Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
ARMY. The word army denotes the entire body of armed men put on foot and supported by a nation for the defense of its interests or the furtherance of its ambition, greed, or other passion. The term is also applied to any portion of the entire body mustered for special service. Politically considered the army is a safeguard and should be animated with patriotism, from a military standpoint, it is a machine, and should be so constructed in all its cogs and wheels as to execute efficiently the various military manœuvres; to accomplish which it needs strength, agility, and mobility in all its parts. Whether taken in the sense of a corps manœuvering before the enemy, or in the meaning of the entire military forces of the country, the army comprises all species of arms, as well those of a particular branch, as the infantry, horses, besides combatants such as cavalry; or men, horses and material, as in the case of the artillery and of the engineer corps. It draws after it as a consequence, and as essential to its existence, the creation of great and costly establishments, and also, from a moral point of view, the isolation of a portion of the nation, whose life is subjected to an exceptional regimen.
—I. HISTORY. Who does not recall the immense armies of Sesostris and Xerxes, and does not wonder how they were composed and supported? The former question is the more easily answered.——The armies of Sesostris, the most famous of which numbered 600,000 foot soldiers and 27,000 chariots, and which overran and conquered Asia, had not the character of permanency. As soon as a war was ended, they were at once disbanded. But the recruiting of these armies was easy, warriors constituting a privileged caste in Egypt. It is said that punishment in the armies of ancient Egypt was inflicted rather on the personal honor and reputation than on the body of the delinquent, a proof of generous ideas among the people and of a wise military organization.
—As much can not be said of the Persians under Xerxes. They were at that time degenerated as compared to what they had been during the reign of Cyrus; and yet the Persians were conquered by the Greeks, owing rather to their bad equipment and to the blunders of several of their chiefs, than to any lack of courage.
—Although at the outset the king of Persia commanded 1,000,000 men, he did not give battle with very many soldiers. At Platea, he confronted his united enemies with only 350,000 men, and with still fewer on other fields of battle. This is an instance of the fate of large armies. Far from their native land, they melt away by thousands and thousands. The history of all times shows his.
—The use of chariots of war, of which Sesostris had so many, and which were to be found among the Persians, shows the nature of the country in which these people fought. It was essentially a flat country. From Asia westward, the use of chariots gradually diminished. They were seldom seen among the Greeks and never among the Romans.
—Greece, divided up among small tribes, never put large armies on foot. In their intestine struggles, these tribes fought with handfuls of men. In their greatest battle, that of Leuctra, they numbered but 14,500 soldiers on one side, and 26,000 on the other. In their foreign wars, the same numerical weakness is observed. Against Syracuse Athens sent 6,300 men. Agesilaus accomplished his Asiatic expedition with 8,300 men, and Alexander the Great, when in command of the whole Grecian force, led against Darius only 35,000 men. The Greeks had but little cavalry. Their infantry consisted of a solid phalanx. The phalanx consisted of hoplites or heavy-armed men, in columns sixteen deep; four columns constituted a tetrarchy, or company of sixty-four men, the essential basis of this tactical formation. The tetrarchies and higher fractions of the army were ranged side by side, almost without any space between them, rendering the phalanx a heavy, compact and unwieldy body. This serious disadvantage was made up for by the individual quality of the Grecian soldiers, for the Greek foot soldiers, heavily or lightly armed (these latter employed in skirmishing about the phalanx), were robust, valiant, and enthusiastically patriotic.
—The Roman armies acquired an importance different in more than one respect from that of the Greek armies. The Roman empire, as established by them, was both vaster and more durable than the improvised empire of Alexander.
—In Rome every citizen owed military service, and at the beginning of a war the fittest for battle were chosen, just as in Greece; only instead of being subject to draft from twenty to sixty years of age, as at Athens and Sparta, it was only from seventeen to forty-six that a person was liable to be drafted, and between these limits sixteen years were to be spent in actual service, if a foot soldier, ten years only if a mounted one. One of the principles of the military constitution of Rome, was that the cavalry of the state should be recruited solely from the patrician class, who ranked inferior only to the senators. As long as this custom prevailed, the cavalry of the Roman armies were only mediocre, and it was necessary, from the beginning of the Punic wars, to have recourse to auxiliary foreign cavalry; to that cavalry, of which the Numidians, the Iberians and the Gauls furnished the best recruits.
—The Roman legion possessed an offensive power which tallied wonderfully well with the ambition of the people from which it sprung. Instead of being ranged in one deep line, like the phalanx, it was formed into three spaced lines. On this chess-board the occupied squares were equal to the empty ones, so that in bringing the second line on a line with the first, there was obtained, when needed, what is known as a full formation, meanwhile preserving as its normal formation detached and movable lines, each ten files deep. These three lines comprised the legionaries, properly so called, which consisted of the hastati in the front line; principes in the middle, and triarii in the rear. These latter (triarii) constituted a reserve, and did not number more than 600, half the number of each of the two other lines. Besides the soldiers of the rank, there was, as in Greece, a body of light armed men who opened the battle as skirmishers. These latter were equal in numbers to the hastati, that is to say, 1,200 strong. This made 4,200 foot soldiers to the legion, the mean strength of this corps at different periods of its organization. A distinctive feature of Roman army organization is that the cavalry constituted an integral part of the legion, and varying from a tenth to a twentieth of its whole strength.
