667. A rest of ten minutes should be allowed the men every hour. These rests should take place near water, or some stream, and the hour’s march may be shortened or lengthened a few minutes to reach water. If the column is small, the men may be permitted to pick their way across streams, but in a large column there should be no delay; the stream must be forded without stopping. The march should commence sufficiently early to reach camp, and give time for the men to make themselves comfortable before night (this supposes the absence of an enemy, or at least not in the vicinity of a foe). When expecting to engage the enemy, Infantry must expect to march, and bivouac at all hours, and on the shortest notice.
668. The column should be closed up just previous to each halt, by calling the command to attention, and closing up the files before resting. When passing a stream, or other obstacle that requires delay, the leading files of each company move far enough beyond, to allow room for the company to form, and when the entire company is past the obstacle, it moves on to its position in the column, and halts for the other companies—the leading company having moved forward a sufficient distance to permit the column to close up in the same way, until all have passed the obstacle. Such a delay should be counted as a rest. In moving off from a halt or rest during the first hundred yards, the “close order” should be preserved. Small commands do not require so much attention and system in marching as large ones.
669. When in proximity to the enemy, it is a wise precaution to have the means, and to use the opportunity to entrench. Each file of soldiers should be provided with a small short-handled shovel, a few with axes and picks, and in a very short time a line sufficiently strong to guard against a sudden attack, and which will enable the soldier to sleep in security, is placed between them and the enemy. This idea heretofore objected to as demoralizing to good troops, became the habit of both armies, during the Rebellion. When confronting each other, they both entrenched every night, and every day, during a halt.
670. Infantry does not require many conditions for a camp ground for one night; it can camp on any kind of ground, but much may be done in the way of comfort in the selection and disposition for camp. It is essential to a long march the following day, that it should be immediately preceded by a good night’s rest. The utmost care should, therefore, be taken to get the best ground possible for camping. Woods are always preferable to open fields for temporary camping places. They are a shelter against sun in warm weather, and against cold winds, and furnish fuel with the least labor to the men; they are also excellent cover for the troops in case of attack.
671. The great increase of range in small arms has diminished the importance, both of Cavalry and Artillery, whilst the value of Infantry has been immensely increased. Cavalry and Artillery are both helpless under a well directed Infantry fire at long range. The introduction of repeating arms has also diminished the efficiency of Cavalry in an attack; for long before it has passed over the usual charging distance, it is thrown into irremediable confusion by the rapidity with which Infantry can fire, when armed with long-ranged repeating arms.
672. A change in the character of the arms always renders a different application of the general principles of strategy and grand tactics necessary; and Infantry is likely to become still more important in our armies, whilst our Cavalry will, in all probability, tend towards Mounted Infantry in its future character. The Infantry will tend toward a single rank formation through the great improvement of firearms. The increased effectiveness of the weapon enables the front of battle to be extended, and the Army which can present the greater front has the better chance of flanking, and thus gaining the victory.
673. The organization of a Corps of Sharpshooters in every column of Infantry is an important feature growing out of the use of improved small arms. It is formed of the best marksmen in the command, armed with delicately-sighted and superior rifles for accurate shooting; they are provided with suitable officers, in proportion to the number of men, and organized into temporary companies, under the immediate command and direction of the Infantry Commander. They should be relieved from the harder duties of Infantry, and provided with the materials for digging rifle-pits, and for throwing up obstacles for concealment, and should be clothed in a uniform of neutral color, so as not to be easily discovered at a distance. To render this branch of the service perfect, the successful application of Gun-Cotton, or some other explosive material that will resolve itself into an imperceptible gas, is necessary, as the smoke of gunpowder reveals the position of the Sharpshooter, when he cannot be otherwise observed.
674. Well-drilled skirmishers are an important feature of every command, and the entire force should be thoroughly instructed in this branch of tactics. It is with the skirmishers that the Sharpshooters operate and perform their most important service; the skirmishers serve as a support to the Sharpshooters, and thus united, it is only by assault that their operations are interfered with. They are dispersed along the line of skirmishers or pickets, at favorable points, and prevent observation and reconnaissance on the part of the enemy, and conceal the movements of the main column.
675. The first requirement of good Infantry is to march, and reach the point of action before the enemy can prepare to meet it; the next is that of being able to fire with the fullest effect, when the point of action has been reached. The main obstacle to the former is the necessity of eating and sleeping; there is no obstacle to the latter that cannot be overcome by exercise and discipline.
