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pave the way for improvement. Reports of such inspections lodged with the brigade commander, transmitted wholly or in part to the department, would indicate weak companies that require particular attention. Then the closer State inspection would show whether there was an earnest effort making to save these companies; such companies could be placed on probation, and at the next annual inspection given one more chance before disbandment.

It may be urged that unless a company goes to camp its interest is killed, and its collapse will follow. If it be not fit for camp that settles whether it should go to camp. If it be below the standard, the seeds of its dissolution are laid already, but the respite gives time for reorganization, which public spirit in such exigency will prompt. If no such support exists, the company is better out of the militia than in it. The problem is, how to develop efficiency; failing this, reduction in the force may be the only alternative. Still, if there be efficiency, the force is none too large now.

The way to meet this question, in my opinion, is to weed out inefficiency wherever it exists, by refusing to order any worthless company into camp. The reduction will come where it should, by lopping off the dead wood. This may take somewhat longer, but it is due the company, and city or town in which the moribund company is located, to have action taken advisedly. If there be any recuperative power left, it should be stimulated; and if there be recovery which brings a company abreast of the average, it calls for forbearance and every exertion to re-establish it on a new and strong footing. The cure should be worked out from within without recourse to surgery.

In this way enthusiasm in a live militia will be quickened, and the real force thus developed can be reorganized upon such lines as may then seem prudent. It is not too much to hope of the militia of this State that with judicious help every company may be brought to the plane of excellence required.


It is the province and duty of this department to guard with jealous care the interests of the State in every matter that pertains to military service; to report extravagances, carelessness and irregular methods, and to promote efficiency and economy throughout every branch of the service.

1. Staff Appointments and their Special Duties.

The duties of staff officers call for special aptitude, and the service requires that appointees should pass an examination as to

capacity and fitness for the special department to which they may be called.

It was certainly common sense that led, in a progressive State, to the selection of men thoroughly acquainted with railroads for staff appointments where this knowledge might become of the greatest value. In the disbursement of funds, and the business details of a military force, much can be done by the choice of those whose training will bring masterful methods into the militia. Genius or latent ability in these days, without a stratum of knowledge to back it, avails little.

Outbreaks, and wars for that matter, are so sudden and spend their force so quickly, that there is no time to fill up the void of military knowledge when the time comes to make use of it.

The function of the staff is to render assistance to a commanding officer, and an efficient staff is part of the military organization. At least in their particular departments they must add to the competence of their chief, for the commanding officer must be relieved of routine details, to have the proper time for thought to acquit hinfself of the greater responsibilities that rest upon him.

The appointment of staff officers is open to just criticism. Eminent military fitness does not seem essential. The personnel is such as to show undoubted ability, but a general failure to improve opportunities.

In some commands there are officers who utterly lack any systematic or thorough knowledge of their department. This ignorance is shielded by their superiors, or passed over without comment. Positive discomforts result to the men, great detriment to the service, even in peace. On any active duty there would be a complete breakdown, which would be a disgrace to Massachusetts. Many signal exceptions only emphasize the absolute necessity of radical reform.

A staff appointment carries with it responsibility. That some hold such commissions with little or no thought to the duties which devolve upon them, indicates an absence of the first principles of an officer. The slurring of details and carelessness of military etiquette smack of the play-soldier element which is out of touch with the times. The staff officer who would shun examination must realize his utter incapacity.

Until some measures be taken to insure strength in the staff, the militia is far from a state of efficiency.

2. Retired List.

The present organization is very defective in leaving to officers no alternative to resignation. Indirectly this leads many a keen

line officer to decline a staff appointment. But directly it retains in the service many officers who should be out of it. It is a hardship for an officer who has served his State long and faithfully to face resignation, which cuts him off from the militia dear to his heart. It leaves him a simple citizen, with a questionable right to the rank he has earned by an honorable discharge of his commission.

However, the good of the service imperatively insists upon refilling the places occupied by some officers. There are those who have outgrown their usefulness, and are physically disqualified for efficient service. There are other officers whose circumstances would prompt them to leave the service, extra demands upon their time force them to neglect their military duties. Some officers hold commission with residence quite apart from their command, and on an emergency would not be quickly available. There are officers who have lost the cordial support of their men, and who can only maintain a skeleton company, padded for tours of duty at great expense, and inevitable discredit to the State.

Again, other officers with personal grievances remain in the force, and are unsoldierly enough to retail their discomfiture and ferment discord. It goes without saying that all such men are inefficient officers.

