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 8 of 35)
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both these instances (at Torgau and at Namiest, against Laudon, during
the siege of Olmutz) he was unsuccessful. His usual mode was to bring
his columns near together as he approached the enemy, and to form his
troops into line at the moment of attack. Such was his order of march at
Prague, Kollin, Rosbach, Leuthen, Zornsdorf, and Kunersdorf. The
following is one of Frederick's orders respecting marches, (October 2d,

"The army will, as usual, march in three columns by lines. The first
column will consist of the first line; the second, of the second line;
and the third, of the reserve. The wagons, and hospital wagons, of
regiments, will follow their corps. The batteries of heavy calibre will
follow the infantry brigades to which they are assigned. On passing
woods, the regiments of cavalry will march between two infantry corps."

"Each column will have a vanguard of one light battalion and ten
squadrons of hussars or dragoons. They will be preceded by three wagons
carrying plank-bridges. The rear-guard is charged with taking up these
bridges after the army has defiled over them."

"The parks will be divided among the columns, to avoid the embarrassment
resulting from a great many wagons being together in a body."

"If any thing should happen to the second and third columns, the king
will be instantly apprized of it; he will be found at the head of the
first column. Should any thing occur to the rear-guard, the same will be
instantly communicated to Lieutenant-general Zeithen, who will be with
the rear-guard of the first column."

"The officers will take care that the soldiers march with equal step,
and that they do not stray to the right or left, and thus uselessly
fatigue themselves and lose their distances."

"When orders are given to form the line, the wagons will file out of the
columns to the left, and will march to be parked," &c.

The position of the baggage, when near the enemy, will depend on the
nature of the march. If the march be to the front, it will be in rear of
the column; if the march be by the flank, and the enemy be on the outer
flank, the baggage will be on the inner one, most remote from danger; if
the march be in retreat, the baggage will be in advance of the army. In
either case it should be strongly guarded.

It was in direct violation of this rule that General Hull, in the
campaign of 1812, on reaching the Miami of the Lake, (Maumee,) embarked
his baggage, stores, sick, convalescent, and "even the instructions of
his government and the returns of his army," on board the Cuyahoga
packet, and dispatched them for Detroit, while the army, with the same
destination, resumed its march by land. The result of thus sending his
baggage, stores, official papers, &c., _without a guard, and on the
flank nearest the enemy,_ was just what might have been anticipated: - in
attempting to pass the British post of Malden the whole detachment was
attacked and captured, "by a subaltern and six men, in a small and open

To prevent a surprise, detachments of light troops should be always
thrown out in front, on the flanks, and in rear of the column,
denominated from their position, _Advanced-Guard, Flankers,_ and
_Rear-Guard._ These scan the country which is to be passed over by the
column, watch the enemy's motions, and give notice of his approach in
time to allow the main force to choose a suitable field of battle, and
to pass from the order of march to that of combat. The strength and
composition of these detachments depend upon the nature of the ground,
and the character and position of the enemy. In case of an attack they
retire slowly, and on joining the main body, take their assigned
position in the line of battle.

In an open country the order of march presents but little difficulty;
but in a broken country, and especially in the vicinity of the enemy, a
march cannot be conducted with too many precautions. Before engaging in
a _defile_ it should be thoroughly examined, and sufficient detachments
sent out to cover the main body from attack while effecting the
passage. A neglect of these precautions has sometimes led to the most
terrible disasters.

In military operations very much depends upon the rapidity of marches.
The Roman infantry, in Scipio's campaigns in Africa, frequently marched
a distance of twenty miles in five hours, each soldier carrying from
fifty to eighty pounds of baggage. Septimius Severus, Gibbon states,
marched from Vienna to Rome, a distance of eight hundred miles, in forty
days. Cæsar marched from Rome to the Sierra-Morena, in Spain, a distance
of four hundred and fifty leagues, in twenty-three days!

Napoleon excelled all modern generals in the celerity of his movements.
Others have made for a single day as extraordinary marches as the
French, but for general activity during a campaign they have no rivals
in modern history. A few examples of the rapidity of their movements may
not be without interest.

