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AN D AT 'OR T R ILEY , KAN S AS , 1 903 .

In appearing before this audie nce to deliver a
lecture on the subject of Strategy I confes s to a feel ,

ing of considerable embarras smen t ; for n ot only is it

a ma tter of great d iflic ulty to compres s within the

limits of a single lecture a subject which woul d t e

quire many volume s for its proper elucidation but ,

there are many officers presen t who are so familiar

with the subject that I feel tha t I am carryin g
c o al s to Newc as tle or at leas t relating a twice

told tale The best I can hOpe to do is to present


well known facts in a new gro uping so as to bring


out in s trong relief in your min ds prin ciples with

which you are alrea dy familiar .

The Art of W ar is broadly divided into the

two subjects of Strategy and Tactics The latter is .

briefly and clearly defined as the ar t of disposing

and maneuvering t roops on the field of battle ; but

it is more diffi cult to find a satisfactory definition

for the for mer The term strategy is derived '

from the Greek word s trategos meaning a genet al ; ,

and Strateg y has ac cordingly been desc ribed as

the science of generalship B ut this definition is .

not sa tisfactory for some of the mos t brill iant


exhibitions of general ship have been made on the

field of battle after passing in to the unques tioned

domain of Tactics In this connection it is neces

sary onl y to rec all Frederick at Le uthen N apoleon ,

at Austerlitz and Well ing ton at Salamanca

, Strat .

egy has been defin ed as the art of movin armie

g s

in the thea ter of operations ; but this is open to the

objection that armie s actually engaged on the field
of battle are moving in the theater of operations ,

and this definition would c ause Tactic s to be com

p l etel y s wall owed up in Strateg y A nothe r d efi ni .

tion of Strategy is the art of moving troops not in

the presence of the enemy ; but this too is unsat , ,

isfactory for Waterloo and Koniggratz both p re


sent illus trations of s trategical operations culmi


nating in the pre sence of the enemy and merging

into the tactical operations of actual combat A .

d elightfull y brief definition of Strategy is the art

of t aking the enemy at a dis advantage ; but un ,

fortunately this definition has no other merit than


its brevity When we prepare an ambuscade


when we conceal our in trenchmen ts on the fiel d of

battle when we provide our army with a wea pon

superior to tha t of its adversary we are taking the ,

enemy at a disadvantag e but we are not eng aged ,

in strateg y Indeed if this definition were ao


cepted Dreyse who invented the needl e gun and

, ,

Vo n R oon who placed it in the hands of the Prus


s ian ar m y would be entitled to be clas sed with


Von Moltke as s trateg ists for they were certainly


p lacing the enem ie s of Prussia at a disa d van tag e

Strategy has al so been define d as the art of con
d ucting great military operations ; but this too is , ,

open to the objection of em bracing tactical move

ments under the head of Strateg y ; for a general
who is directing the move ments of a mig hty host
on the field of ba ttle is surely cond ucting g rea t

military operations Another d efinition is : Strat


agy is the art of moving an army in the theater of

operations with a view to placing it in such a posi


tion rela tive to the en emy as to increase the prob

, ,

vict or y , or lessen the o

c nse u ncesq e of d efeat . I

than that it is my own Yet I would not be under

nition , for in formulating

it I have merely end eavored
to epitomize in a definition several a ble parag raphs
in Haml ey 3 Opera tions of W ar
’ '

war belongs more or less intima tely either to Stra t

eg y or Tactic s When the engineer is engaged in

the co nstr uction of a fortress to ser ve as a place

agains t which an army can res t its heel so to spea k , ,

when it pushes forward to encounter the enemy ,

or on which it can pivot in the maneuvers of a cam

p g
a i n he
, is dir ectl y con cerned wi th the s ubj e ct o f
Strateg y When he marks out a line of has ty ih

trenchment s on the battle field which will enable


the troops to hold in check or defea t superior num

bers of the enemy he is playing his part in the do

main of Tactics Without the Quart ermas ter s and


Subsisten ce Departments it woul d be impo ssible

to conduct strategical Operations Without the .

supply of arms an d ammun ition furnished by t he

Ordnan ce Depart men t Strategy woul d be a mock


ery an d Tactic s a delusion The Medic al Depart

ment provides the sanitar y measur es for the pres
er vation o f the heal th of the troop s and the means

of removing an d c aring for the sick an d woun ded ,

so tha t the army can be in a g ood con dition to

march and fight ; in other words to play its part in ,

both Strategy and Tactic s And so with every com


bat ant and administrati ve branch of the army ; if

we anal yze the ul timate objects of each we shall
find tha t they are insep arably connected with the
mobility the fighting power the informa tion or the
, ,

moral e of an army and thus with its efficiency in


either Strategy or Tactics or both , .

Tactic s may be chara cterize d a s essentiall y

syn thetic al an d Strategy a s e s sen ti al ly an alyt ic al .

The former begins with the individual in struction

of the recruit passes through the school of the sol

dier the school of the company the s chool of the

, ,

battalion the evolutions of the regimen t the ma ,

n euvers of the brigade s an d divi sion s con tinuall y ,

combining units into larger tactical organization s ,

an d fin al ly it reaches its cul min ation in the handl ing

of mighty masses on the field of battle The latter .


b egin s with a broad general sweep of the geography


of the con tending na tions ; from this it descends

to a selection an d study of the thea ter of opera

tions the choice of an objective and the roads by
whi ch the objective is to be reached ; the subject
narrowing down gra dual ly from a comprehensive

V iew of an enormous area to the few bl oody acres

on which the weal or woe of the na tion is to be de

cided It follows naturally that to a strategist a


good map is as essential as a saw is to a carpen ter ,

an an vil to a blacksmith or a tel es cope to an as


tronomer It is said that Napoleon when a sked


to what he attributed in the greatest degree the

success of his militar y operations replied I lived '
, ,

on the map ; a n d
sur el v n o co mm an der eve r made
a wiser use o f mil itary geography .

The principles of Strateg y are essentially sim

l I h i

p l.e I n deed C au s ewitz

, s ay s n w ar ,e v er yt n g is

simple he dd The d ifi l i tt i

; ut a s , cu ty s to a a n
the req uisite Si mplicity But it is not to be in

ferred tha t because the principles of Strategy are

s imple the science of Strategy can be mas ter ed

without difficul ty or that it s art is easy of execution .

In fact all grea t things human are essen tially


simple . When we read the works of Shakespeare ,

we are so struck with the simplicity of the beautiful

aphorisms of him who wrote for all time that

we are almost inclined to wonder why we never

thought of them ourselves When we peruse that .

wonderful aggregation of wise observation s kn own

as the Proverbs of Solomon the truths therein are

human nature that we are perhaps inclined to

un derra te the ge nius of the wise king until we
und er take to make a few proverbs ourselves The .

stea m eng ine which has wr ought such a wo ndrous

which has been such a potent factor in civilization ,

d epend s upon the simple fa ct that s team inj ected

into a cylin der will pus h forward a piston and that ,

the condens ation or the e sc ape of the steam will

cause the pressure of the air to force the pis ton

back in to the vacuum thus crea ted From this


fund amental fact the growth of the steam engine

seems so n atural and so l ogical that we ahn ost los e

sig ht of the g enius of Watt .So too with the

, ,

principles of Strateg W h en we read the cam


p g
ai ns of N apoleo n in
, the cl ear lig ht o f his toric al
elucid ation and foll ow his movements on the map
, ,

his plans seem so plainl y to have been the ones

bes t adapted to the existing conditions t o be I -

might ahnost say the o nly ones suited to the situa


tion tha t it is not until we reflect that facts made

up no meager and detached bits of information

a ined th r ou gh his s ecr et s ervice ; tha t his mo ve
ments were based upon probabilities which he
fathomed by his knowledge of human nature and
his accurate es timate of his own and his enemies

ma terial and moral res ources ; and that his cam

i ns a n d b ttles we re conducted under conditions
p g
a a

of al mos t inconceivable responsibility personal d an ,

g , physical hardship , and mental anx iety , t ha t

of thepre eminent warrior who al ways mad e the

most correct and powerful application of the prin '

ciples of Strategy ; who generally achieved s ucces s ,

The t wo g reat und erlying principles of Strateg y

may be expressed in the homely a xio ms that the
s old ier like e very other human being needs foo d
, , ,

clothing and medicine ; that in addi tion to these


sup ply mmunition ; and tha t all other things

of a ,

equal two or three men are able to whip one The

, .

more we examine the subject of Strateg y the more

clearly shall we see tha t it is based entirely on these

Before beginning military operations it is requi

s ite that the sup plies n eeded by the army shoul d be

from the o untry from which they are drawn and

c ,

from which they can be readily d istributed to the

be fely located and well fortified so as to be safe

sa ,

from sudden forays or anything short of the mos t

The reg ion in whi ch the supplies are thus coll ecte d
and from which they are forward ed to the army

constitute s the B as e of Operations which is d efined


by Jomin i as the portion of country from which


the army obtains its reinforcemen ts an d resources ,

from which it starts when it takes the offensive to ,

which it retreats when necessary and by which it ,

is suppor ted when it t akes position to cover the

coun try defensively From the nature of things

bas es of operations an d bases of supply are usual ly

coin cident ; but as we shal l presen tly see they are
, ,

not al wav s so ' or manifest reas ons of security


the base generally is covered by a river a chain of ,

moun tains or other natural feat ures forming a


good defensive lin e but an army may sometimes

be based upon a smgle point This is especial ly .

the cas e when an expedition is lan ded on a hostile

coas t ; thus in the invasion of Mexico Scott s base ,

was at first the single poin t of Vera Cruz But in .

all such c as es other poin ts on the coas t are seized

an d fort ified as soon as pos sibl e s o as to give a


longer bas e and thus not onl y facilitate the suppl y


of the army but dimin ish the danger of its being


cut ofi from it s retrea t to its base in cas e of a dversity .

