Modern weapons and modern war, being an abridgment of The war of the future in its technical, economic and political relations, with a prefatory conversation with the author online

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to their strength in time of peace in former times
was very different. Wars formerly were carried on by
standing armies consisting mainly of long service soldiers.
The armies employed in future wars will be composed
mainly of soldiers taken directly from peaceful occupations.
Among the older soldiers will be vast numbers of heads of
families torn from their homes, their families and their
work. The economic life of whole peoples will stand
still, communications will be cut, and if war be prolonged
over the greater part of a year, general bankruptcy, with
famine and all its worst consequences, will ensue. To
cast light on the nature of a prolonged war from all
sides, military knowledge alone is not enough. The
study and knowledge of economic laws and conditions
which have no direct connection with military specialism
is no less essential.

Consideration of the question is made all the more
difficult by the fact that the direction of military affairs
belongs to the privileged ranks of society. The opinions
expressed by non-specialists as to the improbabilit}' of
great wars in the future, are refuted by authorities simply


by the declaration that laymen are ignorant of the subject.
^Iilita^y men cannot admit to be unnecessary that which
forms the object of their activity in time of peace. They
have been educated on the history of warfare, and
practical work develops in them energy and capacity for
self-sacrifice. Nevertheless, such authorities are not in a
position to paint a complete picture of the disasters of a
future war. Those radical changes which have taken
place in the military art, in the composition of armies,
and in international ccononi}', are so vast that a powerful
imagination would be required adequately to depict the
consequences of war, both on the field of battle and in
the lives of peoples.

Yet it cannot be denied that popular discontent with
the present condition of affairs is becoming more and
more keenly noticeable. Formerly only solitary voices
were raised against militarism, and their protests were
platonic. But since the adoption of conscription the
interests of the army have been more closely bound with
the interests of society, and the disasters which must be
expected under modern conditions have been better
appreciated by the people.

It is impossible, therefore, not to foresee the constant
growth of the anti-military propaganda, the moral founda-
tions of which were not so indisputable in the past as they
are to-day. To this moral sentiment has lately been
added a consciousness of the complexity of the business
relations threatened by war, of the immense increase of
means of destruction, and of the deficiency of experienced
leadership and the ignorance and cloudiness now pre-
vailing on the subject of war.

All these tend to make the people see in war a misfor-
tune truly terrifying. And if, even in the past, it was
found that the sentiments of peoples are more powerful
than any force, how much more so now, when in the
majority of states the masses indirectly share in the
government, and when everywhere exist strong tendencies
threatening the whole social order. How much more
significant now are the opinions of the people both directly


as to the system of militarism and in their influence on the
spirit of armies themselves !

It is impossible here even to outline the energetic
struggle against militarism which is being carried on in
the West. It is true that the advocates of the settlement
of international disputes by peaceful means have not
attained any tangible success. But success, it must be
admitted, they have had if the fact is taken into account
that the necessity of maintaining jx^ace has been recog-
nised by governments, and that dread of the terrible
disasters of war has been openly expressed by statesmen,
and emphasised even from the height of thrones.

As a chief factor tending to preserve the system of mili-
tarism the existence of a professional military class must be
considered. It is true, that the changes which have taken
place under the influence of conscription and short service
have given to armies a popular character. On the mobili-
sation of armies a considerable proportion of officers will
be taken from the reserve : these oflicers cannot be con-
sidered professional. Nevertheless, a military professional
class continues to exist, consisting mainly of oflicers
serving with the colours.

It is natural that the existence of such a numerous and
influential class, which — in Prussia, for instance — is partly
hereditary, a class in which are found many men of high
culture, should be one of the elements supporting the
system of militarism, even independently of its other
foundations. Even if the conviction were generally
accepted that it is impossible to carry on war with modern
methods of destruction and in view of the inevitable
disasters, yet disarmament would be somewhat delayed
by the existence of the military caste, which would con-
tinue to declare that war is inevitable, and that even the
decrease of standing armies would be accompanied by th**
greatest dangers.

