« ZurückWeiter »
complished by the acuteness, intui- Whatever qualifications the supetion, and self-reliance impressed by rior officers of cavalry may posthorough training in peace-time. sess as a body, it is quite certain Morale in the collective body, and that they appear to have signally self-reliance in the individual, are, failed to impress the highest milithen, the qualities which it is of tary authorities with their use as paramount importance to develop members of the staff. In the headand maintain in the cavalry arm, quarter staff of H.R.H. the Comand this essential result can be at- mander-in-Chief, not a single cavtained only by the sedulous culti- alry officer is to be found, although vation of the specific attributes in that staff every other branch of which have been detailed above. our military service, inclusive of
the militia, yeomanry, and volunWe come now face to face with teers, has its specific representathe more particular inquiry which tive in the shape of a deputy it is the object of this article to adjutant-general. The inspectordiscuss : Does the British cavalry general and the assistant adjufulfil these essential requirements tant-general of cavalry do not of modern war ?
belong to the headquarter staff. It is not intended to dispute In war the purveyance of intellithat the class of man and horse gence would chiefly devolve on the furnished to our cavalry service is cavalry arm; yet in the Military sufficiently good, although there is Intelligence Department there is obvious room for improvement as no officer of cavalry. In the disregards the ages of both men and trict staff of the United Kingdom horses, especially of the latter. It only one colonel of cavalry is emmay be granted that, in a volun- ployed, and it is by a mere chance teer army organised on the prin- that he is serving in a district ciple of short colour-service and command in which cavalry is comlarge reserves, it is quite possible prised. It would seem that the to keep up an efficient cavalry British cavalry arm is, to use a force with the material at disposal. familiar expression, “no man's The same remark holds good as to child,” the result being that there equipment. If it is the fact that is a total lack of a uniform system, our cavalry has failed to reach and that commanding oflicers are mostly maintain the standard of efficiency left to their own devices, and that, attained by the other arms of the as regards the cavalry, "go-as-youservice, the blame does not lie alto- please ” is the order of the day. gether at the door of the taxpayer. The impending cavalry maneuDiscussing the question on the vres in Berkshire will be the fifth basis of the characteristics which of a consecutive series in which go to constitute an efficient cav- several regiments have been alry, we have dealt with men, brought together for maneuvre horses, and equipment; and we purposes. But can any experinow proceed to consider whether enced soldier who has watched the commanders and leaders of our the working of the cavalry throughcavalry are sufliciently competent. out this series of manauvres ven
There unfortunately is a very ture to assert that those of last widespread feeling of doubt and year showed the least improvement uncertainty on this point among in any respect on the first of the those best qualified to judge. series in 1890? On the contrary,
it appeared to many that there was was the one weak spot in his othera decided falling-off. Excuses may wise most efficient command, and be found in the lack of supervision whose greatest among his many and in other causes for the defects merits perhaps was, that by dint in organisation and training which of his own personal exertions he manifest themselves in regiments was able to prevent actual deisolated in provincial quarters. terioration in the cavalry arm of But surely we have a right to ex- the division. pect that in a station such as Alder- At manæuvres, at Aldershot, at shot, where there is every facility the Curragh, and elsewhere, faults of ground, and where three regi- and mistakes are readily observments (for some months in the year able, which prove beyond possibilfour or five regiments) are quar- ity of doubt that methodical traintered in the same camp, some ing and instruction in correct marked improvement should mani- principles by brigadiers, commandfest itself—some real training and ing and staff officers of the cavalry preparation for war. The Alder- are the exception rather than the shot brigade has been under the rule. It is an unfortunate but same supervision for the last four unquestionable fact that our cavand a half years, during which time alry officers as a body are not so no regiment has belonged to the competent as they should be, command for a shorter period than having regard to the immensely two years. Yet it is a notorious increased requirements of cavalry fact that throughout that time in modern war. But that this is matters have gone backward rather owing in some measure to causes than forward, and that, if at any over which only the very superior time during the period named à officers, as for instance the InGerman cavalry general had gone spector-General, have any power down to inspect that brigade with of control-and that only by the the same thoroughness as he would pressure of their advice—we prohave inspected one of his own, he pose to prove in proceeding now would have found it unfit for its to the consideration of organisduties in war, because of its organic ation. want of uniformity in training and There are 31 regiments of cavalry instruction. During the greater in the British service, of which 20 part of the period in question the are on home service. These 20 Aldershot division was commanded are organised in no less than six by a distinguished soldier, who, different establishments. having himself experience of the take two regiments, one in the mounted arm, could not but have highest establishment, one in the realised that his cavalry brigade lowest :
