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Most of our military undertakings commence with an expedition across the seas; in others, the land forces, operating not far from the coast, gladly avail themselves of the assistance of the navy. From this peculiarity it would appear that a study of combined operations by sea and by land must possess a special interest for our officers.
Though no man can hold that he has done his duty as long as there remains an unperformed task for which he is fitted, still our personal bent has always been to acquire knowledge, and not to presume to impart it. If we have written on matters of transport, lines of communication, mobilization and embarkation, this has been brought about by the scarcity of works dealing with these important subjects, which we may truly call some of the bases of future success. This want has rendered our studies more toilsome, and in publishing the governing laws and particulars of these
matters, we have always had in mind that the information might be profitable to other students. If it has saved them a laborious research our object will have been partly attained.
On the subject of embarkation and landing, Admiral Sir William Mends, who for many years administered with great credit the Transport branch of the Admiralty, in a lecture on disembarkation of troops, said: “In all the operations I have quoted, beyond the fact of their accomplishment, we have few details to aid the practical officer in preparing for such an undertaking. And when I carry my mind back to that of 1854, I am more than ever sensible of the unpreparedness of the practical mind to grapple with them, and our lack of the proper appliances to ensure rapidity and precision.”
It has been our endeavour in the following pages to give some details of the operations involved, such as we have been able to glean from the narratives of past wars. We are, nevertheless, bound to admit that in the majority of instances very little has been recorded. The execution of the preliminary operations, as if they could have little interest for any one, have often been condensed in a few short paragraphs.
Experience being the best teacher, the subject has been largely illustrated by precedents taken
from history. Though many of the instances quoted are generally known, we have not been forgetful of King David's advice to Joab's messengers : “That the best method of making war with success, was to call to mind the accidents of former wars, and what good or bad result had attended them in the like cases, that so they might imitate one and avoid the other."
The reader will easily understand how impossible it has been to preserve the chronological order of the precedents which we have borrowed to establish certain principles. When incidents of the
. same campaign crop up afresh in different places, he will find that they have been taken to illustrate separate parts of our text.
When so many alterations and innovations in the arms, in the system of war, in shipping, in means of locomotion and transmission of intelligence have had their origin during the reign of Her Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria, it is befitting that this book should be published this year, in which all her loyal subjects are commemorating the sixtieth year of her glorious reign.
G. A. FURSE.
30th April, 1897.