Henry Wager Halleck.

Elements of Military Art and Science Or, Course Of Instruction In Strategy, Fortification, Tactics Of Battles, &C.; Embracing The Duties Of Staff, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, And Engineers; Adapted online

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Online LibraryHenry Wager HalleckElements of Military Art and Science Or, Course Of Instruction In Strategy, Fortification, Tactics Of Battles, &C.; Embracing The Duties Of Staff, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, And Engineers; Adapted → online text (page 21 of 35)
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of 1806 and 1807, a degree of prejudice sprung up against them. The
divisions of dragoons had been mustered at Compiegne and Amiens, to be
embarked without horses for the expedition of England, in order to serve
on foot until they should be mounted in that country. General Baraguay
d'Hilliers, their first inspector, commanded them; he had them equipped
with gaiters, and incorporated with them a considerable number of
recruits, whom he exercised in infantry manoeuvres alone. These were no
longer cavalry regiments: they served in the campaign of 1806 on foot,
until after the battle of Jena, when they were mounted on horses taken
from the Prussian cavalry, three-fourths of which were unserviceable.
These combined circumstances injured the dragoons; but in 1813 and 1814
their divisions acquired honor in rivalling the cuirassiers. Dragoons
are necessary for the support of light cavalry in the vanguard, the
rear-guard, and the wings of an army; cuirassiers are little adapted for
van and rearguards: they should never be employed in this service but
when it is requisite to keep them in practice and accustom them to war."

Napoleon further recommends that light cavalry be divided into two
kinds, chasseurs or troopers, and light horse; and the heavy to be
composed of dragoons and cuirassiers; the troopers to be mounted on
horses of 4 ft 6 in.; light cavalry on horses of 4 ft. 7 or 8 in.;
dragoons on horses of 4 ft. 9 in.; and cuirassiers on horses of 4 ft. 10
or 11 in.; which employ horses of all kinds for mounting the troops.

All cavalry must receive the same instruction; and all should be
capable, in case of need, of performing any of the duties of mounted
troops. The shock is the principal effect produced by this arm;
therefore, the greater the velocity the greater must be this effect,
provided the troops can be kept in mass. But it is found, by experience,
that it is impossible to preserve them in line when put to the height of
their speed. The best authorities therefore prefer, as we have said
elsewhere, the charge at the trot, or at any rate the gallop should not
be taken up till within a very short distance of the enemy. The charge
of a compact mass at a trot is much greater than that of a wavering one
at a gallop.

On the field of battle the cavalry of the line is considered as the arm
of the shock, to break through any corps that may be in opposition; but
it is unable of itself to resist a shock, and therefore should on no
account wait to receive the charge of another body of mounted troops. It
was on this account that Frederick directed his cavalry officers, under
the severest penalties, never to receive a charge, but always to meet
the attacking force half way. This is the only mode of preventing

A good infantry can always sustain itself against the charges of
cavalry. At the battle of Auerstedt, in 1806, Davoust ordered the
divisions of Gudin to form squares to resist the Prussian cavalry,
which, by means of a fog, had gained a most advantageous position.
Blücher led his cavalry in repeated and impetuous charges, but all was
in vain; the French infantry presented a front of iron. At the combat of
Krasnoi, in 1812, the cavalry of Grouchy, Nansonty, and Bordesoult,
attacked and overthrew the dragoons of Clarkof, but the Russian infantry
under Neveroffskoi sustained itself against the repeated charges of
vastly superior numbers of these French horse. At the battle of Molwitz,
the grenadiers sustained the charges of the enemy's cavalry, although
the cavalry of the great Frederick had already been completely

But when the infantry is engaged with the infantry of the enemy, the
charges of cavalry are generally successful, and sometimes decide the
fate of the battle, as was the case at Rosbach, Zornsdorf, Wurtsburg,
Marengo, Eylau, Borodino, &c.

Cavalry may also be very efficacious against infantry in wet weather,
when the rain or snow renders it impossible for the foot soldiers to use
their fire-arms to advantage, as was the case with the corps of
Augereau, at Eylau, and with the Austrian left, at the battle of
Dresden. Again, if the infantry be previously weakened, or thrown into
disorder by the fire of batteries. The charge of the Russian cavalry at
Hohenfriedberg, in 1745, is a remarkable example of this kind.