—The consuls commanded the armies. A consular army consisted of two Roman legions, supported by two allied legions, and the fact that there were two consuls tells what was the ordinary composition of a levy: four national legions and four foreign legions. Thus each consul had under his command 16,800 foot soldiers and 1,800 cavalry. Even still later, at the time of the proconsuls, a Roman army seldom exceeded 25,000 men. One of the largest Roman armies was that which fought at Cannæ, one which numbered 80,000 men, and yet was vanquished by Hannibal.
—As the consuls were elected for only one year, the command of the Roman armies was frequently changed. Notwithstanding this disadvantage, the Roman armies were eminently successful, except when confronted with genius, as they sometimes were. This fact is owing particularly to the personal valor of the Roman soldier, hardened by exercise from his youth, inured to hardship, battle and privation. The member of a legion carried, in addition to his arms, a sack containing two weeks' rations of wheat, and a stake for the purpose of strengthening the camp inclosure. Even thus burdened, he was able to make long marches.
—Let us add, that, in spite of the inflexibility of Roman policy, the legion which had so well served it underwent a transformation, a reaction from one of the revolutions which agitated the forum. Marius, the head of the popular party, admitted as soldiers of the rank, or legionaries, even the proletarians; while up to his time, the possession of a certain income was a condition precedent to the enjoyment of that privilege. The consequence of this admission was to put an end to the hierarchy which existed in the legion. The hastati, principes and triarii were thus fused into one, and armed in the same way. Then the legions were divided into ten cohorts ranged in three lines. The light cavalry while it lost some part of its mobility, continued to have two principal lines, and a third line as a reserve. No better disposition could have been made of these lines when ranged in order of battle. Cæsar's legion was the cohort legion, and it achieved as great results as the primitive legion.
—Even under Cæsar, and to a greater extent under the empire, the conquered provinces contributed to recruit the legions, while the ranks of the army, as well as the offices of the Roman government, were invaded by the conquered. But this is not the main cause of the deterioration in the imperial armies; this deterioration was caused rather by the effeminacy which affected all classes of society. The old weapons were found too heavy, the well-known straight sword was abandoned; the soldier no longer carried his stake and luggage. Light arms, such as the bow and arrow, were preferred; and instead of coming into close contact when fighting, the habit was formed of fighting at a distance, and with machines which increased beyond measure, rather than with soldiers. Thus the way was paved for the triumph of those rude barbarians who invaded the country.
—The cohort of this period gradually changed; it sometimes fought entirely apart, and became a mixed corps of infantry and cavalry. The last legion, that mentioned by Vegetius, with its 6,100 foot soldiers formed into two lines only, comprised all descriptions of foot; in the front rank, heavy armed; in the second, mailed archers; then two ranks of light armed foot soldiers; one rank of cross-bowmen, around a machine for throwing projectiles, and last the triarii. It soon became necessary to abandon this confused arrangement, and to return to the system of isolated cohorts. The discipline, as well as the organization of the army declined. It suffices to recall the exactions and the mutinies of the prætorian cohorts, in order to get an idea of the disorder which prevailed in the Roman armies, removing the last prop of the empire—The armies of the barbarians, if the name of army may be applied to the crowd of combatants, accompanied by their wives and children, who invaded the Roman empire, was composed almost exclusively of infantry. Once settled in the countries which they had conquered or which had been ceded to them, these barbarians adopted the military customs of the former owners of the land, that is of the Romans, as did the Visigoths; or else, like the Franks, they preserved the principles of their own barbarian organization, modified by the necessity of holding the conquered people in check. The Franks, before the enemy, retained the deep rank, as may be inferred from the account of the chronicler writing of the victory of Tours, won by Charles Martel, over the Saracens,—that his success was owing to his heavy battalions. They thus massed when on the offensive, and scattered when acting on the defensive, occupying isolated, but important positions.
—In the feudal army, the lords themselves came at the summons of the king to fight by his side. Their vassals accompanied them and took part in the battle as a second line. Beside these two lines of horsemen, the one of lords, the other of their villeius, the armies of this period comprised infantry, also, but no one was disposed to assume its command, or to have anything to do with it, since for the rich and the powerful the mounted service had many more attractions. This state of affairs was aggravated by reason of the vanity which bred, in the lords, a thorough contempt for the foot soldier, whose powerlessness and want of skill at the moment of danger, were, later, the occasion of so much regret to them. The infantry, consigned to the rear rank, consisted, in feudal times, of only poorly armed peasants, fit only to commence the battle, as skirmishers, and at its close to be employed as pillagers of the enemy's camp. While the infantry was thus dwindling, the cavalry acquired an exaggerated prominence. It constituted a disproportionately large part of the army, and it alone bore the weight of the war; it was the besieging force, attacked posts and intrenchments, to accomplish which it had to dismount. If it had been light cavalry, it would not have been so bad; but it was heavy cavalry, weighed down with iron mail, for the noble cavalry would not fight in any other way; the right of wearing armor being one of the privileges of their rank. Hence, when dismounted, even after throwing off some of their military accessories, they experienced great difficulty in going over a small piece of ground, and were obliged to divide themselves into several bodies. This cavalry of nobles soon formed a corporation of honor, the order of knighthood, to which admission could be had only by proving nobility of birth courage and good reputation. Among the cavaliers, the most powerful carried banners, and the effective strength of armies was reckoned only by banners, that is to say by groups of about 30 cavaliers, a fact which shows how little was thought of infantry. The 30 cavaliers belonging to a banner were divided into 5 parts, each part consisting of a knight and his suite.
