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made of the means at their disposal. quartermaster or paymaster of a regiThere was throughout a want of under ment, leaving the colonel out of sight. standing between the Department and The fact is, the employment of this the troops, and discipline was very im- misleading title arose out of a hazy perfectly maintained among the hired misconception that this Department was transport. The straggling allowed was to be entrusted with some important excessive, and in consequence the whole financial functions which would conduce day was often needlessly consumed in to economy in army expenditure ; but a making a perfectly insignificant march. very slight acquaintance with the matter Had the army corps been marching on should make it evident that this idea in one line, instead of moving to and was based on complete delusion. The fro over a contracted space, its advance civil branch of the army may be divided would have been retarded in a most in a general way into two main branches, pernicious way by the necessity of the first of these comprising the manuwaiting for supplies. One small reform, facturing departments, which fabricate therefore, that may be expected to the military stores of all kinds. Now, follow the revelations of the campaign in the management of these great estawill be the establishment of a small blishments there is room for an indereserve stock of waggons, sufficient, it finite amount of financial manipulation, may be presumed, for at least one because it is here that the civil expenarmy corps, although there is no need diture in the main takes place, and that to keep up a supply of horses in peace economical management can produce time. A still niore important reform sensible results ; but with this great is shadowed forth in the discovery now branch of expenditure the officers of beginning to dawn on the mind of the the Control Department (if we except British public, that the title “Control one or two of the head officials seated Department” is altogether inappropriate in the War Office) have nothing whatto the functions performed by the body ever to do. The Control Department now styled by that name. With the
is engaged for the most part in the perception of this truth it is to be mechanical business of issuing stores hoped we may arrive at sounder views made elsewhere, and of paying the of the proper organization of the De troops. Even in such matters as conpartmeut, and consequently of the tracts for food and forage, the local whole system of supply for the army. officers have in reality no controlling The business of the army naturally authority; they are the mere agents of divides into two main branches—first, the army of officials sitting in Pall Mall, the supply of food, clothing, and arms; and their business is mainly to refer and secondly, the government of the matters for the orders of the latter, and troops : but why the duties involved to act without question upon their inin the one should be regarded as more structions. As to the pay branch of the in the nature of “control” than those of Control Department, it needs hardly be the other we fail to perceive, as must said that it is bound hard and fast by any one else who takes the trouble to detailed rules, that its duties are purely think over the matter. The real
mechanical, and that no cases ever arise troller" of the army is he who controls in the discharge of those duties to call for it both in men and things; and if there the exercise of individual judgment. is no one individual who unites both While, however, the effect of creating these functions, then there is no proper this Department has not been in any controller. But if the title is to be sense to decentralize authority or to given to some one, it is more properly invest local officials with responsibility, bestowed on the General commanding the inappropriate title given to it has than on any civil subordinate in his tended to create a false impression division ; it would be thought absurd that its members possess an authority to give the title, for example, to the which really does not belong to them.
People are naturally misled by names, force, instead of passively retreating, and those who do not go below the had turned vigorously upon either; while surface of things find it difficult to un the defending force often made no real derstand that an official with this high defence at all, strong positions being resounding title has really no controlling peatedly given up before they were authority whatever, but is a mere post- seriously pressed, without attempting at office for conveying references to the any rate to offer that best of defences, War Office, or at most is powerful only an offensive one. In this respect the for obstruction. This fact has, however, operations truly deserved the name of a now been forced on the attention of the sham fight. In the affair of the last great public, and it is to be hoped that, the day, the perfect helplessness exhibited on imposture once detected, there is still one side was sufficiently evident without a sufficiency of volition remaining in commentary. And there is nothing to our administrative system to admit of prevent the same sort of thing recurring the needful change being carried out. on future occasions. However carefully If there follow only this one result from the programme may be drawn up, and the manæuvres, that the Control Depart- whatever may be the degree of excelment comes to be recognized as what it lence eventually arrived at in feeding really is, a cumbrous and over-centralized troops in the neighbourhood of London, store and pay agency, and its title ad such manquvres can never be successjusted to coincide with its functions, ful unless ably directed, and it is not the Autumn Camp will not have been necessary to have manquvres at all established in vain.
in order to make the discovery that As regards the course of the ma everybody does not possess the gift næuvres also, a good deal of the criti of handling troops well ; for it is a cism so freely offered appears to us natural quality, just as much as the to have been wide of the mark, the power of speaking well.