Cavalry should always be immediately sustained in its efforts either by
infantry or other bodies of horse; for as soon as the charge is made,
the strength of this arm is for a time exhausted, and, if immediately
attacked, defeat becomes inevitable. The charge of the cavalry of Ney on
Prince Hohenlohe at the battle of Jena, and of the French horse on Gossa
at Leipsic, are fine examples of the successful charges of cavalry when
properly sustained. Kunnersdorf and Waterloo are examples of the
disastrous consequences of leaving such charges without support.

The choice of the field of battle is sometimes such as to render cavalry
almost useless. Such was the case at the battle of Cassano, between the
Duke of Vendome and the Prince Eugene. The field was so cut up by the
Adda and the canals of Rittorto and Pendina, that Prince Eugene could
make no use of his horse. If, when master of the bridge of Rittorto, he
had been able to charge the French with a body of cavalry, there had
been no doubt of his complete success.

After a battle, and in the pursuit of a flying enemy, cavalry is
invaluable. If Napoleon had possessed a suitable number of mounted
troops, with an able commander, at the battles of Lutzen and Ligny, the
results of these victories had been decisive; whereas they were really
without consequence. On the other hand, the Prussian army in 1806, after
the battle of Jena, and Napoleon's army in 1815 at Waterloo, were
completely cut to pieces by the skilful use of cavalry in the pursuit of
a defeated and dispirited foe.

The want of good cavalry was severely felt in the war of the American
Revolution. Had Washington possessed a few good squadrons of horse, his
surprise and defeat in the lines of Brooklyn, and the consequent loss of
New York, had never taken place. The efficient employment of a few good
squadrons of cavalry might readily have prevented the defeat at
Bladensburg, and the loss of the capitol, in 1814.

In a well-organized army, the cavalry should be from one-fourth to
one-sixth of the infantry, according to the nature of the war.[32]

[Footnote 32: To gain a competent knowledge of the duties connected with
the two arms of service mentioned in this chapter, the officer should
make himself thoroughly acquainted with Scott's System of Infantry
Tactics, for the United States' Infantry, or at least with Major
Cooper's abridged edition of Infantry Tactics, and with the system of
Cavalry Tactics, adopted in our army; also with the directions for the
use of these two arms in a campaign, and their employment on the
battle-field, given in the writings of Jomini, Decker, Okouneff,
Rocquancourt, and Jacquinot de Presle.]

The following books may be referred to for further information
respecting the history, organization, use, and instruction of infantry
and cavalry: -

_Essai général de tactique._ Guibert.

_Considérations générales sur l'infanterie française,_ par un général en
rétraite. A work of merit.

_De l'infanterie,_ par l'auteur de l'histoire de l'expédition de Russie.

_Histoire de la guerre de la peninsule._ Foy. This work contains many
interesting and valuable remarks on the French and English systems of
tactics, and particularly on the tactics of Infantry.

_Cours d'art et d'histoire militaires._ Jacquinot de Presle.

_Art de la guerre._ Rogniat.

_Instruction destinée aux troupes légères,_ &c., redigée sur une
instruction de Frederick II. à ses officiers.

_English Infantry Regulations._

_Ordonnance_ (French) _pour l'exercice et les manoeuvres de
l'infanterie,_ par le commission de manoeuvres.

_Aide-mémoires des officiers généraux et supérieurs, et des capitaines._

_Essai sur l'histoire générale de l'art militaire._ Carion-Nisas.

_Histoire de la milice française._ Daniel.

_Cours élémentaire d'art et d'histoire militaires._ Rocquancourt.

_Traité élémentaire d'art militaire,_ &c. Gay de Vernon.

_Introduction à l'étude de l'art de la guerre._ La Roche-Amyou.

_Tactique des trois armes._ Decker.

_Examen raisonné des trois armes,_ &c. Okouneff.

The last two are works of great merit. The writings of Okouneff,
however, are very diffuse.

_Instruction pour le service de l'infanterie légère._ Guyard.

_Instruction de l'infanterie,_ &c. Schauenbourg.

_Traité de tactique._ Ternay et Koch.

_Mécanism des manoeuvres de guerre de l'infanterie polonaise._

_Traité sur l'infanterie légère._ Beurmann.

_English Cavalry Regulations._

_Ordonnance_ (French) _sur l'exercice et les évolutions de la

_Les troupes à cheval de France,_ &c. De Bourge.

_Avant-postes de cavalerie légère._ Brack. The author served with
distinction under Lassale, Colbert, Maison, Pujol, and Excelmans.

_Réflexions sur l'emploi de la cavalerie,_ &c. Caraman.

