WHAT reasons did the Allies give for their continuous effort to absorb our men in their armies first as individual replacements and finally by divisions?
Their last effort was made after the First American Army under command of General Liggett had fought halfway through the Argonne and the Second American Army under General Bullard was planning a later attack in the direction of Metz. Both armies were under command of General Pershing.
The reason for this final effort within a little more than two weeks of the Armistice can be told in the words of a Britisher: "Lord Milner, Secretary for War, proceeded to Paris on the 24th [October] as arranged, to discuss . . . , and to propose that American divisions should again be distributed between the various British and French armies along the Western Front so that fuller advantage should be taken of their remarkable fighting capacities than could be expected when they operated as an American Army."(13)
In other words such American generals as Pershing, the commander-in-chief, Liggett and Bullard in command of armies, Summerall, Hines, and Dickman commanding the army corps then struggling through the Argonne, and their staffs were not competent enough to get the results from American troops of which they were capable.
This last effort like its many predecessors was based on two arguments, both of which seem plausible enough to anyone unacquainted with the facts of our military history.
The first was that we did not know much about war in general---this because we had had but little war experience in the past, and also had no military traditions to speak of.
The second was that the Great War was quite different from any other war, and therefore needed a special knowledge which we could not possess.
These ideas were a natural outcome of the Europeans' practice of ignoring our military history. They studied all their own wars to the last insignificant detail. With the exception of a few of their students, they ignored ours.
There was hardly an action of a cavalry patrol of an officer and a few men in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866 and the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-7, that was not studied in great detail. The main fighting in both was over in six weeks.
Our Civil War of four years, by far the greatest war between those of Napoleon and the Great War, was practically ignored.
One German student of war, whose works were avidly studied all over Europe, dismissed it in a few paragraphs, as a conflict between large bodies of undisciplined men from which no military lessons of importance could be gathered.
Here and there, particularly in England, Stonewall Jackson's campaigns and General Lee's leadership of the southern armies were studied.
General Grant, the father of modern war, in that he was the first general to recognize the necessity for, and to put in practice the principle of, concentrating the whole man-power and resources of a nation in an effort which never ceased until the enemy was destroyed, was generally ignored.
This attitude was typical of that of military Europe until some of those Europeans, particularly the logical French who saw the American Expeditionary Force in action, sought the causes for its success. They discovered our long military history, rich with examples of the splendid results obtainable in war when a hardheaded people refuse to be bound by doctrine and insist on obtaining, results by the most practical methods available.
Our attitude has always been the reverse. When our people served as British colonial troops and when they were fighting the Revolutionary War they carefully studied the methods brought from Europe by the British regulars and the Hessian mercenaries, both troops of considerable battle experience. From the time of our independence, our professional military people have studied European methods, not only through military literature, but by direct observation in both peace and war.
General Sheridan was an eye-witness of the Franco-Prussian War. General Greene, an eye-witness of the Russo-Turkish War, wrote a book containing his observations, which, to this day, is widely used as a textbook.
Hundreds of our officers have witnessed the yearly maneuvers of every army in Europe. Scores of our officers have taken courses in Continental military schools. When the war broke out in 1914, we had a number of regular officers serving in both French and German regiments, who, of course, were promptly relieved.
Until our relations with Germany became really strained, we had officers as observers on the German side as well as the Allied one.
We have never allowed national pride to interfere with the adoption of any European method which proved on study to be better, from a practical point of view, than our own.
We had in our Revolutionary armies numbers of officers who like George Washington had served with British troops in the colonial wars on this continent. Also, a considerable number of enlisted men had served in American colonial units incorporated in British forces. We were, therefore, quite well acquainted with British methods of those days.
Our trumpet signals for the mounted service and drum and fife signals for the infantry were British. During the War of 1812 the British trumpet calls were abolished and French ones adopted instead. The American reveille today and that of the French infantry are exactly the same. Our tattoo is French and was the favorite call of Napoleon I. The British drum and fife signals were kept. Today, at West Point, about the last place where the drum and fife is still used in our army, the cadets still assemble for mess to the tune of "The Roast Beef of Old England."
Our first Articles of War, which have not greatly changed since, were the same as the British. The customs of the service, many of which still obtain, were British. Calling a lieutenant "Mister" instead of "Lieutenant," which the new officers of the Great War never understood nor practiced, any more than did the volunteer officers of the Civil War, is British.
