Prize Essay, 1916
Motto: "In war the moral is to the physical as three to one."—NAPOLEON
A nation may be considered as composed of three elements: (1) the civil population, (2) the leaders, both political and military, and (3) the armed forces.
There are, in general, two ways in which these elements may be combined so as to form a nation. These two forms of government we will call autocratic and democratic. In an autocratic government the leaders control both the civil population and the armed forces. In a democratic government the people control the leaders, who in turn control the armed forces. In the first the leaders rule; in the second, the people. Actually there are no purely autocratic or democratic governments, but each government is a combination of the two forms, in which one or the other to a certain degree predominates. However, this classification will prove to be useful to us in our discussion.
The ruling element of the nation determines the international policy. The leaders are entrusted with the duty of carrying out this policy. Upon the policy itself and the success with which it is carried out depend the greatness of the nation and its position in the world.
The policy and the success with which it is carried out, and therefore the greatness of the nation, depend upon the power of the nation: The policy must be proportional to the power. A wise statesman will not aim so high that the national power is insufficient to execute his policy. On the other hand, he will not aim so low that a considerable part of the national power need not be used in the execution of the policy. He will increase the aggressiveness of the policy to that point when nearly all our power will just insure its execution.
While we have seen that the policy must depend on the power, the power itself will also depend to a great extent on the policy, i. e., the ways in which the power is used. Unless our power is used continually in attaining the highest aims, unless-the policy ensures a continual struggle toward a higher position in the world, and keeps us in competition with the other nations, it will not be possible for a nation to develop great national power. Thus we see that a strong policy and great power go hand in hand and mutually support each other.
National power depends, first, on the inherent physical, intellectual and moral health of the people, and second, on the methods by which the lines along which this inherent strength of the people is used to develop the national power.
In general, there appear to be two lines along which this strength of the people may be employed for carrying into execution the national policy. The life of a nation may be divided into the periods of peace and war. Therefore it would appear that the strength of the nation may be employed along the two general lines of the pursuits of peace and those of war. Power in the pursuits of peace we will call "commercial power," and power in the pursuits of war, "military power."
In the same way that policy and power interdepend, so do commercial and military power. Commercial power supplies the resources for military power so necessary to-day; military power provides the opportunity for commercial power. Without both commercial power and military power no nation may gain a high position in the world. Commercial and military power afford each other mutual support. Both commercial and military power are important at all times, whether the nation be at peace or at war.
Our policy, if it be worthy of our power, will be opposed by other nations. The statesmen may carry out in peace the nations policy by using the nation's reputation for power, or he may carry out the policy in war by actually using the commercial and military power of the nation. Both these instruments for carrying out policy, diplomacy and war, have been constantly used in the past. The actual circumstances of the case must determine which of the two may be used with the most effect. It would seem, on the surface, that diplomacy is a more efficient instrument than war. But, while war causes a great wastage in men and material, the war training and experience greatly increases our military power. Also, as a successful war will greatly increase our reputation for power, it will increase the efficiency of our diplomacy, and allow us to use this instrument to great effect after the conclusion of the war. On the other hand, a war, ending in defeat, will greatly decrease our reputation and may result in the downfall of the nation. However, such a defeat will have no worse effect than a cowardly surrender without resistance, and it will often have a good effect in that it results in the nation making a fresh start toward regaining its national power. We must realize that war is an efficient and necessary, though dangerous, instrument of policy, and must do everything to increase our commercial and military power, so that we may carry the war to a successful conclusion.
In war there may be said to be three factors; the physical, the intellectual and the moral.
The physical factor relates to the material from which the armed forces of a nation are formed.
The intellectual factor relates to the plans for perfecting and organizing the physical power and to plans for its use in war.
The moral factor relates to the spirit in which and the courage with which the physical and intellectual powers are used in preparation for and actually in war.
These three factors may be summed up as follows: material, knowledge, and courage.
Although material is important, and knowledge for preparing and using the material, even more so, the courage with which our material and knowledge is used, or in other words, our moral power, is easily the most important of all.
While the physical and intellectual powers have contributed greatly toward victory, it may be laid down that victory has never ben gained except as a result of greater moral power, while in many cases in history, it has been gained despite a decided disadvantage in the physical and intellectual powers.
In the end, it is the moral power of the opposing nations that decides a war and the moral powers of the armed forces that decide a campaign or battle. One side yields when it considers resistance no longer possible, or when it considers that further resistance will not justify the sacrifices that further fighting requires. Therefore the supreme object in war is not to kill and wound' men or to destroy material, which are only means to the end, but to reduce the moral power of the enemy to such a point that he loses confidence in the ultimate result.
In our discussion of moral power, we will consider in order: (1) the moral power of the civil population, (2) the moral power of leaders, and (3) the moral power of the armed forces. Each of these powers influence the others to a marked degree. The civil population, the leaders and the armed forces must be united by the closest ties for the nation to gain great moral power.
We will first consider the moral power of the people. The moral power of the people is shown by the steadfast resolution to make every sacrifice to ensure the victory of the fatherland. This implies absolute confidence in victory, enthusiastic and united support of the leaders and armed forces and entire submission of personal interest to the welfare of the nation.
The best illustration of the enormous advantage of moral power of peoples is seen in the wars of the French Revolution and Empire. In the first part of these wars, the French people conquered the European kings, and in the second the European peoples conquered the French emperor.
The moral power of a nation depends, first, on the nature of the nation itself under normal condition, and second, on the special conditions of war which affect the moral power.
The inherent moral power of the people depends on:
1. The character of the people.
2. The closeness with which the people are united by race.
3. The form of government.
4. The past history.
5. The ambitions of the people for the future.
The general character of the people has an immense effect on their moral power. There can be no clearer example of the influence of the character of the people on their moral power than that shown by the history of the Roman Republic and Empire.
In the days when Hannibal was at the gates of Rome, after defeating every army sent against him, the moral power of the Roman people was superb. The Roman citizen was not a soldier only because of necessity or duty, but he demanded his station in the legion as his dearest right. Citizens could gain a high political and social position only after gaining a military reputation. The sons of the rich and influential demanded their place in the first line of battle, and the poorer classes had to be content with positions of less danger. When the Roman citizens were of this character, there can be little wonder that their state gained dominion over all the world known to them.
After Rome had gained world supremacy, ease and luxury undermined this superb military character. The rich no longer demanded their place of honor and, in fact, were glad to escape entirely the hardships of a military life. Men joined the legions for high pay and booty; mercenaries were hired to fill out the depleted ranks. German cavalry defended the frontiers. Generals raised their legions not to fight the foreign enemies of the nation but to win, in the civil war, power for themselves. That Rome lasted so long as it did under these conditions was due largely to the great personal power of many of the emperors and to the reputation gained for the Roman name in the healthy years of the republic.
The strong character of the Swedes in the time of Gustavus Adolphus is shown by the saying "The Swedes do not defend their men with walls, but their walls with men." This strong military character demanded success in the face of overwhelming numbers.
It is very difficult to mold the character of a people. While it will take many years to influence the character of a people, it has been done many times in history. The only means by which it may be accomplished is by the education of the youth of the nation. The system of universal military service in European nations has greatly improved the military character of the people.
The strong character of a people, when once gained, may be retained only by a strong national policy, which requires the greatest efforts of the people. The people must be constantly struggling toward the highest aims, so as to allow no time for ease and luxury to undermine their character.
For a people of a nation to exercise the greatest moral power, and to give their united support to the leaders and the armed forces, they must be united in thought and sentiment, and this united thought can be obtained only when the people of the nation are all closely united by race. The Roman people, when, after many defeats, they repelled Hannibal from their walls, the Dutch in their heroic wars for independence, the French in the revolutionary wars against all Europe and the Spaniards in their war to throw off the Napoleonic yoke all showed a moral power, which would surely not have been possible had the people of these nations not been all of one race.
