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LIBRARY

OF THE

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



Class



THE ART

OF

NAVAL WARFARE:

INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS



THE ART



OF



NAVAL WARFARE:



INTRODUCTORY OBSERVATIONS



BY

ADMIRAL SIR CYPRIAN BRIDGE, G.C.B.



LONDON
SMITH, ELDER, & CO., 15 WATERLOO PLACE

1907

[All rights reserved]






JL



' * .*'. i * -






TO MY OLD MESSMATE AND FRIEND

PROFESSOR JOHN KNOX LAUGHTON, M.A-

HON. FELLOW OF GONVILLE AND CAIUS COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE

HON. D.HTT. OF THE UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD
FELLOW AND PAST PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL METEOROLOGICAL SOCIETT

NAVAL INSTRUCTOR (RETIRED) R.N.
PROFESSOR OF MODERN HISTORY IN KING'S COLLEGE, LONDON

THIS IS DEDICATED

AS A SMALL TOKEN OF ADMIRATION

OF THE SERVICE THAT HE HAS RENDERED TO HIS

FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN IN EXPLAINING TO US

THE IMPORTANCE OF OUR NAVAL HISTORY

AND IN MAKING US ACQUAINTED WITH THE CAREERS

OF OUR GREAT SEA OFFICERS



PREFACE

THIS book, small as it is, has taken a long time
to compose. It is a succinct summary of
the result of studies frequently interrupted and
extending over a period the length of which
will be understood when it is known that the
views of the author began to be published (in
the ' Edinburgh Review') in 1872. It was
hoped that the book would have been ready
for the printer two years ago ; but several
things happened to delay its completion. Post-
ponement of publication has had at least the
advantage of permitting the interpolation or
addition of some passages suggested by recent
occurrences.

The main object is to show the value
indeed, the necessity of a knowledge of naval

227990



viii THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

history, which, it is held, ought to be studied
not as a mere gratification of antiquarian pre-
dilection, but as a record of the lessons of
naval warfare. The book might have been
given a second title, indicating that it is meant
to be an introduction to the technical study of
naval history. The author believes that the
only effective way of giving instruction in the
art of naval warfare is to impart to students a
general notion of the art, and to apply the
knowledge acquired by them to the investiga-
tion of particular wars, campaigns, and sea-
fights. It will then be possible to make deduc-
tions applicable to particular conditions, no
matter how recent in date.

Throughout it has been endeavoured to
make it evident that war is essentially a contest
of wits, that in it the human element is the
most important, and that in war there is always
an enemy who may be, and very likely will be,
both active and intelligent. Disquisitions on
the art of war which do not keep constantly



PREFACE ix

before the reader's eyes the paramount im-
portance of the human element and the con-
stant force of the probably judicious and
energetic action of the enemy, would be as
useful as treatises on ballistics in which the
resistance of the air or the force of gravity
were ignored.

The study of naval warfare, as far as it can
be carried with merely the aid of books, will
need lengthy treatises relating, explaining, and
applying to modern conditions tjie events of
past campaigns. The late Vice-Admiral P. H.
Colomb showed us nearly twenty years ago
the kind of thing required. Works of the
kind will have to be illustrated with charts,
plans, diagrams, and mathematical calculations.
There does not appear to be much hope of
any treatise of the kind being published until
an introduction has prepared the way for it.
This little book should be looked upon as an
attempt to supply the necessary introduction.

London : March 1907.



CONTENTS



CHAPTER PAGE

I. INTRODUCTORY ...... i

II. MEANING OF STRATEGY AND TACTICS 21

III. THE STRATEGY OF PEACE ... 26

(a) Need of Simplifying Naval Administration 27

(b) Settling the Standard of Naval Force . 31

(c) Equipment ....... 40

(d} Distribution . . . . . . . 44

(*) Shore Establishments 48

(/) Supply . 53

() Medical Department of a Navy . . . 63

(h) Various Naval Services .... 65

(*') Naval Training 69

(/) Plans of Operations 78

() Intelligence and Information . . . . 80

(/) Mobilisation 83

IV. WAR 87

(a) Strategy 87

(b) The Three Divisions of Naval Warfare . 91

(c) Coast Defence, Real and Unreal. . . 91

(d) Local or Localised Defence, miscalled

Coast Defence 93

(<?) The Method of True Coast Defence . . 96



xii THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

CHAPTER PAGE

IV. WAR (cont.y-

(/) Defence against Invasion . . . . 97

(g) Local Attacks or so-called Raids . . 99
(^) The Proper Use of Smaller and Special

