The revolutionary transformation of the art of war (1974) | ARCHIVES

The revolutionary transformation of the art of war (1974) | ARCHIVES


Announcer: The American Enterprise Institute presents
the Distinguished Lecture Series on the Bicentennial of the United States. Our host for this thought-provoking series
is Vermont Royster, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist with “The Wall Street Journal”
and Professor of Journalism and Public Affairs at the University of North Carolina. Vermont Royster: I’m Vermont Royster with another
in the American Enterprise Institute Series of Distinguished Lectures on the American
Bicentennial. To study and celebrate the 200th anniversary
of the United States, the AEI has gathered some of the nation’s leading scholars and
educators to share with us their views on the American Revolution and how it still affects
us all today. The Distinguished Lecture Series is a part
of the AEI’s continuing effort to open the major issues about times to serious discussion
from several points of view. The AEI is a nonprofit, nonpartisan institution
located in Washington, D.C. Today’s lecture by Dr. Forrest Pogue takes
place in one of the most historic of all American locations, the United States Military Academy
at West Point, New York. “Duty, honor, country,” these are the watch
words at the Military Academy and throughout some of the darkest days of America’s history. These words have guided the lives of Academy
graduates with names like Grant and Lee, Pershing and MacArthur, and Eisenhower. And by guiding the lives of these men, the
Academy has, in some measure, helped to shape the lives of all Americans. Today, some 4,500 cadets gives the Military
Academy a pulsing, busy pace that never seems to let down. West Point today presents quite a contrast
from the scene in 1802, when Congress created the Academy under Thomas Jefferson’s presidency. Five officers and 10 cadets were then assigned
here, and the number of men in the first graduating class was 2. The location of West Point, on a commanding
bluff overlooking the Hudson River, makes it a natural site for a military installation. Fortifications were first built in the area
in the Revolutionary War days. And George Washington referred to West Point
as the Gibraltar of America. The fortifications around the area, plus a
giant change stretched across the Hudson, kept the British from using their sea power
to separate New England from the other colonies. Today at West Point, the task is to separate
the men from the boys. And it’s a sometimes painful process for the
1,200 boys who enter the Academy each year. The lives of the new boys are mostly guided
by the men of the upper classes. Members of the new class, called plebes, are
subjected to a year of intense unremitting training and discipline. He must be ready for immediate inspection
24 hours a day, and he must spend the better part of the year sitting or standing at attention,
or running to complete a host of duties. Those who make it become men, upperclassman,
with the responsibility of breaking in a new class of boys. Today, the men at West Point are among those
gathered in Thayer Hall to hear our AEI speaker, Forrest Carlisle Pogue discuss “The Revolutionary
Transformation of The Art of War.” Dr. Pogue is Executive Director of the George
C. Marshall Research Foundation. He is introduced by Colonel John S.B. Dick, acting dean of the West Point Academic
Board. Colonel Dick: We feel fortunate that Dr. Pogue
has shared much of his knowledge about World War II with our cadets and faculty in the
past. Tonight, however, Dr. Pogue will turn the
clock back nearly 200 years to talk about, “The Revolutionary Transformation of The Art
of War,” stemming from the American Revolution. His subject should be of interest to all students
of war. And I’m sure that he will inform us, challenge
us, and stimulate our thinking about the development of the art of war. Ladies and gentlemen, Dr. Forrest Pogue. Forrest Pogue: Tonight, we meet at the river and
the rock. This Gibraltar of America, largest fortress
of the American Revolution, completed under the eye of General Washington, frustrated
British hopes of controlling the Hudson and splitting off the New England colonies from
the rest of America. West Point, triumphant even in the face of
treason, is a fitting place for an assessment of the change in warfare that accompanied
the American and French Revolutionary period 1775-1801. As we approach the 200th anniversary of the
war for independence, we shall retell myths, legends, and solemn truths. One of the myths of the revolution is that
Frederick the Great of Prussia described the fighting by the forces of Washington around
Trenton and Princeton in the period December 25, 1776 and January 4, 1777 as the most brilliant
campaign in the history of warfare. This appeared only as it is said in Bernhard
Rossing’s [SP] 1859 volume on the war. But as time has gone on, it is stated as an
