Imatges de pÓgina

been drafted from another corps. Every man under arms belonged to the territorial regiment. The reservists found themselves among their former comrades, under officers who were no strangers, and under the colours they had learned to look upon with a pride which no absence can diminish. They came not grudgingly, but more than willingly. The idea that the old regiment should go to the front without them was not to be endured. The strength of the martial spirit which pervades the whole army was never more strikingly displayed. Men who were called up, but for whom no room could be found, betrayed the bitterest disappointment, and scores of deserters, leaving profitable employment, faced the inevitable court-martial, in the hope that they too might be allowed to march against the enemy. That the same temper would have been manifest had the battalions, as in former campaigns, been made up of volunteers, or if the reservists had been sent to any other than the territorial unit, we are more than doubtful; nor is it to be overlooked that the generous interest of both cities and counties in their own regiments has done much to stimulate the priceless quality of esprit

de corps.

It would appear, then, that the mobilisation branch of the Headquarters Staff, which owes so much to its original organiser, General Sir Henry Brackenbury, has acquitted itself well. The general public has been little aware of the great progress that has been made. Some critics at home have branded our home army as a force on paper. The baselessness of this criticism has now been demonstrated ; and it may be of interest to know that the system which has enabled us to send so quickly a powerful army to South Africa was created with a view to a mobilisation for the defence of the United Kingdom. While it is a matter of congratulation, therefore, that the regulations should be so elastic as to provide for the prompt despatch of a considerable force to a distant colony, it is still more gratifying to realise that if England were threatened with invasion our home army could be concentrated, completely equipped, on the sixth day after the Reserves received notice to rejoin the colours.

It may be said, however, that, so far as preparation is concerned, the defence of the Empire has, to some extent, been sacrificed to the defence of the United Kingdom. The conveyance of the troops in some respects has been admirably conducted. It is a dual concern, in which the Director of Naval Transport, assisted by military advisers, is the predominant partner, and military and maritime requirements are not always easy of adjustment. But, so far as we can judge, the operation has been successfully conducted. The vessels employed have not, indeed, put the ocean behind them at the same rate as the Atlantic greyhounds, and it has been hinted that this is due to a false economy. If so, tłe authorities will merit and receive sharp censure, but it must be remembered that many erroneous ideas prevail regarding the duration of ocean voyages, and in so vast an operation, so suddenly undertaken, mistakes were bound to occur.

It would have certainly been judicious, as events turned out, to have despatched the cavalry division ahead of the infantry, especially as the cavalry horses after a long voyage require at least ten days on shore before they are fit for service. It is to be remembered, however, that cavalry transports take much longer to prepare. Some complaint, too, has been made as to the quality of the provisions supplied for the voyage, and in one instance at least the Admiralty appears to have been imposed upon by the purveyors of the product which the American soldier has immortalised under the name of embalmed beef.' Yet the troops, so far as we can gather, have not been subjected to more than trifling inconvenience. Furthermore, the disembarkation of both men and stores appears to have proceeded with the same promptitude and precision as the embarkation. Battalion after battalion, battery after battery, has been pushed to the front with a rapidity which has been the constant wonder of spectators in Cape Colony and Natal. And that the necessary equipment was forthcoming, seems proved by the fact that large units have made long journeys, marched against the enemy, fought with him, and followed him, within a few days after landing. The Brigade of Guards, for instance, disembarked at Cape Town on November 11 and 12. On November 20 they bivouacked at Orange River, 450 miles north. On November 28 they marched to Belmont. On December 3, after three stubbornly contested engagements, entailing in the aggregate considerable losses and a large expenditure of cartridges, they halted on the Modder River, fifty-three miles north of the advanced depot at Orange River, and within signalling distance of Kimberley; and at no time during the operations do they appear to have suffered from any scarcity either of provisions, ammunition, or medical supplies.

If we were to put it more emphatically, within six weeks of the day the Reserves reached London the brigade was storming a position 7,500 miles distant from Chelsea Barracks. Even German critics might be impressed. But the German critic still labours under a constitutional inability to comprehend the conditions of sea-transport. To mobilise in three days, to step into a railway carriage, and to step out in a few hours within sight of the enemy's outposts, appears to be the ideal of the scientific soldier, and for operations which fall short of that ideal he has nothing but contempt. Nor is he solitary in his obtuseness.

'In the year 1807 the greatest of English commanders was engaged on an expedition the most daring that had ever been undertaken by an English Cabinet. In the result that enterprise, unfettered by any nice regard for punctilio, secured and brought back the largest capture ever drawn into English harbours. The work was accomplished within a tine so short that the conqueror of the Continent, in the zenith of his power, was staggered by the vigour and rapidity of the stroke. But in England the “ delay and “sloth " which attended the military movements were so severely commented on during the course of the contest that the criticism drew from Sir Arthur Wellesley these words : “I don't doubt their impatience in England; but I don't think they ever form in England an accurate estimate of the difficulties attending any military enterprise which they undertake.'