It is not suflicient that the supplies of an army

shoul d be coll ected an d securely guarded at the b ase ;

it is n ecessary that they should be forwar ded

promptly an(1 without interruption to the troops in
the field We hear a great deal about armies liv

ing on the coun try as they advan ce but such a ,

means of supply is usually pr acticable only as a

mere temporary expedien t or as an auxiliary to

the regul ar method of supply An invading army


has often been aptly comp ared to a swarm of locus ts ,

an d if it depen ds upon the resources of the regi on


in which it is operating it quickly consumes every


thing in the line of its march If we ignore all con


sidera tion s o f humanity to the inh abitant s an d limit

our selves merely to the question of the supply of

the troops this is all very well s o long as the army

keeps moving ; but as soon as it is compelled to

hal t to fight or for any other purpose if its supplies
, ,

be not forthcoming from the rear it will soo n feel ,

distress which may increas e to positive suffering


an d even termin ate in tot al disas ter Aside from .

the precariousnes s of supply demoralization is in


variabl y p roduced to a greater or l es s deg ree in an

army that l ives by foragin g When Napoleon in


vaded R ussia his army exhaus ted the resour ces of


the country as it advanced It reached Mos cow in


a demo ral ized condition ; and whil e it s sufferings

in retreat were greatly intensified by the extreme

cold and the haras sing operations of the ubiquitou s
Cossacks the mere fact of its being compelled to re

treat ov er an exhaus ted coun try would in itself have

been suffi cient to wor k its prac tical ruin even if the ,

weather had been b almy and the Cossacks ineffi cien t .

It follows then tha t there must be good means of

, ,

communic ation from the bas e to the f ront in order ,

that the army may be properly supplied ; and such

communications are neces sary also for the pur
pose of relieving it of its sick an d wounded bro ,

ken material prisoners an d trophies

, These lines .

may be compared to ar terie s and veins ; nour

ishing the army w ith good blood from the b ase
an d carry ing b ack the impure drain for pur ification .

It is obvious that the line by which the army oper

ates is ordinaril y the one by which it is supp lied

and the one by which it communicates with the

rear . In other words the lines of operation supply

, , ,

and com un icatio n are usually coinciden t ; but ,

as we shall soon see this is no t invariably the case

, .

The lines of supply may be rivers railroads ordinary , ,

inent part as bas es or lines of supply , and thus of en


s ance , the Army of the Elbe , the Army of the R hine ,

the Ar my of the Potomac , and the Army of the Cum

nary wag on road s must as a rule be larg ely d e

, ,

pended on for t he final suppl y of t h e troop s .

As the army ad vances its line o f supply mus t

, ,

of course , be mad e secure, and this need s the con

s ant detachmen t of h o ops from the ma in body to
g uard the m ea ns of co mm u n ica tio n It foll ows .

then that in a greatly ex tended line of Operations

such detachments would continually we aken the

fig hting force until at las t its streng th would be


exhausted in g uarding its lines to the rear To .

prevent this, new bases are established as the army

advances To these new bas es supplies are s ent for

ward f rom the orig inal bas e and ac cumul a ted in

such quantity as to g ive the army new points on

which it can depend at le as t for a time with some

, ,

degree of independence of its primar v bas e Often .

S TR A TEGY . 13

a p oint is gained to which supp lies can be sent

by easy transportation from the home reg ion and ,

the former line can be abando ned This adoption.

of the new point of supply and the abandonment

of the old is termed a chang e of base One of .

1 86 3 ,
when McClellan finding his base
at W hite
house Pamunkey mena ced by the movement
on the
of Lee again st the Fed eral rig ht transferred his

supplies from that point to H arrison s Landing on

the James R iver destroying such as he could not
remove — and falling ba ck during seven days of

liantly aggr essi ve campaign which had for its object


the turning of the Fede ral right and the cutting ofi

of the Union army from its bas e resul ted only in

the establishment of his opponen t in a more secure

p os ition than before ; a po sition in
, fa ct w hich ,

McClellan would probably have taken up of his

own volition had he not felt constrained to ex tend

his right up the Chi ckahominy to effect an ex pected

ju n ctio n with McD o w e ll .

The popular idea of mil itary operations takes

no account of the vital question of supply The .

non military reader seem s to think that armies can


be moved with the same ease as the pieces in a g ame

of chess ; that an army corp s can be moved a s easil y

as a castle a divi sion as readily as a bishop and a

, ,

reg iment with the ease with which a pawn can

be pushed forward from one square to an other .

Hamley truly says : It is extremely difficul t to


persuade even intelligent auditors that two armies

are not like two fen cers in an arena who may shift ,

their ground to all points of the compas s ; but rather

resemble two swordsmen on a narrow plank which

overhangs an abyss where each has to think not

only of g iving an d parrying thrusts but of keeping ,

his footing under penalty of destruction ; and he


add s tha t the gen eral probably direct s a hundred

glances a hundred anx ious thoughts to the commu
, ,

nicat ions in his rear for one that he bes tows on


his adversary s fron t

’ '

As an ill ustration of t he man ner in which stra

teg ical O pe rations are affected in fact regulated ,

by the paramount consideration of supply let us

foll ow the course of one of the principal Union
armies from I 8 6 I to the clo se of the Great W ar .

When the invasion of the Confederate States in

the Mississippi Vall ey had been decided upon the
principal armies were based upon the Ohio R iver
at Cincinna ti Louis ville and Cairo ; the two former
, ,

places being bases of the Army of the Ohio un der ,

Buell and the las t that of the Army of the Tennes


see un der Grant

, W hen the successful Operations

of Gran t ag ainst Forts Henry and Donelson had

re sul ted in the Opening of the Cumberland R iver ,

Buell pushing forward from Bowling Green seized

, ,

Nashville Here a se condary base was e st ablished


for the Army of the Ohio Supplies of all kinds in

great quantities were sen t here by rail and by water ;

the city was strongly fortified an d though the , ,

primary base was still essential a new poin t was,

S TR A TEGY . 1 5

g a med by Buell from which he coul d advance

a gains t the enemy an d upon which he coul d in
, ,

c ase of reverse fall b ack and be sus tained for a con


s id erable time ind ep en d ently of his o riginal b ase .

From his new base on the Cumberland R iver he

a dvan ced to eff ect his j unction with Grant at Shiloh .

After the capture of Corinth Buell was directed to


move against Chattanooga an importan t strateg ic

point from which further operations might be con
ducted in Georgia B ut while there was no doubt

a s to the wi sdom of choosing this obj ectiv e there ,

was a decided differen ce of opinion between H alleck

(the n Co mm an ding G en e ral of the Army ' an d B ue ll
a s to the line of Operation s an d q uite n aturall y

the whole matter hinged upon the question of supply .

The difficul ty of supplying the army was great at

best owing to the activity of Morgan an d Forres t

with their partisan caval ry but Buell believed tha t

, ,

he could keep the line open from N ashville as he

pushed on to Chattanooga Halleck on the other

hand regarded the line from Memphis to Chat


tanoog a as the prope r one for the supply of Buell s

a rmy n otwithstanding that the railroad c ros sed

the Tennessee R iver twice rendering necessary the

reb uilding and guarding of two long bridges and ,

the still more objectionable fact that the line ran

paral lel to the en emy s general fron t rendering its

protection against raiding parties almost impos sible

It does not need much strateg ical acumen to see
that Buell was right and Halleck was wrong but the ,

latter was the commander and Buell was compelled


to adopt the line proposed by the ofi cer who was

his superior in rank but not in abil ity
, Halleck .

final l y g ave a tar dy consen t to Buell s plan after

the latter had beg un Operations on the Memphis

Chattan ooga lin e but it was now too late ; for B ragg
, ,

who had concentrated and refitted h is army at

o cealing
c n his movemen ts , sen t Kirby Smith north

to n ,Kentucky and threatening Cin cinnati With

, .

his own force B ragg now menaced Nash ville and , ,

q uickl y m ov ing by his rig ht ma rched for

, Louis ville .

There was nothing for Buell but to follow suit and ,

a race of the tw o armies for Loui sv ill e now followed .

