WHATEVER definition of the word "army" (see ARMY) be adopted, the fact that it is a body of men organized for the effective employment of arms is the essence of it. Hence the nature of the most effective organization and employment of armies in active warfare at any given period has always turned upon the nature of the arms in use at the time. The laboratory and workshops of science in recent years have in fact produced and forced on a change in the nature of fighting, of a kind which it is safe to say never entered the mind of any one skill made it necessary. And yet the change is of such a kind that though due to the development of very material things, as, for instance, the greater rapidity of fire, the greater range of weapons, and the like, it is much more remarkable in its effect on the spirit of armies and the nature of fighting discipline than in almost any other aspect.
In all periods of war, under all conditions of arms, the moral forces which affect armies have been the great determining, factors of victory and defeat. From a date much earlier than the day when Caesar, defeated at Dyrrachium, gained the empire of the world by so acting as to restore the morale of his army before the great contest at Pharsalia, it has been on this nice feeling of the moral pulse of armies that the skill of great commanders has chiefly depended. In that respect there is nothing new in the modern conditions of war. But the sequence by which the development of arms has changed the moral pivot of military power in our own times is so remarkable that it deserves to receive a somewhat careful historical statement at the outset of this article. Unless it is understood the lessons of modern fighting cannot be learnt; for there has not yet occurred a modern war in which the principles of modern fighting, as they are now universally understood among the most thoughtful soldiers of all nations, have been deliberately applied to action, after those principles have been realized and worked out in practice during peace time. And yet it is among the first of these principles that for success in our days careful peace practice, adapted to the actual conditions of fighting, must precede the entry on a campaign. When letters from the seat of war in 1866 brought home to Europe the effect which the breech-loader was producing in determining the contest, the first impression was that of simple consternation. It was supposed that Prussia, by the possession of that weapon alone, had made herself mistress of Europe. Gradually it came to be known that the secret of Prussian power lay, not in her breech-loader alone, but at least as much in her perfect organization. In 1870 her scarcely less startlin g successes tended for a time to produce an effect almost as blinding upon the eyes of those who watched them. There was a disposition to assume that whatever had been done in the war by the Prussians was, by the deliberate choice and determination of the best and most successful soldiers in Europe, shown to be the best thin, that could be done under the circumstances. The exhaustive statement of facts contained in the Prussian official narrative and in the regimental histories, and the evidence of eye-witnesses innumerable, have, however, gradually made it evident that, valuable as the experiences of the 1870 campaign unquestionably are for soldiers of all nations, the Prussian successes were certainly not due to the carrying out of what are now regarded by the best Prussian officers themselves as the principles of action which ought to determine practice in future wars. But during the course of the war itself the Prussian army, prepared by the soundest peace training to adapt itself to whatever conditions it met with, was continually and progressively modifying its practice under the experience of conditions which it bad been impossible fully to anticipate.
It is upon the surface of the facts that the extreme loss of life suddenly occasioned at particular points by the effectiveness of the fire of the new weapons, both of artillery and infantry, compelled the gradual abandonment of close formations of men, massed together in dense columns or even in closed lines, and the gradual adoption of what are known as "skirmishing" or open order formations. In other words, when the French fire fell upon the solid columns of the advancing Prussians, the column instinctively scattered. The officers and non-commissioned officers were often lost in very large proportion, and during the actual course of the fighting, without any preconceived idea on the subject, a method of attack was adopted which proceeded by successive swarms of dispersed men taking advantage of such shelter as the ground permitted. The noise of the rapid breech-loader, and the crash of an artillery able to fire much more frequently than in former campaigns, and, moreover, accumulated in much greater masses than bad ever been the case before, made words of command inaudible at a distance. Hence it came to pass that small parties of men, once launched into an infantry fight, were virtually beyond all control on the part of superior officers. All that these could do to influence the action was to determine the direction and object of the first attack of each fraction, and then to furnish it with fresh supports at tb e proper moment, sending them forward in such a way as to cause their blows to be delivered in the most telling direction.
Here then was the great change which had come about, produced, as has been said, by the efficiency of the new weapons, but rendered possible by those changes in the characteristics of the men of whom armies are composed, which had arisen from altogether different circumstances, such as the high educational standard of the Prussian nation, and the introduction into the ranks of highly culti-vated classes. The army, at all events in battle, was and could be no longer a mere mechanical weapon in the hands of its commander. If this latter could not infuse into it a spirit of hearty willing co-operation and intelligent subor-dination, chaos and chaos only must ensue. For the very essence of the old forms of fighting in battle, as they had been inherited from the time of Frederick the Great, and, though modified by Napoleon, had yet in this respect re-mained the same, was that battle movements were led up to and prepared for by an elaborate system of drill, so ar-ranged that by the issue of predetermined words of com-mand the officer leading at least a division of an army could decide precisely the formation it was to assume and the movements it was to make in battle. Now, though, no doubt many of the preliminary movements could still be accomplished in accordance with the old drill, yet, for at least the very mile and a half over which the issue had actually to be fought out, drill had vanished, as far at all events as the infantry were concerned. All effective movements and co-operation depended on perfect organization, and on a training which made every officer and every man know almost instinctively what to do and what decisions to form as each emergency arose. The Germans had in the largest sense perfected their organization, not merely in its form, itself a matter of no small importance, but in its preparedness for battle action. This had been done chiefly by keeping. and training together much larger units of command than had ever been organically worked together before. By "organic working" we specifically mean such work as leads each man to know by long habit what the part assigned to him is, and how to contribute his share in bringing about the result desired by his general. In the article ARMY will be found an exhaustive statement of the successive forms which army organization has assumed at different periods of history. With regard to these forms, representing as they do the condition of an army in a state of rest, suffice it to say that the ancient proverb about new wine and old bottles applies perfectly. It would not have been possible for the Germans to have secured a complete correspondence of working a unity amid great diversity, without having devised a form of organization which assigned to every man an adequate share of work and of responsibility, by bringing a limited number of men at each step under the authority of one, those so placed in authority being themselves at the next stage, in limited number, also under one mans authority. But the very idea of organization implies more than this mere perfection of form. It implies also, as animating the whole body, a spirit developed by careful training, a mutual reliance on the certainty of the adherence of all to known principles of action.
The essential change, then, which appears to have come over modern war may be stated thus. Under the condi-tions of the past, the general in command of an army relied upon its perfection in drill and in formal manoeuvres for enabling him to direct it with success against the weak points of an adversary. Now he must depend instead upon the perfection of its organization and of a training adapted to make each man ready when required to apply sound principles in every emergency, and, above all, as soon as possible voluntarily to place himself under authority again so as to secure unity of action. To summarize this statement in a single sentence, and employing the word organization in the larger sense explained above, the change consists in the substitution of organization for drill as a means of battle-action. In other words, a living organism must take the place of a mechanical instrument.
It will be seen at once that the perfection aimed at, involving, as it does not merely a mechanical learning, by rote and drill-sergeant, of required changes of position, is of a much higher order both for the individual man and for the whole body than was the case under the old con-ditions. On the other hand, it is not possible that the practical performance should so nearly approach the ideal as happened formerly. Hence, great as was the excellence of the Prussian army in 1870 as a whole, yet the more thoroughly that campaign is studied the more manifest will be the mistakes in point of details committed by subordinate actors. It is in the nature of things im-possible that this should ever be otherwise under the conditions of war which are now established. When the choice of action in detail is left to so many hands the possibilities of error are multiplied indefinitely.
It is clear from what has been said that a change of the most complete character has come over the very principle by which armies are held together. It is by no means surprising, therefore, that a few soldiers should have arrived at the conclusion that, because of the import-ance of this change, all past experience of fighting has ceased to be of any importance to him who would under-stand the principles of war as they exist to-day. On the other hand, others of far higher authority have declared it to be certain that change has only affected that branch of the art of war which is called tactics, and that the other branch, or strategy, is in no way affected. We are not able to subscribe absolutely to either of these state-ments. But before stating our views it will be convenient to define the terms employed. By strategy we under-stand "the art of rightly directing the masses of troops towards the object of the campaign." Of modern tactics no better definition perhaps has ever been given than that of Sir Edward Hamley. After defining the limits of either subject thus"the theatre of war is the province of strategy, the field of battle is the province of tactics,"1 he describes the manoeuvres of a modern battle-field, as "the quick orderly change of highly trained and flexible masses of men from one kind of formation to another, or their transference from point to point of a battle-field for purposes which become suddenly feasible in the changing course of action."
It is necessary, in discussing the application of past experience to modern war, to make intelligible the dis-tinction between these two fields of experience, because undoubtedly the changes wrought by time affect the two great parts of the art of war in very different ways and in a very different degree. But in fact there are many parts of the study of tactics which are not strictly included within its province when that is limited to the field of battle. The distinction between the two provinces having been understood as a general idea, it will be seen at once how it has happened that in the varied incidents of warfare it has become necessary to apply the terms "tactics" and "strategy" to other matters. For no army can determine for itself or know beforehand absolutely what will be a field or a day of battle. Hence it is necessary throughout almost the entire course of a campaign to take those pre-cautions and to take into account those considerations
FOOTNOTE (page 344)
1 Operations of War, 4th ed., pt. iii. ch. i.; pt. vi. ch. i.
which apply properly to the period of actual combat. Thus, though an enemy may in fact be many marches dis-taut, it is necessary to provide against his possible attack, by having some troops always on the alert whilst others are marching with all the ease and security which the pro-tection of these procures for them. It is necessary also in a similar manner to have protection for the repose of an army, and to detail troops for this purpose. All the questions, then, which concern the fixing of "advanced guards and "rear guards," which protect the front and rear of an advancing army, and the "outposts," which protect ar army at rest, are usually included in the study of tactics, though in many instances they may have nothing to do with a battle-field. But again, though the campaignthe large field of war which concerns the marches and movements of armies striving against one another to obtain positions of vantage for the actual combatis the province of strategy, yet it may well happen that on the actual battle-field it is necessary to take account, not only of those circumstances which will help to secure victory in the fight, but of the effect which victory or defeat will have upon the campaign. All these considerations we necessarily regard as "strategical," even though they occupy our minds on a battle-field.
For it must be emphatically asserted that there does not exist, never has existed, and never, except by pedants, of whom the most careful students of war are more im-patient than other soldiers, has there ever been supposed to exist, an "art of war" which was something other than the methodic study of military history. Those who have most assisted in making the study sufficiently methodie to enable it to be of practical profit in their own profession to soldiers for future use, or to historical students in watcbino, the play of mind between great commanders, have been invariably the most emphatic in denouncing all attempts to formulate a systematic series of "rules of war." Among generals, Mack, the unfortunate Austrian who surrendered at Ulm to Napoleon, and in our own time Count Palikao, who had made himself the laughing--stock of the English staff during the advance on Peking, and who was afterwards responsible for bringing about the catastrophe of Sedan, have been the great sticklers for the "rules of war." At least once Count Palikao, in China, came without his sword to look on at the success of operations which he bad denounced as "contrary to every maxim of war." On the other hand, Sir Edward Hamley, who has done more than any other Englishman to make known to English officers the value of a methodical treatment of the study of campaigns. has most vigorously denounced such talk as this.
"Nothing is more common," he writes "than to find in writings on military matters reference to the rules of war, and assertions such as that some general violated every principle of war, or that some other general owed his success to knowing when to dispense with the rules of war. It would be difficult to say what these rules are, or in what code they are embodied; and an inquirer, who is somewhat puzzled, perhaps, to understand bow the highest proficiency can be displayed in a science by defiance of its principles, had better resolve to base his own conclusions upon fact and reason alone, when he will probably discover that such criticisms have only very vague ideas for their foundation."
Jomini, a very eminent authority in his day, though not a little disposed to somewhat exact definition, and perhaps sometimes to over-pedantic statement, has with very little difference expressed the same view. Clausewitz, probably the most profound of all military students, has even more emphatically declared that the theory of the art of war is valuable, just in so far as it assists to guide a man through the vast labyrinth of military experience, and to prepare his mind to be ready to act for itself under the emergencies of actual war; but, he adds, "it must renounce all preten-sion to accompany him on to the field of battle." Both he and Jornini agree in asserting that it must have become with him an instinct, almost absorbed into his blood, to be of any value to him. "The wise teacher," says Clausewitz, "restricts himself to the work of directing and assisting the mental development of his pupil, and does not try to keep him in leading-strings throughout his career." Thus from all countries those who have come to be accepted as authorities on the study of war, the very men who, if any, ought to be tempted to magnify their office, have cried aloud against the abuse of such study. It is not from them, but from non-military writers like Macaulay, that the notion of some formal code of the rules of war has been derived. Macaulays expression about Peterborough winning battles by violating the rules of war cannot be characterized otherwise than as worthless rhetoric, not only unsupported, but absolutely contradicted by fact. So thoroughly reasoned and so entirely worked out on a principle were Peterboroughs campaigns that they have in our own day served to guide one of the most brilliant of English soldiers in the conduct of one of his most successful wars. The campaigns by which Colonel Gordon saved China were largely assisted in their conception by his careful study of Peterboroughs generalship in Spain.
On the other hand, it is not from writers on war, but from the greatest generals, that the most emphatic state-ments have come as to the paramount importance to a soldier of the careful study of past campaigns. The class-ical instance of the most authoritative dictum on this sub-ject is surrounded by circumstances of dramatic interest. Napoleon in 1813, sitting after dinner surrounded by his marshals, between the first and the second battle of Dres-den, was drawn to speak on this subject by Marmont, the one who, in Napoleons own judgment and that of others, had himself the most complete knowledge of war as an art. Marmont, observing how difficult it was, during the con-tinued strain of war itself, to improve in its practice, maintaining that rather in peace than in war could war be best studied, said to Napoleon that he thought that Napoleons own first campaign in Italy was the most brilliant in its conception of any that he had ever fought; so that sixteen years of high command had hardly made his knowledge of war as an art more perfect. Napoleon at once admitted the truth of this, and in reply said, "Yes; Turenne was the only one of us all who constantly improved in the management of his campaigns as he advanced in years." This reply is especially remarkable, because Napoleon was not only the greatest captain of his own age, but he was by far the most careful student that the world has known of the great generals of all ages. It is an unanswerable assertion that only by study of the past experience of war has any great soldier ever prepared him-self for commanding armies.
It must, however, be always a question how far the circumstances of our own time have so changed as to limit the period within which it is worth while to devote very careful study to the wars of the past. On the one band, the greater number of officers in any army will never find time exhaustively to study all the great campaigns which would be of value if they had really so known them as to acquire the experience, as far as may be, of the various actors in them, and it is therefore of special importance that the most modern experiences at least should be completely known to them. On the other hand, even after all the campaigns which have taken place since breech-loaders and rifle-guns have become the determining factors of battles have been carefully studied, it can hardly be claimed for them that they present a picture approximately complete of all the possibilities of modern war. To any one who tells us that nothing applicable to the wars of the future is now to be learnt from the campaigns of Napoleon, or even from the events of the Peninsular War, we are prepared to reply by adducing, either from almost any one of Napoleons most important campaigns or from the Peninsula, specific lessons, for the most part experiences of human nature, and illustrations of the mistakes which men are liable to make, which have in no wise been diminished in value by the changes which have come over the face of war.
As an instance in point, reference may here be made to a recently published study of the campaign of Fredericks--burg during, the civil war in America. It deals in a sound and useful manner with both strategy and tactics, and yet it is based entirely on conclusions drawn from a period of war prior to the introduction of the breech- loader We are disposed to put it. forward as a very powerful illustration of the kind of lessons which a careful student may draw from one condition of tactics and apply to another. What is most interesting in the work is perhaps the way in which those lessons are made to apply with exceptional force to the peculiar and special condi-tions involved in breech-loader fighting. It seems impos-sible for any one who has appreciated its excellence not to perceive that in a similar manner, with the like wise appreciation of those things which are permanent and those things which change, sound deductions may be drawn from even the tactical experiences of the Napoleonic era. Nay, the statement of the most brilliant and successful general in the British army of to-day appears to be indisputable, that a perusal of the words of even Caesar himself will suggest to any thoughtful soldier, who knows something also of modern war, reflexions that he may afterwards recall with advantage as applicable to modern campaigns.
That tactics have been first and most directly affected by the changes which have recently taken place in the conditions of modern war it is impossible to doubt. The nature of tactics has been always of a kind more tending to admit of rapid change, and more frequently suggesting to a commander of originality new developments. Napoleon indeed declared that tactics should be changed every ten years. Strategy has always, on the other hand, been as-sumed to possess a more permanent character. All im-portant changes in armament immediately affect tactics. No one now disputes the general character of the tactical changes which have been produced by the introduction of the breech-loader and the development of artillery. In-deed, when we come to describe the broad features of modern tactics, we shall be dealing with matters as to which, except as to a few specific points, it may be said that practically the military world of Europe is agreed; but we confess that we are not prepared to accept the Assumption that tactics only have been changed, and that he who would be ready for future war on the grand scale must not also look for some change in the general char-acter of strategy.
