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At first sight the proposition may ap- tending to promote celerity and decisive. pear startling and indeed absurd ; yet hard ness in the result of campaigns—the revofacts, I venture to believe, will enforce the lution in swiftness of shooting and length conviction on unprejudiced minds that the of range of firearms, the development in warfare of the present when contrasted the science of gunnery, the increased dewith the warfare of the past is dilatory, votion to military study, the vast additions ineffective, and inconclusive.
to the military strength of the nations, Present, or contemporary warfare may looking to the facilities for rapid conveybe taken to date from the general adoption ance of troops and transportation of supof rifled tirearms; the warfare of the past plies afforded by railways and steam watermay fairly be limited, for purposes of carriage, to the intensified artillery fire comparison or contrast, to the smooth- that can now be brought to bear on bore era ; indeed, for those purposes there fortresses, to the manifold advantages is no need to go outside the present cen
afforded by the electric telegraph, and to tury. Roughly speaking, the first five and the crushing cost of warfare, urging vigora half decades of the century were ous exertions toward the speedy decision smooth-bore decades; the three and a half of campaigns-reviewing, I say, the thoulater decades have been rifled decades, of sand and one circumstances encouraging which about two and a half decades con to short, sharp, and decisive action in stitute the breechloading period. Consid- contemporary warfare, it is a strange and ering the extraordinary advances since the bewildering fact that the wars of the end of the smooth-bore era in everything smooth-bore era were, for the most part, NEW SERIES.-VOL, LIV., No. 1,
shorter, sharper, and
decisive. more decisive-the campaign of 1866, or Spite of inferiority of weapons, the battles the campaign of 1806 ? of that period were bloodier, and it is a The Franco-German war is generally remathematically demonstrable proposition garded as an exceptionally effective perthat the heavier the slaughter of comba- formance on the part of the Germans. tants, the nearer must be the end of a war. The first German force entered France There is no pursuit now after victory won, on the 4th of August, 1870. Paris was and the vanquished draws off shaken but invested on the 21st of September, the not broken ; in the smooth-bore era a vig- German armies having fought five great orous pursuit scattered him to the four battles and several serious actions between winds. When Wellington in the Peninsula the frontier and the French capital. An wanted a fortress, and being in a hurry armistice which was not conclusive, since could not wait the result of a formal siege it allowed the siege of Belfort to proceed or a starvation blockade, he carried it by and Bourbaki's army to be free to attempt storm. No fortress is ever stormed now, raising it, was signed at Versailles on the no matter how urgent the need for its re 28th of January, 1871, but the actual conduction, no matter how obsolete its de- clusion of hostilities dates from the 16th fences. The Germans in 1871 did at- of February, the day on which Belfort tempt to carry by assault an outwork of surrendered. The Franco-German war, Belfort, but failed utterly. It would therefore, lasted six and a half months. almost seem that in the matter of forlorn The Germans were in full preparedness, hopes the Caucasian is played out. except that their rifle was inferior to the
Assertions are easy, but they go for lit- French chassepot; they were in overtle unless they can be proved ; some ex- whelmingly superior numerical strength in amples, therefore, may be cited in support every encounter save one with French regof the contentions advanced above. The ular troops, and they had on their bandeis Prussians are proud, and with justice, of the prestige of Sadowa. Their adversaries what is known as the “ Seven Weeks were utterly unready for a great struggle ; War,” although as a matter of fact the the French army was in a wretched state contest with Austria did not last so long, in every sense of the word ; indeed, after for Prince Frederick Charles crossed the Sedan there remained hardly any regulars Bohemian frontier on the 23d of June, able to take the field. In August 1805 and the armistice which ended hostilities Napoleon's Grande Armée was at Boulogne was signed at Nikolsburg on the 22d of looking across to the British shores. July. The Prussian armies were stronger Those inaccessible, he promptly altered than their opponents by more than one- his plans and went against Austria. Mack fourth, and they were armed with the with 84,000 Austrian soldiers was at Ulm, needle gun against the Austrian muzzle. waiting for the expected