Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

to regard it as a grievance that they do els of its land ; the former's desire is to not get blood for their money, and this effect that penetration. The defensive of they certainly do not have ; so that even the native army need not, however, be the in this sanguinary particular the warfare passive defensive ; indeed that, unless the of to-day is a comparative failure. The position be exceptionally strong, is accordtopic, however, is rather a ghastly one, ing to present tenets to be avoided. and I refrain from citing evidence ; which, When, always with an underlying purpose however, is easily accessible to any one of defence, its chief resorts to the offenwho cares to seek it.

sive, for reasons that he regards as good, The anticipation is confidently ad- his strategy or his tactics, as the case may ventured that a great revolution will be be, are expressed by the term " defensivemade in warfare by the magazine rifle offensive.' with its increased range, the machine gun, It says a good deal for the peaceful preand the quick-firing field artillery which dilections of the nations, that there has will speedily be introduced into every ser been no fairly balanced experience affordvice. It does not seem likely that smoke- ing the material for decision as to the relaless powder will create any very important tive advantage of the offensive and the dechange, except in siege operations. On fensive under modern conditions. In the battle-field neither artillery nor infantry 1866 the Prussians, opposing the needlecome into action out of sight of the en gun to the Austrian muzzle-loader, natemy. When either arm opens fire within urally utilized this pre-eminence by adoptsight of the enemy, its position can be ing uniformly the offensive, and traditions almost invariably detected by the field of the Great Frederick doubtless seconded glass, irrespective of the smokelessness or the needle gun.

After Sadowa, contronon-smokelessness of its ammunition. In- versy ran high as to the proper system of deed, the use of smokeless powder would tactics when breechloader should oppose seem inevitably to damage the fortunes of breechloader. A strong party maintained the attack. Under cover of a bank of that “ the defensive had now become so smoke, the soldiers hurrying on to feed strong that true science lay in forcing the the fighting-line are fairly hidden from adversary to attack. Let him come on, aimed hostile fire. It may be argued that and then one might fairly rely on victory. their aim is thus reciprocally hindered ; As Boguslawski observes—“ this concepbut the reply is that their anxiety is not tion of tactics would paralyze the offensive, so much to be shooting during their re- for how can an army advance if it has inforcing advance, as to get forward into always to wait till an enemy attacks ?” the fighting line, where the atmosphere is After much exercitation the Germans denot so greatly obscured. Smokeless pow. termined to adhere to the offensive. In der will no doubt advantage the defence. the recent modest language of Baron von

It need not be observed that a battle is der Goltz :* “ Our modern German mode a physical impossibility while both sides of battle aims at being entirely a final adhere to the passive defensive ; and ex- struggle, which we conceive of as being perience proves that battles are rare in inseparable from an unsparing offensive. which both sides are committed to the Temporizing, waiting, and a calm defenactive offensive, whether by preference or sive are very unsympathetic to our nature. necessity. Mars la Tour (August 16, 1870) Everything with us is action. Our was the only contest of this nature in thé strength lies in great decisions on the bat. Franco-German war. Bazaine had to be tle-field.” Perhaps also the guileless Geron the offensive, because he wanted to get mans were quite alert to the fact that away toward Verdun ; Alvensleben took Marshal Niel had shattered the French it because it was the only means whereby army's tradition of the offensive, and gone he could hinder Bazaine from accomplish. counter to the French soldier's nature, by ing his purpose. But for the most part enjoining the defensive in the latest one side in battle is on the offensive ; the official instructions. Had the Teutons other on the defensive. The invader is suborned him, the Marshal could not bave habitually the offensive person, just for done them a better turn. the reason that the native force commonly acts on the defensive ; the latter is anxious

* The Nation in Arms. By Lieutenantto hinder further penetration into the bow Colonel Earon von der Goltz (Allen.)

Their offensive tactics against an enemy of the new artillery. lie too possesses unnaturally lashed to the stake of the de- those weapons, but he cannot use them fensive stood the Germans in excellent with so great effect. His field batteries stead in 1870. On every occasion they suffer from the hostile cannon-fire as they resorted to the offensive against an enemy move forward to take up a position. His in the field ; strictly refraining, however, infantry cannot fire on the run ; when from that expedient when it was a fortress, they drop after a rush, the aim of panting and not soldiers en vive force, that stood and breathless men cannot be of the best. in the way,

