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THE WAR DEPARTMENT.
My next trip was to the War Department, where I was shown the Rules and Regulations governing the army, and navy.
The army was organized in twenty-five corps of eighty thousand men each, besides the ladies' army corps of an equal number; each corps composed of three divisions of foot infantry and one division of mounted infantry. Each division was composed of three brigades of infantry, one regiment of sharpshooters and one regiment of artillery; each brigade of three regiments and each regiment of twelve companies, one hundred and fifty men each. The company was divided into three sergeants' commands and those into three corporal squads. Each company consisted of one hundred and thirty-five privates, nine corporals, three sergeants, one company clerk, one lieutenant and a captain. Four companies composed a battalion, commanded by a major, and the regiment by a colonel. There were no lieutenant colonels; the senior major taking charge of the regiment in case of death or disability of the colonel until the regiment elected an officer to fill the vacancy. All vacancies above the rank of colonel were filled by the corps commander, all vacancies up to and including that of colonel by the votes of the men, but the colonel had to be chosen from the majors, a major from the captains of his battalion. The lieutenant succeeded to the captaincy without a vote-but the lieutenant had to be chosen from the sergeants and company clerk and the sergeant from the corporals of his command. The corporals were elected by the privates of the squads, so that any soldier could rise from the ranks through merit to high command.
The corps commander holds the rank of lieutenant general, the general of division that of major general, and the commander of a brigade that of a brigadier general. The regiment of sharpshooters was chosen from the best rifle shots in the division and in war time received double pay for they were always at the front of the division and the first to engage the enemy. A one-pounder rapid-fire gun was attached to every company and was operated by the lieutenant assisted by the company clerk. In the artillery regiment there were twelve batteries, six three-inch caliber guns and one one-pounder rapid-fire gun to each battery, and as they were under the direct control of the general commanding the division he could mass them to fire on any point of attack. The privates were paid fifteen dollars a month, the corporals twenty dollars, the sergeants twenty-five dollars, company clerks thirty dollars, lieutenants forty dollars, captains sixty dollars, majors eighty dollars, colonels one hundred dollars, brigadier generals one hundred and fifty dollars, major generals two hundred dollars and the lieutenant general three hundred dollars a month, and officers and privates were allowed the same rations and the same amount of clothing. No fixed ration was issued on account of climatic conditions-but plenty and no waste was the rule and every captain and lieutenant had to sit at meals with his men and eat the same food. No violation of this rule was allowed and as a result of this common sense regulation the men were well fed and provided, for every colonel was held to account for the welfare of the men under his command and every officer up to the rank of field marshal could be reduced to the ranks for violation of the rules and regulations governing the army. As there was a mailbox under the control of the Minister of Information in every military post in which complaints were posted to be sent to the President it had a very salutary effect in keeping the officers attentive to their duty, as no officer wanted to lose his position and salary and be a private. All trivial violations of the rules by non-commissioned officers and privates, such as insolence, drunkenness, filthy habits and disorderly conduct, could be punished by the captain with three days on bread and water-but no pay could be forfeited for any offense, for no fines were allowed in the republic. For serious offenses committed by either officer or private in time of peace, such as sodomy, crimes against nature, adultery, seduction, larceny, embezzlement or any other felony, the accused was sent to the district court for trial and on conviction was dismissed the service and committed to prison for the term of years provided by the law for the crime he had been convicted of and five years additional for perjury, he having violated his oath of office that he would be honest and upright in all things so help him God, and any officer could be reduced to the ranks for conduct unbecoming a gentleman as the result of a trial before a jury of twelve men drawn by ballot from any other command than his own. No sashes, jewelry or regalia of any kind was permitted to be worn.
Officers and privates were dressed alike and the insignia of rank was worn on the collar, and no revolvers, bayonets, sabres, swords, rapiers or lances were allowed to be carried-but every officer was required to carry a rifle so that he could not be marked out by the enemy's sharpshooters and to set an example of good shooting to his men when under fire. Every soldier seriously injured in the service of his country in time of peace as well as in war, received the same pay and care as if he was still in the service and if he was killed or died from disease his father and mother or either of them, as long as they lived. The army was truly a great industrial army, for every officer and man was required to work eight hours a day and for six days in the week, at remunerative labor, and two hours on Sundays at rifle practice. The rules and regulations governing the army applied equally to both sexes. Both boys and girls, when drafted into the army, were first sent to the headquarters of the army corps to which they were assigned, the boys mostly afterward to the department of railways, mines, commerce and agriculture and the girls to the department of finance, manufactures, education and information, distributed all over the republic so as to become acquainted with the people in general, by so doing wiping out sectional feeling and realizing that God was their father and that they all belonged to a common brother- and sisterhood united together under a government for the people, of the people, and by the people. I paid a visit to the navy yard and inspected two battleships that were undergoing some slight repairs to their machinery.
