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STRATEGY

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Originally appearing in Volume V25, Page 993 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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STRATEGY, a term literally meaning " the art of the leader or general ",(Gr. oerparrtyos). In the strict sense the word " strategy " was originally introduced into European military literature about the opening of the 18th century, when the practice of warfare had settled down into an established routine, and the need of some term arose which should express that peculiar quality of a general's mind which rendered victory the almost certain consequence of his appearance in the field. As at that period only some small departure from established precedent—a trick or stratagem—could turn the scale between armies of about equal power, the idea of a ruse became connected with the word, and the essential quality in the general's personality which alone rendered ruses practicable, or guaranteed success in their execution, passed out of men's minds, until the gradual disappearance of these methods in the Napoleonic period focused attention again on its essential meaning, i.e. the art of the leader. Then the term " strategy " became limited as a technical term to the " practice of the art of war by an executive agent of a supreme government," or in Moltke's words, the practical adaptation of the means placed at a general's disposal to the attainment of the object in view." This definition fixes the responsibility of a commander-in-chief to the government he serves. He cannot be held answerable for the " means," not even for the training of the " means " for a particular operation, unless he be appointed to his task in adequate time. He is charged with their employment within the limits of the theatre of operations assigned to him. If he considers the means placed at his disposal inadequate he need not accept the position offered him, but he steps beyond his province as a strategist if he attempts to dictate to the government what, in the widest sense, the means supplied to him should be. Since, however, the " means," i.e. the conditions of the problems presented by war, are subject to infinite variation (climate, topography, equipment, arms and men, all being liable to collective or independent change) it is clear that their employment can never be reduced to a " science " but must retain to the full the characteristics of an " art." This distinction is essential, and must be borne in mind, for no soldier can expect to become a Napoleon merely by the study of that great strategist's campaigns. But if he lack practice and experience, and above all genius, the man who neglects such teachings as the contemplation of the works of his predecessors can supply does so at his own peril; and when, as in the case of the soldier, the whole destiny of an empire may depend on his action, he must be bold indeed who would neglect all possible precautions. The cases for study, however, rest on yet broader foundations, for, though theory deduced from history can never, from the nature of things, formulate positive prescriptions, it can at any rate enable the student to throw off the chains of convention and prepare his mind to balance the conflicting claims of the many factors which at every moment clamour for special recognition. To understand the subject thoroughly it is necessary to follow in some detail the successive stages of human evolution. From the earliest times the defeat of the fighting men of a race has been the most certain road to the acquisition of its wealth, or the trade conditions on which that wealth was based. To defeat an enemy it was first necessary to march to meet him, and during that march the invaders must either live on the country or carry their own food. If the defender drove off the cattle and burnt the crops, the latter alternative was forced upon them. Thus, since the supplies which could be carried were of necessity small, the defenders had only to create or utilize some passive obstacle for defence which the invaders could not traverse or destroy in the limit of time (fixed by the provisions they carried) at their disposal, to compel the latter to retire to their own country. Every sedentary nation, therefore, had a fixed striking radius which could only be extended by the exercise of ingenuity in the improvement of means of transport, i.e. carts and roads. The existence of roads, however, limited the march of an invader to certain directions, and hence it be-came possible for the defender to concentrate his efforts for their defence on certain points, in fact, to create fortresses, greater forward in the next campaign, and made corresponding prepara• or less in proportion to his fear of the enemy and his intelligent f tions to meet him. Practically the king desiring to make wat appreciation of the degree of sacrifice it was worth while to make to obtain security. A barbarian horde could be stopped by any barrier which could not be set on fire or escaladed without ladders or appliances. Ruses, such as the wooden horse of Troy, then became the fashion, and these had to be met by the cultivation of a higher order of intelligence, which naturally throve best in a crowded community, where each felt his dependence on his neighbour. Thus, for ages, the fort or fortress limited barbarian encroachments, and made possible the growth of civilization in the plains. Ultimately, when the civilized communities grew into contact with one another, developed antagonistic interests, and fell out with one another, intelligence was brought to bear on both sides, and the assailant met fortification with siege-craft. Then the whole cycle worked itself out again. To carry out a siege, men in numbers had to be concentrated and fed whilst concentrated. The stores for attack were also heavy and difficult to convey, hence roads developed in-creased importance, and troops had to be abstracted from the fighting force to protect them. Thus again a limit of striking radius was fixed for the invader, and in proportion as the dimensions of the invaded country exceeded•this radius, and its people made the requisite sacrifices to maintain their fortifications in order, the continued existence and growth of the smaller country was assured. Broadly, this equilibrium of forces remained for generations; the smallest states were eaten up, the larger ones continued to exist side by side with far more powerful enemies, but only on condition of their readiness to make the requisite sacrifice of their personal liberty and the property of their constituent units. Then came the introduction of gunpowder and of siege artillery, and a fresh readaptation of conditions, which culminated in the Netherlands during the 17th century and forms the starting-point of all modern practice. Essentially the change consisted in this, viz. that in spite of the superiority of the cannon-ball to the battering-ram, yet to attack a wall effectively many guns had to be employed, and while the duration of the siege was enormously shortened, a far greater strain was thrown on the line of supply, for not only did guns weigh as much as their predecessors but they could expend their own weight of ammunition in a day. Hence the importance of good roads became enhanced