In 1797 a part of Napoleon's army left Verona after having fought the
battle of St. Michaels, on the 13th of January, then marched all night
upon Rivoli, fought in the mountains on the 14th, returned to Mantua on
the 15th, and defeated the army of Provera on the morning of the
16th, - thus, in less than four days, having marched near fifty leagues,
fought three battles, and captured more than twenty thousand prisoners!
Well might he write to the Directory that his soldiers had surpassed the
much vaunted rapidity of Cæsar's legions.

In the campaign of 1800, Macdonald, wishing to prevent the escape of
Loudon, in a single day marched forty miles, crossing rivers, and
climbing mountains and glaciers.

In 1805 the grand French army broke up their camp at Boulogne, in the
early part of September, and in two weeks reached their allotted posts
on the Rhine, averaging daily from twenty-five to thirty miles.

During the same campaign the French infantry, pursuing the Archduke
Ferdinand in his retreat from Ulm, marched thirty miles a day in
dreadful weather, and over roads almost impassable for artillery.

Again, in the campaign of 1806, the French infantry pursued the
Prussians at the rate of from twenty-five to thirty miles per day.

In 1808 the advanced posts of Napoleon's army pursued Sir John Moore's
army at the rate of twenty-five miles a day, in the midst of winter.
Napoleon transported an army of fifty thousand men from Madrid to
Astorga with nearly the same rapidity, marching through deep snows,
across high mountains, and rivers swollen by the winter rains. The
activity, perseverance, and endurance of his troops, during these ten
days' march, are scarcely equalled in history.

In 1812, the activity of the French forces under Clausel was truly
extraordinary. After almost unheard-of efforts at the battle of
Salamanca, he retreated forty miles in a little more than twelve hours!

In 1814, Napoleon's army marched at the rate of ten leagues a day,
besides fighting a battle every twenty-four hours. Wishing to form a
junction with other troops, for the succor of Paris, he marched his army
the distance of seventy-five miles in thirty-six hours; the cavalry
marching night and day, and the infantry travelling _en poste_.

On his return from Elba, in 1815, his guards marched fifty miles the
first day after landing; reached Grenoble through a rough and
mountainous country, a distance of two hundred miles, in six days, and
reached-Paris, a distance of six hundred miles, in less than twenty

The marches of the allied powers, during the wars of the French
Revolution, were much less rapid than those of the armies of Napoleon.
Nevertheless, for a single day the English and Spaniards have made some
of the most extraordinary marches on record.

In 1809, on the day of the battle of Talavera, General Crawford, fearing
that Wellington was hard pressed, made a forced march with three
thousand men the distance of sixty-two miles in twenty-six hours!

The Spanish regiment of Romana, in their march from Jutland to Spain,
marched the extraordinary distance of fifty miles in twenty-one hours.

Cavalry, for a single day, will march a greater distance than infantry;
but for a campaign of several months the infantry will march over the
most ground. In the Russian campaign of Napoleon, his cavalry failed to
keep pace with the infantry in his forced march on Moskwa. But in the
short campaigns of 1805 and 1806, the cavalry of Murat displayed the
most wonderful activity, and effected more extraordinary results than
any mounted troops of modern ages.

The English cavalry, however, have made one or two short marches with a
rapidity truly extraordinary.

In 1803 Wellington's cavalry in India marched the distance of sixty
miles in thirty-two hours.

But the march of the English cavalry under Lord Lake, before the battle
of Furruckabad, is, if we can trust the English accounts, still more
extraordinary than any thing recorded of the Romans or the French - it is
said that he marched _seventy miles in twenty-four hours!!!_

As a general rule, troops marching for many days in succession will move
at the rate of from fifteen to twenty miles per day. In forced marches,
or in pursuit of a flying enemy, they will average from twenty to
twenty-five miles per day. And for only two or three days in succession,
with favorable roads, thirty miles per day may be calculated on. Marches
beyond this are unusual, and, when they do occur, are the result of
extraordinary circumstances.

