Surprise & Conquer…


“Whoever can surprise well must conquer.”

Surprise, Tactical KittenJohn Paul Jones (1747 to 1792) in a letter to the American commissioners to France, 10 February 1778. Papers of Benjamin Franklin, American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This appears as “Who can surprise well must conquer” in John Paul Jones, Fighter for Freedom and Glory by Lincoln Lorenz, p. xiii (1943).

From a singular (tactical) battle viewpoint this may hold some truth, although from a war (strategic) viewpoint a number of examples might suggest otherwise:

  • The US invasion of Canada in 1812;
  • The Japanese surprise attack on the US at Pearl Harbour; and
  • The German surprise attack on the Russians in Operation Barbarossa.
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