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602
ARMY

danger” produced more than four times this number of men for the French armies within a few months. Louis XIV., even when all France had been awakened to warlike enthusiasm by a similar threat (1709), had not been able to put in the field more than one-fifth of this force. The methods of the great war minister Carnot were enforced by the ruthless committee, and when men’s lives were safer before the bayonets of the allies than before the civil tribunals at home, there was no difficulty in enlisting the whole military spirit of France. There is therefore not much to be said as to the earliest application of the conscription, at least as regards its formal working, since any system possessing elasticity would equally have served the purpose. In the meanwhile, the older plans of organization had proved inadequate for dealing with such imposing masses of men. Even with disciplined soldiers they had long been known as applicable only to small armies, and the deficiencies of the French, with their consequences in tactics and strategy, soon produced the first illustrations of modern methods. Unable to meet the allies in the plain, they fought in broken ground and on the widest possible front. This of course produced decentralization and subdivision; and it became absolutely necessary that each detachment on a front of battle 30 m. long (e.g. Stokach) should be properly commanded and self-sufficing. The army was therefore constituted in a number of divisions, each of two or more brigades with cavalry and artillery sufficient for its own needs. It was even more important that each divisional general, with his own staff, should be a real commander, and not merely the supervisor of a section of the line of battle, for he was almost in the position that a commander-in-chief had formerly held. The need of generals was easily supplied when there was so wide a field of selection. For the allies the mere adoption of new forms was without result, since it was contrary both to tradition and to existing organization. The attempts which were made in this direction did not tend to mitigate the evils of inferior numbers and moral. The French soon followed up the divisional system with the further organization of groups of divisions under specially selected general officers; this again quickly developed into the modern army corps.

34. Napoleon.—Revolutionary government, however, gave way in a few years to more ordinary institutions, and the spirit of French politics had become that of aggrandizement in the name of liberty. The ruthless application of the new principle of masses had been terribly costly, and the disasters of 1799 reawakened in the mass of the people the old dislike of war and service. Even before this it had been found necessary to frame a new act, the famous law proposed by General Jourdan (1798). With this the conscription for general service began. The legal term of five years was so far exceeded that the service came to be looked upon as a career, or servitude, for life; it was therefore both unavoidable and profitable to admit substitutes. Even in 1806 one quarter of Napoleon’s conscripts failed to come up for duty. The Grande Armée thus from its inception contained elements of doubtful value, and only the tradition of victory and the 50% of veterans still serving aided the genius of Napoleon to win the brilliant victories of 1805 and 1806. But these veterans were gradually eliminated by bloodshed and service exposure, and when, after the peace of Tilsit, “French” armies began to be recruited from all sorts of nations, decay had set in. As early as 1806 the emperor had had to “anticipate” the conscription, that is, call up the conscripts before their time, and by 1810 the percentage of absentees in France had grown to about 80, the remainder being largely those who lacked courage to oppose the authorities. Finally, the armies of Napoleon became masses of men of all nations fighting even more unwillingly than the armies of the old régime. Little success attended the emperor’s attempt to convert a “nation in arms” into a great dynastic army. Considered as such, it had even fewer elements of solidity than the standing armies of the 18th century, for it lacked the discipline which had made the regiments of Frederick invincible. After 1812 it was attacked by huge armies of patriots which possessed advantages of organization and skilful direction that the levée en masse of 1793 had lacked. Only the now fully developed genius and magnificent tenacity of Napoleon staved off for a time the débâcle which was as inevitable as had been that of the old régime.

35. The Grande Armée.—In 1805-1806, when the older spirit of the Revolution was already represented by one-half only of French soldiers, the actual steadiness and manœuvring power of the Grande Armée had attained its highest level. The army at this time was organized into brigades, divisions and corps, the last-named unit being as a rule a marshal’s command, and always completed as a small army with all the necessary arms and services. Several such corps (usually of unequal strength) formed the army. The greatest weakness of the organization, which was in other respects most pliant and adaptable, was the want of good staff-officers. The emperor had so far cowed his marshals that few of them could take the slightest individual responsibility, and the combatant staff-officers remained, as they had been in the 18th century, either confidential clerks or merely gallopers. No one but a Napoleon could have managed huge armies upon these terms; in fact the marshals, from Berthier downwards, generally failed when in independent commands. Of the three arms, infantry and cavalry regiments were organized in much the same way as in Frederick’s day, though tactical methods were very different, and discipline far inferior. The greatest advance had taken place in the artillery service. Field and horse batteries, as organized and disciplined units, had come into general use during the Revolutionary wars, and the division, corps and army commanders had always batteries assigned to their several commands as a permanent and integral part of the fighting troops. Napoleon himself, and his brilliant artillery officers Sénarmont and Drouot, brought the arm to such a pitch of efficiency that it enabled him to win splendid victories almost by its own action. As a typical organization we may take the III. corps of Marshal Davout in 1806. This was formed of the following troops:—

Cavalry brigade—General Vialannes—three regiments, 1538 men. Corps artillery, 12 guns.

1st Division—General Morand—five infantry regiments in three brigades, 12 guns, 10,820 men.

2nd Division—General Friant—five regiments in three brigades, 8 guns, 8758 men.

3rd Division—General Gudin—four regiments in three brigades, 12 guns, 9077 men.

A comparison of this ordre de bataille with that of a modern army corps will show that the general idea of corps organization has undergone but slight modification since the days of Napoleon. More troops allotted to departmental duties, and additional engineers for the working of modern scientific aids, are the only new features in the formal organization of a corps in the 20th century. Yet the spirit of 1806 and that of 1906 were essentially different, and the story of the development of this difference through the 19th century closes for the present the history of progress in tactical organization.

36. The Wars of Liberation.—The Prussian defeat at Jena was followed by a national surrender so abject as to prove conclusively the eternal truth, that a divorce of armies from national interests is completely fatal to national well-being. But the oppression of the victors soon began to produce a spirit of ardent patriotism which, carefully directed by a small band of able soldiers, led in the end to a national uprising of a steadier and more lasting kind than that of the French Revolution. Prussia was compelled, by the rigorous treaty of peace, to keep a small force only under arms, and circumstances thus drove her into the path of military development which she subsequently followed. The stipulation of the treaty was evaded by the Krümper system, by which men were passed through the ranks as hastily as possible and dismissed to the reserve, their places being taken by recruits. The regimental establishments were therefore mere cadres, and the personnel, recruited by universal service with few exemptions, ever-changing. This system depended on the willingness of the reserves to come up when called upon, and the arrogance of