Rumors of intended invasion are likely to cause alarm to such an extent in this country that it would be the topic of conversation in practically every American home, therefore it would appear advisable to consider what may be the earliest "unmistakable signs" of such an undertaking.
The first point to be considered would be what could be learned through the business world if an invasion were to be secretly attempted.
Taking the world of finance, if any warlike designs were in contemplation, the gold would have to be so greatly hoarded up that the movement would be felt on the Bourses and suspicion aroused, provided that it took place at any other time than the usual draining. The European powers, however, have already made provisions to accumulate a war fund, as is shown below:
Bank of France 720,000,000 gold.
Russia 725,000,000 gold and silver.
Austria-Hungary 285,000,000 gold.
Germany1 240,000,000 gold and silver.
England 170,000,000 gold.
London being the center of money markets of the world the financial crisis is first felt there, but it is pointed out that the autumnal drain (when most settlements are made of the trade balances) of gold nearly always necessitates the raising of the bank rate. For instance in August, 1907, the bank rate in London was raised from 4% to 4½% and in the early part of November, 1907, it had reached 7%. Now at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War the bank rate was 3% but the highest rate reached that year was 6%; therefore it will be seen that the financial crisis of 1907 had practically the same effect in the market as the outbreak of the war.
1Germany also has a war chest amounting to millions of dollars, the money for which was provided out of the indemnity received from France in 1871-2.
The great European banks keep large credits in London which are used in the short loan market but it does not seem probable that a hostile power, when she already has a war chest, would risk the success of sudden invasion by attempting to withdraw her London credit.
Colonel Concannon, an eminent English authority and business man, states the following:
If it were worth the while of such a hostile power to run the risk of revealing its intentions, the process by means of which the withdrawal of gold would be accomplished would be the raising of the bank rate in such country which would cause exchange on that country to fall to such a level that shipments of gold on a large scale would take place. Of course, if we say the German bank rate were to be raised to an unduly high level it might arouse suspicion that something abnormal was wrong, particularly if it occurred at a period of monetary ease; but if it took place at a period of active trade, when money was universally dear, it would attract little attention, and might be put down to an acute internal monetary crisis.
The movements of prices of international stocks might possibly give a little more indication of a hostile intention. The sources of information accessible to great bankers are almost illimitable, and, however the secret might be kept, it would be almost impossible to keep the matter from the knowledge of the great international banking houses. This, of course, would lead to a mysterious volume of selling, but such selling need not be held to indicate a pending hostile act.
It would create an uneasy feeling, but the people in possession of the information would not naturally give away their exceedingly valuable knowledge of the situation until the last moment.
The stock exchange and the money market gave no preliminary warning of the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, On Friday, July 15, war was declared, and on the preceding day Consols were quoted at 92, while the bank rate was 3%. On Monday, July 18, Consols were quoted at 89¾ and on July 21, the bank rate was raised to 3½%, on July 23, to 4%, on July 28, to 5%, and on August 4, to 6%. Of course the war occurred at a period of monetary ease; had it taken place during the usual period of the autumnal drain for gold it might have had to have been raised to a very much higher figure; but the point is that the money market did not take alarm until about a week after war had been declared.
In the case of the Russo-Japanese War, the market had, of course, been prepared for a long time for an unfavorable development of the dispute, but it was not until two days after the rupture of diplomatic relations that Consols had an appreciable fall, and Japan 4%, sterling loan, which was quoted at 74 on January 2, was quoted at 74½ on February 5, and did not move until February 8, when it dropped to 67½.
For these reasons therefore, it would not be wise to look to the money market or to the stock exchange to give definite warning of any intended raid.
The coal market is so closely watched, each company having a fairly regular clientele, that suspicions would be aroused if a larger quantity of their coal was taken at any time in any one direction.
The official coal output in 1911-12 for the countries mentioned was as viz.:
United States. (1912) 534,466,580
Great Britain (1912) 291,666,299
Germany, (1912) 285,974,649
Austria-Hungary (1911) 54,960,298
France (1911) 43,242,778
Russia and Finland (1911) 29,361,764
Belgium (1911) 25,411,917
Japan (1911) 19,436,536
China (1911) 16,534,500
During the fiscal year 1913, there were consumed by the fleet 658,813 tons domestic coal purchased, 900,092 plus tons; 45,748 plus tons foreign coal purchased.2
The wheat crop is the main staple in the foodstuffs, which are as a matter of course very essential factors in case of war. We are at a decided advantage in this supply.
2Extract from annual report of the Paymaster General, United States Navy.
In 1909 we produced about 750 millions of bushels with a population of 88 millions and exported several millions of bushels to foreign countries. We could draw enormous supplies by internal communication which a hostile navy could not touch.
The matter of water transportation for troops is one in which we are at a decided disadvantage; the matter has been, however, so often talked about and so luridly depicted that it is not necessary to draw upon it.
