply of men and
munitions, and even for the chance of continuing to
fight at all, it depends on the consent of the 'man in
the street*. He who pays the piper calls the tune, and
strategists might be better paid in kind if they attuned
their strategy, so far as is rightly possible, to the popu-
lar ear.

Sherman's economy of force by manoeuvre is the
more notable because, compared with Grant in Vir-
ginia, he was practically tied to one line of railway for
his supplies. Yet, rather than commit his troops to a
direct attack, he cut loose temporarily even from this.
Only once in all these weeks of manoeuvre did he at-
tempt a frontal attack, at Kenesaw Mountain; and it
is as significant that he did it to save his troops from
the strain of a further flank march over rain-swamped
roads as that it suffered a repulse which was mitigated



because the attack was stopped immediately after the
first check. This, indeed, was the only occasion during
the whole 130-mile advance through mountainous and
river-intersected country that Sherman committed his
troops to an offensive battle. Instead, he manoeuvred
so skilfully as to lure the Confederates time after time
into vain attacks upon him. To force an opponent
acting on the strategic defensive into such a succession
of costly tactical offensives was an example of strategic
artistry unparalleled in history. And it was all the
more remarkable because of the way Sherman was
tied to a single line of communications. Even from the
narrowest military criterion, ignoring its immense
moral and economic effect, it was a great feat; for
Sherman inflicted more casualties than he suffered,
not merely relatively but actually in 'striking' com-
parison with Grant in Virginia.

After gaining Atlanta, Sherman took a risk greater
than ever before, and for which he has been much
criticized by military commentators. He was convinced
that if he could march through, and ruin the railway
systems of, Georgia the 'granary of the South'
and then march through the Carolinas the heart of
the South the moral impression of this invasion, and
the stoppage of supplies going north to Richmond and
Lee's army, would cause the collapse of the Con-
federates' resistance. Hence, ignoring Hood's army,
which he had forced to evacuate Atlanta, he began his
famous 'march to the sea' through Georgia, living on
the country while he destroyed the railways. On the
15th of November 1864, he left Atlanta ; on the 10th of
December he reached the outskirts of Savannah, and
there reopened his communications this time, by
sea. To cite the verdict of the Confederate general, and
historian, Alexander 'There is no question that the
moral effect of this march upon the country at large



. . . was greater than would have been the most de-
cided victory.' Sherman then moved northwards
through the Carolinas towards Lee's rear, depriving
the South of its chief remaining ports.

Not until over three months later, the beginning of
April, did Grant resume his advance. This obtained a
dramatic success, and the surrender of Richmond was
followed within a week by the surrender of Lee's army.
Superficially, it was a triumphant vindication for
Grant's direct strategy and 'battle' objective. Rather
than forfeit the glamour for the Army of the Potomac,
he even took pains to ensure that Sherman's army
should not arrive on the scene prematurely. But, for a
serious judgement, the time factor is all important.
The collapse of the Confederate resistance was due to
the emptiness of its stomach reacting on its moral. The
indirect approach to the enemy's economic and moral
rear had proved as decisive in the ultimate phase as it
had been in the successive steps by which that decision
was prepared in the west. The truth comes home to
anyone who undertakes a careful and comprehensive
study of the war. It was appreciated more than thirty
years ago by the future official historian of the
World War, General Edmonds, who in his history
of the American Civil War reached the conclusion

* The military genius of the great confederate leaders,
Lee and Jackson, the unrivalled fighting capacity of
the Army of Northern Virginia, and the close proxim-
ity of the rival capitals, have caused a disproportion-
ate attention to be concentrated upon the eastern
theatre of war. It was in the west that the decisive
blows were struck. The capture of Vicksbufg and Port
Hudson in July 1 863 was the real turning point of the
war, and it was the operations of Sherman's grand
army of the west which really led to the collapse of the


IN 1861

Stanford, London,

1854-1914 *

Confederacy at Appomattox Court House' the site
of Lee's surrender in the east.

The disproportionate attention may be traced part-
ly to the glamour of battle which hypnotizes most
students of military history, and partly to the spell cast
by Henderson's epic biography Stonewall Jackson
more epic than history. The distinctive military value
of this book is scarcely reduced, and even enriched,
through embodying more of Henderson's conception
of war than of Jackson's execution. But by the interest
it created in the American Civil War it focussed the
attention of British military students on the cam-
paigns in Virginia, to the neglect of the western
theatres where the decisive acts took place. A modern
historian might render a service to future generations
if he were to analyse the effect of this 'disproportion-
ate attention', not merely one-sided but fallacious,
upon British military thought before 1914, and British
strategy in 1914-18.

Moltke's Campaigns

When one passes from the American Civil War to
the wars in Europe which followed on its heels, one is
impressed above all by the sharpness of its contrasts.
The first contrast is that in 1866 and 1870 both sides
were, nominally at least, prepared for the conflict ; the
second, that the contestants were professional armies ;
the third, that the opposing higher commands achieved
a record of mistakes and miscalculations unap-
proached by either side in the American Civil War ;
the fourth, that the strategy adopted by the Germans
in both wars was far more lacking in art; the fifth,
that, despite the deficiency, the issue was quickly de-
cided. Moltke's strategy was that of a direct approach
with little trace of guile, relying on the sheer smashing
power of a superior concentration of force. Are we


* 1854-1914

to conclude that these two wars are the proverbial
exceptions which prove the rule? They are certainly
exceptional, but hardly exceptions to the rule that has
emerged from the long list of cases already examined.
For in none of them were inferiority of force and
stupidity of mind so markedly combined in the scale
of the defeated side, weighing it down from the outset.

In 1866, the Austrians' inferiority of force rested
primarily in the fact of having an inferior weapon
for the Prussians' breech-loading rifle gave them an
advantage over the Austrians' muzzle-loader which
the battlefield amply proved, even if academic mili-
tary thought in the next generation tended to over-
look it. In 1870, the French inferiority of force lay
partly in their inferior numbers and partly, as with the
Austrians of 1866, in their inferior training.

These conditions are more than adequate to explain
the decisiveness of the Austrian defeat in 1866 and,
still more, the French defeat in 1870. In preparation
for war, any strategist would be rash to base his plans
on the supposition that his enemy would be as weak
in brain and body as the Austrians of 1866 and the
French in 1870.

At the same time, it is worth pointing out that the
German strategy was less direct in execution than in
conception. In 1866, the need to save time by using
all available railways led Moltke to detrain the Prus-
sian forces on a widely extended front of over 250
miles. His intention was, by a rapid advance, converg-
ing inward through the frontier mountain belt, to
unite his armies in northern Bohemia. But the loss of
time due- to the King of Prussia's reluctance to appear
the aggressor frustrated his intention and thereby
endowed his strategy with an indirectness of approach
that he had not intended. For the Austrian Army con-
centrated and pushed forward in the interval, thus



depriving Moltke of his desired concentration area.
And the Prussian Crown Prince, believing that the
projecting province of Silesia was menaced, wrung
from Moltke a reluctant sanction to move his army
south-eastwards to safeguard Silesia. Thereby he
separated himself further from the other armies ; and
thereby also he put himself in a position to menace the
flank and rear of the Austrian mass. Pedants have
spilled much ink in condemning Moltke for sanction-
ing this wide extension; in reality, it scattered the
seeds of a decisive victory, even though he had not
sown them deliberately.

These dispositions so disturbed the mental equili-
brium of the Austrian command that the Prussians,
despite a prodigal series of blunders, were able, first
to get through the mountains on both sides, and then
to . reap the harvest at Koniggratz where more
blunders contributed to the indirectness, and hence the
decisiveness of their approach. The Austrian comman-
der, indeed, was beaten before the battle opened: he had
telegraphed to his Emperor urging an immediate peace.

It is worth note that Moltke's far-stretched assembly
of his forces proved to have more flexibility than the
Austrians' concentration on a front of forty miles
which gave them the apparent advantage of being able
to operate on 'interior lines'. And it should also be
mentioned that, although Moltke's intention had been
to concentrate his forces before the enemy was met,
this was not with the aim of delivering a dkect attack.
His original plan had two branches. If exploration
were to show that the Austrians* supposed position
behind the Elbe at Josefstadt was insecure, the Crown
Prince's army was to side-step eastwards tod take it
in flank, while the other two armies piipied it in front.
If an attack seemed impracticable, 4& three armies,
were to circle westv^ird, cro& the Elbe at Pardubitz,
*.*"** 174 >


and then, swinging east, menace the enemy's com-
munications with the south. In the event, however,
the Austrians were found to be on the near side of
the Elbe, having concentrated further forward than
Moltke expected so that the Crown Prince's direc-
tion of advance automatically turned their flank, and
brought about their envelopment.

In 1870, Moltke had intended to bring about a deci-
sive battle on the Saar, in which all his three armies
would concentrate on and pulverize the French. This
plan was upset not by the enemy's action, but by their
paralysis. This paralysis was caused by the mere news
that the German Third Army, on the extreme left, had
crossed the frontier far to the east and won a minor
tactical success over a French detachment at Weissen-
burg. In the outcome, the indirect effect of this petty
engagement was more decisive than the intended great
battle would probably have been. For, instead of being
wheeled inwards to augment the main mass, the Third
Army was allowed to pursue a tranquil course well
outside the zone of the main opposing armies. Thus it
took no part in the blundering battles of Vionville and
Gravelotte the position of the French was such that
it could hardly have taken an effective part if it had
been nearer. And it thereby became the vital factor in
the next, and decisive, phase.

For when the French main army stimulated rather
than depressed by the result of the battle of Gravelotte
fell back to^a flank, into Metz, it might easily have
slipped away from the exhausted German First and
Second armies; but the likelihood of interception by
the Third Army was an inducement to Bazaine to stay
securely in Metz. Thus the Germans had time to re-
cover cohesion; the French, time to lose it, in the in-
activity which followed their abandonment of the
open field. In consequent, MacMahon was enticed

- 175

1854-1914 f

or, rather, politically pressed into his ill-advised and
worse-conducted move to the relief of Metz. Thus, un-j
intended and unforeseen , was created the opportunity
for the German Third Army, still marching 'free' to*
wards Paris, to make an indirect apprbach to Mac-
Mahon's army. Making a complete change of direc-
tion from westward to northward, it moved round on
the flank and rear of MacMahon. The result wa$
Sedan. Thus there was more indirectness in the fleci-
sive phase than a superficial view would suggest. But
it was the superficial, not the underlying ded^tion^
that influenced the mass of military theorizing Ivhich
followed 1870. And this influence dominated the next
large-scale war the Russo-Japanese.

The Russo-Japanese War

The Japanese strategy, slavishly following its Ger<-
man mentors, was essentially that of a direct approach;
There was no real attempt to take advantage of tt|e
Unusually advantageous condition that the Russiafl
war-effort was entirely dependent on a single line of
railway the Trans-Siberian. Never in all history has
an army drawn breath through so long .and narrow $
windpipe, and the very size of its body made its breath-
ing more difficult. But all that Japan's strategists con-
templated was a direct blow at, and into, the teeth of
the Russian army. And they held their own forces
more closely grouped than those of Moltfce in 1870.
It is trne that they attempted a certain convergence $f
approach before Liao-Yang, ,and subsequently, on
making contact, sought repeatedly to outflafek their
opponent; but if these outflanking movements look
comparatively wide on the map they were extremely
narrow in proportion to the scale qf the forces. Al-
though they had no 'free' army as it was Moltkefe
good fortune to have, no unintended bait such as

176 - . -



Metz, ancTno MacMahon to swallow it for they had
swallowed their own bait in taking Port Arthur they
hoped for a Sedan. Instead, there was an abundance
of indecisive bloodshed. As a result, they were so ex-
hausted after the final indecisive battle of Mukden
that they were glad, and lucky, to make peace with a
foe who had no heart in the struggle, and had not yet
put one-tenth of hfe available forces into it.

This analysis of history is concerned with facts and
not with conjectures: with what was done, and its
result, not with what might have been done. The
theory of the indirect approach which has evolved
from it must rest on the concrete evidence of actual
experience that the direct approach tends to be in-
decisive. It is not affected by arguments for or against
the difficulties of making an indirect approach in a
particular case. From the standpoint of the basic thesis
it is irrelevant whether a general could have taken, or
could have done better by taking, a different course.

But for the general service of military knowledge
speculation is always of interest, and often of value.
So, diverging from the direct path of this study, one
may point out the potential parallel between Port
Arthur and Mantua while taking account of the
handicaps which the Japanese suffered in the scanty
communications and difficult country of Korea and
Manchuria. If conditions wfcre harder in some ways,
they were more advantageous in others and the in-
strument better. Thus reflection prompts the question
whether, in the earlier phase of the war, Japanese
t strategy might not with advantage have exploited the
*bait of Port Arthur in the way that Bonaparte ex-
ploited Mantua. And, in the later phase, there would
seem to have been scope for using at least a propor-
tion of the Japanese force against the slender Russian
windpipe between Harbin and Mukden.
N 177

Chapter X

X his survey has covered twelve wars which deci-
sively affected the course of European history in an-
cient times, and the eighteen major wars of modern
history counting as one the struggle against Napo-
leon which, temporarily damped down in one place,
burst out afresh in another with no real intermis-
sion. These thirty conflicts embraced more than 280
campaigns. In only six of these campaigns those
which culminated at Issus, Gaugamela, Friedland,
Wagram, Sadowa, and Sedan did a decisive result
follow a plan of direct strategic approach to the main
army of the enemy. In the first two of these, Alexan-
der's advance was prepared by a grand strategy of
indirect approach, which had seriously shaken the
Persian empire and its adherents' confidence, while his
success in any battlefield test was virtually guaranteed
by the possession of a tactical instrument of greatly
superior quality, which was applied in a technique of
tactical indirect approach. In the next two cases,
Napoleon had each time begun by attempting an in-
direct approach, while his resort to direct attack was
due in part to his impatience, and in part to his con-
fidence in the superiority of his instrument. This
superiority was based on his use of massed artillery
against a key point, and at both Friedland and Wag-



ram the decision was primarily due to this new tactical
method. But the price paid for these successes, and its
ultimate effect on Napoleon's own fortunes, do not
encourage a resort to similar directness even with a
similar tactical superiority. As for 1866 and 1870, we
have seen that although both campaigns were con-
ceived as direct approaches, they acquired an unin-
tended indirectness which was reinforced by the
Germans' tactical superiority in each case ; a superior-
ity assured by the breech-loader in 1866, and by
superior artillery in 1870. These six campaigns, when
analysed, provide little justification for the complai-
sant adoption of a direct strategy by anyone entitled
to be called a general. Yet throughout history the
direct approach has been the normal form of strategy,
and a purposeful indirect approach the exception. It
is curious, too, how often generals have adopted the
latter, not as their initial strategy, but as a last re-
source. Yet it has brought them a decision where the
direct approach had brought them failure and there-
by left them in a weakened condition tp attempt the
indirect. A decisive success obtained in such deteri-
orated conditions acquires all the greater significance.
Our survey has revealed a large number of cam-
paigns in which the indirectness of approach is as
manifest as the decisiveness of the issue among them
those of Lysander in the Aegean, 405 B.C. ; Epaminon-
das in the Peloponnese, 362 B.C. ; Philip in Boeotia,
338 B.C. ; Alexander on the Hydaspes ; Cassander and
Lysimachus in, the Near East, 302 B.C.; Hannibal's
Trasimene campaign in Etruria; Scipio's Utica and
Zama campaigns in Africa ; Caesar's Ilerda campaign
in Spain ; and, in modern history, Cromwell's Preston,
Dunbar, and Worcester campaigns ; Turenne's Alsace
campaign of 1674-5; Eugene's Italian campaign of
1701 ; Marlborough's Flanders campaign of 1708, and



Villars's of 1712; Wolfe's Quebec campaign; Jour-
dan's Moselle-Meuse campaign of 1794; the Arch-
duke Charles's Rhine-Danube campaign of 1796;
Bonaparte's Italian campaigns of 1796, 1797, and
1800; his Ulm and Austerlitz campaigns of 1805;
Grant's Vicksburg and Sherman's Atlanta campaigns.
In addition, the survey has brought out numerous
border-line examples in which either the indirectness
or its effect are less clearly established.

This high proportion of history's decisive cam-
paigns, the significance of which is enhanced by the
comparative rarity of the indirect approach, enforces
the conclusion that the indirect approach is by far the
most hopeful and economic form of strategy. Can we
draw still stronger and more definite deductions from
history? Yes. With the exception of Alexander, the
consistently successful great commanders of history,
when faced by an enemy in a position strong naturally
or materially, have hardly ever attacked it directly.
If, under pressure of circumstances, they have reluc-
tantly risked a direct attack, the result has commonly
been to blot their record with a failure.

Further, history shows that rather than resign him-
self to a direct approach, a Great Captain will take
even the most hazardous indirect approach if neces-
sary over mountains, deserts or swamps, with only a
fraction of force, even cutting himself loose from his
communications. Facing, in fact, every unfavourable
condition rather than accept the risk of stalemate in-
vited by direct approach. Natural hazards, however
formidable, are inherently less dangerous and less un-
certain than fighting hazards. All conditions are more
calculable, all obstacles more surmountable, than
those of human resistance. By reasoned calculation
and preparation they can be overcome almost to time-
table. While Napoleon was able to cross the Alps in



1800 'according to plan', the little fort of Bard could
interfere so seriously with the movement of his army
as to endanger his whole plan.

Turning now to reverse the sequence of our examina-
tion, and surveying in turn the decisive battles of his-
tory, we find that in almost all the victor had his
opponent at a psychological disadvantage before the
clash took place. Examples are Marathon, Salamis,
Aegospotamoi, Mantinea, Chaeronea, Gaugamela
(through grand strategy), the Hydaspes, Ipsus, Trasi-
mene, Cannae, Metaurus, Zama, Tricameron, Tagi-
nae, Hastings, Preston, Dunbar, Worcester, Blen-
heim, Oudenarde, Denain, Quebec, Fleurus, Rivoli,
Austerlitz, Jena, Vicksburg, Koniggratz, Sedan.

Combining the strategical and the tactical examina-
tion, we find that most of the examples fall into one of
two categories. They ware produced either by a stra-
tegy of elastic defence calculated retirement that
was capped by a tactical offensive, or by a strategy of
offence, aimed to place oneself in a position 'up-
setting' to the opponent, and capped by a tactical
defensive : with a sting in the tail. Either compound
forms an indirect approach, and the psychological
basis of both can be expressed in the word 'lure' or
'trap'. Indeed, it might even be said, in a deeper and
wider sense than Clausewitz implied, that the defensive
is the stronger as well as the more economical form of
strategy. For the second compound, although super-
ficially and logistically an offensive move, has for its
underlying motive to draw the opponent into an 'un-
balanced' advance. The most effective indirect ap-
proach is one that lures or startles the opponent into
a false move so that, as in ju-jitsu, his own effort is
turned into the lever of his overthrow. 1

1 The latest example was the precipitate advance of the French
and British Annies into Belgium in May 1940.



In history, the indirect approach has normally con-
sisted of a logistical military move directed against an
economic target the source of supply of either the
opposing state or army. Occasionally, however, the
move has been purely psychological in aim, as in some
of the operations of Belisarius. Whatever the form, the
effect to be sought is the dislocation of the opponent's
mind and dispositions such an effect is the true gauge
of an indirect approach.

A further deduction, perhaps not positive but at
least suggestive, from our survey, is that in a cam-
paign against more than one state or army it is more
fruitful to concentrate first against the weaker partner,
than to attempt the overthrow of the stronger in the
belief that the latter's defeat will automatically involve
the collapse of the others.

In the two outstanding struggles of the ancient
world, the overthrow of Persia by Alexander and of
Carthage by Scipio both followed upon the severing
of the roots. And this grand strategy of indirect ap-
proach not only gave birth to the Macedonian and
Roman empires, but created the greatest of their suc-
cessors, the British Empire. On it, too, was founded
the fortunes and imperial power of Napoleon Bona-
parte. Later still, on this foundation arose the great
and solid structure of the United States.

The art of the indirect approach can only be mas-
tered, and its full scope appreciated, by study of and
reflection upon the whole history of v/ar. But we can
at least crystallize the lessons into two simple maxims,
one negative, the other positive. The first is that, in
face of the overwhelming evidence of history, no
general is justified in launching his troops to a direct
attack upon an enemy firmly in position. The second,
that instead of seeking to upset the enemy's
equilibrium by one's attack, it must be upset before



a real attack is, or can be successfully, launched.
Lenin had a vision of fundamental truth when he
said that 'the soundest strategy in war is to postpone
operations until the moral disintegration of the enemy
renders the delivery of the mortal blow both possible
and easy'. This is not always practicable, nor his
method of propaganda always fruitful. But it will bear
adaptation 'The soundest strategy in any campaign
is to postpone battle, and the soundest tactics to post-
pone attack, until the moral dislocation of the enemy
renders the delivery of a decisive blow practicable.'


Chapter XI

Having drawn our conclusions from an analysis of
history it seems advantageous to construct on the
fresh foundations a new dwelling house for strategic

Let us first be clear as to what is strategy. Clause-
witz, in his monumental work, On War, defined it as
'the art of the employment of battles as a means to
gain the object of war. In other words, strategy forms
the plan of the war, maps out the proposed course of
the different campaigns which compose the war, and
regulates the battles to be fought in each.'

One defect of this definition is that it intrudes on
the sphere of policy, or the higher conduct of the war,
which must necessarily be the responsibility of the
government and not of the military leaders it employs
as its agents in the executive control of operations.
Another defect is that it narrows the meaning of
'strategy' to the pure utilization of battle, thus con-
veying the idea that battle is the only means to the
strategical end. It was an easy step for his less pro-
found disciples to confuse the means with the end, and
to reach the conclusion that in war every other con-
sideration should be subordinated to the aim of fight-
ing a decisive battle.



Relation to Policy

To break down the distinction between strategy and
policy would not matter much if the two functions
were normally combined in the same person, as with
a Frederick or a Napoleon. But as such autocratic
soldier-rulers have long been rare, and became tem-
porarily extinct in the nineteenth century, the effect
was insidiously harmful. For it encouraged soldiers to
make the preposterous claim that policy should be
subservient to their conduct of operations and, especi-
ally in democratic countries, it drew the statesman on
to overstep the indefinite border of his sphere and
interfere with his military employee in the actual use
of his tools.

Moltke reached a clearer, and wiser, definition in
terming strategy 'the practical adaptation of the
means placed at a general's disposal to the attainment
of the object in view'. This definition fixes the respon-
sibility of a military commander to the government by
which he is employed. His responsibility is that of
applying most profitably to the interest of the higher
war policy the force allotted to him within the theatre
of operations assigned to him. If he considers that the
force allotted is inadequate for the task indicated he
is justified in pointing this out, and if his opinion is
overruled he can refuse or resign the command ; but
he exceeds his rightful sphere if he attempts to dictate
to the government what measure of force should be
placed at his disposal.

On the other hand, the government, which formu-
lates war policy, and has to adapt it to conditions
which often change as a war progresses, can rightly
intervene in the strategy of a campaign not merely by
replacing a commander in whom it has lost confidence,
but by modifying his object according to the needs
of its war policy. While it should not interfere with



him in the handling of his tools, it should indicate
clearly the nature of his task. Thus strategy has not
necessarily the simple object of seeking to overthrow
the enemy's military power. When a government ap-
preciates that the enemy has the military superiority,
either in general or in a particular theatre, it may
wisely enjoin a strategy of limited aim.

It may desire to wait until the balance of force can
be changed by the intervention of allies or by the
transfer of forces from another theatre. It may desire
to wait, or even to limit its military effort permanently,
while economic or naval action decides the issue. It
may calculate that the overthrow of the enemy's mili-
tary power is a task definitely beyond its capacity, or
not worth the effort and that the object of its war
policy can be assured by seizing territory which it can
either retain or use as bargaining counters when peace
is negotiated. Such a policy has more support from
history than military opinion hitherto has recognized,
and is less inherently a policy of weakness than its
apologists imply. It is, indeed, bound up with the his-
tory of the British Empire, and has repeatedly proved
a lifebuoy to Britain's allies as well as of permanent
benefit to herself. However unconsciously followed,
there is ground for inquiry whether this 'conservative'
military policy does not deserve to be accorded a
place in the theory of the conduct of war.

The more usual reason for adopting a strategy of
limited aim is that of awaiting a change in the balance
offeree, a change often sought and achieved by drain-
ing the enemy's force, weakening him by pricks in-
stead of risking blows. The essential condition of such
a strategy is that the drain on him should be dis-
proportionately greater than on yourself. The object
may be sought by raiding his supplies, by local attacks
which annihilate or inflict disproportionate loss on



parts of his force, by luring him into unprofitable at-
tacks, by causing an excessively wide distribution of
his force and, not least, by exhausting his moral and
physical energy.

This closer definition sheds light on the question,
previously raised, of a general's independence in
carrying out his own strategy inside his theatre of
operations. For if the government has decided upon a
4 Fabian' war policy the general who, even within his
strategic sphere, seeks to overthrow the enemy's mili-
tary power may do more harm than good to the
government's war policy. Usually, a war policy of
limited aim imposes a strategy of limited aim, and a
decisive aim should only be adopted with the approval
of the government which alone can decide whether it is
* worth the candle '.

We can now arrive at a shorter definition of strategy
as ' the art of distributing military means to fulfil the
ends of policy'. For strategy is concerned not merely
with the movement of armies as its role is often
defined but with the effect. When the application of
the military instrument merges into actual fighting,
the dispositions for and control of such direct action
are termed 'tactics'. The two categories, however, al-
though convenient for discussion, can never be truly
divided into separate compartments because each not
only influences but merges into the other.

