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too, in so many of the memoirs of its young soldiers and officers. The
best illustrations of this spirit that have appeared in English are
Donald W. Hankey's A Student in Arms and Coningsby Dawson's
Carry On.



Here, as elsewhere, every day's censored report as-
sured us that the morale of the troops of all the Allies
was excellent, and this very iteration betrayed a deep,
though half unconscious fear that it might break and
thus bring the most dire disasters. That it must and
should not break ("They shall not pass") was our
deepest resolve, and hence we sometimes became in-
tolerant in insisting that nothing be said or done any-
where that could lower morale, either at home or at
the front. This was the motive of censorship, and of
certain restrictions upon our former freedom of
speech and press.

There were also individual difficulties of maintain-
ing morale in this country. Stimulus implies reaction,
but in the new conditions of trench warfare men often
had to remain passive and not yield even to the im-
pulse to escape. This generated no end of tension,
and made them very susceptible to shell shock, which
rarely comes to men in action. The bombardments
preliminary to an attack were directed chiefly against
the enemy's morale. Every kind of activity, mental
or physical, within the trenches while under fire safe-
guards morale. Quiescence under stimuli is very dan-
gerous, and any activation 'helps.

Gassing, too, is very hard on morale. The possi-
bility of being smothered like a rat in a hole, and the
fighting with gas-masks, which lessen respiration and
interrupt communication, are intense strains on forti-
tude and bring a new danger of demoralization.
Many people have an instinctive horror of all closed



spaces (claustrophobia), possibly inherited, from our
cave-dwelling ancestors, and men of a respiratory
type, whose morale is unusually dependent upon
atmospheric conditions, are in special danger.
/ We were not, like the Belgians, French, and Itali-
[ ans, fighting on our own soil or defending it from the
prospect of invasion, and thus we lacked the motive
of desperation. Our wives and daughters were not
outraged ; neither were our goods pillaged, our indus-
tries destroyed, our capital raided by airplanes or
fired at by "Big Berthas ;" our soldiers could have no
home leave to "blighty ;" and so our stake seemed even
less than that of England. Thus to the average Amer-
ican soldier, his interest in the war was less personal
and our country's interest was less material, all of
which bears on morale. \

We are less homogeneous racially, less unified by
our history and national traditions than are the lead-
ing nations of Europe. Many of our soldiers were
born abroad, as were the ancestors of all of us a few
generations back. Scores of thousands of our soldiers
knew little English, and about every race and nation
of the world was represented in our recruits. It takes
generations to weld heterogeneous people into unity.
We have not even a convenient or unique name; the
United States cannot be indicated by an adjective.
( Some have suggested that we might take the occasion
of the war, as Russia did to rename Petrograd, and
henceforth call ourselves "Columbia," but I think
"New Europe" would be a better and more timely



designation, just as New England was named for its
mother country, for nearly all our inhabitants are
practically New Europeans.) So, too, there are sec-
tional differences, and we also suffer from hyperin-
dividuation, which is more uncurbed here, even for
corporations, by the interests of the public welfare.
Hence enemy propaganda, with our large German
population, had an unparalleled field for all its activi-
ties, and this is inimical to morale.

We lacked all military traditions and spirit. We
had committed two mortal crimes against the God of
Things As They Are, which, as history shows, he never
allows to go unavenged. First, we were very rich,
and secondly, we were very defenseless. The spirit of
democracy and of militarism are in a sense diamet-
rical opposites. Although 375,000 men enlisted, we
had to deal chiefly with drafted men, taken from the
free pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness to totally
new conditions, where subordination and discipline
are the prime necessities, and individual freedom and
initiative are reduced to a minimum, with regimenta-
tion and prescription unlimited. We had to cultivate
militarism most intensively in order to repress it in
the world. We learned that liberty had to be de-
fended by the same means as autocracy must be. We
came to respect the military 3 system not only as per-

* L. C. Andrews : Fundamentals of Military Service, Phil., Lip-
pincott, 1916: F. L. Huidekoper: The Military Unpreparedness of the
United States, N. Y., MacMillan, 1915; W. A. Pew: Making a Sol-
dier, Bosk, Badger, 1917 ; L. H. Bailey : Universal Service the Hope
of Humanity, N. Y., 1918; J. Peterson and Q. J. David: The Psy-
chology of Handling Men in the Army. Minneapolis, The Perrin
Book Co., 1919. See also the German War Book, tr. by J. H. Mor-
gan, Lond., J. Murray, 1915.