and correspondingly the incentive to attack the fortresses which guarded them. In comparison to the money devoted to modern armies, the sums sunk on passive defences during the 16th and 17th centuries were colossal, but they could not keep pace with the progress of the attack, and once more fresh readjustment of means to end became necessary. The obvious course was to carry the war into the enemy's country from the outset, but since this transferred the burden of the siege upon the aggressor, the latter was compelled to develop the standing mercenary army, as feudal levies could not keep the field long enough to reduce a fortress. Mercenary armies, however, were difficult to keep together. They had to be tactfully commanded to ensure contentment, and allowed to maintain social order amongst themselves, and the prospect of loot while on active service had to be held out to them. The sack of a city became thus the absolute and undeniable right of the soldiers. If in this or any other way their employer broke his contract, individuals promptly deserted to the other side. But this right of sack led to a recrudescence of the spirit of resistance in the fortresses (War of Dutch Independence and Thirty Years' War), and hence to a reaction in favour of greater humanity in warfare. But this was only obtained by the concession of a higher scale of pay and comfort to the men, which again threw an increased strain upon the communications, and also upon the treasure chest of their employer. The growth of the mercenary system, and the facility with which such men could and did change their allegiance, led very rapidly to almost complete uniformity in the composition, training and tactical methods of all armies. Every one knew in advance the degree of effort his adversary proposed to put submitted his idea to the best-known generals of his day and asked them to tender for its execution. The king, on his side, generally agreed to find the bulk of the labour—his standing army, reinforced by auxiliaries to any desired extent—and as in the case of a modern government contract, the lowest tender was almost invariably accepted, with a pious exhortation to the successful competitor to spare his employer's troops- to the best of his ability. Thus the opposing generals took the field, each equally fettered by the conditions of his tender. But two such armies; alike in almost every respect, were far too closely matched to be able easily to gain a decision in the open field. Once they were committed, to a battle it was impossible to separate them until sheer physical . exhaustion Out a stop to the slaughter, and these highly trained men were difficult and expensive to replace. Naturally, then, the generals sought to destroy the existing equilibrium by other means. Primarily they took to strong entrenchments, but the building of these being a matter of tithe, the communications grew in importance and attempts against them became more serious. One side or the other, consequently, to cover its communications, so extended its front that at length lines stretched right across whole frontiers till their flanks rested on the sea, or on some great fortress or neutral territory. The two armies would then face one another for months, each exhausting every device to induce the other to concentrate on one part of his front whilst an attempt was made by a rapid move to carry a relatively unguarded point elsewhere, e.g. Marlborough's surprise of the Ne plus ultra lines (see SPANISH SUCCESSION). During such periods of immobility the works grew to the solidity of permanent fortifications, with wide and deep ditches, and with every obstacle known'to engineers, whilst to render them defensible by the minimum number of muskets, they were laid out so as to cross their fire over and over again opposite every weak point in tlibir tracing. No amount of battering could alter their general trace, and so they remained defensible as long as their garrisons could be trusted to line the parapets at all. This state of things must have continued until progress in artillery had evolved a weapon with sufficient accuracy and shell power to drive the defenders from their parapets and keep them away till the last moment preceding assault, had not fresh factors evolved themselves from causes at work under totally different topographical limitations and conditions. - First amongst these comes the accession to the throne of Prussia of a king who was commander-in-chief of his own army, and as such responsible to no one for the use he chose to make of it. This would really remove him at once from the category of strategists in the restricted sense in which the term is now employed, but since no - convenient word exists to define the action of a ruler playing the double part of soldier and governor, it is convenient both in his case and in that of Napoleon to use the expression to cover the wider sphere. The permanence of the association between king and army enabled Frederick the Great to train his men specifically for the work he intended them to perform. Realizing to the full the value of the foundation laid by his father in developing to its utmost the fire power of the infantry, he devoted special attention to imparting to them a skill and rapidity in manoeuvre which ensured that in the open field his generals would always be able to place the muskets at their disposal in the best positions relatively to the enemy; and his cavalry were trained to such a pitch of mobility and precision in drill that they could be relied on to arrive at the appointed time and place to reap the fruits which the infantry fire had sown. To these startling innovations the Austrians had no new ideas to oppose. The old school, the survival of the fittest in the special theatre df its growth, i.e. the Netherlands and the Rhine, could not deal with the complete change in topographic surroundings—the far wider area of operations, the comparative scarcity of fortresses and the general practicability of the country for the movement of troops—not trains—off the roads. Frederick, relying absolutely on the intrinsic superiority of his army, knew that if he could catch his enemy in the open victory was a foregone conclusion. If the enemy, in accordance with precedent, fortified a position, a threat to his communications would force him to come out on pain of being surrounded (Pirna 1756, Prague 1757). He followed this principle (see SEVEN YEARS' WAR) until the accession, first of France and the South German states, and afterwards of Russia, to the list of his enemies compelled him to give one enemy time to prepare a position whilst he was engaged against another. Before deliberately prepared positions his men were shot down in thousands, as they would have been in the Netherlands, and at length he was compelled, for want of an adequate artillery, to adopt the same procedure as his adversary. Thus the war ultimately came to an end by a process of mutual exhaustion. But it had brought out conspicuously the value of highly disciplined soldiery, and a fresh fetter was prepared for those on whom, after Frederick's death, the responsibility of command was to fall, and practically all Europe went back to the warfare by contract of the previous generation. Meanwhile in France events were at work preparing the instrument Napoleon was destined to wield. Contrary to the