676. Hence, all that has been said tends to direct the Infantry Commander to these points. He must, by exercise, instruction, and discipline, seek to keep his command in such a condition, that he can at any time perform the greatest possible march. He must exercise the men to fire accurately, that they may have confidence in themselves, and in their weapons. Then if he can arrange to feed them, through his Commissary and Quartermaster, he can go anywhere with his command, and is independent of the other arms, and is indifferent to the enemy.
677. But to do this he must be indefatigable in his attention to his command, and fail in no duty toward it on his part. There must be no short rations, or insufficient clothing, by fault of his; if such things do occur, the men must feel that the failures in their supplies are unavoidable. He must be able to inspire the men with confidence in himself and a special love for the Infantry, and a belief in the superiority of this branch of the service over all others. He must be constantly with his command, and share its fortunes under all circumstances, and be ever present to supply every want.
678. By getting complete physical and moral control over his troops, the Infantry Commander will always be ready for those rare opportunities of obtaining a renown for himself and his command, that are lost forever, unless anticipated by being ready. He will win the love and devotion of his men without a single concession on his part, by the simple fact that he has done his duty well.
679. The movements of Infantry are comparatively slow, and there is plenty of time for the preparation of plans, and if well matured, disaster seldom occurs. The data for calculation is more reliable in Infantry than in Cavalry, and the chances of misfortune much less. A few mounted men are necessary to every Infantry command, depending in numbers upon the size. It is better to select light men, who have a knowledge of horses, from the ranks of the Infantry, and mount them on public horses, and equip them with pistol and sabre, to act as couriers and messengers, to transmit intelligence, than to have a complete organization, or detachment of Cavalry, for it will be constantly liable to be called away by superior authority, or required to join its proper organization, whilst the couriers detailed, as suggested, will always be in the command where they belong.
680. Infantry is of little avail against Indians or Guerrillas, except in a very mountainous or wooded country, where it may sometimes be superior to Cavalry—depending, however, greatly upon the nature and extent of such country. Where short and very rapid pursuits are necessary, Infantry is of little service; but thoroughly trained in good light marching order, it will break down a Cavalry column on a long march. The great difficulty in pursuing Indians is the necessity of carrying so much subsistence and ammunition to support the pursuit, whilst the Indians are usually mounted, or if not mounted, they are lightly equipped, and manage to live on the country, which white troops find it difficult to do.
681. If the country will subsist the troops, and furnish bread and meat from day to day, Infantry is the arm to be used, and it is the peculiar province of the Commander to encourage the men, and make them endure a temporary short allowance and great fatigue to accomplish a decisive triumph; for the Army which possesses the greatest perseverance and endurance, will often gain the victory, although perhaps unequal in most other respects. A successful pursuit of a flying foe is always long and arduous, and is most frequently won by the tenacity with which it is kept up.
682. The simpler the preparations and plan of battle, the more certain the success; combinations fail most frequently, in proportion to their intricacy. The simplest is the single line of battle, with a reserve. The reserve should not be less than one-third of the entire force, and disposed opposite the center, in a second parallel line, so as to be able also to support either flank. Then if the first line should give way at any point, the reserve may be used to sustain the break.
683. If the Commander finds, however, that the main line can hold its own long enough, and particularly if he finds the enemy has deployed all his force, the reserve should be moved at once to one of the flanks, and endeavor to turn the position; if the reserve succeeds, the battle is gained, and it will be decisive in proportion to the energy with which the vanquished are followed up.
684. The division of the main force into two or more parts, co-operating from diverse points against the same enemy, should be avoided if possible, unless each force is considered either equal to or capable of holding the enemy in check. The use of three or more lines is excess of precaution; and if the result is sufficiently doubtful to adopt it, the battle should not be fought. It is not possible, however, to give in this text a discussion of the various orders of battle, but it was thought necessary to allude to some modifications that have been made in the most recent wars.
685. It is quite as necessary for the Commander to feel certain of the temper of his men, as it is for them to have confidence in him. The troops should never be taken into action if hungry or wearied, if possible to avoid it; if fires must be prohibited, and coffee cannot be prepared, let the men rest long enough to eat a little luncheon. The issue of whiskey is not recommended, except after a very fatiguing march, to be succeeded by an immediate assault, and where there will not be time to prepare coffee, for coffee is always better than whiskey.
686. The government of Infantry does not require those rare peculiarities that are needed for Cavalry; still the qualification to command it—that strength and decision of character, and great moral courage, and superior intelligence—are very rare traits possessed only by great men. The means and manner of supplying Infantry do not differ from other arms, except in the character of some of the materials.
