Page images


delled and adapted throughout the modern principles of discipline and general tactics. So much of what is old has been retained as may give some correct ideas of the systems of other nations; and the body of information, as well as of words of reference, renders this the most ample and particular Military Dictionary that has been published in the language

To the general mass has been added the useful little work called the Little Bombardier, or Pocket Gunner, originally compiled for the British ertillerists from the French Manuel de l’Artilleur of Durtubie. The measures of extent and ca. pacity, ani tie monies of all foreign nations : under the worls Tactics, Military Schooli, Topographical Depot, Money, Weights and Measures, Valor, and generally throughout the work will be found a vast body of new information, particularly adapted to the communication of correct knowlege to all who wish to comprehend military subjects.

A too prevalent error, and the most fatal if we should ever be engaged in war, and not acquire more perfect and general knowlege, is, that the art of war re. quires neither study nor much attention to what is called discipline; and this error has obtained a sort of sanctity from the triumphs of our rindisciplined veo. manry over the British, Hanorerian, Wurtemburg, and Hessian veterans in our re. volution. Undoubtedly without an examination into the causes of the triumphs in a more particular manner than general history presents, the assumption is very imposing, and adapted to flatter self-love and national pride.

These natural and often useful passions must, nevertheless, be restrained like all others within the bounds of reason; and, in order to avoid the danger which may flow from our prejudices, we must endeavor to consider our own circumstances with eyes as dispassionate as we should those of strangers. We must enquire, what was the state of inilitary knowlege in the armies of the invaders ; whether they exhibited any of the great qualities which constitute well disci. plined troops or great generals ; whether the whole course of their military transactions was not a series of blunders, produced by their ignorance of our people and country, and even in a great degree owing to the want of talents in the officers of the cnemy, to supply by their genius and spirit of enterprize, the disadvantages under which they labored. It would require only an entimeration of a few facts to shew, that although the patience with which the American troops endured hardships and privations, afford glorious examples of the military virtues ; that even these great virtues, conducted as they were, by a general who united in himself the military qualities of a Fabius and a Scipio, could not have had so much success were it not for the want of a good disci. pline, and the utter incapacity of the generals of the British army.

In the modern wars of the French revolution, the like truths have been demonstrated as in the American contest. The British armies had been merely taught the duties of parade, and when they came into the field, had to learn by hard fighting and severe defeats, that their officers were generally ignorant of the art of war ; for they were beaten once more by raw troops ably conducted to the field by experienced officers, who possessed skill, who had made military science their study; and, above all, who knew how to take advantage of the incompetency of the British leaders.

Mankind in every country, educated in the same way, varies very little in those points which are adapted to military services. It must, therefore, in a great measure depend upon the education which is applied to military affairs, in the discipline of armies, whether they are victors or vanquished. All nations profess to have acted upon this opinion, though there seems not to be that attention paid to the subject, nor to education of any kind, which the acknowleged importance of the case calls for. This indifference or heedlessness has at times infected all nations, and may be considered as a disease, which if not cured at a certain stage, ensures destruction.

The triumphs of Spain before the peace of Vervins in 1598, is a most impor. tant part of history for the study of men fond of military enquiries; the infantry of Spain was then the first in Europe; we have seen in the years 1808 and 1809, that the extinction, by the neglect of military knowlege, has left Spain, with ten millions of people, an easy conquest. Austria and Prussia have successively shone preeminent on the military theatre of Europe. The daily parades at Berlin, wliich Frederic II. conducted himself for many years, and from which strangers were excluded, were only lessons of experiment and instruction by which he formed his own mind to the conviction of the power of rapid movement, and close


scipline and gene ay give some cor. aformation, as well particular Military

[ocr errors]

k called the Little ish rrtillerists from s of extent and ca. 3.5 Tactics, Military alor, and generally

nation, particularly _10 wish to compre.