prevailing opinion amongst modern historians, it is the fact that at no time in history was the art of war, and of all things appertaining to it, more closely studied than during the last years of the old royal army of France. Gribeauval paved the way for the creation of the artillery destined to win for Napoleon his greatest victories, and authors and generals such as the prince de Ligne (q.v.), the duc de Broglie, Guibert (q.v.), Bosroger, du Tell and many others, pointed out clearly the line reform must take if the existing deadlock between attack and defence was to be removed; but none could suggest the first practical steps to apply, because the existing conditions were too closely interwoven and consolidated. In fact reform was impossible until the dissolution of society itself gave its ultimate particles freedom to combine in more suitable formations. Broadly, however, all were agreed that the protracted and indecisive operations of former wars were economically disastrous. A crushing and decisive victory was the aim for which all should strive; as a first step towards this object decentralization of command was essential, for freedom of manoeuvre, the only answer to Frederician methods, was impossible without it. This led to the idea of the permanently organized division of all arms; and events had reached this point when the deluge of the French Revolution overwhelmed them, and in face of a coalition of all Europe it became necessary to build up a new army from the very foundations. The steps by which it was sought to provide the men are dealt with in the article CONSCRIPTION; it is only necessary to point out here that it was not till 1799 that the laws became sufficiently defined to ensure a regular annual increment of recruits, and it was this regularity of supply, and not the fact that compulsion was needed to enforce it, which rendered expedient the complete revolution in warfare which Napoleon was destined to effect. Until this reform was complete the revolutionary commanders were compelled to make war as best they could under pressure of the law of self-preservation, with the consequence that the whole army became habituated to the fact that orders in the field had to be obeyed at any sacrifice of life and comfort, and that neither hunger nor want of shoes, even of muskets, could be accepted as an excuse for hesitation to advance and to fight. Threatened on all sides, France was at first compelled to guard every avenue of approach by small separate forces taking their instructions only from a central authority in Paris, and thus the " division," a mobile force of all arms, which the earlier reformers had demanded, came spontaneously into existence to meet the requirements of the moment, and, thrown on its own resources, developed the brain and nervous system, i.e. the staff, necessary to co-ordinate the action of its limbs. The next step in evolution came from the obvious advantage which must arise if these units, though starting from different bases, operated towards the attainment of a common purpose. The realization of this ideal, the starting-point of modern strategy, was the creation of Carnot, whose ideas, though far inadvance both of contemporary opinion and of the technical means of execution then available (especially in the matter of imperfect means of telegraphy), formed a necessary step in the preparation of the machinery Napoleon was to inherit. These, therefore, were the materials placed at his disposal when he began to practise the art of the leader: (I) a practically inexhaustible supply of men (the law in fact was not passed till two years later, but the idea was sufficiently evident); (2) divisional units and commanders, trained to unhesitating obedience to field orders, and accustomed to solve the problems presented to them in their own way, without guidance from superior authority; (3) the idea of co-operation between separate columns for a common purpose; and (4) a tradition that the word "impossible" did not exist for French soldiers. The equipment of the allies started from very different foundations. To them the individual soldier was a valuable possession, representing an investment of capital generally estimated at £200 cash (as great a strain on the exchequer then as £2,000 would be to-day) ; and not only was he exposed to the risk of death in action, but he might die of disease or exhaustion on the march, and could always desert if he felt discontented. Moreover, the last campaigns of the Seven Years' War seemed altogether to justify methods of evasion and " strong positions." Frederick the Great; beginning with the most audacious offensive, had ended by copying the caution of his antagonists, and each side had learnt to gauge the fighting value of a single battalion so accurately that to move a force, recognized by both as adequate for its purpose, into a threatening position, sufficed of itself to induce the adversary to accept the situation thus created. Since the value of a fortified position depended largely on the ground, the cult of topography became a mania, and (as Clausewitz puts it) the world lost itself in debating whether " the battalion defended the mountain or the mountain defended the battalion." The care for the comfort of the private soldier was pushed to such a degree that commanders would not report their units fit for action until complete to the last gaiter button and provided in advance with the regulation scale of rations for a fixed number of days. Over-centralization continued; though the expressions " divisions " and " corps " were already known, the idea these words now convey had not yet even come into existence. Though a certain number of units might be assigned to a subordinate commander, they still received all orders, except on the battlefield, from the central authority, and were, moreover, considered interchangeable. There was no personal bond between them and their general. To what lengths this system was pushed, and the consequences which flowed from it, may best be gauged from the fact that in 18o5 Mack, when writing his defence for his failure at Ulm (see NAPOLEONIC CAMPAIGNS), thought it quite natural to explain the delay in his movements on the day of Elchingen by the fact that when news of the French attack was received he was busy writing out the orders for the following day, which occupied fourteen pages of foolscap and " did not contain one superfluous word." Further, the idea prevailed in middle Europe that war was a matter concerning the contending governments in which the ordinary citizen had no interest whatever. It was true that the result of a war might transfer his allegiance from one crown to another, but this was scarcely more to the people than a change of landlords. Consequently they took little if any interest in the progress of a war, and on the whole were most inclined to help the army which most respected their private property and was willing to pay highest for its accommodation while billeted in their towns and villages. Since the goodwill of inhabitants is always valuable, commanders vied with one another in their efforts to purchase it, and respect for private property and rights reached an unprecedented level. Thus, during the whole of the campaign of the Netherlands in 1793 the Austrians paid hire to the owners of the fields in which they camped; and when on