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[235]

Chapter 9: army organization—Staff and Administrative Corps.—Their history, duties, numbers, and organization

By the law of the 12th of December, 1790, on the organization of the public force of France, the Army was defined, “A standing force drawn from the public force, and designed to act against external enemies.” [Une force habituelle extraite de la force publique, et destinee essentiellement à agir contre les ennemis du dehors.]

In time of peace, the whole organized military force of the State is intended when we speak of the army; but in time of war this force is broken up into two or more fractions, each of which is called an army. These armies are usually named from the particular duty which may be assigned to them — as, army of invasion, army of occupation, army of observation, army of reserve, &c.; or from the country or direction in which they operate — as, army of the North, of the South, of Mexico, of Canada, of the Rhine, &c.; or from the general who commands it — as, the army of Soult, army of Wellington, army of Blucher, &c.

All modern armies are organized on the same basis. They are made up of a Staff and Administrative departments, and four distinct arms — Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and Engineers; each having distinct duties, but all combining to form one and the same military body. In the actual operations of a campaign, these forces are formed into corps d'armee, each corps d'armee being composed of two or more grand-divisions; each grand-division, of two or more brigades; and each brigade, of several companies, squadrons, or batteries. [236]

In speaking of an army in the field, it is sometimes supposed to be divided into two classes of men — the Staff and the line. We here include in the first class--

  • All officers, of whatever arm, above the rank of colonel;
  • All officers of the staff corps of whatever grade, and
  • All officers attached to the staff as aides, &c.;
  • All officers of the administrative departments;
  • All officers of artillery and engineer staffs;
  • The corps of geographical or topographical engineers, and
  • The guards.

In the second class are included all troops, of whatever arm, which belong to the active army, in infantry, cavalry, artillery, and engineers. All troops on detached service, such as recruiting, guarding posts and depots, escorting convoys, &c., as well as all sedentary corps, garrisons of fortified places, &c., are not regarded in this classification as composing any part of the line of the army.

Troops of the line is a term applied only to such troops as form the principal line on the battle-field, viz:--The heavy infantry and heavy cavalry. These are technically called infantry of the line, and cavalry of the line. In this sense of the term, light infantry, light cavalry or dragoons, artillery, and engineers, are not classed as troops of the line. But this distinction is now pretty much fallen into disuse, and the division of an army into Staff and Administrative departments, and four arms of service — Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, and Engineers — is now regarded as the most convenient, from being precise and definite in its meaning.

The general staff of an army includes all general officers of the army, and such officers of lower grades as are attached to this general duty, instead of serving with troops, or on special administrative duty. The general [237] officers are--1st, the generalissimo, or commander-in-chief; 2d, generals, or marshals, as they are called in France, or field-marshals and generals of infantry and cavalry, as they are called in England and the northern states of Europe; 3d, lieutenant-generals; 4th, generals of division, or major-generals, as they are called in England; 5th, generals of brigade, or brigadier-generals, as they are sometimes called;--colonels, majors, captains, lieutenants, ensigns, and cornets or cadets, are also either attached to the staff, or form a part of the staff corps. The titles of “adjutant-general,” and of “inspector-general,” are given to staff officers selected for these special services, either in the general staff or in the several corps d'armee. No special rank is attached to these offices themselves, and the grade of those who hold them is fixed by some special rule, or by their general rank in the army.

In the war of the Revolution, Washington held the rank of General, and in 1798 the rank of Lieutenant-general. In the war of 1812, the highest grade held by any of our officers was that of General of Division, or Major-general, as it was called. The highest grade in our army at the present time is called Major-general — a title that properly belongs, not to the general of an army, but to the chief of staff. Hamilton had this title when chief of Washington's staff; Berthier and Soult when chief of Napoleon's staff, the former till the close of the campaign of 1814, and the latter in the Waterloo campaign. General Jomini first greatly distinguished himself as chief of Ney's staff, and afterwards on the staff of the Emperor of Russia. Other generals have owed much of their success to the chiefs of their staff:--Pichegru to Regnier, Moreau to Dessoles, Kutusof to Toll, Barclay to Diebitsch, and Blucher to Thurnhorst and Gneisenau.

