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SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT NO. 664




NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 22, 1888

Scientific American Supplement. Vol. XXVI., No. 664.

Scientific American established 1845

Scientific American Supplement, $5 a year.

Scientific American and Supplement, $7 a year.

* * * * *




TABLE OF CONTENTS.


PAGE
I. ARCHITECTURE. - The Commercial Exchange, Paris. - History
of the new building, with its general design and
architectural features. - 2 illustrations 10607

The New Central Railway Station at
Frankfort-on-the-Main. - A full description of this
gigantic structure, with its constructive features and
cost. - 2 illustrations 10605

II. ART OF WAR. - Gun Practice in the French Navy. - Gun
practice at sea against a moving target. - 1 illustration 10599

Modern Cavalry on the Field of Battle. - By Col. R. S.
LIDDELL. - An exhaustive paper on this subject, treating
of a much discussed branch of military tactics 10600

III. BIOLOGY. - Subterraneous Flora and Fauna. - By Dr. Otto
Zacharias. - A popular article on the interesting subject
of animal and vegetable life underground. - 8
illustrations 10612

IV. CHEMISTRY. - Pepsin. - By A. PERCY SMITH, F.I.C.,
F.C.S. - The analysis of pepsin, difficulties of the usual
method, and simple comparative test, applicable by any
one 10611

V. CIVIL ENGINEERING. - Timber and Some of Its Diseases. - By
H. MARSHALL WARD. - Continuation of this valuable series,
treating of fungus life and its destructive effects. - 5
illustrations 10613

VI. ELECTRICITY. - A Basis from which to Calculate Charges for
Electric Motor Service. - A practical paper treating of
the percentage of horse power hours used in different
industries 10608

VII. ETHNOLOGY. - A Chinese Imperial Cemetery. - The cemetery of
the emperors of the Ming dynasty. - The remarkable statues
and buildings. - 2 illustrations 10610

How a Mound was Built. - An interesting contribution to
the history of the Ohio mounds by Mr. GERARD FOWKE 10609

Some Abyssinian Customs. - The hair dressing of the
Abyssinian women. - Their method of grinding pepper. - 3
illustrations 10609

VIII. MEDICINE AND SURGERY. - A New Surgical Operation. - Dr.
Brudenell Carter's operation for relieving pressure on
the optic nerve 10611

Dyspepsia, its causes and prevention. - How this malady is
caused and how easily it may be guarded against, an essay
in prophylaxis 10610

IX. MECHANICAL ENGINEERING. - Coal Tar as Fuel for Steam
Boilers. - By JOHN McCRAE, of Dundee. - A review of the
economy of tar firing and of the method employed by the
writer. - 1 illustration 10604

Steam Generator of Serpollet Brothers, producing steam
instantaneously. - A new inexplodible steam generator, its
construction and application to a tricycle. - 3
illustrations 10602

Transmission of Power between Bodies Moving at Different
Velocities. - A simple system of transmitting power
applicable in many places 10602

X. MISCELLANEOUS. - Note on Missouri Marble 10614

Water Blast Pump. - A filter pump of simplified and
improved construction. - 3 illustrations 10602

XI. NAVAL ENGINEERING. - Iron Sailing Ships. - Scotch sailing
ships, built of iron and steel, the favorite sizes and
rigging adopted. - 1 illustration 10602

XII. SANITARY ENGINEERING. - Putzeys' Flushing Reservoir. - A
French invention, applicable in sewage disposal and pipe
flushing. - 1 illustration 10611

XIII. TECHNOLOGY. - Gas Lighting by High Power Burners. - A
review of a number of regenerative and other gas burners
and their practical success 10603

Synchronizing Clocks. - A simple synchronizing mechanism
described and illustrated. - 1 illustration 10604

Watch Cleaning and Repairing. - A long paper treating of
the details of watch cleaning from the practical
standpoint 10604

* * * * *




[Illustration: GUN PRACTICE IN THE FRENCH NAVY.]

GUN PRACTICE IN THE FRENCH NAVY.