_Convoy_. - A convoy consists of provisions, military munitions, &c.,
sent from one point to another, under the charge of a detachment of
troops, called an _escort_. When regular depots and magazines are
established, with proper relations to the line of operations, convoys
requiring particular escorts are seldom necessary, because the position
of the army will cover the space over which the magazines are to be
moved. But in the immediate vicinity of the enemy, or in a country whose
inhabitants are hostile or insurrectionary, precautions of this kind
should always be resorted to.

The size and composition of the escort must depend upon the nature of
the country and the imminence of the danger. The ground to be passed
over should be previously reconnoitred, and the line of march be taken
up only after the most satisfactory reports. When once put in motion,
the convoy should be thoroughly hemmed in by flankers, to give warning
to the escort of the approach of the enemy. Small parties of cavalry are
detached on all sides, but particularly in advance. The main body of the
escort is concentrated on the most exposed point of the convoy while the
other sides are guarded by subdivisions. In case of an attack by a large
party, the baggage wagons may be formed into a kind of defensive
field-work, which, with one or two pieces of light artillery, can in
this way resist a pretty strong effort to destroy or carry away the

As a general rule, it is better to supply the wants of an army by small
successive convoys than by periodical and large ones. Even should some
of the former be captured their loss would not be materially felt; but a
large periodical convoy offers so great a temptation to the enterprise
of the enemy, and is so difficult to escort, that he will venture much
to destroy it, and its loss may frustrate our plans of a siege or of an
important military operation. If the Prussian army, when besieging
Olmutz, had observed this rule, the capture of a convoy would not have
forced them to raise the siege and to retreat.

Napoleon estimates that an army of 100,000 men in position will require
the daily arrival of from four to five hundred wagon loads of

The difficulty of moving provisions, baggage, &c., in a retreat, is
always very great, and the very best generals have frequently failed on
this point. Indeed, the best concerted measures will sometimes fail,
amid the confusion and disorder consequent upon a retreat with an able
and active enemy in pursuit. In such a case, the loss of the
provision-trains in a sterile or unfriendly country may lead to the most
terrible disasters. We will allude to two examples of this kind: the
retreat of the English from Spain in 1809, and that of the French from
Russia in 1812.

When Sir John Moore saw that a retreat had become necessary to save his
army from entire destruction, he directed all the baggage and stores to
be taken to the rear, and every possible arrangement to be made for
their preservation and for the regular supplies of the army. But the
want of discipline in his troops, and more especially the want of a
proper engineer organization to prepare the requisite means for
facilitating his own marches, and impeding the enemy's pursuit,
prevented his plans from being fully carried into execution. Much
suffering and great losses were consequently inflicted upon his troops;
a large portion of his baggage and military stores was captured, and
even the treasure of his army, amounting to some 200,000 dollars, was
abandoned through the ignorance and carelessness of the escorting

In Napoleon's march into Russia, his plans had been so admirably
combined, that from Mentz to Moscow not a single estafette or convoy, it
is said, was carried off in this campaign; nor was there a day passed
without his receiving intelligence from France. When the retreat was
begun, (after the burning of Moscow,) he had six lines of magazines in
his rear; the 1st, at Smolensk, ten days' march from Moscow; those of
the 2d line at Minsk and Wilna, eight marches from Smolensk; those of
the 3d line at Kowno, Grodno, and Bialystok; those of the 4th line at
Elbing, Marienwerder, Thorn, Plock, Modlin, and Warsaw; those of the 5th
line at Dantzic, Bamberg, and Posen; those of the 6th line at Stettin,
Custrin, and Glogau. When the army left Moscow it carried with it
provisions sufficient for twenty days, and an abundance of ammunition,
each piece of artillery being supplied with three hundred and fifty
rounds; but the premature cold weather destroyed thirty thousand horses
in less than three days, thus leaving the trains without the means of
transportation or suitable escorts for their protection: the horrible
sufferings of the returning army now surpassed all description.

The officer selected to escort convoys should be a man of great
prudence, activity, and energy, for frequently very much depends upon
the safe and timely arrival of the provisions and military stores which
he may have in charge.

