WHY is it that the nation is not more interested in cultivating the fighting spirit among its citizens? Why, instead of this, are the national and the State governments, with a single exception, doing everything to repress this spirit? The United States maintains a standing army, presumably for the purpose of fighting when such a thing is required. The States maintain their companies of the militia, and it is fair to presume that it is intended these shall fight when there is a call for their services. The same may be said with reference to the navy.
But what would be the use of an army or company of militia who could not or would not fight? Unless these men are both able and willing to fight, the sooner the military forces of the country are disbanded, the better. But if they are to fight, how should the fighting be done? It should be done well, of course; no one can dispute this. No nation ever wanted an army of poor fighters. Fighting, like everything else, is to be done in the most effective manner possible, if at all. This would be the only sane way of seeking to attain the end sought.
Now it will not be denied that the most effective fighting will be done by the army that is composed of the best fighters; are those who have most of the fighting spirit and instinct. Every commander who has had experience in actual warfare knows the value of the fighting spirit in his men for securing the victory. It is often said in praise of men of this kind, in the narrative of a military encounter, that they “fought like demons.” These are the kind of men every commander likes to have.
This expression, in fact, gives us the standard of excellence in the line of that which armies and navies are maintained to do. The nearer the men in them will come to acting “like demons” when fulfilling the purpose for which the Government employs them, the better will they do that which the Government wants done at the time, and the more valuable will they be to the Government in their military capacity.
We say again, therefore, it is strange that the Government should maintain an army and navy (which in time of war would depend for their efficiency upon the citizens of the States), and at the same time be against the development of the fighting spirit.