_Observations sur l'ordonnance, &c., de la cavalerie._ Dejean.

_Tactique de la cavalerie._ Itier.

_Eléments de tactique pour la cavalerie,_ par Mottin de la Balme. A work
of rare merit.

_De l'emploi de la cavalerie à la guerre._ Schauenbourg.

_Rémarques sur la cavalerie._ Warnery. This work has long enjoyed a high
reputation among the cavalry officers of the European services. The
Paris edition is enriched with notes by a French general officer.

_Nachrichten und Betrachtungen über die Thaten und Schicksale der
Reiterei,_ &c. This work discusses the operations of cavalry in the
campaigns of Frederick the Great and of Napoleon, down to the battle of
Lutzen in 1813.

_Examen du livret provisoire,_ &c. Marbot.

_Le Spectateur Militaire,_ contains many essays by cavalry officers on
the various questions connected with the organization and use of this

_Die Gefechtslehre der beiden verbundenen Waffen-Kavallerie und
reitenden Artillerie._ Decker.

_Manuel de l'officier._ Ruhle de Lilienstern.

_Aide-mémoire, à l'usage des officiers de cavalerie._

_Journal de l'infanterie et de la cavalerie._

_Traité de tactique pour les officiers d'infanterie et de cavalerie._

_Histoire des exploits et des vicissitudes de la cavalerie prussienne._



_Artillery_. - Previous to the invention of gunpowder in the thirteenth
century, the machines of war were divided between two classes of
military men, the engineers (_engignours_, as they were called in the
middle ages) and the artillery, (_artilliers_, as they were formerly
called,) the latter being particularly charged with the management of
the lighter and more portable projectile machines, such as the balistas
and arco-balistas, which were used for throwing different kinds of
arrows - _flêches, viretons, carreaux, matras_, &c., while the former
managed the battering-rams, cranes, helipoles, &c. And, indeed, for a
long time after the discovery of gunpowder, this distinction was kept
up, and the artillery retained all the more ordinary projectile
machines, while the engineers constructed and managed the more ponderous
weapons of attack and defence. But the new artillery was gradually
introduced, without, however, immediately displacing the old, and there
were for a time, if we may be allowed the expression, _two_ artilleries,
the one employing the old projectile machines, and the other those of
the new invention. The latter were called _canoniers_, to distinguish
them from the former, who still retained the name of _artilliers_.

The first cannon were invented in the early part of the fourteenth
century, or, perhaps, among the Arabs as early as the middle of the
thirteenth century, but they were not much known in Europe till about
1350. Cannon are said to have been employed by the Moors as early as
1249, and by the French in 1338. The English used artillery at the
battle of Crecy in 1346. Both cannon and the ancient projectile machines
were employed at the siege of Aiguillon in 1339, at Zara in 1345, at
Rennes in 1357, and at Naples in 1380. At this last siege the ancient
balista was employed to throw into the castle of Naples barrels of
infectious matter and mutilated limbs of prisoners of war. We read of
the same thing being done in Spain at a later period.

Cannon in France were at first called _bombards_ and _couleuverines_,
but were afterwards named from certain figures marked on them, such as
_serpentines, basilisks, scorpions,_&c. In the infancy of the art they
were made small, weighing only from twenty to fifty pounds, and were
mounted on small moveable carriages. This species of fire-arms became
quite numerous about the beginning of the fifteenth century. They were
followed by heavier pieces, used in the attack and defence of towns.
This siege artillery continued to be increased in dimensions till,
towards the latter part of the fifteenth century, they reached such an
enormous size as to be almost useless as a military machine. Louis XI.
had an immense piece constructed at Tours, in 1770, which, it was said,
carried a ball from the Bastille to Charenton, (about six miles!) Its
caliber was that of five hundred pounds. It was intended for experiment,
and burst on the second discharge. The famous culverin of Bolduc was
said to carry a ball from that city to Bommel. The culverin of Nancy,
made in 1598, was more than twenty-three feet in length. There is now an
ancient cannon in the arsenal at Metz of about this length, which
carries a ball of one hundred and forty pounds. Cannon balls were found
at Paris as late as 1712, weighing near two hundred pounds, and from
twelve to sixteen inches in diameter. At the siege of Constantinople in
1453, there was a famous metallic bombard which threw stone balls of an
incredible size; at the siege of Bourges in 1412, a cannon was used
which, it was said, threw stone balls "of the size of mill-stones." The
Gantois, under Arteville, made a bombard fifty feet in length, whose
report was heard at a distance of ten leagues!

