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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 such cases far less with them than with those responsible for the existence of the system. Even if we had the best Secretary of War the country could supply and the best general the army could furnish, it would be impossible for them offhand to get good results if the nation, through its representatives, had failed to make adequate provision for a proper army, and to provide for the reorganization of the army and for its practice in time of peace. The whole staff system, and much else, should be remodeled. Above all, the army should be practiced in mass in the actual work of marching and camping. Only thus will it be possible to train the commanders, the quartermasters, the commissaries, the doctors, so that they may by actual experience learn to do their duties, as naval officers by actual experience have learned to do theirs. Only thus can we do full justice to as splendid and gallant a body of men as any nation ever had the good luck to include among its armed defenders.
PUBLISHED IN "McCLURE'S MAGAZINE," OCTOBER, 1899
ADMIRAL DEWEY has done more than add a glorious page to our history; more even than do a deed the memory of which will always be an inspiration to his countrymen, and especially his countrymen of his own profession. He has also taught us a lesson which should have profound practical effects, if only we are willing to learn it aright. In the first place, he partly grasped and partly made his opportunity. Of course, in a certain sense, no man can absolutely make an opportunity. There were a number of admirals who, during the dozen years preceding the Spanish War, were retired without the opportunity of ever coming where it was possible to distinguish themselves; and it may be that some of these lacked nothing but the chance. Nevertheless, when the chance does come, only the great man can see it instantly and use it aright. In the second place, it must always be remembered that the power of using the chance aright comes only to the man who has faithfully and for long years made ready himself and his weapons for the possi