“Let there be light!” said God,
and there was light.
“Let there be blood!” said man,
and there’s a sea.
~ Lord Byron
Once more into the breach, dear friends,
Once more; …
~ William Shakespeare, in King Henry V
* * * * *
And say not thou “My country right or wrong”
Nor shed thy blood for an unhallowed cause.
~ John Quincy Adams, in Congress, Slavery and an Unjust War
The cannon thunders… limbs fly in all directions… one can hear the groans of victims and the howling of those performing the sacrifice… it’s Humanity in search of happiness.
~ Charles Baudelaire
A baboon in a forest is a matter of legitimate speculation; a baboon in a zoo is an object of public curiosity; but a baboon in your wife’s bed is a cause of the gravest concern.
~ Winston Churchill, in regard to the growing German threat
Battles are won by slaughter and manoeuvre. The greater the general, the more he contributes in manoeuvre, the less he demands in slaughter.
~ Winston Churchill, The World Crisis, vol. 2
Never believe any war will be smooth and easy or that anyone who embarks on that strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events… incompetent or arrogant commanders, untrustworthy allies, hostile neutrals, malignant fortune, ugly surprise, awful miscalculations. … Always remember, however sure you are that you could easily win, that there would not be a war if the other man did not think he also had a chance.
~ Winston Churchill as quoted in This Time It’s Our War by Leonard Fein
Nothing is more exhilarating than to be shot at without result.
~ Winston Churchill, in The Malakand Field Force
I think a curse should rest on me — because I love this war. I know it’s smashing and shattering the lives of thousands every moment — and yet — I can’t help it — I enjoy every second of it.
~ Winston Churchill, in a letter to a friend, 1916
Blood is the price of victory.
~ Karl von Clausewitz, in On War
In peace sons bury their fathers, but in war fathers bury their sons.
Public opinion wins wars.
~ Dwight David Eisenhower
We are going to have peace even if we have to fight for it.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower
Action is the governing rule of war.
~ Ferdinand Foch, in Precepts
The direct use of force is such a poor solution to any problem, it is generally employed only by small children and large nations.
~ David Friedman
War makes thieves and peace hangs them.
~ George Herbert
You will kill ten of our men, and we will kill one of yours, and in the end it will be you who tire of it.
~ Ho Chi Minh
So ends the bloody business of the day.
~ Homer, in Odyssey
The responses of human beings vary greatly under dangerous circumstances. The strong man advances boldly to meet them head on. The weak man grows agitated. But the superior man stands up to fate, endures resolutely in his inner certainty of final success, and bides his time until the onset of reassuring odds.
~ I Ching
Peace, above all things, is to be desired, but blood must sometimes be spilled to obtain it on equable and lasting terms.
It is our duty still to endeavor to avoid war; but if it shall actually take place, no matter by whom brought on, we must defend ourselves. If our house be on fire, without inquiring whether it was fired from within or without, we must try to extinguish it.
~ Thomas Jefferson
I have seen enough of one war never to wish to see another.
~ Thomas Jefferson
War is an instrument entirely inefficient toward redressing wrong; and multiplies, instead of indemnifying losses.
~ Thomas Jefferson
The first casualty when war comes is truth.
~ Hiram Johnson
We have war when at least one of the parties to a conflict wants something more than it wants peace.
~ Jeane J. Kirkpatrick
War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.
~ Karl Kraus
But what a cruel thing is war; to separate and destroy families and friends, and mar the purest joys and happiness God has granted us in this world; to fill our hearts with hatred instead of love for our neighbors, adn to devastate the fari face of this beautiful world!
~ Robert E. Lee, in a letter to his wife on Christmas Day, 1862
It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit that we bring to the fight that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory.
~ George Marshall
Some say the American soldier is the same clean-cut young man who left his home; other say morale is sky-high at the front because everybody’s face is shining for the great Cause. They are wrong. The combat man isn’t the same clean-cut lad because you don’t fight a kraut by Marquis of Queensberry rules. You shoot him in the back, you blow him apart with mines, you kill or maim him the quickest and most effective way you can with the least danger to yourself. He does the same to you. He tricks you and cheats you, and if you don’t beat him at his own game you don’t live to appreciate your own nobleness.
~ Bill Mauldin, in Up Front. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 1945. pp. 13-14
War will never cease until babies begin to come into the world with larger cerebrums and smaller adrenal glands.
~ H. L. Mencken
War loses a great deal of its romance after a soldier has seen his first battle. I have a more vivid recollection of the first that the last one I was in. It is a classical maxim that it is sweet and becoming to die for one’s country; but whoever has seen the horrors of a battlefield feels that it is far sweeter to live for it.
~ John S. Mosby, in War Reminiscences
War is the only game in which it doesn’t pay to have the home-court advantage.
~ Dick Motta
The quickest way of ending a war is to lose it.
~ George Orwell
Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains that victory.
~ George S. Patton
When war is declared, Truth is the first casualty.
~ Arthur Ponsonby, in Falsehood in Wartime, 1928.
War is delightful to those who have had no experience of it.
A great war leaves a country with three armies: an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves.
~ German proverb
There are casualties in war who are neither killed nor wounded. A shell kills four men and intimidates a thousand.
~ Rene Quinton, in Soldier’s Testament
To call war the soil of courage and virtue is like calling debauchery the soil of love.
~ George Santayana
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!
~ William Shakespeare, in Richard III, Act V
The purple testament of bleeding war.
~ William Shakespeare, in King Richard II
I begin to regard the death and mangling of a couple thousand men as a small affair, a kind of morning dash–and it may be well that we become so hardened.
~ William Tecumseh Sherman, in a letter to his wife, June 30, 1864
There is many a boy here today who looks on war as all glory, but, boys, it is all hell. You can bear this warning voice to generations yet to come. I look upon war with horror.
~ William Tecumseh Sherman, in his address to the GAR Convention on August 11, 1880.
Great empires are not maintained by timidity.
~ Tacitus, in Histories
The war made me poignantly aware of the beauty of the world.
~ J.R.R. Tolkien
We saw the lightning and that was the guns and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.
~ Harriet Tubman
Know the enemy and know yourself; in a hundred battles you will never be in peril.
~ Sun Tzu
The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.
~ Sun Tzu
To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.
~ George Washington, from his Address to Congress
It is a bad thing always to be fighting. While in the thick of it I am too much occupied to feel anything; but it is wretched just after. It is quite impossible to think of glory. Both mind and feelings are exhausted. I am wretched even at the moment of victory, and I always say that, next to a battle lost, the greatest misery is battle gained.
~ Duke of Wellington