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On War

by General Carl von Clausewitz

TRANSLATED BY COLONEL J.J. GRAHAM

1874 was 1st edition of this translation. 1909 was the London reprinting.

NEW AND REVISED EDITION WITH AN INTRODUCTION AND NOTES BY
COLONEL F.N. MAUDE C.B. (LATE R.E.)

EIGHTH IMPRESSION IN THREE VOLUMES


Contents

INTRODUCTION
PREFACE TO THE FIRST EDITION
NOTICE
THE INTRODUCTION OF THE AUTHOR


BRIEF MEMOIR OF GENERAL CLAUSEWITZ


BOOK I. ON THE NATURE OF WAR
CHAPTER I. What is War?
CHAPTER II. Ends and Means in War
CHAPTER III. The Genius for War
CHAPTER IV. Of Danger in War
CHAPTER V. Of Bodily Exertion in War
CHAPTER VI. Information in War
CHAPTER VII. Friction in War
CHAPTER VIII.

Concluding Remarks, Book I


BOOK II. ON THE THEORY OF WAR
CHAPTER I. Branches of the Art of War
CHAPTER II. On the Theory of War
CHAPTER III. Art or Science of War
CHAPTER IV. Methodicism
CHAPTER V. Criticism
CHAPTER VI.

On Examples


BOOK III. OF STRATEGY IN GENERAL
CHAPTER I. Strategy
CHAPTER II. Elements of Strategy
CHAPTER III. Moral Forces
CHAPTER IV. The Chief Moral Powers
CHAPTER V. Military Virtue of an Army
CHAPTER VI. Boldness
CHAPTER VII. Perseverance
CHAPTER VIII. Superiority of Numbers
CHAPTER IX. The Surprise
CHAPTER X. Stratagem
CHAPTER XI. Assembly of Forces in Space
CHAPTER XII. Assembly of Forces in Time
CHAPTER XIII. Strategic Reserve
CHAPTER XIV. Economy of Forces
CHAPTER XV. Geometrical Element
CHAPTER XVI. On the Suspension of the Act in War
CHAPTER XVII. On the Character of Modern War
CHAPTER XVIII.

Tension and Rest


BOOK IV. THE COMBAT
CHAPTER I. Introductory
CHAPTER II. Character of a Modern Battle
CHAPTER III. The Combat in General
CHAPTER IV. The Combat in General (continuation)
CHAPTER V. On the Signification of the Combat
CHAPTER VI. Duration of Combat
CHAPTER VII. Decision of the Combat
CHAPTER VIII. Mutual Understanding as to a Battle
CHAPTER IX. The Battle
CHAPTER X. Effects of Victory
CHAPTER XI. The Use of the Battle
CHAPTER XII. Strategic Means of Utilising Victory
CHAPTER XIII. Retreat After a Lost Battle
CHAPTER XIV.

Night Fighting
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Night Fighting


BOOK V. MILITARY FORCES
CHAPTER I. General Scheme
CHAPTER II. Theatre of War, Army, Campaign
CHAPTER III. Relation of Power
CHAPTER IV. Relation of the Three Arms
CHAPTER V. Order of Battle of an Army
CHAPTER VI. General Disposition of an Army
CHAPTER VII. Advanced Guard and Out-Posts
CHAPTER VIII. Mode of Action of Advanced Corps
CHAPTER IX. Camps
CHAPTER X. Marches
CHAPTER XI. Marches (continued)
CHAPTER XII. Marches (continued)
CHAPTER XIII. Cantonments
CHAPTER XIV. Subsistence
CHAPTER XV. Base of Operations
CHAPTER XVI. Lines of Communication
CHAPTER XVII. On Country and Ground
CHAPTER XVIII.

