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fense, and whenever a substitute is attempted, it must prove illusory and ruinous. No militia will ever acquire the habits necessary to resist a regular force. * The firmness requisite for the real business of fighting is only to be attained by a constant course of discipline and service. It is most earnestly to be wished that the liberties of America may no longer be trusted, in any material degree, to so precarious a dependence."
* * *
At the conclusion of the war Congress decided to dispense with a standing army. It ordered the discharge of the Continental troops, with the exception of about 80 soldiers, who were kept to guard public stores. Constant Indian troubles and civic disorders, however, compelled an increase in this number to make up a force of several hundred men.
In the meantime the war organization had undergone successive changes in the Continental Congress. When the committees for war failed, boards of war had been appointed; yet Congress itself continued to direct all military affairs, until these boards became as powerless and ineffective as the committees which preceded them. At the conclusion of the war, after a long dispute, Congress resolved to create a Department of War whose chairman should be called the Secretary of War.1 Under the leadership of Gen. Henry Knox, the second Secretary of War, the department became well organized. The new Department of War established under the Constitution of the United States was organized on a similar basis and the former Secretary retained. At its beginning, the Department of War included the functions which are now divided among the Departments of War, the Navy, and the Interior.3
Although the Revolutionary War was over, the problem of adequate protection of the new nation was one of the gravest that presented themselves. In his first annual address to Congress, President Washington said:
"Among the many interesting objects that will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defense will merit particular regard. To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace."
In formulating a military policy under the new government, the prejudice of the people against a standing army again came to the surface. Even with the lessons of the past war fresh in their minds, the majority of the people believed that a large army would provoke war. A maxim arose: "A standing army is dangerous to liberty." There was no distinction in the public mind between the army proposed by Washington and the armies of the past, which had been the mercenaries of despots. Congress attempted to solve the problem by passing two
The first act, passed in 1790, laid the foundation for the volunteer system. It empowered the President to employ for a short term, "not exceeding six months, * a corps not exceeding two thousand noncommissioned officers, privates, and musicians, with a suitable number of commissioned officers." The second act, passed in 1792,5 had for its purpose "more effectually to pro
1 Act Aug. 7, 1789 (1 Stat. 49).
2 Act April 30, 1798 (1 Stat. 553).
3 Act March 3, 1849 (9 Stat. 395).
4 Act April 30, 1790 (1 Stat. 119). Act May 8, 1792 (1 Stat. 271).
vide for the national defense, by establishing an uniform militia throughout the United States."
This act was significant by its recognition of common defense as a duty of citizenship and by definitely placing the responsibility on the individual citizen. Though with modifications it remained a law until the National Defense Act of 1916, its terms were never fully carried out. It was the general belief when this act was passed that the militia of the various states could be relied upon for protection in case of an emergency. In 1802 the United States Military Academy was established at West Point as an engineering school, but it was soon taken over by the War Department as a school for preparing young men to become officers for all branches of the Regular Army. Cadetships in the academy are allotted to each district of every state and of every territory in the Union, a certain number to the United States at large, and a certain number to the Regular Army and the National Guard. The students thus represent the whole nation. Beside a rigid training in technique, the institution sets up a high moral standard for the cadets. The rank of second lieutenant in the Regular Army is granted to the student who satisfactorily completes the four-year course. The maximum authorized strength of the Corps of Cadets is 1,334, plus 4 Filipinos.
Not all officers remain in the Army. This training qualifies for leadership in other lines. During the first century of its existence 2,371 of the graduates of West Point returned to civil life, most of them after some years of military experience in the Army. Of this number there were 1 United States President, 1 President of the Confederacy, 5 presidential and vice presidential candidates, 4 members of the Cabinet, 29 diplomatic representatives, 24 members of Congress, 16 Governors of states or territories, 46 presidents of universities or colleges, 37 presidents of railroads and other corporations, 228 civil engineers, many teachers, clergymen, physicians, bankers, and editors. The War of 1812 demonstrated again the weakness of the militia as an effective weapon for the defense of the nation.
When the second war with England became imminent, the Secretary of War called, as authorized by law, upon the Governors of the states for troops. In answer to his second letter to the Governor of Massachusetts, urging immediate compliance with his request because of "the danger of invasion, which increases," Governor Strong replied:
"The people of this state appear to be under no apprehension of an invasion; several towns indeed, on the seacoast, soon after the declaration of war, applied to the Governor and Council for arms and ammunition, *** and in some instances they were supplied accordingly. But they expressed no desire that any part of the militia should be called out for their defense, and in some cases we were assured that such a measure would be disagreeable to them."
Other states replied in like vein. The Governor of Vermont, in a proclamation ordering the militia to return to their homes, declared that "in his opinion the military strength and resources of the state must be reserved for its own defense and protection exclusively."
