Best Defense

Sherman (X): Never judge a battle by what you first encounter in the rear

General Sherman on coming to the scene of a battle: "I never saw the rear of an army engaged in battle but I feared that some calamity had happened at the front — the apparent confusion, broken wagons, crippled horses, men lying about dead and maimed, parties hastening to and fro in seeming disorder, and ...

National Archives/Flickr
National Archives/Flickr

General Sherman on coming to the scene of a battle:

"I never saw the rear of an army engaged in battle but I feared that some calamity had happened at the front — the apparent confusion, broken wagons, crippled horses, men lying about dead and maimed, parties hastening to and fro in seeming disorder, and a general apprehension of something dreadful about to ensue; all these signs, however, lessened as I neared the front, and there the contrast was complete — perfect order, men and horses full of confidence."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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