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enemy's retreat, and ultimately won the ing the enemy's position. An en battle. The frontal attack completely trenched position which can be turned failed. Moreover, the events of the must be abandoned, unless the force day produced a feeling of great de- holding it expects assistance and depression in the British force, as the sires to gain time, when it will have to soldiers hardly realized that to have stand a siege. There is no recent indislodged from the strongest possible stance of a force turned, enveloped position a force almost equal in num- and besieged, extricating itself by its bers to their own, mobile, and provided own unaided endeavors. A Plevna with good artillery, was a feat reflect- usually proves fatal to the army inside ing the utmost credit upon their dogged it, just as Sir George White's force at endurance and courage.
Ladysmith must have been reduced At Magersfontein the Highlanders' but for Lord Roberts's diversion in the frontal attack completely failed from Free State and General Buller's ada number of circumstances, some of vance with 30,000 men to his help. which Lord Methuen has detailed in In the Franco-German War frontal his despatches, others of which have attacks almost invariably failed, or been commented upon by correspond- only succeeded where the frontal attack ents. This failure, following so closely was accompanied by attacks on one or upon the Modder River battle, strength- both of the enemy's flanks. The loss ened the impression in his Division as from impetuous attempts to storm fronto the hopelessness of frontal assaults. tally strong entrenched positions was Yet it must be noted that there was
so heavy in the earlier period of the no real artillery preparation at Magers- war that the old King of Prussia isfontein, but only enough bombarding sued an order forbidding them. Hoenig the night before the attack to put the and the best school of German writers Boers upon the alert. After Magers- on the war hold, indeed, that even now, fontein came Colenso, and the disas- if only the artillery preparation is comtrous actions at Spion Kop and Vaal
plete and the formation of the assaultKrantz, where, again, frontal attacks ing force correct, frontal attacks may completely failed, in all probability succeed, but they acknowledge their without inflicting upon the enemy losses difficulty, and may, to a great extent, at all commensurate with those sus- modify their views in face of South tained by our own troops. In the final African experience, and of the evidence advance upon Ladysmith success, from
that shrapnel fire does not produce the the telegraphic accounts, seems to have expected effect. been secured by the flank movements, We are left with the third lesson of not by the frontal assaults.
the war-the ease with which immenseDundee and Elands-laagte are, it ly long lines of works can be held by a need scarcely be said, instances in favor small force. At Magersfontein the of the frontal assault. In these cases, Boer lines are said to have stretched for as at Belmont and Enslin, the Boer
twenty miles, and it is practically cerpositions were on high ground, on the tain that they were never held by more slopes of which there was a dead angle, than 10,000 men. That gives 500 men a where our assaulting infantry were, for mile. At Ladysmith the British lines a considerable part of their advance, were held by less than 1,000 men per sheltered from the Boer fire.
mile. Yet the minimum that was alLord Roberts's successes have, in lowed before the war was three men every case, been won by a superior per yard of front, or over 5,000 men force against an inferior enemy, turn- per mile-from five to ten times as many as experience in South Africa leaders would be that which had to be shows to be required. At Colenso, on faced by General Grant in his terrible a front of from ten to twelve miles, the campaign of 1864. The results of his Boers had probably about 12,000 in frontal assaults upon Lee's entrenched arms. That was about the same pro- infantry are nowhere so well told, from portion as in the lines at Ladysmith. the private soldier's point of view, as
And now for the application of these in Wilkeson's "Recollections of a Priconclusions to the special
vate in the Army of the Potomac." He France. The French Army is, we have shows how speedily a succession of seen, distinctly inferior to the German. such attacks destroyed the fighting If it took the offensive it would have power of Grant's army, and demorallittle chance of success; but, acting on ized the men who were certainly, at the defensive, it should be able, in the that date, the finest soldiers in the light of South African experience, to world-brave, war-trained, admirably hold the frontier line without serious led. Germans might well shudder if difficulty. The 160 miles of ground they were called upon to repeat Spotcan readily be protected by field works sylvania, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. of the same type as those employed by Grant only succeeded in dislodging Cronje and Joubert.' The existing Lee, after infinite trouble and enormous forts, with their heavy guns of posi- losses, when he worked round the Contion, can render valuable support to the federate right and broke in upon its entrenched infantry. The total force line of communications. But on the required in the first line to hold the French frontier, we have seen, no such works, allowing 2,000 men per mile, move is possible. The assault must be would only be slightly over 300,000, frontal, and the very deepest misgivand could be concentrated on the east- ings as to its success are justified. If tern frontier in forty-eight hours. So made in very open formation, such as excellent is the French railway system that adopted by our Guards at Belthat, as the mobilization proceeds, im- mont, will two-years' service men go mense masses of men can be directed forward? If masses are employed, the to any threatened point. A perfect net- slaughter will and must be terrible, work of railways runs behind the line and the probability of success by no of fortresses—Verdun, Toul, Epinal, means greater. Belfort-facilitating such concentra- It is true that the defensive cannot, tions. If it is thought best, three or in the long run, hope to prevail against four powerful armies can be distributed the offensive, but in this case, as we in suitable positions to the rear of the have seen, there are special conditions entrenched line, ready to move as re- which do not exist elsewhere in Europe quired.
on the Eastern frontier of Prussia or The weakness of most entrenched Austria, for example. There is a rela. lines is that they can be turned. But tively short length of frontier to be in this case no turning movement is pos- held and enormous numbers of men sible, for the reason that the French available to hold it. If the field works front would reach from one neutral are to be invisible, they must be prefrontier to another. The problem pared beforehand, for the brown hues which would confront the German of South Africa are not found in Cen.