—In this way was brought about the strange anomaly of effecting all the operations of war, even those requiring active and unimpeded motion, with men weighed down with iron armor, necessarily slow and heavy in their movements.
—The crusades, in which chivalry played so important a part, changed to some extent, this condition of affairs. Far from the mother country, the recruiting of armies became difficult, and the leaders, to insure the safety of their cause, were obliged to turn their attention to the foot soldiers who followed them, to equip them better and to direct them. From this time the foot soldier showed the importance and lasting character of his part. While the infantry was thus reviving in the cast, another circumstance was bringing it into prominence in France. The kings of France entered into covenants with the cities, granting them by degrees municipal government. Each commune levied for its own defense a corps composed nearly always of infantry, and it was not long before this communal militia, always on foot, and subject to the same leader, excelled the feudal militia. The use of gunpowder doing away with the use of mail armor, was a circumstance equally favorable to the development of the infantry.
—Besides this communal militia, at the disposal of the king in case of war, there were at this time bands of mercenaries, who, recruited principally from Brabant and from Germany, fought at the sole expense of the sovereign, a scourge alike to friend and foe The grandes compagnies of which Du Guesclin had the merit of ridding France, were these very adventurers, whose existence lasted until the 17th century.
—The disadvantages incident to the employment of mercenary troops, induced Charles V., and after him Charles VII, of France to attempt the creation of a national and standing army. Taxation, reduced to a permanent system, crowned this effort with success under the latter of these monarchs, the creator of the francs archers, (1448). These new foot soldiers, were recruited at the expense of the parishes, and except when mustered for the purpose of drill, each one of them remained in the parish that had equipped him and held itself responsible for him. This isolation effectually prevented the development of any military ardor among these foot soldiers, and as a consequence the francs archers had a short existence. Quite otherwise was it with those companies of cavalry, each composed of 100 lances fournies (500 men), for these companies, first organized in 1445, continued to exist down to the French revolution. These organizations of Charles VII., were copied by the other powers. Louis XI. did away with the francs archers, replacing them by 10,000 adventurers and 6,000 Swiss. These recent conquerors of Charles the Bold, who, armed with pikes, fought in large, square battalions, enjoyed a great reputation, and all the other powers endeavored to imitate their infantry. At the camp of Pont-de-l'Arche (1480) they were the instructors of the French soldiers, whom they taught to manœuvre with precision and in silence.
—Charles VIII. introduced German infantry into France, landsknechte, of whom his father had already had several companies in his service. When Charles set out on his expedition to Naples, he took with him 30,000 men and 140 cannon; of these 18,000 were infantry, nearly all Swiss or landsknechte. Louis XII. organized a few companies of light horse, afterward amalgamated with the cavalry companies of lances fournies, and, when about to march against Genoa, recruited 2,000 Greek horsemen, called stradiots. The necessity of thus enrolling foreign troops, shows that the French infantry was still backward, while, on the other hand, the French cavalry had gained and continued to enjoy the best of reputations. Louis XII., with the view of improving the French infantry, induced several distinguished chevaliers to assume the command. The most famous of these, Bayard, was not willing to place himself at the head of more than 500 men, a proof at once both of his modesty and of the necessity he recognized of giving to this service very particular attention. Francis I. endeavored to devise the means to establish in France a good and solid infantry. In 1534, he organized 7 legions of 6,400 men each, and each legion was composed of men of the same province. Had this institution lasted, the French would have had a standing army of 45,000 infantry, no inconsiderable force for those times. The system of legions having been abandoned, the French armies now only numbered a few small and detached companies of infantry, called bandes or bands. These bandes, of from 500 to 600 men each, commanded by a captain, fought generally, ranged in squares, the pikemen in the centre, the arquebusiers on the outside. Thus the soldiers equipped with fire-arms, served as light armed soldiers. It was the tendency of the times to render fire-arms, those arms which place the weak upon an equality with the strong, more easily handled and of more general use; a tendency which proved that these arms were destined to prevail in the future. In this respect, the artillery had already made great progress, evidenced by Charles VIII. being able to carry 140 pieces of cannon with him in his Neapolitan expedition, and evidenced also by the effects of the French guns at Marignan.