Command of Ground


BOOK VI. DEFENCE
CHAPTER I. Offence and Defence
CHAPTER II. The Relations of the Offensive and Defensive to Each Other in Tactics
CHAPTER III. The Relations of the Offensive and Defensive to Each Other in Strategy
CHAPTER IV. Convergence of Attack and Divergence of Defence
CHAPTER V. Character of Strategic Defensive
CHAPTER VI. Extent of the Means of Defence
CHAPTER VII. Mutual Action and Reaction of Attack and Defence
CHAPTER VIII. Methods of Resistance
CHAPTER IX. Defensive Battle
CHAPTER X. Fortresses
CHAPTER XI. Fortresses (continued)
CHAPTER XII. Defensive Position
CHAPTER XIII. Strong Positions and Entrenched Camps
CHAPTER XIV. Flank Positions
CHAPTER XV. Defence of Mountains
CHAPTER XVI. Defence of Mountains (continued)
CHAPTER XVII. Defence of Mountains (continued)
CHAPTER XVIII. Defence of Streams and Rivers
CHAPTER XIX. Defence of Streams and Rivers (continued)
CHAPTER XX. A. Defence of Swamps
CHAPTER XX. B. Inundations
CHAPTER XXI. Defence of Forests
CHAPTER XXII. The Cordon
CHAPTER XXIII. Key of the Country
CHAPTER XXIV. Operating Against a Flank
CHAPTER XXV. Retreat into the Interior of the Country
CHAPTER XXVI. Arming the Nation
CHAPTER XXVII. Defence of a Theatre of War
CHAPTER XXVIII. Defence of a Theatre of War (continued)
CHAPTER XXIX. Defence of a Theatre of War (continued)—Successive Resistance
CHAPTER XXX.

Defence of a Theatre of War (continued)—When No Decision is Sought For


BOOK VII. THE ATTACK
CHAPTER I. The Attack in Relation to the Defence
CHAPTER II. Nature of the Strategical Attack
CHAPTER III. On the Objects of Strategical Attack
CHAPTER IV. Decreasing Force of the Attack
CHAPTER V. Culminating Point of the Attack
CHAPTER VI. Destruction of the Enemy’s Armies
CHAPTER VII. The Offensive Battle
CHAPTER VIII. Passage of Rivers
CHAPTER IX. Attack on Defensive Positions
CHAPTER X. Attack on an Entrenched Camp
CHAPTER XI. Attack on a Mountain Range
CHAPTER XII. Attack on Cordon Lines
CHAPTER XIII. Manœuvering
CHAPTER XIV. Attack on Morasses, Inundations, Woods
CHAPTER XV. Attack on a Theatre of War with the View to a Decision
CHAPTER XVI. Attack on a Theatre of War without the View to a Great Decision
CHAPTER XVII. Attack on Fortresses
CHAPTER XVIII. Attack on Convoys
CHAPTER XIX. Attack on the Enemy’s Army in its Cantonments
CHAPTER XX. Diversion
CHAPTER XXI. Invasion
CHAPTER XXII.

On the Culminating Point of Victory
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SKETCHES FOR BOOK VII
THE ATTACK


CHAPTER I.
The Attack in Relation to the Defence

If two ideas form an exact logical antithesis, that is to say if the one is the complement of the other, then, in fact, each one is implied in the other; and when the limited power of our mind is insufficient to apprehend both at once, and, by the mere antithesis, to recognise in the one perfect conception the totality of the other also, still, at all events, the one always throws on the other a strong, and in many parts a sufficient light Thus we think the first chapter on the defence throws a sufficient light on all the points of the attack which it touches upon. But it is not so throughout in respect of every point; the train of thought could nowhere be carried to a finality; it is, therefore, natural that where the opposition of ideas does not lie so immediately at the root of the conception as in the first chapters, all that can be said about the attack does not follow directly from what has been said on the defence. An alteration of our point of view brings us nearer to the subject, and it is natural for us to observe, at this closer point of view, that which escaped observation at our former standpoint. What is thus perceived will, therefore, be the complement of our former train of thought; and it will not unfrequently happen that what is said on the attack will throw a new light on the defence.

