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THE DUTIES OF LIGHT OAVALKY.
Q. What is the duty of light cavalry in campaign f A. To clear the way for the army and protect its march.
Q. How does it accomplish this object f
A. By preceding our columns, scouting their flanks, surrounding them and concealing them with a bold and vigilant curtain; following the enemy step by step, harassing and annoying him, discovering his designs, exhausting his forces in detail, destroying his magazines, capturing his convoys, and, finally, forcing him to expend in defensive operations the strength from which he might otherwise have reaped the greatest advantage.
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THE" CHIEF IN CAMPAIG-N. THE OFFICER.
Q. What is the meaning of chieff *
A. Head. Example.
Q. What are the first qualities required in a com 'mander of light cavalry on the day of battle f
A. 1. Clear perception, and cool, mathematical estimation of his own strength and that of the enemy.
2. The sure and rapid glance which recognizes and comprehends the frame of mind of the force which he commands, as well as that of the one he attacks.
3. The glance with which, from whatever side he approaches the field, he takes it in as a whole, and in its minutest details as to distances, accidents, possibilities and impossibilities for attack, defence, or retreat.
4. Quickness of decision and action.
5. The dash which carries everything before it.
6. The firmness which despairs of nothing and retrieves the most desperate situation.
7. The calmness which never changes countenance, and causes his subordinates to see only with his eyes. Add to these qualities the courage which sets the example, the justice which rewards fully, and you have the model commander who, under all circumstances, holds in hand a hundred squadrons as one, leads them on, stops them as a single man, wins or snatches victory, overawes her
* The word chief is here used not to designate a grade, but an office. What is said of it applies as well, in a general way, to a cavalry sergeant as to a general officer, whenever the responsibility of command is assumed.—Db Brack.
as though she were a mistress. This combination of qualities is called first Napoleon, then Frederick, Massena, Soult, Ney, Kleber, Dessaix, Hoche, Lannes, Morand, Lasalle.
The face of a chief is often consulted; he should never forget that, and should allow it to be read only when he especially desires it to be read.
Thus at the time of an expedition of which he alone possesses the secret, if it is necessary that the men should not discover this secret until the arrival of the proper time, the calmuess of their chief should prevent any feeling of uneasiness entering their ranks.
Q. Where is the position of the chief in a fight $
A. Always at the place of command.
Q. But suppose there are several such positions f
A. There can be but one for the experienced chief; thus, for example, when the chief upon the battle-field commands several squadrons in echelon, which he is going to launch successively, he ought to restrain his ardor and not put himself at the head of the first, except under peculiar circumstances; it is better to launch the first and take the head of the second; in this manner he can comprehend at a glance the whole affair; he keeps in hand all his force, which he can readily advance in case of success, or use as a reserve in the event of a repulse.
If, under certain circumstances, he believes he ought to march at the head of the leading squadron, he should do so only after having given to the other squadron commanders orders so precise that it will be impossible for any doubt to arise during the onset, no matter what may happen, and as soon as possible he ought to return to the squadrons he has left.
In a retreat, on the contrary, the chief should always accompany the rear guard, being careful to put the advance guard in charge of officers in whom he has the greatest confidence, and to so arrange his march that th^ prescribed formation and gaits will be maintained.
There is one case in which the chief should precede his command to the attack, that is, when his force has rallied, whether in line or in column; then he leads his troops and is the first to strike; the position being taken, he relinquishes the r61e of first soldier to retake that of manoeuvres
Q. What should the chief do upon the ground, under fire and before the charge f
A. He should make a moral inspection of his regiment, riding from right to left at a distance of four paces from the line; should speak a few words to the officers and soldiers to cheer and encourage them, make an opportunity for calling the men by their names, and thus prove to them that he neither does nor will lose sight of them.
Upon the field of battle every man's true nature is shown; he has no longer any veil, nor can he use any evasion; his passions are supreme, his soul is clearly unfolded; there he may read who can and will; there intrigue is struck dumb; the gallants of the antechamber, the wise men of the drawingroom, the "Ziethens of mimic warfare; " "the gallopers of peace times," * no longer carry high heads; then woe to the face that pales under such or such a hat, to the epaulettes, to the laces, which bend under the wind of the cannon-ball, to the one but little in love with his cockade; justice, complete
justice is rendered; unfortunate is he who is condemned by the general court, where honor alone presides; he can never retrieve himself. Under fire, equality through courage, then the election of the bravest of the brave, by the brave,—that produces only the blush of enthusiasm and pride.
The chief should so inspire his regiment that his personal movements should rouse or slacken the general action, that his command should become one with himself, that his thoughts should be theirs, and their confidence that which he imparts; and this confidence should be so close, entire, instinctive, as to cause the soldier to say in every situation, "He is there, that suffices."
A chief who does not have entire control of his men and who does not handle them as one man is unworthy of his position. Upon the battle-field is reaped that which the officer has sown; the better his previous service, the better the reputation he has earned for justice, firmness, instinct, courage, instruction of and care for his men, the more perfectly can he upon the battle-field gather like a sheaf the wills of all, to bind them into one—his own.
There must be but one will in the command—that of the chief; that is indispensable under penalty of losing all discipline, and promptly demoralizing the corps. Except having a cowardly commander, no greater misfortune can befall a regiment than to have one whose ignorance and laziness are certain to encourage intrigues and improper influences. The chief who imagines that he screens the knowledge of his weakness from his soldiers is a fool. The soldier understands him better than he does himself; let him employ his time then ki