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29 October 2017


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David Habbakuk

We should be careful not to imply that there is anything simple about Clausewitz' thinking. "Every combat is therefore the bloody and destructive measuring of the strength of forces, physical and moral; whoever at the close has the greatest amount of both left is the conqueror.

In the combat the loss of moral force is the chief cause of the decision; after that is given, this loss continues to increase until it reaches its culminating-point at the close of the whole act. This then is the opportunity the victor should seize to reap his harvest by the utmost possible restrictions of his enemy's forces, the real object of engaging in the combat. On the beaten side, the loss of all order and control often makes the prolongation of resistance by individual units, by the further punishment they are certain to suffer, more injurious than useful to the whole. The spirit of the mass is broken; the original excitement about losing or winning, through which danger was forgotten, is spent, and to the majority danger now appears no longer an appeal to their courage, but rather the endurance of a cruel punishment. Thus the instrument in the first moment of the enemy's victory is weakened and blunted, and therefore no longer fit to repay danger by danger." This appears in the section on Combat itself in Book Four of Vom Kriege. It is true that he did write that "The defensive is the stronger form of combat but the offensive is more decisive." pl

Pacifica Advocate

If it were useless I'm sure you would have cast it aside, by now.

Pacifica Advocate

>>>In the combat the loss of moral force is the chief cause of the decision....

Do you sincerely believe this, Colonel?

"Moral force" carries a distinctly different meaning, to me, than "the capacity to overpower and kill a foe."


Pacifica Advocate

Yes, I sincerely believe that. when the enemy decides he is beaten then he is beaten. pl



I do it for the money. pl


You certainly don't but some among those who give you orders are surely moved by "economic determinism".



Oh bullshit! You sit in Africa and spout leftist nonsense to me bout things you have no knowledge of.


Losing Richmond would have spelt the end of the war given its political (importantly for foreign intervention) and industrial significance so not quite, even though a more determined attempt should have been made to reverse the course of the war in the west whilst it was still possible, Longstreet was right about that.

That said the Confederate Armies out west were plagued with such poor leadership that by the time some of the more talented commanders emerged it was too late, maybe it was too late even before Shiloh. I like a fair fight and given the disparity in leadership, manpower and arms it was never a fair fight.


DH -

Thanks for the link to Walsh's thesis on Marshal Rokossovsky. So far I've only dug into the Abstract and the Introduction. 500 pages is a bit daunting but I look forward to reading on Rokossovky's early career and the later chapters on his operational style.

Walsh & Cranfield U should turn this thesis into a book. Speaking of which I checked out S M Walsh on several online bookstores and see he previously authored a book on Stalingrad. He has also co-authored several of the Osprey Publishing military histories. If it is the same Walsh that is.


LK -

I agree on Nimitz. He never had the PR savvy of many of the other 'key' leaders, so never got the same acclaim.

Have you read E. B. Potter's biography of Nimitz?



After long consideration I decided that the South lost not because of poor leadership, a lack of materiel or anything else except a shortage of white military age manpower. This can be seen in the Overland and Atlanta campaigns of 1864. In both Grant and Sherman commanded forces so much larger than those of their opponents that they could fix those enemy forces in place while marching large forces around them onto their LOC. They did it repeatedly on both fronts. AND at the end they easily made up their casualty losses. The Confederates could not do that. Instead Wilson's cavalry army was sent on a rampage through Alabama and Mississippi. pl

Larry Kart

Yes, I've read Potter on Nimitz. I'm also an admirer of Thomas Buell's biography of Spruance.

Babak Makkinejad

The North could always count on immigrants.


LK -

Thanks! I checked my local library, but alas they don't have a copy. But I added it to my list that I doublecheck when I prowl the used bookstores for bargains. I always thought that Nimitz and Spruance were the critical leaders that led to victory in the Pacific War.


When I say poor leadership I refer to in the West, in the East the Confederacy was really blessed with a whole cadre of outstanding leaders at all levels. Maybe if A Johnston, I think he would have proven capable, had competent subordinates they wouldn't have suffered the early catastrophic losses that meant Nashville was lost and the war in the West weren't fought in the upper south, as it needed to be.



One of my uncles was a top turret gunner in the 413th bomb squadron. His plane was shot down on October 9th, 1943. All aboard were lost. They are listed on the wall at Cambridge.

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