one occasion payment for lodgings hired for the wounded was in arrear, the wretched men were flung out on. the streets. Yet another, and in a way more remarkable, illustration of this tendency occurred at the capture of Mainz by the French (1794). A strong armed party of Austrians, endeavouring to escape across the Rhine to Kastel, were refused the use of the ferry boats until the regular payment was made, and actually laid down their arms to the enemy'rather than break the law and seize the boats. The cumulative influence of all these forces of retardation is easily followed. To avoid the cost of innumerable petty cash transactions with the inhabitants the troops were compelled to have recourse to the magazine system, which in turn tied them absolutely to the main roads; and the roads being numerous the army had to be broken up into small detachments to guard them. Thus the so-called " cordon " system grew out of its surroundings in a perfectly natural way, and was not due to the imbecility of the generals who employed it, but to the restraints placed upon them by custom and public feeling. Nothing more fortunate for the French could be imagined. Destitute of all the paraphernalia hitherto considered necessary, and compelled to fight at any cost in order to live, they found in these accumulated magazines and moving convoys the best possible bait to attract their starving men; relieved of all impedimenta, they could move freely through forests and marshes generally considered impracticable; and since from the magnitude of front covered, and the relatively small number of troops available, the allies could not oppose an unbroken front to their raids, they could swarm around the flanks of the positions and thus compel their evacuation. This struggle to safeguard or turn the flanks of positions led, as before in Marlborough's time and in our own day in Manchuria and South Africa, to a competition in extension, and at Napoleon's advent it was common to find armies of 20,000 to 30,000 men fighting desultory actions over a front of 20 to 30 M. This over-extension gave him his first opportunity, when the fire and energy he threw into his work, and the reckless disregard of human life he immediately displayed, stamped him at once as a born leader of men, and laid the foundation of that confidence in his guidance on the part of his troops which to the last proved his truest talisman of victory. For the details of Napoleon's evolution the reader is referred to the articles FRENCH REVOLUTIONARY WARS and NAPOLEONIC CAMPAIGNS, and here it will suffice to point out the leading characteristics of those campaigns. Having swept the Austrians out of Sardinia, he turned against them in eastern Lombardy, and by a series of outflanking attacks threw them back into the Alps, defeating all their attempts to break out again by what is now known as a " series of operations on interior lines." All these were successful, not because of the form the operations took, but because the enormous increment of mobility he man-aged to impart to his men deprived his adversary of all accepted data by which to time his own combinations. It cannot with justice be said that the French won because they fought harder; but the rapid sequence of success confirmed both leader and men in a conviction of their combined superiority which led Napoleon in 'Soo to the very brink of disaster. In 1796 through-out he was acting fairly in accordance with the teaching he had imbibed from his studies; in 1800 he appears as if seeking to determine how many of the established rules he could afford to neglect. We find him advancing to meet his adversary on a widely extended front without even exploring the country to learn where or in what strength that adversary stood. In 1805 this mistake is not repeated; a cavalry screen covers his advance, and his orders are based on the intelligence it transmits. But this precaution also proves insufficient. Cavalry can only see, they cannot hold; and only a combination of circumstances which he could not by any possibility have foreseen prevents his enemy from evading the blow at the last moment. What the position of the French would have been had Mack carried out his intention of leaving Ulm and destroying all his accumulation of supplies can only be imagined. But contemporary evidence proves beyond doubt that Napoleon had already tr'ed the endurance of his men to the utmost. In 18o6 the mistake of sole reliance on a cavalry screen is no longer repeated. The cavalry now is backed by a strong advanced guard, one quarter of the whole army, followingbehind it at short distance; and the whole command is now disposed in such a manner that no matter in what direction the enemy may appear it can concentrate in forty-eight hours to meet him. It is another form of the idea, prominent in British campaigns in the Sudan, of the advance in squares through the desert against a mobile enemy, the difference being that Napoleon's great "bataillon carree" has the advantage of mobility over its adversary. Concentration within forty-eight hours, however, would in itself be worse than useless unless the enemy stood fast to receive the intended shock; and it was the special object of the strong advanced guards or flank detachments to secure that he should do so. This could only be attained by a resolute offensive; no mere feeling the enemy's position would suffice to compel him. to stand, and might even frighten him into retreat. Hence the task devolving upon the troops thus selected was essentially distinct from that usually connected with the idea of an advanced or flank guard, and involved the conception of purchasing with their lives and by the vigour of their action the time necessary for the rest of the army to deliver a decisive blow. This is the true meaning of Napoleon's maxim: On we manoeuvre qu'autour d'un point fixe, a phrase which has been much misunderstood. The troops first engaged fix the enemy by the vigour of their attack, and thus constitute a pivot about which the remainder can manoeuvre. Hitherto, however, the French armies had been operating in a country in which roughly one square mile of area would feed one thousand men for two days. Their freedom from convoys and other impedimenta enabled them to sweep out an area sufficient for their needs from day to day. But events now led them into a region in which this relation between the day's march and their subsistence no longer obtained. The emperor in fact had formed no conception of the readlessness and poverty of Poland and East. Prussia. His men, no longer able to pick up their day's food by a day's march, rapidly fell off in condition and discipline (for short commons with the French always en-tailed marauding). As men and horses lost in condition the day's march dwindled further, with the result that heavier demands were made on the supply columns; and these being improvised and entrusted to an untrained personnel, the sufferings of the troops became unendurable, while the mobility of the French army sank below that of the enemy. Under these conditions the system of the advanced guard could no longer be trusted to work. Moreover the Russians, though deficient in the dash necessary to win victories in attack, have always taken longer to defeat than any other continental troops, and in the short winter days of the first half of the