687. CAVALRY.—A Cavalry Commander requires peculiar qualifications, that are far more rare than for any other arm of the service. He should, first of all, be young, and of fine physical qualities, capable of enduring great fatigue. He should be quick of thought and decision, without being rash; he should be able to form his plans rapidly and clearly, and execute with confidence.
688. He should be devoted to this branch of the service, passionately fond of the horse, unremitting in his care and attention to his command, watching over men and horses, and jealous of their abuse, guarding and protecting them, so that they may be in the best possible condition for the moment of action. When that moment arrives, he should receive it confidently, and should “go in” with a method akin to rashness, counting only on success, and regardless of the cost.
689. The capacity to go from place to place, independent of guides, or with the aid of a map only (that innate knowledge of locality so rarely found), is an essential of the first importance to a Cavalry Commander. He must not be easily misled, and be able to know intuitively whether he is going right or wrong. The whole object of an expedition may fail by a want of capacity to go by the shortest and most available route to the destination; for the main merit of Cavalry is its rapidity of movement, made available by distancing the enemy in seizing a weak point before he can protect it.
690. The improvements in firearms have produced some modifications in the use of Cavalry. It is seldom that Cavalry can approach near enough to charge without being exposed to a destructive fire at long range. The opportunities for the use of the sabre are much more rare; the nature of our country is such that a weaker force can always avoid a stronger mounted force by seeking a wood, or a fence, or a stream, for cover, from which, with the long ranged arm, it can constantly harass its mounted foe as far as it can be seen.
691. This facility to take cover against Cavalry at any time renders it necessary for the Cavalry to be provided with a carbine of long range, so that the horses may be left in rear, and the Cavalry dismount, and act temporarily as Infantry, to overcome obstacles insurmountable for Cavalry; or having availed itself of the rapid movement of the horses to seize a strategic point, that the Cavalry may dismount and hold it like entrenched Infantry; for pure Cavalry cannot hold positions on the defensive—it must either fight to win or run away.
692. In an open country unobstructed by fences, hedges, ravines, or woods, Cavalry is of great service to watch the enemy, to pick up stragglers, carry intelligence, and to harass the enemy. But its chances for charging depend upon the character of the foe, and the nature of their arms. Infantry indifferent in discipline, armed with short range guns, are still assailable by good Cavalry; and good Infantry will cause severe loss to Cavalry, even where successfully attacked; but even the best of Infantry may be surprised and taken unawares.
693. The great merit of Cavalry consists in its celerity of movement; but this does not mean that the horse should be kept constantly at a dashing pace. On the contrary, the habitual gait of Cavalry is a walk. It is only when confronted with the enemy, and where celerity of movement is necessary to be exercised for very short periods to gain definite results, that it is justifiable to urge the horse to greater speed than a walk; then to decide definitely, and execute with rapidity, is the province of the Cavalry leader.
694. It is better on an extended march to keep up a continuous walk for twenty-four hours, than to double the speed and make the same distance in twelve hours. The best horses would fail in the latter case, whilst most horses could do the former without injury. The load which a Cavalry horse must carry defeats any comparison with the saddle horse of the civilian; the equipments that are attached to the saddle, the sabre on one side, and the carbine on the other, the picket rope and pin, the halter, the nose-bag and forage-bag, the haversack and canteen, and often other things disposed about the horse and the men, may all be carried very conveniently at a walk by the horse, but when urged at a trot, or a gallop, are very serious obstacles, and a few miles at those gaits without interruption will soon end his usefulness, even on the best of roads.
695. A march should be conducted, as follows: the column should move out by fours, if possible; otherwise by twos, or by file; but each squadron should regulate its own march; the leading files of each squadron should keep the required gait, which should be a walk on all ordinary marches; squadrons regulate their distances by increasing or slowing the walk gradually; rear files rushing forward at a trot, or gallop, thus crowding on the heels of the horses in front, and then halting suddenly for room to go on, is a great injury to the horses, and an evidence of very bad Cavalry.
696. The Captain or Commander of the squadron should march in rear of his squadron, so as to control the disposition the men have to leave the column on the slightest pretext; none should be allowed to leave, except in cases of absolute necessity, and then the Captain (who should be provided with written permits) should give the proper authority, and it should be required of each man to report his return; otherwise the men will be constantly falling out, and once out of the column and away from the officer, they are liable to commit depredations, or they break their horses down in riding from house to house, or place to place, in search of anything or nothing, with that want of consideration often found among soldiers.