absolute fact. It was disproved in a series of scholarly
articles around the turn of the century, and supposedly, finished off conclusively by Major
General Francis V. Green in 1913, but it still, like many other myths, survives. It persists, however, because the great European
commander of the period should have praised this as one of the key campaigns of the war. It was the signal that the Continental Army
had come of age, and was in the war to stay. Lexington, Concord, and Bunker Hill had been
unexpected acts of defiance. But they had been followed by poor performances
of troops and effective leadership, which had forced American withdrawal with considerable
losses from New York to the temporary safety of New Jersey. Almost discredited at Christmastime, Washington
faced the fact that most of the members of this Continental Army, weakened and confused,
would soon leaving him when their terms expired at the end of the year. Cinderella’s prospects near the stroke of
midnight could not have been more dismal. So the so-called Fabian general, air to generation
of orthodox military solutions placed his career, and perhaps his life, on the line. In an almost hopeless situation, he decided
to use his troops while there was yet time. The weather was abominable, the odds extreme,
the river virtually impossible because of ice. A more cautious man would, like his opponent
General Cornwallis, have stayed in winter quarters. For his crossing the Delaware, Washington
had the assistance of Captain John Glover’s Marblehead regiment, whose boatmen had already
helped to evade the British in the retreat from Long Island. During the cold and stormy night of December
25th, he crossed the river, perhaps not so grandly as Leutze has portrayed him, but [inaudible
00:08:54] at least. A scene so clearly made for Hollywood that
no motion picture of this event has ever been convincing. Shortly after daybreak, the Americans arrived
at Trenton to awaken Colonel Rall and his [inaudible 00:09:10]. The enemy was surprised whether because of
frivolities of Christmas Eve too long extended or the customary hard drinking of that commander,
and most of the garrison taken prisoner. Slipping back across the river, Washington
reformed his troops, and returned to Trenton a few days later. Nettled, Cornwallis gathered his forces and
declared that he “trapped the fox.” But with stratagems worthy of Ulysses, Washington
left his campfires burning while marching to Princeton for a surprising victory there
before the British commander could bring up his troops. With promises of extra pay, and perhaps some
eloquent persuasion, Washington kept his vanishing Continentals the necessary vital days for
a stunning victory. Wars in this era were fought mainly for dynastic
reasons. One went to war in the 18th century to prevent
the union of two powerful houses, to press a shadowy claim ungallantly on a new crowned
queen, to prevent a frontier strong point or a stray Duchy from passing into unfriendly
hands, or to join one’s powerful neighbors in despoiling a weakened colleague. This maneuvering for advantage was not peculiar
to Frederick’s century, but it seemed that the war of Austrian succession, and the Seven
Years War, no matter how untidy their overseas phases proved to be, were fought for limited
objectives. Somewhat more exciting than the hunt, a well
organized campaign, accompanied by a social season, could occupy the time of officers
from the court, and test and try them, and forced into battle. The fighting was not all that devoid of danger,
disease and exposure could carry off more men than musket fire. But there was the opportunity to execute on
the ground, the well-sketched designs performed in perfect patterns. Behind this theory of warfare was the careful
planning of monarchs of the period. Most armies belonged to the king. In the case of Frederick, a monarch who led
his troops in the field, or in the case of England, a monarch who used his powers to
control the military forces in uneasy alliance with certain cliques [SP] in the Houses of
Parliament. Monarchs like Frederick saw their nations
prosperity dependent on the work of artisans and the labor of peasants. They did not wish to lose the labor of producers
nor to replace their crops and manufacturers at the mercy of men in conflict. So it seemed expedient to take for fighting
in the ranks, and leadership in the field, the men who contributed least to the prosperity
of the state. Hackman [SP] was reserved for members of the
nobility. And many of the troops were drawn from prisons,
from the ranks they’re employed, or from somewhat better off people who were impressed in the
service against their will. Once recruited, a process that included men
taken in drink, or duped, or even kidnapped, they were made to serve under the lash, flogging
so terrible in both their armies and navies of that time, that punishments involving something
like 1,000 lashes were sometimes use to keep men in line. By careful drills, repeated interminably,
