Imatges de pÓgina

where such stores, in order not to weaken the regular army by detachments, are intrusted to the care of raw and militia forces.”

“Fortifications,” says Napoleon, “are useful both in offensive and defensive wars; for although they cannot alone arrest the progress of an army, yet they are an excellent means of retarding, fettering, enfeebling, and disquieting a conquering foe.”—(Maxim 40.) In all military operations time is of vast importance. If the advance of a single division of the army be retarded for a few hours only, it not unfrequently decides the fate of a campaign. Had the approach of Blucher been delayed for a few hours, Napoleon must have been victorious at the battle of Waterloo. An equilibrium can seldom be sustained for more than six or seven hours between forces on the field of battle; but in this instance the state of the ground rendered the movements so slow as to prolong the battle for more than thirteen hours—thus enabling the allies to effect a concentration in time to save Wellington. Many of Napoleon's brilliant victories resulted from merely bringing troops to bear suddenly upon some decisive point. This concentration of forces, even with a regular army, cannot be calculated on by the general with any degree of certainty unless his communications are perfectly secure. But this difficulty is much increased where the troops are new and undisciplined. When a country like ours is invaded, a large number of such troops must suddenly be called into the field. Not knowing the designs of the invaders, much time will be lost in marches and countermarches; and if there be no safe places of resort, the operations must be indecisive and insecure. To a defensive army, fortifications are valuable as points of repose upon which troops, if beaten, may fall back and shelter their sick and wounded, collect their scattered forces, repair their materiel, and draw together a new supply of stores and provisions; and as rallying points where new troops may be assembled with safety, and the army in a few days be prepared to again meet the enemy in the open field. Without these defences, undisciplined and inexperienced armies, when once routed, can seldom be rallied again without great losses. But when supported by forts they can select their opportunity for fighting, and offer or refuse battle according to the probability of success; and, having a safe place of retreat, they are far less influenced by fear in the actual conflict. It is not supposed that any system of fortifications can hermetically close a frontier. “But,” says Jomini, although they of themselves can rarely present an absolute obstacle to the advance of the hostile army, yet it is indisputable that they straiten its movements, change the direction of its marches, and force it into detachments; while, on the contrary, they afford all the opposite advantages to the defensive army; they protect its marches, favor its debouches, cover its magazines, its flanks, and its movements; and, finally, furnish it with a place of refuge in time of need.” “If the enemy should venture to pass the line of these places without attacking them, he could not dispense with besieging, or, at least, observing them; and if they be numerous, an entire corps with its chief must be detached to invest or observe them, as circumstances might require." His army would thus be separated from its magazines, its strength and efficiency diminished by detachments, and his whole force exposed to the horrors of partisan warfare. It has therefore been estimated, by the best French military writers, that an army supported by a judicious system of fortifications can repel a land force six times as large as itself.

On the use of fortifications as inland defences, we quote from the writings of the Archduke Charles, who as a general knew no rival but Napoleon, and whose military writings are equalled by none, save the works of General Jomini. “The possession of strategic points,” says the archduke, “is decisive in military operations. The most efficacious means should therefore be employed to defend points whose preservation is the country's safeguard. This object is accomplished by fortifications; for fortified places resist for a given time, with a small number of troops, every effort of a much larger force; fortifications should therefore be regarded as the bases of a good system of defence.” “I advise the construction of permanent works as the inost efficacious method of securing strategic points." "It should be a maxim of state policy in every country to fortify in time of peace all such points, and to arrange them with great care, so that they can be defended by a small number of troops; for the enemy, knowing the difficulty of getting possession of these works, will look twice before he involves himself in war.” “Establishments which can secure strategic advantages are not the works of a moment; they require time and labor. He who has the direction of the military forces of a state should in time of peace prepare for war; whatever he does should have reference to the rules of strategie; the military organization of the state, the construction of fortifications, the direction of roads and canals, the positions of depots and magazines, all should be attended to. The proper application or neglect of these principles will decide the safety or the ruin of the state. Fortifications arrest the enemy in the pursuit of his object, and direct his movements upon less important points; he must either force these fortified lines, or else hazard enterprises upon lines which offer only disadvantages. In fine, a country secured by a system of defence truly strategic has no cause to fear either the invasion or the yoke of the enemy, for he can advance to the interior of the country only through great trouble and by ruinous efforts. Of course, lines of fortifications thus arranged cannot shelter a state against all reverses; but these reverses will not, in this case, be attended by total ruin, for they cannot take from the state the means nor the time of collecting new forces, nor can they ever reduce it to the cruel alternative of submission or destruction.”