The gunners of the French fleet are possessed of a skill which is
recognized by all the maritime powers, and these picked men proved
this at the siege of Paris, where they made themselves illustrious,
not only by their courage and their coolness, but also by the accuracy
of their firing.

Nothing is neglected, moreover, to keep up the precision of hand and
eye that distinguishes them, and which has become so much the more
necessary in that it is no longer a question of firing a broadside at
the enemy and reckoning on one ball being more fortunate than another
in damaging the enemy's ship. At present, the most powerful ironclad
has four, and sometimes six or eight, guns of large caliber, which are
of from 30 to 100 tons. Every shot represents not only an enormous
sum, but also a prodigious force expended, and so powder must not be
used too lavishly, since the shot should be in relation with the
colossal power that it represents, and the shell adopted in the navy
is accompanied with so disastrous effects that a single one, well
directed, is capable of reducing the enemy's ship to impotence. So
exercises in firing are becoming more and more frequent, and they have
a right to be multiplied, inasmuch as the present guns are complicated
affairs, the maneuvering of which requires constant practice.

Our engraving represents one of these exercises performed by the
Squadron of the North, which is of recent organization, and which
consists of the three ironclads Marengo, Suffren, and Ocean, and three
coast guards Furieux, Fulminant, and Tonnerre. Each of the ironclads
is provided with four 27 cm. guns and four 24 cm. ones, not counting
the revolving guns, which constitute the small artillery reserved for
fighting torpedo boats. The Furieux has two 34 cm. guns, and the
Tonnerre and Fulminant each two 37 cm. ones.

An endeavor is made, as far as possible, to practice firing such as is
done in a naval action, that is, at moving targets. To this effect,
the dispatch boat Epervier tows a rectangular float about two meters
in length, upon which are arranged two canvas balloons kept taut by a
wooden framework. One of these balloons is white and the other is
black. Each is a meter in diameter, and is supported by a rod which is
usually a meter in height. The vessels of the squadron successively
fire their large guns at this target, which moves at a definite
velocity. The shell, on dropping into the water, raises an immense
jet, which entirely hides the balloons when the projectile falls in a
line with and sufficiently near the target.

The smoke that envelops the ships, the thunder that echoes in the calm
of the sea, and the jet that rises in the air produce a thrilling
effect and give an idea of the power of man carried to the last
expression. - _L'Illustration._

* * * * *




MODERN CAVALRY ON THE FIELD OF BATTLE.[1]

[Footnote 1: A lecture lately delivered at the Aldershot Military
Society's library.]

By Col. R. S. LIDDELL.


I feel that some apology is due from me for coming down to Aldershot
and giving my opinions before so many officers whose daily experience
renders them much more capable than I am of bringing this subject
forward, and it was with some hesitation that I yielded to the
flattering invitation of the Military Society of Aldershot to read a
paper here to-day on cavalry. At the same time, if it is thought that
anything I can say can increase the success that this society has
already met with, I can only add that I render my services most
willingly. It seems to me one of the many advantages that these
meetings possess is the bringing together of the different branches of
the service, and the mutual information they afford of each other's
arm. When we look back only a few years, we have much to be thankful
for in the disappearance of a vast amount of prejudice that used to
exist between the different branches. Each arm thought that theirs,
and theirs only, was worth studying. Infantry officers sometimes said,
as long as their arm was sufficiently numerous and well equipped,
that, with the exception of a few scouts and orderlies, cavalry might
be dispensed with. Artillery might think that unless guns were largely
used, no infantry could ever make an attack at all; while cavalry
officers, who were perhaps the most conservative of all, would point
to the past, and show how every battle that had ever been fought was
won by cavalry, and ever would be.

