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Scorched Earth Tactics
(1,283 words)

Scorched Earth Tactics

Systematically laying waste to enemy territory as a battle tactic, rendering the area militarily useless for a time, sometimes lastingly. Scorched earth as a combat strategy was described by Carl von Clausewitz in his work Vom Kriege, as follows:

First, all that the country has to offer will be taken for the benefit of the retreating army, and mostly consumed. Nothing will remain but wasted villages and towns; fields emptied of their crops and then trampled; wells run dry; and contaminated brooks. Thus right from …

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Geyer, Michael, “Scorched Earth Tactics”, in: Brill’s Digital Library of World War I. Consulted online on 29 November 2022 <>
First published online: 2015

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