As tactics is an application of strategy on a lower
plane, so strategy is an application on a lower plane of
'grand strategy'. If practically synonymous with the
policy which governs the conduct of war, as distinct
from the permanent policy which formulates its ob-
ject, the term 'grand strategy' serves to bring out the
sense of 'policy in execution'. For the role of grand
strategy is to co-ordinate and direct all the resources
of a nation towards the attainment of the political



object of the war the goal defined by national policy.
Grand strategy should both calculate and develop the
economic resources and man-power of the nation in
order to sustain the fighting services. So also with the
moral resources for to foster the willing spirit of a
people is as important as to possess the more con-
crete forms of power. Grand strategy, too, should
regulate the distribution of power between the several
services, and between the services and industry. And
fighting power is but one of the instruments of grand
strategy. This should take account and apply the
power of financial pressure, diplomatic pressure, com-
mercial pressure, and, not least, ethical pressure, to
weaken the opponent's will. A good cause is a sword
as well as a buckler.

Furthermore, while the horizon of strategy is
bounded by the war, grand strategy looks beyond the
war to the subsequent peace. It should not only com-
bine the various instruments, but so regulate their use
as to avoid damage to the future state of peacefulness,
secure and prosperous. The sorry state of peace, for
both sides, that has followed most wars can be traced
to the fact that, unlike strategy, the realm of grand
strategy is for the most part terra incognita still
awaiting exploration, and understanding.

Pure Strategy

Having cleared the ground, we can build up our
conception of strategy on its original and true basis
that of 'the art of the general'. This depends for suc-
cess, first and most, on a sound calculation and co-
ordination of the end and the means. The end must be
proportioned to the total means, and the means used
in gaining each intermediate end which contributes to
the ultimate must be proportioned to the value and
needs of that intermediate end whether it be to gain



an objective or to fulfil a contributory purpose. An
excess may be as harmful as a deficiency. A true ad-
justment would establish a perfect economy of force,
in the deeper sense of that oft-distorted military term.
But, because of the nature and uncertainty of war, an
uncertainty aggravated by its unscientific study, a true
adjustment is beyond the power of military genius
even, and success lies in the closest approximation to

This relativity is inherent because, however far our
knowledge of the science of war be extended, it will
depend on art for its application. Art can not only
bring the end nearer to the means, but by giving
a higher value to the means, enable the end to be
extended. This complicates calculation, because no
man can exactly calculate the capacity of human
genius and stupidity, nor the incapacity of will.

Elements and Conditions

Nevertheless, in strategy calculation is simpler and
a closer approximation to truth possible than in tac-
tics. For in war the chief incalculable is the human
will, which manifests itself in resistance, which in turn
lies in the province of tactics. Strategy has not to over-
come resistance, except from nature. Its purpose is to
diminish the possibility of resistance, and it seeks to
fulfil this purpose by exploiting the elements of move-
ment and surprise. Movement lies in the physical
sphere, and depends on a calculation of the conditions
of time, topography, and transport capacity. By trans-
port capacity is meant both the means by which, and
the measure in which, force can be moved and main-

Surprise lies in the psychological sphere and de-
pends on a calculation, far more difficult than in the
physical sphere, of the manifold conditions, varying



in each case, which are likely to affect the will of the

Although strategy may aim more at exploiting
movement than at exploiting surprise, or conversely,
yet the two elements react on each other. Movement
generates surprise, and surprise gives impetus to
movement. For a movement which is accelerated or
changes its direction inevitably carries with it a degree
of surprise, even though it be unconcealed ; while sur-
prise smooths the path of movement by hindering the
enemy's counter-measures and counter-movements.

As regards the relation of strategy to tactics, while
in execution the borderline is often shadowy, and it is
difficult to decide exactly where a strategical move-
ment ends and a tactical movement begins, yet in con-
ception the two are distinct. Tactics lies in and fills
the province of fighting. Strategy not only stops on
the frontier, but has for its purpose the reduction of
fighting to the slenderest possible proportions.

Aim of Strategy

This statement may be disputed by those who con-
ceive the destruction of the enemy's armed force as
the only sound aim in war, who hold that the only
goal of strategy is battle, and who are obsessed with
the Clausewitzian saying that 'blood is the price of
victory'. Yet if one should concede this point and
meet its advocates on their own ground, the statement
would remain unshaken. For even if a decisive battle
be the only goal, all recognize that the object of
strategy is to bring about this battle under the most
advantageous circumstances. And the more advan-
tageous the circumstances, the less, proportionately,
will be the fighting.

The perfection of strategy would, therefore, be to
produce a decision without any serious fighting, His-



tory, as we have seen, provides examples where stra-
tegy, helped by favourable conditions, has practically
produced such a result among them Caesar's Ilerda
campaign, Cromwell's Preston campaign, and Napo-
leon's Ulm campaign. More recent examples are
Moltke's success in surrounding MacMahon's army
at Sedan in 1870, and the way that Allenby in 1918
surrounded the Turks in the hills of Samaria y closing
every bolt-hole. 1

While these were cases where the destruction of the
enemy's armed forces was economically achieved
through their disarming by surrender, such 4 destruc-
tion' may not be essential for a decision, and for the
fulfilment of the war-aim. In the case of a State that is
seeking, not conquest, but the maintenance of its
security, the aim is fulfilled if the threat be removed
if the enemy is led to abandon his purpose. The defeat
which Belisarius incurred at Sura through giving rein
to his troops' desire for a 'decisive victory' after the
Persians had already given up their attempted invasion
of Syria was a clear example of unnecessary effort
and risk. By contrast, the way that he defeated their
far more dangerous later invasion, and cleared them
out of Syria, is perhaps the most striking example on
record of achieving a decision in the real sense, of
fulfilling the national object by pure strategy. For in
this case, the psychological action was so effective that
the enemy surrendered his purpose without any physi-
cal action at all being required. While such bloodless
victories have been exceptional, their rarity should
enhance rather than detract from their value as an
indication of latent potentialities, in strategy and
grand strategy. Despite many centuries' experience of

1 Still more recent examples have been provided by the Ger-
mans' success in cutting off the Allied armies in Belgium, and by
WavelTs campaign in Libya.



war, we have hardly begun to explore the field of psy-
chological warfare.

From deep study of war, Clausewitz was led to the
conclusion that 'All military action is permeated by
intelligent forces and their effects. * Nevertheless,
nations at war have always striven, or been driven by
their passions, to disregard the implications of such
a conclusion. Instead of applying intelligence, they
have chosen to batter their heads against the nearest

It rests normally with the government, responsible
for the grand strategy of a war, to decide whether
strategy should make its contribution by achieving a
military decision or otherwise. And just as the mili-
tary is but one of the means to the end of grand
strategy one of the instruments in the surgeon's case
so battle is but one of the means to the end of
strategy. If the conditions are suitable, it is usually the
quickest in effect, but if the conditions are unfavour-
able it is folly to use it. Let us assume that a strategist
is empowered to seek a military decision. His respon-
sibility is to seek it under the most advantageous cir-
cumstances in order to produce the most profitable
result. Hence his true aim is not so much to seek battle
as to seek a strategic situation so advantageous that
if it does not of itself produce the decision, its con-
tinuation by a battle is sure to achieve this. In other
words, dislocation is the aim of strategy; its sequel
may be either the enemy's dissolution or his disrup-
tion in battle. Dissolution may involve some partial
measure of fighting, but this has not the character of a

Action of Strategy

How is the strategic dislocation produced? In the
physical, or 'logistical', sphere it is the result of a



move which (a) upsets the enemy's dispositions and, by
compelling a sudden "change of front 9 , dislocates the
distribution and organization of his forces ; (b) separ-
ates his forces ; (c) endangers his supplies ; (d) menaces
the route or routes by which he could retreat in case
of need and re-establish himself in his base or home-
land. A dislocation may be produced by one of these
effects, but is more often the consequence of several.
Differentiation, indeed, is difficult because a move
directed towards the enemy's rear tends to combine
these effects. Their respective influence, however,
varies and has varied throughout history according
to the size of armies and the complexity of their or-
ganization. With armies which 'live on the country',
drawing their supplies locally by plunder or requisi-
tion, the line of communication has negligible im-
portance. Even in a higher stage of military develop-
ment, the smaller a force is, the less dependent it is on
the line of communication for supplies. The larger an
army, and the more complex its organization, the
more prompt and serious in effect is a menace to its
line of communication.

Where armies have not been so dependent, strategy
has been correspondingly handicapped, and the tacti-
cal issue of battle has played a greater part. Neverthe-
less, even thus handicapped, strategic artists have fre-
quently gained a decisive advantage previous to battle
by menacing the enemy's line of retreat, the equili-
brium of his dispositions, or his local supplies.

To be effective, such a menace must usually be
applied at a point closer, in time and space, to the
enemy's army than a menace to his communications;
and thus in early warfare it is often difficult to
distinguish between the strategical and tactical

In the psychological sphere, dislocation is the result
o 193


of the impression on the commander's mind of the
physical effects which we have listed. Hie impression
is strongly accentuated if his realization of his being
at a disadvantage is sudden, and if he feels that he is
unable to counter the enemy's move. In fact, psycho-
logical dislocation fundamentally springs from this
sense of being trapped. This is the reason why it has
most frequently followed a physical move on to the
enemy's rear. An army, like a man, cannot properly
defend its back from a blow without turning round to
use its arms in the new direction. * Turning' temporar-
ily unbalances an army as it does a man, and with the
former the period of instability is inevitably much
longer. In consequence, the brain is much more sensi-
tive to any menace to its back. In contrast, to move
directly on an opponent is to consolidate his equili-
brium, physical and psychological, and by consoli-
dating it to augment his resisting power. For in the
case of an army it rolls the enemy back towards their
reserves, supplies, and reinforcements, so that as the
original front is worn thin new layers are added to the
back. And, at best, it imposes a strain rather than
producing a shock.

Thus a move round the enemy's front against his
rear has the aim not only of avoiding resistance on its
way but in its issue. In the profoundest sense, it takes
the line of least resistance. The equivalent in the psy-
chological sphere is the line of least expectation. They
are the two faces of the same coin, and to appreciate
this is to widen our understanding of strategy. For if
we merely take what obviously appears the line of
least resistance, its obviousness will appeal to the op-
ponent also : and this line may no longer be that of
least resistance. In studying the physical aspect we
must never lose sight of the psychological, and only
when both are combined is the strategy truly an in-



direct approach, calculated to dislocate the opponent's

Thus we see that the mere fact of marching in-
directly towards the enemy and on to the rear of his
dispositions does not constitute a strategic indirect
approach. Strategic art is not so simple. Such an ap-
proach may start by being indirect in relation to the
enemy's front, but by the very directness of its pro-
gress towards his rear may allow him to change his
dispositions so that it soon becomes a direct approach
to his new front.

Because of the risk that the enemy may achieve such
a change of front, it is usual, and usually necessary,
for the dislocating move to be preceded by a move, or
moves, which can perhaps best be classified under the
term * distract ' in its literal sense of * to draw asunder '.
The purpose of this 'distraction' is to deprive the
enemy of his freedom of action, and it should operate
in both the physical and psychological spheres. In the
physical, by causing a distension of his forces or their
diversion to unprofitable ends, so that they are too
widely distributed, and too committed elsewhere, to
have the power of interfering with one's own deci-
sively intended move. In the psychological sphere, the
same effect is sought by playing upon the fears of, and
by deceiving, the opposing command. * Stonewall'
Jackson realized this when he framed his strategical
motto 'Mystify, mislead, and surprise'. For to mys-
tify and to mislead constitutes * distraction,', while sur-
prise is the essential cause of 'dislocation'. And it is
through the 'distraction' of the commander's mind
that the distraction of his forces follows. The loss of
his freedom of action is the sequel to the loss of his
freedom of conception.

A more profound appreciation of how the psycho-
logical permeates and dominates the physical sphere



has an indirect value. For it warns us of the fallacy and
shallowness of attempting to analyse and theorize
about strategy in terms of mathematics. To treat it
quantitatively, as if the issue turned merely on a
superior concentration of force at a selected place, is
as faulty as to treat it geometrically : as a question of
lines and angles.

Even more remote from truth because in practice
it usually leads to a dead end is the 'grooved* ten-
dency, especially characteristic of modern text-books,
to treat war as mainly a matter of concentrating
superior force. In his celebrated definition of economy
of force Foch termed it 'The art of pouring out all
one's resources at a given moment on one spot; of
making use there of all troops, and, to make such a
thing possible, of making those troops permanently
communicate with each other, instead of dividing
them and attaching to each fraction some fixed and
invariable function; its second part, a result having
been attained, is the art of again so disposing the
troops as to converge upon, and act against, a new
single objective.'

It would have been more exact, and perhaps more
lucid, to say that an army should always be so distri-
buted that its parts can aid each other and combine
to produce the maximum possible concentration of
force at one place, while the minimum force necessary is
used elsewhere to prepare the success of the concen-

To concentrate all is an unrealizable ideal. And
dangerous even as a hyperbole. Moreover, in practice
the 'minimum necessary' may form a far larger pro-
portion of the total than the 'maximum possible'. It
would even be true to say that the larger the force
that is effectively used for distraction of the enemy, the
greater is the chance of the concentration succeeding



in its aim. For otherwise it may strike an object too
solid to be shattered. Superior weight at the intended
decisive point does not suffice unless that point cannot
be reinforced in time by the opponent. It rarely suffices
unless that point is not merely weaker numerically but
has been weakened morally. Napoleon suffered some
of his worst checks because he neglected this guaran-
tee. And the need for distraction has grown with the
delaying power of weapons.

Basis of Strategy

A deeper truth to which Foch and the other dis-
ciples of Clausewitz did not penetrate fully is that in
war every problem, and every principle, is a duality.
Like a coin, it has two faces. Hence the need for a
well-calculated compromise as a means to reconcilia-
tion. This is the inevitable consequence of the fact
that war is a two-party affair, so imposing the need
that while hitting one must guard. Its corollary is that,
in order to hit with effect, the enemy must be taken off
his guard. Effective concentration can 4 only be ob-
tained when the opposing forces are dispersed; and,
usually, in order to ensure this, one's own forces must
be widely distributed. Thus, by an outward paradox,
true concentration is the product of dispersion.

A further consequence of the two-party condition is
that to ensure reaching an objective one should have
alternative objectives. Herein lies a vital contrast to
the single-minded nineteenth-century doctrine of Foch
and his fellows & contrast of the practical to the
theoretical. For if the enemy is certain as to your point
of aim he has the best possible chance of guarding
himself and blunting your weapon. If, on the other
hand, you take a line that threatens alternative objec-
tives, you distract his mind and forces. This, moreover,
is the most economic method of distraction, for it al-



lows you to keep the largest proportion of your force
available on your real line of operation thus recon-
ciling the greatest possible concentration with the
necessity of dispersion.

The absence of an alternative is contrary to the very
nature of war. It sins against the light which Bourcet
shed in the eighteenth century by his most penetrating
dictum that 'every plan of campaign ought to have
several branches and to have been so well thought out
that one or other of the said branches cannot fail of
success'. This was the light that his military heir, the
young Napoleon Bonaparte, followed in seeking al-
ways, as he said, to 'faire son theme en deuxfafons\
Seventy years later Sherman was to re-learn the lesson
from experience, by reflection, and to coin his famous
maxim about 'putting the enemy on the horns of a
dilemma'. In any problem where an opposing force
exists, and cannot be regulated, one must foresee and
provide for alternative courses. Adaptability is the
law which governs survival in war as in life war
being but a concentrated form of the human struggle
against environment.

To be practical, any plan must take account of the
enemy's power to frustrate it ; the best chance of over-
coming such obstruction is to have a plan that can be
easily varied to fit the circumstances met ; to keep such
adaptability, while still keeping the initiative, the best
way is to operate along a line which offers alternative
objectives. For thereby you put your opponent on the
horns of a dilemma, which goes far to assure the gain-
ing of at least one objective whichever is least
guarded and may enable you to gain one after the
other. In the tactical field, where the enemy's disposi-
tions are likely to be based on the nature of the ground,
it may be more difficult to find a choice of dilemma-
producing objectives than it is in the strategical field,



where the enemy will have obvious industrial and rail-
way centres to cover. But you can gain a similar ad-
vantage by adapting your line of effort to the degree of
resistance that is met, and exploiting any weakness
that is found. A plan, like a tree, must have branches
if it is to bear fruit. A plan with a single aim is apt
to prove a barren pole.

Cutting Communications

In the planning of any stroke at the enemy's com-
munications, either by manoeuvre round his flank or
by rapid penetration of a breach in his front, the ques-
tion will arise as to the most effective point of aim
whether it should be directed against the immediate
rear of the opposing force, or further back. Some
guidance on the question can be obtained from analy-
sis of cavalry raids carried out in the past, especially
in the more recent wars since railways came into use.
While such cavalry raids had more limited potentiali-
ties than an inroad of modern mechanized forces, this
difference emphasizes rather than detracts from the
significance of the evidence which they provide. Mak-
ing the necessary adjustment, the following deduc-
tions can be drawn :

In general, the nearer to the force that the cut is
made, the more immediate the effect ; the nearer to the
base, the greater the effect. In either case, the effect is
much greater and more quickly felt if made against a
force that is in motion, and in course of carrying out
an operation, than against a force that is stationary.

In deciding the direction of a mobile stroke, much
depends on the strategic position and supply condi-
tions of the enemy forces, i.e. the number of their lines
of supply, the possibility of adopting alternative lines
of supply, the amount of supplies likely to be accumu-
lated in advanced depots close behind their front.



After these factors have been considered, they should
be reconsidered in the light of the accessibility of the
various possible objectives, i.e., the distance, the
natural obstacles, and the opposition likely to be met.
In general, the longer the distance that has to be
covered, the greater the ratio of natural obstacles, but
the less the ratio of opposition.

Thus, unless the natural obstacles are very severe,
or the enemy has unusual independence of supplies
from base, more success and more effect is to be ex-
pected from cutting his communications as far back
as possible. A further consideration is that while a
stroke close in rear of the enemy force may have more
effect on the minds of the enemy troops, a stroke far
back tends to have more effect on the mind of the
enemy commander.

Cavalry raids in the past often forfeited their effect
by lack of care in carrying out the demolition side of
their task. As a result the prospective value of mobile
raids on communications has been unduly discounted.
It is apt to be forgotten that the flow of supplies may
be interrupted not only by demolitions on the route,
but by actual or threatened interception of trains and
lorry convoys. The latter form of interruption is in-
creased in potentiality by the development of mechan-
ized forces (because of their fluidity).

The Method of Advance

Until the end of the eighteenth century, a physically
concentrated advance, both strategic (to the battle-
field) and tactical (on the battlefield) was the rule.
Then Napoleon, exploiting Bourcet's ideas and the
new divisional system, introduced a distributed strate-
gic advance the army moving in independent frac-
tions. But the tactical advance was still, in general, a
concentrated one.



Towards the end of the nineteenth century, with the
development of fire weapons, the tactical advance be-
came dispersed, i.e., in particles, to diminish the effect
of fire. But the strategic advance had again become
concentrated this was due partly to the growth of
masses, and partly to the misunderstanding of the
Napoleonic method.

To-day we must recognize the need of reviving the
distributed strategic advance, if there is to be any
chance of reviving the art and effect of strategy. But
two new conditions air power and motor power
seem to point to its further development into a dis-
persed strategic advance. The danger of air attack, the
aim of mystification, and the need of drawing full
value from mechanized mobility, suggest that advan-
cing forces should not only be distributed as widely as
is compatible with combined action, but be dispersed
as much as is compatible with cohesion. And the de-
velopment of wireless is a timely aid towards recon-
ciling dispersion with control.

Instead of the simple idea of a concentrated stroke
by a concentrated force, we must choose according to
circumstance between these variants :

(i) Dispersed advance with concentrated single
aim, i.e. against one objective.

(ii) Dispersed advance with concentrated serial

aim, i.e. against successive objectives.
(These will each demand preliminary moves to dis-
tract the enemy's attention and forces, unless the pos-
sibility of taking alternative objectives enables us to
rely on such distracting effect being produced already
by the enemy's perplexity.)

(iii) Dispersed advance with distributed aim, i.e.
against a number of objectives simultaneously.
(Under the new conditions of warfare, it may happen
that the cumulative effect of partial success, or even



mere threat, at a number of points may be greater
than the effect of complete success at one point.)

The prospect of reviving the effectiveness of armies,
except in mere protectiveness, lies in the development
of such new methods: methods which aim at per-
meating and dominating areas rather than capturing
lines; at the practicable object of paralysing the
enemy's action rather than the theoretical object of
crushing his forces. Fluidity of force may succeed
where concentration of force merely entails a helpless

Grand Strategy

This book is concerned with strategy, rather than
with grand strategy or war policy. To deal adequately
with this wider subject would require not only a much
larger volume, but a separate volume for while grand
strategy should control strategy, its principles often
run counter to those which prevail in the field of
strategy. For that very reason, however, it is desirable
to include here some indication of the deeper con-
clusions to which a study of grand strategy leads.

Whereas strategy is only concerned with the prob-
lem of 'winning the war', grand strategy must take a
longer view for its problem is the winning of the
peace. Such an order of thought is not a matter of
'putting the cart before the horse \ but of being clear
as to where the horse and cart are going.

The object in war is to attain a better peace even
if only from your own point of view. Hence it is essen-
tial to conduct war with constant regard to the peace
you desire. This is the truth underlying Clausewitz's
definition of war as 'a continuation of policy by other
means' the prolongation of that policy through the
jsvar into the subsequent peace must always be borne
in mind. A State which expends its strength to the



point of exhaustion bankrupts its own policy, and

If you concentrate exclusively on victory, with no
thought for the after-effect, you may be too exhausted
to profit by the peace, while it is almost certain that
the peace will be a bad one, containing the germs of
another war. This is a lesson supported by abundant
experience. The risks become greater still in any war
that is waged by a coalition. For in such a case a too
complete victory inevitably complicates the problem
of making a just and wise peace settlement. Where
there is no longer the counter-balance of an opposing
force to control the appetites of the victors, there is no
check on the conflict of views and interests between
the parties to the alliance. The divergence is then apt
to become so acute as to turn the comradeship of
common danger into the hostility of mutual dissatis-
faction so that the ally of one war becomes the
enemy in the next.

This raises a further and wider question. The fric-
tion that commonly develops in any alliance system,
especially when it has no balancing force, has been one
of the factors that have fostered the numerous at-
tempts throughout history to find a solution in fusion.
But history teaches us that in practice this is apt to
mean domination by one of the constituted elements.
And though there is a natural tendency towards the
fusion of small groups in larger ones, the usual result
of forcing the pace is the confusion of the plans to
establish such a comprehensive political unit.

Moreover, regrettable as it may seem to the idealist,
the experience of history provides little warrant for
the belief that real progress, and the freedom that
makes progress possible, lies in unification. For where
unification has been able to establish unity of ideas



it has usually ended in uniformity, paralysing the
growth of new ideas. And where the unification has
merely brought about an artificial or imposed unity,
its irksomeness has led through discord to disruption.
Vitality springs from diversity which makes for
real progress so long as there is mutual toleration,
based on the recognition that worse may come from
an attempt to suppress differences than from accep-
tance of them. For this reason, the kind of peace that
makes progress possible is best assured by the mutual
checks created by a balance of forces alike in the
sphere of internal politics and of international rela-
tions. In the former sphere, the experience of the two-
party system in English politics continued long enough
to show its practical superiority, whatever its theoreti-
cal drawbacks, to atny other system of government
has yet been tried. In the international sphere,
* balance of power' was a sound theory so long as
balance was preserved. But the frequency with
which the European 'balance of power' has become
unbalanced, thereby precipitating war, has produced
a growing urge to find a more stable solution : either
by fusion or federation. Federation is the more hope-
ful method, since it embodies the life-giving principle
of co-operation, whereas fusion encourages the mono-
polizing of power by a single political interest. And
any monopoly of power leads to ever-repeated de-
monstration of the historical truth epitomized in Lord
Acton's famous dictum 'All power corrupts, and
absolute power corrupts absolutely. ' From that danger
even a federation is not immune, so that the greatest
care should be taken to ensure the mutual checks and
balancing factors necessary to correct the natural
effect of constitutional unity.

Another conclusion which develops from the study



of grand strategy (national war-policy), against the
background of history, is the practical necessity of
adapting the general theory of strategy to the nature
of a nation's fundamental policy. There is an essential
difference of aim, and must be a consequent difference
of appropriate method, between an 'acquisitive' and
a 'conservative' State. In the light of this difference it
becomes clear that the pure theory of strategy, as out-
lined earlier in this chapter, best fits the case of a State
that is primarily concerned with conquest. It has to be
modified if it is to serve the true purpose of a nation
that is content with its existing territorial bounds, and
primarily concerned to preserve its security and main-
tain its way of life. The acquisitive State, inherently
unsatisfied, needs to gain victory in order to gain its
object and must therefore court greater risks in the
attempt. The conservative State can achieve its objd$$
by merely inducing the aggressor to drop his attempt '
at conquest by convincing him that ' the game is not
worth the candle'. Its victory is, in a real sense, at-
tained by foiling the other side's bid for victory. In-
deed, in attempting more it may defeat its own pur-
pose by exhausting itself so much that it is unable te
resist other enemies, or the internal effects of over-
strain. Self-exhaustion in war has killed more States
than any foreign assailant.

