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 29 of 35)
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If the place is defended by mines it will be necessary for the
besiegers to counteract the effects of these works by resorting to the
slow and tedious operations of a subterranean warfare. In this case a
fourth trench is formed in front of the third parallel; shafts are sunk
in this, about six yards apart, for establishing overcharged mines; as
soon as the galleries of the besieged are destroyed by the explosion of
these mines, the covered way is attacked by storm; other mines are
established on the _terre-plain_ of the covered way to destroy the
entrance to the galleries, and thus deprive the besieged of the use of
their entire system of mines.

The measures of defence during this period must embrace every thing
calculated to retard the works of the besiegers. This may be most
effectually accomplished by maintaining a constant fire of grape and
musketry on the heads of the sap, and throwing grenades, shells, &c.,
into the trenches, to harass and destroy the workmen. As the musketry
fire of the besiegers now becomes very destructive to the artillerists
at the guns, strong musket-proof blinds are arranged to mask the mouths
of the embrasures when the guns are not in battery, and also sloping
blindages to cover the men when serving at the pieces. The possession of
the outworks should be disputed inch by inch, and when the besiegers
have reached the ditch of the body of the place, sorties, and every
species of projectile, should be employed to drive off the sappers, and
to retard the construction of their works. In fine, all the resources of
the engineer's art should be put in requisition for the defence of the
breach, and the final assault should be vigorously resisted by the
bayonet, and by a well-sustained fire from all the collateral works.

With respect to the relative strength of the opposing forces it may be
well to remark, that if the fortress is properly constructed the
garrison will be able to resist a besieging army _six times_ as numerous
as itself. Such is the estimate of the best engineers.[48]

[Footnote 48: A good knowledge of the several subjects discussed in this
chapter may be derived from the writings of Vauban, Cormontaigne, and
Noizet de St. Paul, on the attack and defence of places and field
fortification; the several _manuels_ used in the French service on
sapping, mining, and pontoniering; Col. Pasley's experiments on the
operations of a siege, sapping, mining, &c.; Douglas's work on military
bridges; Macauley's work on field fortification; and Professor Mahan's
_Treatise on Field Fortification._ This last is undoubtedly the very
best work that has ever been written on field fortification, and every
officer going into the field should supply himself with a copy.

The following are recommended as books of reference on subjects
discussed in the three preceding chapters.

_Mémorial pour la fortification permanente et passagère._ Cormontaigne.

_Défense des places._ Cormontaigne.

_Attaque des places._ Cormontaigne.

_Attaque des places._ Vauban.

_Traité des mines._ Vauban.

_Mémorial pour la castrametation et la fortification passagère._

_Exercice sur les fortifications._ Davigneau.

_Mémorial de l'officier du genie._ A periodical of rare merit,
containing most valuable military and scientific matter. It is conducted
by officers of the French corps of engineers. It has already reached its
fourteenth number, each number forming a volume.

_Traité complet de fortification._ Noizet de St. Paul.

_Traité d'art militaire et de la fortification._ Gay de Vernon.

_Art de la guerre._ Rogniat.

_Essai général de fortification, &c._ Bousmard.

_Aide-mémoire portatif à l'usage des officiers du génie._ Laisné. A very
valuable and useful book.

_Aide-mémoire de l'ingénieur militaire._ Grivet.

_Cours d'art militaire._ Laurillard Fallot.

_Cours de fortification, &c._ Lavart.

_Le livre de la guerre._ Perrot.

_Journaux des siéges dans la péninsule._ Belmas.

_Journal of Sieges in Spain._ John Jones.

Both of the above are works of great value.

_Cours d'art militaire et de fortification militaire._ François.

_Architettura militare._ Marchi.

_Essai sur la fortification._ Baltard.

_La fortification._ Bar-le-Duc.

_Elémens de fortification._ Bellaire.

_La science des ingénieurs._ Bélidor.

_L'art universel des fortifications._ Bitainvieu.

_Nouvelle manière de fortifier les places._ Blondel.

_Les sept siéges de Lille._ Brun Lavaine.

_Défense des places fortes._ Carnot.

_Mémoire sur la fortification._ Carnot.