The first cannon were made of wood, and covered with sheet-iron, or
embraced by iron rings: longitudinal bars of iron were afterwards
substituted for the wooden form. Towards the end of the fourteenth
century, brass, tin, copper, wrought and cast iron, were successively
used for this purpose. The bores of the pieces were first made in a
conical shape, and it was not until a much later period that the
cylindrical form was introduced.

In the wars between the Spaniards and Moors in the latter part of the
fifteenth century, very great use was made of artillery in sieges and
battles. Ferdinand the Catholic had at this time, probably, a larger
artillery train than any other European power. The Spanish cannon,
generally very large, were composed of iron bars about two inches in
breadth, held together by bolts and rings of the same metal. The pieces
were firmly attached to their carriages, and incapable of either
horizontal or vertical movement. The balls thrown by them were usually
of marble, though sometimes of iron. Many of the pieces used at the
siege of Baza, in 1486, are still to be seen in that city, and also the
cannon balls then in use. Some of the latter are fourteen inches in
diameter, and weigh one hundred and seventy-five pounds. The length of
the cannon was about twelve feet. These dimensions are a proof of a
slight improvement in this branch of military science, which was,
nevertheless, still in its infancy. The awkwardness of artillery at this
period may be judged of by its slowness of fire. At the siege of
Zeteuel, in 1407, five "bombards," as the heavy pieces of ordnance were
then called, were able to discharge only forty shot in the course of a
day; and it is noticed as a remarkable circumstance at the siege of
Albahar, that two batteries discharged one hundred and forty balls in
the course of the twenty-four hours!

In the Italian wars between France and Spain, in the beginning of the
sixteenth century, the difficulty of moving the heavy cannon then in use
was so great that only a very small number of pieces were brought upon
the battle-field. At the battle of Cerignola, in 1503, the number of
cannon in the French army was only thirteen. Indeed, during the greater
part of this century, four or five pieces were considered sufficient for
an ordinary army in the field, and many agreed to the doctrine of
Machiavelli, that the only legitimate use of artillery was in the attack
and defence of places. But in the wars of Henry IV. of France, this arm
of service was again increased, and the troops which this king destined
against the house of Austria had an artillery train of fifty pieces.
Great improvements were also made about this period in the manufacture
of powder, and all kinds of fire-arms. Sully gave greater development
to this arm of service, improving its materials, and increasing its
efficiency. Then, as at most other periods, the French were in advance
of most other nations in artillery.

It was near the close of the sixteenth or the beginning of the
seventeenth century, that the heavy and ill-shaped artillery began to
give place to more wieldy and useful pieces. A certain M. de Linar
demonstrated, in the latter part of the sixteenth century, that cannon
twelve feet in length would give a greater range than those seventeen
feet in length, the calibre being the same; but some years elapsed
before advantage was taken of this discovery. In 1624, Gustavus Adolphus
caused experiments to be made to verify this point, and, on being
convinced of its truth, caused his batteries to be furnished with
shorter and lighter pieces. This great king introduced, about the same
time, a new and lighter kind of artillery, made of sheet iron and
leather. Each piece had its chamber formed of thin metal and embraced by
strong iron rings; over these was placed a form of hardened leather,
which was again encircled with rings and held compactly together. These
pieces were mounted on light carriages, so that two men could easily
manoeuvre them. It was said that they would fire from eight to ten
rounds without requiring repairs. Gustavus made use of them in all his
military operations from 1628 to the time of his death. They did him
excellent service on numerous occasions; being so very light they could
be easily transported, and, on the field of battle, their movements
could be made to conform to the movements of his troops.

As cannon and small arms were gradually introduced into general use,
various inventions and improvements were proposed and introduced from
time to time. Cannon were constructed with two or more barrels; some
were arranged for being loaded in the breech, and others at the mouth of
the piece; two pieces were sometimes connected by horizontal timbers,
which revolved about a vertical axis, so that the recoil of one piece
would bring the other into battery; and various other arrangements of
this description, which have recently been revived and some of them
patented as new inventions. The small arms employed at this period were
much the same as those used at the present day, except the matchlock,
which afterwards gave place to flint-locks. Arms of this description
were sometimes made to be loaded at the breach, and guns with two,
three, and even as many as eight barrels, were at one time in fashion.
In the _Musée de l'Artillerie_ at Paris may be found many arms of this
kind, which have been reproduced in this country and England as new
inventions. In this Museum are two ancient pieces, invented near the end
of the sixteenth or the beginning of the seventeenth century, which very
nearly correspond with _Colt's patent_, with the single exception of the

[Footnote 33: It is not to be inferred that the modern _improvements_
(as they are called) are copied from the more ancient _inventions_. Two
men of different ages, or even of the same age, sometimes fall upon the
same identical discovery, without either's borrowing from the other.]