haps the oldest of all human institutions but as the
most important agency in welding individuals into
true communities. Sheridan called discipline seven-
ty-five per cent of efficiency. It is team-work which
enables a squad to overcome a mob, which makes men
out of "flabs," so that war, to say nothing of its moral
equivalents, came as a new dispensation to us. To
make a soldier out of the average free American citi-
zen is thus not unlike domesticating a very wild spe-
cies of animal. In subordinating individuals we
should not, however, forget that the "kicker" is often
the born fighter and needs only the right direction for
his energies. All these obstacles to morale we more
or less overcame.

/ Germany had its own unique morale. It had broken
(with its past, with the age of Kant and Goethe, with
its culture of fifty or one hundred years before, al-
most as completely as Bolshevism had broken with
the earlier aristocratic and bourgeois revolutionists in
Russia, and yet both were usurpers claiming the pres-
tige of a preceding stage. The Germans profoundly
believed themselves to be the world apostles of
Kultur, the true supermen called by their fate or
genius to subject their neighbors and bring them to
a higher stage of civilization. This conviction of su-
periority, which had grown so strong, coupled with
an instinct for discipline and feudal subordination
of rank to rank in a long series, was the essence of
their morale which, it is our fond hope, has been
overcome with the defeat of their armies, ^k



II. Morale and health. Health is one of the prime
bases of morale. Health means wholeness or holiness.
The modern hygienist asks : What shall it profit a man
if he gain the whole world and lose his own health, or
what shall a man give in exchange for his health? In
recent years we have seen new and great attention to
personal, school, public, municipal, and domestic hy-
gieneXand since the regimen of the Japanese armies
in that country's war with Russia showed its import-
ance, and since the lack of it in our Cuban campaign
was so Disastrous, on all sides more stress was laid
Q^jMsSfnitary conditions than in any other war.

The most universal greeting the world over consists
in mutual inquiries about our health and perhaps even
that of those nearest to us, as if all assume its cardinal
importance. Now, real health is not merely keeping
out of the doctor's hands but its cult aims at keeping
each at the very tip-top of his condition so that he
feels full of the joy of life (euphoria) and capable of
doing or suffering anything if called to do so. Most
of the world's work is done on a rather low hygienic
level, but its great achievements, the culminating work
of the leaders of our race, have been the product of
exuberant, euphorious, and eureka moments, for a
man's best things come to him when he is in his best!

War, ^>f course, needs intense physical energy, and
the labor of drill and camp-work, which has toned up
so many men of poor physique, has left a bequest to
morale that ought to long outlive the war. To be



weak is to be miserable, and to be strong and well pre-
disposes to true virtue. The muscles are nearly half
the body-weight. They are the organs of the will,
which has done everything man has accomplished, and
if they are kept at concert pitch the chasm between
knowing and doing, which is often so fatal, is in a
measure closed. There is no better way of stengthen-
ing all that class of activities which we ascribe to the
will than by cultivating muscle.

III. Food conditions morale. It has always been
known that starving troops could not fight. The
French scientists* tell us that there is a particular
type of man, in whom the digestive functions predom-
inate, that is paralyzed more quickly than any other
type by any deficiency in quality or quantity of food,
and that these may more easily become heroic when
defending their stores. > Camp Gretmleaf applied this
principle by giving the rookies who came there fresh
from their homes somewhat better food for two weeks
than others got in order to make them more contented.
In a sense man, like an animal, feels most at home
when and where he feeds best, and if man really "fights
on his stomach/' then fighting on an empty stomach is
^proverbially hard. Recent studies in this field by the
Pawlow school have sihown us how fundamental

4 This is one conclusion of the remarkable studies begun many
years ago by Sigaud in the Traite Clinique de la Digestion et du
\r Regime Alimentarie (Paris, Doin, 1900), developed by Thooris, Sturel,
Chailliou, and best summarized in Morphologic Medicale; Etude det
quatre Types Humains by A. J. M. Chaillou and Leon MacAuliffe.
See also the more or less independent line of Italian research in
Achille de Giovanni's Clinical Commentaries Deduced from the Mor-
phology of the Human Body (Tr.) Loud., Bebman, 1909.