_Castrametation_. - Castrametation is, strictly speaking, the art of
laying out and disposing to advantage the several parts of the camp of
an army. The term is sometimes more extensively used to include all the
means for lodging and sheltering the soldiers during a campaign, and all
the arrangements for cooking, &c., either in the field or in winter
quarters. A camp, whether composed of tents or barracks, or merely
places assigned for bivouacking, must be divided and arranged in such a
way that the several divisions shall be disposed as they are intended to
be drawn up in order of battle; so that, on any sudden alarm, the troops
can pass from it promptly, and form their line of battle without
confusion. Suitable places must also be assigned for cooking, for
baggage, and for provisions, military stores, and ammunitions.

The extent of the color front of a camp depends much on the character of
the ground and the means of defence, but as a general rule, it should
never exceed the position which the army would occupy in the line of
battle. The different arms should be encamped in the same order as that
of battle; this order of course depending on the nature of the
battle-ground. A _corps d'armeé_ is composed of battalions of infantry,
squadrons of cavalry, batteries of artillery, and companies of engineer
troops, and the art of encampments consists in arranging each of these
elements so as to satisfy the prescribed conditions.

The choice of ground for a camp must be governed, 1st, by the general
rules respecting military positions, and, 2d, by other rules peculiar to
themselves, for they may be variously arranged in a manner more or less
suitable on the same position.

That the ground be suitable for defence, is the first and highest

It should also be commodious and dry: moist ground in the vicinity of
swamps and stagnant waters, would endanger the health of the army: for
the same reason it should not be subject to overflow or to become marshy
by heavy rains, and the melting of snow.

The proximity of good roads, canals, or navigable streams, is important
for furnishing the soldiers with all the necessaries of life.

The proximity of woods is also desirable for furnishing firewood,
materials for huts, for repairs of military equipments, for works of
defence, &c.

Good water within a convenient distance, is also an essential element in
the choice of ground for a camp; without this the soldiers' health is
soon undermined. The proximity of running streams is also important for
the purposes of washing and bathing, and for carrying off the filth of
the camp.

The camp should not be so placed as to be enfiladed or commanded by any
point within long cannon range; if bordering on a river or smaller
stream, there should be space enough between them to form in order of
battle; the communications in rear should offer the means of retreating
in case of necessity, but should not afford facilities to the enemy to
make his attack on that side.

If the camp is to be occupied for a considerable length of time, as for
_cantonments_ or _winter-quarters_, the greater must be the care in
selecting its position and in the arrangement for the health and comfort
of the soldiers. In the latter case, (of winter-quarters,) the
engineer's art should always be called in play to form intrenchments,
lines of abattis, inundations, &c., to render the position as difficult
of access to the enemy as possible.

A _bivouac_ is the most simple kind of camp. It consists merely of lines
of fires, and huts for the officers and soldiers. These huts may be made
of straw, of wood obtained from the forest, or by dismantling houses and
other buildings in the vicinity of the camp, and stripping them of their
timbers, doors, floors, &c. Troops may be kept in bivouac for a few
days, when in the vicinity of the enemy, but the exposure of the soldier
in ordinary bivouacs, especially in the rainy seasons or in a rigorous
climate, is exceedingly destructive of human life, and moreover leads to
much distress to the inhabitants of the country occupied, in the
destruction of their dwellings and the most common necessaries of life.
If the position is to be occupied for any length of time, the huts
should be arranged like tents, according to a regular system, and made
comfortable for the troops. Such should always be the system adopted in
camps of practice or manoeuvre, in cantonments, winter-quarters, or in
intrenched positions.

We have adopted in our service the system of encamping in tents. These
may do very well under the ordinary circumstances; but in the active
operations of a campaign they are exceedingly objectionable, as greatly
encumbering the baggage-trains. It would seem preferable to resort to
bivouacs for the temporary camp of a single night, and to construct a
regular system of huts where a position is to be occupied for any length
of time. This may be regarded as a general rule, but in certain
countries and climates, the tent becomes almost indispensable.

