The following are memorable and useful quotations by soldiers through the ages, along with a little poetry...:😉
‘They will talk of his glory
Under the thatch, for a long time.
For fifty years, the humble cottage
Will know no other story.’
-Jean de Beranger
‘There was an eye to see in this man,and a soul to dare and do.
He rose naturally to be King.
All men saw that he was such.
‘He either fears his fate too much,or his deserts are small,
that puts it not unto the touch,
to win or lose it all.
-James Graham, Marquise of Montrose
‘Cowards may fear to die; but courage stout,Rather than live in snuff, will be put out.’
-Sir Walter Raleigh
The backbone of the Army is the noncommissioned man.’-Rudyard Kipling
‘A mysterious fraternity born out of smoke and danger of death.’-Stephen Crane
‘Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot,But he’ll remember with advantages
What feats he did that day…’
‘Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.’
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson
‘The most essential quality of a general is firmness of character and the resolution to conquer at any price.”Activite, Activite, Vitesse!’-Napoleon
‘War is composed of nothing but accidents…there is but one favorable moment, the great art is to seize it.’-Napoleon
‘Gentlemen:Whilst marching to Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with you request which has been sent to HM ship from London to Lisbon and then by dispatch rider to our headquarters.
We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents, and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty’s government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg you indulgence.
Unfortunately, the sum of one shilling and ninepence remains unaccounted for in one infantry battalion’s petty cash and there has been a hideous confusion as to the number of jars of raspberry jam issued to one cavalry regiment during a sandstorm in western Spain. This reprehensive carelessness may be related to the pressure of circumstances since we are at war with France, a fact which may have come as a bit of a surprise to you gentlemen in Whitehall.
This brings me to my present purpose, which is to request elucidation of my instructions from His Majesty’s Government, so that I may better understand why I am dragging an army over these barren plains. I construe that perforce it must be one of two alternative duties, as given below. I shall pursue one with the best of my ability but I cannot do both.
1. To train an army of uniformed British clerks in Spain for the benefit of the accountants and copy-boys in London, or perchance
2. To see to it that the forces of Napoleon are driven out of Spain.
Your most obedient servant,
‘The Grande Armée fought hard, seldom cheered, and always bitched.’
‘Here I am sitting at al comfortable table loaded heavily with books, with one eye on my typewriter and the other on Licorice the cat, who has a great fondness for carbon paper, and I am telling you that the Emperor Napoleon was a most contemptible person. But should I happen to look out of the window, down on Seventh Avenue, and should the endless procession of trucks and carts come to a sudden halt, and should I hear the sound of the heavy drums and see the little man on his white horse, in his old and much worn green uniform, then I don’t know, but I am afraid that I would leave my books and the kitten and my home and everything else to follow him wherever he cared to lead. My own grandfather did this and Heaven knows he was not born to be a soldier.’
-Hendrik Willem van Loon
‘But when the Tsar of all the Russias, the commander-in-chief of three million horse-guards, foot-guards, life-guards, and Cossacks, begins to talk sweetly of brotherly love, it is time for decent people to look to their guns.’
-Hendrik Willem van Loon
‘A man is not a soldier until he is no longer homesick, until he considers his regiment’s colors as he would his village steeple; until he loves his colors, and is ready to put hand to sword every time the honor of the regiment is attacked.’
‘Never forget that no military leader has ever become great without audacity.’
‘I speak harshly to no one, but I will have your head off the instant you refuse to obey me.’
‘Pay well, command well, hang well.’
-Sir Ralph Hopton
‘Many good generals exist in Europe, but they see too many things at once; I see but one thing, and that is the masses; I seek to destroy them, sure that the minor matters will fall of themselves.’-Napoleon
‘An army of lions commanded by a deer will never be an army of lions.’-Napoleon
‘There’s a man for you! He is forced to flee from an army that he dares not fight, but he puts eighty leagues of devastation between himself and his pursuers. He slows down the march of the pursuing army, he weakens it by all kinds of privation-he knows how to ruin it without fighting it. In all of Europe, only Wellington and I are capable of carrying out such measures. But there is a difference between him and myself: In France…I would be criticized, whereas England will praise him.’-Napoleon remarking on Wellington's withdrawal before Massena in 1810, and devastating the Portuguese countryside.
‘Nothing in war is more important than unity of command. Thus when war is waged against a single power there must be but one army, acting on one line and led by one chief…Better one bad general than two good ones.’-Napoleon's reply to the Directory when they 'suggested' that he share the command with Kellermann.