four or five years of endless exercises to train a proper product, the soldier performed
beautifully on the battlefield firing in well-arranged and well-articulated formations, but such
men could not be trusted in long campaigns in foreign lands. Those local contingents were often augmented
by a more hapless lot, foreign mercenaries paid for it so much a head, enrich their princes. They might become attached to their arrangement
or take a certain pleasure in a campaign well fought, but they had no pride in serving the
foreign prince or state. The sovereign treated them with a certain
care. One did not willingly damage inexpensively
trained hireling nor willingly press an attack on an enemy, which could destroy a valuable
unit. Campaigns, therefore, did not involve battles
to the death but were restricted to maneuvers for position and for demonstrations of power. There was much to admire in such performances,
but they had the same artificial elegance that characterize many paintings of the period. Few things marked the transformation of 18th-century
warfare more than the later shift away from the use of mercenary troops. The use of foreign troops was not new in Europe. They had been used in the late Middle Ages,
Renaissance, and in the religious wars, shifting from allegiance to allegiance as opportunities
dictated, sometimes using their advantage to seize power from the ruler who paid them. Machiavelli, searching for means to bring
order to the Italian states, reminded his ideal prince that he must be aware of mercenaries. “In peace, you are despoiled by them, and
in war by your enemies. The cause of this is they have no love or
other motive to keep them in the field beyond a trifling wage, which is not enough to make
them die for you.” But they still made up a substantial part
of the force of 55,000 men. The General Sir William Howe insisted he would
need to reduce the American rebels to submission, and the reserves that would be required to
replace losses imposed by battle casualties, disease, and desertion. Besides the mercenaries, the British could
count on season soldiers of British regiments, many of whom had originally been secured like
those of other continental powers, to which we have alluded. Some American units organized some colonial
troops in earlier fighting, and American loyalist units created after the beginning of the revolution. Vermont Royster: Dr. Forrest Carlisle Pogue, one of
the nation’s leading military historians, has been discussing “The Revolutionary Transformation
of The Art of War.” In just one moment, he will continue his lecture. While the names of many West Point graduates
are among the most famous in all American history, the most well-known name at the academy
itself is something less than a household word, Sylvanus Thayer. A visitor to The Point might stay at the Thayer
Hotel and/or the Academy, through the Thayer Gate, and then drive along Thayer Road to
the site of today’s lecture, Thayer Hall. Thayer became superintendent in 1817, when
he was just 32, and the Academy was not much more than a broken, disorganized military
school. Almost without assistance, Thayer transformed
the Academy into a major educational institution. He also inaugurated the fame, the West Point
honor system. In Thayer Hall today, military historian Forrest
Pogue is continuing his lecture on “The Revolutionary Transformation of The Art of War.” Forrest Pogue: The colonial militia had constituted
the fighting forces on the eve of the revolution. Some form of military service had been a tradition
of the British since the days of the Saxons. This concept was brought to American shores
by the early settlers, and had been nurtured by the requirements placed on frontier communities
by the threat of hostile Indians, or the aggression of French and Spanish neighbors. Unfortunately, the militia were seldom well
led, or well trained, or well equipped. But they were persuaded to the rightness of
their cause, just by drilling together. They practiced the art of resistance to England,
and they prepared as best they could for the shock of battle. Practically, they stored up powder and other
munitions war, and laid plans for protection of their magazines, their homes, and fellow
citizens who were already under suspicion or even under ban by the British. Thus, even before the actual confrontation
on Lexington Common, there was a revolutionary transformation in the thinking of several
colonists concerning the art of war. Beyond the simple service to the crown, or
preparation against local riots, or Indian depredations, serious military resistance
to British troops, sent en force parliamentary decree, was now involved. Not yet did the colonists envisage actual
independence, but there was in preparation by free man of local forces that would serve
American towns and colonies against British coercion. The militia, far from being prepared for real
service in the cause of independence, was merely in train of arming for protection of