697. Halts need not be frequent, two or three in a day’s march are quite sufficient. Sometimes the obstacles to be passed render halts necessary; and whenever they occur, if only for a few moments, the men should dismount; at such times a few mouthfuls of grass or other food is very refreshing to the horse. The opportunity to water the horses should always be considered and ordered in advance, and should be counted as a halt or rest. On a forced march the horses should not be halted, but they should be relieved fifteen minutes every hour, by dismounting the men, and requiring them to march. For a march of a day more, the walk is the most rapid gait, the Cavalry will go farther in less time, and be in better condition at that gait than any other; the time must be saved by making fewer halts, and marching more hours.
698. On campaigns, the Cavalry is often improperly used. It is a great expense to the Government, although no doubt a great comfort to the Commander of an Army, if he can surround his command with a cordon of Mounted Sentinels, five or six miles out in front of his Infantry pickets; but he can have little knowledge in the use of this auxiliary arm, when he wastes his horse-flesh in so reckless and improvident a manner.
699. The proper place for the Cavalry of an Army is in reserve, so that it may be available in the shortest possible time. If it is out on picket, and widely scattered, the concentration of it fatigues and delays it, and it goes upon the expedition half broken down, and behind time. The rule is never to use the Cavalry where Infantry will do as well or better, and particularly not for picket duty. Infantry is far better for this duty, and only sufficient Cavalry should be used to act as couriers, and to patrol the principal avenues of approach, in connection with the Infantry.
700. Cavalry should not be used as Infantry. Dismounting the men and sending the horses to the rear for days, or even hours, thus separating the two, is a violation of this rule; but it may sometimes be necessary, as when a Cavalry column is pushed forward rapidly to seize a point that can only be held by dismounting; but in such a case Infantry should always be sent as soon as possible to take the place of the dismounted Cavalry. Men and horses cannot be separated any length of time without a proportionate injury to the latter.
701. The embarrassing feature of Cavalry is forage; the horses must be fed, and the feed cannot be transported any great distance, without superior facilities for transportation. In an agricultural district, however, a Cavalry column of almost any size moving through the country will find sufficient to subsist the horses, if a proper system of foraging is adopted. This requires the utmost vigilance. Loosely conducted, it is exceedingly demoralizing and furnishes opportunities for every kind of excesses; especial care should be taken where it may be the policy to conciliate the inhabitants.
702. Recent improvements in arms and equipments have made it necessary that the greater portion of our Cavalry should be armed with repeating carbines and metallic percussion cartridges. The sabre may be dispensed with altogether, or if forming part of the equipment, should be strapped to the saddle. Such a force is almost as formidable as Infantry, and its principal use is to surprise and capture strategic points, and hold them until they can be occupied by the Infantry; they act as skirmishers or flankers to the army when advancing, or retreating. They go into action generally dismounted, and their horses are used only as a means of transportation. Such Cavalry is of special value in a wooded or broken country, where the horses may be covered, and the character of the troops thus concealed from the enemy.
703. Cavalry lightly equipped with sabre and pistol, and used mainly for couriers for carrying intelligence, and watching the enemy, in connection with the Infantry pickets, has not lost its value in this respect, and should be supplied to the Army in proportion to its necessities. The signal branch of the service might be economically united with this arm. But the value of the horse as derived from the force and shock of a charge is fast passing away; as a means of pursuit, of transportation, and rapid movement, he has rather gained than lost in value.
704. ARTILLERY.—Like Cavalry, Artillery is an auxiliary arm, but is less capable of self-defence, and has lost considerable of its importance in field service, in consequence of the improvements in small arms. It forms but a small proportion of an army; it cannot act without one or both the other arms to support it. It requires skilled officers, and in the lower grades furnishes superior opportunities for distinction; but it is not so good a school for the higher grades, as it does not furnish the same opportunities for learning the management of large bodies of troops, as Infantry and Cavalry.
705. Artillery is seldom united in large bodies, and never maneuvers as such. For the purposes of Administration and supply, a Chief of Artillery may have a great many batteries under his supervision, but they are directed on the field of battle by the Commanders of Brigades or Divisions to which they are attached. The heaviest batteries and siege trains are united in a park, and called the “Artillery Reserve,” for the convenience of supply and instruction, but they are rarely maneuvered together.
