Electronic edition compiled by Dara Mac Domhnaill
Funded by University College Cork
2. Second draft.
Proof corrections by Dara Mac Domhnaill, Donnchadh Ó Corráin
Extent of text: 13430 words
Distributed by CELT online at University College, Cork, Ireland.
Text ID Number: E900002-006
Available with prior consent of the CELT programme for purposes of academic research and teaching only.
CELT: Corpus of Electronic Texts
Editorial introduction and other preliminary materials not by Connolly have been included. The text represents the printed text, but obvious errors have been corrected and marked as corrected.
Text has been thoroughly checked, proof-read and parsed using NSGMLS.
The electronic text represents the published text. Titles, such as those of newspapers and books, are tagged TITLE. Dates have been tagged DATE.
Reported speech and very short quotations are rendered q; lengthy passages from other authors are embedded as texts.
The practice of the printed text. Soft hyphens are silently removed. Where a hyphenated word crosses a page boundary the word is completed before marking the page boundary.
DIV0=the whole work; DIV1=individual document; DIV2=document section.
Only structural mark-up. Names of persons (given names), and places are not tagged. Terms for cultural and social roles are not tagged. Titles of books and newspapers are tagged.
This text uses the DIV1 element to represent the Chapter.
Created: By James Connolly (1868-1916) (1915)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Beatrix Färber (ed.)
Ruth Murphy (ed.)
Julianne Nyhan (ed.)
Peter Flynn (conversion)
Margaret Lantry (ed.)
Floor Hondelink (ed.)
Mavis Cournane (ed.)
Donnchadh Ó Corráin (ed.)
Dara Mac Domhnaill (ed.)
Dara Mac Domhnaill (ed.)
We propose to give under this heading from time to time accounts of such military happenings in the past as may serve to enlighten and instruct our members in the work they are banded together to perform. A close study of these articles will, we hope, be valuable to all those who desire to acquire a knowledge of how brave men and women have at other times and in other places, overcome difficulties and achieved something for a cause held to be sacred. It is not our place to pass a verdict upon the sacredness or worth of the cause for which they contended: our function is to discuss their achievements from the standpoint of their value to those who desire to see perfected a Citizen Army able to perform whatever duty may be thrust upon it.
We would suggest that these articles be preserved for reference purposes.
May 29th 1915.
In the year 1905, the fires of revolution were burning very brightly in Russia. Starting with a parade of unarmed men and women to the Palace of the Czar, the flames of insurrection spread all over the land. The peaceful parades were met with volleys of shrapnel and rifle fire, charged by mounted Cossacks, and cut down remorselessly by cavalry of the line, and in answer to this attack, general strikes broke out all over Russia. From strikes the people proceeded to revolutionary uprisings, soldiers revolted and joined the people in some
p.452cases, and in others the sailors of the Navy seized the ironclads of the Czar's fleet and hoisted revolutionary colours. One incident in this outburst was the attempted revolution in Moscow. We take it as our test this week because, in it, the soldiers remained loyal to the Czar, and therefore it resolved itself into a clean cut fight between a revolutionary force and a government force. Thus we are able to study the tactics of (a) a regular army in attacking a city defended by barricades, and (b) a revolutionary force holding a city against a regular army.
Fortunately for our task as historians, there was upon the spot an English journalist of unquestioned ability and clearsightedness, as well as of unrivalled experience as a spectator in warfare. This was H. W. Nevinson, the famous war correspondent. From his book The Dawn of Russia as well as from a close intimacy with many refugees who took part in the revolution, this description is built up.
The revolutionists of Moscow, had intended to postpone action until a much later date in the hope of securing the co-operation of the peasantry, but the active measures of the Government precipitated matters. Whilst the question of Insurrection or No Insurrection yet was being discussed at a certain house in the city, the troops were quietly surrounding the building and the first intimation of their presence received by the revolutionists was the artillery opening fire on the buildings at point blank range. A large number of the leaders were killed or arrested, but next morning the city was in insurrection.
Of the numbers engaged on the side of the revolutionists, there is considerable conflict of testimony. The government estimate, anxious to applaud the performance of the troops, is 15,000. The revolutionary estimate, on the other hand, is only 500. Mr Nevinson states that a careful investigator friendly to the revolutionists, and with every facility for knowing, gave the number as approximately 1,500. The deductions we were able to make from the stories of the refugees aforementioned, makes the latter number seem the most probable. The equipment of the revolutionists was miserable in the extreme. Among the 1,500 there was only a total of 80 rifles, and a meagre supply of ammunition for
p.453same. The only other weapons were revolvers and automatic pistols, chiefly Brownings. Of these latter a goodly supply seems to have been on hand as at one period of the fighting the revolutionists advertised for volunteers, and named Browning pistols as part of the pay for all recruits.
Against this force, so pitifully armed, the government possessed in the city, 18,000 seasoned troops, armed with magazine rifles, and a great number of batteries of field artillery.
The actual fighting which lasted nine days, during which time the government troops made practically no progress, is thus described by the author we have already quoted.
Of the barricades, he says, that they were erected everywhere, even the little boys and girls throwing them up in the most out of the way places, so that it was impossible to tell which was a barricade with insurgents to defend it and which was a mock barricade, a circumstance which greatly hindered the progress of the troops, who had always to spend a considerable period in finding out the real nature of the obstruction before they dared to pass it.
The very multitude of these barricades (early next morning I counted one hundred and thirty of them, and I had not seen half) made it difficult to understand the main purpose of all the fighting.
As far as they had any definite plan at all, their idea seems to have been to drive a wedge into the heart of the city, supporting the advance by barricades on each side so as to hamper the approach of troops.
The four arms of the cross-roads were blocked with double or even treble barricades about ten yards apart. As far as I could see along the curve of the Sadavoya, on both sides barricade succeeded barricade, and the whole road was covered with telegraph wire, some of it lying loose, some tied across like netting. The barricades enclosing the centre of the cross-roads like a fort were careful constructions of telegraph poles or the iron supports to the overhead wires of electric trams, closely covered over with doors, railings, and advertising boards, and lashed together with wire. Here and there a tramcar was built in to give solidity, and on the top of every barricade waved a little red flag.
Men and women were throwing them (the barricades) up with devoted zeal, sawing telegraph poles, wrenching iron railings from their sockets, and dragging out the planks from builders' yards.
Noteworthy as an illustration of how all things, even popular revolutions, change their character as the conditions change in which they operate is the fact, that no barricade was defended in the style of the earlier French or Belgian revolutions.
