under the favorable circumstances above referred to. But the general feeling of the army, including not only privates, but officers of nearly all grades, was undoubtedly opposed to such attacks.
The notion was very prevalent that there was no necessity of fighting the enemy on unequal terms.
When attacked, either with or without cover, the troops would fight with the most determined valor, and almost invariably with success.
So when attacking the enemy in open ground there was no lack of energy or pluck.
But we lose one of the most important lessons of the war if we fail to remember and appreciate the fact that our veteran troops are very loath to make an attack where they believe they have not a fair chance of success.
This feeling must be attributed, not to a lack of high soldierly qualities, but to intelligence and good sense.
The veteran American soldier fights very much as he has been accustomed to work his farm or run his sawmill: he wants to see a fair prospect that it is ‘going to pay.’
His loyalty, discipline, and pluck will not allow him under any circumstances to retreat without orders, much less to run away; but if he encounters a resistance which he thinks he cannot overcome, or which he thinks it would ‘cost too much’ to overcome, he will lie down, cover himself with a little parapet, and hold his ground against any force that may attempt to drive him back.
This feeling of the soldier is an element in the problem of war which cannot be ignored.
The general who, with such an army, would win the full measure of success due to greatly superior numbers, must maneuver so as to compel the enemy to fight him on approximately equal terms, instead of assaulting fortifications where, against modern weapons, numbers are of little or no avail.
In the days of the bayonet successful tactics consisted in massing a superior force upon some vital point, and breaking the enemy's line.
Now it is the fire of the musket, not the bayonet, that decides