C.E. Callwell, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice () – Credit to A. Bradley Potter, Johns Hopkins University SAIS, Classics of. Little wonder, then, that Colonel C E Callwell’s Small Wars, a century-old manual for fighting colonial wars, has been rediscovered. It probably. This essay aims to outline the major arguments of Callwell’s seminal work Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice, first published in

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Roberts’s return march to Kandahar, his army of 10, had with it over 8, transport animals. The duty of Sir W. They are necessarily internal not external campaigns. Opponents might be Ashanti tribal warriors armed with primitive firearms, Sudanese Dervishes launching massed charges with spear and sword, or skilled long-range snipers equipped smqll modern rifles like the Boers.

In the Matabili war the advance of the small British force on Buluwayu forced the impis of Lohongula to assemble and to fight.

The United States troops used to retaliate upon the Red Indians in similar fashion. The point is that Major Callwell wrote a book on nineteenth century colonial wars and sets out many examples of successful and unsuccessful tactics and practices.

It is this extraordinary diversity of conditions which makes the consideration of small wars so complex and so difficult to discuss as one general object. But let that not detract from the richness of military theory and historical insight to be found in the pages of Small Wars. The conditions approximate to ca,lwell of regular smsll in the very important particular that from the outset of the campaign a determinate scheme of operations can be contemplated and can be put in force.

Stewart’s forces from reaching the Abu Klea wells; and it is said that during Hicks Pasha’s ill-fated attempt to march to El Obeid from the Nile, they closed up the wells in rear of his force as it advanced, so as to make its retreat impossible.

The inaction of the British force tended to encourage the enemy. If no supplies can be obtained from the theatre of war, as is so often the case in these operations, everything in the way of food for man or beast has to be carried.

Cathcart callwwll Kaffirland in”may be terminated by the surrender or capitulation of the hostile sovereign or chief, who answers for his people; but in the suppression of a rebellion the refractory subjects of the ruling power must all be chastised and subdued. The attitude, moreover, of neighbouring peoples and tribes is at times a subject of calwell uncertainty. The operations take place in countries often only partially explored if not wholly unexplored.

In the Boer war of the British troops had a different sort of enemy to deal with altogether. They had formed a small settlement at Saigon, and this the Annamese, profiting by the inability of the French to detach troops thither during the China war, blockaded in great force, forming a regular entrenched camp close by.


The greater part of the distance to be traversed was practically free of any formidable hostile force. In the campaign against the Hunza-Xagar tribes north of Kashmir inthe British force was, after the storming of the fort of Nilt, brought to a standstill for several days by a formidable line of defence works covering an extensive mountain position of great natural strength.

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Account Options Sign in. And although the troops in small wars find their opponents as a rule skilled in the arrangement of ambushes and the carrying out of surprises, masters in the art of military deception, crafty and cunning, they find them on the other hand to be by no means so wary in avoiding snares as they are artful in setting them. Communications may still fail today, but communications should generally be much improved.

Accurate information as to the organized military forces of other leading nations is not difficult to obtain; the topographical features, the communications and the military resources of civilized countries are well known.

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

Flank attacks give better chance of decisive victory. He did not assemble his main body at Chikislar till the last moment He pushed out small bodies and formed waes posts on the intended line of operations, where he stored provisions calwlell the army he was about to lead to Denghil Tepe.

The Boers he places in a category of their own. They compassed the small of the khanates by gradually absorbing these cities, capturing them in many cases by very brilliant feats of arms. In andafter the overthrow of the organized Boer armies had driven those still in the field to adopt guerilla tactics, the operations partook of the character of irregular warfare against a daring and well armed enemy gifted with unusual mobility and exceptional cunning.

In the campaigns above-mentioned, the hostile forces had enjoyed the advantage of possessing instructors with a knowledge of European methods. The Indian Mutiny furnishes the ever memorable case of Cawnpore, and in the campaigns against the Red Indians the United States troops had constantly to be on the watch against hostile perfidy.

The French general therefore spread the report that he meant to fight his way through; then he suddenly marched off to a flank, and, moving across country, reached Bacninh from another side. The Dutch in Achin, where the jungle was in places almost impenetrable, found an enemy ready enough to fight and who fought under skilful guidance.

Charles Edward Callwell

It was decided therefore to push on as a flying column, carrying three days’ water supply as well as provisions and ammunition. The reverses in the first Boer war arose from entering upon a campaign without cavalry, the one arm of the service essential to cope with the hostile method of conducting warfare.

The force lost its way, lost time, and lost heart, and when smalll last the Mahdists attacked it, the troops, worn out and despairing, made no fight of it, and were annihilated. Royal Navy personnel operate a Nordenfeldt machine-gun – Egypt, The difficulties which arise from this ignorance of the conditions under which the regular army will be operating really divide themselves into two main headings; difficulties.


To correctly interpret the auguries derived from reconnaissances, from information brought in by spies, and from the various forms of circumstantial evidence provided by the theatre of war, is often one of the most difficult of military problems. The snall of the wells fixes the lines of military operations in a desert, just as it fixes the caravan routes and the highways of commerce.

Savages dwelling in territories where thick tropical vegetation abounds, do not, however, always rely on this smqll form of war. Start reading Small Wars: The Dutch in their first expedition to Achin were altogether unprepared for the warlike qualities displayed by the Achinese and for their skill in constructing works of defence. If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?

Upon the whole the drawbacks decidedly outweigh the advantages.

In this manner, to understand why small wars etc. The intelligence department finds great difficulty in organising an efficient service of espionage for obvious reasons – the spy captured by civilized troops does not have a very good time, in the hands of barbarians his lot is even more unenviable.

C.E. Callwell, Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice () | Small Wars Journal

They control as far as practicable the telegraph lines, the postal system, the press, and the other channels for disseminating news, and by these methods they can for a time keep their adversaries in perplexity as to when and where the blow will fall, and can conceal combinations by which they propose to parry the adversary’s attack. Importance of capturing enemys guns. So it became necessary to recall the column to Korti, and the operations came to an end.

General question of rear guards and retirements. It is an established canon of the art of war that the seizure of the initiative at the outset and its maintenance thenceforward, is one of the best assured means of commanding success. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway.

Expeditions to put down revolt are not put in motion merely to bring about a temporary cessation of. A year after his return to England, he was appointed a Deputy Assistant Quartermaster-General in the mobilization branch of the War Office on 6 October[21] [1] and by April was working in Intelligence wara again. Into the question of how best to protect these great supply columns, it is not proposed in this chapter to enter.

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