Mr. Nevinson says:
But it was not from the barricades themselves that the real opposition came. From first to last no barricade was fought in the old sense of the word. The revolutionary methods were far more terrible and effective. By the side street barricades and wire entanglements they had rid themselves of the fear of cavalry. By the barricades across the main streets, they had rendered the approach of troops necessarily slow. To the soldiers, the horrible part of the street fighting was that they could never see the real enemy. On coming near a barricade or the entrance to a side street, a few scouts would be advanced a short distance before the guns. As they crept forward, firing as they always did, into the empty barricades in front, they might suddenly find themselves exposed to a terrible revolver fire, at about fifteen paces range, from both sides of the street. It was useless to reply, for there was nothing visible to aim at. All they could do was to fire blindly in almost any direction. Then the revolver fire would suddenly cease, the guns would trundle up and wreck the houses on both sides. Windows fell crashing on the pavement, case shot burst into the bedrooms, and round shot made holes through three or four walls. It was bad for furniture, but the revolutionist had long ago escaped through a labyrinth of courts at the back, and was already preparing a similar attack on another street.
The troops did not succeed in overcoming the resistance of the insurgents, but the insurrection rather melted away as suddenly as it had taken form. The main reason for this sudden dissolution lay in the receipt of discouraging news from St. Petersburg from which quarter help had been expected, and was not forthcoming, and in the rumoured advance of a hostile body of peasantry eager to co-operate
p.455with the soldiery against the people who were hindering the sale of agricultural produce in the Moscow market.
The action of the soldiery in bringing field guns, or indeed any kind of artillery, into the close quarters of street fighting was against all the teaching of military science, and would infallibly have resulted in the loss of the guns had it not been for the miserable equipment of the insurgents. Had any body of the latter been armed with a reasonable supply of ammunition the government could only have taken Moscow from the insurgents at the cost of an appalling loss of life.
A regular bombardment of the city would only have been possible if the whole loyalist population had withdrawn outside the insurgent lines, and apart from the social reasons against such an abandonment of their business and property, the moral effect of such a desertion of Moscow would have been of immense military value in strengthening the hands of the insurgents and bringing recruits to their ranks. As the military were thus compelled to fight in the city and against a force so badly equipped, not much fault can be found with their tactics.
Of the insurgents also it must be said that they made splendid use of their material. It was a wise policy not to man the barricades and an equally wise policy not to open fire at long range where the superior weapons of the enemy would have been able with impunity to crush them, but to wait, before betraying their whereabouts until the military had come within easy range of their inferior weapons.
Lacking the co-operation of the other Russian cities, and opposed by the ignorant peasantry, the defeat of the insurrection was inevitable, but it succeeded in establishing the fact that even under modern conditions the professional soldier is, in a city, badly handicapped in a fight against really determined civilian revolutionists.June 5th 1915.
In the course of the present war between Italy and the Central States, the Tyrol is likely to come once more into fame as the theatre of military operations. Therefore the story of the insurrection in the Tyrol in 1809 may be doubly interesting to the reader as illustrating alike the lessons of civilian warfare, and the nature of the people and the country in question.
The Tyrol is in reality a section of the Alpine range of mountainsthat section which stretches eastward from the Alps of Switzerland, and interposes between the southern frontier of Germany and the northern frontier of Italy. It is part of the territory of Austria; its inhabitants speak the German language, and for the most part are passionately attached to the Catholic religion. They are described by Alison, the English historian, in terms that read strange to-day in view of the English official attitude to all things German. Alison says: The inhabitants like all those of German descent, are brave, impetuous, and honest, tenacious of custom, fearless of danger, addicted to intemperance. The latter clause was in itself not sufficient to make any people remarkable, as at that period heavy drinking was the rule all over Europe, and nowhere worse than in these islands. But the Tyrolese were also well accustomed to the use of arms, and frequent target practice in the militia and trained bands as well as in hunting had made excellent shots of a large proportion of the young men of the country.
After the defeat of Austria in 1805 by Napoleon, the Tyrol was taken from that Empire by the Treaty of Pressburg and ceded to Bavaria, the ally of Napoleon. The Tyrolese resented this unceremonious disposal of their country, a resentment that was much increased by the licentious conduct of the French soldiers sent as garrison into the district. Brooding over their wrongs they planned revolt, and sought and obtained a promise of co-operation from the Austrian Emperor.
In the revolt, alike in its preparation and in its execution, there were three leading figures. These were Andreas Hofer, Spechbacher, and Joseph Haspinger. Hofer, the chief, was an innkeeper, and of great local influence, which he owed alike to his high character and to the opportunities of intercourse given him by his occupation, a more important one before the advent of railroads than now. Spechbacher was a farmer and woodsman, and had been an outlaw and poacher for many years before settling down to married life. Joseph Haspinger was a monk, and from the colour of his beard was familiarly known as Roth-Bart or Redbeard.
It will be observed that none of the three were professional soldiers, yet they individually and collectively defeated the best generals of the French Armyan army that had defeated the professional militarists of all Europe.
The eighth day of April, 1809 was fixed for the rising, and on that date the signal was given by throwing large heaps of sawdust in to the River Inn, which ran all through the mountains, by lighting fires upon the hill tops, and by women and children who carried from house to house little balls of paper on which were written es ist Zeit, it is time.
At one place, St. Lorenzo, the revolt had been precipitated by the action of the soldiers, whose chiefs, hearing of the project, attempted to seize a bridge which commanded communications between the upper part of the valley and Brunecken. Without waiting for the general signal the peasants in the locality rose to prevent the troops getting the bridge. The Bavarian, General Wrede, with 2,000 men and three guns marched to suppress this revolt, but the peasants hid behind rocks and trees, and taking advantage of every kind of natural cover poured in a destructive fire upon the soldiers. The latter suffered great loss from this fire, but pushed forward, and the peasantry were giving way before the disciplined body when they were reinforced by the advanced guard of an Austrian force coming to help the insurrection. The Bavarians gave way. When they reached the bridge at Laditch the pursuit was so hot that they broke in two, one division going up, the other down, the river. The greater part were taken prisoners at Balsano, amongst the prisoners being one general.
At Sterzing, Hofer took charge. Here the peasants were attacked by a large force of soldiers, but they took refuge in thickets and behind rocks and drove off the attacks of the infantry. When the artillery was brought up the nature of the ground compelled the guns to come up in musketry range, and then the peasant marksmen picked off the gunners, after which feat the insurgents rushed in and carried all before them in one impetuous charge. Three hundred and ninety prisoners were taken and 240 killed and wounded.
A column of French under Generals Bisson and Wrede made an attempt to force its way up the Brenner. The peasants fell back before it until it reached the narrow defile of Lueg, where it suffered severely as the insurgents had broken down the bridges and barricaded the roads by heaps of fallen trees. The troops were shot down in heaps as they halted before the barricades and bridges whilst a part of their number laboured to open the way.
