UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
A c cess ions No .
+ : . . . 1 88 J~ .
MILITARY SCHOOLS, COLLEGES, AND
BY PROF. W. T. WELCKER,
PEOFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS AND CHIEF OF MILITARY INSTRUCTION
IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.
NEW YORK AND CHICAGO:
IYISON, BLAKEMAN, TAYLOR, & CO.
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1874,
BY IVISON, BLAKEMAN, TAYLOR, & CO.,
in the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.
UNIVERSITY PRESS : WELCH, BIGELOW, & Co.,
IN presenting this little volume to the public, the
author has sought to meet what he believes to
be a want of the numerous private military schools
of the United States, of those institutions of higher
learning where a limited amount of military in-
struction is given, and of the militia of the dif-
ferent States. The late wars, home and foreign,
have shown that a mere knowledge of tactics is no
longer sufficient ; that some further knowledge of
the art of war is requisite, not only among those
destined to be officers, but even among the private
soldiers. And it is believed that the works hereto-
fore published upon some of the topics treated have
been too elaborate, scientific, and technical for those
who will be prevented, either by want of technical
preparation or by w^ant of time, from pursuing the
studies in an exhaustive manner.
There is but little claim to originality advanced ;
the following chapters are, in the main, either trans-
i v PREFACE.
lations or compilations from various standard au-
thorities on the different subjects treated.
But, while the author deems the information
given sound and valuable, he has avoided, as far as
possible, introducing mathematics or other scientific
matter suitable only for the professional officer, who
studies the whole subject thoroughly, or who per-
haps is devoted to a single branch, such as military
engineering or artillery. The aim has been to suit
the work to all who have received a common-school
It has grown up as the result of military instruc-
tion, over and above that in drill and tactics, given
to the students of the University of California.
W. T. WELCKER.
UNIVERSITY or CALIFORNIA,
COMPOSITION AND ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES.
Divisions of Troops, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery ... 1
Greek Phalanx ^ 6
Roman Legion ..........
Feudal Period . . . .11
Heavy Infantry .......... 14
Grenadiers ........... 15
Different Kinds of Cavalry, Cuirassiers, etc. . . . . . 15
Light Cavalry . .* 18
Dragoons . .
Hussars ............ 19
Lancers ........... 20
Engineer Troops ......... 23
SUPPLY OF ARMIES.
Pay . . 24
Pay in European Services ........ 26
Subsistence Department ......... 28
Supply of Clothing and Equipage . . . . . . 31
Medical Supplies 33
MOVING OF ARMIES.
Different Methods of transporting Armies . . . . .35
In the Neighborhood of the Enemy . . . . . . 37
Rear- Guard on a Retreat . . . . . . . . .39
Flank-Guards .... 40
v i CONTENTS.
Of Halts . ' 42
Commander of the Advanced- Guard . . . . . . 45
Selection of Camps .......... 47
Commander of the Rear- Guard in Retreat 48
Duties of the Commanders of Flank, Advanced, and Rear Detachments 49
Duties of Patrols during a March 51
Regulating Marches by the Nature of the Ground. ... 54
. PASSAGE OP RIVERS ON ICE, BY FORDS, BY BOATS, AND ON RAPTS.
Selection of the Point of Crossing . . . . . . .58
To determine the Velocity of the Current 63
Passage hy Swimming 66
Passage on Ice 67
Passage by Boats 71
Navigation . . . . . . . . . . .75
Rafts and Foot-Bridges 77
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL.
Bridge over Hellespont by Xerxes 80
Bridges of Boats . . .
Pontons of Equipage 85
Bridges on Country Boats . . . . . . ...
Bridges on Rafts of Logs . . . . . . . .87
To find the Power of Flotation
Bridges on Rafts of Casks, Boxes, and Skins 89
Preservation of Bridges 92
Passage of Bridges . .
Flying -Bridges 95
Destruction of Bridges
Destruction of the Enemy's Bridges ...... 97
Art of Fortification 99
Profile of Parapet and Ditch ...."... 102
Plan .... 102
Flanked Dispositions . . . . . . . . . 104
Star Forts 106
Cremaillere, Redan, Lunette, Priest-Cap ...... 107
Hurdle Revetments . . . . . . . . .109
Powder Magazines ......... 109
Chevaux-de-frise, Crow's-Feet, Abattis 112
Attack and Defense 112
Strategy defined 116
Line of Operations 118
Defensive Plan 123
THEORY OP TIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE.
Initial Velocity . 127
Heating of the Barrel 130
To find the Hausse 134
Construction of the Trajectory 135
Causes of Deviation in the Projectile . . . . . .135
Combined Effect of the Action of the Air, and of Imperfections in the
Deviation from Unskillfulness of the -Marksman . . . . 138
To calculate the Initial Velocity . . . . . . . 140
Arquebuse .......... 150
Firearms .... , 151
Different Methods of forcing the Ball into the Grooves . . .161
Pontchara System . . 103
Systeme a tige . . . . . . . . , . 103
Balle a culot 16?
Minne-Ball ... 167
Lancaster Rifle 168
Repeating Rifles, Remington, Sharpe, Peabody, Ballard, Needle-Gun,
Chassepot .......... 170
Winchester Rifle . 171
MITRAILLEUSE AND UNITED STATES ORDNANCE.
Ordinance of the United States Service . . . . . .174
Shell Guns 175
COMPOSITION AND ORGANIZATION OF AEMIES.
AN army is a collection of men armed for war, and
organized in companies, regiments, brigades, and
divisions, under proper officers.
In modern times it is composed of Infantry, or foot-
soldiers ; Cavalry, or various kinds of mounted troops ;
Artillery, or those who make use of cannon; and Engi-
neer Troops, consisting of sappers and miners, poritoniers
These main divisions have numerous subdivisions, of
which the smallest is the Company. This is a body of
troops varying in numbers from 50 to 200 men; the most
usual number being about 100. It is evidently the same
thing as the Roman century, which was commanded by a
centurion. Among the Israelites, we read in the Old Tes-
tament of " captains of a hundred " as well as of " captains
The permanent commander of a company is denominated
Captain. Besides the captain there are either two or three
other officers in every company, called Lieutenants. The
2 MILITARY LESSONS.
captain and the lieutenants are called collectively company
commissioned officers, because they bear the commission
of the king, or other chief of state,, with his sign-manual.
Lieutenants are classified as First Lieutenants and Second
Lieutenants. The second lieutenant is usually the lowest
commissioned officer in an army.
The commission is a letter-patent from the king,, or chief
executive of the state, declaring that he reposes special
trust and confidence in the wisdom, loyalty, patriotism, and
valor of A. B., and does thereby appoint him to be (such
and such an officer), and requires all officers and soldiers
to obey and respect him accordingly.
In the United States service there is also the Brevet
Second Lieutenant, who is a supernumerary second lieu-
tenant awaiting promotion to the full grade of second
lieutenant. Between the commissioned officers and the
non-commissioned officers there intervenes the grade of
warrant officers. At present there is, in the United States
military service, but one kind of warrant officers, i. e. the
Cadet. The cadet is a young officer bearing a warrant from
the Secretary of War, and is not usually assigned to any of
the military organizations, but undergoes instruction in the
science and art of war at the national Military Academy at
West Point. Upon being graduated at this institution and
receiving his diploma, he is promoted to some corps of the
army as Brevet Second Lieutenant, Second Lieutenant, or
sometimes to a higher grade. Cornets are warrant officers
of cavalry in the English service, and Ensigns are warrant
officers of infantry.
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 3
In company organizations the officers next below are
Sergeants. This word is derived by some from the Latin
word " serviens," and by others from, the Persian word
<c sarchank " or " sarjank," a prefect or subordinate mili-
tary officer. The latter derivation wo aid seem to be the
most probable, from the fact that the word is pronounced
sarjeant, as if the first syllable were spelled with an a.
This officer bears an appointment from the colonel of the
regiment; he wears a sword, and usually in addition he
carries the arm which is borne by the soldiers of his com-
pany. The chief sergeant is called the Orderly Sergeant.
He has, under the commissioned officers, a general control
and superintendence over the company, calls the rolls,
keeps the roster, and makes the details of the men for
guard duty, fatigue duty, and other detachments. He
wears a sash like the commissioned officers.
Besides the orderly sergeant there are -three, and some-
times four, other sergeants, who have the general super-
intendence of the soldiers, living in quarters with them to
preserve order and discipline, and upon parade are sta-
tioned in the " line of file-closers," two paces behind the
ranks, to see that the men obey commands and properly
perform the movements which may be ordered.
Next to the sergeants are other non-commissioned offi-
cers called Corporals, who are stationed on the flanks of
the companies to guide the same with steadiness; and
when any sergeant is absent, that one of them may act in
that capacity. On guard each relief is commanded by a
corporal. This completes the list of the officers of a com-
4 MILITARY LESSONS.
pany. To every company of infantry there is one drum-
mer and one fifer, and to companies of horse there should
be two or more buglers or trumpeters. These compose the
field-music. The remaining men, who compose the ranks
of the company, are called the privates.
Eight companies may, but generally ten companies do,
compose a Regiment ; which, if the companies contain
one hundred men, would make the regiment eight hundred
or one thousand strong. The commander of a regiment
is denominated Colonel. Next in rank to the colonel is
the Lieutenant-Colonel ; and a Major is an officer inter-
mediate between a lieutenant-colonel and a captain. To
each regiment there is one, and sometimes two, majors."
The colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and major or majors con-
stitute what are called the field officers, in contradistinction
from the captains and lieutenants, who are known as com-
pany officers. Any number of companies greater than one
and less than a regiment is known as a Battalion, and
is properly commanded by a lieutenant-colonel or a major.
A Brigade is composed generally of two regiments, but
sometimes of three or four regiments. This body is com-
manded by a Brigadier-General, the lowest in rank of the
From two to six brigades constitute a Division, which
is commanded by a Major-General. To a division there
is generally attached a certain proportion of artillery and
A Corps d'Armee or Army Corps is a body composed
of all arms and numbers, from twenty thousand, men
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES.
to fifty thousand. It is the appropriate command of a
Lieutenant-General, and is, in effect, an army, and may
be detached to act independently. Two or more army
corps constitute an army, the commander of which is a
General, making the fourth and highest rank of general
Whenever the proper commander of any of the above-
described bodies of organization is absent, the next in rank
takes command ; i. e. the senior officer present assumes the
command. In this way a lieutenant may command a com-
pany, a lieutenant-colonel a regiment, a colonel a brigade, a
brigadier-general a division, etc. Something like the above
sketch, with here and there a variation, will be a description
of the organization of every civilized military service.
The necessities of war must always introduce some sort
of organization at a very early period, even among the
most barbarous nations. The desultory efforts of individ-
uals are speedily found inadequate to meet the shock of
men combined in a mass ; more especially is this true in
champaign countries. There must be a leader, and subor-
dination to a common head, with unity of design every-
where; but a greater looseness and more of individual
action is allowable in a broken, mountainous, and timbered
region than upon plains. The ease with which a loose and
scattered multitude can be swept away upon an open plain
by a smaller body of compact infantry, or cut down by
cavalry, speedily demonstrates the necessity of organization.
The American Indians display less desire and aptitude
for civilization than any people whatever ; yet even some
6 MILITARY LESSONS.
of their tribes have been compelled to adopt something like
organization. This is more particularly true of the Co-
manches, who operate on the extended plains of Texas and
the neighboring country.
Greek Phalanx. The earliest formations of which we
have any very intelligible account are the celebrated Greek
phalanx and Roman legion, each of which in its turn con-
quered the known world. The grand phalanx of the
Greeks was composed of four phalanxes, each phalanx
being composed of 4,096 men. Sixteen men made a file,
counting from front to rear ; and four files, making sixty-
four men, composed a Tetrarchy, and was commanded
by an officer named a Tetrarch, who may be supposed to
correspond to the modern captain of infantry. There were
thus sixty-four tetrarchies in a phalanx, and the front line
contained 256 men. Thus, the phalanx was a solid rectan-
gle of men 256x16. These numbers varied at different
Four tetrarchies made a Syritagmatarchy, commanded
by a Syntagmatarch, who might correspond with a major
of our day, but in the functions of his office more resem-
bled a colonel. The phalanx was commanded by an officer
called Strategos, who corresponded with our brigadier-
The Heavy Infantry, or infantry of the line, were
drawn up sixteen deep, and they bore the long Macedonian
pike, which was twenty-four feet long. When this 'for-
midable weapon was brought down to the charge, those
of the front rank extended twenty-four feet towards the
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 7
enemy, and those of the succeeding ranks a less and less
distance, unto the sixth rank, whose pikes projected three
feet to the front, making a formidable and impenetra-
ble array. The men wore also heavy shields, which they
used, in a charge, to cover their persons from missiles
coming either from the front or from above. Besides the
heavy infantry there were Light Infantry, and two kinds
of cavalry, heavy and light.
TJpoii a plain where it could act well the phalanx was
a terrible body for either offence or defence, but it was
extremely ill-suited to broken ground or hilly countries.
There must also have been a great waste of material, be-
cause after the sixth or seventh rank the remainder of the
men were idle and nearly useless, except to relieve the others.
Roman Legion. In the days of the Republic, when it
was in reality a republic, and previously to the civil wars
which terminated in the establishment of the Caesars, a
Roman army usually consisted of two legions and two
wings of auxiliary troops. The legion consisted of heavy
infantry, light infantry, and cavalry. The first were cov-
ered with defensive armor and wore the short Eoman sword,
which was two-edged, straight, and heavy. They also car-
ried a javelin about seven feet long, which was named the
pilum. The light infantry carried a spear called the
hasta, shorter than the pilum, the short-sword, and had,
for defence, only a helmet and leather buckler.
The cavalry, in addition to the helmet and buckler, wore
a cuirass for protection ; and, for offense, the Greek lance,
a long curved sword or saber, and a quiver with darts.
8 MILITARY LESSONS.
Like the phalanx, the legion at different times contained
different numbers of men, but about four thousand was the
average. The principal officers were sixty Centurions, or
captains, and six Tribunes, or colonels. In the earlier
times these tribunes took the command by turns, each tour
of duty lasting two months. Subsequently a permanent
commander, styled a Le'gatus, was appointed.
The habitual order of battle of the legion was in three
lines within supporting distance of one another, and with
cavalry on the wings. The greatest depth of formation was
ten ranks, and a portion of the troops were only six deep.
Thus, the legion was not so cumbersome as the phalanx, and
could adapt itself much more readily to the accidents of the
Just preceding the onset the legionaries hurled their jav-
elins upon the enemy, and then threw themselves upon him
with the terrible short-sword. But it is apparent that the
legion was not so good, from its composition, to withstand
the attacks of cavalry as the formidable array of pikes
bristling from the phalanx. Owing to the depth of their
ranks, neither would do when exposed to modem firearms
and artillery. Imagine the havoc that would be made in a
Grecian phalanx by a mitrailleuse !
Before quitting the legion it may be well to adduce the
testimony of Josephus upon the subject, although what he
says has more reference to the discipline of the legion, its
camps and marches, than to its organization. In speaking
of the legion as it was in the time of the Emperor Yespa-
sian, he says :
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 9
" If any does but attend to the other parts of their mili-
tary discipline, he will be forced to confess that their ob-
taining so large a dominion hath been the acquisition of
their valor and not the bare gift of fortune, for they do not
begin to use their weapons first in time of war, nor do
they then put their hands first into motion, which they
avoided so to do in times of peace, but as if their weapons
did always cling to them, they have never any truce from
warlike exercises, nor do they stay till times of war admon-
ish them to use them ; for their military exercises differ not
at all from the real use of their arms, but every soldier is
every day exercised, and that with great diligence, as if it
were in time of war, which is the reason why they bear the
fatigues of battles so easily, for neither can any disorder
remove them from their usual regularity, nor can fear
affright them out of it, nor can labor tire them ; which
firmness of conduct makes them always to overcome them
that have not the same firmness, nor would he be mistaken
that should call those their exercises unbloody battles, and
their battles bloody exercises.
" Nor can their enemies surprise them with the sudden-
ness of their incursions ; for as soon as they have marched
into an enemy's land they do not begin to fight till they
have walled their camp about, nor is the fence they raise
rashly made nor uneven, .... but if it happens that the
ground is uneven it is first leveled ; their camp is also four
square by measure, and carpenters are ready in great num-
bers with their tools to erect the buildings for them.
" As for what is within the camp, it is set apart for
10 MILITARY LESSONS.
tents, but the outward circumference of it hath the resem-
blance to a wall, and is adorned with towers at equal dis-
tances, where between the towers stand the engines for
throwing arrows and darts and for slinging stones, and
where they lay all other engines that can annoy the enemy
all ready for their several operations. They also erect four
gates, one at every side of the circumference, and those large
enough for the entrance of the beasts and wide enough for
the making of excursions if occasion should require
" When they have secured themselves, they live together
by companies in quietness and decency, as are all their
affairs managed with good order and security. Each
company hath also their wood and their corn and their
water brought to them when they stand in need of them,
for they neither sup nor dine as they please themselves,
singly, but all together. Their times also for sleeping and
watching and rising are notified beforehand by the sound
" Now when they are to go out of their camp the
trumpet gives a sound, at which time nobody lies still, but
at the first intimation they take down their tents and all
is made ready for their going out ; then do the trumpets
sound again to order them to get ready for the march, then
do they lay their baggage suddenly upon their mules and
other beasts of burden, and stand as at the place of starting
ready to march. Then does the crier stand at the general's
right hand and ask them thrice in their own tongue whether
they be now ready to go out to war or not. To which they
reply as often with a loud and cheerful voice, ' We are
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 11
ready ! ' And this they do almost before the question is
asked them ; they do this as filled with a kind of martial
fury, and at the same time that they so cry out they lift up
their right hands also.
" When after this they are gone out of their camp they
all march without noise, and in a decent manner, and every
one keeps his own rank, as they were going to war."
The extracts from Josephus here made are somewhat
copious, but it is thought that the reproduction of the
daily camp life and discipline of those renowned veterans
who subdued the world, as it took place eighteen centuries
ago, cannot fail to be interesting and instructive to the
Subsequent to the decay of the Eoman discipline and
the loss of the legionary organization, after a long interval
we come to the Feudal Period. During this period the
bulk of armies was cavalry, and with but little of organiza-
tion. Tactics and strategy were almost unknown. Every-
thing was remitted to individual courage, skill, and enter-
prise. Two armies were two great mobs who sought each
other, and when confronted, after some interchanges, through
their respective heralds-at-arms, of courtesies or defiances,
fell upon each other pell-mell in two long paralled lines,
and fought with ferocity and much exhibition of physical
strength and manual dexterity. The accounts of the bat-
tles in which the destinies of nations were decided are the
accounts of a series of detached combats along the lines,
where the greatest kings and leaders were doing and could
only do the duties of private soldiers ; and he who could
12 MILITARY LESSONS.
swing the heaviest battle-ax with the greatest skill was the
greatest general. It is not asserted that there were no ex-
ceptions to this statement, but it may fairly represent the
system. The cavaliers as well as their horses were gener-
ally clothed in heavy defensive armor.
As we advance towards modern times we behold the
second rise of military science.
The Swiss infantry first demonstrated the superior virtue
of organization,, and of disciplined concert of action. These
troops,, really deserving that name/were not only able to
defend their own country, but soon were found as merce-
naries in most -of the continental states of Europe ; their
palpable superiority causing them to be regarded as indis-
A succession of able leaders appeared from time to time ;
such as William and Maurice of Orange and Nassau,
Gustavus Adolphus, Turenne-, Conde, Eugene, and Marl-
borough, who restored the lost principles and spirit of the
art and science of war, and adapted them to firearms
and cannon. The bayonet replaced the pike, and the deep
formations of infantry were abandoned, to avoid the exces-
sive slaughter by projectiles launched by the enormous
force of gunpowder, and also to utilize one's own muskets
by a more extended line of battle for the same number of
troops. Infantry was ranged in three ranks and two or
three lines at a good supporting distance from each other,
with artillery in the intervals of battalions, and cavalry on
the wings or in rear, to be hurled at the opportune mo-
ment against the enemy's forces, when shaken by the fire
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 13
of .infantry or artillery. The three arms were united, and
caused to co-operate in suitable proportions to each other.
The improvements of this kind were carried still further by
Frederick the Great and Napoleon. The infantry was dis-
covered to be the mainstay, the grand frame of the army,
and the only arm which was self-sustaining and capable of
The part of Artillery is to produce a great moral
effect upon the enemy, to demoralize him by its terrible
roar and the tremendous crash of its great projectiles,
which demolish houses and tear their way to the extreme
rear of columns ; to strike him at long range, and to
prevent his coming out from cover at particular points;
to shake his masses of infantry or cavalry previous to a
charge; and to concentrate upon his columns advancing
to the attack a heavy cannonade while yet a great way
off, and to shatter them with grape-shot (or small and
numerous projectiles) when within short range.
The Cavalry were found to be invaluable in escorts,
reconnoissances, and outpost service ; to fight the enemy's
cavalry, and to charge his infantry when broken by the
charge or fire of infantry, or by artillery fire ; to complete
the rout and dispersion, and to make prisoners.
Generals learned to use the different arms either simulta-
neously or successively, according to the demands of the
hour or locality ; sending infantry to strike or dislodge the
enemy, over ground impassable by artillery and cavalry;
and artillery to annoy or drive the enemy when posted
beyond streams out of range of muskets and impassable by
14 MILITARY LESSONS.
cavalry ; to make use of the speed of cavalry in surprises ;
by concealed marches to burst upon the enemy's flank or
rear, or to cut his communications and capture his supplies.
As before remarked,, the infantry is the principal arm of
the organization ; hence the bulk of the troops must be of
The cavalry should, according to the nature of the thea-
ter of war, vary from one sixth to one fourth of the num-
ber of the infantry. The smaller proportion is used in
broken and mountainous districts, and the larger in level
Proportion of Artillery. About two pieces of artillery
field artillery to every thousand of the sum of the
infantry and cavalry have been generally deemed correct.
Napoleon increased this proportion somewhat, and the ten-
dency of ideas still more recent seems to be in the same
Heavy Infantry. Lafantry has generally been subdi-
vided into heavy infantry, or infantry of the line, and light
infantry. In early times the former were generally armed
with a sword; but while it has always been debatable
whether it was not injudicious to load the soldier down
with this encumbrance, and to fail to rely upon the bayo-
net, it can scarcely be doubted that the arrangement is bad
nowadays, when the bayonet exercise is universally taught.
In the United States service no distinction is made
among the infantry. Arms of precision and long range are
issued to all, and all are expected to learn the skill in the
use of the weapon, and the agility of body and celerity of
ORGANIZATION OP ARMIES. 15
action necessary to the movements of 'skirmishers and of
Occasionally we hear the term Grenadiers. This name
is a relic of the former custom of selecting certain of the
largest and strongest men, who were trained to hurl by hand
lighted grenades or shells into the ranks of the enemy.
The practice still prevails among the besieged, who throw
these hand-grenades over the ramparts upon the enemy
when he has got into the ditch and is endeavoring to
mount the breach.
Different Kinds of Cavalry. There are some sub-
divisions of mounted troops which are worthy of a passing
Cuirassiers, or heavy cavalry. These troops are so de-
nominated from the cuirass a defensive armor for the
body which they wear. The cuirass is a kind of close-
fitting metallic jacket, and is composed of a plastron or
breastplate, a back, and a padding on the inside. This
internal upholstering is to prevent the cuirass galling or
abrading the skin of the wearer, and to make it set well
upon him. The back and plastron are united at top by
leather straps or suspenders, which are covered over with
brass in order that they shall not be cut in two by a blow
from the saber. A leather belt and buckle unite the
pieces below at the waist. The front of the cuirass is
formed into a protuberant angle, in order to give greater
obliquity to the sides of this defensive armor, and to cause
balls which strike it to glance off.
Both the plastron and back are bordered by a raised rim
16 MILITARY LESSONS.
or groove, to arrest the point of the saber on occasion of a
thrust, and prevent its passing off on to parts of the body
which are not protected. Cuirasses are made of iron and
steel; the breastplate, but not the back, being tempered.
The plastron is ball-proof at the distance of forty-five
yards; the back is only saber-proof. This distance is
fixed upon, because when cavalry in a charge upon infantry
have arrived within forty-five yards, the infantry have no
more time to fire, but must promptly betake themselves to
the bayonet ; hence it is not necessary that the cuirass
should be ball-proof within that distance. But now that
we have repeating rifles which can be fired up to the last
moment, this consideration is no longer sound. The backs
are made saber-proof, and not ball-proof, in order that the
horseman may feel that it is safer to face the enemy than
to turn back upon him.
After the introduction of firearms, defensive armor had
been completely abandoned; but the cuirass and helmet
were restored by Napoleon, who clearly perceived the ad-
vantages of their use to heavy cavalry. Sappers and min-
ers should be protected by defensive armor while opening
trenches and pushing approaches. For them the back of
the cuirass should be bullet-proof, for they are compelled
to expose their backs while in the attitude of digging.
The cavalry helmet is made of the same materials and on
the same principles as the cuirass.
The cuirassiers are armed with a saber and pistol. In
some armies a certain proportion of them are armed with a
musketoon or carbine also; but the firearm should be a
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 17
matter of but little importance, for it is by their shock that
heavy cavalry should expect success ; therefore their main
reliance ought to be upon the spur and the saber. They
should be held in reserve under cover till the opportune
moment for charging, and then launched against the masses
of the enemy, shaken and wavering from the fire of artillery
or infantry, or from any other cause. If a general can
succeed in hurling his cuirassiers against the flank of an
enemy's column, his success may be considered as assured.
There is but little use in cavalry charges against well-
formed squares of veteran infantry, or even when in line.
The fire of musketry with its noise and smoke fills the
horses generally with an uncontrollable terror, and they
cannot be forced on to the bayonets. Besides, the fire of
the infantry kills or wounds a number of horses and empties
a number of saddles, which breaks the continuity of the line.
A celebrated and familiar instance is to be found in the
numerous and unsuccessful attempts by Napoleon to break
Wellington's squares at Waterloo. Here, instead of charg-
ing in line, deep columns were formed, with the expectation
that the rear horses, unable to see what was going on in
front, would by sheer physical pressure drive the head of
the column upon and through the sides of the squares.
But the result was a complete failure. The horses which
fell were stumbling-blocks for others following, and, when
up to the squares, the wounded and terrified animals could
not be forced to leap upon the firm array of bayonets, but
either reared and fell in place, or fled in desperation towards
either flank of the column, or tore their way to the rear.
18 MILITARY LESSONS.
The Prussian infantry at Sedan withstood and repelled
charges of the French cavalry.
But when the ranks are disordered and broken the case
is different ; the horses seem to appreciate the circumstances
of the case, and dash in with a good will. Few things are
more terrible to a mob than a charge of dragoons !
Light Cavalry have no defensive armor, being, as a
general rule, armed with saber and pistol only. Sometimes
it happens that a portion or all of the men are provided
with carbines. They are used on the field of battle for
movements requiring speed, for protecting the flanks of the
heavy cavalry, for pursuing and harassing a routed enemy,
and for taking prisoners.