At St. Privat their offensive And their target is fairly protected and at would probably have been worsted if Can- least partially hidden. The defenders berobert had been reinforced, or even if a hind their low épaulement do not pant ; supply of ammunition had reached him ; their marksmen only at first are allowed and a loss there of one-third of the com- to fire ; these make things unpleasant for batants of the Guard Corps without result the massed gunners out yonder, who share caused them to change for the better the their attentions with the spraying out inmethod of their attack. But in every bat- fantrymen. The quick-firing cannon of tle from Weissenburg to Sedan, with the the defence are getting in their work exception of the confused mêlée of Mars la methodically. Neither the gunners nor Tour, the French, besides being bewildered the infantry need be nervous as to expendand discouraged, were in inferior strength; ing ammunition freely, since plenteous after Sedan the French levies in the field supplies are promptly available, a convenwere scarcely soldiers. There was no fair ience which does not infallibly come to testing of the relative advantages of defence either guns or rifles of the attack. The and offence in the Russo-Turkish War of Germans report as their experience in the 1877–78 ; and so it remains that in an capacity of assailants, that the rapidity and actual and practical sense no firm decision excitement of the advance, the stir of has yet been established. All civilized na strife, the turmoil, exhilarate the soldiers, tions are, however, assiduously practising and that patriotism and fire-discipline in the methods of the offensive.

combination enforce a cool steady mainteIt may be anticipated that in future nance of fire ; that in view of the ominous warfare between evenly matched comba- spectacle of the swift and confident adtants the offensive will get the worst of it vance, under torture of the storm of shellat the hands of the passive defensive. fire and the hail of bullets which they have The word ' anticipate” is used in to endure in immobility, the defenders, preference to " apprehend," because one's previously shaken by the assailants' artilsympathy is naturally for the invaded lery preparation, become nervous, waver, state, unless it has been wantonly aggres- and finally break when the cheers of the sive and insolent. The invaded army, if final concentrated rush strike on their ears. the term may be used, having familiar That this was scarcely true as regarded knowledge of the terrain, will take up a French regulars the annals of every battle position in the fairway of the invader; of the Franco-German war up to and inaffording strong flank appui, and a far- cluding Sedan conclusively show. It is stretching clear range in front and op true, however, that the French nature is flanks. It will throw up several lines, or, intolerant of inactivity, and in 1870 still better, tiers of shallow trenches along suffered under the deprivation of its its front and flanks, with emplacements for métier ; but how often the Germans reartillery and machine guns. The invader coiled from the shelter trenches of the must attack; he cannot turn the enemy's Spicheren and gave ground all along the position and expose his communications to line from St. Privat to the Bois de Vaux,

He takes the offensive, men who witnessed those desperate strugdoing so, as is the received practice, in gles cannot forget while they live. Waifront and on a flank. From the outset heriors of greater equanimity than the will find the offensive a sterner ordeal than French soldier possess

esses might perhaps in the Franco-German War days. He stand on the defensive in calm "self-confiwill have to break into loose order at a dence, with simple breechloaders as their greater distance, because of the longer weapons, if simple breechloaders were also range of sınall arms, and the further scope, weapons of the assailants. But in his the greater accuracy, and the quicker fire magazine rifle the soldier of the future can

that enemy.

res

keep the defensive, not only with self- the passive defence flashes out into the confidence, but with high elation, for in it counter-offensive ; nor need one enlarge (so long as it is not the Lee-Speed) he on the sure results to the invader as the will possess a weapon against which no at- unassailed flank of the defence throws fortack (although armed too with a magazine ward the shoulder, and takes in flank the or repeating rifle) can prevail.

dislocated masses of aggressors. The assailants fall fast as their advance One or two such experiences will definpushes forward, combed down by the rifle itively settle the point as to the relative fire, the mitraille, and the shrapnel of the advantage of the offensive and the dedefence. But they are gallant men, and fensive. Soldiers will not submit themwhile life lasts they will not be denied. selves to re-trial on re-trial of a The long bloody advance is all but over ; judicata. Grant, dogged though he was, the survivors of it who have attained thus had to accept that lesson in the shambles far are lying down getting their wind for of Cold Harbor. For the bravest sane the final concentration and rush. Mean. man will rather live than die. No man while, since after they once again stand up burns to become cannon-fodder. The they will use no more rifle fire till they have Turk, who is supposed to court death in conquered or are beaten, they are pouring battle for religious reasons of a somewhat forth against the defence their reserve of material kind, can run away even when bullets in or attached to their rifle-butts. the alternative is immediate removal to a The defenders take this punishment, like Paradise of unlimited houris and copious Colonel Quagg, lying down, courting the sherbet. There are no braver men than protection of their earth-bank. The hail Russian soldiers ; but going into action of the assailants' bullets ceases ; already against the Turks tried their nerves, not the artillery of the attack has desisted lest because they feared the Turks as antagit should injure friend as foe. The word onists, but because they knew too well runs along the line and the clumps of men that a petty wound disabling from retreat lying prostrate there out in the open. meant not alone death, but unspeakable The officers spring to their feet, wave their mutilation before that release. swords, and cheer loudly. The men are up It is obvious that if, as is here anticiin an instant, and the swift rush focussing pated, the offensive proves impossible in toward a point begins. The distance to the battle of the future, an exaggerated be traversed before the attackers are aux phase of the stalemate which Boguslawski prises with the defenders is about one hun- so pathetically deprecates will occur. The dred and fifty yards.