Weighing these factors of the problem, it can be
seen that the problem of a conservative State is to
find the type of strategy that is suited to fulfil its in-
herently more limited object in the most strength-
conserving war so as to insure its future as well as
its present. At first glance, it might seem that pure
defence would be the most economical method ; but
this implies static defence and historical experience
warns us that this is a dangerously brittle method on
which to rely. Economy of force and deterrent effect



are best combined in the defensive-offensive method,
based on high mobility that carries the power of quick
riposte. The East Roman Empire was a case where
such an actively * conservative' strategy had been
carefully thought out, as a basis of war-policy a
fact which goes far to explain its unrivalled span of
existence. Another example, more instinctive than
reasoned, is provided by the strategy, based on sea-
power, that England practised in her wars from the
sixteenth to the nineteenth century. The value of it
was shown by the way that her strength kept pace
with her growth, while all her rivals broke down in
turn through self-exhaustion in war traceable to
their immoderate desire for the immediate satisfaction
of outright victory.

A long series of mutually exhausting and devas-
tating wars, above all the Thirty Years' War, had
brought statesmen in the eighteenth century to realize
the necessity, when engaged in war, of curbing both
their ambitions and their passions in the interests of
their purpose. On the one hand, this realization tended
to produce a tacit limitation of warfare an avoidance
of excesses which might damage after-the-war pros-
pects. On the other hand, it made them more ready
to negotiate a peace if and when victory came to
appear dubious of achievement. Their ambitions and
passions frequently carried them too far, so that the
return to peace found their countries weakened rather
than strengthened, but they had learnt to stop short
of national exhaustion. And the most satisfactory
peace settlements, even for the stronger side, proved
to be those which were made by negotiation rather
than by a decisive military issue.

This gradual education in the inherent limitations
of war was still in process when it was interrupted by



the French Revolution, bringing to the top men who
were novices in statesmanship. The Directory and its
successor, Napoleon, pursued the vision of an endur-
ing peace through war after war for twenty years. The
pursuit never led to the goal, but only to spreading
exhaustion and ultimate collapse.

The bankruptcy of the Napoleonic Empire renewed
a lesson that had often been taught before. The im-
pression, however, came to be obscured by the sunset
haze of Napoleonic myth. The lesson had been for-
gotten by the time it was repeated in the war of

Although war is contrary to reason, since it is a
means of deciding issues by force when discussion
fails to produce an agreed solution, the conduct of
war must be controlled by reason if its object is to be
fulfilled. For

(1) While fighting is a physical act, its direction is a
mental process. The better your strategy, the easier
you will gain the upper hand, and the less it will cost you.

(2) Conversely, the more strength you waste the
more you increase the risk of the scales of war turning
against you ; and even if you succeed in winning the
victory, the less strength you will have to profit by the

(3) The more brutal your methods the more bitter
you will make your opponents, with the natural result
of hardening the resistance you are trying to over-
come ; thus the more evenly the two sides are matched
the wiser it will be to avoid extremes of violence which
tend to consolidate the enemy's troops and
behind their leaders.

(4) These calculations extend further,
tent you appear to impose a peace ent
own choosing, by conquest, the stiffer the

will raise in your path. CC ( p.p.

207 \\<ft


(5) Furthermore, if and when you reach your mili-
tary goal, the more you ask of the defeated side the
more trouble you will have, and the more cause you
will provide for an ultimate attempt to reverse the
settlement achieved by the war.

Force is a vicious circle, or rather, a spiral unless
its application is controlled by the more carefully
reasoned calculation. Thus war, which begins by deny-
ing reason, comes to vindicate it throughout all
phases of the struggle.

The fighting instinct is necessary to success in the
battlefield although even here the combatant who
can keep a cool head has an advantage over the man
who 'sees red' but should always be ridden on a
tight rein. The statesman who gives that instinct its
head loses his own ; he is not fit to take charge of the
fate of a nation.

Victory in the true sense implies that the state 01
peace, and of one's people, is better after the war than
before. Victory in this sense is only possible if a quick
result can be gained or if a long effort can be econo-
mically proportioned to the national resources. The
end must be adjusted to the means. Failing a fair pros-
pect of such a victory, wise statesmanship will miss no
opportunity for negotiating peace. Peace through
stalemate, based on a coincident recognition by each
side of the opponent's strength, is at least preferable
to peace through common exhaustion and has often
provided a better foundation for lasting peace.

It is wiser to run risks of war for the sake of pre-
serving peace than to run risks of exhaustion in war
for the sake of finishing with victory a conclusion
that runs counter to custom but is supported by ex-
perience. Perseverance in war is only justifiable if there
is a good chance of a good end the prospect of a



peace that will balance the sum of human misery in-
curred in the struggle. Indeed, deepening study of past
experience leads to the conclusion that nations might
often have come nearer to their object by taking ad-
vantage of a lull in the struggle to discuss a settlement
than by pursuing the war with the aim of * victory '.

History reveals, also, that in many cases a beneficial
peace could have been obtained if the statesmen of the
warring nations had shown more understanding of
the elements of psychology in their peace ' feelers'.
Their attitude has commonly been too akin to that
seen in the typical domestic quarrel; each party is
afraid to appear yielding, with the result that when
one of them shows any inclination towards concilia-
tion this is usually expressed in language that is too
stiff, while the other is apt to be slow to respond
partly from pride or obstinacy and partly from a ten-
dency to interpret such a gesture as a sign of weaken-
ing when it may be a sign of returning commonsense.
Thus the fateful moment passes, and the conflict con-
tinues to the common damage. Rarely does a con-
tinuation serve any good purpose where the two
parties are bound to go on living under the same roof.
This applies even more to modern war in Europe than
to a domestic conflict, since the industrialization of
nations has made their fortunes inseparable. It is the
responsibility of statesmanship never to lose sight of
the post-war prospect in chasing the 'mirage of vic-

Where the two sides are too evenly matched to offer
a reasonable chance of early success to either, the
statesman is wise who can learn something from the
psychology of strategy. It is an elementary principle
of strategy that, if you find your opponent in a strong
position costly to force, you should leave him a line of
retreat as the quickest way of loosening his resis-
p 209


tance. It should, equally, be a principle of policy,
especially in war, to provide your opponent with a
ladder by which he can climb down*

The question may arise as to whether such con-
clusions, based on the history of war between so-called
civilized States, apply to the conditions inherent in a
renewal of the type of purely predatory war that was
waged by the barbarian assailants of the Roman
Empire, or the mixed religious and predatory war that
was pursued by the fanatical followers of Mahomet.
In such wars any negotiated peace tends to have in
itself even less than the normal value (it is only too
clear from history that States rarely keep faith with
each other, save in so far, and so long, as their pro-
-mises seem to them to combine with their interests).
But the less that a nation has regard for moral obliga-
tions the more it tends to respect physical strength
the deterrent power of a force too strong to be chal-
lenged with impunity. In the same way, with indivi-
duals it is a matter of common experience that the
bully-type and the robber-type hesitate to assail
anyone who approaches their own strength and are
far more reluctant to attempt this than a peaceful type
of individual is to tackle an assailant bigger than him-

It is folly to imagine that the aggressive types,
whether individuals or nations, can be bought off
or, in modern language, * appeased 5 since the pay-
ment of danegeld stimulates a demand for more dane-
geld. But they can be curbed. Their very belief in force
makes them more susceptible to the deterrent effect of
a formidable opposing force. This forms an adequate
check except against pure fanaticism a fanaticism
that is unmixed with acquisitiveness.

While it is hard to make a real peace with the pre-
datory types, it is easier to induce them to accept a



state of truce and far less exhausting than an attempt
to crush them, whereby they are, like all types of man-
kind, infused with the courage of desperation. The
experience of history brings ample evidence that the
downfall of civilized States tends to come not from
the direct assaults of foes but from internal decay,
combined with the consequences of exhaustion in war.
A state of suspense is trying it has often led nations
as well as individuals to commit suicide because they
were unable to bear it. But it is better than to reach
exhaustion in pursuit of the mirage of victory. More-
over, a truce to actual hostilities enables a recovery
and development of strength, while the need for vigi-
lance helps to keep a nation * on its toes '.

Peaceful nations are apt, however, to court unneces-
sary danger because, when once aroused, they are
more inclined to proceed to extremes than predatory
nations. For the latter, making war as a means of
gain, are usually more ready to call it off when they
find an opponent too strong to be easily overcome.
It is the reluctant fighter, impelled by emotion and not
by calculation, who tends to press a fight to the bitter
end. Thereby he too often defeats his own end, even
if he does not produce his own direct defeat. For the
spirit of barbarism can be weakened only during a
cessation of hostilities ; war strengthens it pouring
fuel on the flames.


Chapter XII


This brief chapter is an attempt to epitomize, from
the history of war, a few truths of experience which
seem so universal, and so fundamental, as to be termed

They are practical guides, not abstract principles.
Napoleon realized that only the practical is useful
when he gave us his maxims. But the modern tendency
has been to search for principles which can each be
expressed in a single word and then need several
thousand words to explain them. Even so, these ' prin-
ciples' are so abstract that they mean different things
to different men, and, for any value, depend on the
individual's own understanding of war. The longer
one continues the search for such omnipotent abstrac-
tions, the more do they appear a mirage, neither at-
tainable nor useful except as an intellectual exercise.

The principles of war, not merely one principle, can
be condensed into a single word 'concentration'.
But for truth this needs to be amplified as the 'con-
centration of strength against weakness'. And for any
real value it needs to be explained that the concentra-
tion of strength against weakness depends on the dis-
persion of your opponent's strength, which in turn is



produced by a distribution of your own that gives the
appearance, and partial effect of dispersion. Your dis-
persion, his dispersion, your concentration such is
the sequence, and each is a sequel. True concentration
is the fruit of calculated dispersion.

Here we have a fundamental principle whose under-
standing may prevent a fundamental error (and the
most common) that of giving your opponent free-
dom and time to concentrate to meet your concentra-
tion. But to state the principle is not of much practical
aid for execution.

The above-mentioned axioms (here expressed as
maxims) cannot be condensed into a single word ; but
they can be put into the fewest words necessary to be
practical. Eight in all, so far six are positive and two
negative. They apply to strategy as well as tactics,
unless otherwise indicated.


1. Adjust your end to your means. In determining
your object, clear sight and cool calculation should
prevail. It is folly * to bite off more than you can chew ',
and the beginning of military wisdom is a sense of
what is possible. So learn to face facts while still pre-
serving faith : there will be ample need for faith the
faith that can achieve the apparently impossible
when action begins. Confidence is like the current in a
battery; avoid exhausting it in vain effort and re-
member that your own continued confidence will be
of no avail if the cells of your battery, the men upon
whom you depend, have been run down.

2. Keep your object always in mind, while adapting
your plan to circumstances. Realize that there are
more ways than one of gaining an object, but take
heed that every objective should bear on the object.
And in considering possible objectives weigh their



possibility of attainment with their service to the ob-
ject if attained to wander down a side-track is bad,
but to reach a dead end is worse.

3. Choose the line (or course) of least expectation.
Try to put yourself in the enemy's shoes, and think
what course it is least probable he will foresee or fore-

4. Exploit the line of least resistance so long as it
can lead you to any objective which would contribute
to your underlying object. (In tactics this maxim ap-
plies to the use of your reserves ; and in strategy, to the
exploitation of any tactical success.)

5. Take a line of operation which offers alternative
objectives. For you will thus put your opponent on the
horns of a dilemma, which goes far to assure the
chance of gaining one objective at least whichever
he guards least and may enable you to gain one
after the other.

Alternative objectives allow you to keep the oppor-
tunity of gaining an objective; a single objective, un-
less the enemy is helplessly inferior, means the cer-
tainty that you will not gain it once the enemy is no
longer uncertain as to your aim. There is no more
common mistake than to confuse a single line of
operation, which is usually wise, with a single objec-
tive, which is usually futile. (If this maxim applies
mainly to strategy, it should be applied where possible
to tactics, and does, in effect, form the basis of infiltra-
tion tactics.)

6. Ensure that both plan and dispositions are flexible
adaptable to circumstances. Your plan should fore-
see and provide for a next step in case of success or
failure, or partial success which is the most common
case in war. Your dispositions (or formation) should
be such as to allow this exploitation or adaptation in
the shortest possible time.




7. Do not throw your weight into a stroke whilst your
opponent is on guard whilst he is well placed to parry
or evade it. The experience of history shows that, save
against a much inferior opponent, no effective stroke
is possible until his power of resistance or evasion is
paralysed. Hence no commander should launch a real
attack upon an enemy in position until satisfied that
such paralysis has developed. It is produced by dis-
organization, and its moral equivalent, demoralization,
of the enemy.

8. Do not renew an attack along the same line (or in
the same form) after it has once failed. A mere rein-
forcement of weight is not sufficient change, for it is
probable that the enemy also will have strengthened
himself in the interval. It is even more probable that
his success in repulsing you will have strengthened
him morally.

The essential truth underlying these maxims is that,
for success, two major problems must be solved dis-
location and exploitation. One precedes and one
follows the actual blow, which in comparison is a
simple act. You cannot hit the enemy with effect un-
less you have first created the opportunity ; you can-
not make that effect decisive unless you exploit the
second opportunity that comes before he can recover.

The importance of these two problems has never
been adequately recognized a fact which may go far
to explain the common indecisiveness of warfare. The
training of armies is primarily devoted to developing
efficiency in the detailed execution of the attack. This
concentration on tactical technique, in peace-time
exercises, tends to obscure the psychological element.
It fosters a cult of soundness, rather than of surprise.
It breeds commanders who are so intent not to do



anything wrong, according to 'the book 5 , that they
forget the necessity of making the enemy do some-
thing wrong. The result is that their plans have no
result. For, in war, it is by compelling mistakes that
the scales are most often turned.

Here and there a commander has eschewed the ob-
vious, and has found in the unexpected the key to a
decision unless fortune has proved foul. For luck
can never be divorced from war, since war is part of
life. Hence the unexpected cannot guarantee success.
But it guarantees the best chance of success.



Chapter XIII


The starting-point of a survey of the Western Front
campaign must be the pre-war plans. The Franco-
German frontier was narrow, only some 150 miles
long, and so afforded little room for the manoeuvre
of the masses which the conscriptive system had
created and developed. At the south-eastern end the
frontier abutted on Switzerland, and, after a short
stretch of flat country near Belfort, ran for 70 miles
along the Vosges mountains. Thence the line was pro-
longed by an almost continuous fortress chain based
on Epinal, Toul, and Verdun ; and just beyond the
last-named lay the frontiers of Luxembourg and Bel-
gium. In the resurrection and reconstruction period
which followed the disasters of 1870, the French plan
was that of an initial defensive, based on the frontier
fortresses, to be followed by a decisive counterstroke.
To this end the great fortress system along the Alsace-
Lorraine frontier had been created, and gaps such as
the Trouee de Charmes between Epinal and Toul had
been left to * canalize' the expected German invasion
so that the counter might be delivered with more
assurance and effectiveness.

This plan was marked by a certain indirectness of
approach, perhaps as much as was possible in view



of the restricted frontier without violating neutral

But in the decade before 1914 a new school of
thought arose, with Colonel de Grandmaison as its
prophet, which denounced this plan as contrary to the
French spirit and as 'an almost complete atrophy of
the idea of the offensive'. The advocates of the offen-
sive b entrance found in Joffre, who was appointed
Chief of the General Staff in 1912, a lever for their
intentions. Grasping it, they gained control of the
French military machine, and, throwing over the old
plan, formulated the now famous, or notorious, Plan
XVII. This was purely a direct approach in the form
of a headlong offensive against the German centre
' with all forces united '. Yet, for this frontal and whole-
front offensive, the French plan counted upon having
a bare equality of strength against an enemy who
would have the support of his own fortified frontier
zone while, by rushing forward, the French fore-
swore any advantage from their own. The one con-
cession to historical experience, and common sense, in
this plan was that the fortress of Metz should be
masked, not directly assaulted the attack passing
south of it into Lorraine, and north of it also. The
latter wing would extend the offensive into Belgian
Luxembourg if the Germans violated neutral terri-
tory. By an historical paradox, the French plan drew
its inspiration from a German, Clausewitz, while the
German plan was far closer to the Napoleonic in
origin if still more Hannibalic.

Britain's contingent share in the French plan was
settled less by calculation than by the 'Europeaniza-
tion* of her military organization and thought during
the previous decade. This continental influence drew
her insensibly into a tacit acceptance of the role of an
appendix to the French left wing, and away from her



historic exploitation of the mobility given by sea-
power. At the council of war on the outbreak, Sir
John French, who was to command the British ex-
peditionary force, expressed a doubt of 'the pre-
arranged plan 9 ; as an alternative, he suggested that
the force should be sent to Antwerp where it would
have stiffened the Belgians' resistance and, by its mere
situation, have threatened the rear flank of the Ger-
man armies as they advanced through Belgium into
France. But Major-General Henry Wilson, when
Director of Military Operations, had virtually pledged
the General Staff to act in direct conjunction with the
French. The informal military negotiations between
1905 and 1914 had paved the way for a reversal of
England's centuries-old war policy.

This fait accompli overbore not only French's strate-
gical idea but Haig's desire to wait until the situation
was clearer and the army could be enlarged, and even
Kitchener's more limited objection to assembling the
expeditionary force so close to the frontier.

The final French plan was the one thing needed to
make the original German plan framed by Graf von
SchliefFen in 1905 a true indirect approach. Faced
by the blank wall which the French fortified frontier
presented, the logical military course was to go round
it through Belgium. Schlieffen decided on this course,
and to move as widely as possible. Strangely, even
when the invasion of Belgium began, the French com-
mand assumed that the Germans would confine their
advance to a narrower front, east of the Meuse.

Schlieffen's plan concentrated the bulk of the Ger-
man forces on the right wing for this gigantic wheel.
The right wing was to sweep through Belgium and
northern France, and then, continuing to traverse a
vast arc, would wheel gradually east. With its extreme
right passing south of Paris, and crossing the Seine



near Rouen, it would thus press the French back to-
wards the Moselle, where they would be hammered
in rear on the anvil formed by the Lorraine fortresses
and the Swiss frontier.

The real subtlety and indirectness of the plan lay,
not in this geographical detour, but in the distribution
of force and in the idea which guided it. An initial sur-
prise was sought by incorporating reserve corps with
active corps at the outset in the offensive mass. Of the
72 divisions which would thus be available, 53 were
alloted to the swinging mass, 10 were to form a pivot
facing Verdun, and a mere 9 were to form the left
wing along the French frontier. This reduction of the
left wing to the slenderest possible size was shrewdly
calculated to increase the effect of the swinging mass
by its very weakness. For if the French should attack
in Lorraine and press the left wing back towards the
Rhine, it would be difficult for them to parry the
German attack through Belgium and the further
they went the more difficult it would be. As with a
revolving door, if the French pressed heavily on one
side, the other side would swing round and strike them
in the back, and the more heavily they pressed the
severer would be the blow.

Geographically, Schlieffen's move through Belgium
was a strategic approach of very limited indirectness
because of the density of force in relation to space.
Psychologically, his design for, and distribution of
force on, the left wing made it a definitely indirect
approach. And the French plan made it perfect. If a
ghost can chuckle, how the departed SchliefFen must
have chuckled when he saw that the French did not
even have to be enticed into his trap. But his chuckle
must soon have changed into chagrin. For his suc-
cessor, Moltke ' the younger ' in family order but the
older in caution abandoned Schlieffen's plan in exe-



cution, after having already modified and marred it in
pre-war preparation.

Between 1905 and 1914, as more troops became
available, he increased the strength of the left wing
disproportionately to the right. By making this wing
safer, he made the plan unsafe, and began a continuous
sapping at its foundations which ended in its collapse.

When the French offensive developed in August
1914, Moltke was tempted to accept the challenge in a
direct manner, and to seek a decision in Lorraine,
postponing the right wing's sweep. The impulse was
only a momentary one, but in that brief lapse he had
diverted to Lorraine the six newly formed Ersatz divi-
sions which should have gone to increase the strength
of his right wing. And this fresh accession of strength
made the princeling commanders in Lorraine more
loath to fulfil their self-suppressing role. Prince Rup-
precht of Bavaria, instead of continuing to fall back
and draw the French on, halted his army, ready to
accept battle. Finding the French attack slow to
develop, he arranged with his neighbour to anticipate
it by a German attack. The two armies had now
25 divisions against 19, and thus lacked the superior-
ity, as well as the strategic position, to make the
counterstroke decisive. The result was merely to throw
back the French on to their fortified barrier and so,
not only to restore and augment their power of re-
sistance, but to enable them to dispatch troops west-
wards for the battle of the Marne.

The German action in Lorraine undermined Schlief-
fen's plan even more gravely, if less obviously, than
the progressive reduction of the weight and role of the
right wing. Here, however, came the immediate cause
of the collapse. From the right wing Moltke sub-
tracted, first, seven divisions to invest or stand guard
over Maubeuge, Givet, and Antwerp ; then four divi-



sions to reinforce the East Prussian front. When
Kluck's army on the extreme right wheeled in prema-
turely on his neighbour's request and with Moltke's
approval and thereby presented a chance for the
Paris garrison to catch him in flank, only 13 German
divisions were available against 27 Franco-British
divisions on this decisive flank. That fact brings out
the extent to which Schlieffen's 'decisive wing 5 had
been weakened directly and indirectly. While the
German inferiority was due to subtraction of force
from the right wing, the French superiority was due
to the misguided action of the German left wing.

Although with the battle of the Marne we cross the
shadowy border-line between strategy and tactics, this
battle, which turned the tide of the war, yields so many
sidelights on the problem of the 'approach' that it
deserves examination, For these sidelights to be re-
flected, a background of events is necessary.

The repulse of Joffre's right wing in Lorraine had
been followed by the throwing back of his centre in a
head-on crash in the Ardennes, and by the narrow
escape of his left wing, belatedly extended, from a
disastrous encirclement between the Sambre and the
Meuse. With Plan XVII shattered to pieces, Joffre
formed a new plan out of the wreckage. He decided
to swing back his left and centre, with Verdun as the
pivot, while drawing troops from his now firmly but-
tressed right wing to form a fresh 6th Army on his

On the German side, the first highly coloured re-
ports from the army commanders in the battles of the
Frontiers had given the German Supreme Command
the impression of a decisive victory. Then the com-
paratively small totals of prisoners raised doubts in
Moltke's mind, and led him to a more sober estimate
of the situation. The new pessimism of Moltke com-


bined with the renewed optimism of his army com-
manders to produce a fresh change of plan, which
contained the seeds of disaster. When, on the 26th of
August, the British left wing fell back southwards
from Le Cateau, badly mauled, the German 1st
Army, under Kluck, turned south-westwards again.
If this direction was partly due to a misconception of
the line of retreat taken by the British, it was also in
accordance with Kluck's original role of a wide cir-
cling sweep. And by carrying him into the Amiens-
Pfronne area, where the first elements of the newly
formed French 6th Army were just detraining after
being switched from Lorraine, it compelled a hurried
withdrawal of the 6th Army and thus had the effect
of dislocating Joffre's design for an early return to the

But Kluck had hardly swung out to the south-west
before he was induced to swing in again. For, to ease
the pressure on the British, Joffre had ordered the
neighbouring army (Lanrezac) to halt and strike back
at the pursuing German 2nd Army (Biilow), which,
shaken by the threat, called on Kluck for aid. Lan-
rezac's attack, on the 29th of August, was stopped be-
fore this aid was needed ; but Biilow asked Kluck to
wheel inwards nevertheless, in order to cut off Lan-
rezac's retreat. Before acceding, Kluck referred to
Moltke. The request came at a moment when Moltke
was becoming perturbed, in general, over the way the
French were slipping away from his embrace, and, in
particular, over a gap which had opened between his
2nd and 3rd Armies. Hence Moltke approved Kluck's
change of direction, which meant the abandonment
of the original wide sweep round the far side of Paris.
Now, the flank of the wheeling German line would pass
the near side of Paris, and across the face of the Paris
defences. By this contraction of his frontage and
ft 225


greater directness of approach, for the sake of security
Moltke sacrificed the wider prospects inherent in the
wide, sweep of the SchliefFen plan. And, as it proved,
instead of contracting -the risk he contracted a fatal

The decision to abandon the original plan was
definitely taken on the 4th of September, and in place
of it Moltke substituted a narrower envelopment, of
the French centre and right. His own centre (4th and
5th Armies) was to press south-east, while his left
(6th and 7th Armies), striking south-westwards, sought
to break through the fortified barrier between Toul
and Epinal, the 'jaws' thus closing inwards on either
side of Verdun. Meantime his right (1st and 2nd
Armies) was to turn outwards, and, facing west, hold
off any countermove which the French attempted
from the neighbourhood of Paris.

But such a French countermove had begun before
the newer plan could take effect.

The opportunity was less quickly appreciated by
Joffre, who had ordered a continuance of the retreat,
than by Gallieni, the Military Governor of Paris. On
the 3rd of September Gallieni realized the meaning of
Kluck's wheel inwards, and directed Maunoury's 6th
Army to be ready to strike at the exposed German
right flank. All the next day an argument raged at
Joffre's headquarters, the case for an immediate
counter-offensive being pressed by Major Gamelin,
his military secretary, but stoutly opposed by General
Berthelot, the most powerful voice on the general
staff. The issue was only settled, and Joffre's sanction
gained, when GaUi&ii came through on the telephone
that evening. Once convinced, Joffre acted with deci-
sion. The whole left wing was ordered to turn about,
and return to a general offensive beginning on the
6th of September.


Maunoury was quick off the mark, on the 5th, and
as his pressure developed on the Germans' sensi-
tive flank, Kluck was constrained to draw off first
one part, and then the remaining part of his army
to support his threatened flank guard. Thereby a
thirty-mile gap was created between the 1st and 2nd
German armies, a gap covered only by a screen of
cavalry. Kluck was emboldened to take the risk be-
cause of the rapid retreat of the British opposite to
that gaping sector. Even on the 5th, instead of turning
about, the British had continued a further day's march
to the south. But in this 'disappearance' lay the in-
direct and unintentional cause of victory. For, when
the British retraced their steps, it was the report that
their columns were advancing into the gap which, on
the 9th of September, led Billow to order the retreat
of his 2nd Army. The temporary advantage which
the 1st Army, already isolated by its own act, had
gained over Maunoury was thereby nullified, and it
fell back the same day.