proper metabolism, normal appetite and food-taking

are for mental states and processes, and have shown

^^X^ ^r

us also how appetite is the mainspring that impels
all the processes of digestion down to the very Metch-
nikoff and Freudian end of the thirty-foot alimentary
tube. Some still think that military life demands
stimulants, although othersfliold that it is easier to
dispense with them thajarln civil lifeV It does seem to
be established by this war that smoking is a whole-
some sedative te^war strains, and certainly none but
a fanatic Irjgienist would banish the "fag." Despite
the needg'in this department a soldier's life requires

that he be able in emergency to endure more or less

jf <*

privation even here.>>. Perhaps we may conclude that

while proper and regular food is a very important
constituent of morale, this can be maintained at a
very high level and for a long time even under great

Rest and sleep, of course, make a great difference.
A tired army is far more liable to panic, and fear
often takes cover behind exhaustion. Sleep builds up
disintegrating cells, rejuvenates, and its very dreams
are often a safety valve or catharsis for war strains
generally and even for experiences and memories.
Thus, too, the time of day has significance. Five-
o'clock-in-the-morning courage (the hour when very
many of the German attacks began) is a very differ-
ent thing from that of nine or ten o'clock at night,
and darkness and inclement weather are handicaps.
Sleep seems to have something to do with finishing



the last and higher processes of digestion. While its
importance is well appreciated, something of its psy-
chology, and of the enormous function which the con-
ditioned reflex is now known to play, ought to be
taught in every officers' training school.


I. Morale and the psychology of fear in war The methods of its
conquest II. Morale and death The various attitudes of differ-
ent types of soldiers to death Burials, graveyards, and monu-
ments Spiritism III. Anger in life, in literature, and its place
in the present war.

I. The conquest of fear. From the first rumor of
war and the draft on to the training-camp, to the
trenches, and the charge, the chief feeling to be over-
come in all men, perhaps in proportion to their
intelligence and power of imagination, is fear.
Cowardice is fear yielded to ; bravery and courage are
fear controlled. Fear is anticipatory pain, and mortal
fear is of course tihe anticipation of death. Everyone
has heard of heroes who condemned their limbs for
trembling, their heart for throbbing, their alimentary
tract for revolting, etc., but the brave man is he who
learns to control all these physiological symptoms
and to do wthat he ought to do in every emergency.
Every symptom of fear is met with near the front and
when battle impends. There is weakness, sometimes
rising almost to paralysis; unsteadiness of move-
ment; loss of appetite; perhaps nausea, indigestion;
diarrhea is very common; flushing and pallor; and
an instinct to cringe and dodge and show symptoms
of shock at everything unexpected, often at the very.


slightest surprise. In action many good men lose
control of their muscles and become almost automata.
Very few soldiers, indeed, can aim as well as on the
rifle range , most shoot wildly, and some seem to lose
control of the power of loading ; while we are told by
a number of high authorities that many fall by the
way from sheer terror and that there are far more
panics, local and even general, than find their way
into history or even into official reports. Thus the
efficiency of a fighting force depends more largely
than hitherto realized upon the effectiveness of the
methods of repressing or controlling the fear instinct.
In the German experience solid formations, advancing
elbow to elbow, give a sense of security that makes
men face danger more easily than they could in wide-
open formations.

A large part of discipline is directed more and
more toward making this control effective. Just in
proportion as obedience to orders becomes instinctive,
so that their execution requires no thought; and just
in proportion as shooting, bayonet drill, throwing
grenades, and other activities of the combat are made
second nature, the chance of their being done aright
at the critical moment increases and the hazard of
acting wildly is diminished. Facility in these proc-
esses that can thus be mechanized also gives a certain
degree of confidence, and the soldier feels that if he
does lose his head, his muscles and reflex system will
take up the task of themselves and that thus his de-
fensive and even his aggressive power will not be lost



in the direst emergency. This is one reason why drill
must be incessant and long-continued, even though in
trench warfare less direct use is made of it. Another
reason is that where many men are doing the same
thing together there arises a sense of solidarity, so
that each depends not only on himself but on others,
and the individual feels that he is supported by the
formidaibleness of the group.