Class Craft in War 103

(*') The Essential Character of Coast Defence . 107

(j) Colonial Defence 112

(k) Defence of Commerce 116

V. THE COMMAND OF THE SEA . . . 123

VI. MARITIME TRADE IN WAR ... 142

VII. JOINT EXPEDITIONS 163

VIII. SCOUTING 184

IX. STRATEGIC OPERATIONS . ... 199

X. TACTICS . 215

XI. CONCLUSION . . . . . 235



INDEX



251



THE

ART OF NAVAL WARFARE



CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTORY

WAR is organised violence. When peace is
broken, the belligerent who has given the
most nearly perfect organisation to the forces
by means of which he intends to bring violent
methods into operation has the best chance of
defeating his opponents. Beasts, birds, insects,
even fishes, have violent and hasty conflicts ;
but only men can make war, which is a sus-
tained conflict based on plans devised in
accordance with reasoned principles. This is
as true of the warfare of savages as it is of that
of civilised races. Savage warfare is the more
simple because the conditions of savage life are
more simple ; the weapons are rude and the

B



z ;:TIB-:ART. OF NAVAL WARFARE

number of warriors on any side comparatively
small. Nevertheless, savages have both their
strategy and their tactics. They prepare their
war-material in time of peace, and plan their
campaigns when they make war or have it
forced upon them. Whilst still in the lower
stages of barbarism, man's belligerent methods
are restricted to the form of isolated and small
surprises. He cuts off stragglers, destroys
unguarded dwellings, seizes booty, ruins un-
watched crops. It is not till he has risen in
the scale of culture that he discerns the distinc-
tion between the unexpected in war and mere
local and isolated efforts at surprise ; not till
then does he make plans involving the fighting
of pitched battles or look upon the necessity of
fighting them as other than an error to be
avoided as far as possible. The method of
minor localised surprise finds its advocates
amongst belligerents of the most advanced
civilisation. The advocates do not perceive
that, amidst the complexities of hostilities be-
tween civilised nations, the difference between
an unexpected operation on a great scale and
a mere small local surprise carried out by a
numerically insignificant force is very wide.



INTRODUCTORY 3

The former lies at the bottom of strategy and
tactics ; whilst employment of the latter is a
reversion to the less effective processes of
primitive savagery.

As there can be no war without men, so
the human is the chief element as well as in-
dispensable. From age to age, from one stage
of culture to another, men remain essentially
the same. They can add to their acquired
knowledge ; but in boldness, fortitude, wari-
ness, energy, persistence, the savage of Guadal-
canar is essentially on an equality with the
graduate of Oxford or the General Staff Officer
of Berlin. It is at least doubtful if the quali-
ties mentioned can be improved or, as is some-
times said, developed. It is certain that the
modes of utilising them can be improved by
means of increased knowledge and practice.
This is the real sanction on which discipline
rests, discipline being not merely ready obe-
dience to orders, but also practical knowledge
of the processes of war gained by submission
to, and intelligent comprehension of, suitable
courses of training. A truly disciplined force
is a force which obeys orders with alacrity and
knows its work. The main object of every

B 2



4 THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

organiser should be the proper training of the
chief element, viz. the personnel.

