§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
rose to move—That an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for, Return of any measures that may have been taken for the remedy of or copies of 389 correspondence respecting the want of a system of strategical education and instruction in the army and reserve forces; for movements or reviews of large bodies, whether of the regular or reserve forces; and for camps of instruction for the practice of manœuvres representing operations in actual warfare.The noble and gallant Lord said, he begged to submit a few brief observations in explanation of the object of the Papers for which he now moved. Recent debates in their Lordships' House proved two acknowledged facts: first, the inefficiency of their military system of education in service essentials; secondly, the unfortunate results of these deficiencies in operations of war; and as the instruction of their auxiliary forces was dependent on the same system, it was, of course, characterized by similar defects. In his Report of the last Easter Monday Volunteer Review, the General Officer commanding (Sir Hope Grant) strongly recommended the discontinuance of great Volunteer reviews, for a reason which he (Lord Strathnairn) ventured to think was unanswerable — namely, that it was a mistake to attempt to exercise troops in the movements of large bodies, and the higher ranges of the art of war, who were imperfectly, if at all, instructed in its preliminaries, the movements of brigades, or small bodies; and if that were true, a second consideration presented itself. These extensive concentrations were very expensive, and consumed the savings made by Volunteers on their allowances, which would be much more advantageously laid out in providing essentials for their health and efficiency—great coats, knapsacks, or canteens for cooking. To move from 15,000 to 20,000 Volunteers to great distances from their homes, with no protection against bad weather, wet clothes, and hunger, with only the questionable commissariat of publichouses and ginshops, was to compromise the health and efficiency of these valuable troops, exposing the one to risk, and the other to irregularities and undue temptations. The gallant officer, in his Report, added another to the long list of the results of an erroneous system of military training which, it was to be hoped, would have moved the War Department, in the terms of the Royal Speech, to efforts more decisive than heretofore at practical improvement. He said that, so false were the positions taken up on the heights by large bodies 390 of troops, that if it had been real warfare whole brigades would have been utterly annihilated by the enemy's artillery. In the interest of discipline, of the feeling and esprit de corps of the Volunteer force, he much regretted that that Report should have been published to the world by the War Department. It occasioned and drew forth counter-statements as to which he was sure that the authorities on reflection would frankly acknowledge and regret that they must be prejudicial to discipline. He had no right to constitute himself an arbiter of these differences; but the occupation of dangerous positions by various brigades was admitted by both parties. It was this and numerous other instances of a neglected art of war which had induced him, especially on the eve of the establishment of a new and very large camp of instruction, to ask for Papers which would show whether any and what steps had been taken by the War Department to correct past errors, and introduce a system which would teach the British Army and its Reserves the strategy and realities of war. He must express his firm conviction that, unless there were some improved method of teaching strategy, the coming camp of instruction, large and expensive as it would be, would turn out to be simply a great evil, and, in conclusion, would beg to move the Address which stood in his name.
§ Moved that an humble Address be presented to Her Majesty for, Return of any measures that may have been taken for the remedy of or copies of correspondence respecting the want of a system of strategical education and instruction in the army and reserve forces; for movements or reviews of large bodies, whether of the regular or reserve forces; and for camps of instruction for the practice of manœuvres representing operations in actual warfare.—(The Lord Strathnairn.)
§ LORD NORTHBROOK
said, there were no Papers of that kind to produce. Her Majesty's Government were alive to the necessity of encouraging the instruction of officers of the Army on the points alluded to by the noble and gallant Lord, and it was for that reason that manœuvres had been ordered to be made in the autumn in a camp somewhere up the Thames, on the model of the system which had been practised with so much success in Prussia. Regulations had been issued as to the appointment of umpires to decide upon the movements of the troops in this mimic 391 campaign, during which the attention of the War Office would be seriously directed to those improvements which the noble and gallant Lord had so zealously advocated during the last two or three years. He hoped the noble and gallant Lord would not press his Motion.
§ LORD STRATHNAIRN
said, he hoped the noble Lord the Under Secretary of State for the War Department (Lord Northbrook) would receive the thanks due to him for his courtesy in answering the Motion; and, being entirely satisfied with the reply, he (Lord Strathnairn) would beg leave to withdraw his Motion.
§ Motion (by leave of the House) withdrawn.