Chapter 2

Waging War


The cost of raising an army of 100,000 men is 1,000 ounces of silver per day.

This includes:

  • 1,000 swift chariots
  • 1,000 heavy chariots
  • 100,000 mail-clad soldiers
  • food for traveling 1,000 li
  • entertainment of guests
  • small items such as glue and paint

If the fighting is prolonged without victory, the men’s weapons will grow dull and their ardor will be damped. If you lay siege to a town, you will exhaust your strength.

If the campaign is protracted, the State’s resources will not be equal to the strain.

After your strength is exhausted and your treasure is spent, other chieftains will spring up to take advantage of your extremity. Then no man, however wise, will be able to avert the consequences that must ensue.

Thus, we have heard of stupid haste in war. But cleverness has never been associated with long delays.

No country has benefited from prolonged warfare.

Only the one who is thoroughly acquainted with the evils of war can thoroughly understand the profitable way of carrying it on.

The skillful soldier does not raise a second levy, neither are his supply-wagons loaded more than twice.

Bring war material with you from home, but forage on the enemy.

  • Thus, the army will have food enough for its needs.

Poverty of the State exchequer causes an army to be maintained by contributions from a distance.

  • Contributing to maintain an army at a distance causes the people to be impoverished.

On the other hand, the proximity of an army causes prices to go up.

  • High prices cause the people’s substance to be drained away.
  • When their substance is drained away, the peasantry will be afflicted by heavy exactions.

With this loss and exhaustion, the people’s homes will be stripped bare.

3/10 of their income will be dissipated

4/10 of its total revenue will amount to government expenses for:

  • broken chariots
  • worn-out horses
  • breast-plates and helmets
  • bows and arrows
  • spears and shields
  • protective mantles
  • draft-oxen and heavy wagons

Hence a wise general forages on the enemy.

  • One cartload of the enemy’s provisions is equivalent to 20 of one’s own
  • A single picul of his provender is equivalent to 20 from one’s own store.

In order to kill the enemy, our men must be roused to anger. They must have their rewards for defeating the enemy.

Therefore in chariot fighting, when ten or more chariots have been taken, those should be rewarded who took the first. Our own flags should be substituted for those of the enemy. The chariots mingled and used in conjunction with ours. The captured soldiers should be kindly treated and kept.

This is called “using the conquered foe to augment one’s own strength”.

Your great object should be victory, not lengthy campaigns.

The leader of armies is the arbiter of the people’s fate, the man on whom it depends whether the nation shall be in peace or in peril.

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