Jump to content

13 January 1914 - US General: More Field Guns Army's Urgent Need


IrishGunner
 Share

Recommended Posts

More Field Guns Army's Urgent Need

I guess no one paid attention to Major General Leonard Wood in 1914 because when the US entered the War in 1917, we had to get all of our guns from France and Britain.

Even I had to laugh when I read in the article, "Experts say there is no field artillery service in any army that surpasses that of the United States gun for gun."

I guess those "experts" never traveled to Europe...any country in Europe. I think the great-great-grandchildren of those "experts" now work for CNN as "expert" military analysts.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In large part, the problem was General William Crozier. He became chief of Ordnance in 1901 and, unfortunately, remained entrenched in that position until 1918. He had little preparation, no aptitude or technical skills and even less personality for the job. As a result, the U.S. entered the Great War unprepared in small arms, artillery, vehicles and almost everything else. Some insight into his complete ineptness can be seen in the fact that one of his "pet projects" was Damascus barreled heavy artillery! Similarly, have you ever wondered why the U.S. entered the war without adequate machine guns in light of the fact that the Lewis Gun was invented by an American who offered to the U.S. in 1911? By 1917 when the U.S. entered the war it had been serving the British well but the U.S. still refused and we ended up with the Chauchat! The answer to that "mystery" is Crozier. He simply didn't like the inventor, U.S. Army Colonel Isaac Newton Lewis, so Crozier just said "no" and in frustration Lewis left the U.S. and went to England!

Edited by dksck
Link to comment
Share on other sites

In large part, the problem was General William Crozier. He became chief of Ordnance in 1901 and, unfortunately, remained entrenched in that position until 1918. He had little preparation, no aptitude or technical skills and even less personality for the job. As a result, the U.S. entered the Great War unprepared in small arms, artillery, vehicles and almost everything else. Some insight into his complete ineptness can be seen in the fact that one of his "pet projects" was Damascus barreled heavy artillery! Similarly, have you ever wondered why the U.S. entered the war without adequate machine guns in light of the fact that the Lewis Gun was invented by an American who offered to the U.S. in 1911? By 1917 when the U.S. entered the war it had been serving the British well but the U.S. still refused and we ended up with the Chauchat! The answer to that "mystery" is Crozier. He simply didn't like the inventor, U.S. Army Colonel Isaac Newton Lewis, so Crozier just said "no" and in frustration Lewis left the U.S. and went to England!

Thanks for this comment. I am sure you know more about Crozier's career than do I; I never heard of him and had to look up his details. From what I found, I wonder if you aren't overly critical. Clearly, the US entered 1917 with an unprepared Army (despite efforts by MG Leonard Wood - see next post). But I don't think we can say Crozier "had little preparation, no aptitude or technical skills." He was an Ordnance officer with a lot of experience in arsenals and in 1893-94 completed development of the Buffington-Crozier disappearing gun carriage - considered the "zenith" of the system and used the world over for coastal defense guns up until the first years of WW2.

Disappearing Gun Carriage Army Contracts for Buffington-Crozier Mounts

From other things I read, Crozier was an "artillerist" - so he may not have had much interest in machine guns - resulting in the Lewis gun issue. There over all was a lack of interest in machine guns in the US until war was declared in 1917 - and they quickly adopted the M1917 Browning. Of course, he didn't do much for artillery before the war either; so, your comments regarding "personality" could be even more accurate. On the other hand, he did preside over adopting the M1911 .45 pistol; he authorized testing and development (he has also served in the Phillipines early in his career; so we might assume he had some first hand knowledge of the background for developing this pistol). He also was Chief of Ordnance when the Army adopted the M1903 Springfield rifle and the M1918 BAR (adopted in 1917).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

More than anything Crozier may or may not have done, I think the real issue in acquiring/developing weapons for the US Army in the years just prior to entering WWI was "politics" and geo-strategic interests.

Politics: The US simply wasn't expecting to be involved a foreign war - especially those in Congress. In 1914, President Wilson was preaching "neutrality." The general population embraced this idea; there was no interest in getting entangled in Europe's problems. Even when Germany pushed submarine warfare, Wilson desperately tried to avoid getting involved. Of course, we'll see that by 1917, there was not much choice left.

Of course, none of the political argument above means the Army shouldn't have prepared; after all, as Sun Tzu advised, "In Peace, Prepare for War." And MG Leonard Wood agreed; however, Congress wasn't appropriating money. And what money the military did get...went to defending the Philippines, Hawaii, Panama Canal Zone, and Porto Rico. Today's "shift to Asia and the Pacific" away from Europe in US security policy isn't anything new. And let's not forget that Mahan's book, The Influence of Sea Power upon History, influenced US geo-strategic thinking as well as fueling the naval arms race in Europe. And to the US, that meant the Pacific. Many of Crozier's disappearing carriage guns were in coastal defenses in the Philippines and Hawaii and the West Coast of the US. This is about the same time the US Coast Artillery was gaining prominence. As a result of the Spanish-American War, President Theodore Roosevelt (former Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the war) and Secretary of War Taft presided over splitting the Coast Artillery from the Field Artillery in 1907; Congress authorized expanding the new Coast Artillery Corps to 170 companies and legislated money to build coastal defenses across the US coast and territories (called the "Taft system of fortifications"). Unlike the Field Artillery, the US certainly had a Coast Artillery Corps and coastal defenses to equal any nation by the start of WWI. Because it received funding to respond to geo-strategic priorities.

Needs of the Army Published: January 19, 1914 Copyright © The New York Times

US political and geo-strategic focus was not on a land war; thus the need for machine guns and field artillery didn't make it into the budget priorities... Even if Crozier did want the Lewis gun, there wasn't a "need" nor "interest" - therefore, no "money."

Edited by IrishGunner
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...