By the 1 1th the retreat had extended, independently
or under orders from Moltke, to all the German
armies. The attempt at a partial envelopment, pivot-
ing on Verdun, had already failed the jaw formed by
the 6th and 7th Armies merely breaking its teeth on
the defences of the French eastern frontier. It is diffi-
cult to see how the German command could reason-
ably have pinned their faith on achieving as an im-
provised expedient the frontal assault that, in cool
calculation before the war, had appeared so hopeless
as to lead them to take the momentous decision to
advance through Belgium as the only feasible alter-

Thus, in sum, the battle of the Maine was decided
by a jar and a crack. The jar administered by Mau-
noury's attack on the German right flank causing a

227 *


crack in a weak joint of the German line, and this
physical crack in turn producing a moral crack in the
German command.

Against this background it can be seen that Kluck's
indirect move, his wheel outward after Le Cateafl, was
as valuable in upsetting Joffre's second plan for an
early return to the offensive and in accelerating the
dangerous momentum of the Franco-British retreat,
as his subsequent wheel inward, directly towards the
opponent, was fatal to the German plan. We may
note, too, that Moltke's strategic approach became
increasingly direct, and that the frontal assault of the
German left wing proved not only a costly failure but
brought no strategic return to compensate its cost.

It would be far-fetched to characterize Joffre's re-
treat as an indirect approach. The opportunity on the
Marne was presented, not created, nor even sought.
Gallium's thrust was in the nick of time, before the
German 1st and 2nd Armies could take up their new
flank guard dispositions. But it was too direct to pro-
duce decisive results, and would have been more direct
still if he had made it south of the Marne as Joffre
first instructed. Finally, it can be seen that the actual
decision, the move which compelled the Germans to
retreat, was due to an indirect approach so uninten-
tional as to form an act of historical comedy. This was
the disappearance of the British expeditionary force,
and its happily belated reappearance opposite the
strained and weakened joint of the German right
wing. French critics have reproached it for this slow-
ness, not realizing that it contributed a new, if some-
what different point to the fable of the hare and the
tortoise. If it had returned sooner the joint would
hardly have been so weakened. Maunoury's attack
could not have produced a decision for he had al-
ready been brought to a halt while the two German



corps taken from the joint were still on the march, and
contributing nothing to the issue.

In analysing the cause of the German retreat, how-
ever, we must take account of a factor customarily
overlooked. This was the sensitiveness of the Supreme
Command to reports of landings on the Belgian coast
which might menace their rear and communications.
It led them to contemplate a withdrawal before the
battle of the Marne even began. On the 3rd of Septem-
ber Lieut.-Colonel Hentsch, the representative of the
Supreme Command, came to the 1st Army with the
latest precautionary order and informed it that 'The
news is bad : the 7th and 6th Armies are blocked be-
fore Nancy-Epinal. The 4th and 5th are meeting
strong resistance. The French are railing forces from
their right towards Paris. The English are disembark-
ing fresh troops continuously on the Belgian coast.
There are rumours of a Russian expeditionary "force
in the same parts. A withdrawal is becoming inevi-

The sensitiveness of the German command had en-
larged three battalions of marines which landed at
Ostend, for forty-eight hours, into a corps of 40,000
men. The Russians are said to have sprung from the
heated imagination of an English railway porter
there should be a statue in Whitehall dedicated 'To
the Unknown Porter'. The historians of the future
may consider that this party of temporary visitors to
Ostend, together with the Russian myth, were the
primary cause of the victory of the Marne.

When the moral effect of these phantom forces is
weighed with the material detention of German forces
in Belgium, owing to fears of a Belgian sortie from
Antwerp which developed on the 9th of September
the balance of judgement would seem to turn heav-
ily in favour of the strategy which Sir John French



had suggested at the outset. By it the British expedi-
tionary force might have had a positively, and not
merely negatively, decisive influence on the struggle.

The latent menace of the Belgian coast to the Ger-
man rear had throughout been appreciated by Falken-
hayn, who now replaced Moltke. His first step was to
undertake the reduction of Antwerp, and from this
grew the germ of a manoeuvre which savoured of the
indirect approach. Its execution fell short of, and be-
came more direct than, its conception, yet it sufficed
to bring the Allies afresh to the verge of disaster.

The Allied frontal pursuit had been definitely
checked on the Aisne before Joffre, on the 17th of
September, seeing that Maunoury's attempts to over-
lap the German flank were ineffectual, decided to
form a fresh army under de Castelnau for an out-
flanking move. By then the German armies had re-
covered cohesion, and the German command was
ready to meet such limited manoeuvre now the
natural line of expectation. The next month was occu-
pied by the extremely obvious and abortive series of
attempts by either side to overlap the other's western
flank a phase popularly, if inaccurately, styled 'the
race to the sea'. Falkenhayn tired of the game long
before JofFre, and on the 14th of October planned a
strategic trap for the next allied attempt which he fore-
saw would follow. His latest-formed flank army was
to parry the attempt, while another composed of the
forces released by the fall of Antwerp and of four
newly raised corps was to sweep down the Belgian
coast, crush in the flank, and crash upon the rear, of
the attacking Allies. He even held back, momentarily,
the troops pursuing the Belgian field army from Ant-
werp in order to avoid prematurely alarming the
Allied command.

Fortunately for the Allies, King Albert, from cau-




tion or realism, refused Foch's invitation to join in this
outflanking effort, and declined to quit the coastal
district. Thereby the Belgian army was in position to
withstand, and eventually, by flooding the low coastal
strip, frustrate the German sweep from the north.
This compelled Falkenhayn to make a more direct
approach to the Allied flank which had just been
extended to Ypres by the arrival of Haig's corps from
the Aisne. Although the attempted advance of the
earlier-coming British right and centre corps had al-
ready been held up, Sir John French ordered his left
wing under Haig to attempt the realization of Joffre's
outflanking dream. Fortunately again, the attempt
coincided with the premature opening of the German
attack, and thus was stillborn although for a day or
two French, under Foch's influence, persisted in be-
lieving that this British 'attack 5 was going on, whereas
actually Haig's troops were struggling hard even to
hold their ground. The delusion of the French and
British chiefs as to the reality of the situation was
partly responsible for the fact that Ypres, like Inker-
man, was essentially a 'soldiers' battle'. Falkenhayn,
too, once his hope of sweeping down the coast had
faded, persisted for a month in trying to force a deci-
sion by a direct approach. When the direct defence,
despite weakness of strength, triumphed as usual over
the direct attack, the trench barrier became consoli-
dated from the Swiss frontier to the sea and stale-
mate ensued.

The Western Theatre, 1915-1917

The military record of the Franco-British alliance
during the next four years is a story of the attempt to
break this deadlock, either by forcing the barrier or
by haphazardly seeking a way round.

On the Western front, with its interminable parallel



lines of entrenchments, strategy became the hand-
maiden of tactics, while tactics became a robot. The
strategical side of the years 1915-17 does not call
for much examination. On the Allied side the strategy
was purely that of direct approach, and it was in-
effectual to break the deadlock. Whatever be our
opinion of the merits of attrition, and of the argument
that the whole period should be regarded as one con-
tinuous battle, a method which requires four years to
produce a decision is not to be regarded as a model
for imitation.

At Neuve Chapelle, the first attempt at the offen-
sive in 1915, the approach was direct, but tactical sur-
prise at least was sought and gained. Thereafter, with
the adoption of prolonged 'warning' bombardments,
all the attempts became barefaced frontal assaults. Of
this ^nature were the French offensive near Arras in
May 1915 ; the Franco-British offensives of September
1915 in Champagne and north of Arras; of July to
November 1916 on the Somme ; of April 1917 on the
Aisne and at Arras ; and lastly the British offensive at
Ypres from July to October 1917 which, like King
Charles II, took so long in dying in the swamps of
Passchendaele. On the 20th of November 1917, at
Cambrai, tactical surprise was revived by the use
of massed tanks, suddenly unleashed, in place of a
long preliminary bombardment ; but strategically this
small-scale attack, so happy in its opening, so un-
happy in its end, could hardly be termed an indirect

On the German side, the strategy was strictly defen-
sive except for the Verdun interlude in 1916. That,
again, was essentially a direct approach unless the
idea of bleeding one's enemy to death by an illimitable
series of limited leech-bites can be termed indirect.
But the expenditure in leeches caused its bankruptcy.



More akin to the nature of the indirect approach,
but purely defensive in aim, was Ludendorff 's ably
conceived and prepared withdrawal of part of the
German forces to the Hindenburg line in the spring
of 1917. To anticipate the renewal of the Franco-
British offensive on the Somme, a new trench line of
great artificial strength was built across the chord of
the arc Lens-Noyon-Reims. Then, after devastating
the whole area inside the arc, the Germans withdrew
by methodical stages to the new and shorter line. This
manoeuvre, distinguished by its moral courage in yield-
ing ground, dislocated the whole plan of the Allies'
spring offensive. Thereby it helped to gain the Ger-
mans a year's respite from serious danger and from
any combined offensive of the Allies, allowed time for
Russia's disintegration to become complete, and en-
abled Ludendorff to make his supreme bid for victory,
with superiority of force, in 1918.


Chapter XIV

On the eastern front the plans of campaign were
more fluid, less elaborately worked out and formu-
lated although they were to be as kaleidoscopic in
their changes of fortune as in the western theatre. The
calculable condition was geographical; the main in-
calculable, Russia's rate of concentration.

Russian Ppland was a vast tongue of country pro-
jecting from Russia proper, and flanked on three sides
by German or Austrian territory. On its northern
flank lay East Prussia, with the Baltic* Sea beyond.
On its southern flank lay the Austrian province
of Galicia, with the Carpathian mountains beyond,
guarding the approaches to the plain of Hungary. On
the west lay Silesia.

The Germanic border provinces were provided with
a network of strategic railways, whilst Poland, as well
as Russia itself, had only a sparse system of com-
munications. Thus the German alliance had a vital
advantage, in power of concentration, for countering
a Russian advance. But if they took the offensive, the
further they progressed into Poland or Russia proper
the more would they lose this advantage. Hence the
experience of history suggested that their most pro-
fitable strategy was to lure the Russians forward into
position for a counter-stroke, rather than to inaugurate



an offensive themselves. The one drawback was that
such a Punic strategy gave the Russians time to con-
centrate, and set in motion, their cumbrous and rusty

From this arose an initial cleavage between German
and Austrian opinion. Both agreed that the problem
was to hold the Russians in check during the six weeks
before the Germans, it was hoped, would have crushed
France, and could switch their forces eastwards to join
the Austrians in a decisive blow against the Russians.
The difference of opinion was on the method. The
Germans, intent on a decision against France, wished
to leave a minimum force in the east. Only a political
dislike of exposing national territory to invasion pre-
vented them evacuating East Prussia, and standing on
the Vistula line. But the Austrians, under the in-
fluence of Conrad von Hotzendorf, Chief of their
General Staff, were anxious to throw the Russian
machine out of gear by an immediate offensive. As
this promised to keep the Russians fully occupied
while the campaign in France was being decided,
Moltke fell in with this strategy. Conrad's plan was
that of an offensive north-eastwards into Poland by
two armies, protected by two more on their right,
further east.

On the opposing side, also, the desires of one ally
vitally affected the strategy of the other. The Russian
command, both for military and for racial motives,
wished to concentrate first against Austria, while the
latter was unsupported, and to leave Germany alone
until later, when the full strength of the Russian army
would be mobilized. But the French, anxious to re-
lieve the German pressure against themselves, urged
the Russians to deliver a simultaneous attack against
Germany. The outcome was that the Russians con-
sented to undertake an extra offensive for which they



were neither ready, in numbers, nor organized. On the
south-western front, two pairs of armies were to con-
verge on the Austrian forces in Galicia ; on the north-
western front, two armies were to converge on the
German forces in East Prussia. Russia, whose pro-
verbial slowness and crude organization dictated a
cautious strategy, was about to break with tradition
and launch out on a double direct approach.

On the outbreak of war the Russian Commander-
in-Chief, the Grand Duke Nicholas, accelerated the
invasion of East Prussia in order to ease the pressure
on his French allies. On the 17th of August Rennen-
kampf's army crossed the east frontier of East Prussia,
and on the 19th to 20th of August met and threw back
the bulk of Prittwitz's German 8th Army at Gum-
binnen. On the 21st of August, Prittwitz heard that
Samsonov's Army had crossed the southern frontier
of East Prussia in his rear, which was guarded by only
three divisions in face of ten. In panic, Prittwitz
momentarily spoke of falling back behind the Vistula,
whereupon Moltke superseded him by a retired general,
Hindenburg, with Ludendorff as Chief of Staff.

Developing a plan which, with the necessary move-
ments, had been already initiated by Colonel Hoffmann
of the 8th Army staff, Ludendorff concentrated some
six divisions against Samsonov's left wing. This force,
inferior in strength to the Russians, could not have
been decisive ; but Ludendorff, finding that Rennen-
kampf was still near Gumbinnen, took the calculated
risk of withdrawing the rest of the German troops,
except the cavalry screen, from that front and rushing
them back against Samsonov's right wing. This daring
move was aided by the absence of communication
between the two Russian commanders and the ease
with which the Germans deciphered the Russian wire-
less orders. Under converging blows, Samsonov's



flanks were crushed, his centre surrounded, and his
army practically destroyed. If the opportunity was
presented rather than created, this brief Tannenberg
campaign forms an almost perfect example of the 'in-
terior lines ' form of the indirect approach.

Then, receiving two fresh army corps from the
front in France, the German commander turned on
the slowly advancing Rennenkampf whose lack of
energy was partly due to his losses at Gumbinnen and
subsequent lack of information and drove him out
of East Prussia. As a result of these battles, Russia
had lost a quarter of a million men and, what she
could afford still less, much war material. The in-
vasion of East Prussia, however, had at least helped to
make possible the French revival on the Maine by
causing the dispatch of two corps from the west.

But the effect of Tannenberg was diminished be-
cause, away on the Galician front, the scales had
tilted against the Central Powers. The offensive of the
Austrian 1st and 4th Armies into Poland had at first
made progress, but this was nullified by the onslaught
of the Russian 3rd and 8th Armies upon the weaker
2nd and 3rd Armies which were guarding the Austrian
right flank. These armies were heavily defeated (the
26th to 30th of August), and driven back through
Lemberg. The advance of the Russian left wing thus
threatened the rear of the victorious Austrian left
wing. Conrad tried to swing part of his left wing
round against the Russian flank, but this blow was
parried. And then, caught with his forces disorganized
by the renewed advance of the Russian right wing, he
was forced, on the llth of September, to extricate
himself by a general retreat falling back almost to
Cracow by the end of September.

Austria's plight compelled the Germans to send
aid. The bulk of the German force in East Prussia was



formed into a new 9th Army, and switched south to
the south-west corner of Poland, whence it advanced
on Warsaw in combination with a renewed Austrian
offensive. But the Russians were now approaching the
full tide of their mobilized strength ; re-grouping their
forces and counter-attacking, they drove back the ad-
vance and followed it up by a powerful effort to in-
vade Silesia.

The Grand Duke Nicholas formed a huge phalanx
of seven armies three in the van and two protecting
either flank. A further army, the 10th, had invaded
the eastern corner of East Prussia and was engaging
the weak German forces there. To counter the danger,
the German eastern front was placed under the firm
of Hindenburg-Ludendorff-Hoffmann, which devised
yet another master-stroke, based on the system of
lateral railways inside the German frontier. The 9th
Army, falling back before the Russian advance,
slowed it down by a systematic destruction of the
scanty communications in Poland. On reaching the
Silesian frontier, unpressed, it was first switched north-
ward to the Posen-Thorn area, and then thrust south-
east, on the llth of November, up the west bank of
the Vistula, against the joint between the two armies
guarding the Russian right flank. The wedge, as if
driven in by a mallet, split the two armies, forced the
1st back on Warsaw and almost achieved another
Tannenberg against the 2nd which was nearly sur-
rounded at Lodz, when the 5th Army from the van
turned back to its rescue. As a result, part of the
German enveloping force almost suffered the fate
planned for the Russians, but managed to cut its way
through to the main body. If the Germans were balked
of decisive tactical success, this manoeuvre had been a
classic example of how a relatively small force, by
using its mobility for indirect approach to a vital



point, can paralyse the advance of an enemy several
times its strength. The Russian * steam-roller* was
thrown out of gear, and never again did it threaten
German soil.

Within a week, four new German army corps ar-
rived from the western front, where the Ypres attack
had now ended in failure. Although they came too
late to clinch the missed chance of a decisive victory,,
Ludendorff was able to use them in pressing the Rus-
sians back to the Bzura-Ravka river line in front of
Warsaw. There, on the east as on the west, the trench
stalemate settled in ; but the crust was less firm, and
the Russians had drained their stock of munitions to
an extent that their poorly industrialized country
could not make good.

The real story of 1915 on the eastern front is that of
the tussle of wills between Ludendorff, who desired to
reach a decision by a strategy that was at least geogra-
phically an indirect approach, and Falkenhayn, who
considered that he could both limit his expenditure
of force and cripple Russia's offensive power by a
strategy of direct approach. Holding the superior ap-
pointment, Falkenhayn succeeded in gaining his way;
but his strategy did not succeed in fulfilling either object.

Ludendorff perceived that the Russians' autumn
advance towards Silesia and Cracow had enmeshed
the body of their army deeply in the Polish salient. In
the south-western corner they had even poked their
head through the meshes, into Austrian territory,
when LudendorfFs Lodz blow fell and temporarily
paralysed the body; by the time feeling and strength
came back, the jagged edges of the net had been re-
knit and reinforced. From January to April the Rus-
sian body wriggled furiously but ineffectively on the
Carpathian side; its struggles merely wrapped its
cumbrous mass more firmly in the net.



Ludendorff wished to seize the opportunity for a
wide indirect approach round the northern flank near
the Baltic, through Vilna, towards the Russian rear
and astride their sparse rail communications with the
Polish salient. Falkenhayn, however, shrank both
from its boldness and its demand upon his reserves
although he was to expend far more in his own way.
Reluctantly dissuaded from a fresh direct attempt to
trench-barrier in the west, and compelled to dole out
reserves to strengthen his Austrian allies, he decided
to employ them in a strategically limited, if tactically
unlimited, attempt to lame Russia so that he might
return to renew his offensive in the west undisturbed.

The plan in the east, suggested by Conrad and
adopted by Falkenhayn, was to break through the
Russian centre in the Dunajec sector between the
Carpathians and the Vistula. On the 2nd of May the
blow fell. The surprise was complete, the exploitation
rapid, and by the 14th of May the whole line along the
Carpathians had been rolled backeighty miles to theSan.

Here we can see an illuminating example of the
difference between the indirect approach and what is
commonly called surprise. Surprise of time, place, and
force was achieved; but the Russians were merely
rolled back in snowball fashion. Although they lost
heavily, they were rolled back towards their reserves,
supplies, and railways thereby the Germans con-
solidated the snowball and enabled Russian accretions
to make good the pieces that fell off. Moreover, while
the pressure of this direct approach was a dangerous
strain on the Russian command, it was not a dis-
locating jar.

Falkenhayn now realized that he had committed

himself too far in Galicia to draw back. His partial

offensive had gained no secyre halting-place, and only

by bringing more troops from France could he hope

a 241


to fulfil his aim of transferring troops back there. But
once more he chose an almost direct approach. He
changed the direction of the offensive from eastward
to north-eastward and in conjunction ordered Luden-
dorff all this time fretting impatiently in East Prussia
to strike south-eastward. Ludendorff contended
that this plan, if convergent, was too much of a frontal
attack, and that while the two wings might squeeze
the Russians they would do no more. He again urged,
and Falkenhayn again rejected, the Vilna manoeuvre.
The outcome proved Ludendorff correct; Falken-
hayn's shears, as they closed, merely pushed the Rus-
sians back out of the now shallow space between
them. By the end of September they were back on a
long straight line between Riga on the Baltic and
Czernowitz on the Rumanian frontier. If never again
a direct menace to Germany, they imposed on her an
irremediable strain, by detaining large German forces
and keeping Austria morally and physically on the rack.

*When Falkenhayn broke off large-scale operations,
he gave Ludendorff a belated and half-hearted sanc-
tion to try the Vilna manoeuvre with his own meagre
resources. This light and isolated thrust cut the Vilna-
Dvinsk railway and almost reached the Minsk rail-
way, the central line of Russian communications
despite the Russians being free to concentrate all their
reserves to resist it. These results were a suggestive
testimony to its potentialities if attempted earlier, and
in strong force, when the Russian body was firmly en-
tangled in the Polish net.

Their offensive in the east being terminated, and
their defensive in the west being unshaken, the Central
Powers utilized the autumn to carry through a cam-
paign in Serbia. This campaign, from the viewpoint of
, the war as a whole, was an indirect approach with
limited aim, but in its own sphere was decisive in aim.



Its course, too, if helped by the geographical and
political situation, sheds light on the effect of this
method. The plan was based on Bulgaria's interven-
tion in the war on the side of the Central Powers. The
direct Austro-German invasion was being held in
check when the Bulgarians moved westward into
Serbia; even then, helped by the mountainous coun-
try, the Serbians' resistance remained firm until the
Bulgar left wing worked round into southern Serbia
across their rear, cutting them off from the Franco-
British reinforcements which were being sent up from
Salonika. Thereupon the Serbian collapse was swift,
and only a tattered remnant survived the mid-winter
retreat westwards through Albania to the Adriatic
coast. This quick concentration against a junior part-
ner relieved Austria of danger on this side while giving
Germany free communication through, and control
of, Central Europe.

The operations of 1916 and 1917 on the Russian
front call for little comment, being essentially defen-
sive on the Austro-German side, and essentially direct
on the Russian side. The significance of the Russian
operations is that they throw into clear relief not
only the barrenness of a strategy which relies on the
application of mere weight in a direct approach, but
its * boomerang' moral effect. When the Revolution
presaged the complete collapse of Russia's military
effort, in 1917, the Russian forces were actually better
armed and better equipped than at any previous time.
But the immense, and visibly abortive, losses had
undermined the fighting will of the most patiently self-
sacrificing troops in Europe. A similar effect was seen
in the mutinies in the French army after the spring
offensive in 1917. Most of the outbreaks there occurred
when slaughter-wearied troops were ordered to return,
to the trenches.



The one Russian operation which had some in-
directness of approach was Brusilov's offensive near
Luck, in June 1916. And it had this quality because
the offensive had no serious intention. It was con-
ceived merely as a diversion, and released prematurely
owing to Italy's appearance. No preparation nor con-
centration of troops had been made, and the unexpec-
tedness of this almost casual advance brought about
such a collapse of the somnolent Austrian defence that
within three days 200,000 prisoners were netted.
Rarely has a surprise shock been so manifold in its
strategic results. It stopped the Austrian attack on
Italy. It compelled Falkenhayn to withdraw troops
from the western front, and so to abandon his attri-
tion campaign round Verdun. It spurred Rumania to
enter the war against the Central Powers. It caused the
downfall of Falkenhayn and his replacement by Hin-
denburg and Ludendorff (Hoffmann, to 'the firm's'
loss, was left in the east). Although Rumania's entry
was the pretext for Falkenhayn's supersession, the
real reason was that his direct strategy in 1915, nar-
row both in purpose and direction, had made possible
the Russian revival which completed the ruin of the
1916 strategy.

But the indirectness and the good effect of Brusi-
lov's offensive were short-lived. It led the Russian com-
mand, too late, to throw the weight of their forces in
this direction. And, in accord with the natural laws of
war, the prolongation of the effort along the line of
hardening resistance used up the Russian reserves
without compensating effect. Brusilov's ultimate loss
of 1,000,000 casualties, though terrible, could be made
good ; but, by revealing to the survivors the mental
bankruptcy of the Russian command, it caused the
moral bankruptcy of Russia's military power.

The Russians' obsessed concentration on this effort



enabled Hindenburg and Ludendorffto carry through
another quick-change indirect approach as against
Serbia in 1915. Partly from force of circumstances, it
became more truly a strategic indirect approach.
Rumania was the target. At the outset she had 23
divisions, indifferently equipped, against 7 opposing
her; and she hoped that the pressure of Brusilov, of
the British on the Somme, and of the allied force now
at Salonika would prevent these being reinforced. But
these pressures were all direct, and they did not pre-
vent the withdrawal of sufficient troops to crush

Rumania's territory, sandwiched between Transyl-
vania and Bulgaria, had strong natural ramparts on
either side of the Carpathians and the Danube but by
its situation lent itself to a strategy of indirect ap-
proach. Further, her Dobruja 'back-yard' strip near
the Black Sea formed a bait which a skilful opponent
could attach to his hook.

Her desire and decision to take the offensive west-
wards into Transylvania made her opponents' countef-
action more subtly indirect than they intended.

The Rumanian advance began on the 27th of
August 1916. Three main columns, each of about
4 divisions, moved north-west through the Carpathian
passes in a direct approach towards the Hungarian
plain. To guard the Danube, 3 divisions were left, and
3 more in the Dobruja whither the Russians had
promised to send reinforcements. But the slow and
cautious advance of the Rumanian columns into
Transylvania, hampered by the enemy's destruction
of bridges but not by resistance, did not seriously
menace the 5 weak Austrian divisions which covered
the frontier until they had been reinforced by 5 Ger-
man and 2 Austrian divisions. In fulfilment of the
other half of the plan, adopted by Falkenhayn before



his downfall, 4 Bulgarian divisions with a German
stiffening, and an Austrian bridging train, were placed
under Mackensen for the invasion of the Dobruja.

