The war in the Crimea proved most conclusively the vast superiority of the French administrative system over that of the English—of the military over a civil organization of the administrative corps of an army. The French troops before Sebastopol were regularly, cheaply, and abundantly supplied with every requisite of provisions, clothing, munitions, medical stores, military utensils, and hospital and camp equipages; while the English army, notwithstanding an immense expenditure of money, was often paralyzed in its operations by the want of proper military material, and not unfrequently was destitute of even the necessaries of life.
Instead of profiting by this lesson, the recent tendency of our own government has been (especially in supplying the army in Utah) to imitate the sad example of the English, and to convert the supplying of our armies into a system of political patronage to be used for party purposes. If fully carried out, it must necessarily result in the ruin of the army, the robbery of the treasury, and the utter corruption of the government.
The war in Mexico, from the small number of troops engaged, and the peculiar character of the ground in most cases, afforded but few opportunities for the display of that skill in the tactics of battle which has so often determined the victory upon the great fields of Europe. Nevertheless, the history of that war is not without useful lessons in the use which may be made of the several arms in the attack and defence of positions. The limit assigned to these Notes will admit of only a few brief remarks upon these battles.
The affairs of Palo Alto and Resaca de la Palma properly constitute only a single battle. In the first, which was virtually a cannonade, the lines were nearly parallel, and Arista’s change of front to an oblique position during the engagement, was followed by a corresponding movement on the part of General Taylor. Being made sensible of the superiority of the American artillery, the Mexican general fell back upon the Ravine of Resaca de la Palma, drawing up his troops in a concave line to suit the physical character of the ground. The Americans attacked the whole line with skirmishers, and with dragoons supported by light artillery, and the charge of a heavy column of infantry decided the victory. General Taylor’s operations at Monterey partook more of the nature of an attack upon an intrenched position than of a regular battle upon the field. No doubt Worth’s movement to the right had an important influence in deciding the contest, but the separation of his column from the main body, by a distance of some five miles, was, to say the least, a most hazardous operation. The Mexicans, however, took no advantage of the opening to operate between the separate masses into which the American army was divided. The loss which the Mexicans inflicted upon us resulted more from the strength of their position