When it came to artillery and engineers, our Revolutionary army copied the French, long recognized in the military world as the masters in both. For this reason the majority of our terms in both these branches of the service are still French. For example the word "caisson," familiar to every artilleryman, is the French equivalent for "ammunition wagon," the term used by the British.
In the same way, we did not hesitate to take from the Prussian von Steuben such ideas as were useful in raising the discipline of our hastily organized troops, who were only too inclined to do as they pleased.
From the close of our Revolutionary War until the present any number of examples could be cited of our willingness at all times to take anything from Europe which we thought practical and beneficial.
Some years before the Great War, it was decided that while our mounted service was excellent from the point of view of western rough riding, it did not know enough about horse mastership. In other words, while our cavalry and field artillery, like the western cowpuncher, were perfectly willing to take, and capable of taking, any kind of horse and getting work out of him, they did not know enough about the higher training of animals. A number of cavalry officers was sent abroad to study all European cavalries, and above all their schools of equitation. We then sent a number of cavalry officers to take the courses at these schools. As the result of a thorough study of the whole question, we decided that the French methods of horse mastery were the best, and accordingly adopted them for the instruction of our cavalry and field artillery.
Some years before the war, the French were the first to invent a quick-firing field gun, the famous 75. They surprised the world when they equipped their field artillery with it. They were the first to work out the new artillery tactics possible as the result of its rapid fire.
We frankly recognized that this was the greatest forward step in field artillery since the invention of the breech-loader. We with equal frankness promptly adopted the French artillery methods. With slight modifications they were the ones we used when we entered the war in 1917.
This readiness to adopt European ways which are better than ours has never led to the desire for the wholesale adoption of European methods, except on the part of individual officers here and there.
In admiration of courage the American yields to none. At the same time he believes that anything as serious as war should yield practical results.
Thus, as much as he always has admired the splendid examples of great courage and determination with which the record of all Europe's wars is replete, he has not hesitated to examine European tactics with a critical eye as to the results produced.
The result has been that in general he believes the European too conservative in his methods, too inclined to stick to tactics which have proved successful in past wars and not ready enough to change when new. weapons open up new ways, or when an enemy using methods not familiar to Europeans is encountered.
In other words there is too much of an inheritance from the days of chivalry when high courage led the knight to disdain any method other than hard fighting, and he rode full tilt, lance at rest, straight at his enemy. The knight despised the archer who shot him down from a distance, though frequently this disdain led to the knight's defeat.
He equally despised the first musketeers until gunpowder finally shoved the knight off the battle-field into the museum of military antiquities.
Sabutai and his Mongols invaded Europe in the thirteenth century. They brought with them tactics new to Europeans. Mounted archers prepared the way by shooting holes in the Christian ranks. Then the mounted men at arms attacked through these gaps. Though they had suffered defeat a number of times as a consequence of these attacks, the Europeans would not change their methods.
Seventy thousand Christians died gallantly on the plains of Hungary in a final battle. The Knights Templars died to the last man rather than yield or retire. The exhibition of courage was superb. The inability to adopt new tactics gave all that part of Europe to the Mongols.
Near the present site of Pittsburgh on July 8, 1755, General Braddock with 1,373 British regulars and several hundred Virginia militiamen was ambushed in the depths of the forest by Captain Beaujeu of the French army with 70 French regulars, 140 French Canadians, and 650 Indians.
General Braddock was a veteran of forty-five years' experience. Fighting on Flanders Field was an old story to him. He knew European tactics thoroughly and had practiced them often enough in battle to be confident of their value. He did not know the methods used on this continent. He was not open to advice. As the enemy fire poured in upon the British from hidden sources they first advanced and then stood firm, firing crashing, steady volleys into the forest about them. However, the pitiless fire from hidden sources steadily taking its toll in dead and wounded finally was more than the bravest man could stand. They broke and fled. Braddock, exposing himself with the utmost courage, had four horses shot under him. While on his fifth he was mortally wounded.
Of the 1,373 British only 459 escaped being killed or wounded. Sixteen French and a small number of Indians were killed or wounded.
The territory around where Pittsburgh stands today remained French.
