Reconnoissance by rail.
's time railroads had not been invented.
He may therefore be excused, by military critics for not availing himself of this means of reconnoissance within the enemy's lines.
But since railroads were invented there have been wars — wars, too, in districts where the ‘"iron horse"’ does duty.--He has been made extremely useful as a beast of burden in the transportation of enormous quantities of ‘"contraband of war,"’ by which term we do not now refer to the live ebony to whose sole use the U. G. Railroad
is so exclusively devoted.
The service to which railroads are put in the conveyance of men and material in war bears its full proportion to the employment of this great labor-saving and timesaving device for more peaceful purposes.
But if any famous commander, Frank or Hun
, Asiatic, American or African
, has heretofore pressed locomotives and trains of cars into the scouting branch of military matters, we confess ourselves ignorant of the when and where.--We rather incline to the opinion that military men in general would scout the idea.
An Ohio General, however, has resorted to the novel expedient of steaming away, by rail, with a hundred or two soldiers, some miles into the region occupied by the enemy, to reconnoiter.
The extraordinary ruse certainly succeeded in adding to the stock of information concerning the enemy, besides making we may presume, a decided addition to the officer's knowledge of principles which will insist on thrusting themselves in every war.
But, unfortunately, this knowledge was gained at a cost which forces upon us the recollection of a certain off-quoted maxim of Poor Richard: ‘"Brave soldiers', patriotic soldiers' lives pay the wasteful price of such lessons."’ Our readers can imagine the scene presented when a railroad train, proceeding as though freighting a pic-nic party on a pleasant excursion, albeit with ‘"grim-visaged war"’ visible inside the cars, is suddenly, while passing a curve, saluted with a deadly volley of iron from masked batteries.
The locomotive, detached by a cannon shot, backs out of the scrape with the affrighted engineer, leaving the trapped soldiers to make off, as best they can from the clutches of the exulting enemy.
That enemy had not run a train of cars in the other direction for reconnoitering purposes; but he seems to have known what would happen with a little preparation on his part; and we commend to such of our Generals
as are passing their military 'prenticeship in stations which ought to be filled by master workmen a speedy imitation of the rebel foe's common sense in some particulars.--Providence (R. I.) Press.