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
Pages on this Site Related to the Military:
"Let Everything Be Your Signature" - Being God's Soldier
"Fortune favors the brave."
"It is fatal to enter a war without the will to
"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
"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 their deaths;
"Courage is like love: it must have hope for
"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 denied
"Who Dares, Wins. Who Sweats, Wins. Who Plans,
"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
"I only regret that I have but one life to lose
for my country."
"Human life is the only thing that takes care of
"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 of
"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
"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
"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
"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
"Cry 'Havoc' and let slip the dogs of War."
"I can always make it a rule to get there first
with the most men."
"In war there is but one favorable moment; the
great art is to seize it!"
"A pint of sweat will save a gallon of
"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
"Let your plans be dark and as impenetrable as
night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt."
"I wish to have no connection with any ship that
does not sail fast, for I intend to go in harm's
"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
"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
"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."
"Strength lies not in defense but in
"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
"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 blood!"
"He who gets there the fastest with the mostest
"Hard pounding, gentlemen. Let's see who pounds
"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
"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
"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 for victory."
"To command is to serve, nothing more and nothing
"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
"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
"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."
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