Selection from Vegetius' de re militari, Book III
The annals of old declare that the Athenians and the Spartans were masters of the world before the Macedonians. But among the Athenians throve the cultivation of other arts besides that of war, whereas the chief concern of the Spartans was war. So, gathering experience of battles from their successes, they are credited with having been the first to write an art of war; so that they reduced warfare, previously thought to be restricted to courage alone or at least luck, to a discipline and study of skills, and they engaged drillmasters, whom they called "tacticians", to teach their youth the various fighting techniques. O men worthy of the highest admiration and praise who wished to learn that art in particular without which the other ens cannot be!
Following these men's precedents the Romans maintained the principles of warfare in practice and transmitted them in writing. This material, dispersed through various authors and books, Invincible Emperor, you ordered my Mediocrity to summarise, so that neither should boredom arise from excessive detail, nor complete conOdence be lacking because of brevity. The extent to which military science was of benefit in the battles of the Spartans is made clear from the case of Xanthippus, not to mention the rest. When he brought help as an individual to the Carthaginians not by courage but by skill, with armies that had been utterly defeated, he captured and conquered Atilius Regulus and an often victorious Roman army. By triumphing in a single encounter, he concluded the entire campaign. So also did
Hannibal obtain the services of a Spartan tactician, when he was going to invade.Italy. It was due to his advice that he destroyed so many consuls and legions, though inferior himself in numbers and strength.
Therefore, he who desires peace, let him prepare for war. He who wants victory, let him train soldiers diligently. He who wishes a successful outcome, let him fight with strategy, not at random. No one dares challenge or harm one whom he realises will win if he fights.
(Logistics, commissariat, discipline, signals, castramentation) . The proper size of an army.
The First book set out the selection and training of recruits. The Second explained the formation of the legion and military discipline. This Third book sounds the classicum. For the former matters were discussed first so that the present subject, which comprises the skills of engagement and the elements of victory, may preserve the order of the discipline, thus being more readily comprehensible and of greater assistance.
''Army'' is the name for a host of legions, auxilia and cavalry gathered together for the purpose of waging war. Its proper size is
discussed by experts. For when one reads the examples of Xerxes, Darius, Mithridates and other kings who armed countless populations, it is clearly apparent that over-large armies have been overcome more by their own size than the bravery of the enemy. For a greater multitude is subject to more mishaps. On marches it is always slower because of its size; a longer column often suffers ambush even by small numbers; in broken country and at river-crossings it is often caught in a trap as a result of delays caused by the baggage-train. Also it is an enormous labour to collect fodder for large numbers of animals and horses. Difficulties again with the grain-supply, to be avoided on any expedition, afflict larger armies soona. For however thoroughly rations may have been prepared, they run out more quickly, the more they are distributed to. Finally water itself sometimes hardly suffices for too large a number.S And if for some reason the battle-line should turn tail, more casualties must inevitably occur to more men, and those who escape, once terrified, thereafter fear battle.
But the ancients, who learned to remedy their difficulties from experience, wished to have armies that were not so much numerous as trained in arms. So for smaller wars they thought one legion with mixed auxilia could suffice, i.e., , infantry and , cavalry; and this band was often led on campaign by praetors, like lesser generals. But if the enemy's numbers were said to be large, a man of
consular authority was sent with , infantry and , cavalry, like a greater ''count".] But if a countless horde of the fiercest tribes had rebelled; then under press of extreme urgency two generals and two armies were.sent, with the following instruction: "Let both consuls, jointly or severally, provide that the Republic tal~e no harm". For when the Roman People were fighting virtually every year in various regions against different enemies, supplies of troops were adequate only because they judged it more useful to have not so much large armies as more of them, yet the principle was observed that there should never be a greater number of Allied auxiliaries in camp than Roman citizens.
. How the army's health is controlled.
Next I shall explain a subject to which special thought must be devoted_how the army's health is preserved_that is, by means of site, water-supply, season, medicine and exercise. By "site" I mean that soldiers should not camp in pestilential areas near unhealthy marshes, nor in arid plains and hills, lacking tree-cova, nor without tents in summer. They should not move out too late in the day and fall sick from sunstroke and marching-fatigue, but rather start a march before dawn, reaching the destination in the heat of the day. They should not in severe winter weather march by night through snow and ice, or suffer from shortage of firewood or an inadequate supply of clothes. For a soldier who is forced to be cold is not likely to be healthy or fit for an expedition. Neither should the army use bad or marsh water, for bad drinking-water, like poison, causes disease in the drinkers. To be sure it requires constant vigilance on the part of officers and tribunes and of the "count" who holds the senior command to see that ordinary soldiers who fall sick from this cause
may be nursed back to health with suitable food and tended by the doctors' art. It is hard for those who are fighting both a war and disease.
But military experts considered that daily exercises in arms were more conducive to soldiers' health than doctors. So they wished that the infantry be trained without cease, under cover when rainy or snowing, in the exercise-field on the rest of the days. Similarly they gave orders that cavalry should constantly train themselves and their horses not only in the plains, but also over precipitous places and courses made very difficult with gaping ditches, so that nothing unfamiliar might meet them in the stress of battle. From this it is appreciated how zealously an army should always be trained in the art of war, since the habit of work may bring it both health in the camp, and victory in the field.
If a multitude of soldiers stays too long in autumn or summer in the same place, then drinking-water contaminated by pollution of the water-supply and air tainted by the foul smell itself give rise to a most deadly disease. This can only be prevented by frequent changes of camp.
. How much attention should be devoted to the procurement and storage of fodder and grain.
The order of subjects demands that I speak next about the provisioning-system for fodder and grain.S For armies are more often destroyed by starvation than baule, and hunger is more savage than the sword. Secondly, other misfortunes can in time be alleviated: fodder and grain-supply have no remedy in a crisis except storage in advance.
On any expedition the single most effective weapon is that food should be aufficient for you while dearth should break the enemy. Therefore, before war is commenced, there should be careful consideration given to supplies and their issue in order that fodder, grain and the other army provisions customarily requisitioned from provincials may be exacted in good time, and quantities always more
than sufficient be assembled at points well-placed for waging war and very well- fortified.] But if tax revenue be insufficient, everything (needed) shonld be compulsorily purchased from prior contributions in gold. For there is no secure possession of wealth, unless it be maintained by defence of arms.
Often an emergency is doubled and a siege becomes longer than expected, when the opposition though hungry themselves do not give up besieging those whom they expect to be overcome by hunger. Also all livestock, any sort of fruit and wine which the enemy invader can seize for his own sustenance should be collected into strong forts secured by armed garrisons, or into very safe cities, by landowners acting under the admonition of edicts or the compulsion of specially appointed escorts, and the provincials impelled to shut themselves and their property behind fort)fications
ations before the invasion. Repairs to all walls and torsion-engines should be taken in hand in advance too, for if the enemy once find you unready, everything becomes confused in panic and things needed from other cities are denied you through the roads being closed. Faithful stewardship of granaries and controlled issue usually provides for a aufficiency, especially if taken in hand from the outset. But economy comes too late to save (grain) when there is a deficiency.
On arduous campaigns the ancients used to provide rations by heads of soldiers rather than by status, on the understanding that after the emergency there was restitution to these men from the State. In winter problems of firewood and fodder, in summer of water should be avoided. Shortages of grain, wine-vinegar, wine and salt should be prevented at all times. Therefore cities and forts should be defended by those soldiers who prove less useful in the field, equipped with arms, arrows, "sling- staves", slings and stones, mangonels and catapults. Especial care should be taken lest provincials in their unsuspecting simplicity be deceived by the treachery and perjuries of the enemy. Pretended trade and peaceful relations have more often caused harm to gullible people than arms. By this strategy the enemy if they collect together suffer famine, and if they disperse are easily beaten by frequent surprise attacks.
. Measures needed to ensure that soldiers do not m utiny.
An army gathered together from different places occasionally raises a riot and, when in fact it is unwilling to fight, it pretends to be angry at not being led out to battle. This is chiefly the action of those who have lived at their base in idleness and luxury. Taking offence at the harshness of the unaccustomed effort which it is necessary to endure on campaign, fearing battle besides, having shirked exercises in arms, they plunge headlong into a rash enterprise of this sort.