The generalissimo or commander-in-chief of an army is the person designated by the law of the land to take charge [238] of the organized military forces of the state. In this country the President, through his Secretary of War, exercises this general command. In England, Wellington acts in the capacity of commander-in-chief of all the British military forces. In France, the Minister of War, under the king, has this general direction. In other European services, some prince of the blood, or distinguished general, exercises the functions of generalissimo.

An active army in the field should be commanded by a general, or, as is done in some European countries, by a marshal. These may be regarded as of assimilated rank.

A corps d'armee should be commanded by a Lieutenant-general. This rule is almost universal in Europe. The number of marshals in France under Napoleon was so great, that officers of this grade were often assigned to corps d'armee.

A grand division of an army should be commanded by a General of Division. In England, the assimilated grade is that of major-general, and in France at the present time, the younger lieutenant-generals, or the marechaux-de-camp, command divisions.

A brigade should be commanded by a Brigadier-general. At the present time in the French service, marechaux-de-camp act as commanders of brigades.

The several corps d'armee are designated by numbers, 1st, 2d, 3d, &c., and in the same way the several divisions in each corps d'armee, and the several brigades in each division.

When the number of troops are placed on a war footing, each corps d'armee ordinarily contains from twenty to thirty thousand men.

The command of these several corps d'armee, divisions, and brigades, is taken by the officers of the corresponding grades according to seniority of rank, and without reference to arms, unless otherwise directed by the [239] generalissimo, who should always have tile power to designate officers for special commands.

The chief of staff of an army is usually selected from the grade next below that of the general commanding, and receives the title, for the time being, which is used to designate this special rank. In some European armies, and formerly in our own service, this officer was called major-general. In France, if the generalissimo commands in person, a marshal is made chief of staff with the temporay title of major-general; but if a marshal commands the army, a lieutenant-general or marechal-de-camp becomes chief of staff with the title of aide-major-general. The chiefs of staff of corps d'armee and of divisions, are selected in precisely the same way.

The position assigned by the commanding general for the residence of his staff, is denominated the General Head-Quarter of the army; that of a corps d'armee staff the Headquarters of [1st or 2d, &c.] corps d'armee; that of a division, the Headquarters of [1st or 2d, &c.] division, [1st or 2d, &c.] corps d'armee.

The petty staffs of regiments, squadrons, &c., consisting of an adjutant, sergeant-major, &c., are especially organized by the commandants of the regiments, &c., and have no connection whatever with the general staff of an army. Of course, then, they are not embraced in the present discussion.

The subordinate officers of the staff of an army, in time of war, are charged with important and responsible duties connected with the execution of the orders of their respective chiefs. But in time of peace, they are too apt to degenerate into fourth-rate clerks of the Adjutant-general's department, and mere military dandies, employing their time in discussing the most unimportant and really contemptible points of military etiquette, or criticising the letters and dispatches of superior officers, to see whether [240] the wording of the report or the folding of the letter exactly corresponds to the particular regulation applicable to the case. Such was the character given to the first staff of Wellington, and a similar class of men composed the staff of the army of Italy when it was abolished by Napoleon and a new one formed in its place. There are also some officers of this stamp in our own service, but they are regarded by the army with universal contempt. The staff of our army requires a new and different organization, and should be considerably enlarged.

The following is the composition of a regularly organized general staff in the French service for an army of forty or fifty thousand men divided into two corps d'armee and a reserve.

1st. The marshal (or general) commanding-in-chief; and one colonel or lieutenant-colonel, one major, three captains and three subalterns, as aides-de-camp.

2d. A lieutenant-general as chief-of-staff, with the title of major-general, assisted by one colonel or lieutenant-colonel, three majors, five captains, and one subaltern, as aides-de-camp.

3d. Three lieutenant-generals, commanding the corps d'armee and reserve. Each of these will be assisted by aides in the same way as the major-general, and each will also have his regularly-organized staff of corps d'armee, with a general of division or general of brigade as chief.

4th. Six or nine generals commanding divisions, each having his own distinct and separately organized staff. In the French army, the staff of an officer commanding a division is composed of one colonel, two majors, three captains, and six subalterns.

5th. Twelve or more generals of brigade, each having one captain, and one subaltern for aides.

6th. There is also attached to the staff of the general-in-chief of the army, the commandants of artillery and engineers, [241] with several subordinates, inspector-generals, and the ranking officers of each of the administrative departments, with their assistants.