In even the most archaic forms of warfare
some discipline must have been necessary. On
its instruction or training side it is now more
necessary than ever. War is much more
complex than it used to be in times not very
remote from our own. This is largely, but not
exclusively, due to the greater elaboration and
complexity of modern war-material. Changes
in economic, social, and political conditions
have also had their effect. Each nation now
knows more of foreigners than it did. It
makes itself acquainted with the amount and
character of their resources and studies their
systems of organisation. This must affect
plans, because it brings to light or suggests
conditions as to which provision will have to be
made. In an age distinguished by the rare
occurrence of naval hostilities on the grand
scale, and also by an unprecedented display of
ingenuity in devising material appliances, the
necessity of adopting right methods of im-
parting a knowledge of the principles of war
by sea is especially urgent. There is often so
much boldness in design, so much skill in con-



INTRODUCTORY 5

struction, and such great promise of effective
use to be found in the naval material of the
present day, that there arises a not easily re-
sisted tendency to attribute to it as an element
of warfare more importance than it has a right
to. The practical result of yielding to this
tendency, which often happens, is to treat
material and the study of its composition as
though it were more important than the human
element in war. Therefore, in addition to the
difficulty, always great enough by itself, of
instructing the personnel of an armed force in
the right way, we are now confronted by that
of having to contest the inclination to exalt
unduly the material element.

The latter is highly important, to be sure ;
but it must be given its true place in our pre-
paration for the successful conduct of war.
We must remain its masters and not become its
slaves. To preserve our mastery of it we
have to learn enough concerning it to be able
to use it intelligently. We should make our-
selves acquainted with both its capacities and
its limitations. We should never forget that,
after all, it is only an instrument or a set of
instruments for use by human beings. There



6 THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

is in existence a vast body of evidence to help
us to come to a decision as to the position to
be assigned to the treatment of material in a
system of naval discipline or training. This
evidence is to be met with in the practice of
many arts and the pursuit of many sports. A
man can be an excellent architect without
having gone through a course of bricklaying or
stone-quarrying : yet he must know what can
be done with bricks and blocks of stone. It
is possible to achieve distinction as a rider to
hounds without having studied as a veterinary
surgeon : but such distinction is only possible
to him who knows what a horse can do and
what it would be useless to expect of it. The
best shots at game, except possibly in very rare
and quite exceptional cases, have never spent
a single year in a gunmaker's workshop or in
a factory of explosives. They must, however,
know the ranges beyond which it would be
useless to fire their guns and the distance in
front of a flying bird of the point at which to
aim. The most skilful surgeons do not think
of trying to make their own instruments and
are not taught to do so, nor to state the per-
centage of carbon that the steel in those



INTRODUCTORY 7

instruments contains. To become celebrated
as a painter it is not necessary to be able to
make a box of paints ; all that is necessary is
to know how to use them intelligently to
understand what the effect of painting with any
particular pigment or combination of pigments
will be. We may say similar things of the
cricketer and his bat, and of the golf-player
and his cleek. What is found necessary in
each case is familiarity with the use of the
instruments of the occupation and intelligent
appreciation of their employment. An exami-
nation of the evidence available enables us to
see the principles that should lie at the base of
a system of naval discipline in the true sense.

The end of war is to defeat the enemy ;
for that is the way to compel him to do what
you wish. To gain this end we have to direct
the intelligence of men in the utilisation of the
material put into their hands. The agent
being superior to the instrument, the first need
is to see how that intelligence can be best
directed. Let it be always kept in mind that
the operations of war make the most serious
demands that can be made upon the faculties
of men. On the success with which those



8 THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

demands are satisfied national existence depends.
The stakes played for in the mighty game are
of transcendent value. Our system of learning
how to play it must be adopted with the utmost
caution. If it furnishes us with no means of
ascertaining the extent to which we may count
upon coolness, fortitude, and readiness of
resource in the personnel of our force and who
they are that surpass their fellows in those
qualities, its breakdown will be certain. Belli-
gerent efficiency is the offspring of suitable
preparation in time of peace.