A compound treatment is usually applied to this wound. While they are still separate and in their base, (soldiers) should be held to every article of discipline by the strictest severity of tribunes, "vicars" and
tribunes, "vicars" and
officers, and observe nothing but loyalty and obedience. They should be doing campicursio, as they themselves term a review of arms, constantly, they should have opportunity for no leave of absence, they should continually be obeying the muster and be present at the standards, and be kept as frequently as possible shooting arrows, throwing javelins, throwing stones with the sling or by hand, performing armatura, fencing with foils made to imitate swords with the point and with the edge for most of the day until they are exhausted. They should furthermore be trained at leaping over fosses by running and jumping. If the sea or a river is near their base, in summer they should all be made to swim, also to fell trees, march through thickets and broken country, hew timber, open a fosse, occupy some point, and strive with shields mutually opposed not to be dislodged by their comrades. Soldiers who have been so trained and exercised at their base, whether they are legionaries, auxilia or cavalry, when they come together for a campaign from their various units inevitably prefer warfare to leisure in the rivalry for velour No one thinks of mutiny, when he carries confidence in his skill and strength.
But the general should be careful to learn from tribunes, "vicars" and of ficers in all legions, auxilia and vexillations,_not according to the malice of informers but the true facts_if there are any disorderly or mutinous soldiers. The more prudent policy is then to segregate them from camp to so some work which might seem to them almost desirable or else to allocate them to fortifying and guarding forts and cities, with such subtlety that they seem to have been specially selected although they are being cast off. For an army never breaks out in dissent with equal enthusiasm, but is incited by a few who hope to escape pumshment for vices and crimes by involving large numbers in wrongdoing. But if extreme necessity urges the medicine of the sword, it is juster to follow ancestral custom and punish the ringleaders of crimes, so that fear extends to all, but punishment to few. However, those generals who have instilled discipline in their army through hard work and routine are more praiseworthy than those whose soldiers are forced into submission by fear of punishment.
. How many kinds of military signals there are.
Many indeed are the orders to be given and obeyed in battle, since no remission is given to negligence when men are fighting for their lives. But of all the rest there is nothing so conducive to victory as heeding the warnings of signals. Since an army in the confusion of battle cannot be governed by a single voice, and many orders have to be given and carried out on the spur of the moment in view of the urgency of events, ancient practice of all nations devised a means whereby the whole army might recognise by signals and follow up what the general alone had judged useful.
So there are generally agreed to be three types of signals, voiced semi-voiced and mute. Of these the voiced and semi-voiced are perceived by ear, whereas the mute are transmitted to the eye. Those called "voiced" are pronounced by the human voice, such as a watchword on night-watch duties or in battle, e.g., "victory",
"palm" "virtue" "God with us", "Triumph of the Emperor- and whatever others the supreme commander in the army may choose to give. But note that these words should be changed daily, lest the ene ny recognises the sign from familiarity and spies pass among our men with impunity.
The "semi-voiced" are those given by the trumpet, horn, or bugle. The "trumpet" is the name for the straight instrument. The "bugle" is that which is bent back on itself in a bronze circle. The "horn" is that which is made from the wild aurochs, bound with silver, and when modulated with a skilful breath emits a note of singing wind. By these means through unambiguous sounds the army recognises whether it should halt, advance or retreat, whether to pursue fugitives into the distance or sound for a withdrawal.
The "mute" signals are eagles, dragons, insignia, pennants, crests and plumes. The soldiers accompanying their standard must go wherever the general directs them to be carried. There are aso other mute signals which the general gives orders to be kept on horses, on clothes, or on the arms themselves, to distinguish them from the enemy. Besides this he may indicate something with his hand or, in barbarian fashion, with a whip, or even by a movement of the clothes he is wearing. All this, in camp, on the march, in every field exacise, every soldier should learn to follow and understand. For continual practice is obviously necessary in peacetime of a procedure which is to be maintained in the confusion of battle.
There is also a "mute" signal common to both sides, when dust is disturbed by an army as it marches, and rises up in clouds, betraying
the approach of the enemy. Similarly when forces are divided, they use fires by night and smoke by day to signal to their allies what cannot be announced by other means. Some hang beams on towers of forts and cities, indicating what is going on by now raising, now lowering them.
. The degree of caution to be observed when an army moves in the vicinity of the enemy.
Those who have made a careful study of the art of war assert that more dangers tend to arise on the march than in battle itself. For in battle everyone is armed, and they see the enemy at close quarters and come mentaly prepared for fighting. On the march, the soldier is less armed and less alert; he is thrown into instant confusion by a sudden attack or concealed ambush. Therefore the general should take steps with all caution and prudence to ensure that the army suffer no attack on the march, or may easily repel a raid without loss.
First, he should have itineraries of all regions in which war is being waged written out in the fullest detail, so that he may learn the distances betweeq places by the number of miles and the quality of roads, and examine short-cuts, by-ways, mountains and rivers, accurately described. Indeed, the more conscientious generals reportedly had itineraries of the provinces in which the emergency occurred not just annotated but illustrated as well, so that they could choose their route when setting out by the visual aspect as well as by mental calculation.
In addition, he ought to find out everything from intelligent men, from men of rank, and those who know the localities, individually and put together the truth from a number of witnesses. Furthermore he should collect at the risk of those responsible for choosing them able guides, knowledgeable of the roads, and keep them under
roads, and keep them under guard having given them a demonstration of punishment and reward. They will be useful when they understand that there is no longer any chance
of escape for them, and that there is ready reward for loyalty and retribution for treachery. He should also malce sure that men of discernment and experience are found, lest the errors of two or three individuals put everyone at risk. Occasionally inexperienced rustics promise more than they can deliver and believe they know what in fact they do not.
But the most important thing to be careful about is to presene secrecy about the places and routes by which the army is to travel. The safest policy on expeditions is deemed to be keeping people ignorant of what one is going to do. It is for this reason that the ancients had the standard of the Minotaur in the legions. Just as he is said to have been hidden away in the innermost and most secret labyrinth, so the general's plan should always be kept secret. A safe march is that which the enemy least expects to be made.
Nevertheless, some words should be said about how one ought to go about meeting an attack, because scouts sent from the other side can detect an expedition by its tracks or by sighting it, and occasionally deserters and traitors are not wanting. When a general intends to set out with his army in column, he should send ahead very reliable and quick-witted men on excellent mounts to reconnoitre those places through which the army is due to march, both in advance and in the rear, and to right and left, to prevent the enemy laying ambushes. Scouts operate more safely at night than in daytime. In some measure a general betrays himself if his scout is captured by the enemy.S
So let the cavalry take the road in front, then the infantry, with the baggage, pack- horses, servants and vehicles placed in the middle, and the light-armed portion of the infantry and cavalry bringing up the rear. For attacks on a marching army are sometimes made at the front, but more usually in the rear. The baggage-train should
rain should also be
enclosed on the flanks with equal strengths of soldiers, for ambushers frequently attack the sides. But the part which the anemy is expected to approach one should be particularly careful to reinforce with a screen of picked cavalry, light-armed infantry and foot-archers. If the enemy surround on all sides, reinforcements must be prepared on all sides. To prevent added losses from a sudden commotion, soldiers should be wamed beforehand to be mentally prepared and have their arms in their hands. In an emagency sudden things are terrifying, things that are foreseen do not usually strike panic.
The ancients took very thorough precautions against disturbance to the fighting troops by servants getting wounded on occasion or afraid or by pack-animals terrified at the din of battle, lest being extended too far or massed together more than expedient, they might impede their own side and help the enemy. Therefore they decided to marshal! the baggage-train like the soldiers under certain standards. So they selected men of ability and practical experience from among the servants, whom they call galearii, and put them in charge of up to packanimals and grooms. To them also they gave insignia, so that they might know to which standards they should gather the baggage. But the fighting men were divided from the baggage-train by a certain interval, so that they were not pushed together and wounded in battle.