They are also used for escort duties, for reconnoissances,
for outpost and picket duty, to forage, to levy exactions
upon unprotected populations, to cut telegraph-wires, to
destroy railways, etc.
In the army of the United States there are none but light
cavalry. None of our neighbors on this continent keep
heavy cavalry, nor is it probable that such will be brought
against us from beyond sea. We rely upon our infantry
and artillery to put those of the enemy in such a condition
that they would be legitimate game for our light cavalry.
At the battle of Cerro Gordo the slaughter inflicted upon
the broken and flying Mexicans was frightful.
A Dragoon is a mounted musketeer, or an infantry sol-
dier on horseback. This is the theoretical idea of a
dragoon; practically the name is often applied to a hus-
sar. The original design was to transport the men rapidly
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 19
to the points where they were required, there to dismount
and fight on foot. But genuine dragoons are regarded as
a failure. They are not prepared to fight as cavalry , and
the speed with which considerable bodies can be moved is
found not to exceed much that of well-seasoned light
infantry, and they cannot get over ground which is quite
practicable to the latter; besides, the services of all the
men who are required to hold the horses while the others
are fighting are lost, and when they become separated from
their horses the latter are liable to be captured; or else
the fear of it may recall the dragoons from their work to
The regiment of mounted riflemen was organized upon
this theory at the outbreak of the Mexican War ; but during
that campaign they acted as light infantry, and subsequently
as light cavalry. Even the name has been abolished, and
the regiment now constitutes one of the regiments of
The Hussar is a light cavalryman armed with saber,
pistol, and generally with a carbine.
It is very difficult to load a gun at the muzzle with a
rammer while seated on a horse, for during the operation
the rider necessarily loses control of his horse, the motions
and restiveness of which greatly interfere with placing the
cartridge in the bore, ramming, returning rammer, and
capping. Besides, effective firing at long range can be done
upon few horses and by few men. This would confine the
useful fire of dragoons and hussars to a short range, where
accuracy of aim was of slight consequence; under these
20 MILITARY LESSONS.
circumstances a repeating pistol with a heavy charge would
Lancers are a kind of cavalry unknown in the United
States service, but much used and highly esteemed in the
Eussian and Mexican armies. The French also have some
lancers ; and the lance is considered the distinctive weapon
of the Poles.
The world-renowned Cossacks are an irregular light cav-
alry of the Russian service, armed with lances, pistols, and
sabers. Some Cossacks are armed as dragoons, and some
of the Eussian cuirassiers have the front rank armed with
The Cossack cavalry are remarkable both for the nature
of the men and that of the horses. The rider and the
animal are both wild, hardy, intelligent, extremely active,
capable of much fatigue, thirst, and hunger j and either can
manage to live and be highly efficient upon very slender
resources. The Cossacks make extremely long and rapid
marches. General McClellan, in his report upon the Eussian
cavalry, states that " a march of forty miles is a common
thing they will make forced marches of seventy miles ; in
a thickly settled country they have in two days made six
marches of ordinary cavalry without being discovered."
The latter fact also shows their stealthiness and cunning.
The lance was, for a long period, used by French horse-
men, but was abandoned about the time of Henry IV. of
France for the saber and firearms. At a time when battles
were a series of individual combats, this was a sensible
exchange, because, man to man, the saber would be better
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 21
than the lance; but at a time when the action of masses
replaced these individual encounters, the case assumed a
different aspect. If two lines of cavalry, equal in all
other respects, were to meet, especially at the gallop, few
would anticipate anything but victory for the lancers.
Napoleon, by incorporating into his forces some Polish
lancers in 1807, again introduced the lance into the French
army, where it maintains itself, as above remarked, to the
As Americans are fine riders and have good horses, it is
very much to be desired that the lance should be tried in
our service. It is certain that our troops in the war with
the Mexicans regarded their lancers as the most formidable
of their organizations.
The lance is an arm very valuable in pursuit, which con-
sideration classifies lancers as light cavalry. The lance con-
sists of a steel spear-head on a long pole or handle, which
must be straight, while the head must be tough, oblong,
pointed, and not bulky, so as to be able to penetrate the
frame of a man or an animal.
The center of gravity should be at or near the gripe, so
that the weapon can be accurately guided ; and accordingly
the butt-end of the pole should carry a counterpoise, so
as to throw the center of gravity into the gripe.
Artillery. Artillery is divided by the caliber of the
pieces into Siege and Garrison artillery and into Heavy and
Light field artillery. The first is used in the attack and
defense of places. Field artillery is drawn by horses, and
moves with the troops in campaign. It is of course much
22 MILITARY LESSONS.
lighter and more mobile than the former. The heavy field-
batteries are batteries of position; they attain the enemy
at greater distances than do the light, serve to destroy his
cover, and often drive him from shelter. Light artillery,
on the other hand, dashes abont the field according, to the
varying exigencies of the conflict, and pours its missiles
into the enemy's troops.
There are two kinds of artillery, foot and horse artillery.
The pieces and caissons of each are drawn by horses, usu-
ally six to a carriage, but in horse artillery the cannoneers
are mounted on horseback when not serving the pieces;
whereas in foot artillery the cannoneers habitually follow
the pieces on foot, and it is only when upon good ground
and when the design is to move with great speed that they
are allowed to mount and ride upon the boxes.
Horse artillery serves with the cavalry, and the foot-bat-
teries with the infantry divisions. Erom the open and
dispersed nature of its formation, horse artillery is not ca-
pable of efficient self-defense. Its value is in offense, and
it requires to be protected from capture by the other arms ;
to this end it generally has an infantry support. La Vega's
battery, which was captured by May's dragoons during the
Mexican War, had no support. Horse artillery was in-
vented by Gustavus Adolphus.
Field artillery is of great importance when the troops are
raw and new to battle. A skillful general will place his few
good troops on the points of attack, and protect the other
points by massing strong batteries there. He will thus lend
physical support to his less reliable troops, and encourage
ORGANIZATION OF ARMIES. 23
them by the moral effect of the guns. On open plains,
where it can move and fire in all directions, artillery is of
high importance ; massing strong batteries will supply the
want of military positions, and the fact that these artificial
military positions are movable is a great additional power
in the hands of a skillful general.
In broken and mountainous countries infantry naturally
plays the most important part, but even there artillery may
be very useful to concentrate a heavy fire on a narrow
defile, to shell and burn villages, demolish houses, etc.
Engineer Troops are sappers and miners, who open the
trenches and conduct the approaches in a siege, who sap,
undermine, and blow up the enemy's walls, and construct
siege-batteries and mortar-batteries; pontoniers lay and
preserve military bridges, and pioneers remove obstacles to
the march of columns, such as fallen trees, etc., or steep
declivities, or place obstacles in the way of the enemy.
Besides the various organizations above referred to, there
are several staff corps to assist the general or to supply the
troops. Of such are the Adjutant-General's Department,
the Ordnance Department, the Subsistence Department, the
Quartermaster's Department, the Medical Department, and
the Signal Corps.
SUPPLY OF ARMIES.
THE last chapter was devoted to examining the nature
of the composition and organization of armies ; in
this let us investigate the methods of supplying them ; for
after an army has been organized, the next step is to clothe,
equip, and arm it.
It will not be necessary for us to descend into very
minute particulars, for there is no invariable rule upon
these subjects, the practice and methods of accomplishing
the object being different in different countries, and in the
same country at different times.
Pay. The pay allowed to soldiers and officers by the
government is distributed to them at regular periods by
the captains of companies or by the paymaster. In the
United States service this duty is performed by paymasters,
who usually have the rank of major, and who visit the
various bodies of troops in their respective districts once in
every two months.
The entire force is, on this occasion, mustered, i. e. paraded
and inspected, and the presence of the different individuals
belonging to it verified by calling the Muster-Koll. If
any of the command should, by wounds or sickness, be
SUPPLY OP ARMIES.
prevented from being present at the muster, the mustering
officer visits the hospital or quarters and assures himself
that there are present and in the command all those whose
names are upon the muster-roll.
The only exception to this rule is in the case of persons
absent by authority, such as those on furlough or detatched
service ; and in their case the orders and authority for such
absence must be exhibited.
The pay delivered to the individual at the table of the
paymaster is his own to dispose of as to him may seem
good. There is no superintendence or control exercised
over the disbursement of his money by any authority, as is
the case in some of the services of Europe.
In the case of non-commissioned officers and soldiers the
piy is over and above the allowance of Clothing, Quar-
ters, Rations, and Fuel, all of which are furnished by the
government. Arms are intrusted to the men to be by
them used in the discharge of their military duties/ but
they remain the property of the United States.
The pay of a soldier of infantry or artillery is as follows :
private, thirteen dollars per month ; corporal, thirteen dol-
lars ; sergeant, seventeen dollars.
For the cavalry, engineers, ordnance, and special corps,
a few dollars more per month.
There is, moreover, an extra duty allowance prescribed
by law of Congress, for duties not contemplated as in the
habitual routine of military exactions; such as those of
laborers, teamsters, mechanics, etc., in the Quartermaster's
Department. Moreover, for wounds and disabilities con-
26 MILITARY LESSONS.
tracted or received in service certain pensions are allowed
In European services,, as before remarked, a different
practice prevails. Tor instance,, in that of Prance, accord-
ing to Mordecai, "the pay and allowances vary with the
state of the .troops, whether on peace establishment, assem-
bled for active service (as in camps of instruction or prep-
aration for war), or in war. The War Pay is uniform,
but the compensation in time of peace depends on the
individual position of the officer or soldier in actual ser-
vice; such as whether he is stationary or on a march,
present or absent from his regiment, on furlough, in hos-
pital, in confinement, or a prisoner of war.
"There are also supplementary allowances for pay for
peculiar circumstances ; as for length of service, for travel-
ing allowances, for residence in Paris, for professors and
instructors in the schools, for recruiting depots, for table-
money to certain commanders and others, commutation for
quarters, forage, -furniture, subsistence, payment for horses
and property lost, etc.
" The soldiers receive only a small quantity of the pay for
pocket-money (centimes de poclie) ; the expenditure of the
remainder is regulated by the regimental council of admin-
istration, for their subsistence, clothing, repairs of arms, and
equipments, etc. In each regiment a captain performs the
duties of paymaster, and another those of clothing officer.""
In the Austrian Service the internal administration
of a regiment is conducted by the colonel, assisted by a
captain and eight quartermaster-sergeants. This captain
SUPPLY OF ARMIES. 27
has charge of the muster-rolls, and all accounts and requi-
sitions and records of the regiment. He receives from the
commanders of companies the requisitions for all kinds of
supplies, and forwards them to the neighboring depots of
supplies, where the requisitions are filled. He then delivers
to each captain whatever is intended for his company, and
that officer distributes the same to the men, and thus
becomes responsible for the individual payments.
In the Prussian Service certain officials styled Intend-
ants do the purchasing and the issuing of supplies, and
disburse the funds to battalions and companies. They are
delivered to the company officers and sergeants, who dis-
tribute them to the men. Materials for clothing are given
to the men, who make up their own clothing. Bread is
the only ration which is issued in kind ; other provisions
are purchased out of the pay or money allowance. This
portion of the funds is administered by a company board
composed of an officer, a non-commissioned officer, and a
private, who are selected by the company.
The men are paid off every ten days, the funds being
received by the paymaster, who is a civil officer, and
turned over to the captain, in whose presence they are paid
out to the men by the orderly sergeant. The regimental
commander inquires of the men upon parade whether they
have received their dues ; and the same question is asked by
the general upon reviews and inspections. Each soldier has
a little account-book, in which is kept his account.
In the Russian Service the supply service is organized
into various bureaus ; such as the Subsistence Bureau, the
Clothing Bureau, etc.
28 MILITARY LESSONS.
Subsistence Department. In the United States ser-
vice, in addition to the Pay Department, there are the
Subsistence Department, the Quartermaster's Department,
and the Ordnance Department, each of which is presided
over by a brigadier-general stationed at Washington City.
The subsistence officers, who are styled commissaries of
subsistence and assistant commissaries, purchase and dis-
tribute to the troops the provisions or rations in kind.
To each regiment there is a regimental quartermaster,
who also acts as assistant commissary of subsistence ; and
at posts where there is less than a regiment, a lieutenant
who belongs to the command also acts in this capacity, over
and above his ordinary duties.
These officers are in charge of the depot of subsistence
stores, and issue the same upon proper requisitions by the
captains of companies. And they are assisted each by a
commissary-sergeant, and the rations are delivered to the
orderly sergeants of companies, who distribute them to the
The principal ingredients in the ration of the United
States army are eighteen ounces of flour, or one pound and
a quarter of corn meal, or twelve ounces of hard bread;
three quarters of a pound of pork or bacon, or in lieu
thereof one pound and a quarter of fresh beef. Besides
these, to every hundred rations are allowed eight quarts of
pease or beans, or in lieu thereof ten pounds of rice ; six
pounds of coffee ; twelve pounds of sugar ; four quarts of
vinegar ; one pound and a quarter of adamantine can-
dles; four pounds of soap; and two pounds of salt.
SUPPLY OF ARMIES. 29
.On a campaign, on marches, or on board of transports,
the ration of hard-bread is one pound.
The above is a sufficiency of substantial and wholesome
food; in fact, a generous provision. In addition to such
parts of the ordinary ration as may be used in hospital,
certain delicacies are allowed to the sick upon the requisi-
tion of the surgeon.
The Russian Ration consists of two pounds and three
quarters of bread, half a pound of fresh meat, salt, oat-
meal, cabbage, and some brandy. Of this, the bread, the
brandy, and one fourth of a pound of meat is furnished by
the government, and the residue is bought from the artel,
or company mess fund. This fund is created by a certain
amount taken or stopped from the pay of the men, from
the wages of the men when doing extra duty, or when
working for persons in civil life. The authorities encour-
age these labors, and the whole proceeds are turned into
The Eussian soldiers eat three times a day. Breakfast is
made of bread and salt and a little brandy ; at one o'clock
they dine on bread, and soup of meat, with cabbages inter-
mixed; the supper, which takes place at four o'clock in
the afternoon, consists of the same bill of fare as the din-
ner, with the addition of oatmeal porridge.
The bread, which is coarse and brown, is sour. The
soup also is sour; but this ration is said to be healthful.
Each man has a wooden spoon, and every mess of six men
a wooden bowl out of which they eat in common.
The Austrian Ration is mainly made of bread and soup.
30 MILITARY LESSONS.
Each man receives daily from a pound and a half to two
pounds of bread, and an allowance of about ten cents
to buy meat, which is usually a quarter of a pound in
amount ; also some vegetables. In garrison the men have
soup once a day, at midday ; and for breakfast and supper
they buy at the sutler's a piece of bread and a small glass
The French Ration was during the Crimean war, ac-
cording to General McClellan, as follows : " One pound
ten and a quarter ounces of bread, or one pound three
and a quarter ounces of biscuit ; one and five hundredths
ounces of rice or beans ; two and one tenth ounces of the
Chollet prepared vegetables ; eight ounces and three quar-
ters of fresh meat or salt beef, or seven ounces of salt
pork; forty-four hundredths of a pint of wine, or eleven
hundredths of a pint of brandy/''
Sometimes sugar and coffee are issued. Each mess of
five men in the cavalry had their cooking utensils, which
were carried strapped to their saddles. These utensils
were the marmite, or camp-kettle; the bidon, a pan for
bringing water; the frying-pan, and the gamelle or cup.
The Prussian Kation, when the men are in garrison, is
one pound and a half of black rye-bread, which is issued
every four days; and it must have been baked at least
twenty-four hours before issue. To this is added a small
money allowance with which the remainder of the food is
purchased by a commission of officers and non-commis-
sioned officers. When the troops are on a campaign, the
ration at its maximum consists of half a pound of meat ;
SUPPLY OP ARMIES.
two pounds of bread or one pound of biscuit ; one sixth
of a pound of rice,, or quarter of a pound of peeled barley,
or half a pound of beans or pease, or one pound and a quar-
ter of potatoes, with half a pint of brandy.
Supply of Clothing and Equipage. In the United
States service the clothing is made up complete before
issue, and is generally purchased from contractors. As
a general rule the clothing is of excellent materials,
being subjected to a rigid scrutiny before being accepted ;
but in time of war, when all the peace regulations are
relaxed, and when the supplies must be upon an enormous
scale, the materials are often of a very inferior quality,
and the dishonest and swindling contractor has an oppor-
tunity of growing rich upon his fraudulent gains. The
public and general recognition of this truth is evinced
by the popular epithet, " shoddy rich/' " shoddy* aristoc-
The allowance of clothing for five years, the term of
enlistment, is seven caps, two pompons, two eagles and
rings, five pompon-covers, eight coats, thirteen pairs of
trousers, fifteen flannel shirts, eleven pairs of drawers,
twenty pairs bootees, twenty pairs stockings, two leather
stocks, one overcoat, one stable frock for cavalry, five
fatigue overalls for engineer and ordnance soldiers, and
This allowance is found to be more than sufficient
for the neat, thrifty, and economical; and as all are
required to be well and neatly clad, all surplus articles
issued beyond the above allowance are charged to those
men who overdraw,, and the amount is deducted from
One sash is allowed to each company for the first or
orderly sergeant, and one knapsack with straps, haversack,
and canteen to each enlisted man.
Commissioned officers purchase their own clothing from
their own purses.
Besides clothing for the men, there is an allowance of
camp and garrison equipage for the troops as follows :
Tents while in the field,
For a general officer 3
" " staff officer above rank of captain and for field officer 2
" other staff officers and captains 1
" subalterns of a company, to each two .... 1
" 15 foot or 13 mounted men 1
and to the latter two spades, two axes, two pickaxes, two
camp-kettles, five iness-pans, and two hatchets. A proper
allowance of axes and hatchets is also made to the officers^
Bed-sacks are furnished to the troops in garrison.
Flags, colors, standards, guidons, drams, fifes, bugles, and
trumpets are also issued. Forage, fuel, and quarters are
supplied to the troops in garrison, forage in the field
All of the above supplies are furnished by the Quarter-
master's Department, which does the bulk of the disburse-
ments for the army ; it being charged with all the trans-
portation of the service, the purchase of animals, the
erection of quarters, barracks, hospitals, etc.
SUPPLY OF ARMIES. 33
Medical Supplies are furnished by certain officers of
the Medical Department, called medical purveyors, upon
the orders of the Surgeon- General, who is stationed at
Washington City. These supplies are medicines and drugs,
dressing, bandages, hospital furniture, surgical instruments,
The Ordnance Department has charge of the arsenals and
armories, and furnishes all ordnance and ordnance stores for
the military service, and, to some extent, to the militia of
the several States. The officers of this department on
campaigns frequently have command of siege and mortar
The general term " ordnance and ordnance stores " com-
prehends all cannon, artillery-carriages, and equipments;
all apparatus and machines for the service and manceuvers
of artillery ; all small arms, accouterments and horse-equip-
ment, all ammunition, and all tools and materials for the
The commander of every company or detachment is
responsible to the government for all the arms, equipments,
and ammunition issued to his men.
The clothing of the FrencJi army is so nearly like that
of the United States, that it is needless to say anything of
That of the Austrian service is well made and of excel-
lent material. It is issued to the squadron captains, either
made up without being trimmed, or merely in the shape of
raw material, according to their option. The overcoat for
all the cavalry is of thick white cloth, with sleeves and a
34 MILITARY LESSONS.
long cape; it is made very long and loose. From this
same white cloth the coats of the infantry is made. It is
cleaned by washing and pipe-clay, and is in favor with the
troops. They have no tents, nor do they carry any blankets
while in the field.
The clothing of the Prussians is similar, except the
color ; they wear frock-coats, of dark blue generally.
The distinctions of rank, army corps, regiment, etc., are
found on the cuffs and collars. Each soldier has in his
knapsack one pair of cloth pants, one overcoat, one forage-
cap, one pair of shoes, one pair of extra soles, one shirt, one
pair of drawers, brushes, shaving-materials, and twenty
rounds of cartridges; the weight of the whole is about
twenty pounds ; and the entire load of the soldier, includ-
ing arms, accouterments, ammunition, etc., is about sixty
It is needless to dwell upon the supply of armies, for the
methods of procuring, distributing, and repairing the various
kinds of supplies needed by an army will be varied by the
circumstances of the country and times. It is a matter of
prime importance, however, to every nation, and affords a
field for the exercise of a faithful economy, administrative
ability, and business tact.
MOVING OF ARMIES.
AN army being organized, well equipped, and supplied,
and a proper proportion of the various kinds of staff
officers and staff troops assigned to it, and it being supposed
that it has been thoroughly taught in the department of
tactics, it may be considered ready to move into the field.
An army may be transported by vessels at sea, or by
boats upon rivers ; it may be transported by railways on
land, or finally it may march. The last is, of course, the
most usual method. When the march is to be made in our
own or in a friendly country^ the case is quite different
from a march in the vicinity of the enemy ; the numerous
precautions to be taken in the latter case not being neces-
sary in the former. The troops are sent forward in smaller
detachments and at greater intervals ; they may also be sent
by different routes, which need not be very near to each
other, the governing considerations being comfort and econ-
omy. Singje regiments would be convenient bodies to send
forward at a time.
A small advanced-guard should be sent ahead, sufficient
to remove obstacles to the march of the main body, to make
arrangements for crossing rivers, to select camping-places,
36 MILITARY LESSONS.
and to make other needful arrangements. A rear- guard
should follow at a suitable interval of time to pick up
The men are allowed to take the route step and to inarch
at ease, carrying their pieces (which are not loaded) at will,
but generally at the slope. They advance along the roads
in columns of platoons, or with a smaller front, as by sections
or by fours, according to the width of the road. When
passengers are met on the road, the troops must leave suf-
ficient space for their passage. On good roads the troops
should make at least two and a half miles per hour. The
officers must remain at their posts during the march, and
maintain general good order, without, however, requiring
silence or exacting any observance that would be fatiguing
to the men. After marching an hour, a halt of ten minutes
should be made, and another of one or two hours midway
of the march.
The spots where halts are made should never be in towns
or villages, but in the vicinity of water; and the ground
should be dry, so that the men can lie down, because in this
way they will rest more* rapidly and completely than in any
other posture, and they will thereby preserve their strength.
When the halt is for more than ten minutes, they should
stack arms and take off their knapsacks and accouterments, ,
hanging them on the stacks.
Throughout the march the officers should take advantage
of every opportunity which presents itself to rest their men
and allow them to remove the weights which they may be
carrying, resuming them only when ready to set out again.
MOVING OF ARMIES. ' 37
But in the neighborhood of the enemy many precautions
will be necessary. Larger bodies will march together and
on different roads only when they are near to each other
and no barrier intervenes which would prevent one body of
troops from coming promptly to the relief of another.
They must also have adequate advanced-guards and rear-
guards, with patrols at considerable distances from these, and
also from the flanks of the columns to prevent ambuscades,
to find the enemy at sufficient distances to enable the gen-
eral commanding to make dispositions either to move on to
the attack or pursuit, or to receive the enemy's attack.
When there is a necessity for all or many of the troops
to move by the same road, the different regiments and
brigades should be separated by intervals sufficient to pre-
vent crowding and the consequent loss of time. The nature
of the locality must regulate the size of the intervals; gen-
erally they should be about seventy-five yards between regi-
ments, and one hundred yards between brigades; on the
other hand, the intervals must never be so great as to prevent
a prompt concentration of the command before an enemy
could make much headway in an attack. Artillery marches
by sections or by piece, and cavalry by twos or by fours.
The part of the rear-guard, on a retreat, which is nearest to
the enemy, should march by the rear-rank, so that they can
promptly face to the rear and deliver their fire.
It has been remarked above that when marching near
the enemy, advanced-guards, rear-guards, and flank-guards
should be thrown out to prevent being surprised by sud-
den attacks. The advanced-guard should, as a general
38 MILITARY LESSONS.
rule, be from one fifth to one fourth of the whole force.
Its duty is to discover the enemy and to send in infor-
mation of his strength, kind of troops, locality, and appar-
ent design. After once discovering the enemy, they mast
never lose sight of him in case he retires; on the other
hand, should he approach, they must hold him in check
at least long enough for the main body to prepare to re-
ceive him. They should examine the nature of the country
in advance of the main body, removing obstacles and send-
ing back all information that may be useful.
The advanced-guard should be sufficiently far ahead to
allow time to the main body to form before the enemy
can come upon them. Accordingly, if the advanced-guard
is pretty strong and independent, it can afford to go farther
ahead than a weaker one could do, even up to the point of
putting half a day between itself and the troops following.
In smaller bodies which do not require much time for
formation, the advanced-guard should not separate itself
more than two or three miles.
The advanced- guard should have an advanced-guard of
its own of two companies, one company, or a platoon, ac-
cording to strength. During the late war between Prussia
and Prance the armies of the latter seem to have been sin-
gularly deficient in good guards for the head, rear, and
flanks of their columns. Outpost service generally seems
to have been ill-performed or totally neglected. At the
retreat across the Moselle, the French army while en
cheval, or astride the river (i. e. part on one bank and
part on the other) were surprised and struck, not by the
MOVING OF ARMIES. 39
Prussian advanced-guard, but by a large body of the main
The advanced and flank detachments move at a distance
of eight hundred or one thousand yards from the main
advanced-guard, and these detachments send out patrols
who march five hundred to one thousand yards from the
heads and flanks of their detachments.
They must never lose sight of each other, and thus form
a complete chain around the head and flanks of the ad-
In a retreat the advanced- guard has but a subordinate
part to play, the main and important thing being the Rear-
Guard. They have to preserve order, to remove obstacles,
and to prevent straggling and running away, etc.
But to a rear-guard on a retreat belong some of the
most difficult as well as most important duties ever devolv-
ing upon troops. They must do everything to fend off the
enemy from the main body, and allow it to continue its
retreat quietly and unmolested. To this end they must
destroy bridges, ruin fords, fell trees, and seize every favor-
able spot on the route to inflict loss upon the pursuers.
It should be stronger than an advanced-guard when march-
ing towards the enemy, because, if this body should be
beaten and driven in, it can fall back upon the main body,
or else the main body can advance to its relief; but it
would never do to allow the rear- guard of a retreating
force to be broken and driven in confusion upon the main
body ; it might, and probably would, involve the rout of
the whole army.
40 MILITARY LESSONS.
History is full of examples of the conduct of rear-
guards; but 'perhaps the most celebrated and interesting
was that of the grand army commanded by Marshal Ney
on its retreat out of Eussia.
If the enemy pushes us vigorously and in force, our
rear-guard should be strengthened even to one third the
whole force, so as to allow a greater interval between it and
the main body. When the army retreats in several col-
umns, the different rear-guards should keep up a constant
communication with each other, and keep on a general line
perpendicular to the direction of the march, so as to pre-
vent the enemy penetrating the gap made by the one which
should have moved farther on, and thereby taking some of
the other columns in flank. With both advanced and rear
guards there should be a proper allowance of pioneers or
mounted engineer troops, to remove or place obstacles, etc.
If defiles are to be passed in retreat, sufficient time and
space must be allowed to the main body to get through
safely and without precipitation.