The establishment in officers, war- horses. In the regiment on the rant and non-commissioned officers, highest establishment 1 major, 1 and units (4 squadrons) is the same captain, 3 subalterns, 2 troop-ser
4 in each regiment. The difference geant-majors, 6 sergeants, and 8 is in the number of men and corporals are maintained to super
vise a squadron strength of 140 they really can attain to some men and 103 horses. In the regi- similarity to the conditions of serment on the lowest establishment vice in the field ! exactly the
same supervising What happened in 1882, when strength is maintained over 78 but a single brigade and one regimen and 70 horses. Of the horsesment of divisional cavalry were in both categories a considerable required for service in Egypt, proportion are more or less un- ought to have been sufficient warntrained, and, of course, unequal to ing (if that were required) of field-service; and in this respect the state of chaos in which our the regiment on the smaller estab- cavalry organisation is allowed to lishment is obviously much more stagnate. As the lesson seems to heavily burdened than is that on have been neglected or forgotten the higher. As regards the men by the authorities, and perhaps of the former, there has to be de- never brought fully home to the ducted from the given total those comprehension of the general pubemployed officers' servants, lic, it may not be inapposite to band, storemen, young horsemen, recapitulate what then occurred. &c.; and this done, we arrive at Three squadrons of the Housethe astounding fact that in a hold Brigade were sent out,—not squadron of a regiment on the seemingly a very severe
call lowest establishment a staff of three whole regiments, yet 21 officers and non-commissioned some difficulty was experienced in officers is maintained to supervise, the matter of horses. The three train, and instruct about 40 avail. regiments chosen to constitute the able men, nearly one-half of whom line-brigade were found, as they are probably recruits. In no less stood, to be quite unfit for service, than 7 of the 20 cavalry regi- by reason of deficiencies as regardments in Great Britain and Ire- ed alike oflicers, men, and horses. land does this state of things The remainder of the cavalry had exist. How then can any of these to undergo extensive depletion in 7 regiments be possibly said to order that a single brigade for the possess
an organisation which field should, after a fashion, be lends itself most readily to the made up. No fewer than 28 kind of work required in war, officers had to be withdrawn from and which needs to undergo no their duties and attached to the radical change on mobilisation ? regiments for service, one of which And so from this condition of had actually to borrow 3 captains emaciated exhaustion a regiment and 11 subalterns. Volunteers to moves up the long ladder of suc- fill the ranks had to be called for cessive establishments, till in the from all quarters; in the first course of years it arrives at the reinforcements 21 regiments were topmost rung. By then the cap- represented, and one regiment tain has probably become a squad- alone had to part with no fewer ron-leader, the subaltern a captain, than 200 of its trained horses. the sergeant a sergeant-major, the Will any one with the smallest corporal a sergeant; and under acquaintance with military dewhat a system of organisation and tails, not to speak of knowledge of training have they been prepared cavalry requirements in the field, to fulfil duties which fall to their pretend to hold that our cavalry lot, now that for the first time brigade in the Egyptian campaign
was fit to confront a well-trained ment as that of colonel on the and homogeneous brigade of Con- staff for cavalry, even where, as tinental cavalry, flooded as it was in each of the Eastern, the Northwith officers and men who had western, and the Dublin and Cork never been together before the day districts, there are included in the of embarkation, every fraction of command two cavalry regiments. the force-commander, staff, regi- The general commanding a district, ments, regimental officers, non- surrounded as he is by superior commissioned officers, and men- officers belonging to every other all strange one to the other ? branch of the service, has at his After such an all-round conscrip- side no adviser of the cavalry arm. tion, how could real discipline It is true that of the district comexist, either in the brigade on manders and their chief staff offiservice or in the attenuated regi- cers one or two may be by chance ments at home? No doubt, had themselves cavalry officers. This occasion demanded, since no pro- casual circumstance, however, when
, per reserve remained available to it occurs, does not in the least supply the waste of men and horses degree tend to afford to the at the front, the original expedient cavalry within the command a would have been had recourse to, continuous organised supervision of sending out reinforcements im- and the maintenance of a uniform provised by levying in scraps and system of training and instruction. handfuls regiments already The Home district furnishes a well milked of the best men of striking example of the absence their scanty numbers.
