Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

whenever circumstances may require it. This is peculiarly so at the present time, when revolution pervades the eastern continent, and it is uncertain whether liberal or despotic principles are ultimately to prevail. The representative system has existed on this continent nearly two centuries without interruption; it is, therefore, no longer an experiment: its results are to be seen in the liberty, the happiness, and the prosperity of our country. The moral influence of that system, without any physical effort on our part, is silently, but gradually and certainly, sapping the foundations of every absolute government in the civilized world. Those interested in perpetuating ancient abuses are aware of the source of their danger, and are fully sensible, if our institutions continue in successful operation, there will be no security for them. They have, therefore, all those motives of interest and of sympathy which so powerfully influence human action to unite against us; and should the contest now going on result in the ascendency of despotism, nothing can save us from their attempts but the most erect and determined attitude on the part of the nation, and its ability to return, with interest, every blow aimed at it. Our peace establishment has, therefore,.more important duties to perform, and higher destinies to achieve, than any other army on the globe. But, before we proceed to enumerate the duties which devolve upon it, let us examine the objects for which the armies of other countries are maintained.

If we look to the great states of Europe, we perceive in their past history that the reasons for supporting their large establishments in peace are, to protect the person, secure the authority, and enforce the edicts of the sovereign; and, in addition to those duties, to defend the country, and to carry on offensive operations in war; but if we recur to our own condition, we must be sensible that the former of those objects were never intended to be attained by military force. Public opinion is strong enough here to guaranty the execution of the laws, to secure the internal peace of the country, and to protect the public functionaries in the performance of their duties; and the small force composing our peace establishment, dispersed as it is over a territory embracing nineteen degrees of latitude and twenty-eight degrees of longitude, could never have been calculated to meet even the first shock of war. Hence it is manifestly maintained for other and different objects, some of the more important of which are, to acquire and preserve military knowledge, and perfect military discipline; to construct the permanent defences, and organize the material necessary in war; to form the stock on which an army competent to the defence of the country may be engrafted, and, by means of depots of instruction, directed by intelligent and able officers, hastened to maturity, to present a rallying point to the militia, and, by means of instructors, and an intelligent administrative staff, to impart to that essential arm of the national defence a part of its own efficiency. Many of these important duties devolve on officers without the agency of troops. All that relate to defences, reconnoissances, arming and equipping the militia, the formation of depots, the construction of military roads, and the preparation and preservation of arms, munitions, and stores, must be performed, whether we retain a single private soldier or not;

and the duties of the officers immediately connected with the troops depend not so much upon their numerical force as upon the extent of the national territory, and the consequent extent of the frontiers to be covered, and the number of posts to be occupied.

It is, therefore, apparent, that we require a much larger proportion of officers in time of peace, compared with the rank and file, than most European nations, with their large force and small territories, could find employment for; the more especially, as, with them, those works of defence and measures of preparation, which, with us, can hardly be said to have commenced, have been accomplished. If we recur to the military condition of France, for instance, we find her frontiers covered with fortresses, her arsenals filled with arms and munitions, her interior depots established, her bureaus filled with maps, plans, and topographical surveys, the valuable results of the labors of her staff; all her communications, such as roads and canals, which afford her the means of rapid concentration, complete; besides, occupying, as she does, a small territory compared with her immense population and resources, she requires but few officers connected with those important works compared with her large military force.

The United States have, on the contrary, an extensive frontier ; their population and resources are dispersed over a widely extended territory; the internal communications of the country, so necessary for rapid military movements, whether projected by national or State authority, are incomplete; and, in short, in all their military relations, they present, when compared with France, the most striking contrast. It is not the policy of the country to retain, in time of peace, a large military establishment, particularly a numerous soldiery, but it is of the utmost importance to educate and retain a body of officers suficient for all the labors preparatory to war, and capable of forming soldiers, of supplying them, and putting them in motion, in the event of war.

If these views be correct, it is not easy to perceive how any of the officers making part of our military establishment, as authorized by the act of 1821, or by subsequent acts, can be dispensed with. Our companies are now sufficiently large for all the purposes of instruction, and for the services required at most of our minor posts, and the officers are barely sufficient for the duties actually required to be performed. *

For the exercise, in time of peace, of an artillery company, four pieces with four caissons are sufficient. The pieces should consist of two six-pounders, one twelve-pounder, and one howitzer. A captain should command the whole, and each section of two pieces should be commanded by a lieutenant. The line of caissons should be directed by a lieutenant, who should be conductor of ordnance, and receive and account for the stores of the company. An orderly sergeant is required to assist the captain in the military details; and an ordnance sergeant to assist the conductor of ordnance in the administrative details. A non-commissioned officer and eight privates are required for each piece, and one with two privates to each section of two caissons, and three artificers to each company; and there should be at least one lieutenant to each company, for the duties of the several staff corps. The company for peace would then consist of 1 captain to command. 2 lieutenants to command sections. 1 lieutenant, conductor of ordnance. 1 lieutenant for topographical, ordnance, and other staff duty. 5

The infantry and artillery furnish most of the assistant professors at West Point, two-thirds of the officers on topographical duty, all those on ordnance duty, and, with four exceptions, all those attached to the Commissary's and Quartermaster's departments. It is true, the officers serving with those corps might be permanently attached to them, and the regiments be reduced to a corresponding extent; but the measure would be one of transfer merely and not of reduction. The supernumerary officers, however, attached to the army, from the academy, and waiting for vacancies, being no part of the establishment, as authorized by the laws referred to, might be reduced; they now amount to eighty-four, and increase at the rate of about fourteen annually. The cadets at the academy might also be reduced from 250 to 150; the services of the supernumerary officers are not required; and 150 cadets, constantly in the course of education, would be sufficient for all the vacancies of the army in peace, and for those of the engineers, the ordnance, the artillery, and the topographical

1 orderly sergeant.
1 ordnance sergeant.
2 sergeants, and
4 corporals,

attached to pieces and caissons.
2 musicians.
3 artificers.
32 privates.