Where fear is yielded to with abandon almost any-
thing may be done. Men lose their orientation in
space and may rush directly at the enemy instead of
fleeing from him. In panicky fugues men often tend
to flee over the same course in which they have ad-
vanced, sometimes going around sharp angles instead
of taking quicker cross-cuts to safety because they
have advanced along these angles. They throw away
their weapons, accoutrements, sometimes their
clothes, and run for incredible distances, perhaps
leaping into chasms, and are not infrequently subject
to illusions and hallucinations. Fear is extremely
infectious. Often the sight of a single frenzied fugi-
tive disconcerts and may disorganize a squad of coura-
geous men, so that it is very important to eliminate
those especially liable to start panics. We are told
that the sight of a single individual fleeing, with all
the facial, vocal, and other expressions of terror, is
more disquieting even to experienced troops than the
death of those nearest them in the ranks or a very de-
tructive fire of the enemy. We Have a number of rec-
ords of panic even among horses in battles, which



sometimes attends and even causes grave disasters.

At home, too, fear is an important ingredient in
every form of slackerdom. It has made many con-
scientious objectors who never objected before but
have extemporized a set of pacifist principles to cam-
ouflage their timidity. It is a large ingredient in the
symptoms of disease even in somatic cases, and often
has a real effect in retarding cure, not only of psychic
but physical traumata, even in the most candid and
honest men, so deep in the unconscious does it bur-
row. The same explosion may cause shell shock in
the guards who are conducting prisoners back of the
line and have no such effect upon the prisoners them-
selves, because they are free from responsibility and
realize that they are out of the fighting ; while the best
statistics tell us that shell shock is from three to four
times as common among officers, who must not only be
brave but set examples to their men, as it is among
privates. Many genuine cases of shell shock were
cured with surprising suddenness by the news of the
cessation of war.

This shows that we are all perhaps far more fear-
some than we know, that the instinct of self-preserva-
tion is so strong that it percolates down through the
unconscious regions of the soul and produces there
results which are utterly inconsistent with courage,
even in the bravest.

Almost every important event in the soldier's pre-
vious life has a bearing upon liability to or immuni-
zation from fear. On the one hand, if a man has been



used, to taking large risks and hazards of any kind in
civil life he has a predisposition to take this larger
risk. Of course if he has had hairbreadth escapes
from danger he may, according to his diathesis, either
come to feel that he can safely play with fortune,
that he has a good star and the fates favor him, or
else he may acquire a special type of timidity, some-
times of the same and sometimes of other types of
risks than those he has incurred. Again, even heredi-
tary tendencies may make themselves felt. If for any
cause one has inherited or even acquired a dread of
closed spaces (claustrophobia), he finds the trench
itself very trying, and this dread is greatly augmented
under bombardment or by expectation of attack.
It has been found, too, that those who had childish
dreads of thunder storms find it harder to control
their terror at the detonations of big guns and high
explosives. Others have either innate or acquired
horror of blood which perhaps, like all other predis-
posing causes, may be overcome, if not too intense, or
may Incapacitate. Those with dread of open spaces
find it far harder to charge in very wide open order
and prefer hills, trees, or even water to the dead plain
across the "hell-strip" between the front lines. 1

1 See M. D. Eder : War Shock : The Psychoneuroses in War Psy-
chology and Treatment, Lond., Heinemann, 1917 ; John T. MacCurdy :
War Neuroses, Psychiatric Bulletinof the N. Y. State Hospital,
No. 3, July, 1917; G. Elliot Smith and T. H. Pear: War Shock: Its
Lessons, Manchester, Univ. Press, 1917 ; G. Rousay and J. Lhermitte :
The Psychoneuroses of the War, Tr. Lond., Univ. Press, 1918 ;
J. F. Babinski and J. Froment: Hysteria or Pithiatism and Reflex
Nervous Disorders in the Neurology of the War, Tr. Lond., Univ.
Press, 1918; F. W. Mott : War Psychoneuroses, Lond., 1919; W. T.
Porter: Shock at the Front, Bost., Atlantic Mo., 1918; W. H. R.