When an army is marching, the system of defence varies with changes in terrain. On open plains cavalry are more likely to attack than infantry, while on the contrary in wooded, mountainous or marshy country, infantry forces are more to be feared. One thing to avoid is the column being severed or thinned out through the negligence of one group setting a fast pace while another is moving more slowly, for the enemy immediately penetrates any gaps. Therefore the most experienced drillmasters, ''vicars'' and tribunes should be put in charge, with orders to slow down those who are too brisk and force those going too slowly to speed up. When an attack happens, those who have gone far ahead wish to get away rather than go back.- Meanwhile those who are in the rear deserted by their
the rear deserted by their comrades are overwhelmed by the violence of the enemy and their own despair.
One should bear in mind that the enemy sets up concealed ambushes or engages in open battle only in places he thinlcs favourable to himself. The general's diligence provides against suffering damage from surprises, so it is advised that he reconnoitre everything in advance. Then if an ambush is detected and properly surrounded, it suffers more damage than it was preparing to inflict. But if an open battle is being prepared in mountain-country, the higha ground should be seized by sending forces ahead so that whan the enemy arrives, he finds himself on lower ground, and dare not attack when he can see armed men in front of him and overhead. But if there are routes which are narrow but safe, it is better for soldiers to go ahead with axes and picks, opening a road with their toil, than to suffer peril on the best route.
We ought also to know the habits of the enemy_whether they usually attack by night, at daybreak or during the rest-hour when men are tired_and avoid that which we think they will do from routine. It is also in our interest to know whether they are stronger in infantry or cavalry, in pikemen or archers, and whether they are superior in numbers of men or military equipment, so that we may adopt the tactics which are consideredS useful to ourselves and disadvantageous to them. We should calculate whether it is advantageous to begin the march during the day or by night and how great are the intervals between places to which we wish to advance, so as to save the men on the march from being troubled by lack of water in summer, or faced with difficult or impassable morasses and great torrents in winter, or the army from being cut off before it can reach its destination through its march being impeded.
Just as it is to our advantage to avoid these things by being prudent, so we ought not to let slip any opportunity which the enemy's inexperience or negligence offers to us. We should reconnoitre assiduously, solicit traitors and deserters so we can find out the
enemy's present and future plans and, with our cavalry and light armament in prepared positions, catch them by unforeseen threats while marching or seeking fodder and food.
. How to cross large rivers.
When crossing rivers careless armies often get into serious difficulties. For if the current is too strong or the river-bed too wide it is likely to drown baggage- animals, grooms and sometimes even the weaka warriors. So when the ford has been sounded two lines of horsemen on picked mounts are lined up in parallel with aufficient space between them for infantry and baggage-train to pass through the middle. The upper line breaks the force of the waters, while the lower line collects up any who may be snatched away or swept under, and brings them safely across. But where the water is too deep to allow either infantry or cavalry to cross, if the river flows through flat country, it may be dispersed by digging multiple channels and easily crossed when divided. Navigable rivers, however, are made passable by driving in piles and boarding over the top, or else, for a temporary work, empty barrels may be tied together and timbers placed upon them to provide a passage. Also the cavalry are accustomed to take off their accoutrements and make fascines from dry reeds and sedge and place upon them cuirasses and arms, so as not to get them wet. They and their horses swim across, drawing <on reins> the fascines that they have tied to themselves.
But it has been found better for an army to carry around with
it on carts "single timbers'', which are rather shallow canoes,
hollowed out of single trunks, very light because of the type and
thinness of the wood. Planks and iron nails are also kept with them
in readiness. The bridge thus speedily constructed, tied together by ropes which should
be kept for the purpose, provides the solidity of a masonry arch in quick dme.
The enemy often launches rapid ambushes or raids at river crossings. Armed guards are stationed against this danger on both banks, lest the troops be beaten by the enemy because they are divided by the intervening river-bed. It is safer to build stockades along the bank on either side, and sustain without loss any attack that is made. But if a bridge is needed not just for one crossing, but for returning and for supply-lines, broad fosses are dug around each Wdgehead and a rampart constructed to receive soldiers to defend and hold it for as long as strategic needs require.
. How to lay out a camp.
It is logical, once the disposition of a march has been described, if consideration is turned to the camp in which one is to stay. For a walled city is not always available in wartime to provide a permanent camp or temporary quarters,S and it is reckless and full of danger for an army to bivouac at large without any fort)fication. For it is easy to contrive ambushes when soldiers are busy taking their meal or scattered to do their duties; moreover the darkness of night, the need for sleep and the dispersal of grazing horses all provide opportunities for attack.
When surveying a camp, it is not sufficient to choose a good site unless it be so good
site unless it be so good that no other site better than it can be found. Otherwise a more advantageous site overlooked by us may then be occupied by the enemy, bringing danger. Also ensure that unhealthy
water is not close by or wholesome water too far away in summer, and that there is no shortage of fodder and firewood in winter, that the site on which one is to camp is not liable to flooding after sudden rainstorms, and that it is not in broken, remote country where the enemy might surround us and make it difficult to escape, and that missiles cannot be shot from higher ground by the enemy and reach it~l
When these conditions have been carefully and stringently investigated, you may build the camp square, circular, triangular or oblong, as required by the site. Appearance should not prejudice utility, although those whose length is one-third longer than the width are deemed more attractive. But surveyors should calculate the square footage defined for the size so that the area enclosed corresponds to the size of the army. Cramped quarters constrict the defenders, whilst unsuitably wide spaces spread them thinly.
There are three potential sorts of fort)fication defined for a camp. The first is for the passage of one night or for brief occupation on a march. The raised turves are laid out in line, forming a rampart. Above it, valli, i.e. stakes or wooden spars are ranged along its length. The turf is cut around with iron tools, retaining the earth in the grass roots, / ft. high, I ft. wide and l/ ft. Iong. When the earth is too loose for it to be possible to cut out the turf like a brick, the fosse is dug in "temporary style", ft. wide, ft. deep, with the rampart rising on the inside. Thus the army is enabled to rest secure and without fear.
But a stationary camp is fortified with greater care and effort, whether in summer or winter, when the enemy is near. For each
century receives a footage apportioned by the drillmasters and officers. The men dispose their shields and packs in a circle around their own standards and, armed only with a sword, open a fosse ft. wide, or ft. or ft. or, if a major hostile force is feared, ft._ it is usual to keep to uneven numbers. The rampart is then raised between lines of revetments or barriers of logs and branches interposed to stop the earth easily falling away. Above it a system of battlements and turrets is constructed like a wall. The centurions measure the work with ten-foot rods, checking that no one's laziness has resulted in digging too little or making mistakes. The tribunes also go round and, if they are conscientious, do not go away until it is completed in every part. However, to prevent a raid from being mounted on the men at work, all cavalry and that part of the infantry which through the privilege of rank does not labour take up position in front of the fosse in an armed cordon and repel enemy attack.
So first the standards are set up in their places inside the camp, because nothing is more revered by the soldiers than their majesty, the headquarters is prepared for the general and his staff-officers and the pavilions are set up for the tribunes, who are served with water, firewood and fodder by privates assigned to services. Next, in order of rank, sites are distributed in camp for the legions and auxilia, for cavalry and infantry, to pitch their tents.
From each century four cavalrymen and four infantrymen undertake sentry-duty by night. Because it was clearly impossible for individuals to remain constantly awake in their look-out posts, the night-watches were distributed into quarters by the water-clock, ensuring that it was necessary to be awake for no more than three
hours a night. All the watches are called by the trumpeter and at the end of their time recalled by the homblower. The tribunes select able and very reliable men to patrol the watches and report any fault that emerges. These used to be called circumitores; they have now been made a rank of service and are called circitores.
Note that cavalry should do nocturnal watch-duties outside the rampart. During the day in the case of a stationary camp they change guard for morning and afternoon shifts in their out-stations, because of the exhaustion of men and horses.
