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In an address delivered at the laying of the corner stone of the Army War College building in Washington, on the 21st of February, 1903, the Secretary of War said:
No better illustration of the necessity of such an institution as this, and of a General Staff to make its work effective, can be found than in the fate which befell the work of a soldier to whose memory I wish to pay honor to-day-Brevet Maj. Gen. Emory Upton, Colonel of the Fourth Artillery. Graduated from West Point in the year 1860, he became while almost a boy one of the most distinguished officers of the civil war.
He commanded successively a battery of artillery, a regiment of infantry, a brigade of infantry, a brigade of artillery, and a division of cavalry. Constantly in the field, he exhibited in camp and march and in scores of battles dauntless and brilliant courage, strict and successful discipline, and the highest qualities of command. Gen. James H. Wilson said of him:
“No one can read the story of his brilliant career without concluding that he had a real genius for war, together with all the theoretical and practical knowledge which any one could acquire in regard to it. He was the equal, if not the superior, of Hoche, Desaix, or Skobeleff in all the military accomplishments and virtues, and up to the time when he was disabled by the disease which caused his death he was, all things considered, the most accomplished soldier in our service. His life was pure and upright, his bearing chivalric and commanding, his conduct modest and unassuming, and his character absolutely without blemish. History can not furnish a brighter example of unselfish patriotism, or of ambition unsullied by an ignoble thought or an unworthy deed.”
After the close of the civil war he addressed himself to the task of interpreting the lessons of that war to his countrymen for the improvement of our military system. Of his own motion he devised a new system of tactics, which being capable of adoption by a simple military order, was adopted, and revolutionized the tactics of the Army. On the recommendation of General Sherman he was sent around the world with two associate officers to study the armies of Europe and Asia, and upon his return he made a report which gave the results of all his accumulated experience and observation. He recommended the three-battalion formation in cavalry and infantry regiments. He recommended interchangeable service in staff and line as against the permanent staff departments. He recommended examination as a condition to promotion. He recommended the establishment of a General Staff, and he recommended the general and sys matic extension of military education.
His recommendations had behind them all the prestige of his brilliant military career. They had the advocacy and support of the great soldier who then commanded the American armies, General Sherman. They embodied the practical lessons of the civil war and the results of military science throughout the world. Yet his voice was as the voice of one crying in the wilderness. The Government did not even print his report, but with those of his associates it was filed in manuscript and forgotten among the millions of documents in the archives of the War Department.) General Upton subsequently printed the report himself for the benefit of the public through a private publisher. *A copy may now and then be found at a second-hand bookstore.
a This quotation is from Gen. James H. Wilson's Introduction to Professor Michie's Life and Letters of Gen. Emory Upton.-Editors.
The report of Captain (now General) Sanger on the organization, administration, and material of the artillery of Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Italy, Russia, Japan, China, and Persia was submitted to the Adjutant-General of the Army January 20, 1879.
General Sherman sent it to the Secretary of War with a letter of transmittal, in which he remarked: “I have not had sufficient time at my disposal to admit of my reading the manuscript in detail, but from what I have been able to gather from a hasty inspection of it, I am led to the belief that it contains matter of such importance to the military service that it ought to be published. The matter of the report is
More than a quarter of a century later, and long after death had ended the restless striving of that far-seeing intelligence, other men working out the same problems with which he dealt found the sanity and wisdom of his conclusions and gave them effect. Were Upton living to-day, still upon the active list of the Army, he would see all of the great reforms for which he contended substantially secured. The threebattalion system, the interchangeability of staff and line, examinations for promotion, and now, by the wisdom of the present Congress, the establishment of a General Staff, and the completion of the system of military education under the controlling body which will find its permanent home in the building whose corner stone we lay to-day.
The publication of these remarks directed attention to an unpublished manuscript to which General Upton had devoted the last years of his life, and which he had left nearly finished, though without revision, upon his death in 1881. This manuscript has now been revised by Gen. Joseph P. Sanger, who, with Gen. George A. Forsyth, accompanied General Upton on his tour around the world in 1875–1877, with the assistance of Maj. William D. Beach and Capt. Charles D. Rhodes, of the Military Information Division of the General Staff. The work was written from a purely military point of view, and in some parts shows a failure to appreciate difficulties arising from our form of government and the habits and opinions of our people with wbich civil government has necessarily to deal in its direction of the military arm. On some points it is colored by the strong feelings natural to a man who had been a participant in the great conflict of the civil war, then but recently ended, and who himself had taken part in the serious controversies regarding the men and the deeds of that struggle. But the work exhibits the results of such thorough and discriminating research, such a valuable marshaling of the facts of our military history, and such sound and ably-reasoned conclusions drawn from those facts as to the defects and needs of our military system, that it clearly ought to be made available for the study of our officers and for the information of all who may be charged with shaping our military policy in the future.