Confidence in one's own arm is most desirable, and should be fostered,
if at the same time we can learn how to work with others, remembering
that while cavalry gives the information to and hides the movements of
the army, while artillery shakes and disperses the enemy's formation,
and prepares the way for attack, it is the infantry alone who can
assault and hold the position, and it is for their advance and to
bring them up to the point that determines the battle in the condition
most favorable to insure success that all the efforts of the other two
arms must be devoted. I have made these preliminary remarks, as from
my paper being entirely given to the actions of cavalry, it might
appear that I am claiming more for that arm in the battle field than
is reasonable; but I wish it clearly understood that whatever I may
say is only in an auxiliary sense to the action of infantry, and I
trust that I shall not be thought underestimating other arms, while
showing unbounded confidence in my own.

The necessary rest required by Europe after the exhaustion of the wars
of Napoleon resulted in the long peace which succeeded the campaign of
1815. This, and the improvement that took place in fire arms in the
next forty years, gave room for speculation as to whether cavalry
would play as important a part in the future as it had done in the
past, under Marlborough, Frederick the Great, Napoleon, and
Wellington. The Crimean war helped to confirm the opinion that the
days of cavalry had gone by. No account was made of the enormous
distance by sea that the cavalry had to be transported, the
unfavorable nature of the seat of war for that arm, the little scope
given in a campaign that resolved itself into a siege, the smallness
of the cavalry force employed, and the difficulty in keeping up a
fresh supply of horses. After this war came the introduction and
improvement in the breech loader, and with it opinions were
strengthened that cavalry duties would be still further limited, and
its traditions for a time appear to have been lost.

The awakening from this transient period of theory came from a nation
not trained to arms, and it is to the American civil war that we owe
the revival that took place in the use of the cavalry arm. The raids
made by the Confederates under Morgan, Stuart, Forrest, and by the
Federals under Sheridan, drew attention to advanced cavalry work, such
as scouting, reconnaissance, outpost and dismounted work. As
particular examples we may select Morgan's boldest and greatest raid
in 1862, when he passed through Kentucky and Indiana, capturing large
stores from the enemy. By his rapid and skillful marches the Federal
officers were completely bewildered. He was absent from his army 24
days, in which time he traveled 1,000 miles, capturing 17 towns and
destroying all the government supplies and arms. In a second raid he
forced the Federal army to fall back by taking possession of the
railway in its rear which brought it supplies. In October, 1862,
Stuart made his greatest raid through Pennsylvania, around the
Northern army. He set out with 1,800 cavalry and four pieces of horse
artillery, and crossed the Potomac. The telegraph wires were cut in
all directions, railways obstructed, and a large number of horses
captured, and all the public stores and buildings were destroyed. His
position at this time was very critical, 90 miles from his own army.
He considered it less dangerous to return by the opposite way to which
he came.

Forrest used his cavalry in every possible manner, dismounting in the
battle field and employing it as infantry. In October, 1864, during a
raid, he impeded the navigation of the Tennessee River, which was
filled with Federal gunboats. Choosing a strong position on the bank,
he masked his guns and awaited the approach of the enemy's vessels. He
captured a gunboat and a transport, and manned them with his own men;
but his naval expedition did not last long. Pursued by several
gunboats, he had to run his ships on shore, when the troopers gladly
mounted their horses again. His object was, however, gained - inspiring
alarm throughout the country and occupying a considerable number of
the enemy. Later on the Federals copied this system, when the raids of
Sheridan, with his 10,000 horsemen, armed with the magazine rifle and
revolver, with sword attached to the saddle, brought about the final
overthrow of the Southern army.

The next campaign that took place was in 1866, known as the "Seven
Weeks' War," when large bodies of cavalry were used by the Austrians
and Prussians. This campaign was of such short duration that there was
not sufficient time for the experience gained in the use of cavalry to
be utilized while the war lasted; but when the war was over, both
sides, having bought their experience, set out to reorganize their
systems, and the course pursued by the Prussians after this campaign
in largely increasing their cavalry was fully justified by the
advantages reaped in the war in France in 1870. At the close of the
Franco-German war the attention of the whole of Europe was called to
the successful use of German cavalry during the campaign, more
especially the advanced duties, when at times 60 miles in breadth and
50 in advance of the army was covered by the cavalry.