Meanwhile another large body of peasants had attacked and taken Innsbruck, the capital of the Tyrol, and when Bisson and Wrede eventually forced their way up the Brenner with the insurgents everywhere harrying on their flanks and rear, picking them off from behind cover, and rushing upon and destroying any party unfortunate enough to get isolated, as they advanced into the open it was only to find the city in possession of the insurgents, and vast masses of armed enemies awaiting them at every point of vantage. After a short fight Bisson, caught between two fires, surrendered with nearly 3,000 men.
Sprechbacher took Hall in the Lower Tyrol. A curious evidence of the universality of the insurrection was here given by the circumstance that as none of the men could be spared from the fighting line 400 prisoners had to be marched off under an armed escort of women. In one week the insurgents had defeated 10,000 regular soldiers experienced in a dozen campaigns and taken 6,000 prisoners.
In a battle at Innsbruck on May 28-29th, the women and children took part, carrying food and water and ammunition. When the insurgents had expended all their lead the women and children collected the bullets fired by the enemy and brought them to the men to fire back at the soldiers. Amongst the number Spechbacher's son, ten years of age, was
p.459as active as any, and more daring than most.
After the total defeat of the Austrians and the capture of Vienna by Napoleon, the city of Innsbruck was retaken by a French army of 30,000 men. Hofer was summoned by the French General to appear at Innsbruck. He replied stating that he would come but it would be attended by 10,000 sharpshooters.
At first the peasantry had been so discouraged by their abandonment by the Austrians that a great number of them had gone to their homes, but at the earnest solicitation of their leaders they again rallied, and hostilities re-opened on August 4th.
A column of French and Bavarians were crossing the bridge at Laditch where the high road from Balsano to the capital crosses the river Eisach. The Tyrolese under Haspinger occupied the overhanging woods, and when the troops were well in the defile they rained bullets and rocks upon them without showing themselves. Men were falling at every step, and the crushing rocks tore lanes through the ranks. The soldiers pressed on until the narrowest point of the defile was reached when a sudden silence fell upon the mountain side. Awestruck, the column involuntarily halted, and amid the silence a voice rang out
Shall I? Shall I? Stephen. and another answered Not yet, not yet.
Recovering, the troops resumed their march in silence and apprehension, and then as they wound deeper into the path the second voice again rang out
Now, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, cut loose. And at the word, a huge platform of tree trunks, upon which tons of rocks had been collected, was suddenly cut loose, and the whole mass descended like an avalanche upon the soldiery, sweeping whole companies away and leaving a trail of mangled bodies behind it. Despite this terrible catastrophe the column pushed its way on towards the bridge, only to find it in flames, and a raging torrent barring their further progress. They retreated to their starting point harassed all the way by the invisible enemy and with a loss of 1,200 men.
On August 10th, Marshal Lefebre, with 20,000 men,
p.460attempted to force a passage through and over the Brenner. He was attacked everywhere by small bodies, his progress checked, and his way barred by every obstacle that nature could supply, or ingenuity suggest, and eventually driven back, losing 25 cannon and the whole ammunition of his army.
On August 12th, with 23,000 foot, 2,000 horse, and 40 cannon, he was attacked at Innsbruck by the three insurgent leaders and defeated. Hofer had kept his promise to come to Innsbruck with 10,000 sharpshooters. The French lost 6,000 killed, wounded and prisoners.
This was the last notable success of the insurgents. The French having made peace with Austria, and having no other war on hand, were able to concentrate upon the Tyrol force sufficient to make further resistance impossible. The insurgents returned to their homes, and resistance was abandoned.
The nature of the country lent itself to the mode of fighting of the insurgents. But their own genius also counted for much. They used every kind of cover, seldom exposed themselves, and at all times took care not to let bravery degenerate into rashness.
Every effort was made to tempt artillery into close range, the insurgents lying as quiet as possible until such time as their muskets could be brought into play upon the artillery men. To the same end positions were taken up which seemed often to be in direct contraventionof military science, since they seemed to abandon every chance of a clear field of fire in front, and enabled the enemy to approach closely without coming under fire. But their seeming mistake was based upon sound judgement as the superior weapons of the enemy would have beaten down opposition from a distance, whereas being compelled to come close in before opening fire the regular soldiery lost their chief advantage over the insurgents and were deprived of the advantages conferred by discipline and efficient control by skilled officers.June 12th 1915.
After the defeat and final deposition of Napoleon the Allied Sovereigns met at Vienna in 1815 and proceeded to settle Europe. All during the war against Napoleon all the Continental Powers in alliance with the British Empire had loudly declared to the world and to their respective peoples that they were fighting for liberty, for national rights, and against foreign oppression. But when they met at Vienna the Allies proceeded to ride roughshod over all the things for which they were supposed to be fighting. Nations in many instances were ruthlessly partitioned, as in the case of Italy, or were subjected to new foreign rulers without being consulted in any manner. This latter was the case of Belgium. That country was forcibly placed under the rule of Holland. Belgium could not resist as the whole of Europe, except France, was represented at the Vienna Congress, and the armies of all Europe were at the call of the Powers for the enforcement of the decrees of that Congress. In passing, it may be said that this settlement of Europe by the Allied Powers was so utterly at variance with the will of the people, so flagrant a denial and suppression of all that the Allies had pretended to fight for that it led to revolution, subsequently, in every state in Europe.
Holland in its rule over Belgium was accused by the Belgians of a systematic campaign against every expression and manifestation of Belgian national life. It was alleged that it penalised the native language of Belgium, and gave undue official preference to the Dutch, that it sought to place Dutch officials in all posts to the exclusion of equally well qualified Belgians, that it unduly favoured Dutch industries by legislation and retarded Belgian, and that in every possible way Belgium was treated more as a conquered province than as an Allied State.
These grievances were agitated in many ways, and many efforts were made to obtain remedies without avail. Eventually in 1830, fifteen years after the settlement by the Congress of Vienna, revolution broke out in Brussels.
On August 25th 1830, a partially armed mob attacked
p.462the house and printing establishment of the chief pro-Dutch paper, the National. After wrecking these they obtained more arms by sacking gunsmiths' shops. Then the official residence of the Dutch Minister of Justice, M van Mannen, was attacked, gutted, and burned to the ground.
On the 26th, the troops were called out and fighting took place in the streets. The crowd had got possession of a large amount of arms and ammunition and successfully withstood the soldiery. Eventually the troops withdrew in a body to the Place Royale, the reason for the withdrawal being thus stated in the English Press of the time that: in street warfare regular troops, who to be effective must act together, fight at a great disadvantage.
The streets of the city were thus left clear to the people, who proceeded to wreak their vengeance upon the houses and offices of the Government officials. The house of the Public Prosecutor (Procureur du Roi), of the Director of Police, and of the Commandant of the city were sacked, the furniture being taken out, piled up in the street and burned.
Up till this period the middle class Belgians had only looked on passively, but now they organised themselves into a Burgher Guard to defend their property, and took possession of the city partly by force, partly by agreement with the armed workers who up to this time had done all the fighting. Five thousand Burgher Guards were enrolled, the Commandant being one Baron Hoogvorst. All the military posts in the city were occupied by the Guard, the military remaining inactive outside.