The generals select their aides and assistants from the staff corps, or from either of the four arms of service.

The troops of these arms may be distributed as follows:

52battalions of infantry,35,000men.
42squadrons of horse,6,500men.
13batteries of artillery, (4 mounted and 9 foot,)2,500men.
5companies of sappers, 2 of pontoniers,1 and 1 of artificers,1,500men.
  
 45,500men.

If we add to these the staff, and the several officers and employes of the administrative departments, we have an army of nearly fifty thousand men.

This, it will be remembered, is the organization of an army in the field; in the entire military organization of a, state, the number of staff officers will be still higher.

In 1788, France, with a military organization for about three hundred and twenty thousand men, had eighteen marshals, two hundred and twenty-five lieutenant-generals, five hundred and thirty-eight marechaux-de-camp, and four hundred and eighty-three brigadiers. A similar organization of the general staff was maintained by Napoleon. At present the general staff of the French army consists of nine marshals, (twelve in time of war;) eighty lieutenant-generals in active service, fifty-two in reserve, and sixty-two en retraite--one hundred and ninety-four in all; one hundred and sixty marechaux-de-camp in active service eighty-six in reserve, and one hundred and ninety en retraite--four hundred and thirty-six in all. The officers of the staff-corps are: thirty colonels, thirty lieutenant-colonels, [242] one hundred majors, three hundred captains, and one hundred lieutenants. Those of other European armies are organized on the same basis.

It will be seen from these remarks that the organization of our own general staff is exceedingly defective, and entirely unsuited to the object for which it is created. We have two brigadier-generals for the command of two brigades, and one general of division, with the title of major-general, who acts in the fourfold capacity of general commanding the army. lieutenant-general, general of division, and chief of staff of the army. But as it is impossible with this number to maintain a proper organization, the President (with the advice and consent of the Senate) has, from time to time, increased this number to three major-generals, and nine brigadier-generals, and numerous officers of staff with lower grades. Nearly all these officers are detached from their several regiments and corps, thus injuring the efficiency of regiments and companies; and we have in our service, by this absurd mode of supplying the defects of our system of organization by brevet rank, the anomaly of officers being generals, and at the same time not generals; of holding certain ranks and grades, and yet not holding these ranks and grades! Let Congress do away this absurd and ridiculous system, and establish a proper and efficient organization of the general staff, and restore the grades of general and lieutenant-general. In the war of 1812, instead of resorting to a proper organization when an increase of the general staff was required, we merely multiplied the number of major-generals and generals of brigade by direct appointment, or by conferring brevet rank. It is now conceded that there never was a more inefficient general staff than that with which our army was cursed during the war; and the claims of brevet rank have ever since been a source of endless turmoils and dissatisfaction, driving from the army many of its noblest ornaments. [243]

In the event of another war, it is to be hoped that Congress will not again resort to the ruinous system of 1812. Possibly it may by some be objected to the creation of generals, lieutenant-generals, &c., that it increases the expense of the army and the number of its officers. This need not be. The number, pay, &c., may remain the same, or nearly the same, as at present. But by increasing the grades you avoid in a considerable measure the difficulties of seniority claims and brevet rank — the principal curses of our present system. If we merely increase the number of each existing grade, giving a part of these rank above their name and office, we merely multiply evils. But we will leave this subject for the present, and recur to the general discussion of staff duties.

The following remarks of Jomini on the importance of the staff of an army are worthy of attention. “A good staff,” says he,

is, more than all, indispensable to the constitution of an army; for it must be regarded as the nursery where the commanding general can raise his principal supports — as a body of officers whose intelligence can aid his own. When harmony is wanting between the genius that commands, and the talents of those who apply his conceptions, success cannot be sure; for the most skilful combinations are destroyed by faults in execution. Moreover, a good staff has the advantage of being more durable than the genius of any single man; it not only remedies many evils, but it may safely be affirmed that it constitutes for the army the best of all safeguards. The petty interests of coteries, narrow views, and misplaced egotism, oppose this last position: nevertheless, every military man of reflection, and every enlightened statesman, will regard its truth as beyond all dispute; for a well-appointed staff is to an army what a skilful minister is to a monarchy — it seconds the views of the chief, [244] even though it be in condition to direct all things of itself; it prevents the commission of faults, even though the commanding general be wanting in experience, by furnishing him good councils. How many mediocre men of both ancient and modern times, have been rendered illustrious by achievements which were mainly due to their associates! Reynier was the chief cause of the victories of Pichegru, in 1794; and Dessoles, in like manner, contributed to the glory of Moreau. Is not General Toll associated with the successes of Kutusof? Diebitsch with those of Barclay and Witgenstein? Gneisenau and Muffling with those of Blucher? Numerous other instances might be cited in support of these assertions.