At Bunker Hill, the British regulars made two unsuccessful assaults upon the American entrenchment from its front only. Despite heavy losses, they gallantly made a third, which drove the Americans from the hill. Of 2,500 British, 1,054 were killed or wounded. The Americans numbered 1,700, of whom 450 were killed or wounded. They were untrained, undisciplined volunteers for the most part, but they were deadly shots with the rifle.
The same result could have been attained with less loss to the British and more to the Americans if the British had attacked, as they easily could have done, on one flank as well as from the front.
The British got the hill, but the morale of the Americans was so raised by the heavy loss they occasioned the British that to this day the battle of Bunker Hill to the American mind is a victory. From a technical military point of view it was a British victory.
In 1899 the early battles of the Boer War showed the same methods-direct attacks across the open, gallantly carried forward despite heavy losses. Despite the courage of the British these attacks were generally stopped by the Boers with their deadly rifle fire from concealed positions, with but slight loss to themselves.
The practical mind of the American with its disinclination to be bound by doctrine when reason tells him there is a better way has led our cavalry far away from the European idea of its proper use in battle.
In the Franco-Prussian War the Germans had 56,000 and the French 40,000 cavalry. The majority of this mass of nearly 100,000 horsemen had no firearms other than pistols. The minority had carbines or short rifles but no pistols. They all had sabers; many had lances.
This enormous number of mounted men had no decisive influence on the war. The German cavalry did excellent scouting work while at the same time keeping the French from obtaining information of their army. Small bodies of the cavalry of each side made charges with such courage and persisted under such heavy loss that they can justly be described as heroic. These charges brought no results of any particular practical value.
General Sheridan, the great cavalry leader of our Civil War, was an eye-witness of the four bloody charges by General Margueritte's cavalry without effect on the Prussian infantry which had climbed to the plateau of Floing near Sedan. He said the charges were most nobly made.
Little did he dream that forty-eight years later two American infantry divisions, the First and the Forty-second, would lose their last killed in action in a race for the crest of the hill south of Sedan just across the Meuse, which he must have seen every time he raised his eyes from the thrilling but useless sacrifice of the heroic men and gallant horses taking place in front of him.
Five years before, our Civil War had been brought to an end by the decisive use of cavalry in the hands of Sheridan. With his cavalry he had cut off, surrounded, and forced to surrender that splendid soldier General Ewell and his corps of infantry, the rear-guard of General Lee's army.
A relatively few hours later, by the same bold use of cavalry, Sheridan cut off the retreat of General Lee's army, and by holding until the Union infantry arrived he brought about Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
But both the Union and the Confederate cavalry were armed throughout with carbines and pistols. They also had sabers which they did not hesitate to use on each other in mounted charges.
The secret of the many decisive actions which must be justly credited to both during the four long years of war was that they never hesitated to use the best tactics to win the fight in which they were engaged. They had no false pride about dismounting from their horses and fighting on foot with their carbines like infantry. They did not hesitate to tackle infantry. They charged boot to boot at a thundering gallop with drawn saber like European cavalry when experience told them this would produce the best results. The four feet of the horse, the two feet of the cavalryman, the saber, the pistol, and the carbine were the tools given them. They solved each problem by such combinations of these as hard-headed reasoning and experience had taught them. Tradition could not limit them. Results were what they were after and got.
Our experience with European troops and our study of European wars have taught us many valuable lessons which we have not hesitated to accept. Also our military history contains the record of many mistakes on our part. At the same time both have confirmed our belief that the tactical methods evolved by our troops from our greatly varied battle experience of one hundred and fifty years, using American hard-headedness as a guide, are more practical than those created for Europeans fighting in Europe and impregnated with European traditions.
In nothing have we differed more with Europe than in the use of the rifle on the battle-field. We have believed from the beginning, and our experience on the battle-fields of the Great War has confirmed this belief, that the rifle in the hands of an individual soldier who has been trained until he can pick out and hit individual enemies during battle is one of the most, if not the most deadly weapon in existence.
Throughout our history, the individual soldiers not only of our infantry but also of our cavalry have been taught to the limit of their personal ability to be such shots. Such lapses as have occurred in this have been due to over-economy on the part of Congress---always vigorously resisted by the army until done away with.
Each year several months have been devoted to rifle shooting and, for the cavalry, also pistol shooting dismounted and mounted.
