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Ir a book of this kind had been published in England some twenty, or even fifteen years ago, I do not believe that one officer in fifty would have opened it, or that one in a hundred would have read it through.
But times have changed, for during the last few years a great impulse has necessarily been given to military education, and not only are much greater facilities for instruction afforded to our officers, but a far higher standard of professional knowledge is insisted upon, whilst at the same time the taste for military studies, for their own sake, independently of any direct personal advantage likely to arise therefrom, has widely spread both in the standing army and in the auxiliary forces. Consequently, at the present time a very large proportion of our officers of all ranks eagerly welcome any new work on tactics, not only reading it, but studying it carefully.
Still we have not as yet produced many original works on such subjects, and we are compelled to draw largely upon our continental friends for information and instruction, particularly upon the Germans, who can count able tactical writers by the score. Major Hugo Helvig's book is one of the first of its kind which has appeared abroad, and I think it will be the very first of its kind to appear in this country.
The first volume, of which I now offer a translation, deals with the battalion. Should it appear to be appreciated, I hope some day to introduce to the English reader the author's second volume which is devoted to the brigade.
Major Helvig, as he says in his preface, lays no claim to producing a set of • Tactical Receipts'(like receipts for dishes in a cookery book). Such a pretension would be absurd. He only works out, as he thinks best, a series of tactical problems, such as may fairly be expected to present themselves to a battalion on service. The reader will probably differ from the author as to the best mode of solving some of these problems, and the great value of this book, as of the war-game which we imported also from Germany, is that it suggests to the military student so many subjects for reflection and discussion, and leads him to think them out for bimself, the more independently the better.
With this book before him a commanding officer need never be at a loss for an interesting and instructive field-day, as the thirty examples given in it may be varied ad infinitum.
The author's troops are of course organised as in Germany. In working out the examples on the ground, the English officer will therefore have to adapt the details of execution to our own organisation.
Each man may easily do this for himself; at the same time I believe that, having done so, most men will come to the conclusion that the Germans are in advance of us in tactical organisation, and that their large companies are better than our small companies both for instruction in peace and for action in war.
I have, as a translator is bound to do, endeavoured throughout to render the author's meaning as faithfully as possible, but I have, here and there, taken the liberty to alter somewhat the wording and arrangement of the original, with the view of making that meaning more intelligible to the English reader.
A few errata, which had crept into the text, have been corrected in the translation.
The word "commandant’ is used throughout to signify the officer commanding a battalion, and the word captain' to signify the officer commanding a company.'
Perhaps it may be as well to explain the few peculiarities of German tactical organisation which concern the readers of this volume.
An Infantry Brigade consists of two regiments.
A company, when formed for manouvre, is drawn up in two ranks and split into three divisions,' the third of which, being in theory, if not still in practice, composed of the best shots and