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World Wide Military Parades

In parades when soldiers march, the public refers to the march as Hell March - 'Into The Mouth Of Hell We March'. "Hell March is the main theme song for games in the Command & Conquer: Red Alert real-time strategy video game series. One of the most influencial computer game music song, of all time. And the most popular song for C&C: Red Alert computer game, developed by Westwood studios. The song was composed and written by Frank Klepacki. The official quote from Klepacki, "Thats the only song where I have no idea what's being said... I thought the opening quote was Russian and the middle one was German, but other than that, not sure."

When Frederick the Great reviewed his grenadiers at Potsdam they were in battle order. The monarchs of Europe continued to hold Erederickian parades, but there was not one of them who would not shudder at the thought of sending his battalions from the "Field of Mars" into an engagement. A parallel can thus be drawn between the military pageants of the 19th Century and the tourney, for, Sir Walter Scott to the contrary, it is quite evident the tourney attained its greatest brilliancy after the knight had ceased to be of capital importance in war. The Field of the Cloth of Gold was a century after Agincourt and Crecy.

By the end of the 19th Century the St. Petersburg parade was the most showy and effective in Europe, and in witnessing the review held there, it was easy to turn back in the mind to Henry VIII, Charles V, and Francis I. In brilliancy of color, as a grand living tapestry, it would probably stand comparison with the traditional splendors of the meeting between the rivals of the great Charles. A superb picture but absolutely without relevance to genuine military preparation, if, indeed, the parade drill cannot be considered as a positive handicap. The modern parade, was, as were the gladiatorial contests and the chariot races in olden times, a part of the governing scheme in countries where it was considered wise to entertain, but not to consult, the taxpayer.

Germany and Russia being the military powers par excellence, it was entirely natural that the superiority of their reviews should be generally acknowledged. Which of the two, the Berlin or the St. Petersburg exercises, should be regarded as best, depended entirely on the point of view. The Russian parade was indisputably more effective to the unmilitary eye. The reasons why this is so cannot be open to dispute. The Russian uniforms and equipment are more decorative and offer finer color effects. The "crack" cavalry regiments of Russia are also better mounted at least from the point of view of the observer, who loves a harmonious ensemble. The main difference, however, is that the Temple of Field is so large that no single observer can see one-fourth of the picture at one time.

It is, perhaps, not too much to say that the St. Petersburg display excelled its Berlin rival largely on account of its more glaring sins against modern military science. Cossacks of Kouban in scarlet caftans, astride splendidly matched chestnut horses; Cossacks of the Urals, Hussars of his Majesty in beaver - trimmed cloaks; Cuirassiers of her Majesty the Empress, with their embroidered velvet devices; lancers, mounted guardsmen, and the military tailors only know what besides, each troop as well matched in color, size, and form of mount as in uniform.

These holiday troopers present a wonderful array of military smartness. The rainbow has scarcely enough shades for two successive commands. Silver and gilded cuirasses and helmets catch up the noonday sunlight. The observer is literally spellbound. The eye can no more turn away from that glistering line than the doomed bird can from the serpent which has mesmerized it. One breathes an involuntary sigh of relief when it is certain sabre, lance, and nagaika will not play upon loges and tribunes.

It may be objected that a parade had nothing to do with military training and was not intended to have; that the real training was in the manuvers. Unfortunately the first period of the Transvaal War shows this to be untrue, and that English army training was dominated by the parade traditions, and a brief glance at the literature that had grown up in connection with this war showed that the candid observers of other nations admit England's fault was a fault which is shared by all European armies.

By the end of the 19th Century, lines were enormously extended, and direct personal control over men by officers, which prevailed in the days of masses, was now impossible. The enlisted man must learn rigid discipline, but not mechanical rigidity and mechanical precision. He must be disciplined in such manner that when beyond control he can execute orders previously given. Individuality can be developed by field exercises alone. The minutias of drill, such as perfect alignment, precise evolutionsand machinelike execution of the manual of arms, are results requiring too much time in proportion to the benefits obtained and should not be required.

The cavalry of European armies was far more a peace organization for purposes of military pageant and spectacle for police duties than for war. The small size of the American army, compared to the active service required of it, had hitherto prevented concentration in cities and the development of the parade mania. The traditions of American service, as developed by contact with an enemy who possessed the hunter's skill with the rifle and the hunted animal's watchfulness and gift of concealment to an eminent degree, to a large extent counteracted the teachings of the mass tacticians. There was, however, always a sprinkling of officers who aspired to copy European military smartness.

It was a great show, and an anachronism, with scarcely more relation to modern war than a chariot race would have. The tourney, too, was worth a journey to see, but it could not live in an atmosphere poisoned with gunpowder. There was not room enough even in Spain for both Cervantes and Don Quixote.




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