706. As a branch of the service, it requires all or even more conditions than the Cavalry—good roads, means of passing streams, forage, troops to defend it, etc. Its use is to aid in the destruction of the enemy’s ranks, when making an attack, to destroy his defences, or interrupt the work of making them; and to annoy his operations beyond the range of small arms. It is composed of two kinds, Field Artillery, and Siege Artillery.
707. Field Artillery is used to break the ranks of the enemy, and to break down the lighter kinds of defences, as palisades, fences, abatis, etc. It is of two kinds, foot and horse; the former usually is attached to Infantry, and the latter to Cavalry, in the proportion of two or more guns to one thousand men, depending upon the opportunities for the use of Artillery. Siege Artillery is used in the offensive, to break down the entrenchments of the enemy, and to make way for the assault of the Infantry; or in the defensive, to protect entrenchments by destroying the enemy before he can reach them. It follows in the rear of the army, beyond the danger of capture; and it is brought up to man forts, or aid in a siege.
708. The Artillery service is the least fatiguing, and in the main, the least dangerous branch of the service for the private soldier, for he is seldom on grand guard duty, and in action, is less frequently closely engaged. The men are often called upon to entrench their battery, but generally they have the Infantry to assist them in the principal part of the work. It is, however, a continual task for them to take care of the horses and material of the Battery, and keep them constantly in condition for active service.
709. A Commander of one or several Batteries requires to be a man of scientific attainments, and to possess a thorough knowledge of the Military art. He must understand theoretically and practically all about his own branch of the service, and particularly the peculiarities of the guns used in his own command. He must be to a certain extent an engineer, in order to entrench his guns, and know the vulnerable points of the enemy’s entrenchments. He must be a tactician, in order to know the position of his battery, with reference to his supports, and to detect the formations of the enemy most favorable for the effect of his guns.
710. Artillery requires unremitting attention; the horses require all the care enjoined on Cavalry; the equipments and ammunition need the greatest care, to keep them in order; the men and horses require thorough instructions and discipline, and constant exercise to keep them in condition for field service. On the march, the horses should be relieved as much as possible, and every precaution taken to prevent the men from loading prohibited articles on the Artillery carriages; the men should ride as little as possible on the boxes, and only when necessary to facilitate the movements of the Battery. The Artillery is generally placed in the column on the march, by Batteries, so as to be duly protected in front and in rear.
711. In action is when the Artillery officer most displays his fitness for the duty; if at such a time amid the noise of his own guns, the tearing and bursting of the enemy’s shot, the plunging of frightened and injured horses and the embarrassment of dead ones, the blinding smoke and general uproar, he can preserve all his faculties unimpaired, and remember all the principles involved in the management of his guns, so as to direct the range and kind of shot to be used, and watch over the men to see that in their excitement they do not make any mistakes of a fatal nature, he will have accomplished the highest qualifications of an Artillery officer.
712. The administration of Artillery requires that in every command where there is more than one Battery, and more particularly if there are a number, a Chief of Artillery should be appointed, who acts as the mouth-piece of the Commander in the direction and administration of them all, in order to anticipate their wants, and provide them with the proper amount and kind of ammunition and materials, that they may always be in an efficient condition. (Act July 17, 1862, § 10.) The same general principles apply, in the matter of supply and repair, as to the other arms.
713. In our service, Artillery Regiments are mainly organized, and do duty as Infantry, in time of peace; it has been the custom to have but two Companies equipped as Light Batteries. The troops are generally stationed in the Forts, and fortified places on the sea-coast, and have the care of the fortifications, and the armaments thereof. The exercises are confined principally to instructions in Heavy Artillery tactics, and Infantry tactics. Most of the Artillery Companies are armed with muskets.
714. It has been the custom to relieve the officers on duty with the Light Batteries at the end of two years, by others, in order to extend their experience with Field Artillery, as the design is to provide all the Companies with field guns and equipments in time of war, as was the case during the great Civil War.
715. The care of the men and horses is a combination of what has been laid down for Cavalry and Infantry. Instruction has a similar system to be gone through with as recommended for these arms, beginning always with the rudiments, and going through in progressive lessons to the completion, as provided in Tactics. Regular and continued exercises are of the highest importance to accustom both men and horses to the noise and excitement of Artillery fire, and keep them in condition for active service.
716. DETACHMENTS AND POSTS.—A Military Post is a place where troops are stationed for any purpose whatever, either for defence, subsistence, instruction, or recruitment; in the sense, however, that is here intended, it is a station for troops which is isolated and constituting a separate command, and designated under a particular name by the War Department; usually such places are designated Forts, although frequently not at all fortified. A Military Post is, therefore, the point at which a Detachment is permanently stationed; vice versa, a Detachment is the troops of a post operating in the field, and the Senior Officer of the line of the Army serving with it is the Commanding Officer. (Reg. 7, and Art. 62.) It is the duty of a Commanding Officer so situated that will be here considered in general terms.