_Défense de Saragosse._ Cavallero.

_Mémoires sur la fortification._ Choumara.

_Nouvelle fortification._ Coehorn.

_Théorie de la fortification._ Cugnot.

_Des fortifications,_ &c. &c. Darçon.

_Relation de la defense de Dantzik._ D'Artois.

_Les fortifications._ Deville.

_Péribologie._ Dilich.

_De la fortification permanente._ Dufour. A work of merit.

_Essai sur la défense des états par les fortifications._ Duviviet.

_Attaque et défense des places du camp de St. Omer.

_L'école de la fortification._ Fallois.

_Introduction à la fortification._ De Fer.

_Précis de la défense de Valenciennes._ Ferrand.

_Traité théorique,_ &c. Foissac-Latour.

_Examen detaillé,_ &c. Foissac-Latour.

_Les ouvrages militaires de Fosse.

_Instruction sur la fortification,_ &c. Gaillard.

_Mémoires pour l'attaque et défense d'une place._ Goulon.

_Siége of Peschiera._ Henin.

_Journal du siége de Philisbourg.

_Précis du siége de Dantzick._ Kirgener.

_Deuxième défense de Badajos._ Lamare.

_Fortification, et l'attaque et défense des places._ Lebloud.

_OEuvres de Lefebvre.

_L'architecture des forteresses._ Mandar.

_Traité sur l'art des siéges._ Mazeroy.

_La sûreté des états par le moyen des forteresses._ Maigret.

_Défense d'Ancone._ Mangourit.

_Fortification._ Marolois.

_Siege de Turin._ Mengin.

_Recherches sur l'art défensif,_ &c. Michaloz.

_La fortification de campagne,_ &c. Miller.

_L'art défensif,_ &c. Montalembert.

_Journaux des siéges de Flandre.

_Relations des siéges en Europe,_ &c, Musset-Fathay. A very valuable and
interesting work.

_Relation du siége de Metz.

_Relation du siége d'Anvers.

_Les siéges de Jaffa et de St. Jean d'Acre.

_Les siéges de Saragosse et de Tortose._ Rogniat.

_Siége de Dantzick._ Sainte-Susanne.

_Mémoire sur la fortification permanente. - _Séa.

_Le siége de Constantine._

_Elémens de fortification._ Trincano.

_Des places fortes._ Valazé.

_Essay on Military Bridges._Douglas. A valuable work.

_Guide du pontonier._ Drieu.

_Mémoire sur la guerre souterraine._ Contèle.

_Traité des mines._ Etienne.

_Traité de l'art du mineur._ Geuss.

_Traité de fortification souterraine._ Gillot.

_Traité pratique et théorique des mines._ Lebrun.

_Nouveau traité des mines,_ &c. Prudhomme.

_Manuel du sapeur._ Used in the French service.

_Manuel du mineur._ " ""

_Manuel du pontonier. " ""

_Essay on Field Fortifications._ Pleydell.

_Elements of Field Fortifications._ Lochee.

_Rélation du siége de Grave et Mayence._

_Siéges de Génes._ Thiébault.

_Traité de fortification souterraine._ Mouze.

_Militairische Mittheilungen._ Xilander.

_Die Befestigung der Statten._ Hauser.

_Abhandlung über die Befestigungskunst,_&c. Hauser

_Versuch über die Verschanzungskunst._ Muller.

_Course of Elementary Fortification. _Pasley. This is a work of much
detail - useful, no doubt, to an uneducated engineer soldier, but to an
officer at all acquainted with his profession, it must seem ridiculously

To the above list might be added a long list of books on that branch of
the engineer's art called _constructions_; but as this part of the
profession is, in some degree, common both to the civil and military
engineer, it is not deemed necessary to include works of this character
in a list of books strictly military.]



With the Romans, six years' instruction was required to make a soldier;
and so great importance did these ancient conquerors of the world attach
to military education and discipline, that the very name of their army
was derived from the verb _to practise._

Modern nations, learning from experience that military success depends
more upon skill and discipline than upon numbers, have generally adopted
the same rule as the Romans; and nearly all of the European powers have
established military schools for the education of their officers and the
instruction of their soldiers.