While the Rumanian columns were crawling west-
ward into Transylvania, Mackensen stormed the Tur-
tucaia bridgehead on the 5th of September, destroying
the 3 Rumanian divisions which guarded the Danube
front. Then, with his Danube flank secure, he moved
eastwards, deeper into the Dobruja if away from
Bucharest the natural line of expectation. It was a
shrewd moral thrust, for the automatic strategic effect
was to draw away the Rumanian reserves intended to
support the Transylvania offensive which lost such
impetus as it had.

Falkenhayn, now given the executive command here,
launched a counter-offensive perhaps too eagerly
and directly. For though he skilfully concentrated
against the southern and centre columns in turn, using
smaller if not minimum forces to hold off the other
opponents who hardly needed holding off the re-
sult was to throw the Rumanians back, but not to cut
them off from the mountains. The mischance jeopar-
dized the whole German plan. For, with all the passes
still in their hands, the Rumanians sturdily repulsed
the German efforts to press through on their heels.
Falkenhayn's first attempt to get through further west
was foiled ; but a renewed effort broke through just
before the coming of the winter snows. By swinging
westward he had now, however, entered Rumania by
the front door, and the consequent direct approach
had to cross a series of river lines. Fortunately for him,
when he had been checked along the Alt, Mackensen

Mackensen had switched the bulk of his force back
from the Dobruja, past Turtucaia, to Sistovo where,
on the 23rd of November, he forced the crossing of



the Danube. It is a moot point whether this abandon-
ment of his potential position on the Rumanian rear
for a convergent advance of their main army towards
Bucharest was the most profitable strategy. It enabled
Falkenhayn to cross the Alt, but it enabled the Ru-
manians to use their * close' central position for a
dangerous counterstroke at Mackensen's flank. This
was almost enveloped. Once the danger was averted,
however, the combined pressure of Falkenhayn and
Mackensen pressed the Rumanian army back through
Bucharest, whence it withdrew to the Sereth-Black
Sea line.

The Germans had gained possession of most of
Rumania, with its wheat and oil, but they had not cut
off or destroyed the Rumanian army, whose moral
and mental strength had been consolidated in resisting
the last stage of the enemy's advance. The next sum-
mer its sturdy resistance foiled the German attempt
to drive it behind the Prut and thus complete the
occupation of Rumania. Only in December 1917,
when Bolshevik Russia signed an armistice with Ger-
many, was Rumania, thereby isolated, forced to fol-
low suit.


Chapter XV


The Italian Theatre

In 1917, Italy was the scene and object of the Ger-
man command's autumn repertory performances.
Here again the configuration of the frontier gave the
Germans scope for a geographical indirect approach
which was denied to their opponents. And the latter
showed no inclination to try the psychological indirect

The Italian frontier province of Venezia formed a
salient pointing to Austria, flanked on the north by
the Austrian Tyrol and Trentino, on the south by the
Adriatic. Bordering on the Adriatic was a stretch of
relatively low ground on the Isonzo front; but the
frontier then followed the Julian and Carnic Alps in a
wide sweep round to the north-west, the arc continu-
ing south-westward to Lake Garda. The great breadth
of the Alpine masses on the north, and the absence of
any vital objective, did not encourage Italy to take the
offensive in that direction. She was thus restricted, for
an offensive, to a direct advance eastwards towards
Austria. It inevitably suffered the potential and per-
petual menace of an Austrian descent from the Tren-
tino on its rear. But with her choice so restricted she
chose this course.



For two and a half years she persevered with the
direct approach, by which time the 'eleventh battle*
of the Isonzo had been fought in vain, the Italian
armies had scarcely advanced beyond their starting-
point, and their casualties totalled some 1,100,000
while the Austrians had lost some 650,000. During
that period, Austria had only once taken the offen-
sive. This was in 1916, when Conrad had sought to
obtain Falkenhayn's support for an attempt to over-
throw Italy by a thrust southwards from the Trentino
against the rear of the Italian armies then engaged on
the Isonzo. But Falkenhayn, distrustful of the plan
as well as of * decisive* strokes, and intent on his Ver-
dun attrition process, declined even to lend the mini-
mum of 9 German divisions for which Conrad asked
to relieve Austrian divisions on the eastern front. In
default of this aid, Conrad decided to make the at-
tempt single-handed, taking some of his best divisions
from the east and thereby exposing this front to
Brusilov's subsequent advance, without obtaining ade-
quate force to achieve his Italian plan.

Nevertheless, the attack came close to success. If it
could not be said to avoid the natural line of expecta-
tion, it had a measure of unexpectedness because the
Italian command did not believe that Conrad had the
force or the facilities for a large-scale attack. It was a
large-scale attack, but not quite large enough. The
attack, when launched, gained rapid success in the
first days; and although Cadorna was able, and
prompt, to withdraw reserves from the Isor
besides preparing the evacuation the
stores and heavy artillery it was a race,
even. The Austrian attack was within i
through into the plain, but had lost its :
want of reserves when Brusilov's
eastern front caused its suspension.


When Ludendorff, seventeen months later, took up
the idea of a combined blow at Italy because of the
serious condition of Austria the prospects were less
favourable. He could only spare his slender general
reserve of six divisions, while his ally was suffering,
morally and materially, from exhaustion. And, for
lack of means, the plan was limited to a narrower and
more direct approach a thrust at the north-eastern
corner of the Isonzo front, where it bent round to-
wards the Alpine mass. The choice of the actual sec-
tor, however, was chosen on a principle new to this
front that of seeking the line of least tactical resis-
tance. Originally, the plan was for a break-through at
Caporetto, followed merely by rolling up the Isonzo
front ; it was subsequently expanded into a more am-
bitious design without an increase of means. Luden-
dorff, at Caporetto, like the British that same autumn
at Cambrai, provided an example of the profound
strategic error of not ' cutting your coat according
to your cloth'. He went to the other extreme from
Falkerihayn who had always ordered too little cloth,
underestimating the measurements of the coat, and
then had to order more, to enlarge the coat into an
unsatisfactory patchwork.

On the 24th of October the attack was launched
having been skilfully prepared and concealed and
drove a wedge deep between the Italian armies. A
week later, it had reached the Tagliamento. But once
the Italians had extricated their severed forces if
with the loss of a large part the continuation of 4he
advance became a purely direct approach westward v
pressing the Italians back to the Piave river: a stout
barricade behind which to shelter. Too late, Luden-
dorff thought of switching reserves round to the Tren-
tino, but was foiled by the inadequacy of the rail com-
munications. The Trentino army made an ineffective



attempt to advance with its own slight resources ; this
belated stroke had lost the effect of a rear thrust, for
the whole Italian front and reserves had been pushed
almost as far back.

The initial surprise having passed, the Austro-
German attack was now a purely direct convergence,
which pressed the Italians back towards their reserves,
supplies, homeland, and Allied reinforcements. It had
the natural negative result. But the measure of suc-
cess attained with such slender resources casts an ironi-
cal reflection on Falkenhayn's refusal to listen to
Conrad's more promising plan early in 1916.

The Balkan Theatre

Before we turn to consider LudendorfFs plan for
1918, it is necessary to survey the action taken or at-
tempted by his opponents, during the previous three
years, beyond the bounds of the French and Russian

While the French and British headquarters in
France preserved an unquenchable faith dn the power
of a direct approach, not only to break through the
trench barrier but to gain a decisive victory, strong
doubt of its prospects was felt (from October 1914 on-
wards) in quarters either further or nearer to the
trench front. Those who had this view, from the per-
spective which distance enables, were not all political ,
leaders; they included Gallieni in France and Kit :
chener in England. On the 7th of January 1915 Kit-
chener wrote to Sir John French : 'The German lines
in France may be looked upon as a fortress that can-
not be carried by assault and also that cannot be com-
pletely invested, with the result that the lines may be
held by an investing force while operations proceed
elsewhere. *

It was argued, notably by Winston Churchill, that



the enemy alliance should be viewed as a whole, and
that modern developments had so changed concep-
tions of distance and powers of mobility that a blow
in some other theatre of war would correspond to the
classic attack on an enemy's strategic flank. (In this
connection the example of Napoleon, so often quoted
to support the case for persevering on the Western
front, appears rather to lend its weight to the alterna-
tive design.) Further, it was agreed that such an opera-
tion would be in accordance with the traditional am-
phibious strategy of Britain, and would enable her to
exploit the military advantage, hitherto neglected, of
sea-power. In January 1915 Lord Kitchener advocated
a plan for severing Turkey's main line of eastward
communication by a landing in the Gulf of Alexan-
dretta. The post-war comments of Hindenburg and
Enver have shown how this would have paralysed
Turkey; but it could hardly have exercised a wider
influence, or been an indirect approach to the Central
Alliance as a whole.

Lloyd George advocated the transfer of the bulk of
the British forces to the Balkans as a way to the
enemy's 'back-door'. But the French and British
commands, confident of an early decision in France,
argued vehemently against any alternative strategy
stressing the difficulties of transport and supply, and
the ease with which Germany, in their opinion, could
switch troops to meet the threat. If there was sub-
stance in the argument, their fervour led them to
exaggerate their case. Their objections, too, were less
relevant when applied to Gallteni's Balkan scheme.
He proposed a landing at Salonika as a starting-point
for a march on Constantinople with an army strong
enough to encourage Greece and Bulgaria to join
forces. The capture of Constantinople was to be fol-
lowed by an advance up the Danube into Austria-



Hungary, in conjunction with the Rumanians, This
had a fundamental resemblance to the course actually
taken in the last months of the war. In September 1918
German military opinion tended to regard such a con-
tingency as 'decisive*. And in the first week of Novem-
ber the threat, though not yet close, was an important
factor in hastening Germany's capitulation.

In January 1915, however, the weight of military
opinion bore down all counter-proposals to the plan
of concentration of effort on the Western Front. But
misgivings were not silenced, and at this juncture a
situation arose which revived the Near-Eastern scheme
in a new, if attenuated form.

On the 2nd of January, 1915, Kitchener received an
appeal from the Grand Duke Nicholas for a diversion
which would relieve the Turkish pressure on Russia's
forces in the Caucasus. Kitchener felt unable to pro-
vide the troops and suggested a naval demonstration
against the Dardanelles. Churchill's imagination
seized upon the wider strategic possibilities, and he
proposed, in default of military aid, to convert the
demonstration into an attempt to force the passage.
His naval advisers, if not enthusiastic, did not oppose
the project; and the admiral on the spot, Garden,
drew up a plan. A naval force, mainly of obsolete
vessels, was got together with French aid, and after
preliminary bombardment, entered the straits on the
18th of March. But a newly-laid row of mines, in an
unsuspected spot, caused the sinking of several ships ;
and the attempt was abandoned.

It is a moot point whether a prompt renewal of the
advance would have succeeded, for the Turkish am-
munition was exhausted, and in such conditions the
mine obstacle might have been overcome. But the
new naval commander, Admiral de Robeck, decided
against it, unless military aid were forthcoming. Al-



ready, a month before, the War Council had deter-
mined on a joint attack, and begun the dispatch of a
military force under Sir Ian Hamilton. But the authori-
ties, slow in accepting the new scheme, were equally
slow in releasing the necessary troops for its execu-
tion ; and even when these were sent, in inadequate
numbers, several more weeks' delay had to be in-
curred at Alexandria in order to redistribute the
force in its transports suitably for tactical action.
Worst of all, this fumbling policy had thrown away
the chance of surprise. When the preliminary bom-
bardment took place in February, only 2 Turkish divi-
sions were at the Straits ; this was increased to 4 by
the date of the naval attack ; and to 6 when Hamilton
was at last able to attempt his landing. For this he had
only 4 British divisions and 1 French division actu-
ally inferior in strength to the enemy in a situation
where the inherent preponderance of defensive over
offensive power was multiplied by the natural difficul-
ties of the terrain. His weakness of numbers, and his
restricted mission of aiding the passage of the fleet,
compelled him to choose a landing on the Gallipoli
peninsula in preference to one on the mainland or on
the Asiatic shore.

On the 25th of April he made his spring, at the
southern tip of the peninsula near Cape HeUes and
also near Gaba Tepe, some fifteen miles up the Aegean
coast ; the French, as a diversion, made a temporary
landing at Kuin Kale on the Asiatic shore. But once
the momentary asset of tactical surprise had passed,
and the Turks were able to bring up their reserves, the
invaders could not expand their two precarious foot-

Ultimately, in July, the British Government decided
to send a further 5 divisions to reinforce the 7 now on
the peninsula. By the time they arrived the Turkish



strength in the region had also risen, to IS divisions.
Hamilton decided on a double stroke a reinforced
blow from Gaba Tepe and a new landing at Suvla
Bay, a few miles north to sever the middle of the
peninsula and secure the heights commanding the
Narrows. If this thrust appears more direct than a
landing at Bulair or on the Asiatic shore, its justifica-
tion is that it was on a line not expected by the enemy
command, whose reserves were concentrated at the
other points. Only H Turkish battalions barred the
way during the thirty-six hours before reserves ar-
rived. Time and opportunity were forfeited by the
inexperience of the landing troops and the inertia of
the commanders on the spot. The deadlock, the dis-
appointment, and the opposition of those who had
always disliked the project, soon brought about the
evacuation of the peninsula.

Yet the verdict of Falkenhayn on the Dardenelles
scheme was : "If the straits between the Mediterranean
and the Black Sea were not permanently closed to
Entente traffic, all hope of a successful course of the
war would be very considerably diminished. Russia
would have been freed from her significant isolation
. . . which offered a safer guarantee than military suc-
cesses that sooner or later a crippling of the forces
of this Titan must take place automatically.' The
fault was not in the conception but in the execution.
If the British had used at the outset even a fair pro-
portion of the forces they ultimately expended in drib-
lets, it is clear from the evidence of the opposing com-
manders that success would probably have crowned
their undertaking. While the Dardanelles move was a
direct approach to Turkey, it was an indirect approach
to the main Turkish armies then engaged in the Cau-
casus, and, on the higher level, an indirect approach to
the Central Powers as a whole. Viewed against the



gloomy background of the Western Front, where the
density of force in relation to space offered no pros-
pect of a decisive penetration, the Dardanelles con-
ception appears to have fulfilled the principle of ad-
justing the end to the means as thoroughly as its
execution violated this principle.

The Palestine and Mesopotamia Theatres

The Middle-East expeditions hardly come within the
scope of this survey. Strategically they were too re-
mote to have any hope of exercising a decisive effect ;
and, considered as means of strategic distraction, each
of them absorbed far greater forces of the British than
they diverted of the enemy.

In the sphere of policy, however, a case can be
made out for them. Britain, in the past, has often
redeemed the forfeits of her allies on the continent
by seizing the overseas possessions of the enemy. In
the event of an unfavourable or indecisive issue to the
main, struggle such counter-gains are an asset in
negotiating a favourable peace settlement. And they
are a tonic during the struggle. 1

The local strategy of the Palestine expedition de-
serves study. At the outset it combined the disadvan-
tages of both the direct and indirect approach. It took
the line of natural expectation, which was also the
longest and most difficult way round to any vital
point of the Turkish power. After the first two failures
(in March and April 1917) at Gaza, which guarded the

1 Those who opposed any idea of returning some of Germany's
confiscated colonies, from concern that they might become a
source x>f danger, failed to take account of the indirect value to us,
in case of war, of having places where we might score an early
success to offset the depressing effect of enemy successes in the
European theatre and help to balance the loss of prestige these
might cause. The psychological importance of such counterpoises
should never be overlooked, especially by a sea power.


direct coast approach from Egypt to Palestine, the
larger force available in the autumn was used for a
less direct attempt. The plan designed by Chetwode
and adopted by Allenby on relieving Murray in com-
mandwas as geographically indirect as the water-
supply and the narrow width of the tract between the
sea and the desert allowed. The Turkish defences
stretched some twenty miles inland from Gaza, while
Beersheba, ten miles further inland, foftned an out-
lying post guarding the eastern margin of the area of
possible approach. Secrecy and ruses drew the Tur-
kish attention Gaza-wards; then Beersheba with its
water-supply was seized by a wide and swift swoop on
its unprotected side. Next in the plan, preceded by a
distracting attack on Gaza, was a blow at the flank of
the Turkish main position while the cavalry from
Beersheba swept round the Turks' rear. But difficulties
in the water-supply and a Turkish counterstroke north
of Beersheba hamstrung this manoeuvre ; although the
Turkish front was pierced, decisive results were
missed. The Turkish forces were rolled back, ulti-
mately beyond Jerusalem, but they were not rolled
up and cut off as intended.

A decision, and the attempt to reach it, were post-
poned a year until September 1918. Meantime, in
the desert to the east and south, a curious campaign
was not only helping to weaken the fighting strength
of Turkey but shedding some new light on strategy
and, in particular, on the indirect approach. This cam-
paign was the Arab Revolt, with Lawrence as its
guiding brain. If it falls into the category of guerrilla
warfare, which is by its very nature indirect, its
strategy had such a scientifically calculated basis that
we should not miss its reflection on normal warfare.
Admittedly an extreme form of the indirect approach,
it was most economically effective within the limits of
s 257


the instrument. The Arabs were both more mobile and
less able to bear casualties than orthodox armies. The
Turks were almost insusceptible to loss of men, but
not to loss of material of which they suffered a
scarcity. Superb in sitting tight in a trench, firing at a
directly oncoming target, they were neither adaptable
to, nor able to endure the strain of, fluid operations.
They were trying to hold down a vast area of country
with a quantity of men which was not large enough to
spread itself in a network of posts over the area. Also,
they depended on a long and frail line of communica-

From these premisses was evolved a strategy which
was the antithesis of orthodox doctrine. Whereas nor-
mal armies seek to preserve contact, the Arabs sought
to avoid it. Whereas normal armies seek to destroy
the opposing forces, the Arabs sought purely to des-
troy material and to seek it at points where there
was no force. But Lawrence's strategy went further.
Instead of trying to drive the enemy away by cutting
off their supplies, he aimed to keep them there, by
allowing short rations to reach them, so that the longer
they stayed the weaker and more depressed they be-
came. Blows might induce them to concentrate, and
simplify both their supply and security problems. Pin-
pricks kept them spread out. Yet for all its uncon-
ventionality this strategy merely carried to its logical
conclusion that of following the line of least resistance.
As its author has said : ' The Arab army never tried to
maintain or improve an advantage, but to move off
and strike again somewhere else. It used the smallest
force in the quickest time at the farthest place. To
continue the action till the enemy had changed his dis-
positions to resist it, would have been to break the
fundamental rule of denying him targets. '

What was this but the strategy evolved in 1918 oft



the Western Front? Fundamentally the same, but
carried to a further degree. Its application to the prob-
lem of normal warfare is conditioned by the factors of
time, space, and force. While it is a quickened and
active form of blockade it is inherently slower to take
effect than a strategy of dislocation. Hence, if national
conditions make a quick issue imperative the latter
appears preferable. But unless the end is sought by an
indirect approach, the * short-cut 5 is likely to prove
slower, more costly, and more dangerous than the
'Lawrence* strategy. Lack of room and density of
force are also handicaps, if rarely insuperable. A
reasoned verdict is that in normal warfare the choice
should fall on the form of indirect approach which
aims at a quick decision, by * trapping* the opponent
if there is a good prospect of its success. Otherwise,
or after it has failed, the choice should fall on that
form of indirect approach which aims at an eventual
decision by sapping the opponent's strength and will.
Anything is preferable to the direct approach.

The opportunity of carrying the strategy of the
Arab revolt to completion was not vouchsafed, for in
September 1918 when it had reduced the Turkish
forces on the Hejaz railway to a state of paralytic help-
lessness the main Turkish forces in Palestine were
overthrown by a single decisive stroke. In this stroke
of AUenby's, however, the Arab forces played a signi-
ficant part.

Whether these final operations in Palestine should
be classified as a campaign or as a battle completed by
a pursuit is difficult to determine. For they opened
with the forces in contact and the victory was com-
plete before that contact was broken, so that they
would seem to fall into the battle category. But victory
was achieved mainly by strategic means, and the share
of fighting was insignificant.



This has led to a depreciation of the result, especi-
ally among those whose scale of values is governed by
the dogma of Clausewitz that blood is the price of
victory. Though Allenby had a superiority of more
than two to one in numbers, perhaps three to one, the
balance was not so heavily in his favour as in the
original British advance into Palestine, which had
ended in failure. And many other offensives had failed,
both in the World War and earlier, with similar
superiority of force.

A more serious * depreciation' is on the score of the
decaying morale of the Turks. But when full deduction
is made for the advantageous conditions of September
1918, the operations deserve to rank among history's
masterpieces for their breadth of vision and treatment.
While the subject was not a difficult one, the picture is
almost unique as a perfect conception perfectly exe-
cuted in its broad lines at least.

The plan abundantly fulfilled Willisen's definition
of strategy as 'the study of communication', and also
Napoleon's maxim that * the whole secret of the art of
war lies in making oneself master of the communica-
tions '. For it aimed to make the British master of all,
and all forms of, the Turkish communications. To cut
an army's lines of communication is to paralyse its
physical organization. To close its line of retreat is to
paralyse its moral organization. And to destroy its lines
of intercommunication by which orders and reports
pass is to paralyse its sensory organization, the essen-
tial connection between brain and body. The third
effect was here sought and secured by the air force.
This drove the enemy aircraft out of the air, making
the enemy's command blind; and then, by bombing
the main telegraph and telephone exchange at Afule,
made it also deaf and dumb. The second phase of this
action aptly followed the cutting of the main railway


at Deraa by the Arabs, which had the physical effect
of shutting off the flow of Turkish supplies temporar-
ily and temporarily was all that mattered here and
the mental effect of inducing the Turkish command to
send part of its scanty reserves thither, just before it
was deprived of its power of control.

The three so-called Turkish * armies ' depended on a
single artery of railway communication from Damas-
cus which branched at Deraa one line continuing
south to the Hejaz; the other turning west across the
Jordan to Afule, where it sent out one shoot towards
the sea at Haifa and the other southwards again to
the railheads of the 7th and 8th Turkish armies. The
4th Army, east of the Jordan, depended on the Hejaz
branch. To get a grip on Afule and the Jordan crossing
near Beisan would sever the communications of the
7th and 8th armies, and also close their lines of retreat
except for the difficult outlet to the desolate region
east of the Jordan. To get a grip on Deraa would sever
the communications of all three armies, and the best
line of retreat of the 4th.

Deraa was too far to be reached from the British
front in a time short enough to exert a prompt in-
fluence on the issue. Fortunately, the Arabs were
available to emerge like phantoms from the desert and
cut all three of its railway 'spokes'. But neither the
nature of the Arab tactics nor the nature of the coun-
try lent itself to the formation of a strategic barrage
across the Turkish rear. As Allenby sought a quick
and complete decision he had to seek a closer site for
such a barrage one where the Jordan and the ranges
west of it could be utilized to bar the enemy's exit.
The railway junction of Afule and the Jordan bridge
near Beisan lay within a sixty-mile radius of his front,
and hence within the range of a strategic 'bound* by
armoured cars and cavalry, provided that these vital



points could be reached without check. The problem
was to find a line of approach difficult for the Turks
to obstruct in time, and to ensure that they did not
block it

How was the problem solved? The flat coastal
plain of Sharon afforded a corridor to the Plain of
Esdraelon and Valley of Jezreel, where Afule and
Beisan lay. This corridor was interrupted by only a
single door so far back that it was unguarded
formed by the narrow mountain belt which separates
the coastal Plain of Sharon from the inland Plain of
Esdraelon. But the entrance to the corridor was bolted
and barred by the trenches of the Turkish front.

By a long-continued 'psychological preparation 5 ,
in which ruses were substitutes for shells, Allenby
diverted the enemy's attention away from the coast to
the Jordan flank. The success of the distraction was
helped by the very failure of two attempted advances
east of the Jordan during the spring. In September,
while the Turks' attention was still being drawn east,
Allenby's troops were moving secretly west until in
the sector near the coast their two-to-one superiority
had developed into five to one. On the 19th of Septem-
ber, after a quarter of an hour's intense bombardment,
the infantry advanced, swept over the two shallow
Turkish trench systems, and then wheeled inland like
a huge door swinging on its hinges. The cavalry
pressed through the opened door and, riding up the
corridor with their armoured cars ahead, gained the
passes into the Plain of Esdraelon. This successful
passage owed much to the fact that the Air Force had
rendered the enemy command deaf, dumb, and blind.
Next day the strategic barrage was established across
the Turks' rear. Their one remaining bolt-hole was
eastwards over the Jordan. They might have reached
this but for the Air Force since the direct infantry



advance was making slow progress in face of stub-
born Turkish rearguards. Early in the morning of the
21st of September, the British aircraft spotted a large
column practically all that survived of the two Tur-
kish armies winding down the steep gorge from
Nablus to the Jordan. Four hours' air attack turned
the column into a rabble. From this moment may be
timed the extinction of the 7th and 8th 'armies'. The
rest was but a rounding-up of cattle.

East of the Jordan, where no strategic barrage was
feasible, the fate of the 4th 'army' became a rapid
attrition under constant pin-pricks rather than a near
dispatch. The capture of Damascus followed. The
victory was then exploited by an advance to Aleppo
200 miles beyond Damascus, and 350 miles from
the front from which the British had started thirty-
eight days before. During this advance they had taken
75,000 prisoners at a cost of less than 5,000 casualties.