It is naturally a great disadvantage for the people of a nation to be composed of two or more races. It is natural that there should be a nation for each race, and when we go against the laws of nature in attempting to form a nation out of several races we must expect a certain weakness. Two or more races may be distributed in one nation in two ways: 1st, the people of each race may be concentrated within definite territorial limits, in some cases having their own government. 2d, the people of each race may be dispersed over the entire territory belonging to a nation, and all races mixed so as to form in time a new race.
In history races have been combined in the first way usually as the result of the annexation of territory by force, the intermarriage of reigning houses, or the union of two or more nations against a common foe. The most noted example of this method of combination is the Holy Roman Empire. The weakness of such a combination is shown by the fact that the Emperor never exercised more than a nominal control over the many divisions of the empire. Austria-Hungary is the best example of such a combination to-day. Its weakness in this respect is fortunately counteracted by the common love of all the races for the Emperor, and the common fear of Russia. England by the annexation of Scotland and Ireland suffered a tremendous loss of power by the combination of three races into one nation. For hundreds of years the revolutionary condition of Scotland and Ireland offered an opportunity to every enemy of England.
Races are combined in the second way when a race, abandoning its own territory, conquers and settles in territory occupied by other races, or when several races unite in forming a new nation in territory either uninhabited or occupied by very inferior races. After the Norman conquest of England, the Norman and Anglo-Saxon races were combined in this way. For many years the jealousy of the races greatly reduced the moral power of the English, but this weakness gradually disappeared as the two races became merged into one. Our own nation is a combination of many races in new territory. While the Normans came in practically one body, the foreign races are constantly arriving in our land. Thus, while the English races were in time completely merged, in our case the new arrivals will be a constant source of weakness.
While the combination of two or more races into one nation will always greatly reduce the moral power of the people, the second method of combination is naturally far more efficient than the first, as by so mixing the races as to form in time a new race, we finally remedy the vicious conditions. Races combined in the first way really do not form one nation but of an alliance of nations under one leader.
For the people to cheerfully support the leaders and the armed forces, the war must be popular with them. Either they must favor the war of their own accord or they must be so obedient to their leaders that they will favor any war entered into by the leaders. In a country having a democratic government any war must be popular with the people. This is a great advantage of this form of government. In an autocratic government the leaders, if wise, will not enter into a war unpopular with the people. Russia engaged in such a war with Japan, and was defeated largely as a result of lack of moral power. Japan, on the other hand, also an autocratic nation, showed the greatest moral power because the war was popular with the Japanese.
An autocratic government has one important advantage denied to the democratic nation, the love of the people for their sovereign. This reverence for their sovereign tends to increase greatly the support given by the people to their leaders. Also the support is usually more united. In an autocratic nation, the people as a rule, think of the welfare of the nation before their private interests and there is not seen so often that colossal selfishness of small communities and politicians, and that deadly party strife, in which the armed forces and the international policy are used for political effect, that is so often seen in democratic governments. While, in peace, a division of power among many persons has advantages, in that each person acts as a check to the others, and so prevents too radical tendencies, and bases the government on the whole people rather than on a few leaders,. in war, unity of purpose is the first essential and divided counsel leads to defeat.
The weaknesses of a democratic nation in war cannot be better illustrated than by the recent war with Spain, in which a large portion of our navy was wasted in useless coast defence.
With reference to a recent b6mbardment of coast towns, the British Admiralty says:
The Admiralty takes the opportunity of pointing out that demonstrations against unfortified towns or commercial ports, though not difficult to accomplish provided that a certain amount of risk is accepted, are devoid of military significance.
They may cause some loss of life among the civil population and some damage to private property, which is much to be regretted, but they must not in any circumstances be allowed to modify the general naval policy which is being pursued.
The democracy of the English people, their selfish and independent attitude has practically never allowed their government to live up to this most correct and courageous statement.
What a contrast do we see in the patriotic attitude assumed by the German civil population in 1870? The perfect strategical deployment of the Germans left bare of troops a large part of the frontier, which was thereby open to attack by the French Turcos, who were much feared. The German people, having confidence in their leaders, did not ask that troops be taken from the concentration to be used merely for the defence of the frontier against isolated attacks of no military importance.
It must be admitted that, in war, the autocratic government, under careful leaders, is far superior to the democratic form. In fact the democratic of its own accord becomes autocratic, and liberty loving peoples often concentrate in a few men powers that they would little dream of in time of peace.
The past history of a nation must have a great effect upon the moral power of the people. The brilliant history of the British Navy, with its long and almost unbroken record of victories, must greatly increase the confidence of the English people to-day. The glorious days of the Napoleonic era must inspire the French Army with the resolution to repeat them. The wars of the Great Frederick must spur on to renewed efforts the Germans in their war to-day.
Ambition is as necessary for a successful nation as it is for a successful man. The high aims for the future of Germany, Japan and Italy must to a great extent increase the moral power of these peoples to-day.
We have now completed our discussion of the influence exerted on the moral power of the people by the nature of the nation. We must remember that by increasing the moral power of the people, in addition to increasing the military power of the nation, we increase the commercial power also, and thus by raising the moral tone of the people we increase the efficiency and power of the nation for whatever task it may undertake.
We will here make a brief examination of the nature of our nation and of its inherent moral power.
Our country is peopled by a mixture of all the races of Europe. While this must be a considerable handicap, especially if we should engage in war with a European power; it is considerably lessened by the fact that these races are merged into one race in a short time. The fact that equal rights are granted to all races, rapidly decreases the inherent jealousy of the races and tends to merge them quickly into one race. However, the steady flow of immigrants always gives a certain proportion of the population who retain their racial jealousies, and this must decrease the moral power of our people.
Our government is democratic, and we have already seen the weakness of this form of government in war. However, these weaknesses are to some extent remedied by the fact that the President, when a man of strong character, holds a tremendous power as a political leader in addition to his official powers. In war this condition causes almost supreme power to be concentrated in the President, the form of government changing automatically from the democratic to autocratic.
The character of our people is unfortunately unmilitary to the last degree. Our isolation from other great nations has seemed to prove to many people that military power is unnecessary. Advocates of peace and disarmament have made systematic attempts to discredit military power and war. The first object of the people being riches and a life of ease, they hate to use money for military power, and are unwilling to undergo the hardships of the military life. Along with these go the most insidious and tremendous conceit and the idea, drawn in some most incomprehensible way from our past history, that one American is a match for five or six people of any other nation or race, and that therefore we can defeat any other nation without any preparation whatever. The unmilitary character of our people, resulting from these causes, has always prevented due preparation of our military power, and will be the greatest weakness in actual war.
In our past history we have much to be proud of. The navy and the regular army have remarkable records of efficiency, which are forgotten by all except a very few, as it has become the fashion to discredit all our military heroes. Conceit and overconfidence are all that most Americans gain from our past history. These traits weaken our power to a remarkable degree.
Our ambition for the future seems to be a world wide peace and disarmament. This would naturally be very advantageous for us, as we are not a military nation, but at present there seems no prospect that this ambition will be realized. By carrying into execution such a policy, we naturally kill the military spirit of our people.
From the above examination we can readily see that the nature of our nation is such that the moral power of our people under ordinary conditions is far less than that required of a great nation. However, our people fortunately, when specially stirred or in a great crisis, rise gallantly to the occasion and show a tremendous increase of moral power. In war, there are many means by which we may stir the people and increase their moral power. The following are some of the most common of these means of increasing the moral power:
1. The use of unlimited rather than limited war.
2. The conviction of the people that they are fighting in a righteous cause and in self-defence.
3. The personal influence of great men.
4. The influence of gallant exploits.
5. The reporting of the operations of the armed forces.
Clausewitz, in his theory of war, found it most useful to divide all wars into two classes, one of which he called "unlimited war," the other "limited war."
A nation engages in an unlimited war when it is so vitally concerned that it puts forth all its powers. In such a war the complete overthrow of the enemy is the object and neither side yields until it considers it impossible to resist further.