It might seem at firs t sig ht that the situation was

reciproc al, and that while the Confedera te Army

was marching ag ainst B uell s commun ications the


latter commander mig ht similarly move against

those of Brag g But such was not the case ; for

Bragg woul d have struck the line to Louis ville while

Buell was yet merely moving against the Con
federate commun ications Moreover B ragg oper , ,

ating rapi dl y in a frien dly coun tr y coul d be more ,

independen t of reg ular supplies than coul d poss ibly

have been the cas e with Buell Hence the race for .

Lo uisvill e the possession of which by Buell mean t

, ,

above all things supplie s for his army and the los s

of which me a nt want and disas te r .

Time will not permit me to g i ve even a sketch

of the intere sting camp aign of B uell and B ragg ;

an d s how how the latter influenced bv political


con siderations and himself hampered by precarious

supplies failed to profit by his interpos ition at Mun

fordville between Buell and L ouisville Buell reached .

Louisville Brag g retired followed by the Union

, ,

army , and the battle of Perryville fought near ,

B ardstown thoug h app arently a drawn battle com

, ,

p ell ed the Co nfedera tes to retrea t from Ken tucky ;

for B uell s army was now full y suppl ied and his

commun ic ations were in no danger while Bragg , ,

found it impo ssible to supply his army at such a

distance from his base and it was out of the ques tion

to live on the country in the face of an undefeated

enemy in numbers superior to his own army The .

retrea t was made in good order and with sufficient


leisure to demonstra te that Bragg thoug h foiled ,

was not defeated .

Ag ain the question of supply dictated the course

of the campaig n Hal leck urged B uell to make

eas tern Tennessee the theate r of Operations The

project was dear to the heart of President Lin
coln for that region was the home of the stronges t
loyal element in the South Considerations of grat

itud e and sympathy for our friends demanded that

they shoul d be succored as speedily as possible ,

and milit ary policy coul d not ignore the fact that

the possession of that p art of the State meant the

addition t o our army of many valuable recruit s

drawn from a population reno wned for its warlike

qualities But the military objections to the pro

p o se d p l an of campaign were gra ve an d they were


clearly pointed out by Buell This plan woul d have .

required an a d van ce of mo re than two hun dred

miles from the base ove r a mountainous an d d iffi


cul t country the supply of the army depending


upon ordin arv wagon roads and thes e roa ds in an ,

almo st impas sable con dition whil e the enemy coul d

cover his own communications an d be secure in the

all importan t matter of supply
B uell not only .

objected to the plan [but knowing that it could not

, ,

po ssibly be c arried out unh esitatin gly concentrated


his comman d on the line of the Louisville and N ash

ville road between Bowlin g Green and Nashville
, ,

preparatory to moving forward from the latter bas e .

He was promptly relieved and General R osecran s ,

was appoin ted to comman d the army which was ,

henceforth to be kn own as the Army of the Cum

berland It is impossible to a void the concl usion

that Buell was hardl y treated ; but he shared the

fate of strategists who offer views inheren tly so un d
but unpalat able to those in authority .

The new comman der was n o more tractable than

his pred ecessor but as he was fre sh from the laurels

of Corinth and high in popul ar favor his views were ,

received with more cons ideratio n —a conditio n doubt

less facil ita ted by the opportun e mo vement of B ragg

to Murfreesboro about thirty mil es south of Nas h

Mo ving forward from N ashville R osecrans en ,

countered Bragg in the three days battle of Stone s -

R iver one of the most fiercely conte s ted fi eld s of


modern times Though tactic ally a drawn battle

R iver was all

Stone s to
intents and purposes an
, ,

irnportant victo ry for the Union arms ; for B ragg

withdrew left the field in the possession of his oppo

nen t and took up a purel y pass ive defensi ve

, Y et .

thoug h the Ar my of the Cumberlan d had al l the

prestige of victory ; though it was well organized ,

well trained well equipped and in excellent moral e

, ,

we find it remaining s tationary for six months .

W hat was the c ause of this ' R osecran s w as not

lacking in energy or enterprise ; the President was
impa tient popul ar sentiment demanded an advance
, .

It was simply bec ause the ceaseless activity of Mor

g an a nd Fo r re st who de,s troye d r ail ro a d s bur ned ,

bridges blew up tunn els and captured convoys

, , ,

rende red R osecra ns communication s so insecure

that it was not until sufficient reinforcemen ts prin ,

cip all y cavalry and moun te d infantry co ul d be pro ,

v id ed to g uard the routes of supply that the Un ion

army w as reliev ed from its paral ysis and enabled

to resume the offen si ve .

H is supplies assured R osecrans again moved ,

forward and in a series of able maneuvers


the Confederate left so menaced the comm unications

of Bragg as to compel him to aban don Chattanooga .

This place was one of great strategic val ue furnish ,

ing a strong base on the Tenn essee R iver and com ,

manding the gateway of the mountains of north

ern Ge orgia It was in fact too impo rtant to be
, ,

defin itively relinquished without the most strenu

ous efforts for its recove ry ; and B ragg merely fell

back to a strong position on Chickamauga Creek ,


where he awaited reinforcemen ts and prepared for

battle with R osecrans R eal izing the perilous sit

uation the Confederate Government detached Long


str eet s corps from Lee s army in Virginia and sen t

it in haste by rail to join Bragg in his attempt to

, ,

crush the Army of the Cumberland The battle


of Chickamauga followed a desperate struggle in

which each army lost a third of its streng th B ut .


though the Confed erate s retained po ssession of the

field their hard earned victory was a barren one

R osecrans fell bac k to Chattanooga followed by ,

Bragg who took up a strong po sition at Lookout


Mountain and Missionary R id ge R osecrans was .

supers eded in comman d by Thomas and the Army ,

of the Cumberlan d was reinforced by the victorious

army from Vicks burg and by two corps from the

Army of the Potomac B ragg was d efeated by these

combine d forces under Ge neral Gran t Chattan ooga ,

was secure in the possession of the Union armie s ,

and it now con stitu ted a third an d mo st iInportant

bas e for future operations .

Grant having been appointed lieutenant general

and ordered to the East Sherman was placed in ,

comman d of the for ces as sembled at Chattanooga

Completely outfitting his ar my an d gathering a
vast store of supplies at Chattano oga he adva nced ,

earlv in the spring of I 864 against the Co nfede rate


army which w as now station ed at D alton under


Johnston who had superseded Bragg N aturally .

Sherman s grea test anxiety was in regard to the

supplytof his army The stores accumul ated at


Chattanooga coul d indefinitely but must

not last
be renewed constantly from the bases farther in
the rear Forrest was again a disturbing element

an d Sher man was fearful tha t he would collect a

large c avalry command in Mississippi cross the ,

Tenn essee R iver an d break up the railroad below


Nashville So g rea t did this d anger seem that an


t Forres t and when it had met with a d is

ag ain s ,

as trous defea t at Guntown a secon d expedition

, ,

consis ting of t wo divisions under General A J .

Smith was organized to operate against the trouble


with troubles of his own and Sherman s communi


ca tions were secure from a ttack from that quarter .

The ques tion of supply was the paramount

cons ideration wi th bo th Sherman and John ston ,

an d it furn ishe s the key to the st rateg y of e ach .

Sherman s objective was Atlanta though of course

his first and gre atest object was the defe at of John
st o n
. In moving upon his objective he was com
p ell ed to depe n d fo r the su pply O f h is a rmy on a

sin gle li ne of r ailroad from Chattanooga to Atlanta ,

a distance of I I 0 miles . To keep this line open

was a matter of vit al importan ce and to do so re ,

quired the con stant detachment of men to g uard it .

Johns ton depended on the same line from Atlanta ,

but it lay in a region friendl y to him and was ex

p o sed to l ess d an ge r . It is eviden t tha t as Sher m an
22 S TR A TEGY .

a dvanced his effective streng th would constan tly

diminish with the lengthening of his line of commu
nic ations whil e the effective s trength of Johnston

would increase as the latter fell back towards his

base In fact although Sherman received d uring

the campaign reinforcements considerably in ex

cess of his losses his eff ective strength when he

reached Atlan ta was much les s than when he left

Chattanooga From the very nature of things it


was John ston s object to stan d for decisive battle
near Atlan ta an d Sherman s object to force the

decision near Chattanooga If the battle were .

fought near Dalton for instance and Sherman were

, ,

defeated he coul d merely step back as it were to

, , ,

his bas e at Chattanooga r efit his army await re , ,

inforcements an d resume the c ampaign ; whereas if

, ,

John ston were defea ted he might be beaten to pieces


in his long retreat to Atlanta Similarly if Sher .


man were defea ted near Atlanta his army might

be ruin ed before it coul d reach Chattanooga ; while
Johnston s defeat near that city woul d mean simply

the loss of Atlanta which he woul d surely lose as


the resul t of a defeat anywhere on the line between

the two cities forming the respective bases of the
two opposing armies .

Unfortun ately for John ston his strategy was ,

n ot appreci a ted by his Governmen t This seems .

al l the more r emarkable as the Con fe d er ate Pres i


dent was him self an educated soldier who had had ,

experience in war Possibly the disapproval of Mr

. .