A Committee of Public Safety elected by the Burgher Guard issued a Manifesto setting forth the grievances of the Belgian Nation, and instituting reforms. Clause XI of the Manifesto ordered that:
Bread be distributed to all unfortunate workmen to supply their wants until they are able to resume their labour.
On August 20th, Royal troops marched upon Brussels, but halted outside upon being told that if they attempted to enter they would be resisted, but the Guard would keep order within if the troops remained outside. As yet there had been no talk of separation, but all Royal colours had been torn down, and distinctive Belgian colours hoisted on the buildings, and worn by the armed people.
On August 30th, the Prince of Orange arrived outside Brussels and sent in word that he was about to enter. He was informed that he could only enter alone or with his own aide-de-camp. He then threatened to storm the city, and the people replied by building barricades in all the leading streets, and occupying the gates in force. Then the Prince issued a proclamation commanding the inhabitants to lay aside the rebellious colours and badges, and that he would enter the city and take over their duties. This was refused, and he then consented to enter the city alone.
A deputation had been sent to the king at the Hague to lay before him the demands of the Belgians. He met the deputation very courteously, as kings always do when in difficulties, promised many reforms, but insisted that his son, the Prince, should enter Brussels at the head of his troops, and that the deputation should confer with the Minister of the Interior. This latter conference took place, and at it the delegates presented a new demandthe separation of Belgium from Holland, and its erection into an independent Kingdom under the same king.
On this point, like Ireland in our day, the country was divided. Antwerp and Ghent petitioned against separation. Tournay, Verviers, Mons and Namur declared for separation, and in each of them the Civic Guard seized the town and proclaimed the revolution. Bruges followed suit. In each of those places, whilst the Civic Guard was hesitating, the working class took the lead and forced the pace, bringing the guard eventually into line.
On September 19th, the working class of Brussels, tired of the hesitation and inaction of the middle class representatives, took matters in their own hands, rose in rebellion and marched on the Town Hall. There they seized 40 stand of arms. Next day they took possession of the Town Hall, and all the military posts in the city, and were fortunate enough to get possession of a large supply of arms and ammunition. They dissolved the middle class Committee of Public Safety, and established a Provisional Government.
On September 21st, Prince Frederick advanced upon Brussels and ordered that the guard should surrender their posts, all rebel colours should be taken down, all armed strangers expelled, and threatening to hold responsible
p.464personally all members of the Committee of Public Safety, of the Council of Officers of Guards, and of the Municipal Administration. But as all these bodies had been dissolved the Proclamation fell rather flat. The people prepared to fight.
Barricades were thrown up in all the streets and at the gates. Pavements were torn up, stones carried to the top of houses in streets through which the troops would have to pass. and every preparation made, the women being specially busy in the preparations. The attack began on the 22nd, the middle class citizens who had been in the Burgher Guard kept carefully to their houses and out of the fighting. The troops made the attack upon six different points, or districts towards which they opened, Flanders, Auderlecht, Lacken, Schaarbeck, Namur, Louvain. The artillery easily broke through the gates and adjoining barricades but as they advanced, obstacle succeeded obstacle, resistance seemed to multiply itself with every step, and the fighting increased in intensity the farther into the city they penetrated. At the Flanders gate the troops swept at first everything before them with their artillery fire. They advanced with great steadiness until they were met by a strong barricade at a curve in the street which prevented the artillery from being brought to bear. Here they were exposed to a deadly fire from behind the barricade and overwhelmed from above with showers of paving stones, heavy pieces of furniture, hatchets, fire-irons and every species of missile. Beaten back, they were compelled to retreat. At Auderlecht gate the same fate overtook the soldiery, and at Lacken the insurgents compelled a retreat with great loss.
The division which attacked at Schaarbeck gate fought its way in until it reached an open park in which it took refuge from the close quarters and dreadful hostility of the streets. Then it halted afraid to advance further against the streets. The divisions attacking by Namur and Louvain gates also fought their way in for a short distance and then halted, fearful of attempting a further advance.
On the 24th, the middle class joined the insurgent working class, and the fighting was renewed. After a long day's contest the troops were unable to advance, although they had made themselves masters of one of the main streets. The insurgents were still in possession, but too badly organised to expel the troops from their foothold in the city.
On the 26th and 27th, volunteers from neighbouring towns joined the insurgents, and, encouraged by their aid, the insurgents began to close in on the troops and drive them back. Eventually, believing their position to be hopeless, the soldiery gave up the struggle and withdrew from the city.
The total insurgent loss from the 22nd to the 27th, was stated to be 165 killed and 311 wounded.
After the retreat from Brussels the Government had no foothold in Belgium except in its fortresses. The populace rose in the towns, the Belgian regiments declared in favour of the revolution, and one after another the fortresses fell into the hands of the insurgents.
At Ath and Mons the Dutch garrison was made prisoner. At Namur the garrison surrendered the fortress on condition that it was allowed to depart. At Liege 1,100 men, constituting the garrison, made the same arrangement. Ghent held out against the revolution until October 16th, when it also surrendered on like terms to Namur. By the end of October the Belgians were in possession of all the fortresses except Antwerp, Maestricht and Luxemburg.
On November 10th, a National Congress established the Kingdom of Belgium, which was afterwards formally acknowledged by all the powers.
The Revolution in Brussels and the successful stand of an insurgent body against regular troops, made such an impression upon Europe that it was long held as an axiom that it was the duty of the officers in command of the army, confronted with such a condition, to refuse to fight in the streets, and content themselves with a regular investment or siege of the city. The official English view has always dissented from this advice.
Two things have to be kept in mind in studying the Brussels Revolution:
Firstthat, unlike Continental revolutions in general, there were no defections among the troops. It was two nations in conflict. Hence the revolution at Brussels won purely because of its military position and strength.
Secondthat the invention of smokeless powder would tend to make such street fighting far more deadly and demoralising to an army which could not see from whence came the shots that decimated the ranks.June 19th, 1915.
In 1821 Mexico was separated from the kingdom of Spain and entered upon a turbulent and troubled existence of its own. At that time almost all of the territory comprised in the present American State of Texas was an integral part of the Mexican Republic. It was inhabited largely by Mexicans and other persons of Spanish or mixed Spanish and Indian descent. But along with these there were a large number of immigrants from the United States, some of whom had taken up land under the laws of the Mexican Government, whilst others were hunters, trappers, and adventurers. All these latter were rather disinclined to submit to the laws of the Mexicans, especially when the various changes in the Mexican Government made it at times somewhat problematical what these laws were, and still more of a problem to judge how each fresh incumbent in office would administer the laws. Consequently, the uneasiness grew in volume with each accession of strength in the numbers of the immigrants, and each fresh caprice of the rulers. To add to this uneasy situation the designs of the slaveholders in the United States included an extension of slaveholding territory to the South. Unable to extend the slave belt to the North, and menaced by the continual growth of free states in the West, the slaveholders of the United States were anxious to secure fresh territories which could be erected into slave states whose votes could be counted upon against the pressing danger of the increase of liberationist sentiment in the Congress and Senate. Hence the restless immigrants in Texas received secret encouragement from the United States Government, and having real and genuine grievances of their own their restlessness gradually developed into rebellion.
