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Review of Military Books. different operations, and may ascertain whether they tend to the execution of the general plan.
If through urgency of circumstances, a brigade has been obliged to abandon its position, the error may be rectified by the dispositions of the following day. These dispositions are ordered immediately on the arrival of the different staff officers at the head quarters. They set off again with celerity, and each returns to his brigade furnished with the order for the next day. What was done to-day to maintain this communication, and preserve harmony, will be repeated to-morrow, and will be repeated to the end of the campaign. Independently of the report which is transmitted every twentyfour hours to the head-quarters, by the several brigades, they are rigorously required every three days to send thither by the same conveyance, a statement of the precise situation of each army, the number of the nien present who are fit for action; of those left behind for garrisons, for correspondence, or for tlie escorting of prisoners, of the sick, wounded, dead, stragglers, &c.
Buonaparte is very strict in demanding the execution of this measure, for which the generals in chief are personally responsible. This precaution is of the utmost importance, because in expeditions conducted with such rapidity, an army, however powerful and numerous, sensibly diminishes every day; and if the commander-in-chief does not very frequently make inquiry into the losses it sustains, he may fall into fatal errors by continuing a plan of operations with forces far inferior in number to what he apprehends he has at his disposal ; he would neglect to procure necessary reinforcements. As long as the several brigades are near each other, the means of communication are easy, and order will reign in their movements.
Now, admitting that the coinbinations of the general plan oblige a detachment of the army to deviate for a certain time from the common centre, still its operations are connected with those of the grand army, and the communications with the major-general will continue.
From the moment a brigade is to take a particular direction, the field marshal who has the command of it, receives from the major-general the most positive instructions, with orders to observe them with the utmosi precision. The corps thus detached from the grand army is required to accomplish some important object; it may be, after a few day's march, to occupy, at all events, soine particular position. Whatever obstacles may present themselves, they must be surmounted at any rate. Buonaparte does not give the general, to whom the expedition may be intrusted, orders to at. tack merely, he orders him to conquer: the general makes his arrangements accordingly: the enemy appears.
It would be difficult to convey an idea of the means that, under such circumstances, are made use of against him. All the arts that buman genius can invent, are combined and tried with inconceivable boldness. The enemy must infallibly give way to such repeated efforts, and if his resistance be ever so vigorous, the French general will accomplish his views, though be should Review of Military Books. lose three-fourths of his army in the attempt. Of what consequence is that? The grand object is accomplished, and the important occupation of a position purchased at such an expence, secures to the grand arıny the primary and most important advantage of having an essential line of communication open in all its parts, harmony in its movernents.
This detached body, after having obtained its new position, may be at a great distance from the common centre; but if it were thirty leagues, at least, still it would transmit dispatches every twenty-four hours to the major-general as before. The interval is immense, but the brigades having acted in concert, none of the enemy's troops interpose. The officer most frequently passes without the least difficulty. All the post-houses of the country thus invaded are respected, and enjoy an entire protection. Safeguards protect the service, and the couriers meet with chaises and horses in all parts.
The separation of a brigade may be such, that one officer is not sufficient. In such a case, instead of one, two, three, or even more are dispatched to the head quarters.' Being sent off at different times, some may be on the road tu the chief staff officer, when others are returning; the correspondence is always conducted with activity, and never meets with interruption.
Iu 1805, the secoud division of the grard French army was in Styria, and its head quarters in Moravia; nevertheless, orders were communicated three or four times a-week; had there been a necessity, the correspondence might bave been kept up every twenty-four hours.
The army of Italy was more than two hundred leagues distant, and yet Buonaparte was informed of the battle of Caldiero, of the retreat of the Archduke Charles as soon as the court of Vienna, if not before. Officers dis patched by Massena were present at the battle of Austerlitz, and three days after, be received the news of the victory.
These are the methods by wbich Buonaparte establishes an essential cou. nection between all the parts of a great army, and maintains it during the whole of a campaign, and it is not less to a cause so simple in appearance, and so powerful in its effects, than to the incredible celerity of the French troops, that this perpetual and overwbelming train of victories must he attributed.'
We shall explain this part of the system by the following verbal extract from the essay.-
Order of Battle.—"In what does Buonaparte's skill and knowledge consist? Is it in the precautions he takes on the eve of a battle? Why, every general who understands the art of war, on such an occasion acts with the same caution and the same vigilance. Is it in an order of battle peculiar to the French army, and unknown to its enemies? Since the days of Frederic, that essential part of the military art seems not to have required ang amendment. If that great warrior adopted an oblique line in preference, it was because he was commonly inferior in numbers. He knew how, according to his strength and the ground, to oppose to his enemies sometimes a tull line, sometimes a line with intervals, varying his dispositions at pleasure, always after this principle, that the best order of battle is that which tends to give to each wing the greatest possible effect.