—Fire-arms thus became lighter, and greatly increased in number. For the culverin of the Swiss, was substituted the arquebuse; and the musket, the precursor of the gun, was on the eve of introduction. The adoption of portable fire-arms increased in the ratio of about one-fifth under Francis I., to two-thirds at the close of the wars of religion, and to four-fifths under Louis XIII. At that time armies were not large. The duke of Anjou, at Moncontour, had only 16,000 infantry, 8,000 cavalry, and 15 cannon, the largest force of that period, excepting only the army of 26,000 men with which the duke of Alba, in the name and to the advantage of Philip II. invaded and conquered Portugal. The bandes acquired importance in proportion as the infantry superseded the cavalry, and as fire-arms increased. It was not long before several of these bandes were united under one chief, for the purpose of simplifying their government, and of giving a united impulse to their action. Three or four of these bandes constituted a regiment; the commander of a regiment taking the title of colonel. The use of these two terms is found beyond dispute, under Charles IX. about 1561.
—The companies of light cavalry were not united into regiments until 74 years later. What characterizes the cavalry from the time of Francis I. is that the cavalry of noblemen diminished in number, disappeared little by little, and that men at arms, who succeeded the knights, soon found that their followers attained to the same level as themselves. From this time the formation in line was abandoned, and squadrons, of at least eight ranks deep, were formed. This reform originated with the Germans, and was copied from the armies of Charles V. by Francis I. These new squadrons, called squadrons of reîtres, from the German word reiter, meaning a knight or rider, fought in successive ranks, the rank which charged and fired retreating to the rear. The awkwardness of a cavalry too many deep, was soon perceived, and the number of ranks was immediately reduced from 8 to 6, and even to 5. In order to reduce their ranks, the infantry, too, abandoned the square formation. This was inevitable, as artillery would produce the greatest destruction on compact bodies.
—Under Henry IV., and Maurice of Nassau, army organization improved. The latter introduced regularity, discipline, encampments, and compulsory agricultural work on the part of the soldier. The former won his crown by his exploits, exhibited skill in tactics, and to the courage of a valiant knight added the prudence of a commander. He was one of the first to show modern nations all the advantage to be drawn from a reserve corps. In command of but an insignificant army during the civil wars, he mustered for the execution of his designs against the house of Austria (1610), which his death alone prevented, an army of 32,000 infantry, 5,000 cavalry, and 33 cannon, a formidable army, augmented by his numerous allies to the number of 65,000 foot and 25,000 horse; and during this expedition he still left a reserve of 60,000 soldiers in France; for his economical administration had enabled him to endow his country with a total army of 100,000 men. At that time these numbers were regarded as extraordinary, but the size of armies has constantly increased since then. Louis XIII. had five armies on foot at one time, amounting in all to 100,000 men. Louis XIV., on a peace footing, never had less than 125,000, and during war mustered as many as 400,000 soldiers.
—These formidable armaments led to the abandonment of the pike and the adoption of the gun with sword bayonet, to the organization of special troops of artillery, to the establishment of an honest and strict command, of which the state gradually assumed a more complete direction and control, and led also to the introduction of a national system of recruiting by drafting from the militia. Although the grand roi had in his service foreign troops, yet these were always the exception. As much can not be averred of Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden. This monarch reigning over a nation of 3,000,000 souls, and of warlike instincts too, was obliged to enroll in his armies a large number of foreigners. From every country he took into his armies fugitive prisoners. He directed officers to levy regiments, according them at the same time the command of those regiments in advance. His armies were noted for sobriety, obedience and discipline, to such an extent, that the German peasants did not seek to molest any isolated Swedish soldiers. His armies at no time exceeded 70,000 men, assisted by only 30,000 allies. Gustavus Adolphus was one of the first to make use of artillery for purposes of offensive warfare, to divide his infantry into small bodies in a manner at once more rational and more convenient for firing, to require his cavalry to fight when trotting, and only to fire when at close quarters. Frederick II., of Prussia, continued and completed these progressive measures. The infantry performed its manœuvres and fired with a precision that has not since been surpassed; the cavalry charged galloping and with side arms; mounted artillery was introduced, and these three arms of the service manœuvred as one body, forming a new combination on which are based the military tactics of to-day. The Prussian army, with 70,000 men at first, soon developed into an army of 120,000 and even of 200,000 soldiers, a prodigious number for a country of 6,000,000 people. It contained a large number of foreigners whom the severity of the discipline retained willingly or by compulsion in its service. Desertion, nevertheless, kept undermining it, and it is astonishing that Prussia, even while entertaining the desire of remaining faithful to the traditions of the great Frederick, should have preserved even up to the time of the disasters of 1806, the mixture of national and foreign soldiers.
