Works of Frederick Engels 1855
The Turkish army, at the beginning of the present war, was in a higher state of efficiency than it had ever reached before. The various attempts at reorganization and reform made since the accession of Mahmud, since the massacre of the janissaries, and especially since the peace of Adrianople, had been consolidated and systematized. The first and greatest obstacle — the independent position of the pashas in command of distant provinces — had been removed, to a great extent, and, upon the whole, the pashas were reduced to a discipline somewhat approaching that of European district commanders. But their ignorance, insolence, and rapacity remained in as full vigor as in the best days of Asiatic satrap rule; and if, for the last twenty years, we had heard little of revolts of pashas, we have heard enough of provinces in revolt against their greedy governors, who, originally the lowest domestic slaves and “men of all work,” profited by their new position to heap up fortunes by exactions, bribes, and wholesale embezzlement of the public money. That, under such a state of things, the organization of the army must, to a great extent, exist on paper only, is evident.
The Turkish army consists of the regular active army (Nizam), the reserve (Redif), the irregular troops, and the auxiliary corps of the vassal states.
The Nizam is composed of six corps (Orders), each of which is raised in the district it occupies, similar to the army-corps in Prussia, each of which is located in the province from which it recruits itself. Altogether the organization of the Turkish Nizam and Redif is, as we shall see, copied from the Prussian model. The six Orders have their head-quarters in Constantinople, Shumla, Toli-Monatzir, Erzeroum, Bagdad, and Aleppo. Each of them should be commanded by a Mushir (field marshal), and should consist of two divisions or six brigades, formed by six regiments of infantry, four of cavalry, and one of artillery.
The infantry and cavalry are organized upon the French, the artillery upon the Prussian system.
A regiment of infantry is composed of four battalions of eight companies each, and should count, when on its full complement, 3,250 men, inclusive of officers and staff, or 800 men per battalion; the general strength, however, before the war, seldom exceeded 700 men, and in Asia was almost always much less.
A cavalry regiment consists of four squadrons of lancers, and two squadrons of chasseurs, each squadron to contain 151 men; in general, the effective strength was here even more below the standard than in the infantry.
Each artillery regiment consists of six horse and nine foot batteries, of four guns each, thus representing a total of sixty guns.
Every order was thus expected to number 19,500 infantry, 3,700 cavalry, and sixty guns. In reality, however, from 20,000 to 21,000 men in all is the utmost, ever reached.
Beside the six Orders, there are four artillery regiments (one of reserve, and three of garrison artillery), two regiments of sappers and miners, and three special detachments of infantry sent to Candia, to Tunis, and Tripoli, of a total strength of 16,000 men.
The total strength of the Nizam, or regular standing army, before the war, should, therefore, have been as follows:
|36||reg. of infant. averaging||2,500-90,000|
|7||“ field artillery||9,000|
|2||“ sappers and miners||1,600|
The soldiers, after having served five years in the Nizam, are dismissed to their homes, and form, for the seven following years, part of the Redif or reserve. This reserve counts as many orders, divisions, brigades, regiments, etc., as the standing army; in fact, it is to the Nizam what in Prussia the first levy of the landwehr is to the line, with the sole exception, that in Prussia, in larger masses than brigades, line and landwehr are always mixed, while in the Turkish organization they are to be kept separate. The officers and non-commissioned officers of the Redif are constantly assembled at the depots, and once a year the Redif are called in for exercise, during which time, they receive the same pay and rations as the line. But such an organization, presupposing a well-regulated civil administration, and a civilized state of society, far from having been reached in Turkey, must in a great degree exist on paper only, and if we count, therefore, the Redif as equal in numbers to the Nizam, we shall certainly put it down at its highest possible figure.
The auxiliary contingents consist of troops from:
|1. The Danubian Principalities||6,000 men.|
|2. Servia||20,000 "|
|3. Bosnia and Herzegovina||30,000 "|
|4. Upper Albania||10,000 "|
|5. Egypt||40,000 "|
|6. Tunis and Tripoli||10,000 "|
|Total, about||116,000 "|
To these troops must he added the volunteer Bashi Bazouks, whom Asia Minor, Kurdistan, and Syria can furnish in great numbers. They are the last remnant of that host of irregular troops which, in past centuries, flooded Hungary, and twice appeared before Vienna. Mostly cavalry, their inferiority, even to the worst-equipped European horseman, has been proved by two centuries of all but constant defeats. Their self-confidence has disappeared, and now they serve no other purpose than to swarm around the army, eating up and wasting the resources upon which the regular body should subsist. Their love of plunder and unreliable temper make them even unfit for that active outpost duty which the Russians expect from their Cossacks; for the Bashi Bazouks, when most wanted, are least to be found. In this present war, it has, therefore, been found desirable to keep their numbers down, and we do not think that there were ever collected more than 50,000 of them.