717. The Post, Fort, or Detachment, in its general character, is administered very much as a Regiment, without reference to the size; that is, it constitutes one command, and must be provided with a Quartermaster, Commissary, and Surgeon, or someone acting in these capacities. It may happen that there may not be more than a small portion of a company under one officer, in which case it becomes necessary for him to act in all the foregoing capacities, except Surgeon; but he is authorized under the regulations to employ a civilian, in case of sickness. (Reg. 1304.)
718. It may be a small army all stationed together, and composed of portions of all arms in the service. Large or small, the commands located at the various Forts and Cantonments on the Frontier, or the Forts, Barracks, Recruiting Rendezvous, Schools of Instruction, etc., on the sea-coast, harbors, and in the vicinity of our large cities, are all administered and directed in the same general way, and with the same general limitations.
719. The main distinctive feature of a Post or Detachment is, that there is generally a Department or Army Commander between its Commander and the Headquarters of the Army at Washington, and possibly other intermediate Commanders, as when a Detachment is sent out from a Post, or when the Department has also the division of “Districts,” subordinate to the Department Commander.
720. The different Posts, Forts, etc., having different objects in view, which have caused their being established, materially influence the duties of their respective Commanders; but the mode of supply, the system of accountability, and the authority in reference to and growing out of the maintenance of a Post, is of the same general character in all. The Regulations and Orders of the War Department, invest such a Command with all the elements and means of taking care of itself.
721. First of all, a Quartermaster and Commissary are designated by the Commanding Officers, if none are provided for the Command by higher authority. Where the Command does not exceed more than two or three Companies, one officer is usually required to do both duties, as it is more convenient, and obviates conflicts between these two branches of Administration.
722. The mode of supplying the Post is much influenced by the locality, the facilities of the country in the vicinity, and the capacity of the markets near by. Those articles which can be obtained at prices that will save transportation, authority is usually given to contract for Forage, Flour, and Beef are the usual articles of this description. The regulations provide how contracts are made and executed. The orders governing the mode and quantity of supply are given from Department Headquarters.
723. It is the duty of the Commanding Officer, through his officers, to obtain all the information he can concerning the means and cost of supplying the Post, and the resources of the surrounding country, and keep the Headquarters of the Department notified. Timely requisitions and estimates must be made to these Headquarters, to anticipate the wants of the Post. Unusual expenses are not incurred without authority from the Department Commander, except in cases of evident necessity.
724. Expeditions involving outlays beyond the current expenses, are not made by the Commanding Officer, without authority from the Commander of the Department. In cases of necessity, where there is no time to communicate with Department Headquarters, the Commanding Officer of the Post does what his judgment suggests in the case, and trusts to subsequent approval; and so long as no law is violated, either Military or Civil, there is not much responsibility connected with it pecuniarily; but there is always the risk of failing to meet the views of superiors.
725. The law of necessity, in Military Service as elsewhere, is a sufficient excuse for any act or measure, provided the necessity can be made apparent to others. But so long as an expenditure is in accordance with law, which means in our service that Congress has appropriated funds for the purpose, there is not much pecuniary risk; but there is always the risk of violating existing orders or instructions in every act or measure for which there is no special provision.
726. Within the means placed at his disposal for administering the affairs of a Post or Detachment, there is no limit to the powers and acts of the Commanding Officer, except what regulations and law provide, and the requirements of his orders and instructions. He directs the daily routine of Camp or Garrison duty, selects his staff for the Post, directs what duties shall be performed, and who by; or in time of field service, he directs when the march shall begin, and when it shall end, what direction it shall take, and how it shall be conducted. To him belongs the responsibility of fighting or retreating, of success or defeat.
727. The establishment of a Post is generally directed from the War Department, by the Secretary of War, and it cannot be broken up or changed, without the same authority. The troops may be changed or removed by the Department Commander, but the Commanding Officer of the Post cannot do so on his own authority. There is always some object to be accomplished, that has caused the Post to be established, of which the Commanding Officer must inform himself, and endeavor to accomplish that object. If a Detachment is made, it is sent out to accomplish a certain work, to which the Commander should devote himself.
