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Discipline, says Carlyle, is "a kind of miracle, and works by faith, obeys, goes hither and goes thither, marches and halts, gives death and even receives it, as if a Fate had spoken." It is only military experience which teaches the vast superiority of an army of disciplined veterans over an army of new men. Napoleon's Marine Secretary. Truguet, said to him, "much longer time is required to form a sailor than a soldier; the latter may be trained to all his duties in six months." Napoleon replied: "There never was a greater mistake; nothing can be more dangerous than to propagate such opinions. At Jemappe there were fifty thousand French against ninety thousand Austrians. * * It was neither the volunteers nor the recruits who saved the Republic, it was the eighteen thousand old troops of the monarchy, and the discharged veterans, whom the Revolution impelled to the frontier. Part of the recruits deserted, part died, a small proportion only remained, who, in process of time, formed good soldiers.--Why have the Romans done such great things? Because six years instruction were, with them, required to make a soldier. A legion, composed of three thousand men, was worth forty thousand ordinary troops. With fifteen thousand men, such as the Guards, I would anywhere beat four hundred thousand.--You will not find me engaged in a war with an army of recruits." Such were the opinions of the greatest soldier of modern or ancient times. The British army, which finally conquered him at Waterloo, were enlisted men for life. In estimating the capacity of the Confederacy for a successful campaign, we are always talking of numbers, as if that were the only element of success. Numbers are absolutely a disadvantage without discipline. Great disparity of numbers has existed since the beginning of the war. It is the quality, and not the quantity, of the Confederate troops, and the advantage possessed by fighting on interior lines, which has neutralized the odds against us. We still occupy this vantage ground; and our troops, being in for the war, are seasoned, iron veterans. We see what discipline did for the Yankee army, and we must not disdain its aid. It is at this moment the great and crying defect in our army. It is the vulnerable point in our coat of mail. But for that, one hundred thousand troops could not now be absent from the Confederate army. Not an officer of any rank should be left in our army who is incapable of making the rank and file what it ought to be. The universal enforcement of discipline in the Confederate army would be worth more than the addition, without it, of two hundred thousand men. We have men enough; material enough; resources enough; all we need is the skillful and judicious use of our means. A large proportion of the veteran troops of the United States will go out this year, and experience has shown that their old troops do not readily re-enlist. We have only to stand our ground, maintain our spirits, enforce discipline, and all will be well.
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