Imatges de pàgina

posts occupied, and their great distance from each other. The organization of the department could not well be improved.

In regard to the body of the army, it may be proper to remark, that if military knowledge be essential in war, it is the true policy, not only of this, but of every free country, to adopt such an organization of the military force as shall, with the smallest numbers, preserve that knowledge in peace, and give it the greatest extension in war, for this is the only means by which a competent defence can be provided for the State, without the expense of supporting a large military establishment in time of peace. To attain this object, with certainty, the true principle of organization is this: present the largest possible base from a given numerical force. Our present establishment, though defective in its organization, approximates this principle. The defect in the organization of the infantry consists in having ten companies, and that of the artillery in having nine companies in place of eight, to a regiment. That is the best organization which admits of the greatest facility in mancuvring. A regiment of ten companies cannot be maneuvred, unless two of its companies be thrown out of the line; it may be divided into two divisions of five companies each, but there the division must stop; whilst a regiment, composed of eight companies, is susceptible of division down to sections and files. It may be said the supernumerary companies are to act as light troops; but why have two kind of troops in the same corps? Do We not, in this case, make a distinction without a difference? not the officers, as well as the soldiers, formed, armed, and equipped in the same manner, and disciplined according to the same principles? And have they not similar duties to perform? By incorporating light troops into our regiments we have adopted the forms of European service, without regard to the principle which governs there, or to the peculiar circumstances of our own country. In Europe, militia and volunteers are seldom used, and are never relied on; hence, as light troops are required in war, they are necessarily maintained in peace. But in this country, where we are compelled to use large bodies of both, we have always too great a proportion of light troops ; all our regular troops should, therefore, be formed and organized for the duties of the line. But if we must so far sacrifice utility to the prejudices of the day, as to have light companies, let them be formed into regiments, have the most convenient organization for maneuvring, and be so instructed as to take their place in the line, or not, as the interests of the service may require.

To present my ideas the more clearly on the subject of organization, I annex to this report paper marked A, which is a copy of a tabular statement presented by me to one of your predecessors about ten years

It exhibits the plan of an organization adapted to a base of six thousand men, with the proposed extension in the event of war. The simple inspection of that paper will give a better idea of the practicability and advantages of the proposed plan, than the most labored report that could be written. With our army organized upon the principles there laid down, we should, on war becoming probable, be able to double our force by doubling the private soldiers of our companies; and should it become inevitable, we have only to add to each regiment an additional battalion of eight companies, and we convert our peace establishment of six thousand men into a division twentyfour thousand strong, with the certainty of imparting to the whole, in less than two months' time, the discipline and efficiency of veteran troops. With such a foundation, we might prepare for the field, in six months, an army of a hundred thousand men; not mere recruits in uniform, but well instructed soldiers, partaking, in a great degree, of the character and efficiency of the original base of six thousand. To effect this important object, nothing more would be necessary than to establish, in convenient situations, fifteen or twenty depots of instruction throughout the country, and attach to each a well instructed field officer, one or two captains, and three or four subalterns. The instruction at those depots should not be confined to the regular army alone, but might be extended to all the militia officers, and to all the volunteer companies in the country. There are those, I am aware, , who, in opposition to the facts of history, and the convictions of experience, deny the necessity of previous instruction and of practical military knowledge to the military commander: with such gentlemen it would be useless to reason; but it is proper to remark of them, that their own practice, in the most ordinary concerns of life, is in direct opposition to the principles they profess, and the opinions they hold ; for, whilst they declaim against the necessity of professional knowledge and experience in those to whom the important duty of defending the country is confided, they require both, even in the laborers and domestics whom they employ. Not one of them would engage a car

a penter to make his coat, or a tailor to build his house; and he would think the man insane who would ask a lawyer to set a broken limb, or a physician to conduct a suit at law; and yet there would be as much propriety in either, as to expect a farmer, a merchant, a lawyer, or any other citizen, without previous study, careful preparation, and experience in the practice of service, to become an able and accomplished oflicer.