728. The routine of duty at a Post is confined to the daily exercises; the issues of rations and clothing; the preservation of order, by keeping up proper guards, directing the rest, and providing for legal punishment of offenders; the preservation, repair, and improvement of the Post; the care of the sick; all these, and many more minor duties, are involved in the location of a Military Command at any point, nor do they change very materially when operating as a Detachment.
729. Each Post has its Adjutant’s office (which is also the Commanding Officer’s office), a Quartermaster’s office, a Commissary’s office (these two, if the Post is small, may be in one), a guard house, quarters for officers, barracks for men, store houses for quartermaster, commissary, and ordnance stores, stables for horses and mules, and an hospital for the sick. These vary in their character, from the tent to the perfected house, from the rudest shelter to the most perfect fortress, and it is as necessary to have method and system in governing them, as it is necessary to have municipal regulations in a town or village.
730. Military Posts in our country are mainly the Forts on the sea-coast, and those on the Indian frontier. The former are generally fortified places, whilst the latter are rarely so; occasionally they possess a block house or two, but are seldom, if ever, entrenched. Indians have not been known to attack a Garrisoned Post, for many years past. The necessity of reducing the troops to a very small number, when Detachments are sent out, makes it wise to provide a block house, which has been found quite sufficient against any means possessed by Indians.
731. A strategic post requires qualifications to command independent of Administration; such are the outposts in connection with the operations of an army, and is usually a Post of observation, to be held for a shorter or longer period, or perhaps only for a few hours, either to watch the enemy, or to hold him in check, or to prevent him from seizing the position. How to defend, and when to surrender, are the grand questions for the Commander to solve; to give up without a blow, and to hopelessly sacrifice life, are both to be avoided.
732. As a rule, it is safest to err fighting, and to hold a post to the last extremity, to exhaust ammunition, subsistence, and men; beyond the hope of relief, and overwhelmed by numbers, and yet whilst yielding the post, to cut through the enemy’s lines and escape, is to the survivors the satisfaction of the highest achievement that troops are capable of. But when a Detachment is posted to hold a point at all hazards, there is no alternative but to fight to the last; no circumstances can excuse the abandonment of it—the only thing is to fight and win, or fall before the enemy.
733. The different arms may all be represented at the Post, or in the Detachment; and whilst the Commander administers his duty with reference to the whole command, the different subordinate commanders should be permitted to command their respective arms, without interference in the details; thus the Infantry would be under the command of the senior officer of Infantry; he would administer all the duties pertaining to his arm in the details under the general supervision of the Commander of the whole; he would consolidate all the reports and returns of the Infantry, and make estimates and requisitions for the whole. So, in like manner the senior officer of Cavalry and Artillery would direct the troops of his arm respectively.
734. The Commander of the Post or Detachment, in turn, consolidates all the reports, returns, estimates, and requisitions of the different commanders; he gives his orders and directions through these subordinates, and thus simplifies his own duty, and that of all other officers under him, very much. Each officer must be required to attend to his own duties, and be held strictly responsible for the performance or failure of them. A Commanding Officer who undertakes to do the duty of all the officers under him, by personal supervision and direction of the details, will find the task very arduous, the work badly done, and incur the ill-will of his command; his duty mainly is to make his subordinates do theirs.
735. The Tabular List on page 81 shows the papers that are required of Post Commanders, and also of Commanders of Detachments in the field, as far as they are applicable. (Reg. Art. XXXV.) The Post Adjutant is an officer specially detailed for the duty, who has the preparation and care of these papers. Through him all orders to the command are published and transmitted. He has charge of the Rosters for duty, and makes the various details required. (Par. 277.) Office hours are usually from eight to ten o’clock, A.M., during which time the official duties of the Commanding Officer of the Post are transacted with his subordinates.
736. The Commanding Officer of a Post or Detachment is the Ordnance Officer of the Command; and like the Regimental Commander, is accountable for the Ordnance pertaining to the Post or Detachment, not in the hands of other Officers of the Command. (Reg. 1420.) Under the law, each Military Post is entitled to an Ordnance Sergeant (Reg. Art. XIV), who has the immediate charge of the Ordnance Stores, receives and issues, and makes out the papers and returns pertaining thereto, under the direction of the Commanding Officer. This is the only kind of property that the Commanding Officer of the Post or Detachment, as such, is accountable for, although he may be responsible for all kinds of government property in other capacities.