France, which has long taken the lead in military science, has six
military schools for the instruction of officers, containing in all more
than one thousand pupils, and numerous division and regimental schools
for the sub-officers and soldiers.

Prussia maintains some twelve general schools for military education,
which contain about three thousand pupils, and also numerous division,
brigade, garrison, and company schools for practical instruction.

Austria has some fifty military schools, which contain in all about four
thousand pupils.

Russia has thirty-five engineer and artillery technical schools, with
about two thousand pupils; twenty-five military schools for the
noblesse, containing eight thousand seven hundred pupils; _corps
d'armee_ schools, with several thousand pupils; regimental schools, with
eleven thousand pupils; and brigade-schools, with upwards of one hundred
and fifty-six thousand scholars; - making in all about two hundred
thousand pupils in her military schools!

England has five military schools of instruction for officers, number of
pupils not known; a military orphan school, with about twelve thousand
pupils; and numerous dépôt and regimental schools of practice.

The smaller European powers - Belgium, Sardinia, Naples, Spain, Portugal,
Denmark, Sweden, Wurtemberg, Bavaria, Baden, have each several military
schools, with a large number of pupils.

It is seen from these statistics, that the European powers are not so
negligent in educating their officers, and in instructing and
disciplining their soldiers, as some in this country would have us

Washington, Hamilton, Knox, Pickering, and others, learning, by their
own experience in the war of the American revolution, the great
necessity of military education, urged upon our government, as early as
1783, the importance of establishing a military academy in this country,
but the subject continued to be postponed from year to year till 1802.
In 1794, the subaltern grade of _cadet_ was created by an act of
Congress, the officers of this grade being attached to their regiments,
and "furnished at the public expense with the necessary books,
instruments, and apparatus" for their instruction. But this plan of
educating young officers at their posts was found impracticable, and in
his last annual message, Dec. 7th, 1796, Washington urged again, in
strong language, the establishment of a military academy, where a
regular course of military instruction could be given. "Whatever
argument," said he, "may be drawn from particular examples,
superficially viewed, a thorough examination of the subject will evince
that the art of war is both comprehensive and complicated; that it
demands much previous study; and that the possession of it in its most
improved and perfect state is always of great moment to the security of
a nation."

The subject was however postponed from time to time, till March, 1802,
when a bill was passed establishing the _Military Academy_. It was at
first on a small scale, and its course of instruction meager and
deficient. It gradually became enlarged, but lingered along, with no
great improvement, till 1817, when Capt. Patridge was dismissed from the
superintendency, and Col. Thayer put in charge. From this period we date
the commencement of the success and reputation which the Military
Academy has since enjoyed.

This institution, as now organized, consists of one cadet from each
congressional district, and a few at large, making an average of two
hundred and thirty-seven. The course of instruction is four years, after
which time the cadet is sent to his regiment or corps, with higher rank
if there are vacancies, but if there are no vacancies, he goes as a
cadet, with the brevet rank of the next higher grade.

The examination for admission to the institution is a very limited one,
being confined to the elementary branches of an English education.

The annual course at the academy is divided into two distinct periods,
the first extending from June till September, and the second from
September to the following June. During the first period, the cadets
leave their barracks and encamp in tents, and are made subject to the
police and discipline of an army in time of war. In addition to the
thorough and severe course of practical exercises and drills in the
different arms during these three summer months of each year, they are
made to perform the same tours of guard-duty, night and day, as is
required of the common soldier in time of actual war. This continues
till the first of September of each year, when the cadets return to
their barracks, and for the remaining nine months devote themselves to
the prescribed course of scientific and military studies, intermixed
with military exercises and practical operations in the laboratory and
on the field.

To test the progress of the cadets in their studies, there are held
semi-annual public examinations. These examinations are strict and
severe, and all who fail to come up to the fixed standard are obliged to
withdraw from the institution, to allow some one else from the same
district to make the trial.

During their course of studies the cadets, as warrant-officers of the
army, draw pay barely sufficient to defray their necessary expenses. The
allowance to each is twenty-six dollars per month, but none of this is
paid to the cadet, but is applied to the purchase of books, fuel,
lights, clothing, board, &c.