Napoleon's views on this subject are certainly interesting, if not
decisive of the question: "Tents," says he, "are not wholesome. It is
better for the soldier to bivouac, because he can sleep with his feet
towards the fire; he may shelter himself from the wind with a few boards
or a little straw. The ground upon which he lies will be rapidly dried
in the vicinity of the fire. Tents are necessary for the superior
officers, who have occasion to read and consult maps, and who ought to
be ordered never to sleep in a house - a fatal abuse, which has given
rise to so many disasters. All the European nations have so far followed
the example of the French as to discard their tents; and if they be
still used in camps of mere parade, it is because they are economical,
sparing woods, thatched roofs, and villages. The shade of a tree,
against the heat of the sun, and any sorry shelter whatever, against the
rain, are preferable to tents. The carriage of the tents for each
battalion would load five horses, who would be much better employed in
carrying provisions. Tents are a subject of observation for the enemies'
spies and officers of the staff: they give them an insight into your
numbers, and the position that you occupy; and this inconvenience occurs
every day, and every instant in the day. An army ranged in two or three
lines of bivouac is only to be perceived at a distance by the smoke,
which the enemy may mistake for the vapor of the atmosphere. It is
impossible to count the number of fires; it is easy, however, to count
the number of tents, and to trace out the position that they occupy."

The guarding of camps is a very important matter, and requires much

The _camp-guard_ consists of one or two rows of sentinels placed around
the camp, and relieved at regular intervals. The number of rows of
sentinels, and the distance between each man, will depend upon the
character of the ground and the degree of danger apprehended.

Detachments of infantry and cavalry, denominated picquets, are also
thrown out in front and on the flanks, which, in connection with the
camp-guards, serve to keep good order and discipline in and around the
camp, to prevent desertions, intercept reconnoitering parties, and to
give timely notice of the enemy's approach.

Still larger detachments, denominated _grand-guards_, are posted in the
surrounding villages, farm-houses, or small field-works, which they
occupy as outposts, and from which they can watch the movements of the
enemy, and prevent any attempts to surprise the camp. They detach
patrols, videttes, and sentries, to furnish timely notice of danger.
They should never be so far from the camp as to be beyond succor in case
of sudden attack. Outposts, when too far advanced, are sometimes
destroyed without being able to give notice of the enemy's approach.

In encamping troops in winter-quarters, it is sometimes necessary to
scatter them over a considerable extent of ground, in order to
facilitate their subsistence. In such a case, the arrangement of guards
requires the utmost care. A chain of advanced posts should be placed
several miles' distance from the line of camp; these posts should be
supported by other and larger detachments in their rear, and
concentrated on fewer points; and the whole country around should be
continually reconnoitered by patrols of cavalry.

The manner in which Napoleon quartered and wintered his army on the
Passarge, in 1806-7, furnishes a useful lesson to military men, both in
the matters of encampment and subsistence. An immense army of men were
here quartered and subsisted, in a most rigorous climate, with a not
over fertile soil, in the midst of hostile nations, and in the very face
of a most powerful enemy.

A Roman army invariably encamped in the same order, its troops being
always drawn up in the same battle array. A Roman staff-officer who
marked out an encampment, performed nothing more than a mechanical
operation; he had no occasion for much genius or experience. The form of
the camps was a square. In later times, they sometimes, in imitation of
the Greeks, made them circular, or adapted them to the ground. The camp
was always surrounded with a ditch and rampart, and divided into two
parts by a broad street, and into subdivisions by cross-streets and
alleys. Each tent was calculated to hold ten privates and a petty

In the middle ages, the form of the camp did not differ very essentially
from that of the Romans, the variation consisting principally in the
interior arrangements, these arrangements being made to correspond to
the existing mode of forming a line of battle. The details of this
system may be found in the military work of Machiavelli.

The art of fixing a camp in modern times is the same as taking up a line
of battle on the same position. Of all the projectile machines must be
in play and favorably placed. The position must neither be commanded,
out-fronted, nor surrounded; but on the contrary ought, as far as
possible, to command and out-front the enemy's position. But even in the
same position there are numerous modes of arranging an encampment, or of

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 8 of 35)