—With the commencement of the French revolution the aspect of French armies changed. The fusion of the national guard with the army, the levies en masse of 1793—the draft extending indiscriminately to all citizens between the ages of 20 and 25 years—supplied France with a million of soldiers, divided up into fourteen armies. These improvised soldiers lacked instruction and could not manœuvre as the recruits of Frederick. In the first battles, at Jemmapes and at Valmy, they were deployed in great bands as skirmishers, and their daring, making amends for their want of experience, enabled them to gain a victory. In forced marches they did not encamp, but bivouacked; then they marched upon the enemy, and attacked it wherever they found it, without having recourse to temporary works of fortification. The other powers were compelled to follow the example of France and to muster large armies likewise. In regulating and consolidating the military organizations of the revolution, Napoleon I. established those immense armaments on a permanent basis. The armies became so large that it was found indispensable to divide them up into army corps, many of which numbered as many men as the entire armies of Turenne. The grande armie which accomplished the brilliant campaign of Austerlitz, comprised seven army corps: its total effective strength amounted to 186,000 men, of whom 38,000 were cavalry; and 340 pieces of artillery accompanied it. Napoleon set out in 1812 with 625,000 men, of whom more than 16,000 were officers. In 1814, the allied powers placed in the field against France an army of 900,000 men. From that time until 1870, Europe never saw such prodigious armies. The system of large standing armies having prevailed, the greater part of the nations of Europe were unwillingly compelled to maintain more soldiers than they otherwise would have done; a condition of affairs which still cripples many of those nations, and may even eventually drag them into bankruptcy. These costly armies have, however, often rendered as effective service in the maintenance of civil order, as when engaged in foreign wars.
—II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF ORGANIZATION. The army of a nation should be so organized at home as easily to prepare for any war that may occur. Its numerical strength also should be proportioned to the population of the country. The proportion that prevailed formerly, on the principle of si vis pacem, para bellum, was, one soldier to every one hundred inhabitants. This was, in fact, about the proportion, on a peace footing, in the armies of France, of the Germanic confederation, and of some other nations, a mean between that of England, with a very small army, and that of other powers in the north, with their larger armies. Preparation for possible wars requires that a fraction of the army be available for mustering either in camps for instruction or in places of rendezvous, other than their usual garrisons. This fraction should amount to at least one-tenth of the entire effective force. To satisfy these two conditions would not be enough. An army organized at home, in the manner just described, becomes too feeble from the moment that war breaks out; for if there are one or two-tenths under instruction and preparing for war who can immediately enter the field, the remaining eight-tenths are indispensable, or almost so, for the maintenance of order. Hence the necessity of being able rapidly to increase the effective strength of the army: this is what is called passing from a peace footing to a war footing. This transition should be managed skillfully in order that it may be effected without violence, and this condition is all the more important since it is necessary to at least double the effective force. This object is attained by the maintenance of what the French call cadres, a permanent and legal organization of superior and inferior officers, corporals, and privates, among whom it is sufficient to place young soldiers, in order that these latter may readily acquire the military spirit and skill. This possibility of rapid increase facilitates the putting on foot of entire armies and leading them into the country of the enemy.
—All armies are divided into combatants and non-combatants. And first of the combatants.
—All combatants can not be united into a single group. They are too numerous, and too different in nature to permit this. By reason of their stature, or on account of aptitude or choice, some will fight on foot, others on horseback, and still others with the machines of war. Thus the first division of an army is the following: infantry, cavalry, and artillery. To provide quarters for these three, and to enable them to overcome the difficulties in their way, a fourth class, an engineer corps, is necessary. This fourth arm serves on foot and manœuvres like the infantry, but it is divided up into small fractions. Napoleon I., as it is stated in his memoirs, required the following proportions between the several arms: the infantry being represented by 1, the cavalry to be 1-5, the artillery 1-8, the engineer corps 1-40, and the train 1-30. Except as regards the cavalry, the diminishing importance of which seems to have been presaged by certain wars, these proportions are still retained. How should an army be constructed? It should be divided into manœuvring units and tactic units, that is, into divisions and battalions or squadrons. It is by divisions that manœuvring is performed in camps. It is by battalions and squadrons that drilling and fighting in detail are done. The battalion or squadron, commanded directly by an officer without bearers of orders, should not, when drawn up in line of battle, extend beyond the range of the human voice, for it is indispensable that the officer in command, stationed at one wing, may be heard at the other wing. There should be also administrative units: the regiment, comprising several battalions or squadrons, and the company, which is a fraction of the battalion. The company should be such that its head, the captain, may be able to follow carefully the character, the instruction, and the service of every man in it, that is to say, it should have from 100 to 150 men. These administrative units are intended to centralize expenses, and to facilitate both purchases and the auditing of accounts. The existence of these units, and the graded division which results therefrom, would not be sufficient, unless among the heads of these units and below them, there was a properly organized hierarchy.
—The division is divided into brigades, which comprise two or three regiments; below the general of division, there are, therefore, brigade generals, and colonels of regiments. A regiment may include from three to five battalions or squadrons; a colonel has, therefore, under him the several officers of the battalions or squadrons. The battalion which should not exceed 800 men, 1,000 at most, comprises from six to eight companies, and the chief of a battalion commands from six to eight captains. The captain requires assistance, for he must lead in battle and administer his company: he has a lieutenant and a second lieutenant, two under paymasters, and four sergeants, each having the command of one of the four sections of the company; two corporals, assist each sergeant of a section. From corporal to general of division, there are ten grades; and one of the fundamental principles of army organization is that these grades be within the reach of all, that a volunteer private may rise to the rank of general. Notwithstanding this principle, such success will always remain very rare; and, in any case, the man who finally reaches the topmost round of the ladder especially in times of peace, will be pretty well advanced in years. It is important that the army should have colonels and generals in the vigor of life, under fifty years of age.