Flank-Guards. A flank march is a critical, dangerous
operation in presence of a vigilant enemy; and yet the
advantages are generally so great when it is successfully
accomplished, that it is very tempting. There should be
thrown out a strong flank-guard on the side of the enemy,
and they should have flank patrollers farther on, who could
give timely warning of his approach to the flank-guard,
which should immediately make effort to check and delay
him until the main force can form in order of battle. If,
at this moment, we have left one communication and have
not reached others, the situation is highly dangerous.
MOVING OF ARMIES. 41
The whole force should be so arranged as to be able to
make the most speedy formation in line of battle; and
there should be parallel columns which could form first, and
second lines, reserves, etc. The particular corps which are
to form these various bodies should be designated before-
hand, and made acquainted with the part they are to play.
The trains, baggage, ambulance corps, etc., should be, of
course, with the column farthest from the enemy.
Trains. To avoid confusion and delay in the march
of troops, arising from the large number of wagons with
them, the trains should be divided into three classes.
The trains of the first class which are needed during the
march consist of the ambulances provided with the means
of dressing wounds ; they should be accompanied by some
surgeons and hospital attendants. When in the immediate
neighborhood of the enemy, the ammunition-wagons should
be in this train, so that the men may not fail to have
plenty of ammunition. If rivers are to be crossed, the
ponton train also should accompany it. These trains of
the first class follow immediately after the regiments or
organizations to which they belong.
Trains of the second class consist of such as are needed
by the troops only when in camp. They comprise wagons
for ammunition, money, papers and records, tools, bag-
gage, medicines, field-forges, artillery-wagons, pack ani-
mals of the field and company officers, wagons of the office
of the commander-in- chief, wagons carrying provisions and
forage for immediate distribution, and the suttlers^ wagons.
Ammunition-wagons are kept by themselves, and march
42 MILITARY LESSONS.
near the troops. Trains of the second class follow the
main body in the interval between it and the rear-guard.
In a general retreat the wagons of this class should be sent
at least half a day ahead, so as not to impede the progress
of the troops.
Trains of the third class are composed of those for
which there is no pressing necessity. They consist of the
commissariat-wagons, those of the general hospital, reserve
ordnance stores, etc. Trains of this kind follow by them-
selves under an escort.
To prevent delays from a wagon breaking down, large
trains should move in sections of about one hundred wag-
ons each, and these sections should march at a distance of
about one third of a mile.
Of Halts. The length of a march near the enemy
varies with circumstances. Ordinarily it will be about
seventeen miles, but if necessary it may Breach thirty miles.
Small detachments, of course, move with more celerity
than large ones or entire armies. Forced marches should
never be made without some highly important object.
Small detachments of cavalry may march forty, fifty, or
even seventy miles under a great pressure. The ordinary
rate of march is about three miles per hour ; short halts of
ten or fifteen minutes should be made every hour.
When a halt is made for the night or a longer time, in
order to prevent being turned, detachments and pickets
should be sent out on all the roads leading from the flanks.
During a long halt, or one for the night, the train is
arranged more compactly than usual ; a proper position is
MOVING OF ARMIES. 43
selected in which to place all the wagons together, in order
that, being less scattered, a better watch may be kept upon
them. When danger is apprehended from the enemy, it is
best to park the train in column, because this formation
is changed more rapidly than any other, and from it it is
easier to take the road at the end of the halt, or when leav-
ing camp. An average interval of eight yards in width is
allowed to each wagon in this formation. The harness is
either piled up behind each wagon, or is hung upon the
wheels, and the animals are tied to the tongues or poles.
The distance apart of the different rows of wagons is
Wagons having powder in them are placed apart, and are
carefully guarded against fire and disturbance. The escort
bivouacs on the flanks or at the head of the train ; senti-
nels are posted. If the teamsters are not to be trusted, or
desertions are apprehended, a chain of sentinels should sur-
round the whole train. When an attack is expected, the
wagons should be parked with the hind wheels outside and
the animals within the enclosure.
Commander-in-Chief. The commander-in-chief who de-
signs to make a march which will be in the vicinity of
the enemy must be thoroughly acquainted with the roads
and general topographical -features of the district.
He must send forward staff officers, patrols, or scouts, to
examine and report to him all the desired information;
but. if the enemy occupies such positions as to forbid this,
he must have recourse to the best maps to be procured,
and supplement this information by interrogating the
inhabitants and deserters.
44 MILITARY LESSONS.
The Prussians, when they entered upon the late cam-
paign in France, were possessed of complete and detailed
maps of all the territory which they expected to operate
in; and they were never at a loss, but seem in some
instances to have been better posted than the French com-
Moreover, the commander must have guides to pilot the
different columns; he should procure seize if necessary
such men as, by the nature of their occupations, are well
acquainted with the country, hunters, mail-riders, stage-
.drivers, collecters of revenue, census-takers, etc. These
guides must be closely watched, for fear of treachery ; they
should be kindly treated, and informed that, if their service
is well performed, they will be generously rewarded, but
that, at the first sign of treachery, they will be shot. When
their service is over they must be sent back to the rear, and
precautions taken against their going over to the enemy.
In his orders for the programme of operations, he must
avoid descending into particulars so minute as to embarrass
subordinate commanders, should any event which was unfore-
seen transpire. But those orders should distinctly specify
what troops and organizations are to form certain columns ;
who is to command them ; what they are to do ; by what
roads to move; the time they must arrive at designated
points ; and where he himself can be found at various des-
ignated hours. He should send his trains by routes that*
will not be needed in case of a check and consequent retreat.
He must provide a continuous communication betweep the
different columns, so that each shall know of the progress of
MOVING OF ARMIES. 45
the others. In a retreat the rear-guard, and upon an advance
the advanced-guard, flankers, and all detachments near the
enemy will have their pieces loaded, but be careful never to
fire without orders from competent authority. The main
body do not load until about going into action.
During secret marches at night no drum or bugle must
sound, all orders must be given in a low voice, and as little
noise as possible of any kind be made, while no fires or
lights should be allowed, no one should even light a pipe.
Advanced-guards, flank detachments, and patrols should be
frequently relieved by fresh troops, because they become
fatigued by constant vigilance and anxiety.
Commander of the Advanced-Guard. He sends out
front and flank detachments as soon as the march begins, as
was explained above. An officer or a non-commissioned
officer is placed in command of each detachment, with full
instructions as to what he is to do, and -how to proceed in
the supposable cases likely to arise. The commander of
the advanced- guard sees that all these parties maintain con-
stant communication with him and with each other.
When he receives deserters or takes prisoners, he must
question them minutely as to the regiments they belong to,
where they are, the strength of their guards, the number
and position of the enemy, what corps and divisions are
near their own, and by whom commanded, the number of
the sick and wounded, the quantity and position of their
supplies, arid in general everything that may be serviceable.
But all such information must be received with distrust ;
these persons may deliberately falsify, or they may be so
46 MILITARY LESSONS.
ignorant that their information may be worthless. Some-
times it happens that timid persons will answer in the way
they suppose the questioner's wishes run.
It is necessary frequently to repeat the same question
unexpectedly,, so as to compare the different answers and
the answers of different individuals to the same questions.
Everything at all remarkable should be reported by the
commander of the advanced-guard to the general ; such as
his arrival and departure, and the time thereof at ferries,,
fords, villages, and, of course, any news of the enemy. He
should be careful not to send light and improbable rumors,
but investigate and verify in person as far as possible all
reports which he makes.
Upon entering a town or village, he should have the
authorities and principal persons brought before him, and
he should seize the public documents, post and express
As a rule, he should send an aid-de-camp or intelligent
officer ; he may, if desirable, write in pencil, using a cipher,
if there is fear of the paper falling into the enemy's hands.
These reports should be clear, precise, explicit, without
verbosity, and should show what is known to be fact and
what is upon hearsay.
These and all similar reports should be numbered in a
series, and the date with the hour accurately given, so that
the general may not be misled into believing that old
information is new, because it frequently happens that the
last report reaches its destination before one that was
despatched previously. If a report is very important, and
MOVING OF ARMIES. 47
there is fear that the enemy may get it, or of delay from
any cause whatever, another copy ought to be despatched
after the lapse of a suitable time.
When the enemy is encountered, instant information of
the fact is sent to the general ; meanwhile the commander
of the advanced-guard makes those dispositions called for
by the circumstances of the case. If strong enough,, he
should advance and fall upon the enemy; but if this is
not deemed expedient, he may take up a position where he
can hold the enemy in check until the arrival of the main
body ; or if he cannot do this, to avoid being cut off, he
must fall back towards the main body, delaying the enemy
by all such means as have been heretofore indicated, and by
such others as may be suggested by the fertility of his own
genius, the time, and circumstances of the case. He must
in no case allow the main body to be taken unawares, or in
the confusion of forming for battle.
The Selection of Camps for the advanced-guard is a
matter of high importance ; positions strong and not liable
to surprise must be selected, if such are to be had. Cities
and villages are not good for such a purpose ; the attention
of the men and officers may be distracted from their duties,
and intoxication may spread among the men; besides, so
good a watch cannot be kept up, and all that transpires in
the command may be reported to the enemy, together with
its strength, composition, and designs. There may be, how-
ever, good reasons for occupying the place by a detachment,
which' is sometimes done.
Should the advanced-guard camp near a defile, its open-
48 MILITARY LESSONS.
ings or debouches should be held ; and it may be well in
some cases to advance through the defile and camp at its
farther opening. Whatever has been here said applies
equally to a flank -guard thrown out on a march to the
flank. It may be well to remark, parenthetically, that one
of the greatest dangers of a flank march arises from the
fact that we of necessity abandon our lines of communica-
tion with the rear ; all secrecy and diligence must therefore
be used to gain another before the enemy can strike us.
On a retreat, the commander of the advanced-guard is
charged with preparing a good line of march for the main
body, removing all obstacles, preparing the banks of
streams, repairing or making bridges, and collecting the
needed supplies for the use of the army.
Commander of the Rear-Guard in Retreat. His duties,
as before intimated, are among the most arduous and
most responsible which a military man is ever called on
to perform. He will be compelled to fight, it may be
almost perpetually, and always with the great moral disad-
vantage of a retreat ; he fights, not for victory, but for safety.
Upon him devolves the task of sustaining the courage and
spirits of the army, of preventing loss of men and materials
left behind, of supplying himself and the commanding gen-
eral with thorough current information of the enemy and
his movements. He must throw out flankers, and scour
the neighborhood of his flanks.
It may be that the enemy will hasten forward troops on
the flanks, either with the view of turning the rear-guard,
and getting between it and the main body, to cut it off, or
MOVING OF ARMIES. 49
else to harass the rear-guard by urging it, from the fear of
such a catastrophe, into a rapid and confused march.
Wherever there are roads affording facilities for such a
movement, they should be thoroughly explored, and, if
needful, held in strength sufficient to thwart or de-
If in sight of the enemy, and fighting, he should not wear
out his command by marching or fighting the whole of it
at once; but rather he should hold positions with part
of it, while the remainder fall back to other positions, and
when they have been occupied, that nearest the enemy may
be abandoned, and so on. No obstinate contests should be
engaged in for the defence of such positions, nor any useless
fighting at any time ; he must economize his command, and
remember that his only object is to protect the retreat of
the main body.
Every available means of retarding the enemy must be
utilized, such as burning and blowing up bridges, destroy-
ing fords, filling up ravines with large stones tumbled down
from the cliffs above, felling trees, etc. If a road in a
ravine is cut out of the side of a cliff, by digging a pit in the
road and putting some powder in it, a portion of the road
may be blown away, and the enemy detained a long time.
Duties of the Commanders of Flank, Advanced, and
Rear Detachments. It will be remembered that it was
mentioned that the rear, flank, and advanced-guards threw
out detachments to march at a suitable distance from them ;
and that these minor detachments, in their turn, sent out
squads of fifteen to thirty men, called patrols. In the clay-
50 MILITARY LESSONS.
time, or on clear nights, they precede their detachments,
and, forming a chain around the heads and flanks of
the advanced-guards, sweep over and examine the whole
country in the vicinity of the line of march. In an open
country they can afford to spread out to a greater extent
than when the case is different. Cloudy and thick weather
and obscure nights will of course diminish their intervals.
The object of their being sent out, which is to explore
the country, will regulate their number and frequency.
They must at all times keep in sight of, and in commu-
nication with, each other. If the night should be very
dark indeed, the patrollers could not operate, and therefore
should not be sent out.
When patrollers are sent out, the commanders of detach-
ments should instruct them in their duties and what places
to examine particularly. Especially should defiles, woods,
and villages be examined by the patrols before the detach-
ments venture into them; otherwise they might be sur-
prised and cut off. Every person met on the road should
be closely interrogated as to himself, and as to what he
may know of the enemy. It will sometimes be well to
detain him awhile, lest he should go to the enemy.
Upon drawing near a town or village, one or more of
the inhabitants should be seized and questioned about the
enemy; whether he is concealed in the town or its neigh-
borhood, or whether he has been there lately, and when and
where he went, etc. The persons who have been seized
should be detained until the detachment has entirely cleared
the village. The commanders of these detachments ought
MOVING OF ARMIES. 51
never to send in any important report received from the
patrols until they have verified it in person.
In the early part of the late campaign in France, the
Prussians debouched in force from a wood during a battle,
and caused the defeat of McMahon's army.
The officer, whose duty it was to have caused that
wood to be searched, neglected it ; and, as we were in-
formed by the telegraph, overwhelmed with chagrin and
self-condemnation, he dismounted, shot his horse, and com-
mitted suicide by advancing steadily and alone upon the
enemy, till he fell, pierced by a bullet.
The detachments must keep up a constant communication
with each other and with the guards to which they belong ;
they should beware of getting separated for a long time
from their guards by impassable obstacles, such as marshes,
lakes, and woods. But when the separation would not be
too long, it is well for them tp march on the outer side
of these obstacles, so as to examine the country be-
When the enemy is found in force, or makes an attack,
the commanders of these detachments should decline com-
bat, and should retreat, while skirmishing, upon their
respective guards. Of course they should do whatever can
be consistently done to delay the enemy, and to gain as
much time as possible.
Should the enemy stand fast, they remain in his presence,
and if he retires they pursue, keeping him in sight.
Duties of Patrols during a March. Patrols, are of dif-
ferent strength; their business is to examine the country
52 MILITARY LESSONS.
near the line of march,, and to discover the enemy so early
as to prevent a surprise. Patrols ought to have at least ten
or fifteen men in them. The men must stretch out as much
as the nature of the ground will permit, both to examine as
great an extent of ground as possible, and to prevent all
being captured at once. Some should always be able to
escape and to take in information.
The men in front, on the flanks, and in the rear of
patrols are called Patrollers. At night they must close
in on their respective detachments, but still keep up a
chain, for fear the enemy should slip through in the dark-
When a detachment is sent forward with orders to attack,
it should keep its patrols and patrollers closer in, to prevent
giving the enemy warning too long a time before its arrival
at his position.
The individual patrollers jnust exercise extreme vigilance,
keeping their eyes and ears open. Whatever they see and
do not thoroughly comprehend, they must visit and inspect ;
and so of sounds, particularly at night ; such as the giving
of commands, noise of wagons, neighing of horses, tread of
numbers of men, etc. If these things are not within the
limits of their assigned inspection, they must inform a non-
commissioned officer, who will take measures to investigate
the matter. The detachments and patrols ought then to
halt, making the necessary dispositions against surprise.
Patrols ascend every eminence on the sides of the route, and
remain there until relieved, or until the detachment has
MOVING OF ARMIES. 53
Particularly on entering ravines or denies with precipi-
tous sides the summits of the sides should be carefully
examined before the detachment enters.
If a report is to be made concerning anything seen or
suspected, there must be no trepidation of manner nor
loudness of voice ; the communication should be in a low,
When ascending a hill, one man should go in front of
the others, and steal up quietly, moving behind trees,
stumps, rocks, or any accidents of the ground, and when
near the summit should take off his cap and cautiously
peep over to see, without being seen. If mounted he
When, in daytime, it is necessary for the advanced-guard
to pass through a village, the front patrollers send one of
their number into the village, who traverses its principal
streets, asking for the chief man of the place ; at the same
time other patrollers ride along the outskirts of the place.
When the magistrate or principal man of the village has
teen- found, he is conducted to the commander of the
advanced-guard^ which will by this time have arrived. If
it is night-time the patrollers approach the first house, call
out the owner, and carry him off to the commander, as
above; afterwards they seek the principal man of the
Precautions should be taken upon entering a wood ; the
skirts should be examined to ascertain whether the enemy is
not ambuscading there, and the roads leading through must
be scoured ; and while advancing through a forest, if the
54 MILITARY LESSONS.
front patrollers come upon a prairie or open space, they
must examine the skirts all around.
When our patrols discover those of the enemy, or when
flags of truce come in, the commander of the patrol is im-
mediately informed of the occurrence. The bearer of the
flag is blindfolded and conducted to the commanding officer.
If straggling soldiers of. the enemy are perceived they must
be surrounded and captured. When the enemy is found in
force, a well-conducted and orderly retreat is made upon
the detachment. It is only when the enemy suddenly
bursts upon the patrollers that firing should be allowed,
for the purpose of giving warning. At the first shot the
detachment forms and the patrollers fall back upon it.
In reference to being surprised, after remarking that
such a thing should never happen at all, it may be well
to state that there are scarcely any circumstances which
would justify an officer in the surrender of cavalry ; a bold
and instantaneous charge will always enable the majority to
Kegulating Marches by the Nature of the Ground.
When near the enemy it is usual to employ troops of
all arms in the advanced-guard. If we expect to do any
fighting we want infantry, artillery, and cavalry, in order
that the excellences of each may be utilized as the oppor-
tunity offers. If the country is level and open we use more
cavalry than when it is rough and covered with forests ;
light cavalry are used for this kind of duty. The army
advances in several columns on different roads, the bulk of
the troops destined for duty as advanced-guards march on
MOVING OF ARMIES. 55
one road, while smaller guards march upon the others,, and
a mutual communication is kept up by means of patrols.
When the advanced-guard is composed of different arms,
its distance from the main body depends also on the follow-
ing considerations : 1st, its composition,, cavalry advancing
farther than infantry ; 2d, the kind of country ; for if the
advanced-guard is secure from being turned, it may venture
farther ahead ; 3d, the object in view. If the main body
expects to stand on the defensive, the advance should be
well ahead, in order to give time for formation. But if
the main body has found a position favorable to making a
stand, there is no need of an advanced-guard at all ; some
pickets and videttes, to give notice of the enemy's approach,
will be sufficient. When pursuing the enemy, the main
body must be close behind the advance. Generally the
distance of the guard in. advance should be rather greater
than the distance apart of the extreme columns of the main
In a mountainous country the patrols are infantry, and
so, likewise, are the head and the rear of every column ; the
cavalry and artillery marching in the center. In moun-
tainous countries we are most likely to be attacked, and it
is here especially that the enemy will desire to fall upon our
cavalry, for upon such ground, being unable to charge, it is
This is pretty much the truth also with regard to artillery ;
hence infantry is the sole reliance : it must protect the other
To this end infantry patrols are sent out as far as practi-
56 MILITARY LESSONS.
cable to occupy the heights overlooking the line of march.
Those of the advanced and flank guards hold their positions
till relieved by those of the rear-guard.
The order in which the main body marches must likewise
be adapted to the locality. In a mountainous country or
in forests the cavalry must not be at the head of the col-
umn ; because, if attacked there, they will probably be cut to
pieces, and, in flying to the rear, will carry disorder among
the other troops. And so with artillery ; still, a few pieces
can, with advantage, accompany the advance of the column,
to play upon the enemy if he attacks suddenly.
The duties of the rear-guard have been more or less
described above; not much need be added here. If the
locality will permit, it is composed of all arms. In a
champaign country the cavalry, by its charges upon a pur-
suing enemy, can keep him off until the infantry have time
to fall back to woods, hills, or other strong positions.
But while retreating through a broken country the cav-
alry should be at the extreme rear (now the head of the
column), pn passing over a bridge or through a defile,
some guns should be stationed at its mouth, along with the
infantry, to keep the enemy aloof while the other troops pass
through. After a defile has been passed and the enemy is
following through it, then is a fine opportunity to concen-
trate a heavy fire from an extended front on the head and
flanks of his column as it debouches, while he can do little
in the way of retaliation.
If we must retreat through a hostile village, it should first
be seized by infantry, and then the cavalry can either move
MOVING OF ARMIES. 57
round it or gallop through, provided this last would not
interfere with the fire of the infantry. Once passed, they
and the horse artillery form to protect the infantry, as they
emerge from the village.
The commander of the rear-guard must regulate always
his own movements by those of the main body; being
careful not to retreat too soon or too hastily, for fear of
coming upon it and spreading confusion.
PASSAGE OF RIVERS ON ICE, BY FORDS, BY BOATS, AND
one of the most difficult and dangerous of
all the operations which troops in a campaign are ever
called upon to perform is the passage of rivers, especially
in the presence of the enemy or in his vicinity.
It demands from the commander the highest qualities of
discretion, secrecy, promptness, and audacity; and from
the army absolute obedience, silence, and coolness, together
with a certain amount of mechanical skill and business tact.
The first considerations to be weighed are those of strat-
egy, for the selection of tlie point of crossing is of prime
importance. If our army is in retreat) we should select a
place where the river makes a sharp and deep bend away
from us, as is represented in the figure on the next page.
Here the short chord of the arc A B can be seized, and
by a comparatively small portion of our forces, while the
main body of the army makes the passage. This chord,
strengthened if practicable and necessary by a hasty in-
trenchment, and mounted with sufficient artillery, will be a
stronghold from which a heavy fire can be concentrated
on the enemy to keep him aloof.
PASSAGE OF RIVERS.
As soon as possible the greatest amount of long-range
cannon that is available should be sent across, which will
immediately take up positions on the banks opposite to A
and B, whence they can keep up a cross-fire in front of the
chord A B. These positions should be re-enforced as fast
as the troops cross,, which they do at C, and finally
the rear-guard can withdraw from the chord and make the
passage under cover of the main body, now already across,
and who will keep up a concentrated fire across the river.
The last of the rear-guard will detach the bridge from the
enemy's bank, destroy the ford, or do whatever shall be
found practicable to defeat or delay the enemy's pas-
On the other hand, to cross over to the enemy we must
select a point where the river makes a deep and sharp lend
toward us. By throwing forward strong detachments on
our flanks to the points A and B (p. 60) we can keep the
enemy away from the point of crossing ; for he would be
chary of venturing into this cul-de-sac, where his troops
would be huddled together, with both of his flanks exposed
and his own fire rendered divergent.
These, then, are the features of rivers which would
decide our choice ; but other advantages should be com-
bined with them, if possible. We should avoid boggy
land, or places where the animals and vehicles are liable
to mire down. The approaches ought to be clear, firm
ground. Should there be no choice in this matter, engineer
troops must precede the main body, to remove obstacles
and remedy the bogs by throwing in fascines or making
the kind of causeway called corduroy.
If we have to cross to the enemy, we must by all means
deceive him by making feints of crossing in several places
at once, and conducting our genuine attempts at night and
with great secrecy. When retiring before the enemy, we
can accomplish very little in the way of deception. The
spot being once fixed upon, it will become a question as to
the mode of crossing. And this task may be effected by
swimming, in the case of light cavalry and infantry, with
bodies of troops quite considerable in numbers, by ford-
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 61
ing, by ferrying over in boats, by rafts, upon the ice, by
flying bridges, or by ponton bridges. To decide in this
matter, the general must have been thoroughly informed
about the river by his staff officers. In addition to the
facilities presented by the point of passage, or which may
be collected along the river, such as boats, and timbers
for making rafts, every well-appointed army will have
appliances in its trains for crossing rivers. Such has been
the custom from remote antiquity. It is said that Semiramis,
in her expedition to the India, carried along boats which
could be taken to pieces for transportation. Xerxes, we
know, caused an immense bridge of boats to be thrown
across the Dardanelles. Boats, rafts made of forest-trees,
or the skins of animals sewed up and expanded bf air, have
been in use for the passage of rivers by troops from the
earliest times. Julius Csesar carried with his armies boats
made of osier frames covered with leather or raw hides.
The Emperor Julian made use of similar boats to con-
struct his bridges f or 4 crossing the Tigris and the Eu-
Julius Csesar constructed across the Seine a bridge, the
supports of which were gabions filled with stones ; and his
bridge over the Rhine was on piles, protected by a row of
piles, or a stockade, on the upper side, to fend off heavy
logs and floating bodies which the Germans sent down the
stream to destroy it. In more modern times Charles the
Bold passed the Seine near Noret on a bridge of casks.
In 1589 Alexander Farnese cast three bridges over the
Meuse near Bessel. A very celebrated bridge was that
62 MILITARY LESSONS.
constructed by the Spaniards in 1585 over a stream near
Antwerp,, and which came near being destroyed by an
infernal machine invented, by the Italian engineer, Jeuni-
belli. In 1631 Gustavus Adolphus crossed the Lech on
a trestle-bridge in the presence of his enemy. In 1672
Louis XIV. had two bridges over the Rhine supported by
copper pontons. One of these bridges was at Tolhuys,
and the other at Aonheim. The copper pontons were
extensively used in his time and in that of his successor.
Grebeauval replaced them by wooden bateaux. In the
year 1746 Captain Guillet cast three bridges over the Po,
measuring more than five hundred yards, in less than
eight hours. They were burned immediately after the pas-
sage of the French army. Since that time a multitude of
similar instances have occurred.
In order to decide on the means of passing a river with
troops, the commander should have a thorough and
detailed knowledge of the river ; and it is the business of
his staff officers more particularly that of the engi-
neers to collect and furnish this information to him.
For this purpose a careful reconnoissance of the river
should be made, as well as all knowledge possible to be
obtained from maps, books, the inhabitants of the country,
and all other sources. Data should be obtained concern-
ing the source of the river, its general direction, bends,
and mouth ; also the number and nature of the tributaries,
and where they enter ; whether it is navigable, by what, and
how far ; whether it is navigated ; the number and kind
of boats and vessels ; what shoals and reefs there are, and
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 03
what whirlpools and gulfs; what parts, if any, pass
through the enemy's territory.
Bocks and reefs, the presence of which is indicated by a
disturbance of the water, are places very dangerous to
boats ; while the whirls or gulfs are cavities into which the
water is precipitated, whirling and sinking below the gen-
eral level. These last are also extremely dangerous to
The velocity of the water is not the same in the whole
breadth of the river, but it is greatest in the current) where
the water is deepest. The current is indicated by a rise in
the height of the water. In some instances this rise is as
much as three feet.
To determine the velocity of the current, we throw in some light body
which will float, and note the number of seconds it is in passing the length
of a base measured on the shore ; this distance divided by the number of
seconds gives the velocity. When the current is too far from the shore,
anchor two boats in it at a known distance and proceed as before. Or we
may use a log, as on shipboard ; for this purpose throw in the log, attached
to a fine, strong string which will freely run off a reel, and observe the time
in which a certain distance is unreeled. A very slight current is about half
a yard per second ; an ordinary current, eighty-five hundredths of a yard ;
a rapid current, one and a half to two and a quarter yards ; a very rapid
current, two and a half to three and a half yards ; and beyond that an irre-
The straighter the bank the swifter will be the current.