s Modern writers on war greatly contemn field works. Yet Napoleon said (Works, xxxi., 494), "Les fortifications
de campagne sont toujours utiles, jamais nuisibles, lorsqu'elles sont bien entendues," and the experience of the American
Civil War seems to have been overlooked in the blind attention to the Franco-German War, as if that were the limit and measure of all things.
tral Europe. Thus, in the end, their trenches; its cessation gives the signal location must be ascertained by the for the most rapid magazine-fire posenemy. But, as the artillery positions sible. The assaulting infantry will find from which that enemy will attack itself checked again and again by must also be well known to the de- barbed wire during the last hundred fenders, this is not a matter of great or two hundred yards of advance, and importance. The ranges can be meas- will have to undergo much the same ured and marked, and on the mobiliza- experience as that of our Guards at the tion the ground in front of the line of Modder River. Officers and sergeants entrenchments covered with a network will be killed or wounded at the outof barbed wire such as was found in set, and the line deprived of leaderthe operations before Colesberg to in- ship. The heavy losses rapidly interfere so seriously with the movements flicted, and the hail of bullets from all of our cavalry.
quarters, will tell upon the nerves of Of course the French Army would the young soldiers, where our seven not, like the Boers, resign itself to an and eight-years' service men can still absolutely passive defence. It would go forward. The slightest check will be ready to deliver vigorous counter- be the signal for a counter-attack on strokes, and the possibility of these the part of the defenders, who will have being attempted would necessarily tend slowly gathered courage as they disto augment the caution of the Germans cover that the terrible shrapnel is, for in attacking. If the undisciplined Boer the most part, innocuous, and note the could be induced to hold his fire till the slow progress of the enemy's assault enemy was within 400 yards, the dis- and the advantages which cover conciplined, or comparatively disciplined, fers upon themselves. The massing of French soldier could be taught to do the enemy's guns will have told the the same. Inside 400 yards the point commander at the outset in which is very quickly reached at which, on quarter the assault is to be delivered; level ground, it becomes impossible for the long artillery preparation necessary guns in the rear to fire over the heads in these days will have given him time of advancing infantry. At Dundee and to move reinforcements by road and at Stormberg, in assaults upon high rail to the spot. The enemy has no adground held by the enemy, the British vantage in numbers, for France still troops suffered from their own artillery has as many trained men as Germany, fire; at Modder River a Boer big gun and only as the greater German populaon the enemy's extreme right drew the tion begins to tell will the French nufire of the British naval and field guns mercial inferiority grow serious. Even right over General Pole-Carew's turn- as matters stand, France cannot profiting force, and is said thereby to have ably employ her whole army on the caused considerable confusion. If the eastern frontier, for the reason that quality of the troops had not been of there is not space for it to deploy. Her the highest there would probably have 5,000 field, horse, mountain, and posibeen panic. As it was, this incident tion guns deployed in one continuous appears to have promptly checked Gen- line would cover nearly 100 miles. They eral Pole-Carew's advance.
would stretch from Verdun to a point If good head cover has been prepared, half-way between Epinal and Belfort. the entrenched infantry can fire with- What use would be made of the milout heavy losses up to the moment of lion or more men who could not the final rafale of shrapnel. While profitably be used on the eastern fronthis continues they lie down in the tier it is difficult to say. Were the
French control of the sea assured, some and in view of the fear of German deof them might be used in Denmark or signs in the Mediterranean and Adriin co-operation with Russia upon the atic which the younger Italian stateseastern German frontier, where there men feel is, at least, possible. That are no such strict limitations of space would free France from all danger in as in the west-limitations which mili- the southeast. tate against a French invasion of Ger- Whether France will be able to avail many just as much as against a Ger- herself of the new openings offered is man invasion of France.
still doubtful. Her General Staff is far Still, the net result is to relieve below the German in capacity; the France of that nightmare of invasion morale of her troops is not high; her infrom which she has suffered for the fantry shoots badly; her cavalry does last thirty years. Germany's striking not ride well, and only her artillery is power on the west is very much dimin- very good Frenchmen are only too ished, if, indeed, it does not vanish al- painfully conscious of these deficientogether, and she will have to turn her cies, and are aware, too, of the lower main efforts against Russia. I am as- standard in duty which prevails in suming that Italy will not necessarily France as compared with Germany. be found on the German side, as this, Hence they distrust themselves. Whethin view of the slowly-developing hos- er they will regain confidence has now tility between England and Germany,
to be seen.
H. W. Wilson. The National Review.
A blood-red battle sunset stains
The lurid winter sky;
And lifts our hearts so high?
For listening to the roll
For yester-noon, the folk that rid
Their thresholds from the snow,
The dwarfish Drummer go-
Beating a weird tattoo,
ere they knew.
For here the blear-eyed smith forsook
His forge-fire just aitame;
The cinders as he came.
On noisier business bound,
And there unwonted ardor lit
The trader's wrinkled face,
The crowded market-place;
Forgotten, as he heard,
Ere the slow priest his blessing said,
The bridegroom left the bride.
His love had watched beside.
The ever-thickening throng;
Red sunset shot with sanguine stains
A sword across the sky;
And lifts our hearts so high?
That hears the throbbing roll
Rataplan! That strikes the heart within the breast, and wakes the sleeping soul.
Edward Sydney Tyler. The Spectator.