Quotes of Alexander Suvarov
Biography of General Alexander
ditch isn't deep, the wall isn't high; fling yourself
into the ditch, leap over the wall, charge with the bayonet,
strike, chase, take prisoner. Storm.
- principles of war.
The bullet is a mad thing; only the bayonet knows what
it is about.
Fire seldom, but accurately. Thrust the bayonet with force.
The bullet misses, the bayonet doesn't. The bullet's an
idiot, the bayonet's a fine chap. Stab once and throw
the Turk off the bayonet. Bayonet another, bayonet a third.
A real warrior will bayonet half a dozen and more. Keep
a bullet in the barrel. If three should run at you bayonet
the first, shoot the second and lay the third out with
your bayonet. This isn't common, but you haven't time
It is very difficult to do one's duty. I was considered
a barbarian because at the storming of the Praga 7000
people were killed. Europe says I am a monster. I myself
have read this in the papers, but I would have liked to
talk to people about this and ask them: is it not better
to finish a war with the death of 7000 people rather than
to drag it on and kill 100,000.
- After the assault on the fortified Warsaw suburb of
Praga in 1794.
Strike at the enemy with humane treatment as effectively
as with weapons.
The details depend on the circumstances, the judgement,
the skill and on the bravery of the man in command.
The officers know that I myself am not ashamed to work
at this. Suvarov was major and adjutant and everything
down to corporal. I myself looked into everything and
could teach everybody.
Every man passed through my hands and he was told that
nothing more remained for him to know, if only he did
not forget what he had learned. Thus he was given confidence
in himself, the foundations of bravery.
we should have wasted all our time in discussion, diplomatical,
tactical, enigmatical; they would have smothered me and
the enemy would have settled our arguments by smashing
up our tactics.
- On councils of war.
The ability to assess a situation at a glance, to know
how to select the site for a camp, when and how to march
and where to attack.
Speed. Quick grasp. Shock.
The more comfort the less courage there is.
To me death is better than the defensive.
According to my custom … I was present at the attack near
the monastery of Svyanty Kryzh, but held my tongue, not
wishing in the least to detract from the praiseworthy,
skillful and brave commands of my subordinates. And there
is nobody more terrible than the desperate.
- 1799 campaign in Switzerland.
I was cut off and surrounded. Night and day we attacked
the enemy, in front and in the rear, captured his guns,
which we were obliged to throw off the precipices owing
to the shortage of pack animals, and inflicted on him
losses four times heavier than ours. Everywhere we forced
our way through as victors.
- 1799 campaign in Switzerland.
When the enemy is driven back, we have failed and we he
is cut off, encircled and dispersed, we have succeeded.
With severity kindness is needed, or else severity is
tyranny. I am strict in maintaining the health of the
soldiers and a true sense of good conduct; kind soldierly
strictness and then general brotherhood. To me strictness
by whim would be tyranny.
Fight the enemy with the weapons he lacks.
No battle can be won in the study and theory without practice
Break through without stopping. The head must not wait
for the tail. Commanders of units are not to wait to report,
but are to act on their own initiative with speed and
judgement. If the Turks ask for quarter, give it.
He who is afraid is half beaten.
Fire opens the gates of victory.
Permit me, your highness, to report that heroes are to
be found also in the lower ranks.
- After the battle of Kinburn vs the Turks.
There is an enemy greater than the hospital - the damned
fellow who "doesn't know." The hint dropper, riddle poser,
the deceiver, the word spinner, the prayer skimper, the
two-faced, the mannered, the incoherent. The fellow who
"doesn't know" has caused a great deal of harm. One is
ashamed to talk about him. Arrest for the officer who
"doesn't know" and house arrest for the field or general
... battle .... forward!
safest way of achieving victory is to seek it among the
offense must go unpunished, for nothing can cause the
men so much harm as lax discipline.
military punishment, together with a short and clear explanation
of the offense, touches the ambitious soldier more than
brutality which drives him to despair.
science of winning ...
military virtues are: bravery in the soldier, courage
in the officer, valour in the general, but guided by the
principles or order and discipline, dominated by vigilance
pull up during an attack.
balance of rest and activity, the tricks to keep up the
momentum) With this you get speed and the men don't get
tired. The enemy reckons we're 60 miles away ... Suddenly
we're on him like a cloudburst. His head whirls. Attack!