It must be admitted that from the nature of modern
life, the power and influence of this class will tend to
decrease rather than increase. The conditions of war
are such that military life is much less attractive than it


was of old, and in the course of a few years will be even
less attractive. In the far past the military class pre-
ponderated in the state and the very nobility, as in Rome,
and at the beginning of the Middle Ages was formed of
knights (Equites, Ritter, Chevaliers). The carrying on of
constant wars in the period embraced by modern history
created anew a military profession enjoying a privileged

But changes which have taken place in political and
social conditions, the increased importance of knowledge,
industry, capital, and finally, the immense numbers of the
military class, considerably reduced its privileges in society.
Rivalry in the acquisition of means for the satisfaction of
more complex requirements has caused the majority of
educated people to see in military service an ungrateful
career. And, indeed, tlicre is no other form of exacting
activity which pays so badly as the military profession.
Owing to the immense growth of armies, governments
cannot find the means for improving the position of officers
and their families, and a deficiency in officers is every-
where felt.

Thus, insufficient recompense will inevitably result in
the military profession losing all its best forces, all the
more so because the fascination for society of persons
bearing arms has departed. The movement against
militarism leads to views diametrically opposite. Modern
ideals every day see less to sympathise wnth in the old
ideals of distinction in battle, and glory of conquest.
Everywhere the idea spreads that the efforts of all ought
to be devoted to the lessening of the sum of physical and
moral suffering. The immense expenditure on the main-
tenance of armies and fleets and the building and equip-
ment of fortresses, acts powerfully in the spreading of such
sentiments. Everywhere we hear complaints that mili-
tarism sucks the blood of all — as it has been expressed,
" in place of ears of corn the fields produce bayonets and
sabres, and shells instead of fruit grow on the trees."
Those who adopt the military career are, of course, not
responsible for these conditions, which they did not create


and wliich react injuriously on themselves. But popular
movements do not analyse motives, and discontent with
militarism is inevitably transferred to the military class.

It might be replied that scholars, too, are often ill
rewarded, notwithstanding which they continue their
work. But every scholar is sustained by the high in-
terests of his work, by the hope of perpetuating his
name, and finally, by the chance of enriching himself
upon success. The position of ofiicers is very different.
For an insignificant salary they bear the burden of a
petty and monotonous work. Year after year the same
labour continues. Hope of distinction in war is not,
for none believe in the nearness of war. For an officer
with an average education the limit of ambition is the
command of a company. The command of a battalion
little improves his position. For the command of regi-
ments and larger bodies of troops, academical education
is required.

But even among those officers who console themselves
with the thought that war will break out, presenting
occasion for distinction, there is little hope of attaining
the desired promotion. Wc have had many opportunities
for conversing with military men of different nationalities,
and everywhere we were met with the conviction that in a
future war few would escape. With a smokeless field of
battle, accuracy of tire, the necessity for showing example
to the rank and file, and the rule of killing off all the officers
first, there is but little chance of returning home uninjured.

The times are passed when officers rushing on in
advance led tiieir men in a bold charge against the enemy,
or when squadrons seeing an ill-defended battery galloped
up to it, sabred the gunners, and spiked the guns or flung
them into ditches. Courage now is required no less than
before, but this is the courage of restraint and self-
sacrifice and no longer scenic heroism. War has taken
a character more mechanical than knightly. Personal
initiative is required not less than before, but it is no
longer visible to all.

It is true that warfare and the military profession will


continue to preserve their attractions for such restless,
uncurbed natures as cannot reconcile themselves to a
laborious and regular life, finding a charm in danger
itself. But even these will find that the stormy military
life and feverish activity of battle are no more surrounded
by the aureole which once set them above the w(5rld of

It is notable that the younger and the better educated
they are, the more pessimistically do officers look on war.
And although military men do not speak against warfare
publicly, for this would be incompatible with their calling,
it cannot escape attention that every year fewer and fewer
stand up in defence of its necessity or use.

As the popularity of war decreases on all sides, it is
impossible not to foresee that a time will approach when
European governments can no longer rely on the regular
payment of taxes for the covering of military expenditure.
The extraordinary resource which has been opened by
means of conversion of loans — that is, by the lowering of
the rate of interest — will soon disappear. In 1894 a sum
of five hundred and twenty millions of pounds sterling was
converted, meaning for the proprietors of the securities
a loss of four millions seven hundred and sixty thousand
of pounds. To defend themselves against this, capitalists
have rushed into industry. In Europe, in recent times,
industrial undertakings have immensely increased, and a
vast number of joint-stock companies has been formed.
The Conservative classes, considered as the best support
of authority, foreseeing the loss of income, dispose of their
Government securities and invest in industrial securities,
which bring a better dividend. State securities tend to
fall more and more into the hands of the middle classes —
that is, the classes which live on incomes derived from
work, but who are nevertheless in a position to save.