Some men, small errors of subordinates having by dint of perseverance and practice, been dwelt upon for the most part, in overcome the difficulty, and manage stead of the large ones of superiors. This to become tolerable speakers although is like blaming the crew instead of not possessing any natural aptitude for the pilot for running on the rock. No the art; but, as a rule, good speakers doubt all that has been said about these are good from the first, while those who blunders is quite true. Infantry ad are bad at the beginning continue to be vanced over open ground swept by ar incurable stammerers in public until tillery, when they might have moved the end of the chapter. It is just up under cover on the right or left ; the same with tactical power, that is, cavalry rode about in all sorts of the power of handling troops effectively positions where they ought not to have in the field ; it is an art for which many been, masking the fire of their own officers show a perfect inaptitude; and, side, or exposing themselves to utter moreover, there is not in this case anyannihilation ; artillery plied their guns thing like the same opportunity for at ranges where not a gunner could overcoming natural defect by practice have lived, -all this and more happened; which occurs with regard to public but to recount these things is merely to speaking. We must remember that say that the troops were not properly our generals, equally with all the junior handled, and about this there can be ranks of the service, are almost wholly little doubt. In the first place, when without experience in this branch of the second and third divisions were their business. The sort of convenoperating against the first, they had no tional parade work which has hitherto head, and the two divisions worked in done duty for tactical practice at every consequence without any unity, and spot in the empire where British troops might have been crushed any number are stationed-when two or three battaof times over in detail, if the defending lions, with an occasional battery, are put
through a set of stock manæuvres on a ciate the value for tactical
purposes of piece of ground where every hillock a camp of exercise, and the importance has been shaved off, and every hole of turning it to the best account. How filled up-bears hardly the faintest re far this was done on the late occasion, semblance to the problem which has to those present can judge. Certainly, a be performed in actual war, of bringing sure, way towards nullifying its value is a body of troops through a variety of to appoint to leading posts men of whom obstacles and under varying conditions it is perfectly well known beforehand of distance and ground up to a certain that this sort of thing is not in their line. spot by a certain time. Nor is this In another and extremely important branch of the art often to be learnt by respect the want of resemblance to the actual practice in war, because the op conditions of a real campaign was very portunities for practice on a campaign strikingly apparent. In real warfare may occur but seldom. The public all authority is centred in the General would be quite misled if they supposed commanding, and the whole business of that because a man has seen a great deal the army is conducted by his staff. This of service, as the phrase goes, he has peace campaign was conducted entirely therefore had much practice in the actual by the War Office. Our army is perhandling of troops in the presence of the haps the most department-ridden army enemy. Whole campaigns may pass in the world, and the extent to which away with scarcely an opportunity for centralization is carried was never more such an operation; it occurred only conspicuous than on the present occaonce or twice, for example, in the whole sion. The arrangements for feeding the Crimean war; and a
man may have troops, for hiring transport, for employreached in appearance to the top of ing artillery to aid the controllers, for his profession, and have every possible settling what lands should be occupied decoration after his name, and yet be and what respected-all these details a perfect child in respect of tactical were arranged entirely in Pall Mall, and knowledge and skill.
the Generals had nothing to do but to Two important points, then, are to be receive charge of the troops they found borne in mind : the art is a difficult placed under their orders. We doubt one, and not to be mastered by every if from first to last the military authorione ; and the opportunities for acquiring ties, most of whom, as well as their staff, it are only to be gained in peace. A only took up their appointments when person might as well expect to become the manæuvres commenced, had more à proficient in violin-playing by per than the vaguest notion of the cost of forming only in public at concerts, as to the performance. Their functions were become an expert tactician by the amount limited to simply knocking the troops of practice that will usually be offered about after they and their appliances on the battle-field. Yet the art is not were collected on the ground. Is it the less important because so rarely ac surprising if our Generals, accustomed quired. The critical moment arrives once to be kept thus in leading-strings, and only perhaps in a man's lifetime, but yet invested with only the merest shadow come it may, when the fate of a campaign of responsibility, should so often exhibit depends on the relative skill with which perfect helplessness when called into the opposing Generals shall bring their the field ? To the ordinary looker-on forces into action; but then will be reaped a General may perhaps appear a very the reward of patient study or of natural imposing functionary, but in most regenius, and then too we may be sure spects he is merely the channel of comthat men who have always blundered munication between the representatives will blunder again. Looking therefore of the different departments nominally at the insufficiency of practical training under his orders and the office in Pall usually afforded, either by war or peace Mall; and it would be difficult to specify under ordinary conditions, we may appre a single point in which he possesses any
real power, except that perhaps of fixing we may cite the march to Magdala as the hour at which his brigade or division an instance where success was probably shall parade. But does a force proceed in great measure due to the fact that on active service, the General becomes at the commander of the expedition had once transformed from an imposing no passed a large part of his life in other body in a red coat into a great personage than military pursuits, and had been charged with the most responsible func accustomed to public affairs on a large tions which it can fall to man to perform. scale. So it will always be found to be Suddenly invested with real instead of
