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the quiet household virtues of a hundred generations, are seen to throng forth from every retired nook and corner of her domain, like guardian angels summoned forth by sudden alarm to watch over the fortunes of what we might, as Christians, term “God's favored land.” Our closing monition to her then is in the words of her own great poet:
“ Train up thy children, England, in the ways
Of wholesome doctrine.
Shield it against the storm,
As to our native Church, for it we feel no dividing thoughts of hope and fear. Though her sun be not in the meridian, yet is her sky comparatively unclouded. No storms at least darken it. Her mission, too, though a laborious, is not an unblest one." A laborer in the vineyard” bearing indeed "the burden and heat of the day,” yet under the eye of an approving master. Such as it is, it is one hereafter destined, we think, to tell in the annals of Christendom ; how from a small seed it grew up untended by man, under the dews of heaven, until its branches filled the land. In the rising fortunes of the new world, it already stands prominent as an agent for good; and who can tell what farther part may be preparing for it, as a refuge amid the changing fortunes of the old ? Clearly or darkly on this point, many have vaticinated, none more wisely than old Sir Thomas Browne.
“ When Seine shall swallow Tiber and the Thames,
By letting in them both, pollute her streams ;
Art. II.— Infantry Tactics, or Rules for the Exercise of the United
States Infantry. New Edition. By MAJOR-GENERAL SCOTT, U. S. Army. Vols. I, II, III. New York: 1840. Harper and Brothers.
No apology need be offered for again undertaking the notice of a military subject. The idea of war, however painful, has forced itself upon the people of the United States; and events may not be distant when escape from it will hardly be consistent with honor. While, therefore, we would deprecate a contest with that nation whose relations toward us present at the moment a threatening aspect, as the greatest misfortune that could possibly occur, not only to the countries between which it would be waged, but to the great cause of civilization, of morals, and religion, we believe that the most sure means of avoiding it, are to show that our preparations are such as to prevent us from feeling any fear of its consequences. The subject of the proper organization of our militia, the only force on which we can surely rely for defensive operations, is therefore one which cannot be too much discussed.
In saying that the militia must be our only reliance for defence, we mean no disparagement to the regular army, Its services have been too valuable, and are too well appreciated to need any praise from us. But we may be assured that its legitimate purpose, that of acting upon and beyond our frontiers would be paralyzed, if our people be accustomed to look to it for protection from rapid incursion; and it would be a reproach to the memory of their sires were they to rely for the defence of their homes and firesides, upon anything but their own stout arms and courageous hearts.
In treating of this subject, too, an interest somewhat personal invites us to the task. Our reviews of the organization of the militia, as proposed by Mr. Poinsett, has been violently assailed, less powerfully, however, by the argument ad rem, than by that ad hominem. Our inferences on that occasion have been opposed, on the ground that we are not soldiers, and never have been soldiers. Now, although we have too high a reverence for those who have passed the trial of the baptême du feu to aspire, or even put in the least pretensions, to a name which is so highly honorable, we may venture to say, that the compulsory study of three different systems of
tactics, and their application on the parade ground, with the researches which a continual expectation of active service induced us to undertake, may have qualified us for viewing, not without profit, the troops of England, Prussia, Austria, Belgium, and Russia, together with the re-organized Royal Guard of France; all of which it has been our good-fortune
Our military studies, however, closed with the inspection of these famous armies, although we have been accused of drawing our moderate portion of warlike lore from the first pages of the volumes before us. This charge has admonished us of our neglect, and we have gladly availed ourselves of them for the first time, in order to furbish our ancient harness.
Our business with them is not that of criticism. Far be it from us to venture to suggest alterations or improvements in a work of a master of his noble art. In the annals of American exploits, no name stands higher than that of the accomplished and gallant author. His was the skill and industry, which, in the short space of a winter, formed troops that in the open field out-mancuvred the boasted veteran of Britain ; and his the cool and determined courage which led them to charge with the bayonet that “terrible infantry,” which on no other occasion was ever broken. From the command of a platoon to that of a brigade, he has been without a rival; and should the occasion ever arise when his country is to be again defended, it may be confidently predicted, that he will equal in strategic skill that hero whom, in the majesty of his person, and the purity of his motives, he so much resembles.
