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SEA-COAST DEFENSES AND THE ORGANIZATION OF OUR

SEA-COAST ARTILLERY FORCES.

By Colonel The HONORABLE WM. CARY SANGER,

ASSISTANT CHIEF OF ARTILLERY, S. N. Y.

INTRODUCTION.

DEFECTS IN OUR PRESENT MILITARY ORGANIZATION.

In a recent article I called attention to the statement made by one of the most eminent authorities on the military and political conditions of Europe, that the present position of the European world is one in which sheer force holds a larger place than it has held in modern times since the fall of Napoleon.” The vast armies and powerful navies of Europe which are maintained at such enormous cost, are the inevitable consequences of this "Reign of Force," and prove the truth of Sir Charles Dilke's words; but his statement is only half the truth, for never in the history of the world has sheer force been so dependent upon brain work to prepare it to strike its most effective blows; organization, discipline and the effective working of the administrative departments are as essential to success in modern warfare as the numerical strength of the fighting force, or the military ability of its leaders.

It was because the Germans, after years of work and study, had perfected the organization and training of their forces, and had mastered the problems of modern warfare, that they were able to pour officers and men across the frontier, in such numbers and in such condition that the rosheer force”' of France, without proper organization or adequate training, spent itself in vain.

The late Lieutenant General Sir Edward Bruce Hamley, in "The Operations of War,” has made the statement that "the fate of the enormous levies raised from the French population in 187071, after the destruction of the regular armies, has convinced all who needed convincing, how worse than futile is the attempt to meet” discipline and organization with numbers. Lieutenant General Schofield has truly said, that "proper organization is more important than numbers." It is no exaggeration to say that what defeated the French was the work done in organizing and training the German forces during the twenty years which preceded the war, and that the French were practically beaten before the first shot was fired.

Europe has learned the lesson which the Franco-Prussian War taught; all the great nations of the world, except America, have studied the military problems which confront them, and have endeavored to secure the best possible organization for their forces; Japan's unbroken series of victories over her foe, geographically and numerically so great, is but the latest illustration of what all future wars will prove; but regardless of proof, we bury our heads, ostrich-like, in the sands of indifference and ignorance; there has been more advance in military science during the past twenty-five years than in any preceding century, yet we have done but little to improve the organization of our military forces. The Honorable Daniel S. Lamont, Secretary of War, in his report submitted to the President, November 1895, says: “The organization of the line of the army has undergone no material change since the close of the civil war. During this period of thirty-years every large foreign army has been completely reorganized.” With great wealth and millions of ablebodied men, we have neglected those simple precautions which common sense and military knowledge point out as necessary, and as a result of this “policy of indifference,” the lives and property of our people and our national honor are at the mercy of a dozen possible enemies.

Arguments may be advanced to prove to the satisfaction of many of our citizens that we should not keep a large standing army ; but can a single American be found who will argue that what forces we have should not be well organized, or that we should retain a defective or imperfect organization ?

To say that we should have some carefully thought out plan for enrolling the forces which we may at any time be compelled to call into active service, would seem to be but stating a truism, but the importance of this simple and fundamental principle has

been ignored by us. It is but right that we should recognize the defects of our military system because a realizing sense of the evils which mar our present organization should help us to avoid their repetition in the future. It is not an exaggeration to say that at the present time the armed forces of the United States as a whole are without organization. We have an army 25,000 strong, which is numerically impotent to wage unaided an aggressive or defensive war of any magnitude. We have forty-seven entirely separate and distinct state forces, with a total strength of 115,000.

These forces are in no

sense à reserve to the regular army; they can hardly be said to constitute an auxiliary force in the proper sense of the word. They are independent forces, organized without any regard to their relations to each other, or to our military forces as a whole; with-. out regard to national needs, and without any recognized plan for their co-operation with each other or with the army. It cannot be expected that forces which are organized under so many different authorities would have anything like a proper proportion of the various arms, nor is it possible that they can have the cohesion necessary for a successful fighting force.

Some of the state forces are not only competent to supplement the police and preserve order in the state, as has been shown many occasions within recent years,

but also well disciplined, well drilled, and capable, after a short experience in the field, of rendering valuable and important service. But so far as the defense of the coast is concerned there is no state in which the militia is adequate in numbers, or competent in point of efficiency, to protect its state against the dangers to which it is exposed; and in many of the states the militia is not even organized or trained for this important work.

The antiquated law, which is still in force on the statute book of the United States, requires every citizen between the ages of 18 and 45 to provide himself, among other things, with a good musket or firelock and two spare flints, and directs that each commissioned officer shall be armed with “a sword or hanger, and a spontoon." Under this law there are over 8,000,000 men liable to military service, but there is no plan for creating the batteries or regiments which they would form.

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NEED OF RECOGNIZED AUTHORITY TO DECIDE MILITARY QUESTIONS.

I cannot refrain from saying at the outset that in my judgment one of our greatest military needs to-day is a body of

officers with authority, duties and responsibilities similar to those of the German General Staff. Such a body of officers should be the recognized authority to study and report upon those theoretical and practical problems, the right solution of which is at the present day so essential to the success of a fighting force. It is well known that when the German General Staff reaches a conclusion on any military subject the entire nation accepts that conclusion as final.

England and America offer a striking contrast to this. Both of these countries are entirely without any such recognized military authority. With us the artillery point out their needs, the infantry theirs, enthusiastic militiamen call attention to the defects in their force; but there is no consensus of opinion on these subjects, no treatment of these questions from the broad and comprehensive standpoint of the nation's need: and the ablest opinions on any subject have for the public no more weight or importance than is accorded them by the few individuals who take the trouble to study them. Furthermore the officers in the same arm of the service often disagree regarding the needs of the service, and with us, as in England, officers high in authority often advocate the most opposite action on important military questions: it has happened that the Lieutenant General of the army and the Adjutant General have differed diametrically in their recommendations to the Secretary of War on the same subject.

NEED OF CONSENSUS OF

OPINION ON

MILITARY QUESTIONS.

As we have no official board like the German General Staff whose conclusions on purely military matters are accepted by the entire people as final, we must attain the same end by a consensus of opinion. If the military authorities of the country, and those men who are prominent in shaping public thought in civil life, should agree upon some plan of organization for any arm of our force, it would be comparatively easy to secure its adoption. It is of the utmost importance that this agreement should be reached in regard to the organization of the seacoast artillery, if we are to escape the evils which result from leaving questions of organization to be settled in different ways in different localities—an evil which our military history records with distressing frequency.

It would be quite as easy to devise a plan for the wise re-organization of all our armed forces as to determine how we can best organize one branch of the service. But it has seemed best that

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