Polish campaign the emperor had no longer time to beat them into dissolution. The Russians would fight all day and retreat at night. As they fell back along their communications their feeding was easy. The exhausted French could never overtake them, and the emperor was at length compelled to adopt an expectant attitude. Not before Friedland (June 14, 1807), when the days were long and the country dry and everywhere passable, did his calculations of time and space prove realized and the system justified by the results. When in 1812 he again attempted to apply it at Vilna and Smolensk the Russians successfully repeated their tactics of evasion on every occasion, until, when they had fallen back to Borodino, their enemy had so far diminished that a battle in a selected position promised reasonable chances of success. Meanwhile a fresh development in the tactics of the three arms added a new weapon to Napoleon's armoury, rendering the application of his system or any variant of it markedly more certain and efficacious. Whilst the infantry which fought under Napoleon's eagles had been steadily deteriorating, owing to the exorbitant demands his ceaseless marching campaigns had made upon them, the quality of his enemies had been as steadily improving. The growth of the sentiment of nationality had rendered it possible to throw aside the rigidity and impediments of the old conditions. There was no longer any fear that men would desert if called on to bivouac or if rations failed to come up to the accepted standard, and the essential points of the French infantry tactics having been assimilated they developed a relatively higher standard of endurance as measured by time. Means had to be discovered to ensure their destruction before nightfall gave them the opportunity of withdrawal; and the evolution of the artillery arm (see ARTILLERY) at last gave Napoleon the weapon he required to realize the ideal implanted in his mind by his teacher du Tell, vix. concentration of the destructive elements on the decisive point, which was derived originally from the analogy between the attack on a fortress and the conduct of a battle. A battle is but an abbreviated siege, or a siege a prolonged battle. In the former the object is to purchase time at the cost of men's lives, in the latter to economize men by expenditure of time; but in both the final step is the same, viz, the creation of a breach of continuity in the enemy's defence through which the assaulting columns can penetrate to the heart of his position. Thanks to the increased mobility in the field artillery and skill in handling it (the result of years of experience), it was now possible, once the aim of the enemy's infantry had been unsteadied, to bring up masses of guns to case-shot range and to breach the living rampart of the defence; and through the gap thus created, infantry or cavalry, or both combined, poured to overwhelm the last reserves beyond. This step completed Napoleon's means of destroying that " independent will power " of his adversary which is after all the greatest variable in the whole problem of war. His advanced guard engaged and fixed his enemy's attention, inducing him prematurely to use up his reserves, and when the battle was " ripe, " to use his own expression, the great blow was delivered with overwhelming suddenness by the balance of fresh troops which he had in hand. But the whole of his action depended essentially on an exact appreciation of the endurance of his own troops first engaged, at the cost of whom the reserves were saved up. It was the possession of this method which rendered Napoleon supreme upon the battlefield and fully justified the reluctance which his enemies showed to hazard its issue; but in the end it also proved the cause of his downfall, for in his fruitless efforts to bring the allies to action in 1813 he so completely wore out his troops that it became physically impossible for them to meet his demands. The campaign of 1813 deserves attentive study, for in it Napoleon was both at his best and worst, acting as strategist pure and simple, applying the means at hand to the attainment of the object in view almost without a second thought for the diplomatic relations which so often hampered his military action, notably in 1814. In the famous " defensive campaign " of the latter year, which is usually held up as a model for imitation, he can hardly be said to have acted as a strategist at all, his movements being primarily directed to the destruction of the personal relations existing between the three allied monarchs, not to the annihilation of their respective armies, a task for which from the first he knew his resources to be entirely inadequate. The Waterloo campaign (q.v.) again reveals the application of this system in its most finished form. That it failed ultimately was due primarily to atmospheric influences beyond the emperor's control, and in the second place to the introduction of a new tactical method by the British army for which his previous experience had in no way prepared him. That after the event Napoleon should have sough. to justify himself is further proof of the essential duality of his nature, which only rose to intuitive genius in war under the pressure of visible and tangible realities. Relaxed from excitement, he was the creature of his surroundings, controlled by contemporary thought like everyone else; and it is to failure to recognize this duality in his mind that all subsequent confusion in strategical thought owes its origin. It was clear that the career of such a genius could not pass unnoticed by military critics, hence, even while it was still in the making, every student of the military art felt compelled to pass judgment upon its incidents merely to show that lie was abreast of the times. More or less, each one tried to show that Napoleon's victories were due to the observance of the critic's own hobbies. These men, brought up on the oldmilitary classics, and unaware of the ceaseless current of social changes which was seething around them, instinctively distorted facts to fit in with their preconceived theories. This is always inevitable with regard to contemporary criticism, since distance of time is always needed to bring facts down to their true perspective. It is quite clear from his innumerable reported conversations, and it is quite natural when one considers Napoleon's age, that in the back of his mind he stood rather in awe of these older and often far more deeply-read men. In any case it was quite obvious to him that his military reputation. would stand or fall by their collective judgment. , Hence, as soon as he had leisure, he set himself to explain his exploits in terms which they could understand. That he would be criticized for his frequent departure from established practice (for instance, in neglecting his communications, and again and again accepting or forcing on a battle in situations in which defeat must have spelt utter ruin) he was well aware. Hence to stifle such criticism in advance he went out of his way to accentuate the care he had devoted to his communications, as in the Marengo campaign, at Ulm, at Austerlitz, and again and again in the campaigns of Wagram and of Dresden. But the truth really is that as long as he adhered to his "bataillon carree" formation, and the country in which he was operating was fertile enough