Among the things particularly incumbent upon a general, whether he is quartered in a camp or a city, is to see that the animals' pasturage, the transportation of grain and other provisions, and the ministration of water, firewood and fodder are rendered secure from hostile attack. The only way to achieve this is to plant garrisons at suitable points through which our supply trains pass. These may be cities or walled forts. If no old fortifications are available, temporary forts are established in favourable positions and girded with broad fosses; castella are named after castra by a diminutive word. A number of infantry and cavalry stationed in them on outpost
and cavalry stationed in them on outpost-duty provide a safe passage for supplies. The enemy hardly dares attack points where he knows his adversaries are camped ahead and behind.
(Pre-battle strategy, ch. -)
. What and how many things are to be considered when judging whether to engage the enemy in raids and
ambushes or else in pitched battle.
Whoever will deign to read these commentaries on the art of war abridged from authors of the highest repute, wishes to hear first and foremost the conduct of battle and the prescribed tactics. But a pitched battle is defined by a struggle lasting two or three hours, after which all hopes of the defeated party fall away. That being so, every expedient must be thought of previously, tried out in advance and implemented before matters come to this final pass. For good generals do not attack in open battle where the danger is mutual, but do it always from a hidden position, so as to kill or at least terrorise the enemy while their own men are unharmed as far as possible. In this connexion I shall describe the measures which the ancients found quite essential. l
An important art and technique of a general is to call in persons from the entire army who are knowledgeable about war and aware of their own and the enemy's forces, and to hold frequent discussions with them in an atmosphere from which all flattery, which does so much harm, has been banished, to decide whether he or the enemy has the greater number of fighters, whether his own men or the enemy's are better armed and armoured and which side is the more highly trained or the braver in warfare. A further question is which side has the better cavalry or infantry, bearing in mind that the strength of an army depends mainly on its infantry. And, among the cavalry, which side has more pikemen or archers, which is wearing more cuirasses and which has brought better horses. Then he should consider whether the terrain itself in which one is to fight appears advantageous to the enemy or to ourselves. For if we are strong in cavalry, we should opt for plains; if in infantry, we should choose confined places, obstructed by ditches, marshes or trees, and sometimes mountainous. Also,
which side has more food or lacks it, for hunger, they say, fights from within, and often conquers without a blow.
But most important of all, he should deliberate whether it is expedient for the crisis to be prolonged or fought out more swiftly. For sometimes the enemy hopes that the campaign can be ended quickly, and if it becomes long-drawn out, is either reduced by hunger, or called back to his own country by his men's homesickness, or through doing nothing sign)ficant is compelled to leave in despair. Then very many desert, exhausted by effort and weariness, some betray others and some surrender themselves, since loyalty is less common in adversity, and the enemy who came in great force begins to be denuded
It is also relevant to find out the character of the adversary himself, his senior staff- officers and chieftains. Are they rash or cautious, bold or timid, skilled in the art of war or fighting from experience or haphazardly? Which tribes on their side are brave or cowardly? What is the loyalty and courage of our auxilia? What is the morale of the enemy forces? What is that of our own army? Which side promises itself victory more? By such considerations is the army's courage bolstered or undermined.
When the men despair, their courage is raised by an address from the general, and if he appears fearless himself, their spirits are raised, if for example you have brought off some exploit from an ambush or opportunity, if the opposition have begun to suffer mishaps, or if you have been able to overcome some of the weaker or poorly-armed elements of the enemy. Be careful never to lead a hesitant and frightened army into a pitched battle. It matters whether you have an army of recruits or veteran soldiers, and whether they were on active service a short time before or have spent a number of years at peace. For men who stopped fighting a long time ago should be treated as recruits.
Indeed, when legions, awrilia and cavalry arrive from different stations, the best general should have them trained by picked tribunes
ld have them trained by picked tribunes
of known conscientiousness in all types of arms separately as single units, and after forming them into one body, he will often train them himself as if for fighting a pitched battle, and will test them to see what their potential skill and courage may be, how far they interact with each other and whether they obey promptly the warnings of trumpets, directions of signals and his own orders and authority. If they err in any respect, let them be trained and instructed for as long as it takes to become perfect. But if they become fully expert in field manouvres, archery, throwing javelins and drawing up the line, they should not even then be lightly led into a pitched battle, but on a carefuy chosen opportunity, and only after being blooded in smallerscale conflicts.
So let the general be watchful, sober and discreet. Let him call a council-of-war and judge between his own and the enemy's forces, as if he were to adjudicate between parties to a civil suit. If he finds himself superior in many particulars, let him be not slow to enter a battle favourable to himself. If he recognises that the enemy is stronger, let him avoid a pitched battle, because forces fewer in number and inferior in strength carrying out raids and ambushes under good generals have often brought back a victory.
. What to do if one has an army unaccustomed to fighting or newly recruited.
All arts and all works progress through daily practice and continual exercise. If this is true of small things, the principle should hold all the more true in great matters. Who can doubt that the art of war comes before everything else, when it preserves our liberty and prestige, extends the provinces and saves the Empire? The Spartans long ago abandoned all other fields of learning to cultivate this, and later so did the Romans. Even today the barbarians think this art alone deserves their attention; they are sure that everything else either depends on this art or can be obtained by them through it.S It is essential to those whose business is war, for it is the means to hold on to life and win a victory. So the genera who has bestowed on him the insignia of great power, and to whose loyalty and strength are
entrusted the wealth of landowners, the protection of cities, the lives of soldiers and the glory of the State, should be anxious for the welfare not just of his entire army, but for each and every common soldier aso. For if anything happens to them in war, it is seen as his fault and the nation's loss.
Therefore if he is leading an army of recruits or of men long unaccustomed to bearing
my of recruits or of men long unaccustomed to bearing arms, let him thoughly explore the strength and spirit of each legion, auxilium and vexillatio. Let him find out by name if possible the military potential of each ''count'', tribune, aide and private. Let him assume fu authority and severity, punish all military crimes according to the laws, have a reputation for forgiving no errors and make trial of everyone in different places in diverse situations. When he has seen to these things properly, let him choose a moment when the enemy are roving carelessly about, scattered for ravaging, to send in his well-tried cavalry or infantry accompanied by the new recruits or poor quality soldiers. Routing the enemy at a favourable opportunity gives experience to the latter group, and raises the morale of the rest.
Let him set up ambushes in complete secrecy at river-crossings, mountain passes, wooded defiles, marshes and other difficult passages. Let him so regulate his march that, fully prepared, he attacks the enemy when they are suspecting nothing, when they are eating meals, sleeping or at any rate resting, when they are relaxed, unarmed, unshod and their horses unsaddled, to the end that his men may acquire selfconfidence in battles of this Icind. For those who have not for a long time, or never at all, seen men being wounded or Icilled are greatly shocked when they first catch sight of it, and confused by panic start thinking of flight instead of fighting. Also, if the enemy are ranging abroad, let him attack them when they are fatigued by a long march; let him harass the rear, or at least attack by surprise, and those who loiter at a distance from their people for fodder or plunder, let him attack suddenly with picked men. Those actions should be tried first which do less harm if they fail, and bring the most benefit if successful.
It is (also) the mark of a skilled general to sow seeds of discord among the enemy. For no nation, however small, can be completely destroyed by its enemies, unless it devours itself by its own feuding. Civil strife is quick to encompass the destruction of political enemies, but careless about the readiness of its own defence.
There is but one principle to be averred in this work, namely that none should despair of the possibility of doing that which was done in the past. One may say, "It is many years since anyone enclosed an army encampment with a fosse, rampart and stockade." We shall respond, "If that precaution had been taken, there is nothing that the enemy could have done to hann us by attacking by night or day." The Persians copy the Romans in building their camps with lines of fosses. And because almost all of them are in sandy areas, they build their rampart using sacks which they have brought empty with them, filling them up with the dusty earth dug out of the fosse, and forming
them into a pile. All barbarians spend nights secure from attack behind their wagons linked together in a circle line a military camp. Are we afraid that we are unable to learn what others have learnt from us?