In treating of the attack we shall, of course, very frequently have the same subjects before us with which our attention has been occupied in the defence. But we have no intention, nor would it be consistent with the nature of the thing, to adopt the usual plan of works on engineering, and in treating of the attack, to circumvent or upset all that we have found of positive value in the defence, by showing that against every means of defence, there is an infallible method of attack. The defence has its strong points and weak ones; if the first are even not unsurmountable, still they can only be overcome at a disproportionate price, and that must remain true from whatever point of view we look at it, or we get involved in a contradiction. Further, it is not our intention thoroughly to review the reciprocal action of the means; each means of defence suggests a means of attack; but this is often so evident, that there is no occasion to transfer oneself from our standpoint in treating of the defence to a fresh one for the attack, in order to perceive it; the one issues from the other of itself. Our object is, in each subject, to set forth the peculiar relations of the attack, so far as they do not directly come out of the defence, and this mode of treatment must necessarily lead us to many chapters to which there are no corresponding ones in the defence.
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CHAPTER II.
Nature of the Strategical Attack

We have seen that the defensive in war generally—therefore, also, the strategic defensive—is no absolute state of expectancy and warding off, therefore no completely passive state, but that it is a relative state, and consequently impregnated more or less with offensive principles. In the same way the offensive is no homogeneous whole, but incessantly mixed up with the defensive. But there is this difference between the two, that a defensive, without an offensive return blow, cannot be conceived; that this return blow is a necessary constituent part of the defensive, whilst in the attack, the blow or act is in itself one complete idea. The defence in itself is not necessarily a part of the attack; but time and space, to which it is inseparably bound, import into it the defensive as a necessary evil. For in the first place, the attack cannot be continued uninterruptedly up to its conclusion, it must have stages of rest, and in these stages, when its action is neutralised, the state of defence steps in of itself; in the second place, the space which a military force, in its advance, leaves behind it, and which is essential to its existence, cannot always be covered by the attack itself, but must be specially protected.

The act of attack in war, but particularly in that branch which is called strategy, is therefore a perpetual alternating and combining of attack and defence; but the latter is not to be regarded as an effectual preparation for attack, as a means by which its force is heightened, that is to say, not as an active principle, but purely as a necessary evil; as the retarding weight arising from the specific gravity of the mass; it is its original sin, its seed of mortality. We say: a retarding weight, because if the defence does not contribute to strengthen the attack, it must tend to diminish its effect by the very loss of time which it represents. But now, may not this defensive element, which is contained in every attack, have over it a positively disadvantageous influence? If we suppose the attack is the weaker, the defence the stronger form of war, it seems to follow that the latter can not act in a positive sense prejudicially on the former; for as long as we have sufficient force for the weaker form, we should have more than enough for the stronger. In general—that is, as regards the chief part—this is true: in its detail we shall analyse it more precisely in the chapter on the culminating point of victory; but we must not forget that that superiority of the strategic defence is partly founded in this, that the attack itself cannot take place without a mixture of defence, and of a defensive of a very weak kind; what the assailant has to carry about with him of this kind are its worst elements; with respect to these, that which holds good of the whole, in a general sense, cannot be maintained; and therefore it is conceivable that the defensive may act upon the attack positively as a weakening principle. It is just in these moments of weak defensive in the attack, that the positive action of the offensive principle in the defensive should be introduced. During the twelve hours rest which usually succeeds a day’s work, what a difference there is between the situation of the defender in his chosen, well-known, and prepared position, and that of the assailant occupying a bivouac, into which—like a blind man—he has groped his way, or during a longer period of rest, required to obtain provisions and to await reinforcements, etc., when the defender is close to his fortresses and supplies, whilst the situation of the assailant, on the other hand, is like that of a bird on a tree. Every attack must lead to a defence; what is to be the result of that defence, depends on circumstances; these circumstances may be very favourable if the enemy’s forces are destroyed; but they may be very unfavourable if such is not the case. Although this defensive does not belong to the attack itself, its nature and effects must re-act on the attack, and must take part in determining its value.

