The theory of warfare entails the use and application of various strategies which help in gaining supremacy regarding, or preparedness of, one's physical forces and offers a significant material advantage at the decisive moment, on a battle field…
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Since the achievement of such an objective is rarely feasible in practicality, although theoretically plausible, the theory of warfare attempts to teach and calculate the moral factors such as the mistakes which the enemy is likely to make; or the impression which can be created to intimidate the enemy forces. Written almost two centuries ago, by a renowned Prussian thinker and theorist, Carl von Cluausewitz, these highly controversial yet oft cited set of principles commonly referred to as the "Principles of War" present a comprehensive summary of the tactics and strategies that can be used during war. These principles have proved to be highly effective over the years, and are adopted by nations worldwide, owing to fact that they encompass all the moral as well as psychological aspects of warfare (Clausewitz, Graham, 2008). This paper on Principles of War: Battle of Waterloo discusses and analyzes the nine principles of war with regard to and as applied in the Battle of Waterloo. The Battle of Waterloo: Brief Overview The Battle of Waterloo was fought between the Imperial French army commanded by Emperor Napoleon and the Seventh Coalition - which comprised of an Anglo-allied army commanded by the Duke of Wellington; and the Prussian army commanded by Gebhard von Blucher. It was fought on June 18, 1815 near Waterloo which is in present-day Belgium. Napoleon’s army was defeated by the combined forces i.e. the Seventh Coalition and the Anglo-Allied army, and is considered to be historical since it marked the end of Napoleon’s tyrant rule, and his hundred days of return from exile (BBC History, 2011). The battle was historical since the mighty French emperor and military leader Napoleon’s rule came to an abrupt end after his defeat at the hands of the combined armies led by the British, German, Belgian, Dutch and the Prussians. The principles of war discussed in the following section, aims to discuss, examine, and analyze the various strategies used by the combined forces against Napoleon’s army, that eventually led to his fall. The nine principles of war: 1. The Principle of Objective: “No one starts a war—or rather, no one in his senses ought to do so—without first being clear in his mind what he intends to achieve by that war and how he intends to conduct it”. Karl Von Clausewitz (in Mahnken & Maiolo, 2008, pp. 2) The principle of objective refers to the fundamental purpose of the war / military operation, which must be clearly identified, defined and attained in an effective manner. The two parties involved in the battle included Napoleon’s army on one hand, and the allied forces comprising of the British, the Belgians, the Germans, and the Prussians on the other. The basic objective of Napoleon was to continue his accession and dominance, and restore his power after his exile, in the year 1815 and to defeat the allied European forces which had begun to reassemble their armies in a bid to overthrow Napoleon’s rule. Napoleon’s objective was to destroy the efforts of the allied forces, prevent them from gaining more support and expanding their existing coalition, and destroy the British, Prussian, Dutch, and Belgian armies before they could gather more support and assistance from other powers. On the other hand, the basic objective of the allied forces was to stop the emperor’s (Napoleon’s) accession, and overthrow him and thus bring a halt to his reign by defeating him and to end his tyrant rule as the emperor of France. 2. The principle of Offensive: This principle entails the retention, seizing of and exploiting the initiatives of the enemy by launching an offensive
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