Quotes #16: To the Victor Goes Wisdom: Famous Quotes on the Military
To the Victor Goes the Spoils
In all my many military incarnations,
my most satisfying victories were those where the odds were the
most stacked against me. By that I mean where I was
severely outnumbered, was terribly lacking in supplies,
was outclassed by superior technology, or was caught in a
situation that seemed "utterly desperate and
hopeless" to others (but not to me).
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Military:
Fortune Favors the Bold: Attack, Attack, and Attack
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"Let Everything Be Your Signature" - Being God's Soldier
"Fortune favors the brave."
"It is fatal to enter a war without
the will to win it."
"A bold general may be lucky,
but no general can be lucky unless he is bold."
"Audacity, audacity, always audacity."
"Don't say it's impossible!
Turn your command over to the next officer. If he can't do
it, I'll find someone who can, even if I have to take him
from the ranks!"
"Hard pressed on my right; my
left is in retreat. My center is yielding. Impossible to maneuver.
Situation excellent. I am attacking. Attaquez!"
"It is not the critic who counts;
not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, or where
the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belong to
the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by
dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs
and comes short again and again. Who knows the great
enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a
worthy cause. Who at the best knows in the end the
triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he
fails, at least fails while daring greatly. So that his
place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who
know neither victory nor defeat."
"In peace nothing so becomes
a man as modest stillness and humility; but when the blast
of war blows in our ears, then imitate the action of the
tiger; stiffen the sinews, disguise fair nature with hard
favour'd rage. . ."
"I have not yet begun to fight."
"When war does come, my advice is
to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard."
"If the enemy is to be coerced,
you must put him in a situation that is even more unpleasant
than the sacrifice you call on him to make. The hardships of
the situation must not be merely transient - at least not in
appearance. Otherwise, the enemy would not give in, but
would wait for things to improve."
"Cowards die many times before
"Courage is like love: it must
have hope for nourishment."
"The courage of a soldier is
heightened by his need to protect his fellow soldiers."
"Courage, an independent
spark from heaven's bright throne, By which the soul
stands raised, triumphant, high, alone."
"Sure I am this day we are
masters of our fate, that the task which has been set before
us is not above our strength; that its pangs and toils are
not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our own
cause and an unconquerable will to win, victory will not be
"Who Dares, Wins. Who Sweats,
Wins. Who Plans, Wins."
"Uncommon valor was a common virtue."
"In war, you win or lose, live or die -
and the difference is an eyelash."
"The characteristic of a
genuine heroism is its persistency. All men have wandering
impulses, fits and starts of generosity. But when you have
resolved to be great, abide by yourself, and do not weakly
try to reconcile yourself with the world. The heroic cannot
be common, nor the common heroic."
"We shall not flag or fail.
We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France. We
shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with
growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island,
whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches.
We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in
the fields and in the streets. We shall fight in the hills.
We shall never surrender."
"I only regret that I have but one
life to lose for my country."
"Human life is the only thing that
takes care of itself."
"When cities burn and armies
turn and flee in disarray, cowards will cry: 'Tis best to fly,
and fight another day'. But warriors know in their marrow, When
they die and fall, 'tis best to have fought and lost than
not to have fought at all.'"
"Yea, though I walk through
the 'Valley of the Shadow of Death'. I shall fear no evil.
For it is I, that is the evilest bastard in the valley. My
gun and my bayonet, they comfort me. I fear no one, I let
them fear me. My fighting spirit runneth over!"
"I am become death, the destroyer
"Never forget that a corpse
never cares how it got to be so cold. Commanders should
always keep in mind that they wage war through a wall of
human blood, sweat, and tears whose pain they can never
truly feel and whose loss they can never truly know. For
they are become death: they are the destroyer of worlds."
"War: that mad game the world
so loves to play."
"The most persistent sound which
reverberates through man's history is the beating of war drums."
"Magnificent! Compared to war all
other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. Gold help
me, I do love it so!"
"It is well that war is so terrible,
else we should grow too fond of it."
"There's many a boy here today who
looks on war as all glory but it is all hell."
"If you want to know the taste
of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself...
If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you
must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge
originates in direct experience."