A Mexican Congress in 1835 adopted a new Constitution of the country, one feature of which was the dissolution of all power in a Congress to meet in Mexico city. This was resented in many parts of the country, and in March 1836, a Texan Congress met at Washington, Texas, and declared Texas to be a free and independent Republic. A provisional Government was organised, and Sam Houston was declared Commander-in-Chief. Hostilities commenced immediately.
Fighting took place at several places, notably at San Antonio de Bexar, where the insurgents after five days battle in the street, compelled the garrison to surrender. On hearing of this disaster to his forces, the Mexican President, Santa Anna, crossed the Rio Grande, the river which forms the boundary line between Texas and Mexico, with an army of 10,000 men, and advanced against the insurgents. In the path of their advance lay an old wooden fort known as the Alamo, into which a Texan officer named Travis threw himself with a garrison of 145 men. The Mexican force laid siege to the place, and Travis sent off the following message for reinforcements:
The enemy have demanded me to surrender at discretion, otherwise the garrison is to be put to the sword. I have answered his summons with a cannon shot. Our flag still floats proudly from the walls. We shall never surrender or retreat, liberty or death!
The little Texan force of one hundred and forty five insurgents held out for ten days against the Mexican army of 10,000 men. Again and again the Mexicans attempted to storm the place, and as often they were beaten off. The wounded were propped up by their comrades and kept on fighting until death, the rushes of the regular soldiery with bayonets were beaten off by the Texans with clubbed rifles or met with the quick deadly work of bowie knives, and when at last the building was taken and the Mexicans were victorious it was found that the loss they had sustained was without a parallel in history. Fifteen hundred Mexicans had been killed or ten for every Texan engaged.
No quarter was given or asked. All the defenders were killed, their bodies collected in a heap and burned.
But the defence of the Alamo had enabled the insurgents elsewhere to organise their resistance and General Samuel
p.468Houston with twelve hundred men was by this time in the field and in a position to conduct a regular campaign. Houston pursued a retreating and waiting policy refusing to be drawn prematurely into a battle, but patiently biding his time and keeping his men together until he had made them into an army.
Eventually on April 19th 1836 the two armies met at Buffalo Bayou and the Mexicans were defeated with great slaughter, their General and six hundred men being taken prisoners.
This ended the campaign, the independence of Texas being shortly afterwards formally acknowledged.
The defence of the Alamo was one of those defeats which are often more valuable to a cause than many loudly trumpeted victories. It gave spirit and bitterness to the Texan forces, and more important still gave time to their comrades elsewhere.Fortunately for their cause also they had in Houston a General who recognised that the act of keeping an insurgent force in the field was in itself so valuable an establishment of the revolutionary position that it gave all the functions and prestige of government. Hence he kept his force in the field without fighting as long as possible, despite the murmurs of his men, and only hazarded an engagement when he considered that his army was made.July 3rd, 1915.
After the deposition of Napoleon by the allied powers the Bourbon family was restored to the throne of France much against the will of the French people. That family at first made some slight concession to the spirit of democracy which the French revolution had aroused in Europe, but gradually as the people advanced in their claims for
p.469enfranchisement the royal family and court became more and more reactionary and opposed to reform.
Eventually the Government took steps to suppress the freedom of the press, and four journals active in the reform movement were proceeded against, their editors sentenced to prison and to pay heavy fines. The Chamber of Deputies took sides against the king, and presented to him an address in favour of reform. He dissolved the Chamber and ordered a general election.
When the election was over it was found that, despite the restricted suffrage and persistent government terrorism, the Reform party out of a total Chamber of 428 members had returned 270, whilst the ministry had only returned 145.
As his answer to the elections the king on July 25th, 1830, issued a decree destroying at one swoop all the liberties of his subjects.
The new Chamber of Deputies was dissolved before it had even met.
Liberty of the press was suspended. Writings published in violation of the regulations were to be seized, and types and presses used in printing them to be taken into custody, or rendered unfit for their purposes.
The method of election was altered so as to put it completely in the power of the king and his party.
At this time Paris was garrisoned by a force of 4,750 men of the National Guard, 4,400 troops of the line, 1,100 veteran battalions, 1,300 gendarmes or police.
The first sign of resistance came from the press. Four of the principal editors met and issued the following manifesto which was printed in the National:
Legal government is interrupted and the reign of force has commenced. In the situation in which we are placed obedience ceases to be a duty. The citizens first called upon to obey are the writers of journals; they ought to give the first example of resistance to authority which has divested itself of legal character.
On the morning of the 27th, the police began to seize types and break presses. They were resisted in many places. At the offices of the Temps and National the police were refused admission. Whilst they were attempting to break in the printing of papers went on and copies of the paper were thrown
p.470out of the windows as fast as they were printed. Bought up by the crowd these papers were quickly carried all over Paris.
Locksmiths and blacksmiths were brought to break open the door, but they refused to act, and eventually this had to be done by a convict blacksmith brought from the prison. When the police entered they destroyed all the machines.
The example of resistance fired the whole city, and great mobs marched everywhere. The residence of the Premier was protected by a battalion of guards and two pieces of cannon, and a division of lancers patrolled the immediate neighbourhood. Three battalions were in front of the Palais Royal, the Place Louis XI was held by two battalions of guards and two guns, and in the Place Vendôme were detachments of regiments of the line. Thus all the great squares were held by the military.
The police attempted to clear the streets and failed, and soldiers were ordered to assist. As they pushed the people back in the Rue St. Honoré the first shot was fired from a house in that thoroughfare. It came from a shot gun and wounded some of the soldiers.
The troops fired at the house, and the crowd fell away. As the soldiers pursued they were stopped by a barricade made out of an overturned omnibus beside which had been piled all kinds of furniture and other obstructions. But as those behind this barricade were only armed with stones the soldiery after firing several volleys easily stormed it.
In other places fighting took place, in one a police guardhouse was stormed, and the arms carried off.
Next day, the 28th, the people attacked all the gunmakers' shops and took possession of the arms and equipment. Barricades were erected all over the city, and police guardhouses attacked and taken. The working class from the Faubourgs organised and marched upon the City Hall, or Hotel de Ville, and arms were distributed from various centres.
The military planned to enter the barricaded districts in four columns at four tactical points. The first column entering by the richer parts of the city met with little opposition.