Review of Military Books. How many generals are there who are incapable of putting into execution this funda. mental principle of the military art, and grope in the dark for a field of battle! as if, instead of making their arrangements according tu the nature of the ground, it were necessary that the ground should be made on purpose to suit the scientific arrangements they have been studying in their voluminous commentaries, excellent in the days of Cyrus, or at the siege of Troy. And yet to such generals have the sovereigns of the continent intrusted their destiny and their thrones. Leaving the professors of antiquities to reason on the Macedonian phalanx and the Roman cohort, let us never lose sight of the effects of gun-powder; let us study the Turennes, the Eugenes, the Marlboroughs, the Frederics, who are equal to a long list of generals.
“ The French for some time imitated the King of Prussia, in not being slaves to prescribed rules. They knew, as he did, how to confine mere science, in order to give a scope to all the vivacity peculiar to their character, to give their faculties all the expansion of which they are capable. One might consequently have expected to see them, in imita-, tion of their model, vary their arrangements as often as the ground required it; but the constant incapacity of their opponents has precluded the necessity, and ultimately obliged them to adopt an invariable plan. Whatever appearance a French army, ranged in. order of battle may assume to-day, it presents nothing new. It will always exhibit from sixty to eighty thousand men arranged in two lines, and divided into three principal corps, intervals between each, and a corps of reserve. I will also observe, that the commanders-in-chief of a great French army have for a principle the making their cavalry act in a body upon one point. Lord Wellington appears to have made this inte. resting remark; and from the manner in which he baffles the attempts of his adversary, there is reason to believe, the numerous squadrons of Massena will be a greater impedi-. ment to his own operations than to those of the allies. This disposition has nothing in it extraordinary, nothing that gives it a decisive advantage. Is it then from the nature of their manæuvres that the French have the advantage over their enemics? But the art of manæuvring troops, is reduced, on the day of battle, to these principal evolutions, facing about, forming masses, and developing thein. And the methods of executing these are the same in all the armies of Europe ; it is, therefore, not to an arrangement in battle, nor to a superior theory of mancuvres, that the French owe their overwhelming train of victorics.--It is, I say again, to their remarkable celerity, and the harmony which prevails in their movements. That is the essential cause of their superiority. I. explain. However advantageous the disposition of an army may be, however tavourable the ground that it occupies, it is not by mere hard fighting that the victory will be determined; but, at a certain time in the course of the battle, it is necessary to know how to abandon one position, in order to take another, the object of which is to outtlank the enemy, or to break his line, the only means whereby the success of a general action can be decided; but the general movement that an army may make on such an important occasion, cannot decide the victory in its favour, il it be not made with rapidity, and executed with great barmony. Now any one will easily be convinced, that a French army is undoubtedly better capable of executing a movement of this nature than any other.
“ From the commencement of the firing, its head-quarters are placed at the head of a numerous body of reserve, behind and near the centre of the main body. All the orders proceed from that single point; it is from thence that one and the sume impulse is communicated throughout the whole army. The commander-in-chiet is surrounded by a numerous staff, composed of generals and experienced officers, all of whom are well acquainted with the respective positions of the different corps. Does a favourable moment present to execute a general movement, such as what I have described? A sufficient VOL. IV. NO. 24.
Review of Military Books. number of officers of the staff receive verbal orders from the commander-in-cluef. They ride with the utmost dispatch through the lines, and instantly transmit the dispositions of the commander-in-chief to the lieutenant-generals and field-marshals; they themselves remain at the head of the divisions, to see that their particular rovenient is conformable to the general movement, and rectify it if necessary. It has been shewn in the course of this work, how well adapted the French staff officers are, by their mode of instruction, for seconding the designs of a commander-in chief; it is likewise known, that the divisions and sub-divisions of the French troops are regulated upon the most siinple and aniform plan; besides, their generals are perfectly experienced in grand manæuvres: it most thence be obvious, that so many advantages united, must give to the general movement an efficacious celerity, a harmony which must insure success.
“ Bat the rapid movements of a French army, the harmory of their evolutions in a pitched battle, not being considered, but as advantageous means of acting without ceasing to be the essential cause of its superiority, yet are not the sole cause; and in fact, in order to apply these advantageous means, an opportunity must be found to make a general and decisive movement. Now the French are more expert than their enemies at availing themselves of the favourable opportunity, and profiting by it. That, tbere. fore, is the primary couse of their superiority en ligne that is worthy of examination.