As the current is different at different times, we ought to
know what it is at the highest, the lowest, and mean
water, and what is the difference of level at those stages,
and when these ordinarily occur. Note the influence of
64 MILITARY LESSONS.
the tides, and how far up they extend ; also the direction
of the winds, which are likely to bank up the waters.
Learn if there are any bars, locks, dikes, or levees, and
their object, and whether their destruction would produce a ,
flood or a ford. With reference to overflows and high
waters from the melting of snows, we must remember that
the first occur in March or April, and the later and generally
the larger in June and July. Freshets are indicated by an
increase of current which disturbs the water at the bottom
of the river ; it is said then to run on the bottom.
Sometimes steady winds blowing up the river for a long
time bank up the waters, arresting the progress of the cur-
rent, and causing such a rise as to bring about serious
Learn at what times the river is frozen, and the thick-
ness of the ice. The breaking up of the ice sometimes
causes terrible freshets, because the sunken ice accumulates
and dams up the river.
The swifter the current is the greater the size of the
bodies which it carries ; mountain torrents roll along quite
large bowlders. In a flat country, deposits of very fine
sand indicate a feeble current. Thus by inspecting the
deposits in the bed of a stream, we can judge somewhat of
the nature of the current. Learn whether the bottom is
rocky, pebbly, or of sharp stones, which would interfere
with the fording by horses and vehicles ; whether it is of
gravel, mud, or shifting sands ; also whether it is covered
with reeds and rushes which would interfere with the motion
PASSAGE OF RIVERS.
Everything which arrests the flow of water favors the
deposit of the earthy particles which it contains. In this
way the resistance to the current offered by the sea gives
rise to the bars at the mouth of rivers and harbors ; and
so, likewise, with the bars at the mouth of tributaries.
See whether there are any islands, their number, size,
location ; whether wooded or not, facilities for attack, and
The width of rivers may be determined by stretching
across them a small cord or wire which is graduated.
If this method be not practicable, the
width may be found, though not so ac-
curately, by calculation : thus, suppose it
is required to find the width of the river,
A B ; draw and measure, on the shore
where you are, the line B D E, of any
convenient length, perpendicular to A B ;
measure E F perpendicular to B E, also
of a convenient length, and observe the
point D, where the line FD A cuts B E\
measure D E and D B ; then we have
from the similar triangles A B L and D E F the proportion D E : E F : :
D B : A B.
The form of the bottom of the river may be determined
by sounding with a graduated rod, at fixed distances from
the river banks. Also the rise and fall of the water may
be observed by driving pickets into the bottom a short
distance from the shore.
Observe whether the banks are steep, and whether they
are within range-points favorable to attack or defence.
66 MILITARY LESSONS.
These, and many other data which will suggest themselves
to an intelligent officer, should be collected.
Rivers may be passed by fords, on ice, on floating bodies,
or on bridges. Perfect order should characterize the dif-
ferent operations. Care should be taken to -slope down the
banks at the point of passage, so as to make an easy grade
for animals and vehicles.
Passage by Swimming, Swimming should be taught
to all the troops, and swimming of horses to cavalry. This
is much attended to in some of the European services, but
hi this country it is almost wholly neglected. Cavalry can
pass a river by swimming better than infantry, because the
horses swim naturally. To swim a horse, the rider ought,
to a great extent, to let him have his own way; sitting
quietly and directing him obliquely down stream, so that
the current may not take too much hold upon him.
When it is necessary to turn the horse, the rein of the
bridle on the side to which he is to turn should be taken
carefully in the hand and his head slowly turned.
In the passage of the Rhine narrated by Boileau, all of the
river, except about one hundred yards, was fordable. Some
individual horsemen attempted to swim this part, and were
drowned; but afterwards an attempt to swim a squadron-
front at a time being made, and the men mutually sustain-
ing each other, it was entirely successful ; and in this man-
ner the whole cavalry passed and defeated the enemy.
Horses are frequently discharged from on board ship by
being thrust into the water, where they will follow to the
shore other horses swimming and being led by persons in
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 67
Passage on Ice. This is an exceedingly precarious
mode of passing a river. After a corps has succeeded in
passing, a sudden change of temperature may break up the
ice and cut off its communications. Besides this, great
care and prudence are requisite in the operation to pre-
vent frightful accidents. Ice which is from three inches to
three and a half inches thick will serve for infantry march-
ing by single file ; when four and a half inches thick, cavalry
and light artillery may pass; when four and six tenths
to five inches thick, heavy field batteries can cross. The
wheels should be fastened on slides, parallel to the axis of
the carriage (not to the axles or axle-trees) . A kind of
sled will thus be formed ; the horses must be taken out and
led over, and then the pieces and carriages can be pushed
across by the men. The ice should always be resting on
the water, otherwise it is very insecure. The strength of
ice may be much increased in very cold weather, by cover-
ing it with a layer of straw or of fascines, and pouring water
over it to freeze.
To prevent accidents, straw or planks should be placed
under the horses' feet and under the wheels ; the carriages
should not follow each other at a less interval than twenty
paces; cannon of large caliber are slid over on sleds if
the ice will not bear them when mounted on their carriages.
In the winter of 1794-5 the French army, by means of
ice passages, effected the conquest of Holland; and their
light cavalry captured a fleet of ships !
Fords. In a campaign fords are extremely convenient
for the passage of rivers, not merely by small detachments,
68 MILITARY LESSONS.
but by entire armies. In the celebrated Italian campaign
of 1797 the French army crossed the Tagliamento, in order
of battle, and attacked and defeated the Austrians.
History, even the most recent, is full of examples. The
best fords are those with firm, solid bottoms. In moun-
tainous regions the fords are beset with large stones, which
render them impracticable for wheeled carriages; in fiat
countries there is often mud or fine sand at the bottom,
which is cut up by the horses' feet, thus destroying the fords.
In torrent-like rivers, and those subject to freshets, the
fords are changeable in depth and position, presenting but
The ordinary depth of a ford should not be greater than
three feet for infantry, four feet for cavalry, and two feet
four inches for artillery. However, where the current is
gentle, infantry can take a ford four feet deep.
It sometimes happens that a river is fordable all except a
narrow channel, either because the enemy has dug it out, or
that it is naturally deeper there than elsewhere. This
channel may be all, or nearly all, filled up by sinking in it
fascines with stones on them, or boxes or gabions filled
with stones and gravel. It may be remarked, that if it
should be found necessary to leave a narrow channel, it
may be bridged over.
The location of fords may be found from the inhabitants
of the neighborhood, or by observing where the tracks of
vehicles enter the water ; by the increased velocity of the
current, or the increased width of the river ; by a double
change of direction within a short distance, and in this
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 69
case the ford runs diagonally from one bank to the other.
Also fords are sometimes just above a bridge, or at the
mouths of streams and rivers.
A very good way of discovering a ford is to descend the
stream in a boat or canoe,, with a lead-line suspended in the
water, having the proper depth for infantry or cavalry, as
the case may require ; on the cord should be a float, which
would make its appearance when the lead touched bottom.
When bottom is touched, the party sounding halt and
sound in all directions for a ford, and mark out its direction
and width by two lines of pickets driven into the bottom.
The lower line of pickets may have a line stretching from
one picket to another, throughout its length, for the safety
of those who may lose their foothold in crossing, and be in
danger of being borne off by the current. This last pre-
caution is very good for night passages.
Fords may also be formed by sounding with rods or
poles ; this is said to be the fashion of the Cossacks. They
spread themselves along the shore, lance in hand, and as
soon as one has found a ford they all join him, and in a
very short time determine its width and direction.
When the location of a ford is known, before adventuring
into it, swimmers should be sent into it to explore its nature
and condition, to remove obstacles, and to repair it should
the enemy have injured it.
They must fill up all trous-de-loups, or holes, which he
may have dug there, either with fascines weighted down, or
with stones and gravel.
When the water is very swift, a line should be stretched
70 MILITARY LESSONS.
along the upper side of the crossing, with empty kegs at in-
tervals to float it. To this line, small cords are tied at frequent
intervals, with blocks of light wood fastened at their lower
ends to keep them floating. These will serve for those who
lose their footing to seize hold on.
The Passage. The infantry pass first ; they should
be in platoons, nearly at full distance. Next comes the
artillery ; and last, the cavalry. This order is observed,
because the feet of the horses cut up and injure the ford.
The infantry soldiers should advance the up-stream
shoulders, and carry their muskets on that shoulder; and
to prevent wetting their ammunition, the cartridge-box
should be fastened on top the knapsack.
The men must be careful not to gaze steadily at the
water, because of its making their heads swim, as it is
called ; they should look at the bank. It is sometimes a
good expedient to station a line of cavalry along the upper
edge of the ford, to break the force of the current ; and oth-
ers along the lower side to catch those who are borne away
by it. Sometimes (as in very cold weather) foot-soldiers
mount behind the cavaliers, and so pass over. Finally the
passage must be controlled by the particular circumstances
of the case, and a sound discretion.
When cavalry are fording, the bridle-reins should be
held somewhat tight, in order to raise the heads of the
horses and compel them to look at the shore ; for they,
too, are troubled by the sight of the flowing waters.
Neither should they be allowed to drink, for the same
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. //TT }T T '/
II w Ai ,'
A ford should never be attempted when
ing, unless it is certain that the whole force
before the ford ceases to be practicable. Moreover, no
ford should be relied on as a sure means of communication,
for it may be destroyed by a sudden freshet or other acci-
When on a retreat, fords should be destroyed behind
us, by digging channels, holes, placing obstacles, sowing
crow's-feet, etc. Crow's-feet are four iron spikes joined in
one point, and pointing in different directions; so that
when three are resting on the ground, one will be pointing
upwards. Trees trimmed as for abattis may be fixed in
the way, and any obstacles presented by the locality may
be utilized for stopping or delaying the enemy. Finally,
cut the banks into steep bluffs.
Passage by Boats. Passage of rivers may be made in
this way either in presence of the enemy, or by surprise,
for the purpose of protecting the establishment of a bridge ;
besides, isolated corps, unless too large, may pass in this
In the last case, it has the merit of despatch when com-
pared with the time necessary to lay a bridge and take it
When we have no boats of equipage, pontoniers and
boatmen, escorted by light cavalry, proceed to seize all the
boats to be found on the river, and take them to the point
of passage ; these men must be provided with the neces-
sary ropes and tools. Their movements must be rapid and
72 MILITARY LESSONS.
It frequently happens that the enemy has destroyed or
sunk the boats along his shore, and it becomes necessary to
raise the sunken ones. In order to raise a sunken boat,
we bring alongside of it two others, with an interval
greater than its width between them ; they should be fas-
tened together by two beams extending across the gunwales,
and solidly fastened. The boats are fast anchored, to hold
them in place; then a line is run under one end of the
sunken boat, fastened to an end of one of the auxiliary
boats, and the men haul on the other end of the line.
When the end of the boat is raised above the surface of the
water, the line is fastened, and a similar operation is per-
formed under the other end. When the boat has been
raised, it should be bailed out and set afloat.
Another method would be to pass lines under the
sunken boat, then let water into the two auxiliary boats
until they are pretty nearly submerged, fasten the lines,
and bail out the boats. On rising, they will lift the
sunken boat; repeat the operation, if necessary, until it
can be bailed out and taken possession of.
Sometimes a sunken boat can be dragged to a shallow
place where it can be bailed. Auger-holes or ball-holes
may be filled by conic plugs; leaks and cracks by tow
steeped in tallow and covered over with strips of plank
nailed on from the interior.
When the boats are all assembled at the crossing-place,
if there is time, their respective capacities should be
marked upon them. The steadiness of boats increases with
their size. Their power of flotation is obtained by sub-
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 73
tracting their weight from that of the volume of water
which they would displace if they were sunk flush with the
surface of the water.
A rule used in the French military service is the following : Measure the
height of the gunwales above the water, the boat being afloat ; calculate the
area of the horizontal section half-way between the water-line and the top
of the gunwale ; multiply together these quantities expressed in metres,
and the product will give the number of cubic metres of capacity above the
water-line. Now, since the cubic metre of water weighs 1,000 kilograms,
you have the weight the boat can carry. Suppose the cubic contents were
8.75 cubic metres, the capacity would be 8,750 kilograms, or 19,250 pounds.
The kilogram equals 2.204737 pounds avoirdupois, and the metre 39.37
inches. If the measures were taken in feet, multiply tHe number of cubic
feet of volume by 62J pounds. But it would never do to load a boat down
to the extent mentioned ; hence we must cut down this estimate consider-
ably. Measuring by the pace and the eye would then suffice.
The lower down the center of gravity is, the steadier will
the boat ride. The following data will suffice to regulate
the loading of the boats. A man under arms will weigh
about 175 pounds; without arms, 140 pounds; and he
will occupy a little over one third of a square yard. A
horse will weigh from 900 pounds to^l,000 pounds, and
will occupy about 9x3 feet. Six persons without arms
can be placed on a space but little larger than a square
yard, which gives a weight of near 900 pounds to the
The boats having had their capacities marked on them,
they are drawn up according thereto, and crews are
assigned in the proportion of one pilot to four oars-
men. The boats are propelled either by oars or poles.
74 MILITARY LESSONS.
Where there is no rudder, a fifth oar may supply its
Upon its arrival, the body of troops is divided into pla-
toons, each chief of platoon being informed what boat is
assigned to him, and when he is to embark.
The soldiers should neither embark in nor leave the boat
in a body, for fear of upsetting it. Infantry should enter
at the bow, and seat themselves upon or at the foot of the
gunwales, beginning at the stern, the cartridge -box drawn
around to the front, and the musket between the knees.
If the water is too shallow near the bank, before entering,
the boat should be shoved off a sufficient distance, and the
men can wade into it. This remark also applies to landing.
While in the boat the men must remain perfectly still
and silent, and they should be cautioned that, if the boat
should lean over to one side, not to throw themselves too
suddenly towards the opposite, especially if the careening
should arise from running on some obstacle in the water ;
for there would be danger of upsetting.
A strict surveillance should be kept on boatmen who are
strangers, both to see that they perform their duties well,
and also to prevent treachery. Even those who were
friendly have been known to jump overboard to e'scape the
dangers of landing. In the immediate presence of the
enemy the men should have their pieces loaded and bayo-
nets fixed ; but they should be forbidden, under the severest
penalties, to fire without orders. When it can be done in
shallow boats, the men should sit on the bottom, thus lower-
ing the center of gravity and rendering the ferriage more
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 75
A boat with 25 infantry-men should cross a stream 125
yards wide in a minute and a half. The efficiency of small
boats can be increased by lashing together two, four, or
more. Four boats arranged in this way could carry 80 per
cent more than when used alone. This expedient was put in
practice at the siege of Antwerp in 1832.
With small boats, cavalry are passed by putting six
troopers in a boat, who lead their horses, swimming three
on a side ; unless the current is very swift, when only three
horses will be taken at a time, they swimming on the lower
But when there are boats large enough, it is better to
cross the horses in them. For this purpose a floor should
be laid on beams upon the bottom, for the horses to stand
on. The horses should be placed across the boat, head
and tail alternating, their riders standing near their heads
and holding the reins close to the bit. It is dangerous to
place them lengthwise in the boat. A ramp or inclined
plane is made in the bow to facilitate the getting in and
out of the animals.
Artillery is transported dismounted; sometimes it is
placed on two or more boats lashed together. This last
method is to be preferred, because it enables us to take the
pieces over mounted on their carriages.
In transporting materials and stores, the heaviest should
be placed in the bottom. Those articles liable to injury
from wetting, like powder, rations, and arms, must be kept
out of the water, and covered with tarpaulins.
Navigation. When, in place of crossing, it is intended
76 MILITARY LESSONS.
to navigate some distance along the river, in addition to
observing all the precautions indicated above, the load
should be diminished about twenty-five per cent, and the
convoy should be preceded by a skiff or canoe, to recon-
noiter and explore.
A river which has a fall of one in four thousand is of easy
navigation, and may be ascended by sail ; but a fall of one
in two thousand is too swift for sail alone, and towage must
be resorted to. Eivers with a fall of one in fifteen hundred
are impracticable. Where the passages are very dangerous,
local pilots must be procured.
A celebrated passage was made on the 25th of Septem-
ber, 1799, by the French army of the Danube before
Dictiken. The boats which had been collected on the Aar
and the Eeuss, not being able to reach the point of passage
without passing under the fire of the enemy, they were
taken over a portage by wagon and by hand. The head of
the convoy arrived at night at Dictiken ; the boats were
taken to the shore and arranged in order; it took one
hundred men to carry some of the largest, while twenty
men were sufficient for the smaller ones.
The boats all being in place and provided with their out-
fits, the boatmen lay down each behind his own boat, oar in
hand. The smallest and lightest boats formed the right
division, which was to lead the assault ; those of medium
size formed the left wing, whose duty was to carry an
island occupied by the Eussians, and whence they had a
reverse fire on the point of passage. The heaviest boats
formed the center. The artillery, commanded by General
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 77
Foy, had taken up a position to effectually protect the
passage. Such was the silence and good order that reigned
throughout this operation, that neither the Eussians nor even
the French troops themselves heard a sound. At a signal
given by General Gasan, the banks of the river were cov-
ered with troops, who assaulted and beat the enemy, despite
a heavy fire of grape. Another instance of boat passage
under the fire of the enemy was that at Queenstown, by the
American troops. The landing of General Scott at Vera
Cruz was a specimen of well-organized and thoroughly suc-
cessful boat service, although no opposition was offered by
the enemy. Many more instances could be adduced.
Eafts and Foot-Bridges. Eafts may be used, instead
of boats." They have the advantage of not 'being liable to
be sunk by the fire of the enemy, but are troublesome to
construct, and require time. They are composed of logs,
trimmed and very roughly dressed, to be fastened together ;
and ordinarily rectangular in shape, being held together by
cross-pieces pinned or spiked to the logs. To make the
rafts of the same consistency throughout, the logs should be
arranged with the butts and tops alternating. The power
of flotation of rafts formed of light wood is in proportion
to their volume. For example, if the wood weighed six
tenths as much as water, each cubic yard would sustain
about eight hundred pounds. When rafts are long in the
water they become water-logged, and lose their serviceable-
ness. Eafts may be made of empty casks, fastened under
light beams, which are covered with branches of trees.
In loading rafts the troops must go upon them in good
78 MILITARY LESSONS.
order and carefully. If a great number should rush upon
them at once, they would infallibly capsize them. Infantry,
marching by the flank, should first come upon the raft and
occupy the middle of the whole length. Then two more
bodies should come on simultaneously, the one going in
front, the other in rear of those already established ; and so
on, until the load is complete. The men should hold their
muskets resting on their feet.
Similar precautions are taken with cavalry; the -horses
are placed crosswise the raft, head and tail alternating. In
loading with artillery, place the heaviest pieces in the
middle, and distribute the remainder evenly over the raft,
according to weight.
Navigation by rafts is advantageous where the bottoms
of the rivers are rocky and uneven, but they are slow,
require to be started in much farther above the landing, and
drift much more than boats ; besides, it is difficult with
them to make the exact landing.
One of the most memorable passages on rafts was that
made in 1701, across the Dwina. The king of Sweden sent
across the first troops in boats, and these were followed by
one hundred rafts, which had been prepared by General
Dalberg ; the Swedes carried the works of the Saxons, and
forced them to retreat.
Foot-Bridges. Small streams may be crossed by foot
logs or bridges, caused by felling trees across. Where
they are somewhat wider, cut a tree on each bank, opposite
to each other. Retain the butts ashore, and let the tops
swing around from above, lowering them away by lines, so
PASSAGE OF RIVERS. 79
that the tops shall meet in the stream,, interlacing and
forming a salient angle up stream. Fasten them together,
and remove whatever would impede the passage.
In this country, where every one knows something of
frontier life,, there would always be found among the troops
many whose experience and knowledge of such things
would suffice to take advantage of the particular circum-
stances of each case.
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL,
Etlie last chapter we discussed the passage of rivers by
iwimming, on the ice, on rafts, by boats, and by fords.
But no means of passing rivers is so reliable for armies as
that by bridges, and such is the usual method. Military
bridges are those thrown across a river temporarily, for the
passage of troops. They are, of course, much inferior in
stability to permanent bridges, and they exact much care
for their preservation.
As hinted before, this idea is by no means modern ; but
military bridges were in familiar use in very remote ages.
The bridge over the Hellespont, constructed by order of
Xerxes, is an instance ; and it is a matter of curio u interest
to observe how closely it resembled a modern ponton-
Herodotus says : " A bridge was there constructed by a
different set of architects, who performed it in the following
manner ; they connected together ships of different kinds ;
some long vessels of fifty oars, others three-banked galleys,
to the number of three hundred and sixty on the side
towards the Euxine Sea, and three hundred and thirteen on
that of the Hellespont. The former of these were placed
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 81
transversely, but the latter, to diminish the strain upon the
cables, in the direction of the current.
" When these vessels were firmly connected together, they
were secured on each side by anchors of great length : on
the upper side, because of the winds which set in from the
Euxine; on the lower, toward the ^Egean Sea, on account
of the south and southeast winds. They left, however,
openings in those places sufficient to afford a passage for
light vessels, which might have occasion to sail into the
Euxine or from it; having performed this, they extended
cables from the shore, stretching them upon large capstans
of wood ; for this purpose they did not employ a number
of separate cables, but united four of biblos with two of
white flax. These were alike in thickness and apparently so
in goodness ; but those of flax were, in proportion, much the
more solid, weighing not less than a talent to every cubit.
" When the pass was thus secured, they sawed out rafters
of wood, making their length equal to the space required
for the bridge; they laid them in order across upon the
extended cables, and then bound them fast together. They
next brought unwrought wood, which they placed very regu-
larly upon the rafters; over all they threw earth, which
they raised to a proper height ; and finished all by a fence
on each side, that the horses and other beasts of burden
might not be terrified by looking down upon the sea."
When we get through with our account of ponton-
bridges, it will be seen that we have not improved so much
as some might suppose on the engineers of the time of
A military bridge consists, in general, of a platform
about twelve to fourteen feet wide, made of strong planks,
and is without parapets or fences, as Herodotus calls them.
This platform or roadway rests upon small beams, which
are supported by boats, rafts, or trestles. The portion of
the bridge comprised between two consecutive supports is
called a bay, and the two at the ends are called abutment-
bays. The bridges are named after the kind of supports ;
as ponton-bridges, trestle-bridges, raft-bridges, etc.
The depth and velocity of the water, and the materials at.
our disposal, will determine the kinds of supports to be
used; but it may often happen that we shall use several
different kinds of support in the same bridge.
This kind of bridge being very frail, a prudent general
would not trust to a single one only, because an accident to
it might arrest the march of the troops at any moment, and
compromise the safety of those who were already across,
and thus cut off. The strategic choice of locality was
indicated in the preceding chapter. In addition to what
was there said, some other conditions must be combined,
when practicable. Steep and high banks should be avoided,
because otherwise we should be compelled to dig long
ramps, or inclined plane^, at the abutments. These ramps
should not be steeper than one upon six ; and it is desirable
that the banks should not be more than six or seven feet
high. We should avoid placing the bridge below a tribu-
tary held by the enemy, lest he should send down floating
bodies to injure or destroy it.
Where the water is so shallow that the boats would rest
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL.
on the bottom, and be in danger of being crushed by the
superincumbent load, they should be replaced by trestles.
The axis, or middle line, of the bridge should be as
nearly straight as possible, and the supports, of whatever
kind, should have their lengths in the direction of the cur-
rent, which otherwise would have too heavy a bearing upon
them, and a tendency to overturn them. If the supports
of the bridge are floating bodies, they should have such
dimensions that the weight of the volume of the water
displaced should exceed the weight of a bay of the bridge,
increased by the greatest weight which is destined to be
upon it at any one time.
Bridges of Boats. These are constructed either with
the boats of the army equipage or with the boats of the
Boats of Equipage. These are a part of the equipage
of the army, and move with it. Their details differ in dif-
ferent countries, while their essential features are the same
That of the United States service and which, is a
modification of the French is as follows, taken from
the Manual for Engineer Troops, by General Duane :
34 ponton-wagons, each loaded as follows : 7 long balks ; 1 ponton,
inside of which are placed 12 balk lashings ; 7 rack lashings ; 7
rack sticks ; 6 rowlocks ; 2 spring lines ; 5 oars ; 2 boat-hooks ;
under the rear axle is lashed one anchor.
22 chess-wagons ; load of each, 41 chess and 2 cables.
4 trestle-icagons ; load of each : 2 trestle-caps, 4 legs, 4 shoes, 4
chains, and 14 short or claw balks.
84 MILITARY LESSONS.
4 abutment-wagons ; load of each : 2 abutment sills, 1 trestle-cap, 2
legs, 2 shoes, 2 chains, 14 short balks.
4 tool-wagons ; loaded with carpenter's and intrenching tools, spare
2 traveling -forges.
Being 70 wagons, carrying 12 complete trestles, and 238 long and
118 short balks (beams or joists), 8 abutment-sills, 200 rowlocks,
192 oars, 100 boat-hooks, 70 scoops, 5 pumps, 10 buckets, 24 pick-
ets, 240 rack sticks, 48 rack collars, cordage, 44 cables, 128 spring
lines, 728 balk lashings, 360 side-rail lashings, 2 sheer lines, 6 sets
of large double blocks, and 6 sets small double blocks.
If the equipage does not travel with the army, it should
have a strong escort. In dry weather the pontons should
be frequently wetted.
Before proceeding to construct a ponton-bridge, the
materials should be assorted and arranged near the first
abutment of the bridge. The pontons are launched below
it. The construction begins with that of the first " bay."
To this end, the ground is cut down, or raised, as the case
may require, to the height of the boats. A beam with its
upper surface on this level is then imbedded perpendicular
to the direction of the bridge, and held in place by pickets
driven into the ground. A ponton is then placed in posi-
tion either 10 or 20 feet (according to circumstances), from
the beam or sill on the bank, and securely moored with its
length perpendicular to the bridged axis. Balks are now
placed with one end on the mud-sill, and the other just
passing beyond the outer gunwale of the ponton, the balks
being lashed to the gunwales. On top of these balks
are laid the chess, or planks, which form the roadway.
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 85
Another boat or ponton is anchored 20 feet 'from the last,
and balks are laid from the first boat to the second, lashing
the ends to the gunwales and also to the ends of the balk
first laid. On these balks are laid chess as before, and
then the side-rails are lashed down on the en'ds of the
chess at the sides of the bridge, to hold the planks in
place. Proceeding in this way, a bridge is speedily laid
across the entire width of the river. Generally every
alternate ponton is anchored up-stream, arid every fourth
one down-stream. The distance of the anchors from the
boats should be ten times the depth of the water ; other-
wise, when a strain is brought to bear upon them, the
anchors will trip. Spring-lines, or guy-ropes, should be
run from the ponton near the banks to fastenings on shore.
