July/August 1999 | Volume 50, Issue 4
An army in modern warfare means a brevet officer with his brevet command. A brevet officer is commonly a soldier who has reaped laurels by going where other soldiers go & who, by a discriminating Congress, is designated as one who forever after is fit for no practical purpose whatever, except to clamor for a brevet command, tyranise over his former equals, & abuse his superiors.
Warfare under such men consists in disgusting those under them, keeping their own feet dry in all swamp operations (now the field of military achievements), while they heap unnecessary labor on others, & making long papers giving learned reasons why nothing has been accomplished, called reports.
The object for an army in modern warfare consists in the fifty-two blank forms of the Quartermaster Dpt., & one thousand Sc one blank forms pertaining to the other departments, a bale of red tape to each officer (called officers’ baggage), one horse in case of need for provisions, i.e. when alligators or other indigenous food of the climate gives out, & a musket to each man, purchased from the Chinese government.
A Depot is a place where necessary clothing is left while troops are in the field, modern improvements having changed the ancient meaning of the term, which was a place from which clothing & other supplies were furnished to troops in the field.
Reinforcements consists in picking up raw recruits least acquainted with the use of fire arms or horses, & sending them to the most sickly places at the worst seasons of the year—this being considered a great improvement on ancient usages.
This certainly has its advantages. It brings into play the foreign element of national greatness, an emigrant from frigid Norway being of great use in the torrid zone of Florida. Another advantage is the opportunity it affords a bountiful government to spend money, one of these recruits costing as much as a native & lasting but three months, the government thus multiplying its generous donations twenty-fold every five years. …
Head Quarters in modern military dictionaries means a paper factory. The mother factory being at Washington, & the smaller ones wherever brevet officers command. To these factories all the army is busily engaged forwarding paper rags [called] uniforms. This forms the test of military ability, buttons having engaged the profoundest researches of our chief military men [of] this century.
As a first requisite [the] uniform must not be adopted to the sort of service required. It must be proved to have been tried in Algeria by the French—if it answered there it must needs do here, on the same principle that, as the porters in [Smyrna?] carry a load of eight hundred pounds on their backs, every American must do the same, &C because John Chinaman eats rat pies, this should form our national dessert.
Campaigns. These are conducted on political principles of Expediency—there being no sort of difference in this respect between ancient monarchs who made war at their soverign wills, & modern administrations which order campaigns whenever an election is to be carried. A campaign closes with equal caprice & facility.
Thus, to carry the election in Florida, a vigorous campaign is ordered there against the Indians that for twenty years have served this political pretext, & a vigorous general is ordered to the spot. The election carried, the campaign is over, the vigorous general is ordered to another field where political expediency requires the display of energy, & from there on to the end of the chapter. Thus it turns out that military men become the best politicians by governmental influences, & aspire to the presidency in due course of time.
Military Education. … A young man finding he cannot make money in civil walks is provided with a commission & gets on as well as the rest of them, the military profession having become reduced to little other than the paper maker’s trade, at which any fool can serve & make a living.
This article cannot be wound up more gracefully than by the following conundrum & epitaph. What resemblance is there between the celebrated Eastern Conqueror Genghis Khan & a modern commander? Ans. One is Genghis Khan, the other Genghis Khant.
Epitaph Here lies great Genghis buried low, All men are shams says he. And he of all men ought to know, For chief of shams was he.