be engaged in war,

the art of war re. liscipline; and this

pindisciplined yeo. 12 veterans in ourre. s of the triumphs in assumption is very

s, be restrained like d the danger which er our own circumtangers. We must dies of the invaders; istitute well disci. -se of their military eir ignorance of our the want of talents spirit of enterprize, require only an envio ce with which the lorious examples of cted as they were, Fabins and a Scipio, ant of a good disci.

army. e truths have been es had been merely ld, had to learn by nerally ignorant of Dis ably conducted had made military advantage of the

evolutions by small divisions ; divisions moving in different modes, and by different
points, in apparent disorder but by the wost exact laws, to one common point of
action. Here it was that he contrived those methods which he accomplished in
action afterwards, and which enabled him, with a force not equal to half the Aus-
trian army, to baffle, defeat, and triumph over all Europe. It will be useful for the
man of sense to consider, whether Frederic could have performed such wonders
in the field, without this previous practice himself, and the previous discipline
which rendered his armies of 40,000 as manageable as a battalion of 500 men,
Perhaps we shall be told that Steuben': tract renders all these considerations un.

The military triumphs of modern France have been ascribed to a multitude
of causes;

really, perhaps, the causes of her military successes may be reduced to two. First, the necessity which arose out of what has been preposterously called the balance of power in Europe, which under the pretence of maintaining an equality of nations, has been the real mask for reiterated wars, conquests, plunder, and desolation ; Spain, Austria, and France, have been at different periods held up as aspiring to universal dominion ; under the color of resisting the aggrandizement of either, they have been for two centuries constantly engaged in efforts to plunder each other. France, from her position, was from the passions of the age, forced to be prepared for the defensive ; and in several succes. sive wars had made conquests on her extremities, which rendered it daily more necessary to maintain a military establishment; and at length, after suttering great disasters, and thereby producing a succession of great generals, the passions and character of the people became military.

Taught by triumphs and disasters, the causes of success and failure, her gemerals and statesmen directed their attention to the perfection of all the branches of military institution; the management of weapons, the array of troops, the plans of marches, the supply of armies, the passage of rivers, and the simplifi. cation of every species of duty. Colleges were instituted, the sciences were enlisted in the military service, and it was difficult to tell in which class of citi. zens the greatest military enthusiasm prevailed...the nobles who alone could aspire to command, or the privates who composed the rank and file of armies.

It is to these institutions, through which the path to honor and renown lay, that France owes her present preeminence. Under several heads of this Dica tionary will be found the facts upon which this opinion is sustainedl; other na. tions rather aped than emulated her institutions; while France pursued the spirit of the Romans who adopted every weapon which they found powerful in the hands of their enemies; France adopted the prolonged line of the Austrians, or abandoned it to pursue the concentric movements of Prussia; those echellons which under another name were among the manquvres of Scipio and Gustarts Adolphus, and which so many have aliected to laugh at as novelties, because they know neither their history nor their use ; were recommended by Guibert in 1763, as the column had been before recommended by Folarit; and each of whom had been calumniated and their tactics reprobated!, by the enemies of innovation, or rather by the blockheads of their day, a class of beings which some are to be found every where.

The rapid principles of Frederic, and the evolutions of the celellon and column adapted to the concentric method of movement, upon oblique as well as di. rect lines ; and all executed with a combined precision before unusual, constitute the great features of the modern tactics. Simplicity of method in instruction is the key to it.

It must be evident to the humblest understanding, that a great part of the success of armies in war must depend as much upon the knowlege of the ene. mies' mode of movement and action, as well as in the perfection, precision, and promptitude of execution in their own. Voltaire, whose history of Europe is alike admirable for its conciseness and authenticity, since all his information on military affairs was drawn from the military depot established at Versailles, speaking of the battle of Rosbach, attributes the defeat of the French under Soubise to their ignorance of the new methods of movement which had been introduced by Frederic II. Tie solliers saw that the old method of battle was changed; they did not comprehend the motions of the Prussians, which were not merely novel, but as exact as the movements on a parade ; they believed they saw their masters in the art of wan, they were dismaved and fied,

uries very little in 25t, therefore, in a military aftuirs, in hed. All nations is not to be that hich the acknow sedlessness has at which if not cured

is a most imporries; the infantry I'S 1808 and 1809, t Spain, with ten accessively shone wades at Berlin,

which strangers on by which he

ment, and close


This anecdote, which has many resemblances in ancient history, is of great moment in directing the understanding to the consideration of military institu. tion. It leaves no doubt of the necessity of knowing the art of war as it is practised by other nations, and especially the importance of practising that which has proved superior to all others.