Sir E. Hamley, in his Operations of War, has graphically described how it was that armies lived in the days of Edward III. ; how they depended absolutely upon the food and supplies which they found in the country through which they moved; and how, when they had exhausted that country, and were opposed by an enemy holding a strong position, which they could not venture to assail, they were obliged to fall back simply because they had no arrangements for obtaining supplies regularly from their own land. Now the great strategic movements of armies have depended always upon this question of food and of warlike supplies in the first instance. It will therefore be evident at once that the character of strategy changed from the moment when a system was devised by which along a regular chain of posts, or "line of communications," an army received its supplies of food, warlike implements, and reinforcements, from either its own country or some other source which came to be known as its "base of supply." It began to be the object of generals to manoeuvre in such a way as to interfere with the lines by which their opponents were receiving their supplies and to protect their own. In many respects, no doubt, even the Roman armies in the time of Hannibal acted on strategical principles that are applicable in our own time. Yet the change in the conditions under which armies began to live in the field was so great from the moment when, in order to facilitate and basten their movements, they began to be thus supplied from a particular "base," and along these "lines of com-munication," that the art of handling them in campaigns changed almost as completely as tactics ever changed. New combinations became possible. Skill was turned into a new direction. In other words, strategy, like tactics, changes when its implements or weapons change. If now it be asked whether since the days of Napoleon and Wellington the implements of strategy have not changed almost as completely as those of tactics, it must be answered that the change has been even more complete.
Since 1815 the face of Europe has been more altered ch than it had been in five previous centuries. It is now covered with a network of railways and telegraphs. The commerce of the world and its means of intercommunication have developed in a manner that has everywbeie revolutionized the conditions of life. The advance of science has operated in a thousand forms upon the circum-stances under which armies exist in the field. The conditions of sea transport and of sea warfare are even more completely changed than those of land. Further, it must be remembered that battle-action is itself one of the deter-mining factors of strategy. If, in their general character, the nature of battles and the circumstances under which battles have to be fought change very materially, that in itself involves a further change in the combinations which are open for manceuvres in the field of which the ultimate object is to lead up to battle. Once more, the size of the armies which will enter into the next great campaign in Europe will be so vastly different from those which fought out the great wars of the past that their manoeuvring in campaigns must necessarily be very different from anything that Napoleon undertook, Now, even during the later wars of Napoleon, Jomini was obliged to admit that many of the experiences of the past must be materially modified as armies increased in size. One of the most familiar forms in which Napoleon exercised his strategic skill lay in defeating with his own entire army a fraction of the forces opposed to him, before it could be reinforced by the remainder of the enemy. Thus the element of time essen-tially entered into the question. Even during the great campaign of 1813, when Napoleon, holding a central position on the Elbe, endeavoured to strike from thence against the masses of the allies formed in a great circle round him at Berlin, in Silesia, and in Bohemia, experience. showed that it was by no means easy to crush with sufficient rapidity armies of 120,000 men so as to pre-vent them from being supported in time by others. As, the allies gradually closed in on him, and the distances between their different forces diminished, this became continually more and more apparent. In fact, it became clear, if it had been doubtful beforehand, that the ques-tion was altogether a matter of proportion between time, distance, and the resisting power of the several armies concerned. On the other hand, in 1814, when the nature of the country invaded caused a reduction in the size of the armies moving forward separately, Napoleon was able as of old to strike his blows right and left with telling effect.
Now, if it were possible for an army of our day, supplied with all the implements with which modern science has provided it, to meet any army of equal members, equipped as Napoleons armies were equipped, the difference in power of the modern army would be such that it would almost be able to deal with its enemy as civilized armies provided with fire-arms were at first able to deal with savages possessed only of bows and arrows. The artillery of the days of Napoleon would not be able to act at all, for our modern infantry can f re with effect at a distance greater than could Napoleons big guns. Our artillery would be able to destroy Napoleons army before either his artillery or infantry could act against us. Thus an army of 50,000 men of our own time must be reckoned as possessing at least the resisting power of 100,000 of the days of Napoleon. It is obvious therefore that the re-lationship between time, distance, and the resisting power of armies has been greatly affected by the change in the character of weapons, and that calculations as to what a superior army can do in a given time to break up the force of an army opposing it, and to be free to deal with an-other army, are greatly modified. There is another element which has largely to be taken into account in our modern battles. The expenditure of ammunition is, from the rapidity of fire, enormous. Even in the days of Napoleon it was extremely difficult, as his own words after the battle of Ligny show, for a victorious army rapidly to turn upon a second force which had not been engaged, because of the time required for filling, up the empty ammunition waggons and the mens cartouebes. These difficulties under our conditions, of warfare are therefore immeasurably increased.
Again, in order that an army may nowadays be isolated in the way in which Napoleon in 1805 cut off the army of Mack in Ulm and utterly destroyed it, many conditions have to be secured which were not needed then. The telegraph is a formidable enemy to such an operation. The newspapers are a still greater. When MacMahon in 1870 attempted his disastrous march to the relief of Bazaine in Metz, to the success of which secrecy was essential, his movements first became known to the Prussian headquarters through French and English journals. Thus the rapid intercommunication between town and town, capital and capital, which is now extended in all directions over Europe to an extent that makes it extremely difficult to completely prevent news of all kinds from leaking out, is an element that cannot be neglected in any strategical calculations. The change in this respect is strikingly shown by the fact that seven weeks, elapsed before the news of Trafalgar reached Naples. Furthermore, distant parts of an army may, under certain conditions, be in point of time much more closely connected than they formerly were because of the facilities afforded by railways and telegraphs. There are a variety of other elements less important individually than as all contributing to the same result, which must not be ignored,-the facilities afforded for the supply of armies by compressed food and compressed forage, the enormously extended area which caters for the feeding of the European populations and the organization of the commerce of the world rendering all which that area yields rapidly available, and, lastly, the continually improving methods of machine transport by road, bicycles, tricycles, &c., making it possible to effect rapid movements without forage at all.
Furthermore, not only have we to deal with new material conditions, but, as already observed, the armies which have to be led under these new circumstances have themselves been profoundly changed, not only in their armament but in the very spirit, discipline, and organization by which they are held together. What is true of the private, of the sergeant, of the captain, in his relations with superiors, is even truer of the leader of the brigade, of the division, of the army-corps, of the co-operating army. The whole methoa of the Prussian discipline and organization, as it showed itself in 1870, implied an intelligent independence of action in all ranks that most seriously affected the strategical operations. In fact, in that campaign two very noteworthy points may be observed. From the first battle at Weissenburg up to and including Gravelotte, the peculiar feature of the war was that the German successes at each actionWeissenburg, Wörth, Spicheren, Colombey-Nouilly, Mars-la-Tourwere much more important in their strateg-ical than in their tactical aspect,much more important, that is to say, in their general influence on the campaign than in the severity of the losses in men and material inflicted on the enemy. The losses in battle were in fact greater on the side of the victors than on that of the vanquished. Yet, secondly, each of these actions, up to but not including Gravelotte, was brought on by the determination of subordinate leaders, and was not designed beforehand, either by the kings headquarters or by the headquarters of any one of he three armies. It cannot of course be denied that there was an element of danger in this way of managing a campaign. But the general who attempts to carry out a modern campaign without having realized the nature of this strictly strategical experience is reckoning without his host. Armies now occupy, even when in numbers similar to those of the past, distances vastly greater than was the case in former times. One of two things must happen: either a general must attempt to pre-scribe the action of his subordinate leaders with a rigidity which nowadays will continually prevent them from carry-ing out what would be his wishes could he be on the spot to advise them; or he will find that be has, as best he may, to make his strategical movements fit into events which have not been previously designed by himself. The Prussian headquarters, realizing fully the dangers involved in the plan which they, in fact yielding to necessity, accepted, found no fault with the generals who had in-itiated battles which had proved successful, fearing to do more injury to the spirit of the army than would be compensated by any other advantage. Nevertheless the notes of warnina thrown out in the official history of the war are clear and unmistakable. To us it appears that this condi-tion of things is an element in modern war to be foreseen and prepared for, that it represents, not an accident of the 1870 campaign, but an almost inevitable consequence of the present condition of armies. It was their high spirit, their high training, their knowledge of war, which made the German leaders so hard to keep within the leash when they saw the prey before them, and realized that it was a matter of moments whether it could be seized or not. There is nothing like this campaign, in the peculiar mode in which its strategical aspects developed, in all the past history of war.
It would appear, therefore, that it tends to mislead a man who is anxious to consider what combinations are open to a general in the field in our day, to assure him that strategy has undergone no change since the days of Napoleon. No doubt a soldier who had never considered how or why Napoleon triumphed over his opponents, and when and why he failed, would have very little chance of solving aright the problems of a modern campaign. The handling of armies is, before all things, in the infinite variety of its elements, a dealing with human nature, under certain peculiar conditions, a play of mind against mind, and only by a study of the masters of the game can some of its experiences be gathered. If the changed conditions under which a modern war now takes place have been realized, then all study of the martial experiences of the past will in its own degree have value. We doubt extremely if any man can fairly appreciate the character of the campaign of 1866, or the campaign of 1870, who knows nothing of the campaigns of Napoleon. To take, for instance, the earlier of the two, the Prussian strategy in it has been the subject of much dispute ; and those who think that questions of war can be settled by quoting maxims of Napoleon, or of other great generals, find no difficulty in picking out sayings of his that would condemn without excuse the scheme of the Prussian campaign. Certainly we should ourselves be sorry to suggest that it is the one satisfactory model for future guidance under analogous circumstances. To us it seems that its value, as a sample of what may be done in war, depends on a careful comparison of the handling of the Prussian armies, under the conditions in which they had to act, with the mode in which Napoleon and other great generals acted under their own conditions. The point in which the Prussians offended against the received maxims of Napoleon lay in their attempting to pass the Bohemian mountains in two separate armies,one from Silesia, one from Saxony and Prussia. The Prussian headquarters remained at Berlin in telegraphic connexion with both armies up to the moment when the junction of the two had been so far effected that they were able to communicate with each other. Now Napoleon in many letters, more especially those addressed to his brother Joseph in Spain, has condemned the attempt to arrange complicated schemes for the co-operation of armies acting from different bases of supply. His reason is that such complicated schemes are rarely worked out as they are intended to be. For our own part we do not believe that the warning from the vast experience on which Napoleons views were based has ceased to be of practical importance. We think that it ought to be present to the minds of all who are working out the plan of a campaign, and that the simpler, the less complicated, the less dependent on the successf al combina-tion of a number of different elements the plan is the more likely is it to te successful. But we think also that the actual circumstances of each mse as a whole must be taken into account, and that in the instance of the campaign under consideration the Prussian headquarters were fully justified in the method they adopted. Such an operation indeed would not have been safe or wise in the days of Napoleon (see below); but for the moment our contention is that the modifications of the art of war which are necessitated by modern conditions extend to all its branches, and that criticism of modern campaigns which is based upon maxims derived from the past, without taking account of those new circumstances, is unsound and untrue. Few things are more unsafe in war than to judge by isolated cases of success alone, as to the soundness of the principles and the capacity of the leaders concerned in bringing about the successful result. The importance of military success is, in Britain more especially, apt to be measured much more by the national interest and national excitement which the result occasions than by any careful estimate of the difficulties actually overcome and the capacity for future command exhibited by the triumphant leader. To take illustrations sufficiently distant from our own days:scarcely any victory, naval or military, has ever excited wilder enthusiasm in England than the capture of Porto Bello by Vernon in 1725; scarcely any disaster, the most disgraceful that ever occurred, caused greater horror and alarm in England than the return of Moores expedition from Corunna in January 1809. Yet, as subsequent events showed, Vernon was by no means a very able admiral; and, on the other hand, as all who have really studied the Corunna campaign well know, few have been ever conducted with more conspicuous ability or would have justified a higher confidence in the general. It is thus of the greatest importance that statesmen at least should not be carried away by the sort of hasty criticism which deals in glib phrases, and avoids reasoned examination of facts. The maxims of Napoleon may be as easily kilndried and deprived of life as those of Frederick had been by the Prussian army of Jena, which was so sure of defeating the upstart aspirant to military supremacy.
To sum up, then, what has been said on the art of war. There is no royal road to the knowledge of the art of handling armies any more than to that of any other branch of human activity. All that the best summary on that subject can profess to do for a reader is to assist him in undertaking a methodic study for himself of the principles which have guided great commanders, of the experiences of those who have fought in great battles and great campaigns, in endeavouring to put himself in their place so as to see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and realize the passions which influenced them, and the circumstances under which their decisions had to be formed.
It is not to be forgotten that even a commonplace critic may find it easy, when all the facts are fairly laid before him, to judge what ought to have been done in a given emergency. "La critique est facile, lart est difficile," was the motto which Muffling, the very able representative of the Prussian army at Wellingtons headquarters in 1815, chose for the title-page of his studies of war. The historical student has at least one advantage which is always and absolutely denied to the general. He may never, for many reasons, have an altogether correct and a completely true picture of all the circumstances which occurred on a given day, but be has a far more complete one than could possibly be before the general at the moment when he formed his decisions. Still more, he has far better materials for judgment than any of the minor actors who had themselves to decide what they ought to do, within the limitations of the orders they received, on most incomplete knowledge of what others were doing at distant parts of the field, of the positions and designs of the enemy, and of many other facts which may now be known with certainty by any one who will read what happened. He who would prepare himself in any measure for criticizing aright must put himself in the place of the soldier who has to choose,must realize the condi-tions of personal danger, of noise, of passion, of incomplete and constantly misleading information, of disorder, confusion, panic, excitement, under which decisions are to be formed that must be calm and cool though they involve the lives of thousands of men, the fate of nations, and the course of history, and yet must be given then and there, for the lost moment will not return. Then he will perhaps perceive that after all the question whether he would himself have given the right decision, no matter what his previous training may have been, will be more a question of character than of knowledge. Nevertheless he is much more likely to decide aright if he has in his mind some large knowledge of the accumulated experience of the past than if, without anything to guide him, he judges by a so-called "common sense" which has already led him to ignore the earnest advice of those who have been themselves most successful in war. He is still more likely to decide aright, if, after he has acquired some general knowledge of the experience of the past, his judgment has been exercised by considering under assigned conditions what course he would actually choose to adopt. This is the method of peace preparation for war in which the Prussian officers of our day have been most carefully trained. In all their current works on the study of war they insist on the importance of this formation of the judgment and this training of choice as a matter of the utmost importance. All their most important military educational works take the form of "studies" or problems. The use of the war game and the training given by peace-manoeuvres, as well as all regimental instruction, are adapted to the same end.1
The character of all military operations, whether those of strategy or tactics, is mainly determined by the nature of the armies engaged in them. An army as it exists in the field owes its constitution largely to those military institutions which, have been fully described for each of the armies of ourtime under ARMY. But an army in the field differs considerably in each case from thatwhich has been described as "the machine in a state of rest." This will be obvious at once if we consider the first question which attracts the attention of a commander about to lead an army. He has to choose the line of operations along which his army will act. The considerations which determine his choice are mainly connected with the neces-sity he is under of providing at all times for the supply of his army with food, forage, and ammunition, whilst he directs it against the point at which he is to strike.