Even the high authority of Scott, however, ought to be no protection from critical strictures. In the art of war, as in almost all others, an amateur may be as competent a judge of the qualities of a work as the masters themselves. In the art of painting, this is proverbially true; and he who can with self-complacency perpetrate a villanous daub, or with better judgment abstain from touching a pencil, shall yet appreciate with intelligence the productions of a Raphael, an Angelo, or a Rubens; be enraptured with their excellences, or aware of the defects from which the most perfect of human productions cannot be absolutely free. So we, who might, perhaps, cut a bad figure in the awkward squad of a militia company, may venture to admire the lofty strategy, and criticise the campaigns of a Frederic, a Wellington, or a Napoleon.
To carry our illustration farther : a musician may draw from his instrument the most enchanting tones, and ravish the ears with the most touching melody, while he is incapable of composing the most simple air, or devoid of any knowledge of the scientific principles on which bis art is founded. In like manner, a soldier may be master of the drill, may be competent to conduct the manoeuvres of the battalion or the brigade -may possess the still higher quality of command over himself and others in the midst of a hostile fire, and yet be unacquainted with the principles on which his art is founded, or incapable of bringing bis tactical skill to bear upon the organization of an army, or the plan of a campaign.
Our remarks upon a similar difference in qualifications, which we observed between the principle and the detail of Mr. Poinsett's proposed law for the organization of the militia, have given rise to an angry attack in a newspaper. We regret to learn that this proceeds from an officer of the army, to whom the editor of that paper assigns a high character; and we are induced from its tone to surmise, that these comments on our article are the production of the person who was employed by Mr. Poinseit to work out the detail of his plan. At all events, we consider that the opinion we had formed, that Mr. Poinsett had entrusted the preparation of a part of his law to another hand, is fully sustained. Our remark was purely conjectural, and as we never took the pains to inquire whether our surmise were correct, we were up to the present time at a loss to imagine which of the officers of a body we so highly respect and esteem had been the victim of our random shot. It is only at the very moment of writing that the name and rank of the adviser of the secretary of war has reached us, and that by mere report, of the accuracy of which we have no evidence.
Little as we reviewers care for the agonies of the victims we subject to our critical dissecting knives, or impale alive for the amusement of our readers, we should in this case have willingly avoided inflicting the pain which has so evidently been felt. Our predecessors in the critical art would have received the groans which a manly spirit could not repress, as evidences of their power, and have added new venom to the dart which had already inflicted torture. For our own part, we should prefer to heal the wound we had unconsciously inflicted. Something, however, is due to ourselves, and while we might have respected the school in which the party we unintentionally aggrieved has been brought up, we should not the less have declared our dissent from his views, although with the knowledge lately communicated of his military experience, we should not have summed up our criticism in the brief terms of want of acquaintance with the military art.
We must, in our comments, have said that the gallant soldier who had filled up the detail of Mr. Poinsett’s scheme, had made use of terms in a sense for which he had no warrant in the military practice of any other nation, or in the histories of warlike achievements, nay in express contradiction to the sense assigned them by the laws organizing the army of the United States; that in so doing he had encountered so much unpopularity as to shade one of the most important schemes ever presented to the people of the United States, with a cloud of obloquy which prevented its finding a single supporter in the national councils; that he had thus caused the colleagues of the secretary at war, and his political friends, to content themselves with being his apologists rather than his defenders. Worse than all, a new administration is now coming into power, which has, in the debates growing out of this question, been almost pledged not to attempt any amelioration of our militia system, the most onerous, and, at the same time, the most inefficient that any nation has been cursed with.
We allude principally to the sense in which the word battalion is employed in the draught of the law. The author of the scheme, when he proposed the battalion as the unit of force, could not have understood it in any other sense than that which is given to it in military or historical writers, and which is prescribed in the laws of the United States. We now learn, that in the general sense of our officers, by battalion is meant the half of one of our existing regiments. Now the law organizing our army expressly says that each regiment shall constitute but one battalion; and the work before us, in strict conformity with the law and with the practice of all military nations, designates these halves of the existing regiments as wings. The use of the term is not unimportant in other respects ; if this sense which is now said to be given to it be persisted in, we may at some future period read in history some such record as this : “An action took place on a certain day between five battalions of our army and ten of the American, and our troops having long gallantly supported themselves against this superiority of force, were com