« ПретходнаНастави »
thorough knowledge of the exact and physical sciences. Can there be better proof of this than the facts? In military engineering, whether of permanent or field fortifications or mines, artillery tactics, gunnery, and military pyrotechny, she has given lessons to the civilized world. Most of the books in some of these branches, and especially in the important one of artillery, now used in the most powerful nations of Europe, as well as on this side of the Atlantic, are either in the original French, or are composed of notes translated from that language. The skill of her engineers has earned them the distinguishing title of Corps du Génie ; and in all the sciences appertaining to the art of war, her literature has been the storehouse from which her contemporaries have drawn their most useful military knowledge. Nor is it in books or in theory alone in which she has stood unrivalled. The history of the last forty years tells what she has accomplished in the field. A single nationyet by the aid of extensive knowledge and consummate skillshe wielded her armies with gigantic strength and powerful success against all the nations of Europe and brought them to her feet, till internal discontent and the boundless ambition of a leader called forth such myriads in arms, that defeat was as much the inevitable result as if the conflict had been with the elements themselves. It is true that several of Napoleon's generals were from the ranks. But they rose by dint of an acquisition of military knowledge, the means of which were at hand, and what is of more consequence, the military schools were continually pouring into the mass of the army welleducated officers, in all its departments. It matters not that the cause in which France was engaged during portions of her history was an unholy one. The abuse of her military power, derived from the causes stated, may have been unjustifiable, but none will deny that had she used it in self-defence, its legitimate purpose would have made still more prominent the soundness of her laws providing for military instruction. Russia, Sweden, and even the small Swiss cantons, have their schools ; and, finally, England, after disaster had afforded its bitter lessons, the results of the ignorance of its officers, imitate the example of her predecessors, and the Woolwich Academy and the Royal Military College at Sandhurst were brought into existence. The struggles of the English in the Spanish and Portuguese campaigns exhibited to the government the want of a more complete organization of her schools, and the death of competent subaltern officers was so severely felt as to compel the adoption of a more strict and more extensive course of her instruction. Her military academies are now conducted with great success, and have earned a high reputation. That all these nations have reaped a rich harvest of benefit from the offspring of the
policy which they have thus pursued, it is in vain to deny. The despotic sway of necessity, to which the human mind bends as a reed, compelled such establishments, and we know of no instances in which they have not, more or less, according to the grade of their perfectibility, justified the wisdom and realised the most sanguine expectations of their founders.
In addition to this, it is to be remembered that those to whose lot it has fallen to command armies, and who have been distinguished by the skill, valour, and success with which they have wielded the arms of their country have, almost without an exception, recommended and strenuously advocated a national provision for sound military tuition, as the appui of the mass. Whether they have become expert through the means of early lessons and long-continued practice, or whether, their primary learning and discipline being unknown, they have been the few instances in which, meteor-like, they have sprung forth before the gaze of an astonished world, presenting a combination of genius, prudence, and courage, and with power to conceive equal to their ability successfully to execute, they have concurred in one opinion. The warmest supporters of military schools have been found in a Frederick the Great and a Napoleon, in which they but followed in the footsteps of the celebrated engineer, Vauban. In later days, a Washington, a Wellington, and a Jackson had occasion to deplore the consequences of ignorance and insubordination; and, persuaded by the practical demonstration of facts, they encouraged the establishment of this, the only remedy. Indeed, without depending upon either sayings or doings emanating from high authority, it would seem to be a wholly useless task to prove that which is apparent from the nature of things. The gods themselves do not fight against necessity, says the Greek proverb; its force is resistless. Argillâ quidvis imitaberis udâ. But to suppose, as a general rule, that untaught and undisciplined officers, however indomitable may be their native courage and ardent their patriotism, can ever direct the masses our armies, and constructor destroy, attack or defend fortifications against a foe, under the guidance of able, knowing, and practised officers, is as great an absurdity as if it were said that a mere landsman could, for the first time, walk the deck of a ship of war, and conduct her in triumph through an engagement with an enemy of equal force, and managed with the most admirable tactical skill. On ne cherche point à prouver la lumière, as the proverb goes; but let us take the simple case of a field fortification, and reason on it for a moment. A citizen in the walks of civil life is suddenly summoned, by the trumpet of an invading arıny, to quit his peaceful habits and pursuits. His fellow-citizens, like him, have put on the armour of war for the occasion, in defence of vol. XXII.-N0. 43.
their altars and their homes, and, by some portion of them assembled at the spot most in danger, he is selected as their chief. Untutored as he is, it strikes his mind, and justly, too, that recourse must be had to some adventitious aid to bis troops, as an obstacle to the approach of the enemy. Every one knows that ramparts of earth and stone may be thrown up for the protection of the assailed against the advance and fire of the assailants, while the latter are exposed in the plain. This is done as best he may, and his artillery is mounted on the parapets. But he knows nothing of advanced parts, retired parts, salients, re-enterings, flanked dispositions, faces, curtains, angles of defence and dead angles, and most probably has constructed a single straight line of intrenchment, or if with angles, in such way as to present faces without the protection of flanked dispositions. The skilful enemy approach, storm the works, get into the ditch, where they are comparatively safe, for no gun can be brought to bear upon them, and they are victorious, though the assailed only yield perhaps after a murderous carnage, and the most gallant and determined resistance. How different, in all probability the result, had an educated soldier constructed the fortification ? By means of his flanked dispositions, that which in the other case proved the immediate prelude to the victory of the enemy, the occupation of the ditch, would in this ensure his destruction. Who can tell the effect of the loss of this post? The invader obtains a point d'appui; the invaded are perhaps disheartened; or a whole district is given up to fire, sword, and rapine. But well can we realise the consequences of the defeat of the invaders, who are thus taught that they have to cope with a strong and skilful antagonist. The worth of the victory over the assailants, then, compensates a hundred fold for the money and the time bestowed in the education of that single officer whose skill leads to such a happy conclusion of the contest. We have thus stated one case out of a thousand which may be imagined in support of our views; we may have occasion to enquire whether the illustration is borne out in point of fact in the history of our own country, as well as in that of others.