In order that, for actual fighting purposes and during war, "that vast and complicated machine," an army, may so act "that the whole aggregate force of its numerous parts may be exerted in any direction and on any point required," the necessities of the individual soldier must be so provided for as not to hamper its working. A body of even thirty thousand men occupies a very considerable space, and requires an amount of food that completely disturbs the ordinary peace arrangements of most places at which it arrives in the course of its movements. Hence, apart from the large means of transport, such as a great fleeb or ample railway communication, which may be sometimes used to carry a whole army to a given destina-tion, an army requires what is known as "transport" for an altogether different purpose. The food and ammunition must be distributed to the several battalions of soldiers composing the army from the points at which it has been collected, and within the battalions it will often be neces-sary to distribute it by transport to the men. Similarly for the conveyance of the sick and wounded of an army transport is required. In former days the arrangements which were made to provide an army with what was needed in this way were clumsy in the extreme. It will be remembered that during the Peninsular War the Duke of Wellington was necessarily so much occupied with this question of food and supply that he used humorously to say that he did not know that he was much of a general, but he prided himself upon being a first-rate commissariat officer. As long as all armies depended upon the services of country carts and undisciplined drivers it was always possible to carry on war by these means. An army which, like the British in the Peninsula, fought continuously in the same country for six years, gained an enormous advantage by the gradual training and discipline of its transport drivers and commissariat employés. But now that the great nations of the continent of Europe have adopted a system by which all the population is available for military service, the result is that from the moment of declaration of war a modern army enters upon a campaign with the whole of its "transport," using the term in the sense we have employed, as definitely a part of the disciplined army as its infantry, its cavalry, or artillery are. It is scarcely possible to exaggerate the importance of this change in facilitating the operations of an army in the field. The British army stands at a very great disadvantage in this respect, from the fact that the population outside the fighting ranks is not, like that of Germany or France, ready to take up its place in the departments which cater for supply and transport. This modern perfecting of the efficiency of the interior transport of an army is a new strategical weapon in the hands of a general, to be reckoned among those spoken of in the earlier part of this article. Whether with the British army in an imperfect degree, or in a Con-tinental army more completely, this transport must be understood to be as much a part of a modern army as any of its "arms." When, during a campaign an infantry battalion is moved by train, it, unless for a very especial emergency, requires to have with it the waggons and carts which form what is called its "regimental transport." Other transport is required to carry the more general stores needed for a brigade, a division, or an army-corps. Thus each unit of an army, if it is to remain in a condition of fighting efficiency, requires to have with it a great number of horses and carts. It is impossible to realize the nature of the problems involved in the movements of armies unless this condition is kept in mind. For instance, when the British were moving to Ismailia in 1882, it was na uncommon assumption of the critics who at home watched the operations as they went on that within a day or two at the outside the small force, not exceeding about 10,000 men, which at first moved thither from Alexandria, had effected its landing. Had it been a body of 10,000 travellers landing from a variety of ships, to be provided for by the civil arrangements of the country after they had landed, that might not have been an exaggerated estimate of what was possible. But in fact the great ships were carrying not only 10,000 travellers,2 but great quantities of stores of all kinds, of ammunition, of railway rolling-stock, of engineer equipment, of waggons and of horses. The landing of these and their passage up a narrow causeway was necessarily a very elaborate and slow operation. The whole scheme of the campaign had to take account of the time which such work would take, and, in fact, as a conse-quence of it, more than half the force to be ultimately employed was left either at Alexandria or at sea, and only arrived at Ismailia many days afterwards, when the landing of the first part had advanced considerably.
The same difficulty in rapidly transferring an army, chiefly because of its attendant departments, affects all strategical movements by railway. The embarking of troops on a railway, and their disembarking from the carriages, is an operation of such slowness that for com-paratively short journeys it is actually quicker for troops to march than to move by railway. The miscalculations and mistakes which were made so recently as 1870 by the French army, from failure to understand these facts, led often to the most disastrous consequences. In one instance Gambetta, insisting on sending troops by railway which Aurelle de Palladines had wished to march, hampered the operations of that veteran by the delay which was thus imposed upon certain portions of the army. There is, in fact, between the distance to be moved over and the number of troops to be moved by a line of railway a proportion which determines whether it is a more rapid operation to march or to travel by railway. In a pamphlet published shortly after the war the French emperor attributed his disasters to the general ignorance of his army as to the conditions involved in railway transport.
An army in the field, however, in addition to having transport present with it for distribution, needs to be able to replenish its supplies; and, though in fertile countries like France the feeding of the army may be greatly assisted by requisitions or by opening markets, it is impossible to depend for existence on these alone.
FOOTNOTES (page 349)
(1) We are indebted to the Volunteer Tactical Society of Manchester for by far the best essay we have seen in any language on the history and use of the war gamethat by Captain Spenser Wilkinsonand for the beginning of a series of translations of exercises in strategy and tactics by some of the ablest German soldiers of the day.
(2) The entire army employed in Egypt was about 30,000 strong. Only the force which first landed at Ismailia is here spoken of.
Fresh supplies of ammunition at least must be continually received from a secure source, and the means must be available for feeding the army in case the resources of the country fail. Nowadays, and in most countries, the main line of supply is carried along lines of railway ; but, as these are always liable to be destroyed by a retreating enemy, transport, independent of that which is required merely for distribution, must be provided in the form of waggons, carts, or pack animals sufficient to supply, for at least some days, the entire army.
The source from which an army is supplied is usually spoken of as its "base" or its "base of supply." The direction in which, looking forward, a general proposes to advance, and along which it will be necessary to arrange for supply, is spoken of as his "line of operations." The direction along which the army, having already advanced to some distance from its base, is supplied, is spoken of as its "line of communications." Now, as the line of com-munications may come to be of great length as an army advances, and as the army needs to have its fighting strength available in the front when it is engaged with the enemy, it is clear that the long lines of road or rail-way along which the food and ammunition are moving forward, while parties of sick and wounded men are going backward, become weak points in its condition, which must be jealously guarded, but are difficult adequately to protect throughout their length, without detracting too much from the force in the front. In modern war the effort of the general is directed to maintaining in its full efficiency "the vast and complicated machine" which he handles, and to breaking up and destroying the efficiency of that to which he is opposed. This is the central fact to be kept in mind. Generals and soldiers, long accus-tomed to look at war from this point of view, frequently embody their whole conception of strategy in a phrase which to a reader, taking it in its simple form, is apt to seem like a mere truismthat the great principle of strategy is to concentrate the largest possible force at the right moment at the decisive point. So stated, strategy may seem to have nothing exceptional in its nature, and to involve no study of the nature of the great organizations of men with which it is concerned. But, in fact, this study and this knowledge are presupposed by those who thus explain their art. It is because armies are not mere gatherings of armed men, but have a vitality of their own, that some very heavy blows may be struck against them without affecting a vital point, whilst a more skilfully directed stroke may destroy their whole future power of action. An army then, as it stands in the field, is of this character, that, while the fighting force directly opposed to the enemy is an organism which depends for its vitality upon the trained spirit of order, discipline, and enthusiasm or devotion which holds it together, and on the trained capacity for mutual and effective fighting co-operation which makes it act like one man, it has also, reaching far behind it, a long and weak tail, on the safety of which its very existence depends.
Now, if by employing a large portion, or the whole of his own force, against a smaller portion of the enemys, a general can break up and defeat it, the advantage gained depends on the fact that he has broken up the organic unity of this portion. Even if, as may easily happen, he has lost more men than the enemy during the effort, that very little affects the importance of the result on the future of the campaign. The strength of armies cannot be measured by counting heads within the theatre of war. It depends upon the organized. force that the general is able to use and to direct. During the earlier battles of the 1870 campaign, for instance, the Germans lost very many more men than the French, but at Weissenburg they broke up the organic efficiency of a French division of about 8000 men. At Wörth they broke up the organic efficiency of 40,000 men at least. After Wörth the French army which had fought there had for the time being ceased to be an effective fighting body at all. Throughout the campaign it never recovered efficiency. The German forces, on the other hand, though they had lost more fight-ing men than the French, had actually increased their own effective power. Their organic unity was retained, and the spirit which inspired it had been incalculably raised by victory. But if a general can in any way interfere with the source from which an enemy is obtaining his supplies of food, ammunition, and fresh men, he can diminish his fighting power as effectually as if be broke up the organic unity in battle. A body of men who are starving can as little be held in the bonds of organization as a body of men who are dispersed. Hence the slightest movement which threatens that long and weak tail already described obliges the general whose line of communications is threatened to take steps for its protection.
At first sight it is not very obvious, since each army pos-sesses lightly movable troopscavalry, mounted infantry, and the likewhy these should not be able to pass round the front of the opposing army, and get at the unguarded parts of the roads and railways along which the supplies are moving. To some extent, during the American civil war, this was actually done by the great leaders of horse-men on either side,Sheridan and Longstreet. In all probability a similar attempt will be made in future wars by the great bodies of Russian Cossacks, and perhaps by the cavalry of Germany, France, and Austria. But what facilitated the raids of the American cavalry of either army was the fact that they were moving in a country where all the people spoke the same language as themselves, and where they were sure to find sympathizers to supply them with needed information. Under ordinary circumstances the difficulty is that each army faces the other without any approach to complete knowledge of the distribution of the troops opposed to it. The part of the enemys line of communication which is nearest to you is also the part nearest to the main body of that enemys own army. In order to get at some parts of his communications which would be out of reach of support from the main army, it would be necessary to Send the assailing light troops to points several marches in rear. This involves a long détour an elaborately prepared march, and the risk that the enemy may become aware of what is designed. In fact, to use the forcible illustration which Clausewitz has employed to explain the situation in which the leader of such a raid finds himself, he is like a man entering a dark room full of assailants, never knowing when or whence a blow may be struck against him.
The situation is altogether changed if, instead of the two armies frontin, one another directly, one of the two is able to make its movements in such a way that, while it securely covers its own line of communications, its direct march forward threatens to strike the line of communica-tions of the enemy. Then the light troops can at once strike the most exposed parts in all security. Under those circumstances the army whose communications are threatened is obliged immediately, for fear of losing its means of existence, to turn to face its opponents. The advantage so gained by the army which has obliged its enemy to conform to its movement is very great. For the choice of position can no longer be made by the assailed army solely with the view to gaining success in battle. It may be obliged to fight in a position tactically dis-advantageous, and if it is defeated the defeat is almost certain to be fatal: for it will be driven away from the means of replenishing supplies. On the other hand the army to which it is opposed, if obliged by ill-success in action to retreat, falls securely back upon fresh supplies, and suffers only in proportion to the extent of its actual defeat on the battle-field.
Thus the aims of strategy directed against the actual condition of the armies of our time are twofold,first, to break up the organic force of the opposing army by dealing in concentrated force with fractions of the enemy, and secondly, to threaten, and if possible to destroy, the enemys connexion with the sources from which he draws his supplies. Failing either of these opportunities, a superior army may nevertheless endeavour to force on a decisive action in order to make its superiority tell. In other words, in that case the aim of strategy becomes that of securing a decided tactical advantage. It might be supposed, since these facts are known to all men who are at all likely to be placed in the command of armies in the field, that opportunities would rarely occur for delivering blows of the kind described. In fact, the difficulties in the arrangements for the movement of armies are so great, and the difficulties in obtaining information of what is going on in a theatre of war are so serious, that such chances are presented in almost every campaign. Thus in the 1870 campaign the Germans, after first breaking up compara-tively small fractions of the French army at Weissenburg, Wörth, and Spicheren, succeeded in separating one great mass of the French army under Bazaine from the other under MacMabon, and in separately crushing them. In the 1877-78 campaign the Russian army in Asia Minor advanced westwards past Kars against Erzeroum, driving Mouktar Pasha back before it ; but the arrival of a fresh hostile force from the neighbourhood of Van in the south, which, marching northwards upon Bayazid, struck directly upon, the line of communications of the Russian army, produced an immediate collapse of the whole movement. The Russian army was obliged to fall back at once. Similarly, in Europe the Russian forces advancing from Tirnova had pushed their advance across the Balkans towards Adrianople, when the arrival of Osman Pashas army, moving from Widdin upon Plevna at right angles to their line of communications, caused the whole movement to collapse, and obliged the Russians to turn their attention to the force which thus threatened them.
This movement of Osman Pashas illustrates very happily several points in the relation between strategy and tactics. In the first place, Osmans move was obviously in its general character, in what we call its strategical aspect, an offensive one directed against the most vital point of the Russian field of campaign, the bridge by which they had passed the Danube at Sistova. The threatening character of the position he took up obliged the Russians in some way to dispose of his force. Very unwisely they engaged in a series of ill-prepared and ill-directed attacks upon him. The result was so com-pletely to shatter their forces that, bad Osman advanced, after his final success, against Sistova, the small Russian remnant between him and the Danube must have been driven into the river, and in all probability all the Russian forces which had crossed it would have been destroyed. But, as he remained obstinately within his field fortress at Plevna, the Russians in their turn gradually succeeded in cutting off his communications, and in obliging him to surrender that which they could not take. Thus it is clear how a site for an array may be so chosen as, from its strategical character, to induce if not to compel an enemy to attack it. It is also clear that an army fighting in a well-chosen and well-fortified position, acting on the defensive, may inflict serious defeat upon forces superior to it in numbers. Finally, it is clear that such an army will. in the long run, lose all the advantages of its success, if it is not able to advance and to act offensively when the opportunity is presented to it. It has been convenient to illustrate these points from the most recent campaign in Europe, but they had been already deduced and were fully understood long before that campaign had been entered on. They illustrate the way in which the experience of the past indicates what will happen in future war. The arrival of Osman Pasha at Plevna was a complete surprise to the Russians. Its disastrous effect for them was largely due to this cause. Apparently the same thing is true of the arrival of the Van forces at Bayazid. Yet, at the time, the existence of the Turkish forces both at Van and Plevna was known in London. The want of information at the Russian headquarters appears therefore to suggest the most extraordinary negligence on the part of the Russian staff. In any case, the vital effect upon a campaign of being able to procure the best information in any way obtainable can hardly be exaggerated. Cavalry being the arm employed to spread round an army in all directions, to gain information and to conceal the movements of the army, is on this account often justly called the strategical arm.
In whatever way strategy is employed surprise and concealment are essential to its success. On, this account it will continually happen, in selecting a line of operations or a scheme of campaign, that the most important point of all is to carry out just what an enemy does not expect. Very often successful campaigns, the method of which has been subsequently much criticized, have owed their suc-cess to the fact that, from a nice calculation of time and distance, the successful general has seen that he could carry through an operation dangerous in itself but sure not to be the one expected by his opponent. For the same reason, in all the most brilliant and successful efforts of strategic skill, steps have been taken beforehand to carry out the preliminary movements of an army in such a way as to leave an enemy up to the last moment uncertain in what direction the blow would be struck. Usually also some special effort has been made to induce the enemy to believe that he would be attacked in some very different direction from that intended.
One of the means by which this has been most successfully accomplished is the selection of the point of concentration prior to the opening of a campaign. The motives and causes for this "concentration" require, how-ever, some explanation. It is much more easy to feed and supply an army which is distributed over a considerable area than one which is closely concentrated for the purposes of action. Furthermore, armies when moving along roads occupy a very great length. The head of the column is more or less distant from the rear in proportion to the number of troops, waggons, and animals that march by the same road. Hence it follows that the more roads an army can employ in its march the more easy will it be for its several parts to reach a required point at the same moment. Therefore, for facility of supply and for facility of movement, as long as an army is out of reach of an enemy, a considerable dispersion is advisable. But it is vitally necessary to an army entering on a campaign to be able to get all its parts together before there is any possibility of an enemys attacking it. Otherwise it would be in the position of exposing some of its fragments to the danger of being separately attacked by superior forces of the enemy, and having their efficiency destroyed before they could be supported. Hence a concentration out of reach of an enemy's concentrated army is the pre-liminary necessity of every campaign.
Though it is nearly always to the advantage of a body of troops which comes in contact with a hostile force inferior to it in fighting power to fight with it and destroy its organic unity, yet a small force may for a time succeed in delaying the movements of one very superior to it. The fighting power of an army depends upon the number of weapons that it is able to, bring to bear upon its enemy. Now, as for rapid movement that does not fatigue the men an army is ordinarily obliged to march along roads, it follows that the number of weapons avail- able for fighting in front of the line of march is very small. Hence, though a general may have under his com-mand a very large body of troops, representing a very great amount of power when that power is developed, yet as long as he is simply marching forward he cannot imme-diately use that power at the point which the head of his column has reached. In order to do so he must bring those men who are far away from the front up to a position in which they can use their arms. Such an operation often takes a very long time. The time becomes much longer if, instead of marching on a road through open country or between hedge-rows, he has great mountain precipices on either side of him, so that he cannot easily get his men out of the path in which they are. Or again, if he finds that it is necessary for him to develop the power of his army in order to force his way across a bridge over a river, it may be necessary for him in the first instance to extend his artillery and infantry along the side of the stream nearest him in order to use his weapons; and then, when he wants to resume his march, he may have to bring them back again to the bridge. These are instancee of the delay which is imposed upon armies which have to force their way through "defiles." Now, if a small force is employed in delaying a larger one, which it does not intend seriously to engage, its object almost always is to induce the larger one thus to "deploy" its force from the march to a position for fighting, purposing itself. to escape before the enemy seriously attacks it. It may seem at first that, as the small force has itself necessarily to pass from the march formation to the fighting position and to return again to the march, there is no gain of time. But, in fact, if the successive positions be judiciously chosen for the small force, it is extremely difficult for the general commanding the superior army to know what number of enemies he has before him. If, not wishing to delay the movement of his army, he deploys too small a force, the defender may use his whole power to inflict a crushing defeat upon this before it. can be supported. If, on the other hand, be deploys a force sufficient to destroy the body opposed to him, this must involve a long delay, and very probably he will find, when he moves to attack, that the defensive force is already gone, or has left only some light troops to make a show up to the last. By such means again and again in war a small force employed in well-chosen ground has been able to hamper the movements of a superior body and to gain time for other operations. The different applications of this detaining, power of small bodies are so numerous that hardly any problems either of strategy or tactics are intelligible unless its nature is understood. The essence of it lies in the smaller body not allowing itself to become so engaged as to have its organic unity destroyed by defeat.