In general, every soldier realizes that he is increas-
ing his chance of death, and this sense is the key to
some of the most interesting results which scientific
psychology owes to the war. It is hard work and re-
quires long practice to be truly brave. The most im-
perative of all instincts is the love of life, and delib-
erately to risk it involves severe nervous and mental
strain. But the consensus of mankind which despises
cowardice is right, because there is probably no such
test of human metal as whether or not and how soon
and effectively the strongest of all instincts can be
controlled in the interests of the group or of a great

One of the greatest problems, if not the chief one
that overtops all others for officers is how best, soon-
est, and most effectively to teach the control of fear.
This is also a most important problem for each in-
dividual soldier, and how he acquits himself in this
task is perhaps the best measure of military efficiency.
How can this be done?

It is quite impossible at present to enumerate all
the means, direct and indirect, which contribute to
this end, for there is almost nothing in a soldier's
activities or in his environment that does not in some

Rivers : The Repression of War Experiences, Proc. Royal Soc. Med.,
1918: G. W. Crile: A Mechanistic View of War and Peace, N. T.,
Macmillan, 1918; M. Dide, Les Emotions et La Guerre, Paris, Alcan,
1917; A Gemelli: II Nostro Soldato; Saggi di Psicnlogia Militare:
Milano, Treves. 1918; Andre" Le"ri: Shell Shock: Ed. by Sir John
Collie, Lond., Uniy. Press, 1919; E. H. Southard: Shell Shock and
Other Ncuropsychiatric Problems, 599 Case Histories from War Liter-
ature, 1914-18, Bost., 1919. 982 pp. (Bibliography of 77 p.). M. W.
Brown : Neuropsychiatry and the War. A Bibliography with Extracts.
N. Y., 1919. 292 pp. Jean Lupine : Troubles Mentaum de Guerre, Paris,



way bear upon it, and every day's experience helps or
hinders this power of control. We can only enumerate
here some of the most general and effective aids.

1. When the soldier is lying in the trenches under
heavy bombardment, or when he is on distant outpost
work in the dark, or wherever instinctive activity, of
which danger is the greatest stimulus, is hindered, the
morale of courage can never long survive if the mind
is focused solely upon the peril; and here, then, we
see how the soul invariably turns to the chief mechan-
ism possible in such conditions, namely, diversion.
Any kind of activity or occupation that takes the
thoughts away from the immediate danger, however
routine the work may be and whether ordered or self-
enforced moving about, conversation, cigarettes,
especially a joke, information passed along the line
(which sometimes is designed only for this end) even
some added discomfort like inrush of water or the
necessity of digging out a closed communication, any-
thing to eat or drink all this helps to relieve, if only
momentarily, the strain which may otherwise be so
great that the order to go over the top, even in a grill-
ing fire, comes as a relief. Never has the need of di-
version been more recognized or more supplied, all
the way from home to the front, than for the Ameri-
can soldier in this war, and its power for morale can
never be overestimated. Of all these diversions the
best are those that involve the most activity, whether
of mind or body, on the part of the soldier himself. It
is far more effective for him to act in a play or sing



in a concert than to be merely a spectator or listener.

2. The second corrective of fear is example. Of this
we have had endless illustrations. Even the narra-
tion of a brave deed, or a decoration for heroism con-
ferred upon one whom a soldier knows is a powerful
incentive to emulation, so gregarious is man. An in-
stance of it actually seen is, of course, far more im-
pressive. Hocking tells of a piper who found a large
company of men thrown on the ground, exhausted and
in despair and expecting annihilation, who were
rallied by two friends, one of whom marched up and
down with a penny whistle while the other ^imitated
playing a drum, until the wearied men were given
cheer and arose, saying, "We'll follow you to hell,"
and were finally led to safety. Here the example of
the officer is, of course, the most potent of all. Often
every eye is upon him to see if he flinches, hesitates,
or wavers. If he is cool, most men will follow him
anywhere, so contagious is courage. In every group

Online LibraryG. Stanley (Granville Stanley) HallMorale, the supreme standard of life and conduct → online text (page 3 of 25)