3 OCTOBER 1914, Page 14


IN his fine recruiting speech at Cardiff on Tuesday Mr. Lloyd George incidentally praised the voluntary principle at the expense of the principle of compulsory service. He said that under " conscription " Wales would have to raise an army of two hundred and fifty thousand men, and that it was not therefore too much to ask for fifty thousand volunteers. " A volunteer army of fifty thousand," he added, " is just as good as a forced army of two hundred and fifty thousand." He then went on to cite historical examples of improvising armies, the implica- tion seeming to be that these examples testified to the merits of the voluntary principle. We must be careful to observe that Mr. Lloyd George did not actually say that the hurried improvisations in history which excited his admiration were based on voluntaryism. But the conjunc- tion of the praise of the voluntary principle and the examples set forth immediately afterwards of successful improvisation is very likely to mislead any careless reader of his speech. We fancy that many of his audience at Cardiff must have been misled, and we are the more inclined to think so as we notice that at least one news- paper took him to mean that the improvised armies to which he referred were raised voluntarily. His examples may be given in his own words :— " Mere have been, I think, three notable instances in fairly recent history when nations have raised in a hurry great armies in order to meet better-trained troops, perhaps, than themselves. There is the case of the Revolutionary armies of France, raised in order to drive back the highly trained troops of Prussia and Austria. There is the case of the Civil War in America. And there is the case of 1870, when Gambetta raised huge levies in order to confront the German invaders. In the first of these three cases these raw levies, impelled by their great zeal and enthusiasm, defeated the highly trained troops. In the third case I do not believe there is any soldier who will not say that had Gambetta been able to give six months' training to his levies, if he had had in addition to that the support of one hundred and fifty thousand trained and seasoned troops, the history of Europe would have been different from what it is to-day. In our case we have got those conditions. The men who enlist to-day will be able to receive five or six months' training at least before they are sent to the front."

The fact is that the French Revolutionary troops were raised compulsorily; so was Gambetta's Army in 1870 ; and so, in all but a partial and technical sense, were the Federal troops in the American Civil War. As the last case is the only one of the three that can excusably give any cause for misunderstanding, we propose to deal with this only. The American Civil War is often spoken of as a triumphant instance of voluntaryism, but it was really nothing of the sort. After the attack upon Fort Sumter by the Southerners in 1861, President Lincoln began to improvise an Army. There was at that moment in the North a, Regular Army of only about sixteen thousand men. First he called out seventy-five thousand men to serve in the Militia, and when he recognized how gravely events were developing he appealed for forty-two thousand volunteers for the Army and Navy. There was an outburst of enthusiasm at first. That must not be denied. Walt Whitman has celebrated it:— "To the drum-taps prompt,

The young men falling in and arming ; The mechanics arming, the trowel, the jack-plane, the black- smith's hammer, tossed aside with precipitation ; The lawyer leaving his office, and arming--the judge leaving the court ; The driver deserting his waggon in the street, jumping down, throwing the reins abruptly down on the horses' backs ; The salesman leaving the store—the boss, book-keeper, porter, all leaving;

Squads gathering everywhere by common consent, and arming ; The new recruits, even boys—the old men show them how to

wear their accoutrements—they buckle the straps care- full ;

Outdoory s arming—indoors arming—the flash of the musket- barrels ;

The white tents cluster in camps—the armed sentries around —the sunrise cannon, and again at sunset ; Armed regiments arrive every day, pass through the city, and embark from the wharves ; How good they look, as they tramp down to the river, sweaty, with their guns on their shoulders !

How I love them How I could hug them, with their brown

faces, and their clothes and knapsacks covered with dust The blood of the city up—armed ! armed! the cry every- where."

But soon the enthusiasm died away, or, at all events— which is the important point—failed to produce an Army, and volunteering became an admitted failure. It is not generally known, however, to what a marked degree it failed, nor do most students of history remember the abuses which it bred even while it was still being relied upon as a method of raising troops. We may quote here an illuminating passage on the subject from Lord Newton's Lord Lyons :-

