Hi all, I am looking for a link to one of Mark's favorite quotes about the reality of plans. It is a quote by a military person. It speaks of developing a battle plan on paper, but then men get tired, obstacles come along the way, there are streams to cross, etc.

I would love to have this quote for our present work situation but I can't seem to find it.

Thanks very much!

tlhausmann's picture
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Mark reads, and often refers to, a portion of an epic poem, "John Brown's Body".


If you take a flat map
And move wooden blocks upon it strategically,
The thing looks well, the blocks behave as they should.
The science of war is moving live men like blocks.
And getting the blocks into place at a fixed moment.
But it takes time to mold your men into blocks
And flat maps turn into country where creeks and gullies
Hamper your wooden squares. They stick in the brush,
They are tired and rest, they straggle after ripe blackberries,
And you cannot lift them up in your hand and move them.
It is all so clear in the maps, so clear in the mind,
But the orders are slow, the men in the blocks are slow
To move, when they start they take too long on the way -
The General loses his stars, and the block-men die
In unstrategic defiance of martial law
Because still used to just being men, not block parts.

From John Brown's Body
by Stephen Vincent Benet



G3's picture

That's it! Here are two more links:

  1. Another forum posting on it:
  2. Find a link to Mr. Horstman reading the quote, on this page here: