V
 

Here is another matter which every horseman ought to know, and that is within what distance a horse can overhaul a man on foot; or the interval necessary to enable a slower horse to escape one more fleet. It is the business rather of the cavalry general to recognise at a glance the sort of ground on which infantry will be superior to cavalry and where cavalry will be superior to infantry. He should be a man of invention, ready of device to turn all circumstances to account, so as to give at one time a small body of cavalry the appearance of a larger, and again a large the likeness of a smaller body; he should have the craft to appear absent when close at hand, and within striking distance when a long way off; he should know exactly not only how to steal an enemy's position, but by a master stroke of cunning[1] to spirit his own cavalry away, and, when least expected, deliver his attack. Another excellent specimen of inventiveness may be seen in the general's ability, while holding a weak position himself, to conjure up so lively an apprehension in the enemy that he will not dream of attacking; or conversely, when, being in a strong position himself, he can engender a fatal boldness in the adversary to venture an attack. Thus with the least cost to yourself, you will best be able to catch your enemy tripping.

But to avoid suspicion of seeming to prescribe impossible feats, I will set down, in so many words, the procedure in certain crucial instances.

The best safeguard against failure in any attempt to enforce pursuit or conduct a retreat lies in a thorough knowledge of your horse's powers.[2] But how is this experience to be got? Simply by paying attention to their behaviour in the peaceable manouvres of the sham fight, when there is no real enemy to intervene--how the animals come off, in fact, and what stamina they show in the various charges and retreats.

Or suppose the problem is to make your cavalry appear numerous. In the first place, let it be a fundamental rule, if possible, not to attempt to delude the enemy at close quarters; distance, as it aids illusion, will promote security. The next point is to bear in mind that a mob of horses clustered together (owing perhaps to the creatures' size) will give a suggestion of number, whereas scattered they may easily be counted.

Another means by which you may give your troop an appearance of numerical strength beyond reality consists in posting, in and out between the troopers, so many lines of grooms[3] who should carry lances if possible, or staves at any rate to look like lances--a plan which will serve alike whether you mean to display your cavalry force at the halt or are deploying to increase front; in either case, obviously the bulk and volume of the force, whatever your formation, will appear increased. Conversely, if the problem be to make large numbers appear small, supposing you have ground at command adapted to concealment, the thing is simple: by leaving a portion of your men exposed and hiding away a portion in obscurity, you may effect your object.[4] But if the ground nowhere admits of cover, your best course is to form your files[5] into ranks one behind the other, and wheel them round so as to leave intervals between each file; the troopers nearest the enemy in each file will keep their lances erect, and the rest low enough not to show above.

To come to the next topic: you may work on the enemy's fears by the various devices of mock ambuscades, sham relief parties, false information. Conversely, his confidence will reach an overweening pitch, if the idea gets abroad that his opponents have troubles of their own and little leisure for offensive operations.

But over and beyond all that can be written on the subject-- inventiveness is a personal matter, beyond all formulas--the true general must be able to take in, deceive, decoy, delude his adversary at every turn, as the particular occasion demands. In fact, there is no instrument of war more cunning than chicanery;[6] which is not surprising when one reflects that even little boys, when playing, "How many (marbles) have I got in my hand?"[7] are able to take one another in successfully. Out goes a clenched fist, but with such cunning that he who holds a few is thought to hold several; or he may present several and appear to be holding only a few. Is it likely that a grown man, giving his whole mind to methods of chicanery, will fail of similar inventiveness? Indeed, when one comes to consider what is meant by advantages snatched in war, one will find, i think, that the greater part of them, and those the more important, must be attributed in some way or other to displays of craft;[8] which things being so, a man had better either not attempt to exercise command, or, as part and parcel of his general equipment, let him pray to Heaven to enable him to exercise this faculty and be at pains himself to cultivate his own inventiveness.

A general, who has access to the sea, may exercise the faculty as follows: he may either, whilst apparently engaged in fitting out his vessels, strike a blow on land;[9] or with a make-believe of some aggressive design by land, hazard an adventure by sea.[10]

I consider it to be the duty of the cavalry commander to point out clearly to the state authority the essential weakness of a force of cavalry unaided by light infantry, as opposed to cavalry with foot- soldiers attached.[11] It is duty also, having got his footmen, to turn the force to good account. It is possible to conceal them effectively, not only between the lines, but in rear also of the troopers--the mounted soldier towering high above his follower on foot.

With regard to these devices and to any others which invention may suggest towards capturing the foeman by force or fraud, I have one common word of advice to add, which is, to act with God, and then while Heaven propitious smiles, fortune will scarcely dare to frown.[12]

At times there is no more effective fraud than a make-believe[13] of over-caution alien to the spirit of adventure. This itself will put the enemy off his guard and ten to one will lure him into some egregious blunder; or conversely, once get a reputation for foolhardiness established, and then with folded hands sit feigning future action, and see what a world of trouble you will thereby cause your adversary.

[1] Or, "sleight of hand"; and for {kleptein} = escamoter see "Anab." IV. vi. 11, 15; V. vi. 9.

[2] {empeiria}, "empirical knowledge."

[3] Cf. Polyaen. II. i. 17, of Agesilaus in Macedonia, 394 B.C. (our author was probably present); IV. iv. 3, of Antipater in Thessaly, 323 B.C.

[4] Lit. "steal your troopers." See "Cyrop." V. iv. 48.

[5] Lit. "form your decads (squads of ten; cf. our 'fours') in ranks and deploy with intervals."

[6] Cf. "Cyrop." IV. ii. 26; VII. i. 18.

[7] {posinda}, lit. "How many?" (i.e. dice, nuts, marbles, etc.); cf. the old game, "Buck! buck! how many horns do I hold up?" Schneid. cf. Aristot. "Rhet."iii. 5. 4.

[8] "Have been won in connection with craft." See "Cyrop." I. vi. 32; "Mem." III. i. 6; IV. ii. 15.

[9] A ruse adopted by Jason, 371 B.C. Cf. "Hell." VI. iv. 21.

[10] Cf. the tactics of the Athenians at Catana, 415 B.C. Thuc. vi. 64.

[11] Or, "divorced from infantry." In reference to {amippoi}, cf. Thuc. v. 57; "Hell." VII. v. 23.

[12] Or, "and then by the grace of Heaven you may win the smiles of fortune," reading with Courier, etc., {ina kai e tukhe sunepaine}. Cf. "Cyrop." III. iii. 20.

[13] S. 15 should perhaps stand before S. 13.