IX. The army on the march.
The contents of this interesting chapter are better indicated in §1 than by this heading.
1. Sun Tzŭ said: We come now to the question of encamping the army, and observing signs of the enemy.
The discussion of 處軍, as Chang Yü points out, extends from here down to 伏姦之所藏處也 (§§ 1—17), and 相敵 from that point down to 必謹察之 (§§ 18—39). The rest of the chapter consists of a few desultory remarks, chiefly on the subject of discipline.
Pass quickly over mountains,
For this use of 絶, cf. infra, § 3. See also 荀子, ch. 1. fol. 2 (standard edition of 1876): 絶江河; Shih Chi, ch. 27 ad init.: 後六星絶漢.
and keep in the neighbourhood of valleys.
Tu Mu says that 依 here = 近. The idea is, not to linger among barren uplands, but to keep close to supplies of water and grass. Capt. Calthrop translates “camp in valleys,” heedless of the very next sentence. Cf. Wu Tzŭ, ch. 3: 無當天竈 “Abide not in natural ovens,” i.e. 大谷之口 “the openings of large valleys." Chang Yü tells the following anecdote: “武都羗 Wu-tu Ch‘iang was a robber captain in the time of the Later Han, and 馬援 Ma Yuan was sent to exterminate his gang. Ch‘iang having found a refuge in the hills, Ma Yuan made no attempt to force a battle, but seized all the favourable positions commanding supplies of water and forage. Ch‘iang was soon in such a desperate plight for want of provisions that he was forced to make a total surrender. He did not know the advantage of keeping in the neighbourhood of valleys.”