If the stream is narrow, say seventy-five yards wide,
strong cables may be stretched from shore to shore, and
fastened as taut as possible. The pontons may be fastened
to these at the proper intervals by short lines, thus obviat-
ing the use of anchors.
The details of these operations have been organized into
a regular drill, the men being divided into suitable detach-
ments, the files numbered, and to each file specific duties
assigned. The effect of this is to cause the work to
advance without confusion and with immense speed. 120
pontoniers ought to construct a bridge from 100 yards to
110 yards long in about one hour.
These pontons of equipage are wooden boats 31 feet long
and 6 feet wide. Besides these there are smaller ones cov-
ered with canvas, which go to form bridges for advanced-
guards and light-cavalry expeditions.
86 MILITARY LESSONS.
These pontons are composed of two side-frames,, 21 feet
long by 2 feet 4 inches deep ; they are connected by mov-
able transoms. The pieces are of 4-inch scantlings of strong
but light pine. The ponton is set up by placing the side-
frames parallel, putting the transoms in place, and lashing
them. The canvas cover is then drawn over the frame and
lashed fast ; the canvas should be painted black.
The canvas ponton-train is the kind used in the Russian
military service. This ponton with its cover complete
weighs 720 pounds, and has a flotation of 13,428 pounds.
The weight of the flooring, etc., of one bay is 1,476 pounds.
If there should be a probability of the enemy sending
down floating bodies with a design to destroy the bridges,
certain sections should be so constructed that they may be
promptly detached, making passageways or draws through
which the floating bodies may be allowed to pass; after
which the detached sections may be replaced. The num-
ber of these draws must be proportioned to the probable
number of floating bodies to be sent down.
If the river has tributaries flowing from our side suffi-
ciently large, it may be found convenient to construct in
them portions, or even the whole, of the bridge, and to float
it down to the place of crossing ; in this way most of the
work could be done without hindrance from the enemy.
Thus after the battle of Essleng a bridge was constructed
under shelter of Alexander Island, and at the proper time
floated down ; and in a few minutes put into position across
to left fork of the Danube.
Bridges on Country Boats. Inasmuch as these boats
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 87
will be of different sizes and shapes, some adjustments will
become necessary. Those of the same size should be ar-
ranged together, to prevent sudden changes of level, or
steps, in the roadway, and the long and narrow ones
ought to be placed in the current; whereas those upon
which the current would take a great hold should be in
the still water.
If any of. the boats should be found too weak, they can
be strengthened by fastening cross-pieces on them ; and on
these cross-pieces should be fastened three string-pieces,
one over the axis of the boat, and the other two parallel
and near the gunwales. These pieces, will receive the
balks of the bridge. When a boat is found to be too low,
a trestle may be securely fastened in it, and of sufficient
height to come up to the level of the balks. The balk, or
beams, may be secured by lashing, by spikes, or by cramp-
ing-irons. If anchors are wanting, the boats may be
moored to fixed points, to rocks, to sunken mill-stones,
to boxes filled with stone, etc.
A justly celebrated bridge was that made by Napo-
leon in 1809 by main force across the Danube. With
but slender resources, the French troops constructed, over
the three channels of the Danube, bridges near 1,000
yards in extent, and in the presence of an enemy 160,000
Bridges on Rafts of Logs. These bridges have the great
advantage of not being liable to be sunk by the enemy's
fire, and the disadvantage of taking a long time to be built,
of requiring a great deal of timber, of presenting a large
88 MILITARY LESSONS.
surface to the action of the current,, and of being unwieldy
and difficult to place in position. They should never be
placed in positions where the current flows more than two
yards per second.
The lightest woods, such as willow, fir, poplar, cotton-
wood, birch, and those woods of which the specific gravity
is considerably less than that of water, should be chosen.
The stability of rafts is greater as they are more oblong in
shape : hence long logs should be chosen ; and when they
cannot be had of sufficient length, two may be spliced
together. Those ordinarily used for rafts are 35 to 45 feet
long, and about 1 foot in diameter ; their number is deter-
mined by the specific gravity of the wood, the volume of
the logs, and the weight to be borne.
The volume may be determined approximately by the following formula :
JF= 0.785 L _D 2 ; in which Fis the volume, L the length of the log, and D
the diameter at the middle ; or F= L C 2 . 0.0795, in which C is the girth
or circumference at the middle point.
To FIND THE POWER OF FLOTATION. Weigh a cubic foot of the
wood, subtract this weight from 62J pounds, and the remainder is the flota-
tion of a cubic foot.
Knowing, then, the flotation of a single log, and also the
weight of the bridge-timbers of one bay, as well as the
greatest weight that will ever be on it at any one time, we
can easily calculate the number of logs to be in each raft.
The result of this calculation, however, should be in-
creased by two or three logs, to make up for the loss of
buoyancy by imbibing water or becoming soaked. This
can be pretty well remedied by painting or tarring the ends
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 89
of the logs. Before this is done the up-stream ends should
be cut whistle-shape, or like the bow of a scow, to present
less resistance to the water. For the same reason the plan
of the upper end of the raft should be a salient angle, and
the lower end a re-entrant angle. The logs should be
neatly trimmed before being thrown into the water for
building ; they are then assembled in the rafts, butts and
tops alternating, and are fastened together by three or four
cross-pieces spiked or pinned to the logs. These cross-
pieces are scantlings or saplings, and they should have a
good bearing on the logs, the tops of which are flattened or
countersunk for that purpose. On top of the cross-pieces
others running lengthwise are placed, to receive the balks
of the roadway, which should be elevated enough to clear
the waves and to allow ordinary floating bodies to pass
under. If draws are necessary, they must be made of
boats, as being more easy to take out and replace.
In 1796 the French army, having no bridge equipage,
constructed one of rafts across the Adige, near Hoveredo,
which had a draw of two boats near the middle. That
bridge was 125 yards long; the rafts were 48 feet long by
16 wide. Being well made, it lasted a long time, and
was taken and retaken several times by the Austrians and
Bridges on Rafts of Casks, Boxes, and Skins. These
bridges will only suit on small streams far from the enemy,
because they are easily destroyed. A framework is prepared,
rectangular in plan, having four longitudinal pieces 25 feet
long, connected by four cross-pieces from 6 to 9 feet in
90 MILITARY LESSONS.
length. Two of the long pieces are near to either edge of
the raft, being placed apart a little more than the bung
diameter of the casks, which are placed under and in this
rectangular space, end to end, with their bungs up, so that
when they leak hand-pumps may be inserted to pump
them out. In this position they are lashed fast, and make
a raft of great buoyancy. A similar raft may be made
of boxes which have been calked and painted to make them
The rafts thus formed of casks or boxes will be placed at
proper intervals for bridge-supports, and the roadway will
then be built upon them as has been explained for rafts of
logs. In some countries, as Spain, Italy, and Southern
France, a multitude of wine-bags, or bottles formed out
of cattle-skins, are found. These, when made air-tight and
inflated with air, make bridge-supports suitable for light
Trestle-Bridges. This kind of bridge is suitable over
shallow streams with firm bottoms. The water ought not
to be over 9 feet deep, and the current not swifter than 5
feet per second. Such bridges have the advantage of not
requiring much material for their construction, which ma-
terial can be brought from the neighboring forests and
houses. These trestles are a large kind of carpenter's
horses, made of light wood so as to be easily handled.
They are placed in the water at intervals of 12 to 15
feet/ with their lengths in the direction of the current.
On these trestles are laid the balks which support the road-
way. They are also of admirable utility in constructing
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 91
bridges over deep ravines, where wagons might be stalled
and the march of an army delayed. In a country
the topographical features of which are like those of Cali-
fornia, where these gulches are common, this would be of
Should the bottom of a stream be boggy, the feet of the
trestles would sink into it ; this can be obviated by a suit-
able shoe fastened to them, or mud-sills secured beneath.
Where the water is not too deep, the men can wade in to
place the trestles ; but when the depth of the stream for-
bids, the bridge will have to advance from one shore, being
successively built from its front end.
Two long beams moving on a roller can be used. Place
the trestles on their front ends, and roll forward until the
trestle has come over its place, and then lower it into its
position with ropes. Or else twx> skids may be used,
reaching down to the plow of the next trestle, which is
slided down the skids to place, and set upon its legs by
hauling in on ropes and pushing out with long poles.
Upon the trestles when in position are laid the balks, over-
lapping about a yard, and they are securely lashed to the
trestles and to each other. If a draw is necessary, it must
be of boats.
The crossing of the Beresina, in November, 1812, on the
disastrous retreat of Napoleon's grand army .out of Russia,
was made by two trestle-bridges about 200 yards apart,
and being about 100 yards long. The trestles were from 3
feet to 9 feet in height, and their cap-pieces were 14 feet
92 MILITARY LESSONS.
They were constructed with lumber obtained by demol-
ishing houses in the village of Wesselowo, and were placed
about 14 feet apart. In place of balks they used saplings
about 5 inches in diameter, and they used saplings for
flooring of one of the bridges. The other had a plank
floor, the planks being taken from the houses of the vil-
lage. These bridges would have amply sufficed for the
passage of the whole army, had good order been main-
tained; but all discipline being lost, vast crowds poured
upon the bridges, and produced disasters unexampled in
history. The pontoniers, although worn out by a forced
march, constructed these bridges in the space of twenty-
four hours ; they were compelled to swim amid the ice
to place and repair the trestles, and their generous de-
votion cost most of them their lives.
Preservation of Bridges. -To defend a bridge from
floating bodies, launched by the enemy or drifting on the
current, the following means are employed :
1. A lookout guard is stationed on the river, about
1,000 yards above, and this guard is provided with skiffs,
long lines, anchors, grapnels, cramping-irons or staples,
with mallets to drive them, boat-hooks, etc.
These boats, stationed at intervals one above the other,
are rowed to any floating body that comes along ; one end
of a line is fastened to it, and the other sent ashore or fas-
tened to a fixed point. The floating bodies are either towed
ashore or swung round on to the shore by the action of the
current. If some of the floating bodies elude these precau-
tions, they should be steered towards the draws in the
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 93
bridge,, and the sentinel on the bridge signaled to open the
2. A floating stockade or boom is sometimes stretched
diagonally across the river, so as to prevent the descent of
the floating bodies,, and run them ashore. A boom is a
long chain of large logs, floating in the water with their
ends fastened together by short chains ; each log ought to
be anchored. The angle made by the boom with the cur-
rent should be about 22, which requires its length to be
2 1 the width of the river. The boom is laid thus oblique
so as not to receive a square shock from the floating bodies,
and to direct them ashore.
3. The ends of the bridge should be movable, so as to
adjust to sudden rising or falling of the water.
Passage of Bridges. Military bridges being liable to
many accidents, there ought to be as many of them as pos-
sible. It is dangerous to risk everything upon only one ;
the slightest accident might compromise the troops who
have already passed. The unstable nature of these com-
munications requires the utmost precaution. A sentinel
should be stationed at each end of the bridge, and others
along it at such intervals that they can see and hear every-
thing that transpires, and carry out and enforce the follow-
ing regulations :
Infantry should march by the flank without beat of
drum and in silence, being careful not to preserve the
lock-step while on the bridge, because it would set the
bridge to oscillating back and forth, and injure it se-
94 MILITARY LESSONS.
If this motion should start, the troops should halt, and
remain standing until it subsides.
Cavalry should dismount, and each man lead his horse
with a short rein, and prevent his trotting.
Care must be taken not to overload the bridge; fresh
troops not being allowed to come on before those already
crossing shall have completed the passage.
Such interval should be kept between the different bod-
ies, that there will be no stopping and crowding at the
end of the bridge. Carriages in single file and twenty
paces apart should march along the middle line of the
bridge ; all drivers except those on the wheel-horses dis-
mounted and leading. If any of the carriages should be
too heavily loaded, a part of the load may be taken off ; if
one should break down on the roadway, the team should be
promptly unhitched, the load stored in the nearest boats,
and the carriage thrown overboard.
Infantry should never be mingled with artillery or cav-
alry in crossing at the same time. The troops should
instantly obey the command " Halt ! " given by a sentinel,
and resume the march only when commanded to do so. If
there should be several bridges, one should be exclusively
for infantry, and another for cavalry or carriages. If there
is a ford, also, the cavalry should cross there in preference.
Should there be a herd of beef cattle along with the
army, they should be crossed in lots, or five or six at a time.
It being the nature of these animals to huddle together
in a crowd when frightened, if there were too many to-
gether they would ruin the bridge. Besides, as they nat-
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 95
urally swim well, they should be got across by swimming
when practicable. No fires, not even lighted pipes or
cigars, should be allowed on the bridge, for fear of burning
it, or of explosions.
The sentinels must keep a sharp lookout for signals
from above, reporting them or anything else of unusual
nature to the officer of the bridge. They either halt
troops or accelerate their march as circumstances may
On ponton-bridges, infantry march in two ranks, or
even three if the bays are not more than fifteen feet apart,
cavalry in one rank, and the heavier field-pieces should
be drawn by only four horses.
A detachment should be detailed to tighten the cords,
to tend the draws, to raise the anchors now and then lest
they become too deeply imbedded, and to make all the
little repairs that may be requisite. If the bridge is likely
to be frozen up, care must be taken to have it dismantled
and removed in time, lest when the thaw comes it should
be carried away. And if the bridge is destined to re-
main, the ice must be broken around the supports every
Flying-Bridges. By this term we designate a boat, a
draw, or a raft, hel'd by a hawser or chain, which prevents
it descending the river, and which is caused to go from
one bank to the other by being held by a rudder oblique
to the current. Flying-bridges have the advantage of
being easy to construct, but they do not afford a continu-
ous communication, and can serve but a small body of
96 MILITARY LESSONS.
troops. Experience has shown that the length of the
cable should be one and a half to two times the width of
the river. The cable is kept above the water by floats*
such as casks,, or boats, at suitable intervals. Thirty-six
men can in an hour construct a flying-bridge on six boats
of equipage, which would carry over two hundred and 'fifty
men, or two pieces of artillery with twelve horses. This
bridge would cross a stream of two hundred yards' width
in a 'minute and a half.
We will close this chapter by a few hints as to the
repair and destruction of bridges. In general, bridges are
repaired by the same means which were employed in their
construction. Bridges upon piles are frequently made in
the rear of an army to keep open communication when it
is necessary to take up our ponton-bridges and send them
forward with the army.
Nothing need be said of the repair or construction of
pile-bridges, for that operation is going on about the
wharves of our cities all the time. When a masonry-
bridge has been cut by the enemy, we can make a tempo-
rary wooden bridge over the gap. If the cut is too wide
for our beams to reach, intermediate supports may be
made by piles, trestles, or boats.
Destruction of Bridges. If we are compelled to abandon
a bridge, it should be sunk, burnt, or blown up. It may be
burnt by putting straw, tarred fascines, or dry sticks under-
neath several places and setting fire at once. If there is
not time for this, a large fire should be built in the road-
way, taking up planks and piling on. This would detain
MILITARY BRIDGES IN GENERAL. 97
the enemy some time. Bridges may be blown up by
fastening barrels of, powder or loaded shells under the
roadway, and firing them by slow-match or portfires.
Bridges may be sunk by knocking holes in the boats, at
the same time cutting the lines and throwing the plank
overboard. Masonry-bridges are blown up with powder ;
several arches ought to be blown up at once, to make the
repair more difficult. When greatly pressed for time, sev-
eral hundred-pound barrels should be suspended beneath
an arch, and fired simultaneously.
Destruction of the Enemy's Bridges. This is an opera-
tion of the highest importance, especially when we are resist-
ing an attack which he makes by main force. If we can
succeed in destroying his bridge after a portion of his troops
have crossed, we will thereby cut him in two, and the
result should be a brilliant victory in our favor. Different
means are employed for the destruction of the enemy's
bridges : 1st. Bafts and boats heavily loaded should be
sent down the current against the bridge, to destroy it by
the shock; these floating bodies should have in front a
strong mast, well stayed, and of a height sufficient to en-
counter the bridge and strike it with violence. 2d. Use
may be made of fire-boats loaded with incendiary mate-
rials and well supplied with shells and hand-grenades which
explode from time to time, and intimidate any who might
wish to approach the fire-boat. 3d. Infernal-machines,
destined to destroy the bridge by their explosion, may
be brought into service. They consist of boats provided
with strong chambers of frame-work or iron filled with
98 MILITARY LESSONS.
powder, and weighted down by heavy bodies to increase
the force of the explosion.
Fire is communicated by a pistol or musket, the muzzle
of which opens into the powder, the hammer being cocked
and the trigger connected with a lever, which when it
touches the bridge will draw the trigger and explode the
charge. Barrels and boxes filled with powder, and these
or other arrangements for explosion, ought to be sent down
in great numbers, and particularly in the night, so that
some will surely escape the guard and arrive at the bridge.
They should be so ballasted as to keep the right side up.
IN military language any construction or device which,
renders a position to be held by troops stronger than
it was left by nature is called a Fortification,
The proper construction of fortification is called the art
of fortification ; and this art is divided into two great
. branches, which are termed respectively Field- Fortification
and Permanent Fortification. These terms of themselves
immediately suggest the principal difference between the
two kinds of constructions ; for while permanent fortifica-
tions are made at such places as are of enduring importance,
like seaports and cities, and are constructed of the most
lasting materials in an elaborate manner, field-fortifications
are constructed hastily of earth, with the addition of wood
and such other materials as are furnished by the locality,
and are intended only to subserve the purposes of a cam-
We will here confine our attention solely to the latter.
Suppose two bodies of troops equal in numbers, courage,
discipline, skill, and equipment to meet each other in hostile
array upon an open plain. The circumstances are equal; but
if one of these bodies were posted on a hillside it would
100 MILITARY LESSONS.
possess an evident advantage over its opponents, who
would be compelled to climb the hill to reach it. The
party on the hill would have called into their aid the force
of gravity, no inconsiderable force, and the assailants
would be under both a moral and physical disadvantage.
If, moreover, the party on the hill had selected a position
where there was a ravine or ditch at the foot of the hill, it
is easy to see that their position would be yet stronger.
Again, should they withdraw behind the crest of the hill,
to such a distance that, while they could still see and fire
upon their enemy as he was struggling across the creek or
ditch and was climbing the hillside, and yet have their
persons save their heads and shoulders screened from
the missiles of the enemy by the crest of the hill, it is evident
that they would possess a third great advantage over their
In these simple considerations can be discovered the
principal feature of a fortification. To make a fortification
we must make the hillside, the sheltering crest, and the
obstructive ditch, where none previously existed. One of
the simplest instances of a fortification would be had by
digging a trench or ditch in front of a straight line of bat-
tle, throwing the dirt on the side from the enemy, and out
of it forming an embankment or breast-height, behind
which our own troops could stand, and over which they
would fire upon the approaching enemy.
I have supposed a case in which the contending forces
were equal in all respects. But fortifications are resorted
to most generally by the weaker, when in presence of a
FIELD FORTIFICATION. 101
stronger force, weaker, be it noted, in absolute efficiency,
for it often happens that a force numerically the greater
is, by reason of inferior equipment, discipline, or morale,
really weaker than its opponent.
The ground-plan of a fortification may have a multitude
of shapes, according to varying circumstances of locality
and design in view ; but the cross-section of the works, or
profile as it is generally called, is essentially the same in
all, consisting of the embankment, or parapet) and the
When defensive works are thrown up very hastily, and
are intended merely to receive battle in, they are constructed
by digging a slighter ditch, and the dirt is thrown on the
side towards the enemy. The troops in this case stand in
the ditch, and derive their shelter partly from the ditch and
partly from the dirt thrown up on its bank. This kind of
intrenchment received, during the late civil war in the
United States, the name of rifle-pits, but that term was
previously applied, especially by the Allies at the siege of
Sebastopol, to small round excavations dug by single rifle-
men, or bodies of two or three riflemen, who crept forward
during the night and made their lodgements, ready to open
on the enemy at daybreak. These pitmen were sharp-
shooters to pick off officers, cannoneers, etc.
But the usual case is where the parapet is on the side of
the ditch from the enemy.
The following is a representation of the profile of a para-
pet and ditch. F G, the bottom of the ditch, is nine feet
ten inches wide ; while the top E H is eighteen feet. It is
PROFILE OF PARAPET AND DITCH.
seven feet deep; the interior crest A is eight feet above
the terre-plein, or natural surface ; the exterior crest C is
five feet six inches above the same. B is the banquette
treacly four feet wide, and at a perpendicular distance below
the interior crest of four feet three inches. The banquette
slope is the ramp falling from B rearwards to the terre-
plein. The banquette- slope and tread are made only when
the parapet is too high for a man standing on the natural
surface to shoot over. A is the interior slope ; A C, the
superior slope, and C D is the exterior slope ; D E is the
ber m ; E F is the scarp, and G H is the counter-scarp.
By prolonging the line of the superior slope A C, it will
be observed that a ball from a musket lying on that line
would strike the ground beyond the ditch at M, and con-
sequently all the space within the angle H M L would be
dead space, or not attainable by missiles fired from the
works. To remedy this, another embankment having the
gentle inclination of the superior slope is made upon the
counter-scarp bank of the ditch, which has the effect of
exposing the entire person of the enemy as he approaches.
This embankment in front of the ditch is called the glacis.
Plan. "When the enemy has no choice but to approach
FIELD FORTIFICATION. 103
directly from the front, a straight parapet and ditch will
make a good defence ; but this could be improved by flanks
running forward from the right and left of the line so as to
bring a cross-fire on the enemy as he approached.
But .the enemy certainly will not approach directly from
the front if lie can avoid it, but will if possible march
around the flanks of our work and come upon us in the
rear. This operation is called turning the work, and
neutralizes or destroys its utility. If he cannot succeed
in turning the work he will at least endeavor to come upon
it in a slanting direction, that is, with his line of march
making a very small angle with the direction of the para-
pet ; in which case very little of our fire could be brought
to bear upon him.
This would be true even of the musketry-fire, but still
more so of that from the artillery, because the pieces with
which field-fortifications are usually armed are too small to
fire in barbette (i. e. over the top of the parapet), but are
fired through notches or troughs cut down in the parapet,
which are named embrasures.
As these embrasures necessarily allow only a limited
field of firey or sweep to the right and left for the cannon,
they cannot be brought to bear upon a column of troops
advancing in a slanting direction. To avoid the incon-
venience here spoken of, deflections are made in the direc-
tion of the parapet to produce flanking arrangements that
will give cross-fires, of which more will be said anon.
It is only in a few localities, such as narrow gorges,
ravines, and streets, that the enemy would be compelled to
approach from the front. The general case is that he can
turn a line of works,, especially if it is a short one. To
secure ourselves against this disaster, it is a natural expe-
dient to fortify in all directions, thus inclosing the position
to be fortified. A plan which would naturally suggest it-
self would be a square or a parallelogram.
But upon inspecting such a plan it will be seen that if the
assailant approaches along the prolongations of the diago-
nals, in other words, marches upon the corners, he would
be exposed to a feeble fire. The angles included between
the arrow-heads are called Sectors-without-fire.
To get rid of these sectors-without-fire we must resort to
what are called Flanked Dispositions. In these, certain
portions of the work are thrown forward towards the enemy
and are called Advanced Parts, while others are held back
and are called retired parts. Such a disposition is shown
in the following diagram.
Wherein A B and E F P are the advanced parts, and
B CDJEztfQ the retired parts, A and A B are the faces, as
are also E F and F P ; B C and D E are the flanks, and
C D is the curtain. A D and (7 7^ are the lines of defence ;
A B and E F P are the salient angles ; B C D and J? (7
-# are re-entering angles, and A D E and F C B are angles
It will be seen that the angle between the arrow-heads
at F is swept by a fire from the flank B C, and also from a
flank perpendicular to F P prolonged, and which is not
shown in the figure. And so of the other sectors-witliout-
The face* may vary in length from thirty to eighty yards,
the flanks from twenty to forty yards; and the curtain
should never be less than twelve times the relief, which is
the height of the interior crest above the bottom of the
The kind of a front which we have just described is
called a Bastioned Front. The bastion front is the best for
an inclosed fort, because not only are the sectors-without-
fire remedied, but the ditches are thoroughly swept by the
fire of the garrison.
In the square redoubt before spoken of the sectors-with-
out-fire may be pretty well
remedied by making what are
called Pan-coupees, the cor-
ners being cut off, and re-
placed by shoulders, the fire
from which will be in the
directions of the diagonals;
but still the ditches are dead
spaces, in which the enemy,
once arrived there, is comparatively secure.
Besides these are star forts, which give something of a
flanking arrangement, as may be seen in the figure above.
Not only may flanking dispositions be used for isolated
positions, but also to connect and secure the different parts
of long lines which are used to strengthen extended posi-
If we have a position where the flanks are secure from
being turned, by reason of precipices, impassable moun-
tains, water or morasses, it may be fortified by a Cre-
maillere or Indented Line.
Should the position be assailable not only in front but
on the flanks, while the rear is secure, there are various
other dispositions which can be used, according to locality
and other circumstances. We may mention the Redan,
the Lunette, and the Priest-cap, or Swallow-tail.
Long lines may be secured and connected redans, lunettes,
and cremailleres, or any combination of them which may be
found expedient. There are continuous lines, and lines
with intervals. The first have no openings through which
the enemy might penetrate, except a few for the conven-
ience of the defenders, and these are usually covered and
concealed from view by small redans in front of them.
The second kind are marked by detached forts, which are
separated by wide intervals, the intervening spaces being
defended only by cross-fires from the forts. The Eedan
Line is a series of redans connected by curtains, the faces
of the redans about 60 yards long and the curtains about
180 yards. In this arrangement the ditches are not flanked,
or swept by our fire ; this defect is remedied by changing
the curtains from long straight lines to broken ones, con-
' stituting new redans, with their faces perpendicular to those
of the original redans. This is called the Tenaille Line.
108 MILITARY LESSONS.
A great variety of combinations of lines has been used
by different engineers, but it would not profit to enter into
an examination of them here.
Tete-de-Pont. A tete-de-pont, or bridge-head, is a de-
tached fort placed near the end of a bridge to secure the
same. Its plan may be a redan with a pan-coupee, a
lunette, priest-cap, or any form suitable to the locality.
If practicable, it should be supported by the fire of bat-
teries placed on the opposite shore, which shall cross in its
front, and sweep along its flanks.
Revetments. When the slopes of any of the embank-
ments of fortifications are not steeper than the natural slope
of the earth, they will stand and do very good service, with
no other preparation than packing and ramming; but to
prevent the effect of rains, it is well, when there is time,
to cover the surface of the slope with sods of grass.
These sods should be cut from a sward where the grass
is short and has thickly matted roots; they should be
evenly cut in rectangles, and laid like the tiles of a pave-
ment. But this precaution, which is optional on gentle
slopes, is necessary on steep ones, like the interior slope
of the parapet, the scarp and counter-scarp of the ditch.
Any facing made to sustain the face of a slope is called a
revetment. It may be of sods, stone, or wood, and also of
a mixture of clay and earth ; these last materials are mixed
with water into a stiff paste or mud, and laid on about a
foot thick, being well packed.