We know of no better illustration of these remarks of the archduke and General Jomini, (both of whom it should be borne in mind are warm admirers of Napoleon's system of strategic warfare, and both of whom have written since the period at which modern military quacks date the downfall of fortifications as defences,) than the military histories of Germany and France.

For a long period previous to the thirty years' war, its strong castles and fortified cities secured the German empire from attacks from abroad, except on its extensive frontier, which was frequently attacked; but no enemy could penetrate to the interior till a want of union among its own princes opened its strongholds to the Swedish conqueror; nor then did the cautious Gustavus Adolphus venture far into its territories till he had obtained possession of all the military works that might endanger his retreat. Again: in the seven years' war, when the French neglected to secure their foothold in Germany, by placing in a state of defence the fortifications hat fell into their power, the first defeat rendered their ground untenable, and threw them from the Elbe back upon the Rhine and Mayne. They afterwards took the precaution to fortify their positions and to secure their magazines under shelter of strong places, and consequently were enabled to maintain themselves in the hostile country till the end of the war, notwithstanding the inefficiency of their generals, the great reverses they sustained in the field, the skill and perseverance of the enemy they were contending with, and the weak and vacillating character of the cabinet that directed them.

But this system of defence was not so carefully maintained in the latter part of the eighteenth century; for at the beginning of the wars of the French revolution, says Jomini, " Germany had too few fortifications; they were generally of a poor character and improperly located." France, on the contrary, was well fortified; "and although without armies, and torn to pieces by factions,” (we here use the language of the archduke,) "she sustained herself against all Europe; and this was because her government, since the reign of Louis XIII, hed continually labored to put her frontiers into a defensire e ndition, agreeably to the principles of strategie. Starting from such a system for a basis, she subdued every country on the continent that was not thus fortified; and this reason alone will explain how her generals sometimes succeeded in destroying an army, and even an entire state, merely by a strategic success.”

But we will endeavor to illustrate this by particular campaigns. In 1792, when the Duke of Brunswick invaded France, she had no armies competent to her defence. Their numbers upon paper were somewhat formidable, it is true, but the license of the revolution had so loosened the bands of discipline as to effect an almost complete disorganization. “It seemed at this period,” says the historian, “ as if the operations of the French generals were dependent upon the absence of their enemies; the moment they appeared they were precipitately abandoned.” But France had on her eastern frontier a triple line of good fortresses, although her miserable soldiery were incapable of defending them. The several works of the first and second line fell one after another before the slow operations of a Prussian siege, and the Duke of Brunswick was already advancing upon the third when Ďumourier, with only 25,000 men, threw himself into it, and, by a well-conducted war of positions, placing his raw and unsteady forces behind inassailable intrenchments, succeeded in repelling a disciplined army nearly four times as numerous as his own. Had no other obstacle than the French troops been interposed between Paris and the Prussians all agree that France must have fallen.

In the campaign of 1793 the French army of Flanders were beaten in almost every engagement, and their forces reduced to less than one-half the number of the allies. The French general turned traitor to his country, and the national guards deserted their colors and returned to France. The only hope of the republicans at this crisis was Vauban's line of Flemish fortresses. These alone saved France. The strongholds of Lille, Conde, Valenciennes, Quesnoy, Landrecies, &c., held the Austrians in check till the French could raise new forces and reorganize their army. • The important breathing time which the sieges of these fortresses,” says the English historian, " afforded to the French, and the immense advantage which they derived from the new levies which they received, and fresh organization which they acquired during that important period, is a signal proof of the vital importance of fortresses in contributing to national defence. Napoleon had not hesitated to ascribe to the three months thus gained the salvation of France. It is to be constantly recollected that the republican armies were then totally unable to keep the field; that behind the frontier fortresses there was neither a defensive position nor a corps to re-enforce them; and that, if driven from their vicinity, the capital was taken and the war concluded. The fortifications on the Rhine played a similar part in the campaign on that frontier, and there also her fortresses checked the advance of the enemy till France could raise and discipline armies capable of meeting him in the open field.