A well-established staff does not always result from a good system of education for the young aspirants; for a man may be a good mathematician and a fine scholar, without being a good warrior. The staff should always possess sufficient consideration and prerogative to be sought for by the officers of the several arms, and to draw together, in this way, men who are already known by their aptitude for war. Engineer and artillery officers will no longer oppose the staff, if they reflect that it will open to them a more extensive field for immediate distinction, and that it will eventually be made up exclusively of the officers of those two corps who may be placed at the disposal of the commanding general, and who are the most capable of directing the operations of war.

“At the beginning of the wars of the Revolution,” says this able historian elsewhere, “in the French army the general staff, which is essential for directing the operations of war, had neither instruction nor experience.” The several adjutant-generals attached to the army of Italy were so utterly incompetent, that Napoleon became [245] prejudiced against the existing staff-corps, and virtually destroyed it, drawing his staff-officers from the other corps of the army. In his earlier wars, a large portion of staff duties were assigned to the engineers; but in his later campaigns the officers of this corps were particularly required for the sieges carried on in Germany and Spain, and considerable difficulty was encountered in finding suitable officers for staff duty. Some of the defects of the first French staff-corps were remedied in the latter part of Napoleon's career, and in 1818 it was reorganized by Marshal Saint-Cyr, and a special school established for its instruction.

Some European nations have established regular staff-corps, from which the vacancies in the general staff are filled; others draw all their staff-officers from the corps of the army. A combination of the two systems is preferred by the best judges. Jomini recommends a regular staff-corps, with special schools for its instruction; but thinks that its officers should be drawn, at least in part, from the other corps of the army: the officers of engineers and artillery he deems, from their instruction, to be peculiarly qualified for staff duty. The policy of holding double rank at the same time in the staff and in the corps of the army, as is done in our service, is pronounced by all competent judges as ruinous to an army, destroying at the same time the character of the staff and injuring the efficiency of the line.

The following remarks on the character and duties of general-officers of an army, made at the beginning of the war of 1812, are from the pen of one of the ablest military writers this country has yet produced:--

Generals have been divided into three classes,--Theorists, who by study and reflection have made themselves acquainted with all the rules or maxims of the art they profess; Martinets, who have confined their attention [246] merely to the mechanical part of the trade; and Practical men, who have no other or better guide than their own experience, in either branch of it. This last description is in all services, excepting our own, the most numerous, but with us gives place to a fourth class, viz., men destitute alike of theory and of experience.

Self-respect is one thing, and presumption another. Without the former, no man ever became a good officer; under the influence of the latter, generals have committed great faults. The former is the necessary result of knowledge; the latter of ignorance. A man acquainted with his duty can rarely be placed in circumstances new, surprising, or embarrassing; a man ignorant of his duty will always find himself constrained to guess, and not knowing how to be right by system, will often be wrong by chance.

These remarks are neither made nor offered as applying exclusively to the science of war. They apply to all other sciences; but in these, errors are comparatively harmless. A naturalist may amuse himself and the public with false and fanciful theories of the earth; and a metaphysician may reason very badly on the relations and forms of matter and spirit, without any ill effect but to make themselves ridiculous. Their blunders but make us merry; they neither pick pockets, nor break legs, nor destroy lives; while those of a general bring after them evils the most compounded and mischievous,--the slaughter of an army — the devastation of a state — the ruin of an empire!

In proportion as ignorance may be calamitous, the reasons for acquiring instruction are multiplied and strengthened. Are you an honest man? You will spare neither labor nor sacrifice to gain a competent knowledge of your duty. Are you a man of honor? You will be careful to avoid self-reproach. Does your bosom glow [247] with the holy fervor of patriotism? you ill so accormplish yourself as to avoid bringing down upon your country either insult or injury.

