I am looking for a translation of the French military term coup de main. (Not the common French civilian usage which translates as helping hand.) The term occurs frequently in the correspondence between Napoleon and his subordinate commanders, as something one should always look out for both on offense and defense. (See Saski: Campagne de 1809 en Allemagne et en Autriche, for examples.)
In context it refers to a quick victory or acquisition, inevitably by surprise, often bloodless or nearly so, and commonly on the run (meaning by simply not stopping or holding when expected to do so).
It seems to capture imagery from all of the English terms, but I am looking for a better single English term that comes closer than any of these:
- Flick of the wrist (emphasising the quickness and adroitness);
- Stealing a march (emphasizing the unexpectedness and surprise); and
- snatch and run or grab and run (misses on the and run part).