by George Monck
Written 1644-46. Published 1671. New edition 2002.
I. STRATEGIC PRINCIPLES:
- It is much better for a Prince to invade an Enemy in his own Country, than to attend him at home in his own Kingdom...
- You ought not to despise, and think too meanly of your Enemy; for that will not only beget negligence in your own Army, but care and diligence in your Enemies Army. And it is most sure, the valor of a few may surmount the numbers of many: and if you be broken by your Enemy that you despise, you double your own disgrace by your rash and indiscreet arrogance.
- You ought to know that Intelligence is the most powerful means to undertake brave Designs, and to avoid great Ruins; and it is the chiefest Foundation upon which all Generals do ground their Actions.
- You must also take heed of those [Spies] of the Enemy, which you must presuppose you have in your Camp.
- They who undertake a War ought to observe... secrecy and expedition in their designs; it is a perilous weakness in a State to be slow of resolution in the time of War; such affairs attend not time.
- For the yieldings after a Victory, if well prosecuted, are better than the Victory itself; because when people are in suspense, and great fear and confusion as it happeneth in sudden things, it is a singular time to obtain Victories, or some honorable composition [settlement].
II. MORALE and DISCIPLINE:
- Soldiers ought to go into the Field to Conquer, and not to be killed.
- Neither should [a General] be so prodigal of his Soldiers' Blood, as though men were made only to fill Ditches, and to be the woeful executioners of his rashness. Of all Victories a General should think that best, which is least stained with Blood.
- Let a Soldier's Resolution be never so great, and his Courage invincible in the day of Battle, yet if he faint under the burden of such tediousness as usually attendeth upon warlike designments, he is no way fit for enterprise: because the two chief parts of a Soldier are Valor and Sufferance; and there is as much Honor gained by suffering Wants patiently in the War, as by fighting Valiantly; and as great Achievements effected by the one, as by the other. It is no virtue, but a weakness of the mind, not to be able to endure want a little while: and yet it is an easier matter to find men that will offer themselves willingly to Death, then such as will endure Labor with patience.
- You must... have a great care of those Soldiers which fall sick, or are hurt, upon a March; for this alone will not only encourage Soldiers to undergo any danger, or labor, but by it you will win their affections so, that they will never forsake you.
- Cannon is a great clog to an Army upon a March, but an Army which hath none can do no great Service, and therefore in these times the Artillery is an essential part of an Army.
- There is nothing that bringeth so much disorder to an Army upon the March as the Baggage; and therefore it is highly necessary to reduce it to the smallest proportion that may be; and the Wagon-Master-General ought to make a review of it every morning when the Army marcheth, for otherwise it will daily increase.
III. TACTICAL PRINCIPLES:
- You ought to know that novelties and unexpected adventures are very successful in Battles, and in all martial designs.
- A General is not so much blamed for making trial of an ill-digested project, as he will be for the obstinate continuing in the same. Therefore the speediest leaving of any such enterprise doth excuse the rashness which might be imputed to the beginning.
- There is nothing so suddenly ruineth Armies as Assaults when they miscarry.
- I hold it fit that wise and experienced Commanders when they meet with a new Enemy that is of Reputation, before they come to join Battle, should cause their Soldiers to make trial of them by some light Skirmishes; to the end that, beginning to know them, and to have to deal with them, they may be rid of that Terror which the Report and Reputation of these men have put them in.... But a good Commander must be very careful... how he engageth any of his Troops in small Skirmishes; and that he send no parties out of his Army upon any occasion, without taking care that they be commanded by good Commanders; and that the Officers that command such Parties have Order not to engage themselves with the Enemy, unless they have certain hopes of Victory.
- An army which is imbattelled in small Divisions... is not so easily routed as that Army which is imbattelled in great Divisions. And small Divisions are much more ready than great Divisions: for besides seconding one another, and wheeling upon all occasions, they will likewise out-front an Army which is imbattelled in great Divisions... Also small Divisions... are much readier for Service where you cannot imbatel them according to the rules of Art [conventional tactics]... [either due to] the nature of the place, or within inclosures, or where the brevity of the time will not give you leave.
- Some commanders nowadays, whose skill reacheth not so far as to know the A B C in the Art Military, that is to say, the use of their Arms, they think it a blemish to their Honors to make a private Retreat in the night. But this is what I will say of such Gallants, Presumption and Ignorance are two bad Counselors in War.
- And I would have our young Gallants to take notice, that men wear not Arms [defensive armor] because they are afraid of danger, but because they would not fear it.
IV. CIVIL UNREST:
- But the principal and able remedy against Civil War is to entertain a Foreign War. This chaseth away idleness, setteth all on work; and particularly this giveth satisfaction to ambitious and stirring spirits; it banisheth Luxury, maketh your people Warlike, and maintaineth you in such reputation among your Neighbors, that you are the Arbitrator of all their Differences.
- The fourth and last thing... for the preventing of Civil Wars... is, whereas the poorer and meaner people that have no interest in the Common-weal but the use of breath, these are always dangerous to the peace of a Kingdom, and having nothing to lose, willingly embrace all means of Innovation in hope of gaining something by other men's ruin; there are these three means left for a State to ease itself of this sort of people, either to employ them abroad in Plantations, or in a War, or to interest them in the quiet of the Common-weal by learning them such Trades and Occupations as may give them a taste of the sweetness of peace, and the benefit of a Civil life.
- He that would be in War victorious, must be in Peace laborious.
- Security is commonly the fore-runner of misery.
- I account a Rich Public Treasure providently provided beforehand, and a people well trained in Martial Affairs, to be two of the only Pillars (next under God) that will preserve a Kingdom or State from ruin or danger.
- Peace is more grievous to men in subjection, than War is to them that enjoy their liberties.
- Knowledge of the manifold accidents which rise from the variety of human actions is best and most speedily learned by reading History.
- Men have two ways to come by Wisdom, either by their own harms, or other men's miscasualties. And wise men are wont to say (not by chance, nor without reason) that he who will see what shall be, let him consider what hath been. For all things in the world at all times have their very counterpane with the times of old.
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