One was a second-class battleship and her dimensions and armament were as follows: Length five hundred and twenty-five feet, breadth of beam seventy-five feet, draught of water twenty feet and six inches, height of gun deck from the water line twelve feet; armament: ten twelve-inch caliber guns mounted in turrets on the center line of the ship. The turrets were bolted to the deck, five of them forward and five aft, and were eighteen feet in diameter, eight feet high, with a slope from deck to parapet of thirty degrees and made of armor steel twelve inches thick. One gun in each turret and the guns could swing around on four-fifths of the circle, so that every gun could be brought to bear on an enemy either to port or starboard. No other guns were carried in time of war and no cruisers, torpedo boats, or torpedoes were used, for experience in war had shown that they were useless waste of men and money. The battleship was propelled by rotary engines developing fifty thousand horsepower, driving the ship at a sustained speed of thirty knots an hour. The ship had four propellers, two on each side at the stern, and the boilers were heated by petroleum with automatic feed. The engineer informed me that they had tried gasoline and other explosives (for the rotary engines worked well with them) but they endangered the safety of the ship and the lives of the crew. There were only two decks in the ship, the lower deck just above the waterline and the gun deck; the lower deck floor was two-inch steel and was not divided into compartments, having no partitions, so that if solid shot or shell entered the side of the ship it could not scatter a shower of steel splinters to kill or wound the men, and for further protection against fragments of shell heavy woolen blankets were hung on the inside from the ceiling. A double partition of two-inch steel ran bow to stern through the center of the ship, reaching from the floor of the hold to the lower deck, with a space between the partitions of four inches filled in with concrete, and the gun deck was supported by heavy steel pillars, as the space between the lower deck and the gun deck was twelve feet. A fireproof platform four feet wide with a railing four feet high of netting, encircled the smokestack about twenty feet above the gun and connected with it by a rope ladder. It was the lookout station and the Captain's post in battle from where he directed the action.
There was only one smokestack on any battleship and no bridge or superstructure or any inflammable material above the waterline, and the officers and men eat at the same tables and partake of the same food. If any officer or private objected to it or violated this rule, he was dismissed the service, for it was considered injurious to the service on board ship to keep any discontented person. The crew consisted of two hundred privates, fifty corporals, five sergeants, ten lieutenants, ten captains, one chief engineer with two assistants, one lieutenant commander and the commander, who was captain of the ship and had the same rank and pay as a colonel in the army.
The gunner and assistant gunners held the same rank and pay as captains and lieutenants in the army. The chief engineer received the same as the commander and took orders only from him, and his assistants received the same pay as majors in the army, and the sergeants, corporals and privates the same pay as in the army. The gunners and assistant gunners were chosen from among the crew for the best shooting, for it was justly held that victory in a naval battle rested mostly on the shooting qualities of the man behind the gun.
The other battleship was rated first class and her dimensions were as follows: Length, six hundred and thirty feet, breadth of beam ninety feet, draught of water thirty feet. Armament: sixteen twelve-inch caliber guns in single turrets and placed in the following manner: forward on the lower gun deck, five guns; one on the center line of the ship near the bow and two on each side further back. Five guns aft on the lower gun deck; one on the center line of the ship near the stern and two on each side in the same way as in the first part of the ship. Three guns forward on the upper gun deck, one on the center line of the ship and one on each side nearer amidships; three guns aft on the upper gun deck in the relative positions. All the guns were placed so that twelve guns could be brought to bear on an enemy ship. The lower gun deck was twelve feet above the water line and the upper gun deck two, and they were constructed and equipped as those on the second class.
The first class battleships carried one hundred and two more men than the second class, consisting of six gunners, six assistant gunners, eighteen corporals and seventy privates. No additional force was required for the Engineer department of the ship. I inquired of the Chief Engineer what make of engine they used and he replied that it was the Hammond & Co. Rotary Engine and added: "We are indebted for this engine to a countryman of yours named Leonard Hammond, who perfected it so that at present it is in universal use and has revolutionized the industries of the world by its saving of fuel and the low price at which it call be manufactured, so that it has consigned every other make of engine, reciprocal and turbine, to the scrap pile, and of the most notable benefits derived from it has been in the shipping not only in economy of fuel, but also in the small space they occupy so as to give more room for cargo and in the almost total absence of vibration, and in the battleship from their being on the propeller shaft at the stern far below the water line."
The battleships remain for ten months of the year in the rivers and harbors, where the officers and men are kept busy dredging, building levees, wharves and breakwaters, and they take a cruise to different parts of the earth during the months of December and January, and during that time engage in gunnery practice. A battery of three-inch caliber guns is taken on board each battleship for that as the big guns will not stand continual firing and are only used on special occasions to see if the gunners have improved. The men are highly pleased with the service and the majority of them re-enlist. On inquiry I was told that they had thirty first-class and thirty second-class battleships and that they kept them always together so that they could strike an enemy with force, but as they held no people in subjection and had no colonies or outlying possessions there was at the present time very little danger of war-but if it should come they were ready to fight and to strike hard. As I left the navy yard I thought what a pity it was that the people inhabiting the other countries of the earth were not governed as these people are, for then there would be no need of battleships and the kindly earth would slumber lapped in Universal Laws.