Russian army of loading rifle. When the armistice was co-operation, and meantime covering the signed, the Prussians lay on the March- valley of the Danube. Napoleon crossed feld within dim sight of the Stephanien the Rhine on the 26th of September. Thurm, it is true, but with the strong and Just as in 1870 the Germans on the plains strongly armed and held lines of Floris- of Mars la Tour thrust themselves between dorf, the Danube, and the army of the Bazaine and the rest of France, so Archduke Albrecht between them and the Napoleon turned Mack, and from DonauAustrian capital. On the 9th of October, wörth to Ingolstadt stood between him 1806, Napoleon crossed the Saale. On and Austria. Mack capitulated Ulm and the 14th at Jena he smashed Hohenlohe's his army on the 19th of October, and NaPrussian army, the contending hosts being poleon was in Vienna on the 13th of Noabout equal strength ; on the same day vember. Although he possessed the Davoust at Auerstadt with 27,000 men Austrian capital, he was not, however, routed Brunswick's command over 50,000 master of the Austrian empire. The latter strong. On the 25th of October Napoleon result did not fall to him until the 2d of entered Berlin, the war virtually over December, when, under " the sun of and all Prussia at his feet with the excep- Austerlitz," he with 73,000 men defeated tion of a few fortresses, the last of which the Austro-Russian army 85,000 strong, fell on the 8th of November. Which was inflicting on it a loss of 30,000 men at the the swifter, the more brilliant, and the cost of 12,000 of his own soldiers hors de
combat. It took the Germans in 1870 a tinue until the Greek kalends. In less month and a half to get from the frontier time than that Gourko and Skobeleff unto outside Paris ; just in the same time, dertook to finish the business ; by the although certainly not with so severe fight- vigor with which they forced their way ing by the way, but nearly twice as long a across the Balkans in the heart of the bitmarch, Napoleon moved from the Rhine ter winter, Sophia, Philippopolis, and to inside Vienna. From the active coni Adrianople fell into Russian hands; and mencement to the cessation of hostilities the Russian troops had been halted some the Franco-German war lasted six and a time almost in face of Constantinople, half months ; reckoning from the crossing when the treaty of San Stephano was of the Rhine to the evening of Austerlitz, signed on the 3d of March, 1878. It had Napoleon subjugated Austria in two and a taken the Russians of 1877–78 eight quarter months.
Perhaps, however, bis weary months to cover the distance becampaign of 1809 against Austria furnishes tween the Danube and the Marmora. But a more exact parallel with the campaign of fifty years earlier a Russian general had the Germans in 1870–71. He assumed marched from the Danube to the Ægean command on the 17th of April, having in three and a half months, nor was his burried from Spain. He defeated the journey by any means a smooth and bloodAnstrians four times in as many days, at less one. Diebitch crossed the Danube in Thann, Landshut, Eckmuhl and Regens. May 1828, and besieged Silistria from the burg ; and he was in Vienna on the 13th 17th of May until the 1st of July. of May. Baulked at Aspern and Esslin- Silistria has undergone three resolute sieges gen, he gained his point at Wagrain the during the century; it succumbed but 5th of July, and hostilities ceased after once, and then to Diebitch. Pressing lasting under his command for a period of south immediately, he worsted the Turktwo and a half months.
ish Grand Vizier in the fierce battle of The Russians have a reputation for good Kuleutscha, and then by diverse routes marching, and certainly Suvaroffmade hurried down into the great Roumelian good time in his long march from Russia valley. Adrianople made no resistance, to Northern Italy_in 1799 ; almost as and although his force was attenuated by good, indeed, as Bagration and Barclay hardship and disease, when the Turkish de Tolly made in falling back before Na- diplomatists procrastinated the audacious poleon when he invaded Russia in 1812. and gallant Diebitch marched his thin regBut they have not improved either in iments forward toward Constantinople. marching or in fighting at all com- They had traversed on a wide front half mensurately with the improved appliances. the distance between Adrianople and the In 1877, after dawdling two months, they capital, when the dilatory Turkish crossed the Danube on the 21st to the 27th negotiators saw fit to imitate the coon and of June. Osman Pasha, at Plevna, gave
