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An Army: Its Organization and Movements by Lt. Col.

C.W. Tolles (1829-1864)

By Lieut.-Col. C. W. Tolles, A. Q. M., 707
Continental Monthly, June 1864 to December 1864, in five parts
C.W. Tolles, Esq. was born in New Jersey in 1829. In 1856, Tolles became the
proprietor of the State Gazette.
From the New York Times, June 27, 1860, page 8
was delivered before the Young Men’s Christian Union at their meeting on
Monday evening, by C.W. TOLLES, Esq., of Newark. His subject was Orthodoxy
At the beginning of the Civil War, on April 27, 1861 the New Jersey Brigade was
formed in response to President Lincoln’s call for troops. Theodore Runyon was
commissioned Brigadier-General, and Tolles was commissioned First Lieutenant
in the Third Regiment of Cavalry and then Captain and Assistant Adjutant
General, replacing Major A.V. Bonnell.
He became the chief quartermaster of the Sixth Corps.
From the New York Times, October 16, 1864
Death of Lieut.-Col. C.W. Tolles.
This talented and gallant officer died on Wednesday last, from the effects of a
wound received a short time since for a guerrilla in the Shenandoah Valley. Col.
TOLLES was for many years connected with the press, and at the outbreak of the
rebellion was editor of the Newark, N.J. Daily Advertiser. He was a brilliant
writer, and contributed valuable papers to the Atlantic, Continental and other
monthlies. His able series of articles in the Continental on organization of the
army, is deserving of being collected and given to the public in book form. At the
beginning of the war he joined the staff of Gen. RUNYON, and at the time of his
death held the position of Chief Quartermaster in the Sixth Army Corps with Gen.
SHERIDAN. He leaves a wife, the daughter of Prof. MAPES, of Newark.
From Following the Greek Cross, or, Memories of the Sixth Army Corps by Thomas
Worcester Hyde (1894), page 228:
Down the valley we went, now an independent army, three corps and the cavalry;
Sheridan ubiquitous and gathering in our good opinions fast. Colonel Tolles and
Dr. Oehlenschlager of our staff were captured one day and promptly murdered
after surrender. This made war look more serious than ever. Were we going back
into barbarism?

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From Three years in the Sixth Corps. A concise narrative of events in the Army of the
Potomac, from 1861 to the close of the rebellion, April 1865 by George E.T. Stevens
Guerrilla warfare was a favorite resort of the rebels in the Shenandoah Valley, and
many of our men were murdered in cold blood by the cowardly villains who
lurked about our camps by day as harmless farmers, and murdered our men at
night dressed in confederate uniform. Among those who lost their lives by this
cowardly species of warfare, were Surgeon Ochenslayer, Medical Inspector of our
army ; Colonel Tolles, Chief Quartermaster, and Captain Meigs, son of the
Quartermaster-General, U. S. A.
From Mosby’s Fighting Parson: The Life and Times of Sam Chapman by Peter A.
Brown, page 241
While Mosby was operating against the Manassas Gap Railroad, Dolly Richards
had taken thirty-two men and gone on a scout in the Shenandoah Valley. On
October 11, he attacked an ambulance train on the Valley Pike, mid-way between
Newtown and Middletown, on its way to join Sheridan at Cedar Creek. The train
was carrying Lieutenant Colonel C.W. Tolles, Sheridan’s chief quartermaster and
Doctor Emil Ohlenschlager, assistant surgeon and medical inspector on
Sheridan’s staff. They were escorted by twenty-five troopers of the 17th
Pennsylvania Cavalry. Richards’ men struck the rear of the train and the attack
was so fierce that no one was able to escape. Three of the troopers were killed
out-right, another five wounded, and nineteen prisoners were taken. Also
wounded were Ohlenschlager and Tolles, both mortally so. Tolles, shot in the
head, died three weeks later…
Tolles was brevetted to the rank of colonel posthumously “for gallant and meritorious
Services” on November 1, 1864
First Paper
Continental Monthly, Vol, V, Number VI, Page 707

The immense military operations of our civil war have familiarized, to

a considerable extent, not only those connected with the armies, but the
people generally with the systems on which military forces are
organized and the methods of conducting war. Much has been learned
in the past three years, and much accomplished in the improvement of
tactics, internal organization, and the construction of all kinds of
material. Civilians, who were well read in the history of former wars,
and even professional military officers, were comparatively ignorant of
all the numerous details necessarily incident to the formation and
movement of armies. On account of the deficiency of practical
information on these matters, the difficulties which arose at the
commencement of the war, were, as it is well known, immense; but

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they were overcome with a celerity and energy absolutely unparalleled
in the history of the world, and to-day we are able to assure ourselves
with justifiable pride that in all essential particulars our armies are fully
and properly organized, equipped, and provided for. We propose to
exhibit in a few articles the methods by which these results have been
accomplished—to present to readers generally the system of
organization and the principles of operation existing in our armies—
giving them such information as can be obtained only from actual
thorough acquaintance with military life, or extended perusal of works
on military art, as now understood among the leading civilized nations.
That such information would be desirable, we were led to believe from
the surprise expressed by an intelligent friend at the definition given
him of the phrase 'line of battle.' He was greatly astonished on learning
that battles are fought, mostly, by lines of only two ranks in depth. The
history of the 'line of battle' is of great interest, and indeed contains an
exposition of the principles on which a great portion of modern warfare
is founded. While the chief principles of strategy, of the movement of
armies, of attack and defence, and to some extent of tactics, are the
same now as in the earliest ages, the mode of arraying men for battle
has undergone an entire change, attributable to the improvement in the
weapons of warfare. We are not superior to the ancients so much in the
science of war, as in the character of our arms. They undoubtedly
fought in the manner most appropriate to the means which they
possessed. The great change which has taken place in the method of
battle, consists chiefly in this—that formerly men were arrayed in
masses, now in lines. The Grecian phalanx was composed of 32,000
men arranged as follows: 16,000 spearmen placed in sixteen ranks of a
thousand men each, forming the centre; on each wing, 4,000 light
spearmen in eight ranks; 4,000 men armed with bows and slings, who
performed the part of skirmishers; 4,000 cavalry. The Roman legion
contained 4,500 men, of which 1,200 were light infantry or skirmishers
armed with bows and slings. The main body consisted of 1,200
spearmen, who were formed into ten rectangular bodies of twelve men
front by ten deep; behind them were ten other rectangles of the second
line; and behind these a third line of 600 in rectangles of six men front
by ten deep. To the legion was attached 300 cavalry.

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In the middle ages, infantry was considered of little importance, the
combat being principally among the knights and cavaliers. The
introduction of gunpowder caused a change in the method of fighting,
but it was effected gradually. For a long time only clumsy[Pg 708]
cannon were used, which, however, made great havoc among the
formations in mass still retained. Rude arquebuses were then
introduced, and improvements made from time to time; but even so late
as the 17th century the ancient arms were retained in a large proportion.
They did not disappear entirely until the invention of the bayonet in the
18th century. This contributed as much as the use of firearms to change
the formations of battle. In the 16th century the number of ranks had
been reduced from ten to six; at the end of the reign of Louis XIV. the
number was four; Frederick the Great reduced it to three. With this
number the wars of the French Republic and Empire were conducted,
until at Leipsic, in 1813, Napoleon's army being greatly diminished, he
directed the formation in two ranks, saying that the enemy being
accustomed to see it in three, and not aware of the change, would be
deceived in regard to its numbers. He stated also that the fire of the rear
rank was dangerous to those in front, and that there was no reason for
the triple formation. In this judgment military authorities have since
concurred, and the two-rank formation is almost universally adopted.
Russia is the only civilized power which places men in masses on the
battle field. Formations in column are used when necessary to carry a
particular local position, even at a great expenditure of life. But the
usual mode of combat is that adopted by Napoleon. Our battles have
been almost universally fought in this manner. The rebels have
probably used the formation in column more frequently than the
Northern troops. The non-military reader can easily perceive that
formations in mass are more subject to loss from the fire of artillery and
from that of small arms even at considerable distances, and are less able
to deliver their own fire.
Our old regular army consisted of ten regiments of infantry, two of
cavalry, two of dragoons, and one of mounted rifles, of ten companies
each, and four artillery regiments of twelve companies each. Two
companies each of the latter served as light artillery—the companies
alternating in this service. There was also a battalion of engineers.

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At the commencement of the war our force of light artillery was very
inadequate, and rifled ordnance had scarcely been introduced. Our
present immense force of the former has been almost entirely created
since the commencement of the war; the splendid achievements in
rifled artillery have been entirely accomplished within the last three
years. Although it had been applied some years previously in Europe, it
was not formally introduced into our service until needed to assist in
suppressing the gigantic rebellion. The Ordnance Department had,
however, given attention to the matter, and boards of officers were
engaged in making experiments. A report had been made that 'the era
of smooth-bore field artillery has passed away, and the period of the
adoption of rifled cannon, for siege and garrison service, is not remote.
The superiority of elongated projectiles, whether solid or hollow, with
the rifle rotation, as regards economy of ammunition, extent of range,
and uniformity and accuracy of effect, over the present system, is
decided and unquestionable.'[A] We shall see, in discussing artillery,
how far these expectations have been realized.
The regular army was increased in 1861 by the addition of nine
regiments of infantry, one of cavalry, and one of artillery. The Mounted
Rifles were changed into the 3d Cavalry, and the two dragoon
regiments into the 1st and 2d Cavalry. The old 1st and 2d Cavalry
became the 4th and 5th. All cavalry regiments have now twelve
companies, and the new infantry regiments are formed on the latest
French system of three battalions, of eight companies each, with a
colonel, lieutenant-colonel, and three majors. Each of the 24 companies
has 82 privates.
The old regular army comprised, when full, about 18,000 officers and
men. As increased, the total complement is over 43,600, including five
major-generals, nine brigadier-generals, thirty-three aides-de-camp,
besides the field officers of the various regiments and the company
officers. In addition to these officers (but included in the aggregate
above given) are the various staff departments, as follows:
Adjutant-Generals.—1 brigadier-general, 2 colonels, 4 lieutenant-
colonels, 13 majors.
Judge-Advocates.—1 colonel.

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Inspector Generals.—14 colonels, 5 majors.
Signal Corps.—1 colonel, 1 lieutenant-colonel, 2 majors.
Quartermaster's Department.—1 brigadier-general, 3 colonels, 4
lieutenant-colonels, 11 majors, 48 captains, 12 military storekeepers.
Subsistence Department.—1 brigadier-general, 2 colonels, 2 lieutenant-
colonels, 8 majors, 16 captains.
Medical Department.—1 brigadier-general, 2 colonels, 16 lieutenant-
colonels, 50 majors, 5 captains, 109 first lieutenants, 6 storekeepers,
119 hospital chaplains, 70 medical cadets.
Pay Department.—1 colonel, 2 lieutenant-colonels, 25 majors.
Corps of Engineers.—1 brigadier-general, 4 colonels, 10 lieutenant-
colonels, 20 majors, 30 captains, 30 first lieutenants, 10 second
lieutenants. The battalion of engineers comprises a total of 805.
Ordnance Department.—1 brigadier-general, 2 colonels, 3 lieutenant-
colonels, 6 majors, 20 captains, 20 first lieutenants, 12 second
lieutenants, 15 storekeepers, and a battalion of 905 men.
These figures all pertain to the regular army. A considerable number of
the officers in the regiments have been appointed from civil life; but in
the staff departments the officers are almost exclusively graduates from
the Military Academy at West Point.
The raising of the immense volunteer force necessitated a great
increase in the staff departments, and large numbers of persons from
civil life have been appointed into the volunteer staff in the Adjutant-
General's, Judge-Advocate's, Quartermaster's, Commissary, Medical,
and Pay Departments. The ordnance duties are performed by officers
detailed from the line, and engineer duties by regiments assigned for
that purpose. A large number of additional aides-de-camp were also
authorized, forming that branch of duty into a department. Aides-de-
camp are also detailed from the line. The highest rank yet created for
volunteer staff officers is that of colonel in the aides-de-camp. The
heads of staff departments at corps headquarters are lieutenant-
colonels, including an assistant adjutant-general, assistant inspector-

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general, a chief quartermaster, and chief commissary. Many regular
officers hold these volunteer staff appointments, gaining in this manner
additional rank during the war—still retaining their positions in the
regular service; in the same manner as many regular officers are field
officers in volunteer regiments.
The aggregate militia force of the United States (including seceded
portions), according to the last returns, was 3,214,769. The reports of
the last census increase this to about 5,600,000, which exceeds to some
extent the number actually fit to bear arms. The computed proportion in
Europe of the number of men who can be called into the field is about
one-fifth or one-sixth of the population. If the population of the entire
United States be assumed to be 23,000,000, the number of men liable,
according to this computation, would be about 4,000,000, which is
sufficiently approximate. The European computation of the force to be
kept as a standing army is a hundredth part of the population—varied
somewhat by circumstances. This would give the United States a force
of 230,000. It will be seen how greatly in[Pg 710]ferior our regular force
has been and still is to the computations adopted in Europe. But the
United States will probably never require such a large force to be
permanently organized; for we have not, like the European powers,
frontiers to protect against nations with whom we may at any time be at
war, nor oppressed nationalities to retain in subjugation by force. Our
frontiers on Canada and Mexico have good natural defences—the first
by the St. Lawrence river and lakes, and the second by the great
distance to be traversed by an invading army before it could reach any
important commercial position. Our vulnerability is in our extensive
seacoast. The principal requirement for an army is a large framework,
which can be rapidly filled by volunteers in expectation of war. With
such a military constitution and a system of military education and drill
in the different States, large and effective armies could be rapidly
Our staff corps and regular army are insignificant, compared with those
of European nations, in which the average strength of the standing
armies is from 250,000 to 300,000 men on the peace footing, and
400,000 to 600,000 on the war footing, with immense magazines of
equipage and material, numerous military schools, and extensive

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organizations in all the departments incident to an army. Our own army
has hitherto been modelled to a great extent on the English system—the
most aristocratic of all in Europe, and consequently the least adapted to
a republic. To this is attributable much of the jealousy hitherto felt in
regard to the army and all pertaining to it. We are now, however,
conforming more to the French system, and from it will probably be
adopted any changes that may be introduced.
The French army, since Napoleon gave it the impress of his genius, has
in many characteristics been well adapted to the peculiarities of
republican institutions. A soldier can rise from the ranks to the highest
command, by the exhibition of valor and ability, more easily, in fact,
than he can in our own army, with which political favoritism has much
to do in promotions and appointments. By a recent policy of our War
Department, however, vacancies have been left in the subordinate
commissioned officers of the regular army, which are to be filled
exclusively from the ranks. Many deserving officers in the army have
been private soldiers.
No system will be effective for providing an adequate military
organization that does not include thorough instruction for officers. The
prevailing feeling in our country, as remarked above, has rather been to
underrate the army, and to look with some jealousy on the West Point
Military Academy and its graduates. The present war has effected a
change in this respect. The country owes too much to the educated
regular officers for the organization and conduct of the volunteer
forces, to be insensible of the merits of the system which produced
them. A capable civilian can undoubtedly become just as good an
officer of any rank as a graduate of West Point; but it must be through a
course of study similar to that there pursued. No natural ability can
supply the want of the scientific training in the military, more than in
any other profession. Military science is only the result of all the
experience of the past, embodied in the most comprehensive and
practical form. Napoleon was a profound student of military history. In
his Memoirs he observes: 'Alexander made 8 campaigns, Hannibal 17
(of which 1 was in Spain, 15 in Italy, and 1 in Africa), Cæsar made 15
(of which 8 were against the Gauls, and 5 against the legions of
Pompey), Gustavus Adolphus 5, Turenne 18, the Prince Eugene of