A nation engages in a limited war when it is not vitally concerned and employs only a part of its powers. Such a war has not the complete overthrow of the enemy as its object, but rather some less important result, which will be of advantage to the country obtaining it. In such a war neither side resists, as a rule, until it considers further resistance impossible, but rather until it considers a further continuation of the war inadvisable, for the reason that the probable gain does not appear to be worth the sacrifices that further fighting would make necessary.
Thus the class of war in which a country is engaged will affect greatly the intensity with which it will be waged. Limited war is waged by the armed forces of the nation largely without the assistance of the people, while in unlimited war the people as well as the armed forces must do their utmost to bring the war to a successful conclusion. It is readily seen that a nation engaging in a war which is limited as concerns itself, but unlimited as concerns the opponent, is at a tremendous disadvantage, as the armed forces will be without the support of their second line, the people, while the enemy will be strongly backed by his second line. Thus when considering a declaration of war we must consider how vitally our interests are concerned and, as a rule, we must not engage in war unless our interests are so vitally concerned that the war will need and obtain the strong support of the people. The Russo-Japanese War was, as is so well shown by Kuropatkin, not vital to Russian interests, and consequently was decidedly unpopular with the Russian people. On the other hand it was vital to Japan and consequently very popular with the Japanese. These facts largely account for the great difference between the two nations in a moral power and the final result. Fortunately there is little chance that our nation will engage in war unless it is vitally concerned.
It is of the greatest importance for the people of a nation at war to be convinced that they are fighting in a righteous cause. Since war has become so unpopular, it is also important to prove that the enemy is responsible for it and that we are taking up arms because force to in self-defence. Fortunately the people of a nation can be easily convinced of these facts. In many cases, where the "place in the sun" is not large enough for all, nations are drawn into conflict by the laws of nature and each side may be able to consider itself in the right and the other side as being responsible for the war. In the Roman Civil War Caesar repeatedly asked for a truce to decide matters without fighting, so as to throw the blame of the war upon Pompey for refusing the truce, and in this way rally to his side all those who wished for an end of the war. This skillful diplomacy had much to do with his success.
Great leaders have always greatly increased the moral power of the people. Political leaders are in a position to exercise a great influence over the people. Lincoln and Gambetta, both purely political leaders, had immense influence over their peoples. Although great military leaders have their greatest influence over the forces under their command, still in many cases they have exerted a marked power on their people. Bonaparte in his first campaign, when he was purely a military leader, Nelson, and Lee, by their strength of character and abilities, have all elevated the moral tone of their peoples, and increased to a marked extent their confidence in victory. Napoleon, when the political and military leader of France, influenced his people probably more than any man in history. The rather studied methods by which Marshal Von Hinterburg and General Joffre have been elevated to the positions of national heroes shows the importance placed by governments on this means of increasing the moral power of the people. In this connection must be noted the disadvantage of basing all the hopes of the people on one man. If Napoleon had fallen on one of his campaigns, there is little doubt that France would have fallen with him, as Swedish power fell with the death of Gustavus Adolphus. The loss of Stonewall Jackson was a tremendous loss to the South in that it greatly reduced the confidence of the Southern people in victory. Had Lee fallen also it seems probable that the Southern cause .would have fallen at once.
Gallant exploits, even though of little military value, have a tremendous effect upon the moral power of the people. The remarkable cruise of the Emden under her gallant commander, the voyage of her landing force across the Indian Ocean and through Arabia; the exploits of Von Weddigen; the last picture of the Gneisenau firing her only remaining gun at long intervals as she sank; the heroic end of the little Nurnburg as she went down with the few remaining men of her crew waving their flag on the quarterdeck must have stirred the patriotic ardor of the German people to such an extent that the advantage gained cannot be measured in money, ships or any other physical assets. The official reports are filled with the gallant exploits of small bodies of men, which must increase the pride of the People in their troops, and strengthen their resolution to support their armed forces. Napoleon well knew the importance of this means for increasing the moral power of the people, and his bulletins were a continual record of the gallant exploits of his soldiers.
The reporting of the results of operations by the armed forces is an art in itself. While generals have exaggerated their victories and lessened their defeats from the beginning of history, Napoleon may be called the founder of the art of systematically preparing reports to increase the confidence of the people in victory. While all of Napoleon's campaigns up to that of 1812 ended in victory, except possibly the Syrian campaign, they were always in doubt up to within a few days of their completion, and there were many checks which had to be covered over by the bulletins. Such was the combat of Durrenstein in the 1805 campaign, Pultusk, Eylau and Heilsberg in that of 1807, and Essling in that of 1809. These means of controlling the public gave excellent results as long as the campaigns ended in success, for then they had a basis of truth. However, a lost campaign could not be covered over, or a definite defeat made into a victory by such slight-of-hand methods.
To-day the official reports of the armed forces are most carefully prepared to increase the moral power of the people. These reports use a general ground work of fact, amplified by numerous details which attempt to place in the most favorable light the operations, of their own forces. The military student may discern the ground work, but the general public sees no farther than the details designed to catch their eye. A victory is painted in gaudy colors with the numbers of guns and prisoners taken; a defeat is admitted, but to gain it "the enemy has had to waste men and material," our retirement is made "in perfect order," to "regroup our forces," to abandon a position "no longer of tactical or strategical importance," or "to lure the enemy into a trap." In the minor trench warfare favorable operations are reported, while all others are omitted, except that in important operations it is necessary to admit a loss of territory. The official reports, when carefully written, do much to increase the moral power of the people but the exaggeration must not be too great and care must be taken that the people are not made overconfident, as overconfidence is nearly as bad as lack of confidence.
While we realize the great importance of doing everything in our power to increase the moral power of the people, we must not overestimate the importance of this moral power, and not allow efforts to increase it to interfere with the campaigns of our armed forces or to weaken our military strategy. Napoleon's march to Moscow, in the Russian campaign, was largely for political and moral effect, and in it Napoleon allowed these influences to weaken his strategy, so that when its moral force was insufficient to make the Russians sue for peace, its military weakness resulted in disaster for the French. We must not expect our moral power to win the war alone, but we should use our moral power continually to produce favorable material results, which will increase still more our moral power and decrease that of the enemy.
Having completed our survey of the moral power of the peoples, we will next discuss the moral power of the leaders. We may briefly define the moral power of a person as "strength of character," or more fully as willingness to take responsibility, courage in planning operations, determination in executing the plans decided upon without vacillation and despite difficulties and setbacks, and firmness in defeat and disaster.
As we examine the characters of the great leaders of history we see that each possessed intellectual power and moral power to the highest degree. It is evident that one could not reach the first rank as a leader did he not possess both of these powers. As we examine the characters of the lesser leaders we see that their abilities have depended upon the degree of intellectual and moral power they have possessed. While history shows the importance of both these powers, it clearly shows that moral power is more important and more necessary for a leader than intellectual power. The tremendous responsibility which rests upon the shoulders of high political and military leaders in war insures the absolute failure of any leader who lacks the greatest moral power. On the other hand, many leaders, who have possessed great moral power, have succeeded in war, even though they have possessed but average intellectual power. It is therefore evident that we should do everything in our power to insure that our leaders have the greatest moral power, as this is necessary for their success in war.
The moral power or strength of character of a person depends, to a considerable extent, upon the inherent strength of character with which he is born. It also depends upon the manner in which his character is developed and trained during his youth.
In order for a person to be able to display his natural moral power in any certain profession, he must be confident that he can solve and carry through all the special problems of his profession which may be presented to him. To obtain this confidence he must understand the various methods by which the various problems of his profession may be solved, and the relative value of these methods for each particular problem, in other words he must know the theory and practice of his profession. However, this knowledge alone will hardly give him the necessary confidence in himself. He must actually solve and carry through these problems, applying his knowledge without outside assistance.