A great good would be done the service by provision for retirement as well as resignation. If officers who have honorably served the State a number of years, but who from whatever cause appreciate that their longer service is prejudicial, impossible, or of a kind bound to be inefficient, could retire, it would provide an honorable surrender of commission. Such retirement should be only upon the approval of higher authority, and perhaps with a grade higher than the commission held. It might be further upon recommendation, with the endorsement of the commander-in-chief, for cases of petrifaction. Thus the service of an officer would be recognized by the State, and he could properly retain rank, as on the retired list of the militia. Officers would be available, by draft, for duty on emergency, and, in the event of a forced increase in the militia, there would be some, more or less competent, to draw upon.

The only expense to the State in a retired list would be the printing of the names of such officers in the annual report. For this insignificant outlay there would be secured great benefits. The State would retain hold upon many whose interest flags with resignation. The privilege of retirement would be welcomed by many officers; where it becomes absolutely necessary to replace an officer who has lost his usefulness, retirement with promotion

could be reserved for those whose previous good work warranted this consideration.

3. Mounted Arm.

It is to be hoped that the time will come when the artillery may practise with their arm as well as the infantry and cavalry. The excellent work of volunteer batteries has shown what can be accomplished. As artillery is distinctively a scientific arm of the service, maintained at great expense, and calling for exceptional leadership, our present standing falls short of what it should be. Commissions in the artillery should call for more professional knowledge than is required in any other arm of the service. It is the fault of the organization that it is keyed for the efficiency required in the discharge of only blank ammunition. The anomaly of an artillery whose sole function is to fire salutes is reserved for Massachusetts.

There are doubtless difficulties in the way of finding a proper range for practice. Difficulties are things to overcome.

Again, the horsing of batteries is upon a peculiar footing. It is hard to expect any more efficiency from the horses than the men, with a few days in camp, or occasional street parades, in a year. If it be proper to have batteries in the militia, it is the duty of the State to do more than furnish guns, powder, a commission, blank returns, and pay for service which is neither theoretical nor practical.

Beyond facilities for target firing, there should be provision made for a permanent establishment of horses, enough for at least one gun. Arrangements might be made by which such horses could be used by the several batteries in turn, two months each; and, for the militia, perhaps only during the temperate season. The cost would be trifling compared with what could be gained, and there would be plenty of opportunities for the horses to work out a portion of what it would cost to make them efficient.

All that is said about the need of some permanent provision for horses for the artillery applies doubly to the cavalry. One troop enjoys exceptional advantage in that most of the members own horses. Use should be made of them in cross-country work. For the other troops, located in the city, a permanent establishment of at least ten horses would go far to make the command more than men on horseback.

Arrangements could be made with the riding schools, so the outlay would not be excessive. That it has been done elsewhere already may carry additional weight to my recommendation.

Individual proficiency in horsemanship exists, and in no com


mand is there more commendable esprit de corps than the mounted If the State makes any provision, it would win cordial endorsement, and be generously supplemented by both the artillery and cavalry.

4. Ambulance Corps.

The work of the Ambulance Corps in both brigades is highly creditable to this State. They are well officered, of excellent efficiency, and bear out the splendid reputation of the medical department of the militia. Still, it is clear that they have too much to do, and are often on duty too long. Their services are required whenever any command is out for drill or ceremony, and their work often lasts late into the evening as well. To each corps of sixteen men there is but one officer, where there should be at least two. The men of a company under a captain form a unit, whose subdivision is provided for by two lieutenants. The men of the Ambulance Corps serve in pairs. They cover a good deal of ground. The position of an officer is with the men of his command, but this imposes three times as much work on the ambulance officer as on any line officer.

The untiring devotion to duty of the officers of the Ambulance Corps has been shown year after year. Considering the professional standing of an officer fitted for this command, the highest rank available, that of second lieutenant, is singularly out of keeping with the usual bestowal of militia rank. While this is but of secondary importance, compared to the imperative need of having at least two officers assigned each corps, it is a defect in the present organization.

5. Company Management.

In many companies there is no system of internal economy; order files are loosely kept; the records of meetings are defective; there are no retained copies of letters sent out; company books in general reveal the ignorance of those who have them in charge. The finances of some companies are unsatisfactory. Several searching investigations have been forced on the department, and have shown a condition of things thoroughly unsoldierly. For the most part, however, the evil is rather of negligence or incompetency than dishonest intent.

Regimental paymasters could improve the standing of their command by auditing company accounts. Until there be some well-ordered and uniform system established, it will be difficult to inspect company books, because there is no method followed.

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