The simplest application of this detaining power of small bodies occurs in this way. Suppose, as often happens, that two allied armies, or two parts of the same army, are moving to unite against an enemy. It may happen that by skilful dispositions or the chance of war the general engaged against them is able to interpose between them whilst they are still several marches apart from one another. Suppose now that in a country favourable to such an operation he employs a sinall portion of his own force to delay, the march of one of his opponents, whilst he throws the bulk of his forces aginst the other. In attempting to defeat this body before it can receive support he holds a position of very great advantage. This is the situation which is commonly described by saying that the general in question is acting on "interior lines" against the two armies opposed to him. But it is vitally important to his success in this matter that be shall succeed in defeating one of his opponents whilst the other is still some marches off, otherwise their union against him on the field of battle may, from the very fact of their striking his position from different directions, prove even more disastrous to him than if be had allowed them to unite before he attacked them. Thus when Napoleon, during the Waterloo campaign, had broken in at Charleroi upon the intended point of concentration of the allied armies, he, with Ney opposing Wellington at Quatre-Bras long before the English army was concentrated, and himself able to act with the bulk of his forces against Blücher at Ligny before the Prussian army was fully concentrated, was acting in the most perfect way upon interior lines. But, when at Waterloo, whilst fie was still engaged with Wellington in his front, Bhicher broke in upon his flank, though the bulk of the French army was still between its opponents, that was a position of disaster. During the 1866 campaign the Prussians crossed the Bohemian mountains in two separate armies,one from Silesia under the crown prince, one from Saxony and Prussia under Prince Frederick Charles. Had the army under the Austrian commander Benedek been concentrated in Bohemia, so that, whilst one part of his forces detained either the crown prince or Prince Frederick Charles, the main body had been thrown against the other, the general would have gained all the advantages of interior lines. But, when on the field of Sadowa, whilst Benedek was still fiercely engaged against the army of Frederick Charles in front, the crown prince broke upon his flank, though the Austrian army was still in one sense between the two Prussian armies, it was so only in a sense disastrous for it. This event, in which an army attempting to take advantage of the separation of two opponents is crushed between them on the field of battle, is described by German soldiers by the phrase that such an army is taken "tactically between them" ("in der taktischen Mitte").
The operation of acting on interior lines was the favourite form of Napoleons strategy. He would have condemned unhesitatingly the attempt to carry out any plan of campaign which involved such a combination as the Prussians attempted in 1866. But in his day armies were not connected by telegraph. In speaking of the concentration of armies prior to a campaign as necessarily made out of reach of a concentrated enemy there is this reservation to be noted. If two armies acting against a third can so nicely time their union as to strike against the enemy on the field of battle within a few hours of one another, they gain all the advantage of getting their enemy "tactically between them." The difficulties, however, of this nice adjustment of time are so great that no prudent commander would deliberately beforehand arrange his general concentration in this way on the field of battle. Nevertheless, the fact that it is sufficient for the armies to have effected their junction so nearly as to be within reach of mutual support on a field of battle considerably enlarges tbe area within which their union can be accomplished. Thus at the beginning of the 1866 campaign the Prussians had fixed the point of junction of their two armies at Citchin; but, though it would have been possible for them to have joined their forces on June 30, they did not carry out this actual meeting. They were content with the fact that the two armies were by June 30 in close supporting distance of one another. They only actually met on the field of battle of Sadowa. The effect of the selection of a point of concentration, as tending to leave an enemy uncertain as to the direction which a general purposes afterwards to take, can hardly be better illustrated than by Napoleons concentration in the Waterloo campaign. By gathering his army at Philippe-ville, Beaumont, and Solre, he threatened Mons more directly than he threatened Charleroi, and thereby tended to prevent his enemies from concentrating against the points of his intended attack.
There is a peculiarity in the strategical aspect of British campaigns beyond sea against savage tribes which requires a short explanation. Usually the difficulty lies in transporting from the base towards the front a sufficient quantity of provisions without eating them up on the road. Since the animals and men employed in transporting food and ammunition must themselves be fed, it is evident that if we send supplies for a days journey forward the balance available for feeding the troops will be the amount the transport can carry, less two days food for themselves, that is one day forward and one day in coming back. Similarly, for a journey of eight days to the front sixteen days food for the carrying animals and men will have to be deducted. In fact, more than this will be required, because when the journey is extended beyond a certain limit there must be occasional rest days. It is clear that if, as was the case in Abyssinia, in Ashantee, in the movement on Sikukunis country, and, though with different transport, on the Nile and in Egypt, a march of many days beyond all supplies of food not carried by the transport has to be made, a point will be reached at which the animals begin to eat up all the food they carry. This can only be met by the system of depôting. That is to say, an accumula-tion of large supplies of food is made as far forward on the road as possible, and then from that point it is again pushed forward by one relay of transport whilst others fill it up from behind. But here again another point arises. If the whole army to be employed on the expedition were pushed forward to the front where the supplies are being accumulated, these supplies would be eaten up as fast as they arrived. The fewer the troops in the front the more rapid will be the accumulation. Hence the great secret of a rapid advance in this case is to keep in front only as many troops as are necessary, when well entrenched, to guard the accumulation of supplies. The more completely all others are kept back from the front the sooner will the expedition achieve the object for which it is employed. These are incidents which repeat themselves on every English expedition, while at the same time complaints are continually being made of the generals during the course of the campaign for the delay involved in their doing the very thing which hastens achievement.
In speaking of the changes which have affected strategy, we declared our belief that the weapons of strategy have changed since the Napoleonic era even more completely than those of tactics. It now becomes necessary to define the limits of what this statement implies. We have shown how, even in questions of strategy, the spirit of subordination and the nature and kind of co-operation which a minor leader has to give to his commander--in-chief have been affected by the changes in the size of armies, the scope of operations, and the developed facilities of communication and supply. This change, however, of the spirit of organization is, in so far as re-gards strategy, a comparatively secondary matter. Among the few men engaged in the actual command of armies and army corps, it is almost an affair of personal arrange-ment and of mutual understanding how far the sub-ordinate acts independently, and how far he merely carries out the precise directions of his superior. Where men are so, well known to one another as were, for instance, the leaders of armies and army corps of the Germans during the campaign of 1870, the generals of such great bodies as these could judge from personal knowledge of the characters of those under whom they were acting what degree of latitude to allow themselves in the interpretation of orders. We see the evidence of this everywhere. This personal confidence, this mutual knowledge of one another among the higher leaders of armies, has become an essential instrument of modern war. The general who has men under him whom he does not know and cannot trust suffers now in a degree in which he never suffered before. But when we come to compare the effect of modern changes on the spirit of strategy, in these matters of discipline, with its effect on tactics, there is no proportion between the two.
Discipline is the very life-blood of an army, and it is on the field of battle, that is, within the province of tactics, that it shows its potency. To interfere in any way with this spirit, as it determines the power of the commander over his men in the presence of the enemy and under the stress of battle, to introduce the least malignant influence into it, is to blood-poison the army. Therefore, as no army can nowadays hope, in presence of a modern enemy armed with the weapons of to-day, to carry out a system of manceuvres in which discipline can be main-tained with the old facility, and under conditions so favourable to it as those of the past we must approach the subject with a caution proportioned to its vital importance. Curiously enough it is from,an English scientific author, from Mr Darwin, that one of the ablest of recent German writers on war has borrowed the penetrating phrase which sums up the essential element, common to the discipline of the past with that of the present, which it is vital to us not to shake or to impair. The engrained habit of mutual confidence among all ranks of a regiment is the factor in its strength which attracted Mr Darwins attention as the cause of its incalculable superiority in power over an armed mob. Baron von der Goltz accepts the statement as true, without reserve. When, however, we come to consider what has enabled armies to acquire this engrained habit, we are met by some very curious experiences. In the first place, the instinctive habit of obedience to a word of command, as coming from one who has the right and the duty to give that command, has to be carried into the very limbs of a man. When cultivated men of mature years entered the ranks of the British volunteers during the early stages of the movement, some very amusing protests appeared in print as to the dreary monotony of the mechanical contortions which represent the early phases of recruit drill. A certain pity or sympathy was expressed for the poor soldiers who had to spend their lives in such uninteresting tasks. It would hardly be too much to say that the complaints of these very superior persons showed a want of philosophic acuteness, which is entirely absent from the minds of the most zealous volunteers of our day. No one understands better than these the fact that in the dull mechanical routine of those incidents of recruit drill is laid the foundation of all military power. The zealous barrister, who at thirty-five always found himself turning by mistake to the right when he was ordered to turn to the left, who found it impossible to supple his limbs in the required "extension motions," was unconsciously illustrat-ing the weakness of the most zealous untrained armed man. With the best of wishes his body was so little under the command of his own mind and will that he could not, much as he wished it, place it at once under the command of anyone else. Much less could he cut out that disturbing element so far as to obey instinctively, and without a certain element of resisting individually, the command he received.
Now the capacity to act together under the order of one man can never be dispensed with under any of the conditions of modern war. The instinctive obedience of a rank of soldiers to the order to turn "Right about," when that orders sends them back into the ground where shells are bursting and where bullets are raining, has been a power in fighting too great for us ever willingly to throw it away. Some humorous illustrations of its effect on soldiers, and of the victory-winning power which an even apparently unintelligent to this authority of instinct has given more especially to English soldiers, are mentioned in the article ARMY (vol. ii. p. 589). In proportion as men understand war they value this effect and would be unwilling even to diminish at a given moment actual loss of life if that diminution were secured by any sacrifice of this power. And old English battalion trained to the absolute perfection of such mechanical obedience was a splendid fighting instrument. No training, However perfect, to take advantage of ground, to seek cover, to glide on to the weak points of an enemy, will compensate, even in these days, a deficiency in that habit of utter self-abnegation, of entire subordination to the one purpose of unite action under assigned orders. But, under the modern conditions of war, the loss inflicted within a given time by the terrible weapons now in the hands of all armies is so great that the very formations under which on a parade the armies of the past prepared to move in actual fighting under the orders of their commanders are mechanically as much morally dissolved. Not even can the voice of the captain or the subaltern be heard, much less that of the liutenant-colonel, above the din of breech-loaders and of shrapnel shells. It is not therefor with a light heart, not willingly, not as thinking that a dispersed order of fight is something in itself more powerful or more advantageous than a rigid formation in which ordered and orderly movement is easy, in which force can be concentrated, in which the habits of discipline can be certainly maintained, but of dire necessity, that the most experienced soldiers of our day have come to the absolute conviction that only by preparing armies for fighting in dispersed order can discipline be maintained at all. The great problem of modern tactics, in so far as it concerns actual fighting, which regulates everything else, is how to maintain the old unity under the new conditions which make it so difficult.
This much at least we know, that from the moment that infantry are actually involved in a modern breechloader fight all manaeuvring has ceased to be possible. The natural and the necessary deduction from this is that the only influence which can be exercised upon such a fight by any but very subordinate leaders it to throw into it fresh bodies of men who till then have been retained in close formations. Now the
The experience of the 1870 battles showed clearly that the effect of fresh bodies thus thrown into a fight is very great indeed. Moreover, that experience showed further that the direction in which the fresh force is thrown into a contest already engaged between two bodies of infantry is vitally important in determining how great the effect of the blow so delivered will be. The tendency of any great fight is to break up into a series of partially independent actions. Therefore it almost always happens that in each of these there are on both sides certain weak points, which present opportunities to a skilful assailant. There arise either from circumstances of ground or from the inevitable disconnexion produced by isolated action of particular bodies of troops. Skill now consists in taking advantage of these opportunities, in anticipating the conditions under which they are likely to occur, in preparing to escape from similar dangers, and in pressing home a success. Here than is that way in which the organization spoken of above as the means of battle action makes itself felt. It is impossible now for the commander-in-chief of a great army to be ready at each part of a battle for one of these emergencies. Scarcely can the commander of a division of 10,000 men, or even the commander of 3000, meet all the local incidents that occur. At each stage of the hierarchy there is needed a man who, in proportion to the extent of the opportunity or the danger, is ready to seize or to meet it.
But among the means of doing this which the practical experience of the Prussians taught is one which tends more and more to be forgotten as the experiences of he great campaign are lost in the distance of the past. As the phases of any battle now succeed one another a time comes when the fight sways forward, and many men are left behind out of the immediate region of the combat. Often these straggles are more numerous than the men engaged in the actual shooting line. They may be in a wood or for some other reason out of the reach of the enemys projectiles, or they may at all events not be severely exposed to them. What is wanted is to take advantage of this wasted power and to throw it into the fight. This can only be done effectively by getting the men into closed bodies, and so bringing them again under orders and discipline. This was what the Germansor, to speak more accurately, the Prussians, who in all these respects were head and shoulders over all their German compatriotshabitually did.
The study then of the mode of preparing infantry for the fights of the future does not in these inner circumstances of battle of consist in training them for some particular forms of attack nearly so much at least as in the following points:
In accustoming the men, as soon as from any cause they find themselves thrown out of the actual fighting line and out of the stress of fire, to place themselves instinctively and as quickly as possible under the orders of some officer who can get them into order, and either lead them on or await the moment when the services of a formed body of men will become invaluable;
In accustoming officers to seek all opportunities for re-forming dispersed men at the earliest possible moment;
In maintaining such close order as is possible as long as it can be maintained without risking overwhelming loss of life and dire confusion,hence therefore the breaking up into such small organized bodies as,. by taking advantage of ground or other means, may be able to preserve unity of action longer than would be possible with greater masses;
In keeping up, by the action of the higher ranks of the military hierarchy, the fighting connexion between these bodies, by the judicious employment of fresh force or of reserves that have been made up out of men that have been already engaged ;
In providing for the continual replenishment of ammunition close to the fighting line of at least all those who are not actually engaged in it, and the continually thrusting into the fighting line of men well supplied with ammunition to push forward the line, so that those who have exhausted their ammunition may be resupplied without having to fall back ; and
Above all, in practice and training during peace in a mode of action which cannot be simply learnt on a parade-ground by help of drill-sergeant and words of command taught by rote.
We have taken first this question of the change which has taken place in infantry fighting, because it is on the forms of infantry fight that the changes in armament have produced their greatest effect, because the main substance of an army always consists of infantry, and because the changes which have occurred in the use of the other arms, artillery and cavalry, have been determined by the changes in infantry tactics and arms more than by any other cause, though the development of artillery armament has also affected them.
Now the danger which faces any British army under present conditions in preparing for modern battle lies in the fact that a long peace following upon the great wars of the end of the last and the beginning of the present century has tended to stereotype forms which were originally based upon the battle-experience of the past. There is a dread of change where change is required, because officers and men have come to look upon the great traditions of the past as sacred. In England men which to follow in the footsteps of the soldiers who acquired an experience under Wellington such as no men since then have had. It is in its essence a sound and healthy feeling. But there is the greatest danger lest names should be put for facts , lest in the very act of servilely copying forms we should ignore altogether the principles which determined the action of our forefather. They started from the experiences and necessities of the battle-field as these existed in their own day. They based their forms upon these necessities. If we would really imitate them we must in this do as they did. We cannot take their forms based on the battles of their own time, and then work forward from these forms to what we shall do on the battle-field now. W must frankly face the fact that, the character of battles having changed, we must work back from the conditions of our present battle-fields to the peace-forms which will prepare our soldiers for them.
Terms under such circumstances become confused. Men talk about the practice of forms in which their life is spent as "practical work." They look upon all experience gathered from the fields where shells actually burst and where infantry firearms are used to kill as "theoretical." The truth is exactly the opposite. Such merit as the older drill at present has is due to certain theoretical considerations which were at one time soundly deduced from practice in the past. The only practical work is that which tends to prepare men, not for the inspection of some general on a parade ground, but for actual war. An army is doing "practical" work in the preparation for its real duty, that of winning battles. It is employed on mischievous theoretical work, on false theory, whenever it is doing anything else.