Thus the numerical strength of the Turkish army, at the beginning of the war, may he estimated as follows:
|Auxiliaries, regulars from Egypt and Tunis||50,000|
|Do. irregulars, Bosnia and Albania||40,000|
But again, from this sum total several deductions have to be made. That the Orders stationed in Europe were in pretty good condition, and as near their full complement as can be expected in Turkey, seems pretty certain; but in Asia, in the distant provinces where the Mussulman population predominates, the men might be ready, while neither arms, nor equipments, nor stores of ammunition were forthcoming. The Danubian army was formed from the three European Orders principally. They were the nucleus around which the European Redifs, the Order of Syria, or, at least, a good part of it, and a number of Arnauts, Bosnians, and Bashi Bazouks were collected. Yet the excessive caution of Omer Pasha — his constant unwillingness up to the present time to expose his troops in the field — is the best proof that he has but a limited confidence in the capabilities of this, the only good regular army Turkey ever possessed. But in Asia, where the old Turkish system of embezzlement and laziness was still in full blossom, the two Orders of the Nizam, the whole of the Redifs, and the mass of the irregulars were unable to withstand a Russian army vastly inferior in numbers; in every battle they were beaten, and, at the end of the campaign of 1854, the Asiatic army of Turkey had all but ceased to exist. There, then, it is clear that not only the details of the organization, but a great proportion of the troops themselves had no real existence. The want of arms, equipments, ammunition, and provisions, was the constant complaint of the foreign officers and newspaper correspondents in Kars and Erzeroum; and they plainly stated that nothing but the indolence, incapacity, and rapacity of the Pashas was the cause of it. The money was duly sent to them, but they always appropriated it to their own uses.
The equipment of the Turkish regular soldier is on the whole imitated from the western armies, the only distinction being the red fez or skull-cap, which is about the worst head-gear possible in that climate, where, during the heats of summer, it causes frequent sun-strokes. The quality of the articles furnished is bad, and the clothing has to stand longer than can be expected, in consequence of the officers generally pocketing the money destined for its renewal. The arms are of an inferior description, both for the infantry and cavalry; the artillery alone has very good field-guns, cast at Constantinople, under the direction of European officers and civil engineers.
The Turk, in himself, is not a bad soldier. He is naturally brave, extremely hardy and patient, and, under certain circumstances, docile. European officers who have once gained his confidence, can rely upon him, as witness Grach and Butler at Silistria, and Iskender Bey (Ilinski) in Wallachia. But these are exceptions. On the whole, the innate hatred of the Turk for the “Giaour” is so indelible, and his habits and ideas are so different from those of a European, that, so long as his remains the ruling race in the country, he will not submit to men whom he inwardly despises as incommensurably his inferiors. This repugnance is extended to the very organization of the army, ever since it has been put upon a European footing. The common Turk hates Giaour institutions as much as the Giaours themselves. Then the strict discipline, the regulated activity, the constant attention required in a modern army are things utterly hateful to the lazy, contemplative, fatalist Turk. The officers, even, will rather allow the army to be beaten than exert themselves, and use their own senses. This is one of the worst features in the Turkish army, and alone would suffice to make it unfit for any offensive campaign.
The private and non-commissioned soldiers are recruited by volunteers and the ballot; the lower grades of officers are sometimes filled by men promoted from the ranks, but generally by the camp-followers and domestic servants, the tshibukdjis and kafeidjis of the higher officers. The military schools at Constantinople not very good in themselves, cannot furnish young men enough for the vacancies. As to the higher ranks, a system of favoritism exists, of which the western nations have no idea. Most of the generals were originally Circassian slaves, the mignons of some great man in the days of their youth. Utter ignorance, incapacity, and self-sufficiency rule supreme, and court-intrigue is the principal means of advancement. Even the few European generals (renegades) in the service would not have been accepted, if they had not been absolutely necessary to prevent the whole machine from falling to pieces. As it is, they have been indiscriminately taken, both from men of real merit and mere adventurers.
At present, after three campaigns, no Turkish army can be said to exist, except the 80,000 men of Omer Pasha’s original army, part of which is stationed on the Danube, and part in the Crimea. The Asiatic army consists of about 25,000 rabble, unfit for the field, and demoralized by defeat. The remainder of the 400,000 men are gone nobody knows where; killed in the field or by sickness, invalided, disbanded, or turned into robbers. Very likely this will be the last Turkish army of all; for, to recover from the shock received by her alliance with England and France, is. more than can be expected from Turkey.