Nor are the more selfish impulses without a similar tendency. Has hunger made you a soldier? Will you not take care of your bread! Is vanity your principle of action? Will you not guard those mighty blessings, your epaulets and feathers! Are you impelled by a love of glory or a love of power? And can you forget that these coy mistresses are only to be won by intelligence and good conduct?

But the means of instruction, say you, where are they to be found? Our standing army is but a bad and ill-organized militia, and our militia not better than a mob. Nor have the defects in these been supplied by Lycees, Prytanees, and Polytechnic schools. The morbid patriotism of some, and the false economy of others, have nearly obliterated every thing like military knowledge among us.

This, reader, is but one motive the more for reinstating it. Thanks to the noble art of printing! you still have books which, if studied, will teach the art of war.

Books! And what are they but the dreams of pedants? They may make a Mack, but have they ever made a Xenophon, a Caesar, a Saxe, a Frederick, or a Bonaparte? Who would not laugh to hear the cobbler of Athens lecturing Hannibal on the art of war?

True but as you are not Hannibal, listen to the cobbler. Xenophon, Caesar, Saxe, Frederick, and Napoleon, have all thought well of books, and have even composed them. Nor is this extraordinary, since they are but the depositories of maxims which genius has suggested, and experience confirmed; since they both enlighten and shorten the road of the traveller, and render the labor and genius of past ages tributary to our own. [248] These teach most emphatically, that the secret of successful war is not to be found in mere legs and arms, but in the head that shall direct them. If this be either ungifted by nature, or uninstructed by study and reflection, the best plans of manoeuvre and campaign avail nothing, The two last centuries have presented many revolutions in military character, all of which have turned on this principle. It would be useless to enumerate these. We shall quote only the greatest and the last--The troops of Frederick! How illustrious under him! How contemptible under his successors! Yet his system was there his double lines of march at full distance; his oblique order of battle; his simple lines of manoeuvre in the presence of an enemy; his wise conformation of an état-major;--all, in short, that distinguished his practice from that of ordinary men, survived him; but the head that truly comprehended and knew how to apply these, died with Frederick. What an admonition does this fact present for self-instruction,--for unwearied diligence,--for study and reflection! Nor should the force of this be lessened by the consideration that, after all, unless nature should have done her part of the work,--unless to a soul not to be shaken by any changes of fortune — cool, collected, and strenuous-she adds a head fertile in expedients, prompt in its decisions, and sound in its judgments, no man can ever merit the title of a general.

The celebrated Marshal Saxe has made the following remarks on the necessary qualifications to form a good general. The most indispensable one, according to his idea, is valor, without which all the rest will prove nugatory. The next is a sound understanding with some genius: for he must not only be courageous, but be extremely fertile in expedients. The third is health and a robust constitution.

His mind must be capable of prompt and vigorous resources; [249] he must have an aptitude, and a talent at discovering the designs of others, without betraying the slightest trace of his own intentions; he must be, seemingly, communicative, in order to encourage others to unbosom, but remain tenaciously reserved in matters that concern his own army; he must, in a word, possess activity with judgment, be able to make a proper choice of his officers, and never deviate from the strictest line of military justice. Old soldiers must not be rendered wretched and unhappy by unwarrantable promotions, nor must extraordinary talents be kept back to the detriment of the service on account of mere rules and. regulations. Great abilities will justify exceptions; but ignorance and inactivity will not make up for years spent in the profession.

In his deportment he must be affable, and always superior to peevishness or ill-humor; he must not know, or at least seem not to know, what a spirit of resentment is; and when he is under the necessity of inflicting military chastisement, he must see the guilty punished without compromise or foolish humanity; and if the delinquent be from among the number of his most intimate friends, he must be doubly severe towards the unfortunate man. For it is better, in instances of correction, that one individual should be treated with rigor (by orders of the person over whom he may be supposed to hold some influence) than that an idea should go forth in the army of public justice being sacrificed to private sentiments.

A modern general should always have before him the example of Manlius; he must divest himself of personal sensations, and not only be convinced himself; but convince others, that he is the organ of military justice, and that what he does is irrevocably prescribed. With these qualifications, and by this line of conduct, he will secure the affections of his followers, instil into their minds all [250] the impulses of deference and respect; he will be feared, and consequently obeyed.

