The laurels of victory are at the point of the enemy bayonets. They must be plucked there ; they must be carried by a hand-to-hand fight if one really means to conquer.
The distribution of troops devoted to the defence of a place includes a garrison, an occupying force, numerically as weak as possible; a reserve as strong as possible, designed for counterattacking and for providing itself, at the moment it goes into action, with a security service which will guard it from any possible surprise.
To be disciplined does not mean being silent, abstaining, or doing only what one thinks one may undertake without risk; it is not the art of eluding responsibility ; it means acting in compliance with orders received, and therefore finding in one's own mind, by effort and reflection, the possibility to carry out such orders. It also means finding in one's own will the energy to face the risks involved in execution.
In war there are none but particular cases; everything has there an individual nature; nothing ever repeats itself. In the first place, the data of a military problem are but seldom certain; they are never final . Everything is in a constant state of change and reshaping.
This absence of similarity among military questions naturally brings out the inability of memory to solve them; also the sterility of invariable forms, such as figures, geometrical drawings ( Г©pures ), plans ( schГ©mas ), etc. One only right solution imposes itself:;: namely, the application, varying according to circumstances, of fixed principles.
The truth is, no study is possible on the battle-field; one does there simply what one can in order to apply what one knows . Therefore, in order to do even a little, one has already to know a great deal and to know it well.
Far from being a sum of distinct and partial results, victory is the consequence of efforts, some of which are victorious while others appear to be fruitless, which nevertheless all aim at a common goal, all drive at a common result: namely, at a decision, a conclusion which alone can provide victory.
A war not only arises, but derives its nature , from the political ideas, the moral sentiments, and the international relations obtaining at the moment when it breaks out. This amounts to saying:;: try and know why and with the help of what you are going to act; then you will find out how to act.