world need not greatly concern itself reIt is no mere storm of missiles which garding this issue : the situation will meets fair in the face those charging almost invariably be in favor of the inheroes ; no, it is a moving wall of metal vaded, and will probably present itself against which they run to their ruin. For near his frontier line. He can afford to the infantry of the defence are emptying wait until the invader tires of inaction and their magazines now at point-blank range. goes home. Einptied magazine yields to full one ; the Magazine and machine guns would seem Maxims are pumping, not bullets, but to sound the knell of possible employment veritable chains of lead, with calm, devilish of cavalry in battle. No matter how disswiftness. The quick-firing guns are located are the infantry ridden at so long spouting radiating torrents of case. The as they are not quite demoralized, however attackers are mown down as corn falls, not rusé the cavalry leader—however favorable before the sickle, but the scythe. Not a to sudden unexpected onslaught is the man has reached, or can reach, the little ground, the quick-firing arms of the future earth-bank behind which the defenders must apparently stall off the most enterkeep their ground. The attack has failed ; prising horsemen. Probably if the writer and failed from no lack of valour, of were arguing the point with a German, the methodized effort, of punctilious compli- famous experiences of Von Bredow might ance with every instruction ; but simply be adduced in bar of this contention. In because the defence—the defence of the the combat of Tobitschau in 1866 Von future in warfare—has been too strong for Bredow led his cuirassier regiment straight the attack. One will not occupy space by at three Austrian batteries in action, caprecounting how in the very nick of time tured the eighteen guns and every body and

everything belonging to them, with the of masonry. In the fortification of the loss to himself of but ten men and eight future, the defender will no longer be horses. It is true, says the honest official “enclosed in the toils imposed by the enaccount, that the ground favored the gineer,” with the inevitable disabilities charge, and that the shells fired by the they entail, while the besieger enjoys the usually skilled Austrian gunners flew high. advantage of free mobility. Plevna has But during the last 100 yards grape was killed the castellated fortress. With free substituted for shell, and Bredow deserved communications, the full results attainable all the credit he got. Still stronger by fortress artillery, intelligently used, against my argument was Bredow's iem- will at length come to be realized. Unless orable work at Mars la Tour, when, at the in rare cases and for exceptional reasons, head of six squadrons, he charged across towns will gradually cease to be fortified, 1000 yards of open plain, rode over and even by an encirclement of detached forts. through two separate lines of French in- Where the latter are availed of, practical fantry, carried a line of cannon numbering experience will infallibly condemn the nine batteries, rode 1000 yards further expensive and complex cupola-surmounted into the very heart of the French army, construction of which General Brialmont and came back with a loss of not quite one is the champion. “A work,” trenchhalf of his strength. The Todtenritt, as antly argues Major Sydenham Clarke, the Germans call it, was a wonderful ex designed on the principles of the Roman ploit, a second Balaclava charge, and a catacombs is suited only for the dead, in a bloodier one ; and there was this distinc- literal or in a military sense. The vast tion, that it had a purpose, and that that system of subterranean chambers and paspurpose was achieved. For Bredow's sages is capable of entombing a brigade, charge in effect wrecked France. It but denies all necessary tactical freedom arrested the French advance wbich would of action to a battalion,' else have swept Alvensleben aside ; and to The fortress of the future will probably its timely effect is traceable the sequence be in the nature of an entrenched camp. of events that ended in the capitulation of The interior of the position will provide Metz. The fact that although from the casemate accommodation for an army of beginning of his charge until he struck considerable strength. Its defences will the front of the first French infantry line, consist of a circle at intervals of about Von Bredow took the rifle-fire of a whole 2500 yards, of permanent redoubts which French division, yet did not lose above shall be invisible at moderate ranges, for fifty men, has been a notable weapon in infantry and machine guns, the garrison the hands of those who argue that good of each redoubt to consist of a half batcavalry can charge home unshaken talion. Such a work was in 1886 coninfantry. But never more will French structed at Chatham in thirty-one working infantry shoot from the hip as Lafont's days, to hold a garrison of 200 men conscripts at Mars la Tour shot in the housed in casemates built in concrete, for vague direction of Bredow's squadrons. less than 30001., and experiments proved French cavalry never got within yards of that it would require a prohibitory exGerman infantry even in loose order ; and penditure” of ammunition to cause it serithe magazine or repeating rifle held reason- ous damage by artillery fire. The supably straight will stop the most thrusting porting defensive armament will consist of cavalry that ever heard the “charge" sound. a powerful artillery rendered mobile by