American rights as they saw them. Activity outside the assumptions that earlier
militia foreign to 18th-century European notions of the proper organization of an army. In the initial fighting, the colonists depended
on the militia of New England. Shortly before the Battle of Bunker Hill,
these forces were adopted by the Continental Congress as the beginnings for the Continental
Army. On the same day, June 14, 1775, 10 companies
of infantry were authorized to be raised from Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania for Continental
Army service. A day later, Washington was selected as commander-in-chief. By fall, it was assumed that the force of
slightly more than 20,000 would be satisfactory for 1776. But at the beginning of that year, Washington
found the Continental Army to consist of only 8,000 enlistees. It was an indication of what the future would
provide. For the remainder of the war, he had to depend
on short-term militia to make up the difference between the troops provided and the Continental
Army of well-trained men enlisted for long train service, which he’d asked for. Washington swore by his Continentals. But more often, he swore at the militia. In times of great frustration, he berated
the militia as totally hopeless, and begged to be relieved of dependence on such useless
soldiers. But he recognized that men, suddenly summoned
from their homes, with only the meager training they’d received in occasional drills, could
not stand in the face of heavy assaults by trained men. Men unaccustomed to cold steel often broke
in the face of British or Haitian charges. Even the Continental soldier, better led and
somewhat better trained, was not yet ready for severe tests of fire. Fortunately, for the young army at a critical
time, a drill master appeared. Son of a Prussian officer who’d also served
for a time in the Russian army, Frederich Von Steuben who would gain the captains in
the Prussian service, and for time a place on Frederick The Great’s staff, appeared in
Paris seeking military employment abroad. From his service on the staff of an obscure
German princeling, he claimed the title of Baron and the rank of Lieutenant General. Whether or not his sponsors, the French war
minister Saint-Germain and American representatives Benjamin Franklin and Silas Dean, blindly
accepted his claims to higher rank in the Prussian Army, or not. They were satisfied that he had knowledge
of tactics and drills needed by Washington, and were willing to certify his claims on
the hope of impressing the members of the Continental Congress, who had become a little
weary of high-ranking Europeans who wanted all to be at least major generals. When they arrived, almost of them had reached
the higher rank of captain or major, when they came. Soon aware that Von Steuben could train men,
and that he did not consider it beneath his dignity to drill small groups in demonstrations,
which any American commander could copy and soon pass on to other units, Washington gave
him broad powers to prepare a manual of drill regulations, which would become standard for
the American forces for more than a generation. In itself, there was no great revolutionary
transformation involved here. And Von Steuben recognized the necessity of
simplifying the rules and establishing less complicated maneuvers more suited to American
needs than those used on the battlefields of Europe. In fact, the genius of Washington was seeing
his search for better grounding in orthodox European military methods while adapting his
tactics to the American soldier and his needs. From the American experience, it became increasingly
clear to British leaders that free man, motivated by a desire to protect their homes, and to
gain a larger degree of independence from the overseas rule, could rally after tremendous
hardships or overwhelming defeat. The British would find in the wilds of North
America, as the French would find later in Spain and Russia, the folly of using conventional
methods against a foal fighting in his own hills and swamps and deep forests. A foal could disappear and then suddenly reappear,
strengthened for another attack. Able either to get local supplies or to live
off the land, the Americans carried fewer provisions than the British, relying less
on vulnerable supply lines, which hampered mobility and made virtually impossible surprise
attacks. The European armies would learn the lessons
in the Revolutionary Wars in America and Europe, but would have to be reminded of these lessons
in later conflicts. Even as Americans in our own day have had
to find again the cutting which they seem to have had instinctively in an earlier era. It’s important for us to recall, in a period
when many emergent nations are still engaging in revolutionary or national wars, some of
the lessons which the British learned from the revolutionary militia of America. John Shy, in an essay written in 1973 on the
