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More than a quarter of a century later, and long after death had ended the restless striving of that far-seeing intelligence, other men working out the same problems with which he dealt found the sanity and wisdom of his conclusions and gave them effect. Were Upton living to-day, still upon the active list of the Army, he would see all of the great reforms for which he contended substantially secured. The threebattalion system, the interchangeability of staff and line, examinations for promotion, and now, by the wisdom of the present Congress, the establishment of a General Staff, and the completion of the system of military education under the controlling body which will find its permanent home in the building whose corner stone we lay to-day.
The publication of these remarks directed attention to an unpublished manuscript to which General Upton had devoted the last years of his life, and which he had left nearly finished, though without revision, upon his death in 1881. This manuscript has now been revised by Gen. Joseph P. Sanger, who, with Gen. George A. Forsyth, accompanied General Upton on his tour around the world in 1875–1877, with the assistance of Maj. William D. Beach and Capt. Charles D. Rhodes, of the Military Information Division of the General Staff. The work was written from a purely military point of view, and in some parts shows a failure to appreciate difficulties arising from our form of government and the habits and opinions of our people with which civil government has necessarily to deal in its direction of the military arm. On some points it is colored by the strong feelings natural to a man who had been a participant in the great conflict of the civil war, then but recently ended, and who himself had taken part in the serious controversies regarding the men and the deeds of that struggle. But the work exhibits the results of such thorough and discriminating research, such a valuable marshaling of the facts of our military history, and such sound and ably-reasoned conclusions drawn from those facts as to the defects and needs of our military system, that it clearly ought to be made available for the study of our officers and for the information of all who may be charged with shaping our military policy in the future.
Many of the mistaken practices which General Upton points out have already been abandoned. We no longer feel obliged to have recourse to short enlistments to obtain enlisted men. The three-battalion system has been adopted. The interchangeability of the staff and line, in place of a permanent staff organization, has become a part of our system, substantially as General Upton recommended. The conflict between the civil authority, represented by the Secretary of War, and the military authority, represented by a commanding general, and the consequent interference by civilian secretaries in the largely technical, and probably would not have sufficient interest for the general public to warrant Captain Sanger in publishing it as a private enterprise. If an arrangement can be made with a publisher to take the manuscript and copyright, as well as the risk of pecuniary loss, Captain Sanger is willing they should go to such a one, without expectation of any reward to himself. If such an arrangement can not be made, it is suggested that Congress might be willing to publish the report as an official document.
The report was held up awaiting an appropriation until November 17, 1879, when Captain Sanger was informed by the Adjutant-General that the state of the appropriation did not permit the War Department to subscribe for the proposed publication of the report.
In the meantime Captain Sanger requested and obtained authority to publish extracts from the report, and the latter appeared in popular form in Volume I of the Journal of the Military Service Institution (1880), and in Volumes IV, V, VI, VII, and VIII of the United Service Magazine (1881, 1882, and 1883).
command of troops, always inexpedient and usually disastrous, has been obviated by the General Staff act of 1903, which secures unity of professional military command, through the interposition of the Chief of Staff, with a body of military assistants, between the civil authorities and the military forces of the country. Compulsory retirements, examinations for promotion, the division of military information, the General Staff, and a general system of military education, all have been provided for since this work was written. Provision has been made by the militia act of 1903 for furnishing the discipline and training, upon which he is so insistent, to that part of the militia which is now known as the “organized militia," and for the training of many citizens in the knowledge and practice which will make them competent to serve as officers in the larger body of citizen soldiers, upon whom we must chiefly rely in time of war.
It is to be hoped that a study of the reasons given by General Upton for the policy which is embodied in all these measures will prevent our country from taking any backward step in any one of these directions.
One other field of great importance remains to be covered by legislation; that is, the establishment of an adequate system for raising, training, and officering the volunteer forces of the future. It is of first importance that the distinction between volunteers and militia shall be observed, and that, while the selection of officers of militia shall continue, as it must under the Constitution, to rest with the States, following such mode of selection as they prefer, the officers of the volunteer forces of the United States shall hold their commissions from the President, who is to command them during the war for which they are called out, and shall look to their Commander-in-Chief for the promotion which should reward their good conduct, as well as for such discipline as they may merit; and that an adequate system shall be provided for the selection of such officers and the direct recruitment of the enlisted volunteer force under the authority of the National Government. In this work will be found collected the facts, which it is sometimes unpleasant to consider but which ought not to be ignored, supporting this view.