That preparation must be founded on sound
principles, and the first task before the naval
administrator is to discover them. There is in
reality only one way of doing this, viz. by
taking experience as a guide. To settle some
point of belligerent preparation it may seem
open to us to appeal, at will, either to expe-
rience or to reason, either to history or to
argument. Reason and argument, however,
will not enable us to come to a right decision
unless they have been raised upon a foundation
of experience and history. In naval matters,
as in those connected with any practical art
which warfare is it is impossible to adduce



INTRODUCTORY 9

arguments that do not issue from the recorded
or remembered experience of others or from
our own. A knowledge of naval history is
indispensable both to the administrator who
may have to devise a system of organisation
and discipline and to those who may be called
upon to work the system in actual belligerent
operations. Acquaintance with the history of
land war, as well as of that waged by sea, will
be found useful in the highest degree. Between
the great principles of naval warfare and of
land warfare there is much similarity and,
occasionally, identity. The literature of land
warfare is incomparably more copious than that
of war by sea ; and because of its very abund-
ance and the consequent great range of choice
which it offers to him, some knowledge of it
will be of great help to the student of naval
warfare.

History can show us both what to follow
and what to avoid. It is nearly certain that at
all periods of naval administration appeal was
made to earlier experience. Nevertheless, the
result often enough was that the wrong line
was taken. Like that of everything else, the
study of naval history, remote or recent, if we



io THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

are to derive any benefit from it, must be
prosecuted intelligently. We must learn to
understand the real significance of each event
recorded and how and to what extent it contri-
buted to the success or failure of a belligerent
operation. Naval history down to our own
day is filled with instances of wrong deductions
from observed occurrences. Often enough
these wrong deductions have been made by
people who were familiar with the history of
naval campaigns, some of which had been
completed within their own recollection and in
some of which they had themselves taken part.
We know for how long a time adherence to the
rigid line of battle in fleet actions frustrated the
efforts of admirals. We also know that this
long-continued adherence was largely due to
the opinion of men who had themselves seen
the rigid line adopted for engagements and
who must have also seen the consequences.

The Crimean war, as far as the Western
European participators in it were concerned,
was practically the siege of a single fortress.
All the battles in the Crimea were fought to
prevent the besiegers from reaching Sebastopol,
or to disconcert them in their siege operations,



INTRODUCTORY n

or to make them raise the siege and depart.
Fortifications and attacks on fortifications there-
upon assumed paramount importance in the
eyes of many of those who had taken part in
or were acquainted with the events of this war.
They were so misled by their reading of its
course that they introduced into our policy
a radically false conception of the defensive
system to be adopted by the British Empire.
They thought that the best mode of defending
the greatest naval and colonial state in the
world was to stud its coasts with passive forti-
fications. Not only were most of these useless,
the scheme of defence in accordance with which
they were constructed was also so radically
unsound that it brought about a great relative
decline in our naval strength, thus exposing the
country to serious peril, from which the efforts
of several years and the expenditure of vast
sums of money have alone released it.

In the American War of Secession the
combatants on both sides resorted to the prac-
tice of producing under-water explosions close
to or in contact with the hull of an enemy's
ship. This was effected either by laying, in
water of no great depth, mines over which



12 THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

ships passed or which they actually touched,

or by conveying the explosive charge in a

suitable case, usually at the end of a pole

protruding from the bow of a boat, right up

to the ship attacked and then exploding it.

Several ships having been sunk and others

injured by these means, it was assumed that

the method was universally applicable, and all

countries adopted it regardless of difference in

conditions. The plan of defending a port with

under-water mines was copied with such little

discrimination that it was brought into use at

places at which it could not be expected to

have any effect but that of keeping friendly

ships out. This actually happened in the

Franco-German war, in which many of the

German merchant vessels that were made

prizes were captured outside one of their own

harbours, which the lines of real or sham mines

prevented them from entering and into which

no hostile man-of-war, mines or no mines,

would have tried to penetrate. Disregard of

difference of conditions, and failure to see what

indiscriminating use of a method only effective

in special circumstances would involve, led

amongst ourselves to the expenditure of great



INTRODUCTORY 13

sums of money on a system of defence which
added hardly at all to the security of the
Empire and threatened to add greatly to the
risks sure to be incurred in war by our most
important national industry.