military conflict as Revolutionary War, has paid tribute to these often maligned militia
men. “The militia,” he says, “enforced law and
maintained order wherever the British did not, and its presence made the movement of
smaller British formations dangerous. The militia nullified regularly every British
attempt to impose royal British authority short of using massive armed force. From the British viewpoint, the militia was
a virtually inexhaustible reservoir of rebel military manpower, and it was also the sand
in the gears of the pacification machine.” British bewilderment concerning the performance
of the militia was second only to their surprise at the capable leadership of the rebel force. It was not unusual, in an earlier era, to
find men from lower state rising to command in times of upheaval. In the Middle Ages, dominated by royalty and
the great lords, there had still been a chance for advancement for an able squire or bright
cleric through the army or the church. In time, the higher offices of both were closed
almost entirely to all, save those of noble birth, or those of wealth who could purchase
a commission or use their political connections to win higher place. A glance, for example, at some of the portraits
in the British National Gallery of 18th-century adolescents in their splendid colonels’ uniforms
will underline my point. Vermont Royster: Dr. Forrest C. Pogue has been discussing
the strategies and tactics that lead to victory for the United States in the Revolutionary
War. In just one moment, he will continue. There are times at West Point when the cadets
can be seen basking in the warm spring sunshine, but those times are rare indeed. Most of the cadets’ time is taken up and study
in classes. And the excellence of the Academy’s academic
program is a point of great pride. Cadets received courses in such fields as
humanities, social sciences, mathematics, science, and engineering. And graduation from West Point leads to a
Bachelor of Science degree. And many graduates go on to study at civilian
graduate schools. And finally, West Point is composed almost
entirely of regular army officers, all of whom hold advanced degrees from the finest
universities at home and abroad. Dr. Forrest C. Pogue, today’s AEI lecturer,
is the biographer of General George C. Marshall. He was given the bronze star [inaudible 00:27:59]
for his service in World War II. He continues his lecture from West Point’s
Thayer Auditorium. Forrest Pogue: It was not surprising in the early
mobilization of units, some of which elected their officers, to find men ignorant of military
leadership in charge of some companies. A Haitian officer, sold to the British by
his prince, confided to his diary that he’d seen an American officer mending boots. Even an American was shocked to see a militia
officer shaving one of his men. But without military schools or a standing
army, the colonies had no pool of officers on which to draw in 1775 and they searched
frantically for men with some military service wherever required, and for those showing in
a natural gift for leadership, self-educated by a few military manuals obtained from Europe. However much the colonies recognized the need
for trained officers, for the first years of the revolution their officer corps had
to be largely improvised and trained in the field. The Continental Army had selected as its commander-in-chief
a former orphan who’d inherited his brother’s estate and greatly increased its worth, but
his military background had consisted only have a lieutenant colonel in the Virginia
militia. In the British Army of that era, he might
have reached the lesser command on the basis of his fortune, his fine horsemanship, and
certain similarities to a British country gentleman, but not more. The British saw Charles Lee and Horatio Gates
as officers who’d gained a certain knowledge or their [inaudible 00:29:47] by service in
British forces, but scarcely sufficient for command of a large force in battle. Grudging acceptance could be made of some
of the foreigners, Von Steuben, Pulaski, De Cobb, Kosciusko [SP], and the young and untried
boy, as Cornwallis describe the Marquis de Lafayette. What of 33-year-old Nathanael Greene, and
iron forger, often ranked as one of the three best generals in the American forces, of fat
Henry Knox, who’d learned his knowledge of artillery from the treatises on war stocked
in his bookstore, or Benedict Arnold, variously described as an apothecary’s apprentice, a
merchant in drugs and books, and smuggler in trade with the Caribbean islands? The books of John Alden and Don Higginbotham
recall the success of those unlike the generals. Fighting in familiar areas with men they had
trained unhampered the lessons of warfare, which they had to forget, with a strange assortment
of commanders and a mixed bag of Continentals and militia defeated the British plan for
cutting off New England from the rest of the colonies and reducing the Hudson to a British
thoroughfare. Stubborn Dutchman [inaudible 00:31:12] St.
