« VorigeDoorgaan »
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'oeuvre 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 Straslıurg, 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 yet 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, which if I remember right blew an obvious hindrance to desperate resist- itself up ; the crumbling Nicopolis, which
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 ; althongh 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
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 rifled breechloader, the mag
“ 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 log* Fortification, By Major G. Sydenham ically follows that if this increased execuClarke, C.M.G. (London : John Murray.) tion is not performed, peoples are entitled
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 “ defensive. made 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
After Sadowa, contro. non-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 sinoke, 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 the 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 have 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. He 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 bostile 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 inake 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
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 on 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 possesses 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
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