—The army should be distributed over a country in proportion to the resources of the different portions of that country. But are the troops to remain stationary at a point, or should they be moved from time to time, to be succeeded in their former quarters by other troops? To continue them in one place is to weld them into one body, and to familiarize them with their chiefs who are well fitted to lead them to war. To move them about, is to isolate them more from the other troops and from the same officers, and to prevent them from acquiring fixed habits. They are thus maintained better in that condition of semi-unconcern favorable to the development of soldierly qualities.
—NON-COMBATANTS. These are as indispensable to an army as are supporting forces to the artillery, or as servants to a numerous family. Those who place their lives in jeopardy for their country, should do so cheerfully, certain of accomplishing a duty, of performing an honored act, and of obtaining, in case of death, proper burial for themselves, and assistance for their families; should be certain of medical care, if they return wounded or sick, and of rest and food, if they return to the camp with nothing more than fatigue. To permit these non-combatants, surgeons, nurses, bakers, to remain without organization, would be a grievous error. They should therefore be organized in a military way. They will thus be subjected to the same discipline as combatants. Under a military organization they are susceptible of a greater degree of mobility, and in spite of the inconveniences occasioned by the presence of wagons, they are better able to follow the troops and participate in the events of war, each within his sphere. The accessories comprise not only the belongings of each arm, such as the train of artillery, and of engineers, military wagons, pontoon bridges, ambulances, etc., but also what may be called the personal and speaking material of the army, e.g. interpreters, printing presses, lithographic, photographic and telegraphic apparatus. In a word, all the wants which advanced civilization has called into existence or can satisfy, should be felt and satisfied in the army, that miniature of the nation, whenever those wants become military wants—III. USUAL MODES OF RECRUITING. By recruiting is understood the aggregate of the means, or the system by which young men are led to leave their homes to serve their country in the field.
—Recruiting is to an army what food is to the human body: if the food is not healthy, the body decays; if the system of recruiting is bad, the efficiency of the army is impaired.
—Enrollment in the ranks of the army, in the case of natives, may be either voluntary or compulsory. Voluntary enlistment is the result of love of country, or made in consideration of the advantages, immediate or remote, which the military service offers. Voluntary enlistment may be made with or without bounty.
—Voluntary enlistment with bounty attached thereto, prevailed during the thirty years' war during the reigns of Louis XIV., Louis XV, and Louis XVI, that is to say, from the time of Gustavus Adolphus to the French revolution, and was, indeed, about the only means used for obtaining recruits. Applied in a great country where the condition of the people is generally prosperous, this system of recruiting degenerates into one of force or fraud, and brings into the service only the dregs of the population. Carried on without good faith, it alienates the enlisted, who never become free again, notwithstanding their contract, and produces desertion.
—Voluntary enlistment without bounty is scarcely seen except in free countries. It reveals generally a decided vocation for military life, although trouble or spite, or even the mere desire of wearing a brilliant uniform, is sometimes powerful enough to induce a young man to enlist.
—At all events, voluntary enlistment has always been an inadequate means of recruiting large armies. Louis XIV, by this mode of recruiting, did not obtain annually more than 20,000 men, and were it not for his garrison regiments, his attempts at a militia, and his foreign regiments, it would have been impossible for him to have completed his army. The famous voluntary enlistments in Paris in 1792, about which so much has been said, produced a total of 5,000 soldiers. The restoration which, forced to promise the abolition of conscription, had, at least provisionally, to resort to voluntary enlistment as the principal source of recruiting its armies, was obliged to give up the attempt. In fact from 1815 to 1848 this mode of recruiting never supplied France with more than 10,000 soldiers in ordinary years, and with not more than 28,000 in those years when war was imminent, as in 1831—And yet writers, statesmen, even those of our own day, have extolled the exclusive employment of volunteers in the formation of standing armies. In our opinion this is a utopian idea. The army of a large country can never be fed in this way, unless its numbers greatly decrease. To be thus fed, there would have to be more of the military spirit prevalent in the country than ever existed, and more of the patriotic instinct than our modern industrial society seems capable of possessing.
—As to compulsory recruiting, it is easy to conceive how its forms may vary. Let us examine the forms which have most frequently obtained.
—There is, in the first place, recruiting from a particular caste. In countries where there was a military caste, the requisite number of soldiers was supplied from this source. This was effected by compulsory enlistment from the body of that caste; and when the country was threatened, all the males of the caste, of an age and in a condition to bear arms, were obliged to take the field. Ancient Egypt offers an illustration of this state of affairs. In that country the military caste hierarchically followed the priestly caste, possessed a third of the territorial wealth, and, besides, received pay during the continuance of the war. India, also, had its military caste. The Roman knights too, at least during the first years of the republic, constituted a sort of military caste, and in the middle ages the obligation of service in war was imposed in exchange for a fief, an obligation which became at once hereditary and brought about a like state of things. To-day, especially since the modification of the military boundaries of Austria, scarcely any vestiges of this mode of recruiting are to be found in the countries of Europe.