Leger advancing from Oswego by way of Fort Stanwix to Albany. And tough John Stark inflicted heavy losses
on British and Haitians at Bennington, while Dan Morgan and his riflemen made life miserable
for Burgoyne’s slowly advancing forces from Canada. Burgoyne, exhorting short shrift for American
rebels, closing his eyes for political reasons to the revolting cruelties of his Indian allies
prove more the weary and cynical “Gentleman Johnny” of Shaw’s play, markedly begging an
American prisoner to accept death by hanging rather than by shooting in view of the British
soldiers noted in efficiency with a musket. He was much more that cynical gentleman than
an executor of a grand design. A man of ability and of wit, he seemed never
to learn to travel light in an area where normally difficult passage was made worse
by the filling of trees in this path. He could charge much of his trouble to American
use of Indian tactics. But General Howe’s move toward Philadelphia,
while Bergoyne was proceeding on his way to surrender at Saratoga, had no such excuse. The strategically important battle at Saratoga,
helping to ensure the French Treaty of Alliance of February 1778, which promised additional
ammunitions, and men, and ships showed the ineptness of British 18th-century generalship. Later in the month, as Cornwallis followed
up the capture of Charleston and the advantage of British naval superiority in Southern waters,
the colonial General Greene’s careful movements drew the British general away from his bases,
enticed him into actions where successes damaged him more than they did the Americans. At length, despairing of the Southern theater,
Cornwallis withdrew to Virginia and lingered all too long until American and French forces
could trap him. Once the French fleet had arrived off the
coast of Virginia and won the Battle of the Capes, it was a matter of time until Washington’s
and [inaudible 00:33:35] forces set the stage for the final decisive victory. Oddly enough, it was an 18th-century type
of siege, in which Cornwallis’ outnumbered defenders were methodically crushed. On October 19, 1781, he surrendered his forces
at Yorktown. Not only the victory but the legend gave to
Washington a special standing in the minds of those who were soon to struggle, or to
dream of struggling for independence. Richard Morris, in 1970, in his “The Emerging
Nations and The American Revolution,” has reminded us in the way in which Washington
and the American Revolution caught the imagination of freedom seekers throughout the world in
a revolutionary transformation that inspired Europe and Latin America within his lifetime,
and thereafter in emerging nations in Asia and the Far East. The very real leadership of the Virginia gentleman
who overrode frustrations, and failures, and mistakes, and even treason to outlast his
opponents, seen transformed into the spirit of independence armed. The growing admiration of Washington’s leadership
was a natural reaction by proponents of independence and initially without special effort on the
part of American partisans. But it reflects also a type of conscious campaign,
which in a sense constituted the first modern and revolutionary use of demonstrations, caricatures,
pamphlets, sermons, hymns to liberty, atrocity stories, real and imaginary, letters by committees
of correspondence, proclamations and speeches, designed to urge American freedom and the
spread the doctrine of American independence. The promoters of the French Revolution withdraw
on these materials, and on even earlier writings by men of the Enlightenment to attack the
old regime in France, and the press first for reform and then for international revolution. While properly belonging to the art of political
attack, propaganda has rolled in military warfare when used to aid recruitment, subvert
opponents, and encouraged the enemy in periods of frustration and despair. The inflammatory speeches of James Otis and
the subversive pamphlets and letters of Sam Adams stirred early resistance to the acts
Parliament and the forces sent to Boston. Thomas Paine was among those who urged a break
with Britain in order to attract the aid of foreign allies at a dreary part of the war. A few days before Washington crossed the Delaware,
Pain raised the spirits of the soldiers by writing, “These are the times that try men’s
souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot
will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he did stems it now deserves
the love and thanks of men and women.” Perhaps most timely of all, he insisted that
the man who paid his taxes does more for his country than the loudest talker in America. Abroad, Franklin and his colleagues kept the
French court astir with over sanguine details of the American good fortune spiced with tales
of depredations in America by the British and their German and Indian allies. Congress conducted a campaign of psychological
warfare against the British by offering land and livestock to Haitian deserters. But the most effective document was the Declaration
of Independence. Early American attacks, at a time when there
was hope that the ties with Britain could be maintained, centered on parliament. Now that the decision had been made for independence,
George III became the focus for assault. Some grievances were those which his opponents
in the parliament had made. He kept standing armies in times of peace,
hoarded large bodies of troops in America, rendered the military independent of and superior
to the civil power. He was attacked for ravaging the coast, for
sending foreign mercenaries and stirring the barbarous savages to merciless warfare. These items were calculated to goad Americans
to the final break. It’s truly revolutionary preamble of the Declaration
was reflected rather in the deliberations of the French revolutionary bodies and recurred
in later revolutionary manifestos proclaiming the rights of men to oppose and overthrew
oppressive kings and tyrants. Vermont Royster: Dr. Forrest C. Pogue has been discussing
“The Revolutionary Transformation of the Art of War” from the United States Military Academy
at West Point. In just one moment, he continues. A regular site at West Point is the Military
Academy Band and the Corps of Cadets participating in some of the finest parades to be seen anywhere. Parade uniforms are those worn by the U.S.