This institution furnishes each year to the army about forty subaltern
officers, thoroughly instructed in all the theoretical and practical
duties of their profession. After completing this course, the cadet is
usually promoted from the grade of warrant-officer to that of a
commissioned officer, and is immediately put on duty with his regiment
or corps.

This system of appointment to the army has produced the most
satisfactory results, and has received the commendation of our best
military men, and the approbation of all our presidents and most able
statesmen. Nevertheless, it has occasionally met with strong opposition;
this opposition springing in part from a want of proper information
respecting the character and working of the system, and in part from the
combined efforts of those who from negligence or incapacity have failed
to pass their examinations for promotion, and of those who, from a
conscious want of qualifications or merit, feel assured that they cannot
obtain commissions in the army so long as this system of merit, as fixed
by examination, shall exist. Hence the effort to destroy the Military
Academy and to throw the army entirely open to _political_ appointment.

Several legislative bodies, acting under these combined influences, have
passed resolutions, giving various objections to the Military Academy,
and recommending that it be abolished. The objections made by the
legislatures of Tennessee, Ohio, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Maine,
are mostly founded on false information, and may be readily answered by
reference to the official records of the War-office. But it is not the
present object to enter into a general discussion of the charges against
that institution, except so far as they are connected with the
importance of military education, and the rules of military appointment
and promotion.

It has been alleged by many of the opponents of the West Point Academy,
that military instruction is of little or no advantage to a
general; - that in the wars of Napoleon, and in the American Revolution,
and the American war of 1812, armies were generally led to victory by
men without a military education, and unacquainted with military
science; - and that in the event of another war in this country, we must
seek our generals in the ranks of civil life, rather than among the
graduates of our Military Academy.

The objection here made to military education will hold with equal
force against education in any other profession. We sometimes find men
who have become eminent in the pulpit and at the bar, or in medicine and
the sciences, without ever having enjoyed the advantages of an education
in academic or collegiate halls, and perhaps even without that
preliminary instruction usually deemed necessary for professional
pursuits. Shall we therefore abolish all our colleges, theological
seminaries, schools of law and medicine, our academies and primary
schools, and seek for our professional men among the uneducated and the
ignorant? If professional ignorance be a recommendation in our generals,
why not also in our lawyers and our surgeons? If we deem professional
instruction requisite for the care of our individual property and
health, shall we require less for guarding the honor and safety of our
country, the reputation of our arms, and the lives of thousands of our

But in reality, were not these men to whom we have alluded eminent in
their several professions _in spite of,_ rather than _by means of_ their
want of a professional education? And have not such men, feeling the
disadvantages under which they were forced to labor, been almost without
exception the advocates of education in others?

But is it true that most of the generals of distinction in the more
recent wars were men destitute of military education, - men who rose from
the ranks to the pinnacle of military glory, through the combined
influence of ignorance of military science and contempt for military
instruction? Let us glance at the lives of the most distinguished of the
generals of the French Revolution, for these are the men to whom
reference is continually made to prove that the Military Academy is an
unnecessary and useless institution, the best generals being invariably
found in the ranks of an army, and _not_ in the ranks of military
schools. Facts may serve to convince, where reasoning is of no avail.

Napoleon himself was a pupil of the military schools of Brienne and
Paris, and had all the advantages of the best military and scientific
instruction given in France.

Dessaix was a pupil of the military school of Effiat, with all the
advantages which wealth and nobility could procure. Davoust was a pupil
of the military school of Auxerre, and a fellow-pupil with Napoleon in
the military school of Paris. Kleber was educated at the military school
of Bavaria. Eugene Beauharnais was a pupil of St. Germain-en-Loye, and
had for his military instructor the great captain of the age. His whole
life was devoted to the military art. Berthier and Marmont were both
sons of officers, and, being early intended for the army, they received
military educations. Lecourbe had also the advantages of a military
education before entering the army. Pichegru and Duroc were pupils of
the military school of Brienne. Drouet was a pupil of the artillery
school. Foy was first educated in the college of Soissons, and
afterwards in the military schools of La Fère and Chalons. Carnot,
called the "Organizer of French victory," received a good early
education, and was also a pupil of the engineer school of Mézières.