—In the second place, we must mention recruiting by arbitrary selection, as, for example, from among the young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five. In this case parents see their children at the mercy of the magistrate, who represents the state; and if this magistrate is a man lacking in honesty, or of a whimsical disposition, he will be the instrument of great abuse and acts of injustice. It would be impossible in these days to revive this made of recruiting, so essentially opposed to the principles of civil equality. It existed among the Romans, the tribunes choosing for their legions the citizens who appeared the most robust, but then the enlistment was only for a time, and the legion was disbanded at the close of the war which had called it into service. It existed in Prussia, where, under Frederick the Great, military service was for life, each regiment having a district assigned to it from which, under the arbitrary control of a superior officer detailed for the express purpose, and with instructions to select the strongest and the largest men, it was recruited. The system existed for a short time in France, under Napoleon I., in 1813, for the formation of regiments to serve as guards of honor, of which each horseman of good family was appointed by the prefect of his department, by virtue of his office. In Russia the system survived till about 1870.
—Recruiting by arbitrary selection, instead of being applied to individuals, as we have just represented it, may take place in a collective manner; as, for instance, when a battalion or a regiment of militia, or of national guards, after having served at home, as it usually does, is afterward sent abroad, either in whole or in part, to swell the ranks of an army in the field.
—In exceptional cases, recourse may be had to what is called the levy en masse. If an entire nation is summoned to arms, every one capable of handling a pike or a gun should come forward. Only when a nation's independence is at stake, should this method be resorted to, since it exhausts the population of the country. And even in cases of most imminent danger, government should defer as long as possible resort to such an extreme measure. France had recourse to this mode once, in 1793, and the convention did not hesitate to decree the permanent levy (so long as the enemy should continue to desecrate its soil) of all Frenchmen unmarried, or widowers without children, no matter what their age. We may imagine the disturbance of all the relations of life of the French people, produced by this much too radical measure, especially after the requisition of 300,000 men, from 18 to 40 years of age, which took place in the month of February of the same year. Germany, in 1813, and France again in 1870, had recourse to the levy en masse.
—Another mode that requires mentioning, is the system of general, gradual recruiting. We understand by this a system of recruiting which makes every citizen, as long as adult and able-bodied, subject to military duty; but in different categories which remove him farther and farther from a chance of being obliged to take the field as he advances in years. The advantage of this system is, that it requires every one, without distinction of birth or fortune, to undergo military service equally and to fulfill his duties to his country. The disadvantage of the system is that it retains a citizen for too long a time, if not as a member of the regular army, at least of the landwehr, and in this way, to a certain extent, interferes with individual liberty and the spirit of industry which it produces.
—Partial recruiting by lot has been, up to the present, the most general mode of recruiting. This mode is least detrimental in its effects on the population of the country, since it takes from it only a limited number of young men, and leaves at liberty those on whom the lot has not fallen. These are two real advantages. Drafting by lot, besides, if well conducted, establishes a rule of justice, very conducive to the maintenance of harmony among families, especially in the country, where the people are averse to give their children to the state as to give it their money.
—Recruiting by military pupils supplies but a small contingent to the armies in the countries in which it is in use. Pupils maintained at government expense, may be educated with a view to a military career, and willingly or by compulsion made to enter the service, as is the case in Russia, where sons of soldiers are brought up as soldiers by the state. The famous corps of janissaries, organized in Turkey toward the close of the fifteenth century, and which lasted until 1826, was constantly recruited in this way. The children brought up to become janissaries were not even of Turkish origin; they were young Christian captives instructed in the Mussulman faith, and thus naturalized. The sultan, who established this corps, thought that their origin would make the members of this body most devoted to the sovereign, but all he obtained was men devoted to themselves, capricious, exacting, making and unmaking emperors, and by their dissensions bringing Turkey to the verge of ruin.
—From 1781 to 1789 national schools, intended to bring up children from the provinces, in such a way as to give them a taste for the military career, were established in France; but when the pupils left them they were allowed some time before entering the army. To utilize the pupils of these national schools during the time of their education, they were employed in the maintenance of the public highways.
—Thus far, whether treating of volunteer or compulsory recruiting, we have considered only the employment of native soldiers. It is in like manner possible to levy and to muster foreign soldiers. Two systems of recruiting foreign soldiers may be considered under this head. First, by purchase. Buying slaves and making soldiers of them is a simple enough means of recruiting. This mode of recruiting could be employed only in exceptional circumstances, or in countries still in a barbarous state. After the battle of Cannæ, Rome bought and equipped 8,000 slaves. The famous mamelukes of Egypt were originally slaves bought of the Mongols by certain Egyptian sultans. To-day the black guard of the emperor of Morocco is recruited, partially, at least, in this manner, for the sovereign claims, for this purpose and, as entry duty, several of the negroes whom each caravan brings from the Soudan. Troops thus recruited may be devoted to their sovereign, but it requires fact to prevent them from acting like the janissaries. The second may be called the hiring system. Instead of buying a man, his services are hired for a fixed time. This is the old system of employing mercenaries, so much in vogue at the beginning of the modern era, during the thirty years' war, and the seven years' war, and which lasted until the commencement of the nineteenth century. It is a system which, happily, has become obsolete. If, instead of hiring the services of men individually, they are engaged as a body collectively, it is then said to be recruiting by capitulation, a species of contract for troops. The contracts of capitulation of the Swiss with France are well known. The consideration of the contract of capitulation for troops, consisted of a bounty, fixed wages, and certain privileges and guarantees. At present, contracts of capitulation for troops are prohibited by Swiss law.