In the following year, (1794,) when the republic had completed her vast armaments, and, in her turn, had become the invading power, the enemy had no fortified towns to check the progress of the French armies. Based on strong works of defence, these in a few weeks overran Flanders, and drove the allies beyond the Rhine.

Napoleon's remarks on the influence of the fortifications on the Flemish frontier are most striking and conclusive: “Vauban's system of frontier fortresses,” said he, “ is intended to protect an inferior against a superior army; to afford to the former a more favorable field of operations for maintaining itself, and for preventing the hostile army from advancing, and advantageous opportunities of attacking it; in short, means of gaining time to allow its succors to come up. At the time of the reverses of Louis XIV this system of fortresses saved the capital. Prince Eugene, of Savoy, lost a campaign in taking Lille; the siege of Landrecies gave Villars an opportunity of changing the fortune of the war. A hundred years afterwards, at the time of Dumourier's treachery, the fortresses of Flanders once more saved Paris; the combined forces lost a campaign in

taking Conde, Valenciennes, Quesnoy, and Landrecies. This line of fortresses was equally useful in 1814. The allies, having violated the territory of Switzerland, engaged themselves in the defiles of Jura, to avoid the fortresses; and, even while turning them in this manner, they were obliged to weaken their force by detaching a considerable number of men, superior to the total of the garrisons. When Napoleon passed the Marne, and manæuvred in the rear of the enemy's army, if treason had not opened the gates of Paris the fortresses of the frontier would have played an important part ; Swaitzenberg's army would have been obliged to throw itself amongst them, which would have produced great events. In 1815 they would likewise have been of great value. The AngloPrussian army would not have dared to pass the Somme before the arrival of the Austro-Russian armies on the Marne had it not been for the political events of that capital; and it is certain that those fortresses which remained faithful influenced the allies and the conduct of the allied kings in 1814 and 1815."

The German campaign of 1796 is another admirable illustration of the value of fortifications in military operations, and as such is particularly noticed by both Jomini and the archduke. Previous to this campaign Austria had shamefully neglected the defences of the Rhine, leaving, says the archduke, the principal communications open to the very heart of the country. “The French," says an English historian, “ were in possession of the fortresses of Luxemburg, Thionnelle, Mentz, and Saare-Louis, which rendered the centre of their position almost unassailable; their right was covered by Hunningen, New Brisack, and the fortresses of Alsace, and their left by Maestricht, Juliers, and the iron barrier of the Netherlands, while the Austrians had no fortified point whatever to support either of their wings. This want in a war of invasion is of incalculable importance, and the fortresses of the Rhine are as valuable as a base for offensive as a barrier to support defensive operations.” Moreau, taking the powerful fortress of Strasburg for his point of departure, and surprising the negligently guarded fortress of Kehl on the opposite bank, effected a safe passage of the Rhine, and thus forced the Austrians to fall back upon the distant and ill-secured line of the Danube. The French, passing the line of their own frontier, were enabled to leave their fortresses defenceless, and swell by their garrisons the invading force, which soon proved so perilous to the Austrian monarchy.” Afterwards, when the archduke, by his admirable strategic operations, forced the French to retreat, he derived considerable advantage from the Austrian garrisons of Phillipsburg, Manheim, and Mayence. But the French line of defence on the opposite side of the Rhine arrested his pursuit, and obliged him to resort to the tedious operations of sieges and the reduction of their advanced posts alone. Kehl and Hunningen, poorly as they were defended, employed all the resources of his army and the skill of his engineers from early in October till late in February. Kehl was at first assaulted by a force four times as large as the garrison; if they had succeeded they would have cut off Moreau's retreat and destroyed his army. Fortunately, the place was strong enough to resist all assaults.