The course followed has taught all soldiers two things: first, to fire accurately and carefully at individual enemies at ranges to include 600 yards; secondly, to fire rapidly and accurately as many as five shots in twenty seconds at 200 yards, and five in thirty seconds at 300 yards, at different enemies. In addition, those men who have shown themselves better than the average shot, have been taught to fire accurately as far as 1,000 yards.
To reward good shots and stimulate interest in shooting, the men have been divided into different classes, according to their shooting ability. The three highest classes-expert rifleman, sharpshooter, and marksman---are given extra pay. Qualification each year is essential in order to draw this pay.
Aside from this, the companies of infantry and troops of cavalry in the army are graded each year according to their shooting ability. This competition not only stimulates interest, but also is an important factor in determining the military efficiency of the captains.
To create still further interest, a series of competitions is held each year. They start in each unit as a means of picking the men and officers to go to the next higher competition. Each class of competition is used in the same way to determine the contestants for the next higher one until the National Match is reached. This is a great annual event, in which the best shots of the regular army, the civilian soldier forces, the navy, the Marine Corps, and civilian shooting clubs compete.
In Europe, the amount of money and time spent on instructing the individual soldier in the use of his rifle has always been much less than in America. Also, instead of great faith in the individual rifle shot, the general tendency is to count upon the hits resulting when the massed fire of a whole unit sprays the ground to its front.
The only marked exception to this rule was the British regular army, which as a result of the heavy losses inflicted by the excellent shooting of the individual Boer in the South African War took up rifle shooting in earnest. However, as Great Britain's war armies were raised, they did not even attempt to produce the high standards with which the regular troops in 1914 entered the campaign in France.
As the Great War progressed and more and more green men had to be hurriedly trained and sent to the front, the infantry in most armies relied more and more on the use of machine guns and grenades and less and less on the fire of their rifles. In fact, the point was reached where many infantrymen hardly considered their rifles as more than poles on the end of which to carry their bayonets.
The American observers who visited the different fronts, prior to our entry into the war, and the officers sent there after our entry to study conditions, soon came to the conclusion that the small results charged to the infantry rifle were not due to its use being out of date, but simply to the fact that the troops, besides lacking training in its use, did not even realize what could be done with it.
Thus, while not hesitating to increase the proportion of machine guns with our infantry units and to add hand and rifle grenades to our infantry armament, we vigorously trained our new infantry in the individual and accurate use of the rifle, and took every means to create a feeling of confidence in this weapon.
After the tactical use of weapons, the next question of importance is the leadership of an army.
Where do the officers come from? What is their military training? What capacity have they for successful leadership of our men in battle?
The oldest military school in the world with a continuous history is the United States Military Academy at West Point, established on the site of two of the forts built to guard the Hudson River during the Revolutionary War. George Washington's foresight was responsible. For a century and a quarter the school has proved the value of his belief, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace." Its roll of graduates contains the names of the vast majority of all our military leaders in all the wars since the Revolution. Its graduates killed in action in the dates of their death cover well over a century. The places where they fought their last battle extend from France on the east to China on the west, and from the wintry plains of the Dakotas and Wyoming on the north to Cuba, Mexico, and the Philippines in the tropical south.
The majority of European military schools have a course of but two years. The course at West Point is a four-year one. As the new class enters each year a day or two following graduation, the course is really four years. There is but one summer vacation, at the close of the second year, when the cadet has actually been there two full years. There are no other regular vacations. The men with the highest standing, and above all upper classmen, are allowed a few days off now and then, where most schools, including the European military ones, grant a vacation to all their students.
The course is the same for all. There are no elective subjects. Failure in any one subject insures dismissal. The course is planned to keep the cadet continuously busy up to the physical and mental limit of the average healthy boy of the age of the cadets present.
Practically all European military schools are either to train cavalry and infantry officers, or else engineer and artillery officers. The fundamental idea of West Point is that a man must graduate with a theoretical and practical knowledge of all branches of the service ---engineers, ordnance, artillery, cavalry, and infantry.
The carrying out of this idea through four years, crammed to the limit with study, drills, marches, and exercises of all kinds, is considered to be the reason why Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, and the long list of other commanders, were such successful generals in war, though their service in the army was before the days of higher military education. Their four years at West Point had given them an understanding and grasp of all branches of the service and their mutual coordination, which is the first essential of good generalship.
