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There is another fallacy which there is reason to believe may be prevalent in the minds of the public, and tends to blind it to this mistaken policy: namely, a reliance on the cordiality which, at present, happily exists, or is supposed to exist, among the ruling powers in the world, and, in particular, on the state of friendly feeling and union of interests between Great Britain and France. Long may it so continue; but history is full of experience, showing how rapidly unforeseen circumstances may arise to loosen such bonds; and though there seems every reason to believe in the infinite value to both parties of these friendships and alliances, every one is aware of powerful feelings, passions and interests, which are always actively alive to an earnest desire to dissolve them.
It surely then must be considered within the range of possibility that, in course of time, an attack from France, and perhaps a coalition between that and other maritime states, might be formed against us; it is not too much to say that such an event, while we pursue our present system, would possibly cause the absolute loss of our independence as a nation. Many circumstances might befriend us in escaping from so tremendous a calamity; but they would be fortuitous, and such as we have no right to take into calculation.
In triumphantly enforcing these retrenchments there is a foolish impression among the public that it is the government of the day whom they are restraining; whereas it should be recollected that it is their own coat that they are so miserably curtailing, and their own nakedness that they are exposing to the ever-impending storm.
Without further explanation we should be accused of desiring to advocate the maintenance of full war establishments during periods of peace. "We do no such thing; by sufficient arrangements and precau tions we consider that we may abstain from the constant maintenance of those enormous military forces, which are so necessary on the continent of Europe, and that cannot be dispensed with even by ourselves, during the period of active war. The real question is, what are those sufficient arrangements and precautions, and not how many of them can we obtain for a given sum?
Without precisely defining the deficiencies which the sudden sweeping reductions now demanded will entail, we may state some of the desiderata of the service, and the system on which they may be obtained with most economy.
The consideration embraces four leading points :—first, the regular forces; secondly, those prepared to add to them, when hostilities occur; thirdly, the accessories of war, including arms and military appendages, munitions, organisation for the supplies, and care of the sick of tho troops, &c; fourthly, fortifications.
1. The foundation of the military force is the regular army, infantry, cavalry, artillery, engineers. In proportion as they may be maintained in strength, will be our favourable position for entering upon hostilities; bnt as they are, with a small exception, totally abstracted from the industry of the country, entirely supported by the public, and consequently expensive, they ought, in conformity with every principle of social policy, to be kept, during peace, at a minimum; but that minimum ought, of course, to be regulated according to the numbers absolutely required, and not by caprice.
Thus, we have large foreign possessions, which require, in the aggregate, a considerable number of troops, even in peace time; how far the adoption of different modes of policy may admit of reductions in them is a separate question; the wants at present are great, to guard them from both external and internal contingencies, and hitherto, during peace, these troops have been kept so low, as to create apprehension, at times, of sudden calamities. Reserves are required at home, to maintain the strength of those troops, to afford them reasonable relief, and to provide for contingencies of reinforcements that are constantly necessary, at one or another, to guard against some apprehended danger.
The provision for these reserves might be such as to establish, at the same time, a sufficient force in the British islands, to form a basis for the first early efforts in any war; in the first place, to withstand any attempt upon our home; then to strengthen the most exposed of our foreign possessions; and lastly, to be available for aggressive operations.
In the consideration of the proportions in which they should be maintained, it certainly would seem to be the most judicious policy, rather to make reductions in those corps that can be the most speedily replaced, than in others which require more time. Thus, an effective infantry soldier can be formed in half the time that is necessary for an artilleryman, or an engineer; and therefore, it would be wise to maintain habitually those two bodies in greater proportionate strength than the other; and particularly the engineers, not only on that account, but because they are the troops which cost by far the least to the public, inasmuch as, being all of them artificers, and very much employed as such in public works, their working pay does not exceed an average of lOd. per day, against about 4s. that the civilian would require at home, and still more abroad. The difference, consequently, after subtracting his maintenance as a soldier, may be considered as so much gain to the public.
On the first point then, that of the regular forces, we apprehend an incompleteness in all these very necessary particulars, in consequence of the pressure for reduced expenditure.