The resources of a general's mind are as various as the occasions for the exercise of them are multiplied and checkered: he must be perfectly master of the art of knowing how to support an army in all circumstances and situations; how to apply its strength, or be sparing of its energy and confidence; how to post all its different component parts, so as not to be forced to give or receive battle in opposition to settled plans. When once engaged, he must have presence of mind enough to grasp all the relative points of disposition and arrangement, to seize favorable moments for impression, and to be thoroughly conversant in the infinite vicissitudes that occur during the heat of a battle; on a ready possession of which its ultimate success depends. These requisites are unquestionably manifold, and grow out of the diversity of situations, and the chance medley of events that produce their necessity.

A general to be in perfect possession of them, must on the day of battle be divested of every thought, and be inaccessible to every feeling, but what immediately regards the business of the day; he must reconnoitre with the promptitude of a skilful geographer, whose eye collects instantaneously all the relative portions of locality, and feels his ground as it were by instinct; and in the disposition of his troops he must discover a perfect knowledge of his profession, and make all his arrangements with accuracy and dispatch. His order of battle must be simple and unconfused, and the execution of his plan be as quick as if it merely consisted in uttering some few words of command; as, the first line will attack! the second will support it! or, such a battalion will advance and support the line.

The general officers who act under such a general must be ignorant of their business indeed, if, upon the receipt [251] of these orders, they should be deficient in the immediate means of answering them, by a prompt and ready co-operation. So that the general has only to issue out directions according to the growth of circumstances, and to rest satisfied that every division will act in conformity to his intentions; but if; on the contrary, he should so far forget his situation as to become a drill-sergeant in the heat of action, he must find himself in the case of the fly in the fable, which perched upon a wheel, and foolishly imagined that the motion of the carriage was influenced by its situation. A general, therefore, ought on the day of battle to be thoroughly master of himself, and to have both his mind and his eye riveted to the immediate scene of action. He will by these means be enabled to see every thing; his judgment will be unembarrassed, and he will instantly discover all the vulnerable points of the enemy. The instant a favorable opening offers, by which the contest may be decided, it becomes his duty to head the nearest body of troops, and, without any regard to personal safety, to advance against the enemy's line. [By a ready conception of this sort, joined to a great courage, General Dessaix determined the issue of the battle of Marengo.] It is, however, impossible for any man to lay down rules, or to specify with accuracy all the different ways by which a victory may be obtained. Every thing depends upon a variety of situations, casualties of events, and intermediate occurrences, which no human foresight can positively ascertain, but which may be converted to good purposes by a quick eye, a ready conception, and prompt execution.

Prince Eugene was singularly gifted with these qualifications, particularly with that sublime possession of the mind, which constitutes the essence of a military character.

Many commanders-in-chief have been so limited in their ideas of warfare, that when events have brought the [252] contest to issue, and two rival armies have been drawn out for action, their whole attention has devolved upon a straight alignment, an equality of step, or a regular distance in intervals of columns. They have considered it sufficient to give answers to questions proposed by their aides-de-camp, to send orders in various directions, and to gallop themselves from one quarter to another, without steadily adhering to the fluctuations of the day, or calmly watching for an opportunity to strike a decisive blow. They endeavor, in fact, to do every thing, and thereby do nothing. They appear like men whose presence of mind deserts them the instant they are taken out of the beaten track, or reduced to supply unexpected calls by uncommon exertions; and from whence, continues the same sensible writer, do these contradictions arise? from an ignorance of those high qualifications without which the mere routine of duty, methodical arrangement, and studied discipline must fall to the ground, and defeat themselves. Many officers spend their whole lives in putting a few regiments through a regular set of manoeuvres; and having done so, they vainly imagine that all the science of a real military man consists in that acquirement. When, in process of time, the command of a large army falls to their lot, they are manifestly lost in the magnitude of the undertaking, and, from not knowing how to act as they ought, they remain satisfied with doing what they have partially learned.

Military knowledge, as far as it regards a general or commander-in-chief, may be divided into two parts, one comprehending mere discipline and settled systems for putting a certain number of rules into practice ; and the other originating a sublimity of conception that method may assist, but cannot give.

If a man be born with faculties that are naturally adapted to the situation of a general, and if his talents do [253] not fit the extraordinary casualties of war, he will never rise beyond mediocrity.

It is, in fact, in war as it is in painting, or in music. Perfection in either art grows out of innate talent, but it never can be acquired without them. Study and perseverance may correct ideas, but no application, no assiduity will give the life and energy of action; these are the works of nature.