‘But all that…he will learn will be of little use to him if he does not have the sacred fire in the depths of his heart, thus driving ambition which alone can enable one to perform great deeds.’-Napoleon
‘You must be a soldier, and then a soldier, and again a soldier; bivouac with your advance guard, be in the saddle night and day, march with your advance guard to have the latest information, or else stay in your harem. You make war like a satrap. Good God, is it from me that you have learned that? From me who, with an army of 200,000 men, am at the head of my skirmishers?
-Napoleon to his brother Jerome.
‘The ideal army would be the one in which every officer would know what he ought to do in every contingency; the best possible army is the one that comes closest to this. I give myself only half the credit for the battles I have won, and a general gets enough credit when he is named at all, for the fact is that a battle is won by the army.’-Napoleon
‘The conduct of a general in a conquered country is full of difficulties. If severe, he irritates and increases the number of his enemies. If lenient, he gives birth to expectations which only render the abuses and vexations inseparable from the war the more intolerable. A victorious general must know how to employ severity, justice, and mildness by turns, if he would allay sedition, or prevent it.’-Napoleon
‘Friends, I promise you this conquest; but there is one condition you must swear to fulfill-to respect the people whom you liberate, to repress the horrible pillaging committed by scoundrels incited by our enemies. Otherwise you would not be the liberators of the people; you would be their scourge…Plunderers will be shot without mercy; already, several have been…’-Napoleon to the Armee d’Italie in 1796.
‘If you wage war, do it energetically and with severity. This is the only way to make it shorter, and consequently less inhuman.’-Napoleon
‘Sentiment rules the world, and he who fails to take that into account can never hope to lead.’-Napoleon
‘A general’s principle talent consists in knowing the mentality of the soldier and in winning his confidence. And, in these two respects, the French soldier is more difficult to lead than any other. He is not a machine to be put in motion but a reasonable being that must be directed.’-Napoleon
‘A leader is a dealer in hope.’-Napoleon
‘A general in the power of the enemy has no orders to give. Whoever obeys him is a criminal.’-Napoleon, after finding out of Dupont's disgraceful conduct at Baylen, 1808.
‘When ignorance has gotten ten men killed where it should have cost two, is it not responsible for the blood of the other eight?’-Napoleon
‘A people who have been brought up on victories often do not know how to accept defeat.’-Napoleon
‘Pay attention to the sick and wounded. Sacrifice your baggage, everything for them. Let the wagons be devoted to their use, and if necessary your own saddles…’-Napoleon
‘Force is only justifiable in extremes; when we have the upper hand, justice is preferable.’-Napoleon
‘Nothing will disorganize an army more or ruin it more completely than pillage.’-Napoleon
‘The good condition of my armies comes from the fact that I devote an hour or two every day to them, and when I am sent the returns of my troops and my ships each month, which fills twenty large volumes, I set every other occupation aside to read them in detail in order to discern the difference that exists from one month to another. I take greater pleasure in this than a young lady would get from reading a novel.’-Napoleon
‘The art of war is like everything else that is beautiful and simple. The simplest moves are the best.’-Napoleon
‘In the career of glory one gains many things; the gout and medals, a pension and rheumatism…And also frozen feet, an arm or leg the less, a bullet lodged between two bones which the surgeon cannot extract…All of those bivouacs in the rain and snow, all the privations, all those fatigues experienced in your youth, you pay for when you grow old. Because one has suffered in years gone by, it is necessary to suffer more, which does not seem exactly fair.’-Elzéar Blaze
‘[Conscription] is an ineluctable consequence of political equality. If you demand equality, then accept the consequences.’-Daru
‘The crash of the Imperial drums, beating with the harsh unity that stamped them as the voices of veterans in war, woke me from my reverie and made my heart throb with their stony rattle. Never did I hear such drums and never shall again: there were years of battle and blood in every sound.’
‘Providence and courage never abandon the good soldier…Never punished, always present at roll call, indefatigable in all the marches and countermarches; I took whatever came without complaint.’
‘Order, counterorder, disorder.’
-French Military Proverb
‘More dreadful looking fellows than Napoleon’s guard I had never seen. They had the look of thoroughbred, veteran, disciplined banditti. Depravity, recklessness, and bloodthirstiness were burned into their faces…Black mustachios, gigantic bearskins, and a ferocious expression were their characteristics.’
At Tilsit, in a review for the the sovereigns, Tsar Alexander, while viewing the Old Guard pass in review, asked Marshal Ney where were the men who had given the Guardsmen such terrible scars. Ney's reply was blunt and succinct: ‘Sire, they are all dead.’
At the same review, Drum Major Senot of the Grenadiers a pied remarked to his drummers when passing by Frederick William of Prussia, ‘Don’t beat so loud, he’s only a king.’