The second column entered by Porte St. Martin, and was met by sharp firing. After firing two rounds from the artillery, and a number from the muskets of the infantry it
p.471crushed the opposition at this point, but as it advanced into the centre of the city the insurgents built barricades behind it, and the further it advanced the more barricades they built in its rear. It reached its objective the great square of the Place de la Bastille, but when it attempted to return was stopped by the aforementioned barricades, and fired upon from all the intersecting streets. The commanding officer after several fruitless attempts to return by the route marked out for him, at last fearing that he would lose his artillery broke out in another direction, leaving the ground he had occupied in the hands of the insurgents, and reaching a point entirely out of touch with the General in command. This column had passed through the insurgents, but it had left them just as it had found them, except, as one writer remarks, that they had been taught to meet the royal troops without fear, and to know the value of the method of fighting they had adopted.
The third column reached a huge market place, the Marché des Innocens, but at this point was assailed with a hot fire from the roofs and windows, accompanied by showers of slates, stones, bottles, and scrap iron. One battalion was ordered to march along the Porte St Denis, clear it, and march back again. In doing so it encountered a barricade in front of a large building, the Cour Batave. Here the insurgents had got inside the courtyard, and fired from behind the iron railing around this building, lying on the ground behind the stones into which the railings were fixed, and keeping up a murderous fire on the troops as the latter body laboured to destroy the barricade. This battalion also was unable to fight its way back, as barricades had been erected behind it as it passed. Its companion battalion at the market place awaiting its return found itself hemmed in, with barricades rising rapidly in all the surrounding streets, and a merciless fire pouring in on it at every opportunity. At last in despair it was resolved to send out a messenger for help.
An aide-de-camp shaved off his moustache, got into the clothes of a market porter, and succeeded in getting through the insurgent lines with a message to the commander-in-chief of the Paris district. Help was sent in the shape of another battalion which had to fight its way in. At the market place the forces united, and fought their way out with great loss.
The fourth column was directed to reach the City Hall,
p.472the Hotel de Ville. It was divided in two. One part marching across a suspension bridge was attacked by the insurgents, but bringing up artillery and receiving reinforcements of another battalion fought its way through, and reached its objectiveHotel de Ville and adjacent Place de Grevè. The insurgents barricaded all the surrounding side streets, and kept up a fire from all the corners and windows. One writer says:
The guns attached to the guards were found to occasion only embarrassment.
Eventually finding the place untenable they fought their way out, attacked all the way by the people who closed in like a sea as the troops passed.
The end of the day's fighting found the people everywhere in possession. Next day fresh troops arrived from the country outside Paris, but great preparations had been made to receive them.
Streets had been torn up, and pavements converted into barricades. Great mounds were placed across the streets, barrels filled with earth and stones; planks, poles, and every conceivable kind of obstacle utilised to create barricades. Carts, carriages, hackney coaches, drays, wheelbarrows had been seized and over-turned, and trees cut down and used to improvise street fortresses.
Then a peculiar thing took place. The troops refused to advance into the streets, and in turn fortified themselves in their positions. This gave the insurgents opportunity to organise themselves and plan their fight more systematically. When they advanced against the troops, after some fighting the soldiery were driven from their central positionthe Louvre, some of the regiments of the line surrendered, and the city was abandoned by the troops.
The Revolution had won.
Like the fighting in Brussels narrated in a previous issue the chief characteristic of the Paris fighting in this revolution was the elusive nature of the insurgent forces. The conquest of a street by the royal troops was not worth the blood it had cost them, for as soon as they passed onwards fresh barricades were erected in their rear on the very ground they had just
p.473conquered. No sooner did they fight their way in than it became necessary for them to fight their way out again. They only commanded the ground they occupied, and the surrounding barricades shutting off their supplies and communications made the position untenable. To have successfully resisted the revolution would have required an army sufficient to occupy in force every inch of the ground they passed, with another force massed at some tactical point strong enough to assist any part of the long drawn out line at any point where it might have been attacked. July 12th 1915.
The first bloodshed in actual fighting in the American Revolution was shed at Lexington, Massachusetts on April 19th, 1775. Then was fired the shot heard round the world, the shot whose echoes were as bugle calls summoning a nation to life.
The dispute between the British Parliament and the American colonists had been gradually drawing to a head. The town of Boston which had led in the agitation against the oppressive action of the British Government was filled with British troops intended to intimidate the Americans, and these latter had begun to collect arms and ammunition and to store them in various places inland in order to be prepared for any eventuality. At that time the odds seemed so great against the Americans that few of them dreamt of asserting the independence of the thirteen colonies.
The colonies were but thinly populated, means of communication were very imperfect, roads were bad, and no real bond of cohesion existed. The British had a great fleet dominating the Atlantic sea coast, and able to hurl an army at any point where resistance might be contemplated and crush it before it could attain to any strength. The bad roads, sparse population and almost trackless wilds on the other hand made it difficult to unite the Americans sufficiently to oppose the British expedition. Also large sections of the
p.474population were ultra loyal, and resolved to stand by England against their fellow colonists. Owing to all these factors there was still some hope of a peaceful issue of the dispute until the occurrence we are about to describe swept the talkers and doubters aside, and placed the issue in the hands of armed forces.
On the night of the 18th and morning of the April 19th, the British General Gage in command at Boston sent an expedition into the interior for the purpose of destroying certain stores of arms and ammunition the Americans were gathering at the village of Lexington. This expedition embarked secretly on boats at Boston, and were rowed up the Charles River to a landing place known as Phipp's Farm. From there they pushed hurriedly on to the town of Concord, which they reached about five in the morning. Every effort had been made to keep their movements secret, mounted officers and scouts scoured the country and arrested every inhabitant they found upon the roads to keep them from giving the alarm. But the alarm had been given; one mounted citizen, Paul Revere, having ridden ahead of them and spread the alarm far and wide. Bells were rung, fires lighted and guns fired in order to rouse the sleeping inhabitants by those who received the word as Revere passed on his way.
On reaching Lexington the soldiers found the American militia drawn up to receive them. The Officer in command ordered the Americans to disperse; these latter refused, and the soldiers fired, killing eight men and wounding several others.
The Americans fled and the soldiers then proceeded to Concord, sending six companies ahead to seize two bridges beyond the town that they might cut off the retreat of any armed forces opposing them. The American militia at this point retired and the main body of soldiers took possession of the place. At once they set about destroying all stores; three guns, a quantity of carriages, and a large accumulation of powder and ball were thrown into the river. A number of barrels of flour were also thrown in the same place and spoilt. All this time the bells had been summoning the people, bonfires were on every hill, and couriers were speeding along every road with the news that the soldiers were on the warpath. The farmers and townspeople were hurrying from all quarters to the scene.
