The Military Genius of Abraham Lincoln: An Essay

By Colin R. Ballard | Go to book overview
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I
AN UNCONVENTIONAL STRATEGIST

THERE is a legend of the East which tells of three men -- a carpenter, a tailor, and a holy man -- who journeyed together. While they rested from the noonday heat beneath a spreading tree the carpenter pulled out his knife and cut down a branch which he fashioned roughly into the form of a woman; the tailor then unrolled his pack and stitched fragments of cloth into a garment for the figure; the holy man breathed upon it and it came to life. Each of the men thereupon claimed possession, declaring that his share of the work had been the most important; the carpenter pointed out that but for him the lady would have had no existence at all; the tailor urged that an ugly woman is worse than none, and that it was only his art which had made her existence worth having; while the holy man made the obvious remarks about the superiority of mind over matter.

The formation of an army may be roughly divided into three similar stages. The recruiting office plays the part of the carpenter and provides the raw material to fill the ranks. The tailor's part is taken by various departments who supply clothing, equipment, arms, and ammunition. The Commander and his General Staff infuse the life, which comprises discipline, training, morale, and strategy and tactics.

In bygone days sheer numbers very often decided a battle. As firearms improved they outweighed numbers; a small well-armed force can defeat a horde of savages. When opposing forces are anything like equal in numbers and armament the issue is decided

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