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[140] decided to be inexpedient. It is easy to see how unequal, under such difference of opinion, is the contest between the President of the United States and the general who acts under peremptory orders to take a certain step, but has the “details” in his own “discretion.” Does he succeed? it is because the plan was good; does he fail? it is because the “details” were not zealously and ably executed. 1

But the first of these orders deserves more consideration even than the second. The President appoints a certain future day for a general movement of the land and naval forces of the country, as if it were the marshalling of a civic procession or the arranging of a mock battle on the stage. No man can venture to say that a great army shall move or a great fleet shall sail on a fixed future day, unless he be endowed with

1 It may be a consolation for us to know that the interference of civilians in the plans of military commanders has been an evil in other countries besides ours. A respectable English writer, speaking of their Peninsular campaign, says, “We may here observe how hard is the fate of an English general sent out in command of an expedition. With the single exception of the first Earl of Chatham, England never has possessed an able war-minister. Ministers, in general, are far better skilled in parliamentary tactics and political intrigue than in history, geography, and the other sciences connected with war. Yet they will boldly take upon them to plan campaigns, and will even order impossibilities to be performed, and the whole blame of failure is laid upon the unfortunate commander. What, for example, can be conceived more absurd than a Castlereagh, a Canning, or a Frere, directing .a Moore or a Wellington? Such things, however, were.” --Keightley: History of England vol. III. p. 507.

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