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Vigor: An Alternative Paradigm

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Chapter Summary

The complaints about the engineers and all of the different interventions by different commanders in different armies were dedicated to the same goal: accelerate the tempo of campaigning. Excessive safety and industrie were to be eschewed while speed and action were to take their place: the engineering cult of efficiency was opposed by the generals’ cult of vigor. The cult of vigor likely originated from a combination of time limitations and supply shortages. Numerous alternatives existed to obviate the need for a potentially-lengthy Vaubanian siege or a blockade. The most decisive-minded generals sought to force engineers to adopt more vigorous tactics whenever possible. In addition to general pleas to accelerate sieges, there were a number of specific points in a formal siege when impatient commanders could force the engineers’ hand. The Allied generals’ opinion of the ‘anti-Vauban,’ Menno van Coehoorn is particularly instructive here.

Keywords: cult of vigor; engineers; Menno van Coehoorn; Vaubanian siege

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