Fascines. A fascine is a cylindrical bundle of rods or
twigs, bound together or wrapped with witkes. They are
FIELD FORTIFICATION. 109
from 9 to 12 inches in diameter, and from 10 to 20 feet
To make a revetment of fascines, say for the interior
slope, the first layer is laid horizontally at the foot of the
slope, being about half imbedded below the banquette-tread,
and held in position by stakes driven into them, and also
by having withes leading to anchoring-pickets driven into
the interior of the parapet at intervals of a few feet. On
top of this layer, as the parapet rises, is laid another layer
of fascines fastened to the anchoring-pickets and to the fas-
cines below, and so on to the top.
Hurdle Revetments. A hurdle revetment is made by
laying parallel poles along the face of the slope and in its
direction, driving them into the earth at its foot, and then
making a kind of wicker-work by interlacing twigs or
withes with the poles. The poles are laid as if they had
been driven in an upright row at the foot of the interior
slope first, and then inclined over until they lay against
Gabions. Gabions are sometimes used for a revetment.
A gabion is a hollow cylinder of basket-work, made of
twigs. They are set on top of each other, in the direction
of the slope, and filled with earth.
A revetment is often made of scantling and planks.
Bags filled with sand are often used to form a revetment
when great haste is necessary, and even to throw up a
hasty shelter or parapet. But as the bags soon rot, they
are only used for works of a very temporary character.
It may be well to say a word about Powder-Magazines.
110 MILITARY LESSONS.
Some place must be had, of course, for storing the ammu-
nition. The requisites are that it be safe from fire, the
enemy's shot, and dampness. If the site of the work is
dry ground, they ought to be placed under ground, the sides
and top being made of framed work, and planks or fas-
cines. The vault, may be about 6 feet wide, and of the
same height, with length sufficient to hold the ammunition.
On the top of these should be a thickness of 6 feet of
earth, and the entrance, which should be from the rear,
should have a splinter-proof screen, to prevent fragments
of the enemy's shells from entering it. Where the soil is
very wet, the powder-magazines are sometimes placed in
A Traverse is a short embankment, generally made with
gabions, which run perpendicularly to the rear from the
parapet. When traverses are used there are always several,
and their object is to prevent the splinters of the enemy's
shells from having an extended range up and down, or to
the right and left, along the work. Usually two pieces of
cannon are found between two traverses. The traverses ex-
tend to the rear only far enough to shelter the cannoniers.
Palisades are forts made of wooden logs set into the earth
in an upright position to form walls. The logs are hewn
flat on the sides which are in contact, and the garrison fire
through loop-holes cut between the logs. There may be
more than one tier of loop-holes ; the men firing through
the upper holes while standing on a staging constructed
against the palisades, and upheld by a parallel row of posts
about six feet to the rear.
FIELD FORTIFICATON. Ill
Block-Houses are built of logs either upright or horizontal,
and often of two thicknesses, the one upright and the other
horizontal. They are provided with loop-holes, and are
sometimes defended by a ditch with a draw-bridge. Being
usually square or rectangular in plan, they have sectors-
This can be remedied by having two stories, the upper
story being turned around, or so placed that its walls shall
be perpendicular to the diagonals of the lower story. With
this arrangement the fire from the upper story will entirely
remove the sectors-without-fire.
Obstacles. It may be well to cast a passing glance at
some of the devices which are classified under this heading.
When the enemy is approaching the work to assault it, it
is desirable to reach him at the earliest possible moment
with our projectiles, and to detain him under fire as long
as we can. With this view we cut down all trees within
extreme range of the fort, level off banks and small hillocks
behind which he could be concealed or protected, and make
whatever arrangements are practicable to diminish the num-
ber of avenues of approach.
If the routes by which he can come upon the work are
few, his men will be more massed together, and therefore
more vulnerable, while we, being called to attend to but a
few points, will be able to bring to bear a greater propor-
tion of strength on him.
Among the obstacles designed to detain the enemy in
front of the work are ckevaux-de-frise> trous-de-loups or
e/ ' J-
military pits, crow's-feet, mines, abattis, etc.
112 MILITARY LESSONS.
A Cheval-de-frise is a log or scantling bored through by
augers, the alternate holes running through in directions
perpendicular to each other. Through these staves or poles
are passed up to their middle, having both ends shod with
pike heads. Crow's-feet are composed of several v sharp iron
spikes, united at a single point, but all pointing outwards,
so that when thickly scattered on the ground they form a
serious obstacle to the march of troops.
Abattis are trees cut down and laid with their tops to-
wards the enemy. Only the smaller branches are cut off,
while the longer limbs have their ends sharpened and
pointed towards the enemy. They are interlocked and
Trous-de-lonps are pits dug in the ground to about the
depth of six feet, and are five or six feet in diameter at
top. They have a stake, sharpened at top, planted in the
Mines are deposits of gunpowder placed under the glacis,
and connected with a hose or train leading under the par-
apet. They are intended to be exploded when, the enemy
arrives over them ; and their moral effect is immense.
Attack and Defense. An attack may be made openly
or by surprise, but in either case it is necessary to obtain
all the information possible about the work beforehand.
Much valuable information may be obtained from spies and
deserters, but this information should be received with all
the circumspection recommended in a previous chapter.
Another method is by reconnoissance ; that is, to go and
see. An officer, attended by an escort sufficient to drive in
FIELD FORTIFICATION. 113
the pickets and outlying parties from the garrison, ap-
proaches and examines the defenses, endeavoring to observe
the strength, equipment, and nature of the garrison, the
nature of the work, the depth and width of the ditch,
whether dry or filled with water, the number, caliber, and
position of the cannon, the presence or absence of obstacles
in front of the ditch, etc. If an attempt to surprise the
post is to be made, it should be done at night, selecting the
time about two hours before day, because then the sentinels
are always less vigilant than earlier in the night, and be-
sides, the garrison will be in a deep sleep.
The storming party will, of course, approach in the
stealthiest manner, picking their way around or through
obstacles. Engineer troops with tools should precede them,
to remove obstacles. If the ditch is deeper than six feet,
scaling-ladders should be taken along for the purpose of
descending into the ditch and mounting the parapet on the
other side. Sentinels must be secured or bayoneted.
There should always be several false attacks made along
with the true one, to divert the attention of the garrison,
confuse them, and divide their forces. The false attacks
must be conducted by parties strong enough to convert
them into true ones, should they meet with better success
than they anticipated.
The leaders of the different parties should all know
which is the true attack, so that, should they succeed in
getting into the work, they may hasten to that point.
The storming parties should be of picked troops, espe-
cially of such as had volunteered upon that occasion.
114 MILITARY LESSONS.
When an open attack is made, all obstacles should be
destroyed, as far as can be done bj the fire of artillery.
A heavy fire should be concentratedi on the enemy's guns
until they are silenced. Shells should be fired into the
parapet to cause the earth to slide down into the ditch,
forming a ramp by which the parapet may be mounted.
When the assault is about to be made, a cloud of light
troops is thrown out to open a fire on the garrison, and
divert their . attention from the storming columns.
These last should advance over the intervening ground
with the utmost celerity. The remainder of the troops
follow close to repel sorties, and support the stormers, who
will not stop to fire, but rely exclusively on speed and the
Defense. To make a successful defense there should be
troops enough to allow of two ranks all along the ban-
quette, and a suitable reserve beside. The defenses and
equipments must be put into the most serviceable condi-
tion. When an attack is expected, the enemy must be
closely watched by scouts and patrols, and lookouts must
be stationed at those places behind which he could ap-
proach unperceived. Bodies of troops sufficient to repel
and keep aloof all reconnoitering parties must be main-
tained on the outside. At night the number of sentinels
must be increased, and after midnight unusual vigilance
enjoined and enforced. In anticipation of an attack the
different troops should have their duties assigned them, and
they should be drilled therein. Occasionally, but not
frequently, false alarms of an attack should be made,
FIELD FORTIFICATION. 115
to accustom the minds of the garrison to such an emer-
The men, in case of ' a real attack, should be exposed as
little as may be consistent with a good defense. For in-
stance, while the enemy is cannonading the work previous
to an assault, all the troops except the cannoneers and sen-
tinels may lie down behind the parapets and traverses.
The reserve should be kept sheltered until called into
When a night attack is expected with confidence, fire-
balls should be thrown out to light up the neighborhood
of the enemy, and to disclose his movements.
Should the enemy^s storming columns be shaken and
thrown into confusion by the fire of the garrison and by
the obstacles, a sortie should be made in force to complete
their confusion and to put them to rout.
IN this chapter only a few of the leading principles of
strategy will be considered, the subject being one the
discussion of which might be carried to almost any extent ;
vast tomes might be, and have been, written upon the sub-
ject, but it is deemed expedient here to spend but a little
time in its examination, and we will confine ourselves to
its leading features. This not because the subject is of
but little importance, far from that ; but because it is in
its nature less definite and fixed, less subject to specific
rules than any branch of the art, and because it is impossi-
ble to give directions for all the cases which may arise.
Strategy is defined in Scott's Military Dictionary to be
"the art of concerting a plan of campaign, combining a
system of military operations determined by the end to be
attained, the character of the enemy, the nature and re-
sources of the country, and the means of attack and de-
fense." It has also been defined to be " generalship, the
science of military command, the science of conducting
great military operations/'' Although it may be difficult
to improve on these definitions, it is certain that they are
In directing the movements of bodies of troops, there
are three departments calling for consideration ; to wit,
Tactics, Grand Tactics, and Strategy. Tactics comprise
those precise, formal, well -ascertained, and elementary
movements of troops upon a small theater, which are pre-
scribed in works on that subject. Grand Tactics have a
more extended range, are the movements on a more ex-
tended scale, are less definite, not so clearly foreseen, and
are not executed by uniform technical commands. Grand
tactics also have their theater on the field of battle or in
the immediate vicinity of the enemy. The adaptation of the
different arms of service infantry, cavalry, and artillery
to the different kinds of ground; the selection of the
proper time for them to come into action ; the disposition
of brigades, divisions, or army corps ; turning movements
during a battle ; the posting and ordering of reserves ;
feigned attacks, retreats, and ambuscades, may be con-
sidered as belonging to the domain of grand tactics.
Strategy has a still more extended range, looks further
into the future, and combines and directs the movements
of large bodies of troops, and even armies over a greater
scope of country ; still, the limits of strategy and grand
tactics are so commingled, that it is not always practicable
to point out distinctly where the one ceases and the other
begins. Many of the operations described in the chapter on
moving of armies belong to the domain of grand tactics,
and some were strategic.
Strategic points are such as are of great importance to
us for securing our subsistence, insuring our safety, facili-
118 MILITARY LESSONS.
tating our success, or which may enable us to annoy, foil,
or defeat the enemy. Of such are cross-roads, particularly
in a timbered and broken country, where roads are of prime
importance ; places where railways meet, passes through
mountains, fords across rivers and plains where navigation
is interrupted by falls or rapids, large cities, fortified posts,
the capital of a country, etc., etc.
There may be no strong reasons of a physical kind or
reasons in themselves strictly military for making the capi-
tal of a country an object of great interest, and yet political
and moral considerations may confer upon it great strategic
The first things which should engage attention in the
planning or conduct of a campaign should be the Base of
Operations, the Line of Operations, and the Objective Point.
The Base of Operations may be a point, but is more gen-
erally a line, whence our army sallies forth to march upon
the enemy, from which we draw our supplies and reinforce-
ments, and upon which we expect to fall back in case of
reverse or disaster. In case we invade the enemy 's ter-
ritory by land, it would naturally be the frontier of our
But if we are engaged in a defensive campaign, it would
be a chain of fortified posts or cities, or a river, parallel to
the frontier, and in which would be stored our reserves of
men and materials, #nd behind which we could retreat in
case of necessity.
The Line of Operations is the line or route along which
we advance from the base, and it should be perpendicular
The Objective Point is that point of the enemy's country
which it is our object to strike,, such as the point where his
forces are stationed, the capital of his country, or the grand
depot of his- supplies.
These three things must be maturely considered,, and
settled upon with great circumspection and deliberation
before we begin to act. We must form a distinct con-
ception of what is to be done,, whence to set out, how to
go, and where to go. If we propose an invasion, it may be
that the geography of our country offers but one frontier
from which we can advance upon the enemy, and then this
will necessarily be the base of operations. On the other
hand, we may have a choice of several, and we would select
that one from which we could soonest reach the objective
point, and could at the same time most easily keep open
our communications. If two lines of our frontiers meet
in a salient angle penetrating the enemy's territory, it would
be well to begin the demonstration by assembling on the
apex so as to create doubt in the enemy's mind as to which
was to be our base of operations.
If we should move from out a re-entrant angle, our flank
would be secured during the earlier part of the march by
the contiguity of portions of our base to the right and left ;
but, on the whole, it is probable that a straight line per-
pendicular to the line of operations is as good as any.
When once we move from the base we should advance
with the utmost speed upon the objective point ; for time,
in war, is the most important of all things.
Under no consideration must we expose ourselves to
120 MILITARY LESSONS.
being cut off from the base ; amid all the varying phases
which may appear during the campaign, this injunction
must be borne steadily in mind. Should there be indis-
pensable passes, fords, or bridges to be left in our rear, they
must be fortified and held in sufficient strength. We
should remember that every inhabitant of the country may
be a spy or a messenger for the enemy.
If the enemy is carelessly dispersed in cantonments or
otherwise, it would be our policy to strike his center, and
then, turning towards either wing, to beat his separate corps
in detail. Thus being stronger than the enemy in any one
combat, we should by acting with vigor and despatch be
sure to crush in succession all his forces, and might termi-
nate the campaign and the war at one blow.
Should we, however, find the enemy on the alert, with
his troops well in hand, and occupying a strong defensive
position, we may make a feint or a real attempt to cut his
communication with his base, and thus inflict great loss
upon him, or compel him to abandon his strong position.
In this way we will attack him under more favorable cir-
cumstances, or, what may be found to be still more to be
desired, compel him to attack us on ground of our choos-
ing. But this movement is one of great hazard, because
we must not sacrifice our own communications.
There may be, however, circumstances under which a
general would not hesitate to abandon completely his own
communications, and throw himself upon those of his
enemy. If he knew the enemy's troops to be greatly
inferior to his own in numbers, discipline, or spirit, or that
their general was wanting in decision, slothful or vacillat-
ing, and that the population was an unwarlike one, upon
whom he could subsist without creating an insurrection, he
would not hesitate to do so. It would be an additional in-
ducement to make this hazardous move, if by so doing he
could throw back the enemy upon some impassable barrier,
such as the sea, a mountain range without passes, or an
On the contrary, should the enemy's general be an able
one, this attempt would almost certainly terminate in dis-
aster ; and if the population were warlike and accustomed
to arms, seeing an invader in this position, which in general
must be regarded as a false one, and stung to resistance by
his exactions, they would rise in mass to the assistance of
their own army and overwhelm him. It requires a great
genius to see distinctly all the elements entering into such
a problem, to balance them together and combine them so
as to eliminate the real truth, and to be able to decide
whether such an attempt is feasible or not. It is much
easier to write about such things than to do them.
There is no rule in strategy which can be dogmatic and
exact; any one will admit of great many exceptions.
There were never two campaigns or two battles exactly
alike. A general should be perfectly versed in the rules
and principles of strategy, and at the same time be pro-
vided with profound knowledge of men and things, and
that sound and admirable discretion which would enable
him to know when and how far to depart from those rules.
Thus it was recommended above that, when a general
122 MILITARY LESSONS.
found the enemy's troops scattered, lie should throw him-
self between them ; if he should find them scattered, but
not sufficiently far apart, it would be the worst thing he
could do. He must know when he attacks one fragment
'that he has time to beat it, and have his troops in hand
again before succor can arrive. And here, by the way, is
a distinction between grand tactics and strategy. To get
between the enemy's divisions would in strategy be a most
fortunate move, while as a matter of grand tactics it would
almost surely result in ruin.
Should the invader be successful, no rules are necessary
as to what should then be done. It will be easy enough to
carry out ulterior operations. But the case is quite differ-
ent if he meets with a reverse so serious as to require a
retreat. The invader will then be in a position calling for
the very highest qualities of a tactician, a strategist, and a
man. As a general rule the lines of operations now be-
come the lines of retreat should be one. To divide the
army into different columns would be to expose them to be
beaten and destroyed in detail with great facility. The
army should be held in as compact a mass as possible, and
it should pursue a single line of retreat towards the most
available point of the base. It should be conducted with
the utmost speed compatible with good order, but it must
not be allowed to degenerate into a rout or a flight. All
available means must be employed to deceive the enemy as
to the line of retreat, to destroy every facility for, and to
throw all possible obstacles in the way of, pursuit.
Where strong passes or defiles are found which are not
likely to be turned, it may be well to seize and hold them,
and then to await his assault. This will serve to rest the
army, give an opportunity to restore its organization, and,
by beating off the enemy, the spirits of the men. Then,
while the enemy is still in the confusion of his repulse, the
retreat must be resumed. Often it will be best to effect
this at night, some light cavalry being left behind to keep
up the camp-fires, and to make, as far as may be, the usual
appearance of things about camp until the retreating force
has got a good start : then they will rejoin the main body.
Still, there may be occasions when it would be best to di-
vide the force, and to pursue different and divergent lines
of retreat. Should there be a strong probability of the dif-
ferent columns reaching the base in safety, it will be best
to divide. The columns being smaller could move with in-
creased speed ; the pursuer would probably lose some time
while hesitating which to pursue, and, at the worst, it might
be that he could not overtake and destroy more than one
fragment, and thus the others could be saved. Large
bodies of light cavalry, such as the Cossacks, may retreat
with great speed upon different points of a desert, continu-
ally scattering and disappearing into it, safe from pursuit.
This is frequently done by our border Indians. The in-
fantry of the Scottish Highlands have frequently escaped
after this fashion into their mountain fastnesses.
The Defensive Plan. A defensive war may be carried
on by remaining near our own borders and a 'little within
them. Thence we sally into the enemy's country upon
favorable occasions ; we have the advantage of short lines
124 MILITARY LESSONS.
of operations, being near our own base ; in fact, the whole
country will serve as a base to us. When the enemy enters
our country, he will be continually weakened by detach-
ments to hold the places he may take, to protect his con-
voys of supplies, and to keep open his communications.
The population, being unfriendly, will act as spies on his
movements, and will inflict loss by cutting off stragglers,
patrollers, etc., etc.
The dispositions to be made in the defensive plan cannot
be prescribed in a dogmatic manner. So many circum-
stances come up for consideration, such as the nature of
our own population, whether warlike or not ; the nature of
the enemy, whether able and enterprising or the opposite ;
the topography of the country, and a number of other cir-
cumstances which ought to have weight in the decision,
that none but the most general direction can be given.
It is useless to attempt to defend the whole frontier; it
is not practicable, and the attempt weakens our force by
dispersion, so that it will have little or no effect on the
enemy, and becomes liable to destruction in detail.
It is best to seize and hold by a considerable force the
points of penetration most favorable to the enemy, while
the main body occupies a central position to the rear.
With the main body the advanced posts must keep up a
constant communication by means of swift couriers, signal-
men, and telegraph. The enemy must be kept under con-
tinual watch; and all his movements promptly reported to
head- quarters. When he attacks any of the posts it must
be stoutly defended to detain him there, until the main
body and other detachments can be concentrated upon him.
For this purpose an ample supply of the means of quick
transportation must be kept in hand, ready at a moment's
warning; such as railway-cars, wagons, etc. Should he
succeed in penetrating the frontier, it may be well to lure
him into the interior, where he may be attacked at disad-
vantage. We should endeavor to fall upon his flanks
while marching, or, still better, to cut his communications
by getting in his rear.
Everything which could be of use to him must be re-
moved or destroyed. If he can be defeated in such a
position, there is every probability of his total ruin.
If this method of dealing with the enemy be not found
practicable, we will know almost certainly what his lines of
operations will be. Upon these we must have fortified and
strengthened the narrow passes? or other strong places not
liable to be turned, where we will receive his attack, and
will expect to convert his repulse into total ruin.
Should we be unsuccessful here, we must fall back, and
concentrate on similar positions previously prepared, and so
on in succession, rememberirg that it will never be too late
We will add but a few more remarks on this subject.
The government should be extremely careful in selecting
the general-in- chief ; and when he is once selected, they
should not hamper him with minute instructions, but
leave him a wide latitude of discretion. Nor should they
be in great haste to remove him upon the first misfortune.
Misfortunes and defeats have happened to the greatest mas-
126 MILITARY LESSONS.
ters of war. Evidences of incapacity should be clearly per-
ceived before a removal is resorted to. The fear of such a
contingency may cramp the genius, and to a large extent in-
capacitate -a really able general. Another thing to be borne
in mind is, always to follow up a victory. How many great
victories are recorded in history which have been without
fruit from Hie supineness of the victors !
The army should be habituated to expect success, and to
know that when the enemy is broken and driven from the
field of battle their work has just begun.
When he is retiring in dismay and confusion,, it will be
ten times easier to break him up and annihilate him than
to fight him another battle. Let the light cavalry and horse-
artillery be launched upon his flanks and rear, incessantly
pursuing and destroying. Let the remainder of the army
follow as fast as may be ; the animation of success and the
certainty of more success and greater success ought to
destroy fatigue ; victors can afford to go hungry.
An endeavor has been made in this chapter to point out
some of the leading ideas of strategy : there are several
treatises on this .subject; the elaborate one of Jomini being
generally considered the best. The principles of strategy
are not changeable j they are founded on human nature and
the topographical features of the theater of war. These do
not change. Tactics and even fortifications change with
every new armament of the troops, but it is not so with
strategy. Hence the best method of becoming acquainted
with the subject is to closely study, assisted by good maps,
the campaigns of the great masters, Alexander, Hannibal,
Caesar, Napoleon, Wellington.
THEORY OF FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE.
"T^TOTWITHSTANDING all the talk which we hear
JL 1 about bayonet charges, it has long been recognized
to be a fact, that the principal effect of infantry is to be
found in their fire. And this is still more certainly the
truth since the universal introduction of arms of precision,
and the greater amount of target practice which obtains in
the instruction of soldiers. It is proposed here to investi-
gate to some extent the principles on which firing is done ;
but beforehand to make some remarks upon the phenomena
of the combustion of gunpowder in the barrel of a gun.
When powder is inflamed in the barrel, an elastic fluid is
developed which escapes- with violence from its confinement,
and drives before it whatever is in its way. The velocity
with which the ball is chased from the gun is the speed
with which it moves. Velocity is space passed over in a
unit of time. The initial velocity is that with which the
projectile moves at the instant of leaving the gun.
Powder does not bum all at once, but progressively ; the
exterior grains burn first, and disengage a large volume of
gas, which, moving with a high velocity, penetrates into the
interstices of the remaining grains, setting them on fire,
128 MILITARY LESSONS.
and so on until all the grains are burned. In this way, at
each successive instant more and more gas is developed,
so that the ball, although it moves over the length of the
gun-barrel in an extremely short time, yet acquires its
velocity gradually, and attains its maximum velocity only
when it has arrived at the muzzle of the bore.
Any degree of dampness is injurious to gunpowder, so
that its effect is less in rainy than in dry weather.
The initial velocity of the projectile depends on the
amount of the charge, the quality of the powder, the length
of the bore, the size and density of the ball, and on the
windage. The Windage is the amount of space between
the sides of the bore and the surface of the ball ; or, it is
the space by which it fails to fill the bore.
For any given ball and given length of bore, there is a
maximum velocity, beyond which it is useless to try to go.
In smooth-bore cannon it is attained by a charge one third
the weight of the ball. If there is no windage, as is the
case in rifles, the experiments of different nations, though
quite various in result, seem to indicate a charge about one
tenth the weight of the modern balls. The longer the
projectile is subjected to the accelerative force of the gas,
the greater velocity will it require, which would indicate
long barrels as the best ; but there is a limit to this, arising
from various causes. In smooth-bore arms, there is, on
account of the windage, shocks and friction of the ball
against the sides of the bore, which rapidly diminish the
velocity, and place a limit to the length of the barrel, which
for such pieces is about forty inches.
FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE. 129
The more resistance the gas of exploded powder meets
with the more force it develops ; consequently the heavier
the projectile is the greater the amount of motion it re-
ceives. A ball twice as heavy 'as another will receive more
than half as much motion from the same charge. With a
given charge small and light projectiles receive the highest
velocity while within the bore, but as soon as they are out
they rapidly lose it, because of their relative incapacity to
overcome the resistance of the air.
Recoil. There is no action without a corresponding
reaction, and consequently we find that the greater the
charge the more is the bottom of the bore driven back, and
the action on the arm is greater than it is on the projectile,
because the arm receives the whole of the reaction, while
the projectile, on account of the windage, does not receive
the whole of the action ; besides, the gas continues to react
on the piece, even after the ball has left the muzzle. The
velocity thus impressed upon the gun is called the recoil.
With an initial velocity of 1,475 feet, the smooth-bore
infantry musket would experience a recoil which, if it were
expressed in velocities of the ball, would be 2,314 feet ;
that is to say, that the ball would have to be moving with
a velocity of 2,314, in order that it might strike the musket
and communicate to it the velocity which it really has when
the ball leaves it with only a velocity of 1,475 feet.
But velocities are in the inverse ratio of the masses to
be moved; and the musket spoken of weighs about 174
times as much as its ball, so that the backward velocity of
the gun is Yr-T = 13-3 ^ ee ^- This velocity is sufficient to
130 MILITARY LESSONS.
hurt the shoulder, unless the gun is pressed tight against
it, joining the mass of the man's body to that of the gun.
Now if we suppose the effective weight of the body acting
in this manner is ten times that of the gun, the velocity of
recoil would be only 1.3 feet, which is easily bearable.
Moreover, this does not take in to account the crook or
angle in the stock of the piece, which 'mitigates very much
the effect of the recoil, because the force being thus de-
composed into two components, only one of them is ex-
pended against the shoulder; the other tending to rotate
the gun upwards.
The ball leaves the gun so quick that the recoil has not
much effect on the accuracy of the fire ; still it has some,
and in guns for very close target shooting we see very
heavy barrels ; their force of inertia being great enough to
nearly or quite destroy all inaccuracy from the recoil.
AVhen the ball is not down in contact with the powder,
the gas, moving with a high velocity, is suddenly arrested
by the ball, and there is every probability of the barrel
being burst ; and the farther the ball is from the charge,
the greater the danger. Not only may such an accident
arise from a ball above its proper position, but mud or
frozen snow have been known to burst a gun in this
Heating of the Barrel. This arises from rapid firing,
and bright and polished barrels heat faster than others.
Experience demonstrates that a gun cannot be handled
after it is heated to more than 165 or 170 Fahrenheit;
and as gunpowder requires a heat of about 400 to explode
FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE.
it, there can never be any danger from the heat of the
There are three lines necessary to be known in a fire-
arm with their relative positions, to wit :
The line of sight) the visual ray A B E G which passes
along the top points of the breech and muzzle,, and is
directed upon the object to be struck ; second, the axis or
line of fire, which is the axis of the bore prolonged CD X ;
third, the trajectory D E' T G H, described by the center of
the ball in its flight. The projectile, being fired along the
direction of the axis CD X, would follow that line if it
were not drawn by the force of gravity ; but under the
influence of that force it is always below D X. If it did
not encounter the resistance of the air, that is, were it fired
in vacuo, the curve described would be a parabola ; but the
resistance of the atmosphere modifies the shape of the
curve, and modifies it the more as the velocity is greater.