Several of the distinguished French generals at first received good
scientific and literary educations in the colleges of France, and then
acquired their military instruction in the subordinate grades of the
army; and by this means, before their promotion to responsible offices,
acquired a thorough practical instruction, founded on a basis of a
thorough preliminary education. Such was Suchet, a pupil of the college
of Lisle-Barbe; Lannes, a pupil of the college of Lectoure; and Mortier,
who was most carefully educated at Cambrai; Lefebvré and Murat were both
educated for the church, though the latter profited but little by his
instruction; Moreau and Joubert were educated for the bar; Massena was
not a college graduate, but he received a good preliminary education,
and for several years before he entered the army as an officer, he had
enjoyed all the advantages afforded by leisure and affluent
circumstances; Ney, though poor, received a good preliminary education,
and entered a notary's office to study a profession. Hoche was destitute
of the advantages of early education, but, anxious to supply this
deficiency, he early distinguished himself by his efforts to procure
books, and by his extraordinary devotion to military studies. By several
years devoted in this way to professional studies and the practical
duties of a subordinate grade in the army, Hoche acquired a military
knowledge which early distinguished him among the generals of the French
Revolution. Soult and Gouvion-Saint-Cyr, being of parents in limited
circumstances, had not the advantages of extensive education, but close
and diligent application, an ardent ambition, and strong and powerful
intellect, combined with long years of service in the practical
operations of the field, at length enabled these men to overcome all
obstacles, and force their way to the higher walks of their professions.
But both knew from experience the advantages of military instruction,
and the importance of professional education in the army, and they have
consequently both been the warmest friends and strongest advocates of
the military schools of France.

The Polytechnic School was established too late to furnish officers for
any of the earlier wars of Napoleon; but in his last campaigns he began
to reap the advantages of an institution which had been under his
fostering care, and Bertrand, Dode, Duponthon, Haxo, Rogniat, Fleury,
Valazé, Gourgaud, Chamberry, and a host of other distinguished young
generals, fully justified the praises which the emperor lavished on his
"_poulet aux oeufs d'or"_ - the hen that laid him golden eggs!

In our own revolutionary war, Generals Washington, Hamilton, Gates,
Schuyler, Knox, Alexander, (Lord Stirling,) the two Clintons, the Lees,
and others, were men of fine education, and a part of them of high
literary and scientific attainments; Washington, Gates, Charles Lee, the
Clintons, and some others, had considerable military experience even
before the war: nevertheless, so destitute was the army, generally, of
military science, that the government was under the necessity of seeking
it in foreigners - in the La Fayettes, the Kosciuskos, the Steubens, the
De Kalbs, the Pulaskis, the Duportails - who were immediately promoted to
the highest ranks in our army. In fact the officers of our scientific
corps were then nearly all foreigners.

But, say the opponents of the Academy, military knowledge and education
are not the only requisites for military success; youthful enterprise
and efficiency are far more important than a mere acquaintance with
military science and the military art: long service in garrison,
combined with the indolent habits acquired by officers of a
peace-establishment, so deadens the enterprise of the older officers of
the army, that it must inevitably result, in case of war, that military
energy and efficiency will be derived from the ranks of civil life.

We are not disposed to question the importance of youthful energy in the
commander of an army, and we readily admit that while seeking to secure
to our service a due degree of military knowledge, we should also be
very careful not to destroy its influence by loading it down with the
dead weights of effete seniority. But we do question the wisdom of the
means proposed for supplying our army with this desired efficiency.
Minds stored with vast funds of professional knowledge, and the rich
lore of past history; judgments ripened by long study and experience;
with passions extinguished, or at least softened by the mellowing
influence of age - these may be best suited for judges and statesmen, for
here there is time for deliberation, for the slow and mature judgment of
years. But for a general in the field, other qualities are also
required. Not only is military knowledge requisite for _directing_ the
blow, but he must also have the military energy necessary for _striking_
that blow, and the military activity necessary for parrying the attacks

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 29 of 35)