The time is gone by when the contests of Oltenitza and Citate created an exaggerated enthusiasm for Turkish bravery. The stubborn inactivity of Omer Pasha sufficed to raise doubts as to their other military qualifications, which not even the brilliant defense of Silistria could entirely dispel; the defeats in Asia, the flight of Balaklava, the strictly defensive attitude of the Turks in Eupatoria, and their complete inactivity in the camp before Sebastopol have reduced the general estimate of their military capabilities to a proper level. The Turkish army was so constituted that a judgment on its- general value was hitherto completely impossible. There were, no doubt, some very brave and well-managed regiments, capable of any duty, but they were greatly in the minority. The great mass of the infantry lacked cohesion, and was, therefore, unfit for field-duty, though good behind intrenchments. The regular cavalry was decidedly inferior to that of any European power. The artillery was by far the best portion of the service, and the field-regiments in a high state of efficiency; the men were as if born for their work, though no doubt the officers left much to desire. The Redifs appear to have suffered from a general want of organization, though the men no doubt were willing to do their best. Of the irregulars, the Arnauts and Bosnians were capital guerrillas, but nothing more, best used in defending fortifications; while the Bashi Bazouks were all but worthless, and even worse than that. The Egyptian contingent appears to have been about on a level with the Turkish Nizam, the Tunisian nearly unfit for anything. With such a motley army, so badly officered and subject to such maladministration, no wonder it is all but ruined in three campaigns.
This army is composed of ten brigades of infantry, ten battalions of rifles, four brigades of cavalry, three regiments of artillery, one regiment of sappers and miners, a corps of carabineers (police troops), and the light horse in the island of Sardinia.
The ten brigades of infantry consist of one brigade of guards, four battalions of grenadiers, two battalions of chasseurs, and nine brigades of the line, equal to eighteen regiments of three battalions each. To these are added ten battalions of rifles (bersaglieri), one for every brigade, thus constituting a proportion of light infantry, actually trained, far stronger than in any other army.
There is, besides, a depot battalion for every regiment.
Since 1849, the strength of the battalions has been very much reduced, from financial motives. On the war-footing, a battalion should number about 1,000, but on the peace-footing there are no more than about 400 men. The remainder have been dismissed on indefinite furlough.
The cavalry counts four regiments of heavy, and five of light cavalry. Every regiment has four field and one depot-squadron. On the war-footing, a regiment should count about 800 men in the four field-squadrons, but on the peace-footing there are scarcely 600.
The three regiments of artillery consist of one regiment of workmen and artificers, one of garrison artillery (twelve cornpanies), and one of field-artillery (six foot, two horse, two heavy batteries of eight guns each). The light batteries have eight lb. guns and twenty-four lb. howitzers, the heavy batteries sixteen lb. guns; in all eighty guns.
The regiment of sappers and miners has ten companies, or about 1,100 men. The carbineers (horse and foot) are very numerous for such a small kingdom, and number about 3,200 men. The light horse, doing duty as police troops in the island of Sardinia, figure about 1,100 strong.
The Sardinian army, in the first campaign against Austria, in 1848, certainly reached the strength of 70,000 men. In 1849, it was very near 130,000. Afterwards it was reduced to about 45,000 men. What it is now it is impossible to say, but there is no doubt that, since the conclusion of the treaty with England and France,’ it has been again increased.
This great elasticity of the Piedmontese army, which allows it to increase or diminish the numbers present under arms at any time, arises from a system of recruiting very nearly akin to that of Prussia; and, indeed, Sardinia may be called, in many respects, the Prussia of Italy. There is in the Sardinian states a similar obligation for every citizen to serve in the army, though, unlike Prussia, substitutes are allowed; and the time over which this obligation extends, consists, as in Prussia, of a period of actual service and another period, during which the soldier dismissed from the ranks remains in the reserve, and is liable to be called in again in time of war. The system is something between the Prussian method and that of Belgium and the minor German states. Thus, by calling in the reserves, the infantry, from about 30,000 men, may be raised to 80,000, and even more. The cavalry and field artillery would undergo but a small augmentation, as in these arms the soldiers generally have to remain with the regiments during the whole period of their service.
