30 June 2008

Retreat is the new attack

From a discussion of the military record of General Ivan Fyodorovich Paskevic (1782-1856), an imperial Russian military commander:
...Paskevic rose to be commander-in-chief, even though better generals were available.  He did have some organising talent, but in his campaigns he emerged victorious only because his opponents were more incompetent than he.  His critics claimed that he was only at ease when in retreat; he retreated when enemy troops advanced, believing that they would not dare to do so unless they were certain of their superiority; he retreated when the enemy was out of sight, anticipating an attack from an unexpected direction; he was even known to retreat when the enemy retreated, fearing a ruse.   
In fairness to Paskevic, the author does go on to add, 'but he did win victories from time to time, and his courage was undisputed'.
- J.N. Westwood, Endurance and Endeavour: Russian History 1812-2001, Oxford, 2002, p.36

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