It would have been surprising if the Egyptian expedition had escaped the fate thus foretold, which has attended with unbroken regularity every expedition which has left England from 1807 to this


So wrote General Maurice with reference to the Copenhagen and Egyptian campaigns, and there are still many well-educated people who cannot understand that the unloading of great merchant-steamers, the disembarkation of guns, vehicles, animals, and of heavy ammunition and bulky stores, must needs be a work of time; that the animals cannot be fit for work until they have had several days' rest; and that the entraining, transport, and disentraining of the whole mass, especially if the railway line be only single, is still more tedious. The first ships reached South Africa on November 10. Ladysmith and Kimberley, distant respectively 190 and 520 miles from the sea, were closely besieged, and in a little less than a month afterwards powerful armies from England had established themselves within signalling distance of each.


* Military History of the Campaign of 1882 in Egypt,' by MajorGeneral J. F. Maurice, C.B., p. 52. VOL. CXCI. NO. CCCXCI.


Notwithstanding the familiarity of the English army with the conditions of sea-transport, we are strongly of opinion that a very few years ago the conveyance of an army corps to South Africa could not have been carried out with anything approaching the same smoothness and expedition, nor would the troops have formed so effective a force when they disembarked. The Egyptian expeditions of 1882, 1884, and 1885 had proved that a fairly strong force could be transported to a foreign shore without much difficulty or delay. But this had not been done, although the numbers employed were by no means large, without dislocating the whole army; and it was notorious that even the army which won Tel-el-Kebir was by no means completely equipped or properly effective. The battalions were considerably under strength. The squadrons were weak, and to a great extent were made up of drafts from different regiments. So many horses were transferred that the cavalry at home was practically dismounted. The transport was quite insufficient for protracted operations, the regimental drivers were only halftrained, and the cargoes of the ships were badly loaded. After 1885, however, matters materially improved : 1888 saw the formation of a special branch of the Headquarters Staff occupied entirely with mobilisation. The lessons of the Egyptian campaign had not been lost, and copious regulations provided, as far as regulations can provide, against the recurrence of the same mistakes.

The Reserve in the meantime had attained respectable diniensions. So when Lord Wolseley took office he found that, thanks in great part to his own persistency, the country was in possession of a large force capable of rapid expansion; that the arrangements for mobilisation were far advanced ; and that the armament and equipment, except so far as regards a reserve of stores, were all that could be desired. Nevertheless, despite all that had been done, the army was very far from being thoroughly effective. In many respects its organisation was defective, and organisation has a very strong bearing on fighting power. In the first place, the growth of the Empire had necessitated an increase in the colonial garrisons. The number of battalions, however, remained stationary, and the home army had been dangerously reduced. In the second place, the system of furnishing drafts and providing for the training of the recruits had been thrown out of gear. It had been apparently considered that the increase of the colonial establishment was merely temporary, that matters would soon right themselves, and that the balance between the home and foreign battalions would soon be restored. Several regiments had both battalions abroad, and the regimental depôts had to be called upon both to furnish the annual drafts and to train the recruits. This might appear a minor evil. But the depôt system is not only expensive, but bad; and, besides, the depôt troops, even if formed into provisional battalions, would be of little value for the defence of the United Kingdom. In the third place, the infantry battalions were so weak that if brought up to war strength, two-thirds of their men would be recruits. The cavalry regiments were so weak that, in case of hostilities, the same makeshifts would have to be resorted to as in 1882. It was with great difficulty that the Guards could furnish a brigade for active service. The artillery, in proportion to the artillery of other armies, had too few guns and too few gunners. The Army Service Corps was much too small. The forces in both West and East Africa were utterly insufficient to protect our frontiers, and, so far as foreign expeditions were concerned, the Government had apparently adopted the motto of the French in 1870, ‘on se débrouillera. Twenty thousand men, together with a cavalry brigade, was the extent of the numbers they proposed to employ, except as reinforcements, beyond the seas.

So serious was the situation that many jumped to the conclusion that the system established by Lord Cardwell had broken down, that to attempt to reform it would be merely tinkering, and that a new system should at once be established. That the system was overstrained there was not the slightest doubt. But the fault lay first in the reluctance of the Government to define the pur‘pose for which the army was maintained, and to what

ends its organisation should be directed '; second, in those who regarded the system as automatic, who failed to recognise that if the machine were asked to do extra work that extra power must be supplied; third, in the disregard of the importance of tactical organisation ; fourth, in the inability of the recruiting market to supply recruits who should be at least nineteen years of age, a cardinal point of Lord Cardwell's scheme; and, last, in the resistance of the Treasury--that is,

is, the

the Government-to increased demands upon the public purse. The Government were probably quite right in limiting the force to be employed upon foreign expeditions to 20,000 men and seven bat



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