These changes tend to make the economic convulsions
caused by war far greater than those which have been
experienced in the past. The fall in the value of Govern-
ment securities at the very time when, owing to the stop-
page of work, many will be compelled to realise, must cause



losses which will be intensely felt by the middle classes and
cause a panic. And, as out of the number of industrial
undertakings some must reduce their production and lose
their profit and others altogether cease to work, the richer
classes will suflcr j^'reat losses and many even ruin.

A detailed examination of the vexed questions of
Europe would lead to the conclusion that not one is of
such a nature to cause a great war. France has no ally
in an ofTensive war for the recovery of her lost provinces,
and singlc-handcii she cannot be assured of success.
From an ofl'cnsivc war over the Eastern question neither
Russia nor Austria could tiraw compx:nsatory advantages,
and such a war, wiiich in all probability would involve tfie
participation of England, France, Germany and Italy,
wouKl lead only to exhaustion of forces. Germany cannot
think of attacking France, while out of an oftcnsive war
with Russia she could draw no profit.

Of new territory in the West, Russia also has no need,
and a war with Germany would involve such immense
expenditure as could hardly be covered by an indemnity,
all the more so because, exhausted as she would be by a
struggle with Russia, Germany couKl not pay an indemnity
corresponding to the case. Generally, the political question
for Russia lies in the Far East and not in the West.

As concerns other possible pretexts for war, exa-
mination would show that, in the picsent conditions of
Europe, none are of suflicient gravity to cause a war
threatening the combatants with mutual annihilation or
complete exhaustion, nor need those moral misunder-
standings and rivalries which exist between European
states be seriously considered. It cannot be supposed
that nations would determine to exterminate one another
merely to show their superiority, or to avenge offences
committed by individuals belonging to one nation against
individuals belonging to another. Thus a consideration
of all the reasonable causes of war would show that not
one was probable.

But even if peace were assured for an indefinite time
the very preparations made, the maintenance of armed


forces, and constant rearmaments, would require every
year still greater and greater sacrifices. Yet every day
new needs arise and old needs are made clearer to the
popular mind. These needs remain unsatisfied, though
the burden of taxation continually grows. And the
recognition of these evils by the people constitutes a
serious danger for the state.

In our time both military and political affairs have
ceased to be high mysteries accessible only to the few.
General military service, the spread of education, and
wide publicity have made the elements of the polities of
states accessible to all. All who have passed through the
ranks of an army have recognised that with modern
wcajx)ns whole corps and squadrons may be destroyed
in the first battle, and that in this respect the conquerors
will suflier little less than the conquered.

Can it be possible that the growth of expenditure on
armaments will continue for ever ? To the inventiveness
of the human mind and the rivalry between states no
limits exist. It is not surprising therefore that the
immense expenditure on military aims and the conse-
quent growth of taxation are the favourite arguments of
agitators, who declare that the institutions of the Middle
Ages — when from thousands of castles armed knights
pounced upon passing merchants — were less burdensome
than modern preparations for war.

The exact disposition of the masses in relation to
armaments is shown by the increase in the number of
opponents of militarism and preachers of the Socialist
propaganda. In Germany in 1893, the opponents of tlie
new military project received 1,097,000 votes more than
its supporters. Between 1887 and 1893 ^^^ opposition
against militarism increased more than seven times. In
France the Socialist party in 1893 received 600,000 votes,
and in 1896, 1,000,000.

Thus, if the present conditions continue, there can be
but two alternatives, either ruin from the continuance of
the armed peace, or a veritable catastrophe from war.

The question is naturally asked : What will be given to


the people after war as compensation for their immense
losses ? The conquered certainly will be too exhausted
to pay any money indemnity, and compensation must be
taken by the retention of frontier territories which will be
so impoverished by war that their acquisition will be a
loss rather than a gain.