The Piedmontese army is as fine and soldier-like a body of men as any in Europe. Like the French, they are small in size, especially the infantry; their guards do not average even five feet four inches; but what with their tasteful dress, military bearing, well-knit but agile frames, and fine Italian features, they look better than many a body of bigger men. The dress and equipments are, with the infantry of the line and guards, upon the French principle, with a few details adopted from the Austrians. The bersaglieri have a costume of their own, a little sailor’s hat with a long hanging plume of cock-feathers and a brown tunic. The cavalry wear short brown jackets, just covering the hip-bone. The percussion-musket is the general arm of the infantry; the bersaglieri have short Tyrolese rifles, good and useful weapons, but inferior to the Minié in every respect. The first rank of the cavalry used to be armed with lances; whether this is still the case with the light-horse we cannot say. The eight lb. calibre for the horse and light-foot batteries gave them the same advantage over the other continental armies which the French had while they preserved this calibre; but their heavy batteries, carrying sixteen pounders, rendered them the heaviest field artillery of the continent. That these guns, when once in position, can do excellent service, they have shown on the Chernaya, where their accurate firing contributed a great deal to the success of the Allies, and was universally admired.
Of all the Italian states, Piedmont is the best situated for creating a good army. The plains of the Po and its tributaries produce capital horses, and a fine, tall race of men, the tallest of all Italians, exceedingly well-adapted for cavalry and heavy artillery service. The mountains, which surround these plains on three sides, north, west, and south, are inhabited by a hardy people, less in size, but strong and active, industrious and sharp-witted, like all mountaineers. It is these that form the staple of the infantry, and especially of the bersaglieri, a body of troops nearly equaling the Chasseurs de Vincennes in training, but certainly surpassing them in bodily strength and endurance.
The military institutions of Piedmont are, upon the whole, very good, and, in consequence, the officers bear a high character. So late as 1846, however, the influence of the aristocracy and the clergy had a great deal to do with their appointment. Up to that period, Charles Albert knew but two means of governing-the clergy and the army; in fact, it was a general saying in other parts of Italy, that in Piedmont, out of three men you met in the street, one was a soldier, the second a monk, and only every third man a civilian. At present, of course, this has been done away with; the priests have less than no influence, and, though the nobility preserve many officers’ commissions, the wars of 1848 and ‘49 have stamped a certain democratic character upon the army which it will not be easy to destroy. Some British Crimean newspaper correspondents have stated that the Piedmontese officers were almost all “gentlemen by birth,” but so far from this being the case, we know, personally, more than one Piedmontese officer who rose from the ranks, and can safely assert that the mass of the captains and lieutenants are now composed of men who either gained their epaulettes by bravery against the Austrians, or who at least are not connected with the aristocracy.
We think that the greatest compliment that can be paid to the Piedmontese army is contained in the opinion expressed by one of its late opponents, General Schönhals, quarter-master-general of the Austrian army in 1848 and ‘49. In his “Recollections of the Italian Campaigns”, this general, one of the best officers of the Austrian army, and a man violently opposed in every way to anything smacking of Italian independence, treats the Piedmontese army throughout with the highest respect.
“Their artillery he says, “consists of picked men, under good and well-informed officers; the matériel is good, and the calibre is superior to ours [...]."The cavalry is no contemptible arm; the first rank carry lances, but as a very adroit rider only can well manage this arm, we should not like to say that this innovation was exactly an improvement. Their school of equitation, however, [... ] is very good.” “At Santa Lucia, both parties fought with astonishing bravery. The Piedmontese attacked with great vivacity and impetuosity — both Piedmontese and Austy-ians performed many feats of great personal valor.” “The Piedmontese army has a right to mention the day of Novara without a blush,” — and so on.
In the same way, the Prussian General Willisen, who assisted in part in the campaign of 1848, and who is no friend of Italian independence, speaks highly of the Piedmontese army.
Ever since 1848, a certain party in Italy has looked upon the king of Sardinia as the future chief of the whole peninsula. Though far from participating in that opinion, we still believe that whenever Italy shall reconquer her freedom, the Piedmontese forces will be the principal military instrument in attaining that object, and will, at the same time, form the nucleus of the future Italian army. It may undergo, before that happens, more than one revolution in its own bosom, but the excellent military elements it contains will survive all this and will even gain by being merged in a really national army.
The papal army hardly exists except on paper. The battalions and squadrons are never complete, and form but a weak division. There is, besides, a regiment of Swiss guards, the only body on which the government can place any reliance. The Tuscan, Parmesan and Modenese armies are too insignificant to be mentioned here; suffice it to say that they are organized, upon the whole, on the Austrian model. There is, besides, the Neapolitan army, of which, too, the least said the sooner mended. It has never shone conspicuously before the enemy, and, whether fighting for the king, as in 1799, or for a constitution, as in 4821, it always distinguished itself by running away. Even in 1848 and ‘49, the native Neapolitan army was everywhere beaten by the insurgents, and, had it not been for the Swiss, King Bomba would not now be on his throne. During the siege of Rome, Garibaldi advanced with a handful of men against the Neapolitan division and beat it twice."’ The army of Naples, on the peace-footing, is estimated at 26,000 or 27,000 men, but in 1848 it is stated to have numbered nearly 49,000 men, and the full footing should raise it to 64,000. Of all these troops, the Swiss are alone worth mentioning.