The _materiel_ of artillery employed in modern warfare is divided into
two general classes: 1st. _Siege Artillery_, or such as is employed in
the attack and defence of places. 2d. _Field Artillery_, or such as is
used in battle, or in the field-operations of an army.

1. _Siege Artillery_ is composed of _mortars, large howitzers, Paixhan
guns_ or _Columbiads_,[34] and _all cannon_ of _a large calibre._ In our
service this class of ordnance includes the twelve, eighteen,
twenty-four, thirty-two, and forty-two-pounder guns, the eight, ten, and
thirteen-inch mortars, the sixteen-inch stone mortar, the
twenty-four-pounder coehorn mortar, the twenty-four-pounder carronade,
and the eight, ten, and twelve-inch howitzers.

[Footnote 34: These pieces were first invented by Colonel Bomford, of
the U.S. army, and used in the war of 1812. The dimensions of these guns
were first taken to Europe by a young French officer, and thus fell into
the hands of General Paixhan, who immediately introduced them into the
French service. They were by this means first made known to the rest of
Europe, and received the name of the person who introduced them into the
European services, rather than that of the original inventor. All these
facts are so fully susceptible of proof, that Europeans now acknowledge
themselves indebted to us for the invention; even General Paixhan gives
up all claim to originality in his gun, and limits himself to certain
improvements which he introduced. The original gun, which was invented
by Colonel Bomford, and whose dimensions were carried to General Paixhan
in France, is now lying at the ordnance dépôt, in New York harbor.]

All these, except the smaller mortars, are made of cast iron. This
substance is less tenacious than wrought iron or bronze, and the cannon
made of it are, on this account, much heavier than of the other
materials; but for the naval service, and the attack and defence of
fortifications, the weight required to secure the necessary strength is
not very objectionable. Wrought iron and bronze are much more expensive
and less durable. Moreover, the difficulty of forging wrought iron in
masses of sufficient size has been such as to prevent its being brought
into general use for artillery. Numerous attempts have been made, at
different periods, to construct large guns of this material, but none
have yet been successful. Improvements which are now making in the
manufacture of wrought iron, may render this the preferable material for
the smaller pieces of artillery; but the best informed military men deem
it objectionable for the heavier cannon, both on account of its cost and
the imperfection of its manufacture. Even should the latter objection be
removed, its cost must prevent its general application to the
construction of siege artillery. Charlatans in military science, both in
this country and in Europe, bring this subject up every fifteen or
twenty years as a new _invention_, and flaming notices of the
_improvement_, and predictions of the revolution it is to effect in the
art of war, are circulated in the newspapers to "gull" a credulous
public; and after some fifty or one hundred thousand dollars have been
squandered on some court-favorite, the whole matter ends in the
explosion of the "_improvement_," and probably the destruction of the
"_inventor_," and perhaps also of his spectators. Let us be distinctly
understood on this subject. There may be _inventions_ and _improvements_
in the manufacture of wrought iron, but there is nothing _new_ in its
_application_ to the construction of cannon, for it has been used for
this purpose as long ago as the first invention of the art.

2. _Field Artillery_ is composed of the smaller guns and howitzers. In
our service this class of cannon includes the six and twelve-pounder
guns, and the twelve and twenty-four-pounder howitzers. All these are
now made of bronze. This material is more expensive than cast-iron, but
its superior tenacity renders it more useful where great weight is
objectionable. Improvements in the manufacture of cast iron may render
it safe to employ this metal in the construction of field-pieces. It is
also possible the wrought iron may be forged in masses large enough, and
the cost be so reduced as to bring it into use for field-pieces. It is
here important to combine strength with lightness, and additional
expense may very properly be incurred to secure this important object.

Online LibraryHenry Wager HalleckElements of Military Art and Science Or, Course Of Instruction In Strategy, Fortification, Tactics Of Battles, &C.; Embracing The Duties Of Staff, Infantry, Cavalry, Artillery, And Engineers; Adapted → online text (page 21 of 35)