" In view of the methods employed in recruiting them it was not surprising that the results were frequently unsatisfactory. The usual method employed was to inform the Governor of a State of the number of men required. The Governor having made the necessary announcement, private persons came forward offering to raise regiments. Each set forth his claims, his influence in the State or among a certain portion of the population, and his devotion to the party in power. From he persons thus presenting themselves the Governor made his choice. Generally the person upon whom the choice fell laid it down as a condition that he should have command of the regi- ment. The next thing was to find soldiers. Friends seized with the same martial ardour promised to bring so many recruits if they were made—the one a Captain—another a Lieutenant—another a Sergeant, and so forth. The framework was thus formed and partially filled up, and the regiment being thus organized, the lists were carried to the Governor for his approval. The incon- veniences of such a system were obvious, and experience showed that it was much less adapted than had been supposed for the purpose of raising an efficient army. It was considered, how- ever, to possess certain political advantages, one of which was that there was little fear of the officers ultimately forming anything like a separate military or aristocratic caste. The real inconvenience of the system, however, was that sufficient men were not forthcoming in spite of the inducements offered by means of high pay, and the Government was forced to have recourse to all sorts of iniquitous devices in order to get hold of so-called volunteers, many of whom were foreigners. The most objectionable practice was that of giving bounties to agents for bringing in recruits. The effect of this at the beginning of the war was that great numbers of men deserted from the British Navy, and the Admiral at Halifax reported that at one time there were a hundred deserters from one ship alone, the St. Vincent,' but as the contest progressed the bounty system was responsible for innumerable cases of kidnapping in which British subjects were the sufferers. Kidnapping especially flourished in New York, where the emigrants were an easy prey, and to such a point had corruption been carried that the Governor admitted to the British Consul that out of every million of dollars expended in bounties, fully four-fifths of the amount were secured by bounty and substitute brokers and crimps."

The dearth of volunteers was so grievous that the pay- ment for every head became higher and higher. Lord New- ton quotes evidence that a poster was set up in New York : " Fifteen dollars Hand Money given to any man bringing a volunteer." No wonder that Lincoln was compelled to have recourse to the " Draft." We described the working of the " Draft " last week, and printed Lincoln's extra- ordinarily powerful defence of it. It was unpopular among those who did not want to serve—of course!—but it was absolutely necessary. The " Draft," we may briefly repeat, was used in conjunction with volunteering, and under the two systems together more than two million men -were raised for the Union. The important point to notice is t hat the " Draft " drove men into the volunteers to such an extent that it is virtually true to say that the volunteers were drafted. The Government said in effect : "If you don't volunteer you will be forced to serve." General Fry showed in his Report to Congress that volunteering would have been utterly useless without the " Draft." The action of Pitt in the French War was thus substantially imitated. Under Pitt's system the only way to avoid the Militia Ballot was to join a volunteer corps. With all this in mind, it will be seen how wildly erroneous it is to speak of the American Civil War as a triumph for voluntaryism.

We shall be asked why we trouble to write in this strain when volunteers have been coming in so well in answer to Lord Kitchener's appeal. Let us be clear on that point. We do not suggest that the voluntary principle should be abandoned during this war. The system is being worked for all it is worth ; it is answering well, thanks to the splendid spirit of the country ; and it would be absurd to change it mid-way for another system. But we cannot help reflecting that if we had had the scheme of National Service—of compulsory training for home defence, which is a different thing from conscription—recommended so earnestly and powerfully by Lord Roberts we should not now be in the throes of painfully improvising an Army. True, a compulsorily trained Army for home defence would not be an Army for service abroad. But can any one doubt for a second what the response would have been from such an Army when volunteers were asked for to serve in France? The supporters of voluntaryism seem to forget that under National Service they would still have a voluntary Army for service abroad. But there would be two very great differences : (1) The volunteers would be men already trained, whose services would, therefore, be of immediate value. (2) The equipment for an Army of volunteers abroad would be already in existence, instead of having to be precipitately created as it is being created now. As things have turned out, it is possible to improvise a new Army without any undue alarm and anxiety for the safety of the country while the process is going on. But it might easily have been otherwise. Suppose that our magnificent Expeditionary Force had been overwhelmed. What then ? It is already well known that Sir John French's Army was within an ace of being destroyed, and that only its consummate skill saved it. Probably no other army in the world could have extricated itself in such cir- cumstances. If it had perished, the left wing of the French Army would probably have been crumpled up. Would not the peril then have come very much nearer to our own doors ? We write not for the moment but for the future. The compulsory training of the whole able-bodied youth of the nation is the only ideal to set before us. Guns, riftee uniforms, and all equipment would then be ready for any emergency. The country would be safe even if we temporarily lost the command of the sea, for no foreign nation would care to enter our hornets' nest. And if service abroad were required, the volunteers would be men prepared to take their place at the front without a day's delay. Surely we shall not run such risks as we have run a second. time. We have too much faith in our countrymen to believe that they will allow it. When the war is over there will be a steady demand fur the surest, cheapest, and most beneficial method of military defence—compulsory training for the youth of the country.