The merchant fleets of continental powers have grown so steadily that a concentration is becoming less and less difficult.
Lloyds' register of 1909-10 shows gross tonnage of steam shipping over 100 tons measurement as follows:
Great Britain and Colonies 9758 17,702,714
Germany 1808 3,889,046
France 884 1,445,976
Italy 437 961,132
The preponderance of the British mercantile shipping brings them to the superior stand as to their navy, but even so any contemplated invasion by them before giving preliminary intelligence is impossible in this era of wireless telegraphy.
Electrical communications are a far more dominant factor in maritime operations than in purely land campaigns, owing to the fact, that, as a general rule, the theater of war at sea is of vast extent and may indeed cover the greater part of the globe. And the introduction of wireless telegraphy of recent years is a fresh step in advance, of which the full possibilities have perhaps not yet been gauged. Thanks to electricity each belligerent can watch the movements of the other, can discover the position of hostile fleets, can be kept informed of the concentration and sailing of military expeditions, and can execute naval combinations to meet each particular case with a celerity and precision unknown before electrical telegraphy was introduced. But the accepted doctrines of naval strategy have not been changed by this; the objects to be sought after remain the same, the methods by which these objects are attained are little different from what they were before.
The covering of the sea by merchant shipping and the sensitiveness of the markets may also be taken into this consideration.
This brings in the need for a greater navy, even if the Panama Canal were considered completed. The navy being the first line of defence the enemy must first reckon with our navy, and the necessary standard must be maintained no matter what the cost may be. A scattered empire, if its distant colonies and dependencies be not knit to the mother country and to each other by communications enabling its military strength to be concentrated at any point where the realm is threatened, whether by internal disorders or by external attack, must fall to pieces. If these communications lead across the ocean they must be protected by an adequate navy. For lack of sea power Spain has fallen from the proud position of dominating a whole continent, and owning what was at one time the most wealth-giving archipelago in the world, to the position of a second-class power. It was due to maritime weakness that France was deprived of her Indian Empire when it was little more than a conception of dominion to come.
The United States is on a par with Great Britain relative to its distant possessions, and the constant call on the American navy to uphold the "Monroe Doctrine" makes it a necessity that its navy be maintained in the strongest status possible; the following, which is applied to the British navy by an English authority, would apply to the United States:
The maintenance of the British Empire on its present basis depends primarily upon sea power. And this is, not merely because a paramount navy is essential for the security of its maritime trade and its huge mercantile marine, but because military forces must be maintained to defend its colonies and dependencies and may have to be strengthened in the hour of danger. The army must be distributed over its vast area and must be kept up to the adequate strength, so as to preserve its possessions against disorder from within and against aggression from without. Facilities must exist for moving these military detachments from colony to colony and from province to province when emergencies arise. And owing to geographical conditions these transfers of troops must take place over-sea, which becomes impossible without naval preponderance in time of war.
As the United States has no merchant marine to make a transfer of troops or adequate transports to gain the same end, it will be a difficult problem to face when the occasion arises, and steps should be taken to obtain transports and an adequate navy to protect them.
The very people who are opposing a greater navy would be the first ones to howl for one, in the event of an intended invasion.
The relative standing of the United States Navy as compared with those of the leading powers appears on pages 186 and 187 of the NAVAL INSTITUTE PROCEEDINGS, No. 149, January-February, 1914.
A military authority gives 70,000 men as the hypothetical invading army in the first stage, and 200,000 was given as the tonnage requirement for the transporting of this body of troops, taking into consideration that infantry could not be taken as the general basis, but that the invading army must be composed of all arms, without mixing units or splitting up of organizations; together with horses, guns, ammunition, and stores to operate immediately.
Therefore for a power to collect the 200,000 tonnage, allotted to different units according to suitability, divided into fleets by speeds and efficiently convoyed before the expedition could be despatched with any hope of success, the contemplated invasion would have two great difficulties to face:
a. The efficiency and watchfulness of our navy,
b. The difficulty of securing suitable transportation without conspicuous preparation.
Transports filled with troops are in the present day to all intents and purposes helpless against attack. In the Greek and Roman era, and at a later date when fighting ships took the form of galleys and analagous craft depending partly upon oars and partly upon sails for motive power, soldiers could use their arms, could engage in the hand-to-hand conflicts which took place when rival vessels grappled, and were not always clearly distinguishable from the naval personnel. But with the gradual development of artillery, troops when afloat have more and more degenerated into becoming merely passengers, unable to offer resistance if the vessel they are in is engaged by the enemy. And under existing conditions the troop-transport, unless it can escape from the foe by superior speed, is absolutely at the mercy of insignificant torpedo craft or gunboats, should they assail it. The modern steamer possesses no power of offence, it affords no protection even against the smaller natures of ordnance carried by fighting ships, it has no searchlights to observe the approach of torpedo boats at night; its only hope of security, therefore, lies in its engines, if these be of sufficient power to drive the ship faster than the assailant can go—and such conditions are seldom found for the conveyance of troops. The sinking of the "Kowshing" at the opening of the Chino-Japanese War and similar incidents of a later date in the same seas, serve as striking examples of the helplessness of the troop-transport when attacked.