Aleppo had just been reached when Turkey, men-
aced more imminently by Bulgaria's collapse
and Milne's approach from Salonika 4 on Constan-
tinople and her rear, surrendered on the 31st of

In analysing the decisive victory in Palestine it is
to be noted that the Turks were still capable of hold-
ing up the British infantry until the strategic barrage
across their rear became known and produced its in-
evitable, and invariable, moral effect. Further, that
because a preliminary condition of trench warfare
existed the infantry were necessary to break the lock.
But once the normal condition of warfare was thus
restored the victory was achieved by the mobile ele-
ments, which formed but a fraction of the total force.
.The subtlety of this particular example of indirect ap-
proach was limited to the preparation ; its execution
depended purely on the dislocating and demoralizing

, 263


application of mobility which, by its extreme degree,
was a sustained surprise.

One other south-eastern theatre requires incidental
note Salonika. The dispatch of allied troops thither
arose out of a belated and ineffectual attempt to send
succour to the Serbs in the autumn of 1915. Three
years later it was the spring-board of an offensive
which had vital consequences. But while the retention
of a foothold in the Balkans was necessary during the
interval for reasons of policy, and of potential strategy,
the wisdom and necessity of locking up so many troops,
ultimately half a million, in what the Germans ironi-
cally called their * largest internment camp', are open
to doubt.


Chapter XVI

Any study of the military course of the final year is
dependent upon, and inseparable from, an understand-
ing of the naval situation preceding it. For, in default
of an early military decision, the naval blockade had
tended more and more to govern the military situation.
Indeed, if the historian of the future has to select
one day as decisive for the outcome of the World War
he will probably choose the 2nd of August 1914
before the war, for England, had yet begun when
Winston Churchill, at 1.25 a.m., sent the order to
mobilize the British Navy. That Navy was to win no
Trafalgar, but it was to do more than any other factor
towards winning the war for the Allies. For the Navy
was the instrument of the blockade, and as the fog of
war dispersed in the clearer light of the post-war years
that blockade was seen to assume larger and larger
proportions : to be, more and more clearly, the decisive
agency in the struggle. Like those * jackets ' which used
to be applied in American jails to refractory prisoners,
as the blockade was progressively tightened so did it
first cramp the prisoner's movement and then stifle
his breathing, while the tighter it became and the
longer it continued the less became the prisoner's
power of resistance, and the more demoralizing the
sense of constriction.



Helplessness induces hopelessness, and history at-
tests that loss of hope, not loss of lives, is what decides
the issue of war. No historian would underrate the
direct effect of the semi-starvation of the German
people in causing the final collapse of the ' home-
front*. But leaving aside the question of how far the
revolution caused the military defeat, instead of vice
versa, the intangible all-pervading factor of the block-
ade intrudes into every consideration of the military

For it was the fact and the potential menace, if not
perhaps the effect, of the blockade which impelled
Germany to undertake her first submarine campaign
in February 1915. This gave Britain a lever to loosen
the Declaration of London and tighten the blockade
by claiming the right to intercept and search all
ships suspected of carrying goods to Germany. More-
over, the German action in torpedoing the Lusitania
gave the United States a vital if delayed propulsion
towards entering the war, besides serving to counter-
act the friction between Britain and the United States
caused by the tightened blockade.

Two years later, the economic strain caused by the
blockade led the German military leaders to sanction
an intensive renewal of the * unlimited' submarine
campaign. Britain's dependence on sea-borne sup-
plies for the sustenance of her people and the main-
tenance of her armies was a weak point in her armour,
and the inherently quicker effect of the submarine
form of blockade lent force to the argument that this
grand-strategical form of indirect approach would in-
flict a mortal blow. If the calculation proved faulty,
the case of Britain came critically close to establishing
its correctness. The loss of shipping rose from 500,000
tons in February to 875,000 in April; by the time
counter-measures combined with Germany's insuffi-



cient submarine resources to cause a progressive de-
cline Britain had only food enough to sustain her
people for another six weeks.

TTie German leaders' hopes of an economic decision
had reacted on their fears of an economic collapse and
led them to initiate the submarine campaign, fully
realizing, and accepting as almost certain, the risk
that it would bring the United States into the war
against them. This risk became fact on the 6th of
April, 1917. But although, as Germany calculated,
America's military strength required a long time to
develop, her entry into the war had a prompt effect in
tightening the grip of the naval blockade. As a party
to the war, the United States wielded this economic
weapon with a^ determination, regardless of the re-
maining neutrals, far exceeding Britain's boldest
claims in the past years of controversy over neutral
rights. No longer was the blockade hindered by neutral
objections ; instead, America's co-operation converted
it into a stranglehold under which Germany gradually
became limp, since military power is based on econo-
mic endurance a truth too often overlooked.

The blockade may be classified as a grand strategy
of indirect approach to which no effective resistance
was possible and of a type which incurred no risk
except in its slowness of effect. The effect, true to the
law of momentum, tended to gather speed as it con-
tinued, and at the end of 1917 the Central Powers were
feeling it severely. It was this economic pressure which
not only lured but constrained Germany into the mili-
tary offensive of 1918, which, once it failed, became
felo de se. In default of a timely peace move on her
part she had no choice between this offensive gamble
and slow enfeeblement ending in eventual collapse.

If, after the Marne, in 1914, or even later, she had
adopted a war policy of defence in the west, offence



in the east, the issue of the war might well have been
different. For, on the one hand, she could unquestion-
ably have consummated the dream of Mittel-Europa,
while, on the other, the blockade was still a loose
grip, and could hardly have been tightened effectively
so long as the United States remained outside the con-
flict With the whole belt of central Europe under her
control, with Russia out of the war, even in economic
vassalage, there is flimsy ground for any belief that
the efforts of Britain, France, and Italy could have
done more than, if as much as, to induce Germany to
relinquish the bargaining counters of Belgium and
northern France in return for the undisputed reten-
tion of her gains in the east. A greater Germany,
greater too in potential strength and resources, could
well have afforded to forgo the desire for a military
victory over the western allies. Indeed, to forgo aims
which are not 'worth the candle' is the difference be-
tween grand strategy and grandiose stupidity.

But in 1918 the chance had passed. Her economic
endurance had been severely reduced, and the tighten-
ing blockade was reducing it faster than any late-hour
infusion of the economic resources of conquered Ru-
mania and the Ukraine could restore it.

These were the conditions under which the final
German offensive, the bid for a saving military deci-
sion, was made. The release of troops from the Russian
front gave her superiority of force, if considerably less
than the allies had enjoyed during their offensive cam-
paigns. In March 1917, a total of 178 French, British,
and Belgian divisions were marshalled against 129 Ger-
man divisions. In March 1918, a total of 192 German
divisions were available against 173 Allied divisions
counting proportionately the double-sized American
divisions, of which 4 i had arrived. While the Germans
were able to bring a few more divisions from the east,



the American inflow developed from a trickle to a
torrent under pressure of the emergency. Of the Ger-
man total, 85, known as * storm divisions', were in
reserve, and of the Allied total 62 but under no cen-
tralized control ; for the scheme of a general reserve of
30 divisions under the Versailles military executive
committee had broken down when Haig declared that
he was unable to contribute his quota of 7. When the
test came, the agreement for mutual support made
between the French and British commanders also
broke down. Disaster hastened an overdue step, and
on Haig's initiative Foch was appointed, first to co-
ordinate, and then to command, the Allied armies.

The German plan was distinguished by a research
for tactical surprise more thorough and far-reaching
than in any of the earlier operations of the war. It
is to the credit of the German command and staff that
they realized how rarely the possession of superior
force offsets the disadvantage of attacking in the ob-
vious way. Also, that effective surprise can only be
attained by a subtle compound of many deceptive
elements. And that only by such a compound key
could a gate be opened in the long-locked front. A
brief but intense bombardment with gas-shell was to
be the main element Ludendorff had failed to grasp
the significance of the tank and to develop it in time.
But, in addition, the infantry were trained in new in-
filtration tactics of which the guiding idea was that
the leading troops should probe and penetrate the
weak points of the defence, while the reserves were
directed to back up success, not to redeem failure.
The assaulting divisions were brought up by night
marches ; the masses of artillery were brought close to
the front line in concealment, and opened fire without
preliminary 'registration'. Further, the preparations
made for successive attacks at other points helped to



mystify the defender, while being in readiness for the

This was not all. From the experience of the vain
allied offensives Ludendorff had drawn the deduction
that 4 tactics have to be considered before purely stra-
tegical objects which it is futile to pursue unless tacti-
cal success is possible'. In default of a strategical in-
direct approach, this was undoubtedly true. Hence in
the German design the new tactics were to be accom-
panied by a new strategy. One was the corollary of the
other, both based on a new or resurrected principle
that of following the line of least resistance. The con-
ditions of 1918 in France limited the scope for taking,
and Ludendorff did not attempt to take, the line of
least expectation. But with the opposing armies spread
out in contact along the far-flung line of entrench-
ments, a quick break-through followed by a rapid ex-
ploitation along the line of least resistance might come
within reach of a goal which normally has been only
attainable by taking the line of least expectation.

The break-through proved quick, the exploitation
rapid. Yet the plan failed. Where did the fault lie? The
general criticism subsequent to the event, and to the
war, was that the tactical bias had led Ludendorff to
change direction and dissipate his strength to con-
centrate on tactical success at the expense of the stra-
tegical goal. It seemed, and was said, that the principle
was false. But a closer examination of the German
documents since available, and of LudendorfFs own
orders and instructions, throws a different light on the
question. It would seem that the real fault lay in
LudendorfFs failure to carry out in practice the new
principle he had adopted in theory : that he either did
not grasp or shrank from the full implications of this
new strategic theory. For, in fact, he dissipated too
large a part of his reserves in trying to redeem tactical



failure, and hesitated too long over decisions to ex*
ploit his tactical successes.

The trouble began even in his choice of the point
of attack. It was to be made by the 17th, 2nd, and
18th Armies on a sixty-mile front between Arras and
La Ffcre. Two alternative proposals had been con-
sidered. One, for an attack on the flanks of the Verdun
salient, had been rejected on the score that the ground
was unfavourable ; that a break-through could hardly
lead to a decisive result ; and that the French army had
recuperated too well after nearly a year's undisturbed
convalescence. The other, for an attack between Ypres
and Lens although favoured by Ludendorff 's strate-
gical adviser, Wetzell, and espoused by Prince Rup-
precht, commanding the front between St. Quentin
and the sea was rejected on the score that it would
meet the main mass of the British Army and that the
low-lying ground would be late in drying.

The choice fell on the Arras-La F&re sector for
the reason that, apart from the ground being favour-
able, this sector was the weakest in defences, de-
fenders, and reserves. Moreover, it was close to the
joint between the French and British armies Luden-
dorff hoped to separate the two, and then pulverize
the British army, which he estimated to be weakened
seriously by its prolonged efforts at Ypres. But al-
though the comparative weakness of this sector was
true as a generalization, in detail his judgement was
badly at fault. The northerly third of it was strong
and strongly held, by the British 3rd Army, with 14
divisions (of which 4 were in reserve), while the bulk
of the British reserves were on this flank which also
could, and did, receive support more quickly from the
other British armies, further north. The remaining
two-thirds of the front upon which the German blow
fell was held by the British 5th Army. The central



sector facing the German 2nd Army was held by 5
divisions. The southern, and longer, part facing the
German 18th Army, was held by 7 divisions (of which
one was in reserve).

Ludendorff gave his 17th Army, near Arras, 19
divisions for the initial attack, by its left wing only,
on a fourteen-mile front. As the British salient to-
wards Cambrai was not to be attacked directly, but
pinched out, this five-mile stretch was adequately
occupied by 2 German divisions of the German 2nd
Army. This army concentrated 18 divisions against
the left wing of the British 5th Army (5 divisions), on
a fourteen-mile front. On the extreme south, either
side of Saint Quentin, came the 18th Army, Luden-
dorff gave it only 24 divisions to attack on a twenty-
seven mile frontage. Despite his new principle, he was
distributing his strength according to the enemy's
strength, and not concentrating against the weakest

The direction given in his orders emphasized this
tendency still more. The main effort was to be
exerted north of the Somme, After breaking through,
the 17th and 2nd Armies were to wheel north-west,
pressing the British back towards the coast, while the
river and the 18th Army guarded their flank. The
18th Army was merely an offensive flank-guard. As it
turned out, this plan was radically changed, and had
the appearance of following the line of least resistance,
because Ludendorff gained rapid success where he de-
sired it little, and failed to gain success where he
wanted it most.

The attack was launched on the 21st of March, and
the surprise was helped by an early morning mist.
While the thrust broke through completely south of
the Somme, where the defence but also the attacking
force was thinnest, it was held up near Arras, a



check which reacted on all the attack north of the
river. Such a result was a calculable certainty. But
Ludendorff, still violating his new principle, spent the
following days in trying to revive his attack against
the strong and firmly held bastion of Arras main-
taining this direction as his principal line of effort.
Meantime he kept a tight rein on the 18th Army,
which was advancing in the south without serious
check from its opponents. As late as the 26th of
March he issued orders which restrained it from cross-
ing the Avre, and tied it to the pace of its neighbour,
the 2nd which, in turn, was held back by the very
limited success of the 17th Army, near Arras. Thus
we see that in reality Ludendorff was bent on breaking
the British army by breaking down its strongest sector
of resistance in a direct assault. And because of this
obsession he failed, until too late, to throw the weight
of his reserves along the line of least resistance south
of the Somme.

The intended wheel to the north-west might have
been fulfilled if it had been made after passing the
flank, and thus been directed against the rear, of the
Arras bastion. On the 26th of March the attack north
of the Somme (by the left wing of the 17th Army and
the right of the 2nd Army) was visibly weakening
the price of its hard-earned gains. South of the Somme
the left of the 2nd Army reached, and was now to be
embarrassed by, the desert of the old Somme battle-
fields a brake on movement and supply. The lt
Army alone was advancing with unslackenedjjj

This situation led Ludendorff to adopt
but without relinquishing his old. He 01
28th of March a fresh and direct attack
ground near Arras by the right of
and to be followed by a 6th Army at
north, between Vimy and La Bass6e.
T 273


ing situation south of the Somme led him to indicate
Amiens as the principal goal for the 2nd Army.
Even so, he restrained the 18th Army from pushing
on, to turn the flank of the Amiens resistance, without
fresh orders. Amiens, having been recognized as an
additional main objective, was to be gained by a direct
approach across bad ground.

On the 28th of March the Arras attack was
launched, unshielded by mist or surprise, and failed
completely in face of the well-prepared resistance of
Byng's 3rd Army. Only then did Ludendorff abandon
his original idea, and direct his main effort, and some
of his remaining reserves, towards Amiens. Mean-
time he ordered the 18th Army to mark time for two
days. When the attack was renewed on the 30th of
March it had little force, and made little progress in
face of a resistance that had been allowed time to
harden helped by the cement of French reserves
which were now being poured into the sagging wall.
That day was the first on which the French artillery,
arriving later than the infantry, had come into action
in force. A further German effort was made by 15
divisions, of which only 4 were fresh, on the 4th of
April, and had still less success.

Rather than be drawn into an attrition struggle,
Ludendorff then suspended the attack towards Amiens.
At no time had he thrown his weight along the line of
fracture between the British and French armies. Yet
on the 24th of March, Petain had intimated to Haig
that if the German progress continued along this line
he would have to draw back the French reserves
south-westwards to cover Paris. How little more Ger-
man pressure would have been needed to turn the
crack into a yawning chasm! The knowledge brings
confirmation of two historical lessons that a joint is
the most sensitive and profitable point of attack, and



that a penetration between two forces or units is more
dangerous if they are assembled shoulder to shoulder
than if they are widely separated and organically

With a large part of his reserves holding the vast
bulge south of Arras, Ludendorff turned, if without
much confidence, to release a fresh attack further
north. On the 25th of March he ordered a small-scale
attack to be prepared between La Bassee and Armen-
tifcres as a step towards expanding the width of his
break-through. After the failure of his Arras attack
on the 28th of March, he had extended the scheme.
The attack south of Annenti&res was to be followed
twenty-four hours later by an attack north of it,
pinching out the town.

Arranged late, the attack was not ready for launch-
ing until the 9th of April, and, even so, was conceived
merely as a diversion. But its astonishing early success
helped again by an early morning fog against a
weakened sector, led Ludendorff to convert it bit by
bit into a major effort. Along an eleven-mile front
south of Armentiteres, 9 German divisions, with 5
more in the second wave, fell on 1 Portuguese and
2 British divisions (behind which were 2 more in close
reserve). Next day 4 divisions, with 2 more in the
second line, attacked north of Armenti&res on a seven-
mile front again helped by a thick mist. As the re-
sistance began to harden, fresh divisions were thrown
in by driblets, until by the end of the first week in
May more than 40 had been used. Ludendorff had
thus drifted into an attrition campaign.

The British were desperately close to their bases and
the sea, but their resistance had stopped the German
tide, after a ten-mile invasion, just short of the im-
portant railway junction of Hazebrouck. Then, on the
17th of April, Ludendorff attempted a convergent



blow on either side of Ypres but it was anticipated,
and almost nullified, by Haig's indirect action in
swinging back his line here during the previous forty-
eight hours. This project having been deflated, Luden-
dorff returned to a purely direct attack south of Ypres,
where French reserves had arrived to take over part
of the line. The attack on the 25th of April, falling on
the joint, cracked it at Kemmel Hill ; but Ludendorff
stopped the exploitation for fear of a counterstroke.
Throughout he had doled out reserves sparingly, too
late and too few for real success. After the failure of
his first offensive he seems to have had little faith in
the second, and after a final effort on the 29th of April
he stopped it. But he intended only a temporary sus-
pension until he could draw off the French reserves
to their own front planning then to strike a final
and decisive blow at the British in Flanders.

Already, he had ordered preparations for an attack
on the Chemin-des-Dames sector between Soissons
and Reims. This was intended for the 17th of April,
but was not ready until the 27th of May largely
owing to Ludendorff's prolongation of the Flanders
offensive, with its consequent drain on his reserves.
The intelligence section of the American G.H.Q. had
predicted the site and approximate date of the attack,
but their warnings were only heeded at a late hour
when confirmed by a prisoner's report on the 26th of
May. It was then too late to strengthen the defence,
beyond putting the troops on the alert, but the warn-
ing enabled reserves to get on the move. Next morn-
ing the blow was delivered by 15 divisions, with 7
more close behind along a twenty-four-mile front
held by 5 divisions, French and British (with 4 in
reserve behind them). Covered at the start by a cloak
of mist and smoke, the attack swept the defenders off
the Chemin-des-Dames, and then over the Aisne. It



reached the Marne by the 30th of May. But once again
Ludendorff had obtained a measure of success for
which he was neither prepared nor desirous. The sur-
priser was himself surprised. The opening success not
only attracted thither too large a proportion of his
own reserves, but forfeited their effect because they
had no start over the Allied reserves in the race.

The extent of the opening success offers scope for
analysis. It would seem to have been due in part to the
distraction of the Allies' attention and reserves else-
where, in part to pursuing more assiduously the line
of least resistance, and in part to the folly of the local
French army commander. He insisted on the infantry
being massed in the forward positions, there to be
compressed cannon-fodder for the German guns. The
artillery, local reserves and command posts of the
defence were similarly close to the front and in con-
sequence the quicker and greater was the collapse that
followed the German break-through. Thereby the at-
tack regained the tactical surprise effect which it had
partly lost the day before it was launched. For, as the
object of all surprise is dislocation, the effect is similar
whether the opponent be caught napping by deception
or allows himself to be trapped with his eyes open.

Ludendorff had now created two huge bulges, and
another smaller one, in the Allied front. His next
attempt was to pinch out the Compiegne buttress
which lay between the Somme and Maine bulges.
But this time there was no surprise, and the blow on
the west side of the buttress, on the 9th of June, was
too late to coincide with the pressure on the east.

A month's pause followed. Ludendorff was anxious
to fulfil his long-cherished idea of a decisive blow
against the British in Belgium, but he considered that
their reserves there were still too strong, and so again
decided on a diversion hoping that a heavy blow in



the south would draw off the British reserves. He had
failed to pinch out the Comp&gne buttress on the
west of his Marne salient; he was now about to at-
tempt the same thing on the east, by attacking on
either side of Reims. But he needed an interval for rest
and preparation, and the delay was fatal giving the
British and French time to recuperate, and the Ameri-
cans time to gather strength.

The tactical success of his own blows had been
Ludendorff 's undoing in the sense that, yielding to
their influence, he had pressed each too far and too
long, thus using up his own reserves, and causing an
undue interval between each blow. He had followed,
not the line of least resistance, but the line of harden-
ing resistance. After the initial break-through, each
attack had become strategically a pure direct ap-
proach. He had driven in three great wedges, but none
had penetrated far enough to sever a vital artery ; and
this strategic failure left the Germans with an
indented front which invited flanking counter-

On the 15th of July Ludendorff launched his new
attack, but its coming was no secret. East of Reims it
was foiled by an elastic defence, and west of Reims
the German penetration across the Marne merely en-
meshed them more deeply to their downfall for on
the 18th of July Foch launched a long-prepared stroke
against the other flank of the Marne salient. Here
P6tain, who directed the operation, employed the key
which Ludendorff lacked, using masses of light tanks
to lead a surprise attack on the Cambrai model.
The Germans managed to hold the gates of the salient
open long enough to draw their forces back into
safety, and straighten their line. But their reserves
were depleted. Ludendorff was forced, first to post-
pone, and then to abandon the offensive in Flanders,



so that the initiative definitely and finally passed to
the Allies.

The nature of the Allied counterstroke on the
Marne requires examination. Petain had asked Foch
to assemble two groups of reserves at Beauvais and
Epernay respectively, with a view to a counterstroke
against the flank of, and subsequent to, any fresh
German attack. The first group, under Mangin, was
used to break the German attack of the 9th of June,
and was then switched to a position on the west face
of the Marne salient. Foch planned to use it for the
direct purpose of an attack against the rail centre of
Soissons. While this was being prepared the intelli-
gence service obtained definite news of the forth-
coming German attack near Reims. Foch thereupon
determined to anticipate it, not retort to it, by launch-
ing his stroke on the 12th of July. P6tain, however,
had the contrary idea of letting the Germans come on
and entangle themselves, and then of striking at their
rear flank. And, somewhat curiously, the French
troops were not ready on the 12th of July so that the
battle was fought more according to Petain's than to
Foch's conception. More, but not wholly. For P&ain's
plan had been, first, to yield his forward position to
the attackers, by holding it lightly, and bring them to
a halt in face of the intact rear position ; then to launch
local counter-attacks so that the enemy might be drawn
to engage their reserves in the new pockets that their
attacks on either side of Reims would make ; finally,
to unleash Mangin to the real counter-offensive east-
ward along the base-line of the main Marne salient.
Thereby he might close the neck of the vast sack in
which the German forces south of the Aisne would be

Events and Foch combined to modify this concep-
tion. East of Reims the German attack was nullified



by the elastic; defence a form of tactical indirect ap-
proach. But west of Reims the commanders persisted
in the old rigid method of defence, and had their line
broken. The Germans penetrated beyond the Marne ;
to avert the danger, P6tain was driven to throw in
most of the reserves he had intended for use in his
second phase. To replace them, he decided to draw
from Mangin and to postpone the latter's counter-
stroke, already ordered by Foch for the 18th of July.
When Foch heard of this order, he promptly counter-
manded it. Hence the second phase had to be dropped
out, so that the German reserves were available to
hold Mangin back, and hold open the neck of the
sack. The counterstroke soon became a purely direct
pressure converging, like Falkenhayn's of 1915 in
Poland, on the whole sack and pressing the Germans
back out of it.

Foch's governing idea henceforth was simply to
keep the initiative and to give the enemy no rest while
his own reserves were accumulating. His first step was
to free his own lateral railways by a series of local
offensives. The first was made by Haig on the 8th of
August in front of Amiens. By skilful precautions
and deceptions, Rawlinson's 4th Army was doubled,
and the attack led by 450 tanks was, in its opening,
perhaps the most complete surprise of the war. If it
soon came to a halt the directness of its pressure was
a natural reason its initial shock of surprise sufficed
to dislocate the moral balance of the German Supreme
Command, and by convincing Ludendorff of the moral
bankruptcy of his troops led him to declare that peace
must be sought by negotiation. Meantime, he said,
'the object of our strategy must be to paralyse the
enemy's war-will gradually by a strategic defensive'.

Meantime, however, the Allies evolved a new strate-
gic method. Foch gave the first impulse by ordering



a succession of attacks at different points. Haig com-
pleted its evolution by refusing to agree to Foch's in-
structions for a continuance of the 4th Army's frontal
pressure. Its advance was only resumed after the 3rd
and 1st Armies in turn had struck. Hence the allied
offensive although only in the sphere of Haig's and
P&ain's control became a series of rapid blows at
different points, each broken off as soon as its initial
impetus waned, each so aimed as to pave the way for
the next, and all close enough in time and space to
react on one another. Thus a check was placed on
Ludendorff's power of switching reserves to anticipate
the blows, and a progressive tax placed upon his re-
serve balance at an economical cost to the Allied
resources. This method, if not a true indirect approach,
appears at least a border-line case. If it did not take
the line of least expectation, it avoided the line of
natural expectation. If it did not take the line of least
resistance, it never continued along the line of harden-
ing resistance. In effect, it was a negative form of the
indirect approach.

In view of the moral and numerical decline of the
German forces, this method sufficed, for a time at any
rate, to ensure a continuous advance and gradual
weakening of the German resistance. The clear evi-
dence of this decline and Haig's consequent assurance
that he could break the Hindenburg Line, where the
German reserves were strongest, caused Foch to relin-
quish the method in favour of a general and simul-
taneous offensive at the end of September.