Now this one thing is certain, that, whereas the great fighting formations of the past for British infantry was the line, that formation can be used no longer in actual fighting against troops armed with modern weapons, unless exceptionally in purely defensive positions, where its trained cohesion is of little importance, because cohesion is in any case easy. All rigid drill is at present based on the assumption that wheels of parts of this line are necessary in order to enable to troops to keep together shoulder to shoulder. What is required is not this, but that we shall obtain by complete organization down to the lowest units a command of fire and a command of groups. Of all the incidents of a modern fight that of which it is the hardest to give any conception to a man who has not seen infantry possessed of the enormous for firing which are supplied by modern arms is the intense absorption in the mere fact of firing, which almost like a catalepsy takes possession of the man who is using his weapon against an enemy, or, as may often happen in close country, against nothing at all. Many of the rifles that were picked up on Majuba Hill were found, at last moment when the Boers were closing, sighted to 800 yards. It is noted as a quite remarkable instance of presence of mind of on the part of a Prussian sergeant during the attack on St Privat, that he personally took care that the men reduced their sights to the proper range as they advanced. Now this illustrates perfectly the kind of trained habit which we need by our modern drill to induce in men in action. We want to educate men so that they do not fire under the conditions of a catalepsy. Now experience has shown that this can only be done by having men who are not themselves firing trained to look after those who are firing, so that the fire may be regulated, effective, and deliberate. The men themselves must be trained to fire only under orders, and not under the influence of a tendency to fire merely to relieve their feelings. We cannot put better what is involved in these necessities than in the following words of Colonel J. H. A. Macdonald of the Queens Edinburgh Rifle Volunteer Brigade :
"How is this to be done? How but by so regularly, consistently, and persistently putting the soldier through the action of firing by orders that it shall be a second nature to fire his rifle only under control of his superior, and not otherwise. What is wanted is the conviction in the mind of every instructor, from the highest to the lowest, that his men should never leave a parade without having gained something in fire discipline,that is, that fire control drill be one of the main points in view as a necessary part of the work to be performed on every occasions when men are being drilled, exercised, or inspected, from the moment that they know the rifle exercises until the day when they leave the service. Let some of the time which formerly was spent in a perpetual form drill to produce a military machine that had a steadiness in formation which nothing could shake be now spent in producing by a perpetual control drill a firing organism which shall have a steadiness in the use of fire which nothing can shake. The troops that shall be found most in the hands of the commander in the matter of fire well, caeteris paribus, be invincible."1
But in order that w e may secure this end it is essential that the organization be carried down to the smallest groups within a company, and our drill must be adapted to deliver such groups as methodically and regularly as possible within the zone of fighting.
It does not appear that any adequate experiments have as yet been made to determine the means by which this can best be done. Experiments during peace time are in no sense wholly satisfactory. In order that they may be worked out properly they require to be watched at every stage by men who have closely studied the experiences of modern war, and know what has been done by other armies, who have learned from those experienced not slavishly to copy what was us done by men who were themselves experimenting under the dread conditions of actual warfare, but to extract from them sound lessons for future guidance. To quote again from Colonel Macdonald.
"Would it not be wise to what is done in other departments of military science, and give some facility for practical and exhaustive experiment? In all other departments practical experiment goes merrily and expensively on. Thousands of points are spent on a gun which penetrates another inch or two of armour. New and thicker plates are rolled. A new Big Will is built, and again crashes through the armour with its first shot, and perhaps blows off its own muzzle with the second. Treasure-devouring sea monsters are built superseding one another at short intervals. Torpedoes, torpedo boats, and machine guns are subjected to crucial experiments. But from the nature of the material with which experiment has to be conducted in the case of the most important land fighting machinethe infantrythe circumstances are exactly reversed. Experiment would coast `nothing ; but, while inventors can experiment in armour metal, gun building, and rifling and explosives, before offering appliances to the Government, there can be no practical experiment with the only material out of which the machine of war is made without order from authority. It is only by leave of the state, through its officers that any proposals to improve the working can be tested, andas is the case in all inventionsnot only tested, but developed and improved by experiment. Almost all successful inventions is the result of alternate thought and experiment. There is also the further difficulty that the proposers of tactical improvements are not independent men, but servants of the owners of the material. They cannot consistently with discipline proceed as other inventors are able to do. They cannot canvas higher officials, or exert extraneous influence. They may not use the soldier who happen to be under their control as material for experiment.
"Further, even if it be permitted to them to exhibit these idea experimentally, the material with which they must do so is not dead material, plastic and absolutely passive. They have to test
FOOTNOTE (p. 355)
1 Common Sense on Parade, or Drill without Stays (p. 118), by Colonel the Right Hon. J. H. A. Macdonald C. B., M. P., 1886.
their invention with materials have been turned into a machine already on a different system, and have therefore a way of working which unconsciously at first militaries against the display to the best advantage of the new idea."
These conclusions appear unanswerable. Though, for the reasons which are implied in the very sentences we have quoted, we are not as yet prepared absolutely to advocate any specific system, its appears to us that the method of working which has been suggested by Col. Macdonald promises such valuable results that is ought at least to be fairly tried on a large scale. It has received the warmest possible support from the best infantry soldiers of the English armyfrom Lord Wolseley, from Sir Donald Stewart, and many more. It has been approved in principle by many others, who have not had the opportunity of examining its practice. It has been successfully tried and experimented upon so far as peace-trials go, both at home and in the colonies, and has been greatly appreciated by those who have tried it. It consists in a method of permanently arranging a company in four ranks, so that from these the successive bodies of firing line supports and reserves many be successively sent forward. It has several important recommendations. It limits the front of a captains command. By forming groups of eight men of those who stand side by side in the fours it carries organization down to the lowest point, while it tends to bind together, by the principle of comradeship, the supports who successively arrive to the men who are in front. By making this comradeship apply to those who from the two adjacent groups of four of the company when it line, it ought certainly to facilitate the re-formation of the company. At present if one man is lost in the front rank of a company, the whole have to be numbered again in order to enable it to form in a column of fours at all. On Col. Macdonalds system each group of eight being fixed, the Macdonaldss system each group of eight being fixed, the company can be fitted together by the gathering of these groups in any order, so long as all are in their proper places within their own group of eight.
In any case, going back once more to he experience of the past, we are now at a time in these matters very like that which preceded the Peninsular War. The drill which was employed in the Peninsula was in all essentials worked out by Sir John Moore in a series of experiments conducted at the camp of Shorncliffe. No more important results were ever obtained by peace-training for war than those which were deduced from these experimental exercises. If we really reverence the great soldiers of the Peninsula, this is the way in which we shall honour them. We shall not accept from the traditions of the past forms which are not adapted to actual warfare. We shall not write drill books in the study or the bureau, and force movements into conformity with them. We shall employ for the work of our great camps of exercises generals who have made an exhaustive study of the present conditions of warfare, and staff-officers who can assist them in their work. We shall experimentally try "those suggestions which have upon them any reasonably good stamp of approval by military men of skill." We shall really and crucially investigate them, "with opportunity afforded to proposers to meet difficulties that may be suggested." There proposals which can be defended from serious theoretical objections should be submitted to a few months emperiment in selected regiments, and reported on as their practical working in the essential points of simplicity and uniformity of manaeuvre, adaptability to circumstances arising, maintaenance of order, retention of unity of commands, rapid recovery of exact tactical form, and fire control. Then let authority take what is best, it may be adopting here one detail and there another."
The Russians at one time adopted and abandoned a system of working by groups of four. So far as we are able to perceive, Colonel Macdonalds system is not open to the objection which led the Russians to abandoned a system of working by groups of four. So far as we are able to perceive, Colonel Macdonalds system is not open to the objection led the Russian to abandon their method of fours. They found that, when they had formed their groups under a "father" who became the leader, the men were so much attached to one another that as soon as was founded all remained with him, so that every time the enemy wounded one man four were put hors de combat. It is clear, on the one hand, that this is an objection that would not present itself in mere peace practice at all, so that the necessity for criticism applied at the time from actual experience of fighting shows itself forcibly. On the other hand, it by no means follow that the difficulty would not be overcome by such a closer association of groups as Colonel Macdonalds system appears to promise, and by a trained habit of trusting that the wounded will be properly cared for by the men assigned for that purpose, and a knowledge that the business of all those who are able to continue the fight is ensure the safety of the wounded by securing victory.
It will be obvious from what we have already said that we do not believe that any army in Europe has as yet solved the question of the most effective mode of delivering infantry within the area of modern fight, and that nevertheless we believe that data now exist from which, with proper experiments, a method might be adopted which would at least give to that army which adopted it incalculable advantages in the earlier battles of a modern war. The one point that must be thoroughly realized is that the firearm of the present day had become the determining weapon, for the development of the efficiency of which all tactics must prepare the way.
That brings us to another matter of vital importance. As long as the shock tactics of the past were possible, the neat drills of the parade ground were the essence of soldiering, and therefore, when a few rifle regiments at first, and afterwards the army generally, had liberty to practice, shooting, that was looked upon as an accidental and exceptional things unconnected with the real business of the soldier, and therefore with h is everyday life. This unfortunate divorce between the work at the butts and on the manoeuvre, once established in the habits of an army, cannot for many years by cured. It exists still Yet every manoeuvre in which careless aiming, careless expenditure of ammunition, and wrongly adjusted sights are permitted is a direct injury to the fighting efficiency of the force which manoeuvres. Nothing else can compensate for the evil so done. Good shooting, and movements tending to give to good shooting and good weapons the greatest possible advantage, are next to a healthy morale the essence of modern fight.
Nevertheless, it is the training of the spirit of an army, the bringing home to all ranks of the objects now to be aimed at, that is the difficulty in all these matters. The very strength and power of discipline in its formation and engraining of habits is that which makes an army so hard to deal with when habits have to be changed.
In the present condition of the tactical question it has seemed to us essential to devote so much space and pains to the enforcing of these points that we can only lightly touch on several questions that have been most eagerly discussed in relation to infantry tactics.
The question of long-range fire against reserved fire is mainly a question between material and moral effect. It seems no doubt a strange thing, when we have enormously increased the range of modern weapons, that we should throw away that advantage, and allow an enemy without firing a shot at him to pass over a large area of ground where we could inflict loss on him. Undoubtedly, in so
FOOTNOTE (p. 356)
1 Colonel Macdonald, as above, p. 127.
Far as we can train picked shots to fire at long ranges, so as to disturb the movements of coloumns, and to interfere with artillery, it is well worth our while to do so. But with the utmost training that we can give the mass of men in the ranks of an army never will become good shots at long ranges. Almost all fire, therefore, at long ranges becomes unaimed fire, and an enemy can to a great extent avoid exposing himself on the ground where the fortuitous rain of the bullets is falling. Meantime the mere almost beyond the reach of orders. Their own excitement and the noise together make it most difficult to give them any directions. Sights that have been fixed for the long range are not changed to the short. The fact that, despite all their efforts, the enemy continues to advance demoralized them, and despite his losses encourages him. These are considerations which are not taken into account in the arguments of those who base their conclusions merely on the amount of loss which many be inflicted at very long ranges. Yet, at all events up to 1877, they had in actual fighting proved supreme. It may be the case that a very highly trained army, using long-range volley firing under effective control, might produce such loss upon an enemy approaching that it would make his actual attack upon a position impossible. What is certain is that up to 1877, there had been no experience in war which proved that such long-ranged fire was as effective as fire carefully reserved for the ranges which infantry can use their arm with the greatest effect.
Such at all events was the experience of the 1870 campaign, and it confirmed the experience of previous wars in certain respects which, as will have been seen from the above account, depend rather on the condition of mens minds than on the efficiency of weapons. Both, however, in the German army and in the French an immense impression was produced by the incidents of the attack on Plevna. There is no doubt that there the certainly un-aimed fire of the Turks produced an enormous effect. Skebeleff, when he had at last succeeded in reaching the "Green Hill" in one of his own his brilliant efforts, found that there were no troops behind the slender line of skirmishers whom he had actually with him. All his reserves had melted away under the storm of bullets. If this experience could be accepted as representing a normal phase of a modern battle, the conclusion would be inevitable that so long as there are ample supplies of ammunition the effect of long-range fire may be so great as to be decisive. It would be madness altogether to reject such an experience. Where analogous conditions occur no doubt a better regulated long-range fire is too important an element of power to be ignored. But it is necessary to realize what the conditions were. In the first place, the whole attack was one that never ought to have been made. It never would have been made had not the commanding archduke overridden the advice of all the best soldiers he had, and in mere obstinacy and ignorance dashed his men against a position that ought never to have been so assailed. It was an attempt of a filed army against what had almost become a fortress. The Russians were unsupported by any adequate artillery for its reduction. The ground was unusually open and exposed to the full range of the Turkish fire. The Russians showed here just the same incapacity for taking advantage of ground, so far as the smaller groups were concerned, which they had shown in the Crimea. They huddled together in great masses, more unwieldy than ay regular column, but just as much exposed to anaimed fire. There was therefore nothing might not have found means of reaching the position which Skobeleff actually secured.
Nevertheless, when al these allowances have been made, and while it seems as important as ever to realize what advantages the sudden effect of reserved fire may secure, the fact remains that under certain very possible conditions of fighting an extensive employment of long-range fire may be advisable and it is therefore right that every army should prepare for such an event.
For instance, in an attack on the forts darrêt with which the French have covered their frontier, it is extremely probable that the Germans, being close to their own magazines, and therefore able to employ a practically unlimited amount of ammunition, will overwhelm these places with long-range infantry as well as with artillery fire. There is no doubt that their infantry has been practiced in firing volleys at very long range, and for such purposes it would be certainly comparatively easy to ensure the delivery of actual volleys. It may even be the case that in defensive positions, where the extent of ground open to view is considerable, long-range infantry fire regulated volleys may be attempted. We cannot, however, see how it would be possible to attempt this during an attack unless one special body of troops be assigned for the work of long-range fire, in order to occupy the attention of the enemy while forces advanced to the attack. On the one hand, the discipline of the French army was so loose during the campaign of 1870 be much better brought under control than it was by them ; in the other, it is emphatically necessary to assert that the difficulties involved in a free employment of long-range fire are not merely those of an adequate supply of ammunition, but those considerations to which we have drawn attention must be taken into account. If an army is sufficiently well in hand for the choice between long-range fire and reserved fire to be in the option of the general who commands, then undoubtedly cases will arise when each may be used with advantage. Certainly it would not be a wise or safe thing for an army to enter the field without having ever practiced the regulated fire by volleys at long range against an army which bad practiced it. It is clear that the tendency in that case could be for the unpracticed to indulge in much unregulated long-range firing. With an army trained to both method of action, the general who realized the risks and advantages of either will be able to exercise a sounder choice than the man who has become an inveterate pleader for either system, and cannot therefore himself to the cases that arise.
The general question of volley firing as against individual shooting is independent of the special use of volleys for very long-range to which we have above referred. It may obviously be possible to ensure the regular delivery of volleys at very long ranges shooting to which we have above referred. It may obviously be possible to ensure the regular delivery of volleys at very long ranges, such as the French are now practicing, 3000 yards or more, without its being possible to do so in anything that can properly be called an engaged fight. The produced by a well-delivered volley is out of all proportion great as compared with the effect of isolated shots. Moreover, it is a curious fact that apparently men aim better when they fire together than when they fire each by himself one after another. It is constantly found at the burst that the greatest number of shots has been delivered by the "best volley," that is, the one in which all the arms go off most like one. But it is a matter of great doubt whether in war it is practically possible under most circumstances to deliver a volley at all. Captain, May, the author of the "tactical retrospect" on the 1866 campaign, denied that any volleys had been fired in that campaign. The cases of its employment in the 1870 campaign, which are sufficiently established not to fall under such criticism as he applied to the nominally volleys of 1866, are not very numerous. We may leave the question with the remark that the moral effect produced by a volley is too great for the attempt to use it ever to be willingly thrown away, but that it would be now rush to take for granted that on service the best troops can be depended on to deliver during close fighting accurate volleys, unless it be in small parties. The possibility of even the fire of groups is disputed by Von der Goltz. It is obvious that, it he be correct in this respect all attempt at regulating fire in action is
"An effort only and a noble aim,
Still to be sought for, never to be won."
We incline to think that all war experience tends to this conclusion, and it is a reservation which we must therefore append to our cordial agreement with the passages we have quoted from Colonel Macdonald.