They consist of four regiments, of two battalions each, and should number, when complete, 600 men per battalion, or 4,800 men. But the cadres are now overfilled, so that each battalion is about 1,000 strong (the fourth, or Bernese regiment, alone mustering 2,150), and the whole number may be estimated at nearly 9,000. These are really first-rate troops, commanded by officers of their own country, and independent, in their internal organization and administration, from the government of Naples. They were first taken into pay in 1824 or ‘25, when the king, no longer trusting the army that so shortly before had revolted, found it necessary to surround himself with a strong body-guard. The treaties or “capitulations,” as they were called, were concluded with the different cantons for thirty years; the Swiss articles of war and the Swiss military organization were secured to the troops; the pay was three-fold that of the native Neapolitan soldiers; the troops were recruited by volunteers from each canton, where recruiting offices were established. Pensions were secured to retiring officers, veterans, and the wounded. If, at the expiration of the thirty years, the capitulation was not renewed, the regiments were to be broken up. The present Swiss constitution forbids recruiting for foreign service, and the capitulations, therefore, were canceled after 1848; recruiting has stopped, at least ostensibly, in Switzerland, but at Chiasso and other points of Lombardy, depots were established, and many a recruiting agent secretly continued his business on Swiss soil. So eager was the Neapolitan government for recruits, that it did not refuse to accept the refuse of the political refugees then in Switzerland. The King of Naples, under these circumstances, confirmed the privileges granted to the Swiss soldiers by the capitulations, and in August last, when the thirty years had elapsed, by a special decree again prolonged these privileges for so long a time as the Swiss should remain in his service.
In Switzerland no national standing army exists. Every Swiss is compelled to serve in the militia, if able-bodied; and this mass is divided into three levies (Auszug, erstes and zweites Aufgebo), according to age. The young men, during the first years of service, are called out separately for drill, and collected from time to time in camps; but whoever has seen the awkward gait and uncomfortable appearance of a Swiss squad, or heard the jokes they crack with the drill-sergeant while under drill, must at once see that the military qualities of the men are but very poorly developed. Of the soldierly capabilities of this militia we can only judge by the one example of the Sonderbund war, in 1847, which campaign is distinguished by the extremely small number of casualties in proportion to the forces engaged. The organization of the militia is almost entirely in the hands of the various cantonal governments; and, though its general form is fixed by federal laws, and a federal staff is at the head of the whole, this system cannot fail to create confusion and want of uniformity, while it must almost necessarily prevent a proper accumulation of stores, the introduction of improvements, and the permanent fortification of important points, especially on the side where Switzerland is weak, toward Germany.
The Swiss, like all mountaineers, make capital soldiers when drilled; and, wherever they have served as regular troops under foreign banners, they have fought exceedingly well. But being rather slow-headed, they need drilling much more, indeed, than either French or North Germans, to give them confidence in themselves., and cohesion. It is possible that national feeling might possibly replace this in the case of a foreign attack upon Switzerland, but even this is very doubtful. An army of 80,000 regular troops, and less, would certainly be a match for all the 160,000 and more men which the Swiss say they can congregate. In 1798, the French finished the business with a few regiments."’ The Swiss boast a great deal of the rifles of their sharp-shooters. There are, certainly, in Switzerland, comparatively more good shots than in any other European country, the Austrian Alpine possessions excepted. But when one sees how these dead shots, when called in, are almost all armed with clumsy common percussion muskets, the respect for the Swiss sharp-shooters is considerably lessened. The few battalions of rifles may be good shots, but their short, heavy pieces (Stutzen) are antiquated and worthless compared with the Minié, and their awkward, slow method of loading, with loose powder from a horn, would give them but a poor chance when opposed to troops armed with less superannuated weapons.
Altogether, arms, accoutrements, organization, drill, everything is old-fashioned with the Swiss, and very likely will remain so as long as the cantonal governments have anything to say on the subject.
The Swedish and Norwegian armies, though united under one as the two countries to which they belong. 326 crown, are as separate
In contrast to Switzerland, both give us the example of an Alpine country with a standing army; but the Scandinavian peninsula is altogether, by the nature of the soil, and the consequent poverty, and thin population of the country, so much akin to Switzerland, that even in the military organization of both, one system, and that the militia system, predominates.
