Excerpt from The Retreat From Mons
To reconstruct the picture of a modern battle the student must use several different kinds of informa tion. (1) First in importance are the dispatches of the commanders at the front. These give the broad outlines of the struggle, but as a ru... le do not dwell on episodes; they explain the strategical and taeti cal considerations which dictated certain moves, but say little about the actual fighting which ensues. (2) Second in importance, but often of far greater interest, are the narratives of men who were in the fighting line. These narratives seldom show much perception of the strategy of the battle, though they often elucidate the minor tactics of the combatants at particular points on the field. (3) Thirdly, we have often vivid accounts from non-combatants of scenes witnessed on' the outskirts of a great battle, or in the course of sudden advances and retreats which bring the armies into a zone not evacuated by the civilian population. (4) Lastly, we have often to use official communications, drawn up at a distance from the field, but based on the interim reports of commanders. These often give details which are omitted in the final and formal dispatches.
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