737. In time of peace, the powers of a Commander of a Post or Detachment are limited to the arrest of Military offenders, and to punishments through a Garrison or Field Officer’s Court-Martial; all matters, whether of Administration or other duty, are governed by either law, regulations or customs of service; the arbitrary exercise of power is neither allowable nor creditable. An offense requiring a General Court-Martial must be reported to the Department Commander, by sending up a copy of the charges; he will direct a General Court-Martial, if he deems it necessary. In time of war, the Commander of a Division or separate Brigade may order General Courts-Martial, as provided by the Act of December 24, 1861.
738. A frontier post bordering on a foreign state may become invested with the greatest importance, requiring great diplomacy and knowledge of state affairs. Every officer so situated should inform himself thoroughly on General and International Law.
739. Military Posts are generally on land belonging to the United States, and consequently only the Federal Courts have jurisdiction; this fact sometimes operates against the efficient workings of the Local Courts; but it evidently is not the true interests of the service, and is against the spirit of our institutions for a military post to serve as a refuge for criminals against local law. It is apparent from the 33rd Article of War, that it is intended that the troops of the government shall aid and assist to maintain the Local Law, instead of defeating it, and it is made the Commanding Officer’s duty to do so.
740. Where the title to the site of the Post is not invested in the United States, there is nothing to relieve the officers or men of a Military Command from the operations of the Local Law, and a soldier is as liable as a citizen to arrest for all criminal offenses, and with but very few exceptions in civil cases. In this country it is exceedingly unfortunate for a Military Commander to come in contact with the civil authorities in his official capacity, and it is wise to avoid such collisions, if possible.
741. In time of war, and particularly in case of insurrection, Martial Law takes the place of Civil Law, and the Military Commander may, to a certain extent, become invested with all the duties of Judge, Juror, and Executioner. To preserve order, to punish crimes, and administer in civil as well as Military affairs, adds greatly to his labors, and taxes his capacity to the highest extent.
742. In the absence of an Indian Agent, Military Commanders are ex-officio Indian Agents. In this capacity the law confers the power of arrest of offenders against the “intercourse act” of June 30th, 1834, sections 20 and 21 (Reg., page 503), and March 3rd, 1847, sections 2 and 3. Co-operation on the part of Military Commanders and Indian Agents is essential. It is unfortunate that the Indian Bureau did not remain in the War Department, as the duties of officers and Indian Agents are often such as to make it unfortunate that they are directed and instructed from different offices.
743. Indian troubles arise most frequently from acts of injustice perpetrated by unprincipled whites; and justice often demands that the troops should protect, as well as punish the savage. Much embarrassment to the Commanders arises in the vicinity of remote Military Posts, in the absence of Civil Courts; and a wise foresight and just dealing with the savage and white man alike will often save the country from an Indian War, with its vast expense, and loss of life.
744. The selection of sites for Military Posts belongs properly to the Engineer Corps, and is generally entrusted to some officer of this Corps, particularly if the place is selected for a permanent fortification. But it often occurs that an Officer of the Line, in Command of a Detachment, is compelled to do the duty. The selection of a strategic point during active operations, is often entrusted to the Commanding Officer of the Detachment, and may require to be rapidly and quickly determined; such a duty would almost invariably expose the officer’s fitness or unfitness for the duty; no definite rules can be given for making such a selection, as each case would be invested with peculiar conditions.
745. For the site of Indian Frontier Posts, wood, water, and a healthy location are the first essentials; but grass is often quite as important as either. The erection of quarters and store-houses also enters into the subject, for often great expense is involved therein. To make the command comfortable at the least expense to the Government, and still realize the object for which the post is required, are the points to be kept in view. Much taste and judgment may be exercised in the erection of buildings for posts, but the means and material change with each site, so that no general suggestions are applicable.
746. The march of a Detachment calls forth special qualities in the Commander, in the selection of the route, the camps, the hours for marching, and the order and conduct of the march. The greatest comfort and security of the command, compatible with the object for which the Detachment has been made, are the most desirable ends to be obtained. In proportion as the Commanding Officer gives attention to the details of the march, so will the comfort of the officers and men be secured; many times a command has failed and broken down for want of attention to the details of the march, on the part of the Commanding Officer.
747. Nearly every work on the Art of War gives general principles as to the disposition of the forces of a Detachment on the march. The objects to be attained are such a disposition of the forces as will best preserve the organization during the march, and will admit of the speediest formation for attack or defence. The general principles for the march of large Detachments is given under the head of “Advance Guards,” Par. 105; the diagram on page 29 illustrates the general arrangement, which, of course, is always modified by the number and kind of troops.
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Transcribed by Scott Gutzke, 2006.
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