A fatality has attended all the efforts which have been made for several years to introduce a suitable organization of the militia, and a correct military system. The genius of ignorance appears to have cast a spell over all the attempts that have been made. Like the projector who was so much occupied by the erection of a weathercock, that he set about it before the foundation for the steeple was laid, every attempt has been made at the wrong end; apart has been mistaken for a whole, composedof numerous parts, and the wrong part has always beer chosen first. America, which has been so original in the revolution as to give rise to the institution of rifle corps, which have decided seven-eighths of the battles that have been fought in Europe since; has been led to resort constantly to the very system of which America proved the futility, for precepts and examples; instead of profiting by the march of science, we have gone for instruction to the worst military institutions of Europe. When any person intrusted with the military concerns of the U. States wants inforination, it is to authorities exploded and condemned by men of military knowlege, reference is macie. A minister of England in addressing that nation in 1806, at the very moment when it was an. nounced to that nation that the bellum ad internicionein had only then begun..... that “ the war was now at the foot of her walls," had the honesty, which times of danger extracts even from ministers, to declare...The military system of England was equally in want of repairs, or rather a thorough rebuildiug, even to its foun. dation stone." There is no truth more certain, yet it is to this tattered and clefenceless fabric we resort for models on every occasion. The bill for esta blishing a quarter-master general's department, which was before congress in 1809-10, is a scion of this decayed tree; no doubt that as long as the present apology for a system exists, the proposed department may serve, as a crutch is of use to a body stricken with paralysis.

Military science even in France, where it has now reached the greatest perfection, has had to struggle with selfishness and the occasional and almost insuperable difficulties, which the appointment of ministers incompetent and inexperienced in military affairs, threw in their way. Folard is reputed to have died broken-hearted, by the persecution which he experienced from stupid generals and ministers who looked to nothing but official patronage. Le. vrilliere, whose admirable improvements in the various departments of artillery, to whom is oving the reduction of the length and the weight of metal of guns of the same calibre, was persecuted out of France, and obliged to take re. juge in the army of Austria, where his services proved so formidable as to in. ruce his recall, and the final adoption of his vast improvements; those improvements which, by lessening the weight of artillery, have led to the powerful insti. tution of horse artillery.

Wise nations are never disposed to reject the useful because it is not of their own invention. The Austrians after the battle of Austerlitz immediately abolished their old discipline, and the archduke Charles instituted a better sys. tem upon the principles of the modern French. Even the French themselves, suurrounded by triumphs, have not yet deemed the science of war perfect. New dispositions of the column were adopted in Egypt; it was only in 1808 that the regulations for the exercise and manæuvres of Cavalry were completed ; and even since the campaign which closed with the battle of Wagram, they have made some important alterations in the arms of their cavalry, founded either on the esperience of inconvenience in their own, or of some superior advantages in those of their enemy.

The conclusions which we draw from these facts are, that the prevalence of erroneous opinions on the military institutions is a subject of very serious concern; because it is evident, that so long as a nation or a government, which has the care of the national concerns, and a great influence over its opinions, suffers ignorance and prejudice to occupy the place of intelligence, a similar fate may be considered as the consequence, whenever the ration shall be attacked, as other negligent or ignorant nations have been, hy a power of superior k.owlege and capacity in the art of war.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][merged small]

is of great

[ocr errors]

tary institu.

is it is prac

that which

everal years


itary system. attempts that by the erecr the steeple s been mista. salwars becs is to

of the las istant to use

dexanles; Plicta tu the I with us ities espioned

A mums when it was then beguonto

, which times system of Eng So6r 10 It $ cattered and a bill for esta re congress in as the present as a crutch is

