I don't know how many folks we have here that are well versed in the Civil War, but I had something of an epiphany today whilst watching the movie "Gettysburg."
I'm writing something about the Civil War because of the 150th anniversaries that are going on, so I'm watching the movie for something like inspiration, you could say. I also went to the battlefield last weekend and so it spurred some re-interest on my part.
I've always had trouble when people would relate big texts like "The Art of War" or Von Clausewitz' "On War" to hand to hand combat, to boxing, or whatever. It seemed like to great a leap for me to break something so complicated as mass maneuvers by huge armies down to the individual scale.
But, with Gettysburg, it finally clicked.
Good summary of the battle:
The "sine qua non" of the battle was the ground it was fought on, which heavily favored the Union defenders because they were on a line of hills with exposed fields of fire (generally).
The South's General Longstreet reflected after the first day's battle, which was a tremendous success for the Confederates, that he wanted to see the Southern army NOT attack the union troops where they were, but swing around their line further south and force the Army of the Potomac to attack them instead.
Lee, being the aggressive soul he was, saw the enemy in front of him, and could not help but feel the need to strike at him. Lee, being the commanding general, gave the orders, and so they attacked, and lost.
As I'm watching the movie though, I finally caught on how to break it down to person to person. Longstreet was the type to always look for favorable positions, and let the enemy come at him - and as he described moving to the south, I saw a boxer strike with a sharp 1-2, and the step around his opponent's lead foot and end up perpendicular, making his enemy turn totally around and attack him when HE wants him to attack.
After thinking about it a bit more, I thought of Lee as more of a Pacquiao type - striking from all angles, always looking for the knockout, aggressive nearly to a fault but smart and talented enough that he doesn't get burned as much as a lesser man would.
Grant, I have thought of as Roberto Duran - knows how to act tactically and strategically, but hits so fucking hard, and is so fucking relentless, that he wears you down and just destroys you over the course of 15 rounds.
You get the point.
Either way, I had never previously thought of this in military terms even though I'm well aware that this is not a novel idea, and it's really revolutionizing the way I think about fighting and boxing. Body shots are cutting supply lines - liver punches, the bombing of Dresden. I am hoping that this leads me to be able to interpret works, specifically things like the "Art of War," and be able to apply them better to my own fighting style.
This may indeed have been a totally useless diatribe, but I felt that I should share it.