to support his men, his communications mattered little to him. His certainty of victory, if only the enemy could be induced to stand, was so great that he could fight his way through to where his reinforcements were prepared for him, in whatever direction suited him best. Whilst he admitted, as all must do, the sound common sense at the bottom of all rules deduced from centuries of experience, he never raised them to the dignity of inviolable principles, as he did the principle of the fixed point as a pivot for manoeuvres, the case-shot attack, and the employment of the avant-garde ge erale. It seems indeed as if these fundamental principles appeared to his mind so self-evident that he assumed them as common knowledge in every intelligent mind, and hence never took the trouble to explain them to his marshals, though he did condescend to allude to them when writing to his brother Jerome and to Eugene de Beauharnais, with the limitations of whose minds he was quite familiar. Marmont, Rogniat, Soult and St Cyr were men for whose intellect he- had the highest esteem, and all wrote at length on the subject of his campaigns, yet not an expression in their works, not a manoeuvre in their independent commands, can be held to betray a knowledge of what was really the secret of the emperor's successes. For instance, by the year 1812 Marmont may fairly be assumed to have learnt all he ever could learn from Napoleon's example; yet at Salamanca we find him manoeuvring quite like one of Frederick's generals. Napoleon would have attacked Welling-ton with a strong advanced-guard, one-fourth of his command at the least, and whilst the latter was busied in warding off his assailant's successive blows the emperor would have swung the remainder round upon his enemies' flank, and, with a three-toone superiority at the decisive point, have driven him off the road back to Salamanca. This idea never even entered Marmont's head. Watching Wellington with a screen of vedettes only, he set his whole army in motion to march round his flank, like Frederick at Leuthen. An Austrian army in the - old days would usually stand to be surrounded, but Wellington, instead, set his whole force in motion, i.e. manoeuvred. Again in 1813 (just after frequent conversations with the emperor, in one of which the latter stated his opinion that war was a " science " like any other, and that some day he would write a book out of which any one could learn it), Marmont, in command of the VI. corps, found himself opposed - to the Silesian army under Blucher, and immediately took up a defensive position, which he occupied by two lines of brigades deployed in line and echeloned from left to right. No one who had entered into the spirit of the emperor's method could have adopted such a formation. Instances of a similar nature might be multiplied, and their multiplicity need surprise no one who has studied the psychology of action taken under circumstances of intense excitement or imminent danger. Most of us know rules for did valuable service in the operations culminating with the battle of Bautzen; but, receiving no adequate recognition for them, he deserted to the allies, and was attached by the emperor Alexander, where again he rendered conspicuous service, notably at Leipzig; but his desertion caused him to be viewed with such marked disfavour by all honourable men that he speedily sank into social oblivion, although he remained in the Russian service until his death in 1869. Nevertheless, though he had deserted his cause, he still retained unbounded admiration for the genius of his great master, whose reputation certainly does not suffer at his hands, except for the excess of adulation and bombast with which his historical writings are disfigured. But his social isolation cut him off from authentic eyewitness sources, and he was by nature an inventor of systems. The secret of Napoleon's success he found in the system of " interior lines "—a phrase he invented to designate a method which was almost as old as war itself ; and from this system he deduced its opposite, " exterior lines, " and a whole sequence of others, which in the end all resolve themselves into the same idea. A diagram will make the matter clearer than many words. If an army A stands in a conduct in all kinds of emergencies, but how often afterwards could anyone describe with accuracy the mental process by which his action in such crises was dictated? Probably never. Intuitively the mind recognizes the right course and fixes upon it, and with the cessation of the emergency finds it impossible to recall the order in which the facts presented themselves to his consciousness. In war these emergencies are constantly arising, so that by degrees the recollection of them becomes blurred, and the chief actor's presentation of them is often the least trustworthy testimony we possess. The act speaks for itself. But where hundreds of thousands of acts are crowded into the short compass of a campaign, a true view of their whole can only be obtained when all have become accessible and time emancipates criticism from partiality. But nations cannot afford to wait until lapse of time renders it safe to publish all diplomatic and other secrets; and many were ready to attempt the solution of the problems of Napoleon's career. The most prominent were Jomini (q. v.), speaking for the French army, and Clausewitz (q. v.), for the Prussian. The former, a native of Switzerland, had attracted the attention of Napoleon by the insight his criticisms revealed, and had been attached by him to the staff, where he served under Ney almost continuously from 18o6 to 1813. In the latter year there is no doubt that hecentral position relatively to two other armies B, C, converging upon it, then, if it moves against each in succession and beats them both, it is said to act on " interior lines "; whilst B and C act on " exterior lines. " What it is said to do when at the first shock B beats it out of existence the books fail to inform us. From this theorem are deduced in succession the advantages and disadvantages of salient and re-entering angles, &c., with which, as a rule, military historians so freely befog their pages. Since the object of all strategy is to bring the greatest possible force to bear against the decisive point, it is obvious to ask why armies should not always be concentrated, and why they should ever divide. The answer is that a given district and a single road will only subsist a certain number of men, a number which in practice is found to be about 6o,000 with their requisite guns and train. Hence an army, say of 120,000 men, not only cannot subsist on a single line or road, but when divided into two equal parts, and separated only by a short day's march, is really more ready for instant action than an army of 90,000 on one road. Separation, therefore, when large numbers are in question, is a necessity of existence, not a matter of free choice; but when it is thus forced upon a commander he regulates the rate of his march so that his separate columns cannot be attacked singly before the heads of both are within supporting distance of one another; the jaws of the crackers then close on the nut, and unless the nut proves harder than the crackers the nut is crushed. But this calculation reposes on an accurate knowledge of the marching powers of the adversary, and it