Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/624

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

patriotic and peaceful people, men are inclined, even though brave as courage itself, to get nervous or nerveless in the immediate presence of danger. This is the reason, rather than for any especial erudition involved in war's art, that we need trained soldiers—men trained to think mechanically and to act automatically amid the uproar of battle.

We have carefully, if briefly, considered the requirements of the first maxim of strategy—caution—the need of it, and the practical methods of securing it; and also of the second maxim—defensive relations—their necessity, and how to secure them. It now remains to consider the meaning of that phrase, 'turning a position', or 'flanking* an enemy, as to which of late we read so much in the daily press. The map (marked 8) gives an idea of a section of country where two armed bodies meet under conditions that permit one flank to be completely

PSM V57 D624 Scientific principles of warfare 8.png

guarded from attack; these are the left flank of the force 'A', and the right flank of 'B'. Both rest upon a lake or broad river. A steep precipice or deep morass, as at 'H', would serve as well. Suppose our force has advanced from the direction 'C, the enemy down the road from 'E' to 'G'. Soon they form opposed lines facing each other, the reserve somewhat to the rear and sheltered by some inequality of ground, the 'thin blue line', almost, but not quite, touching elbows, stretched along the crest of the ridge in front, taking advantage of every chance to protect themselves—trees, stone walls, ditches; kneeling, crawling, lying face down, eyes along the rifle barrel, finger on trigger, keen and murderous, but prudent, and parsimonious of life. The solid formations, such as went out of vogue with old-time weapons, would melt away before machine guns and Krag-Jörgensens like frost before an