In the Italian campaign of the same year the general was directed " to seize the forts of Savona; compel the senate to furnish him with pecuniary supplies; and surrender the keys of Gavi, a fortress perched on a rocky height commanding the pass of the Bouhetta." While Napoleon was advancing to execute this plan, the Austrians endeavored to cut off his army at Montenotte, and would have succeeded had not the brave Rampon, with only 1,200 men, in the redoubt of Monte Legino, repeatedly repulsed the furious assaults of 10,000 Austrians. If this fort had been carried, says the historian, “the fate of the campaign and of the world might have changed.” After this unsuccessful attack, the Austrians found it necessary to support themselves by a defensive line of fortifications, and insisted upon the fortresses of Tortona, Alexandria, &c., being put into their possession by the Sardinian government. But jealousy of Austria would not permit this; and Sardinia preferred surrendering them to the French, who were at this time in very critical circumstances, having neither heavy cannon nor a siege equipage to reduce Turin, Alexandria, or the other numerous fortresses of Piedmont, without the possession of which it would have been extremely hazardous to have penetrated further into the country. "The King of Sardinia,” says Napoleon, “ had still a great number of fortresses left, and, in spite of the victories which had been gained, the slightest check, one caprice of fortune, would have undone everything." So fully persuaded was he of the importance of the works which Sardinia had yielded to him in order to save them from the Austrians, that he said he would not relinquish them, even if directed so to do by his own government. “Coni, Cena, and Alexandria,” he wrote to the directory, "are now in the hands of our army; and even if you do not ratify the convention, I will still keep these fortresses." "The King of Sardinia is placed at the mercy of the republic, having no other fortified points than Turin and Fort Bard.To the remark that these defences were unneces. sary to the French, he replied: “That the first duty of the army was to secure a firm base for future operations; that it was impossible to advance without being secured in the rear, and that the Sardinian fortresses at once put the republicans in possession of the keys of the peninsula.“From the solid basis of the Piedmontese fortresses he was enabled to turn his undivided attention to the destruction of the Austrians, and thus commence, with some security, that great career of conquest which he already meditated in the imperial dominions." Indeed, these conquests were but the legitimate results of his present strategic position.

Afterwards, when the Austrians had nearly wrested Italy from the weak hold of Napoleon's successors, the French saved their army in the fortress of Genoa, and behind the line of the Var, which had been fortified with care in 1794 and 1795. Numerous attempts were made to force the line, the advanced posts of Fort Montauban being several times assaulted by numerous forces. But the Austrian columns recoiled from its murderous fire of grape and musketry, which swept off great numbers at every discharge. Again the assault was renewed with a vast superiority of numbers, and again the brave men who headed the columns almost all perished at the foot of the intrenchments; and, after sustaining a heavy loss, they were compelled to abandon their enterprise."

While the forces on the Var thus stayed the waves of Austrian success, Massena, in the fortifications of Genoa, sustained a blockade of 60 and a siege of 40 days against an arıny five times as large as his own; and, when forced to yield to the stern demands of famine, he almost dictated to the enemy the terms of a treaty. These two defences held in check the elite of the Austrian army, while the French reserve crossed the Alps, and seized upon the important points of the country.

But while the French were deriving so much assistance from their own works, they were also made to feel the importance of fortifications in the enemy's hands. In the passage of the Alps, the little fortress of Bard, with its twoand-twenty cannon, arrested for some time the entire army of Napoleon, and had well nigh proved fatal to the campaign. The most desperate efforts were made to carry the place, but all were of no avail. “ In this extremity, the genius of the French engineers surmounted the difficulty. The infantry and cavalry of Lannes's division traversed, one by one, the path on the Monte Albaredo, and re-formed lower down the valley, while the artillerymen succeeded in drawing their cannon, in the dark, through the town, close under the guns of the fort, by spreading straw and dung upon the streets, and wrapping the wheels up, so as to prevent the slightest sound being heard. In this manner forty-eight pieces and a hundred caissons were drawn through during the night, while the Austrians, in unconscious security, slumbered above, beside their loaded cannon, direcetd straight into the street where the passage was going

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