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From: John Bishop <jbishop@blkbrd.zko.dec.com>
Subject: (urth) Re: WWI tactics, "Terminus est"
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 11:46:39 

If you read more about WWI tactics, the naive view that
stupid generals threw away young lives becomes less
tenable--though some generals were stupid, or at least
careless about the many young lives cut short.

The front was (as someone else said here) like a thin
skin; many of the offensives did pierce it.  But no
"breakthrough" happened, as the follow-up over no-mans-land
was too difficult.  In other words, it was easy (if expensive)
to take control of the enemy's front line; it was possible
(if very expensive) to take control of the next few lines
back; it turned out to be pretty much impossible to convert
that success into a war of movement, as the successful troops
were too hard to support, and they generally got beaten back
to the old line.

So what generals experienced was a set of near-successes,
each needing only just a little bit more effort to be the
big success.  That's an experience that makes you eager for
another try, with a bit more effort.

That said, I'll concur that there were cultural expectations
and class snobbery and mental inertia; many more died than
needed to, and the elites of the time deserved to lose respect
and legitimacy.

On another matter, the mixed armies are not odd; the classic
world expected that each people would provide men armed after
the manner of their people: slingers from the Balerics, hoplites
from Hellas, etc.  An imperial system would find such recruitment
easier than running a load of draftees through a homogenizing
military education.

Finally, I think we can assume that "Terminus est" is not really
in Latin, but in some other language which Wolfe represents by 
Latin due to its social function.  I suspect the "ancient" language
of the future is meant to be English, and the sword bears the 
the legend "This End Up".

     -John Bishop

*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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