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Frederick II ("the Great") of Prussia, "General Principles of War," 134-Page Manuscript in French (1748), issued as Confidential Instructions to his Generals in 1753 (1748/1753)

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The things that can be embarked upon with such well-disciplined troops! Order has become the habit of the entire army. Punctuality has come so far among officers and the troops that everyone is ready half an hour before the appointed time. From the officer down to the last common soldier, no one talks, but all act, and the command of the general is promptly followed. Thus, if he only knows how to command properly, he can be assured that his commands will be followed. Our troops are so agile and flexible that they can draw up in battle formation in no time. Given the speed of their movements, they can almost never be attacked by the enemy. Do you want to engage in a firefight: what troops fire as rapidly as the Prussian ones? The enemies say one is standing before the maw of hell if one faces our infantry. Is it necessary to attack with the bayonet: which infantry advances on the enemy better than they, with a firmer step and without wavering? Where does one find more poise in the greatest dangers? Do you have to swivel to attack the enemy’s flank? Then it is accomplished within the blink of an eye and without the least effort.

In a country in which the military estate is the noblest one, where the flower of the nobility serves in the army, where all officers are people of standing, and where native sons, namely the sons of burghers and peasants, are soldiers, a feeling of honor must necessarily prevail among the troops. And it prevails to a high degree. I myself have seen that officers would rather be killed in action than yield. Neither officers nor soldiers will tolerate among themselves people who exhibit weaknesses that would not be cause for reprimand in other armies. I have seen badly wounded officers and soldiers who would not leave their posts or withdraw to get themselves bandaged up.

With such troops one could conquer the whole world, were the victories not as pernicious to them as to their enemies. For one can undertake everything with them, if one only has enough food. If you march, you can preempt the enemies through speed. If you attack a forest, you drive out the enemy. If you storm a mountain, you chase the defenders from the heights. If you fire, you inflict a bloodbath. If you have the cavalry attack, there is a massacre until the enemy is destroyed.

But since the excellence of the troops alone is not enough, and an inept general can destroy all these advantages, in what follows I shall speak of the qualities of a general and prescribe the rules, some of which I have learned at my own expense or which have been left to us by the great generals.

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