Twas the night before battle, when all through the base.
The sentries were posted, the standards were cased.
The rifles were stacked by the tent flaps with care,
In the hopes that Saint Clausewitz soon would be there.
The majors were nestled all snug in their beds,
While flanking divisions danced in their heads.
Sergeant Major in his kerchief and I with my map,
Had just settled down for a long bivouac.
When out on the field there arose such a clatter,
I sent out patrols to see what was the matter.
Away to the front line I flew like a flash,
To rally the sentries to police up their trash.
The illum on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Removed fog of war from objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a Prussian war theorist and eight tiny reindeer.
That wily old general, medals layered thick,
I knew in a moment in must be Clausewitz.
More rapid than hussars his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“On Reason! On Chance! On Passion and Friction!
On Chaos! On Fog! On Flanking and Blitzen!
To the center of gravity! Where their defenses disjoint!
Unleash your attack, find the decisive point!”
As dragoons that before the columns do fly,
When they meet the defense and mount to the sky.
So up to the parapets the coursers they flew,
With a sleigh full of theory and Saint Clausewitz, too.
And then in a twinkling he told me the truth,
That with a good strategy, plans are bombproof.
As I drew in my lines and was turning about,
he bounded the trenches and jumped the dugout.
Though he was squared away in his dress uniform,
He was not here to drink, just to teach and inform.
“Trust your coup d’oeil when deploying your means,
You’ll achieve all your ends, if you use your Marines.”
“You do not need principles, nor geometry,
Or you’ll meet with defeat, like that fool Jomini.
Study On War to improve on your judgement,
So your enemy’s will can be surely outspent.”
Then he sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the path of a missile.
I heard him exclaim as he looked ‘cross the scenes,
“Remember that war is just politics by other means!”
This was a collaborative effort, with much credit to go around. Firstly, Brett Friedman wrote the lion’s share of stanzas, while Blog Tarkin’s Poetry Consultant Alex Olesker bent those lines towards meter. The lovely painting comes from our newest editor Caitlin Fitz Gerald, and features Hare Clausewitz, the star of Clausewitz for Kids. Additional guest verses were supplied by Hayes Brown, Jimmy Sky, and Dan Drezner.