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Savoy 18, and Frederic 11 (in Bohemia, Silesia, and upon the Elbe.)
The history of these 87 campaigns, made with care, would be a
complete treatise on the art of war. The principles one should follow,
in[Pg 711] both offensive and defensive war, flow from them as a
To one familiar with the gradual progress in the organization of our
armies, it is interesting to recur to the time when the first levies of
volunteers were raised. Regiments were hurried into Washington half
accoutred and indifferently armed. Officers and men were for the most
part equally ignorant of the details, a knowledge of which enables a
soldier to take care of himself in all circumstances. Staff officers knew
nothing of the various departments and the methods of obtaining
supplies. The Government had not been able to provide barrack
accommodations for the immense irruption of 'Northern barbarians,'
and the men were stowed like sheep in any unoccupied buildings that
could be obtained. These were generally storehouses, without any
cooking arrangements, so that when provisions were procured, no one
knew what to do with them. Hundreds of men, who previously scarcely
knew but that beef-steaks and potatoes grew already cooked and
seasoned, could be seen every day sitting disconsolately on the
curbstones cooking their pork on ramrods over little fires made with
twigs gathered from the trees. Those who happened to be the lucky
possessors of a few spare dimes, straggled off to restaurants.
Washington, in those days, was only a great country-town, and not the
immense city which the war has made it. The vague and laughable
attempts of officers to assume military dignity and enforce discipline,
with the careless insubordination of the men, furnished many amusing
scenes. It was not easy for officer and man, who had gone to the same
school, worked in the same shop, sung in the same choir, and belonged
to the same base-ball club, to assume their new relations.
Privates would address their officer, 'I say, Bill, have you got any
tobacco?' Officers would reply, 'Do you not know, sir, the proper
method of addressing me?' Private would exclaim, 'Well, I guess now
you're puttin' on airs, a'n't you?' Pompous colonels strutted about in a
blaze of new uniforms, and even line officers then considered
themselves of some consequence; while a brigadier-general was a sort

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of a demigod—a man to be revered as something infallible. Now-a-
days old veterans care very little for even the two stars of a major-
general, unless they know that the wearer has some other claims to
respect than his shoulder straps.
As matters gradually became arranged, the troops were provided with
tents, and encamped in the vicinity. Never was guard duty more
vigilantly performed than in those camps around Washington. Every
one of us came to the capital with the expectation of being immediately
despatched to Virginia, and ordered to pitch into a miscellaneous fight
with the rebels. Rebel guerillas and spies were supposed to be lurking
in the surroundings of the capital, and 'taking notes' in all the camps.
Woe betide the unsuspicious stranger who might loiter curiously
around the encampments. With half a dozen bayonets at his breast he
was hurried off in utter amazement to the guard house. At night the
sentinels saw 'in every bush' a lurking rebel. Shots were pattering all
night in every direction. Unfortunate straggling cows were frequently
reduced to beeves by the bullets of the wary guardians. The colonel's
horse broke loose one night, and, while browsing around, his long,
flowing tail, the colonel's pride, was reduced to an ignominious 'bob' by
a bullet, which neatly severed it near the root. Many was the trigger
pulled at me, many the bullet sent whizzing at my head, as I returned to
camp after an evening in the city. Fortunately, the person fired at was
usually safe—any one within the circle of a hundred feet diameter was
likely to receive the ball. One evening, about dusk, going into camp, I
took a running jump over a ditch, and this rapid motion so fright[Pg
712]ened an honest German sentinel—probably a little muddled with
lager—that he actually forgot to fire, and came at me in a more natural
way with his musket clubbed. I escaped a broken head at the expense of
a severely bruised arm. The rule for challenging, it used to be said, was
to 'fire three times, and then cry 'halt!' instead of the reverse, as
prescribed in the regulations.
When the order—long anticipated—for actually invading Virginia
arrived, then was there excitement. Every man felt the premonition of
battle, and nerved himself for conflict. As we marched down to Long
Bridge, at midnight, perfect silence prevailed. Breaths were suspended,
footfalls were as light as snowflakes, orders were given in hollow

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whispers. We placed our feet on the 'sacred soil' with more emotion
than the Normans felt when landing in England, or the Pilgrims at
Plymouth. This was war—the real, genuine thing. But our expectations
were not realized. As the 'grand army' advanced, the scattered rebel
pickets withdrew. The only fatality of the campaign was the death of
the gallant but indiscreet Ellsworth. We had our first experience of
lying out doors in our blankets. How vainglorious we felt over it! Many
a poor fellow complained jocosely of the hardship and exposure, whom
since I have seen perfectly content to obtain a few pine boughs to keep
him from being submerged in an abyss of mud. Many, alas! have gone
to a couch where their sleep will be no more broken by the reveille of
drum and fife and bugle—in the trenches of Yorktown, in the thickets
of Williamsburg, in the morasses of the Chickahominy, on the banks of
the Antietam, at the foot of those fatal heights at Fredericksburg, in the
wilderness of Chancellorsville, on the glorious ridge of Gettysburg.
Comrades of the bivouac and the mess! ye are not forgotten in that
sleep upon the fields where swept the infernal tide of battle, obliterating
so much glorious life, leaving so much desolation! Even amid the roar
of cannon, exulting in their might for destruction, amid the shrieking of
the merciless shells, amid the blaze of the deadly musketry, memories
of you occur to us. We resolve that your lives shall not have been
sacrificed in vain. And in these long, dreary, monotonous days of
winter, as the sleet rattles on our frail canvas covering, and the wind
roars in our rude log chimneys, while the jests go around and the song
arises, thoughts of the battle fields of the past cross our minds—we
recall the incidents of fierce conflicts—we say, there and there fell
——, no nobler fellows ever lived! A blunt and hasty epitaph, but the
desultory vicissitudes of a soldier's life permit no other—we expect no
other for ourselves when our turn to follow you shall come. So we
break out into our favorite chorus:
'Then we'll stand by our glasses steady,
And we'll drink to our ladies' eyes.
Three cheers for the dead already,
And huzza for the next man that dies.
Though your graves are unmarked, save by the simple broad slab from
which storms have already effaced the pencilled legend, or perhaps

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only by the murderous fragment of iron, which lies half imbedded on
the spot where you fell and where you lie, yet you live in the memory
of your comrades, you live in the hearts of those who were desolated by
your death, you live in that eternal record of heaven where are written
the names of those who have given their lives to promote the truth and
the freedom which God has guaranteed to humanity in the great
charters of Nature and Revelation. For we are fighting in a holy cause.
No crusade to redeem Eastern shrines from infidels, no struggle for the
privilege of religious freedom, no insurrection for civil independence,
has been more holy than this strife against the great curse and its
abettors, who seek to make a land of freedom a land of bond[Pg 713]age
to substitute for a Union of freemen, miserable oligarchies controlled
by breeders of slaves. If we die in this cause, we have lived a full life.
An anomalous state of things had existed between the time of the attack
on Sumter and the 'invasion' of Virginia. Although the war had in
reality commenced, communication was not suspended between
Washington and Alexandria. On the day following the march over the
Potomac, we found the plans of intrenchments marked out by wooden
forms on the spots which subsequently became Fort Corcoran, opposite
Georgetown, Fort Runyon, opposite Washington, and Fort Ellsworth, in
front of Alexandria. How this had so speedily been done by the
engineers I did not learn until many months afterward, when one of the
party who planned the works described the modus operandi. They went
over to Virginia in a very rustic dress, and professed to the rebel pickets
to be from 'down country,' come up to take a look at 'them durned
Yankees.' So they walked around unmolested, selected the sites for the
intrenchments, formed the plans in their minds, made some stealthy
notes and sketches, and, returning to Washington, plotted the works on
paper, gave directions to the carpenters about the frames, which were
constructed; and, after the army crossed, these were put in their proper
positions, tools were placed conveniently, and, soon after the crossing
was made, the men commenced to work.
In raising these intrenchments, drilling and organizing, the army passed
about a month—varied only by alarms two or three times a week at
night that the rebels were coming, whereupon the troops turned out and
stood in line till daylight. It was shrewdly suspected that these alarms
were purposely propagated from headquarters to accustom the men to

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form themselves quickly at night without panic. In after times, in front
of Richmond, we had such duty to perform, without any factitious
reasons. It was a matter of necessary precaution to stand to our arms
nightly for two or three hours before daybreak.
Until just previous to the disastrous Bull Run campaign, no higher
organization than that of brigades was adopted; but a day or two before
the march commenced, General McDowell organized the brigades into
divisions. These were reorganized by General McClellan as the two and
three years volunteers joined the army. The organization of corps was
made in the spring of 1862, just before the commencement of the
Peninsula campaign, and is now the organization of the army.
The complete organization is now as follows:
Regiments, generally of ten companies.
Brigades, of four or more regiments.
Divisions, generally of three brigades.
Corps, generally of three divisions.
The various staffs have gradually been organized, until they now stand
(in the Army of the Potomac) as follows:
At the headquarters of the army:
A Chief of Staff.
An Assistant Adjutant-General.
A Chief Quartermaster.
A Chief Commissary.
A Chief of Artillery.
An Assistant Inspector-General.
A Medical Director.
A Judge Advocate-General.
An Ordnance Officer.

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A Provost Marshal-General.
A Chief Engineer.
A Signal Officer.
The rank of these officers, as the staff is now composed, is as follows:
The chief of staff, a major-general; the assistant adjutant-general, chief
of artillery, and provost marshal, brigadier-generals; assistant inspector-
general, a colonel; medical director, chief engineer, judge advocate-
general, majors; the signal officer, chief commissary, and ordnance
officer, captains; the aides, of various ranks, lieutenants, captains,
and[Pg 714] majors. Most of these officers do not derive their rank from
their position on the staff, but it has been given them in the volunteer
organization, or pertains to them in the line of the regular or volunteer
army. All the department officers (meaning all except aides) have a
number of assistants, and the general officers have staffs and aides of
their own, to which they are entitled by law. The total number of
officers on duty at the headquarters may amount to fifty or more, and
there is plenty of work for all of them during a campaign. Besides the
regular staff, constituted as above related, there are the officers of an
infantry regiment which furnishes guards and escorts, and officers of
cavalry squadrons detailed to furnish orderlies. The headquarters of the
army is therefore a town of considerable population.
At the headquarters of the different corps the staffs are as follows:
An Assistant Adjutant-General—Lieutenant-colonel.
A Chief Quartermaster—Lieutenant-colonel.
A Chief Commissary—Lieutenant-colonel.
An Assistant Inspector-General—Lieutenant-colonel.
[These officers derive their rank from their position, under a law of
A Medical Director—being detailed from
the senior surgeons of the regular or

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Volunteer army, and ranking as a

A Commissary of Musters.
A Provost Marshal.
A Signal Officer.
[These officers are detailed from the line, and have the ranks which
there belongs to them. The signal corps is, however, now being
organized, with ranks prescribed by law.]
Aides-de-Camp—one with the rank of major, and two with the rank of
captain. Besides these, additional aides are sent to the corps from those
created under an act of Congress of 1861—now repealed—and are
detailed from the line.

The quartermaster, commissary, and medical director generally have

assistant officers. There is a squadron of cavalry and usually a company
of infantry at each corps headquarters.
The staffs of divisions and brigades resemble those of the corps, except
that the regular staff officers usually rank only as captains, except in
cases where a major-general commands; he is entitled to an assistant
adjutant-general with the rank of major. Officers detailed from the line
to act on any staff in any capacity, bring with them the rank they hold
in the line. They are not entitled, except the authorized aides and in
some other particular cases, when ordered by the War Department, to
additional allowances; but if they are foot officers, and are properly
detailed for mounted duty, the quartermaster of the staff on which they
serve is obligated to furnish them a horse and equipments. Divisions
usually have an ordnance officer, whose duty it is to take charge of the
ammunition of the division, keep the quantity ordered, and supply the
troops in time of battle. By law the chief of artillery at corps
headquarters is the chief ordnance officer for the corps, but this

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arrangement has been found impracticable. In the Army of the Potomac
the chief of artillery does not remain at corps headquarters, but is
assigned directly to the command of the artillery, where he also has a
staff, including an ordnance officer, who supplies ammunition and
other articles pertaining to his department, exclusively to the artillery.
The staff, it must be recollected, is to an army what the masons,
carpenters, ironworkers, and upholsterers are to a building. As the latter
are the agents for executing the designs of the architect, so the staff are
the medium by which the commander of an army effects his purposes.
Without competent staff officers in all the various[Pg 715] grades of
organization constituting an army, the most judicious plans of the ablest
commander will entirely fail. If a campaign is to be made, the
commanding general, having formed his general strategical plan, needs
the advice of his chief of staff as to the condition of his troops, and his
assistance in devising the details. His adjutant-general's office must
contain full records of the numbers of the troops—effective and non-
effective—armed and unarmed—sick and well—present and absent,
with all reports and communications relative to the state of the army.
His quartermaster must have been diligent to provide animals, wagons,
clothing, tents, forage, and other supplies in his department; his
commissary and ordnance officer, the same in relation to subsistence
and munitions—all having made their arrangements to establish depots
at the most accessible points on the proposed route of march. His chief
of artillery must have bestowed proper attention to keeping the hundred
batteries of the army in the most effective condition. His chief engineer
must have informed himself of all the routes and the general
topography of the country to be traversed; he must know at what points
rivers can be best crossed, and where positions for battle can be best
obtained; his pontoon trains and intrenching implements must be
complete and ready for service; his maps prepared for distribution to
subordinate commanders. His inspector must have seen that the orders
for discipline and equipment have been complied with. His medical
director must have procured a supply of hospital stores, and organized
the ambulance and hospital departments. His provost marshal must
have made adequate arrangements to prevent straggling, plundering,
and other disorders. His aides must have informed themselves of the
positions of the various commands, and become acquainted with the

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principal officers, so as to take orders through night and storm with
unerring accuracy. They must be cool-headed, daring fellows, alert, and
well posted, good riders, and have good horses under them.
All this work cannot be accomplished in a day, a week, or a month. The
full preparations required to render a campaign successful must have
been the result of long, patient, thoughtful consideration and
organization. It is no time to teach sailors seamanship in a hurricane.
They must know where to find the ropes and what to do with them,
with the spray dashing in their eyes and the black clouds scurrying
across the sky. It is no time for staff officers to begin their duties when
a great army is to be moved. Then it is needed that every harness strap,
every gun-carriage wheel, every knapsack, every soldier's shoe should
have been provided and should be in serviceable order; that the men
should have had their regular fare, and have been kept in the healthiest
condition; that clear and explicit information be ready on all details.
Prepared by the assiduous, intelligent labor of a vigilant and faithful
staff, an army becomes a compact, homogeneous mass—without
individuality, but pervaded by one animating will—cohesive by
discipline, but pliant in all its parts—impetuous with enthusiasm, but
controlled easily in the most minute operations.
These remarks, relative to the requirements for an effective staff,
pertain to all grades of organization. The staff officers at the
headquarters of the army organize general arrangements and supervise
the operations of subordinate officers of their department at the
headquarters of corps; these have more detailed duties, and, in their
turn, supervise the staffs of the divisions; the duties of these again are
still more detailed, and they supervise the staffs of brigades; these
finally are charged with the specific details pertaining to their
commands, supervising the staffs of the regiments, who are in direct[Pg
716] communication with the officers of companies.

