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navy, but it was equally necessary to train our officers and men aboard it by actual practice. If in 1883 we had been able suddenly to purchase our present battleships, cruisers, and torpedo-boats, they could not have been handled with any degree of efficiency by our officers and crews as they then were. Still less would it be possible to handle them by improvised crews. In an emergency bodies of men like our naval militia can do special bits of work excellently, and, thanks to their high average of character and intellect, they are remarkably good makeshifts, but it would be folly to expect from them all that is expected from a veteran crew of trained manof-war's-men. And if we are ever pitted ship for ship on equal terms against the first-class navy of a first-class power, we shall need our best captains and our best crews if we are to win.
As fast as the new navy was built we had to break in the men to handle it. The young officers who first took hold and developed the possibilities of our torpedo-boats, for instance, really deserve as much credit as their successors have rightly received for handling them with dash and skill during the war. The admirals who first exercised the new ships in squadrons were giving the training without which Dewey and Sampson would have found their tasks incomparably more difficult. As for the ordinary officers and seamen, of course it was their
incessant practice in handling the ships and the guns .at sea, in all kinds of weather, both alone and in company, year in and year out, that made them able to keep up the never-relaxing night blockade at Santiago, to steam into Manila Bay in the darkness, to prevent breakdowns and make repairs of the machinery, and finally to hit what they aimed at when the battle was on. In the naval bureaus the great bulk of what in the army would be called staff places are held by line officers. The men who made ready the guns were the same men who afterward used them. In the Engineering Bureau were the men who had handled or were to handle the engines in action. The Bureau of Navigation, the Bureau of Equipment, the Bureau of Information, were held by men who had commanded ships in actual service, or who were thus to command them against the Spaniards. The head of the Bureau of Navigation is the chief of staff, and he has always been an officer of distinction, detailed, like all of the other bureau chiefs, for special service. From the highest to the lowest officer, every naval man had seen and taken part, during time of peace, in the work which he would have to do in time of war. The commodores and captains who took active part in the war had commanded fleets in sea service, or at the least had been in command of single ships in these fleets. There was not one thing
they were to do in war which they had not done in peace, save actually receive the enemy's fire.
Contrast this with the army. The material in the army is exactly as good as that in the navy, and in the lower ranks the excellence is as great. In no service, ashore or afloat, in the world could better men of their grade be found than the lieutenants, and indeed the captains, of the infantry and dismounted cavalry at Santiago. But in the army the staff bureaus are permanent positions, instead of being held, as of course they should be, by officers detailed from the line, with the needs of the line and experiences of actual service fresh in their minds.
The artillery had for thirty-five years had no fieldpractice that was in the slightest degree adequate to its needs, or that compared in any way with the practice received by the different companies and troops of the infantry and cavalry. The bureaus in Washington were absolutely enmeshed in red tape, and were held for the most part by elderly men, of fine records in the past, who were no longer fit to break through routine and to show the extraordinary energy, business capacity, initiative, and willingness to accept responsibility which were needed. Finally, the higher officers had been absolutely denied that chance to practice their profession to which the higher officers of the navy had long been accustomed. Every time a warship goes to sea and cruises around the world, its captain has just such an experience as the colonel of a regiment would have if sent off for a six or eight months' march, and if during those six or eight months he incessantly practiced his regiment in every item of duty which it would have to perform in battle. Every warship in the American navy, and not a single regiment in the American army, had had this experience.
Every naval captain had exercised command for long periods, under conditions which made up nine tenths of what he would have to encounter in war. Hardly a colonel had such an experience to his credit. The regiments were not even assembled, but were scattered by companies here and there. After a man ceased being a junior captain he usually had hardly any chance for field-service; it was the lieutenants and junior captains who did most of the field work in the West of recent years. Of course there were exceptions; even at Santiago there were generals and colonels who showed themselves not only good fighters, but masters of their profession; and in the Philippines the war has developed admirable leaders, so that now we have ready the right man; but the general rule remains true. The best man alive, if allowed to rust at a three-company post, or in a garrison near some big city, for ten or fifteen years, will find himself in straits if suddenly called
to command a division, or mayhap even an armycorps, on a foreign expedition, especially when not one of his important subordinates has ever so much as seen five thousand troops gathered, fed, sheltered, manoeuvred, and shipped. The marvel is, not that there was blundering, but that there was so little, in the late war with Spain.
Captain (now Colonel) John Bigelow, Jr., in his account of his personal experiences in command of a troop of cavalry during the Santiago campaign, has pictured the welter of confusion during that campaign, and the utter lack of organization, and of that skilled leadership which can come only through practice. His book should be studied by every man who wishes to see our army made what it should be. In the Santiago campaign the army was more than once uncomfortably near grave disaster, from which it was saved by the remarkable fighting qualities of its individual fractions, and, above all, by the incompetency of its foes. To go against a well-organized, well-handled, well-led foreign foe under such conditions would inevitably have meant failure and humiliation. Of course party demagogues and the thoughtless generally are sure to credit these disasters to the people under whom they occur, to the Secretary, or to the commander of the army.
As a matter of fact, the blame must rest in all