and make forced marches without halting day or night, covering double the usual distance at a stretch,
The ordinary day’s march, according to Tu Mu, was 30 li; but on one occasion, when pursuing 劉備 Liu Pei, Ts‘ao Ts‘ao is said to have covered the incredible distance of 300 li within twenty-four hours.
doing a hundred li in order to wrest an advantage, the leaders of all your three divisions will fall into the hands of the enemy.
8. The stronger men will be in front, the jaded ones will fall behind, and on this plan only one-tenth of your army will reach its destination.
For 罷, see II. § I4. The moral is, as Ts‘ao Kung and others point out: Don’t march a hundred li to gain a tactical advantage, either with or without impedimenta. Manœuvres of this description should be conﬁned to short distances. Stonewall Jackson said: “The hardships of forced marches are often more painful than the dangers of battle.” He did not often call upon his troops for extraordinary exertions. It was only when he intended a surprise, or when a rapid retreat was imperative, that he sacrificed everything to speed.
9. If you march fifty li in order to outmanœuvre the enemy, you will lose the leader of your first division, and only half your force will reach the goal.
蹶 is explained as similar in meaning to 挫 literally, “the leader of the first division will be torn away.” Cf. Tso Chuan, 襄 19th year: 是謂蹶其本 “This is a case of [the falling tree] tearing up its roots.”
10. If you march thirty li with the same object, two-thirds of your army will arrive.
In the T‘ung Tien is added: 以是知軍爭之難 “From this we may know the difficulty of manœuvring.”
- See Col. Henderson, op. cit. vol. 1. p. 426.