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At the very exercises, more- the same opposition. The session over, the same cheese-paring wore on, and it seemed very probspirit went far to nullify the able that again the bill would benefit and instruction they have to be dropped, although might have afforded. I have both Lord Lansdowne and Mr frequently seen on the Berk- Brodrick, then Under-Secretary shire Downs the whole object of State for War, were most
movement nullified eager to pass it, and thoroughly by the inability of troops to realised its vital importance. cross a field of stunted and Accordingly, a meeting of serwithered turnips, the whole vice members was summoned, value of which did not amount and a deputation was sent to Mr to ten pounds, while the pos- Balfour to impress on him the sible damage caused might importance of passing this bill have been compensated by a before the end of the session. few shillings. As, however, He received the deputation there was no Manoeuvre Act, with his invariable courtesy the troops were only there by and consideration, and listened the goodwill and sufferance of patiently to all they had to say ; the inhabitants, and there was but he left the impression on no money available to pay even them that neither he nor the a few shillings of damage.
Council of National Defence, It is, however, only fair to which, not inaptly I think, was say that the present Secretary compared recently by Lord of State for War and the Edmund Fitzmaurice to the present Commander-in-Chief Aulic Council of Vienna, in any have worked very hard and way realised the absolute necesdone their very best to intro- sity of maneuvres for the duce a new state of things, practical training of troops, and to give our troops those in fact, that many of the other maneuvres and exercises which insignificant bills then down on can alone render them efficient the programme were considered in war.
The Government came of far greater importance than into office in July 1895, and the Manæuvre Act. Nor, inimmediately they set about deed, is this attitude surprisacquiring an exercising-ground ing, since it exactly reflected the on Salisbury Plain, and in the feeling and the attitude of the session of 1896 they introduced House of Commons at that a Maneuvre Bill. This bill time and of the nation at large. met the most violent opposition They are paying dearly now for from extreme Radicals, some of this indifference and niggardly whom are noted as anti-vaccina- spirit, since I maintain that tionists and land-law reformers, almost every one of our reverses and the bill had to be dropped; in South Africa may be dishence there were no manœuvres tinctly traced to the want of coneither in 1896 or 1897 except tinual and efficient maneuvre on the usual stunted and starved training. scale. Again, in 1897, the However, in 1897, before the Manœuvre Bill was reintro- end of the session, the Manduced, and was threatened with euvre Bill was with some diffi
culty passed—it is true in an of what is known as the Maemasculated and amended con- juba Convention. The regiment dition, which did much to im- had come from India, and was pair its usefulness — and the nearly 500 strong and in a high maneuvres of 1898 and 1899 state of efficiency; the average were the result. In the former length of service among the year there was, indeed, a huge men was eight years, and the concentration of troops, but I officers were all experienced, and fear the instruction given was had been highly trained and in no respect proportionate to exercised in India by their very the money spent. What is re- able colonel, the late General quired to ensure efficiency is Arbuthnot. Time hung rather careful and systematic training heavy on our hands, and there of comparatively small bodies was no portion of the adjoining of men, where all are encour- country, now become historic, aged to use their brains, where for many miles round, which self-reliance is taught, and we did not explore, while either where able officers are tried shooting or manoeuvring. It and recognised, while those who chanced one day that I was are hopelessly useless and in- given command of the regiment, competent have an opportunity and my mission was to follow of exhibiting their inefficiency, and attack a squadron, which and hence of being weeded out. was detached to hold a certain It is, however, now to be hoped line of country about fifteen that, after the terrible lesson we miles distant. have had in South Africa, the I took every precaution, I people of this country and their sent out scouts and officers' representatives in Parliament patrols, I had an advanced will at last have awakened to guard and flankers, when sudthe fact that to send troops denly, on crossing a drift of into the field without previous the Klip river with the main careful and regular training body of the regiment, I found under service conditions is to myself surrounded and a heavy send them to inevitable defeat fire poured on me by a hidand disaster. In fact, that they den enemy from neighbouring will not again allow “a good kopjes. Had it been real war I ship to go to the bottom for should have had no alternative the want of a hap'orth of but to surrender after heavy tar.”
loss,- in fact it was an incident, In order to illustrate the from all accounts, similar to importance of such training, what occurred at Koorn Spruit. perhaps I may be permitted to I found that all my patrols,
I relate an anecdote. I do so scouts, and advanced-guard had with the less hesitation, as it is been taken prisoners without a story against myself.