Upon the original manuscript, at the foot of the discussion of the war of 1812, is found a penciled note in the handwriting of General Sherman which concludes in these words:
I doubt if you will convince the powers that be, but the facts stated, the references from authority, and the military conclusions are most valuable and should be printed and made accessible. The time may not be now, but will come when these will be appreciated, and may bear fruit even in our day.-W. T. Sherman.
That great authority confirms the judgment that this work ought to be rescued from oblivion.
Secretary of War. JANUARY 12, 1904.
THE MILITARY POLICY OF THE UNITED
Shortly after the disastrous battle of Camden, Washington wrote to the President of Congress "what we need is a good army, not a large one.” Unfortunately for the country, the object sought by this assertion, so thoroughly in harmony with our cherished institutions, has only been partially attained in time of peace.
In view of the growth of our neighbors, the vast extent of our territory, and the rapid increase of our floating population, the time must speedily arrive when all intelligent and law-abiding people will accept, and adhere to, the opinion of John Adams that “the National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.”
Our military policy, or, as many would affirm, our want of it, has now been tested during more than a century. It has been tried in foreign, domestic, and Indian wars, and while military men, from painful experience, are united as to its defects and dangers, our final success in each conflict has so blinded the popular mind, as to induce the belief that as a nation we are invincible.
With the greater mass of people, who have neither the time nor the inclination to study the requirements of military science, no error is more common than to mistake military resources for military strength, and particularly is this the case with ourselves.
History records our triumph in the Revolution, in the War of 1812, in the Florida War, in the Mexican War, and in the Great Rebellion, and as nearly all of these wars were largely begun by militia and volunteers, the conviction has been produced that with us a regular army is not a necessity.
In relating the events of these wars, the historian has generally limited himself to describing the battles that have been fought, without seeking to investigate the delays and disasters by which they have been prolonged, till, in nearly every instance, the national resources have been exhausted.
The object of this work is to treat historically and statistically, our military policy up to the present time, and to show the enormous and unnecessary sacrifice of life and treasure, which has attended all our armed struggles.
Whether we may be willing to admit it or not, in the conduct of war, we have rejected the practice of European nations and with little variation, have thus far pursued the policy of China.
All of our wars have been prolonged for want of judicious and economical preparation, and often when the people have impatiently awaited the tidings of victory, those of humiliating defeat have plunged the nation into mourning.
The cause of all this is obvious to the soldier and should be no less obvious to the statesman. It lies partly in the unfounded jealousy of not a large, but even a small standing army; in the persistent use of raw troops; in the want of an expansive organization, adequate for every prospective emergency; in short and voluntary enlistments, carrying with them large bounties; and in a variety of other defects which need not here be stated. In treating this subject, I am aware that I tread on delicate ground and that every volunteer and militiaman who has patriotically responded to the call of his country, in the hour of danger, may possibly regard himself as unjustly attacked.
To such I can only reply, that where they have enlisted for the period of three months, and, as at Bladensburg and on many other fields, have been hurled against veteran troops, they should not hold me responsible for the facts of history, which I have sought impartially to present. To such volunteers as enlisted for the period of the Mexican War, and particularly for two and three years during the War of the Rebellion, with whom it is my pride to have served and to whom I owe all of my advancement in the service, I but express the opinion of all military men, in testifying that their excellence was due, not to the fact that they were volunteers, but to the more important fact that their long term of service enabled them to become, in the highest sense, regulars in drill, discipline, and courage.
With a keen appreciation of their own ignorance and helplessness when they entered the service, the veterans of Gettysburg laughed at the militia who assisted in driving Lee across the Potomac, satirically asking the full regiments fresh from home, “Where they buried their dead?” The same men who felt hostile to the regular troops because of their superior discipline, found as they approached the same standard that no gulf lay between them, and with the recollections of Bull Run fresh in their memories they in turn ever after made sport of the raw troops which came temporarily to their aid.
Every battlefield of the war after 1861 gave proof to the world of the of the disciplined American soldier; but in achieving this reputation the nation was nearly overwhelmed with debt from which we are still suffering, while nearly every family in the land was plunged in mourning.
Already we are forgetting these costly sacrifices, and unless we now frame and bequeath to the succeeding generation a military system suggested by our past experience and commended by the example of other enlightened nations, our rulers and legislators in the next war will fall into the same errors and involve the country in the same sacrifices as in the past.
It has been truly remarked by one of our philosophers that “We follow success and not skill.”
Should my labors in a field thus far unoccupied, and which I do not pretend to exhaust, be instrumental in aiding our future statesmen to achieve national success through skill, to the saving of life and treasure, it will be my satisfaction to have discharged a duty which every patriotic soldier and citizen owes to his country.