Nothing more plainly shews the misconception which generally prevails, es-
pecially in the legislatures of the Union and the several states, than the contra-
dictory motives which are assigned for leaving the militia and military system in
their present state of disorganization. Some plead that the art of war is laid
down in Steuben ; others that Steuben carried us through the revolution ; when
In fact both Burgoyne and Cornwallis were taken before Steuben's tract was in-
troduced; others are for arming our militia with pikes alone, forgetting that a
open country is that for which pikes are best adapted ; and that to render pikes ef-
fective there must be a most perfect discipline of manæuvre, which may render
the line as potent and firm as the column, and as easily displayed, concentrated,
and formed to various fronts as the best disciplined infantry ; wlien the new
modes of movement are mentioned, they are called noveltics, though the princi-
pal of them are as old as the battle of Pharsalia, and were in practice at the bat-
tle of Lutzen ; other exceptions are, that besides being new, the modern disci-
pline is too difficult to learn, too perplexed and fatiguing; that the multiplied
manæuvres require more time and labor, and must be in a great measure use.
less; and that so satisfied are the British of this that they have reduced them
ali to nineteen manæuvres. Nothing so truly depicts the want of judgment or
a proper attention to the subject, as observations like these.....the truth is that the
modern principles of instruction are fewer in number, more easily taught and un-
derstood, and less irksome to the soldier ; better adapted to engage the soldier's
attention and afford him gratification ; that the variety and mumber of evolutions
is not more various than the eternal variety of ground by which military move-
ments and dispositions are always governed ; and that the new discipline, by
teaching the first elements well, enables the military body to be moved by these
principles on any ground, and not only to form any disposition that it is possible
to form, but without having been previously formed in such new dispositions ; the
elementary principles of modern discipline being peculiarly adapted to the un.
derstanding, and the movements by small bodies, enabling every officer of a small
portion of troops to move his particular corps by the mode best adapted to the

It must always be the fault of the government if its military institutions are
crroneous. If there were but a single regiment, that should he instructed ac-
cording to the best principles, and made to practise whatever was most useful
and necessary in the art of war. In a nation of freemen the regular force should
constantly exhibit their exercises and evolutions, so that every citizen should be
familiar with the best practice of the use of arms and of maneuvres,
may be said to have an infallible memory, it is above all other of the organs
of sense the best medium of intelligence. The United States troops are
usually cooped up in garrisons, as if they were, like the king of Prussia, forming
a system in secret, while in fact there is nothing worthy of the name of discipline
carried on, and in too many instances nothing understood. Perhaps the troops
of the United States have not, as a part of discipline, fired a ball at a target for
twenty years. Field artillery, or mortar practice, probabiy not more frequent.
The maxim of economy is an important one in a free state, but there is an econo-
my more destructive than the greatest profusion; and that is the economy of
practical and useful knowlege.

We speak of these things reluctantly, but the evil is almost a disease, and
requires the regard of the intelligent men in all parts of the nation.

What is then requisite for the United States?

It will be said that there is some difficulty in effecting any improvement. Unquestionably so it is, and so it ever will be. But the government is bound not to regard difficulties, when they are put in competition with the dangers which may flow from neglect. The government possesses the power, and the army is bound, and the country is anxious to possess a more complete system in lieu of the once useful but at present useless tract of baron Steuben. The difficelties are not so great as may be at first sight supposed, and may be surmount. ed in a way rather to serve as a pleasure than a difficulty to the army and militia. The elements of modern exercise might be first introduced, they are nei. ther so numerous, so perplexed, nor so unnatural as the old forms; neither are they so tiresome to the teacher or the taught. They have also another advantage, that the soldier is not as heretofore stiffened and set up like an embalı. ed Egyptian mummy; the modern method takes any number from 10 to 100 men, and places them in an easy position erect without constraint of heat), or limbs

d the greatest

The cye

anal and almost competent and L is reputed to ced from stupid itrollage. Le ents of artiller lt of metal i iged to take it. nidable as to it those improke.

