Discipline: Its Importance to an Armed Force, and the Best Means of Maintaining and Promoting it

A. M. Murray
1889 Royal United Services Institution Journal  
MOTING IT. 3 3 3 Captain A. 31. MWIIRAY, R.A. I' Forcc ir no rcmcdy." PART I.-InfroJzicfory. "I an1 morc nnd morc conrinced from tho crpcriencc of thi3, as rcll as from 1110 jet campigo, that our r a n t of a u c c c~ ir entirely duc to tlic want of discipliric in T m first part of tho titlc of this cssay would B C C~ to Lo tho stntcnicnt of nn nsiom rather than tlic ttrcmo forargumcntative discussion. It U C C~S , iiidccd, no argument to demonstrate what history conclosivcl prorcs, that
more » ... prorcs, that military discipline nnd ~UCCCSS in war go hand in hand! togctlicr. . Tlicro may bo diffcrcncca of opinion as to how the discipline of an army sliould IM maintained; there can bo no diffcrcncc as to tho importanco of maintaining it in as high dcgrcc na possible. Wlicthcr we jndgc from the uttcranccs of sncccssful Commandcis, or fiom tho rcsults of thcir campaigns, wo may affirm it to b a matter of fact, establislicd h j o n d all risk of contradiction, that discipline is the first and most necessary condition of ~UCCCSB for nn armcd forco which secks to fight its way to victov. will find during tho COUISC of his in thc first plncc thc p a t and s t r i k i n~ cxnmple of tho Exiglisli Army, tlic rccords of which-cspccinlly during tlic p u t ccntury-will be inndo the subject of constant rcfcrcncc for the purporc of this inquiry. It ~i l l bo well, liowcvcr, in tlic intcrcsts of cxliaustiro discussion to go further abroad tlian Englniid, and cvcn to look for examples in classid ns well ns modern timcs, so t w to nscertnin whctlicr military clisciplinc is founded upon nncicnt and crcr-existing principlcs of wnr, or is mcrcly tlic outcomc of fhc changcd conditions of modcrn fighting. With this ol'jcct in view i t will b conwnicnt, without nccumnlatins instnnccs, to bclcct ono csomplc from ancient the rrmg."-~AnLnOBOcQlf. Tho stndcnt of military liisto rcndiiig numerous csamples of T t 10 truth of this assertion. Tlierc is Tot. XSSIII. T Downloaded by [] at 06:58 27 June 2016 DISCIPLISE : ITS IM?ORTASCE nnd onc from niodcrn history, nnd, with tLc help of sucli c-Alcncc as may be forthcoming, cxninirio tho conditions under idiicli each crnmplo offers itsclf for instruction. Such csnminntion will bo useful, not onlj by ~m y of prcfnco to tlic mattcr undcr discussion, but nIso ns nffording means for rcndy rcfcrciicc whcn tlic sccond nnd moro prncticnl part of this css.iy comcs to be considered. I n nncicnt times, tlio Persian invasion of Grcccc is n conspicuons nnd eccr-instrnctirc czamplc of thc mluc of disciplino in war. Tllo on?rtlirow of Xcrrcs nnd his Tast host shows what tho prescnco of disciplino can do whcn unnttcndcd by scicncc, or prcpaixtion, 01iinmrricnl supcriorit~-, or, indccd, by nny of thosc conditions (csccpt thc one mcntioncd) which 111'0 gcncrally snpposcd to contribntc to bclligcrcnt power. Tho Grcck nrmics wcrc badly cqnippcd,' niid badly Icd. Enrdly any prcpnrntion had bccn mndc to opposc an innsinn, whicl, nftcr tho bnttlc of hlnrathon, was known to be incvitnblc,3 but which wns awnitcd both in Athens nnd in Sparta witli an spathctic calmncss incxcusablc crcn in thc facc of conscious strcngtli.3 Tho cornmnndcrs appointcd to lend tho nrmics did not nndcrstnnd tho most clemcntnry principles of scicntific strategy. Nor did thcj make up bj cncrgy for want of militnry wisdom : they would not cvcn tokc stcps to asccrtnin the ncccsszry topogrn bical Salamis, nnd at Platax, they nlloivcd tliemsclvcs to bo out-gencrcrllcd i n sucli a ivny ns actunlly to court dcfcat. Combination of action, morcovcr, was parnljzcd by want of political union no lcss tlnn by divided 'military counscls. Tlrc Pcrsians, on tho contrary, brought to tho cncountcr nll tho resources o f ' n rich conutry, nnd nll tlic cxpcricnce acqnirdd by long pncticc in war. T h y werc Icd by n man who, though n Coknrd' a t heart, nnd'witli otlicr great faults of chnractcr, was until his dcfcat rc'ardcd, and not without mason, ns tlio first soldicr of, thc 'day. 