It was rendered into English and published as Tao and War in 1977 by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn. That modern book included renderings of The Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu, and The Art of War by Sun Tzu. The Art of War is here revisited by Charles LeRoy Scamahorn 2013 to make it more web ready.
The Army on the March
We now face the problems of positioning the army and understanding the typical signs of the enemy. Move through mountains as quickly as possible and out into open valleys. Encamp on high ground so if you must fight it will be with rising ground to the rear. Never attack uphill. Enough on mountain warfare.
Having crossed a river, you must quickly get far from it. If an enemy crosses a river in an approaching march, don’t advance to attack the army in mid-stream. It is better to let them cross and then attack before they can organize. (Fight on gradients where you are on an advantageous site, so that however the battle moves the relative effectiveness of your army remains greater. If his army is only halfway across a river when you attack it, you will win the fight but you can’t deliver a decisive blow across the river. Although this easy fight will be won the day may later be lost in a less advantageous fight. When an army fights with a strong negative gradient, such as a river, at its back it fights with a double disadvantage. First it is difficult to fight up a gradient and second, if it is defeated the defeat becomes decisive as retreat is impossible.) When you are anxious to fight, don’t meet the enemy near a river which he must cross or he will not cross. In river warfare moor your craft up stream from the enemy and fight when and where he faces the sun. Never fight upstream. Enough on river warfare.
When crossing marshes, your primary concern is to get through and away from them as quickly as possible. If forced to fight in a marsh, you should get the solidest available ground behind you such as a grove of trees and the most difficult to your front, and at the enemy’s rear. Enough on operations in marshes. In dry, level country get the rising ground behind you and on the right so the danger may come from the front with more secure positions to your rear. Enough on campaigning in open country.
When encamping the army in any of those four situations be careful to keep your men warm and dry by placing your camp on high hard ground with plenty of sun. This will help prevent disease from becoming epidemic, and disease has destroyed many great armies. When you camp on the sunny side of a hill with the slope to your right and rear, at one time you act for the health of your men and utilize the combat advantages of the ground. When a river you wish to ford is flooding and foamy wait until it subsides. All places with strong negative gradients must be avoided and left as quickly as possible. These include steep cliffs, swift rivers, deep hollows, confined places, thickets, quagmires and crevasses. We should avoid all these entangling places and lure the enemy to approach them. We should face them and lure the enemy into having them on his rear. When you encamp, search the surrounding area for spies and ambushes. Be very careful of ponds, grass, hollow basins, forests and briar patches.
Know your enemy! Understand the typical signs of your enemy’s deceptions:
When the enemy is near but remains quiet, he believes he has a strong position.
If he holds back and attempts to provoke a battle, he desires us to advance.
When his camp is easy to reach, he is proffering a bait.
When the shrubs in the forest creep about the enemy is trying a sneak attack.
But visible decoys suggest he is trying to make us suspicious.
The takeoff of birds or a sudden change of flight points to where an ambush may be lurking.
Understand the typical signs of your enemy’s movements:
When dust is rising in a long high column, vehicles are advancing.
When clouds of dust are low and spread wide, infantry is marching.
When the dust splits into all directions, groups are scavenging for fire wood and supplies.
A few clouds moving back and forth indicate the army has encamped.
Understand the typical signs of your enemy’s speech:
Sad fatalistic speaking while completing preparations means he has decided to fight.
Abusive language while darting about as if about to attack implies he will retreat.
When his envoys are apologetic he wants to rest. When they ask for a truce, he is plotting.
If he wishes a truce they will speak in complimentary terms.
Understand the typical signs of your enemy’s pattern of attack:
when the swift, lightly armored equipment comes out and takes up exposed positions, he is forming for battle.
If there are many runners afoot then the moment of decision has come.
When some parts of the army are obviously advancing and others obviously retreating it’s a lure of simulated confusion.
Understand the typical signs of your enemy’s energy:
When soldiers are seen leaning on their weapons they are tired and hungry.
If the men sent to bring water must first drink themselves, the whole army is thirsty.
If the general sees a real advantage to be gained and doesn’t try to take it, his soldiers are exhausted.
Understand the typical signs of your enemy’s will:
When birds gather on any spot, the enemy isn’t there.
If there are disturbances in his camp, the general has little authority.
When their emblems are changing irregularly the officers are rebelling.
When the officers are angry, the men are being disobedient.
If their army feasts in the battle field and commits its reserves, and if the men march off and leave their camp totally exposed, you may surmise they have determined to fight now and to the death.
When groups are seen huddled together and whispering it suggests they are dissatisfied with their officers.
Excessive awards mean the general is hiding his lack of resources and excessive punishments that his army is out of control.
Understand the typical signs of the enemy’s intelligence:
When they march up eagerly only to become frightened by the size of our army they have a complete lack of intelligence.
But when they march up angrily and remain facing us for a long time, neither joining battle nor withdrawing, the situation requires perfect vigilance. (If we can place as many soldiers in the field as they it will be enough, for then they will not be able to attack us directly. We must gather our available strength, keep close watch on them and secure reinforcements.)
Understand the typical signs of the enemy’s leadership:
When the soldiers are given awards and punishments before they have grown attached to their leader they will not become cooperative.
And even after the soldiers have grown attached, if the awards and punishments are given out without regard to merit the soldiers will still become uncooperative and useless.
The general with a knowledge of leadership will treat his soldiers with humanity but will enforce strict discipline. He must do this to be able to lead them down the path to victory. He must display great confidence in his men but always he must insist on his orders being absolutely obeyed.