Of all tactical facts, the one which needs study for practical purposes is the relation of the size of men, on foot, mounted, in mass, and in different formations, to the undulations and features of ground. There is nothing which the untrained eye so little realized as the extent to which concealment and cover for men, even for mounted men, exists on the apparently most level plain. This fact which is important most level plain. This fact, which is important for both the other arms, is for cavalry vital to its present use. Nothing is more certain than that under the present condition of arms cavalry cannot successfully assail in front either artillery or infantry in any formation in which the artillery or infantry are able to use their arms and can observe the approach of cavalry over long distances.
On the other hand, cavalry striking by sudden surprise on the flank of unprepared infantry or artillery, engaged with other enemies, may produce an effect, great to an extent of which as yet we have no adequate example in modern war. That is the conclusion drawn from their own experiences of the 1870 campaign by the most experienced leaders who were employed in it. Count Von Moltke 1882, and Prince Kraft of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen in his letters on cavalry published in 1887, have alike pronounced decisively on the subject, and it would be easy to show that the whole weight of the best military opinion in all countries except Russia is on the same side.
The practical possibility on most fields of battle of cavalry being thus employed depends on two facts,on the one hand the extent to which almost all ground presents opportunities to a skilful leader for moving his men unobserved from point to point of a great battle-field, and on the other that absorption in the intense excitement of a modern fight which prevents men from observing what is taking place anywhere beyond the immediate range of their own employment.
It follows from this that the utmost possible skill in the handling of cavalry as a mounted arm will be required if cavalry is to take advantage of such chances of modern fight will present to it. Now, in all periods since the invention of firearms, there has been a tendency, as improvement in weapons has taken place, to attempt to put cavalry on a level in point of firearms with the infantry with which it has had to contend. Invariably, when that rare development of armies, a great cavalry leader, has arisen, he has swept away all attempts of the kind, and has employed his cavalry with their proper weapon, the "arme blanche," sword or lance.
The reason of this is easy to explain, and the explanation is one that shows that the principle is an applicable to the present condition of warfare as to any preceding one. The effective action of cavalry as cavalry depends on ruse, on surprise, on skilful manoevring, and on the impetuous power and moral effect of the man and horse, glued to one another as though they together formed the old ideal of the arm, the centaur. Now, the dash and vigour with which an actual cavalry charge takes place depends on the moral condition of that part of the centaur in whose hands it is the great purpose and effect of high training to place the guiding of the composite animal. Never has it been possible to train a great body of fighting men in two opposite directions at once. Balanced judgment, and an appreciation of the powers and uses of each part of the force he has to employ, are the duties of a general. But if a body of infantry, dispensed in scattered groups, or isolated men, are to repel successfully a body of changing cavalry, they must have acquired sufficient sang-froid to calmly fire at the great and overwhelming avalanche which they see moving down on them. To that end they must have acquired confidence in their weapon, the firearms, and must have learnt to believe that its power is so great that it gives them plenty o time to bring down the mighty-looking horseman before he closes with them. Similarly, if cavalry is successfully to be led y skilful manaeuvring into a fight where firearms are creating the most horrible appearance of danger, they must have acquired a confidence in the skill of their leaders, in their own power of combined action, and in the effects of their sudden appearance, which will carry will carry them on though leaders fall, and though death and destruction seem to await them. In other words, they must have learnt to despise the firearm when pitted against their own skill in evading its danger and in delivering home their blows. All attempts, therefore, to train cavalry not to employ their skill in manaeuving as the weapon to which they trust, but, on the contrary, to be always ready to jump off their horses and begin firing, tends directly to weaken and destroy the very spirit and quality on which the efficiency of true cavalry depends.
Now, the great leaders to whom we have referred believe absolutely in the possibility of the true cavalry properly trained being able to play its part on the field of battle. Prince Krafts 7th letter on this subject is so admirable in its analysis of past experience that all who would understand the subject should it in its integrity. His conclusion is"From all that I have stated in this long letter I draw the conclusion that cavalry will, in the future, also be able to play a decisive part in battle if they can be led in such a manner that they can break out round a flank, and can thus, up to the last moment, take advantage of the fire effect of their own line of battle. But to do so will sometimes require from the cavalry that they shall be able to advance as much as four miles, at a rapid pace, before they deliver their charge."1
There is, however, another necessity of modern warfare which is altogether distinct from the question of supplying firearms to cavalry in order to make up to them for the increased power of infantry. Powerful as modern infantry is, it is very slow in its movements. It is very difficult for a general to have it at the very place where he wants it. Hence the idea of mounting infantry and of sending them forward either on horseback or in carts, or where there are numerous roads on bicycles, is one that is of the greatest importance. The so-called cavalry of the American civil war were all of this character. Most of them and been accustomed to rifle-shooting from their childhood and could ride. They had no no opportunity whatever of acquiring the manoeuvring facilities of European cavalry. Probably European cavalry would have been altogether unsuited to the country in which they had to work. The essential condition of the efficiency of mounted
FOOTNOTE (p. 358)
1 Translation in Royal Artillery Institution Proceedings, April 1888, p. 40. See also Die Kavallerie-Division als Schlachtenkörper, 1884.
Infantry, which these men in fact were, is that, while they can ride well enough to get over such ground as is required, they waste no time in learning manoeuvres which they could not master, but look altogether to fighting with firearms and on foot whenever collision becomes necessary. The Boers represented an almost ideal body of this kind. British wars have supplied most valuable bodies of mounted infantry, who have been always picked men, picked shots, and excellent infantry. As a general principle, it is safe to say that they ought to be under infantry and not under cavalry officers, as to their immediate commandthough very often indeed they will be a most valuable auxiliary for any cavalry commander, who will in that case of course have the whole body under his orders. In so far as their presence tends to save cavalry from the disastrous necessity which occasionally befalls them of having to employ their men in fighting on foot, their presence with cavalry is always valuable. But, as the time when all their best training is required is when they are actually fighting on foot, it is far better that they should then find themselves under the orders of an officer whose training tends to make him accustomed to handling men on foot, rather than to one all whose experience ought to have accustomed him to handle men on horseback, and to hate making them jump off their horses.
The difficulty in enforcing these principles lies in the fact that it is only the experience of war on a large scale which brings home to cavalry officers the disastrous consequences of injuring their own power by continually trying to take up the role of mounted infantry. They find themselves at peace manoeuvres continually put hors de combat, because they have come under the fire of infantry. They can very often get into positions where, if they were infantry and in large numbers, their effect would be most telling. Their rapidity of movement them to do this. A narrow deduction from a very incomplete knowledge of the experiences of cavalry charges during the 1870 campaign led to the conclusion that cavalry could not be employed on a modern battle-field in their proper work. That conclusion is utterly rejected by all those authorities who have had the best means of analyzing the experiences on which it was based ; yet it remains a traditions which unfortunately affects the minds of many cavalry officers as well as those of many other officers in the army.
It is safe to say, in conclusion on this matter, that the two forces of cavalry and mounted infantry are each of the greatest value, provided they each adhere to their own proper function. As soon as mounted infantry begins to attempt manoeuvres on horseback it necessarily becomes a very inferior cavalry. As soon as cavalry takes to dismounting, its equipment, its training, and usually its arms are sure to make it into a very inefficient body. Every year adds to the necessity of high shooting training for infantry, and of every hour of their work being connected with the efficient use of their arm. Every hour devoted by cavalry to shooting which subtracts anything from training in their own proper work, or which leads them to compete with the other arm in that way, weakens them. By no process can they compete with infantry if they measure themselves with them under the conditions favourable to infantry fighting. Nothing is more fallacious than the notion that because during the latter part of the 1870 campaign the German cavalry often fought on foot the Germans therefore consider that the proper employment of the arm.
Prince Kraft emphatically says"The circumstances of the latter campaigns of this war were so abnormal that no rules for the employment of the arms can be deduced from them." No cavalry could perform the duty" the German cavalry here did, of saying their own infantry by acting on the wings against the French infantry, "except in the case where they were engaged with an enemy whose hastily collected and undrilled masses had not the full value of regular troop."
We may also mention as an illustration of at least the views of the German leaders that during some manoeuvres in 1879 a regiment of lancers by sudden surprise charged from behind some rising ground at four battalions of infantry, who did not see the cavalry till these were on their flank at a distance of 200 yards already in full charge. Scarcely a shot was fired before the cavalry were among the infantry. The emperor and Count Von Moltke were present, and the decision was that three battalions were hors de combat. Now, when it is rememeberd and three battalions about 3000, the difference between the effect produced under such circumstances by a body of cavalry and an equivalent body of mounted infantry, who could not have dismounted at most more than 300 men, who would certainly have been destroyed, is too great not to be realized. In this case an instance occurred of what Prince Kraft mentions as a possibility continually illustrated by the experiences of the 1870 campaign. The colonel commanding the lancers, having moved personally to a well chosen spot, had been quietly observing the movements of the infantry, himself unseen up to the moment when by a signal he gave the order for his regiment to advance at a gallop, and then charge.
Here the first point it is necessary to insist on is that the tendency to a divorce between firing practice and drill manoeuvre has been inherited by the artillery from the past the battle of Austerlitz placed his artillery guns between his infantry brigades and on their flank. The artillery advance of it. As long as it was possible for artillery thus to move up to close quarters with the infantry, exact accuracy of fire training was of little importance. The distance was so short that the round shot were bound to produce their effect. But, when the range of both infantry and artillery fire were greatly extended, a change took place which required a change of habit in the artillery, for which the long training of the past had as little prepared them as had been the case with the infantry. The horse artillery, and at a much later date the field batteries, had acquired a mobility which enabled them very rapidly to take up assigned positions. But the habit of thinking that drill movements, irrespective of accuracy of fire, were the business on which a soldiers mind should be set continued to operate long after all idea of moving artillery cheek by jowl with infantry or cavalry had been abandoned. The practice grounds of artillery for actual shell fire are necessarily much fewer and more difficult to select than the tendency in infantry manoeuvres to separate the effective fire of the ranges and the butts from drill and manoeuvres applies with tenfold force to the artillery. Moreover in the case of the artillery this tendency has been aggravated by a certain fear among generals and their staff officers of interesting in the detail work of a special aim. As long as a battery is seen to manoeuvres rapidly, to take up an assigned and telling position, and to fire off a puff of smoke, the superintending general is apt to think that he may assume that all has been done that ought to have been done.
Unfortunately, it may happen that the battery which thus appears to have acted in the very smartest possible way may have all the time been learning to do just what will injure it for war service. Nothing is more noteworthy throughout the 1870 campaign than the extraordinary superiority of the German artillery over the French. There were no doubt certain technical reasons for this ; but by far the most important reasons were these:(1) the German batteries had been trained habitually so to cooperate that a French battery almost found itself opposed to a German brigade of six batteries when it came to fighting ; and (2) at all their manoeuvres the Germans has been training for war, while the French artillery had not. The German artillery had never fired off a gun which had not been properly laid at an assigned object, with the range determined, the nature of the projectile declared, and the fuse to burst the shell so far fixed that, had it been necessary actually to fire in earnest, every man would have gone through an almost exactly similar experience. The French, on the other hand, had piqued themselves on their dashing battery manoeuvres, and had been content to fire off a blank cartridge as rapidly as possible no matter how the gun was laid, or what would have happened about the shell.
The same two schools at this moment exist among British artillery officers. The unfortunate tendency at present is for the officer commanding a battery who tells his subalterns, "Never mind how you fire ; get off a puff of smoke, just to show where you are," to seem much smarter than the man who insists upon every gun being properly laid at an assigned object, and on having every possible condition fulfilled as it would be in war. The general who at a miles distance sees the two puffs of smoke cannot tell the difference, though, he rode into the battery which has so promptly puffed off its, smoke, he would probably find that one gun was inclined high in air and the next shooting into the ground the paces in front of the muzzle. It is not too much to say that this latter battery has been in every respect acquiring inefficiency by the days work. It will be slow when it comes to action, because the men have never trained to be as quick as the circumstances of action permit, have acquired no practice in rapidity under those conditions. It will have acquired no practice in actual shooting except its few annual shots on the practice ground, which are sure with it to have been regarded as a most inconvenient interruption to the show drill and sow manoeuvres on which it has bee employed throughout the year. This is the point of artillery tactics without which everything else is utterly valueless. As Prince Kraft of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen puts it, "The artillery must in the first place hit, in the second place hit, and in the third place hit."
It depends far more in England upon generals commanding districts and divisions and on their staffs than upon artillery officers whether this result is attained or not. It is almost impossible for the most zealous artillery officer to keep up the confidence and spirits of his battery and to keep their work to the proper level if one every occasions they find that, because he insists on work being properly done, some other battery which is amusing itself with sham firing gets all the credit of superior smartness. The matter is therefore vital to the efficiency of this arm of the service. The infantry and cavalry will find in action that they rely on the support of a broken reed if the artillery generally has not brought the most efficient technical and practice-ground work into the closest relation with field manaeuvring. Given that this has been done in the sense here desribed, Prince Krafts condition may be briefly stated, because its importance will be easily understood. "It must next be in a condition to come into position at the right moment, and, with this object it must practise itself in getting over distances of many miles, and even forced marches of a day or so, at rapid pace, If," he adds,1 "it can satisfy these claims, it will give us everything which is needed as to its fitness for employment in battle."
So far we have spoken of conditions in which the tactical necessities of modern artillery are very similar to those of modern infantry. In the next point the contrast is as sharp as the analogy was close in the former instance. Infantry, as we have seen, once committed to a fight, is beyond the control of all officers not actually leading them at the time. Artillery under all but the rarest circumstances can be almost as easily moved from one point to another of a battle-field out of action in which it is fiercely engaged as if it were not employed in firing at all. There fore the rule is now accepted in all armies that every gun that can be employed should as soon as possible be brought to bear on the enemy. The shorter time artillery is limbered up and the longer it is employed in action the more effective is its work. With a very large army Prince Kraft, whose authority on such a subject is probably the highest we have, makes a rather hesitating exception in this sense that ordinary the commander-in-chief of a very large army will have whole army designed for a particular work, usually for striking at the decisive point of a field of battle. With these their own artillery will naturally move. But so far as artillery is available on any part of a field of action, even including that of divisions and army corps kept back from the actual fight, as long as these are stationary, every possible gun will be pushed forward. The altogether overwhelming effect of a concentrated and massed artillery fire is so enormous that whatever tends to increase the number of guns employed tends to give that superiority over the enemys artillery which it is one of a generals first objects to secure.
Ordinary a battle will now begin by artillery opening fire at a range which is fixed by the necessity of the attacking artillery not exposing itself during the time that it is coming up to the enemys effective fire with shrapnel shell. This is reckoned at about 3800 yards. From that point the artillery, as soon as it has been able sufficiently to occupy the fire of the enemy to make further advance possible, pushes in to a distance of from 2200 yards. Infantry in the meantime will have been pushed on sufficiently to protect the ground thus to be occupied by the artillery from direct attacks from the enemy. At this point an artillery duel is practically the certain beginning of the regular battle. The artillery will fire at any of the other arms as soon as it is able to bring any effective fire to bear on them. It is no easy matter for infantry to attack other infantry until the artillery has prepared the way for them by a heavy fire. But the artillery will hardly ever be able to do this until it has established such an ascendency over the enemys artillery that the latter is either silenced or at least temporarily withdrawn.
No matter how great the mass of artillery that is gathered together, Prince Kraft, basing his conclusions upon the soundest reasoning, condemns altogether the independent fire of individual guns within a battery, and, unless exceptionally for the purpose of ascertaining a range, all salvoes of artillery by batteries or otherwise. Nothing is gained in point of the number of shell that can be thrown in a given time by firing steadily gun by gun from the flank of a battery. After a salvo an interval of from 36 to 48 seconds at least is required before another can be fired,
FOOTNOTE (p. 360)
1 We quote from his correspondents summary of his views, and from the translation given by Major Walford, R.A. These words occur in the 17the letter, Royal Artillery Institution Proceedings, August 1887. p. 187.
While with very rapid firing from the flank an interval of from 6 to 8 seconds allows a shell to traverse a range of from 2500 to 3000 yards, so that the effect of each shell can be seen.1 The effect of this is to enable the officer commanding the battery to have his fire under control, and to induce much more careful firing by each gun. Indeed, if a German battery is seen to be firing, not from the flank but irregularly, it may be taken for granted that it is being mastered by the hostile fire, and is out of hand.