These skills were formerly maintained in use, as well as in books, but once they were abandoned it was a long time before anyone needed them, because with the flourishing of peacetime pursuits the imperatives of war were far removed. Howeva, we are instructed by precedent not to think it impossible for an art to be revived whose use has been lost. Among the ancients, military science often fell into oblivion, but at first it was recovered from books, and later consolidated by the authority of generals. Scipio Africanus took over our armies in Spain after they had been several times beaten under other commanders. By observing the rule of discipline, he trained these so thoroughly in every article of work, including the digging of fosses, that he said that they deserved to be stained by digging mud, because they had declined to be wetted by the enemy's blood. With these same men, he eventually captured the city of Numantia, and so cremated the inhabitants that none escaped. Metellus took ova an army in Africa which had been sent under the yoke when Albinus was its commander. He reformed it on ancient principles, and later overcame the same men who had sent them under the yoke. The Cimbri destroyed the legions of Caepio and Mallius inside Gaul. The
remnants were taken up by Gaius Marius, who trained them in the knowledge and art of warfare. The result was that they not only destroyed an innumerable host of Cimbri, but of Teutones and Ambrones as well, in a general engagement. But it remains easier to train new men in velour than to reanimate those who have been terrified out of their wits.
. Precautions to be taken on the day of engaging in a general action.
After treating of the lesser skills of war, our analysis of military science invites us to consider the hazard of the general engagement, the fateful day for nations and peoples. For total victory depends upon the outcome of an open battle. Therefore this is the time when generals should exert themselves all the more, in proportion as the vigorous may hope for greater glory, and worse peril dogs the cowardly. This is the moment when exploitation of skill, theory of warfare and planning dominate.
In ancient times it was customary to lead soldiers into battle after they had been treated to a light meal, so that the eating of food might make them braver,S and in a prolonged fight they might not grow tired from hunger. You should also take care if you lead your men to battle from a camp or a city when the enemy is present, lest, while the army is marching out in defile through narrow gates, it may be worsted by
and prepared hostile forces. Therefore one should ensure that all soldiers get
worsted by massed and prepared hostile forces. Therefore one should ensure that all soldiers get clear of the gates and form a battle-line before the enemy arrives. But if he arrives prepared for battle while your men are still inside the city, postpone your exit or at
least pretend to. Then when the enemy troops start hurling insults at men
they do not expect to come out, when they turn their attention to booty or withdrawal, when they break ranks, that is the moment for your crack troops to sally forth against the stunned enemy and attack them in force unexpectedly.
Beware also not to force to a pitched batlle soldiers who are tired after a long march or horses that are weary from galloping. Men who are going to battle lose much of their strength from marching-fatigue. What is one to do, if he reaches the line exhausted? This is something the ancients avoided, and in the recent past it was the armies, to say no more, who learned the lesson after Roman generals had through lack of expertise &iled to provide against it. For when a tired man enters battle with one who has rested, or a sweating man with an alert, or one who has been running with one who has been standing, he fights on unequal terms.
. One should find out how soldiers are feeling before battle.
Explore carefully how soldiers are feeling on the actual day they are going to fight. For confidence or fear may be discerned from their facial expression, language, gait and gestures. Do not be fully confident if it is the recruits who want battde, for war is sweet to the inexperienced.S You will know to postpone it if the experienced warriors are afraid of fighting. An army gains courage and fighting spirit from advice and encouragement from their general, especially if they are given such an account of the coming battle as leads them to believe they will easily win a victory. Then is the time to point out to them the cowardice and mistakes of their opponents, and remind them of any occasion on which they have been beaten by us in the past. Also say anything by which the soldiers' minds may be provoked to hatred of their adversaries by arousing their anger and indignation.
It is a natural reaction in the minds of nearly all men to be fearful as they go to do battle with the enemy. But those whose minds are
panicked by his actual appearance are without doubt the weaker sort. Their fears may be lessened by the following remedy. Before the battle, repeatedly draw up your army in safe positions from which they can get used to seeing and recognising the enemy. Let them also try their hand now and then when an opportunity arises_let them put to flight or kill their opponents; let them learn to recognise their adversaries' characteristics, arms and horses, for familiar things are not frightening.
. How a suitable place is chosen for battle.
The good general should know that a large part of a victory depends on the actual place in which the battle is fought. Be at pains therefore when you are going to engage in combat, to get help first from the place. This is judged the more useful, the higher the ground occupied. For weapons descend with more violence onto men on a lower level, and the side which is higher dislodges with greater force those opposing them. He who struggles uphill enters a double contest with the ground and with the enemy. But there is this distinction_if you are hoping for victory from your infantry over enemy horse, you should choose rough, broken and mountainous country; but if you are looking for victory from your cavalry over opposing infantry, you should go for positions that are, indeed, on a slightly higher level, but flat and open, unobstructed by woodland or morasses.
(Battle tactics and strategies, ch. -) . How the line should be drawn up to render it invincible in battle.
When the general is ready to draw up his line, he should attend first to three things_sun, dust and wind. When the sun is in front of your face, it deprives you of sight. Head-winds deflect and depress your missiles, while aiding the enemy's. Dust thrown up from in front of you fills and closes your eyes. Even inexperienced generals usually avoid these things at the time of ordering the lines, but the provident general should take care of the future lest, a little while later as the day wears on, the changed position of the sun may be harmful or a head
wind may habitually arise at a regular time, during the fighting. Therefore let the lines be ranged with these problems behind our backs, and if possible so that they may strike the faces of the enemy.
"Line" means the army drawn up for battle. The "front" is the part that looks towards the enemy. If wisely deployed it is very useful in a general engagement. If unskilfully, however excellent the warriors may be they are weakened by bad ordering. The rule of drawing up an array is to place in the first line the experienced and seasoned soldiers, formerly called principes, and to rank in the second line archers protected with cataphracts and crack soldiers armed with javelins and light spears, formerly called hastati. Individual infantrymen regularly occupy ft. each. Therefore in a mile , infantrymen are ranked abreast, without light showing between them but leaving room to handle their weapons. Between line and
their weapons. Between line and line, they wished to have a space ft. in depth behind them to give fighting men room to move forward and back, missiles being more forcibly thrown from a running jump. In these two lines are posted those older in years, confident and experienced, and protected by heavy armour. Their role is
to act like a wall; at no time should they be made to retreat or pursue lest they disturb their ranks. They should receive oncoming adversaries and repel or rout them by standing their ground and battling it out.
The third line is formed from very fast light infantry, young archers and good javelinmen. They were formerly termedierentarii.
The fourth line is similarly constructed from very light "shieldbearers", young archers and those who fight briskly with light javelins and lead-weighted darts called plumbatee. They used to be termed "light armament". It should be noted that whereas the front two lines stand their ground, the third and fourth lines always go out to challenge the enemy with missiles and arrows, in the forward position. If they can put the enemy to rout, they set off in pursuit themselves plus the cavalry. But if they are driven back by the enemy, they return to the first and second lines and retire between them to their own stations. The first and second lines bear the full brunt of the battle when it comes to what is called "to broadswords and javelins".
In a fifth line were sometimes placed carriage-ballistas, and manuballistarii, "sling- staff men'' and slingers.
The sixth line behind all the others was held by very reliable warriors, armed with shields and every type of arms. These the ancients called triarii. They would wait in reserve behind the last lines, to attack the enemy more violently, being themselves rested and intact. If anything happened to the lines in front, all hope of recovery depended on their bravery.
. The square-footage system, or how much space in the line should be left abreast between each man, and in depth between each rank.
Now that it has been explained how the lines should be drawn up, I shall discuss the square footage and size of the formation itself. In a mile of field, a single line will contain 1,666 infantry, since individual fighting men take up 3 ft. If you wish to draw up six lines in a mile of field, 9,996 infantry are needed. If you wish to deploy this number in three lines, it takes up two miles; but it is better to make additional lines than to thin the soldiers out.
We said that 6 ft. ought to lie between each line in depth from the rear, and in fact each warrior occupies 1 ft. standing still. Therefore, if you draw up six lines, an army of 10,000 men will take up 42 ft. in depth and a mile in breadth. [If you decide to draw up three lines, an army of 10,000 will take up 21 ft. in depth and 2 miles in breadth. In accordance with this system, it will be possible to draw up even 20,000 or 30,000 infantry without the slightest difficulty, if you follow the square footage for the size. The general does not go wrong when he knows what space can hold how many fighting men.