D avis was influenced by his well kn own unfriend -


l iness to Johnston If so it is not the onl y in


stance in which the c areer of an abl e soldier has been

blighted by enemies in power for al l men are not ,

able to sin k personal animo sity in a con sideration

for the public weal Johnston was relieved at the


very time when he was prepared to make his d e

cisiv e ca s t in the militar y game ; an d his gal lan t

but inc apable successor Hood throwing away his

, ,

defensive advantages shattered his army in a fierce


ass aul t agains t the lines of his advers ary an d At ,

lant a was lost . While every true patriot mus t

rejoice in the remo val of John ston which con trib ,

uted so greatly towards the con clusion of the war

an d the restoration of the U nion it is impossible , ,

when we view the matter from the col d s tandpoin t

of profes sional interest to help feeling a pang of

regret that the Confederate gen eral was not allowed

to finish the great gam e of strategy which he had

pl ayed so ab ly with his b ril li an t an t ago nis t .

With the captur e of Atlan ta a four th bas e was ,

gained from which movements fur ther in advance


might be conducted ; but the strategic situation

was an embarrassing one Sherman was now

nearly fiv e hun dred mil es from h is primary base ,

and an enormous diss ipation of force was n eces sary

to protect the commun ications from Louisville to

Nashville fromNashvill e to Chattanooga and from
, ,

Chattanooga to Atlant a The line surely coul d not


be much fur ther exten ded if the army was to retain

sufficien t s trengt h to s trike a vigorous blow O ther .

considerations vexed the situation Hood was evi .

24 S TR A TEGY .

d en tly directing his my against Sherman s com


munications and was aiming at N ashville To fol .


low him woul d be to abandon con quered terri tory

and gi ve an air of fail ure to the hard w on c amp aign -

Moreover Lee s army was the head and front of

the Confederate strength and with its destruction

the cause of the Sou th must fall Lee had long .

baffled the skill and power of his opponents and it ,

was de sirable that a sufficient forc e should be con

cent rated to c rush him The genius of Sherman

was equal to the situation He decided to detac h


a for ce un der Thomas to cope with Hood and with ,

his own army to push throug h the heart of the

A person ignoran t of military matters mig ht

wonder perhaps why Sherman having made this
, ,

decis ion d id not at once proceed by the most direct


route across no rthwe stern South C arolina and west


ern North C arolina in to Virg ini a But it require s .

the mere st glance to see that his line of communica

tions woul d have been so long and so dependen t on
ordinary roads as to rend er supply well nigh impos -

sible an d in c as e of defeat his army woul d be de


s troyed before it coul d regain its bas e He decided .

to des troy Atlanta aba n don his b as e make a gigan

, ,

t ic leap as it were ac ross the St ate of Georgi a and

, , ,

est ablish a new base on the sea This neces sitated .

living on the coun try ; but Sherman kn ew too well

the danger of relying solely on the resources of a
reg ion through which he must march a dis tan ce of

three hundred miles and while intending to make

S TR A TEGY . 25

war pport war he took with him a train bearing

su ,

twenty days full rations for his entire comman d

If he shoul d meet with serious opposition if he

should en coun ter unex pected obs tacles his command

coul d thanks to this provision en dure a d elav tha t

, ,

Arriving in the vicinity of Savannah Sherman

was able t o communicate w ith the Unio n fleet and ,

was only twen ty mil es from P ort R oyal S C which , . .

was in pos session of the Federal forces Here a .

a large qua ntity of supplies had been collected for

Sherma n s arm y ; but the transp orts an d na val ves

sels in Ossabaw Sound were un able to as cen d the

Ogeechee R iver which was ba rred by torped oes


and the gun s of Fort McAllister This fort could .

eas ily have been reduced by siege operations with

a trifling loss of life ; but time was press ing and the ,

necessity of the establis hmen t of a base w as too im

p e ra t ive to a dmit of dela y The for t w

. as there ,

fore immediatelv carried by Open infantr y assault

, ,

without artiller y preparation the torpedoes were ,

removed and the supply of Sherman S army was


assured A week after the captur e of Fort McAl


li ster Savamrah fell an d Sherman had a secure base

, ,

on the sea .

Much has been written related and sun g about

, ,

The March to the Sea Its object is clear to mil


it ary men but in ordinary histori e s it is made to

appear as simply a march of devast ation in which

the only object was to sweep the ho stile territory

with a besom of destruction It was a great and .
26 S TR A TEGY .

su cces sful chang e of bas e to which object all de


struction of the enemv s re source s was subo rdinate

an d incidental .

So far as Sherman was concerned Lo uisville , ,

Nashville Chattanooga an d Atlanta were now


merely names of retrospective interest H is sup .

plies were now brought to S avannah by sea ; from

this point he coul d set out on his northwar d march ,

and upon thi s point he coul d fal l back in case of ,

rev erse behind fortification s an d suppo rted by the

navy It was in fact the mos t secure base the

, ,

army had enjoyed sin ce it l eft Louisvill e But new .

bases would manifestly be necessary as the army

proceeded through the Carolinas Sherman moved .

upon Columbia an d the c apture of that city was


followed immediately by the evacuation of Charles

ton . This city had withstood a vigorous siege of
n ea rly two ye ar s by both army and navy each ,

using the mo st powerful enginery of war then in

existence ; but now its evacuation became neces
sary not only that its garrison might reinforce the

army of H ardee engaged in trying to stem the ad

vance of Sherman but because its supplies woul d


soon be completely cut off and s tarvation would


effect what shot and shell had tried in vain A .

new b ase w as now at Sherm an s service and in case

of reverse it woul d no longer be n ecessary to fall

back upo n Savann ah But the march was a long

one and it w as eviden t that neithe r S avann ah nor


Charleston would long sufiice as a base of supply .


This had been foreseen and provision had been

made accordingly .

On the I sth of January 1 86 5 about the time

, ,

Sher man left S avannah on his n orthward march ,

Fort Fisher at the mouth of Cape Fear R iver was

, ,

captured by the Union forces under General Terry .

This for t g uarded the harbor of Wilmington which ,

had long been a shel tering n es t for blockade run ners -


and for this reason its c apture w as an i mportan t on e .

But there was another and still more impor tan t

re ason for it s c apture in the fact tha t Wilmington

would form a base of supplies for Sherman s ad ’

v ancing army The defeat of Hood having made


matters safe in the West Schofield with the 2 3 d

Corps was ordered from Nashville to Washing ton
mak ing the journey of fourteen hundr ed miles by
way of the Tennessee and Ohio rivers and thence
by rail Embarking at Washington he proceeded

to Fort Fisher and on the 2 2 d of Febr uary cap

, , ,

tured Wilmington Thoug h a new b ase was thus


gained for Sherman Schofield now prepared to es

tablish a still better line from Morehead City an d
Newberne towards Goldsboro Kins ton on thi s .

lin e was occupied (March I 4 I S6

, and the rail ,

way to that poin t was completed without delay .

When Sherman arrived at Fayetteville he commu ,

nicated with Wilmington ; an d pushing on and de

feating Johnston at Averasboro and Ben tonville ,

he entered Goldsboro where he effected a j unction


with Schofield an d obtained wel come s upplie s


from Kin ston Kinston was in fact his last base ;

, ,
28 S TR A TEGY .

for he continued to be supplied from this poin t

dur ing his march to R al eigh and Durham Station
At the latter place he received the surrend er of
Johnston s army and Le e having al so surrend ered

to Gran t the necessity for secure bases and well


It shoul d be n ote d that Wilming ton and Kinston

with bas es of operations and the lines thence to

Sherman s army are examples of lin es of supply not

coin cident with lin es of operations .

We have now briefly trac ed the course of the

Union armies from the Ohio to the Neuse throug h
more than three years of war and over an enormous

theater of Operations ; and we find the ques tion of

supply the deciding influence of the strategical

over the heavy draft on the fig hting strength of


an army by the n ecess ity of keeping open its com

municat ions In the spring of r 86 5 there were


in roun d numbers , men ac tually under

arms in the Un ion Army Of this grea t host there

were in cont act with the enemy s armies


men un der Grant in Virginia ; 90 000 men under Sher

man in North C arolina ; I 5 000 men un der Wilson in
, , ,

Georg ia ; and men un d er Canby at Mobile ,

a total of but little more than a quarter of a million

men Where were the rest ' With the exception


of comp aratively small forces eng ag ed in guarding

tions they were all employed in prote cting the

S TR A TEGY . 29

lines of communication and holding conquere d

territory in the enormous theater of operations ex
tending from the Potoma c to the Rio Grande and
from Ohio to the Gulf The extent of this a rea

can be best appreciated by compa ring it with the

theater of European wars The seven weeks war


in which Prussia broke the power of Austria and

sprang into the fron t ran k of military na tions was ,

fought on an area scarcely eq ual to half of the Sta te

of Kansas ; an d the Fr anco German w ar in which

the most renowned military nation yielded the

supremacy to the new Germanic empire was con ,

ducted upon a theater of similar area If in the .

former war a Prus sian army ha d penetra ted entirely

the latter a German my had pushed throug h


'ran ce across the Pyren ees to Mad rid the distance


travers ed would in each c ase have been about equal

to that marched by the Union armies from Louis
ville to Sa vannah To complete the comparison

we should sup pose the European arm y in ea ch c as e

to be depen dent upon a s ingle line of railroad for
its supplies for nearly 5 00 miles of this distance and ,

to be en tirely without bas e or communications for

the remainder .