Upon completion of their work of destruction the army
p.475commenced to retire. But here the first real fighting of the day began.
As the Infantry prepared to leave the town they tried to destroy the bridges behind them. A company of militia strove to cross in order to save some of their stores, but the soldiers fired killing two men. The Americans returned the fire, and the regulars were forced to retreat, leaving behind them some killed and wounded, and a lieutenant and a number of soldiers taken prisoners.
As the army retired the whole countryside rose around them. Skirmish followed skirmish, houses, walls, hedges, woods, ditches were lined by riflemen who never ventured into close quarters, but kept up the pursuit, tracking the soldiers as hunters track game. At Lexington the retreating army was reinforced by Lord Percy with 16 companies of infantry, a detachment of marines, and two cannon. From Lexington to Boston is sixteen miles and all the way the troops had to fight. The people closed in to firing distance only, crawled along the ground in their rear, lay in wait behind hillocks, trees, and hedges, firing upon the troops, and never exposing themselves.
For the soldiers it was a terrible experience, as their enemy seemed to rise out of the ground. Front and rear and flanks were alike engaged all the time, and every moment required every sense to be on the alert. Eventually the soldiers reached Charleston, and boats took them off to Boston under the shelter of the fleet.
The British admitted the loss of 273 men killed and wounded, and 2 lieutenants and 20 men taken prisoners. Amongst the seriously wounded were Colonel Smith, the commander of the expedition, a lieutenant-colonel and several other officers. The total American loss was only 60 killed and wounded.
The battle of Lexington was a victory for the British, inasmuch as they succeeded in their object, viz., to destroy the stores of ammunition at Lexington. But it was also a victory for the rebels, as they held the ground after the battle, compelled the enemy to retreat, and inflicted more loss upon him in the
p.476retreat than they had suffered in the battle. In this respect Lexington was like all the battles of the War of the Revolution. In practically all of those earlier battles the regular soldiers won, but after each of them the American Army gained in strength and discipline. Lexington destroyed the belief in the invincibility of the regular solders, gave courage to those who dreaded them because of their perfection in mechanical drill, and gave faith to those doubters who failed to recognise that no nation can be enslaved if its people think death less hateful than bondage. July 17th 1915.
In February 1848, the monarchy of Louis Phillippe was destroyed by an insurrection in the streets of Paris, supported by risings in various parts of the country. This insurrection, like all previous risings of the same description, owed its success principally to the determined fighting of the working class. But whereas in previous insurrections the working class after doing the fighting were content to let the middle class reap the harvest, it resolved this time to demand certain guarantees for itself.
Education had progressed rapidly, and in addition the relative numbers of the workers were greater than at any other similar crises. Hence, after the victory, whilst arms were still in its hands, it demanded that the new government establish in its social constitution some provisions making for social well-being. The government consented reluctantly but with great show of zeal for the cause of labour, and established National Workshops, guaranteeing work to all comers.
This proposition was, of course, economically unsound and bound to fail, but it placated the workers for the time. The Republican Government got time to mature its plans against republicanism, and to organise its military force against labour. Thousands of workers were taken on in the workshops, and middle class poets talked enthusiastically and sang
p.477ecstatically about the Era of Labour. But all the time the government was quietly drafting its forces into Paris, removing from Paris all the city regiments and replacing them with battalions from remote country districts, perfecting its artillery, and calmly preparing to crush the workers should they persist in their idea that the Republic ought to regard them as its children, not as its slaves. Eventually when all was ready the government began to dismiss men in thousands from the National Workshops, and to form brigades of workers to be removed from Paris ostensibly to work at canal construction in the provinces.
One of these brigades was formed of 14,000 men, almost all of whom were Parisians, and members of various local Labour clubs. In addition to this wholesale removal of workers to unfamiliar provinces, the government on June 22nd, 1848, summarily dismissed 3,000 more on the pretence that they were not born in Paris, and ordered them to leave the city at once. Money and tickets were supplied to them to pay their lodgings along the road to their birthplaces.
Out of this deportation sprung the Insurrection of June 1848.
About 400 of the deported workmen returned to the city that evening and paraded the streets, calling upon their comrades to resist the plot of the government to destroy the Labour forces. In the morning the sound of the generale, the popular drum beat to arms, was sounded, and barricades began to be erected in the streets. All the working class districts rapidly rose, and the insurgents fortified their quarters so rapidly and skilfully that it was quite evident that astute minds had been busy amongst them preparing to meet the schemes of the government.
At the Porte St. Denis the fighting began. The barricade here was stormed after the soldiers had been twice beaten off. At the Porte St. Martin and at several other points similar fights took place, at each of them the soldiery stormed the barricade. But at each of them it was found that after the barricade had become untenable the insurgents were able to fall back behind others that had been prepared for the purpose, and when the troops sought to pursue them they were met by a galling and terrible fire from all the side streets and houses. The insurgents had seized houses which commanded the passage
p.478of the streets, but were still so retired that they could not be swept from the front, and had prepared their house in the most scientific manner. The front walls were loopholed, the entrances were barricaded with furniture, boxes, trunks, and obstacles of all kinds, the party walls were cut through so that only one man at a time could pass, and as fast as one house was taken in desperate hand-to-hand fighting they retired through this passage to the next.
Some of the houses were compared to rabbit warrens, full of holes and galleries, and in every corner death was waiting for the soldiers. Windows were blocked with mattresses and sandbags, and marksmen fired from behind them, and women were busy casting bullets, raining slates and stones on the heads of the troops, carrying arms, and tending the wounded.
Before nightfall the troops had been driven back at numerous points, and the roar of artillery was heard all over the city.
Next morning it was found that most of the barricades destroyed during the day had been erected again during the night. To enumerate here the places and districts fortified would be a useless display of names, but sufficient to say that the insurgents had drawn a huge semi-circle around a vast portion of Paris, had erected barricades in a practically continuous line all along their front, had carefully prepared the houses and buildings at tactically strong points, and were now applying to their service everything within their lines that foresight or prudence could suggest.
Two great buildings served as headquarters in the various districts. The headquarters of the North were in the Temple, those of the South in the Pantheon, and in the centre the Hospital of the Hotel Dicu had been seized and held as the strategical bureau of the whole insurrection.
Meanwhile the soldiers in overwhelming numbers were being rushed to Paris from all the provincial centres, and as France was then at peace with all foreign powers the whole force of the army was available. General Cavaignac issued a proclamation that: if at noon the barricades are not removed, mortars and howitzers will be brought by which sells will be thrown, which will explode behind the barricades and in the apartments of the
p.479houses occupied by the insurgents.
No one heeded his threat, and on the next day the fighting re-commenced. But the shortage of ammunition on the part of the insurgents told heavily against them, and in addition, as the government had all along planned, the soldiers brought to Paris outnumbered the armed men in revolt, as well as being possessed of all the advantage of a secure source of supplies.