The duty of each commanding officer of a battery is to be continually watching over the replenishment of his ammunition, and therefore as long as possible to draw upon his wagons for ammunition, keeping the ammunition in his limbers as a last reserve. If this cannot be done, the limbers must be filled up as rapidly as possible. If, however, by misfortune all ammunition is exhausted, the artillery must not retire, but must, for the sake of the moral effect, remain without firing rather than produce the encouragement to the enemy and discouragement to their own troops of withdrawing without express orders. We shall complete this sketch of the duties of artillery in action by quoting the following summary from Prince Kraft of Hohenlohe- Ingelfingen:
On the offensive.(a) Artillery, after it has silenced the enemys artillery, must not as a rule approach nearer than from 1600 to 1700 yards to infantry of the enemy which is as yet intact and is not engaged with other troops. (b) If the enemys infantry is held in check by another force of artillery, or by infantry, it is not only advisable, but it is the duty of artillery to advance to a range of from 1100 to 1200 yards. (c) At the most decisive moment of the action artillery must not shun the very closest range. (d) As soon as the main attack has proved successful, artillery must hasten up to secure the captured position by its fire ; at such a moment, its proper place, in most cases, is in the line of skirmishers.
On the Defensive.(a) The normal post for artillery in a defensive position (though this may be modified by the character of the ground) is 500 yards in rear of the formmost infantry position, provided always that the latter leaves the field of fire of the artillery open. (b) Artillery must never abandon its position, even if the enemy come up to the muzzles of the guns, unless the officer commanding the troops has given orders for a general retreat. But this does not imply that artillery, acting on the defensive, are for bidden, if the assailant begins to get the advantage in the artillery duel, to ceased firing for a time, and to withdraw their guns under cover, with the object of suddenly coming into action, again at the most critical moment (c) If the order to retreat is given, the only possible moment at which it can be commenced is either when the enemy has not yet advanced to the attack, or when he is preparing a second attack after having been repulsed in the first.
Horse Artillery in a Cavalry Action.(a) As a rule horse artillery should go in at once to a decisive range for the artillery duel, since the considerations which compel artillery when engaged with infantry to fight at longer ranges lose their force in this case, owing to the speed at which cavalry can move. From this position it will silence the enemys artillery, and immediately afterwards, or as soon it can see them, it will turn its fire on the enemys cavalry. (b) During the charge of its own cavalry it will fire on that of the enemy, or, if that be not possible, on his artillery. If it has nothing to fire at, it will remain in position with loaded guns (common shell and not shrapnel should be used), in order, in case of the failure of the charge, to give support to its retiring cavalry, and to show them where they are to rally. (c) The horse artillery requires a special escort on the flank of its position only on which the cavalry fight is not taking place, and even there it requires it merely for the purpose of scouting ; a section will therefore be sufficient. (d) If the charge succeeds, the horse artillery must gallop up to the spot where it took place, in order to secure its possession with their fire, and to assist in the pursuit.
The Combined Action of the Three Arms.
So far we have spoken of what may properly be called the minor tactics of the three arms, though that name is often applied in quite a different sense. There can be little doubt that it is in that portion of tactics that the complexity and difficulty of the present stage of the question lie. As regards the larger handling of armies, the tendency of recent wars has been rather to simplification than to increased difficulty. The employment of artillery in great masses, never in isolated batteries is, so far as that arm is concerned, its most important law. So much so is this the case that, even when as many as eighty-four guns were collected together at Wörth, the German found it answer best to turn all of them once upon a single French battery, and then upon another, and so on. Wherever possible, some at least of the guns will take up an enfilading position ; that is, they will fire from flank to flank of the troops they assail, in preference to firing directly at them. It is always advantageous to the fire of artillery to have great depth rather than great extent to fire at, because range is much more difficult to fix correctly than direction.
Prince Kraft regards it as doubtful whether artillery can be employed in crossing its fire, the right of a long line of guns firing at an enemys right and the left at the left, which would give to each a certain advantage in the direction of their fire. But it is clear that, if the whole of a long line of guns be employed, as at Wörth, first against one object and then against another, many of the batteries will not be firing directly to their front, but at an angle, sometimes a very sharp one, to their own front.
In any case the earlier stages of a modern battle are sure to begin with a heavy fire of artillery, following either on some slight affairs of outposts or on the cavalry having ascertained the position of the enemy at least approximately. Then may perhaps follow, what we have already suggested as one of the alternatives, a carefully regulated long-range fire of infantry ; then probably a gradual development of the infantry of the assailing army in front of the position to be attacked and certain tentative movements designed to feel the strength of an enemys position. Then, as soon as the point to be carried at any cost has been determined on, every effort will be made to distract the enemys attention from this, to occupy him at other points, and by engaging him all along the line to prevent him from reinforcing the point which it is essential to carry. At present the attempt will be, when possible, almost certainly to attack a flank. But, as the necessity of this becomes thoroughly realized as it now is on both sides, and a tendency arises towards continual extension of the space occupied in order to meet outflanking movements, it is almost certain that on one side or other the extension will exceed the limits of defensive power, and that then blows will be struck with the object of breaking the too extended line. All the cavalry not employed in mere reconnoitering duties, or for keeping up the connexion between different parts of the army, will ordinary be kept under the control of the commander-in-chief until he is able to define the part of the battle in which it can be most effectually used. Then, when he has so far decided its direction, he will be obliged to leave all details to the cavalry leader, who will choose his own time and opportunity for delivering his blow. The local defensive power conferred by the present arms will be use on both sides. The assailant will endeavour by employing it at unimportant parts of his line to gain the advantage of the superiority of force necessary for striking at the decisive point. The defendant will naturally employ it to the full. Both on one side and the other, however, the effort will be to keep strong forces of all arms for the decisive period of the action.
So far as Continental warfare is concerned, the enourmous development of modern armies makes it very uncertain how far elaborate strokes of tactical skill can ever again be delivered in the way they were by Napoleon, for instance, at Austerlitz and Dresden. The experience of recent wars supplies us at all events with nothing of the kind. The enormous masses and the extent of ground to be covered almost force a general into the simplest possible arrangements on the larger scale, leaving it to his subordinates to work out the development with such local skill as the circumstances permit. Nevertheless, it would be rash to say that, as incidents of a great campaign, many battles may not be fought, the effect of which on the conduct of the general will be very decisive, where comparatively small numbers are engaged. For the conduct of these at least there are many lessons to be gathered from the tactical experiences of earlier wars.
In the taking up of positions it may be assumed generally that the conditions to be sought are freedom for manoeuvre, free scope for fire both of artillery and infantry, and, as a rule, for that end gentle glacis slopes like those of St Privat and Gravelotte, rather than precipitous heights like that of the Red Hill at Spicheren. There is nothing as to which war experience and popular assumptions differ more than as to the relative strength of different positions. As a rule, steep heights give a great deal of cover from fire. Their lower slopes can only be seen from the edge, and that edge cannot be held because it is completely exposed to the employs fire from many points below. It is better to have a difficult climb than to be shot by a bullet. It has constantly happened that positions have fallen because the defenders have trusted to physical difficulties of access rather than to the effect of ground upon the use of arms for their defence. Whatever tends to oblige an enemy to debouch on a narrow front against a wide front of fire is most valuable to the defence ; but it is upon considerations like these of the use of arms that the strength of a position must be determined. Similarly, whatever tends to facilitate communication between one part and another of your own troops, and to cause an enemy to separate his, adds greatly to the strength of your position. The element of time also has here, as in the province of strategy, to be always taken into account. Where ground tends to make movements slow and difficult, there is will be safe to economize men by employing small forces, in order to gain time for decisive blows in other directions. Whatever in an enemys rear will prevent his safe retreat, and therefore either locally or throughout a position will make successful attack decisive, is greatly in favour of the army which, whether at first on the defensive or offensive, can attack on enemy in such a position. The application of these principles is almost infinite in its variety. It is impossible here to do more than indicate their general character.
The proposition has been advanced that it would be best to meet the effort of an assailant to outflank a position by employing detached bodies to manoeuvres outside the position so that when an assailant has committed himself to an outflanking movement, and has moved up his enveloping troops, the detached body could fall upon these unexpectedly from their rear. Twice during the 1870 campaign the Germans designed a movement of this kind. In neither case was there an opportunity for putting it to the test. Such a movement successfully executed could hardly fail to have great results. On other hand, a well-handled cavalry, searching all the country prior to an action, might not improbably discover the isolated corps placed for the purpose, and in that case it ought not to be difficult for the assailant to keep it apart from the main army and to destroy it.
A proposal of a somewhat kindred kind, but involving a different principle, was made by Sir E. Hamley as a deduction from the 1870 campaign, and was applied in practice by the Russians in Asia in 1877. he suggested that the defensive strength of comparatively small bodies was now so great that a general would be tempted to detach, or to connect with his main body only by a telegraphic wire, body of troops, who, passing round an enemy to be attacked, should take up a strong position in his rear, and should thus become the anvail on which the main assailing army should act as hammer, grinding the enemy between them to powder. This was actually done by the Russians, who in October 1877 destroyed Moukhtar Pashas army by this very means.
Both these forms of operationthe detached force to the flank and the detached force to the rear-partake of the nature of the attempt of Napoleon to destroy the allied armies, after the battle of Dresden in 1813, by previously detaching Vandamme to intercept their retreat. As a matter of fact, that manoeuvre was one of the most disastrous that Napoleon ever attempted, but the disaster was probably due to a failure of Napoleons own wonted activity arising from illness. The telegraph might then have made a very great difference in the result of the operation. In any case, these suggestions indicate possibilities of science, which may have much wider application in the hands of skilful commanders. Everything will depend on their execution, and on the skill with which they are met. It may at least be asserted that, with the possibilities of such manoeuvres being employed against him, it will ordinarily be extremely rash for a general to commit himself to the actual turning movement by which he wheels up a portion of his army to attack an exposed flank, without having searched the ground with his cavalry far beyond the point which he proposes to assail. This was actually done by the German cavalry under express orders from headquarters, prior to and during the great turning movement at the battle of Gravelotte.
Marches.The principles regulating the marches armies which precede battles are determined by the conditions of a modern battle itself. As a rule nowadays the cavalry of an army will be certainly pushed far forward in advance of the main body. Therefore, with the exception of small parties of horsemen employed as orderlies, for keeping up the connexion between one part of an army and another, and to aid the infantry in the immediate work of local security, the marching body will in ordinary country consist of artillery and infantry. The tendency for every action to begin by artillery fire continually leads more and more to the pushing forward of that arms to the front of the column, only sufficient infantry being placed before it on the road to give protection in case of sudden attack, and to furnish the necessary troops for the defence of the guns at the beginning of an action. The extact order of march will therefore necessarily vary with the character of the country through the army moves. In very mountainous districts, in which collision with an enemy may occur at any moment, it may be necessary to push forward infantry instead of cavalry. In all cases where mountain defiles have to be passed, detached infantry must gain possession of the heights before th main body enters the defile.
Since the great object object of all marches is to deliver the army in fighting order on the battle-field, it is necessary that the force should not be dispersed too widely on the march, but it is quite as necessary with large bodies of troops that the march should not be made upon the too few roads. An army corps with its attendant wagons occupies in depth about 25 miles on a single road. As under most circumstances a days march is about 13 to 14 miles, it is clear that, if an army corps were moving in the ordinary road formation on a single road, the rear of the column would scarcely be able to arrive on the same day that the head of the column was first involved in action. Nor is it always possible to place the whole of the fighting force in front and to leave the whole mass of wagons in rear. Ambulances and surgeons at least, as well as ammunition columns, are required at the very moment of battle. Therefore it is advisable to employ as many roads as possible that are within convenient reach of one another. The difference between the lengths of march that have been done by troops under favourable and unfavourable conditions is so great that it is impossible to fix any specific length as the march that can under all circumstances be relied on. Good spirits, good roads, high training, and favourable weather on the one hand, and depressions, deep mud, storms, and want of marching condition on the other, are elements that must be taken into account in all such matters. Of the difficulties which a large number of troops marching on a single road encounter a striking illustration is afforded by an incident of the 1866 campaign. According to the Australian official account, the men marched eight abreast in order to diminish the length of road occupied. Yet, though this unusually wide marching front was taken up by the infantry, and corresponding formations were as far as possible taken by the other arms, the length of the longest column, according to Von der Goltz, was, when actually on the road, from front to rear 67 _ miles in length. In this case about three corps were marching together. Hence it is always desirable when possible to allow one road at least to each division. Another striking illustration both of the size of modern armies and of the length occupied by troops on a road is given by Von der Goltz. He calculates that, if the present German army were place on one road, it would reach from Mainz to the Russian frontier, the whole distance being densely packed with men, guns, and wagons. Again, he shows that either the present French or German army extended in battle array would occupy the entire length of the common frontier of the countries.
Advanced and Rear Guardsd.The questions involved in the proper use and employment of advanced and rear and guards would occupy more space than we can possibly for them. In general terms it may be said that, with both advanced and rear guards, artillery (perhaps with machine and quick-firing guns), cavalry, and mounted infantry will play the principal parts. It is tolerably certain, though opinion is much divided on the subject, that the enormous advanced guards employed by the Germans during the 1870 campaign, in which the advanced guard of an army corps sometimes consisted of about half the whole force, would be for most campaigns a mistake. The tendency of very large advanced guards is, as that campaign showed, to bring on actions prematurely. Artillery or mounted corps can be easily drawn out of a premature action. Infantry cannot be so withdrawn. If the advanced guard is large enough to give time to the marching body to form upon suitable ground before it is attacked, it possesses all the strength that is necessary.
The task of a rear guard retiring before a victorious enemy, and covering the retreat of a beaten army, is one of the most delicate of operations. It depends for its proper execution on the full employment of those means for gaining time by forcing an enemy to deploy on unfavourable ground which have been described under the general heading.
Outposts.The subject of outposts is also me which, for its full explanation, would require a volume to itself. The general principle on which their use is based is that a slender cordon of men shall so surround an army when at rest that no enemy can approach its quarters unobserved, and that this cordon shall be supported by piquets from which the actual sentries for the cordon are taken, and these again by stronger but less numerous bodies, serving to connect together the different parts, so that, if the enemy attempts to drive in the outposts at any point, he meets with a continually increasing resistance. In this broad indication of the method, the principle is equally applicable to cavalry and to infantry outposts. In general, however, the security of a modern army, when not in actual contact with an enemy preparatory to battle, depends chiefly on the early information gained by cavalry pushed far out beyond the rest of the army. The cavalry will be at a distance of at least one or two days march in advance and on the flanks scouring the country in all directions.
It is practically certain that during the earlier stages of a campaign the collisions that will occur will be between bodies of cavalry pushed forward from both sides, supported by horse artillery and by such infantry as can be rapidly transported to the front. The circumstances of the collision of the main armies must depend in the first instance upon what happens in these encounters, in which cavalry will be the most important arm. Both sides will endeavour to use their cavalry to obtain all the infromation they can and to prevent the enemy from obtaining information of their own movements. At the same time, in the case of two great neighbouring powers like France and Germany, it is probable that attempts will be made by the cavarly on both sides to interfere with the mobilization of the armies across the frontier. These efforts promise to result in contests on a scale and of a kind such as we have never yet seen, and of the nature of which it is difficult to judge from any past experience of war. It seems certain, however, that the body which will gain victory in these encounters will be that most highly trained and numerous cavalry, supported by its sister arm the horse artillery. Bu the value of a body of mounted infantry, and perhaps a strong force of cyclists, pushed forward to support the cavalry, can hardly be doubted when it is remembered how often defiles will have to be seized, bridged held, and important stations permanently secured. No doubt, when such infantry is not available, cavalry will at times have to be employed on foot for these purpose. So long as such employment is looked on as exceptional and a necessity to be registered, it need do no harm. In any case no rules must prevent the securing of the actual object for the time being.
Reconnaissance and Intelligence.The vital necessity of obtaining al possible information of what an enemy is doing makes the reconnaissance continually carried out by cavalry all round an army, and the occasional special reconnaissances conducted by single officers and small parties or strong bodies employed for the purpose, some of the most important operations of war. It is, however, difficult in brief space to lay down rules for their guidance, because the essence of the value of such work depends on officers being trained in all parts of the art of war so as to know what to look for and what to report. The principles of such reconnaissance are determined by the general principles of both strategy and tactics, and are not in themselves independent. Nevertheless, it is very important that it should be realized, by men who are sending in reports from some one point of a large circle, that information in itself apparently unimportant may be of the greatest value when it is collated with other facts either already known or simultaneously gathered from other quarters. Thus, for instance, a newspaper advertisement, or a reference to a particular man or officers as not being with his regiment, may give negative evidence of the position of that regiment which may become of great importance. The sifting, therefore, of information should be chiefly left to the department at headquarters which has charge of that work. Spies and deserters will supply evidence the value of which usually depends on the power of the department to check their assertions by a number of minute facts already known. Any information about the enemy or the country which may assist to the end should be carefully gathered and reported Numerous forms and rules have been drawn up to supply hints as to the kind of information about roads, rivers, railways villages, &c., which should be gathered Lord Wolseleys Pocket-Book and Colonel Harrisons Handbook are the best for these purposes.