I would not abate one jot from the praise

d ue the South for its magnific ent str uggle In .

this contes t the Confederate Ar my consisted of

more than one tenth of the entire white population

including in the latter men women and children

helples s infan ts and totte ring old ag e ; whereas in ,
3 0 S TRA TEGY .

the strenuous efforts of the First French R epublic ,

when the country was declared in danger and all ,

Europe was combin ed ag ainst it the republican ,

armies con sisted of onl y one twentieth of the popu


lation of France I woul d not detract one iota


from the praise d ue to the genius of Lee or John

s ton or the heroic val or of the men who followed the

stan dards of those gre a t leaders But the plain.

milit ary fact shown irrefut ably by the map is that


the strategic situation was al together in favor of

the South and largely neutral ized the superior num
bers and resources of the North To the North .

too is praise then d ue for its stubborn and energetic


prosecution of the most difi cul t milit ary task the

worl d has seen since Napoleon undertook the con

t tegic combination s as already st ated
s ra , ,

are des ign ed to incre as e either the probability of

victory or to incre as e its consequences In the .

former cas e the movements have for their object

the concentration of a superior force at a decis ive
point ; in the latter the menacing or the intercep
tion of the enemy s communications is a paramoun t

con sideration The greatest consequences that can

follow a victory are the capture or destruction of
the defeated arm y and this can generally be ob

tained only by cutting o ff it s retre a t or completely

intercepting its supplies .

W hen a general is operating ag ains t two or

more armies of the enemy on lines that permit him
to concentrate his entire force and maneuver ag ainst
3 :

a ny one of the opposing armies in a shorter peri od of

time than woul d be required for the enemy s armies ’

to concentrate in superior force again st him he is ,

s aid to be Operating on in terior lines In this case.

he is in the best possible situation to maneuver so

as to incre ase the prob abilitie s of victory ; for he

c an le a ve a relatively s mall force to hold in check

contain one of the enemy s armies while he’

throws the bul k of his force against the other De .

feating the latter army he can then leave a small


force to conduct the pursuit or hold the groun d

g n
ai e d, r et urn to reinf o r ce his fo rme r det a chmen t ,

throw his weight upon the second hostil e army ,

and thus al tern ate his blows from one side of the

theater to the other his force at the decisive points


being superior to that of the enemy even though ,

his aggreg ate force be much les s In this manner


N apoleon in the campaig n of I 7 9 6 in Ital y first

, ,

s truck Beaulieu the n Colli ; an d skill fully al tern ating


his blows drove them as unde r compelled the c apit


ul ation of the latter an d dr ove the former in hasty


flight down the valley of the Po Similarly in the


Eckmiihl c ampaign in I 809 ma king a brilliant use


of his in terior lines he dro ve the Archduke Louis

to the south towards the Tyrol the Archduke Charles


to the north across the Danube penetrated be ,

tween the hostile ar mies thus dr iven asunder in

retre at and se ized Vienna
, . In a like manner when ,

McClellan was advancing up the Peninsul a against

R ichmond and Pope was moving from the Potomac
again st the same objective ,
Lee profiting by his

in terior lines hurled McClellan ba ck to the James


menaced Pope and when McClellan (in obedience


to orde rs from Was hington ' had beg un his retro

grade movement to Y orktown threw his whole ,

weight upon Pope whom he heavily defeated be ,

fore he coul d be sufficiently reinforced from McClel

lan s arm

y to turn the tide In these cases it was .

the probability of victory that w as the firs t con sid

cra tion If Napoleon could have defea ted the com

bined armies of Beaulieu an d Colli the con sequen ces

of the victory might have been much greater than
they were ; but the only hOpe of victo ry lay in keep
ing the enemy s armies a sun der and beating them

in det ail So too in 1 86 2 Lee s situation woul d

, , ,

have been hopeles s had the Federal armies com

bined ; but encoun terin g them separately he was ,

able to fight McClella n t o a s tand s till and then in

fiict upon Pope one of the heavies t defea ts of the


whole war .

To util ize interior lin es with effect it is n ecess ary

that the thea ter of operations shoul d be suited in
size to the n ature of the opera tions If the theater .

were too large the containing force holding in check

one of the enemy s armies mig ht be completely

routed or captur ed before the main arm y coul d

return to its assistance and victory in one p ar t of ,

the thea ter would be neutral ized by defea t in the

other If on the other hand the theater were too
, ,

small the en emy mig ht be crus hed by a combined


attack by the two ar mies of the enemy as at Wate r ,

loo or KOnigg r atz [ Moreover in terior lines are.


much more valuable in the case of comparatively

smal l forces than they coul d possibly be with very

l arge armies ; for celerity of ac tion is indispensable ,

an d of armies more than an yt hing el se it is t rue that

l arge bodie s move slowly Napoleon s most bril

' ' ’

li ant use of interior lines was made with small armies

— at le ast smal l when j udged by the s tandar d of

armies of the pres ent d av — his army in I 7 9 6 con

sis ting of about 3 5 000 men and his entire force in
, ,

the Eckmiihl campaign being about

Let us now consider the manner in which the
plan s of the strategist may aim to reap the greatest
consequences from a victory 'or this purpose .

no better illustration can be foun d than the cam

p g
a i n of M are n go .

In 1 800 an army of Austrians under ,

Melas occupied northern Italy from which the

, ,

French had been almost com etely expelled Of .

thi s army , men un der Ott were engaged

, ,

in besieging Mas sen a in Geno a ; men under ,

Elsnitz were operating on the V ar cove ring the

, ,

siege and opposing Su chet

, who with an inferior
, ,

force was barely able to hold his own an d keep the


enemy from invading Fran ce The rest of Melas .

arm y guarded the issue s of the Al ps from the Ape n

nine s to the St Go thard Pas s

. The Austrians were

based on the Mincio on which river were the two

strong fortresses of Mantua and Peschier a From the .

base their lines of communication extended from

Peschiera to B rescia where the roads divided one
, ,

going to Milan and the other to Pavia an d from '


Mantua to Cremona where the routes separated

, ,

one passing no rth of the P0 to P avi a and the other ,

oi g o th of th t ive m Pi ce

g n s u a r r a a nz a .

The object of Napoleon was to relieve Ge noa

an d s tri ke a decisive blow against Melas Several .

operations presented themselves to his choice He .

might reinforce Suchet and operate against Els nitz .

B ut Elsnitz could be promptly reinforced by Me

l as and at the best a French victory would merely

drive the Austrians back towards their bas e and

in falling b ack they would still cover the siege of
Genoa He might operate by way of Mont Cenis

again st the Austrian center ; but the Austria ns

coul d reinforce their center even more readily
than their left ; the for tresses of Tur in Coni and , ,

Al lesand ria were seri ous obs tacles in the way ; and
the Austrians if defeated would as in the former
, ,

case be able to fall back on their base The third


plan was to cross the Al ps at the Great S aint Ber

nard Pass con ce aling his mar ch as long as po ssible
, ,

seize Milan push on to Pi acenz a an d thus completely

, ,

out the Aus tri ans from their b as e In this plan .

the natural obst acles would have daunted almost

anyone but a N apoleon His chief of engineers

repo rted the pas sage of the Gre at S aint Bernard

Pass extremely difficul t Difi cul t I g ran t
. s aid , ,

Napoleon ; but is it pos sible '

I think so ,

was the reply ; but with extraordinar

effort y .

Very well then s aid the First Consul ; w e will


go . The army w as concentrated at Dijon Suchet .

was to make active demon strations against Elsnitz .


A force of men under Thurreau w as to mak e

a fein t by w ay of Mont Cenis Moncey with 1

men w as detached from Morean s army in Switzer

land to cros s the S aint Go thard Pass and move ma

Bellin zona to eff ect a j unction in the valley of the

Ticino with the main army 3 , strong which , ,

under N apoleon in person woul d cross at the pas s


o f the Gre at S aint Bernard .

The famous passage of the Alps was effected

by Napoleon with strenuous exertions an d the ad ,

vance guar d consisting of infan try and c a val ry nu

, ,

d er Lannes reac hed Ivrea and c arried the place by


as sault . At the same time Thurreau emerged from

the Mont Cenis Pass The Austrian general mis
took this force which was accompanied by artillery

for the advance guar d of a l arg e army and Lannes ,

comman d as a detachment engaged in a mere di

version The main strength of the Austrians w as

a ccordingly co ncentrated to oppo se Thurreau and ,

a singl e small divi sion was sen t again st Lannes This .

division was defeated by Lannes who then ad ,

v anced to Chivasso where he o stent atious ly seized


boats a s if in tending to pas s the Po The main .

army con cen trated at I vr ea an d pushed towards

Milan Lannes force now forming a rear guard and


directing its march on Pavia The Austri an right


un der W ukassowitch confron ted by N apoleo n and


threatened on the right and re ar by Moncey aban ,

d oned the line of the Ticino a nd retreated beyon d

the Adda completely out of touch with Melas
, .
3 6 S TRA TEG Y .