The plan was for a directly convergent pressure
upon the vast salient formed by the German front in
France. It was hoped that the two Allied wings
formed by the British and Americans respectively
would, as they closed in, cut off a large part of the
German armies in the salient. This hope was based on



the idea that the Ardennes formed an almost impass-
able back wall with narrow exits on the flanks. One
may add, incidentally, that this idea of the Ardennes
must have arisen from a lack of knowledge of the dis-
trict for it is well-roaded, and most of it is rolling
rather than mountainous country. 1

Originally, on Pershing's suggestion, the plan had
contained a certain degree of indirectness of approach.
His proposal was that the American army should ex-
ploit its local success in erasing the Saint Mihiel
salient by an advance towards Briey, and past Metz,
with the aim of getting astride the German communi-
cations in Lorraine and menacing their western line of
retreat to the Rhine. But Haig objected to this move
as divergent from, instead of convergent with, the
other Allied attacks. And Foch changed his plan ac-
cordingly, discarding Pershing's project. The Ameri-
can army, in consequence, had to transfer its effort
westwards and hastily mount an attack, with a bare
week's preparation, in the Meuse-Argonne sector.
Here the prolonged pressure along the line of harden-
ing resistance resulted in high cost and profound con-
fusion, besides proving unnecessary to ease Haig's ad-
vance through the Hindenburg Line.

There, the course of events tended to demonstrate
that a direct approach, given overwhelming fire
superiority and a morally decaying opponent, can
break into the enemy's position but cannot break
him up. By the 1 1th of November, the date of the
Armistice, the German forces, at the sacrifice of their
rearguards, were safely out of the salient and back on
a shortened and straightened line. The Allied advance
had practically come to a standstill less because of

1 It would seem that a similar misjudgement led the Allied Com-
mand in May 1940 to discount the possibility that the German
jhanized forces would attempt that route of invasion.



German resistance than because of the difficulty of
its own maintenance and supply across the devastated
areas. Under these conditions, a direct approach had
merely helped the Germans to slip away faster than
they could be followed.

Fortunately, the last phase of the military offensive
mattered little. The moral blow which the initial sur-
prise of the 8th of August had given to the German
Command was completed, and made mortal, by an
indirect approach in a far-distant theatre. This was
the Allied offensive on the Salonika front. Aimed at a
sector where the terrain was so difficult that the
defenders were few, it soon broke through. Once this
had happened, the difficult mountain country hin-
dered the defenders switching their reserves laterally
to block the progress of the advance down the line of
least resistance. With their army split in two, the war-
weary Bulgarians craved an armistice. This achieve-
ment not only knocked away the first prop of the
Central Alliance but opened the way for an advance
upon Austria's rear. The menace became closer when
an Italian offensive fell on, and broke through, Aus-
tria's morally shaken and physically exhausted front;
for with Austria's prompt capitulation her territory
and railways were available to the Allies as a base of
operations against Germany's back door. In Septem-
ber, General von Gallwitz had told the German Chan-
cellor that such a contingency would be * decisive'.

This menace, together with the heightened moral
effect of the blockade that other, grand-strategical,
indirect approach on a people now hunger-stricken
and hopeless, constituted a pair of spurs by which in
the last days the German Government was urged to-
wards surrender. They were spurs applied to a bolting
steed, but a crack of the whip had made it bolt the
news of the collapse of Bulgaria, reinforced by the



first' reports of the renewal of the frontal attack in

The Supreme Command lost its nerve only for a
matter of days, but that was sufficient, and recovery
too late. On the 29th of September Hindenburg and
Ludendorff took the precipitate decision to appeal for
an armistice, saying that the collapse of the Bulgarian
front had upset all their dispositions 'troops des-
tined for the Western front had had to be dispatched
there'. This had 'fundamentally changed 5 the situa-
tion in view of the attacks then being launched on the
Western front; for though these 'had so far been
beaten off, their continuance must be reckoned with'.

This clause refers to Foch's general offensive. The
American attack in the Meuse-Argonne had begun
on the 26th of September, but had come practically
to a standstill by the 28th. A Franco-Belgo-British
attack had opened in Flanders on the 28th ; if un-
pleasant, it did not look really menacing. But on the
morning of the 29th Haig's main blow was falling on
the Hindenburg Line, and the early news was dis-

In this emergency, Prince Max was called to be
Chancellor to negotiate a peace move, with his in-
ternational reputation for moderation and honour as
its covering pledge. To bargain effectively, and without
confession of defeat, he needed, and asked, a breathing
space 'of ten, eight, even four days, before I have to
appeal to the enemy*. But Hindenburg merely reiter-
ated that 'the gravity of the military situation admits
of no delay*, and insisted that 'a peace offer to our
enemies be issued at once '.

Hence, on the 3rd of October, the appeal for an
immediate armistice went out to President Wilson.
It was an open confession of defeat to the world. And
even before this on the 1st of October the Supreme



Command had undermined their own home front by
communicating the same impression to a meeting of
the leaders of all political parties.

Men who had so long been kept in the dark were
blinded by the sudden light. All the forces of discord
and weakness received an immense impulse.

Within a few days the Supreme Command became
more cheerful, even optimistic, when it saw that the
British success in breaking into the Hindenburg Line
had not been followed by an actual break-through of
the fighting front. More encouragement came from
reports of a slackening in the force of the Allies' at-
tacks, particularly in the exploitation of opportunities.
Ludendorff still wanted an armistice, but only to give
his troops a rest as a prelude to further resistance, and
to ensure a secure withdrawal to a shortened defen-
sive line on the frontier. By the 1 7th of October he even
felt he could do it without a rest. It was less that the
situation had changed than that his impression of it
had been revised. The situation had never been quite
so bad as he had pictured it on the 29th of September.
But his first impression had now spread throughout
the political circles and public of Germany as the
ripples spread when a pebble has been dropped in a
pool. The 'home-front' began to crumble later, but it
crumbled quicker than the battle-front.

On the 23rd of October, President Wilson replied to
the German requests by a note which virtually re-
quired an unconditional surrender. LudendorfF wished
to carry on the struggle in the hope that a successful
defence of the German frontier might damp the deter-
mination of the Allies. But the situation had passed
beyond his control, the nation's will-power was
broken, and his advice was in discredit On the 26th of
October he was forced to resign.

Then for thirty-six hours the Chancellor lay in coma



from an overdose of sleeping draught. When he re-
turned to his office on the evening of the 3rd of Novem-
ber, not only Turkey but Austria had capitulated.
The back gate was open. Next day revolution broke
out in Germany, and swept rapidly over the country,
fanned, as peace negotiations were delayed, by the
Kaiser's reluctance to abdicate. Compromise with the
revolutionaries was the only chance, and on the 9th of
November Prince Max handed over to the Socialist
Ebert. The German armistice plenipotentiaries were
already with Foch. At five a.m., on the llth of
November, they signed the terms; at 11 a.m. the war
was over.

The issue of the war had been finally decided on
the 29th of September decided in the mind of the
German Command. Ludendorff and his associates
had then 'cracked ', and the sound went echoing back-
wards until it had resounded throughout the whole of
Germany. Nothing could catch it or stop it. The
Command might recover its nerve, the actual military
position might improve, but the moral impression
as ever in war was decisive.

Among the causes of Germany's surrender the
blockade is seen to be the most fundamental. Its
existence is the surest answer to the question whether
but for the revolution the German armies could have
stood firm on their own frontiers. For even if the
German people, roused to a supreme effort in visible
defence of their own soil, could have held the allied
armies at bay, the end could only have been post-
poned because of the grip of sea-power, Britain's
historic weapon.

But in hastening the surrender, in preventing a con-
tinuance of the war into 1919, military action ranks
foremost. That conclusion does not imply that at the
moment of the Armistice Germany's military power



was broken or her armies decisively beaten, nor that
the Armistice was a mistaken concession. Rather does
the record of the lat ' hundred days', when sifted,
confirm the immemorial lesson that the true aim in
war is the mind of the hostile rulers, not the bodies of
their troops; that the balance between victory and
defeat turns on mental impressions and only in-
directly on physical Wows. It was the shock of being
surprised, and the feeling that he was powerless to
counter potential strategic moves, that shook Luden-
dorff's nerve more than the loss of prisoners, guns,
and acreage.



Chapter XVII

The course of Hitler's campaigns, before and since
the outbreak of actual war, has provided the most
striking demonstration of the method traced in the
earlier part of this book. He has given the strategy of
indirect approach a new extension, logistically and
psychologically, both in the field and in the forum.

It is wise in war not to underrate your opponent. It
is equally important to understand his methods, and
how his mind works. Such understanding is the neces-
sary foundation of a successful effort to foresee and
forestall his moves. The peaceful Powers have suffered
a lot from 'missing the bus' through their slowness to
gauge what he would next attempt. A nation might
profit a lot if the advisory organs of government in-
cluded an 'enemy department', covering all spheres of
war and studying the problems of the war from the
enemy's point of view so that, in this state of detach-
ment, it might succeed in predicting what he was
likely to do next.

Nothing may seem more strange to the future his-
torian than the way that the governments of the
democracies failed to anticipate the course which
Hitler would pursue. For never has a man of such
immense ambition so clearly disclosed beforehand
both the general process and particular methods by



which he was seeking to fulfil it. Mein Kampf, together
with his speeches and other utterances, provide abun-
dant clues to his direction and sequence of action. If
this amazingly clear self-revelation of how his mind
works is the best evidence that what he has achieved
is not a matter of accident, nor of mere opportunism,
it is *also the clearest confirmation of the proverbial
saying 'What fools men are'. Even Napoleon did
not show such contemptuous disregard for his op-
ponents, and for the risks of unveiling his intentions.
Perhaps Hitler's apparent carelessness in this respect
is due to a realization that men easily miss what is
right under their eye, that concealment can often be
found in the obvious, and that in some cases the most
direct approach can become the least expected just
as the art of secrecy lies in being so open about most
things that the few things that matter are not even
suspected to exist.

Lawrence of Arabia remarked of Lenin that he was
the only man who had thought out a revolution, car-
ried it out, and consolidated it. That observation can
be applied also to Hitler with the addition that he
had 'written it out'. It is clear, too, that he had pro-
fited by studying the methods of the Bolshevik revolu-
tion. Not only in gaining power, but in extending it.
It was Lenin who enunciated the axiom that 'the
soundest strategy in war is to postpone operations
until the moral disintegration of the enemy renders
the delivery of the mortal blow both possible and
easy'. There is a marked resemblance between this
and Hitler's saying that 'our real wars will in fact all
be fought before military operations begin'. In Raus-
chning's account of a discussion on the subject, in
Hitler Speaks, he declared 'How to achieve the
moral breakdown of the enemy before the war has
started that is the problem that interests me. Who-



ever has experienced war at the front will want to
refrain from all avoidable bloodshed. '

In concentrating on that problem Hitler has di-
verged from the orthodox trend of German military
thought which, for a century, had concentrated on
battle and had led most of the other nations along
the same narrow path of military theory. Accepting
the Prussian philosopher of war, Clausewitz, as their
master, they blindly swallowed his undigested aphor-
isms. Such as 'The bloody solution of the crisis, the
effort for the destruction of the enemy's forces, is the
first-born son of war. ' 'Only great and general battles
can produce great results.' ' Blood is the price of vic-
tory.' 'Let us not hear of generals who conquer without
bloodshed.' Clausewitz rejected the idea that 'there is
a skilful method of disarming and overcoming an
enemy without great bloodshed, and that this is the
proper tendency of the Art of War'. He dismissed it
as a notion born in the imagination of 'philanthro-
pists'. He took no account of the fact that it might be
dictated by enlightened self-interest, by the desire for
an issue profitable to the nation : not merely a gladia-
torial decision. The outcome of his teaching, applied
by unthinking disciples, was to incite generals to seek
battle at th^ first opportunity, instead of creating an
advantageous opportunity. Thereby the art of war was
reduced in 1914-18 to a process of mutual mass-

Whatever the limit of his lights, Hitler has far trans-
centfed these Clausewitzian bounds. While for him
* war is life ', the aim of conducting it in such new ways
as to 'preserve the precious German blood' recalls the
keynote which Napoleon sounded up to 1805 'All
my care will be to gain victory with the least possible
shedding of blood. ' But in the ways of fulfilling this,
Hitler has gone beyond Napoleon. Rauschning quotes



him as saying c People have killed only when they
could not achieve their aim in other ways. . . . There

is a broadened strategy, with intellectual weapons

Why should I demoralize the enemy by military means
if I can do so better and more cheaply in other ways? '
c Our strategy is to destroy the enemy from within, to
conquer him through himself.'

The extent to which Hitler has given a new direc-
tion and wider meaning to the German doctrine of
war may best be seen by comparing his theory and
practice with that of General Ludendorff the direc-
tor of Germany's war-effort in the last war, and Hit-
ler's former associate in the abortive 1923 project to
seize control of Germany by a 4 march on Berlin '.

After the establishment of the totalitarian state, and
after he had had nearly twenty years for reflection on
the lessons of the last war, Ludendorff set forth his
conclusions as to future * totalitarian warfare'. He
opened with a heavy attack on the theories of Clause-
witz which had been the foundation of the Ger-
man doctrine in 1914. To Ludendorff, their fault was
not that they went too far in the way of unlimited
violence, regardless of cost, but that they did not go
far enough. He criticized Clausewitz for allowing
policy too much importance, not too little. As typical
of Clausewitz, he cited a passage concluding "The
political goal is the end, and warfare is a means lead-
ing to it, and a means can never be thought of without
a certain end. ' In Ludendorff 's view, this was out of
date. The totalitarian principle demanded that in war
a nation should place everything at its service ; and,
in peace, at the service of the next war. War was the
highest expression of the national 'will to live', and
politics must therefore be subservient to the conduct
of war.

Reading Ludendorff s book, it became clear that



the main difference between his theory and Clause-
witz's was that the former had come to think of war
as a means without an end unless making the nation
into an army be considered an end in itself. This was
hardly so new as Ludendorff appeared to imagine.
Sparta tried it, and in the end succumbed to self-
inflicted paralysis. With the aim of developing the
nation for war, of creating a super-Sparta, Luden-
dorfFs primary concern was to ensure 'the psychical
unity of the people 5 . Towards this, he sought to culti-
vate a religion of nationalism through which all
women would accept that their noblest rote was to
bear sons to 'bear the burden of the totalitarian war*,
and all men would develop their powers for that pur-
pose in short, to breed, and be bred, for slaughter.
The other positive suggestions which Ludendorff
offered towards achieving 'psychical unity' amounted
to little more than the age-old prescription of sup-
pressing everyone who might express, or even enter-
tain, views contrary to those of the High Command.

Another condition on which Lu4endorff insisted
was the need for a self-sufficient national economic
system suited to the demands of totalitarian war.
From this, he appeared to realize that military power
rests on an economic foundation. Yet, curiously,
when he dwelt on the crippling difficulties caused in
the last war by the Allied blockade, he did not see how
this admission reflected on his belief that wars are
decided by battle between the armies. On this score,
he considered that Germany's old master deserved
praise 'Clausewitz only thinks of the annihilation
of the hostile armies in battle'. In LudendorfFs view
this remained an 'immutable principle' whereas in
Hitler's view the true aim of the war-leader should be
to produce the capitulation of the hostile armies with-
out a battle.



Ludendorff s picture of the way that the next war
would be waged was merely an intensified reproduc-
tion of the offensives he had carried out in 1918
which had been brilliant in their opening but barren in
their issue. For him the offensive was still a battle-
process in which the infantry would be helped for-
ward by artillery, machine-guns, mortars, and tanks
until it * overwhelms the enemy in a man-to-man fight '.
All movements should lead to battle ; mechanization
would merely quicken the rush to battle.

It was not that Ludendorff had any moral or even
soldierly objection to the more widely spread forms of
warfare. He remarked that the requirements of totali-
tarian warfare 'will ever ignore the cheap theoretical
desire to abolish unrestricted U-boat warfare', while
aircraft would in future combine with submarines at
sinking every ship which tried to reach the enemy's
ports 'even vessels sailing under neutral flags'. And
in regard to the question of striking direct at the civil
population, he emphasized that a time would come
when 'bombing squadrons must inexorably and with-
out pity be sent against them '. But on military grounds,
which for him were paramount, the air force must
first be used to help in beating the opposing army.
Only then should it be unleashed against the interior
of the opposing country.

While welcoming every new weapon and instru-
ment, he added them to his armoury rather than
fitted them into any grand strategic pattern. He con-
veyed no clear idea, and seemed to have none, of the
relationship between the different elements in war.
His message was, in brief multiply every kind of
force as much as you can, and you will get some-
where but where, he neither wondered nor worried.
The one point on which he was really clear was that
4 the military Commander-in-Chief must lay down his



instructions for the political leaders, and the latter
must follow and fulfil them in the service of war 9 . In
other words, those who are responsible for national
policy must give him a blank cheque drawn on the
present resources of andfuture prosperity of the nation.

Much as there was in common between Ludendorff
and Hitler in their conception of the race, the state,
and the German people's right to dominate, their
differences were quite as great especially in regard
to method.

While Ludendorff demanded the absurdity that
strategy should control policy which is like saying
the tool should decide its own task Hitler solved that
problem by combining the two functions in one per-
son. Thus he enjoyed the same advantage as Alex-
ander and Caesar in the ancient world, or Frederick
the Great and Napoleon in later times. This gave him
an unlimited opportunity, such as no pure strategist
would enjoy, to prepare and develop his means for
the end he had in view. At the same time he had early
grasped what the soldier, by his very profession, is
less ready to recognize that the military weapon is
but one of the means that serve the purposes of war :
one out of the assortment which grand strategy can

While there are many causes for which a state goes
to war, its fundamental object can be epitomized as
that of ensuring the continuance of its policy in face
of the determination of the opposing state to pursue
a contrary policy. In the human will lies the source
and mainspring of conflict. For a state to gain its
object in war it has to change this adverse will into
compliance with its own policy. Once this is realized,
the military principle of 'destroying the main armed
forces on the battlefield', which Clausewitz's dis-
ciples exalted to a paramount position, fits into its



proper place along with the other instruments of
grand strategy which include the more oblique kinds
of military action as well as economic pressure, propa-
ganda, and diplomacy. Instead of giving excessive
emphasis to one means, which circumstances may
render ineffective, it is wiser to choose and combine
whichever are the most suitable, most penetrative, and
most conservative of effort i.e. which will subdue
the opposing will at the lowest war-cost and minimum
injury to the post-war prospect. For the most decisive
victory is of no value if a nation be bled white in gain-
ing it

It should be the aim of grand strategy to discover
and pierce the Achilles' heel of the opposing govern-
ment's power to make war. And strategy, in turn,
should seek to penetrate a joint in the harness of the
opposing forces. To apply one's strength where the
opponent is strong weakens oneself disproportionately
to the effect attained. To strike with strong effect, one
must strike at weakness.

It is thus more potent, as well as more economical,
to disarm the enemy than to attempt his destruction
by hard fighting. For the 'mauling' method entails
not only a dangerous cost in exhaustion but the risk
that chance may determine the issue. A strategist
should think in terms of paralysing, not of killing.
Even on the lower plane of warfare, a man killed is
merely one man less, whereas a man unnerved is a
highly infectious carrier of fear, capable of spreading
an epidemic of panic. On a higher plane of warfare,
the impression made on the mind of the opposing
commander can nullify the whole fighting power that
his troops possess. And on a still higher plane, psycho-
logical pressure on the government of a country may
suffice to cancel all the resources at its command so
that the sword drops from a paralysed hand.



To repeat the keynote of the initial chapter: the
analysis of war shows that while the nominal strength
of a country is represented by its numbers and re-
sources this muscular development is dependent on
the state of its internal organs and nerve-system
upon its stability of control, morale, and supply.
Direct pressure always tends to harden and consoli-
date the resistance of an opponent like snow which
is squeezed into a snowball, the more compact it be-
comes, the slower it is to melt. Alike in policy and in
strategy or to put it another way, in the strategy of
both the diplomatic and the military spheres the in-
direct approach is the most effective way to upset the
opponent's balance, psychological and physical, there-
by making possible his overthrow.

The true purpose of strategy is to diminish the pos-
sibility of resistance. And from this follows another
axiom that to ensure attaining an objective one
should have alternative objectives. An attack that con-
verges on one point should threaten, and be able to
diverge against another. Only by this flexibility of aim
can strategy be attuned to the uncertainty of war.

Whether by instinct or reflection, Hitler acquired
an acute grasp of these strategic truths of which few
soldiers have ever been aware. He applied this psycho-
logical strategy in the political campaign by which he
gained control of Germany exploiting the weak
points of the Weimar Republic, playing on human
weakness, alternatively playing off capitalist and
socialist interests against each other, appearing to
turn first in one direction and then in another, so that
by successive indirect steps he approached his goal.

Once his control of Germany was achieved, in 1933,
the same compound process was given a wider exten-
sion. Having negotiated, the next year, a ten-year
peace-pact with Poland to cover his eastern flank, in



1935 he threw off the armament limitations imposed
by the Versailles Treaty, and in 1936 ventured the
military reoccupation of the, Rhineland. That same
year he definitely began * camouflaged war* by sup-
porting General Franco's bid to overthrow the
Spanish Republican Government as an indirect ap-
proach, in conjunction with Italy, against the strategic
rear of France and Britain. Having thus weakened
their position in the west, and having also covered
himself in the west by refortifying the Rhineland, he
was able to turn eastwards to make moves that were
further indirect strokes at the strategic foundations of
the Western Powers.

In March 1938 he marched into Austria, and thus
laid bare the flank of Czechoslovakia, while breaking
the girdle which France had woven round Germany
after the last war. In September 1938 he secured, by
the Munich agreement, not merely the return of the
Sudetenland but the strategic paralysis of Czecho-
slovakia. In March 1939 he occupied the country he
had already paralysed, and thereby enveloped the
flank of Poland.

By this series of practically bloodless manoeuvres,
carried out by * peace-marches' under cover of a
smoke-screen of plausible propaganda, he had not
only destroyed the former French domination of cen-
tral Europe and strategic encirclement of Germany,
but reversed it in his own favour. This process was
the modern equivalent* on a wider scale and higher
plane, of the classical art of manoeuvring for position
before offering battle. Throughout its course Ger-
many's strength had been growing, both directly by
the vast development of her armaments, and indirectly
by subtraction from the strength of her potential
main opponents through lopping off their allies and
loosening their strategic roots.



Thus by the spring of 1939 Hitler had decreasing
cause to fear an open fight. And at this critical moment
he was helped by a false move on Britain's part the
guarantee suddenly offered to Poland and Rumania,
each of them strategically isolated, without first secur-
ing any assurance from Russia, the only power which
could give them effective support. Such a blind step
was the rashest reversal of a policy of appeasement
and retreat that has ever been conceived. By their
timing, these guarantees were bound to act as a pro-
vocation. By their placing, in parts of Europe inac-
cessible to our forces, they provided an almost irre-
sistible temptation. Thereby the Western Powers
undermined the essential basis of the only type of
strategy which their now inferior strength made prac-
ticable for them. For instead of being able to check
aggression by presenting a strong front to any attack
in the west, they gave Hitler an easy chance of break-
ing a weak front and thus gaining an initial triumph.

Hitler had always planned, as Rauschning shows,
to direct his surprise strokes against weak or isolated
countries while throwing on his opponents' shoulders
the main burden of attack he had far more real
respect for the power of modern defence than any of
the Allied soldiers or statesmen. Now they had given
him an easy opportunity to do so. In such circum-
stances his principles of strategy obviously pointed to
an immediate attempt to make a pact with Russia
that would ensure her *4etac^iment. Once that was
secured, Hitler was 'sitting pretty 5 . If the Allies
declared war in fulfilment of their obligations they
would automatically forfeit the advantages of defence
and be committed to an inherently offensive strategy
without the necessary resources and under the most
unfavourable conditions. If they merely tapped at the
Siegfried Line they would manifest their impotence,



and forfeit prestige. If they pressed the attack, they
would only pile up their losses and weaken their own
chance of subsequent resistance when Hitler was free
to turn westwards.

The only way in which they might have extricated
themselves from this awkward pbsition, without al-
lowing Hitler to have his way entirely, was by adopt-
ing the 'sanctions* policy of economic and diplomatic
boycott, coupled with the supply of arms to the victim
of aggression. This would have done Poland quite as
much good, and done much less harm to their own
prestige and prospects, than a declaration of war
under such adverse conditions.

In the event, the deliberate offensive which the
French attempted made no impression on the Sieg-
fried Line, while the way it was * boosted' meant that
its failure was all the more damaging to the Allies 5
prestige. Coupled with the Germans* swift success in
Poland, it had the effect of increasing the neutrals'
fear of Germany while shaking practical confidence
in the Allies even more than another compromise
could have done.

Hitler was now able to consolidate his military
gains and exploit his political advantages behind the
cover of his Western defences that the would-be
rescuers of Poland were palpably incapable of forcing.
He might have maintained this secure defensive until
the French and British peoples grew weary of war, as
its farcical aspect became plainer. But the Allied
statesmen were led to take the offensive in talk long
before they had the means to translate it into effective
action. All they succeeded in doing was to provoke
consequences which they were unready to meet. For
their line of talk gave Hitler a fresh opportunity, as
well as an incentive, to forestall them in * opening up'
the war. While many people in Britain and France



were dreaming of how the small neutral countries ad-
joining Germany might open a way to her flanks,
Hitler turned the Allies' flanks by the invasion of no
less than five of these countries having an aggressor's
characteristic freedom from scruples.

It was no new conception on his part. As far back
as 1934 he had described to Rauschning and others
how he might seize by surprise the chief ports of the
Scandinavian peninsula through a simultaneous series
of coups carried out by small sea-borne expeditions,
covered by the air force. The way would be prepared
by his partisans on the spot, and the actual move
would be made on the pretext of protecting these
countries against invasion by other Powers. 'It would
be a daring, but interesting undertaking, never before
attempted in the history of the world' there spoke
the artist of war. This striking conception was fulfilled
in the plan that was executed on the 9th of April 1940,
and succeeded beyond expectation. Whereas he had
reckoned that his coups might fail at several points,
while counting for success on securing a majority of
the strategic points, he gained every one without check
although he had audaciously stretched his fingers
as far north as Narvik.