They say that if the field is too narrow, or if numbers are sufficient, the lines can be drawn up 10-deep or more. For it is more useful that they should fight in close order
than too far separated. If the line is too thinly deployed, it is quickly broken through when the enemy make an assault, and after that there can be no remedy. The units which should be deployed on the right wing, the left and in the middle, are either distributed according to their traditional ranking, or else changed to suit the ability
of the enemy.
. On deploying cavalry.
When the infantry line has been formed up, the cavalry are posted on the wings, all cuirassiers and pikemen next to the infantry, and mounted archers and those not issued with cuirasses ranging farther afield, for the heavy cavalry should be used to protect the infantry's flanks, while the swift light cavalry are for overwhelming and throwing into disorder the enemy's wings.
The general should know against which drungi, that is, ''groups'' of the enemy he should set which of the cavalry. For some obscure, or indeed, one might say, divine reason, some men fight better against others, and those who have conquered the stronger are often themselves defeated by the weaker. But if the cavalry are outnumbered, the ancient custom should be adopted of mixing in with them very swift infantry with light shields, specially trained for the purpose, once called velites. If this is done, no matter in what force the enemy cavalry turn out, they cannot match the mixed formation. All ancient generals found this to be the only answer. They trained young men
who were outstanding runners, placing them one between two horsemen, on foot and armed with ight shields, swords and javelins.
. On reserves, which are posted behind the line.
The best principle, and that which contributes most towards victory is for the general to hold in readiness behind the line the pick of the infantry and cavalry, together with unattached "vicars", "counts" and tribunes, some about the wings, and some about the middle. Then wherever the enemy attacks strongly, they may instantly move in to prevent the line being broken, reinforce any weak points and, with their additional strength, break the enemy's onset.
This tactic was first discovered by the Spartans, imitated by the Carthaginians, and
later used everywhere by the Romans. No disposition has been found better than it. For the straight battle-line ought to and can only repel or rout the enemy. If a "wedge" or "pincer" is to be formed, you will need to hold reserves behind the line, from which to make your wedge or pincer. If a "saw" is to be drawn up, it is likewise drawn from reserves. Once you start transferring soldiers of the line from their
stations, you will throw
everything into confusion. If a detached ''group'' of the enemy begins to press your wing or some other part, unless you have reserves whom you can send against the "group", you will have to remove foot or horse from the line, and in so doing you will denude one part at your peril in your desire to defend another.,
When an abundant supply of soldiers is not availabb to you, it is better to have a shorter line, provided you place a very large number in reserve. In the middle of the ffeld you need to hold the pick of your heavy-armed infantry in reserve, with which to form a "wedge" and suddenly break through the enemy line, whereas on the wings, usmg cavalry pikemen and cuirassiers reserved for the purpose with lightarmed infantry, you should surround the enemy wings.
. In what position the commander-in-chief, the second- and third-in-command should stand.
The general who holds the chief command usually stands between the infantry and cavalry on the right flank. This is the position from which the whole line is commanded, and from which there is direct and unobstructed forward movement. He stands between the two arms so as to be able to direct with his advice and exhort by his authority both cavalry and infantry to battle. It is his task to use his cavalry reserves with light infantry mixed in with them to surround the enemy's left wing, which stands opposite himself, and press it constantly from behind.
The second-in-command is posted in the middle of the infantry line to sustain and encourage it. He should have about him very strong and heavy-armed infantry from the said reserves, from which to make a "wedge" and break through the enemy line or, if the enemy forms a "wedge", to make a "pincer" so he can counter their "wedge".
On the left flank of the army the third-in-command should be found, a suitably warlike and resourceful officer because the left flank is more
awkward and stands as though maimed in the line. He should have about him good reserve cavalry and very swift light infantry, with which he can constantly extend the left wing to prevent it being sunounded by the enemy.
The war-cry, which they call barritus, should not be raised until both lines have engaged each other. It is a mark of inexperienced or cowardly men if they cry out from a distance. The enemy is more terrified if the shock of the war-cry is made to coincide with the blows of weapons.
Always strive to be first to draw up the line, because you can do at your pleasure what you judge useful to yourself, while no one is obstructing you. Secondly, you increase the confidence of your men and diminish the courage of the enemy, because the side which does not hesitate to challenge appears the stronger. The enemy, by contrast, begins to be afraid when he sees lines being drawn up against him. Thirdly, it allows of the greatest advantage because you may attack first whie you are drawn up and prepared and the enemy is still ordering his forces and unsteady. For part of victory consists in throwing the enemy into confusion before you fight, with the exception of raids and surprises which are undertaken if opportunity offers, which an experienced general never misses. When soldiers are marching wearily, divided while crossing a river, bogged down in marshes, struggling over mountain-passes, dispersed and careless in fields or sleeping in a temporary camp, an attack is always made on favourable terms, for the enemy is preoccupied with otha business and is killed before he can prepare himself. But if the enemy is careful and presents no opportunity for ambush, then one fights on equal terms, in the full presence, knowledge and view of the enemy.
. Remedies to counter the strength and stratagems of the enemy in battle.
However, the art of war is not less useful to the proficient in the open field of battle than it is in covert operations. Take care above all that your men be not surrounded on their left wing or flank, as often occurs, or indeed on their right, although this happens rarely, by a mass of the enemy or by mobile "groups", which they call drungi. If this occurs there is one remedy: fold back and round off your wing or flank, until your men who have wheeled round may defend the backs of their comrades. At the salient angle of the end itself let a very strong force be posted, because that is where the main attack is usually made.
Likewise there are appointed methods of countering a "wedge" of the enemy. A "wedge" is the name for a mass of infantry who are attached to the line, which moves forward, narrower in front and broader behind, and breaks through the enemy lines, because a larger number of men are discharging missiles into one position. Soldiers call this tactic a "pig's head". Against this is deployed the formation known as a "pincer". A body of crack troops is formed into a letter V, and this receives the "wedge", shutting it in on either side. Once this is done, it cannot break through the line. The "saw" is the name of a formation which is ranged by crack troops before the front, facing the enemy, so that a disordered line may be repaired. The "group" is a body of men who separate off from their own line, and charge into the enemy in a mobile attack. A more numerous and stronger globus is sent against
it. Beware also of deciding to change your ranks or transfer certain units from their stations to others at the moment when battle is about to commence. Uproar and confusion instantly ensue, and the enemy more easily presses upon unready and disordered forces.
. How many modes for engaging in a pitched battle there are, and how the side that is inferior in numbers and strength may prevail.
There are seven types or modes of general actions, when hostile standards engage from two sides. The first action has the army in rectangular formation with an extended front, just as even now almost always is the usual way to do battle. However, experts in military science do not consider this type of action best, because when the line is extended over a wide area, it does not always meet with even ground. If there are any gaps in the middle, or a bend or curve, that is the point at which the line is often breached. Further, if the enemy has the advantage of numbers, he envelops your right or left wing from the sides. There is great danger in this unless you have reserves who can move up and hold up the enemy. Only he who has more numerous and strong forces should engage in this formation. He should envelop the enemy on both wings and enclose him as it were in the embrace of his army.
The second action is oblique, and better in very many respects. With this, if you draw up a small strong force in the proper position, you will be able to bring off a victory even though you are impeded by the numbers and strength of the foe. The method is as follows._When the drawn lines advance to the encounter, you will remove your left wing farther from the enemy's right, so that neither missiles nor arrows can reach it. You should fasten your right wing to the enemy's left and start the battle there first, while using your best cavalry and most reliable infantry to attack and surround the enemy's left flank, on which you have fastened, and by dislodging and outflanking
reach the enemy's rear. If once you begin to rout the enemy from then
on, with those of your men who are attacking you will undoubtedly gain a victory, while the part of your army which you moved away from the enemy will remain undisturbed. The lines in this mode of battle are joined in the shape of a letter A or a mason's plummetlevel. If the enemy does this to you first, you should assemble on your left wing those cavalry and infantry we said should be placed behind the line as reserves, and then resist the adversary with maximum force to avoid defeat through tactics.