Prepared for service by the unremitting labors of the staff officers, it is

seldom that the army cannot move in complete order at six hours'
notice. Think what preparation is required for a family of half a dozen
to get ready to spend a month in the country—how tailors and milliners
and dressmakers are put in requisition—how business arrangements
must be made—how a thousand little vexing details constantly suggest

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themselves which need attention. Think of a thousand families—ten
thousand—making these preparations! What a vast hurly burly! What
an ocean of confusion! How many delays and disappointments! During
the fortnight or month which has elapsed while these families have
been getting ready, an army of fifty or a hundred thousand men has
marched a hundred miles, fought a battle, been reëquipped, reclothed,
reorganized, and, perhaps, the order of a nation's history has
experienced an entire change.
Our next paper will describe in detail the operations of the staff
[A] Scott's Military Dictionary.[Pg 709]
Continental Monthly, Vol VI, No I, July 1864, pages 1-9

Having, in the preceding paper, described the general organization[1] of

an army, we proceed to give a succinct account of some of the principal
staff departments, in their relations to the troops.
Army organization—notwithstanding the world has always been
engaged in military enterprises—is of comparatively recent institution.
Many of the principles of existing military systems date no farther back
than to Frederic the Great, of Prussia, and many were originated by
Napoleon. Staff departments, particularly, as now constituted, are of
late origin. The staff organization is undergoing constant changes. Its
most improved form is to be found in France and Prussia. Our own
staff system is of a composite, and, in some respects, heterogeneous
character—not having been, constructed on any regular plan, but built
up by gradual accretions and imitations of European features, from the
time of our Revolution till the present. It has, however, worked with
great vigor and efficiency.
The staff of any commander is usually spoken of in two classes—the
departmental and the personal—the latter including the aides-de-camp,
who pertain more particularly to the person of the commander, while
the former belong to the organization. Of the departmental staff, the

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assistant adjutant-generals and assistant inspector-generals are
denominated the 'general staff,' because their functions extend through
all branches of the organization, while the other officers are confined
exclusively to their own departments.
The chief of staff is a recent French imitation. The first officer assigned
in that capacity was General Marcy, on the staff of General McClellan,
in the fall of 1861. Previous to that time the officers of the adjutant-
general's department—on account of their intimate relations with
commanding officers, as their official organs and the mediums through
which all orders were transmitted—had occupied it. The [Pg 2]duties of
these officers, however, being chiefly of a bureau character, allowing
them little opportunity for active external supervision, it has been
deemed necessary to select for heads of the staffs, officers particularly
qualified to assist the commander in devising strategical plans,
organizing, and moving troops, etc.; competent to oversee and direct
the proceedings of the various staff departments; untrammelled with
any exclusive routine of duty, and able in any emergency, when the
commander may be absent, to give necessary orders. For these reasons,
although the innovation has not been sanctioned by any law, or any
standing rule of the War Department, and although its propriety is
discussed by many, the custom of assigning officers as chiefs of staff
has become universal, and will probably be permanent. The extent and
character of their duties depend, however, upon themselves, being
regulated by no orders, and the high responsibilities attached to the
position in France have not thus far been assumed by the officers
occupying it here. In the French service, the chief of staff is the actual
as well as the nominal head of the organization; he supervises all its
operations; he is the alter ego of the commander. In the Waterloo
campaign, for instance, Marshal Soult was the chief of Napoleon's
staff, and the emperor attributed his disaster, in part, to some of the
orders issued by the marshal.
Our limits will not permit a description of the duties pertaining to the
various members of the staff, but we pass to the consideration of those
departments, the operations of which most directly affect the soldier,
are indispensable to every army, and are most interesting to the public.

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Let us first consider the quartermaster's department, which, from the
character and diversity of its duties, the amount of its expenditures, and
its influence upon military operations, may be ranked as among the
most important. This department provides clothing, camp and garrison
equipage, animals and transportation of all kinds, fuel, forage, straw,
and stationery, an immense variety of the miscellaneous materials
required by an army, and for a vast amount of miscellaneous
expenditures. It is, in fact, the great business operator of a military
organization. In an active army, the success of movements depends
very much on its efficiency. Unless the troops are kept properly
clothed, the animals and means of transportation maintained in good
condition, and the immense trains moved with regularity and
promptness, the best contrived plans will fail in their development and
The department, at the commencement of the war, had supplies in store
only for the current uses of the regular army. When the volunteer forces
were organized it became necessary to make hasty contracts and
purchases to a large amount; but as even the best-informed members of
the Government had no adequate prevision of the extent and duration of
the war, and of the necessary arrangements for its demands, a
considerable period elapsed before a sufficient quantity of the required
materials could be accumulated. Those were the days of 'shoddy' cloth
and spavined horses. The department, however, exhibited great
administrative energy, under the direction of its able head, General M.
C. Meigs, and has amply provided for the enormous demands upon it.
Depots for the reception of supplies are established in the large cities,
whence they are transferred as required to the great issuing depots near
the active armies, and from them to the depots in the field. Thus, the
main depots of the Army of the Potomac are at Washington and
Alexandria—a field depot being established at its centre, when lying
for any length of time in camp. Only current supplies are kept on hand
at the latter, and no surplus is transported on the march, except the [Pg 3]
required amounts of subsistence and forage.
A great deal is said in connection with military movements, of 'bases of
operation.' These are the points in the rear of an army from which it
receives supplies and reënforcements, and with which its

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communications must at all hazards be kept open, except it has means
of transportation sufficient to render it independent of its depots for a
considerable period, or unless the country traversed is able to afford
subsistence for men and animals. When an army marches along a
navigable river, its secondary base becomes movable, and it is less
confined to the necessity of protecting its rear. In Virginia, however,
the connection of the Army of the Potomac with Washington is
imperative, and this fact explains the contracted sphere of the
operations of that army.
The transportation of supplies is limited by the ability of the
Government to provide trains, and by the ability of the army to protect
them; for large trains create large drafts on the troops for teamsters,
pioneers, guards, etc. An army train, upon the most limited allowance
compatible with freedom of operations for a few days, away from the
depots, is an immense affair. Under the existing allowances in the
Army of the Potomac, a corps of thirty thousand infantry has about
seven hundred wagons, drawn by four thousand two hundred mules; the
horses of officers and of the artillery will bring the number of animals
to be provided for up to about seven thousand. On the march it is
calculated that each wagon will occupy about eighty feet—in bad roads
much more; consequently a train of seven hundred wagons will cover
fifty-six thousand feet of road—or over ten miles; the ambulances of a
corps will occupy about a mile, and the batteries about three miles;
thirty thousand troops need six miles to march in, if they form but one
column; the total length of the marching column of a corps is therefore
twenty miles, even without including the cattle herds and trains of
bridge material. Readers who have been accustomed to think that our
armies have not exhibited sufficient energy in surmounting the
obstacles of bad roads, unbridged streams, etc., will be able to estimate,
upon the above statements, the immense difficulty of moving trains and
artillery. The trains of an army have been properly denominated its
impedimenta, and their movement and protection is one of the most
difficult incidental operations of warfare—particularly in a country like
Virginia, where the art of road making has attained no high degree of
perfection, and where the forests swarm with guerillas.

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To an unaccustomed observer the concourse of the trains of an army, in
connection with any rapid movement, would give the idea of
inextricable confusion. It is of course necessary to move them upon as
many different roads as possible, but it will frequently happen that they
must be concentrated in a small space, and move in a small number of
columns. During the celebrated 'change of base' from Richmond to
Harrison's Landing, the trains were at first obliged to move upon only
one road—across White Oak Swamp—which happened fortunately to
be wide enough for three wagons to go abreast. There were perhaps
twenty-five hundred vehicles, which would make a continuous line of
some forty or fifty miles. While the slow and toilsome course of this
cumbrous column was proceeding, the troops were obliged to remain in
the rear and fight the battles of Savage Station and White Oak Swamp
for its protection. A similar situation of trains occurred last fall when
General Meade retired from the Rappahannock, but fortunately the
country presented several practicable routes. It is on a retreat,
particularly, that the difficulty of moving trains is experienced, and
thousands of lives and much valuable material have been lost by the
neglect[Pg 4] of commanding officers to place them sufficiently far in
the rear during a battle, so as to permit the troops to fall back when
necessary, without interruption.
A march being ordered, supplies according to the capacity of the trains,
are directed to be carried. The present capacity of the trams of the
Army of the Potomac is ten days' subsistence and forage, and sixty
rounds of small-arm ammunition—the men carrying in addition a
number of days' rations, and a number of rounds, upon their persons.
When the wagons reach camp each evening, such supplies as have been
expended are replenished from them. As a general rule the baggage
wagons camp every night with the troops, but the exigencies are
sometimes such that officers are compelled to deny themselves for one
or even two weeks the luxury of a change of clothing—the wagons not
reaching camp, perhaps, till after midnight, and the troops resuming
their march an hour or two afterward. Those who indulge in satires
upon the wearers of shoulder straps would be likely to form a more
correct judgment of an officer's position and its attendant hardships,
could they see him at the close of a fortnight's campaign. Like the
soldier, he can rely on nothing for food or clothing except what is

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carried by himself, unless he maintains a servant, and the latter will
find a few blankets, a coffee pot, some crackers, meat, sugar, coffee,
etc., for his own and his employer's consumption, a sufficient burden.
Let us see how the supplies of the quartermaster's department are
At stated periods, if circumstances permit—usually at the first of each
month—the regimental quartermasters, after consultation with the
company officers, forward through their superiors to the chief
quartermasters of corps, statements of the articles required by the men.
These are consolidated and presented to the chief quartermaster of the
army, who orders them from Washington, and issues them from the
army depot—the whole operation requiring about a week. The number
of different kinds of articles thus drawn monthly is about five hundred;
the quantity of each kind depends on the number of men to be supplied,
and the nature of the service performed since the previous issue. If
there has been much marching, there will be a great demand for shoes;
if a battle, large quantities of all kinds of articles to replace those lost
on the battle field will be required.
An infantry soldier is allowed the following principal articles of
clothing during a three years' term of service:
1st 2d 3d
Year. Year. Year.
Cap, 1 1 1
Coat, 2 1 2
Trowsers, 3 2 3
3 3 3
Drawers, 3 2 2
Shoes, 4 4 4
Stockings, 4 4 4
Overcoat, 1 0 0
Blanket, 1 0 1
Indiarubber 1 1 1

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The prices of these are stated each year in a circular from the
department, and, as the soldier draws them, his captain charges him
with the prices on the company books. The paymaster deducts from his
pay any excess which he may have drawn, or allows him if he has
drawn less than he is entitled to. The clothing is much cheaper than
articles of the same quality at home. Thus, according to the present
prices, a coat costs $7.30; overcoat, $7.50; trowsers, $2.70; flannel
shirt, $1.53; stockings, 32 cents; shoes, $2.05.
The commissary department provides exclusively the subsistence of the
troops. Each soldier is entitled to the following daily ration:
Twelve ounces of pork or bacon, or one pound four ounces of fresh
One pound six ounces of soft bread or[Pg 5] flour, or one pound of hard
bread, or one pound four ounces of corn meal.
To every one hundred men, fifteen pounds of beans or peas, and ten
pounds of rice or hominy.
To every one hundred men, ten pounds of green coffee, or eight pounds
of roasted, or one pound and eight ounces of tea.
To every one hundred men, fifteen pounds of sugar, four quarts of
vinegar, one pound four ounces of candles, four pounds of soap, three
pounds twelve ounces of salt, four ounces of pepper, thirty pounds of
potatoes, when practicable, and one quart of molasses.
Fresh onions, beets, carrots, and turnips, when on hand, can be issued
in place of beans, peas, rice, or hominy, if the men desire.
They can also take in place of any part of the ration an amount equal in
value of dried apples, dried peaches, pickles, etc., when on hand.
A whiskey ration of a gill per day per man can be issued on the order of
the commander, in cases of extra hardship. It is, however, rarely issued,
on account of the difficulty of finding room for its transportation in any
considerable quantities. Moreover, whiskey, in the army, is subject to
extraordinary and mysterious leakages, and an issue can scarcely be

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made with such care that some drunkenness will not ensue. When lying
in camp, sutlers and others sell to the soldiers contrary to law, so that
old topers usually find methods of gratifying their appetites—
sometimes sacrificing a large proportion of their pay to the villains who
pander to them. The utmost vigilance of the officers fails to detect the
methods by which liquor is introduced into the army. When a cask is
broached in any secluded place, the intelligence seems communicated
by a pervading electrical current, and the men are seized with a
universal desire to leave camp for the purpose of washing, or getting
wood, or taking a walk, or other praise-worthy purposes.
The total weight of a ration is something over two pounds, but in
marching, some articles are omitted, and but a small quantity of salt
meat is carried—fresh beef being supplied from the herds of cattle
driven with the army. A bullock will afford about four hundred and
fifty rations, so that an army of one hundred thousand men needs over
two hundred cattle daily for its supply.
In camp the men can refrain from drawing portions of their rations, and
the surplus is allowed for by the commissaries in money, by which a
company fund can be created, and expended in the purchase of gloves,
gaiters, etc., or luxuries for the table. A hospital fund is formed in the
same way—by an allowance for the portions of the rations not
consumed by the patients—and is expended in articles adapted to diet
for the sick. The rations are ample and of good quality, though the salt
meat is rather tough occasionally, and the consistency of the hard bread
is shot-proof. Company cooks are allowed, and in camp they contrive
to furnish quite appetizing meals. Their position is rather difficult to
fill, and woe is the portion of the cook not competent for his profession.
The practical annoyances to which he is subject make him realize to the
fullest extent 'the unfathomable depths of human woe.' On the march
the men usually prefer to boil their coffee in tin cups, and to cook their
meat on ram-rods—without waiting for the more formal movements of
the cooks. To reach camp before sunset, after a twenty-mile march, to
pitch his little shelter tent, throw in it his heavy arms and
accoutrements, collect some pine twigs for a couch, wash in some
adjacent stream, drink his cup of hot, strong coffee, eat his salt pork
and hard bread, and then wrap himself in his blanket for a dreamless