Sweden has three sorts of troops, — regiments raised by voluntary enlistment (Värfvade truppar), provincial regiments (Indelta truppar), and Reserve troops. The Värfvade consist of three regiments of infantry, containing six battalions, two of cavalry and three of artillery, with thirteen foot and four horse batteries, altogether 96 six lb., 24 twelve lb., and 16 twenty-four lb. guns. This makes a total of 7,700 men, and 136 guns. These troops contain all the artillery for the whole army.
The Indelta form twenty provincial regiments of two battalions, with five separate battalions of infantry, and six regiments of a strength varying from one to eight squadrons. They are estimated at 33,000 men.
The Reserve troops form the mass of the army. When called in they are expected to reach 95,000 men.
There is, besides, in the province of Götaland, a sort of militia constantly under arms, numbering 7,850 men, in twenty-one companies and sixteen guns. Altogether, therefore, the Swedish army comprises about 140,000 men with 150 field guns.
The volunteers for the enlisted regiments are generally engaged for fourteen years, but the law allows engagements of three years. The Indelta are a sort of militia, living, when once trained, in farms apportioned to them and their families, and called in only once a year for four weeks’ drill. They have the revenues of their farms for pay, but when assembled they receive a special compensation. The officers also receive crown-lands on tenure in their respective districts. The Reserve consists of all able-bodied Swedes from twenty to twenty-five years of age; they are drilled a short time, and afterwards called in a fortnight in every year. Thus, with the exception of the few VSrfvade and the Gothland troops, the great body of the army — Indelta and Reserve — are, to all intents and purposes, militia.
The Swedes play a part in military history which is beyond all proportion to the scanty population which furnished their renowned armies. Custavus Adolphus, in the thirty years’ war, marked a new era in tactics by his improvements; and Charles XII, with his adventurous foolhardiness which spoiled his great military talent, actually made them do wonders — such as to take entrenchments with cavalry. In the later wars against Russia, they behaved very well; in 1813, Bernadotte kept them as much as possible out of harm’s way, and they were scarcely under fire, unless by mistake, except at Leipsic, where they formed but an infinitesimal part of the allies. The Värfvade, and even the Indelta, will, no doubt, always sustain the character of the Swedish name; but the Reserve, unless assembled and drilled a long time before brought into action, can only figure as an army of recruits.
Norway has five brigades of infantry containing twenty-two battalions and 12,000 men; one brigade of cavalry, of three divisions of chasseurs, containing 1,070 men; and one regiment of artillery of about 1,300 men; beside a reserve of militia, of 9,000 men; altogether about 24,000 men. The character of this army does not vary much from that of Sweden; its only distinguishing feature is a few companies of chasseurs, provided with flat snow-shoes, on which, with the assistance of a long pole, they run, Lapland fashion, very rapidly over the snow.
The Danish army is composed of twenty-three battalions of infantry (one of guards, twelve line, five light, five chasseurs) in four brigades, each battalion numbering about 700 men on the peace-footing; three brigades of cavalry (three squadrons of guards, six regiments of dragoons, of four squadrons each, the squadron containing 140 men in time of peace), and one brigade of artillery (two regiments and twelve batteries with 80 six lb. and 16 twelve lb. guns), and three companies of sappers. Total, 16,630 infantry, 2,900 cavalry, 2,900 artillery and sappers with ninety-six guns.
For the war-footing, each company is raised to 200, or the battalion to 800 men, and each squadron to 180 men, raising the line in all to 25,500 men. Besides, thirty-two battalions, twenty-four squadrons, and six batteries of the reserve can be called in, representing a force of 31,500 men and raising the total of the force to about 56,000 or 57,000 men. Even these, however, can be increased in case of need, as during the late war Denmark proper alone, without either Holstein or Schleswig, could muster from 50,000 to 60,000 men, and the Duchies are now again subject to the Danish conscription.
The army is recruited by ballot, out of the young men of from twenty-two years and upwards. The time of service is eight years,
but actually the artillery remain six years, the line four years only with the regiments, while for the remainder of the time they belong to the reserve. From the thirtieth to the thirty-eighth year the men remain in the first, and then up to the forty-fifth year in the second levy of the militia. This is all very nicely arranged, but, in any war against Germany, nearly one-half of the troops-those from the Duchies — would disband and take up arms against their present comrades. It is this strong admixture of Schleswig-Holsteiners which forms the great weakness of the Danish army, and, in reality, almost nullifies it in any complications with its most powerful neighbor.