6 National Defense Act 1916 (39 Stat. 166).
7 Act March 16, 1802, c. 9, § 28, 2 Stat. 137 (Comp. St. § 2222).
Some of the militia refused to enter Canada, asserting that the war was one of defense and not of offense, and that the militia could not be used to wage an offensive war. Some of the states made it an act of disobedience for their citizens to serve the nation. By such acts as these the federal government was embarrassed in its attempts to gain the co-operation of the militia for national defense. Congress offered large bounties to volunteers, but this did little more than stimulate the crime of desertion.
The series of humiliating defeats which attended the Army through this war, which was unnecessarily prolonged, can be traced, first, to this want of co-operation on the part of the states, and, second, to the lack of efficient and experienced officers to place in command of the new and undisciplined troops. The Military Academy at West Point had been established in 1802, but up to 1812 it had graduated only about 140 officers. As a rule any man who could enroll a company of 59 men received a captain's command; any man who could assemble 10 such companies received a colonel's command. These were the only qualifications necessary to become an officer in time of war. The 500,000 men employed during the two years and a half of the war were called out to face not more than 67,000 British regulars.
With this demonstration before him, ex-President Jefferson, who had formerly stated that "peace was his passion," and who had not believed it necessary to keep the nation prepared for defense, wrote to James Monroe:
"It proves more forcibly the necessity of obliging every citizen to be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and Romans and must be that of every free state. We must train and classify the whole of our male citizens and make military instruction a regular part of collegiate education. We can never be safe until this is done."
And in 1814 he went even further and said:
"I think the truth must now be obvious that we cannot be defended but by making every citizen a soldier, and that in doing this all must be marshaled, classed by their ages, and every service ascribed to its class."
The Mexican War did not put the nation to any great test. military policy had not been improved was shown by the fact that Congress again waited until the very eve of the war before making preparations or calling for volunteers. But the people had grown in their sense of duty toward the nation, and responded enthusiastically to the call for volunteers. Before they could be put in the field for any practical use, however, the war was over. Our small standing Army had been brought to a state of efficiency by officers graduated from West Point. It was due largely to them that the war was so quickly won.
In the early days of the Civil War the same mistakes were made as in the previous wars. There was still no definite military policy. The outbreak of the war found no adequate provision made either in organization or in materials. The President was compelled to rely upon a law sixty years old, which permitted him to call out volunteers for a period of three months only. When it became evident that all former provisions were inadequate for a war of such magnitude, President Lincoln courageously assumed powers not granted him and enlarged the Regular Army and called for volunteers to serve for a
filling up this framework through military training in schools, colleges, and
The primary purpose of the department is to provide for national defense. More specifically, the Army must provide an adequate organized, balanced, and effective mobile force which shall be ready and available for emergencies within the continental limits of the United States or elsewhere, which must patrol the 1,500 miles of Mexican border, and which must constitute a nucleus for a complete and immediate mobilization for the national defense in the event of an emergency declared by Congress. It must provide adequate defense for our coasts and oversea possessions. To this end, garrisons are stationed in Alaska, Hawaii, the Philippines, Panama, Porto Rico, and China, both as a safeguard for Americans who have settled there and as an added protection for the continental United States and for its commercial and political interests in the Far East.
Much of the training in the Army is of a technical nature. Nearly half of the enlisted men need some form of technical skill in order properly to perform their functions in the team. To provide training in all these lines, post schools, unit schools, and special service schools are maintained. Each school or group of schools is presided over by a commandant selected for the purpose, who is assisted by a competent staff of officer instructors. The following are some of the many types of skilled workers needed in the Army: Tractor drivers, chauffeurs, auto mechanics, battery repairmen, tire repairers, ignition and carburetion experts, teamsters, wagon masters, wheelwrights, shoemakers, saddlers, blacksmiths, horseshoers, cargadors, highway and construction men, bridge builders, dynamo tenders, steam-engine tenders, firemen, sheet metal workers, concrete workers, canvas workers, brick masons, stone masons, painters, carpenters of all kinds, plumbers, pipe fitters, welders, interior wiremen, radio electricians, telephone electricians, telegraph electricians, riggers, instrument repairers, linemen, switchboard operators, clerks, stenographers, typists, bookkeepers, draftsmen, photographers, motion picture operators, lithographers, printers, topographers, surveyors, machinists, foundrymen, pattern makers, shoemakers, pharmacists' assistants, X-ray operators, farriers, buglers, bandsmen, bakers, cooks, butchers, laundrymen, storekeepers and tailors.
The War Department General Staff is charged with the preparation of plans for recruiting, mobilizing, organizing, supplying, equipping, and training the Army for use in the national defense, and for demobilization, and for the mobilization of the manhood of the nation in an emergency. It investigates and reports upon questions affecting the efficiency of all branches of the Army and their state of preparation for military operations. Assisted by an appropriate number of reserve officers, it formulates all policies and regulations. affecting the organization, distribution, and training of the National Guard and the Organized Reserves, and all policies and regulations affecting the appointment, assignment, promotion, and discharge of reserve officers. It performs such
941 Stat. 762, § 5 (Comp. St. Ann. Supp. 1923, § 1762a et seq.).