American’s Most Genuine Hero General
Generals are often thought to be heroes. And some certainly are – George Washington, Andrew Jackson, Sam Houston, Winfield Scott, George S. Patton. But none of these can compare to American’s most genuine hero general. Or rather, General Hero – major general, in fact, as in Maj. Gen. Andrew Hero, Jr.
Born in 1868, Hero, a native of New Orleans, graduated from West Point in 1891 (8th in a class of 65). Initially commissioned in the infantry, he shortly transferred to the artillery, and then to the coast artillery. During the Spanish-American War he helped train the 3rd Division, III Army Corps, and after the armistice went to Cuba for occupation duty. Hero later taught at West Point, edited The Artillery Journal, was as assistant to the Chief, Coast Artillery Corps, and served in a variety of garrison assignments. By 1917, Hero had been in the army for over a quarter of a century and had never heard a shot fired in anger. That began to change on April 6, 1917, when the U.S. declared war on Germany.
Almost exactly four months to the day after the U.S. entered World War I, Hero was promoted to brigadier general and given command of the newly formed 154th Field Artillery Brigade (79th Division). He went to France with the brigade, and commanded it through the Meuse-Argonne Offensive, in October-November 1918.
After the war Hero rose to Chief, Coast Artillery Corps, retiring in 1930 to live quietly in Washington until his death a dozen years later.
Populations and Armies on the Eve of the French Revolution
For most of the eighteenth century armies were relatively small. Training and equipment were costly, and monarchs preferred to keep expenses down as much as possible. This parsimony was also reflected in the relative care which armies took in wartime to avoid battles, much preferring maneuver and siege to confrontation which would inevitably lead to heavy casualties, necessitating additional expense. This can be seen in the “military participation ratio” – the percentage of populace under arms – of the major European powers in 1789, at the outbreak of the French Revolution.
|The Military Participation Ratio The Principal European Powers, 1789|
|Britain|| 16 million ||50,000|| 0.3 |
|France|| 24 million ||255,000|| 1.6 |
|Prussia|| 9 million ||200,000|| 2.2 |
|Russia|| 35 million ||400,000|| 1.1 |
The introduction of mass conscription by the French in 1793 radically increased the size of armies. By 1795 France had nearly 3-percent of her population under arms (700,000 men), and within two years nearly 5-percent (1,100,000). At the same time, of course, the French were effecting many reforms in their armies, including the introduction of the permanent division, the use of swarm skirmish tactics, and so forth. But it was not these reforms that underpinned the success of the French armies during the Revolutionary period. More than anything, that success was built upon the willingness of the French to take casualties. Although the Napoleonic armies would win battles by superior technique, they too were underpinned by seemingly endless manpower resources. But as the other powers adopted mass conscription, raising their MPRs to levels equaling or even exceeding that of France (by 1813 Prussia had 6-percent of its population under arms, Russia nearly 2-percent, but that working off an enormous base), France was no longer able to outspend its enemies in blood.
Shortly after the Prussians invested Paris on September 20, 1871, during the Franco-Prussian War, the French resorted to the use of balloons to carry passengers, mail, and some specialized cargoes from the besieged city to the provinces. At least 66 balloons were lofted, including one that brought Leon Gambetta out on October 8, so that he could help organize new armies in the provinces that attempted to liberate the “City of Light.” Attempts to make return trips to Paris by balloon proved uniformly unsuccessful, but pigeons were used to carry correspondence into the city, using a special photographic process that reduced the documents to microscopic size.
The Prussian Army considered the balloons a very serious problem. Not only were they being used to reconnoiter the siege lines, but they enabled the besieged to coordinate their break-out efforts with the French armies still in the field. In addition, the balloons had caught the imagination of many people in neutral countries, raising sympathy for the French.
So the Prussians decided they needed a way to destroy the balloons. Now there had been earlier efforts at creating anti-balloon weapons. After all, the French had introduced the use of balloons in warfare during the 1790s. Hot air balloons, and later hydrogen balloons, had seen considerable use over the following decades, as recently as during the Lombardy-Venetia War (1859), the American Civil War (1861-1865), and even the Paraguayan War (1866-1869). Nor had efforts to develop weapons that could destroy aerostats (i.e., “balloons”) lagged long behind their introduction. But these had been improvised weapons, usually light artillery pieces mounted on special carriages. That would not do for the Prussian Army. In typical Prussian fashion, what the they wanted was a proper anti-balloon gun. So specifications were issued, bids received, and in a surprisingly short time, a contract was granted to the Krupp Works.
In an equally surprisingly short time, within weeks in fact, Krupp came up with a workable weapon, the Ballonabwehrkanone. The Ballonabwehrkanone was a rifled 36-mm (1.4-inch) breech loading gun. Mounted on a special carriage that made moving it easier than a normal artillery piece, it had a 360-degree traverse, and could be elevated to 85-degrees. The Ballonabwehrkanone, the first purpose-built anti-aircraft weapon in history, achieved only one “kill,” when it brought down the balloon Daguerre just west of Paris on November 12, 1870.