infantry during the war of 1812. The maneuvers now performed create an impressive
spectacle, but they once had a deadly function in combat. The ability to form a long, straight line
meant that infantrymen could fire their weapons directly at the enemy without their fellow
soldiers blocking the line of fire, and the ability to change direction rapidly while
marching meant protection from attacks at the side or rear. Today, the army feels that these drills furnish
cadets with valuable training and discipline, teamwork, and command. The Military Academy Band, incidentally, is
not composed of cadets, but of professional musician soldiers. A military historian of world-renown is Dr.
Forrest C. Pogue, today’s AEI lecturer. He has now concluded his lecture from West
Point’s Thayer Auditorium. Forrest Pogue: The American colonists had refused
to settle for anything less than victory. The French war revolutionists has had no place
for compromise in their negotiated peace, they demand it all out victory. They opened the way for the tyranny of the
armored horde, and lead in some cases to a dictator like Napoleon and ended by establishing
a despotism in the name of liberty. A newer form of warfare required large armies,
greater firepower, greater mobility, the use of forces that could be thrown into battle
more easily, and new methods of supply. No longer would it be possible as it was in
the earlier armies of 40,000 to 50,000 men to build space magazines of supplies along
the line and maneuver, so that the crops of the inhabitants would be avoided, and the
misery of war lessens. In the fast-charging, massive attacks non-visage
with hundreds of thousands of men, it would be essential to feed off the country. The army, along with greater mobility, also
required that artillery prepared the fire more rounds, capable of being handled more
easily. European technology showed a means of building
these weapons, which would both increase the firepower and reduce weight making it possible
for men to move about more easily in battle. Thus increasing the gunner’s ability to site
his weapon more readily and obtain better-observed fire. No longer effective were the advances of infantry
in long, well-dressed lines depending on the effect of movement and the shock of steel
to carry positions. The emphasis shifted to strong columns, which
could be launched to parts of an enemy’s line in the hope of opening a breach, which could
be exploited. To turn the flanks or to bring pressure on
the flanks, or rear of an opposing unit, the new armies made more effective use of cavalry,
which had been rarely used in the American Revolution, except the small units such as
those developed by Tarleton in the South. The new tactics required soldiers who understood
more of their job than the older soldiers had done. To get what they needed a national conscription
was introduced. And to command these units, more highly trained
officers of whatever backgrounds were demanded. Standing armies, which both British and Americans
had deplored, were the order of the day in continental establishments. The colonists, having been a part of the revolutionary
changes of the era, seemed on gaining independence in 1783 to recoil from happenings overseas
and turn to a life less part of Europe and Britain than in the period before the war. The army was virtually disbanded, and the
Navy, for which ships had been planned but not wholly completed, was also neglected. As a maritime power, the colonies were aware
of the importance of sea power to the protection of commerce and to defense. Their own privateers hand shown the damage
which could be inflicted on unescorted merchant ships. The shifting battle between the British Navy
and the combined fleets of France and Spain for control of American waters had made quite
clear the dangerous to which people with a long, defenseless coastline could be exposed,
with lack of money and lassitude, following the long fight for independence, seemed to
make such action impossible. Thus in America and in France, and the parts
of Europe touched by French democratic enthusiasm, are turned later by opposition to Napoleonic
despotism to a burgeoning nationalism, the revolutionary impetus was to sweep away much
that was feudal or semi-feudal in every phase of political and social life. In warfare, it meant the end of mercenaries,
of armies based principally on the dregs of society, on officers who got the commands
on the basis of birth or purchase. The end of the war found the leaders uncertain
as to the type of national defense the colonists should establish. Less than a week before the formal conclusion
of peace, Washington at Newburgh, not too far from here, call on seven of his generals
for suggestions for an effective scheme of defense. All of them, including Von Steuben, agreed
that American repugnance to a standing army, inherited from the British and reinforced
by the recent actions the British Army, made it necessary to depend basically on a well-regulated
militia, uniform in organization and drill throughout the colonists. To protect the frontiers against Indian aggressions
and encroachments of neighbors in Canada and the Floridas, Washington proposed a regular
army of 2,687 officers and men, 4 small regiments of infantry and one regiment of artillery. To prepare the officer needed for these units,
