Back when I worked as a book editor in Washington, D.C., I edited this book about dense, dry
To pass the time while editing it, I began to write down "life lessons" gathered from the generals' experiences. It really helped me get through that tome. Some days, looking for a "life lesson" to write down was the only thing that kept me reading! When I left that job, I took my list of life lessons with me. Then I completely forgot about it until last week, when I was cleaning out old papers and found the list lurking in the depths. I thought you guys might enjoy reading it!
Life Lessons from Civil War Generals1. Give extremely specific and detailed instructions if you care how something gets done.
|Grant and Lee, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons|
2. Speed is of the essence. Don't dawdle.
3. It's not about "not losing." It's about winning.
4. Excessive caution can be "disastrous." Don't give your opponent too much credit; action trumps inaction.
5. Be mindful of the condition of your subordinates; do not exhaust or overtax them. Save their strength for when it's really needed.
6. "Divide and conquer" does not always work. Sometimes unity is needed.
7. Know when to retreat. (Here's looking at you, Robert E. Lee.)
8. You lose less men when you're on the defensive versus on the offensive.
9. Use trickery and cunning—i.e., the troops evacuating Corinth, Mississippi.*
10. Have a broad vision. Not everyone thinks like you do.
Do you have any favorite "life lessons" from history?
*I don't actually know what this one means. It's been a while since I read the book!