Fortifications of the future will differ means of tramroads, this defence supplecuriously from those of the present. The mented by a field force carrying on outlatter, with their towering scarps, their post duties and manning field works guardmassives enceintes, their “portentous ing the intervals between the redoubts. ditches,” will remain as monuments of a Advanced defences and exterior obstacles vicious system, except where, as in the of as formidable a character as possible cases of Vienna, Cologne, Sedan, etc., the will be the complement of what in effect dwellers in the cities they encircle shall will be an immensely elaborated Plevna, procure their demolition for the sake of which, properly armed and fully organized, elbow-room, or until modern howitzer will “ fulfil all the requirements of deshells or missiles charged with high ex- fence," while possessing important potenplosives shall pulverize their naked expanse tialities of offence.

on

An illustration is pertinent of the pre so long such a mass of troops standing fast, eminent utility of such fortified and and simultaneously prosecute the invasion strongly held positions, of whose charac- of a first-rate power with approximately teristics the above is the merest outline. equal numbers. France at the cost of In the event of a future Franco-German 150,000 men would be holding supine on war, the immensely expensive cordon of her frontier double the number of Gerfortresses with which the French hare mans-surely no disadvantageous transaclined their frontier, efficiently equipped, tion. duly garrisoned and well commanded, will In conclusion, it may be worth while to unquestionably present a serious obstacle point out that the current impression, that to the invading armies. The Germans the maintenance by states of “bloated talk of vive force—shell heavily and then armaments” is a keen incentive to war, is storm ; the latter resort one for which they fallacions. How often do we hear, have in the past displayed no predilection. “ There must be a big war soon ; the Whether by storm or interpenetration, powers cannot long stand the cost of standthey will probably break the cordon, but ing looking at each other, all armed to they cannot advance without masking all the teeth !” War is infinitely more costly the principal fortresses. This will employ than the costliest preparedness. But this a considerable portion of their strength, is not all. The country gentleman for and the invasion will proceed in less force, once in a way brings his family to town which will be an advantage to the defend- for the season, pledging hiinself privily to ers. But if instead of those multitudinous strict economy when the term of dissipafortresses the French had constructed, say, tion ends, in order to restore the balance. three such entrenched-camp fortresses as But for a state, as the sequel to a season have been sketched, each quartering 50,- of war, there is no such potentiality of 000 men, it would appear that they would economy. Rather there is the grim cerhave done better for themselves at far less tainty of heavier and yet heavier expendicost. Each entrenched position containing ture after the war, in the still obligatory a field army 50,000 strong, would engross character of the armed man keeping his a beleaguering host of 100,000 men. The house. Therefore it is that potentates positions of the type outlined are claimed are reluctant to draw the sword, and rather to be impregnable ; they could contain sup- bear the ills they have than fly to other plies and munitions for at least a year, de- evils inevitably worse still. Whether the taining around them for that period 300,- final outcome will be universal national 000 of the enemy. No European power bankruptcy or the millennium, is a probexcept Russia has soldiers enough to spare lem.-Nineteenth Century.

THE SCIENCE OF CRITICISM.

BY HENRY JAMES, ANDREW LANG, AND EDMUND GOSSE.

I.

illustrations and productions, and the

deluge of doctrine, suspended in the void, Ir literary criticism may be said to flour- the profusion of talk and the poverty of ish among us at all, it certainly flourishes experiment, of what one may call literary immensely, for it flows through the conduct. This, indeed, ceases to be an periodical press like a river that has burst anomaly as soon as we look at the condi. its dykes. The quantity of it is prodigious. tions of contemporary journalism. Then and it is a commodity of which, however we see that these conditions have engenthe demand may be estimated, the supply dered the practice of " reviewing”—a will be sure to be, in any supposable ex- practice that, in general, hus nothing in tremity, the last thing to fail us. What common with the art of criticism. Peristrikes the observer above all, in such an odical literature is a huge open mouth affluence, is the unexpected proportion which has to be fed-a vessel of immense the discourse uttered bears to the objects capacity which has to be filled. It is like discoursed of-the paucity of examples, of a regular train which starts at an advertised

« VorigeDoorgaan »