Napoleon en tered Milan where he waite d four

days for the purpose of effecting a j unction with
Moncey who upon his arrival was stationed so
, , ,

as to guard the lin e of the Ticino from any attempts

that Melas might make to break thoug h Melas .


learning of the arrival of N apoleon at Milan the ,

retreat of W ukassowitch and the des cent of Moncey


into the val ley of the Ticino gave orders for the
concentration of the Austrian army at Allesan d ria .

Elsnit z was ordered to fall back from the V ar leav ,

ing only rear guards to oppo se Suchet an d Ott was ,

ordered to raise the siege of Genoa and hasten to

sei ze Pi acenza and defend the lin e of the Po But .

O tt waited to receive the surrender of Mas sena for ,

which negotia tions were then pending and thoug h ,

the French garrison surrendered he lost several ,

days of priceless value

In the meantime Napoleon ha d occupied Pavia
Belgiojoso and Piacen za and the communications
, ,

of Melas with the Austrian ba se were completel y

cut . Ott marching upon Piacen z a wa s defeated

, ,

by Lannes and Victor at Montebello and retrea ted

upon Allesand ria Napoleon now con centrated his

army about C as tegg io an d moved against Mel as ,

who was now at Allesand ria The battle of Mar .

eng o followed ; Melas was defeated and capitulated , ,

giving up the country as far as the Min cio with all

the fortresses but being allowed to march back

to the Min cio with his army Nor thern Ital y was

thus regained ; the surrendered force of Massena

was released the concentration of the French army

w as ed a nd the conditions were chang ed for

assur ,

the French from gloomy disaster to brill iant succes s .

By skillful strategy N apoleon placed his army

in a po sition wher e defea t mean t ruin to his ad ver
s ary but not to himself
, Melas when defeated .
, ,

had no al ternative except to capitulate or star ve ;

but N apoleon if defeated coul d at the very worst
, , , ,

h ave retreated up the valley of the Ticino and by

way of the St Gothard Pas s with perhaps the loss

tions of Napoleon g reatly increased the consequences

of victory they did not in crease the probability of

victory Indeed Napoleon came very near being


defeated at Mareng o and but for the opportune

ar ri val of D essaix who had been detached to Ri

valta the brilliancy of his strategy might have


been obs cured in tactical defeat .

Strategy in fact always culminate s in tactics

, ,

and the ables t strategic al combinations are useless

if they can not be clinched with success on the fiel d

of battle In 1 8 1 2 Mar mont had succeeded in ma

neuv ering Welling ton in to a position at Salamanca

such tha t the B ri tish lin e of retreat was in tercepted ,

and the Duke if defea ted woul d hav e been ruined

, , .

The French on the other hand whil e holding the

, ,

British communications by the throat covered ,

their own ; and in case of defeat they could fall

back on their natural line of retreat to their base .

Welling ton had clearly been outgeneralled by Mar .

mon t ; but he co mpensated for his stra tegical in

feriority by a brilliant s troke of tactical genius
3 8 S TRA TEGY .

which sen t his advers ary flying in rout from the

field extricated the Bri tish army from its perilous

situation and en abled it to pen etrate to M adrid an d


dri ve King Joseph from the Spanish capit al .

It h as ofte n bee n sai d that though the prin ciples

of Tactic s are constantly undergoing change those ,

of Strategy are fix ed an d immutable This is not .

the cas e Strategy has changed und er modern


con dition s ; not so much as Tactics but just as ,

surel y .It is remarkable that the two most potent

factors in producing stra tegical changes are tw o
invention s designed pri ma rily for the peaceful in
terests of commerce and hav ing daily application
in the affairs of the g reate r part of mankin d I refer

to the railroad and the teleg raph R ailroads en able


armies to be concentrated more rapi dl y than w as

formerly the cas e and what is even more impor tant

, , ,

to supply them with a fac ility formerly un dreamed of

The supply of the armies of Buell R osecran s and
, ,

Sherman very difficult by railroad woul d have been

, ,

impossible by ordinary wagon train ; and it is not


too much to say that we owe the pre servation of

the Union to the invention of the locomotive It .

is the genius of Stephenson that h as made the

United States a great n ation
B ut while railroads ren der pos sible the concen
tration an d supply of grea ter armies than coul d
for merly be main tained their influence en ds be

fore the cont act oi the armies takes place There .

will always be a space between the fronts of the

contending forces in which the railroads will prob

ably be broken up and in which even if the roads

, ,

be still existing in good condition their employmen t

, ,

would be too precarious to be seriously considered .

When the opposing armies are near each other they ,

must still mo ve by marching and must still depend

in a great measure or perhaps ent irelv on wag on
, ,

transportation for supply .

One of the most striking resul ts of the intro

duction of railroad s as a strategic element is found
in the enormous extent of territory to which in
ferior line s are now applic able The transfer of

Longstreet s corps on interior lines from Virginia

to Georg ia woul d have been i mpossible without

rail ro ads
. Superior railroad facilitie s may in a ,

large theater of operations give to exteri or lines


all the advan t age s of interi or lines ' or instance


if an army occupying a central position with its ,

vari ous parts at a much shorter actual dis tan c e

from each other than are the corresponding parts
of the opposing army on exteri or lines can coneen ,

trate onl y by m arching while its Opponent can


concentrate by rail it is manifest that the superiority


of concentration res ts with the latter But this .

can be the c as e onl y in a l arge the ater ; for the time

of entraining and detraining must be take n in to

con sideration ; and a full army corp s can eas ily
mar ch I 2 5 or I 5 0 miles in the time that it woul d
take it (coun ting en training an d detraining' to go
the same dis tance by rail .

In the transfer of Schofield s army from Nash

vill e to North C arolina the movemen t was made on

4 0 S TR A TEGY .

exterior lines ; but steam transport by river and ,

r ail , enabled it to be effected in less time than it

woul d have required the Co nfederates with their
broken railways to make a corresponding move
ment even if they had ha d troops available for

the purpose
The telegraph enables a co mmandin g general
to keep constantly informed of the Ope ration s of
his differen t forces ; to know what is occurring
s imult aneously in all p arts of an exten ded theater ,

and to combin e in a con s istent plan the Operations

of force s which would otherwise be compelled to

act in depen dently This too will affect the value
, ,

of interior lin es ; for if the two armies on exte rior

lines be in telegraphic commun ication the comman

d er again st who m the concen tration is made can
a t once n otify his colleague who can then move
immediately with confidence against the contain
ing force Opposed to him .

Another modification of the value of interi or

line s is c ause d by the increased power conferred
on the t actic al defensive by modern firearms
This to be sure will operate in favor of a contain
, ,

ing force but it will neces sitate the concen tra tion

o f a much l arge r body agains t the one of the e nemy s

armie s tha t is to be defe ated To profit full y by


interior lines a general must be able to di spose


quickly of the enemy s separated armies and the

prompt defeat Of an enemy who will surely make

use of hasty in trenchment s an d avail hims elf of all
the power of the modern defensive will not be an
4 1

easy matter the numerical odds are enor

unl ess
mously in favor of the as sail ant We are there .

fore likely to find the containing force able to hold


its own again st one of the enemy s armies and the

main force repulsed by the other unless the army ,

O pe rating on in terior lines is of a strengt h practically

e qual to that of the co mbined armies of its adversar y .

Another new element introduced into Strateg y

as a resul t of the teleg raph is the daily newsp aper .

The popul ar demand for news c ann ot be ignored ,

and even un der the mo st rigoro us p ress censorship

information will leak out a detached item here
an d anothe r there from which inferen tial informa

tion can be obtained even when positive news is

l acking It is said that Von Moltke first learned

through the columns of a Belgian newspaper of

the eccentric movement of McMahon by way of ,

a .

zaine The press will be a powerful factor for both


good and evil in giving a commander information

of the movemen ts of his a dversary and in betraying

his own .

Let us imagine the Marengo campaign under

the present conditions The concentration of N a.

p ol eon s army

is repo rted to a German news pape r

in Col ogne an d the news is at on ce telegraphed


to Melas A spy ascertains that Thurreau has


only men and sends the information in a dis


guised dispatch to a confederate in Berlin who t e ,

pe ats it to the Austri an headquarters The ad .

van ce guard of Napoleon scarcely emerges from

4 2 S TRA TEGY .

the Great
St Bernard Pass before the news is tel

egr aphed t o Melas The orders for the Austrian


concen tration are sen t out by wire and the mo ve ,

ments directed are facilitated by rail Melas meets .

N apoleon in the angle between the Sesia and the

Po The Austrians have superior numbers an d

cover their communications ; in fact the strategic ,

advantag e is theirs Under existing condition s


N apoleon would never have adopted the pl an which

he carried out with such success What he would

have done it is idl e to guess We can be sure .


however that it would have been the right thing

, ,

an d that his genius with the aid of the railway and


the telegraph woul d have shone out more brightly


even than it d id Ind eed it is n ot too much to say


that if Napoleon had had railroads and telegraphs

at his comman d even his R us si an c ampai gn wo ul d

have been a success and St Helena would be kno wn

, .

to d ay merely as an un important speck on the map


of the Atlan tic Ocean .

