Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, January 10, 2021

General Cordonnier's Timeless Quote

General Cordonnier After the War

General Victor Louis Émilien Cordonnier (1858–1936) served France during World War I and commanded a brigade and division in 1914 with distinction in the Battles of the Frontiers and the Marne and later in the trench fighting of the Argonne Forest, where he was wounded.  On the Macedonian Front he commanded the French forces under General Sarrail, who eventually relieved him over their differences. Returning to France, he was diagnosed with cancer and eventually retired from the army. In his postwar writings he contributed this wisdom, which sounds positively Napoleonic:

The instruction given by leaders to their troops, by professors of military schools, by historical and tactical volumes, no matter how varied it may be, will never furnish a model that need only be reproduced in order to beat the enemy. 

It is with the muscles of the intellect, with something like cerebral reflexes that the man of war decides, and it is with his qualities of character that he maintains the decision taken.

He who remains in abstractions falls into formula; he concretes his brain; he is beaten in advance.

General Cordonnier (front, left) with His Staff
in Macedonia

Source: The Infantry in Battle, 1939

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