Whether they would have them pause until the 10th of December, done so had they known the weakness of at which date they were not so far into Diebitch may be questioned ; but again it Bulgaria as they had been five months pre- may be questioned whether, that weakness viously. After the fall of Plevna the unknown, he could not have occupied Russian armies would have gone into win- Constantinople on the swagger. Ilis master quarters, but for a private quasi-ulti- ter was prepared promptly to reinforce matum communicated to the Tzar from a him ; Constantinople was, perhaps, nearer high source in England to the effect that its fall in 1828 than in 1878, and certainly unpleasant consequences could not be Diebitch was much smarter than were the guaranteed against, if the war was not Grand Duke Nicholas, his fossil Nepofinished in one campaign. Alexander, koitschitsky, and his pure theorist Levitwho was quite an astute man in his way, sky. was temporarily enraged by this restric The contrast between the character of tion, but, recovering his calmness, our own contemporary military operations realized that nowhere in war books is any and that of those of the smooth-bore era particular time specified for the termina- is very strongly marked. In 1838–39 tion or duration of a campaign. It ap- Keane marched an Anglo-Indian army peared that so long as an army keeps the from our frontier at Ferozepore over Canfield uninterruptedly a campaign may con dahar to Cabul, without experiencing any
check, and with the single important in- During the next fifteen months it did a cident of taking Ghuzni by storm on the good deal of hard fighting, for the Burway. Our positions at and about Cabul mans of that period made a stout resistwere not seriously molested until late in
At midsummer of 1853, Lord Dal1841, when the paralysis of demoralization housie proclaimed the war finished, anstruck our soldiers because of the crass fol- rounced the annexation and pacification of lies of a wrong headed civilian chief and Lower Burmah, and broke up
army. the feebleness of a decrepit general. Nott The cost of the war of which the result throughout held Candahar firmly; the was this fine addition to our Indian EmKhyber Pass remained open until faith pire, was two millions sterling ; almost was broken with the hillmen ; Jellalabad from the first the province was self-supportheld out until the “Retribution Column” ing, and uninterrupted peace bas reigned camped under its walls. But for the within its borders. We did not dally in awful catastrophe which befell in the passes those primitive smooth-bore days. Sir the hapless brigade which under the in- Charles Napier took the field against the fluence of deplorable pusillanimity and Scinde Ameers on the 16th of February, gross mismanagement had evacuated 1843. Next day he fought the battle of Cabul, no serious military calamity marked Meanee, entered Hyderabad on the 20th, our occupation of Afghanistan, and cer and on the 24th of March won the decisive tainly stubborn resistance bad not con- victory of Dubba which placed Scinde at fronted our arms.
From 1878 to 1880 we his mercy, although not until June did the were in Afghanistan again, this time with old “Lion of Meerpore" succumb to breechloading, far-ranging rifles, copious Jacob. But before then Napier was well artillery of the newest types, and com forward with his admirable measures for manders physically and mentally efficient. the peaceful administration of the great All those advantages availed is not one province he had added to British India. whit. The Afghans took more liberties The expedition for the rescue of General with us than they had done forty years Gordon was tediously boated up the Nile, previously. They stood up to us in fair with the result that the “ desert column" fight over and over again : at Ali Musjid, which Sir Herbert Stewart led so valiantly at the Pewar Kotul, at Charasiab, on the across the Bayuda sands, reached Gubat Takt-i Shah and the Asmai heights, at just in time to be too late, and was itself Candabar. They took the dashing extricated from imminent disaster by the offensive at Ahmed Khey! and at the masterful promptitude of Sir Redvers BulShuturgurdan; they drove Dunham ler. Notwithstanding a general consensus Massy's cavalry and took British guns ; of professional and expert opinion in favor they reoccupied Cabul in the face of our of the alternative route from Souakin to arms, they besieged Candabar, they Berber, 240 miles long and far from waterhemmed Roberts within the Sherpoor can less, the adoption of it was condemned as tonments and assailed him there. They impossible. In June 1801, away back in destroyed a British brigade at Maiwand, the primitive days, an Anglo-Indian and blocked Gough in the Jugdulluck brigade 5000 strong, ordered from BomPass. Finally our evacuating arıny had bay, reached Kosseir on the Red Sea to macadamize its unmolested route down bound for the Upper Nile at Kenéh, thence the passes by bribes to the hillinen, and to join Abercromby's force operating in the result of the second Afghan war was Lower Egypt. The distance from Kosseir about as barren as that of the first.
