Attack of Defensive Positions
In the book on the defence, it has been sufficiently explained how far defensive positions can compel
the assailant either to attack them, or to give up his advance. Only those which can effect this are subservient
to our object, and suited to wear out or neutralise the forces of the aggressor, either wholly or in part,
and in so far the attack can do nothing against such positions, that is to say, there are no means at its
disposal by which to counterbalance this advantage. But defensive positions are not all really of this
kind. If the assailant sees he can pursue his object without attacking such a position, it would be an
error to make the attack; if he cannot follow out his object, then it is a question whether he cannot manoeuvre
the enemy out of his position by threatening his flank. It is only if such means are ineffectual, that a
commander determines on the attack of a good position, and then an attack directed against one side,
always in general presents the less difficulty; but the choice of the side must depend on the position
and direction of the mutual lines of retreat, consequently, on the threatening the enemys retreat, and
covering our own.
But it is certain, and may be regarded as a truth of the first importance, that to attack an enemy thoroughly
inured to War, in a good position, is a critical thing.
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