: powerful inst

ilise it is not ni itz immediately .cd a better ich thensehen - perfect. Ner 1818 that there eted; andere bey have made I either on the

antages in those

[ocr errors]

preralence a try serious co lent, which has pinions, suffers imilar fate na e attacked, erior knowley

[ocr errors]

or body; and proceeds by familiarizing the ear to equal time by the action of the feet of the whole squad or company ; after which they are all taught to face lo either hand or about, indifferently, and never in one routine; the mode of moving the limbs and the time of movement is ever the same; and the words of command few, simple, and plain; where they in any case differ from the usual words of common life the teacher's duty is to explain them often, until the ears of all are familiar with their practical meaning.

The next process is advancing, at a given length of pace in equal times; and this is combined with facings, and at last with wheelings, in whole ranks, or in sections of any given numbers, always varying, diminishing, and augmenting at discretion the numbers of the sections, by drawing from the right of each successive section in the rear of the first, to the left of the leading section, a number sufficient to augment the first to the number required, and so of every section from front to rear; the drill is thus carried on always with moving feet at the time of gay dancing music, and when marching always at a pace of 24 inches.

After the squad of 20 or 100 is found complete in these minute branches of marking time, advancing at time, facing and wheeling, augmenting and dimin. ishing sections, they are taught the oblique wheelings and facings, or as the mo. dern words are haif or quarter facing, or half or quarter wheeling; and to march dressed in these several orders, so as to form exactly in the same relative position to cach other when wheeled or faced to their primitive position.

Thus much may be well taught, and comprehended, and practised in two or three weeks, employing only two or three liours at each drill, and twice each day:

The instruction of the pivots or flank men of ranks and sections, go along with the first wheelings; and as soon as the uses of the pivots are generally understood, then the whole are formed into double ranks; and the men are prepared to exccute any of the modern evolutions or maneuvres ; it being always calculated that the officers are equally diligent and as well drilled as the men, and competent not only to comprehend but to correct an error when it occurs.

At this stage, and not before, arms should be put into their hands; and a manual exercise of some kind tauglit, for it is not material what the motions are so that the firing and loading motions are taught to be performed with dexterity and ease.

The drill is then manæuvred once a day with arms, and the officer who feels a proper sense of the importance of the habit of command, and the ad. vantage of giving troops the practice of movement, will diversify his own pleasures and gratify his men, by moving them into all the various positions of coJunn, line, echellons, movements by head's of sections, changing Aanks and fronts, taking new alignements, countermarching in the various modes of which modern military works furnish such useful and abundant examples.

The elements of the first drills with minute instructions might be comprised in a hand book of one half the compass of Steuben's tract; and this elementary work placed in the hands of all descriptions of troops, infantry, artillery, and cavalry, should be the first rule of practice for them all in common. This introduced, the government could at leisure prepare instructions for a more comprehensive course of maneuvres, and particularly band books upon the same simple principles of drills for artillery, ritlemen, and cavalry, in their particular branches of duty. It being to be understood as a fundamental principle, that as the movements and action of all kinds of troops are regulated by the movements of infantry; or in other words, as infantry compose the main body, line, or column ; the riflemen, artillery, and cavalry must be governed in their movements by the main body, to which they are appendages or auxiliaries; and it is therefore required that they should know themselves how to crecute the infantry manalivres, in order that they should not, like the Frencii at Rosbach, be confounded by movements of which they are ignorant.

The profiund mathematician may look down from the elevation of abstract science upon the coid common place of syllabic combination and Arabic numeri. cal notation ; but he owes his first knowlege to the alphabet of language and arithmetic; here he must have begun, and here the military man of whatever grade must also begin. He must learn the alphabet of military knowlege at the drill, he must take his lessons and learn them; he must study and practice what he has learned there, in order to teach ; and the officer must learn both to command others and to obey. There is no science which may not be attained by

« PreviousContinue »