The Danish army, since its reorganization in 1848-49, has been well equipped, well armed, and brought altogether to a very respectable footing. The Dane, from Denmark proper, is a good soldier and behaved very well in almost every action of the three years’ war; but the Schleswig-Holsteiner proved himself decidedly his superior. The corps of officers is good upon the whole, but there is too much aristocracy and too little scientific education in it. Their reports are slovenly made, and similar to those of the British, to which army the Danish troops likewise appear related in their want of mobility; but they have not shown of late that they possess such immovable steadiness as the victors of Inkermann. The Schleswig-Holsteiners are, without any dispute, among the best soldiers in Europe. They are excellent artillery men, and as cool in action as the English, their cousins. Though inhabitants of a level country, they make very good light infantry; their first rifle-battalion in 1850 might have vied with any troop of its class.
The Dutch army numbers thirty-six battalions of infantry in nine regiments, containing 44,000 men in all; four regiments of dragoons composed of twenty squadrons; two squadrons of mounted chasseurs; and two squadrons of gens d'armes; in all, twenty-four squadrons, comprising 4,400 cavalry, with two regiments of field artillery (five six lb. and six twelve lb. foot, two six lb. and two twelve lb. horse batteries, of 120 guns in all), and one battalion of sappers, making a total of 58,000 men, beside several regiments in the colonies. But this army does not always exist in time of peace. There is a nucleus remaining under arms, consisting of officers, subalterns, and a few voluntarily enlisted men. The great mass, though obliged to serve for five years, are drilled during a couple of months, and then dismissed so as to be called in for a few weeks in each year only. Besides, there is a sort of reserve in three levies, comprising all the able-bodied men from twenty to thirty-five years of age. The first levy forms about fifty-three, and the second twenty-nine battalions of infantry and artillery. But this body is not at all organized, and can hardly be accounted even as militia.
The Belgian army has sixteen regiments of infantry, containing forty-nine battalions, beside a reserve battalion for each regiment; comprising in all 46,000 men. The cavalry consists of two regiments of chasseurs, two of lancers, one of guides, two of cuirassiers, making thirty-eight squadrons, beside seven reserve squadrons, in all 5,800 men. There are four regiments of artillery (four horse, fifteen foot batteries, four depot batteries, twenty-four garrison companies), with 152 guns, six and twelve pounders; and one regiment of sappers and miners, numbering 1,700 men. The total, without the reserve, is 62,000 men; with the reserve, according to a late levy, it may be raised to 100,000. The army is recruited by ballot, and the term of service is eight years, but about one half of that time is passed on furlough. On the peace-establishment, therefore, the actual force will scarcely reach 30,000 men.
The Portuguese army consisted, in 1850, of the following troops: -
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The artillery consists of one field-regiment, of one horse and seven foot batteries; three regiments of position and garrison artillery, and three detached battalions in the islands. The calibre is six and twelve pounds.
Of all European armies, that of Spain is, from peculiar circumstances, most a matter of interest to the United States. We give, therefore, in concluding this survey of the military establishments of Europe, a more detailed account of this army than its importance, compared with that of its neighbors on the other side of the Atlantic, might seem to warrant.
The Spanish military force consists of the army of the interior, and of the colonial armies.
That of the interior counts one regiment of grenadiers, forty-five regiments of the line, of three battalions each, two regiments of two battalions each in Ceuta, and eighteen battalions of cazadores or rifles. The whole of these 160 battalions formed, in 1852, an effective force of 72,670 men, costing the state 82,692,651 reals, or $10,336,581, a year. The cavalry comprises sixteen regiments of carabineers, or dragoons and lancers, of four squadrons each, with eleven squadrons of cazadores, or light horse, in 1851; in all 12,000 men, costing 17,549,562 reals, or $2,193,695.
The artillery numbers five regiments of foot artillery, of three brigades each, one for each division of the monarchy; beside five brigades of heavy, three of horse, and three of mountain artillery, making a total of twenty-six brigades, or, as they are now called, battalions. The battalion has in the horse artillery two, in the mountain and foot artillery four batteries; in all ninety-two foot and six horse batteries, or 588 field guns.
The sappers and miners form one regiment of 1,240 men.
The reserve consists of one battalion (No. 4) for every infantry regiment, and a depot-squadron for each cavalry regiment.
The total force — on paper — in 1851 was 103,000 men; in 1843, when Espartero was upset, it amounted to 50,000 only; but at one time Narvdez raised it to above 100,000. On an average 90,000 men under arms will be the utmost.