We have seen that the employmen t of railroads

in w ar ren der s possible the con cen tration and main
ten an ce of l arger armies than were formerly known .

We have al so seen that the operation s of ho st il e

armie s in the proximity of e ach other are n eces sa

r ily effecte d by m ar ching These large armies will


n ecessarily move more slowly than smal ler bodies ,

an d if they live on the country wholly or in p art ,

the exhaustion of the region over which they

move will be more complete The question of .

unin terrup ted fsupply h as con sequently in cre as ed


in importance and strategic movements are more


than ever depen den t for their succes s on the cfh

ciency of the Quartermaster s an d Sub sis tence De

p a r t m e n t s
. A n ew di f fic u l ty in the m a tte r of sup

p l y w ill be en cou n te red in the greater e ase with

which partisan troops using smokeless powder

, ,

will be able to att ack and haras s convoys and ,

the guarding of communications will require more

troops and greater efforts than ever .

From the condition s mentioned it follows that ,

t here will now be more certainty in regard to the

pl ans of your opponent and less concealment in
regard to your own than in former times Strategic

surprise is practically a thin g of the p as t It is


more than ever necess ary to make correct plan s

in the beginn ing ; to make a wise choice of the ob
je c t ive a n d the be s t l in e s by w hi ch to reach it ; to

provide with all possible forethought for the supply

of the army and to make effective dispositions for

the protection of the lines of commun ication .

The choice of the objective in strategi c Oper

at ion s is influen ced by many con siderations The .

enemy s main army is a lways the true objective; but

there will often be intermediate objective s as nec

essary step s in reaching the ul timate obj ect Thus .

the objective may be a point where a new base can

be established as for in stance Chattan ooga in
, , ,

I 86 3 . The seizure of poin ts may be nece ssar y in

order that naval base s may be established or block
ad e runn ers
deprived of safe harbor These con .

sideration s in fluen ced the capture of the fort s a t


Hatteras Inlet N C Port R oyal S C Fort Pu

, . .
, , .

las ki Ga and New Orlean s

, . Political considera .

tions may also influence the choice of an objective

Thus in the Great W ar it was a mat ter of political
, ,

importance as afiecting the sentiment of foreig n


nations to be able to show that the Union troops


had established themselves in the territory of each

of the seceding States The possession of various .

points on the sea coast of the Confederacy taken


in connection with the coun try actuall y covered by

the operations of the Federal armies enabled th e ,

claim to be j ustly made in less than a year after ,

the outbreak of the war that the flag of the United ,

States floated in every one of the seceding States ;

thoug h three long ye ars of bitter war were s till to
pass before the triumph of the Union cause In .

a republ ic the choice of an obj ective may be decided

by popular demand In 1 86 3 a formida ble expe


dition was sent against Charleston S C and for . .


ne arly two years that city was the object of vigor

ous military and naval attack though it was not ,

intrinsically a st rategic point of any particular

val ue Public sentiment in the North had how

ever become so in tensified and embittered against


the city which was looked upon as the cradl e of


secession that the exped ition wa s sent in ob ed ience


to popular demand ; and at the presen t time it

seems to have been inspired by a Spirit of hatred

an d revenge rather than any true military consid

eration s A point possessing no inherent s trategic


v alue may become by accident an objectiv e of the


greatest importan ce Thus at the outbre ak of the


Spanish American war no sane strategist woul d


have selected Santiago as an objective The pos .

s es sion of the city woul d have conferred n o ad

vantage commen surate with the efforts necessary

for its reduction and the army po ssessing it would

not have been abl e to use it as a base for Operations

of an important nature in any direction But the

moment Cervera s fleet came to anchor in the har

bor of S antiago that place became an importa nt

strateg ic objective and the Ope rations in it s vicinity

were even decisive of the w ar .

That the enemy s main army shoul d be the

objectiv e of military operations seems the veriest

ax iom Yet Grant was the first of the Union g en

erals in Virg inia who see med to appreciate this

simple truth His pred ecessors sought to capture


Richmon d ; but his object was to crush Lee know ,

ing that with the destruction of the Army of N orth

ern Virginia not only Richmond but the entire
, ,

Southern Confederacy must fall He accordingly .

at once clo sed with Lee and for more than eleven

months kept absolute con tact with his enemy ,

giving and receiving blows until the Southern ,

army worn out and exhausted w as compelled to


yield The same priciple is seen clearly in the


campaigns of Von Moltke In 1 866 it was not .

Vienna but the army of Benedek that w as the

, ,

object of his operations Vienn a was considered only


when Benedek had retreated toward the Austrian

c apital In I 8 7 0 the gr eat German chief of staff
4 6 S TRA TEGY .

paid tention to Pa ris until he had captured

no at

McMahon S ar my and closely inve sted that of B azaine

in Metz The methods of these two great com


manders were in fact quite simil ar Grant s rule

, ,

was Always go ahead ; and in the Vicksburg

' '

c ampaign one of the con sideration s that in duced

him to go below Vicksburg and Ope rate from Grand

Gulf instead of concen tra ting at Memphi s and

moving upon his objective on the line of the Missis

s ippi Central R ail ro ad was that the former plan ,

would seem to be a continuation of the movement

al ready begun while the l atter would require a

retrograde movemen t for con cen tration Von Molt .

ke s rul e was : Having decided upon your plan

follow it energetical ly ; and so long as it is workin g

out sati sfactorily do not al low yourself to be at

tracted from it by any other plan however alluring ,

the la tter may be Y et no comman der ever showed


greater abil ity than Von Mol tke to change his plan
quickly when a new one became necessary It is .

s aid that Von Mol tke was at b re akfas t when he re

c eiv ed the first definite n e ws of the movement

of McMahon towards Metz via R heims and Sedan .

Orderi ng the dishes removed and c alling for his

maps he dictated before he left the table the
, , ,

orders which caused 2 00 000 German s marching , ,

towar ds Chal ons to change their direction from


west to north and enclose McMahon s army in the

circle of fire at Sedan .

It is clea r tha t the qualities of a strateg ist are

not altogether the s ame as those n eeded by a tac

t ician . The former can usual l y make his plans in

t he quiet of an office or at le ast in the comp arative

seclusion of his headqua rters ten t fro m which al l ,

interruption can be exclude d ; while the latter has

t o m ake or al ter his pl ans in the excitemen t and
turmoil of battle unde r circumstance s of pers onal

d anger and of emergency deman ding im mediate


a ction In some respects however the q ualities

, ,

needed are the sa me for both Each Shoul d be


able to form a correct esti ma te of his own and the

e nemy s con dit ion an d avail able resources ; an d the

strategi st as well as the ta ctician shoul d be a man

of courage ; for a timid man cannot so overcome his

n ature as to devise an aggress ive pl an even if it is ,

to be c arried out by another commander The .

s trateg i st shoul d have s ufficient imag ination to

a ppreciate the los se s an d demoral izing influences

from which his enemy is suffering and which are

beyond his sight as well as the similar distresses

of his own army which are nud er his immediate

obser vation Gran t in his Memoirs tells with
, ,

simpl e franknes s of his trepidatio n in his first in

dependent Operations when he was oppo sed to


the Confederate Colonel Harris and his great relief


when on seeing evidences of the enemy s hasty


withdrawal he disco vered that Harri s had been


as much afraid of him a s he had been of H arris .

This lesson was never forgotten by Grant ; but un ,

fortunately it was never learned by McClell an

, .

The la tter deeply versed in everything pert ain

ing to mil itary science and the art of war pos ,
4 8 S TRAT EGY .

e ed of a brilliant intellect endowed with physical

s ss ,

courage of a high o rder enjoying the confidence


an d devotion of his troop s was not a succes s be

, ,

cause he was so foreboding by nature that he mag

nified his own troubl es and lost sight of those of

his adversary If he los t ten thousand men he


was keenly aware of his loss ; but he coul d not real

ize that in inflicting this damag e Lee h ad probably
lost nearly as many and perhaps more If McClel .

Ian had been intelligently supported by the a d min

istr ation he woul d probably have captured R ich

mond ; if he had been a great commander he would ,

have captured it any way .

To achieve success a commander must have


something of the gambler in his nature He must .

be willing to take risks when hrs j udg men t convin ces

him that the probabilities are in his favor A g en .

eral who al ways plays for safety n ever a chieves de

cisi ve results H ad Fabius retained command of

the R oman army there woul d have been no bat


t le of Carma but H annib al woul d have rema ined


in Ital y until his dea th Napoleon never hesitated


to tempt Fortune bold l y but he tempted it with


careful j udgment an d not with rashness Some

, .

years ag o in an article in the Atla ntic M onthly Mr


John Codman R opes one of the ablest military


critic s of modern times curiously ignored this ele


men t of general ship in cormnenting on Sherman s

march to the sea He pointed out that if Hood


had defeated Thomas the Confederate flag woul d

ha ve been carried to the Ohio R iver while Sherman

, ,

at Sav annah would have been entirely out of the


theater of decisive operations and his army woul d


n ot have been avail able to s tem the tide of Con

fed erate invasion Thi s is all very true ; but Sher


man knew the ability of the general and the qual

ities of the troops to whom he in trust ed the task of
opposing Hood The result j ustified his action

an d demon strated his milit ary genius H ad he re


mained with his whole army to oppose Hood the ,

defeat of the latter woul d have been more certain ,

but the w ar wo uld probably have l as ted a year

longer .