The first fighting at the Clos St. Lazare was typical of the whole and therefore the following description from the pen of an eye-witness is worth reproducing. He says:
The barricades in advance of the barriers were as formidable as regular engineers would have constructed, and were built of paving stones of a hundredweight each, and blocks of building stone cut for building a hospital, and weighing tons. The houses covering them were occupied. The tall houses at the barriers were occupied and the windows removed. The houses on the opposite side of the Boulevard were, moreover, in the possession of the rebels and manned with marksmen. What formed, however, the strength of their position was the perforation of the wall of the city which is twelve or fourteen feet high, at intervals of eight or ten yards for a mile in length, with several hundred loopholes of about six inches in diameter. During all Saturday and Sunday a constant and deadly fire was kept up from these loopholes on troops who could hardly see their opponents.
The defenders ran from loophole to loophole with the agility of monkeys. They only left the cover of the high wall to seek ammunition, of which they had only a scanty and precarious supply.
It was only when the insurgents' ammunition gave out that the artillery became formidable. Then it was able to pound to ruins the building in which the insurgents were awaiting their attack, and to gradually occupy the district so cleared of its defenders.
By June 28th, all fighting had ceased in Paris. The isolation of that city from all provincial support, combined with the overwhelming number of the soldiery had won the day.
On December 10th, 1848, Prince Louis Napoleon was elected President of the Republic, and four years afterwards he destroyed it by the aid of the army which the republican
p.480government had turned against the workers of Paris in the fighting just chronicled. When Louis Napoleon was destroying the French Republic its middle class supporters called in vain for the support of the brave men they had betrayed in June 1848.
The insurrection of June 1848 in Paris was the most stubbornly fought, and the most scientifically conducted, of any of the revolutions or attempts at revolutions in Paris. The lessons are invaluable for all students of warfare who wish to understand the defence and attack of cities, towns, villages, or houses. Whatever changes have come about as a result of the development of firearms and the introduction of smokeless powder have operated principally in increasing the power of the defence. In our next week's issue we propose to sum up the military lessons of all the great uprisings dealt with in these notes up to the present.July 24th, 1915.
A complete summary of the lessons to be derived from the military events we have narrated in these chapters during the past few months would involve the writing of a very large volume. Indeed it might truly be urged that the lessons are capable of such infinite expansion that no complete summary is possible.
In the military sense of the term what after all is a street? A street is a defile in a city. A defile is a narrow pass through which troops can only move by narrowing their front, and therefore making themselves a good target for the enemy. A defile is also a difficult place for soldiers to manoeuvre in, especially if the flanks of the defile are held by the enemy.
A mountain pass is a defile the sides of which are constituted by the natural slopes of the mountain sides, as at the Scalp. A bridge over a river is a defile the sides of which
p.481are constituted by the river. A street is a defile the sides of which are constituted by the houses in the street.
To traverse a mountain pass with any degree of safety the sides of the mountain must be cleared by flanking parties ahead of the main body; to pass over a bridge the banks of the river on each side must be raked with gun or rifle fire whiles the bridge is being rushed; to take a street properly barricaded and held on both sides by forces in the houses, these houses must be broken into and taken by hand-to-hand fighting. A street barricade placed in a position where artillery cannot operate from a distance is impregnable to frontal attack. To bring artillery within a couple of hundred yardsthe length of the average streetwould mean the loss of the artillery if confronted by even imperfectly drilled troops armed with rifles.
The Moscow revolution, where only 80 rifles were in the possession of the insurgents, would have ended in the annihilation of the artillery had the number of insurgent rifles been 800.
The insurrection of Paris in June, 1848, reveals how districts of towns, or villages, should be held. The streets were barricaded at tactical points not on the main streets but commanding them. The houses were broken through so that passages were made inside the houses along the whole length of the streets. The party walls were loopholed, as were also the front walls, the windows were blocked by sandbags, boxes filled with stones and dirt, bricks, chests, and other pieces of furniture with all sorts of odds and ends piled up against them.
Behind such defences the insurgents poured their fire upon the troops through loopholes left for the purpose.
In the attack upon Paris by the allies fighting against Napoleon a village held in this manner repulsed several assaults of the Prussian allies of England. When these Prussians were relieved by the English these latter did not dare attempt a frontal attack, but instead broke into an end house on one side of the village street, and commenced to take the houses one by one. Thus all the fighting was inside the houses, and musket fire played but a small part. On one side of the street they captured all the houses, on the other they failed, and when a truce was declared the English were in possession of one side of the village, and their French enemies of the other.
The truce led to a peace. When peace was finally
p.482proclaimed the two sides of the village street were still held by opposing forces.
The defence of a building in a city, town, or village is governed by the same rules. Such a building left unconquered is a serious danger even if its supports are all defeated. If it had been flanked by barricades, and these barricades were destroyed, no troops could afford to push on and leave the building in the hands of the enemy. If they did so they would be running the danger of perhaps meeting a check further on, which check would be disastrous if they had left a hostile building manned by an unconquered force in their rear. Therefore, the fortifying of a strong building, as a pivot upon which the defence of a town or village should hinge, forms a principal object of the preparations of any defending force, whether regular army or insurrectionary.
In the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 the chateau, or castle, of Geissberg formed such a position in the French lines on August 4th. The Germans drove in all the supports of the French party occupying this country house, and stormed the outer courts, but were driven back by the fire from the windows and loopholed walls. Four batteries of artillery were brought up to within 900 yards of the house and battered away at its walls, and battalion after battalion was hurled against it. The advance of the whole German army was delayed until this one house was taken. To take it caused a loss of 23 officers and 329 men, yet it had only a garrison of 200.
In the same campaign the village of Bazeilles offered a similar lesson of the tactical strength of a well defended line of houses. The German Army drove the French off the field and entered the village without a struggle. But it took a whole army corps seven hours to fight its way through to the other end of the village.
A mountainous country has always been held to be difficult for military operations owing to its passes or glens. A city is a huge maze of passes or glens formed by streets and lanes. Every difficulty that exists for the operation of regular troops in mountains is multiplied a hundredfold in a city. And the difficulty to the commissariat which is likely to be insuperable to an irregular or popular force taking to the mountains, is solved for them by the sympathies of the populace when they take to the streets.
The general principle to be deducted from a study of the example we have been dealing with, is that the defence is of almost overwhelming importance in such warfare as a popular force like the Citizen Army might be called upon to participate in. Not a mere passive defence of a position valueless in itself, but the active defence of a position whose location threatens the supremacy or existence of the enemy. The genius of the commander must find such a position, the skill of his subordinates must prepare and fortify it, the courage of all must defend it. Out of this combination of genius, skill and courage alone can grow the flower of military success.
The Citizen Army and the Irish Volunteers are open for all who wish to qualify for the exercise of these qualities.