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In ordinary times, he has nothing to look forward to, except, perhaps, a sergeant's stripes; and the responsibilities of a sergeants position are so grave and so urgent, that many a good man shrinks from undertaking them; and a commission itself, when at long intervals it falls to one of the throng, merely introduces him to a condition of society for which neither his means nor his manners have fitted him.'
The Duke of Wellington, speaking of the army as he knew it, and as in a modified degree it is still known to us all, gave a sound judgment when he pronounced against promoting men from the ranks. The measure adds in no degree to the happiness of the favoured individual, while it gives very little, if any, vigour to the system on which it is but an excrescence.
Many other points there are which might fairly be objected to in the military system of Great Britain; but it would carry us far beyond the limits of an article were we to marshal them here in array; we must content ourselves, therefore, for the present, by noticing the six charges here enumerated; and the better to carry the attention of the reader along with us, we propose to do so in an order inverse to that in which they have been placed on the record.
I. We have nothing to urge against the manner of keeping regimental accounts which prevails in our service, and the checks which have been invented in order to guard against jobbing in every form. They are, perhaps, unnecessarily minute, at least in the matter of returns; but they render impossible practices which are said to prevail elsewhere. They effectually hinder peculation as well from the public as from individuals. So far our regimental system deserves the full measure of praise which has recently been lavished upon it. But all beyond is a mistake. It produces steadiness on parade, and a general appearance of smartness in the individual soldier ; but it fails entirely to prepare him for the real object of his calling-efficiency in a campaign. Our soldiers in time of peace seldom march, even to effect a change of quarters. To convey them by rail is so much more economical than to march them along the highways, that wherever railroads afford the opportunity, they are transported from place to place in second-class carriages. Twice a week during the winter season the custom indeed prevails of making a short promenade a few miles into the country and back again. But the systematic training which gradually brings on a delicate youth to be a stout walker- the drill which without injuring the lungs of the recruit causes him to become day by day more capable of rapid and sustained movements this is unknown among us: and the consequence is, that even
our Rifle Brigade, admirable as in many respects we admit it to be, cannot keep pace with a common infantry battalion in the French service, and is left immeasurably behind in the march by the Chasseurs de Vincennes.
It is no exaggeration to state that the power of locomotion possessed by troops doubles their efficiency, and is a more certain test of superiority than their numbers. "The Light Division of the Peninsular Army, from 1807 to 1814, owes its reputation mainly to its power of marching. The great historian of the campaign of Talavera relates how, after having covered sixty-two miles in twenty-six hours, the whole of that splendid corps, leaving only seventeen stragglers behind, marched across the field of battle in hot weather, carrying each man 50lbs. weight upon his back. It was with such troops as these that the Duke of Wellington said he could go anywhere and do anything; but the power of marching which they possessed does not come to men of its own accord. It is the result of incessant training, upon a principle very different from that which forms the groundwork of mere exercises in a barrackyard.
Again : we do not attempt to instruct our soldiers in the art of bivouacking, fire-making, or cooking. In the best-managed of our regiments we believe that the men of each company take it by turns to dress their own food and that of their comrades. In regiments not the best, each company has its settled cooks, whom it would be considered injudicious to change. But, after all, such cooks learn nothing more than how to season a mess of broth with salt, and to boil quantities of meat and potatoes in fixed coppers with good coal fires arranged under them. Take these men into the open field, and give them only their messtins, and such sticks as they can gather, and you will find them helpless as children. Their meat will probably be broiled on the ends of their ramrods, and their vegetables, if any happen to be issued to them, either half-boiled or blackened among the embers. As to hutting themselves, few indeed of the lads whom we are now shipping off by scores to the Crimea ever heard that such a process might be necessary. They certainly would not know, were they carried to the edge of a wood, on landing, to what uses poles and twigs are to be turned, or how excellent cooking places may be arranged out of a few large stones and turfs handily put together.
No pains are taken to instruct our soldiers in the use of pickaxe and shovel, and the tools issued to them when they take the field are of the worst description. We teach them to
. handle their arms, and to throw themselves at the word of com
mand into all manner of formations. But the art of intrenching a position which is to be defended, or of making approaches to the attack of a place which is too strong to be carried at a rush,
that forms no part of our regimental system, nor of consequence is it made known in any way to our soldiers. Now, troops unaccustomed to march and to run with loads upon their backs; which can neither bivouac skilfully, nor cook under the disadvantages incident to an out-of-doors life; which have never been taught to throw up field-works, nor even to wash their own linen, and mend their own clothes and shoes,-troops so circumstanced may possess courage, endurance, and the greatest degree of steadiness; but when you bring them to the real business of a campaign they will inevitably fail. They will fight and conquer as our noble fellows did at the Alma and at Inkermann; but, as soon as difficulties arise, they will waste away through sickness and suffering, just as the same noble fellows did in the camp before Sebastopol.