Without referring to other countries, we have only to turn over the pages of our own history, to be satisfied of the deplorable consequences resulting from a want of timely preparation, as well in the personnel as the materiel of the army. We had, previously to the late war, submitted to outrages upon our commerce and our citizens, until forbearance had ceased to be a virtue. The voice of the whole country was for war, and we plunged into it without a proper organization of the army, or any of those preparations which it was our duty to make, and which an ordinary degree of foresight must have demonstrated to be necessary; and having committed the blunder, we neglected the only means by which the disastrous results of our measures could have been averted. In place of calling forth the intelligent and well instructed officers of the old corps, and employing them where their talents and acquirements would have been useful to the country, the higher ranks of the army were, for the most part, filled by men, selected rather for their political influence than their military fitness. The consequence was, we had no discipline or subordination in our corps, no accountability in the administrative departments, no well digested plan of operations, no combination or concert in the move

[ocr errors]

ment of the different armies ; but the strength and resources of the country were wasted in puny and unsuccessful efforts, without use or object, on extensive and distant frontiers, and we presented the singular spectacle of a powerful nation with more than a million of men capable of bearing arms, with resources vastly exceeding those of any other nation of equal population, with two hundred thousand men actually under arms, invaded and defeated at all points, several of our posts captured and held by the enemy, our capital taken, our credit destroyed; and all this effected, too, by a petty province, aided at no time by more than twenty-five thousand men from the mother country, including the whole force that assailed us on every frontier. This is a picture, it must be acknowledged, by no means flattering to our national pride; but it is a true picture; and the time and the occasion require that the truth be told.

One great moral advantage certainly was gained by the war; and it is, perhaps, full compensation for all our misfortunes. We demonstrated, that we have, among the body of the people, men with capacity for every exigency; and we settled the question in regard to the permanency of our institutions, by proving that they were strong enough for war. But what, let me ask, would have been the character of the country, under its accumulated defeats, but for the victories on the ocean, achieved by officers who were masters of their profession, and those gained on land, either by men who had forced their way forward from the old corps, or who had been formed during the war, partly in the militia, and partly in the regular service, and had qualified themselves to lead to victory by the practice of two campaigns.

Had there been the requisite military information in our councils at the commencement of the war, that policy which pressed like a nightmare on the nation, and paralyzed all its energies, had been avoided; and, in place of being compelled to close the war, not only without having gained a single object for which it had been declared, but by conceding to the enemy the right of retaining a part of his conquests, to which he asserted a claim, and of making stipulations in favor of the Indians within our territories, whom he had chosen to designate as his allies, we had been able to dictate the terms of peace. History was open before us, and we had only to profit by its lessons to strike our enemy in the most vital point. The statesman, or the military man, accustomed to trace the current of human events through the history of the preceding century, could not but have observed the astonishing rise of the French naval power, and its rapid decline; and, if in the habit of tracing effects back to their causes, he must have perceived that this power rose with the possession, and declined with the loss, of the northeastern coast of this continent, and the islands adjacent to it. That coast, and those islands, are as important to Great Britain as they were to France; they formed, when war was declared, as they form now, the principal pillar of British naval power; they were within our grasp; we could have reached the more important parts of them without naval force; and had timely preparations been made for war, and the national energies been properly exerted, the first campaign must have placed them in our possession, with as little difficulty as a single campaign has placed Algiers in the posses

Rep. 40—5


sion of France. It is hardly possible to estimate the effects of so important an acquisition on the character and events of the war, or its influence on the negotiations for peace.

The length to which this paper has run admonishes me that it should be brought to a close; but I deem it due to myself to add, that, although I deprecate the reduction of the officers of the army proper as a measure fraught with the most injurious consequences to the national interests, I am not to be understood as including my own case. I leave it to others to determine the importance to the public of the station which I hold, as well as the value of the services which I perform; for I could not, consistently with a proper self-respect, be induced, on this or any other occasion, to offer a single argument as to the necessity for any office on which my official existence may depend. I am, sir, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Brig. General, and Quartermaster General. Hon. J. H. EATON,

Secretary of War, Washington City.


Table of the organization proposed for the peace establishment, with a view of its practicable extension in the event of war.

[blocks in formation]

• The principles upon which this extension is made are: Ist. To double the rank and file of companies. 2d. Add a battalion consisting of eight companies to the regiment, with an addi-
tional lieutenant colonel. 3d. Promote the first lieutenants of the old companies to captaincies in the new battalion, and one of the second lieutenants of each of the old companies to first
lieutenants in the new battalion, 4th. Assign half of the companies of the old battalion to the new one, and in the like manner receive half the companies of the new battalion into the
old one.

1 regiment light artillery,
4 regiments foot artillery.
10 regiments infantry.
15 regiments.

« AnteriorContinua »