2. The standing army, even in the countries where it consists, in peace time, of 400,000 and 500,000 men and upwards, is in none thought to be sufficient for the emergencies of war. In all, a local reserve force from the citizens is organised, for the purpose of embodiment when the occasion arises; in all, they are composed of an inferior description of troops, but are in great numbers, fit to be thrown into garrisons, and otherwise to take up the ordinary standing duties of the regulars, and leave the latter, consequently, entirely available for the active work of a campaign. Where these auxiliary forces are organised on the best system they soon become very respectable troops.
Thus, France has her garde nationale, Prussia the landwehr, the United States their militia, and Great Britain militia, yeomanry, &c
Great Britain, more than almost any other country in the world, requires this supplementary measure carried out on the most efficacious system; because none, by constitution and jealousy of military expenditure, keeps its regular army in so low a state for the emergencies that may suddenly arise.
The auxiliary forces which have been more or less established in England, for the emergencies of war, are the militia, yeomanry, pensioners and dock-yard battalions—all of immense importance, if duly maintained; but it has already been a subject of complaint among those who are connected with some of these bodies, that their training will be neglected, whereby they will be reduced to a state of comparative inefficiency; all arising from the want of means at the disposition of the war department. A very serious failure may be consequently anticipated in this second and very important item of military precautions.
This neglect is the more to be regretted, as those establishments, without interfering with the productive industrial resources of the country, would, if duly regulated, produce a great increase of military strength in times of emergency, at comparatively small expense.
The system is in fact one which, instead of being checked, so peculiarly deserves encouragement, that we think it might be even extended to great advantage by an organisation of a large body of local volunteers round the coasts, somewhat on the principle of the admirable plan of the militia in the Channel Islands; but even at a less expense in the matter of uniform, &c.; such an arrangement, to be efficient for its object, must be essentially voluntary; and some trifling advantages should be held out to the volunteers to render the system popular. By no other mode can the scattered commercial harbours be secured in time of war. A militia would also be a very necessary measure of defence in those colonies where it could be trusted, which would be wherever the population is British, or where the interests of the people, even if of foreign origin, are, by conciliating management, completely identified with that of the British nation.
3. The amount of the minimum of provision and arrangement for the several accessories for the military service is matter for study and calculation.
The wants and deficiencies under this head were deeply felt during the late hostilities, and were in great measure the cause of much deprivation to the soldiers, and inconvenience to the service. Great efforts have been made to produce reforms and establish a good and permanent system in these needful measures; but it is clear that they also will be greatly retarded and left incomplete, under the check that will be occasioned by the reduction in the estimates; and it is the more important to watch narrowly the progress on this item, as its efficiency can hardly be judged of till actually proved in war, and for that reason its neglect will be the less observed.
4. The public, it is believed, are not generally aware of the advantages of fortifications: at least, expenditure upon them is very grudgingly bestowed; and in consequence they are not only very defective, but have been necessarily hitherto projected on a miserable scale, unworthy of the objects they are intended to serve.
Fortifications are among the best preparatives for defensive warfare; once made, they are always ready, with the application of moderate means, to form a barrier to an enemy, or make his advance very hazardous. They form secure receptacles for the assembly of active forces; while they can be held by those who are least useful, or even totally inefficient for the field. They are no doubt expensive,
TJ. S. Mao., No. 342, May, 1857. c
but not unreasonably Bo, for the position they hold in the game of war.
The cost of a single sloop of war, with its equipment, will construct a fine fort, which will last almost for ever; and that of two or three line-of-battle ships will raise a fortress. It is by no means necessary to cover this country with fortifications, as is done on the continent; but few people, who consider the subject, would not admit that it is most desirable to provide our naval arsenals and a few leading points on the coast with defences, and to apply additional protection to some of our foreign possessions.
Our fortifications are yet so imperfect (although what is done will all turn to useful account), that considerable measures are requisite to place them in a tolerable position. These measures ought not to be delayed; and to fulfil the object effectually, a certain annual expenditure should be specially assigned for the purpose. To obtain steady and efficient progress, the annual sum voted should be placed on a fixed understanding of not being subject to fluctuation, like the ordinary estimates.