In England, after the termination of this war, many German military
works of great value were translated and published; the battle fields
in France were visited and described; every movement of both armies,
strategical and tactical, was studied. All this tended to draw our
attention to the extended use of the cavalry arm in future campaigns,
and the shortcomings of our own system were carefully scrutinized. The
movements of our drill book were simplified, the careful training of
our men in shooting was more fully recognized, and the teaching of
advanced cavalry duties, reconnaissance, outpost and dismounted work,
were gone into most thoroughly - in such a manner that I may
confidently appeal to those officers who have the best opportunities
of forming an opinion, whether our cavalry does not bear comparison
now with what is being done in other armies, and in these matters is
advancing in a satisfactory manner. While all this good work has been
going on (and I would be the last to say one word that might seem to
depreciate its value) we may perhaps have permitted the action of
cavalry on the field of battle to escape from sufficient notice.

It is for this reason I will ask your permission to bring before you
this subject, believing that the opinions of all branches of the
service being brought to bear upon it, considerable advantage maybe
obtained. It will be my endeavor to show, not by my own arguments, but
by quotations from others, that cavalry still has an important part to
take on the battle field, and far from its duties ending when armies
come in contact, that it is still reserved to them, as has been the
case before, to decide, perhaps by only one charge, the issue of a
whole campaign. Prince Kraft in his letters on cavalry says: "The
battle of Mars-la-Tour, won by the bold employment of cavalry, made
possible the blockade of Metz, and afterward the surrender of the
whole of Bazaine's army. So it may be said, without exaggeration, that
the charge of Bredow's six squadrons on that day was the turning point
of the Franco-German campaign."

Colonel Home, in his "Pr├ęcis of Modern Tactics," says: "The action of
cavalry on the actual battle field is by no means a thing of the past.
The use of cavalry with skill at the right moment and in the right
numbers has always been considered one of the most difficult problems
in war. Modern arms have increased this difficulty manifold, but to
say the day of cavalry on the field of battle is past is merely
another way of saying that the knowledge of how it should be used is
wanting." Cavalry is apportioned to an army in two capacities: (1)
Divisional cavalry, that is (if possible) a regiment, or as many
squadrons as can be spared, attached to each infantry division, acting
under the orders of the general of the division. (2) The cavalry
division, that is, a large body of cavalry composed of several
brigades, an independent body having its own commander. On the march
the divisional cavalry covers the head and flanks of its own division:
on the field of battle it will be as near as possible to its division,
in the most sheltered spot that can be found; in the early part of the
battle it would be kept as much in reserve as possible, ├ęcheloned in
rear of one flank of its own infantry. It would remain there until the
artillery and musketry had effected their work, and the enemy's flanks
had become thinned and shaken. Then, when his infantry become tired
and exhausted, under cover of the smoke, the cavalry may be further
advanced.

Prince Kraft says: "At Sedan the divisional cavalry were employed
during the battle, charging by single squadrons, patrolling and
reconnoitering to obtain information of the enemy and the ground.
Every infantry body is accompanied by patrols, however small." An
instance of the too early employment of cavalry in a battle occurred
at Waterloo, when Napoleon at the commencement launched his cavalry
into the fight. The result was that although it far outnumbered the
English at first, it became so reduced, depressed, and worn out, that
it was unable afterward to offer full resistance to the British
squadrons, who were comparatively fresh. Wellington, on the contrary,
after his first successes, kept his cavalry, as much as possible, in
reserve. The field of battle itself shows the proper situation of
cavalry, but the divisional cavalry on the defensive side must always
be at hand to fall upon the flanks of the enemy's infantry when in
extended order, while that of the attacking side must be equally at
hand to prevent the flanks of its own infantry being so attacked.