—IV. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS. The army should set an example of honor and devotion to the country. It is by maintaining a sentiment of honor, pure and unsullied in the service, that the army furnishes the best proof of its patriotism; for through the army this sentiment will be kept up among the people, and will contribute to the greatness of the nation. Devotion to one's country is not practically so powerful an incentive as a sense of honor; it is frequently apparently absent, and yet it should be ever present, in peace as in war, in defeat as in success, in adversity as well as in prosperity. The devotion which springs from duty and is a source of self-denial, often exposes the soldier to severe trials, and it is no doubt with the view of mitigating the severity of these trials, of disguising them as it were, that the higher officers of the army, as a general rule, manifest so much kindness and indulgent friendship toward young officers. In order to uphold the sentiment of honor and of self-devotion, to obtain a military spirit useful in every great nation and in keeping with its political, literary, commercial and industrial spirit, it is essential that military service should be required of all, and that all should be placed on an equal footing in rendering military service, as they are placed on an equal footing in the matter of taxation.
—As civilization advances, military laws become less severe. The proof of this is found in the code of military law promulgated in France in 1857, and in the German military code of 1872; but indulgence should not be carried any further. These codes no longer permit the punishment of a deserter with the ball and chain, or irons. They allow extenuating circumstances to be pleaded in behalf of soldiers under accusation. If repressive measures in the case of the soldier have become less severe, the treatment of the enemy has become less rude. Thus, during the Prussian war, the French returned wounded prisoners, and about 1870 an agreement between several of the powers neutralized their hospitals and ambulances in time of war. War, while keeping pace with the humanitarian progress of civilization, and allowing the army to exist under better conditions, should be carried on with rapidity and decision; and from the moment the voice of the country has declared war, it should break forth vigorously, and submit the enemy to the will which he, in the first instance, refused to submit to. It is by shortening war that its horrors are mitigated.
—Army policy should be looked at from two standpoints, that of the government toward the army, and that of the army toward the government and the country—From the former standpoint it has been often said that the army constituting almost exclusively an instrument of governmental authority, absolute government had greater need of relying upon it, and for this reason caressed it and overwhelmed it with favors. This opinion seems exaggerated, since republics too have granted favors to the army. What may be reasonably asserted is that a wise government should treat the army well, as constituting an essential and vital part of the nation, and as an indispensable agent for the maintenance of public order. Government ought, in an especial manner, to be moved to kind and just treatment of it, as some equivalent for blood spilt, fatigues undergone, and that exceptional system of discipline to which the army is at all times necessarily subjected.
—The exceptional system of army discipline consists in this, that the individuals who compose the army do not enjoy, so long as they belong to it, the plenitude of rights conferred by the fundamental law of their country on its citizens. These rights include, besides equality in civil matters and in the matter of taxation, the full liberty of every man so far as his person, his time, his opinions and the right to give expression to them are concerned.
—In the army in which the orders of a superior must be obeyed and executed instantly and in the best way possible, complete equality, and especially personal freedom of action can not possibly exist; were it otherwise, instead of striking and striking like one man, because governed by a single will, that of the general-in-chief, the army would scatter its strength and operate in a disjointed manner. It suffices to point out these disadvantages in order to show that the exercise of the right of individuality would, from a military point of view, be detrimental to the continued existence of that social machine called an army. Hence, the exceptional army discipline, the preservation of which discipline interests society in the aggregate, and the necessity of which has been in all ages universally recognized. As a consequence of this discipline, the army does not generally possess political rights; it can neither petition, hold deliberative meetings, nor meet without order; it has its own peculiar laws, more expeditious and severe than those of the common law courts, to take cognizance of crimes and misdemeanors. Individuals composing the army are cut off from all family pleasures, or at least can not marry without permission. On the other hand, the government provides for the health of the soldier by allowing him the conveniences compatible with his condition in life, by paying him wages in proportion to his wants, allowing him a chance for advancement; by guaranteeing to the officer the continued possession of the grade he has reached; by assuring to all soldiers a retreat for their old age, which, without luxury, at least guarantees them from want; and lastly, by honoring the service of its members, and by a jealous care that the death of the soldier on the field of battle shall be for his family a glorious souvenir, and not an occasion of spoliation.
—The army can neither meet for deliberative purposes, nor meet without an order. Submission, obedience, self-denial, result from that moral obligation inherent in its essence. Hence the army has no political part to play. But does one abdicate his citizenship when under arms? He does not; his rights of citizenship are only suspended. Hence the limits are rather difficult to fix, especially in times of revolution. The army should have an interest in the affairs of the country, but no part in the direction of them unless consulted. Far from anticipating or embarrassing the general opinion of the country, the army should ever show deference toward, and confidence in, public sentiment, when manifested legally and calmly. It should consider itself the right arm of the country, and assume as its special missions those in which there are dangers to be incurred or relief to be brought. (For U. S. army, see
DE LA BARRE DUPARCQ.
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