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slumber, is one of the[Pg 6] most delicious combinations of luxurious
enjoyment a soldier knows. To-morrow, perhaps, he starts up at the
early reveille, takes his hasty breakfast, is marshalled into line before
the enemy, there is a shriek in the air rent by the murderous shell, and
the soldier's last march is ended.
The next department we shall consider is that of ordnance, which
supplies the munitions and portions of accoutrements.
The subject of artillery is perhaps the most interesting of the great
number connected with warfare. In the popular estimation it
overshadows all others. All the poetry of war celebrates the grandeur of
'Those mortal engines whose rude throats
The immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit.'
The thunder of great guns and the dashing of cavalry are the incidents
which spontaneously present themselves to the mind when a battle is
mentioned. Perhaps the accounts of Waterloo are responsible for this.
The steady fighting of masses of infantry, having less particulars to
attract the imagination, is overlooked; the fact, preëminent above all
others in military science, that it is the infantry which contests and
decides battles, that artillery and cavalry are only subordinate agencies
—is forgotten. So splendid have been the inventions and achievements
of the last few years in respect to artillery, as illustrated particularly at
Charleston, that some excuse may easily be found for the popular
misconception. A few remarks presenting some truths relative to the
appropriate sphere of artillery and its powers, and stating succinctly the
results which have been accomplished, may be found interesting.
Without entering into the history of artillery, it will be sufficient to state
that the peculiar distinguishing excellence of modern improvements in
cannon is the attainment of superior efficiency, accuracy, and mobility,
with a decrease in weight of metal. A gun of any given size is now
many times superior to one of the same size in use fifty or a hundred
years ago. It is not so much in big guns that we excel our predecessors
—for there are many specimens of old cannon of great dimensions; but
by our advance in science we are able so to shape our guns and our
projectiles that with less weight of material we can throw larger shot to

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a greater distance and with more accuracy. A long course of
mathematical experiment and calculation has determined the exact
pressure of a charge of powder at all points in the bore of a cannon
during its combustion and evolution into gas. These experiments have
proved that strength is principally required near the breech, and that a
cannon need not be of so great length as was formerly supposed to be
necessary. We are thus able to construct guns which can be handled,
throwing balls of several hundred pounds' weight. Another splendid
result of scientific investigation is the method adopted for casting such
monster guns. In order that the mass of metal may be of uniform
tenacity and character, it should cool equably. This has been secured by
a plan for introducing a stream of water through the core of the casting,
so that the metal cools both within and without simultaneously.
About the time that the Italian war commenced, the subject of rifled
cannon excited much popular interest. Exaggerated expectations were
formed of the changes to be produced by them in the art of warfare.
Many saw in them the means of abolishing war entirely. Of what use is
it, they said, to array armies against each other, if they can be destroyed
at two or three miles' distance? At the commencement of our own
contest there was an undue partiality for rifled ordnance. Almost every
commander of a battery desired to have rifled guns. The more correct
views of the thoroughly accomplished artillery officers to whom was
confided[Pg 7] the arrangement of this branch of the service, and actual
experience, have dissipated the unfounded estimate of their utility for
field service, and established the proper proportions in an artillery force
which they should compose. It has been ascertained that fighting will
never be confined to long ranges—that guns which can throw large
volumes of spherical case and canister into lines only a few hundred
yards distant are as necessary as ever.
The necessity for rifled cannon arose from the perfection of rifled
muskets. When these arms reached such a degree of excellence that
horses and gunners could be shot down at a distance of one thousand
yards, the old-fashioned smooth-bore artillery was deprived of its
prestige. To retrieve this disadvantage and restore the superiority of
artillery over musketry in length of range, methods of rifling cannon for
field service became an important study. For assailing distant lines of

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troops, for opening a battle, for dispersing bodies of cavalry, for
shelling intrenchments, for firing over troops from hills in their rear,
rifled guns are of invaluable service. But, notwithstanding troops are
now universally armed with muskets of long range, no battle of
importance is fought without close engagements of the lines. The
alternate advances and retreats of the infantry, firing at distances of less
than one hundred yards, charging with fixed bayonets and frantic
shouts, will always characterize any battle fought with vigor and
enthusiasm. In such conflicts, wide-mouthed smooth bores, belching
their torrents of iron, must play a conspicuous part.
Another fact, which will perhaps surprise the general reader, is that the
form and character of projectiles have been matters of as much
difficulty, have received as much investigation, and are of as much
importance, as the shape and character of the guns. In fact, rifled pieces
would be comparatively ineffective except projectiles adapted to them
had been invented. It was necessary that projectiles of greater weight,
of less resistance to the atmosphere, and of more accuracy of flight,
than the old round shot, should be introduced. To accomplish these
ends several things were necessary: 1st, the projectiles should be
elongated; 2d, they should have conical points; 3d, the centre of gravity
should be at a proper distance in front of the centre; 4th, there should be
methods of steering them so that they should always go point foremost
through the whole curve of their flight; 5th, they should fit the gun so
as to take the rifles, yet not so closely as to strain it. To attain these and
other requisites, innumerable plans have been devised. The projectile
offering the best normal conditions is the arrow; it has length, a sharp
point, centre of gravity near the head, and feathers for guiding it
(sometimes so arranged that it shall rotate like a rifled ball). Improved
projectiles, therefore, both for muskets and cannon, correspond in these
essentials to the first products of man in the savage state.
We cannot, in this article, further discuss either such general principles
or those of a more abstruse character, in their application to artillery,
but will briefly state a few facts relative to its employment—confining
ourselves exclusively to the field service.
The guns now principally used for battles, in the Northern armies, are
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12-pounder smooth bores. The distinguishing characteristic of the
Parrott guns is lightness of construction, secured by strengthening the
breech (in accordance with the principles mentioned a few paragraphs
back) with a band of wrought iron. This has been applied to guns of all
sizes, and its excellence has been tested by General Gillmore in the
reduction of Forts Pulaski and Sumter. The three-inch guns are made of
wrought iron, are of light weight,[Pg 8] but exceedingly tenacious and
accurate. The 12-pounders, sometimes called Napoleons, are of bronze,
with large caliber, and used chiefly for throwing shell and canister at
comparatively short distances.
The greatest artillery conflict of the war (in the field) occurred at
Gettysburg. For two hours in the afternoon of the memorable third
day's battle, about four hundred cannon were filling the heavens with
their thunder, and sending their volleys of death crashing in all
It was estimated that the discharges numbered five or six a second; in
fact, the ear could hardly detect any cessations in the roar. The air was
constantly howling as the shells swept through it, while the falling of
branches, cut from the trees by the furious missiles, seemed as if a
tornado was in the height of its fury: every few minutes, a thunder
heard above all other sounds, denoted the explosion of a caisson,
sweeping into destruction, with a cataract of fire and iron, men and
animals for hundreds of feet around it. The effect of such a fire of
artillery is, however, much less deadly than any except those who have
been subject to it can believe. The prevalent impression concerning the
relative destructiveness of cannon and musketry is another instance of
popular error. In the first place, all firing at over a mile distance
contains a large proportion of the elements of chance, for it is
impossible to get the range and to time the fuses so accurately as to
make any considerable percentage of the shots effective; and in the next
place, except when marching to a close conflict, the men are generally
protected by lying down behind inequalities of the ground, or other
accidental or designed defences. The proportion killed in any battle by
artillery fire is very small. Lines of men frequently lie exposed to
constant shelling for hours, with small loss; in fact, in such cases, old

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soldiers will eat their rations, or smoke their pipes, or perhaps have a
game of poker, with great equanimity.
No portion of the military service has been more misrepresented than
the medical department. An opinion seems to prevail quite extensively
that the army surgeon is generally a young graduate, vain of his official
position, who cares little for the health of the soldier, and glories in the
opportunities afforded by a battle for reckless operations. Such an
opinion is altogether fallacious. In the regiments there are undoubtedly
many physicians who have adopted the service as a resource for a
living which they were unable to find at home, but the majority are
exactly the same class of professional men as those who pursue useful
and honorable careers in all our cities and villages. When a physician is
called upon at home, it happens in a majority of cases—as every honest
member of the profession will admit—that there is little or no necessity
for his services. Too sagacious to avow this, he gravely makes some
simple prescription, and as gravely pockets his fee. In camp, however,
the potent argument of the fee does not prevail, and men who run to the
doctor with trifling ailments, by which they hope to be relieved from
duty, receive a rebuff instead of a pill. They instantly write letters
complaining of his inhumanity. In regard to operations, it is a frequent
remark by the most experienced surgeons that lives are lost from the
hesitancy to amputate, more frequently than limbs are removed
The medical department of an army, like every other, is controlled by a
system, and it is this which regulates its connections with the soldier
more than the qualifications of individual surgeons. In the army the
system takes care of everything, even to the minutest details. Hygienic
regulations for preserving the salubrity of camps and the cleanliness of
the troops and their tents, are prescribed and enforced. Every day there
is a 'sick call' at[Pg 9] which men who find themselves ill present
themselves to the surgeons for treatment. If slightly affected, they are
taken care of in their own quarters; if more seriously, in the regimental
hospitals; if still more so, in the large hospitals established by the chief
medical officer of the corps; and if necessary, sent to the Government
hospitals established at various places in the country. To the latter
almost all the sick are transferred previous to a march. To be ill in the

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army, amid the constant noises of a camp, and with the non-luxurious
appliances of a field hospital, is no very pleasant matter; but the sick
soldier receives all the attention and accommodation possible under the
To every corps is attached a train of ambulances, in the proportion of
two or three to a regiment. They are spring wagons with seats along the
sides, like an omnibus, which can, when necessary, be made to form a
bed for two or three persons. With each train is a number of wagons,
carrying tents, beds, medicine chests, etc., required for the
establishment of hospitals. On the march, the ambulances collect the
sick and exhausted who fall out from the columns and have a surgeon's
certificate as to their condition. When a battle is impending, and the
field of conflict fixed, the chief medical officers of the corps take
possession of houses and barns in the rear, collect hay and straw for
bedding, or, if more convenient, pitch the tents at proper localities. A
detail of surgeons is made to give the necessary attendance. While the
battle proceeds, the lightly wounded fall to the rear, and are there
temporarily treated by the surgeons who have accompanied the troops
to the field, and then find their way to the hospitals. If the fighting has
passed beyond the places where lie the more dangerously wounded,
they are brought to the rear by the 'stretcher bearers' attached to the
ambulance trains, and carried to the hospitals in the ambulances.
Sometimes it happens that the strife will rage for hours on nearly the
same spot, and it may be night before the 'stretcher bearers' can go out
and collect the wounded. But the surgeons make indefatigable
exertions, often exposed to great danger, to give their attention to those
who require it. At the best, war is terrible—all its 'pomp, pride, and
circumstance' disappear in the view of the wounded and dead on the
field, and of the mangled remnants of humanity in the hospitals. But
everything that can be devised and applied to mitigate its horrors is
provided under the systematized organization of the medical
department. In the Army of the Potomac, at least, and undoubtedly in
all the other armies of the North, that department combines skill, vigor,
humanity, and efficiency to an astonishing degree. Its results are
exhibited not only in the small mortality of the camps, but in the
celerity of its operation on the field of battle, and the great proportion
of lives preserved after the terrible wounds inflicted by deadly

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fragments of shell and the still more deadly rifle bullet. Military
surgery has attained a degree of proficiency during the experiences of
the past three years which a layman cannot adequately describe; its
results are, however, palpable.[Pg 10]
[1] Since that article was written, some changes of detail have been made,
but the principles remain the same.
Cavalry! At this word whose mind does not involuntarily recall pictures
of mailed knights rushing upon each other with levelled lances, and of
the charging squadrons of Austerlitz, of Jena, of Marengo, of the
Peninsula, and of Waterloo? Whose blood is not stirred with a throng of
memories connected with the noble achievements of the war horse and
his rider? Who does not imagine a panorama of all that is gay and
glorious in warfare—prancing coursers, gilded trappings, burnished
sabres, waving pennons, and glittering helmets—rank after rank of
gallant riders—anon the blast of bugles, the drawing of sabres, the
mighty rushing of a thousand steeds, the clash of steel, the shout, the
victory? The chief romance of war attaches itself to the deeds
accomplished by the assistance of the power and endurance of man's
noblest servant. Every one has read so much poetry about valiant
youths, mounted on fiery yet docile steeds, doing deeds of miraculous
prowess in the ranks of their enemies—our literature is so full of
tapestried representations of knightly retinues and charging squadrons
—the towering form of Murat is so conspicuous in the narratives of the
Napoleonic wars—and history has so often repeated the deeds of those
horsemen who performed such illustrious feats in the combats of half a
century ago, that we associate with the cavalry only ideas of splendor
and glory, of wild freedom and dashing gallantry. But the cavalry
service is far different from such vague and fanciful imaginations.
Instead of ease, there is constant labor; instead of freedom, there is a
difficult system of discipline and tactics; and instead of frequent
opportunities for glorious charges, there is a constant routine of
toilsome duty in scouting and picketing, with rarely an opportunity for
assisting prominently in the decision of a great battle, or of winning

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renown in overthrowing the ranks of an enemy by the impetuous rush
of a mass of horses against serried bayonets.
In many respects cavalry is the most difficult branch of military service
to maintain and to operate. It is exceedingly costly, on account of the
great loss of horses by the carelessness of the men, by overwork, by
disease, and by the fatalities of battle. The report of General Halleck,
for the year 1863, stated that from May to October there were from ten
thousand to fourteen thousand cavalry in the Army of the Potomac,
while the number of horses furnished them for the same period was
thirty-five thousand; adding to these the horses taken by capture and
used for mounting men, the number would be sufficient to give each
man a horse every two months. There were two hundred and twenty-
three regiments of cavalry in the service, which, at the same rate, would
require four hundred and thirty-five thousand horses. This is an
immense expenditure of animals, and is attributable in part to the
peculiarities of the volunteer service—such as the lack of care and
knowledge on the part of the officers, and the disposition of the men to
break down their horses by improper riding, and sometimes out of mere
wantonness, for the purpose of getting rid of animals they do not like,
for the chance of obtaining better. A measure has recently been adopted
to remedy these evils, by putting into the infantry cavalry officers and
men who show themselves incompetent to take proper care of their
animals, and who neglect other essentials of cavalry service. The[Pg
224] provision and transportation of forage for cavalry horses also
constitute items of great cost.
To attain proficiency and effectiveness, cavalry soldiers require much
longer instruction than those of any other arm. They must become
expert swordsmen, and acquire such skill in equitation that horse and
rider shall resemble the mythical centaurs of the ancients—shall be
only one individual in will. The horses should be as thoroughly trained
as the riders. In European armies this is accomplished in training
schools. The Governments keep constantly on hand large supplies of
animals, partly purchased and partly produced in public stables, and
capable instructors are continually employed in fitting both men and
horses for their duties.