The third action is similar to the second, but inferior insofar as you begin by engaging his right from your left wing. For its attack is as it were maimed; the men fighting on the left wing are clearly in difficulties when attacking the enemy. I shall explain this more clearly. If you find that your left wing is far superior, reinforce it with your strongest cavalry and infantry, and in the encounter attach it first to the enemy right wing and make as much haste as you can to defeat and surround the right flank of the enemy. But the other part of your army, in which you know you have inferior warriors, remove as far as possible from the enemy left, so that it is not attacked with swords or reached by missiles. With this formation, care must be taken that your transverse line shall not be harmed by wedge-formations of the enemy. It will only be useful to fight in this mode in the case where your adversary has a weak right wing, and you have a far stronger left.
The fourth action is as follows._When you have ordered your line, at 400 or 500 paces before you reach the enemy, suddenly spur on both your wings when he is not expecting it, in order to turn the enemy to flight by catching him unprepared on both wings and win a quick victory. But although this type of battle may overcome quickly, provided you deploy highly experienced and brave men, it is nevertheless risky, because he who uses this formation is forced to denude the middle of his line and divide his army into two halves. Moreover if the enemy is not beaten at the first assault, he has opportunity to attack the divided wings and undefended middle line.
The fifth action is like the fourth, but with the sole refinement of placing the light armament and archers before the front line, so it
cannot be breached while they defend it. The general is then free to use his right wing to attack the enemy left and his left wing to attack the enemy right. If he can turn him to flight, he wins at once; if not, his middle line does not come under pressure, being defended by the light armament and archers.
The sixth action is the best, being very similar to the second. It is used by those generals who despair of the numbers and bravery of their men, and if they draw up their men well, they always win a victory even with fewer forces. For when the drawn line nears the enemy apply your right wing to the enemy left, and start the battle there using very reliable cavalry and very swift light infantry. Remove the remaining part of your army as far as possible from the enemy line, and extend it in a straight line like a spit. Once you begin cutting down the enemy left wing from the flank and rear, you will certainly put them to flight. But the enemy is prevented from assisting his men in trouble either from his right flank or from the middle of his line, because your line is extended and projects as a whole like a letter I, and recedes a very long distance from the enemy. This formation is often used in encounters on marches.
The seventh action aids the combatant by using the terrain. This also allows you to hold out against the enemy with fewer and less brave forces. For example, if you have on one side of you a mountain, sea, river, lake, city, marshes or broken country, so that the enemy cannot approach from that direction, draw up the main part of your army in a straight line, but on the side which does not have protection place all your cavalry and light infantry. You may then safely engage the enemy at your pleasure, because on one side the nature of the terrain protects you, and on the other there is roughly double cavalry posted. I
But note this_nothing better has been found: if you intend to fight with your right wing alone, place your strongest men there. If with your left, station the most effective there. If you wish to form "wedges" in the middle to breach the enemy lines, draw up your most experienced soldiers in the "wedge". Victory is usually due to a small number of men, provided picked men are posted by a highly skilled general in those positions which judgement and utility demand.
Most people ignorant of military matters believe the victory will be more complete if they surround the enemy in a confined place or with large numbers of soldiers, so they can find no way of escape. But trapped men draw extra courage from desperation, and when there is no hope, fear takes up arms. Men who know without a doubt that they are going to die will gladly die in company.
For this reason Scipio's axiom has won praise, when he said that a way should be built for the enemy to flee by. For when an escaperoute is revealed, the minds of all are united on turning their backs, and they are slaughtered unavenged, like sheep. Nor is there any danger for the pursuers once the defeated have turned round the arms with which they could have defended themselves. In this tactic, the greater the numbers, the more easily is a mass cut down. For there is no need of numbers in a case where the soldiers' minds, once terrified, wish to avoid not just the enemy's weapons but his face. Whereas trapped men, though few in number and weak in strength, for this very fact are a match for their enemies, because desperate men know they can have no
other recourse. "The only hope of safety for the defeated is to expect no safety."
. How to retreat from the enemy if the plan to fight is rejected.
Now that I have summarised everything that military science preserved from experience and theory, one matter remains for me to explain_how to retreat from the enemy. For those learned in the art of war and historical precedent affirm that nowhere is the threat of danger greater. The general who retreats from the line before the encounter both diminishes confidence among his own men and gives courage to the enemy. But since this must often happen, the means of safely achieving it need exposition.
First, your men should not know that you are retreating because you refuse to enter battle, but believe they are being called back as part of some strategy to attract the enemy onto more favourable ground and overcome him more easily, or at least to set up a concealed ambush for the enemy troops who follow. For men are ready to take flight if they feel that their general is in despair. The enemy must also be prevented from noticing your retreat and attacking at once. To this end many generals have placed their cavalry in front of the infantry, manoeuvring about so that the enemy might not see the infantry retiring. They then removed and called back each line piecemeal, beginning with the foremost, while the remainder stayed in their ranks. These were gradually pulled back later to join those removed first. I
Some would retire with the army by night along routes they had reconnoitred; when the enemy realised at dawn, they were unable to overtake those who had gone ahead. Again, the light armament were sent ahead to the hills to which the whole army was withdrawn suddenly, and if the enemy wished to pursue, they were routed by the light armament who had occupied the place beforehand, aided by the cavalry. For nothing is thought more perilous than for careless pursuers to be attacked by men Iying in ambush or who have prepared themselves in advance.
This is a time when ambushes may be opportunely set, because over-confidence and too little caution are used against fugitives. Necessarily, more freedom from fear generally brings with it graver danger. Attacks are usually made on those who are unready, whilst they are eating a meal, wearily marching, grazing their horses and suspecting nothing of the kind. This should be avoided by us and damage inflicted on the enemy on such occasions.
For neither bravery
nor numbers can assist those caught in such a case. He who is beaten in battle in a general engagement, though there too art is of very great advantage, can nevertheless in his defence accuse fortune; he who suffers sudden attack, ambushes or surprises cannot acquit himself of blame, because he could have avoided these things and discovered them beforehand through good scouts.!
On retreats the following stratagem is often used. A few cavalry pursue by the direct route, while a strong force is sent secretly through other localities. When the cavalry reach the enemy column, they skirmish lightly with them and depart. Their general thinks he has passed whatever ambush there had been and, freed from care, relaxes into incaution. Then the force sent by the secret route attacks and destroys them unexpectedly. Many generals retreating from the enemy, if they are to go through forests, send men ahead to occupy defiles and precipitous places, to avoid falling into ambush there. They also block roads behind them by felling trees, in what they call a concaedes, depriving the enemy of the facility to pursue.
Opportunities for ambush on the march are pretty well equally shared between both sides, for the man in front leaves traps behind him in suitable valleys and wooded mountains, and when the enemy falls into them returns himself to aid his own men. The pursuer for his part sends light troops far ahead by back paths and prevents the adversary up ahead from getting past, closing him in, trapped in front and behind. If the opposition sleep at night either the man in front can double back, or the pursuer can attack by surprise, although there is a distance between them. At the crossing of rivers let the party in front try to rout the division that crosses first, while the rest are still separated by the river-bed, or let the pursuer arrive by
forced marches to discomfit those who have not yet been able to cross.s
. On camels and armoured cavalry.
Some nations in ancient times led forth camels into battle, and the Urcilliani in Africa and the other Mazices lead them forth even today. It is a type of animal well- adapted to sands and enduring thirst, and is said to keep straight to roads without error even when they are obscured by dust in the wind. However, apart from its novelty when it is seen by those not used to it, it is ineffective in battle.
Armoured cavalry are safe from being wounded on account of the armour they wear, but because they are hampered by the weight of their arms are easily taken prisoner
and often vulnerable to lassos. They are better in battle against loose-order infantry than against cavalry, but posted in front of legionaries or mixed with legionaries they often break the enemy line when it comes to comminus, that is, hand-to-hand, fighting.
