site logo


Military history shows that an attempt to prevent a really bold

landing is never successful. The defense must either scatter its

forces along the coast to be protected, or concentrate its full

strength to cover one point, while the assailant, through the mobility

of its transport, can keep its landing plan uncertain, and under the

protection of long-range guns on the ships can throw more troops

quickly on the land than
the defense is able to concentrate in the

same time. A simultaneous landing at different places is hazardous if

the opponent can muster considerable strength. An expedition is seldom

so large that disadvantages arise through landing at one point. On the

other hand, it would require a great many battleships for the

protection of numerous landing places. A division of the forces

weakens all of them, and great difficulty would be found in uniformly

managing the start of the operations for want of time and means.

Therefore, it is recommended, when the situation permits, to select

one central place for landing.

For the disembarking a harbor is of course the most advantageous; less

advantageous but always favorable is an enclosed, protected bay; the

most unfavorable is the open coast. Yet a landing on the open coast

would encounter little resistance if it is carried out with great

speed. If the chosen landing place be near a bay or a seaport town, it

would be the mission of the first landed advance guard to seize this

port, to make it possible for the transport fleet to disembark the

mass of troops, horses and materials. The occupation of a good harbor

will greatly hasten the unloading, prevent a hostile attack from the

sea and add greatly to the ability of the landing corps to carry on

the operations. If a seizure of a port is not possible, the landing of

the entire expedition must take place by means of prepared

disembarking contrivances. Every transport must be equipped for

landing on an open coast.

The best landing place is a site nearest the object of the operations,

which would force the opponents to a decision before they were

thoroughly prepared. Clear coast regions within range of the ships'

guns are desirable, as is also quiet, deep water near to the landing


It is possible to land within range of important hostile garrisons and

fortifications. Russian landing maneuvers have demonstrated the truth

of this statement. Fortifications are effective against landing

enterprises only when sufficient troops are on hand to defend the

coast. If the assailant is successful in landing a detachment of

troops out of the range of the fortifications, the latter would be

ineffective for defense. The best security, however, for the initial

landing is its unexpected delivery. Reconnoitering of the coast site

by boats sent beforehand is an absurdity, for the opponents

immediately become acquainted with the landing plans and are given

time for preparations for defense. Of great importance for rapid,

well-regulated landing is uniform management through the signal

service of the ships and the telephone service on land, which can be

installed advantageously. In anchoring the ships must be the correct

distance apart, to avoid crowding.

The execution of the landing as a rule is as follows: The advance

guard rides ahead, on the last stretch, with its own escort of

battleships, and lands, if possible, unawares, usually at night. If

the landing be on an open coast, the mass of troops which follow

should immediately throw up earthworks. The entire disembarking must

be made with great speed, for the quicker the landing is accomplished

the less the danger of being disturbed. The most favorable time for

attacking the coast is at dawn, for the landing can take place unknown

to the enemy and day be used for disembarking. As the ships do not

carry a sufficient number of patent boats for landing on an open

coast, special flat-bottom boats should be prepared for unloading

horses and heavy material. The English employ collapsible boats for

landing men, which accommodate a crew of fifty, while the Russians

have flat-bottom boats capable of holding two hundred men, or one

complete cannon. It is recommended that we be permitted to try the

Russian model, which has been well tested. Small power boats should be

employed for tugging, as rowing would be a waste of valuable time. To

permit horses to swim ashore is to be condemned, for it would cause

confusion and delay, and we know from experience that a large number

are sometimes lost. The Americans, in their landing in Cuba, lost

seven per cent. of their horses. For the landing of artillery and

heavy materials small landing bridges must be erected on the beach,

for which prepared material is carried on the transports. The

assembling of the troops must not be permitted on the beach, for all

space there must be kept for the landing of supplies.

If a landing near a harbor is successful, the advance guard will

strive to take the same unawares, to seize those coast sentinels at

hand and to destroy the telegraph and signal service along the coast.

If all this is successful, the transport fleet will be signaled to

draw near. The advantage is apparent in landing in a large harbor or

bay, which affords the possibility of protection from a sea attack,

through the mining of the waters or through the guard of a limited

number of battleships. Earthworks, equipped with cannon and machine

guns, must be thrown up for the protection from the land side.

The piers must be distributed to make sufficient room for

disembarking. The existing plans for improvising landing bridges and

gangways should be extended, in order to expedite the landing. The

piers and bridges will be used for ships carrying horses, artillery

and heavy materials, while the infantry land by boats, under the

protection of large guns on shore or of the escorting battleships,

should the battle fleet maintain command of the sea. The landed troops

should be supplied provisions for many days so that they can begin

operations independent of the supply trains.

The time required for landing is considerably less than for loading.

The natural desire of the troops to land quickly helps to shorten the

time. One writer gives the following data: Lord Cochran landed 18,000

men on the open coast of America in five hours; in the Crimean War the

English accomplished the disembarking of 45,000 men, 83 guns and about

100 horses in less than eleven hours. The French are slower on account

of their handling of supply trains. The Russians, in their landing

maneuvers in the Black Sea, have landed a slow division in eleven and

one-half hours, where the steamers had to anchor five to six

kilometers from the coast. The marine writer Degories figures that

under average conditions it is possible to land 25,000 infantry, 1,000

cavalry and 60 guns in six hours. If the landing can be made in a

harbor, this time can be essentially lessened.

After the disembarking of the expedition, the further task of the

transport fleet and its escort of battleships depends on the maritime

strength of the country attacked. If the assailant continues in

command of the sea, the transport fleet can remain as a floating base

for the landed corps and can effect the reenforcement of the

expedition. If the assailant is not in command of the sea, then the

transport fleet must attempt to evade the operations of the hostile

fleet, by an immediate retreat to home waters.