'Ho [ad labourcd for sc-ien p a r s to orgnniac tliu army of invasion,-and had clabomtcd his plans mtk cstmordinnry pains. Considering the di5culties which must have csistcd in thcso dnjs in thc xny of trnnsport nnd snpplics, it cannot bo .denied that both the Inn of the invasion'and tho manner of its cxeciition afford an exccechgly high tcstimony to tho military capacity of Xcrscs.5 Yct in spite of dvantagcs of uumbcra, skill, organized plan, undivided command, and supcrior military knowledge, when it c~m c to nctunl features of thcir own selcctcd bnitlc-ficlds.4 A t Tlicrmopx f m, a t 1 Erccpt only in arme. IIcmdotue, 1-11, 239. 1 The Atlicnians wcrc cclcbrating tko Olynij~ic, nnd tlic 'Sparhm tlio Karncsn fcstirab (Hcrodotus, YII, ?OC), at thc rcry tinic rslien Scrxc3 Lad rcaclicd the Crcct outposts. ~ s It in not ncccrsary to ncccpt IIcrodotus'a ridiciilouely cxoggcratcd cstimnto of the numbers of thc Persian armr to 'ciro Serxer tlic credit duc to miat forcsicbt 4 Qrotc: " I I k t o T of Qrcccc." Part 11, chap. XI. and oqinizin capcity, a9 sho& in'ilic mobilization of his army, i i its succcdul march tlirougf thc ~i l d and unknorrn country of Asin Minor and llaccdonia, in thc cnginccring fcnt of brid ing the Ifcllcspoct, m d cuttingJhc skip rand tlirou:li tlio promontory of ~t 1 i o 9 fan nut~wnticatc(~ fact), and in tlic collection ot the supply Jcldt? along tkc line of march. Downloaded by [] at 06:58 27 June 2016 TO AS hR3IED FORCE. 433 figlltiiig the colltcst \\.M n c m . cvcn doubtful. . Disciplinc nsscrtcd itself from tho first, nnd maintaiircd its poircr until tIic last Persian hsd been driven from Grcck soil. "y'ho Grccks,"'wo arc told bj Bcmdotus,' " fought i n ordcr and prescrved thcir ranks : -the bal.brifins, without cithcr rcgularityor j n d p c n t . . . . TIICJ-Jiscoi-crccI ct to disciplinc whs conspicnons.J'z *gming from ancicnt to modeiv history, many instances at Oncc m n r to tho mind of well-disciplincd forces, undcr othcr\visc nnfaronp condition!, achieving remarkatlo and' rcpcntcd 6~C C C S S C s against ",-nics numerically superior nnd not ~C S S brrrc, but dclicicnt. in tl;c mcntial quality of -militnry discipline. %'hc 'irruption of Gustrrrlls Adolphns into Germany i n tho 17th century, tho con ucsts of &Ic~ico by. Cortcs, tlic prcscnt unliq)py coqditiou of ~alnnd;S o n r . o,vll it.rugglcs i n India in 1857-58, and morc rcccntly in thc Sondnn, thc wonderful Tictorics acliicvcd by tho Gcrmnn'armics in 1870-71, ti1csc ere a fcw out of lnany csninplcs which esist'to remind US of tho hcinciblc influcncc wliicli disciplinc cscrts 'in wni.. The first casc qnokd a h r o is pCrhp8 thC 1 m S t striking csanlplc of this iuflncncc. Embnrhing ?t the licnd 6f.only 13,000 soIdici*s, the Swedish King, 'up to tlint t h o , unnoticed; almost unhcard of-dlc ~b ' i n g of Sno*," ns 110 \vns coiltcmptuously tcrmcd i n Yicnnkwithout illics, or cvcn.tho prorniso of sssistnncc, but strong only as tIiccliampion of tlic Protestant faith in Europe, undertook of Ibis 0-a .accord 'to inr+do. tlic dominions of thc Emperor of Gcl*many. Tlic result of tlic,/nvnSion i s within tho recollection of cvcrj student of military history. In' littlo xiioI.~ tlim two' jcdrs from tho date of lending tit Stcttin, Gustnvus l i d Faten tlic Impcxial armies 'ant of the ficld nnd 'cstnllishcd* his povier ovcr the \rliolc of t t o country which ertcnds from tlic h r d c r s of 1Iungarj-and Silcsia to the banks no infcriorltJ-cltllcl. in d r~i i g t h or C O U I X~C , but their inferiority Tit11 . . . . . .. 1 Book VIII, 66 : Aqp'or~ p w wv Rat pop7 OCK cuuourr quay dc srpuoc. 