With such conditions can we hope for good sense
among millions of men when but a handful of their former
ofikcrs remain ? Will the armies of Western Europe,
where the Socialist propaganda has already spread among
the masses, allow themselves to be disarmed, and if not,
must we not expect even greater disasters than those
which marked the short-lived triumph of the Paris
Commune ? The longer the present position of affairs
continues the greater is the probability of such convul-
sions after the close of a great war. It cannot be denied
that conscription, by taking from productive occupations a
greater number of men than the former conditions of
service, has increased the jwpularity of subversive princi-
ples among the masses. Formerly only Socialists were
known ; now Anarchism has arisen. Not long ago the
advocates of revolution were a handful ; now they have
their representatives in all parliaments, and every new
election increases their number in Germany, in F'rance, in
Austria, and in Italy. It is a strange coincidence that
only in England and in the United States, where conscrip-
tion is unknown, are representative assemblies free from
these elements of tlisintcgration. Thus side by side with
the growth of military burdens rise waves of popular dis-
content threatening a social revolution.

Such are the consequences of the so-called armed peace
of Europe — slow destruction in consequence of expendi-
ture on preparations for war, or swift destruction in the
event of war — in both events convulsions in the social


Agricultural Class (see names of Countries)

Algiers, F"rench Army in, defective ambulance arrangements, 155

Alsace-Lorraine :

Loss of, ultimate economic benefit to France, 277, 278

Russian Alliance, probable effect on, of return of provinces by
Germany, 90
Aluminium, vessels constructed with, impenetrability alleged, 102
Ambulance work (see title Wounded)
Ammunition (see title Artillery)
American Civil War:

Armoured ships, final supersession of wooden ships, 96

Expenditure, 130

Losses, 343-345

Overcharged rifles found on field of battle, 21

Wheat, rise in price, 295
Anarchism, spread of, effect on militarism, 347, 356
Arms, Small :

Bayonet, reliance on, impossible in modem warfare, 33, 34

Chassepot, effectiveness of fire compared with modern rifle, 5,


Improvements in, 4 :

Increased number of casualties resulting, 319-329

Renewal in time of war, 307

Rifles (see that title)

Russia, manufacture in, 242, 243, 307
Artillery and Artillery Ammunition :

Amount effective for war, 63

Bombs :

Illuminating, used in night attack, 52
Improvements since Franco-Prussian war, 9

Coast batteries, fire from, ineffectiveness, 104

Destructiveness, calculations as to possibilities, 20

Electric projectile used in night attack, 52

Entrenchments, time taken in construction, 45

Explosion, premature, danger of, 20, 21, 22

Fire over heads of advancing troops, dangers attending, 334

Gases, extent of direct action, 22


Artillery and Artillcr>' ammunition {continued) :
Guns :

Cost of firing, 99, loo

Effect on future warfare, 8

Number of rounds required, 20

Russian factnry at Obukovsk, 308
Improvements in, 7-19, 38, 329

Ner\'es, stram on, in dealing with highly explosive ammuni-
tion, 21
I'reliminary anion, l)cfore infantr)' attack suggested, 32
KmIc in future warfare, 17 23
Shells :

Decreased use of, in future warfare, 9

Increase iii dcstruciivrness since Franco- Prussian war, 9

Premature explosion, danger of, 20
Shrapnel :

Area of dispersal, 8

Destrucliveness, 8, 9, 329
Wounds caused by artillcr>' fire, 14S, 149. 152
Attack :

Artillery, losses inflicted by, 10
Cavalry, 50

Difficulties under modem conditions, 337-340
Direct, rarity of, 4;

European armies, comparative efficiency, 62
Infantr)-, defects t-f modern tactics, 25 34
Loose formation, 5
Nifjht attack, 50
" Auf tier Schwelle des Kriegs," statement as to food supplies in

time of war, 302, 303
Austria :

Agricultural Class ;

Earnings, 314

Proportion of population, 317
Attack and defence, < fficiency in, 62
Bachelors, percentage, 290
Coal supply, 306, 307
Crime, convictions, 232, 237
Danish war, expenditure, 130
Declaration of war improbable, 354
Drunkenness, statistics, 229, 230
Expenditure on Amiy and Navy, 133-138