Bonaparte, before the Italian campaign, had most thoroughly educated himself in both the theory and practice of war, and therefore, when he received the command of the army of Italy, was confident of success. However, even with his tremendous inherent strength of character, strengthened by the most careful and thorough study of the art of war, he could hardly have had, upon first taking command of an army, the supreme self-confidence which made him one of the boldest men who ever led an army. He needed practical experience in actually directing an army in the field to remove his last doubts as to his ability as a leader. His first brilliant campaign against Colli and Beaulieu, terminating in the "terrible passage of the bridge of Lodi," afforded him his necessary proof. The most extraordinary action at Lodi had a most tremendous effect upon his character. He said at St. Helena: "Vendemiaire and Montenotte had not warranted me in considering myself an exceptional man. Only after Lodi did the idea come to me that thenceforth I should become a decisive player on the political boards. Then arose the first sparks of high ambition."
Therefore we see that the moral power a person may display in a profession depends upon:
1st. His inherent strength of character at the time he commences his preparation for his profession.
2d. His knowledge of the theory and practice of his profession.
3d. His actual experience in his profession.
In selecting candidates for the military profession we should select those persons who have the maximum inherent moral power at the time their preparation for the profession is to commence. To increase the efficiency of this selection, these candidates should be given a period of service on probation during which period their character should be accurately estimated.
To induce those selected to gain the greatest knowledge of the theory and practice of their profession they should be given the greatest incentives. Deserving officers should be afforded every opportunity of realizing their personal ambitions in the service. We should constantly appeal to their patriotism by showing them that the country is in need of their greatest efforts, and that the life of the nation may depend upon the zeal with which they prepare themselves for war. The fatherland should appreciate fully their efforts and should place the members of the military services in positions of the highest honor.
As we have seen above, mere knowledge of his profession alone cannot give an officer the necessary moral power. It is necessary that he have actual experience in applying his knowledge to special problems, for whose solution he is personally responsible. In order that willingness take responsibility, courage in planning operations and determination in their execution may be encouraged, superior officers should afford subordinates every opportunity for using their professional knowledge with their own initiative. To this end, in assigning a task, the general method to be used in its accomplishment only should be given by superior authority, the details of the plan and its execution being left entirely to the subordinate. In as many cases as possible, the task alone should be assigned and the methods to be used left entirely to the decision of the subordinate. Errors in the selection of plans and mistakes in their execution should be pointed out by superior authority, but the initiative of subordinates should not be killed by severe punishment, unless their errors result from their bad spirit or their neglect.
In time of peace every effort should be made to train the commissioned personnel, and to increase their knowledge and experience. In actual war it is too late to begin to train the personnel, but the experience gained by leaders in war will greatly increase their moral power as the war progresses and for future wars. This completes our discussion of the personal moral power of leaders and the methods of training by which this moral power may be increased.
A leader's personal moral power in war is naturally greatly affected by the actual conditions under which he is working. It is not enough to train in time of peace leaders of great power and strength of character. We must afford these leaders the most favorable conditions in war, so that they will be able to make full use of their powers. We will therefore examine in turn the various factors which influence the moral power of leaders in war, and the various methods which have been used to increase this power.
The physical health of a leader has often decreased the resolution and firmness with which he is directing the movements of his forces. The indecision, delay and confusion in the execution of the beautifully planned campaign of 1815 have been attributed correctly to the ill health of the Emperor. Many generals after a lost campaign have been retired from their commands for sickness. However, in most cases in history, sickness has failed to weaken the moral power of great leaders. Wolfe and Nelson fought continually against sickness. Charles XII of Sweden was carried in a litter at Pultowa, as was the old Spanish general Fuentes at Rocroi. Massena, rather than give over the command of his corps at Wagram, rode into the thick of the action in a carriage and displayed the greatest determination in most critical situations. Blucher rose from a sick-bed to come to the assistance of Wellington at Waterloo.
A leader's strength of character is usually greatly influenced by the success or failure of the recent operations. In the campaign of 1870, after Bazaine's huge army had been shut up in Metz, the German supreme command left an army of equal size to invest it, while it directed the third and Meuse armies against MacMahon's reserve army and, after that had been destroyed, into the very heart of France. This advance with a fortress and a large field army directly on the lines of communications has always been considered as a dangerous and risky operation, and it was so considered at the time by eminent authorities. The supreme command would hardly have ordered this movement, which resulted in such complete success, had it not been greatly encouraged by the repeated and easy victories of the previous two weeks. In the campaign of 1806, the Prussian defeat and the death of Prince Louis, at Saalfeld, broke the resolution of the Prussian leaders and for a time created anarchy at the royal headquarters. However, there have been many leaders who have been greater in defeat and disaster than in victory. Thus Massena, after his army had been defeated and cut in two, made a most remarkable defence in Genoa. At the battle of Marengo, when he was told that the French army had been defeated, Desaix said: "The battle is lost, but we have time to win another." This he proceeded to do. Bliicher's frequent defeats could not in the slightest degree weaken his resolution, and Marshal Soult showed the greatest firmness during his long retreat from Spain in 1813-1814 under the most discouraging conditions.
The relations between the leader and his superior have a great influence upon his moral power. In our discussion above of the methods of training leaders, we touched upon the subject of the orders given a leader by his superior. We will now discuss this most important question more fully and examine the affect that various kinds of orders have upon the resolution of the subordinate.
First, we may see that it will be of advantage if the leader receives orders from but one superior, to whom he is responsible for their execution. At one time in the campaign of 1870 Marshal MacMahon, commander of the army of Chalons, had three distinct superiors; Bazaine, who was shut up in Metz 75 miles away, the Regency at Paris, which attempted to claim for itself the powers which belonged by right to the Emperor, and finally the Emperor himself, who was actually with the army. With such a conflict of authority, it is not at all surprising that his operations were marked with such fatal delay and indecision.
Second, we will agree that orders from superior authority should clearly define the task to be accomplished, so that there will be no doubt left in the mind of the subordinate. In the battles around Metz, in 1870, Bazaine commanded the French Army of the Rhine. Napoleon III, while actually with the army, did not exercise the supreme command on account of ill health, but required Bazaine to submit his plans to him for approval before starting to execute them. In this position of a critical spectator. the Emperor, always an astute politician, would be able to take the credit for the successes, and 'throw on Bazaine the blame for the failures. It is evident that Bazaine could not act with determination under these vicious conditions.
Third, it is evident that orders should not be changed or countermanded unless it is absolutely necessary that they should be. In the campaign of 1859 Gyulai, the Austrian commander-in-chief, issued several complete sets of orders to his army, in great, length and detail, within a space of six hours, without hearing any news of the enemy. Many corps reoccupied, at sunset, after a long, forced march, the very position they had left at daybreak. This work to no purpose, very naturally discouraged the subordinate leaders and .induced them to criticise their superior. It is generally considered advisable for a leader to carry through with firmness one plan, rather than to change it frequently for something which he considers a little better.
Fourth, as it is bad to countermand orders, we see that only those orders which are absolutely necessary for the immediate future should be given to the subordinates. This implies that no ordersshould be given out which cover a long period in the future, because movements of the enemy and other unforeseen developments will almost always make it necessary to change or cancel these orders before the time for their execution arrives. In the campaign of 1870 the German supreme command, in ordering the advance of the third and Meuse armies to advance on MacMahon, covered a period of three days in one order. It justified this later by saying that it assumed no contact with the enemy during this period. However, the French Reserve Army of Chalons proved to be much better prepared than the Germans supposed, and it actually commenced operations on the same day that the German armies did. This mistake in estimation forced the supreme command to countermand the original orders on the third day, causing a certain amount of confusion.
Fifth, it is thought bad for the superior officer to issue an order to his subordinate, detailing a number of situations which may occur in the course of an operation, with an order as to what is to be done in each case. These detailed instructions confuse the subordinate, especially if a situation arises which does not fit into the order, either being not covered in the order at all, or a combination of two or more of the given situations. When such orders have actually been given in campaigns, it is surprising to see in how few cases the actual situation corresponded with one of those given in the order. Confusion as to his task and the methods ordered by superior authority to accomplish it, reduce the resolution with which the subordinate leader will carry out his operations, in addition to producing many material results of great importance.