The requi site qual ities of the strategist an d the

tactician are so diverse that it is not strange that
generals are rarely eminent in both capacities .

Wellington was one of the able st tacticians the

world has ever Seen He never lost a battle and

n ever even lo st a gun ; yet he w a s inferior to Soul t .

an d Massen a as a strategi s t ; he was outm aneuvere d

an d outg eneraled by Marmon t ; an d in the Water

loo campaign he failed completely to divine the

strategic plan of his gre at ant agonist Bliicher .

too w as a tactician of consummate ability H e

, .

w as the in carn ation of en ergy coolness and phys

, ,

ical and moral courage ; but he was incapable of

planning a campaign and it i s well known that his

strategi c brains W ere c arried in the skul l of Gneis

enau Sherman was one of the ablest strategists


of modern times ; but we may se arch the history of

the Gre at W ar in vain for the record of any import
an t b attle decided by his tactic al ability Napoleon
5 0 S TRA T EGY .

was both the g reatest strategist and the greate st

tactrcran ever known Marengo Ulrn Eckmiihl
, , ,

an d the camp aign of I 8 1 4 in Cha m pag ne are master

pieces of strategy ; an d Austerlit z Friedl and and ,

Wagram are equally brillian t examples of tact ics .

Gran t possess ed in an emin ent degree the q ualitie s

of the strategist and the tactieian To the coolnes s .

quick perception and prompt decision displayed


by him on the battle field he un ited the delibera te


j udgment and forethought needed in planning a

ca mpaign The Vicksburg campaign is the most
brilliant one recorded in his tory since the days of
Napoleon ; and the more c arefully the campaigns of
Grant are s tudied the more surely will he appear
as the pre eminen t America n gen eral
In making .

this estimate of Grant I am not tmmin dful of Shiloh ,

and Col d H arbor It was not because of these bat


tles but in spite of them that he must be given

, ,

the palm of American general ship The g reates t

general is not the one who makes no errors but the ,

one who makes the fewest an d the least impo rtant

ones Napoleon said : Show me a gen eral who never


mad e mistake s and I will Show you a gen eral who


n ever made war .

It is difficul t for a general who is not a strategi st

to conduct a c ampaign even when it is planned for
him ; unless as in the case of RIiicher and Gneis

enau the strategist is con stan tly at the elbow of a


will ingly listening commander In I 800 N apoleon


proposed a plan for the Operations of Moreau much ,

more bri lliant an d likely to produce more decisive

5 1

e t than the s cheme devised by the latter The

r sul s .

plan was too daring for Moreau s more pruden t ’

genius an d the First Consul appreciating this an d

, , ,

perhaps recogn izin g that Moreau s self love n atur


ally incl ined him to his own project wi sel y all owed ,

him to con duct will ingly an inferior plan rather

than compel him to undertake reluctantly one that
was inherently much better . In the campaigns in
Spain Napoleon prepared for his subordinate s stra

tegi c plan s admir abl y adapted to the situation ; but

while the master mind coul d plan the master was ,

not pre sen t to execute and n on e of his marshals


was able to take his place .

Critics ign oran t of military matters have been

known to characterize campaign s as devoid of
strateg y an d consisting of plain h ard fighting
, It .

is as absur d to spe ak of a campaign wi thout strategy

as it woul d be to spe ak of a ca mpaign without march

ing or fighting . The stra tegy may be good bad , ,

or indifferent ; it ma y be exerci se d con sciousl y by

an able co mman der or un con sciously by a military

ignoramus ; but it exists in every campaig n The .

veriest mil itary tyro or the most incompeten t com

mander uses strategy the moment he begins to
move hi s army against the enemy It may be very .

bad strategy but it is strateg y ne vertheless unless

, ,

the commander be too ignorant of his dutie s even to

try to defea t his adversary .

The mos t severe an d in toleran t critics of military

operation s are civilians They do not al ways ap

p recia te the e
p pr l ex itie s an d em bar ra s smen ts with
5 2 S TRAT EGY .

which a general is surrounded even u nder the mos t


favorable condition s ; they seem to expect a com

mander to be en dowed with supernatural prescience
and in tuition an d to demand of him a miracul ous

power of overcoming obstacles They do not al .

ways seem to realize that the ables t general ship is

merely human wisdom applied to human knowl
edge ; an d they often seem to forget that the grea tes t

human wisd om is not in fall ible and that the mos t


careful and intelligent person may be mi sinformed .

They do not take in to consideration that the ables t

plan s may misca rry through the inefficienc y indo

len ce or treachery of a subordinate or thr ough a

, ,

misun derstanding delay or loss of an orde r With

, , .

them Nothing succeeds like success

Mil itary .

critic s generall y d eal more j ustly with commanders .

Thev kn ow that success may be fortuitously achieved

by generals who are entitled to respect neither for
their military ability nor their personal worth ; as ,

for instance by Cleon of Athens or Horatio Gates

, ,

in our R evolution ; and they kno w that the ables t

generals are sometimes the victims of the sport
an d whim of outrageous Fortune If centurie s .

hence the history of Wa terloo should be forgot ten ,

an d some antiquarian shoul d dis cove r N apoleon s

plan of c ampaign wi thout learning the result of the

Operation s an able strategi s t woul d conclude afte r

re ading it that it must have resul ted in victory

, .

Never was a plan more deserving of success ; but

N apoleon co ul d not foresee the defec tion of Bour
mon t the unfortun ate wandering of D Erlon s
’ ’

c orps betwee n the two fields of Qua tre Bras and

Ligny the incapacity of Grouchy nor the almost
, ,

s uperhuman stubbornnes s of the B ritish infan try ;

an d the campaign brill iantly conceived an d aus pi


ciously begu n ter minat ed in a b attle the n ame of


which has become a synonym for complete and

irretrievable disaster .

To my mind one of the saddest of military c areers

was that of the Austria n general Ludwig von Ben
e dek. A gal lant and able soldier not of noble birth
, ,

he had risen by sheer pe rsonal merit in an army

where ind ividual worth was often blighted in the
cold shade of aristocracy He had won laurels

and achieved high rank in the Ital i an c ampaign s

o f 1 84 8 4 9
greatly di stingui shing himself in the
ba ttle of N ovara In the Italian war of I 8 5 9 he

h ad shown such conspicuous ability and in the battle ,

o f Solferin o he had han dl ed his wing of the d efe ated

army with such consumma te skill that he was the ,

o ne Austrian gen eral who eme rged from that dis

a s tro us w ar with increas ed renown W h en in I 866 .

the Emperor offered him the command of the army

in Bohemia he modestly replied
, Y our maje sty
, ,

I am no strateg ist but his sovereign insisting

, ,

he took the command which brought him agains t

the superior genius of Von M01tke The catastro .

phe of Koniggratz followed ; he was relieved from

command ; his past glOry and services were forgot
ten ; he was retired from a ctive service within three
months after his defeat an d he withdrew to his

estate in Istria to die of a broken heart Inci .

54 S TRA T EGY .

dentally this shows that ingratitude is not monop

olized by republic s .

If then a commander cannot control Fortune


he shoul d nevertheless do his best to merit its favors .

He should try to do al l that lies in the power

of human prevision to prepare for every contin
g e n cy th a t m ay ar i se an d,he sho ul d pro secute h i s

plans with energ y and with prudent vet daring

courage If then he succeeds he can enj oy the ap

p l au se o f his cou n t r yme n con scio

, u s th a t he h as

merited it ; if he fail s he can often have the conso


lation that he has d eser ved success even if he has ,

not achieved it an d he can al ways have the soldier s


highest reward , the consciousness of duty faith

I reg ret that time doe s not permit me even to

touch upon the influence exerted on strategic oper
ation s by the conformation of the b ases of Opera

tions the influence of na tural obstacles such as

, ,

rivers an d ranges of mo un tains in retarding or facil

itating strategic movemen ts the relation of fort

r es ses to the operations of ar mies and otherimport

ant topics in the g reat subject of which this l ecture

is merely an incomplete skeleton But I have .

alrea dy far exceeded the l i mits of my time and I ,

will conclude by stating what I believe to be the

correct rule of Strategy .

R emember that your object is to meet and de

feat the enemy and en deavor to take the most di

rect means to acco mplish this en d Look carefully .

to the supply of your arm y ; protect your flanks


and g uardyour communications ; aim if possible

, ,

a t the flan ks and communic ation s of your ad v er

sary ; remember that the en emy has as much cause

to worry about you as you have to feel anxiety

a bout him H aving made your plan stick to it

unless compell ed to chang e. Plan c arefull y and

deliberately ; move quickly and strike hard .
S TAM P S '' R BI-

A N IN ITIA L ' IN E O' 2 5 C E N TS