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To insure the provision of proper horses and to recuperate those which
are sent from the army disabled or sick, an immense cavalry depot has
been established at Giesboro', near Washington. Thousands of horses
are kept there ready for service, and as fast as men in the army are
dismounted by the loss of their animals, they are sent to this depot. It is
one of the most useful and best-arranged affairs connected with our
service, and has greatly assisted in diminishing the expense attending
the provision of animals, and in increasing the efficiency of our
We have had all the difficulties to contend with resulting from
inexperienced riders and untrained horses. No one who has not beheld
the scene, can imagine the awkward appearance of a troop of recruits
mounted on horses unaccustomed to the saddle. The sight is one of the
most laughable that can be witnessed. We have seen the attempt made
to put such a troop into a gallop across a field. Fifty horses and fifty
men instantly became actuated by a hundred different wills, and
dispersed in all directions—some of the riders hanging on to the
pommels, with their feet out of the stirrups, others tugging away at the
bridles, and not a few sprawling on the ground. After a few months'
drills, however, a different scene is presented, and an old troop horse
becomes so habituated to his exercises that not only will he perform all
the evolutions without guidance, but will even refuse to leave the ranks,
though under the most vigorous incitements of whip and spur. An
officer friend was once acting as cavalier to a party of ladies on
horseback at a review, when, unfortunately, the troop in which his
horse belonged happening to pass by, the animal bolted from the group
of ladies, and took his accustomed place in the ranks, nor could all the
efforts of his rider disengage him. Finally, our friend was obliged to
dismount, and, holding the horse by the bit, back him out of the troop to
his station with the party of ladies—a feat performed amid much
provoking laughter.
Cavalry can operate in masses only when circumstances are favorable
—the country open, and the ground free from obstructions. Yet it is in
masses alone that it can be effective, and it can triumph against infantry
only by a shock—from the precipitation of its weight upon the lines,
crushing them by the onset. Before the time of Frederic the Great, the

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Prussian horsemen resembled those to be seen at a militia review—they
were a sort of picture soldiers, incapable of a vigorous charge. He
revolutionized the service by teaching that cavalry must achieve
success by a rapid onset, not stopping to fire themselves, and not
regarding the fire of their opponents. By practising these lessons, they
were able to overthrow the Austrian infantry. But if the force of a
charge is dissipated by obstructions on the ground, or is broken by the
fire of the assailed, the effectiveness of cavalry, as a participant in the
manœuvres of a battle field, is entirely destroyed.
The question of the future of cavalry is at present one of great interest
among military investigators; for notwith[Pg 225]standing its brilliant
achievements during our civil war, the fact is apparent that its sphere
has been entirely changed, its old system has become obsolete, and
former possibilities no longer lie within its scope. Since Waterloo there
had not been, until our war commenced, any opportunity to test the
action of cavalry; for its operations in the Crimea and in Italy were
insignificant. The art of warfare had, meanwhile, in many respects,
become revolutionized by the introduction of rifled arms. Military men
waited, therefore, with interest, the experience of the war in this
country, to judge from it as to the part cavalry was to perform in future
warfare. That experience has shown that the day in which cavalry can
successfully charge squares of infantry has passed. When the smooth-
bore muskets alone were used by infantry, cavalry could be formed in
masses for charging at a distance of five hundred yards; now the
formations must be made at the distance of nearly a mile, and that
intervening space must be passed at speed under the constant fire of
cannon and rifles; when the squares are reached, the horses are
frightened and blown, the ranks have been disordered by the
impossibility of preserving a correct front during such a length of time
at rapid speed, and by the loss of men; the charge breaks weakly on the
wall of bayonets, and retires baffled. Infantry, before it learns its own
strength and the difficulty of forcing a horse against a bayonet—or
rather to trample down a man—has an absurd and unfounded fear of
cavalry. This feeling was in part the cause of the panic among our
troops at Bull Run—so much had been said about the Black Horse
troop of the rebels. The Waterloo achievements of the French were then
thought possible of repetition. Now adays it is hardly probable that the

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veteran infantry of either army would take the trouble to form squares
to resist cavalry, but would expect to rout it by firing in line. Neither
party in our war has been able to make its mounted forces effective in a
general battle. Nothing has occurred to parallel, upon the battle field,
those exploits of the cavalry—French, Prussian, and English—in the
great wars of the last century, extending to Waterloo.
The enthusiastic admirers of cavalry still maintain that it is possible to
repeat those exploits, even in face of the improved firearms now in use.
All that is necessary, they say, is to have the cavalry sufficiently drilled.
The ground to be crossed under a positively dangerous fire is only five
hundred or six hundred yards, and once taught to continue the charge
through the bullets for this distance, and then to throw themselves on
the bayonets, horsemen will now, as heretofore, break the lines of
infantry. All very true, if cavalry to fulfil the conditions named can be
obtained; but in them lies the difficulty. Occasional instances of
splendid charges will undoubtedly occur in future warfare; but it seems
to be an established fact that the day for the glory of cavalry has passed.
Once the mailed knight, mounted on his mailed charger, could
overthrow by scores the poor, pusillanimous pikemen and crossbow
men who composed the infantry; he was invulnerable in his iron armor,
and could ride them down like reeds. But gunpowder and the bayonet
have changed this; and now the most confident and domineering
cavalryman will put spurs to his horse and fly at a gallop, if he sees the
muzzle of an infantryman's rifle, with its glittering bayonet, pointed at
him from the thicket.
Another revolution effected in the mounted service by the
improvements in arms and the consequent changes of tactics, is the
diminution of heavy and the increase of light cavalry—that is, the
transfer of the former into the latter. These two denominations really
include all kinds of cavalry, although the non-military reader may have
been[Pg 226] puzzled by the numerous subordinate denominations to be
found in the accounts of European warfare—such as dragoons,
cuirassiers, hussars, lancers, chasseurs, hulans, etc.
Heavy cavalry is composed of the heavier men and horses, and is
usually divided into dragoons and cuirassiers. It is designed to act in
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Usually, also, it has had some defensive armor, and is a direct
descendant from the knights of the Middle Ages. But the cuirasses,
which were sufficient to resist the balls from smooth-bore muskets, are
easily penetrated by rifles. Consequently the occupation of this kind of
cavalry is gone, and it is likely to disappear gradually from the service.
In this country we have never had anything except light cavalry—the
only kind adapted for use in our Indian warfare. This kind of cavalry is
intended to accomplish results by the celerity of its movements, and all
its equipments should therefore be as light as possible. The chief
difficulty is to prevent the cavalry soldier from overloading his horse,
as he has a propensity not only to carry a large wardrobe and a full
supply of kitchen utensils, but also to 'convey,' in the language of
Pistol, or, in army language, 'gobble up,' or, in plain English, steal
anything that is capable of being fastened to his saddle.
It is evident that the efficiency of a cavalry soldier depends as much
upon his horse as upon himself; and it is requisite, therefore, that the
weight upon the horse should be as light as possible. The limit has been
fixed at about two hundred pounds for light, and two hundred and fifty
for heavy cavalry; but both of these are too much. A cavalry soldier
ought not to weigh over one hundred and fifty to one hundred and sixty
pounds, and his accoutrements not over thirty pounds additional; but in
practice, scarcely any horse—except where the rider is a very light
weight—carries less than two hundred and twenty or two hundred and
thirty pounds. One great cause of the evils incident to our cavalry
service is the excessive weight imposed on the horses. The French take
particular pains in this respect; while in England the cavalry is almost
entirely 'heavy,' and, though well drilled, is clumsy. John Bull, with his
roast beef and plum pudding, makes a poor specimen of a light
cavalryman. English officers are now endeavoring to revolutionize their
mounted service, so as to diminish its weight and increase its celerity.
The arms of cavalry have been various, but it is now well settled that its
true weapon is the sabre, as its true form of operation is the charge. A
great deal of ingenuity has been expended in devising the best form of
sabre. Different countries have different patterns, but the one adopted
in our army is very highly considered. It is pointed, so as to be used in
thrusting; sharp on one edge for cutting; curved, so as to inflict a deeper

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wound; and the weight arranged, by a mathematical rule, so that the
centres of percussion and of gravity are placed where the weapon may
be most easily handled. The lance is a weapon very appropriate to light
mounted troops, and is still used by some of the Cossacks and Arab
horsemen. But to wield it effectively requires protracted training. For a
long time in Europe it was the chief weapon for horsemen; with the
knights it was held in exclusive honor, and continued in use for a
considerable period after firearms had destroyed the prestige of the
gentlemen of the golden spurs. Prince Maurice, of Orange, when he
raised mounted regiments to defend the Netherlands against the
Spanish, rejected it, and since his time it has become obsolete except in
some regiments especially drilled to it. Such a regiment was raised in
Philadelphia at the commencement of our war, but after eighteen
months' experience the lances were abandoned. Besides the sabre,
cavalry-[Pg 227]men are armed with pistols or carbines—the men
having the latter being employed particularly in skirmishing, sometimes
on foot.
The proportion of mounted troops in an army varies according to the
nature of the country which is the theatre of military operations. In a
level country it should be about one fourth or one fifth, while in one
that is mountainous, it should not be greater than a tenth. As a general
rule, improvements in firearms have produced a decrease in the
proportion of cavalry and lessened its importance. When artillery was
introduced, the cavaliers, who composed the Middle Age armies
exclusively, commenced to disappear; knighthood passed out of
existence, being superseded by mercenary bands. Infantry gradually
assumed importance, which has constantly increased, until it has now
attained the vast predominance. This has not only caused a general
diminution of the proportion of cavalry, but has entailed on the
Governments of Europe the necessity of keeping their cavalry service
always at its maximum, so that the mounted troops may be perfect in
their drill; whereas infantry troops can acquire comparative proficiency
in a few months.
We will give a brief description of the different classes of cavalry, and
close our subject by some remarks on the operation of this arm of
service in our civil war.

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The regiments raised by Prince Maurice, of Orange, above referred to,
were the first known as cuirassiers, on account of the cuirasses which
they wore for defence. All defensive armor is now being laid aside.
Dragoons originally were a class of soldiers who operated both on foot
and mounted. They are supposed to take their name from a kind of
firearm called a 'dragon.' In modern practice dragoons are almost
entirely used as cavalry, and rarely have recourse to any extended
service on foot. The denomination 'dragoons' has recently been
abolished from our service.
Carabineers were at first some Basque and Gascon horsemen in the
French service, whose peculiarly distinguishing characteristic was a
skilful use in the saddle of a short firearm.
Hussars originated in Hungary, taking their denomination from the
word husz, which signifies twenty, and ar, pay—every twentieth man
being required by the state to enter into service. From their origin they
were distinguished for the celerity of their movements and their
devotion to fine costumes.
The hulans were a species of Polish light cavalry, bearing lances, and
taking their name from their commander—a nobleman named Huland.
Chasseurs are French regiments, designed chiefly to act as scouts and
skirmishers. The chasseurs d'Afrique are cavalry which have been
trained in Algeria, and have become exceedingly expert through
conflicts with the Arabs. The spahis are Arab cavalry, in the French
service, and are such admirable riders that they will charge over all
kinds of ground, and dash upon a foe who judges himself secure amid
rocks or trees or ditches.
At the commencement of the war the rebel cavalry was superior to that
furnished by the North. For this there were many reasons. Southern
plantation life had accustomed the aristocratic youth to the saddle, and
great attention was bestowed on the training of horses. At the North the
number of skilled riders was comparatively few. Gradually, however,
Northern energy, endurance, and patient discipline began to tell, and
the time soon arrived when the Southern cavalry were invariably
driven, especially in sabre charges, to which Southerners have great

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aversion. At present, on account of the scarcity of horses, the difficulty
of supplying forage, and the loss of so many gay youths of the chivalry,
the Southern, cavalry has dwindled into such a[Pg 228] condition as to
be no longer formidable.
The service of the cavalry in both armies during the war has been
exclusively as light cavalry—scouting, picketing, raiding, etc. Its
combats have been with forces of its own arm. No commander has yet
succeeded in assisting to determine the issue of a pitched battle by the
charges of his mounted troops. Our cavalry have rendered, however,
brilliant and invaluable services in protecting the rear and flanks of the
armies, and by their magnificent raiding expeditions into the enemy's
country, destroying his supplies, injuring his communications, diverting
his forces, and liberating his slaves. No sufficient accounts of such
expeditions and of the numerous cavalry conflicts have been published;
yet they are very desirable. They would furnish most interesting
narratives, and be a valuable contribution not only to the history of the
times, but to the history of warfare; for the operations of the cavalry in
this war constitute a new era in the history of this branch of military
service. Unless care is exercised to procure such narratives, our
posterity will never know anything of many battle fields where fought
and fell brave troopers from every Northern State.
The chief duties of officers belonging to the corps of engineers, when
connected with an army acting in the field, are the supervision of routes
of communication, the laying of bridges, the selection of positions for
fortifications, and the indication of the proper character of works to be
constructed. Should a siege occur, a new and very important class of
duties devolves on them, relating to the trenches, saps, batteries, etc.
Not only is there in Virginia a lack of good roads, but the numerous
streams have few or no bridges. In many cases where bridges have
existed, one or the other of the contending armies has destroyed them to
impede the march of its opponents. Streams which have an average
depth of three or four feet are, however, generally without bridges,
except where crossed by some turnpike, the common country roads
mostly leading to fords. The famous Bull Run is an example. There
were but two or three bridges over this stream in the space of country
penetrated by the roads generally pursued by our army in advancing or

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retreating, and these have been several times destroyed and rebuilt. The
stream varies from two to six feet in depth—the fords being at places of
favorable depth, and where the bottom is gravelly and the banks
sloping. Often such streams as this, and indeed smaller ones, become
immensely swelled in volume by storms, so that a comparatively
insignificant rivulet might greatly delay the march of an army, if means
for quickly crossing should not be provided. The general depth of a
ford which a large force, with its appurtenances, can safely cross, is
about three feet, and even then the bottom should be good and the
current gentle. With a greater depth of water, the men are likely to wet
their cartridge boxes, or be swept off their feet. There is a small stream
about three miles from Alexandria, crossing the Little River turnpike,
which has never been bridged, and which was once so suddenly
swollen by rain that all the artillery and wagons of a corps were obliged
to wait about twelve hours for its subsidence. The mules of some
wagons driven into it were swept away. Fords, unless of the best
bottom, are rendered impassable after a small portion of the wagons
and artillery of an army have crossed them—the gravel being cut
through into the underlying clay, and the banks converted into sloughs
by the dripping of water from the animals and wheels.
A very amusing scene was presented at the crossing of Hazel River (a
branch of the Rappahannock) last fall, when the Army of the Potomac
first marched to Culpepper. The stream was at least[Pg 229] three feet
deep, and at various places four—the current very rapid—the bottom
filled with large stones, and the banks steep, except where a narrow
road had been cut for the wagons. The men adopted various expedients
for crossing. Some went in boldly all accoutred; some took off shoes
and stockings, and carefully rolled up their trousers; others (and they
were the wisest) divested themselves of all their lower clothing. The
long column struggled as best it could through the water, and
occasionally, amid vociferous shouts, those who had been careful to
roll up their trousers would step into a hole up to the middle; others,
who had taken still more precautions, would stumble over a stone and
pitch headlong into the roaring waters, dropping their guns, and
splashing vainly about with their heavy knapsacks, in the endeavor to
regain a footing, until some of their comrades righted them; and others,
after getting over safely, would slip back from the sandy bank, and take

