At the same time, this is an issue both terrible and important to think about.
B.H. Liddel Hart, in "Scipio Africanus," notes that the majority of causalities, fatalities, and damage don't occur during conflict, but afterwards -- to the losing side.
From Hannibal's defeat at The Battle of Zama -
"...the loss of the Carthaginians and their allies [was] twenty thousand slain and almost as many captured. On the other side, [the estimates range from "1500 Romans" to "2000 of the victors."] The discrepancy is explained by the word "Romans," for Livy's total clearly includes the allied troops. It is a common idea among historians that these figures are an underestimate, and that in ancient battles the tallies given always minimise the losses of the victor. Ardant du Picq, a profound and experienced thinker, has shown the fallacy of these cloistered historians. Even in battle to-day the defeated side suffers its heaviest loss after the issue is decided, in what is practically the massacre of unresisting or disorganised men. How much more must this disproportion have occured when bullets, still less machine-guns, did not exist to take their initial toll of the victors. So long as formations remained unbroken the loss of life was relatively small, but when they were isolated or dissolved the massacre began."
Could there more mercy, more clemency? Well, we would hope so, but then there's the faction/negotiation/diplomacy problem... when the defeated surrender, they only represent one faction who is at possibly the lowest point, most conducive to surrender. Later on, once cleaned-up and re-armed, the war-hawking faction will return, and if the opponent's forces are not reduced in defeat, they will likely be re-deployed and battle will began anew.
This is a terrible thing to consider, perhaps one of those hard parts of human nature, and one of the most difficult aspects of command. You must consolidate your victories and finally remove the opposition's strength and material, but seems such a damn waste that all the carnage has to happen after the issue is decided. And yet, the faction/negotiation/diplomacy problem persists, which causes this, and it's human nature at its core.
Terrible stuff. I suppose "Don't lose" is too obvious of a lesson to write, so we'll refrain from saying that.
Dave Grossman in his book "On killing" bring forward a few explanation as for why it is always after the issue is settled that most casualties occurs, but his explanation are not tactical, i.e avoid having to fight the same army again, his are more psychological like the chase instinct of the predator or the ease of killing an enemy from behind has he is faceless, the release of tension, the blood lust of battle...
a great example that illustrate this point are the armies of Alexandre who, during all their years of warfare, lost fewer than 700 men "to the sword". They suffered so few casualties because they never lost a battle and never had to suffer the very significant losses associated with being pursued by a victorious enemy
In any field, brilliant maneuvers are remembered and celebrated. But brilliant maneuvers without consolidation amounts to nothing long-term except the empty glory.
We could look at military commanders for an example. There's been some in history that have shown remarkable amounts of brilliance in pioneering tactics and doing crazy maneuvers. These sorts of things go into the history books, like Hannibal Barca's actions or Napoleon Bonaparte's.
Despite Barca and Bonaparte being remembered for their brilliance, it's worth remembering that neither of them won in the end.
We've talked about over-expansiveness in the past and not trusting your successors/family to keep up with your work, which is a common flaw that afflicts low born creators and leaders. Today, I want to look at something a little bit different - on brilliant actions and consolidating actions.
One time, when Hannibal's troops were pinned down by the Romans and it looked like all would be lost, he came up with a brilliant scheme. He waited until nightfall, and then took all of the oxen in his camp, tied branches and tinder to their horns, and lit them on fire and drove them off.
Happy new year!
I am hoping you would share your resources for your reading on Japanese history. Book titles and/or urls would be very helpful.
I got that a week ago, and I kind of sat there staring at the email. Japanese history is some of the most confusing to start to learn, because different elements of Japanese history and culture all play on and influence each other. I could run you through the military history of Japan from The Battle of Okehazama to Sekigahara to the Boshin War, from there into Dai Nippon Tekoku Era, from there into defeat and the Occupation under McArthur, and then we could do a little post-war history.