"We do not here propose to enter into any considerations regarding the naval preparations for peace or war; whatever they may be, we would not vary in the preceding propositions for the land forces. The more efficient the preparations on shore, the more available will be the navy for concentration and for distant service.
In comparing the military expenditure at the present time with that of former years, allowance must be made for the urgent, and generally very proper demand, enforced by the public voice, for improved care and accommodation for the soldiers; which has increased the cost for barracks, hospitals, &c, &c, by at least one-third; allowance must also be made for improved and more costly implements of war, and the further development required in the accessory departments.
We have endeavoured to point out what should be the course of inquiry for regulating the estimates for the military service; our own opinion is, that they are at present insufficient under every head. The argumenton the otherside will be, that this is mere assertion, and unreasonable. We are willing to put the question to that issue, after a proper investigation; but let us have no more of " cutting your coat according to your cloth," and giving a small quantity in revenge for an assumed extravagance in having put too much gold lace upon a former coat. The country has the power of giving the full measure that is needful; its best policy is to do so, and then insist upon having an efficient garment.
Commander In Chief Of The Indian Navy.—The quinquennial period of Admiral Sir Henry Leeke's appointment as Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Navy being on the eve of expiring, the command was offered to Capt. W. Hutcheon Hall, C.B., who declined it. The appointment has since been oflvred to and accepted by Captain George G. Wellesley, C.B. (1844), who stands next to Captain Hall on the active list. Captain Wellesley has qualified himself for his active flag and may therefore be expected to complete his five years in India with advantage to the service and himself.
PRACTICAL OPERATIONS OF A SIEGE.*
We have before us Part I., amounting to 103 pages, of the third edition of a most useful publication, which first appeared in 1829. In his preface to the first edition, Sir Charles Pasley informs us that, "In public institutions, established for the promotion of general science, there can scarcely be a doubt as to the propriety of publishing every new result for the benefit of mankind. But in any national military institution, the expediency of such liberality is very problematical, inasmuch as those institutions are always attended with more or less of expense; and it seems unreasonable that foreign powers, who bear no share of such expense, should profit by any new information thereby obtained, especially as, in the event of war, they may use it to the injury of that nation from which they derived it. Without, therefore, presuming to attach too much importance to the practical operations of the establishment under my direction, I felt disinclined from the first to publish any detailed account of them for general circulation ; and when the subject happened some years ago to come under discussion, General Mann, the Inspector-General of Fortifications, expressed his desire to me, which I considered equivalent to an order, that the books or papers lithographed or printed for the use of this establishment, and relating to the peculiar duties thereof, should not be published or used for material for publication, excepting, of course, such parts of their contents as are common to all elementary books on fortification, and the attack of places. Let it, therefore, be understood, as the condition under which these works are issued, that the officers or gentlemen in public situations, who may obtain possession of them, shall stand pledged to exercise due discretion in this respect, and to abstain from using them for any other purpose than the military service of this country, for which exclusively they were printed."
Seeing this patriotic and serious adjuration, we were about to pledge ourselves, on the faith of a reviewer, not to let any portion of the cat out of the bag in this our notice of the work ; when, on looking forward to the advertisement prefixed to the present edition, we found it stated that a French translation ran through two editions on the continent, before a second edition of the original was called for in this country. The gallant author leaves it for us to surmise how the feline animal made its escape; or whether he afterwards thought it desirable that officers and soldiers of the army at large should learn something of operations in which they might have to play an important part; or lastly, whether he may have looked upon it as utterly futile—as we do—to attempt to keep to ourselves anything valuable that has passed through the hands of the printer's devil.
Previously to the year 1812, the artificers attached to the Royal
• Rules chiefly deduced from Experiment for conducting the Practical Operations of a Siege, by Lieut.-General Sir Charles W. Pasley, K.C.B., Koyal Engineers, F. U.S., Ac. Part I., containing the preparation of the materials and the tracing and execution of the first and second parallels, and of the approaches connected with them. Third Edition.