And here let us pause for a moment to contrast this state of things with the instruction which is communicated to the recruits of the French army. No doubt our neighbours have in this respect an advantage over us, that the Conscription gives to them the right, which we cannot claim, of pressing into the ranks the members of all conceivable trades and callings. We have heard of an officer of our own Guards who had his watch mended at Balaklava by a Zouave; and French cooks are borrowed every day when it is proposed in the English camp to get up a dinner. But our neighbours are too prudent to trust wholly to the training which the conscripts bring with them. The youth, on joining, is as carefully taught how to make soup and bake bread as to handle his arms; indeed, several weeks are devoted to the most useful preparation for life in the field. We quote from a highly competent authority the following graphic account of the aspect of the Allied Camps before Sebastopol:
Du coté des Français, une route empierrée relie leurs camps à la baie de Kamiesch; d'autres routes relient les divers camps entre eux, et des communications faciles ont été établies de bonne heure avec les points de débarquement. Balaclava et Kamiesch voient s'élever sur leurs plages deux villes de baraques et de tentes où sont installés des magasins, des ambulances, des ateliers de toute espèce, une foule de cantiniers, toute une population militaire ou nomade où règne une incessante activité. L'administration française, avec ses compagnies spéciales de soldats de toutes les professions, a construit des fours où se cuit le pain de l'armée; les boulangers pétrissent et enfournent sans relâche; les romaniers (bouchers militaires) dépècent la viande pour les distributions; les employés aux vivres emmagasinent dans de grandes baraques les salaisons, le biscuit, le sucre, la café, le riz, tout ce qu'on nomme à l'armée vivres secs ; d'autres, chargés du campement et de l'habillement, empilent avec ordre une masse d'effets de toute nature. Les régimens, au moyen de leurs hommes de corvée, reçoivent de l'administration ces vivres et ces effets sur des bons délivrés par l'intendance militaire. Les cantiniers improvisent des cafés, des restaurans mème, des boutiques où ils vendent à un prix excessif des objets de toute espèce et des denrées alimentaires qu'achètent ceux qui veulent ajouter quelque friandise d'Europe à la ration militaire.
Outre les ambulances, les fours, les magasins, les cantines, on voit sur la même plage les ateliers de l'artillerie, du génie et de la marine, où travaillent par centaines les forgerons, les charrons, les charpentiers, les armuriers, qui sont tous des militaires. Rien de plus précieux en temps de guerre dans des contrées lointaines et sans ressources que ces compagnies d'ouvriers de toutes les industries que possèdent chez nous l'administration militaire et les deux armes savantes du génie et de l'artillerie. Notre fantassin lui-mème, toujours bon terrassier, devient aisément un ouvrier actif, ingénieux, fertile en inventions pour assurer son bien-être, installer le mieux possible son bivouac et sa cuisine ; et s'il restait longtemps sur le même lieu, il y aurait bientôt créé un jardin potager, comme nos
y soldats l'ont fait sur plusieurs campemens de l'Algérie, qui sont devenus depuis des villages. Une armée française, on le voit, porte en elle tous les arts et métiers ; partout elle peut se suffire à ellemème, elle est toute une civilisation. Ce système administratif, militaire et industriel, ces compagnies d'ouvriers, toute cette organisation, en un mot, manque à l'armée anglaise, et ses soldats, si intré. pides au combat, n'ont pas la même aptitude que les nôtres pour les différens travaux de la guerre, surtout pour ceux d'un siège. Mais l'Angleterre le sait; elle a eu la révélation de ce qui lui manque en fait d'organisation militaire; éclairée désormais à ses dépens, elle va y remédier avec l'énergie d'une grande nation qui ne veut en rien rester en arrière des autres, surtout quand sa puissance et son honneur se trouvent engagés, de concert avec la France, dans une guerre des plus sérieuses.
All these matters deserve consideration; and if Lord Hardinge, instead of vainly striving to convert raw country lads into trained soldiers in forty days, would give such orders as should ensure their being attended to, he would confer a greater benefit upon the service at large than has accrued from the establishment of his school of musketry at Hythe. For, after all, a regiment is very incomplete indeed which has not a sufficient school of musketry within itself, and one of the reforms most urgently required, is a large addition to the means afforded for ball practice. Still more, however, remains to be done. Heretofore we have sought for our recruits only in the humblest ranks of society. And, so long as the pressure was moderate, we found as many as the occasion required; but how stands the case now? From Ireland, our great nursery in former wars, we obtain but few recruits. England supplies some, but not one-fourth of the numbers we require. Scotland much fewer than of old from the hardy northern counties and the western isles. Nor is this surprising. The tide of emigration has swept away to Australia and America all of the working classes which used to give us our redundant population; and the price of labour is too high for a bounty of 81., and pay at the rate of one shilling a day, to lure the residue from their homes. It appears, therefore, to us that the time has come for introducing a radical change into the condition of the soldier, and of thereby tempting into the ranks that large and intelligent body of young men, who, unaccustomed to manual labour, can find no employment at home, yet shrink from the thought of emigration, because they feel that they lack the sort of talent which is necessary to secure success in a new country. We speak now of the thousands, sons of poor gentlemen, of professional men, of yeomen, and of tradesmen, who, having received as good an education as half the officers of the army, find no opening for their exertions in countinghouses, in the public offices, or in shops. Make the army in its humblest grade such a profession as these might embrace in hope, and we undertake to say that before six months are over, the standard of every regiment in the service will be complete. But how is this to be done? Let us endeavour to answer the question.
If you wish to entice into the ranks a fair proportion of the class of which we are speaking, you must ensure to them, on joining, more liberal treatment than you now award to the private soldier; and hold out to them the sure prospect of advancement in the event of their proving themselves worthy. In plain language, your non-commissioned officers and soldiers, instead of being grudged -- as has heretofore been the case —
every boon which has a tendency to elevate them in their own esteem and in the esteem of others, must be shown that their Sovereign and their country hold them in the highest respect; that not their physical comforts alone, but their moral and intellectual improvement, are objects of concern to those set over them; and that a way is open to them of attaining to rank and high command, provided they give proof that they are possessed of the qualifications, intellectual as well as moral, which entitle men to aspire after both. We believe that, in the French service, one-third of all the commissions that fall vacant are bestowed VOL. CI. NO. CCVI.