III. Attack by stratagem.
1. Sun Tzŭ said: In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy's country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
A 軍 “army corps,” according to Ssŭ-ma Fa, consisted nominally of 12500 men; according to Ts‘ao Kung, a 旅 contained 500 men, a 卒 any number between 100 and 500, and a 伍 any number between 5 and 100. For the last two, however, Chang Yü gives the exact figures of 100 and 5 respectively.
2. Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting.
Here again, no modern strategist but will approve the words of the old Chinese general. Moltke’s greatest triumph, the capitulation of the huge French army at Sedan, was won practically without bloodshed.
3. Thus the highest form of generalship is to baulk the enemy's plans;