of adequate cavalry supervision. Closely linked with that of Within its very restricted area organisation is the important there are quartered no fewer than question of supervision. This at four regiments of that arm, yet
, present is all but solely provided there is not an officer belonging to for by the appointment of two it on the staff of the general cominspector-generals of cavalry, one manding. And this is an illustrafor the United Kingdom and one tion of the normal state of things for India. These general officers in the case of an arm of the service are charged only with the duty of which has been shown to require inspecting and reporting to the more than any other the maintenrespective adjutant-generals. They ance of a thoroughly uniform syshave no responsibility whatsoever tem of training and instruction, in respect of the due efficiency of the supervised by the most competent cavalry service, that responsibility and experienced officers. being vested entirely in the gene- A vivid illustration has been ral officers commanding districts. given of the chronic boycott of These for the most part belong to the cavalry arm on the part of the infantry, and their staffs chiefly the military authorities acting in consist of infantry officers. The apparent combination. Another habitual complement is a colonel illustration may be apposite—that on the staff commanding artillery, of the inevitable result of the and another commanding engin- policy, in case of a sudden outbreak Just as in the headquarter
A "paper" cavalry divistaff in Pall Mall the cavalry arm sion is being hastily mobilised. is unrepresented, so in the district Divisional commander, brigadiers,
, staffs there is no such appoint colonels, adjutant-general, brigade
majors, and staff officers meet on date of which is known to all conduty for the first time. Those who cerned long in advance. No peshould know each other's military riodical reports are furnished to character and capabilities most in- him of the work done by regiments timately are total strangers in the during the year, all responsibility military sense. Leaders alike and in regard to such matters vesting units are associated for the first entirely in the general officers comtime, when they are called upon to manding districts, between whom take the field. What in such con- and commanding officers of regiditions is the likelihood of that ments no intermediary cavalry au“rapid mutual understanding” de- thority exists. In India the same scribed by one of the greatest of system has prevailed for the past modern cavalry chiefs as the most few years, under an inspectornecessary attribute of cavalry in general of exceptional capacity war ? That understanding is all and energy, who has strained every the less probable when it becomes nerve to improve our cavalry in evident that, owing to the lack of the East. But although by the adequate uniformity and supervi- influence of his commanding ability sion, the regiments brought to- and strong personality this strenugether are utterly dissimilar in the ous officer accomplished much, it character and amount of peace- is impossible to say that the training which they have received. cavalry throughout India is up to In such circumstances, where is the standard required by modern likely to be found the crowning war. Had the Emperor Napoleon cavalry essential of high and con- realised his dream and brought all fident morale? The answer must Europe under his sway, as well be: In the ranks of our enemy, of might he have stationed his most whatever Continental nationality able cavalry general at Berlin or he may be, for he knows its value, Vienna and expected him to ensure and has ensured it in peace-time; uniform instruction and training but absent from us, for we have at the Curragh on one hand and in neglected and despised it.
the Urals on the other. It may be contended that the inspector - general of cavalry has Finally we come to the crucial been appointed expressly to see to question : Is our cavalry thoroughit that a uniform system of train- ly trained and instructed in all ing and instruction is maintained the duties it may be called upon throughout the cavalry service. to undertake in war? Have its But apart from the fact already leaders that intelligence and knowmentioned, that his functions are ledge of war on a large scale laid purely advisory, it is simply im- down by Von der Goltz as absopossible, zealous and experienced lutely essential to cavalry oflicers officer though he is, that from his of the present day, if they are to office in London he can bring to render that service to the other bear on each separate regiment arms which is the justification of all over the kingdom such a con- their military existence? Are its tinual and watchful influence non-commissioned officers and men will effectually ensure
this so trained and practised in peaceresult. All that he can do is time as to fit them for moving to rely on what he sees at his independently in enemy's periodical inspections, the exact country in small groups far from