Gentlemen, when the enemy is committed to a mistake we must not interrupt him too soon.
Whenever I see a quote like this I always wonder (a) is it correctly attributed and (b) what is the context?
As to (a) it is also attributed to Napoleon speaking about the battle of Austerlitz, which would certainly be an appropriate context. Of course, Napoleon is a quotation magnet – a bit like Einstein – so there is a good chance he did not say it. The quote – with the Napoleonic attribution – appears in a book by Mahan which author may be enough to explain its attribution to Nelson. Who really said it I’ve no idea.
I suspect commanders from Deborah and the ancient Egyptians through Eugen von Savoy to Napoleon and the present day have voiced similar sentiments, probably more pungently.
Some internet research showed lots of attributions to Nelson and also many attributions to Napoleon. Searches in Google Books did not provide any further enlightenment.
I bet more than one commander figured it out.
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