But although all these facts tend to prove the general proposition, that any government acts wisely in providing the only materials which are initiative of success in time of need-military knowledge, discipline, and habit—it is true, as we have said, that the United States Military Academy was neither established by force of necessities precisely similar to those which led to the foundation of its predecessors in other countries, nor upon the models furnished by them. The territories of the nations of Europe and the most civilized part of Asia lie adjacent, in succession to each other, and the population is, in most
of them, dense. The variety of their conflicting interests, and their entangling alliances; the close watch that each is obliged to maintain, not only over her contiguous but more remote rival; the preservation of the balances of power and of trade; and, by far not the most unimportant, the fear of popular revolt
“ The dangerous mine on which a king doth sleep”— all serve to create the necessity and the consequent existence of large standing armies. From this proceed two results. In the first place, the latter have no occasion for officers instructed in all the branches of military science, for as each department is large, is constantly kept up, and distinct from any other, military instruction is bestowed in the higher schools according to the destined service of the scholar. Again, the mass of the standing army is composed of men who are enlisted for periods of years, who serve long together, who are not a citizen soldiery called into the field only upon sudden emergencies, raw and undisciplined, and who, therefore, making arms their whole profession, are trained to the duties of the particular branch of the service in which they are placed. But a different state of things has existed in the United States from the begi nning, and, in all reasonable probability, will continue to exist so long as the integrity of the Union remains inviolate. The early colonists had to contend with the savage, and, even while engaged in taming the uncultivated soil for the purposes of subsistence, carried with them their defensive weapons to resist anticipated predatory attack. This was the case even in the colony settled under the peaceful policy of Penn. The red man struggled against the “pale faces” for the possession of his native soil - for his hunting grounds, and the graves of his fathers—with obstinate courage and determination, until the superior force and discipline of his enemies compelled him, inch by inch, to yield up the spoil, and, from that time to this, to turn his face towards the setting sun to look for his home. These struggles, interrupted, it is true, by occasional intervals of quiet, continued up to the revolution. During a portion of this time, too, the wars of the English and French were raging with fury, whose bloody theatre, and whose coveted prize, was the country within the limits of the Gulf of Mexico and the St. Lawrence, the Atlantic and the Mississippi. In these fierce contests, the colonists, of necessity, participated. When the revolution came, and its eight years' war continued, the whole population were imbued with a military spirit, and, more or less, were made familiar with military experience. But when
' Vide Loskiel's History of Moravian Missions.
the independence of the country was secured and acknowledged, and peace had spread the healing shadow of her wings over the land, the soldier turned his sword into a reaping hook, and the military habit of the warrior was discarded for the no less honourable garb of the farmer. Warlike spirit and military propensity among the whole people had, at that time, reached their utmost height, and thence dated their slow but certainly gradual decline. This followed from the necessity of circumstances. From the moment of its erection into an independent nation, the policy of the United States was settled. In relation to foreign nations, it was to be pacific-neither giving nor brooking insult, nor, from the nature of its situation, could any entangling alliances or interests, such as exist on the other side of the Atlantic, demand any other. The form and essence of the government, too, were popular, and, of course, the principles which predominated in its legislation were those of economy, and a dependence on the citizen soldiery for military purposes in case of invasion, as well as freedom from the risk of large standing armies. Hence, though a standing army could not altogether be dispensed with, it has uniformly been small, except in the second war with Great Britain. With the exception of that, and the Indian wars, there has been nothing since the revolution to foster and encourage a general military spirit, but, on the contrary, a strongly marked pacific policy, even to the maintenance of but a few regiments as a standing army, has tended to its gradual decline. As a proof of this, we may cite the present condition and want of efficiency of the militia of the United States as to discipline and general regulation. This decline in military knowledge was to be expected from such circumstances, and hence one of the original necessities (so different from that of other governments) for the erection of a military school, that there might always be provided, and kept in reserve, in the possession of a certain number of officers, a fund of knowledge, available for purposes of instruction, whenever occasion should require it. This is the true basis on which the institution of the United States Military Academy rests, and it is perfectly consistent with the fundamental principles of our whole government, as we shall presently take occasion to demonstrate.
The first official recommendation, under the federal government, of the adoption of a system of military instruction, is contained in a report of General Knox, then secretary of war, to President Washington, who communicated it to congress by special message on the 21st of January, 1790. The plan submitted was much more limited than as it exists at the present day. Doubts were occasionally expressed as to the constitutional
· Am. State Papers, vol. i. p. 6, ed. 1832.