The shape of a gun, large or small, is larger at the breech
than at the muzzle, so that the line of sight makes an
angle BED with the axis, and cuts it at a short distance in
the point E. The angle B E D is called the Angle of Sight.
As the lowering of the ball in the earliest moments of its
132 MILITARY LESSONS.
flight is but small, the trajectory cuts the line of sight in a
point E 1 quite near ito E, especially in small arms, passes
above it, and afterwards in the descending branch cuts it a
second time at G, which is named the Point-Blank. The
axis, the line of sight, and the trajectory all lie in the same
vertical plane, called the plane of fire. This is quite natural,
for there can be no reason, in the ordinary condition of
things, why the ball should go to the right rather than to
the left, when it is of homogeneous material and symmet-
rical in shape. The Range is the distance to which the
projectile goes ; B G is fas point-blank range.
The Angle of Fire is the angle which the axis makes with
the horizon, or a level line ; on a level plain the range in-
creases as the angle of fire increases up to a certain limit,
which depends on the size and velocity of the projectile.
This angle is called the angle of greatest range, and is never
greater than 45, which is the angle of greatest range of a
projectile in vacno when supposed to be moving with a low
velocity. The angle of greatest range for a musket is from
25 to 35.
There are several causes which would make the range
vary from the point-blank range, the chief being, first, the
velocity of the ball ; second, its diameter and weight ; third,
the inclination of the line of sight ; and, fourth, the shape
of the barrel.
1. We have already remarked that the velocity depends
on the charge, length of bore, etc.
2. The diameter and weight of the ball will produce
changes in the range, because the larger and denser it is,
FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE. 133
the better will it overcome the resistance of the air, the
longer retain its velocity, and the more accurate be its flight
compared with another ball having the same or even a
greater velocity, but which is smaller and less dense.
3. The inclination of the line of sight will make a dif-
ference, but only when that inclination is considerable.
When the gun is pointed upwards the force of gravity
diminishes the velocity and brings the point-blank near ;
on the other hand, when it is pointed downwards, gravity
helps the ball onward and produces the contrary effect.
But for inclinations within 15 above and below the level,
this effect amounts to but little.
4. The greater the difference between the diameters of
the breech and muzzle, the greater will be the angle B ED
= X E G } and the greater the distance to the point-blank.
On the other hand, the less the difference between those
diameters, the nearer will the point-blank be brought. If
this difference be continually diminished, the line of sight
will finally become tangent to the trajectory, and there will
be no point-blank; consequently, if the line of sight is
parallel to the axis, there is no point-blank.
In the same model of arms the forms are the same, con-
sequently the angle of sight remains the same ; the charges
are the same, and so are the balls ; the habitual elevations
and depressions are within +15, so that we consider the
points- blank and trajectories as practically invariable. It
results from this that the line of sight and trajectory may
be considered as having a constant relation to each other;
and we would know the principles of fire if we knew the
134 MILITARY LESSONS.
positions of the different points of the trajectory with re-
spect to the line of sight.
Figure 1 shows that, in order to strike an object at the
point-blank, we must aim directly at it, that is at G ; that
to strike an object P this side of the point-blank, we must
aim under it by the space P M' = P M } which is the rise
of the trajectory above the object Q, and, on the other hand,
if we wish to strike an object Q, beyond the point-blank,
we must aim above by the space N' Q = N'Q, the distance
of the trajectory below the object. If we were to aim
directly at Q, the ball would pass below it at ff.
Now if we increase the angle of sight, the part of the
trajectory E TH lying above the new line of sight, KH,
will be greater ; the ball being fired under a greater angle
will go farther, and the new point-blank If will be more
remote than the former one G. The angle of sight may be
augmented, and the diameter of the breech apparently in-
creased by using a hausse, or hind-sight A K. (Fig. 2.)
This hausse enables us to look directly at the object
instead of aiming above it, which will be, of course, more
accurate and more convenient. These hausses are often
seen on the breeches of muskets, or near them, and either
turn on hinges or are arranged to slide up and down upon
To find the Hausse. Having directed the line of sight
AB on the point n, raised above the object by the distance
FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE. 135
q n, fix the arm in that position, then place a small stem or
standard A K on the bore of the breech, and sight along it
from B to q, and mark the point K where the prolongation
of q B passes.
It will readily be understood that the use of the hausse
has the effect of augmenting the angle of fire, for it lowers
the breech and raises the muzzle which increases the angle
Construction of the Trajectory The line of the trajec-
tory can be calculated from an equation which is approxi-
mately true, and then constructed, but it is better done by
Place on a line upon a level surface a number of screens
made by stretching canvass upon frames and fire a number
of shots, under the same condition as to aim, elevation,
charge, etc., through them, and then find on each screen
the mean position of the points struck or mean impact.
These points of mean impact being connected, give the tra-
jectory. One screen only may be used by placing it succes-
sively in the different positions. After firing on 'it at each
position, the screen may be covered with paper or cloth
pasted on it.
Causes of Deviation in the Projectile. 1. The barrel.
Want of accurate construction or any crookedness here will
prevent the ball following the proper direction. Any
change in the position of the sights will change the range
or the direction. Thus if the hausse, or hind-sight, is too
much to the right, the ball will go too much to the right ;
and the same for the left. 2. The windage. The ball
136 MILITARY LESSONS.
being loose in the bore will ricochet from one side to the
other as it passes out, and consequently will not follow the
axis. This is not so in the rifle. This bounding may
take place in any direction, but it usually occurs in a
vertical plane, modifying the angle of fire by several min-
utes of a degree.
Combined Effect of the Action of the Air, and of Imperfec-
tions in the Projectile. When a body is thrown out into
the air it takes up a motion of rotation, and the point
about which it rotates is its center of gravity. The center
of gravity is that point by which the body must be sus-
pended in order to remain in whatever position is given to
it. The rotation is around an axis passing through the
center of gravity.
If there were no resistance of the air, the centre of grav-
ity of the body would move as if the body were not turn-
ing; but the fact is quite otherwise, on account of the
resistance which the air makes to a body moving with a
This resistance, which when the round ball first leaves
the gun is about 98 times its weight, causes so much
greater effect as the motion is eccentric, that is, as the
amount of air encountered is greater. In a ball of perfect
sphericity and homogeneous material, the center of gravity
and the center of figure coincide, and the only resistance is
that of friction.
But as balls are not perfectly round and homogeneous,
these two centers will be separate ; now the force of the
powder acting on the mass is applied to the center of grav-
FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE. 137
ity, and the air acting on the surface is applied to the
center of figure ; hence will arise a motion of rotation of
the center of figure around the center of gravity, the
lighter part of the projectile around the heavier part; a
motion which will be greater as the two centers are farther
apart, and the resistance of the air greater.
The effect of the resultant of the resistance of the air
would nearly always be to push the ball out of the plane of
fire, for it would be an accident for it to happen to be
directly in the path of the center of gravity.
The trajectory would thus become a curve of double
If the axis of rotation should be perpendicular to the
plane of fire, and the center of gravity be in that plane,
there would be no deviation. If the center of gravity
should be in the plane of fire, and the heaviest part in
front, there would be no rotation at all.
The motion of rotation just spoken of, in connection
with those of the shocks in the barrel, gives rise to very
irregular trajectories. The greater, then, the resistance of
the air, the greater the deviation ; and of balls of the same
size, the lighter will be farthest driven from its path.
And it is to be remarked, that balls of the same material
and less diameter will be deviated in a greater proportion.
Thus a ball one half the diameter of the musket- ball would
weigh ^ as much ; the resistance of the air due to its
weight would be 92 X 8 ; but since the surface of the little
kill is only | that of the larger one, the resistance would
be 98 4 = 98 X 2 ; double as much as that of the larger
ball in proportion.
138 MILITARY LESSONS.
All things else then being equal, the largest, densest, and
best shaped balls are those which are least driven from the
4. The temperature and degree of dampness of the air,
and amount of dampness of the powder, will influence the
range and trajectory.
5. The wind blowing across the path of the ball will
cause it to deviate more or less, according to the strength
of the wind. If it is a strong wind blowing directly
across the trajectory, it has been found to deviate the ball
about |- inch in 1GO yards. It acts like an accelerative
force, the deviation being proportional to the squares of
the distances; thus at 320 yards the deviation would be
^ X 4 = 2 inches. The wind may also throw a ball up or
down as well as sidewise.
Inaccuracy may also arise from the unevenness of the
ground over which we fire deceiving the sight.
When firing at a moving object it is necessary to aim at
the point where we suppose the object will be when the
ball has gone over the distance. For instance, a horseman
crossing the line of sight at the distance of 160 yards at a
gallop say with a velocity of twenty -two feet per second
will advance eleven feet in half a second. The ball will
arrive there in that time. The horse is about nine feet
long, so we should aim about three to four and a half feet
in front of his head.
Deviation from Unskillfulness of the Marksman. The
greatest cause of deviations are in the marksman himself.
A soldier after having taken a good aim often destroys it
FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE. 139
by a sudden jerk on the trigger. Soldiers should be taught
to take aim with an empty gun, at first with a rest and
then offhand. The visual ray must pass from the bottom
of the notch of the hausse, or hind-sight, to the top of the
front-sight, and thence to the object. If the eye is raised
above the proper position, the gun will shoot too high.
They should be practiced in snapping caps at a lighted
candle, so as to learn to pull the trigger gradually, keeping
the line of sight on the flame. If placed three and a half
feet from the muzzle, it will be blown out by a correct aim.
From this they should advance to firing blank cartridges,
and afterwards firing ball cartridges, carefully at a target.
They should be taught to plant their feet firmly ; the
left foot thrown to the front, and the right foot at a dis-
tance of one pace to the right, and pointing in that direc-
tion. The sights must be exactly on top ; should they be
revolved over towards the right, the ball will go too much
to the right ; and the converse.
Target practice should be frequent and conducted with
the utmost painstaking. The men should be taught to
judge of distances promptly and with accuracy. To this
end men should be stationed at different distances, which
should be known to all, and the soldiers taught to note
what features or parts of the dress are distinguishable by
the eye at the different distances. Afterwards men should
be stationed at unknown distances, and the troops prac-
ticed in guessing them ; they should be subsequently
Stadia. This is a little instrument carried by the
140 MILITARY LESSONS.
officers and non-commissioned officers, which is used to
determine distances. It is an oblong piece of brass out of
which is cut an isosceles triangle,, the base of which is
much smaller than its altitude. The stadia when used is
held at an uniform distance (the length of the arm) in front
of the eye ; the altitude of the triangle being horizontal.
It is graduated with a number of vertical lines, on which
are marked certain numbers. These numbers are the dis-
tances in yards at which a constant object, like the height
of a footman from top of cap to sole of foot, can just be
seen through the triangular slit at those marks. On the
other side it is graduated for a horseman. To keep it at a
constant distance from the eye a string is attached with a
knot at the loose end, which is placed between the teeth
when the instrument is in use. The string is attached to a
slide, which moves right and left over the triangular slit,
and assists in taking sight.
To calculate the initial Velocity. Let two vertical disks
of paper or cloth be placed at a known distance apart on a hori-
zontal axis, and set to revolving uniformly with considerable velocity.
Place the muzzle of the gun close to one of the disks, being parallel
to and immediately over the axis of the machine; fire the gun,
FIRE AND TARGET PRACTICE.
and note the position of the two points through which the ball
Suppose the disks were nine feet apart, and the machine mak-
ing eight revolutions per Siuto : one revolution would be made
in g- = 0".125. The ball first passed at 0, which was then in a ver-
tical line, and through the second disk at F, which by that time was
on the vertical line. Measure the angle VAC: suppose it = 30
= ^ the whole circumference. Hence the wheels were revolving
If the ball goes nine feet in ^^ of a second, how far will it go in
: 8 65 feet; and
or a whole second ? 104 : 9 : : 10000 : x =
that was the initial velocity.
IT is proposed to mate a slight historical sketch of small-
arms^ commencing with a hasty glance at those which
antedated the invention of gunpowder. It is not pos-
sible to find out what arms were first invented, nor when
nor by whom.
The exigencies of men in the simplest form of savage
life would demand weapons of some kind for the purposes
of hunting, and for defense against wild beasts. Almost
simultaneously wars would arise having their origin in the
passions of men or the necessities of self-defense. Unable
to cope successfully with those whom nature had endowed
with superior strength, the weak would seek to supple-
ment their deficient power by the artificial aid of weap-
The first weapons undoubtedly were clubs and goads,
or sharpened poles. As the stronger would still be the
victors in this kind' of strife, the weak would resort to
fighting from a distance by hurling stones. At first, no
doubt, this would be done by hand, and soon after by
slings. Then would follow arrows shot from bows, giv-
ing an opportunity for skill to triumph over mere force.
The discovery of metals at a late date would induce
the invention of lances, swords, helmets, and defensive ar-
mor for the body. We are told in the Book of Genesis
that Abraham, when he went to the rescue of his kins-
man Lot, "numbered of the servants born in his house
three hundred and eighteen well appointed and pursued
them (the enemy) to Dan/''
It is very remarkable that we should find in the Bible
so little distinct and valuable information on the subject
of weapons, for the Israelites were a very warlike people,
and they were almost continually engaged in war with
their neighbors. These wars are recorded with their re-
sults ; but almost nothing is given in detail of the nature
of their arms.
Eome, Greece, Egypt, and Assyria have all left us sat-
isfactory records on this subject in the way of descrip-
tions, inscriptions, pictures, bas-reliefs, and specimens
either handed down or dug out of ruins; but the case is
different with Palestine. And yet we are far more fa-
miliar with the history of the Israelites than with that of
any of their contemporaries.
Something, however, -can be gleaned by minute atten-
tion to this subject. The earliest mention of the sword
is in Genesis xxxiv. 25, where, in the account of the
massacre of Shechem, it is stated that " Simeon and
Levi took each man his sword and came upon the city
boldly and slew all the males/'' Frequent mention is af-
terwards made of the sword, b it we know nothing of its
shape, weight, and mode of use. It was called a ckereb ;
144 MILITARY LESSONS.
and as David,, who was not remarkably large and strong,
was able to use with facility the chereb of the giant
Goliath, we may infer that the ordinary sword was much
less in proportion to a man than is the modern sword.
We also infer that it was worn in a scabbard and slung
from the waist by a belt, from the expressions, "girding
on the sword/' " men that drew the sword/' etc.
There are different kinds of spears mentioned, the lar-
gest of which was the chanith. Of this sort was Goliath's,
with its handle like a weaver's beam, and its iron head
weighing 600 shekels, about 25 pounds.
There was also the cidon, which is supposed to have
corresponded with the javelin. A third kind was the ro-
macli, which was a spear in common use. Bows and ar-
rows are mentioned in Genesis, while the earliest mention
of slings is made in the Book of Judges, chapter xx.
Occasional reference is made to breastplates, helmets,
and shields. Battering-rams are mentioned in Ezekiel
iv. 2, and elsewhere in the same book. These implements
of war were well known to the Egyptians and Assyr-
At a very early period cities were protected by walls,
from which arrows and stones were fired upon the assail-
ants, and from which chariots, armed with scythes, issued
to carry, by the speed and strength of horses, dismay and
havoc amid the ranks of the enemy. Soon came the use
of cavalry acting by their shock, and elephants, on the
backs of which were towers filled with archers ; then cars
carrying catapults and balistse ; and then cross-bows, mus-
kets, cannons, repeating rifles,, mitrailleuses. Who can
foresee the end of these mechanisms?
Courage and skill, strengthened by military discipline
and a knowledge of the art of war, are potent elements
of victory; but the effect due to the nature of the arms
is incontestably great.
Thus the use of cuirasses at one time gave the prepon-
derance to physical strength; but the invention of fire-
arms removed this distinction. You will readily recall
to memory the saying that " gunpowder makes all men
equally tall." Even when both parties use the same arm,
the difference of quality, shape, and method of use is of
high importance. Witness the speedy and pa-ralyzing
defeat of the Sadowa campaign, due more than to any
other cause to the difference between the Austrian rifle
and the Prussian needle-gun. The greatest of generals
have ever been solicitous to secure the best improved
arms. The Romans, those great masters of the art of
war, never hesitated to abandon their own arms or mili-
tary devices, and to adopt those of their enemies, when
they found them of superior quality.
Arms may be classified into those requiring for their
use more than one man, or artillery, and those suscep-
tible of being used by a single individual, or small-arms.
Let us confine our attention, for the present, to the lat-
ter. Small-arms are of two kinds, those with which we
strike the enemy immediately and directly, such as the
sword, the saber, and the lance or bayonet, and, secondly,
protective arms, used for fighting at a distance. Of this
146 MILITARY LESSONS.
kind are the musket, rifle,, and pistol in modern times,
and among the ancients the bow, the sling, and the cross-
The first class were those first in use. They were made
of wood, having points and edges of bone or flint ; after-
wards they were manufactured out of copper and bronze,
as these were metals more easily worked than iron. The
precise epoch at which weapons of iron and steel were
introduced among the Komans cannot be ascertained, but
it is highly probable that the short Spanish sword which
they adopted was of iron, tempered or converted into
steel, inasmuch as iron ore abounded in Spain.
The arms of the ancients were pikes, swords, sabers, and
axes. The pike, according to its dimensions, was called
by different names. The sarissa of the Greeks was a pike
from 16 to 26 feet long, and was borne by the infantry;
the lance, which was neither so long nor so heavy, was
the weapon of the cavalry ; and the hasta, of medium pro-
portions, was used by both kinds of troops. The pilum
of the Romans was about seven feet long ; it could be used
as a pike, but ordinarily it was hurled against the enemy.
The javelin was a half-pike, and served the same purpose
as the Eoman pilum. The Franks used an arm called the
angon, which was a javelin, but the point had beards
turned towards the rear, like those of a fish-hook, which
when buried in the flesh or in a buckler was extremely
difficult to be extracted. The javelot was a long and very
sharp dart thrown by the hand. The lance carried by the
knights of the Middle Ages was from 13 to 20 feet in
length, and had a heavy shoe on the end to make it more
Somewhat akin to the pike was the sponton and the
demi-sponton, which was between 6J and 7 feet long, and
was in use during the times from Louis XIII. to Louis XY. ;
the halberd and partizan, which, beside the pike-head, had
on each side a little ax, or an ax and a point, or two
crotchets or hooks. They were in the hands of the officers
of the foot troops only.
Swords and sabers were of various shapes and dimen-
sions. The Roman sword was broad, short, and straight,
being very suitable for thrusting; that of the Gauls was
long, straight, and keen, but was liable to break during a
combat. The scimitar is a heavy saber sharply curved
towards the point. The dagger is a heavy poniard. The
ax is a very ancient arm, and has had a variety of sizes
and shapes. The Franks used a small ax or hatchet,
called the francisk, which they threw at the enemy. Then
came battle-axes, marteaus (a species of hammers), and
masses d'armes, calculated for breaking and crushing
Among protective arms the Sling is the most primitive.
It is a sack, or bed of leather, sustained by two thongs, one
larger than the other, and wrapped around the hand, the
other retained under the thumb until the moment of pro-
jecting the stone which lies in the sack, when it is allowed
to escape. By a rapid motion of rotation a strong cen-
trifugal force is impressed upon the stone, which can be
hurled more than 300 yards.
148 MILITARY LESSONS.
The inhabitants of the Balearic Islands formerly had a
great reputation as slingers.
The Bow, likewise,, goes back to a very high antiquity.
The bow is usually made of the yew-tree, which is both
tough and elastic, and varies in length from 5 to 8 feet for
battle purposes, although it must be noted that the Ameri-
can Indians make use of much shorter bows, which are
deadly at short range. It is not unusual for them to drive
an arrow through the body of a buffalo, and the combina-
tion of rapidity of firing with accuracy of aim is superior
to that of the revolver. But the quiver is soon ex-
In ancient times the Cretans were renowned as archers,
and in times more recent the bow was the toy, the pride,
and the triumph of England. According to the stories
of certain authors, the man who could not put one dozen
arrows into the target in one minute was no soldier at all.
They report also that the arrows would pierce through a
two-inch plank at a distance of 250 yards. Bows are
sometimes made of steel, and, whether made of wood or
metal, it is the elasticity of the material which gives the
bow its power; and the larger, tougher, and heavier it is
the more powerful the weapon becomes.
The Arrow, as is well known, is a long and slender
stalk or shaft of wood, armed with a sharp head of . steel,
and having some feathers arranged on either side near the
rear end. The sharp and long head of the arrow easily
cleaves the atmosphere, and the feathers, meeting with
more resistance from the air, are compelled to remain in
the rear, thus insuring the point moving in front and
striking the target. By this simple and ingenious mech-
anism the superiority of the bow over stone-slinging ma-
chines was speedily demonstrated.
The Parthians also were famous archers, and probably
owed to their bows their independence from the Roman
You will remember how helpless the Roman legions
were, even though commanded by so able a general as
the Emperor Julian, when pursued and harassed by the
mounted archers of Parthia.
The crossbow was a more formidable arm than the
bow even, since more powerful bows could be used, and
the accuracy of the fire, for the average man, was much
superior. It was introduced into England from the East
by Richard Coeur de Lion at the .'time of the Crusades, but
it was not adopted by the Erench till a somewhat later
The Crossbow consisted of a bow mounted crosswise
upon a stock shaped something like a gun-stock, with
the butt arranged to fit against the shoulder, and permit
accurate aim to be taken by the eye. Along this stalk
was a channel in which was laid the arrow. Towards
the rear, and about in the position of the hammer of a
modern gun-lock, was a small wheel, in a notch on the
rim of which was the bow-string when drawn back for
a shot. To this wheel was attached a trigger; and when
the trigger was drawn, the wheel revolved, releasing the
string which chased the arrow before it along the channel.
150 MILITARY LESSONS.
When the bow was very strong, there was attached a
reel and crank for hauling back the bow-string to its
The Arquebuse (from arqui, or arc, and buse, a nozzle
or tube) was a crossbow in which the open channel
was replaced by a tube or barrel, to contain the pro-
jectile, which was generally a lead ball. This barrel was
slit on either side to allow the bow-string to traverse
back and forth.
The sling, bow, and crossbow had the disadvantage
of spreading the troops out so that their formation was
not suitable for receiving charges of cavalry, and, besides,
their range was not very considerable.
Hence we are not surprised that a low value was set
upon them in the ancient armies compared with the kand-
arms, like swords and pikes, which permitted a close
order and the shock of heavy lines or columns.
When firearms were first introduced, although very
much superior to the ancient protective arms, they were
not adapted to the kind of formation then in vogue.
Men armed with them could not act in the interior of
solid squares which were used to resist cavalry ; but after
the fire of artillery had abolished the practice of deep
formations, and when the musket had become both a hand-
arm and a projective arm, the infantry found their prin-
cipal force was in their fire.
The use of defensive armor was general in ancient
warfare. The infantry of the line wore helmets, cui-
rasses, steeled half-boots and bucklers; and the heavy
cavalry were cuirassed by bands of leather covered with
sheet-brass. Coats of mail were worn in the time of
Charlemagne, but continuous armor was not yet intro-
duced. In France Louis VII. first adopted that kind of
armor. It was improved and rendered heavier from time
to time, so that at last a knight could only be killed by
the battle-ax or morteau, which could crash through his
habiliments of steel. But the fire of artillery, which soon
after came into general use, changed this fashion.
Firearms. When firearms were first introduced as a
military weapon, they were not what we now call portable
firearms, that is, such as are easily handled by one man,
but were much heavier.
The culcerin,, the hand-cannon, the baston, and bom-
bard', were the various names of certain arms which were
much the same, consisting essentially of an iron or brass
tube which was mounted on a trestle when it was to be
fired. They were loaded with gunpowder and a ball of
lead, and fired off by means of a burning match. They
required two men for their service, as they weighed from
25 to 70 pounds. Although such machines would now-
adays be regarded as ridiculously clumsy and inefficient,
they had a very decided effect, since there was no cuirass
that could withstand their projectiles. Accordingly they
multiplied rapidly; introduced first about 1350, by the
year 1380 they were in general use.*
* It is said_ by some that the English had five cannon placed on a hill
near the village of Crecy in 1340, during the famous battle there under Ed-
152 MILITARY LESSONS.
Breech-loading weapons also were invented and tried
about this era some of these cannons having a movable
breech or chest to contain the charge,, which could be
taken out and replaced, being fastened in position by an
iron key or wedge ; but as these arrangements were not
sufficiently secure, and gave rise to numerous accidents,
they were soon abandoned.
As the culverins were heavy and awkward to handle
and point, they were soon replaced by a smaller gun resting
on trunnions, which per-
mitted them to revolve on
a horizontal axis, and the
inclination was given by
an elevating screw placed
under the breech. The
whole was supported by a
tripod. By this means the gun could be turned in
any direction, and the necessary elevation or depression
given to it. The breech terminated in a handle, which was
held in the left hand while the match was applied by the
right. These guns were denominated arquebuses, without
any very good reason that we can see.
Soon after this was invented a lighter kind of arquebuse,
fitted on to a stock that could be raised to the shoulder.
The vent was pierced in the side of the breech, and there
was a pan provided near to and under it, to hold the priming
powder. The marksman held up this arquebuse with his
left hand, at the same time pressing it against the shoulder,
and with the right hand applied the lighted match to the
powder in the pan. Still this arm was too heavy to be
used without a rest, which was accordingly provided in the
shape of a fork stuck in the ground.
The improvement of firearms rapidly brought on their
adoption. They were used by the Burgundians to defend
Arras against Charles VI. in 1414, and in 1449 twenty
thousand men armed with arquebuses marched from Milan
to raise the siege of Mariquan.
At a time somewhat subsequent, the people of Brabrant
used 300 small bombards in the siege of Bruges.
Firearms were slow in making their way among the
French, owing to the attachment of that people to the
institutions of chivalry ; but they began to come into use
under Charles VII. and Louis XI. At that epoch they
were quite common in Switzerland, Flanders, and Italy.
Ten thousand hand- cannons were employed by the Swiss
in the battle of Morat ; and in the expedition of Charles
VIII., one tenth of the infantry were armed with arque-
buses, and in the time of Francis I. they had become
common in France."*
Although the arquebuse had been manufactured so light
that it could be fired without the use of a rest, it was
* They were introduced into the English army in 1471, when Edward
IV. landed at Ravenspur, having 300 Flemings in his train, who were
armed with portable firearms.
154 MILITARY LESSONS.
impossible to attain much accuracy in the fire, on account
of sighting while touching off with the match. This in-
convenience was remedied by the two following inventions.
The first was made in 1380,, and consisted of a kind of
sweep, or vertical piece revolving on a horizontal axis,, the
lower end occupying the position of a trigger, and being
pressed by the finger in the same manner. The upper end
was composed of two jaws enclosing a piece of burning
slow-match ; when the finger was pressed on the trigger,
this upper end approached the priming-pan and inserted
the end of the match into the powder.