he proposed that an academy be established at West Point. However, it was not until 1802, after Jefferson
became the president, that the United States Military Academy was finally established. To Washington’s dismay during his administration,
Congress declined to implement his defensive system. General Marshall said many years later that
he thought many problems of Washington and many of his successors lay in the myth of
the minute man. They were still saying in 1917 and again in
1939 that all you have to do to prepare for defense is to take the musket from over the
mantle piece to be ready to defend the country. They also said every American is a woodsman. Even 1917 he added, “All the trees many Americans
knew anything about with those in Central Park.” Through the years that have followed, United
States has tried various expedience such as full dependence on the militia, special calls
for volunteers, strengthening of existing regular forces, formation reserve officer
units, establishment of a federally supervisors system of units, which in time of war it could
be federalized as National Guard Division, and systems of national conscription. In Marshall’s time, they attempted the system
of universal military training, which he felt, and John McCauley Palmer who wrote many books
on the subject felt, was the nearest thing that they could imagine to what Washington
and his generals had in mind. The Draft Act was bitterly attacked in 1863
and assailed in the First and Second World Wars. But it has remained for the struggle in Vietnam
to bring massive opposition to conscription. One must sympathized with political and military
leaders as they experiment with all-volunteer army concept in attempting to build an effective
military force without creating a greater gap between the armed forces and many of the
citizens of the state. Disagreements on the recent experiment are
as intense in military circles and in the halls of Congress as in the country at large. But this state of disagreement is not new. Some years ago, when I reviewed Theodore Ropp’s
“War in the Western World,” I found a quotation from Leopold [inaudible 00:47:55], Prussian
minister of war who helped prepare the army of this country for effective opposition to
Napoleon concerning disagreements between some of his colleagues. I recently found it repeated in Stephen Ambrose’s
book on West Point as he described General MacArthur’s fight for reforms at the Academy
after World War I. I have no desire in what I have to read here to apply the terms “old
school” or “new school” invidiously. What I do feel is that this quotation puts
the problem in proper perspective. The old school places all its trust in the
standing army, though on occasion, it has to be complemented by levy on mass. The modern school believes on the contrary
that the country cannot be defended by a standing army alone, if only because of the expense,
which its upkeep imposes on the country. Because of this, it is necessary to have a
numerous reserve, which ought to be given serious training, and not to be regarded as
entirely subsidiary to the regulars. The old school believes, and remember this
is Prussia, that arbitrary authority and discipline alone make soldiers. The new school, that it’s necessary for the
army to follow changing civilian custom. The old school wishes to consider military
questions without the participation of the public. The new school holds that the defense of the
state is impossible without the material and moral cooperation of the entire nation. In considering these thorny [SP] problems
of military service, I think it’s vital to remember the earlier reference I made to John
Stuart Mill’s statement on the practice of citizenship. And we should recall again the statement made
by Washington in justifying his proposal for a well-regulated militia. “It may be laid down as a primary position,”
he said, “and the basis of our system, that every citizen who enjoys the protection of
a free government, owes not only a portion of his property, but even his personal services
to the defense of it.” The basic military lesson of the American
Revolution was in learning the importance to a democracy of a well-trained army, representative
of the whole people, and a properly trained office corps drawn from all of American life,
an army responsible to civilian authority and fully backed by it, capable of defending
and expounding the principles for which the participants in the American Revolution risked
their lives. Vermont Royster: You’ve been listening to Dr. Forrest
Carlisle Pogue discussing “The Revolutionary Transformation of the Art of War.” Dr. Pogue examined some of the problems posed
by an all-volunteer army and compared the military today with the military problems
with the past. This has been one of several varied looks
at present-day America presented by the American Enterprise Institute as part of its observance
of the Bicentennial of the United States. If you would like a copy of Dr. Pogue’s lecture
or of the entire series, write The American Enterprise Institute, that’s AEI, Post Office
Box 19191, Washington, D.C. 20036. Until next time, this is Vermont Royster,
and thank you for joining us.

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