Sixth, as a general rule orders should indicate the task, and the general method to be used in accomplishing it, and should leave the details to the subordinate leaders. For a leader to have moral power he must be allowed to act as far as possible on his own initiative. The granting of initiative allows the subordinate to gain strength by actually using his authority to plan and carry through operations, proportional, of course, in importance to his rank, and it shows him that his superior has confidence in him, thus increasing his own confidence. The German supreme command has always considered it advisable to grant initiative to the subordinate leaders, believing that the few errors made by the subordinates in acting upon their own initiative, are more than counterbalanced by the increased moral power gained by the subordinates and the many material advantages which have always been gained through the use of this system. In 1859 Gyulai habitually issued orders to his army which covered many printed pages. These often provided for the movements of individual regiments of infantry and squadrons of cavalry. He might just as well have dispensed altogether with his division and corps commanders, if he were to tie them down to such details and make all their own decisions for them.
In some cases even the general method of operation should be left to the initiative of the subordinate leaders, especially when the superior is at a distance from the field of action. Thus Bonaparte, when First Consul, drew up a plan of campaign for Moreau in 1800. The latter disapproved this plan, and proposed one not nearly as good. Napoleon had the good sense to allow Moreau to use his own plan, which ended with success in the battle of Hohenlinden. Napoleon, in later years, failed to live up to his own standard and attempted to direct from Paris the campaign in Spain. The efficiency of this method of directing armies may be seen from the fact that one of his orders to Massena was received three months after it was issued in Paris. In 1870 MacMahon was placed under the orders of Bazaine, who was 75 miles away and shut up in a fortress. Bazaine at first very correctly told MacMahon to act on his own initiative, but later ordered him to advance upon Metz. Such orders were hardly likely to be carried out with determination by MacMahon, especially as he knew that Bazaine could have little information as to the true situation. The good results of the granting of proper initiative to subordinates are well illustrated by the boldness with which the German leaders in 1870 took advantage of every opportunity. The official account shows that the great victories of Metz and Sedan was due largely to the initiative exercised by the army and corps commanders. This in no way decreases the credit due to the supreme command. The great results gained by Nelson were likewise due to the intelligent initiative of the English captains. This is especially illustrated by the brilliant maneuver of Captain Foley, of the Goliath, at the Battle of the Nile, in passing inside the French line, which made possible the concentration on the head of the French line. This move was made entirely upon the initiative of the captain and reflected great honor both on him and the commander-in-chief.
A subordinate naturally does not wish to act without orders from superior authority. If he knew that he could act in all cases in accordance with the wishes of his commander, even though he received no direct order at the time, it would be more probable that he would act with the necessary speed and resolution on his own initiative. Therefore the supreme command usually prepares and issues to the subordinate leaders a general doctrine of action. Also, it informs the subordinates from time to time of the general plan. Therefore, by acting in accordance with the doctrine and in such a way as to further the general plan, the subordinate may feel that he is loyally obeying the wishes of his superior, even though his action at the time is made without orders and on his own initiative. Nelson's Memorandum before Trafalgar may be considered as both a doctrine and a general plan. Nelson was always careful to fully explain to his captains all his ideas on tactics, and this greatly increased the initiative of his subordinates. Napoleon often complained that the marshals did not understand his "system." This system was what we would call to-day a "doctrine," but Napoleon, instead of teaching this system to his generals, did his best to keep it secret, as he feared that if his opponents learned it, they would be able to oppose him so much more successfully. This secrecy naturally killed the initiative of his marshals. However, in this case the Emperor's reason for secrecy was a most powerful one, because he could never count on the loyalty of the marshals. Bernadotte and Murat deserted him, Moreau went into the service of Russia and Jomini, Ney's chief of staff, who knew Napoleon's system better than any other, went on the staff of the Czar, where his knowledge was of the greatest importance. The issuing of a general plan also informs the subordinate leader, what assistance he may receive from the superior authority in carrying out an operation to further the general plan. The German supreme command, in 1870, was very careful to inform all the army commanders of its general plan. We may be sure that, if it had not been for the knowledge of the general plan and the certainty that they would be sustained if they commenced an operation to further it, two army corps and two cavalry divisions would not have attacked the whole French Army at Vionville and Mars-la-tour, which action resulted in the entire capture of the army.
Leaders should be rewarded by their superiors for efficient service. Nelson was always ready to praise his captains and to reward them for efficient service. Napoleon gave his successful generals every honor. His bulletins were filled with the brave deeds of his officers.
Superiors should always supply their subordinates with every possible facility for carrying out their task, and should support them loyally in every way during its execution.
The moral power of a leader is greatly affected by the attitude assumed by those officers with whom they must cooperate, and by the ability of these officers. The loss of Spain by Napoleon in 1810-1814 may be charged to the jealousy of the French marshals and the total lack of cooperation between them. As an example of the effect of these vicious conditions, we will examine briefly the relations between Massena and Bessieres at the time of the battle of Fuentes D'Onoro in 1811.
Massena, who was one of the best and strongest of the marshals and who had made a remarkably successful record in the great wars of the French Revolution and Empire, both as a subordinate leader and as a commander-in-chief; had made a long winter campaign in Portugal. He was forced to retreat into Spain, more on account of lack of provisions than of actual defeat by the English, and halted in the province of Salamanca. This province was governed by Marshal Bessieres, who had under his orders the fine regiments of the guard, and was himself directly under the orders of the Emperor. of Paris. Massena at once sent an aide to Bessieres, requesting his assistance. Bessieres at once promised to send several regiments and batteries with abundant food and material. After a month and a half this assistance arrived and was found to be but 15oo cavalry and six guns, without material and food. Bessieres appeared in person with this force, which he retained strictly under his command, so that he might make Massena consult him, and so that he might criticise the latter's operations. The battle of Fuentes D'Onoro was opened by a brilliant move on the part of Massena, the French cavalry breaking up the English right wing. This cavalry getting temporarily out of hand, due to the death of the commanding generals, Massena requested General Lepic to charge with the cavalry of the guard, so as to complete the victory. This general declared that he could not charge without orders from Bessieres. The latter, who had thus far always been continually at headquarters offering his advice and criticisms, could not be found. When finally discovered at a remote part of the battlefield, he declared that he would not allow the guard to be engaged, because, if it should suffer any losses, he would be responsible to the Emperor for them. Massena, not daunted by this lack of cooperation, which was not far from treason, commenced a new attack with infantry and artillery and was making excellent progress, when he received word that the ammunition was running low. Massena then asked if he could borrow the caissons of the guard to send to the rear for more ammunition, but Bessieres, claiming that these had made a long march, refused the use of them until the next day. By this time the English had so strengthened their position, that a further attack was out of the question. Apart from the actual material results of this jealousy, we must note that the moral power of Massena was so broken that he was never able to make another campaign. The loss of one of his most capable assistants certainly contributed to Napoleon's fall.
The leader's knowledge that we will be loyally sustained by his companions, will naturally give him confidence to engage in dangerous but profitable operations, which will further the general plan of their common superior. Nelson would hardly have moved single-handed into the middle of the Spanish fleet at St. Vincent, had he not been certain that he would receive prompt assistance from the other captains and the commander-in-chief. The English captains under Nelson always acted with the greatest boldness and determination, because they were assured of swift and certain assistance. The German corps and division commanders in 1870 always knew that their comrades would march to the sound of their guns.
We have seen above the value of a doctrine and a general plan in the relations between a leader and his superior. The doctrine and the general plan also tend to increase the efficiency of the cooperation between leaders as they offer them 'a common aim and common methods to attain this aim. In thus furthering the cooperation between leaders they tend to increase their moral power.