In discussing the action of divisional cavalry, the most advantageous
time for its assisting in the combat must be considered. At what
moment, if any, can infantry be attacked by cavalry? When opposed to a
force acting on the defensive, divisional cavalry has its operations
limited, and probably in the earlier part of an engagement, confined
to watching, and, if possible, guarding the flanks of its own
attacking infantry from surprise. It is the cavalry on the defenders'
side that has the greatest opportunities. In both cases, however, a
rule must be made not to attack infantry when it has taken up a
favorable position, or before its ranks have been shaken by artillery
or musketry. Prince Kraft, in speaking of Mars-la-Tour, says: "This
same day took place a series of cavalry charges of greater or less
importance, which all showed practically to the cavalry the limits of
their effective action against infantry. The advancing infantry were
brought to a stand, infantry who gave way were ridden down, but where
the cavalry attacked infantry intact, the cavalry were unable to
prevail."

The precision of modern fire arms has necessitated great changes in
infantry tactics. To advance against the murderous fire of the present
rifle, infantry is compelled to adopt scattered formations in small
lines, and to move forward with sudden rushes. All this lends itself
to the attacks of an active cavalry. When these infantry attacks take
place, it may be presumed that they have already been under arms some
hours, have marched some distance, and been exposed to considerable
loss from artillery and musketry fire. Their advance in extended
formation will have commenced at about 1,000 yards, or earlier. By
this time the squadrons opposing them will have been brought to a more
advanced position, to the nearest point to their flank where cover is
afforded, and to carry this out successfully requires skillful
handling. Files must be extended, and short rushes made with small
bodies, say half a troop if over exposed ground, into sheltered
places. It is true that cavalry cannot hide themselves over exposed
ground as infantry can, but they have one advantage that nothing can
deprive them of - rapidity of motion; and the distance that would take
them say 10 seconds to traverse, viz., 150 yards, would take infantry
a minute.

Prince Kraft writes: "No battle field is a _tabula rasa_, for in the
most exposed country there are depressions. If strong skirmishing
lines of infantry can advance directly over a country devoid of cover,
cavalry can undoubtedly do the like, if by making use of the lie of
the ground they can gain the enemy's flank. A skilled cavalry leader
will thus undoubtedly find an opportunity to get close to the enemy."
Having arrived at this more advanced position, say from 500 to 1,000
yards, according to the formation of the ground, the nearer the
better, the most favorable moment to assail the flanks of the
attacking infantry would probably be immediately before the last belt
of the fighting line, and before the main body had re-enforced them,
as they are preparing for their last united rush, and as their
supports are doubling up to join them.

At this moment the men would be to some extent out of breath, their
attention would be fixed on the point about to be attacked, and their
flanks would be neglected. Cavalry should then descend upon them at
the utmost speed that can be extracted from the horses, with a good
interval from knee to knee. If there is only one squadron, one troop
should take the flank or fighting line, while the other throws itself
upon the support. As the distance to be covered in the open will
probably be not more than from 200 to 400 yards, they will be exposed
to fire, supposing none of the ground is undulating, for fifteen to
thirty seconds when at full speed. As they close on the infantry
neither the supports nor those in rear of them or their artillery will
dare to fire, on account of their own men. If the infantry run to get
into small squares, as is most likely, the cavalry must endeavor to
catch them before they assemble. If they get together it may be too
late for the cavalry to stop. They must then throw themselves upon
them and trust to the supporting squadron to complete the attack.

Although it is rare that a battle field is on such ground that there
are no undulations to afford shelter for cavalry in an advanced
position, this may be the case, and if so the enemy's infantry attack
must be allowed to take place, but even then, by cavalry showing
itself on the flanks for a moment, infantry would get together and
afford a better mark for fire, and the progress of the attack would be
delayed. The very appearance of cavalry frequently frightens infantry
into masses. If the ground was too much exposed for the charge, men
might be dismounted, with their carbines, at a safe distance to assist
the infantry. If mounted infantry were at hand, they would be utilized
in the same way, and the machine guns of the cavalry would also pour
in their volleys. If the enemy's attack is successful, cavalry must


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Online LibraryVariousScientific American Supplement, No. 664, September 22,1888 → online text (page 1 of 9)