That's why we came, that's why God sent us. Cavalry! Charge!
Cut down, stab, chase, don't let them get away.
for the Virgin, for your mother the Empress, for the royal
family. The Church will pray to God for the dead. The
survivor has honour and glory!
hurt civilians, they give us food and drink. A soldier
is not a footpad.
all right ... the greater the enemy the more they will
fall over one another and the easier it will be for us
to cut through. In any case they're not numerous enough
to darken the sun for us.
frank with your friends, temperate in your requirements
and disinterested in conduct. Bear an ardent zeal for
the service of your sovereign, love true fame, distinguish
ambition from pride and vainglory, learn to love and forgive
the faults of others and never forgive your own ...
the soldier and he will love you. That is the secret.
to profit from local circumstances.
that victory depends on the legs. The hands are only the
instruments of victory.
but the offensive. Speed in marches, swiftness. Methodism
is not needed. Full authority to the commanding general.
Attack the enemy and hit him in the field. Lose no time
in sieges ... take fortresses chiefly by assaults or open
force. Never divide forces for security of different points.
If the enemy went around them so much the better ... he
approaches in order to be defeated. Never occupy yourself
with vain manouevres.
- On his plans for the 1799 campaign in Italy.
sense of vocation is the greatest virtue of the military
pursuit destroys a running enemy.
not delay in the attack. When the foe has been split off
and cut down, pursue him immediately and give him no time
to assemble or form up ... spare nothing. With regard
for difficulties, pursue the enemy day and night until
he has been annihilated.
to the last man to the Adda and throw the remains in the
- during the 1799 campaign in Italy.
strong pursuit, give no time for the enemy to think. Take
advantage of victory, uproot him, cut off his escape.
cases of obstacles arising don't be too distracted by
them. Time is more valuable than anything else - one must
know how to save it.
reconnaissance? I don't need one. They're only necessary
for the timid and forewarn the enemy. If you really want
to find the enemy you'll find him without them. Bayonets,
cold arms, attack, punch - these are my reconnaissances.
reports should be written clearly, precisely, as far as
possible avoiding any inaccuracy, length or beauty of
expression, in order not to cloud the thought.
sound the retreat. Never. Warn the men that if they hear
it, it is only a ruse on the part of the enemy.
yourself, but rescue your comrade.
need only be on one's guard against the bottomless pit
of systematic rules.
military practice one must plan quickly and carry on without
delay, so as to give the enemy no time to collect himself.
work in minutes, not hours.
staffs - small victories.
is the mother of discipline, or the art of war.
astonish is to vanquish.
is bad to lack good fortune, but it is a misfortune to
lack talent. The fortune of war is on the side of the
soldier of talent.
the enemy with cold steel, bayonets, swords and pikes.
Don't slow down during an attack. When the enemy is broken,
shattered, then pursue him at once and don't give him
time either to collect or reform. If he surrenders spare
him, only order him to throw down his arms. During the
attack call on the enemy to surrender. Spare nothing,
don't think of your labours. Pursue the enemy night and
day so long as anything is left to be destroyed.
danger" and other figments of the imagination are
all right for old women who are afraid to get off the
stove because they may break their legs and for lazy luxurious
people and blockheads - for miserable self-protection
which, in the end, whether good or bad in fact, always
passes for bravery with the storytellers.
is light and lack of training is darkness.
trained man is worth three untrained. That's too little,
say six, six is too little - say 10 to one.
soldiers like training provided it is carried out sensibly.
is achieved only through the combination of courage and
have been brought to my attention that the infantry have
got their feet wet. That is the fault of the weather.
The march was made in the service of the most mighty monarch.
Only women, dandies and lazy bones need good weather.
winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.
is the most important of all attributes of the military
…Hurry, your excellency! Money is dear; human life still
dearer, but time dearest of all.
- during the 1799 Campaign in Italy.