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an involuntary immersion. Some clung to the rear of the wagons, but in
the middle of the stream the mules would become fractious, or the
wagon would get jammed against a stone, and the unfortunate
passengers were compelled to drop off and wade ashore, greeted by
roars of derisive laughter. On such occasions soldiers give full play to
their humor. They accept the hardships with good nature, and make the
best of any ridiculous incident that may happen. At the time referred to,
many conscripts had just joined the ranks, and cries resounded
everywhere among the old soldiers: 'Hello, conscripts, how do you like
this?' 'What d'ye think of sogering now?' 'This is nothing. You'll have to
go in up to yer neck next time.'
Generally, when the exigencies of the march will permit, bridges are
made over such streams, either by the engineers of the army, or
detachments from the various corps which are passing upon the roads.
They are simple 'corduroy bridges,' and can be laid very expeditiously.
Two or three piers of stones and logs are placed in the stream, string
pieces are stretched upon them, and cross pieces of small round logs
laid down for the flooring. The most extensive bridges of this kind used
by the Army of the Potomac were those over the Chickahominy in the
Peninsular campaign. 'Sumner's bridge,' by which reinforcements
crossed at the battle of Fair Oaks, was laid in this manner. Of course
such bridges are liable to be carried away and to be easily destroyed.
Some of the bridges over the Chickahominy were laid much more
thoroughly. 'Cribs' of logs were piled in cob-house fashion, pinned
together, and sunk vertically in the stream. Then string pieces and the
flooring were laid, the whole covered with brush and dirt. Men worked
at these bridges up to the waist in water for many days in succession.
Military art has devised many expedients for bridging streams, and use
is made of any facilities that may be at hand for constructing the means
of passage; but the only organized bridge trains which move with the
army are those which carry the pontoons. Of these there are various
kinds, made of wood, of corrugated iron, and of india rubber stretched
over frames. But the wooden pontoon boats are most in use. They can
be placed in a river and the flooring laid upon them with great rapidity.
Several very fine bridges have been thus constructed—among them
may be mentioned the one at the mouth of the Chickahominy, across

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which General McClellan's army marched in retreating from Harrison's
Landing. It was about a mile long, and was constructed in a few hours.
To cross a river under the fire of an enemy is one of the most difficult
operations in warfare. Yet it has been frequently accomplished by our
armies. The crossing of the Rappahannock by General Burnside's army,
previous to[Pg 230] the great battle of Fredericksburg, in December,
1862, is one of the most remarkable instances of the kind during the
war. The rebel rifle pits lined the southern bank, and the fire from them
prevented our engineers from approaching—the river being only about
seventy-five yards wide. For a long time our artillery failed to drive the
rebels away. About noon of the day on which the crossing was made,
General Burnside ordered a concentration of fire on Fredericksburg, in
the houses of which place the rebels had concealed their forces. A
hundred guns, hurling shot and shell into every building and street of
the city, soon riddled it; but the obstinate foes hid themselves in the
cellars till the storm was over, and then emerged defiantly. They were
only dislodged by sending over a battalion in boats to attack them in
flank, when they retreated, and the bridges were laid.
It is impossible to explain in articles of this character the mysteries of
intrenchment and fortification, so that they will be comprehensible. A
few notes, however, on some of the principal terms constantly
employed, may be found useful and interesting.
Rifle pits—as the term is now generally used—are small embankments,
made by throwing up dirt from an excavation inside. They can be
erected quickly, for it will be seen that those behind them have the
advantage, not only of the height of the embankment, but also of the
depth of the ditch. Thus an excavation of two feet would give a
protection of four feet. This is the ordinary rifle pit, but when time
permits it receives many improvements.
Breastworks are any erections of logs, dirt, etc., raised breast high, to
shelter the men behind them.
An abatis consists of obstructions placed in front of a work to form
obstacles to a storming party. The most convenient method of forming
it is to cut down trees and allow them to lie helterskelter. When there is

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time, the trees are laid with the butts toward the work, and the branches
outward—the small limbs being removed, and the ends of the
remainder sharpened.

A redan is a letter V, with the point toward the enemy, and is used
generally to cover the heads of bridges, etc.

A lunette is the redan with flanking wings.

A redoubt is an enclosed parallelogram.

These works are very imperfect, because they have exposed points. The
angles are not protected by the fire from the sides. To remedy this

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difficulty, the next most usual work is the star fort, made in the form of
a regular or irregular star. It will be perceived that the fire from the
sides covers the angles.
The next and still more improved form of work is the bastioned fort,
which consists of projecting bastions at the corners, the fire from which
enfilades the ditches.
The following is a diagram of a vertical section of the parapet and ditch
used in all fully constructed field works:

A B is the slope of the banquette.

B C head of the banquette, or place where the men stand to deliver their
C D the interior slope of the parapet.
D E superior slope of the same.
F G the berme, or place left to prevent the parapet from washing down
into the ditch.
G H the scarp or interior wall of the ditch.
H I the bottom of the ditch.
I K the counterscarp.
L M N the glacis, which, except the abatis near[Pg 231] the ditch, is left
free and open, so as to expose the assailants to the fire from the parapet.
The proportions and angles of all the lines given are fixed according to
mathematical rules.
The operations of a siege present many incidents of great interest; but
we can do nothing more in this article than illustrate the methods in
which the approaches are made to the works the capture of which is

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designed. When reconnoissances have established the conclusion that
the works of an enemy cannot be carried by assault, the lines of the
investing army are advanced as near to them as is compatible with
safety; advantage is then taken of the opportunities afforded by the
ground to cover working parties, which are thrown forward to the place
fixed for the first parallel; sometimes these parties can commence their
work only at night. The parallel is only a deep trench with the dirt
thrown toward the enemy; and after the excavation has progressed, the
trench is occupied by parties of troops to resist any sorties of the
enemy, and to prevent attempts against the batteries established behind
the parallel.
The first parallel being completed, zigzag excavations are made toward
the front to cover the passage of men who proceed to dig the second
parallel. Meanwhile the batteries have commenced to play, and
riflemen have been advanced in trenches at convenient places, whose
fire annoys the gunners of the enemy. The second parallel being made,
the batteries are moved up to it, and the third parallel is proceeded with
in a manner similar to that used for the second.
We give below a rough diagram of these operations:

A B C D E is the work of the enemy to be besieged. The working

parties advance by the zigzag paths M N and O to the position chosen
for the first parallel, K L. At the proper time they proceed by the zigzag
paths to the second parallel, H I, and then to the third, F G. When this is
reached, the enemy's work can generally be carried by storm, unless
already evacuated, for ceteris paribus the advantages generally lie with

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the besieging party. The zigzags are called boyaux, and they are dug in
the form represented, so that the bank of earth thrown up may be
always in front of them. Were they in straight lines this could not be.
The above refers exclusively to the siege of a field work. The principles
for besieging a walled fort or a fortified town are the same, but the
operations are much more complicated.][Pg 232]
In previous papers we have briefly related the history of the art of war
as now practised, stated the functions of the principal staff departments,
and mentioned some of the peculiar features of the different arms of
military service. It remains to describe the operations of an army in its
totality—to show the methods in which its three principal classes of
operations—marching, encamping, and fighting—are performed.
The first necessity for rendering an army effective is evidently military
discipline, including drill, subordination, and observance of the
prescribed regulations. The first is too much considered as the devotion
of time and toil to the accomplishment of results based on mere
arbitrary rules. The contrary is the truth. Drilling in all its forms—from
the lowest to the highest—from the rules for the position of the single
soldier to the manœuvres of a brigade—is only instruction in those
movements which long experience has proved to be the easiest,
quickest, and most available methods of enabling a soldier to discharge
his duties: it is not the compulsory observance of rules unfounded on
proper reasons, designed merely to give an appearance of uniformity
and regularity—merely to make a handsome show on parade. Nothing
so much wearies and discourages a new recruit as his drill; he cannot at
first understand it, and does not see the reason for it. He exclaims:
'I'm sick of this marching,
Pipe-claying and starching.'
He thinks he can handle his musket with more convenience and rapidity
if he is permitted to carry it and load it as he chooses, instead of going
through the formula of motions prescribed in the manual. Perhaps as an
individual he might; but when he is only one in a large number, his
motions must be regulated, not only by his own convenience, but also

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by that of his neighbors. Very likely, a person uneducated in the
mysteries of dancing would never adopt the polka or schottish step as
an expression of exuberance; but if he dances with a company, he must
be governed by the rules of the art, or he will be likely to tread on the
toes of his companions, and be the cause of casualties. Military drill is
constantly approaching greater simplicity, as experience shows that
various particulars may be dispensed with. Formerly, when soldiers
were kept up as part of the state pageants, they were subjected to
numberless petty tribulations of drill, which no longer exist. Pipe-
clayed belts, for example, have disappeared, except in the marine corps.
Frederick the Great was the first who introduced into drill ease and
quickness of execution, and since his day it has been greatly simplified
and improved.
One great difficulty in our volunteer force pertains to the institution of
a proper subordination. Coming from the same vicinage, often related
by the various interests of life, equals at home, officers and men have
found it disagreeable to assume the proper relations of their military
life. The difficulty has produced two extremes of conduct on the part of
officers—either too much laxity and familiarity, or the entire opposite
—too great severity. The one breeds contempt among the men, and the
other hatred. After the soldier begins to understand the necessities of
military life, he sees that his officers should be men of dignity and
reliability. He does not respect them unless they preserve a line of
conduct corre[Pg 331]sponding to their superior military position. On
the other hand, if he sees that they are inflated by their temporary
command, and employ the opportunity to make their authority
needlessly felt, and to exercise petty tyranny, he entertains feelings of
revenge toward them. A model officer for the volunteer service is one
who, quietly assuming the authority incident to his position, makes his
men feel that he exercises it only for their own good. Such an officer
enters thoroughly into all the details of his command—sees that his
men are properly fed, clothed, and sheltered—that they understand their
drill, and understand also that its object is to render them more effective
and at the same time more secure in the hour of conflict—is careful and
pains-taking, and at the same time, in the hour of danger, shares with
his men all their exposures. Such an officer will always have a good
command. We think there has been a tendency to error in one point of

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the discipline of the volunteer forces, by transferring to them the
system which applied well enough to the regulars. In the latter, by long
discipline, each man knows his duty, and if he commits a fault, it is his
own act. In the volunteers, the faults of the men are in the majority of
cases attributable to the officers. We know some companies in which
no man has ever been sent to the guard house, none ever straggled in
marching, none ever been missing when ordered into battle. The
officers of these companies are such as we have described above. We
know other companies—too many—in which the men are constantly
straying around the country, constantly found drunk or disorderly,
constantly out of the ranks, and constantly absent when they ought to
be in line. Invariably the officers of such companies are worthless. If,
then, the system of holding officers responsible for the faults of the
men, were adopted, a great reform would, in our judgment, be
introduced into the service. It is a well-known fact in the army that the
character of a regiment, of a brigade, of a division even, can be entirely
changed by a change of commanders. A hundred or a thousand men,
selected at random from civil life anywhere, will have the same average
character; and if the military organization which these hundred or
thousand form differs greatly from that of any similar organization, it is
attributable entirely to those in command.
Passing to the army at large, the next matter of prominent necessity to
be noticed is the infusion in it of a uniform spirit—so as to make all its
parts work harmoniously in the production of a single tendency and a
single result. This must depend upon the general commanding. It is one
of the marks of genius in a commander that he can make his impress on
all the fractions of his command, down to the single soldier. An army
divided by different opinions of the capacity or character of its
commander, different views of policy, can scarcely be successful.
Napoleon's power of impressing his men with an idolatry for himself
and a confidence in victory is well known. The moral element in the
effectiveness of an army is one of great importance. Properly
stimulated it increases the endurance and bravery of the soldiers to an
amazing degree. Physical ability without moral power behind it, is of
little consequence. It is a well-known fact that a man will, in the long
run, endure more (proportionately to his powers) than a horse, both
being subject to the same tests of fatigue and hunger. A commander

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with whom an army is thoroughly in accord, and who shows that he is
capable of conducting it through battle with no more loss than is
admitted to be unavoidable, can make it entirely obedient to his will.
The faculty of command is of supreme importance to a general. Without
it, all other attainments—though of the highest character—will be
unserviceable.[Pg 332]
However large bounties may have given inducements for men to enlist
as soldiers, it is undeniable that patriotism has been a deciding motive.
Under the influence of this, each soldier has entertained an ennobling
opinion of himself, and has supposed that he would be received in the
character which such a motive impressed on him. He has quickly
ascertained, however, when fully entered on his military duties, that the
discipline has reduced him from the position of an independent patriot
to that of a mere item in the number of the rank and file. Military
discipline is based on the theory that soldiers should be mere machines.
So far as obedience is concerned, this is certainly correct enough; but
discipline in this country, and particularly with volunteers, should never
diminish the peculiar American feeling of being 'as good as any other
man.' On the contrary, the soldier should be encouraged to hold a high
estimation of himself. We do not believe that those soldiers who are
mere passive instruments—like the Russians, for example—can be
compared with others inspired with individual pride. Yet, perhaps, our
discipline has gone too far in the 'machine' direction. To keep up the
feeling of patriotism to its intensest glow is a necessity for an American
army, and a good general would be careful to make this a prominent
characteristic of the impression reflected from his own genius upon his
command. Professional fighting is very well in its place, and there are
probably thousands who are risking blood and life in our armies, who
yet do not cordially sympathize with the objects of the war. But an
army must be actuated by a living motive—one of powerful
importance; in this war there is room for such a motive to have full
play, and it is essential that our soldiers should be incited by no mere
abstract inducements, by no mere entreaties to gain victory, but by
exhibitions of all the reasons that make our side of the struggle the
noblest and holiest that ever engaged the attention of a nation.

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But we must leave such discussions, and proceed specifically to the
subject of this paper—the methods of moving an army.
A state of war having arrived, it depends upon the Government to
decide where the theatre of operations shall be. Usually, in Europe, this
has been contracted, containing but few objective points, that is, the
places the capture of which is desired; but in our country the theatre of
operations may be said to have included the whole South. The places
for the operations of armies having been decided on, the Government
adopts the necessary measures for assembling forces at the nearest
point, and accumulating supplies, as was done at Washington in 1861.
A commander is assigned to organize the forces, and at the proper time
he moves them to the selected theatre. Now commences the province of
strategy, which is defined as 'the art of properly directing masses upon
the theatre of war for the defence of our own or the invasion of the
enemy's country.' Strategy is often confounded with tactics, but is
entirely different—the latter being of an inferior, more contracted and
prescribed character, while the former applies to large geographical
surfaces, embraces all movements, and has no rules—depending
entirely on the genius of the commander to avail himself of
circumstances. It is the part of strategy, for instance, so to manœuvre as
to mislead the enemy, or to separate his forces, or to fall upon them
singly. Tactics, on the contrary, are the rules for producing particular
effects, and apply to details. The strategy of the commander brings his
forces into the position he has chosen for giving battle; tactics prescribe
the various evolutions of the forces by which they take up their
assigned positions. It was by strategy that General Grant obtained the
position at Petersburg; it was by tactics that his army was able to march
with[Pg 333] such celerity and precision that the desired objects were

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Marches are of two classes—of concentration and of manœuvre. The

former, being used merely for the assembling of an army, or conducting
it to the theatre of operations, need but little precision; the latter are
performed upon the actual theatre of war, often in the presence of the
enemy, and require care and skill for their proper conduct. The details
of marches are of course governed by the nature of the country in
which they are performed, but so far as practicable they are made in
two methods—by parallel columns, or by the flank. The former is the
most usual and the most preferable in many respects; indeed, the latter
is never adopted except when compelled by necessity, or for the
purpose of executing some piece of strategy. A careful arrangement of
all details by commanders, and a steady persistence in their
performance on the part of the troops, are required to permit this class
of marches to be made safely in the presence of an enemy.