" The affuir of Marengo, in which the Grand Consul appeared, and fell, in fact, so much below his reputation, proves that at that period he had no superiority over his rivals in the art of war; but it taught him an important truth, namely, that it is scarcely éves the first movement that decides the victory, but on the contrary, that it evidently belongs to that general, who, after an obstinate engagement of several hours, has at his disposal a respectable body of fresh troops. The success of a reserve is in such case rarely doubtful, and it infallibly produces a decisive success, is that reserve take advantage of the opportunity afforded by any disorder or fluctuation inevitable in the enemy's line, in the course of a general action, to make an impetuous attack, and its victorious attack : bave been immediately supported by an analogous change in the movements of the army. With this view, the reserve of the French is usually numerous, and composed of select tronps. No sooner is the battle cominenced on all puints, than this body of reserve, commanded by the conimander-in-chief in person, and posted behind the main body, approaches, as well for the purpose of rendering the battalion impenetrable, as to be ready, on any emergency, to assist either of the wings, from both which it equally distant.-Now it is proper to remark, that in this disposition the French troops confine themselves to keeping up a very brisk fire of artillery and musquetry; no regiment, either of infantry or cavalry, ventures to advance beyond the line of battle, for the purpose of breaking through that of the enemy, unless it have received a special order, which never happens but when the enemy, after a few boors contest, is by some feint thrown into disorder, and presents an opening at a point incapable of making any resistance; in such case, the impetuous attack of a regiment will decide the victory. Fresh troops advance to its support with the greatest rapidity: all is in inotion to take advantage of the disorder occasioned in the enemy's line; the order for advancing being already given. It is a matter of no consequence that, in order to break through the enemy's line, & battalion exposes itself to the sacrificing a great number of lives by the cross-firing of the divisions throngh which it breaks; the danger will be but of short duration, through the celerity with which the movement is executed, these cross fires must soon cease; for, while a brigade of the French army rushes through the enemy's line, its position is occupied by a great part of the reserve, or by the whole corps of reserve itself, wbich attacks the enemy in front, and finds them so much employment, that the first corps which hat Review of Military Books. advanced, forms in order of battle, and almost without any difficulty in the enemy's fiank or rear, if it has been considered more advantageous. Then it is, that the French troops charge with resolution, and the success is so much the more certain, as they act in good order and with impetuosity against troops which are taken in front and fiank, and whose hesitation or tardiness in adopting a measure, such as retreating in good order, or by wheeling round, face the assailants, infallibly occasions great disorder. This dis order will become general, as there can no longer be any regularity in the defence which the commander-in chief of an army tbus broken might desire to make, wbile on the con. trary, the utmost unanimity prevails in the attack.
" Let us now suppose that after a very brisk firiug of several hours, the French ling itself has been thus surprised and brøken in a weak point, by an impetuous charge, made by some one of the enemy's regiments; there still exists between the general bead. guarters of a French army, and the ditferent corps of which it is composed, a very frequent and active communication. If the commander-in-chief have not been able to observe the disorder in his line, he is instantly made acquainted with it by an officer of his staff, and immediately takes measures to remedy it. The reserve is composed of select troops, and froin the commencement of the action are ready to charge. The com. mander-in-chief detaches the necessary number of men, and intrusts them to the come mand of a dashing general. These dispositions are the work of a moment; the detached body of reserve bastens to the point of disorder, wbich has been indicated, finds the enemy.conguerors; but this victorious body, which has scarcely finished its charge, is necessarily thrown into comparative disorder, and being vigorously attacked in Bank by the body of reserve, gives way in its turn, and finding no means of safety but in a preci. pitate fight, the advantage of its first movement is lost. Being most vigorously pursued, it is compelled to throw the first line into confusion, and facilitate to the French troops the means of effecting a passage. Now this is what almost invariably happens: the battle of Austerlitz is an irrefragable proof of what I advance.
“ After a very destructive fire of artillery and nusquetry of some hours, the horseguards of the Emperor Alexander being impatient, by a daring charge broke through the French line. They bad scarcely finished their victorious career, when some squadrons of Buonaparte's guard, dispatched from the body of reserve by his orders, rushed upon them, and completely defeated them. Being warmly pursued, they carried disorder into the Russian ranks; the French, burning to take advantage of an opportunity which it is the object of their tactics either to wait for or provoke, did not suffer that to escape ; which I think I have sufficiently explained in the recital which I have made of the fatal battle of Austerlitz.
" For the victories of Jena, Ratisbon, and Wagram, they are indebted to the same principles and the same manæuvres. As I have already mentioned, the French commonly allow the enemy to make the first movement. Now the first movement being nothing but an unconuected attack, instead of being directed as the commencement of & general movement ought to be, whatever disorder they may occasion in the line of the French, the latter bave, in the immediate employment of their reserve, not only the means of repairing their losses, but will render the victorious but inconsiderate movement of a troop which is not supported, fatal to their enemies.
« All the battles gained by Buonaparte in Germany, offer to our view the line either of the Austrians or Prussians broken by the French. A considerable body is constantly separated from those more immediately engaged; hence the prodigious progress made by the French army-hence the incredible number of prisoners. Now I would ask, could thene perpetual failures bave been experienced by the Germany, if their generals