The colonial armies are as follows:
1. The army of Cuba; sixteen regiments of veteran infantry, four companies of volunteers, two regiments of cavalry, two battalions of four batteries foot, and one battalion of four batteries of mountain artillery, one battalion of horse artillery with two batteries, and one battalion of sappers and miners. Beside these troops of the line, there is a milicia disciplinada of four battalions and four squadrons, and a milicia urbana of eight squadrons, making a total of thirty-seven battalions, twenty squadrons and eighty-four guns. During the last few years this standing Cuban army has been reinforced by numerous troops from Spain; and if we take its original strength at 16,000 or 18,000 men, there will now be, perhaps, 25,000 or 28,000 men in Cuba. But this is a mere approximation.
2. The army of Porto Rico; three battalions of veteran infantry, seven battalions of disciplined militia, two battalions of native volunteers, one squadron of the same, and four batteries of foot artillery. The neglected state of most of the Spanish colonies does not allow any estimate of the strength of this corps.
3. The Philippine Islands have five regiments of infantry, of eight companies each; one regiment of chasseurs of Luzon; nine foot, one horse, one mountain battery. Nine corps of five battalions of native infantry, and other provincial corps, previously existing, were dissolved in 1851.
The army is recruited by ballot, and substitutes are allowed. Every year a contingent of 25,000 men is levied; but, in 1848, three contingents, or 75,000 men, were called out.
The Spanish army owes its present organization principally to Narváez, though the regulations of Charles Ill, of 1768 a Still form the groundwork of it. Narváez had actually to take away from the regiments their old provincial colors, different in each, and to introduce the Spanish flag into the army! In the same manner he had to destroy the old provincial organization, and to centralize and restore unity. Too well aware, by experience, that money was the principal moving lever in an army which had almost never been paid and seldom even clad or fed, he also tried to introduce a greater regularity in the payments and the financial administration of the army. Whether he succeeded to the full extent of his wishes, is unknown; but any amelioration introduced by him, in this respect, speedily disappeared during the administration of Sartorius and his successors. The normal state of “no pay, no food, no clothing,” was re-established in its full glory; and while the superior and general officers strut about in coats resplendent with gold and silver lace, or even don fancy uniforms, unknown to any regulations, the soldiers are ragged and without shoes. What the state of this army was ten or twelve years ago, an English author thus describes:-
“The appearance of the Spanish troops is, to the last degree, unsoldierly. The sentry strolls to and fro [...] on his beat, his shako almost falling off the back of his head, his gun slouched on his shoulders, singing outright [...] a lively seguidilla with the most sans façon air in the world. He is, not unfrequently, destitute of portions of his uniform; or his regimental coat and lower continuations are in such hopeless rags, that, even in the sultry summer, the slate-colored great-coat is worn as a slut-cover [...] the shoes [...], in one case out of three, are broken to pieces, disclosing the naked toes of the men — such in Spain are the glories of the vida militar.”
A regulation, issued by Serrano, on Sept. 9, 1843, prescribes that: -
“All officers and chiefs of the army have in future to present themselves in public in the uniform of their regiment, and with the regulation sword, whenever they do not appear in plain clothes; and all officers are also to wear the exact distinctive marks of their rank, and no other, as prescribed, without displaying any more of those arbitrary ornaments and ridiculous trimmings by which some of them have thought proper to distinguish themselves.”
1 So much for the officers. Now for the soldiers: —
“Brigadier General Cordoba has opened a subscription in Cadiz, heading it with his name, in order to procure funds for presenting one pair of cloth trousers to each of the valiant soldiers of the regiment of Asturias!”
This financial disorder explains how it has been possible for the Spanish army to continue, ever since 1808, in a state of almost uninterrupted rebellion. But the real causes lie deeper. The long continued war with Napoleon, in which the different armies and their chiefs gained real political influence, first gave it a pretorian turn. Many energetic men, from the revolutionary times, remained in the army; the incorporation of the guerrillas in the regular retained force even increased this element. Thus, while the chiefs retained their pretorian pretensions, the soldiers and lower ranks altogether remained inspired with revolutionary traditions. In this way the insurrection of 1819-23 was regularly prepared, and later on, in 1833-43, the civil war again thrust the army and its chiefs into the foreground. Having been used by all parties as an instrument, no wonder that the Spanish army should, for a time, take the government into its own hands.
“The Spaniards are a warlike but not a soldier-like people,” said the Abbé de Pradt. They certainly have, of all European nations, the greatest antipathy to military discipline. Nevertheless, it is possible that the nation, which for more than a hundred years was celebrated for its infantry, may yet again have an army of which it can be proud. But, to attain this end, not only the military system, but civil life, still more, requires to be reformed.