We will next examine the effect of the actions and attitude of subordinates upon the leader. In order that a leader may act with confidence and determination, he must be certain that his subordinates will loyally obey his orders. The leader who has a strong personal character may act with indecision when he is not certain of the loyalty of his lieutenants. There have been few generals who have a stronger character than Marshal Massena. His absolute refusal to attack the Russians at Zurich in 1799 until he obtained favorable conditions, even when he had been repeatedly ordered by the Directory at Paris to attack, and his decisive victory when he finally decided to attack, stamped him as a general of the greatest moral courage. His obstinate defence of Genoa in 1800, when the civil population were in a state of insurrection and his army was starving, required the greatest determination. Still we see this general in Spain in 1811 acting with the greatest indecision, when many opportunities were granted him for a decisive victory. If we examine this campaign we see that this was caused by the fact that his lieutenants, Ney, Junot, Reynier and Montbrun constantly refused to obey orders. Under these conditions we could hardly expect his campaign to end in anything but failure. Kuropatkin was greatly handicapped by the inability, and disloyalty of the corps commanders. One of his leading generals returned to Russia without even notifying the commander-in-chief. In 18o6 the Prussian Colonel Massenbach reported that an order of the supreme command could not be executed, because he hoped that by doing this, he could convince the supreme command that his own plan of operation was better than that being then executed. He believed that the Prussian Army could not be saved unless his plan was used. If all subordinates acted in this way, the supreme command would have little chance of accomplishing anything.
Now let us examine the effect in history of the high and loyal spirit of subordinates. At Castiglione, in 1796, Bonaparte had almost decided to retreat. Augereau, then a general of division, then declared that he would remain and fight, even if all others retreated. This decided Bonaparte to accept battle. On the next day a great victory decided the campaign in his favor. Similarly at Marengo Desaix saved the day when all was considered lost. Nelson was always assisted by the great loyalty of his captains. The German supreme command in 1870 and the Japanese in 1904 always relied upon the loyalty of their lieutenants.
The quality of the force under his command has a considerable effect upon a leader's moral force. We may be sure that during the French Revolution and Empire there were many bold and skillful officers in the French Navy. The continued defeats which the French Navy experienced in this period may be laid primarily to the weakening effect exerted upon the resolution of the admirals and commanding officers by the general inefficiency of the entire naval forces. This most certainly broke Villeneuve's spirit so that he gave over a most excellent opportunity to carry out the Emperor's brilliant plan. The inefficiency of the Russian second category troops in Manchuria did much to kill the spirit of their leaders. The condition of Cevera's squadron convinced him at the beginning of the campaign that success was impossible. MacMahon's Army of Chalone, in 1870, being composed partly of troops that had already been defeated and partly of raw militia, some of which had to be sent back to Paris on account of their bad conduct, could inspire him with but little confidence in ultimate victory. On the other hand Napoleon, in 1806, advanced directly upon Berlin, being confident that with the magnificent army under his command he could defeat the Prussian Army wherever and whenever it might appear.
The moral power and the attitude of the civilian population of the nation influences the moral power of the leader. We may easily see the effect upon MacMahop's character caused by the order issued by the Regency at Paris, in deference to the shouts of a Paris mob, mistaken for public opinion, to advance upon Metz. Knowing that he was being sacrificed to appease the public opinion, MacMahon advanced with hesitation, hoping that his protests or some unforeseen accident would result in a change of plan, while there was still a chance to save his army by a rapid retreat.
On the other hand the enthusiasm of the civil population may inspire the leaders with the greatest confidence. We may imagine the effect upon Lincoln made by the stirring reply to his demand for volunteers, the great war song, "We are Coming, Father Abraham, Four Hundred Thousand Strong."
Information of the enemy has a most important bearing upon the leader's boldness. Thus McClellan in the Peninsula Campaign thought the Confederate Army defending Richmond twice as strong as it actually was and made a weak retreat when a stout attack all along the line would probably have resulted in a decisive victory. Naturally cautious and lacking the resolution necessary for the commander-in-chief of an army, the false information given him by the Pinkerton detectives, used as spies, broke completely his moral power. In the campaign of 1859 neither of the opposing commanders, Gyulai and Napoleon III, had any reliable information of the other's forces. Each thought the other was about to take the offensive against him, and so both remained stationary for several weeks, strengthening their positions and preparing for a hostile attack. In Nelson's search for the French fleet, which ended in the Battle of the Nile, he was almost entirely without information of the enemy, due principally to his lack of scouts. The tremendous mental strain of this campaign would have broken the courage of the average commander, and the great resolution of Nelson in this search should have won for him higher honor than the great tactical victory with which it was ended.
Information of the character of the opposing leader is also a great assistance to a leader. In our Civil War many of the leaders on both sides had known each other intimately at West Point or Annapolis. This allowed them an insight into the character of their opponents which they were quick to take advantage of.
Lack of information of the enemy, in addition to weakening the resolution of the leader, may have the bad effect of making him overconfident. Thus, at the Battle of Sedan the French leaders thought that they were opposed by the German Meuse Army only. Had they known that the third army also was present, they would have retreated with greater speed and would have avoided, to some extent, the complete defeat that they actually received.
Thus far we have considered the effect upon the leader of those factors which concern our own country and our own forces, which factors we may control. We must now briefly consider those factors which concern the opposing forces and which we may control only, indirectly.
The ability and moral power of the opposing leader, of the opposing armed forces and of the opposing civil population all influence the moral power of a leader. Generals and admirals have always displayed their greatest resolution and made the most brilliant campaigns of their career against inferior leaders and inferior armies. Against leaders superior in power they have never acted with their usual courage and ability. Labienus was one of Caesar's greatest lieutenants and made under him in Gaul several really brilliant campaigns. Later when he opposed his former commander his campaigns were far below his standard. Caesar's moral power was so great that his opponents were practically beaten before the campaign began. Pompey had made several fine campaigns and had earned the title of "Magnus," but he made practically no resistance, so completely was he overawed by Caesar's very name. He would attempt nothing and would stand passively upon the defensive. Archduke Charles was an excellent general, but opposed to Napoleon dared to make no offensive movement. Just imagine the feelings of a general opposed to the great Napoleon! We should not be surprised to see the extreme caution with which the Allies acted against him, even in 1814, when they knew that he had but a handful of men. Imagine the effect of Nelson's name upon the French!
The composition of the opposing forces also had its effect. Imagine the state of mind of the barbarian leader upon seeing the Roman legions deploying for the attack. Who would like to be in the place of the leader against whose divisions the imperial guard was advancing, with their "Vive L'Empereur," sounding above the roar of the battle? How did the French leaders, Chanzy and Bourbaki, feel when they drew up their guardes mobile against the veterans of Metz and Sedan?
Having now completed our discussion of the various factors in war which affect the moral power of leaders, we may enumerate them in review as follows:
1. The personal health of the leader.
2. The recent events.
3. His relations with his superiors.
4. His relations with those officers with whom he must cooperate.
5. His relations with his subordinates.
6. The ability and spirit of the force under his command.
7. The attitude of the civil population of the nation toward the military services.
8. The force and ability of the opposing leader and force.
By moral power we mean confidence, but not overconfidence. This overconfidence may be caused by an exaggeration of one's own powers, underestimation of the opposing forces and leaders, and the failure to see clearly the actual facts of the situation. Overconfidence usually results in the undertaking of operations that are beyond our powers and manifestly impracticable. We should keep in our minds the example given us by Charles XII and Napoleon. The overconfidence of these bold and able leaders resulted in the ruin of their countries.
We will next discuss the moral power of the armed forces. By the moral power of leaders we meant their power to lead bodies of men in their own initiative. By the moral power of the armed forces we mean the spirit of a body of men, the spirit in which they follow and obey their leaders. This moral power is shown by the most perfect discipline and obedience at all times, persistent courage and determination in action, willingness to undergo privation and hardship, constancy in defeat and disaster, and the most perfect confidence in ultimate success.