. How scythed chariots and elephants may be resisted in battle.
Scythed chariots were used in battle by Icing Antiochus and Mithridates. Although at first they caused much alarm, they soon became a laughing-stock. For it is difficult for a scythed chariot to find ground that is constantly flat, and it is hindered by a slight impediment and captured if a single horse is stricken or wounded. But most of all they fell victim to the following tactic of the Roman soldiers._When they came to baule, the Romans suddenly threw caltrops over the whole field. The speeding chariots were destroyed as they encountered them. A caltrop is a defensive weapon made from four spikes, and whichever way you throw it, it stands on three spikes and is armed by the fourth which stands erect.
Elephants in battle cause men and horses to panic because of the size of their bodies, the horror of their trumpeting and the novelty of dheir very form. King Pyrrhus in Lucania was the first to use them against the Roman army, and later Hannibal in Africa, king
Antiochus in the Orient, and Jugurtha in Numidia had them in large numbers. Various methods of resistance have been worlced out against them._
A centurion in Lucania cut off the hand of one with his sword,_ what they call the proboscis. Pairs of cataphract horses were harnessed to a chariot; mounted on them were cataphract cavalrymen who aimed sarisae, that is, very long pikes, at the elephants. Being protected by iron they were not harmed by the archers carried by the beasts, and avoided their charges by the speed of their horses. Others sent against elephants cataphract infantrymen; on their arms, helmets and shoulders huge iron spikes were set, so that the elephant could not use its trunk to catch hold of the soldier coming against him. But especially the ancients deployed velites against elephants. Velites were young men lightly armed and swift-bodied, who sent spears with marvellous skill from horseback. While the horses ran past, they killed the beasts with broad lances and large javelins. Later, as courage increased, numbers of infantry in close fonnation together cast pila, that is, javelins, into the elephants and brought them down with wounds. Another method was for slingers with ''sling- staves" and slings to shoot round stones at the Indians controlling the elephants, knock them off, turrets and all, and slay them; no safer method has been found than this. Also, as the beasts charged, the soldiers yielded ground to them as if they had broken into the line. When they reached the midst of the formation, they were surrounded on all sides
by massed groups of soldiers and captured with their masters, intact and free from wounds. It is advisable to post behind the line carriageballistas of a somewhat larger model_these shoot bolts farther and with greater force mounted on cars with pairs of horses or mules, and when the beasts come within the weapon's range they are pierced by ballista-bolts. A broader and stronger iron head is fitted so as to make larger wounds in large bodies. Against elephants we have listed several examples and devices, so that if the need ever arise it may be known what should be deployed against such monstrous beasts.
. What to do, if part or if all of the army is routed.
Note that if part of the army is victorious and part is routed, one should be hopeful, because in a crisis of this type the steadfastness of the general can reclaim the whole victory for himself. This has happened in countless battles, and those who have despaired the least have been taken for the winners. Where their situations are similar, he is judged the stronger who is not dismayed by his adversities. Let him be first, therefore, to take spoils from the enemy slain_as (the soldiers) themselves say, "collect the field". Let him be seen to be first to celebrate with shouts and bugles. By this show of confidence he will terrify the enemy and double the confidence of his own men, as if he had come off victor in every part of the field.
But if for some reason the whole army be routed in battle, the disaster can be mortal; yet the chance to recover has existed for many, and a remedy should be sought. Let the provident general therefore engage in pitched battle only if he has taken precaution that, should some adversity occur owing to the variability of wars and the human condition, he may still get the defeated away without great loss. For if there are hills nearby, if there are fortifications to the rear, or if the bravest troops resist while the rest retreat, they will save themselves and their comrades. Often a previously routed army has recovered its strength and destroyed those in loose order and pursuing at random.
Never does greater danger more frequently arise for the side that is celebrating, than when over-confidence is suddenly turned to panic.
But in any event survivors should be collected up, stiffened for war by means of appropriate exhortations and restored with new arms. Then new levies of legionaries and new auxilia should be sought and, what is more important, opportunities to attack the victors themselves through concealed ambushes should be exploited, and morale regained in this way. There is no lack of opportunity, since human minds are carried away by success to become more arrogant and careless. If anyone shall think this his last chance, let him reflect that the results of all battles in the early stages (of a war) have been more against those destined to ultimate victory.
. General rules of war.
In all battles the terms of campaign are such that what benefits you harms the enemy, and what helps him always hinders you. Therefore we ought never to do or omit to do anything at his bidding, but carry out only that which we judge useful to ourselves. For you begin to be against yourself if you copy what he has done in his own interest, and likewise whateva you attempt for your side will be against him if he choose to imitate it.
In war, he who spends more time watching in outposts and puts more effort into training soldiers, will be less subject to danger.
A soldier should never be led into battle unless you have made trial of him first
It is preferable to subdue an enemy by famine, raids and terror, than in battle where forlune tends to have more influence than bravery.
No plans are better than those you carry out without the enemy's knowledge in
Opportunity in war is usually of greater value than bravery.
Soliciting and taking in enemy soldiers, if they come in good faith, is greatly to be relied on, because desertions harm the enemy more than casualties.
It is preferable to keep additional reserves behind the line than to spread the soldiers too widely.
It is difficult to beat someone who can form a true estimate of his own and the enemy's forces.
Bravery is of more value than numbers.
Terrain is often of more value than bravery.
Few men are born naturally brave; hard work and good training makes many so.
An army is improved by work, enfeebled by inactivity.
Never lead forth a soldier to a general engagement except when you see that he expects victory.
Surprises alarm the enemy, familiarity breeds contempt.
He who pursues rashly with his forces scattered is willing to give the adversary the victory he had himself obtained.
He who does not prepare ground supplies and provisions is conquered without a blow.
He who has the advantage of numbers and bravery, let him do battle with a rectangular front, which is the first mode.
He who judges himself unequal, let him rout the left wing of the enemy with his right, which is the second mode.
He who knows he has a very strong left wing, let him attack the right wing of the enemy, which is the third mode.
He who has very experienced soldiers should begin battle on both wings together, which is the fourth mode.
He who commands an excellent light armament, let him attack both wings of the enemy after posting the light troops before the line which is the fifth mode.
He who has confidence neither in the numbers of his soldiers nor their bravery and is to fight a pitched battle, let him repel the left wing of the enemy with his right having extended the rest of his men in the form of a spit; which is the sixth mode.
He who knows he has fewer and inferior forces, in the seventh mode let him have on one flank a mountain, city, sea, or river, or some (other) support.
He who has confidence in his cavalry should find places more suited to horsemen and carry on battle more by means of cavalry.
He who has confidence in the infantry forces should find places more suited to infantry and carry on battle more through infantry.
When an enemy spy is wandering secretly in camp, let all personnel be ordered to their tents in daylight, and the spy is immediately caught.
When you discover that your plan has been betrayed to the enemy, you are advised to change your dispositions.
Discuss with many what you should do, but what you are going to do discuss with as few and as trustworthy as possible, or rather with yourself alone.
Soldiers are corrected by fear and punishment in camp, on campaign hope and rewards make them behave better.
Good generals never engage in a general engagement except when opportunity offers, or under great necessity.
A great strategy is to press the enemy more with famine than with the sword.
The mode in which you are going to give battle should not become known to the enemy, lest they make moves to resist with army countermeasures.
On cavalry there are many precepts, but since this branch of the military has progressed in its training practices, type of armour and breed of horses, I do not think there is anything to be gained from books, for the present state of knowledge is sufficient.
I have set out, Invincible Emperor, the principles which the noblest authors handed down to posterity as having won the approval of different ages in the test of experience. To your skill at archery which the Persian admires in Your Serenity, to the skill and grace of your horsemanship which the nation of the Huns and Alans would like to imitate if it could, to your speed in the charge which the Saracen and Indian cannot match, to your expertise in armatura even part of whose routines the drillmasters are delighted to have understood,_ may now be joined a Rule-book of Battle, or rather an Art of Victory, in order that by the courage as by the organization of your glorious State, you may manifest your role of both Commander-in-chief (Emperor) and Soldier.