The second kind of mechanism, called the wheel-lock,
was perfected at Nuremberg in 1517. It consisted of a
small wheel made of steel, having its circumference cut into
little channels and ribs, like the edge of a milled dollar.
This wheel was placed in the priming-pan, to the bottom
of which it reached in the midst of the powder. The
wheel was connected on the interior with a small chain,
which chain was attached to a spring, after the manner
of the machinery of a watch. Behind the pan was the dog
or cocky holding between its jaws a composition of iron and
antimony, which was called pyrites. A spring pressed the
dog down, bringing the composition in contact with the
periphery of the wheel.
To put this lock into action a crank was fitted on the
end of the shaft of the wheel,, and by turning the crank
the chain was wound up around the axle and the spring
drawn taut. When wound up,, a small pin was slipped in
to hold the wheel in place, and then the crank was re-
moved. The gun was now ready to fire, or cocked, as we
would say nowadays. To fire it off the cover of the pan
was turned on its hinges, disengaging the pin; immediately
the spring set the wheel to turning, and its rough edge
whirling in contact with the composition created sparks
of fire, which exploded the priming.
Small arquebuses with this kind of lock were made about
the year 1545 for the use of cavalry. They were short,
and the stock terminated in a gripe for the hand, being
intended to be fired with only one hand, the arm being
extended. They were first fabricated at Pistoie, a town in
Tuscany, and hence were named pistols.
The diminution of the caliber of the arms rendering their
effect too slight, some arquebuses of a heavier caliber were
made, the stock at the rear departing from the line of direc-
tion of the bore at a considerable angle. This was done to
diminish the shock from the recoil; which was effected
still further by placing the butt of the piece against the
plastron of the cuirass, thus spreading the influence of the
recoil over a greater surface. They were called petrinals,
or poitrenials, from the French word for breast. They
were, however, very awkward pieces, and were soon aban-
We may as well explain the word caliber, or cotober,
156 MILITARY LESSONS.
which we have just used. The caliber of an arm is deter-
mined by the weight of its projectile in aliquot parts of a
pound ; thus a gun is of the caliber of twenty when twenty
of its balls weigh a pound.
The Spaniards, under the Emperor Charles V., used at
the battle of Pavia the mousquit, or musket,, which was a
heavy arm of the caliber of eight, and required a fork for
a rest. These pieces were soon after successfully reduced
in caliber down to eighteen or twenty to the pound, and
this caliber has reached down to our days.
Rifled arms, that is, pieces with spiral grooves cut on
the interior of the bore, were known as early as the end of
the fifteenth century.
The invention of firearms did not bring about the im-
mediate disuse of the sling, the bow, and the crossbow.
They were not finally abandoned as military weapons until
about 1560, while the English, owing to their superiority
as archers, clung to the bow until 1627.
Notwithstanding the advantages presented by the new
arms, they possessed the same drawback as the old ones in
preventing that kind of formation necessary for resistance
to the onset of cavalry.
Such was the condition of firearms after three centuries
of experiment and improvement, when the invention of the
flint-lock brought about an entire revolution.
The matchlock required the soldier to keep on hand
a supply of slow-match and to keep it burning, which
betrayed ambuscades and night marches; besides it was
almost impossible to use them in damp weather, and quite
out of the question in the rain. The wheel-lock, although
somewhat better, was complicated, costly, and often missed
The flint-lock was introduced, and speedily it went
through a number of modifications, until it attained the
form which all are familiar with, wherein the trigger, being
pulled by the finger, gives play to the main-spring, the
main-spring dashes forward, the cock having the flint in
its jaws; the flint strikes against the steel face of the
battery, peeling off little fragments of the metal, which by
the friction and velocity of the flint develop heat sufficient
to become red-hot, forming sparks. The shock throws
back the battery, exposing the powder in the priming-pan,
and the sparks, falling into the same, explode it. This
superior arm required a considerable time to drive out
the match-lock, which was so extremely simple, from that
dread of complicated machinery which militates at the pres-
ent time against the adoption of improved arms. The
flint-lock was introduced into the English service in 1692,
under William of Orange.
The musket was finally recognized as by far the best
protective arm ever known amongst mankind, but it was
not yet a ^<z^/-arm. Accordingly the first and second
ranks were armed with pikes to resist cavalry, and three or
four ranks in rear of them were provided with muskets.
The invention of the bayonet, which speedily followed,
converted the musket into a /land-arm as well as a projec-
tive arm, and it could now fulfill the office of the pike,
which it soon superseded, and reduced the formation of
158 MILITARY LESSONS.
infantry to four ranks at first and then to three ranks. At
the present time, in some services, as that of the United
States, for instance, there are but two ranks.
The Bayonet takes its name from Bayonne, where it was
first fabricated in the year 1640. At first bayonets were
small pikes, that is, they had a steel pike-head set upon a
short wooden stock, which was inserted into the muzzle of
the musket. They had, of course, to be removed before
firing. Thirty years after, a bayonet with an elbow, and
a hollow socket to fit over the muzzle, was invented; and
the musket in this perfected state solved the important
problem how to properly form the infantry of a modern
Gustavus Adolphus is accredited by some authors with
the invention of the cartridge. This invention increased
wonderfully the rapidity of the fire, though at first the
priming-horn was used with a finer kind of powder for
priming, and it was only in 1744 that the cartridge was
used both for loading and priming.
. The next step was the invention of the percussion-
cap, in the present century. This is an English invention,*
and speedily drove the flint-lock out of use.
In the percussion-lock the hammer strikes on a small
copper cap placed on a small hollow tube, or cone, which
opens on to the charge in the bottom of the gun-barrel.
It is much more certain than the flint ; the explosion
takes place more promptly, which increases the accuracy
of the fire ; and firing can take place even in heavy rains.
* By the Rev. Mr. Forsythe,
In the bottom of the cap is placed a small quantity of
fulminating powder,, composed of two parts of fulminate
of mercury to one of saltpeter. This is protected from
dampness by a coating of Japan varnish, or some other
lacker. The ramrod, or rammer,, was formerly of wood;
one iron rammer being furnished to every ten men; but
now all muskets are provided with steel rammers.
The percussion-musket, with its improved bayonet,
would seem to have left but little to be wished for in
the way of an infantry weapon; but, on the contrary,
the number of proposed improvements has, since its in-
troduction, been greater than ever before. Men of me-
chanical genius, both soldiers and those in civil life, and
in all civilized countries, during the last twenty years,
have turned their attention in this direction. The con-
sequence has been an enormous number of projected and
patented improvements, some of which enjoyed a brief
celebrity and were then thrown aside, while others, of
more enduring worth, remain and mark distinctly the
different stages of progress.
The problem which those men have proposed to them-
selves had three branches :
1. To increase the rapidity of fire ;
2. To increase the range of the projectile ;
3. To increase the accuracy of the fire. To strike
the enemy more surely, to strike him farther off, and to
strike him more frequently, was then the object in view.
We cannot undertake to notice, even in a cursory
manner, all these improvements, for want of space and
160 MILITARY LESSONS.
time, it would require volumes,, nor would the amount
of benefit or interest be commensurate with the labor and
patience requisite were we to go over them all. I shall
therefore confine my attention to the more important.
The general tendency of experiment and improvement
has been in the direction of the abandonment of the
smooth-bore and the substitution of the rifle. We have
already adverted to the knowledge of the theory of rifled
arms in former times. The difficulty of loading and the
slow rate of firing caused them to fall into disuse, or
rather prevented their coming into general use.
Their superior accuracy, however, kept them in the
hands of sportsmen, and they have been largely used by
the people of the United States, even as a military
weapon, as is shown by the history of our perpetual con-
tests with the Indians upon our borders, and of our wars
with Great Britain.
The victory of General Jackson at New Orleans over
the veterans of Packingham, who had been seasoned by
years of fighting under the leadership of so great a mas-
ter as Wellington, against the French led by Napoleon's
marshals, was mainly due to the deadly accuracy of the
American rifles. The rifle is in an especial manner the
weapon of America.
The Germans were the first in Europe to make much
use of the rifle. Arms with grooves were used in Ger-
many as early as the fifteenth century. These grooves,
however, ran straight and parallel to the axis of the bore.
No notable improvement was observed, but they served
at least the good purpose of demonstrating that the ball
would obey the grooves and move in the direction of this
axis. Subsequently an immense improvement was found
to be produced by making the grooves helices, or giv-
ing them a twist. The ball was then found to move with
two motions : one of direct translation due to the impulse
of the gases caused by the burning of the powder; and
another of rotation about an axis parallel to that of the
bore. This latter motion of rotation was found to be
increased by increasing the twist of the rifles or grooves.
But there is a practical limit to this, because of the in-
creased friction and retardation which results in the little
ridges of lead which fill the grooves stripping off and
the ball marching direct across the grooves and lands
or spaces which separate them.
/ A variety of circumstances must be taken into account
in establishing the inclination of the grooves; a sort of
general indication is, that in a rifle-musket with a bar-
rel about forty inches long the grooves should make about
a half-turn in the bore.
Different Methods of forcing the Ball into the Grooves.
The first was to force a tight ball, either naked or cov-
ered with a greased patch, into the bore, and when at
the bottom, by blows of a mallet or with the rammer,
to compress the lead, cause it to spread out and fill the
grooves. This operation deformed the ball, injuring the
accuracy of its flight, and required besides much time.
Another method was to load at the breech, the cham-
ber into which the ball was inserted being somewhat
162 MILITARY LESSONS.
larger than the bore; the gases forced the ball forward,
completely filling the grooves. This was no doubt the
best method; but the complicated and imperfect mech-
anism of breech-loaders heretofore has kept them in
disfavor, and it is only at the present day that a satis-
factory solution has been found to the problem to make
a good breech-loading rifle.
A third method was to cast the balls with ridges pre-
pared to fit the grooves, and load at the muzzle.
As you will readily imagine, this did not entirely de-
stroy the windage; besides, it did not give good prac-
The fourth method consisted in simply pushing a very
tight ball covered with a patch down to the position of
the powder, but without ramming. This was the Amer-
ican custom. The hold taken on the ball by the grooves
was but slight, and only a portion of the benefits of rifling
As early as 1828 Captain Delvigne proposed a breech-
pin hollowed out to sufficient depth to contain the pow-
der of the charge, and leave a small amount of space to
This chamber was of somewhat smaller diameter than
the bore of the piece, so that the bottom of the bore, by
its connection with the mouth of the chamber, formed a
projectory rim or shoulder upon which the ball rested
and by which it was prevented from entering the chamber
and being pressed down on the powder. The powder
was thus secured from being crushed and injured, and
besides,, two or three taps of the rammer caused the ball
to expand into the grooves equally on all sides. This was
a very great improvement; but the ball was much de-
formed by the blows of the rammer,, and the lower part
was,, in point of fact, driven into the chamber to such an
extent as to diminish seriously the amount of space
which there should be between the powder and the pro-
jectile, and in some cases even to press upon the pow-
Pontchara System. To remove the defects just spoken
of, Colonel Pontchara proposed to place on the bottom
of the ball a small wooden sabot, which was a short
cylinder hollowed out on top to make a bed for the ball,
and having a greased patch on the lower end which ex-
tended a part of the way up the sides. The sabot was
to prevent the lower portion of the ball being hammered
into the chamber, and the greased patch was to clean the
gun of dirt and residuum. Meanwhile a great variety
of grooves or rifles, differing as to number, inclination,
depth, and shape of cross-section, was tried, to find out
by experiment the .best.
The Systeme a tige was next introduced by two French
officers, MM. Thouvenin and Minie.
Instead of the chamber hollowed out of the breech-
pin, a tige, or stem, was screwed into the breech-pin and
extended a short distance in the direction of the axis of
the bore. Around this stem, or tige, lay the powder of
the charge, and on its top rested the leaden ball which
expanded into the grooves as before under the blows of
164 MILITARY LESSONS.
the rammer. By this time the rammer-head had been
hollowed out so as not to flatten the upper surface of
Minie also tried a ball of a new shape,, the cylindro-
conical ball, being a cylinder terminated towards the
front by a cone. Near the base of the cylinder was cut
a groove. This groove was found to play a very impor-
tant part, but the origin of it was somewhat singular.
It was intended at first to be merely a little reservoir for
grease, to replace the greased patch of the Delvigne
system. A woolen yarn was saturated with grease and
tied into this groove, whence, as the ball moved along
the bore, it dispensed its grease to the sides of its cylin-
drical surface. When, from any cause, the thread was
left off and the groove remained open, it was discovered
that the accuracy of the ball's course was very much
We will refer to the philosophical cause of this effect
The stem was 1.417 inches long; its top was flat; it
was a cylinder of 0.34-inch diameter; the rifle had 4
grooves, which made one turn in 4.664 feet; the caliber
was 0.689-inch; and the ball, of which the diameter was
0.676-inch, weighed 1.65 ounces.
The charge of powder was 64.8 grains; and the gun,
without its bayonet, weighed 10.15 pounds. The elevating
sight, or hausse, was graduated up to 1,421 yards.
Experiments upon the grooves demonstrated that there
should be at least two, because one caused the ball to leave
the gun in a false direction, but that the number should
It was also ascertained that there existed a certain
relation between the twist of the grooves and the charge
of powder. When the grooves were much inclined, a
heavy charge drove the ball across the grooves, deforming
its shape and losing the rotary motion ; on the other hand,
when the grooves had too little inclination, there was not
It was also discovered by the experimenter, that if
the grooves had a twist to the right from the left, the ball
deviated to the right ; and if the turn was from right to
left, the ball went to the left of the point aimed at. To
this deviation the name derivation, or drift, was given.
They finally settled upon a twist of one turn in 6 feet
and from left to right, the drift to the right from this
inclination being counteracted, as they supposed, by the
natural inclination of the soldier to aim too much to the
left, especially at long ranges.
A multitude of experiments was made upon the shape
of the ball; combinations of the cylinder and cone were
made in every possible way.
One remarkable result led to the suspicion that much
of the accuracy was due to the groove, or cannelure,
around the base of the ball. Study and experiment
developed the theory of Captain Tamissier of the French
artillery as follows : In order that a cylindro-conic ball
may have the best possible effect, it is necessary that the
point should keep in front, and that its axis of rotation
166 MILITARY LESSONS.
should follow the inflection of the trajectory. Should the
axis of the ball maintain constantly its first direction,, the
resistance of the air would tend to make it turn about an
axis perpendicular to the trajectory, and passing through
its center of gravity.
. For example, let A B C be the trajectory described
by the center of gravity of the ball, p p' p" three positions
of the ball on the curve with its axis parallel to its first
position, and R R! K' the direction of the resistance of the
air, which acts always in the direction opposite to the balPs
motion. It is seen from the figure that at the position p
the resistance R has only the effect to retard the motion,
but that in the positions p p" the forces K Jl" acting
upon a greater surface than R to retard the motion,
tend at the same time to force the axis of the ball more
and more from the trajectory and to make it turn in a
direction opposite to that of its flight.
Now suppose there was a groove around the base of
the ball ; the moment its point was raised off the trajec-
tory the groove on the under side of the cylindrical part
would be opened out and exposed to the action of the
current of the air, which would haul the point down again
to the trajectory. And if the point were to deviate to
right or left, or in any direction whatever, it is easily seen
that the same action would take place,, and bring the point
back to the trajectory.
Tamissier believed that if the number of grooves should
be increased, this effect would be enhanced, as more sur-
face would be presented to the action of the air. Accord-
ingly he had such balls made, and experiment confirmed
his theory, and established three as the most suitable
number of grooves.
Balle a culot. In the tige rifle, as was seen above, the
ball was compelled to expand into the grooves by blows
of the rammer. But this effect was produced in very un-
equal degrees by different men ; some scarcely expanding
the ball at all, while others hammered and mashed the ball
out of all shape. It was sought to remedy this defect by
expanding the ball by the action of the powder alone, and
without the action of the soldier in the matter.
Minie-Ball. Captain Minie invented a ball with a hol-
low in its base of the shape of a frustum of a cone, into
which a little culot, or wedge, which was of iron and of
the same kind of shape, was forced by the action of the
powder ; expanding the sides of the ball so as to fill the
grooves with the lead. The general shape was cylindro-
conic. This was the celebrated Minie-ball, of which all
have heard so much. The Minie rifle is any rifle firing
At the termination of experiments made with the Minie
ball, and which demonstrated its practical success in the
year 1849, Captain Faucompre, of the French artillery,
presented a hollow ball which he claimed would be ex-
168 MILITARY LESSONS.
panded by the action of the gas without the aid of the
wedge. Experiments showed that the expansion of this
ball was very good, though inferior to that of the wedge-
And trials led to the important discovery that Minie's
new ball did almost, if not quite, as well without the
wedge as with it. When it is fired without the wedge, the
gas enters the cavity and stretches it outward in all direc-
tions, instantaneously and completely cutting off the wind-
age and filling the grooves.
A multitude of experiments have been made on sundry
modifications of balls, and many peculiar advantages have
been claimed for this, that, and the other ball ; but the
limits of a paper like this will not permit me to enter upon
an account of them.
And these experiments were not confined to the ball,
but many modifications and projected improvements have
been made in the arm itself. The singularity of the Lan-
caster rifle merits a passing notice. This is an English
invention, and its peculiarity is in the construction of the .
bore. It was 39 inches long, and had no grooves, but was
smoothly and elliptically bored out. The elliptical bore
had an increasing twist and a diminished cross-section as
it approached the muzzle ; the smaller axis which is
to be regarded as the caliber being 0.543-inch at
the breech and 0.540-inch at the muzzle, while the
greater axis which takes the place of the grooves
was 0.557-inch at the breech and 0.543-inch at the
The twist was half a turn .in the length of the bore.
The ball was a cylinder terminated at the front by a hemi-
sphere. There was a conical cavity in the base of the
ball filled by a conical plug, which expanded it on the
wedge principle. There were three grooves on the exterior
of the cylinder of this ball.
The Lancaster rifle gave good results as to range and
accuracy, but it was difficult to load, and liable to accidents
from jamming of the ball, if any impediment occurred in
its passage out of the bore.
Breech-Loaders. The great advantages of loading a
gun to the breech, for all purposes, and more particularly
for men on horseback, are so palpable, that numerous
endeavors to construct a good breech-loading arrangement
have been made from time to time.
Heretofore these mechanisms were so complicated that
they not only made the arm very expensive, but they easily
got out of order, and were condemned as practical failures.
Various kinds of revolvers were tried likewise. In these
a number of chambers already loaded revolved into conjunc-
tion with a common barrel, and were discharged through
the same ; or else a number of barrels previously loaded
were revolved into a position where they were successively
discharged by a common hammer. The best of these were
Colt's, an American invention, and that of Dean and Ad-
ams, an English modification of the principle of Colt.
These are so familiar that we need not linger upon them.
Eepeating Rifles. These are a still greater advance
and improvement. They use a metallic cartridge, con-
170 MILITARY LESSONS.
sisting of a copper tube closed at one end,, at the bottom
of which is placed the fulminate ; on top of this comes the
powder of the charge, and the ball, of the approved, elon-
gated pattern, closes the mouth of the tube, thus presenting
the priming, charge, and projectile in one neat, compact
and convenient cartridge, admirably adapted to breech-
Some of the most recent and best of the breech-loaders
are the Remington, SJiarpe, Peabody, Ballard, and the-
Prussian needle-gun, and Chassepot of the French.
The needle-gun, however, does not use the metallic
cartridge above described, and is fired by a slender steel
shaft, or needle, driven forward by a helical spring pene-
trating from the bore of the cartridge to its front, where it
passes through the fulminate, igniting it and exploding the
charge. This presents the unique advantage of causing the
powder of the charge to burn progressively from front to
rear, thus making use of all the powder.
When the fire is communicated at the bottom of the
cartridge, some of its grains are blown out of the bore, like
small projectiles, and lost.
This gun, although made so famous by recent events, is
much inferior to some of the rifles mentioned above,
because the latter are not so complicated, and can be used
The next progressive step beyond these was a class of
breech-loaders, which were not single-loading breech-load-
ers, but had magazines where were deposited several car-
tridges, which were successively introduced into the bore
by the machinery itself. The Spencer is such a rifle,
having a magazine in the butt of the stock extending from
the lock down to the butt-plate. It contains seven car-
tridges, and the arm was invented in 1860.
Next came, in 1862, the " Henry " rifle, which has a
magazine extending along the under side of the whole
length of the barrel, and containing fifteen cartridges.
This gun is operated by two very simple motions, and
can be fired thirty times in a minute, without unusual
haste. It can be fired twice as fast as the Spencer rifle,
and six times as fast as the Prussian needle-gun.
A modification and great improvement on the Henry
rifle is the Winchester rifle, another American arm.
The magazine is entirely closed, excluding dampness and
dirt; and while the machinery for loading and firing is the
same as that of the Henry gun, there is a much improved
mechanism for extracting the cylinder which contained the
cartridge before firing, and it presents the double advan-
tage of the magazine and an arrangement which makes it a
single-loading breech-loader. So that it may be used as a
single-loading breech-loader as long as may be desirable
without ever using one of the shots in the magazine, and
giving more rapid shots than the needle-gun does, and
then, at the last moment, there is a reserve of fifteen shots,
which could be fired in less than half a minute. And this
remarkable weapon, presenting such unprecedented advan-
tages, has a simple machinery not liable to be easily
MITRAILLEUSE AND UNITED STATES ORDNANCE.
mitrailleuse is a revolver or revolving gun,
JL. mounted upon a cannon carriage like a field-piece.
There are several different patterns, differing more or less
in their details. The first was invented by Dr. Gatling,
an American. It was patented in 1862. In general, this
" machine-gun " consists of a number of barrels, from six
to thirty-seven, assembled about an axis, to which they
are parallel. They are revolved by a crank which is turned
by hand, the barrels being fed with cartridges by a hopper
fastened on top of the machine. The locks, which consist
of three pieces, and a spiral spring, are concealed within a
case of metal, 4iear the base of the breech.
In the Gatling gun there is an arrangement by which
it has a horizontal sweep over an arc of 12, which permits
a distribution of fire over an enemy's front of greater or
less extent, according to his distance. The following is
copied from the " Army and Navy Journal" of August 20,
1870: "The mechanical simplicity of the Gatling gun is
its distinguishing merit. The report of Lieutenant-Com-
mander Skerrett to Bear- Admiral Dahlgren, dated May 20,
1863, we reproduce as a fair description of the battery then
MITRAILLEUSE AND U. S. ORDNANCE. 173
submitted for approval : The gun consists of six rifle bar-
rels of -j 5 Q 8 0-inch caliber ; each barrel is firmly connected to
a breech-piece by a screw of one inch in length.
The breech-piece is composed of one solid piece, which
is made secure to a shaft one and three fourths inches in
diameter. The barrels are inserted in the breech-piece
around the shaft on a parallel line with the axis of said
shaft, and held in the proper position by a muzzle-piece
bored by the same gage as the holes for the breech-piece
for the reception of the barrels. The breech-piece is also
bored in the rear end for the reception of the locks, on
a parallel line with the barrels, each barrel having its own
independent lock revolving simultaneously, so that in case
one lock or barrel becomes disabled, those remaining can
be used effectively.
Between the locks and the barrels is a receptacle for the
charges on a parallel line with the locks and barrels. As
the entire gun revolves, the charges find their way through
a hopper, fed from cases, containing any given number,
instantaneously. The breech-piece contains the locks, and
is protected by a heavy casing of gun-metal, made fast to a
upright iron frame, resting on trunnions one and a half
inches in diameter. It is screwed to the frame by four
bolts. Inside this casing is attached an inclined ring
which the hammers of the lock ride until coming to the
point of the line of fire, when the discharge takes place.
The locks are composed of three pieces and one spiral
spring, and are entirely protected from dust or any injury.
The gun is mounted as other field-pieces, with limber
174 MILITARY LESSONS.
The Journal further states that there are now manufac-
tured of the Gatling gun five sizes,, " a ten-barrel gun of
-j^-inch caliber, of T 5 ^, of -j 6 ^, of fo, and a six or ten
barrel gun of one-inch caliber. The first two are capable
of over 400, and the larger sizes of 200 shots per minute.
The largest size discharges a solid lead ball of \ pound
weight (a shower of 100 pounds per minute), or a canister
cartridge containing 16 balls, and has an effective range of
1| miles; the second size, 4-J-ounce balls; the third, 1,490
grains; the fourth, 450; the fifth, 370. With the three
smaller calibers the weight of metal is canister.
A recent trial of trajectory showed for
300 yards an elevation of . . . 54
500 " " " ... 1 20
800 " " "... 1 59
900 """"... 2 5
1,000 " " "... 2 26
ORDNANCE OF THE UNITED STATES SERVICE.
The following is a list of the different kinds and calibers
of the ordnance now in use by the army of the United
States, for which the author is indebted to Colonel Julian
McAllister, United States Ordnance Corps :
2.90-incli 10-pdr. Parrott gun, iron, banded; projectiles 10 \ and 9| ft).
3 " 3-incli ordnance rifled gun.
3.67 " 6-pdr. smooth-bore, bronze.
3.67 " 20-pdr. Parrott gun, iron, banded ; projectiles 19 \ or 18| ft).
4.20 " 30-pdr. Parrott gun, iron, banded ; projectiles 29 ft).
4.50 " siege gun, iron ; projectiles 36ft).
MITRAILLEUSE AND U. S. ORDNANCE. 175
4.62-inch 12-pdr. smooth-bore, iron, bronze.
4.62 " 12-pdr. smooth-bore, iron; siege and garrison.
5.30 " 18-pdr. smooth-bore, iron; siege and garrison.
5.82 " 24-pdr. smooth-bore, iron; siege and garrison.
6.40 " 100-pdr. Parrott gun, iron, banded; projectiles 101, 99 J, -
and 80 ft.
6.40 " 32-pdr. smooth-bore, iron; sea-coast.
7 " 42-pdr. smooth-bore, iron ; sea-coast.
7 " 42-pdr. smooth-bore, iron ; banded.
8 " 200-pdr. Parrott gun, iron, banded; projectiles 150ft.
VIII " Hodman, smooth-bore, iron.
10 " 300-pdr. Parrott gun, iron ; banded.
X " Rodman, smooth-bore, iron.
XII " Rodman, rifled-gun, iron.
XIII " Rodman, smooth-bore gun, iron.
XV " Rodman, smooth-bore gun, iron; projectiles 328ft.
XX " Rodman, smooth-bore guu, iron; projectiles 1,000ft.;
charge, 250 ft of powder.
Bronze, field; 4.62-inch, 5. 82-inch, 6.4-inch.
Iron, siege; 5. 8 2 -inch and 8 -inch.
Iron, sea-coast; 8 -inch and 10-ineh.
Columbiads ; 8 -inch and 10-inch.
5.82-inch Cochorn; bronze.
8 " light, siege ; iron.
8 " heavy, sea-coast; iron.
10 " light, siege ; iron.
10 " heavy, sea-coast; iron.
13 " heavy, sea-coast; iron.
Cambridge : Electrotyped and Printed by Welch, Bigelow, & Co.
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