It is true that the radius of action possessed by the destroyer, the torpedo-boat, and the submarine is somewhat limited but anywhere within their radius of action a flotilla of torpedo-boats and destroyers is a most effective "fleet in being" as against a military expedition over-sea. Torpedo-boat stations afford an invaluable protection to a coast line against hostile descents. What occurred at Port Arthur at the outset of the Russo-Japanese War shows the risk run, even by fighting ships provided with searchlights and quick-firing guns and anti-torpedo nets, if they are assailed by a swarm of these hornets of the sea when anchored in the open. The situation of a flotilla of helpless transports attacked under like conditions would be desperate; and, although a fighting fleet when under way at night has not, perhaps, much to fear from the enterprise of torpedo-boats, that does not apply to at all the same extent to an assemblage of merchant steamers engaged in conveying any considerable military expeditionary force across the sea. The failure of the Russian torpedo craft in Port Arthur to interfere in the least with the disembarkation of a great Japanese army on the coast, less than one hundred miles distant from where they were lying, is one of the most singular circumstances in the story of the late war in the Far East. The fact that the channel into the harbor of the fortress was temporarily blocked against the exit of battleships and cruisers does not account for what remains, at the time of writing, a mystery.
Then on the other hand suppose the transport fleet to have successfully run the blockade. The risks and difficulties which attend troops in disembarking and after disembarking owing to weather and owing to possible action from sea or shore are to be contended with.
Then again the land force has probably had time to make a sufficient preparation to receive the hostile force. Colonel Callwell in his "Military Operations and Maritime Preponderance" states: "The moral factor can never be overlooked in war, and it is not unlikely to play a particularly important part when an embarkation takes place in face of the enemy. It is unusual for a military force which has been successful in its operations to take to its transports harassed by the adversary. An army rarely withdraws by sea from territory in occupation of hostile detachments, unless it be yielding to a superior force. It does not, of course, of necessity follow that the embarking troops have been beaten, or that they are even in any serious danger. They may be retiring after a mere feint, or they may be performing a part in some profound strategical combination of an offensive character involving transfer of force from one point to another on the coast. But, generally speaking, when an operation of this nature takes place, the soldiers who are returning to their ships are doing so because the have met with reverse, or to avoid reverse, and they are therefore necessarily fighting under depressing conditions. This is unfortunate, because an embarkation in face of the enemy must in itself be a dangerous undertaking. A landing may be effected to a certain extent as a surprise even when hostile forces are drawn up to contest it; but the presence of the transports and boats necessarily discloses the intentions of an army which is contemplating withdrawal by sea, and it marks the spot where the withdrawal is to be carried out. An operation of this class must in its final stages be tantamount to a retreat, and to a retreat executed under circumstances where confusion and misunderstandings are peculiarly likely to arise, and where losses must almost inevitably be encountered and a rear-guard operation involved."
These conditions stated above would naturally take place if the enemy had successfully run the blockade, made a landing, and later encountered troops who were prepared to meet them, which no doubt would be the case with our rapid interior communications.
After all the pro and con of practical possible invasion, it is reasonable to suppose that the invasion would not be attempted until after a long and earnest negotiation proved futile, or an exceptional complication arose, provided, we were not dealing with other than a civilized power.
The cost of the war, loss of men, set-back in commercial progress, and above all the acquisition or loss of territory would be carefully taken into consideration by the powers involved.
The following is a table of the cost of the most important wars since 1853:
War Date Loss of Life Cost
Crimean 1853-4 785,000 $1,700,000,000
Italian 1859 45,000 300,000,000
Germany and Schleswig-Holstein 1864 3,500 35,000,000
American Civil War 1861-5
Northern Army 281,000 4,700,000,000
Southern Army 519,000 2,300,000,000
War between Prussia, Austria and Italy 1866 45,000 330,000,000
Franco-Prussian 1870-1 853,000 2,200,000,000
South African 1899-1902 68,700 1,350,000,000
Russo-Japanese 1904-5 485,000 2,515,000,000
The diplomats of nations realize that commerce means not merely the success but the life of nations, therefore, war is not likely to occur; no other good reason can be given for China being left intact, for the late tolerance of affairs in Turkey, for England continuing in charge of Egypt, for Germany remaining in possession of much of her present territory, and for many other burning questions resting in statu quo. But at the same time there is no need to be led into a false sense of security; the best way to avert war and maintain peace is to have a sufficient navy, maintain a large standing army, and let every able-bodied young man be trained in the auxiliary force for the defence of his home in such a way as not to seriously affect his commercial life, but surely to better his physical and moral condition.