Book Source: Digital Library of India Item : C E ioned. Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice [Charles Edward Callwell] on Amazon. com. *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. From the American war in Vietnam. : Small Wars Their Principles and Practice (): Colonel C.E. Callwell: by Colonel C.E. Callwell (Author) . Charles Edward.

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But it is not to be regarded as laying down inflexible rules for guidance, or as an expression of official opinion on the subjects of which it treats.

Small Wars Their Principles And Practice

Then, as the supplies carried in these trains are consumed, they are made good, partly from what can be obtained from the theatre of war, and partly by the empty transport moving back to fixed supply magazines for replenishment.

It may be impossible to tow barges from the bank. Obviously, therefore, it is often of vital importance in the conduct of such operations that the army should be as short a time as possible away from its base, and that the troops should be kept back while the supplies are pushed ahead under the escort of the smallest force which can safely be entrusted with the duty.

And it must be added that the supply difficulties were enormously increased by the lateness of the start, by the unfortunate postponement in deciding on the despatch of the expedition. Another and altogether different kind of enemy has been met with at times in Morocco, in Algeria, and in Central Asia. The primary object of this expedition was the capture of the Sultan’s capital and stronghold Kota Raja.

In the meantime most of the troops were held back below Wadi Halfa up to the last possible moment, although a small force had to be pushed on to protect the supply depots and secure the line to Korti. When the capital is a place of real importance in the country its capture generally disposes of regular opposition. Upon the organization of armies for irregular warfare valuable information is to be found in many instructive military works, official and non-official.

Supply both of food and of water is in reality merely a matter of calculation. It comprises the expeditions against savages and semi-civilised races by disciplined soldiers, it comprises campaigns undertaken to suppress rebellions and guerilla warfare in all parts of the world where organized armies are struggling against opponents who will not meet them in the open field, and it thus obviously covers operations very varying in their scope and in their conditions.

It often occurred in the later days of the South African War ofwhen the straggle had degenerated into guerilla warfare that, at the cost of vast trouble and accompanied by an imposing escort, a convoy would be sent out into the heart of some district far from the railway. But campaigns for the subjugation of insurrections, for the repression of lawlessness, or for the pacification of territories conquered or annexed stand on a very different footing.

Experience shows that in small wars very great distances have often to be traversed through barren arid districts, where the soil is not cultivated, where no sheep or cattle are to be found, where a scanty population subsists on food unsuited for European soldiery, and where no forage for horses or mules exists.


The Achin river similarly aided the Dutch in their second expedition against the Achin Sultanate. But all that has been said in this chapter with regard to the peculiar conditions as to intelligence which prevail in small wars must be understood to be applicable only generally. Supply in fact is largely dependent cbarles the nature of the route which the force is following, and if the route is very bad or very narrow the commissariat service is apt to suffer in proportion.

In Algeria the French were incessantly despatching expeditions against the Kabyles which could effect nothing because the enemy disappeared. But let that not detract from the richness of military theory and historical insight to be found in the pages of Small Wars. The Italians appear to have altogether under-estimated chales fighting capacity and the numerical strength of King Meneleck’s army before the battle of Adowa.

Small Wars by Colonel C E Callwell : a Military Times Classic – Military History Monthly

Recent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Somalia, Lebanon, Gaza, and elsewhere are putting a premium on anti-guerrilla doctrine. Had this been known at the time of attack and all available troops been launched against it, it is quite possible that the place would have fallen and that a most important success would have been achieved.

Callwell’s analysis, the sweep of his knowledge, and his ability to integrate information from an impressive variety of experiences resulted in Small War’s reputation as a minor classic.

The relieving troops had been assured of water at the foot of an important pass; but on reaching the spot designated none was found: But instead of keeping the bulk of his army west of the Caspian Sea while supplies were collecting. The enemy is generally fully alive to the importance of destroying the water supply, which can easily be done in the case of scattered wells; in the Mohmund campaign ofthe hill men broached their tanks, and this was one of the chief difficulties General Elles had to contend with.

The Gurkha scouts attacking above Thati. Hoche, whose conduct of the campaign against the Chouans and insurgents from La Vendee will ever remain a model of operations of this kind, achieved success as much by his happy combination of clemency with firmness, as by his masterly dispositions in the theatre of war.

The army performed its task of penetrating into Tirah, and of leaving its mark in the usual manner by the demolition of buildings and destruction of crops.

But the French experiences in Algeria, and the Callwrll experiences in Afghanistan, show that these irregular, protracted, indefinite operations offer often far greater difficulties to the regular armies than the attainment of the original military objective. Of late years it has become the practice at the head-quarters of all regular armies to study the strength and organization of other countries in view of chales eventualities, and to collect information as to, and to prepare plans of, theatres of war which may some day take place.

Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice – C. E. Callwell – Google Books

The massacre of a few settlers, the capture of some small defensive post, the banding together of a few parties of armed and angry men, does not constitute a seizure of the initiative in its military sense.

Nothing could, indeed, more clearly show the fatal effects of a failure to grasp the essential principles of supplying an army operating in a desert country, and of a defective organization of the commissariat and transport services, than the fact that only 1, fighting men out of the original force of over 16, could be assembled for the one battle of the campaign – the disastrous assault on Denghil Tepe.


The French troubles in Algeria after its conquest were due to a failure to appreciate for many years the class of warfare upon which they were engaged. This page was last edited on 9 Julyat Organization they had little or none; but in their own fashion they resisted obstinately in spite of this, and the campaigns against them gave the regular troops much trouble.

The engagement at Kailua as example of active defence. Shortly afterwards, however, a column of troops marching. Sekukuai’s and Morosi’s mountains are examples of this, and their capture put an immediate end to the campaign in each case. The enemy has no organized intelligence department, no regular corps of spies, no telegraphs callwel and yet he knows perfectly well what is going on.

The force was now in desperate straits from want of water and had to retire to seek it, abandoning everything. But this is especially well illustrated by the French campaign against Dahomey in There is, moreover, another peculiarity which is very generally found in the antagonists with whom the organized forces in small wars have to cope.

No fort existed, and the place was destitute of sjall importance whatever, military or other. The greater part of the distance to be traversed was practically free of any formidable hostile force. The case of the Indian Mutiny is somewhat different at least in its early stages for here the rebels owing to the peculiar circumstances of the case were in a position to put armies in the field, and this led to field operations of most definite and stirring character; but, as the supremacy of British military power in India became re-established, and as the organized mutineer forces melted away, the campaign degenerated in many localities into purely guerilla warfare, which took months to bring to a conclusion.

But navigable rivers are often to be found, and these, even if they are not used for the actual movement of troops, are of incalculable assistance at times as channels for forwarding supplies, especially war steamers can be put on them. These few examples give actual instances of mistakes occurring through ignorance of the theatre of war. But the River Column had also become practically inoperative, likewise on account of supply.

And the great principle which regular troops must always act upon in small wars – that of overawing the enemy by wsrs initiative and by resolute action whether on the battlefield or as part of the general plan of campaign – can be learnt from the military history of early times just as well as it can be learnt from the more voluminously chronicled struggles of the present epoch.

The Pathan tribesmen of the North-West Frontier were also evolving into more formidable opponents as Callwell wrote.