"Therefore I say: know the
enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will
never be in peril. When you are ignorant of the enemy but know
yourself, your chances of winning or losing are equal. If
ignorant both of your enemy and of yourself, you are
certain in every battle to be in peril."
"When we assumed the Soldier, we
did not lay aside the Citizen."
"On becoming soldiers we have not ceased
to be citizens."
"I make war on the living,
not the dead."
""It's Tommy this,
and Tommy that, And chuck him out the brute,
"The nation which forgets its defenders
will be itself forgotten."
"Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the
dogs of War."
"I can always make it a rule to get
there first with the most men."
"For a lone soldier on the battle field,
skill increases the odds of living over dying."
"In war there is but one favorable
moment; the great art is to seize it!"
"A pint of sweat will save a
gallon of blood."
"I yield to no man in sympathy for
the gallant men under my command; but I am obliged to sweat them
tonight, so that I may save their blood tomorrow."
"A good plan executed today is
better than a perfect plan executed at some indefinite point
in the future."
"Let your plans be dark and as
impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a
"I wish to have no connection with
any ship that does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's way."
"If you're not gonna pull the
trigger, don't point the gun."
"There is only one tactical principle
which is not subject to change. It is to use the means at hand to
inflict the maximum amount of wound, death, and destruction on the
enemy in the minimum amount of time."
"God is not on the side of the big
battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."(which
Napoleon summarized as "God is on the side with the best
"Once you get them running, you
stay right on top of them, and that way a small force can defeat
a large one every time... Only thus can a weaker country cope
with a stronger; it must make up in activity what it lacks in
"Strength lies not in defense
but in attack."
"The most certain way of insuring
victory is to march briskly and in good order against the enemy,
always endeavoring to gain ground."
"Go forward until the last round is
fired and the last drop of gas is expended...then go forward on
"Follow me if I advance! Kill me if
I retreat! Revenge me if I die!"
"There is nothing inevitable
about military victory, even for forces of apparently overwhelming
strength. The Greeks at Marathon, Alexander against the
Persian Empire, the success of the colonists against the
British in the American Revolution, Napoleon over the
Austrians in Italy... all offer dramatic evidence to the
contrary. In the absence of inspired military
leadership... the more powerful side wears down the
weaker." (In the presence of such genius and backed
by inspired troops, there is no limit to the military
miracles that are possible -EM)
"Kill one, terrify a thousand."
"No bastard ever won a war by dying for his
country. You win the war, by making the other poor dumb
bastard die for his country!"
"The General Order is always:
"The art of using troops is this:
"Once we have a war there is only
one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things
than any that can ever happen in war."
"Never give in - never, never, never, never, in
nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in
except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never
yield to force; never yield to the apparently
overwhelming might of the enemy."
"It is not big armies that win battles,
it is the good ones!"
"Everything which the enemy least
expects will succeed the best."
"Stonewall Jackson would rather lose one man
to hard marching, than lose five men to hard battle. Perspiration saves
"He who gets there the fastest with
the mostest wins."
"Hard pounding, gentlemen. Let's see
who pounds the longest."
"It is from numberless diverse
acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each
time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the
lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends
forth a tiny ripple of hope. That ripple builds others.
Those ripples - crossing each other from a million
different centers of energy - build a current that can
sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and
"I don't know what effect these men will have
upon the enemy,
"Who could not conquer with such
troops as these?"
"Britons once did loyally declaim, About the way we ruled the waves.
"It really ain't the place nor time to reel
off rhyming diction, but yet we'll write a final rhyme while waiting
crucifixion. For we bequeath a parting tip of sound advice for such
men who come in transport ships to polish off the Dutchman. If you
encounter any Boers, you really must not loot 'em, and if you wish to
leave these shores, for pity's sake, don't shoot 'em. Let's toss a
bumper down our throat before we pass to Heaven, and toast a trim-set
petticoat we leave behind in Devon."
"The fact of the matter is that war changes
men's natures. The barbarities of war are seldom committed by abnormal
men. The tragedy of war is that these horrors are committed by
normal men in abnormal situations. Situations in which the
ebb and flow of everyday life have departed and have been
replaced by a constant round of fear and anger, blood and death."