The efficiency of the British nominal command, the dispenser of Navy, and the readiness and resource patronage and promotion, he now holds which naval comnianders are accustomed the power of life and death over his to exhibit, are probably due in great troops. And this is perhaps the smallest measure to the fact that the captain part of the change. When the army lands commands the ship as well as her crew, on a foreign shore, the whole system and has constantly to exercise a varied of supply also undergoes a complete responsibility both in peace and war. transformation ; the Treasury and War And this is what we have to aim at Office clerks, who up to this moment in our military administration, if it is have centralized all authority and power ever to become effective. Our Generals in everything down to the minutest must be practised in something more trifles in their own hands, retire at once than moving their men about a given into their proper insignificance, and the piece of ground two or three days in whole burden of moving, feeding, and the year, if they are not to prove helphousing, possibly of clothing the army, less in the business of organization as well as of leading it against the when placed in the field. enemy, falls on the shoulders of the
This, then, is the further direction commanding General. Every reader of which should be given to our camps of the Wellington or Napoleon despatches exercise, if they are to become really must have observed that this business useful schools for the business of war. of transport and supply occupies the Nor should there be any real difficulty commander's time and attention in a in effecting such a development of the much greater degree than any other part scheme. There is no reason, to name of his duties, and what happened in one point for example, why the grant of their case occurs in every campaign; public money for the camp of exercise but for efficiently dealing with it our should not be placed at the disposal of Generals are in most cases utterly un the General commanding, to be laid out fitted by previous training and occupa- by the local staff under his direction for tion, while the subordinate departmental the needful carriage and supplies, withofficials who have to carry out their orders, out the intervention of any War Office brought up as they have been in War officials. The operations would then, Office leading-strings, and accustomed as regards the commissariat at any rate, to act in a narrow circle hedged in by resemble the course of an actual camroutine, are seldom fit to run alone. paign; and we may be pretty sure that Here and there a General may have under such a plan the troops would at learned business habits, in Parliament least get their meals with regularity. or in the management of private pro Of course it will be objected that this perty; but in the case of commanders suggestion for placing money credits at who have shown a capacity for organiz- the disposal of military officials, and ing as well as fighting, we shall generally thus investing them with a certain find that they have been something be amount of financial responsibility, is sides mere soldiers. Not to mention Wel- opposed to the cardinal rule that the lington and Napoleon as examples of finance of the army should be controlled men whose training was quite as much by civil authority; and should such a in politics and administration as in war, measure be proposed, we must be pre
pared to hear an outburst of solemn economical principles. There is, indeed, platitudes about the violation of consti the vague and imperfect check exercised tutional principles involved. We may, by the Comptroller-General of the Exchetherefore, raise a protest beforehand quer, and ultimately the review of all exagainst the attribution of any weight to penditure by parliamentary committees; what, if looked into, will be found sheer but these checks on financial irregu
No one, we presuine, is silly larity would remain in force in any case; enough to suppose that if the General and it is not in the final audit, but commanding at Aldershot or Dover were in the check on the first application of authorized to spend fifty thousand the different sums voted for the army, pounds, any danger would arise of a that the present system is really weak. coup d'état, of an Aldershot Monk The War Office consists of a huge conmarching upon London with the money geries of departments, the heads of in his pocket, to trample down the which transact all business in the name British Constitution. The danger to of the Secretary of State ; so that if any England is no longer that armies or irregularity be committed the offence is governments should be too powerful for already condoned, since the fiction is its liberties; we now seem to be falling always maintained that it has been done into quite another form of danger, that of by order of the very authority who breaking down from sheer inaptitude on should properly control such proceedthe part of anybody to do anything more ings. But if the spending took place than talk. The utmost danger that the outside the office, and that overgrown greatest stickler for tradition and prin- establishment were reduced to manageciple could foresee, would be, we may able dimensions, of a size sufficient suppose, that more money might be spent merely for supervision of those enthan was sanctioned. But the assump trusted with executive functions, then tion implied in this tall talk about executive responsibility and adminisconstitutional principles, that soldier trative control would occupy their officials always want to be spending proper relative positions; and so far money, and that civil officials ought to from
loss of financial control be employed to prevent them, we take accruing, it would be much more effileave to say is a perfect delusion. In ciently exercised than at present. It India, where army finance is on a much is well understood, for example, that more simple and effective system than the expenditure incurred for the late here, the controllers of the military ex maneuvres has largely exceeded the penditure, the rigidity of whose audit sum voted by Parliament for the purhas become proverbial, have always been pose. This excess may have been inmilitary men. And here too they would curred beneficially, but that is beside be found quite as careful guardians of the present question ; what we are now the public purse, if placed in charge of it. concerned to observe is, that there has After all, it must be remembered that been no financial control exercised in the object of maintaining an army in the matter; whereas if the grant had peace time is to prepare it for under been made over to any specific general taking war with efficiency; and even if officer to spend, with a superintending, the sort of plan we have hinted at were and not, as now, an executive War to be attended with some direct loss Office to watch him, we may be sure it of economy, the indirect saving would would not have been exceeded without be great, if it released our Generals from at any rate the matter coming formally the childish state of department-ridden under review of the controlling authority. tutelage in which they are now retained. As matters now stand, the Secretary of But, in fact, the presumption is all the State will probably find that he has other way. The present system, under sanctioned a great deal of expenditure in which the War Office controls itself, is one way and another without any specific unquestionably quite opposed to sound or formal sanction by proper authority.