A man who is only a first-class infantryman, a first-class cavalryman, a first-class artilleryman, or a first class engineer, is a specialist. A specialist is not competent to command a body of troops made up of all arms, and successfully direct their energies to a single end---defeat of the enemy.
That great British soldier Lord Kitchener was asked by the Australians what military school to take as a model for the one they were about to establish. He told them West Point.
Lord Kitchener visited West Point when Major-General Hugh L. Scott, who was our chief of staff when we entered the war in 1917, was superintendent. Later Colonel Bridges, who subsequently established the Royal Military Academy outside Melbourne, came to study the system used.
General Scott tells (14) how on a visit to Britain in 1917, at dinner one night he sat next to the officer in command of all the Australian forces in Europe. General Scott asked if the Australian West Point had been of any value in the war. The answer was, "Any value? Why, it has been the backbone of all our Australian forces in Europe, and we will never let it go."
Shortly after Marshal Foch's return from his trip throughout the United States, I talked with him in his office in Paris about what he had seen. Among other things, he said, shaking his finger at me and smiling:
"Your country claims to be so pacifistic. Never in my life have I seen so many people who like military things. For example, at the head of the parade in Indianapolis was a magnificent squadron of cavalry; young men in handsome uniforms mounted on splendid black horses.
"I asked, 'What corps d'élite of your army is that?' The answer was, 'Oh, they don't belong to the army. That is the Black Horse Troop, of the Culver Military Academy.' I found on inquiry that the Culver Military Academy is a private school, maintained from the tuition fees paid by parents; that the magnificent black horses came from the same source."
The marshal then went on to tell how he had found that Culver was not the only military academy maintained by funds other than those from the national government; that the country was dotted with excellent ones maintained by private and state funds, the only assistance from the national government being the loan of a certain number of regular officers and sergeants for instruction purposes.
The Culver Military Academy in Indiana was established as the result of the belief of a business man that military training was not only essential for war purposes, but above all an excellent training for the vocations of peace. Aside from its regular courses, summer training-camps of the same kind as the one established by General Wood at Plattsburg were start ed in 1915.
In addition, in the summer of 1916, foreseeing our entry into the war, the Academy held a training-camp for graduates to bring them up to date. This was the first of a series of short courses held for the same purpose, not only before we entered the war but throughout its continuation.
More than 1,300 graduates or students of Culver served in the army, navy, or Marine Corps during the recent war. More than seventy percent were commissioned officers.
Another famous school is the Virginia Military Institute at Lexington, Virginia. It was created by an act of the Virginia Legislature in 1835, to provide for military education. It is organized like West Point, the course of study is similar, the discipline and training the same.
During the Civil War, this school furnished many efficient officers to the Confederate armies. Its battalion of cadets took part in the battle of Newmarket, in which it successfully carried by assault a Union battery of artillery, driving off its infantry escort.
During the recent war, large numbers of its graduates were officers of the army and marine corps.
The numerous other military schools throughout the country have produced a respectable list of officers for our peace-time regular army and long lists for our war armies, the records of which demonstrate the great military value of these schools to the country.
Our army has not been content that the military education of its officers should cease with the close of their first military school days. In the course of years, a complete system of schools has grown up to train officers as specialists in engineers, artillery, cavalry, and infantry, as general staff officers, and as generals commanding.
The first of these higher schools was established at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in 1881 by General Sherman, then in command of our army. His experience in our Civil War had taught him the necessity to devote more attention to completing the education of officers. Also, at this time there were a good many officers who had gone into the regular army at the close of the Civil War, who had gained great practical experience during the four years of that war, but who lacked a thorough military education.
As time passed, the two years' course widened its scope. The idea that Leavenworth should be a school to make good the fundamental military education of officers, where lacking, gave place to the present one that Leavenworth was primarily a school in which officers who possessed that education got higher instruction, which would enable them efficiently to perform the duties of general staff officers and generals commanding in the field in war.
In looking back over our military history, it was evident that our great defect was not that great military leaders failed to appear when needed, but that we failed to have a sufficient number of well-trained subordinate generals, and, above all, general staff officers who knew organization, equipment, training, transporting, and handling of an army in combat requirements, and who, furthermore, were competent to do all these things with certainty and success.
