Generals on the Staff
Notwithstanding your distinguished rank in the army, whether you are a general, a lieutenant-general, a major-general, or a brigadier, you are no more to the commander-in-chief than a petty nabob is to the Great Mogul. If ever you wish to rise a step above your present degree, you must learn that maxim in the art of war, of currying favour with your superiors; and you must not only cringe to the commander-in-chief himself, but you must take especial care to keep in with his favourites, and dance attendance upon his secretary.
The more servility and fawning you practise towards those above you, the more you have aright to exact from those beneath you. You must therefore take care to let all the subalterns know what respect is due to a general officer.
If any appointments, such as extra-engineer, brigade-major, inspector of the works, or resident commissary, happen to fall within your disposal, be sure to give them all in your own regiment, and to persons who do not want them and are incapable of doing the business. The less they are qualified to act, the greater the obligation to you, and the more evident the demonstration of your power. It will show that your favour is sufficient to enable a man to hold and to discharge any office, however deficient his knowledge of the duties.
Nothing shows a general's attention more than requiring a number of returns, particularly such as if it is difficult to make with any degree of accuracy.
Nothing shows a general's attention more than requiring a number of returns, particularly such as if it is difficult to make with any degree of accuracy. Let your brigade-major, therefore, make out a variety of forms, the more red lines the better: as to the information they convey, that is immaterial; no one ever reads them, the chief use of them being to keep the adjutants and sergeants in employment, and to make a perquisite to your valet-de-chambre, who can sell them at the snuff-shop or to the grocer.
Whenever you are to review a regiment under your command, a short time before the review enquire the particular mode of exercise which the regiment has been accustomed to, and oblige them to alter it for one quite different. This will show you are acquainted with the minutiae or elements of the military science, as well as the Grand Tactick. Thus, if the regiment has been accustomed to mark the cadence with the left foot, order them to do it with the right. Change the time of the manual; and make other alterations of equal importance. It will occupy the attention of the soldier, and prevent him from falling into idleness, the source of all evil.
If it should happen to rain when you are reviewing the troops, I would recommend it to you to provide yourself with a parapluie, and not imitate the conduct of an Irish general, who, at a late review of the volunteers at Waterford, walked along the line with his hat off, during an incessant shower of rain. A general's person is to be secured as well from the fury of the elements as from that of the enemy's cannon. Besides, though we may admit the texture of your skull to be equally substantial, yet as you have seen some service, it may not require quite so much cooling as that of the Hibernian general.
If you should command in a fortress that is laid siege to, you must reserve your fire to the last, that your ammunition may not be exhausted; besides, firing upon the enemy would so retard their progress, that your garrison might be starved into a capitulation before you could have a fair opportunity of beating them.
But where an enemy thinks himself able to besiege you in a fortress, the best and safest way to convince him of his mistake, is to march out and give him battle.
You may sometimes, however unfit for it, be entrusted with the command of an expedition. In this case, I dare say you will take care to assume all the privileges of a commander-in-chief; I shall therefore refer you to some of the hints addressed to that officer in the last Chapter.