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For the use of an army of a hundred thousand men about to march

forward against an enemy, all the parallel roads within a space of at
least ten miles are needed, and the more of them there are the better,
since the columns can thereby be made shorter, and the trains be sent
by the interior roads. Where a sufficient number of parallel roads exist,
available for the army, it is usual to put about a division on each—
sometimes the whole of a corps—according to the nature of the country
and the objects to be attained. We will attempt to illustrate the march of
an army by columns in the following diagram.
Suppose that E and F are two towns thirty miles apart, and that there
are road connections as represented in the diagram. The army
represented by the dotted line A B, wishes to move to attack the army C
D. Cavalry, followed by infantry columns, would be sent out on the
roads E M N and E G I, the cavalry going off toward P and K to protect
the flanks, and the infantry taking position at I and O. Meantime
another column, behind which are the baggage trains, covered with a
rear guard, has moved to L. If the three points I, L, and O are reached
simultaneously, the army can safely establish its new line, the baggage

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trains are entirely protected, and the whole country is occupied as
effectually as if every acre were in possession.
The formation of a marching column varies according to
circumstances, but is usually somewhat as follows, when moving
toward an enemy:
The dots representing the ambulances and wagon trains do not show the
true proportion of these to the rest of the column, and it cannot be given
except at too great a sacrifice of space. They occupy more road than all
the other parts of the column combined. With the advance guard go the
engineers and pioneers, to repair the roads, make bridges, etc.
The difficulties and dangers attending a flank march can be made
apparent by a diagram:

Let A B and C D represent two armies drawn up against each other in

three lines of battle, on opposite sides of a stream, E F. The commander
of the army A B, finding he cannot cross and drive the enemy from
their works, determines, by a flank march to the left, to go around them,
crossing at the point E. In order to effect this he must send his trains off

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by the road I K L to some interior line, and then slowly unfold his
masses upon the single road K E H. By the time the head of his column
is at H the rear has not perhaps left K, and thus the whole length of his
army is exposed on its side to an attack by the enemy, which may sever
it into two unsupporting portions. It will be perceived that to
accomplish such marches with security, they must be made in secret as
far as possible, until a portion of the marching force reaches the rear of
the enemy; the column must be kept compact, and great vigilance must
be exercised. In his progress from the Rapidan to the James, General
Grant made three movements of this character with entire success, each
time putting our forces so far in the rear of the rebels that they were
compelled to hasten their own retreat instead of delaying to avail
themselves of the opportunity for attacking.
Besides the topography of the country, various circumstances influence
the manner in which a march is conducted—particularly the position of
the enemy. When following a retreating foe, the cavalry is sent in the
advance, supported by some infantry and horse artillery, to harass the
rear guard, and, if practicable, delay the retreat until the main army can
come up. This was the case in the peninsula campaign, from Yorktown
to the Chickahominy. Again, the exact position of the enemy may not
be known, or he may have large bodies in different places, so that his
intentions cannot be surmised. It is then necessary to scatter the army
so as to cover a number of threatened points, care being exercised to
have all the different bodies within supporting distances, and to be on
guard against a sudden concentration of the enemy between them. This
was the case in the campaign which ended so gloriously at Gettysburg.
The rebels were then threatening both Harrisburg and Baltimore, and
the two extremities of our army were over thirty miles apart, so as to be
concentrated either on the right, left, or centre, as events might
determine. It happened that a collision was brought on at Gettysburg,
and both armies immediately concentrated there. The corps on the right
of our army was obliged to march about thirty-two miles, performing
the distance in about eighteen or nineteen hours, and[Pg 335] arriving in
time to participate in the second day's battle. As much skill is evinced
by a commander in preliminary manœuvring marches and the
assignment of positions to the different portions of his army as in the

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direction of a battle. Napoleon gained many of his victories through the
effects of such manœuvres.
Time is a very important element in marching. An army which can
march five miles a day more than its opponent will almost certainly be
victorious, for it can go to his flank, or assail him when unprepared,
Frederick the Great achieved his successes by imparting mobility to his
troops, and Napoleon also was a master of that peculiar feature in that
faculty of command of which we have before spoken, that enables a
leader to obtain from his men the maximum amount of continued
exertion. To achieve facility in marching, all the equipments of the
soldiers should be as light as possible, and the columns should be
encumbered with no more trains than are absolutely indispensable.
Officers of the highest class must be prepared to forego unnecessary
luxuries, and to march with nothing more than a blanket, a change of
clothing, and rations for a few days in their haversacks.
When a march is contemplated, orders are issued from the general
headquarters prescribing all the details—the time at which each corps is
to start, the roads to be taken, the precautions to be observed, and the
points to be gained. Usually an early hour in the morning is fixed for
the commencement of the march. If not in the immediate presence of
the enemy, and a surprise is not intended, the reveillé is beaten about
three o'clock, and the sleepy soldiers arouse from their beds on the
ground, pack up their tents, blankets, and equipments, get a hasty
breakfast, and fall into their ranks. If some commander—perhaps of a
regiment only—has been dilatory, the whole movement is delayed.
Many well-formed plans have been defeated by the indolence of a
subordinate commander and his failure to put his troops in motion at
the designated hour. Such a delay may embarrass the whole army by
detaining other portions, whose movements are to be governed by those
of the belated fragment. At four o'clock, if orders have been obeyed,
the long columns are moving. Perhaps four or five hours are occupied
in filing out into the road. While the sun is rising and the birds engaged
at their matins, the troops are trudging along at that pace of three miles
an hour, which seems so tardy, but which, persisted in day after day,
traverses so great a distance. Every hour there is ten or fifteen minutes'
halt, enabling the rear to close up, and the men to relieve themselves

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temporarily of their guns and knapsacks. Soon the heat commences to
grow oppressive, the dust rises in suffocating clouds, knapsacks weigh
like lead, and the artillery horses pant as they drag the heavy guns. But
the steady tramp must be continued till about eleven o'clock, when a
general halt under the shelter of some cool woods, by the side of a
stream, is ordered. Two or three hours of welcome rest are here
employed in dinner and finishing the broken morning's nap. After the
intenser heat of the day is past, the tramp recommences, and continues
till six or seven o'clock, when the place appointed for encamping is
reached. Soon white tents cover every hill and plain and valley, the
weary animals are unharnessed, trees and fence rails disappear rapidly
to feed the consuming camp fires, there is a universal buzz formed from
the laugh, the song, the shout, and the talking of twenty thousand
voices: it gradually subsides, the fires grow dim, and silence and
darkness fall upon the scene.
Such marching, with its twenty, twenty-five, or thirty miles a day, is
light compared with the harassing fatigues of a retreat, before the
pursuit of a triumphant enemy. To accom[Pg 336]plish this movement,
so as to save the organization and the material of an army, without too
great a loss of life, tests in the highest degree the skill of a commander
and the fortitude of the men. In a retreat, the usual order of marching is
reversed—the trains are sent in the advance, and the troops must
remain behind for their protection. Often it happens that they are
obliged to remain in line all day, to check by fighting the advance of
the enemy, and then continue their march by night. The dead and
wounded must, to a great extent, be left on the field; supplies are
perhaps exhausted, with no opportunity for replenishment; the
merciless cannon of the enemy are constantly thundering in the rear, his
cavalry constantly making inroads upon the flanks. Weary, hungry,
exhausted, perhaps wounded, the soldier must struggle along for days
and nights, if he would avoid massacre or consignment to the cruelties
of a prison. The rout of a great army—the disorganization and
confusion of a retreat, even when well conducted—the toil and
suffering and often slaughter—are the saddest scenes earth can present.
Who can paint the terrors of that winter retreat of the French from
Moscow? Fortunately, in our war we have had nothing to equal in
horrors the retreats of European armies, but no one who passed through

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those trying seven days fighting and marching which closed the
Peninsula campaign, can ever fail to shudder at the sufferings imposed
on humanity by a retreat.
Continental Monthly, December 1864 (Vol VI, Number VI), pp 601-609

Before the enlightenment derived from the sad experiences of our

present civil contest, upon the incidents of protracted warfare, probably
most persons conceived of war as a scene of constant activity—a series
of marches, battles, and sieges, with but few intervals of repose.
History records only the active portions of war, taking but little account
of the long periods consumed in the preliminary processes of
organization and discipline, in the occupation of camps and
cantonments, in the stationary watches of opposing armies, lying in the
front of each other, both too weak for aggressive movements, but each
strong enough to prevent such movements on the part of its opponent.
Such matters, if noticed at all, are recorded in a few sentences, making
no impression on the reader. Novels of the 'Charles O'Malley' class
have also given incorrect ideas. Every page relates some adventure—
every scene gleams with sabres and bayonets. Our three years'
experience has taught us that the greater portion of an army's existence
is spent in inactivity; that campaigning is performed only through one
half of the year, and of that time probably not over one third is
occupied in progressive movements. In the campaign of 1861, the only
marches of the Army of the Potomac were to the battle field of Bull
Run and the retreat. In 1862, after a march of fifteen miles to Fairfax
Court House and returning, the army was transferred to Fortress
Monroe and moved to Yorktown, where some weeks were passed in
the trenches; it then proceeded up the Peninsula, and laid a month
before Richmond; retreated to Harrison's Landing, and laid another
month; returned to Fortress Monroe, and was shipped to the vicinity of
Washington, marched for about a month, fought at Antietam, and then
laid in camp a month; moved to Warrenton and remained a fortnight;
proceeded to Fredericksburg and continued in camp all winter, except
making the short movements which led to the battle of December, and
the ineffective attempt to turn the rebel left, known as the 'mud [Pg
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period of nearly nine months, spent in various operations, more than
five months were passed in stationary camps—most of the time
occupied, it is true, in picketing, entrenching, and other duties incident
to positive military operations in proximity to an enemy, but very
different from the duties connected with marching and fighting. The
campaign of 1863 comprised a still smaller period of active
movements. Commencing in April with the battle of Chancellorsville, it
continued till the march to Mine Run in October—seven months; but
considerable more than half the time was spent in camps at Falmouth,
Warrenton, and Culpepper. The great campaign now in progress has
consumed (at the time this article is written) three months, commencing
after a six-months' interval of inaction, and already half the time has
been spent in the trenches at Petersburg.
Since so large a portion of the time of an army is passed in camps, that
branch of military science which governs the arrangement of forces
when stationary, is one of considerable importance. It is in camps that
armies are educated, that all the details of organization are
systematized, that the morale of troops is cultivated, that a round of
laborious though monotonous duties is performed. Nothing is so trying
to the temper of the individuals composing an army as a long season in
a stationary camp; nothing has more effect for good or for evil upon the
army in the aggregate, than the mode in which the time, at such a
season, is occupied. The commander who does not exercise care to
have his camps pitched in the proper localities, to insure the observance
of hygienic rules, and to keep his men employed sufficiently in military
exercises, will have discontented, unhealthy, and indolent troops.
The words 'camps' and 'cantonments' are frequently used in the
newspapers without any discrimination; but they denote two entirely
different methods of sheltering troops. A camp is defined to be the
place where troops are established in tents, in huts, or in bivouac; while
cantonments are inhabited places which troops occupy for shelter when
not put in barracks. Of camps there are several kinds, according to the
purposes to be effected by their establishment, such as the nightly
camps while upon the march, camps of occupation, camps in line of
battle, &c. Cantonments are most frequently used when, during the
winter, or other considerable period of inactivity, it is necessary to

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distribute an army over a large district of country, so as to guard a
number of points. We have not had any instance of cantonment,
properly speaking, during the present war; but in Europe this method of
disposing troops is frequently adopted.
The scenes ensuing upon the arrival of an army corps at its camping
ground for a night, after a day's march, are very lively, often amusing,
and sometimes present picturesque effects. Where the country traversed
by the army is known to the commander, he is able to designate the
nightly camps of the different corps with precision; if, on account of
ignorance of the country, this cannot be done, places are approximately
indicated upon the information given by maps or extracted from the
inhabitants, or procured by reconnoitring parties. Usually, however, the
commander possesses considerable topographical information,
procured by his officers in the advance with the cavalry and light
troops, so that he can fix the nightly camps in such a manner that the
various corps shall all be upon the same line, and lie within supporting
distances. The vicinity of streams is invariably selected for a camp, if
other circumstances permit. When a corps arrives within a mile or two
of its destination, the commander sends forward some of his staff
officers (accompanied by a cavalry guard, if the country is suspicious),
and these officers select the different localities for the camps of the[Pg
603] divisions, of the artillery, the cavalry, and the trains, care being
taken to give all equal facilities for wood and water, and at the same
time to take advantage of the features of the country for military
purposes, such as the guarding of roads in all directions, the
establishment of the picket line, &c. The leading division arrives
perhaps at 5 P.M., and its commander is shown to the locality assigned
him. He immediately distributes the ground to the brigades, and the
troops, as fast as they arrive, filing into the designated spots, occupy
but a few moments in the necessary formalities by which disorder is
prevented; then each man quickly spreads his little tent upon the place
which in the military order belongs to him, a general din of cheerful
voices arises, a unanimous rush is made to the water, cooking fires are
kindled in all directions, and in ten minutes a scene of (it may be) utter
desolation becomes full of life and activity. For a couple of hours the
columns continue to file in, until all the hillsides are covered with tents.
Then, far into the night, is heard the braying of mules, the shouts of

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drivers, and the rattling of wheels, as the heavy wagon trains toil to the
place of rest. All through the evening prevails that peculiar, cheerful
din of a camp, as peculiar and characteristic as the roar of a great city;
gradually the noises decline, the bugles and drums sound the tattoo, the
fires grow dim, and the vast mass of hardy, resolute humanity is asleep
—all except the two or three score of sick and dying men, wasted by
fever, who have been jolted all day over the rough roads in the
ambulances, and now groan and writhe in delirium upon their narrow
stretchers in the camp hospitals.
Camps designed to cover and guard a country, are constructed when the
army has not sufficient strength to advance, or when the season
prevents, or some other cause interferes with the prosecution of
hostilities, while at the same time it is necessary to occupy a portion of
the hostile territory. We have had numerous examples of this kind of
camps—indeed, our armies occupy them generally while lying inactive
during the winter. The character of the ground must always determine
the shape and features of such a camp, but unless peculiar modifying
circumstances dictate otherwise, the general form is that of the arc of a
circle. This, with extensions at the sides to cover the flanks, and a rear
guard, is the best for protection. The extent of this kind of camp is
governed by circumstances, but is much greater, generally, than would
be supposed. The camp of an army of 100,000 men, designed to cover
any considerable district of territory, in a country where hills and rivers
assist in giving protection, might have a front (including flanking
parties of cavalry) of from 30 to 50 miles, and a depth of from 10 to 20;
besides a continuous chain of forces in the rear, guarding
communications with the base of supplies, from 10 to 50 miles distant.
Camps in line of battle are generally established when opposing armies,
lying in proximity, must be on the alert for attacks. They cover but little
more ground than is required for the manœuvres of the force, and are so
arranged that, in case of probable conflict, the troops can assume
immediately the formations of battle. Such camps are arranged in two
or three lines, adapted to the natural features of the country for defence.
The approach of the enemy having been communicated from the
outposts, the tents are rapidly struck, the baggage loaded and sent to the
rear, and in an hour the army is free from all encumbrances, and ready