It requires no argument to prove the great importance of this moral power; it has been recognized from the first days of history. We find in Cxsar's Commentaries: "There is a certain impetuosity of spirit and alacrity implanted by nature in the hearts of all men, which is inflamed by a desire to meet the foe. This a general should endeavor not to repress, but to increase; nor was it a vain institution of our ancestors that the trumpets should sound on all sides, and a general shout be raised, by which they imagined that the enemy was struck with terror and their own army was inspired with courage." Notwithstanding the statement of one of our inventors that war is to-day entirely a matter of physics and chemistry, the moral power is just as important as it was in the days of the Romans. Listen to what Bernhardi says: "But within certain limits, which are laid down by the law of numbers, the true elements of superiority under the present system of gigantic armies are seen to be spiritual and moral strength, and larger masses will be beaten by a small, well-led and self-devoting army." Sir John French, in an official statement, said that the principal reason for the attack at Neuve Chapelle was the desire to increase the moral power of his forces.
We will now examine in turn the various factors which affect the moral power of the armed forces.
The moral power of a body of men is naturally affected most of all by the ability of -their own leaders. All leaders influence their men for good or bad to a most remarkable degree. Let us see how they may use this influence to increase the moral power of the organization which they command. War is a hard game. Those who enter it for pleasure will see that they must undergo the most extreme privations and hardships, even if they were not killed or wounded. Therefore there must be some inducements offered to those who engage in it. They must be fighting for some definite aim. While this aim may in some cases be impressed upon the men of the armed forces by the civil population, by their political leaders, or may fully realize its importance for themselves, it is always the duty of the military leader to impress it upon his men with the greatest emphasis, appealing to their reason, and to their sentiments and feelings. The aim or aims for which the armed forces fight depend, of course, upon the actual situation and upon their racial characteristics.
Let us examine briefly the various aims for which great armies have fought, so that we may select that one which will inspire most our men in various situations which may occur in the future.
The Athenians at Marathon fought for their very existence as a nation. The ten thousand, in their retreat from the heart of Persia, fought for their personal safety. Alexander's conquering army fought for their king and for their personal glory and profit. The Romans, in the Second Punic War, displayed a most remarkable devotion, after two of their armies had been totally destroyed and Hannibal had actually reached the walls of Rome, in defence of their nation and their homes. Likewise Hannibal's army showed the greatest constancy in the seventeen years they remained in Italy practically shut off from their home. These fine soldiers were fighting for their beloved leader, and for their own glory and profit. Caesar's fine legions fought for their great leader and for the high pay they received and the booty they could gain. Cromwell's army fought for political freedom and for their religion. The remarkable army of Gustavus Adolphus was actuated by love of their king, by desire to make the position of their country more secure and to assist those in Germany who were of their own religion. The French Republican Armies were carried away by the freedom they had tasted, and fought to bring their liberty to the other peoples of Europe. Napoleon's soldiers were animated by the most perfect devotion to their Emperor, their love of glory for themselves and for France, and by the desire for the riches which Napoleon showered upon them. In our Civil War the North fought to preserve the Union, and the South to gain what they considered their liberty, motives which induced both to make the greatest sacrifices. The German Army, in 1870, considered that they were fighting for the security of their fatherland.
We see that there are many aims for which great armies have fought. We see them fighting to defend their country and their very homes, to render their country secure against attack, to increase their country's power and reputation, to.assist those of .their own religion, to gain for themselves and others political freedom, to increase the personal power of their leaders, to win for themselves honor and fame and to gain riches and booty. Which one of these aims will most increase the moral power of the armed forces depends upon the nature of the armed forces themselves and upon the conditions under which they are operating. But some definite aim or aims, whatever they may be, unless they are already present, should be impressed upon the men of the armed forces by their leaders.
Let us consider the means by which great leaders have impressed an aim upon their men. John Sobieski, King of Poland, addressed his troops before the great battle with the Turks under the walls of Vienna: "To-day you fight not for Poland, but for Christianity; not for your king but for your God." Nelson, before Trafalgar, sent the famous signal: "England expects every man to do his duty." Togo, at the battle of the Sea of Japan, signalled to his fleet: "The fate of the empire depends on this battle; let every man do his utmost." Both of these signals nerved the fleets to fight with the greatest of resolution. In the above actions the commanders were sure of the devotion of their forces and used only brief messages to remind their forces of the critical situation.
However, all leaders have not had such patriotic and devoted forces under their command. Thus Caesar had to use all his powers to increase the morale of his legions, which frequently mutinied and broke in panic in action. Napoleon had even more uncertain troops with which to deal. As Napoleon was able to inspire his troops with moral power to a most remarkable degree, we will examine his methods in some detail.
The French Revolution had dissolved completely the regular army and navy. The new army was composed of new levies and national guards, who had no idea whatever of discipline or obedience, especially as they usually elected their own officers. These troops were poorly clothed and lacked food and equipment, all of which still further weakened whatever discipline they had. While these troops were greatly improved by constant warfare, they never acquired a proper discipline. In the early years of the revolution they had been inspired by the hatred of the kings and the idea that they were bringing liberty to the peoples of Europe. This wonderful spirit wrought wonders. "Such a Gallic fire blazes in this people, like a conflagration of grass and dry jungle; which no mortal can withstand for the moment." (Carlyle.)
However, this idea in time died out and the French successes ended. A new aim was necessary. This Bonaparte supplied. In his first proclamation to the army of Italy it is set forth: "I will lead you into the most fertile plains in the world. There you will find honor, fame and riches." The Emperor, in later years, used constantly this formula "honor, fame and riches," which had proved to be so successful. He offered rewards in every form to the soldiers. Every private in the ranks, had he the necessary ability, had the opportunity to rise to the highest ranks, general, marshal of France, and even sovereign. If he had not the ability to be an officer, but still served with courage in the ranks, he received first a sword or rifle of honor, and later the coveted cross of the Legion of Honor. Gallant deeds of regiments and individual soldiers were mentioned in the proclamations to the army and in the bulletins to France. Regiments were given special names of honor and were personally thanked by the Emperor when their work was specially well-done. The elite of the army was formed into the imperial guard, in which all regiments were commanded by general officers, and in which each officer was advanced one grade over those holding similar positions in the line. The pay of the soldiers was greatly increased, and the marshals and generals amassed great fortunes as a reward for their good services. The Emperor, in his proclamations and in his addresses to the troops, constantly exhorted them to make renewed efforts so as to win the peace they so greatly desired, and emphasized the honor with which they would be treated by their fellow citizens after their return from the great campaigns in which they were taking part.
While he thus rewarded the efficient and obedient of the army, he punished the inefficient and the disobedient with a heavy hand. Generals were instantly retired from their commands whenever they showed weakness, lack of industry or bad spirit. No reward was given to anybody who was absent from the colors.
In addition the Emperor used every means in his power with the greatest skill to win the love of the soldiers, and with such success that his soldiers were fanatics in their worship of him. If we add to all this his wonderful reputation as a general, his great record of victories, and the great boldness and resolution with which he directed his campaigns, we may readily see how he changed an indisciplined army into one which is almost without parallel in all history.
In addition to giving his men an aim to work for, so as to make certain that all will work with the greatest industry, the leader should inspire his men with the confidence that the campaign actually being undertaken will end in success. The men of the armed forces realize that war is a serious undertaking, so they naturally wish an able leader, one who will obtain the desired result with the least losses. In order to make the soldiers confident in their leader, the latter must convince the soldiers of his ability. He may do this by mere personal magnetism, by his actual ability in directing his force, or by a combination of these two methods.
General McClellan was a man of the greatest, personal magnetism. He obtained a most remarkable influence over his army, even after bad defeats in which he displayed neither moral courage nor ability. Napoleon III attempted to raise the morale of his armies by imitating the methods of his uncle, and by using the effect of his name to revive the Napoleonic legend. He obtained some success in this line although he had very little ability as a general.