Many of the mistaken practices which General Upton points out have already been abandoned. We no longer feel obliged to have recourse to short enlistments to obtain enlisted men. The three-battalion system has been adopted. The interchangeability of the staff and line, in place of a permanent staff organization, has become a part of our system, substantially as General Upton recommended. The conflict between the civil authority, represented by the Secretary of War, and the military authority, represented by a commanding general, and the consequent interference by civilian secretaries in the
largely technical, and probably would not have sufficient interest for the general public to warrant Captain Sanger in publishing it as a private enterprise. If an arrangement can be made with a publisher to take the manuscript and copyright, as well as the risk of pecuniary loss, Captain Sanger is willing they should go to such a one, without expectation of any reward to himself. If such an arrangement can not be made, it is suggested that Congress might be willing to publish the report as an official document."
The report was held up awaiting an appropriation until November 17, 1879, when Captain Sanger was informed by the Adjutant-General that the state of the appropriation did not permit the War Department to subscribe for the proposed publication of the report.
In the meantime Captain Sanger requested and obtained authority to publish extracts from the report, and the latter appeared in popular form in Volume I of the Journal of the Military Service Institution (1880), and in Volumes IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII of the United Service Magazine (1881, 1882, and 1883).
command of troops, always inexpedient and usually disastrous, has been obviated by the General Staff act of 1903, which secures unity of professional military command, through the interposition of the Chief of Staff, with a body of military assistants, between the civil authorities and the military forces of the country. Compulsory retirements, examinations for promotion, the division of military information, the General Staff, and a general system of military education, all have been provided for since this work was written. Provision has been made by the militia act of 1903 for furnishing the discipline and training, upon which he is so insistent, to that part of the militia which is now known as the “organized militia,” and for the training of many citizens in the knowledge and practice which will make them competent to serve as officers in the larger body of citizen soldiers, upon whom we must chiefly rely in time of war.
It is to be hoped that a study of the reasons given by General Upton for the policy which is embodied in all these measures will prevent our country from taking any backward step in any one of these directions.
One other field of great importance remains to be covered by legislation; that is, the establishment of an adequate system for raising, training, and officering the volunteer forces of the future. It is of first importance that the distinction between volunteers and militia shall be observed, and that, while the selection of officers of militia shall continue, as it must under the Constitution, to rest with the States, following such mode of selection as they prefer, the officers of the volunteer forces of the United States shall hold their commissions from the President, who is to command them during the war for which they are called out, and shall look to their Commander-in-Chief for the promotion which should reward their good conduct, as well as for such discipline as they may merit; and that an adequate system shall be provided for the selection of such officers and the direct recruitment of the enlisted volunteer force under the authority of the National Government. In this work will be found collected the facts, which it is sometimes unpleasant to consider but which ought not to be ignored, supporting this view.
Upon the original manuscript, at the foot of the discussion of the war of 1812, is found a penciled note in the handwriting of General Sherman which concludes in these words:
I doubt if you will convince the powers that be, but the facts stated, the references from authority, and the military conclusions are most valuable and should be printed and made accessible. The time may not be now, but will come when these will be appreciated, and may bear fruit even in our day.-W. T. Sherman.
That great authority confirms the judgment that this work ought to be rescued from oblivion.
Secretary of War. JANUARY 12, 1904.
THE MILITARY POLICY OF THE UNITED
Shortly after the disastrous battle of Camden, Washington wrote to the President of Congress “what we need is a good army, not a large one.” Unfortunately for the country, the object sought by this assertion, so thoroughly in harmony with our cherished institutions, has only been partially attained in time of peace.
In view of the growth of our neighbors, the vast extent of our territory, and the rapid increase of our floating population, the time must speedily arrive when all intelligent and law-abiding people will accept, and adhere to, the opinion of John Adams that “the National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman."
Our military policy, or, as many would affirm, our want of it, has now been tested during more than a century. It has been tried in foreign, domestic, and Indian wars, and while military men, from painful experience, are united as to its defects and dangers, our final success in each conflict has so blinded the popular mind, as to induce the belief that as a nation we are invincible.
With the greater mass of people, who have neither the time nor the inclination to study the requirements of military science, no error is more common than to mistake military resources for military strength, and particularly is this the case with ourselves.
History records our triumph in the Revolution, in the War of 1812, in the Florida War, in the Mexican War, and in the Great Rebellion, and as nearly all of these wars were largely begun by militia and volunteers, the conviction has been produced that with us a regular army is not a necessity.
In relating the events of these wars, the historian has generally limited himself to describing the battles that have been fought, without seeking to investigate the delays and disasters by which they have been prolonged, till
, in nearly every instance, the national resources have been exhausted.
The object of this work is to treat historically and statistically, our military policy up to the present time, and to show the enormous and unnecessary sacrifice of life and treasure, which has attended all our armed struggles.
Whether we may be willing to admit it or not, in the conduct of war, we have rejected the practice of European nations and with little variation, have thus far pursued the policy of China.