was in this that Napoleon's enemies failed. Accustomed only to their own deliberate methods, they were quite unable to imagine Napoleon's lightning-like rapidity. Marching twenty-five miles in a day, his whole army would hurl itself on one of the columns whilst the other was still too far off to come to its aid, or if they had already approached so close that mutual co-operation was imminent, he would send a detachment against one to purchase time by the sacrifice of its men's lives, and would then strike at the other with the bulk of his forces united. How the detachment executed its task depended chiefly on the nature of the ground. It might fight a series of rear-guard actions if a succession of readily defensible sections favoured such action, or it might conceal its weakness and impose caution and respect on its opponent by the vigour of its attacks; for that there could be no rule, and circumstances alone could decide. In this form Napoleon won most of his earlier successes, but a little reflection will show that the method depended essentially upon his superior mobility and the willingness of his enemy to fight or the reverse. In time this dawned upon his opponents also, and when in 1813 around Dresden he tried to put this plan into force the allied column immediately threatened retreated before him, whilst the other continued its advance, thus compelling him to return to succour his retaining detachment, which, of course, could not struggle on indefinitely against a marked superiority .of numbers. He himself confessed during the September days in Dresden that this jeu de va-etvient, as he described it, had completely broken down his army. If, on the other hand, the commander of the central army under-estimates his opponent's marching powers its doom is sealed, for both his flanks are turned in advance and he comes under a concentrated fire to which it can only oppose a divergent one. This difference is more marked now than formerly; and stated in its extreme form, for rifle fire only, it really means that every bullet fired from the circumference stands a tenfold better chance of hitting something vulnerable than those directed from the centre towards the circumference. The only salvation for an army thus threatened is to move by a lateral march out-side the jaws of the crackers, and fall on one limb only, when, if it is tactically formidable, it stands a good chance of overwhelming the force immediately opposed to it before the others can arrive. For instance, at Koniggratz, if the Austrian main army, pivoting on the fixed point made by their and and 4th corps engaged with Prince Frederick Charles's army, had swung round the remaining six corps upon that of the crown prince by a short march of from six to eight miles, the Elbe army would have struck a blow in the air, and the situation —~' A Line of Communication ff°'t'e' A Q Q .1 s B'. Line of Communication Forming Front to a Flank A would have been rescued in spite of the slowness and indecision of previous movements. An army standing on interior lines, therefore, occupies a position of advantage or the reverse according to the skill of its leader and its own inherent fighting capacity, and this whether its position arises from operations during the actual course of hostilities, or from circumstances already pre-existent in peace time, as for instance, the configuration of frontiers. The phrase, therefore, " the use of interior lines, " though convenient to those who are thoroughly agreed as to its limitations, of itself explains nothing, and is a pitfall for the inexperienced. A, however, in moving as suggested against his enemy's outer flank, exposes at the same time his own communications with any place lying directly behind his point of departure. If his army suffers only from slowness, but is really superior in fighting power, this risk may be lightly taken—victory settles all things. In proportion, however, as the result of collision is doubtful, alternative lines of retreat or supply will be advantageous. Hence a broad, if possible a concave or re-entering, base or starting-line is of great importance, and, since as an invader penetrates into his enemy's country his base becomes salient, whilst that of the defender becomes re-entrant, we have here a compensating arrangement which, under given conditions of country, equipment and the like, fixes the striking radius of an aggressor precisely as was the case in former times. The case of the French invasion of Russia in 1812 is an illustration. The Russian base at any moment may be considered as formed by lines traced just outside the striking radius of small bands of French marauders; the French base as including all the territory in their occupation, for within that area they were free to fortify or protect any accumulations of stores and supplies they chose to make. By the time the French reached Moscow the Russians could afford to attack them from any direction, for, whatever happened, retreat into their own undevastated country was always open. The South African war affords a modern example of the same thing. These ideas are, after all, elementary, and readily grasped even by the average intellect, though many volumes have been devoted to proving them, and yet they are all that Jomini and his followers have to offer us—a fact that both explains and justifies the contempt with which military study was so long regarded by practical soldiers in England. Clausewitz, however, approached his subject from a higher standpoint. Gifted with a mind of exceptional power, which he had trained to the utmost in the school of German philosophy, and having seen war from the beaten side, he knew well that something more than phrase-making was needed to force a great nation to the final abnegation of its independent will. He stood throughout in the closest connexion with the directingwills which guided the German nation to achieve the final downfall of Napoleon; and he knew that these men were neither bunglers nor fools, but men whose experience well entitled them to the authority they exercised. Hence he reasoned that the catastrophes they had shared in common needed deeper analysis than they had as yet received. First of. all he sought a satisfactory definition of what war really meant, and he found the closest analogy to it in the " unrestricted competition of the business world. " Had he written in modern times he would doubtless have cast it in the Darwinian mould, viz. " war is the struggle for existence transferred to the national plane, " and this is a far more important contribution to sociology and the welfare of humanity, and will certainly exercise much greater influence on the evolution of the nations (on which, after all, the fate of the ipdividual depends) than all the works of Darwin and Herbert Spencer combined. This transference of the question to the national plane is in fact their very antithesis, for whereas the survival of the fittest threatens the stability of society on the principle of the Kilkenny cats, the survival of the race necessitates its coherence. Next, Clausewitz analysed his subject into its constituent factors. In this process he investigates all the theories of bases and geometrical relations, only to discard them as quite inadequate solutions of war's many phenomena; and finally, as between equally armed opponents, he shows that