More and more, graduation from this school came to be looked upon as a requisite for promotion to the higher grades of the army. As its graduates increased in number and spread throughout the regiments of the regular army, and as instructors in the various military schools of our country, the knowledge taught there of what constitutes, and of the necessity for, staff and command work permeated our military system.
In 1902, during the term of Mr. Elihu Root as secretary of war, the General Staff Corps of the Army was established. For a long time the leading officers of the army had realized the necessity for such a coordinating body; above all in a country which never prepares for war and always expects a small War Department, and a relatively small corps of regular officers, immediately to organize the millions of untrained citizens brought to the Colors, into a large and effective army.
Also, thanks to Mr. Root, the Army War College was organized. This institution---a college in the true and best sense of the word---made our system of higher military education and research work complete.
The result was that when war came, for the first time in our history we had a numerous corps of professional officers whose thorough training over a long period of years made them competent quickly to organize and train our new armies and to get them in the presence of the enemy and to fight them efficiently, from the point of view both of general staff work and of commanding generals.
In practically all European armies, officers on entering the general staff corps leave their branch of the service and become permanent general staff officers. It is true that from time to time they are sent back to do a short period of service with troops. However, they are essentially general staff officers, and no longer troop or line officers, in the true sense of the word. During the Great War it was found that as a consequence many general staff officers were out of sympathy with the officers and enlisted men of the fighting units. They had gotten too far away from troops to understand their point of view.
When our general staff was formed, the older officers of the army, who were veterans of the Civil War, and remembered the results in that war of lack of sympathy and understanding between troop and staff officers, insisted that we should not adopt this system.
The result was that officers of our general staff remain officers of artillery, cavalry, infantry, or whatever their branch of the service happens to be. They are simply detailed for four years. At the end of this time they must serve at least two years with troops before they are again available for detail. Many are not redetailed for longer periods, or at all. The consequence is that a very high proportion of regular officers have served on the general staff ; and that all general staff officers, knowing they must return to troop duty, are careful as to the measures which they advocate for the troops.
In general, the result has been an absence of dislike between the line and the general staff, and a mutual understanding and sympathy, which made for smoother relationships between the two during the Great War.
Another thing which has strengthened our corps of officers is the entire absence of any class distinction as a determining factor, with respect either to the branch of the service which the officer enters, or to influence on his promotion-two things somewhat prevalent in most European armies.
Men are commissioned in the different branches of the service according to their capabilities as officers in those branches, not because of their social standing. They are picked for the cavalry because they are good cavalrymen; for the infantry because they are good infantrymen; for the artillery because they are good artillerymen, and so on. The cavalry is not better socially than the other branches of the service. The infantry is not considered less desirable socially than the other branches of the service. They are all on a par socially. The same is true of the regiments in each. There are no crack regiments which look down upon others.
In the first place, there are no class distinctions in this country.
In the second place, all cadets at the Military Academy at West Point are on exactly the same footing in every way. They all take the same course, and do not know until just before graduation whether they are going to be cavalrymen, infantrymen, artillerymen, or engineers afterward.
The result is that every man has classmates and friends in every branch of the service. A cavalryman is not going to turn up his nose at a classmate and friend who has gone into the infantry because he liked it better, and who, perhaps, had a higher standing, scholastically and otherwise, throughout their four years together at the Military Academy.
In addition, approximately half the corps of officers, as a rule, are not graduates of the Military Academy. Some come from private military schools, some are graduates of the great colleges of the country. In each war a number of men who are volunteer or temporary officers find they like the army and a military life better than they do civil life. Many of these men are commissioned in the regular forces. Enlisting in the ranks and working up to a commission has been a favorite way with many youngsters who are unable to obtain an appointment to West Point.
Regardless of which methods the officers used to obtain their commissions, their military and social standing are absolutely alike. Being essentially American, they do not consider themselves a class apart from the mass of their fellow citizens. In accepting a commission in the army, they are merely following a profession in the same way that other men become lawyers, doctors, or engineers.
As for military traditions, not only the regular army, but the national guard also, is full of it. There are older regiments in Europe than in this country, because Europe is much older. However, when the Great War broke out there were few European regiments with as many battle honors on their colors and standards as those carried by a number of our regiments.
In the periods between the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Civil War, the Indians kept our regulars busy. From the close of the Civil War in 1865 until 1881, each year they took a toll in dead and wounded officers and men. They have done so several times since.