firing shot, they having For about seven months in omitted to proceed in such the year 1881 I was quartered formations would make at Ladysmith as second-in-com- certain that at least one man mand of the 14th Hussars. We should escape to give the alarm. were awaiting the ratification I, on the other hand, had fallen
into the fatal error in war of who was a keen soldier, who concluding that no news was really studied his profession, good news, and before commit
a very rare exception. ting my main body had not Now the rare exception is the waited till one of my scouts other way. Formerly the only returned or signalled to me that test of efficiency exacted at an the coast was clear. I mention inspection of a cavalry regithis incident to show how easy ment was that they should be it is in such a country as Natal, clean, should ride fairly, should even with highly trained troops, have fat horses, should march for such an accident to occur, past smoothly, and should be and how necessary it is, in able to execute a few obsolete order to avoid such misfortunes and complicated movements in war, to have the most care- without many mistakes. As ful practice in peace under ser- regards outpost duty or the vice conditions. I think I may requirements of actual warfare, safely say that there was these were not even mentioned. one present on that occasion, In point of fact, there was no officer or man, who ever forgot official text-book of outpost the lesson; and had it been our duty in existence. I remember good fortune to cross our swords spending a winter at Hanover with the Boers nineteen years in 1871 for the purpose of ago, not one of us would ever studying German. When there again have fallen into such a I
a good deal of the trap. Alas! nineteen years 13th Uhlan Regiment, then make a good deal of difference. fresh from the experiences of Many of the officers who were the 1870 campaign. I had an then in the regiment are now opportunity of studying the dead; the remainder, like my- laborious and painstaking self, are retired, with one excep- manner in which outpost duty tion, that of Colonel Hamilton, and reconnoitring were taught who commands the regiment, in the German army, and on now in South Africa. In his my return to England I transcase I feel sure that the lesson lated their text - book, by a taught at this drift of the Klip General Von Mirus, which was river in 1881 has not been immediately adopted by several forgotten.
general officers for the divisions In conclusion, I think it only under their command, as in right to call attention to the those days there was no English enormous advance made by the text-book, as I have already British army in recent years as mentioned, nor did the British regards practical training and army receive any regular or efficiency, and how much it systematic training in this most owes in this respect to Lord fundamental portion of their Wolseley, the present Com- military duty. It is very differmander-in-Chief.
years past there When I first entered the have been admirable guides to army, now more than thirty- scouting incorporated in both seven years ago, and for many the cavalry and infantry drill
, years afterwards, the officer books, and inspections are now
directed to ascertain the real Sidney Herbert in 1856 on the efficiency of regiments and the instruction of the officers of the knowledge of their officers under army. In it he quoted the service conditions, and are not following remarkable passage solely confined to buttons and dictated by Napoleon to Monblacking, the fit of their uni-tholon at St Helena, in allusion form, or the smoothness with to some observations he had which they can
salute and made to his brother, Louis, at march past.
Toulon :Ever since Lord Wolseley reached a position of influence Louis entered on the life of a man at
“Brought to France when fourteen, at the War Office, he has the siege of Toulon, hearing me say laboured incessantly to make to him in the midst of the corpses of the British army not merely 200 grenadiers, slain through the smart and soldierlike in appear- assault of an impregnable side of
ignorance of their commander at the ance, but fit for actual service
Fort Pharon, 'If I had commanded in the field. He first intro- here, all these brave men would be duced those company
company and still alive. Learn, Louis, from this squadron spring trainings, pre- example how absolutely necessary
instruction is to those who aspire to viously unknown, which at
command others.'» least ensured that every officer and man
in each regiment In the same way I trust that should, SO far as possible, the British nation and the practise annually the main British Parliament will learn essentials of military instruc- from this example of the South tion.
African war that their officers Then again, as regards the need facilities to acquire inselection of officers for com- struction not hitherto granted mand, in some instance, no them; that in future, opposition doubt, mistakes may be made to Manoeuvre Acts, calculated and injustices may be done. to render them ineffective, will This is, unfortunately, inevit- not be tolerated ; and that the able ; but every effort is now
few thousand pounds necessary conscientiously made to prevent to carry them out will not be those who are notoriously in- grudged. In this way, and in competent being intrusted with this way alone, can we avoid the lives of others. When deal- the recurrence of surprises and ing with this point, it may not consequent disasters. be out of place to refer to a
FRANK S. RUSSELL, celebrated speech made by Mr
Note.—Since the above was written there have been reported at least three other instances of surprises that might have been avoided — namely, that which occurred to Colonel Plumer's column, resulting in its repulse ; that of the camp at Sunday's river in Natal, whereby some valuable lives were lost ; and lastly, the ambush of a squadron of Colonel Bethune's Horse, involving about sixty-six casualties. There are rumours of other and minor surprises which have occurred, but the details have not been substantiated.
Said he not well, the bard, who wrote with proud
Prophetic fervoir, “Naught shall make us rue,
If England to itself do rest but true!” 1
Let no fears daunt, no braggart hosts subdue,
But still, come weal, come woe, endure and do Unto the last, to death or victory vow'd !”
And have we not responded to the call ?
And on him unawares devised to fall;
A force, no odds, no losses, could appal,-
1 “King John,” Act V. scene vii.