to Kenéh is 120 miles across a, barren It was in the year 1886 that, the reso desert with scanty and unfrequent springs. lution having been taken to dethrone The march was by regiments, of which Thebau and annex Upper Burmah, Pren- the first quitted Kosseir on the 1st of July. dergast began his all but bloodless more The record of the desert- march of the 10th ment on Mandalay. The Burmans of to- Foot is now before me. It left Kosseir day have never adventured a battle, yet on the 20th of July, and reached Kenéh after years of desultory bushwhacking the on the 29th, marching at the rate of pacification of Upper Burmah seems still twelve miles per day. Its loss on the far distant. On the 10th of April, 1852, march one drummer. The whole an Anglo-Indian expedition commanded brigade was at Kenéh in the early days of by General Godwin landed at Rangoon. August, the period between its debarka
tion and its concentration on the Nile increase of 20 per cent. in the time-endurbeing about five weeks. The march was ance of permanent fortifications. Granted effected at the very worst season of the that a mere measurement in days affords year. It was half the distance of a march no absolute standard of comparison, the from Souakin to Berber ; the latter march striking fact remains, that in spite of every by a force of the same strength could well sort of disability the French fortresses, have been accomplished in three months. pitted against guns that were not dreamed The opposition on the march could not of when they were built, acquitted themhave been so severe as that which Stew- selves quite as well as the chefs-d'ouvre of art's desert column encountered. Never- the Vauban school in the days of their theless, as I have said, the Souakin-Berber glory.” Even in the cases of fortresses route was pronounced impossible by the whose reduction was urgently needed since deciding authority.
they interfered with the German comThe comparative feebleness of contem- munications—such as Strasl urg, Toul and porary warfare is perhaps exceptionally. Soissons—the quick ultima ratio of assault manifest in relation to the reduction of was not resorted to by the Germans. And fortresses. During the Franco-German get the Germans could not have failed to war, the frequency of announcements of recognize that but for the fortresses they the fall of French fortresses used to be the would have swept France clear of all subject of casual jeers. The jeers were organized bodies of troops within two misplaced. The French fortresses, labor- months of the frontier battles. During ing under every conceivable disadvantage, the Peninsular war Wellington made did not do themselves discredit. All of twelve assaults on breached fortresses, of them were more or less obsolete. Exclud- which five were successful ; of bis twelve ing Metz and Paris, neither fortified to attempts to escalade, six succeeded. The date, their average age was about a cen Germans in 1870–71 never attempted a tury and a half, and few had been breach, and their solitary effort at escalade, amended since their first construction. on the Basse Perche of Belfort, utterly They were mostly garrisoned by inferior failed. . troops, often almost entirely by Mobiles. The Russians in 1878 were even less enOnly in one instance was there an effective terprising than had been the Germans in director of the defence. That they uni- 1870. They went against three permaformly enclosed towns whose civilian pop- nently fortified places, the antediluvian litulation had to endure bombardment, was tle Matchin, wbich if I remember right blew an obvious hindrance to desperate resist- itself up ; the crumbling Nicopolis, wbich ance. Yet, setting aside Bitsch, which surrendered after one day's fighting ; and was never taken, the average duration of Rustchuk, which held out till the end of the defence of the seventeen fortresses the war. They would not look at Silistria, which made other than nominal resistance ruined, but strong in heroic memories ; was forty-one days. Excluding Paris and they avoided Rasgrad, Schumla, and the Metz, which virtually were entrenched Black Sea fortresses ; Sophia, Philippopcamps, the average period of resistance olis, and Adrianople made no resistance. was thirty-three days. The Germans used The earthworks of Plevna, vicious as they siege artillery in fourteen cases ; although were in many characteristics, they found only on two instances, Belfort and Stras- impregnable. I think Suvaroff would burg, were formal sieges undertaken. have carried them ; I am sure Skobeleff “It appears," writes Major Sydenham would, if he had got his way. Clarke in his recent remarkable work on The vastly expensive armaments of the Fortification* which ought to revolutionize present-the rified breechloader, the magthat art," that the average period of re- azine rifle, the machine guns, the longsistance of the (nominally obsolete) French range field guns, and so forth, are all acfortresses was the same as that of besieged cepted and paid for by the respective fortresses of the Marlborough and Peninsu- nations in the frank and naked expectation lar periods. Including Paris and Metz, that these weapons will perform increased the era of rifled weapons actually shows an execution on the enemy in war time. This
granted, and it cannot be denied, it logFortification, By Major G. Sydenham
ically follows that if this increased execuClarke, C.M.G. (London: John Murray.) tion is not performed, peoples are entitled