2 Tho historian GAto cndorscs this ricw of tlio Persian orcrtliror in tlic following corrobontivo a6rds :."Tlicir iignal d c h t 'wns not owing .to. thc warit of coum c, but to their want of ordcrl lino as compard with tlic Orccks, and to tlic fnct &at alien once fortunc rccmrc~ to turn against thcm thcy 113d no ficlclity or reciprocal nttachnient,'nnd cach nlly was willing to eocrifico othcrs iu ordcr to ePlcct hi3 o m c1~3pc.I' J "Singly," mitcs Prcecott, "nnd with thc mmcwcnpons, tlic Tiidiin might have stood his ground hgnirist tho Spniard, but the SUCCCSII of thc lottcr cstablislicd tho aupcriority of dizciplinc or& mcrc pbjsical couraga and nuiaabcrs."J' Coriquel of Ucsico." Poland undoiibtdly'oncs its prcscnt d i r i d d state to thc habitual want of disciplinc which hxs cvrr clinnctcrircd Polisli armies in tho Gcld. IndiTiduaIly tltc l'olc is cxccllent lighting matcrhl : bra~cl'clii~aIrow, high-spirited, posxssin,n mili-tar5 instinct in 8 marked manner, capablo of being roue~ccl to tho higlicst pitch of cnthusiasm, lic has ncrer bccn nblc to subinit to tho nccemry restraints aliich tho laws of militnr3 discipline imposc on battle-winning armics. ' I \rcakcnd," mite3 Alison, " i n thcrc contcsts wit11 tlicir cncinics q u d y bJ their frccdom n, thcir t p n n F , knowing of liberty nothing but, its liccntiourncsg, of gorcmmcnt but its wmkncss, inferior to nll nround tlicm in clirciplinc, thc 1'01~s sro tho onlr warliko nation in t h world to whom ticlory ncwr brought citlicr conqucst or pace." 2 P 2 . . . . Downloaded by [] at 06:58 27 June 2016 DISCIPLISK : 1TS IJIPORTASCE of tho Rliilic, mid from tlio.13altic Sca to the Lake Constnncc. u0 aehicred his conquests, morcovcr, against the fiercest troops nnd tile most rcnowned1'Commanders of the dnj. Wliat ultimate limit would liavc bcen plxcd to.llis Yictorious progress, had lie not h e n premxtnrcly killed at Lutzcti, it is iinpossiblc to any ; but it mas known beforo his dcath that, after sccnring liis position in Bavaria,? he intended to cross tlic Inn, and establish his power in tho Imperial capital of Vienna.3 . Tlic GUCCCSS of this wondcrful two ye3r.9' campaign was principally duo to the oxeellent disciplino maintnincd in tlio Swedish a r q . Without this discipline' tlie pinins of Gustarus, his tactical reforms, and the superior mobility of his troops, would never Lave e a r r i~d kiln through his career of continuous eou ucst. " All Europc," nmte tlio liistoriaii5 of 31, Thirty Ycnrs' War, "xvastonished at tho .strict disciplino wliicli a t the first so creditably distinguished tho Swedish army within German territory ; all dia. ordcrs wcrc pnnishcd with tho utmost severity, pnrticnlwly impict1, theft, pmbling, and duelling. Tlio Swedish Articlcs of War cuforccd frugality. I n thc camp, the Kirig's tcnt not excepted, neitlicr silver nor gold was to bc seen : the Gcncml's eye looked as vigilantly to the morals as to tlie martial bravery of his soldiers; .every regiment ~' 8 8 ordcrcd to form round its Cliaplriin for niorning prayers. In all these points tile lawgiver was also an crample. A sincere and ardent piety exaltcd his courage. Thc Iiardships of war 110 shared with the meanest soldicr in thc nrmy. . . : Such D leader ,was folloircd to vict0i.j dike by tho cownrd and the brave, and his eagle CJC rnnrkcd every licroic dcecl which his csamplc liad inspircd." . Strictly but kind11 enforccd, willingly obcycd, and ncvcr relozed, this6 disciplino was the secret of Gustnms's SUCCCSS, for it canscd tho 1 Tilly, Pappcnhcim, and Wallonstcin. 3 "Iiistory of thc Thirty Sears' War," by Anton Qindcly ; trsnslitcd by Andrea Ten Brook. 4 " Gustnrus ddolphue was. the first Grncnl rho grasp4 the% facts, and ~1 1 0 M W that mobiity must bo dcpcndent on discipline."--" Yrkis of JIodcrn Twticq"
doi:10.1080/03071848909416499 fatcat:n6nmie6hwrbx7f3nh7x5l3a6yy