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[518] near the end of the war, to assure success. The end finally came through a long succession of desperate battles between forces so nearly equal that decisive victory was impossible until the weaker side finally became exhausted. Thus the aggregate loss in men as well as in money was vastly greater than it would have been if the Union had put forth its full strength and ended the rebellion in two years instead of four.

It is true that some of the worst of these ‘blind guides’ were men supposed to have a very high military education. But if sound military education had been at all general in the country, statesmen would have known by what standard to judge of any one man's fitness for high command.

It is true that no amount of military education can supply the place of military genius or create a great commander. It may possibly happen at any time that there may not be among all the living graduates of West Point one Grant or Sherman or Sheridan, or one Lee or Johnston or Jackson. So much greater the need of a well-educated staff and a well-disciplined army. Nobody is wise enough to predict who will prove best able to command a great army. But it is the easiest thing in the world to tell who can best create such an army and command its subdivisions, and this is the work to be done instantly upon the outbreak of war. The selection of commanders for the several armies, and, above all, of a general-in-chief, must of course be the most difficult; for it is not probable that any man young enough will have had any experience in such commands in this country. But even this difficulty will disappear in a very great measure if statesmen will make the study of the art and science of war, instead of far less important subjects, a part of their pastime. They will thus acquire the ability to judge, from personal acquaintance with military men and conversation with others best informed, of the relative fitness of officers for the highest commands.

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