The deduction from this view is, that in every attack the defensive, which is necessarily an inherent feature in the same, must come into consideration, in order to see clearly the disadvantages to which it is subject, and to be prepared for them.

On the other hand, in another respect, the attack is always in itself one and the same. But the defensive has its gradations according as the principle of expectancy approaches to an end. This begets forms which differ essentially from each other, as has been developed in the chapter on the forms of defence.

As the principle of the attack is strictly active, and the defensive, which connects itself with it, is only a dead weight; there is, therefore, not the same kind of difference in it. No doubt, in the energy employed in the attack, in the rapidity and force of the blow, there may be a great difference, but only a difference in degree, not in form.—It is quite possible to conceive even that the assailant may choose a defensive form, the better to attain his object; for instance, that he may choose a strong position, that he may be attacked there; but such instances are so rare that we do not think it necessary to dwell upon them in our grouping of ideas and facts, which are always founded on the practical. We may, therefore, say that there are no such gradations in the attack as those which present themselves in the defence.

Lastly, as a rule, the extent of the means of attack consists of the armed force only; of course, we must add to these the fortresses, for if in the vicinity of the theatre of war, they have a decided influence on the attack. But this influence gradually diminishes as the attack advances; and it is conceivable that, in the attack, its own fortresses never can play such an important part as in the defence, in which they often become objects of primary importance. The assistance of the people may be supposed in co-operation with the attack, in those cases in which the inhabitants of the country are better disposed towards the invader of the country than they are to their own army; finally, the assailant may also have allies, but then they are only the result of special or accidental relations, not an assistance proceeding from the nature of the aggressive. Although, therefore, in speaking of the defence we have reckoned fortresses, popular insurrections, and allies as available means of resistance; we cannot do the same in the attack; there they belong to the nature of the thing; here they only appear rarely, and for the most part accidentally.
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COUNTER-ATTACK AND OTHER POEMS

BY SIEGFRIED SASSOON

With An Introduction By
Robert Nichols


TO ROBERT ROSS

Dans la trêve desolée de cette matinée, ces hommes qui avaient été tenaillés par la fatigue, fouettés par la pluie, bouleversés par toute une nuit de tonnerre, ces rescapés des volcans et de l'inondation entrevoyaient à quel point la guerre, aussi hideuse au moral qu'au physique, non seulement viole le bon sens, avilit les grandes idées, commande tous les crimes—mais ils se rappelaient combien elle avait développé en eux et autour d'eux tous les mauvais instincts sans en excepter un seul; la méchanceté jusqu'au sadisme, l'égoisme jusqu'à la férocité, le besoin de jouir jusqu'à la folie. HENRI BARBUSSE. (Le Feu.)

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT NICHOLS PRELUDE: THE TROOPS COUNTER-ATTACK THE REAR-GUARD WIRERS ATTACK DREAMERS HOW TO DIE THE EFFECT TWELVE MONTHS AFTER THE FATHERS BASE DETAILS THE GENERAL LAMENTATIONS DOES IT MATTER? FIGHT TO A FINISH EDITORIAL IMPRESSIONS SUICIDE IN THE TRENCHES GLORY OF WOMEN THEIR FRAILTY THE HAWTHORN TREE THE INVESTITURE TRENCH DUTY BREAK OF DAY TO ANY DEAD OFFICER SICK LEAVE BANISHMENT SONG-BOOKS OF THE WAR THRUSHES AUTUMN INVOCATION REPRESSION OF WAR EXPERIENCE THE TRIUMPH SURVIVORS JOY-BELLS REMORSE DEAD MUSICIANS THE DREAM IN BARRACKS TOGETHER
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