Today’s post about the U.S. military’s strategy in Afghanistan, and their sloth in regards to supplying our troops with adequate weaponry, got me thinking. And surfing. Under Project Gutenberg (not a Police Academy remake of The Revenge of Khan), the History of the Gatling Gun Detachment, Fifth Army Corps, at Santiago by Lieutenant John H. Parker, 13th U.S. Infantry is online for your edification. History buffs will recall that the Gatling gun was the star of the battle for San Juan Hill in the Spanish American war (Teddy Roosevelt penned the intro.) Lt. Parker’s comments about Yankee ingenuity and perspicacity on the field of battle raise some interesting questions about our current armed forces. Are they hamstrung by their own leaders?
[This book] will tell of the heroism of the plain American Regular, who, without hope of preferment or possibility of reward, boldly undertook to confute the erroneous theories of military compilers, who, without originality
or reason, have unblushingly cribbed the labored efforts of foreign officers, and foisted these compilations of second-hand opinions upon the American Army as military text-books of authority and weight. These literary soldiers declared, following the lead of their foreign guides, that “The value of machine guns on the battle-field is doubtful,” and that “Their offensive value is probably very small.” They also agreed, with most touching unanimity, that “A direct assault upon a fortified position, occupied by good, unshaken infantry, armed with the modern rifle and plentifully supplied with ammunition is sure to fail, unless made by overwhelming numbers and prepared by strong and accurate fire by artillery.”
These servile imitators of foreign pen soldiers were destined to see all their pet theories exploded by the grim old mountain puma from California and his brave Fifth Corps. They were to learn, so far as they are capable of learning, that the American Regular makes tactics as he needs them; that the rules of war established by pen soldiers do not form the basis of actual operations in the field; that theories must go to the wall before the stern logic of irrefutable facts; and that deductions based on the drill-made automatons of European armies are not applicable to an army composed of American Volunteer Regulars, led by our trained officers.