essentially success in war depends on the moral factors only. First is " courage " in all its forms, from its lowest manifestation in the excitement of a charge, to its highest in the fearless acceptance of supreme reponsibility in face of the most imminent personal danger. Next comes " duty," again in its widest sense, from the uncomplaining endurance of the humblest musketeer in the ranks, to the readiness of the whole nation to submit to the sacrifice cf, and the restraint on, personal liberty that readiness for war entails. This " readiness, " moreover, he shows to be cardinal (for nations with land frontiers), for indubitably, under the conditions then prevailing, the surest guarantee of victory in the field was the concentration of every man, horse and gun in the shortest time on the decisive point. Thus only could the advantages of greater wealth, larger population and so forth he neutralized; and the growth of modern means of communication, railways, telegraphs, &c., have only confirmed his position. It has been the gradual appreciation of portions of Clausewitz's teaching, enforced by the drastic lessons of 1866 and 187o, which has turned all Europe into an armed camp, and this fact must, for generations, stultify all ideas of European disarmament. For since everything depends on instantaneous readiness for action, it is absurd to expect that any nation will voluntarily consent to throw away the advantages these sacrifices have obtained by agreeing to delay at the very moment when its existence is most gravely threatened. An unready nation has obviously everything to gain from delay. All this portion of Clausewitz's work is fundamental, and no changes in armament or other conditions can ever affect it; it applies as much to land as to sea power, and essentially was the doctrine of Nelson and St Vincent. Indeed, at sea Nelson was in advance of Napoleon, for he quite understood the advantage to be gained in paralysing the independent will-power of his opponent by a vigorous attack, and was willing to stake his existence upon this principle, notwithstanding the infinitely more uncertain elements of wind and weather which conditioned his movements. But the rest of Clausewitz's teaching is too deeply coloured by his personal experiences, and he stood in too close a relation to the events of his time to be able to focus the details of the whole subject. Although he was the first to seize the meaning of Napoleon's case-shot attack (the description occurs for the first time in his Campaign of '815), he did not realise how this might be applied to the destruction of what he himself formulated as the most serious of all the many indeterminate factors with which a commander is called upon to deal, viz. " the independent will-power of his opponent." He saw clearly enough that time and space were the underlying conditions of all strategical calculation, and that time could be bought at the cost of men's lives; but he did not take the next step forward and show how these calculations must inevitably be upset if the enemy possessed the power of destroying men faster than experience led one to expect. He formulates from his experience that a force of the magnitude of a division, say io,000 men, can hold an overpowering enemy at bay for about six hours, and an army corps can hardly be destroyed in less than a day; on these data he bases his estimates of the marching area which an army may safely cover. But what if a new and unexpected method of applying " the means at hand to the attainment of the object in view " suddenly wipes out the division in two hours, or the army corps in six? In that case, surely, the independent will-power of the adversary would receive a most unwelcome check. Nor did he ever clearly formulate as a principle the importance of mobility. Every one of course has in a general way understood the advantages of " getting there first," and all of us have for years been familiar with the importance which Napoleon attached to rapid marching. But the tendency has always been to consider the rate of marching in itself as an invariable factor, and to calculate every operation or disposition from the time a column normally takes to deploy into position from a road or defile. But no systematic attempt to determine the advantages which might on occasion be obtained by sacrificing comfort and convenience to the acceleration of a march has ever been undertaken. Yet Napoleon saw and appreciated the point, and it must remain a riddle for all time how such a mind as Clausewitz's, which again and again had seen at first hand the consequences which followed from Napoleon's mare/re de manoeuvre—guns and trains upon the roads, infantry and cavalry moving in mass across country—could have failed to place on record the enormous advantages which might follow its adoption. The book as it stood, however, became the bible of the Prussian army, and its comprehension is an indispensable preliminary to all useful study of contemporary practice in war. Moltke's mind, and that of his whole generation, was formed upon it. To its strength the Germans owed all their successes, and to its weaknesses certain grave errors that were almost disasters. Meanwhile the progress of invention suddenly destroyed the governing condition of all previous experience. The Napoleonic strategy, as we have shown, depended primarily on the certainty of decision conferred on him by his " case-shot attack "; but the introduction of the long-range infantry rifle (muzzle-loader) rendered it practically impossible to bring the masses of artillery to the close ranges required by the Napoleonic method. In the 1859 campaign (see ITALIAN WARS) between France and Austria both sides were handled with such a general absence of intelligence, and the marksmanship of the Austrians in particular was so very inferior, that neither side derived advantage from the change. But when, in 1861–65 (see AMERICAN CIVIL WAR), the theatre of interest was transferred across the atlantic, the other causes united to give it immense importance. America in the sixties was almost as roadless as East Prussia and Silesia in Frederick the Great's time, and its forests, rivers and marshes were far more impenetrable. Both the Southern and Northern armies, moreover, were entirely new to their work, and consequently their operations became exceedingly slow. As far as the generals and staff had studied war at all they had been brought up to the Napoleonic tradition as handed down by Jomini and his school; and failing as a body to appreciate the intimate interdependence of the three arms, they believed that a resolute crowding on of masses (whether in line or column does not signify) upon the decisive point must suffice to overrun all opposition. But the slowness of operations gave time for entrenchments, and consequently scope for the powers of the new rifle. Whereas against the old musket one rush sufficed to cover the danger zone, the rifle widened this zone about threefold, so that human lungs and limbs could no longer accomplish the distance without pauses, during which pauses, since guns could no longer assist effectively, the attacking infantry had to protect itself by its own fire, standing in the open within point-blank range of the rifles of the cool, skilful
End of Article: STRATEGY
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