Many other generals and leaders were content to let their deeds speak for themselves, making no effort to become popular or to use their personal influence in gaining the confidence of their forces. Massena was never loved by his soldiers, but all recognized his ability and wished to serve under him. Wellington neither liked his army, of which he was constantly complaining, nor was he liked by his men, but he was always greatly respected by them as an able leader. The French Marshal St. Cyr was hated by his men, but they still recognized the fact that he was almost a perfect tactician and were glad to serve under him.
Practically all the greatest leaders have been men of the greatest personal magnetism. They have always used this magnetism not as did McClellan and Napoleon III, but supported by the actual fact of their great deeds and ability, to increase to the greatest possible extent the confidence of their men in victory. Napoleon, Cesar and Alexander inspired their men by their wonderful magnetism. The "Nelson touch," animated the whole English Navy with a wonderful spirit. John Paul Jones, by his wonderful spirit and determination in action, drew forth surprising efforts from one of the poorest crews that a captain had. Ney, Lannes and Murat could lead their troops anywhere by their inspiring example.
It is said that Napoleon's presence upon the battlefield, and the effect it had upon the morale of his troops was worth 30,000 men, while Nelson was himself equal in value to a reinforcement of three ships of the line.
Leaders have used various methods to increase the moral power of their men before battle. Cesar always addressed the troops: Cromwell started the custom among his ironsides of singing hymns on the charge; Gustavus had prayers said; the Republican Armies of France went into action singing the "Marseillaise." Napoleon issued his proclamations and addressed his troops; "Remember, soldiers, that it is my custom to bivouac on the field of battle." Before Austerlitz he pointed out the false movements of the enemy and proved to the soldiers that an easy victory awaited them. He was always careful to enumerate to the soldiers all the occasions on which they had beaten the present enemy in past campaigns.
We will now consider the ways in which the leader's manner of directing the force under his command affect the moral power of the men. The men soon learn the character and ability of their leader. The leader gains the confidence of his men by acting with decision and resolution; he loses it by delay and vacillation. One plan, even if it is not the very best possible, is far better than constant changes of plan and counter orders, resulting from changes in the leader's views.
All leaders have recognized the important moral advantage which is inherent in all offensive operations, and therefore all great captains have always used this form of operation, except in cases where they have been greatly outnumbered, in a very unfavorable situation, or when for other reasons of special importance it has been thought advisable to act upon the defensive.
The result of the first action in a campaign has a great effect upon the morale of the armed forces, and therefore all generals have made great efforts to win it. The action at Valmy in 1792 has been classed as a decisive battle, although it was no more than a distant cannonade. It was decisive because it increased the morale of the raw French troops, who had on every previous occasion fled in a panic after the first shot was fired. Many military writers have wondered why Napoleon held his cavalry back with the infantry corps in 1806, instead of sending them to the front for information, as was his custom. A possible reason for this was that the Prussian cavalry was noted for its efficiency, and that Napoleon feared that, if he opposed his cavalry to them, the enemy would gain the moral effect of winning the first engagement. The Japanese first encountered European troops at the Battle of Yalu in 1904. They realized the great importance of an initial victory over the Russians. This would explain the great caution with which they acted, and their failure to make a sharp pursuit, which would have completed their victory.
The supply of food has an important effect upon the moral power of troops. The Austrian Marshal Radetzky said: "A good soldier must have a full stomach. See therefore that your men have sufficient food. A hungry-soldier has no courage." While there may have been exceptions to this rule, in the main it holds good. Lack of food did more than the Russians to break down the Grand Army in 1812.
The supply of clothing and equipment is also a factor. The soldier who receives a pair of shoes with paper soles or discovers that sand is used as the bursting charge for his shells, will hardly be encouraged by these facts to fight courageously.
Weapons superior to the enemy's encourage the armed forces, because they realize that they are of great material value in action, and because these weapons prove to the men that the government has made every effort to provide them with the necessary material and has developed a superiority in supplying arms and munitions. It is therefore the duty of the leader to see that his men have sufficient food, the best possible clothing and equipment, and the greatest quantity of the most efficient weapons and ammunition. In this way, in addition to increasing the material value of the force under his command, he also increases its moral power.
The actions of political leaders have an influence upon the moral power of the military services. The example of men high in public life who use the army and navy to gain for themselves political capital, who attempt to establish navy-yards and army posts in certain parts of the country for the sole reason of bringing commercial opportunities to the citizens of these communities, and in this way securing their re-election to office, and who force the government to accept poor material for the financial benefit of their friends, can hardly increase the moral power of the armed forces. On the other hand they may greatly increase this power. It was the fiery eloquence of Danton which nerved the indisciplined French mob, not worthy of the name "army," to withstand the Prussian invasion and beat it back at Valmy in 1702. Lincoln, with his wonderful personal magnetism, was to a great degree responsible for the magnificent moral power shown by the federal armies toward the close of the Civil War. His wonderful speech at Gettysburg inspired the whole North. Gambetta stirred all France to make every effort to repel the German invasion, and gathered great armies which, allowing for their inexperience, fought with great courage and determination.
The civil population, by their loyal support and praise of deserving military services, may exert a great influence. The Romans, in the days of the Republic, the Germans, in 1870, and the Americans on both sides in the Civil War, so inspired their armies with firm resolution and determination, that it was not necessary for the leaders to employ a regular system for raising the moral power of their forces. On the other hand harsh and unreasoning criticism of the personnel of the armed forces by citizens, especially those employed in the interests of various "peace leagues and associations," has a most injurious effect. In 1905 the Russian civil population undermined the moral power of their troops, deluging them with seditious pamphlets, inciting them to disobey the commands of their officers. Kuropatkin notes this as one of the principal causes for the failure of the Russian Army in this war.
In battle the smallest incident may break the moral power of an army or fleet. The best soldiers are liable to break in panic for the smallest reason. The great battle of Munda, in the Roman Civil War, was decided for Caesar by a mere accident. After fighting for hours on even terms, a small body of Caesar's cavalry passed around Pompey's right flank and attacked his camp. A few cohorts were sent to beat this cavalry off. The movement of these cohorts to the rear was taken by both armies as the beginning of a general retreat. Caesar's men were encouraged, while Pompey's were discouraged. Another final charge by Caesar resulted in the complete rout of the enemy, whose moral power had been completely broken. In the Battle of Arcole, in 1796, the Austrians, after fighting with the greatest constancy for three days, were routed by a mere trick. A small body of cavalry, 25 men with four trumpeters, rode around their flank and simulated the arrival of a large force of cavalry upon the Austrian rear. The whole line retreated, leaving the field and the victory to the French. At Polotsk, in 1812, a charge of One squadron of the Russian guard upon soldiers dispersed and looting the Russian camp threw a large part of the French Army into a panic and very nearly resulted in the capture of their, commanding general.
This completes our discussion of the moral power of the armed forces. The necessity for increasing the moral power of the armed forces must be realized by the whole nation. Having seen the various methods used for this purpose by great leaders and great nations, we must select for our own use those methods best suited to the character of our forces and to the conditions under which they are operating.
In order to obtain the greatest results from the moral power of the civil population, the leaders and the armed forces, that is to obtain the greatest moral power for the whole nation, these three classes must be bound together by the closest ties. Each must loyally support and assist in every way the others, and each must work for the welfare of the whole nation. If the supreme leader is an hereditary sovereign, the civil population and the armed forces will be bound to him by the closest of ties, the reverence and obedience of the people for their sovereign, built up through the past centuries.. Universal service in the armed forces binds together the civil population and the armed forces and makes them practically one.
In our country we have neither of these two great agencies through which the nations moral power is increased. It is difficult for a republic to obtain the necessary unity of thought and action. If we are to play a part in world history that will be worthy of our ancestors, worthy of Washington and Lincoln, of Farragut and Grant, we must be united, compact and act as one man; we must build up the nation's moral power. This can be accomplished only by the utmost patriotism of all our citizens. Each citizen before he enters upon any undertaking, no matter how small or unimportant, should ask himself: "Will this promote the welfare of the whole country?" Only then will our country play a great and worthy part upon the world stage.