The Spanish-American War, the Philippine Insurrection, the Boxer Campaign in China, and various armed expeditions into Mexico, all have furnished their list of brave deeds done in battle and of men who suffered wounds and death in the service of their country.
Many of our national guard regiments have old traditions. Belonging to their communities, they have gone to each of our wars as the direct representatives in our army of these communities. There were numerous of these regiments in the Great War which contained men, sons of those in the same regiment in the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection, and grandsons of soldiers in these same regiments in the Civil War.
The Forty-second Infantry Division of our Great War was called "The Rainbow" because it was made up of picked national guard units from New York to California and from Minnesota to Alabama. Upon being assembled, the New York infantry regiment and the one from Alabama, later to become the best of friends, promptly engaged in a row because they had faced each other on several battle-fields of the Civil War. The New York regiment was in the Army of the Potomac throughout. The Alabama regiment was in the Army of Northern Virginia throughout. Both regiments served in 1898 and on the Mexican border in the summer of 1916.
Some of our national guard regiments antedate our Revolutionary forces, having been in existence as troops of a British colony.
The idea that the Great War was different from other wars was not held by all the French and British military leaders. Marshal Foch never believed it. It furnished a convenient excuse for those civil and military leaders of the Allies who were responsible for the bad management of the war. It was a good answer to the question, why had not the Allies yet beaten Germany, when they so outnumbered that country in population and material resources of every kind?
However, Foch was not in command when Pershing arrived in Europe, nor was he to be until practically ten months later. Furthermore, what Foch advised to be done was not done. It was only when face to face with defeat by the Germans, in March and April, 1918, that the British and French authorities finally agreed to put him in charge of the western front.
When Marshal Foch was put in charge of the western front, he showed by the orders he gave and the movements he had carried out, that he did not think the Great War was different in principle from the wars which had gone before it. Since the Armistice, two books on the art of war, written by him prior to 1914, have been widely in demand. Though new editions have been printed, the only change the Marshal has made is to add a preface. In other words, his war experience has not led him to add to or change the principles he enunciated in these books.
General Pershing and our trained officers did not believe the Great War different from other wars, any more than did Marshal Foch.
The fact that fighting was going on with both sides in trenches was nothing new. The use of trenches to aid armies, both in attack and in defense, was steadily developed in our Civil War. The final stages of that war found Lee's army in trenches stretching from in front of Richmond to in front of Petersburg, with Grant's army in trenches facing them. While the trench line in the Great War was much longer than the Richmond-Petersburg line, the only reason was that the armies facing each other were much bigger than those of Grant and Lee, and, therefore, needed more trenches to protect them.
Grant's troops made headlong assaults, which failed with heavy loss, just as did similar assaults in the Great War. Mines were dug underneath enemy trenches and exploded, blowing them and their occupants into the air. Hand grenades were used, in fact, had been used in the siege of Vicksburg nearly two years before. A short mortar, called a coehorn, was used, just as the trench mortar of the Great War, to throw a shell full of explosives almost straight up into the air, so that it would drop down into the enemy's trench and explode there, thus robbing the men in it of the protection given by "digging in."
The Russo-Japanese War was seen by General Pershing, by General Kuhn, the chief of our War College when we entered the Great War, and by General March, General Pershing's first chief of artillery in Europe, and later the war chief of staff in Washington. This war was studied by all our higher ranking officers. Trenches were extensively used in it. There were no developments beyond those of our Civil War, except those which the greater range of modern weapons and the greater force of modern explosives demanded.
Our past military history had shown us the way and furnished us the experience to determine proper organization for our armies, the tactical methods best suited to modern weapons, and the leadership which would carry our people to the greatest success in battle.
Our study of European methods, extending over a period of more than one hundred and fifty years, including the Great War up to the time of the appearance of our troops on its battlefields, had convinced us of the adequacy of our own methods for modern warfare.
The records of Pershing, Liggett, Bullard, Summerall, Harbord, and our other successful corps and divisional commanders, show them worthy successors of Grant, Sherman, Sheridan, Lee, Jackson, Longstreet, and the other leaders of our armies in our Civil War.
They also prove the European fear of the inadequacy of our leadership to meet the problems of the Great War to have been baseless.
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