Future war, estimates, 142, 143. 144
Fires, losses by, 192

Food supply, sufficient in event of war, 302
France, war with, expenditure on, 130
Frontier defences, expenuiture on, $7
Grain Supply :

Home production and import, 295, 296, 297


Austria {continueif) :
Grain Supply :

Inequalities of harvests, 301

Oats, home production, 297, 298

Price, rise in, probable, in event of war, 141
Horses for military purposes, statistics, 316
Infantr)', re-armament, estimated cost, 5
Kerosene supply, deficiency, 305, 306
Marriages, statistics, 208
Meat supply, superfluity, 303, 304
Military strenj^th, 36, 63, 318
Naval expenditure, 133, 137, 13S

Russian compared with, 125
Officers, proportion possessing good preparatory training;, 43
Population, increase, 292

Old men and children, percentage, 2S9

Town and country, comparison, 193
Reserve, proportion to be drawn upon, 42, 336
Revenue, distribution, 145, 146
Rifle, calibre adopted, 319

Russo-Austro-German war of the future (see that title)
Salt supply, superfluity, 304, 305
Sappers, number in army, i^^i
Securities held in Gennany, 275, 276

Bachelors, proportion to population in leading European States,

Baker, Sir F., on probable effect of war on people of England, 313
Baltic Fleet, introduction of steam, 95

Bardleben, Professor, on destructiveness of modem rifles, 15 1
Battles :

Accidental, description of, 46

Area, increased by modern conditions, 5, 39

Descriptions of future battles, 47, 48

Duration, prolonged, 52, 337, 338

Indecisive, probable increase in number, 49, 338

Opening from great distance, 5
Bayonet, reliance on in modern warfare impossible, 33, 34
Beck, Dr., on humanity of modern bullets, 150
Belgium :

Crime, statistics, 232

Drunkenness, 229, 230

Fires, losses by, 192, 193

Frontier defences, expenditure, 57

Rifles, experiments with, 4
Berdan Rifle :

Cartridges, number carried, 328

Range of fire, 6


Beresford, Lord Charles, on food supply in England, in time of war,

IJiiroth, Professor, on aid to wounded, 156
liircher, experiments in rifle fire, 152
Births :

France, low rate, 288, 292
Illegitimate, statistics, 225

Russia, rate compared with other countries, 207, 208
Bismarck, Prince :

Russian designs against Germany, report spread by, 136
Sea and land victories, statement as to comparative im-
portance, 122
Black Sea Fleet, composition, 95
Blockade of ships in ports and harbours, 104, 105
Bombardment (see Naval Warfare)
Bombs, 9, 52

Boots, defective, supplied in the Russo-Turkish war, 158
Bones, penetrative power of bullets, 153

Botkin, Professor, on defective ambulance arrangements in Russo-
Turkish war, 154
Brest- Litousk, strategical importance, 71, 79, 80, 82
Brialmont, General, on :

Fortresses, investment, 55
Franco-German War of the future, 65

Economic effect of war. 163

Route of attack by Austro-German Army, probable, 76, 78
Sappers, number retiuired in anny, 333
Brisant shell, desiructivcncss, 9
Bruns, Herr, on modern bullets, 150, 151
Bullets :

Penetrative power, 3, 6, 149, 319

Revolution and deformation, destructiveness affected by, 322,

Wounds (see title Rifle Wounds)
Bunge. M. N. H., on fluctuation in Russian securities, 166
Burdeau, M., on abandonment of investigation of economic condi-
tions accompanying war, 91

Canada, losses by fires, statistics, 192, 193
Captains, importance in modern warfare, 38
Cartridges :

Explosion, premature risk of, 21, 22

Supply carried by modern soldiers, 5-7, 328
Casualties, increase in, 5, 319-346
Cattle-breeding, 303, 304

England, 254-256

Russia, 198-201,303, 304


Cavalry, role in modem warfare, 1 1

Attack, 14, 50

Losses under fire, comparison with infantry, 14

Online LibraryUnknownModern weapons and modern war, being an abridgment of The war of the future in its technical, economic and political relations, with a prefatory conversation with the author → online text (page 29 of 31)