"When I was sixteen I won a great victory. I
felt in that moment that I should live to be one hundred, now I know I
shall not see thirty... A king may move a man, a father may claim a son.
But remember that, even when those who move you be kings or men of power,
your soul is in your keeping alone. When you stand before God you cannot
say "but I was told by others to do thus" or that "virtue was not
convenient at the time". This will not suffice. Remember that."
"We who are born into the human race are elected
to an extraordinary role in the scheme of things: we are endowed with reason
and therefore are personally responsible for our acts... One may give over
to officials in many things but not one's immortal soul... No one has
authority over the soul of another."
"It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has
given us freedom of the press.
"People sleep peaceably in their
beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence
on their behalf."
"Soldiers have many faults, but
they have one redeeming merit; they are never worshippers of
force. Soldiers more than any other men are taught severely and
systematically that might is not right. The fact is
obvious. The might is in the hundred men who obey. The
right... is in the one man who commands them."
"We few, we happy few, we
band of brothers. For he today that sheds his blood with me,
Shall be my brother; be ne'er so vile, This day shall gentle his
condition. And gentlemen in England now abed, Shall think
themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their
manhoods cheap whiles any speaks, That fought with us
upon Saint Crispin's day."
"When you put on a uniform there
are certain inhibitions that you accept."
"The most important qualification of a
soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only
second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school
for a soldier."
"Never in the face of human conflict has
so much been owed by so many to so few."
"Lo Que Sea, Cuando Sea, Donde Sea."
(Anything, Anytime, Anywhere.)
"In war there is no substitute
"To command is to serve, nothing
more and nothing less."
"Be an example to your men, in
your duty and in private life. Never spare yourself, and let
the troops see that you don't in your endurance of fatigue and
privation. Always be tactful and well-mannered and teach
your subordinates to do the same. Avoid excessive
sharpness or harshness of voice, which usually indicates
the man who has shortcomings of his own to hide."
"No man is fit to command
another that cannot command himself."
"There are certain things in war
of which the commander alone comprehends the importance. Nothing
but his superior firmness and ability can subdue and surmount
"Battles are won by slaughter and
maneuver. The greater the general, the more he contributes in
maneuver, the less he demands in slaughter."
"I do not fear an army of lions,
if they are led by a lamb. "I do fear an army of sheep,
if they are led by a lion."
"I had rather have a plain, russet-coated
Captain, that knows what he fights for, and loves what he
knows, than that you call a Gentle-man and is nothing
"A leader is a man who had the
ability to get other people to do what they don't want to do,
and like it."
"I don't mind being called tough,
since I find in this racket it's the tough guys who lead the
"There is no type of human endeavor
where it is so important that the leader understands all phases of
his job as that of the profession of arms."
"Discipline is simply the art of making the
soldiers fear their officers more than the enemy."
"War is a matter of vital importance
to the State; the province of life or death; the road to
survival or ruin. It is mandatory that it be throughly
studied." (especially by those who would lead others
to their death -EM)
"Never give up, never surrender."
"Freedom is never free."
"These things we do that others may live."
"De oppresso liber." (To free the
"The human race is in the best condition
when it has the greatest degree of liberty."
"Let every nation know, whether
it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden,
meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to
assure the survival and success of liberty."
"I am not bound to win, but I am
bound to be true. I am not bound to succeed, but I am bound to live
by the light that I have. I must stand with anybody that
stands right, stand with him while he is right, and part
with him when he goes wrong."
"These are the times that try
men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will,
in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but
he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man
and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered;
yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the
conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain
too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only
that gives everything its value."
"War is an ugly thing but not
the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral
and patriotic feelings which thinks that nothing is worth war
is much worse. A man who has nothing for which he is
willing to fight, nothing which is more important than
his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has
no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the
exertions of better men than himself."
"If a man hasn't discovered something that he
will die for, he isn't fit to live."
"No man is worth his salt who is not ready at all
times to risk his body, to risk his well being, to risk
his life, in a great cause."
"Ask not what your country can do for you;
"We shall meanly lose or nobly save the last hope
"We make war that we may live in peace."
"Let him who desires peace prepare for war."
"Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind
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