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to meet the advancing foe. Usually, when armies lie in contact,
expecting battle, the troops bivouac—no tents being pitched except at
the headquarters of superior commanders, and at other places
sufficiently in the rear to be free from immediate danger. The[Pg 604]
troops may be obliged to remain thus for a day or two, no fires being
permitted in the advanced lines, so that their positions may not be
The season for the suspension of active hostilities having arrived, it is
necessary for the commander of an army to select some place in which
his forces can remain for the winter—where they will have sufficient
facilities for fuel and water, where their health can be preserved, where
they can be protected against surprises or annoyance, where the country
can be covered and guarded, and where the supplies can be drawn with
security from the base of operations. After a due consideration of all the
intelligence that can be obtained upon these points, the commander
issues his general directions, the various corps move to their designated
positions, and preparations for the habitations of the winter are made.
Each corps commander, either personally or by his staff officers, makes
a survey of his ground, and assigns the positions of his divisions. If
within a few miles of the enemy, he throws detachments of observation
toward the front, and then proceeds to establish his picket line, usually
some three or five miles in advance of his main line. Precautions for
security being thus adopted, more minute inspections of the ground are
made, so that unhealthy positions may be avoided. The troops, being
placed, immediately proceed to clear the sites of their respective
encampments, and wagons are set to work to bring in logs with which
huts may be constructed. In about a week thousands of diminutive log
houses arise, roofed with the shelter tents of the soldiers, or, when the
occupants have sufficient handicraft ability, with rough shingles.
Shelters are erected, as far as possible, for the animals, generally being
nothing more than frameworks covered with pine brush. If there are
lumber mills in the vicinity, they are set to work, and boards sawed for
floors to the tents and hospitals. The adjacent forests now begin to
disappear rapidly, leaving nothing but an unsightly array of stumps; for
a regiment is entitled to about two hundred cords of wood per month as
fuel, and in a well-wooded country, where the men can conveniently
cut for themselves, much more is consumed. Every regiment requires,

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therefore, about eight or ten acres of woodland per month. An army of
a hundred regiments will, in the course of a winter, denude several
square miles of trees, so that (in the proportion which woodland
generally bears to that which is cleared) a space of country equal to a
county may be stripped of its timber. The men, having made
themselves comfortable, are now called on to form working parties, and
put the roads leading to the depots and the various camps in good order,
generally corduroying them, so as to be passable during the winter;
bridges are made over streams, drainage perfected, &c. In a few weeks,
the chief portion of the labor of preparing a winter's camp is completed.
The sanitary regulations for camps are very stringent and
comprehensive. The suggestions of experience as to the details by
which the diseases incident to camp life can be prevented, are
embodied in orders, and it is the duty of the medical officers and of the
inspectors to see that they are observed. For instance, it is not permitted
to have the floors of the huts lower than the external ground, and the
men are required to keep pine boughs between their blankets and the
earth. The method in which a camp shall be drained, and the offal
disposed of, is prescribed. The cleanliness of the men is enforced. A
rigorous system of reports upon these and many other particulars exists,
so that negligences are corrected.
The military occupations which relieve the monotony of camp life are
drilling and picketing. It is in the latter that officers and men find
change and freedom, though it often involves[Pg 605] severe exposure.
The ordinary detail for this duty in a corps averages perhaps eight
hundred to one thousand men, who are changed usually every three
days. If the country be well settled, some opportunities are presented
during that interval for intercourse with the 'natives;' but in Virginia, it
must be confessed, the attractions of this kind are few. The secession
ladies are not over well disposed to any wearers of Yankee uniforms,
and though many of them are willing to bestow a few soft words in
exchange for tea, coffee, and sugar, they are not liberal of social
courtesies. The young man who joins our armies expecting to realize
for himself the love adventures he has seen recorded in novels, will find
the Southern ladies less given to romance than the damsels of Spain or
Mexico. They are inclined, also, to be treacherous, as the fate of several

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gallant officers, who have gone stealthily beyond the lines to spend an
evening with fair rebel sirens, and found themselves delivered to
guerillas, has shown. Nevertheless, the experience of others never
warns an adventurous youth, and opportunities frequently arise for
practical jokes. During the winter of 1862-'3, while the army was
encamped on the Rappahannock, an officer was fascinated by the
charms of a fair widow who resided just beyond the lines, and
frequently made evening visits to her. His companions, being aware of
this, formed a party, on a bitter January night, and proceeding to the
widow's house, surrounded it, and sending within some who were
strangers to him, they announced themselves as belonging to the rebel
army, and captured the enamored lover, blindfolded, led him out, and
mounted him. Crestfallen and moody with, thoughts of his disgraceful
situation, cursing, perhaps, the wiles of the enchantress, to whom he
attributed it, he was made to ride many weary miles, and then, being
dismounted, and the bandage removed from his eyes, he found himself
at his own camp, where he was greeted with uproarious laughter.
The duties incident to picketing and outpost stations are so important
that several works by distinguished authors have been written
concerning them, but most of the rules are of too technical a character
for recital in these papers. The friends of soldiers will, however, take
interest in some general statements. The picket line consists of three
portions—first, the stations of the main guard; second, some distance in
advance of these, the picket stations; and third, some two hundred yards
in advance of these, the stations of the sentinels. If the country is open
and hilly, the latter need not be posted closely together, but in a wooded
country they must be quite numerous. It is their duty not to allow any
person to pass their line; and if a force of the enemy, too strong to be
resisted, approaches, they fall back on the pickets. These should be
stationed where they can command the main avenues of approach, and
offer resistance to the advanced parties of the enemy. After such
resistance becomes useless, the various pickets fall back on the grand
guard, which offers a more determined contest. The advance of the
enemy should by these means have been delayed for a couple of hours,
affording time for the troops to get under arms and take the order of

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The following diagram exhibits the general arrangement of picketing:

Let the line A B represent a chain of sentinels on a mile of picket front,

C D a line of picket stations, and E the[Pg 606] grand guard. The whole
force of men may perhaps be three hundred, of whom two thirds will
remain at E, posted advantageously upon some eminence protected in
part by a stream and commanding an open country. The remaining one
hundred will be distributed among the picket stations and thrown
forward as sentinels. The whole arrangement is supervised by an officer
of rank—usually a colonel. With a disposition like the above in front of
every division in an army, it is obviously impossible for any
considerable force of an enemy to approach without detection.
One of the greatest practical difficulties our armies have experienced
has been connected with the system of picketing. The South having
been greatly impoverished in those portions traversed by the
contending armies, and the people entirely destitute of luxuries, there
are innumerable applications from residents outside of the pickets for
admission within the lines, in order to trade with officers, for the
purpose of procuring in return articles from our well-supplied
commissariat. Various other necessities of the people appeal for a
modified degree of rigor in regard to picket arrangements, so that our
armies are never free from the presence of rebel inhabitants, traversing
them in all directions. Perfectly familiar with the country, they are able
to detect any weakly guarded places, and undoubtedly, in frequent
instances, after receiving the kindest treatment, return to their homes
conveying such information to guerillas as enables these prowlers to
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As a precaution against such annoyances, a very judicious arrangement
was made last winter by the provost marshal general of the Army of the
Potomac. He established certain points on the picket line at which
traffic might be conducted, and forbade admission to citizens. Some
rigorous system like this is very necessary.
The social life of camps is, however, the topic of chief interest. The
question is often asked, Is the life of a soldier demoralizing? The
answer must be, 'Yes,' but not for the reasons generally supposed. The
opportunities for vice and dissoluteness are really less than at home.
The hundred thousand men in an army use less liquor than the same
number of men in a city. In fact, liquor is nearly inaccessible to the
soldier when on the march. For other kinds of vice the temptations are
few. The demoralization arises from the terrible monotony of a
prolonged camp, which produces listlessness, indolence, and a devotion
to small amusements; deranges and reverses the whole system of active
life, as it is seen at home; renders a man uncouth; disqualifies soldiers
for anything else than the trade of war. To the officer in his tent and to
the soldier in his log hut, while the cold rains are beating without, and
the ground is knee deep with mud, there is a constant temptation to find
amusement in cards. Gambling thus becomes a pastime too generally
adopted. The books sent to the army are not always of the character
best adapted to the circumstances. Moral essays and tracts will not be
very eagerly sought for by men whose principal object is to kill time.
The reading matter needed is the kind afforded by the periodicals of the
day, unobjectionable novels, biographies, works of travel, etc.
Camp life has, however, its pleasures, and it must not be supposed that
all succumb to its enervating influences, or that any great number yield
themselves entirely to its demoralizing effects. The period of military
service among our volunteers is too short to permit its full influence to
be experienced, and the connections of our soldiers with their homes
too intimate to allow them to subside completely into the routine
veterans, whose social, mental, and moral nature is altogether lost and
absorbed in the new and artificial military nature imposed on them.[Pg
War collects many characters of peculiar idiosyncrasies, and jumbles
them strangely together, so that curious associations are produced. In

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any collection of men upon a staff or in a regiment, gathered from
different localities, will be found characters of the most opposite and
incongruous elements. There will be the youth who has never before
travelled beyond his own village, and is full of small anecdotes of the
persons who have figured in his little world; and the silent and reserved
man of middle age, who, if he can be induced to talk, can tell of many a
wild scene in all quarters of the world in which he has been a
participant, since he stealthily left his native home, a boy of sixteen.
There are men who have passed through all the hardships of life, who
have been soldiers in half a dozen European armies, or miners in
California and Australia, or sailors; and men who have always had
wealth at their disposal, and spent years in foreign travel, viewing the
world only under its sunniest aspects. There are many officers grown
gray while filling subordinate capacities at posts on the Western
prairies and mountains, who can relate many interesting anecdotes of
their companions—the men now prominent in military affairs; and
there are officers of high rank, recently emerged from civil life, who
nourish prodigiously in self-glorification upon their brief warlike
experience. There are brave men, and men whose courage is suspected;
quiet men, and men of opinionated perversity; quick-witted men, and
men whose profound stupidity makes them continual butts for all kinds
of practical jokes; refined, educated, poetical men, and men of boorish
habits. In short, any camp presents such specimens of humanity as
would be furnished if all the ingredients of character and experience
that compose the world had been collected in a huge pepper box and
sprinkled miscellaneously throughout the army.
In such associations there are of course many occasions for extracting
interesting and comical conversation and incident. Jokes of all kinds are
constantly on the wing, and no one can consider himself safe from
collision with them. Ridiculous nicknames become attached—no one
knows how—to the most dignified characters, and altogether usurp the
places of the genuine cognomens. No person possesses the art of
concealment to such a degree that all his foibles and weaknesses will
escape observation in the companionship of a camp; and when
discovered, the treatment of them is merciless just in proportion to the
care with which they had been hidden. All pretensions will be
penetrated, all disguises unmasked. Every man finds himself placed

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according to his exact status, no matter how well contrived his
arrangements for passing himself off for more than his par value. Many
an officer, whom the newspapers delight to praise, because he is over
courteous to correspondents, and takes precautions to have all his
achievements published, has a camp reputation far different from that
by which he is known to the public.
Opinions of all kinds flourish in the army as vigorously as in the outer
world. There are ardent theorists of the progressive order, full of
schemes for radical reforms, and old fogies believing in nothing except
what they lament to see is fast becoming obsolete. There are students
and practical men, authors and mechanics, editors, lawyers, doctors,
clergymen, school teachers, actors, artists, singers, and representatives
of all kinds of trades and avocations. All are now on the same platform,
and, for a time, class distinctions disappear beneath the assimilating
conditions of the new profession. Political strifes occur, but are rarely
virulent. Generally the association together of men holding different
political views, in a common cause, and subject to the same dangers, is
tacitly accepted as the occasion for an armistice. But politics of[Pg 608]
all kinds are represented. There are of course Abolitionists,
Republicans, Unionists, and War Democrats; but, strangely enough,
there are also Copperheads, Peace Democrats, peace-at-any-price men,
and even secession sympathizers. Why extremists of the latter classes
should have joined the army voluntarily cannot be surmised; but there
they are, and, moreover, they do their duty. There are some traits of
original manhood so strong that even the poison of treasonable politics
cannot overcome them.
The daily routine of camp life in a regiment can be told in a few words.
The plan of a regimental camp as laid down in the army regulations is
generally conformed to, with some variations recommended by the
character of the camping ground. The following diagram exhibits the

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N.C.S. Non- LT. CL.

commissioned Lieutenant-
staff. colonel.
CL. Colonel.
Assistant surgeon.
M. Major. ADJT.

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Quartermaster. Surgeon.
In our armies the full allowances of camp equipage are not permitted.
Field and staff officers have only three wall tents, and company officers
only the same shelter tents as the men. The trains very rarely encamp
with the regiments. The tents of the men front on streets from fifteen to
twenty feet wide, each company having a street of its own, and there is
much competition as to the adornment of these. Many regimental
camps are decorated with evergreens in an exceedingly tasteful manner
—particularly during warm[Pg 609] weather—chapels, arches,
colonnades, etc., being constructed of rude frameworks, so interwoven
with pine boughs that they present a very elegant appearance.
The daily life of a camp is as follows: At an hour appointed by orders,
varying according to the season of the year, the camp is roused by the
reveille. The old notion that soldiers should be waked before daybreak
in all seasons and all weathers has fortunately been exploded, and the
reveille is not generally sounded in winter till six o'clock. In pleasant
weather the men are formed upon the color line, where they stack their
arms. Breakfast is the next matter in order: after that the mounting of
the guard for the day and the detail of detachments for picket and other
duties. The prisoners are put to work in cleaning up the camp, and
squad drills occupy the morning. About noon the dinner call is
sounded; then come more drills and in the latter part of the afternoon
the dress parade of the regiment. This closes the military labors of the
day. In the evening there are schools for instructions in tactics, and the
time is passed in any amusements that may offer themselves. About
half past eight the tattoo is beaten, when every one, not absent on duty,
must be in camp ready to answer to his name; and shortly after, the beat
of taps proclaims that the military day is ended, and lights must be
extinguished—a regulation not very strictly enforced. Thus pass the
days of camp life.
Very different are those assemblages of huts down among the pine
forests of Virginia from the pleasant villages, the thriving towns, and
the prosperous cities of the North—very different the life of the soldier

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from that which he enjoyed before rebellion sought to sever the country
which from his cradle he had been taught to consider 'one and

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