It has been my fate (observes the Marshal) to see several very excellent colonels become indifferent generals. I have known others, who have distinguished themselves at sieges, and in the different evolutions of an army, lose their presence of mind and appear ignorant of their profession, the instant they were taken from that particular line, and be incapable of commanding a few squadrons of horse. Should a man of this cast be put at the head of an army, he will confine himself to mere dispositions and manoeuvres; to them he will look for safety; and if once thwarted, his defeat will be inevitable, because his mind is not capable of other resources.

In order to obviate, in the best possible manner, the innumerable disasters which must arise from the uncertainty of war, and the greater uncertainty of the means that are adopted to carry it on, some general riles ought to be laid down, not only for the government of the troops, but for the instruction of those who have the command of them. The principles to be observed are: that when the line or the columns advance, their distances should. be scrupulously observed; that whenever a body of troops is ordered to charge, every proportion of the line should rush forward with intrepidity and vigor; that if openings are made in the first line, it becomes the duty of the second instantly to fill up the chasms.

These instructions issue from the dictates of plain nature, and do not require the least elucidation in writing. [254] They constitute the A, B, C of soldiers. Nothing can be more simple, or more intelligible; so much so, that it would be ridiculous in a general to sacrifice essential objects in order to attend to such minutiae. His functions in the day of battle are confined to those occupations of the mind, by which he is enabled to watch the countenance of the enemy, to observe his movements, and to see with an eagle's or a king of Prussia's eye, all the relative directions that his opponents take. It must be his business to create alarms and suspicions among the enemy's line in one quarter, while his real intention is to act against another; to puzzle and disconcert him in his plans; to take advantage of the manifold openings which his feints have produced, and when the contest is brought to issue, to be capable of plunging with effect upon the weakest part, and carrying the sword of death where its blow is certain of being mortal. But to accomplish these important and indispensable points, his judgment must be clear, his mind collected, his heart firm, and his eyes incapable of being diverted, even for a moment, by the trifling occurrences of the day.

The administrative service of an army is usually divided into several distinct departments, as-

Pay department. 
Subsistence department. 
Clothing department. 
Medical department. These in our service are united.
Hospital department.
Barrack department. These in our service are combined in one, called the Quartermaster's department.
Fuel department.
Transportation department.
Recruiting department. 
Military Justice, or Court Martial department.

It was intended to enter into the history, organization, [255] and use of each of these civico-military departments of an army ; but our limits are such as to preclude any thing like so detailed a discussion as would be necessary for a proper understanding of the subject. We therefore pass from the staff directly to the line, or rather the four principal arms of an army organization.2

1 One bridge-equipage is required for each corps d'armee.

2 Of works that treat directly of staff organization and duties, those of Grimoard, Thiebault, Boutourlin, Labaume, are esteemed among the best. The writings of Jomini, Napoleon, Rocquancourt, Vauchclle, Odier, Scharnhorst, also contain much valuable information on this subject. The following list of books may be referred to for further information on the subjects alluded to in this chapter:

    Aide-Menmoire des officers generaux et superieurs et des capitaines. Precis de l'art de la guerre. Jomini. Memoires de Napoleon. Moetholon et Gourgaud. Cours élementaire d'art et d'histoire militaires. Rocquancourt. Cours émentaire d'admniistration mzilitaire. Vanchelle. Droite élementaire d'art militaire, &c. Gay de Vornon. Annuaire militaire historique, &c. Sicard. Cours abrege d'administration militaire. Bernier. Cours d'administration militaire, &c. Odier. De l'administration de l'armee d'espagne. Odier. De l'organization de la force armee en France. Carion-Nisas. Elemens de l'art militaire, &c. Cugnot. Memoires sur la guerre. Feiquieres. Cours d'art militaire et d'histoire. Jacquinot de Presle. Cours d'art militaire. Fallot. Therie de l'officier superieur. Leorier. Histoire de l'administration de la guerre. Audouin. Instructions diverse à l'usage de l‘école d'application du corps royal daetat-major. Handbuch fus offiziere, &c. Scharnhorst.

Having omitted all discussion of the several departments of the administrative service of an army organization, it is not deemed necessary to give the names of books of reference on the subjects of pay, courtsmartial, medicinal and hospital departments, &c., &c.

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