45

Being five officers and forty-five rank and file, or an aggregate of fifty; being ten less than our present companies.

In war, a company serves six pieces, with a caisson to each ; and, in addition to the number of officers, non-commissioned officers, and privates, to the pieces and caissons, a farrier, a sad. dler and harness maker, five additional artificers, are required for the company, and two drivers to each piece and each caisson.

The company for war, without allowing for a single casualty, or a single officer for the staff, would then consist of

1 captain to command.
3 lieutenanıs, commanding sections.
1 lieutenant, conductor of ordnance.

[blocks in formation]

Making five officers and one hundred and one rank and file, or an aggregate of one hundred and six; which force is barely sufficient for a company in the field , without allowing for a single casualty, or furnishing a single officer for the staff.

corps in war. The legal authority to appoint and retain either supernumeraries or cadets is extremely doubtful. If the cadets do not make part of the corps of engineers, there is no law in existence to authorize the appointment of more than ten; if they do form part of that corps, they are retained with it by the act of 1821; but as that act limits the officers of the army, and provides for no supernumeraries, there is no legal authority to attach the graduated cadets to the companies as such.

As to the organization which may be considered the more proper or the more efficient for a peace establishment, we should, regardless of European organization, be governed by our own situation, and the circumstances of our own country. The body of the army should be so formed as to admit of the greatest extension on the approach of war, and the staff should be so constituted as to be attached to either the regular force or the militia: this latter is the more necessary, as the militia must, in the event of war, form the greater part of our defensive force.

As but little progress has been made in the fortification and military survey of the country, both corps of engineers should be numerous; they should be as much so in peace as in war; for it is in peace only that scientific surveys can be faithfully made, and that permanent and durable works can be erected. The number of officers in both corps should, then, depend upon the works to be executed, and not upon the number of troops in service. We have more duty for them to perform, though our army is but six thousand strong, than France with her three hundred thousand men.

The ordnance department should be so organized as to require no augmentation in war: its most important labors are performed in peace: it is then that arms must be fabricated, and

munition prepared, and that depots should be established on all the great avenues leading to the frontiers. The operations of this department were paralyzed by the act of 1821, which merged the corps in the artillery. As its labors have but little relation to the peace establishment, but depend upon the whole military force, regular as well as militia, either in service, or liable to be called into service, in war, it is of the utmost importance to the future defence of the country, perhaps to its security and the preservation of its liberties, that the officers be separated from the body of the army, in order to devote themselves, exclusively, to their own peculiar duties. It is desirable, not only that our whole population be armed, but that the arms be of the best quality, for on their excellence, as well as on the skill of those who use them, depends their effect. So little attention had been paid to this branch of service previously to the late war, that it sometimes happened, out of ten thousand stands of arms taken to the point of distribution, not more than seven or eight hundred could be put into the hands of the troops; and it is a fact, which, so far as I am informed, public men have not yet dared to tell the nation, that, before the close of the war, we were unable to furnish arms to the troops at the various points assailed, and that we could not have armed, properly, a force of forty thousand men, had a campaign been necessary in 1815. Surely, if the lessons of experience be. not entirely lost upon us, we

every

would not again place ourselves in so perilous a situation. Our citizens are all acquainted with the use of fire-arms, and it should be our policy to perfect that knowledge as far as possible ; if we could quadruple the effect of our fire, compared with that of the troops of European nations, one of our soldiers would be equal to four of theirs ; the effect might be increased tenfold; but it is to the ordnance, more than to any other department, we must look for this improvement.

The Adjutant General's department requires but few officers. We have an adjutant general to the army, and an adjutant to each regiment. To perfect the organization of that branch of service, an assistant adjutant general should be attached to each geographical department; those officers should be taken from the lieutenant colonels and majors of the line, as a detail might be made from those grades with less inconvenience to the service than from any other.

The inspector's department is one of the most important in the army, but the officers are not sufficiently numerous.

Each inspector general should have an assistant, to be taken from the lieutenant colonels and majors of the line. This addition to the department, as well as that to the adjutant general's department, would involve no increase of the officers of the army, but would merely change the duties of four field officers. The inspectors, with this addition to their number, would be able to direct their attention to every department and branch of service, embracing all the fiscal concerns of the army, as well as its discipline and police. The change, though important to the public interests, would cause no additional expense: indeed, the expense might be lessened by dispensing with the inspections now made by the colonels of artillery.

The labors of the Subsistence and Quartermaster's departments depend upon the dispersed situation of the troops, and the number of posts they occupy. Those labors are increased by every movement made, and by every new position taken by the troops. For peace, the organization could not well be improved; and, in the event of war, nothing more would be required for the Subsistence department than a purchasing commissary for each geographical division, and a receiving and distributing commissary for each army; and for the Quarterinaster's department, a regimental quartermaster to each regiment, a small number of forage, wagon, and barrack masters, and a corps of artificers. No army, however well appointed in other re• spects, could long keep the field in this country without an efficient commissariat; nor could it operate with effect without an able quartermaster.

The efficiency of those departments is much more essential to success here than in any other country, because the military, having no right to command the civil power, can derive from it no other than voluntary aid, whilst, in other countries, the civil power is made to co-operate with, and is, in some respects, subservient to the military. Even in Great Britain it is made, by law, the duty of every magistrate to facilitate the inovement and supply of the troops.

The labors of the Pay department depend more upon the number of troops than those of any other branch of the administrative staff. Those labors, however, are considerably increased by the number of

« AnteriorContinua »