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[for the Richmond Dispatch.]
conduct of the war — educated and Improvised officers.
by George Fitzhugh.

It is a common complaint that there are too many West Point graduates in our army, and that these officers are unacquainted with the feelings, prejudices, and capacities of volunteers. Both branches of the complaint are unfounded. Not a fourth, we presume, of our officers ever graduated of West Point. All of those who have been put in high offices have seen service with volunteers, or commanded them in our Indian and Mexican wars. On the other hand, hundreds of our officers, appointed from civil life, never saw, or were engaged in military service of any kind, either with regulars or volunteers. Despite of their inexperience, they have behaved admirably, and no doubt, most of them, have acquired much valuable military knowledge in the last six months of active hostilities; but this knowledge has been chiefly acquired from serving with, or under, educated and experienced officers. The school at West Point was one of the best Military Institutes in the world; and its graduates, who have added experience in war, to science learned within its walls, are, generally, the fittest men to plan and prosecute campaigns, and to drill and discipline our troops. There are no martinets among them, no men whose lives have been spent exclusively in camp, and who mistake the regular army for the world. During peace they have been stationed in small bodies, and have held continual intercourse in the civil world around them, and during war they have served with, or commanded, volunteers fresh from the domestic hearth, and from the pursuits of peaceful life. They combine experience and practical skill with scientific attainments; a knowledge of the outside world with a knowledge of camp life.

Bonaparte was a deplorable instance of the too exclusive habituation to military affairs and camp life. Soldiers were the only man kind with him, and war, prosecuted without definite aim or object, the only respectable human pursuit. He knew little of a moral worth, because there is no moral worth in a camp of Regulars, and nothing of moral or religious motives or forces, as both religion and morality were ignored by French schools and French armies; and therefore he trusted entirely to superior amounts of money, men, and gunpowder. Hence, he said, ‘ "Providence always takes sides with the heaviest artillery"’ The Cossacks proved to him that he was mistaken; when, however, it was too late to retrieve his error.

Bonaparte, if not a great man, was certainly the greatest of martinets. He was, whilst successful, the scourge of Europe, and when his rashness and ignorance of a moral worth brought about his fall, he equally disgraced himself and his country.

We have introduced this example and illustration to show that we despise as much as any one the more professional soldier, and concur with those who think that our officers should be acquainted with civil life, yet we deem it much more important that they should be familiar with the art or war. We do not employ for our lawyer the man who never studied law, nor trust our lives when we are sick in the hands of a man who never studied medicine, Nay, we would not get a man to make us a part of those whenever used an awl, and surely, it is an easy in mage a half of glides as to as we haul impresses the can we improvise the officer. There is as much is learn us the profession or at in any other professions, and the greatest and best educated geniuses have been the most distinguished warriors.

Moral motives, patriotic ardor, and a consciousness of rectitude of purpose, have to far, in a great measure, supplied the place of military skill and experience, both with or soldiers and our officers. Besides, we have been opposed to an enemy who, without the same moral incentives, possesses much less military skill, science, and experience, than we. The ardor with which a conflict of arms begins, evaporates and diminishes as it progresses; and in the long run we shall have to depend chiefly on the number and discipline of our troops, and the skill, courage, and experience of our officers. Death in battle, or from sickness, combined with resignations, will rapidly thin the ranks of our officers, and these places must be chiefly supplied by appointments from civil life, for the want of West Point graduates to fill them, if for no other course.

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