The other method of using an explosive
charge to destroy an enemy's ship was not
persisted in quite so long. Nevertheless, for
several years our men-of-war were furnished
with arrangements, to be fitted to both their
steam-boats and their rowing-boats, for carrying
a pole- or spar-torpedo, which was to be
plunged beneath the surface of the water and
exploded when the boat so fitted was within
a few feet of a hostile ship provided with
weapons that could be used with effect against
the boat whilst the latter was still hundreds of
yards distant. So little did such considera-
tions affect the prevailing belief in the efficacy
of the method, or so entirely were they dis-
regarded, that the application of it was extended.
Ships expressly designed to carry guns that is
to say, an armament intended for use at ranges
measured by hundreds or thousands of yards,
were equipped with pole- or spar-torpedoes on
the broadside. These were to be used by



14 THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

bringing the ship to within less than fifty feet of
her enemy, whose guns were not supposed to
have been silenced, for if they were, torpedoing
her would have been unnecessary. Indeed,
had the guns been silenced, musketry fire
would generally have been sufficient to keep
off the intending torpedoer. It took some
time before it was perceived that the plan
ignored the essential purpose of a gun-armed
vessel, and that its adoption would have been
equivalent to making a battery of field artillery
gallop right up to a body of hostile infantry
instead of cannonading it at a suitable range.

The War of Secession offered another
example of wrong deduction from observed
occurrences. The Federal fleet had no hostile
fleet to contend with. Whilst the former
counted its ships by hundreds, the number of
Confederate men-of-war was insignificant.
There were, however, many Confederate shore-
batteries open to naval attack. As a means
for making attacks of the kind the low free-
board monitor had certain merits. Using her
effectively against ships would be possible only
in special and rare circumstances. The limita-
tions on her effective employment were not



INTRODUCTORY 15

understood, and the low free-board turret-ship
was believed to be such an admirable type of
fighting vessel that she was introduced into
navies generally, even into our own. The
naval part of the Secession contest had been
almost exclusively confined to coast and river
warfare. Most of the rare encounters between
ship and ship took place in inland or partially
enclosed waters. This, it was assumed, ought
to teach us the necessity of having craft
specially intended for service of the kind.
Notwithstanding all the experience of the
British Navy we deliberately elected to prepare
for standing on the defensive, and provided
ourselves with a collection of vessels for coast
defence, a term which has really the same
meaning as the short-lived coastal.

In the short naval campaign in the Adriatic
between the Austrians and the Italians an
episode of a single battle was so misunderstood
that the ram was given a place above the gun
and was proclaimed the predominant naval
weapon. On calm consideration this was
found to be a higher place than it deserved.
It was still retained as at least a weapon of
great value. For more than thirty years the



16 THE ART OF NAVAL WARFARE

f
designs of ships of the more important classes

were governed by the supposed necessity of
fitting them with rams. The addition to the
cost of the ships due to this must in the
aggregate have been great. It is only just
now that the mistake of so affecting ship-
designs has been recognised.

Every one of the above-mentioned mis-
interpretations of the events of naval wars was
made by people whose position enabled them
to obtain authentic and full information con-
cerning the operations to the course of which
they looked for guidance. Their mistakes
could not have been due to want of knowledge
of the facts, because with that they were well
supplied. Also, it could not have been due to
want of intellectual capacity, because those in
whose hands the power of deciding on matters
of naval policy lies are usually the most
capable men to be found in the sea-service of
their country and can always be justly credited
with, at the least, the average ability of their
profession. They went wrong, and sometimes
wrought long-lasting mischief, not because
they did not know what had taken place, but
because they had not made themselves familiar



INTRODUCTORY 17

with naval history and had not practised them-
selves in the process of weighing the relative
importance of the different occurrences in
a battle or a campaign. Consequently, they
were unable to distinguish between the acci-
dental and the fundamental. The age being
what it was, their minds were obsessed by
a belief in the paramount importance of
material, and, owing to their failure to ap-
preciate aright the lessons of history, they had
not equipped themselves with the means of
resisting the obsession.

In earlier days, when wars were frequent
and authentic accounts of them could be ob-
tained at first hand from people who had taken
part in them, the formal study of naval history
was less necessary than it is now. Nelson,
for instance, lived at a period in which men
who could speak from personal knowledge of
the campaigns of Hawke and Rodney were
numerous, and when men who had shared in
those of Anson and Boscawen still lived
Traditions from past times were vivid, and


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