than beneficial, unless it is so regulated as to cultivate the reasoning faculties and independence of thought, rather than mere acquisition of knowledge.
Some notable examples of this have appeared in the military annals of this country, and no doubt in the civil also.
Men who had become famous military scholars were total failures in war, not only as commanders in the field, for which no amount of theoretical education alone can qualify a man, but also as military advisers.
This was apparently because their elaborate studies had made them mere imitators or copyists.
Whatever originality of thought or power of invention they ever possessed had ceased to exist from disuse.
They could plan and direct a campaign with absolute accuracy, according to the teachings of the great masters, for the well-defined purpose upon which those teachings had been based.
But when a wholly new problem was presented to them, they had no conception of the right mode of solving it. The plan of one great campaign was based absolutely upon the best-approved method of capturing a certain place, without any reference to what damage might or might not be done to the opposing army in that operation.
The plan of another great campaign had for its sole object the conquest and permanent occupation of a great territory, and was so conducted as to avoid the possibility of seriously hurting the enemy in that operation.
Yet the theory upon which this last plan was based, as well as the first, governed the policy of the government more than two years.
It was not until Grant
took command of ‘all the armies’ that the true strategic principle governed the general military policy.
In this connection, the story told by Grant
himself about his military studies is very instructive.
When asked by the representative of some friends who wished to present him a library for his new house in Washington
, what military books he then had, so that they might not duplicate them, he replied that he did not