His amazingly easy success, sealed by the equally
easy frustration of the Allies' attempted counter-in-
vasion of Norway, must naturally have encouraged
him to attempt the other part of his original design.
This was to seize the Low Countries as a base for air
and submarine attack on England. Whether he had
definitely extended his plan to embrace the defeat of
France we do not yet know for certain, and must wait
for history to tell us. (Successful war-leaders are some-
times as much surprised by the extent of their own
success as those they take by surprise, and their sub-
sequent account of it is not historical evidence.) When



discussing the circumstances in which he would risk
a great war, he had expressed his intention to remain
on the defensive in the West and leave the enemy to
take the first offensive step, whereupon he would
pounce upon Scandinavia and the Low Countries,
improve his strategic position, and make a peace
proposal to the Western Powers. * If they don't like it,
they can try to drive riie out. In any case they will
have to bear the main burden of attack.' On the other
hand, perhaps looking further ahead, he had re*
marked *I shall manoeuvre France right out of her
Maginot Line without losing a single soldier. ' Granted
the hyperbole for his losses were small in compari-
son with his gains that was what he accomplished
last summer.

The most significant feature of the Western cam-
paign was Hitler's care to avoid any direct assault,
and his continued use of the indirect approach
despite his immense superiority in modern means of
attack. Although he had twice as many divisions as
the French and British combined, and an advantage
of four to one in aircraft and tanks odds which
would have justified him in attacking the strongest
position he did not attempt to penetrate the Maginot
Line. Instead, by his ' baited offensive' against the two
small neutrals, Holland and Belgium, he managed to
lure the Allies out of their defences on the Belgian
frontier. Then, when they had advanced deep into
Belgium, their march being deliberately unimpeded
by his air force, he struck in behind them with a
thrust at the uncovered hinge of the French advance.

This deadly thrust was delivered by a striking force
so small, if composed of armoured divisions, as to
suggest that it may only have been intended as a * try
on'. And the fact that it came off was chiefly due to the
recklessness, or perilous conventionality, of the French



Command in concentrating almost the whole of their
left wing for a massive advance to offer battle in Bel-
gium, while leaving a few second-rate divisions to
guard the pivotal sector facing the Ardennes a
wooded and hilly area which they assumed to be too
difficult as a line of approach for mechanized divi-
sions. Tfye Germans, by contrast, in exploiting its
possibilities for surprise, had shown their appreciation
of the oft-taught lesson that natural obstacles are in-
herently less formidable than human resistance in
strong defences.

As for the nature of Hitler's aim, the explanation
may well be that his was a 'plan with branches 5
adaptable to alternative objectives, according to the
resistance encountered. Such planned opportunism
would be more creditable to his strategic sense, and
more characteristic of his practice, than the rigidly
preconceived plan which he claimed, in his post-
victory speech, to have followed. It is clear, too, that
the rapid progress of the German penetration beyond
Sedan benefited much from the fact that it successively
threatened alternative objectives, and kept the French
in doubt as to its real direction first, whether it was
towards Paris or the rear of the forces in Belgium;
then, when the German armoured divisions swung
westwards, whether they were moving on Amiens or
Lille. 'Selling the dummy' first one way and then the
other, they swept on to the Channel coast.

The tactics of the German forces correspo;
their strategy avoiding head-on assaults,
seeking to find 'soft spots' through whic^
infiltrate along the line of least resistanc
Allied statesmen, vitally misunderstanf
warfare, called on their armies to meet 1
'furious unrelenting assault', the
swept round and past their clumsy
x 305


(The Allied troops might perhaps have stemmed it if
they had not been told to cast away the idea of defend-
ing barrier-lines : nothing could have been less effec-
tive than their attempts at counter-attack.) While the
Allied commanders thought in terms of battle, the
new German commanders sought to eliminate it by
producing the strategic paralysis of their opponents
using their tanks, dive-bombers, and parachutists to
spread confusion and dislocate communications. The
outcome cast an ironical reflection on the complacent
assumption of one of the Allied chiefs that the oppos-
ing generals would be handicapped by the fact that
none of them had been more than captains in the last
war. Eight years earlier Hitler had criticized the Ger-
man generals as 'blind to the new, the surprising
things ' ; as imaginatively sterile ; as being 'imprisoned
in the coils of their technical knowledge'. Their suc-
cessors, it is clear, had learnt to appreciate new ideas.

But this exploitation of new weapons, tactics, and
strategy does not cover all the factors in Germany's
run of success. In Hitler's warfare the 'indirect ap-
proach has been carried into wider fields and deeper
strata. Here he profited by studying the Bolshevik
technique of revolution, just as the new German Army
had profited by applying the British-evolved technique
of mechanized warfare whether he knew it or not,
the basic methods in both spheres could be traced
back to the technique of Mongol warfare under Jenghiz
Khan. To prepare the way for his offensive, he sought
to find influential adherents in the other country who
would undermine its resistance, make trouble in his
interest, and be ready to form a new government
compliant to his aims. Bribery was unnecessary he
counted on self-seeking ambition, authoritarian in-
clination, and party-spirit to provide him with willing
and unwitting agents among the ruling classes. Then



to open the way, at the chosen moment, he aimed to
use an infiltration of storm-troopers who would cross
the frontier while peace still prevailed, as commercial
travellers or holiday-makers, and don the enemy's
uniform when the word came ; their role was to sabo-
tage communications, spread false reports, and, if
possible, kidnap the other country's leading men. This
disguised vanguard would in turn be backed up by
air-borne troops.

In the warfare he intended to stage, frontal advances
would be either a bluff or a walking-on part. The lead-
ing role would always be played by the rear attack in
one of its forms. He was contemptuous of assaults and
bayonet-charges the A B C of the traditional soldier.
His way in warfare began with a double D de-
moralization and disorganization. Above all, war
would be waged by suggestion by words instead of
weapons, propaganda replacing the projectile. Just as
an artillery bombardment was used in the last war to
crush the enemy's defences before the infantry ad-
vanced, so a moral bombardment would be used in
future. All types of ammunition would be used, but
especially revolutionary propaganda. 'Generals, in
spite of the lessons of the war, want to behave like
chivalrous knights. They think war should be waged
like the tourneys of the Middle Ages. I have no use for
knights. I need revolutions.'

The object of war was to make the enemy capitu-
late. If his will to resist could be paralysed, killing was
superfluous besides being a clumsy and expensive
way of attaining the object. The indirect way of in-
jecting germs into the body of the opposing nation,
to produce disease in its will, was likely to be far more

Such is Hitler's theory of war with psychological
weapons. If we are to check him we must understand



it* The value of its application to the military sphere
has been proved. To paralyse the enemy's military
nerve-system is, clearly, a more economical form of
operation than to pound his flesh. Its application to
the political sphere has been proved in effect, but not
in content. It is open to question whether it would
have succeeded in demoralizing resistance if it had not
been backed by overwhelming mechanical force. Even
in the case of France, the German superiority in
modern weapon-power was large enough to explain
her collapse, apart from any decay or disorder of the
national will. Force can always crush force, given
sufficient superiority. It cannot crush ideas. Being in-
tangible they are invulnerable, save to psychological
penetration, and their resilience has baffled innumer-
able believers in force. None of them perhaps were so
aware of the power of ideas as Hitler. But the increas-
ing extent to which he has had to rely on the backing
of force as his power has extended, forms increasing
cause for doubt whether he has not over-estimated
the value of his technique in converting ideas to his
purpose. For ideas that do not spring from the truth
of experience have a relatively brief impetus and a
sharp recoil.

Hitler, a master of strategy, has given that art a
new development. He has also mastered, better than
any of his opponents, the first stage of*grand strategy
that of developing and co-ordinating all forms of
warlike activity, and all the possible instruments
which may be used to operate against the enemy's will.
But he would seem, like Napoleon, to have an in-
adequate grasp of the higher level of grand strategy
that of conducting war with a far-sighted regard to
the state of the peace that will follow. To do this
effectively, a man must be more than a strategist; he
must be a leader and a philosopher combined. While



strategy is the very opposite of morality, as it, is
largely concerned with the art of deception, grand
strategy tends to coincide with morality: through
having always to keep in view the ultimate goal of the
efforts it is directing.

In trying to prove their irresistibility in attack the
Germans have weakened their own defences in many
ways strategic, economic, and, above all, psycho-
logical. As their forces have spread over Europe,
bringing misery without securing peace, they have scat-
tered widespread the germs of resentment from which
resistance to their ideas may develop. And to these
germs their own troops have become more susceptible
from being exposed to contact with the people of the
occupied countries, and made sensitive to the feelings
they inspire. This is likely to damp the martial en-
thusiasm which Hitler has so assiduously stimulated,
and to deepen their longing for home. The sense of
being friendless reinforces the effect of staleness, open-
ing the way for the infiltration of war-weariness as
well as of counter-ideas.

Here is opportunity which could be developed by
a fuller vision of grand strategy on our side. So long
as we remain invincible, that opportunity will grow.
Ours is a simpler goal to attain than Hitler's. To im-
pose his peace he needs complete victory which he
cannot attain without conquering us and has then to
solve the problem of holding down all the conquered
peoples. To gain the peace that we desire we have
to convince his people that he cannot gain such a
victory as will give them a satisfactory peace, and that
the future holds no hope until, realizing the emptiness
of victory, they give up such a futile pursuit.



Achilles, 22

Albert, King of the Belgians, 230-1

Alci blades, 13

Alexander the Great, 22-5, 114, 178,

179, 180, 182
Allenby, General Sir Edmund, 191,


Alp Arslan, 69 .

Alvintzi, 132
Antigonus, 25-7
Antony, 43-4
Artemisia, Queen, 10

Baden, Margrave of, 99-101, 104,


Basil 1, 68
Basil II, 68

Bavaria, Elector of, 98-102
Bazaine, Marshal, 176
Bclisarius, 40, 50-68, 182, 191
Bernadotte, Marshal, 156-7
Berthelot, General, 227
Bismarck, 1,2
Black Prince, the, 75
Bliicher, Marshal, 156-9
Boufflers, Marshal, 96-7
Bourcet, Kerre de, 123, 128, 136, 200
Bournonville, 92-3
Brasidas, 12

Broglie, Marshal de, 122
Brusilov, General, 244-5, 249
BiXlow, General von, 225, 227
Byng, General Sir Julian, 274

Cadorna, General, 249
Caesar, Julius, 41-9, 50, 179, 191
Camon, General, 5
Canrobert, Marshal, 160
Garden, Admiral, 253
Caraot, 122
Cassander, 26-7, 179
Castelnau, General de, 230
Castlereagh, Lord, 144
Catinat, Marshal, 95 '
Charles 1, 84-6

Charles H, 86-90

Charles, the Archduke, 125-6, 180

Chetwode, General Sir Philip, 257

Chosroes, 61-2

Clausewitz, Carl von, 182, 184, 190,

Cleon, 12

Cleopatra, 45

Coburg, 125

* Conrad von Hdtzendorff, Field-
Marshal, 236, 238, 241 , 249

Constantino the Great, 49

Cromwell, Oliver, 85-90, 109, 179,

Cuesta, 145

Darius the Great, 7, 9
Darius in, 23-4
Daun, Marshal, 116-19
Davidovitch, General, 132
Defoe, Daniel, &3
Demetrius, 26-7
Demosthenes, 12
Desaix, General, 136

Edmonds, Brig.-Gen. Sir J. E., 170
Edward 1, 73-5
Edward III, 75
Edward IV, 76-8
Enver Pasha, 252
Epaminondas, 14-18, 22, 179
Eugene, Prince, of Savoy, 95-6, 99,
101-4, 106-10, 179

Fabius, Cunctator, 31-6

Fairfax, Lord, 85

Falkenhayn, General von, 230, 232,

240 etseq., 249-51, 255
Farragut, Admiral, 163
Ferrero, Guglielmo, 131
Flaminius, 30
Foch, Marshal Ferdinand, 166, 196,

197, 232, 269, 278 etseq.
Fortescue, Sir John, 142, 145



Franco, General, 300
Frederick the Great, 15, 111-20, 185
French, Field-Marshal Sir John,

Gaffieni, General, 226, 228, 251-2* *
Gallwitz, Genial von, 283
Gamelin, Commandant, 226
Gelimer, 55-^

Grandmaison, Colonel de, 220
Grant, General, U.S., 164-70, 180
Grouchy, Marshal, 159
Gucsclin, Constable du, 75-6
Guibert, Comte de, 123 ,
Gustavus Adolphus, 81-3

Haig, Field-Marshal Sir Douglas,
221 , 232, 269, 274, 276, 284

Halleck, General, 162-3

Hamilton, General Sir Ian, 254^5

Hannibal, 28-40, 179, 220 * **

Harold, King, 71-2

Henderson, Colonel G. F., 171

Henry V, 76

Hentsch, Colonel, 229

Hindenburg, Field-Marshal von,
237, 239 et seq., 252, 284

Hitler, Adolf, 291 et seq.

Hoffmann, Colonel, 237, 239, 244

Hood, General J. B., 169

Jackson, General 'Stonewall', 162,

170-1, 195

Jellicoe, Admiral Sir John, 98
Joffre, Marshal, 220, 224 et seq.
John, King, 72-3

Joseph (Bonaparte), King, 145, 151
Jourdan, General, 124-5, 126, 180
Justinian, 50-2, 54, 55, 57, 60-1,


Kitchener, Earl, 221, 251-2
Kluck, General von, 224 et seq.

Lambert, John, 85-6, 88
Lanrezac, General, 225
Lawrence, T. E., 257-59, 261, 292
Lee, General Robert E., 162-3, 166,

169, 170
Lenin, 183, 292
Leslie, General, 86-90
Lincoln, Abraham, 162, 165-7
Lloyd George, David, 252
Louis XIV, 92, 95 et seq.
Ludendotff, General, 234, 237, et

seq., 250-1, 269 et seq., 294-7

Lysander, 13, 14, 179
Lysimachus, 26-7, 179

Mcdellan, General G.B., 161-2, 167
McDowell, General I., 162
Mackensen, Field-Marshal von,

MacMahon, Marshal, 175-6, 177,



Mangin, General, 279-80
. Marbot, General, 143
Marlborough, Duke of, 95-110, 114,

US, 179

Marmont, Marshal, 149, 150-1
Marsin, Marshal, 98, 100, 103-4
Masinissa, 38-40
Massena, Marshal, 146-9
Maunoury, General, 226-8, 230
Max of Baden, Prince, 284, 287
Meade, General G. G., 166
Miltiades, 8

Moltke, Count von (the elder), 172-

6,185,191 4
Moltke r Count voa (the younger),

222 et sea. *
Montfort, Simon de, 73-4
Moore, General Sir John, 141, 144,


Moreaii, General, 125, 126, 1 35 ,
Mortier, General, 137, 145
Murat, Marshal, 137-8
Murray, General Sir Archibald, 257

Napoleon 1, 2, 4, 5, 41, 79, 114, 121-
59, 165, 178, 179, 180, 182, 191,
197, 198, 200, 207, 212, 220, 252,

Narses, 59, 64-7

Ney, Marshal, 144-5

Nicholas, the Grand Duke, 237, 239,

Nicias, 13

Pericles, 11

Pershing, General J. J., 282
Petain, Marshal, 274, 278-81
Peterborough, Earl of, 106, 1 10
Philip of Macedon, 19-22, 179
Polybius, 28, 29, 30, 31, 34, 35
Pompey the Great, 41-5
Prittwitz, General von, 237

Rauschning, Hermann, 292, 293,

302, 303
Rawlinson, General Sir Henry, 280



RennebkAmpf, General, 237-8
Robeck, Admiral de, 253
Romanus Diogenes, 69
Rupert, Prince, 85

Rupprecht of Bavaria, Prince, 223,

Sabutai, 79-80
Samsoriov, General, 237
Schlieffen; Count von, 221 et seq.
Scipio Africanus, 26, 29, 35-40, 50,

Scipio Nasica, 45
Seydlitz, General, 118
Sherman, General W. T., 164-70,

180, 198

Soult, Marshal, 144-5, 147, 149, 150
Strongbow, Earl, 72
Syphax,36-8 ;#

Tallard, Marshal, 98, 101-4

Themistocles, 9, 10 .J *

Theodosius, 51

Totila, 63 fc

Turenne, Marshal, 92-4, 144, 179

Varro, 33-5

Venddme, Marshal, 108

Victor, Marshal, 144*$

Villars, Marshal, 105-& 109, 110,

Hleroi, Marshal, 97-9, 105-7
Yttiges, 58-60 *

Wallenstein, 81-3

Wavell, General Sir Archibald, 191

Wellington, Duke of, 37, 141-54,


Wetzell, Colonel, 271
Wilhelm p, the Kaiser, 287

William the Conqueror, 71-2
Wilson, General Sir Henry, 221
Wilson, Woodrow, 284, 286
Wolfe, General, 113, 119, 164, 180

Xerxes, 9, 10
Zeiten, General, 116



Ad Decimum, battle ot 56
Adrianople, battle of, 51
Aegospotamoi, manoeuvre' of, 14,


Agincourt, battle of, 76
Amiens offensive (191 8), 280
Amphipolis, battle of, 12
Arcola, battle of, 133

Atlanta, manoeuvre of, 167-9, 180
Austerlitz, battle of, 138, 179, 181

Badajoz, siege of, 149, 150
Bagradas, manoeuvre of the, 39
Bassano, battle of, 1 32
Blenheim, battle of, 101-4, 106, 181
Brabant, Lines of, penetration of,

96, 105
Bussaco, battle of, 147

Cambrai, battle of, 233
Cannae, battle of, 33-5, 181
Caporetto, battle of, 250-1
Carchemish, manoeuvre of, 62, 191
Carolinas, march through the, 170
Casilinum, battle of, 66
Chaeronea, battle of, 20, 1 81
Chalcidice, manoeuvre of, 12
Chemin-des-Dames offensive (1918),

Cr6cy, battle of, 65, 67, 76

Danube, march to the, 98-9
Daras, battle of, 52-4
Denain, battle of, 110, 181
Donauwdrth, storm of, 100-1
Dresden, battle of, 157
Dunajec, battle of the, 241

.Fleurus, battle of, 125, 181
Fredericksburg, battle of, 163
Friedland, battle of, 140, 178

Gaugamela (or Arbela), battle of,

Gaaa, battles of, 266-7
Genappe, manoeuvre of, 106
Georgia, march through, 169
Gettysburg, battle of, 163
Granicus, battle of the, 22

Hastings, battle of, 71-2, 181
Hazebrouck offensive (1918), 275-6
Hindenburg Line, withdrawal to the,

Hydaspes, battle of the, 25, 181

Herda, manoeuvre of, 42-3, 179, 191
Ipsus, battle of, 26-7, 181
Issus, battle of, 23, 178

Jena, battle of, 139, 181

Kenesaw Mountain, battle of, 168
Kizyl-Kum desert, manoeuvre of

the, 79

Kolin, battle of, 117
Kdniggratz (or Sadowa), battle of,

Kunersdorf, battle of, 119

La Bassee, Lines of, 109
Laon, battle of, 159,
Leipzig, battle of, 1 57
Lemberg, battle of, 238

- wMwjw) WVWMV **m uvj mt m . Lcuctra, Dattlo oi, 15

Dunbar, battle of, 87-9, 109, 179, Leuthen, battle of, 118
181 Liao-Yang, battle of, 176

Ligny, battle of, 159

Etrurian marshes, manoeuvre of the, Lodz, manoeuvre of, 239
32 Luck, battle of, 244

Eylau, battle of, 140 Ltitzen, battle of, 81, 83



Malplaquct, battle of, 109, 1 10 St QuentuvdfiBfensive (1918), 269*-74

Mantineia, battle of, 17-18, 181 Sajo, battle of the, 80

Mantua, siege of, 79, 132-4, 177 Salamanca, battle of t 151-2

Manzikert, battle of, 69 Salamis, battle of, 9, 10

Marathon, battle of, 7, 8, 181 Sedan, battle of (1870), 176, 177,
Marcngo, battle of, 137 178, 181, 191 ; (1940), 304-5

Marne, battle of the (1914), 224-30; Schheffen PlaiL the, 221 et seq.

(1918), 278-80 Stamford Bndgft, battle of, 71

Marston Moor, battle of, 85 Steadella, manoeuvre of the, 1 35

Megiddo, battle of, 259-63 Sura, battle of, 54* 191

Mctaurus, battle of the, 35, 181 - Syracuse, siege of, 12
Metz, siege of, 175

Meuse-Argonne offensive (1918), Taginae, battle of, 65-6, 181

282 * Ifelavera, baitte of, 145

Minden, battle of, 1 19 , Tannenberg, battle of, 237-8

Moscow, retreat from, 152, 155 Tewkesfeurj, battle of, 78

Mukden, battle of, 177 Thapsus, battle of, 46

Munda, battle of, 46 Ticinus, battle of the, 29

Torgau, battle of, 119

Naples, stonn of, 57-8 . Torres Vedras, Lines of, 37, 146-7

Naraggara (or Zama), battle of, 40, Towton, battle of, 77

50, 1 79 Trasimone, Lake, ambush of, 2

Naseby, battle of, 85 Trebia, battle of the, 29

Ne Plus Ultra Lines, 109, 1 10 Tricameron, battle of, 56, 181

Nuremberg, manoeuvre of, 82 Turin, battle of, 107

Turkheim, battle of, 93
Oudenarde, battle of, 108, 181

prffc ,>> r 'an Vim, manoeuvre of, 1 37, 179, 180

Perth, manoeuvre Of, 90 Utica manffiuvre of 37 170

Pharsalus, battle of, 45 UUca ' manoeuvre o1 ' 37 ' 179

Piacenza, manoeuvre of, 130 . _. . . ^^

Poitiers, battle of, 75, 76 Verdun offensive, the, 233

Port Arthur, seige of, 177 Vicksburg, manoeuvre of, 164-5,

Prague, battle oft 1 16 170. 180, 184

Preston, manoeuvre of, 86, 179, 181, Vilna, manoeuvre of, 242

191 Vosges, manoeuvre of the, 92-3, 179
Pultusk, manoeuvre of, 1 39

' , ^ Wagram, battle of, 141, 178

Quebec, battle of, 113, 164, 180, 181 Waterloo, battle of, 159

i> -ir u ~, * ^ Worcester, battletof, 90, 179, 181
Ramilhes, battle of, 107

Rivoli, battle of, 133, 181 v- <r*i'v* noi A^ w

Rome, sieges of, 58-9, 63 Y P res offensive (14), 232
Rossbach, battle of, 1 17

Zama (or Naraggara), battle of, 40*
Sadowa (or Kdniggrfttz), battle of, 50, 179

174, 178, 181 Zorndorf, battle of, 1 18



LAMM.********!'. WJIIWMTVW, value 01, 99,

f23, 12$i 197-9, 201, 214; 299,
- 305 * .- *
Bait, ttrategk, V^lue of a, 131, 182,

304 ' <i L *jf * 1
Balance, Insetting the opponent's, 5,

Barrage, strategic, the use of, 135,

165.26K3 ^Eafc
Bat tie, place iH^]MMNy> 82, 149,

ColomesVas an objective* 256
Communications, \ in relation to

strategy, 9, 11, 168-9, 173, 176,

Commander, the mind of, as a tar-
get, 48, 115, 194.200, 288 .
Concentration of fwrees, 1^6-9, 200-

2 21213 '

Contiguity offerees, effect of, 115,

Dislocation, of the opponent's mind

and forces, 5, 48, 68, 94, 115,

182-3, 192-*, 215, 241, 259, 277,


Dispersion, effect of calculated, 98,
, 123, 132^3*lgi201 *

bistraction, ittg&ftance of, 92, 113,

142, 195, 196, if?; 201, 299
Distribution of force, 132-3, 187,


Divisional system, effect of the, 92,
Economy offeree, 48, 120, 169, 188-

False move, luring the opponent

into a, 50, 67, 75, 169, 181, 216,

Flexibility, importance of, 123, 198,


Grand strategy, 11, 187-8, 202-1 U

Guerrilla-type strategy, 75-6, 1^2-3,


Historical study, 6, 70, 188
Interior lines, in strategy, 115
Joint, sensitivity of a, 127-8, 274,


Limitation of aim, 186-7, 191, 205-8
Mobility, 79, 120, 122-3, 132, 154,

Natural obstacles, influence of, 30,

Object, the, 69, 188-9, 202-3, 213,

Paralysis, rather than destruction, as

the aim, 202, 298, 307
Psychological factors, influence of,

3-5, 48, 67, 115, 140, J61, 168,

181-2, 191, 194, 197-8, 207, 209-

10, 213,215-16, 256, 298, 309
Secrecy, art of, 292
Sieges, 38
Statesmen and soldiers, relative

functions, 114, 166, 185-6,297
Supply, in relation to strategy, 9, 11,

94, 122, 168-9, 193, 199, 200, 258,

Surprise, 41, 154, 189-90, 195, 214,

Tactic*, in relation to strategy, 158,

Time factor, the, 41, 190, 197, 199,

War-policy, 11, l|6-, 191, 202-11,

Weapons, effect of superior, 8, 22,

32, 40, 50-1, 58, 67, 114, 140, 173,

180, 200, 202, 270, 279, 281, 304,




Set Home | Add to Favorites

All Rights Reserved Powered by Free Document Search and Download

Copyright © 2011
This site does not host pdf,doc,ppt,xls,rtf,txt files all document are the property of their respective owners. complaint#downhi.com