Literature.The following books may be recommended as the most recent and most valuable on matters of military art. (1) On tactics, to which modern military literature has been chiefly devoted, see Prince Kraft of Hohenlohe-Ingelfingens Letters on cavalry, infantry, and artillery, especially those on the last-named. These are being now translated in the Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution. (2) On cavalry tactics two anonymous works by the same writer appeared in Germany in 1884 : Die Kavallerie-Division als Schlachtenkörper, and Ueber, die Bewaffnung, Ausbildung, und Verwendung der Reiterei. The former has been translated into French in the Revue de Cavalerie of successive months of 1885-86, and we have no hesitation in saying that is a book that ought to be known to every officer of every arm of the service, but more especially to every cavalry officer. See also Das Volk in Waffen ("The Nation in Arms") , by Baron von der Goltz, which has been completely translated into French under the titled of La Nation arméeorganisatioin militaire et grande tactique modernes (1884); parts of it have been translated by Sir Lumley Graham in the Journal of the United Service Institution, No. 138, vol.xxxi. (1887). (3) On Infantry tactics the books are legion. They should be read in conjunction with the actual history of the battles on which their conclusions are based, and if possible with a study of them on the ground on which they were fought. Perhaps the most important are Von Scherffs Studien zu neuen Infanterie-Taktik, (1873) translated by Sir Lumley Graham, New Tactics of Infantry, 1875 ; Verdy du Vernoiss Studien ùber Feld-dienst (1886), and his studien ùber Truppen-Fùhrang (1873-75), and the numerous strategical and tactical studies recently published in Germany,may by Von Gizycki, and in some cases translated as we have noted above by Capatain Spencer Wilkinson, and published by the Manchester Tactical Society. We should also recommend a perusal of Col. the Right Hon. J. H. A. Macdonalds Common Sense on Parade (1886), from whch we have given several extracts. (94) On strategy Prince Krafts "strategical letters" have already been alluded to. Sir Edward Hamleys Operations of War (4th ed., 1878) remains without a rival in the English language on questions of strategy. We cannot think that Clausewitzs great book, On War. Translated by Col. J. J. Graham, 1873, has ceased to be of value. Meklers Taktik, which represents the course for the German war school, has not as yet been translated; it is a most important work. No soldier can read Major Adams Great Campaigns without advantage. But on these matters we must conclude by expressing our conviction that an exhaustive study of at least a single campaign carried out pretty nearly on the principles laid down, for the purposes of the study of general history, by Dr Arnold, in the Lectures on History, but with just such modifications as apply to war study, is almost indispensable to a soldier who would derive much value from those books which examine the whole must follow, if any real use is to be made of either one or the other (J. F. M*.)
Naval Strategy And Tactics.
The introduction of steam, armour, the torpedo, and other modern changes must necessarily have produced modifications in naval strategy and tactics since the days of the last great naval war. In the course of the last eighty years wars on land, both in Europe and elsewhere, have been frequent, and soldiers have thus been enabled to keep pace with modern inventions, and to accommodate their strategy and tactics to the ever-changing conditions of the problem. But since 1805, when Great Britain, by her crowning victory of Trafalgar, placed herself in undisputed command of the seas, and, having rendered herself superior to all possible combinations against her, was thus enabled to found unmolested her unrivalled colonial empire, the world has seen no naval war of sufficient magnitude to enable seamen to lay down maxims of strategy and tactics founded on actual experience. It does not follow, however, that we must necessarily give up the problems as insoluble ; we are entitled to reason by analogy. The lessons of history, if not followed too slavishly, will act as a useful guide ; and when we have made due allowance for the superseding of sail by steam power, and the consequent limits to the mobility of all fighting ships dependent on their supply of coal, when we have taken into consideration the cutting of the Suez Canal and the possibility of another through Panama, and when we have given due weight to the possession by various nations of certain strategic points on the surface of the globe where coal may be obtained, we shall be able to construct some not altogether imaginary theories of future naval strategy, and shall probably find that the problem, at least as between Great Britain and her maritime rivals, bears a striking family resemblance to that which presented itself in the past. The geographical factors are not greatly altered. Some new naval powers have sprung into existence and must be taken account of, whilst some of those which figured conspicuously in the beginning of the century have dwindled into insignificance ; but the relative interests of the two great maritime rivals, Great Britain and France, are practically unchanged.
Strategy.The great continental powers of Europe, in consequence of their land frontiers, have to depend mainly on their armies to defend their position, and maintain their independence, and they have all been constrained to adopt a system of forced military service, and to support great standing armies, with prodigious reserves, and vast stores of war material constantly at hand. For them the problems with which we are now dealing are questions of minor importance, and must be entirely subordinate to their military requirements. Italy is probably the only one of them which has reason to fear invasion by sea, or descents and raids upon her extended coast line ; and she has lately been making gigantic efforts to supply herself with a powerful war navy, though she is still far behind France, the only power from whom she has any cause to apprehend attack. To Great Britain alone of the great powers of Europe are the problems of naval strategy of paramount importance. Upon a thorough knowledge and just appreciation of them, with a sufficient provision of physical force to secure their successful development in her own interests, depends the existence of the British empire.
The two primary factors which must decide the future naval strategy of Great Britain are the command of the English Channel and the protection of her mercantile marine. Upon the former depends her own safety from commercial cities and coast towns ; and upon the latter depends the no less vital consideration of the uninterrupted supply of food and of raw material for manufacture.
Her naval supremacy in the Mediterranean is of vast importance, for upon it will depend the freedom of her principal route to India and Australia, and also the eventual retention of Malta, Gibraltar, and Cyprus, and of that priceless possession vaguely termed naval prestige, upon which alone she can found a claim to be classed amongst the great powers of Europe. But, notwithstanding the importance to Great Britain of being able to hold her own in the Mediterranean, either with or without allies, in the event of a war with France, or with France and Russia combined, it cannot be considered as vital to the existence of the empire ;and it is possible to conceive circumstances in which she might be driven from that sea, or for strategic reasons be induced temporarily to withdraw her ships, and yet, if she could keep open her alternative trade route by the Cape of Good Hope, and protect her food supplies from America, she might secure time to develop her unrivalled maritime resources, and eventually, notwithstanding the enourmous temporary loss of prestige, regain her wonted supremacy on all seas.
The naval strategy of the past was necessarily a somewhat inexact and haphazard business. The fact that fleets had to depend entirely for locomotion upon the fickle and uncertain power of wind rendered it impossible to form accurate schemes of combination, and thus the most carefully planned expeditions and enterprises were often frustrated and rendered abortive almost at the moment of consummation by a foul wind or storm. All this is now changed ; the present development of steampower renders fleets practically independent of wing, and even storms can only slightly affect them. The limit to their range of operations dependent on their coal supply, with the question of the possibility of replenishing, adds another element of certainty to the data upon which we can form accurate calculations as to the power and mobility of fleets. It has become possible, therefore, to say that naval strategy is no longer the inexact and haphazard business, depending largely change, which it was of old but an accurate and most interesting science, worthy of the close attention and practical study of the most skilled experts.
The two principal objects of the naval strategy of Great Britainthe command of the narrow seas around her coasts, and the protection of her mercantile marineare to a certain extent different, though not actually independent of each other. Thus she might, by providing an overwhelming fleet of iron-clads, and neglecting to build a sufficiency of fast cruisers, retain undisputed command of the narrow seas, and yet have her commerce swept off the ocean by an enemy provided with numerous fast, far-ranging cruisers ; and on the other hand, it would be useless for her to provide vast numbers of vessels of the latter class to protect her commerce all over the world, if by neglecting her iron-clads she lost command of the narrow seas, and say her merchant ships captured in sight in sight of their ports. It is obvious, therefore, that her only safety depends upon an ample supply of both.
The naval strategy of the last war may be briefly but comprehensively described as a blockade of the enemys ports. The question which now exercises the minds of seamen is whether blockade is at present possible, and if so under what conditions ; and the conclusions which seems to have been arrived at by the ablest naval strategists of the present day appears to be that a close blockade, carried on under the old system, is, for various reasons, no longer possible. What is now practicable is observation, or watching by a chain of look-out vessels in connexion with a superior fleet, in such a way that the squadron in port would be masked (to use military term), or in other words, that they would be unable to leave that port without the extreme probability of being obliged to meet and engage with a superior force. The distance at which the masking fleet should remain from the blocked port, and the question whether they should be kept under weigh, or at anchor at some suitable anchorage, are points of details which come more under the head of tactics, and must be decided in each individual case in accordance with local circumstances, and with such considerations as the prospect of the blockading fleet being or not being subjected to the attacks of torpedo boats and coast defenders, which, although not strictly speaking sea-going vessels, are yet capable of exercising potent energies within a certain zone of their port, by selecting the most suitable time and weather for their operations. Such considerations render it obvious that the blockading ships must greatly exceed the sea-going force in the port blockaded as they render themselves liable to all sorts of subsidiary but very effective attacks from comparatively insignificant forces, which, in consequence of their own distance from their base of operations, they would be unable to reply to in a similar manner. If the blockading force is to be kept constantly under weigh, its numbers must be still further increased, as in that case a certain proportion of the ships, variously estimated at from one-sixth to one third, must be continually absent from their station for the purpose of replenishing their coal supply, and of making those repairs to machinery which are incidental to steam ships kept constantly under weigh.
The effective blockade of an enemys ports would of itself provide for the protection of commerce, for if no hostile ships could escape there would be nothing to prey upon the commerce. Such experience, however, as was gained during the American civil war, supported by numerous peace trials and general nautical experience on the subject, tends to show that a perfectly effectual blockade is impossible, as against steamers ; some vessels of high speed will certainly find means of escaping on dark nights or during thick weather, so that it becomes necessary for a rich commercial nation, whose merchant ships cover every sea, to make arrangements for providing at least two cruisers of superior speed and greater coal endurance, to look after every one of the hostile raiders which may escape the blockade and endeavour to adopt the tactics of the famous "Alabama." Some half-dozen Confederate cruisers of feeble power and insignificant speed succeeded in driving the merchant flag of the United States off the ocean, and deprived that country of the large share of the carrying trade of the world which it then possessed. A similar disaster to Great Britain in her present unique position would, it is almost superfluous to point out, have far wider consequences.
Some high political authorities have given it as their opinion that no fleet of fast cruisers which it would be possible to provide would suffice for the protection of Great Britains commerce in the case of war with a maritime power. This may or may not be the case, but it is a view not generally shared by the highest naval authorities, who take into consideration the possession by Great Britain of the principal coaling stations of the world.
A novel but apparently not unpractical proposition has been made by one of the ablest and most thoughtful admirals of the British navy, with a view to prevent the wholesale transfer of the mercantile marine to a neutral flag on the outbreak of war with a maritime power. It is to the effect that the national exchequer should guarantee to a few simple but not too harassing regulations as to routes and times of sailing, to be laid down by the Admiralty from time to time. It is quite possible that the call on the national purse might be enormous, perhaps a hundred millions sterling during the first six months of the war ; but no mulct it would be reasonable to conceive would equal the amount of the indirect national loss which would accrue from the wholesale transfer of the carrying trade of the country to a foreign flag.
The subjects is worthy of the attentive consideration of all those who essay to deal with the great questions of naval strategy, as the protection of the mercantile marine of the country from either direct of indirect destruction is one of the principal factors in the problem.
Tactics.If naval strategy has been modified by the recent inventions in warlike materials and the motive power of ships, it is certain that the same causes have had a still greater effect upon all preconceived notions of naval tactics.
Weather gauge will no longer be sought for as an advantage. In fact in all cases of attack by surprise such as an assault by torpedo boats, or other light craft, for the purpose of harassing a fleet, the attacking force would certainly approach from the leeward, by which tactics the smoke from every gun fired by the fleet would act as a screen to hide their movements, and protect them from machine gun fire ; for not even the beams of the electric light can penetrate smoke.
A large amount of speculative writing has lately been indulged in, by both English and French writers, as to the naval tactics of the future. We hear of "ramming tactics," the end-on attack," "the melée," and various other somewhat vague phrases, used to express the views of the theorists as to the probable tactics of a future naval battle ; and, whilst the torpedoes tells us that his weapon (meaning the locomotive torpedo) will certainly decide an action, and forbid ships to approach near enough for ramming, the artillerist laughs to scorn the inaccuracy and limited range of torpedoes moving in such a dense medium as water, and maintains that his weapon, of far greater accuracy, almost equal destructive power, and immensely greater range, will as of old decide the battle.
It is probably that all three weapons, ram, gun, and torpedo, will play a part in future naval battles, though many thoughtful and practical seamen seem to be coming to the conclusion that the ram will not be deliberately used, except perhaps to give the coup de grace to a ship with her engines already disabled ; and this even would appear to be a wanton destruction of a ship which might become a valuable prize, and an inhuman sacrifice of lives no longer capable of exercising any material influence on the battle.
It seems to be though that ramming when it takes place in action will be as often accidental as deliberate ; and indeed the present high speed and great size and weight of iron-clads would probably forbid practical seamen from adopting that mode of attack. Two ships of from of 28 knots an hour (assuming the speed of each to be 14 knots), would certainly produce mutual destruction, with loss of the lives of almost all on board, and it seems difficult to believe that any two men who still retained calm judgment and reason would deliberately adopt such a suicidal method of fighting, if indeed it be possible to steer two large ships at high speed with such accuracy as to cause a direct collision,a point which many practical seamen doubt.
On the other hand, a ship striking another on the broadside, or at any angle approaching a right angle, would probably cause the destruction of the latter, with but trifling injury to herself, supposing her bows to be properly constructed for ramming ;but, in order to place a ship in a situation to strike such a blow (both ships proceeding at speed), she would herself have to assume a very critical position; that is to say, she would have to expose her broadside, or in other words, she would have to place herself almost as much across the assumed path of her adversary as the adversary was across hers ; in which position the miscalculation of a few seconds in time, a knot or two in speed, or even a small touch of the helm of either ship at the last moment, would turn the would be rammer into the victim. It is probable therefore that, if ramming takes place in action, it will be more frequently by accident than design.
Much has been made by the advocates of ramming tactics of the incident of the battle of Lissa, where the sank the Italian iron-clad "Re d Italia ;" but it has been stated on high authority that the brave Tegethoff himself has disclaimed any preconceived design in the matter, further than that he suddenly observed through the smoke a grey object in front of him, which he took to be an enemy, that he ordered his ships engines to be put "full speed a-head" and his ship to be steered for the object, and that he then found he had rammed and sunk the "Red d Italia."
In some instances modern ships have been designed and built with a view to carrying out some special plan of tactics. Thus in the British navy several ships have been built for the "end-on attack," as it is called, a somewhat vague term for expressing the desire of some officers to fight their ships end-on to the enemy,tactics, however which can only be consistently carried out if the enemy consents to run away ; otherwise it is evident that, if both ships continue to advance towards each other, they will meet, and if they do not strike and sink each other, they must pass from the "end-on" to the "broadside-on," then "stern-on," and then, unless they mutually agree to run away from each other, they must pass through the "broadside-on" position again before they resume the "end-on" or bow attack.
It would seen therefore to be wise not to construct the ordinary battle ships for any particular method of attack, whilst the whole subject is in such an untried and speculative condition, and so much necessarily depends on the tactics of the enemy, but rather to make ships as strong all over, both offensively and defensively, as it is possible to do upon a given displacement and at a certain cost.
The principal tactical formations for modern fleets aresingle column in line ahead ; two and three columns in line ahead ; the same in line abreast ; quarter line or line of bearing ; indented line ;and the group formation. In the last-named, a group of three ships becomes the tactical unit instead of the single ship ; there is a leader with a ship on each quarter at different angles and different distances ; and in this, and also in the indented line formation, the object is to keep the broadsides of the ships open or clear of consorts ; but, in consequence of the more recent battle ships not being built specially with a view to broadside fire, these somewhat complicated formations are not generally popular.
Science and the ingenuity of inventors are day by day adding fresh weapons of more terribly destruction energy to the already prodigious list of war material, and the attack may be said to keep always well ahead well ahead of the defence, so that it becomes more difficult to lay down fixed rules for tactics than for strategy. Much will depend upon the personal genius, nerve, and happy inspirations of the individual admirals and captains who first find themselves engaged in a modern naval battle ; and national instincts, and practical experience in handling steam ships at high speed, will count for much towards steam ships at high speed, will count for much towards the issue. (C. C. P. F.)