Mr. Bartlett to Mr. Seward.
Sir: The system of maintaining the army and a portion of the marine in Sweden has many points of excellence, which could be adapted to our republican institutions with far greater advantage and with less burden to our people than here.
It is called “Indelningt Verket,” the system of distribution, from the verb indela, distribute, that is, distribution of land assigned for the maintenance of soldiers. This system commenced as far back as the 12th century. By a mandate of King Magnus, the estates of any one agreeing to serve as a mounted and armed soldier, at his own expense, were liberated from all taxation. This was consequently a personal privilege, but could be transferred with the estate, the purchaser or heir becoming possessed of the same right, which is termed “frãlse.” Later the personal nature of this right disappeared, the owner being permitted to furnish a substitute. While at present this class of estates are relieved of the separate maintenance of a soldier by paying an inconsiderable sum.
The principal division of landed estates now existing is as follows: 1st. Krono, belonging to the Crown; 2d, Sateri, entirely free from taxation; 3d, Fralse, partly liberated from taxation; 4th, Skatte, tax paying.
Originally all the land was of the 4th class, belonging to private individuals and paying tax to the Crown. Most of the land still remains in this division and maintains the greatest number of the indelta soldiers, horse and foot, as well as batsmannen or boatmen, corresponding to our landsmen in the navy. Krono is all the land that immediately belongs to the Crown as its property, which it has become in various ways, as, for instance, when the noble family of Wassa ascended the throne in 1521, all its estates became Crown property, through the confiscation of the church property after the reformation, &c., &c. Formerly the Crown divided its principal revenue from these estates, but on the more complete organization of Indelnings Verket, a great number of them were set aside for the support of the officers of the army. The right or freedom of “Säteri” formerly belonged to a few family estates of the old nobility and the King’s private estate. It was, however, determined by a law in Gus-tavus Adolphus’s reign, that a nobleman or knight could possess but one, a baron two, and a count three estates, with this “Säteri” right, which consists not only in absolute freedom of taxation, but in relief from the duty of maintaining one or more soldiers. Charles XI finding the revenues of the Crown very much diminished by this liberality, as well as the numbers of his soldiers, sequestered a large number of these estates, so that but few of them now remain, and those remaining are obliged during a war to furnish one or more soldiers.
Thus before the reign of Charles XI it will be seen that the system [Page 105] of Indelnings Verket, though differing materially from its present working, had so far been perfected as to form the nucleus of an army, which was increased by levies and conscription in time of need, at the will of the monarch, with the consent of the Riksdag. The infantry was obtained through levies of one man for every 20th fralse and 15th or 10th skatte farm—the proportion for cavalry being in accord with the greater expense of its support.
Charles XI finding the conscription of the levies to be a slow and inconvenient method by which to fill the ranks of his army, and especially so when abroad, advised and carried into effect a system of contracts between the Crown and subjects, by which peasants, as well as nobles, bound themselves to always furnish, equip, and maintain in the field one soldier, upon about the above mentioned basis. That is, farmers united to maintain one soldier, the number being determined by the size and value of their farms. A smaller number of the possessors of Skatte, and a greater number of possessors of fralse farms, also a different proportion for the infantry and cavalry. The cities were almost entirely free from this burden. Some of them kept a small number of batsman, but the greater number paid a money tax. These contracts were made upon the condition thatthe Crown renounced all right to procure more men by means of forced levies or conscription.
When the above mentioned contracts were made, the farmers set aside and apportioned a plot of ground and built a comfortable cabin, where the soldier might live and maintain himself and family in time of peace. During a war the farmers are obliged to till his land and care for his property. Besides this, as stated above, they furnish him with uniform, equipment, and arms, and if a cavalryman, with horse and horse equipments. The same system is in effect to-day. The estate or estates that furnish a foot soldier are called a “Rote,” and those that furnish a cavalry-man a “Rusthãll.” The soldiers place, cabin and land, is called a “Torp.” The word torp being a general name for every small tenant’s place. These torps vary in size in the different provinces, in accordance with the fertility of the soil, proximity to cities or towns, &c.
When a vacancy occurs in a “Torp” or “Rusthãll,” the owner or owners thereof procure a recruit, who is first inspected by the company commander, and afterwards by the regimental surgeon, regimental commander, and governor of the district, and finally approved by the general commanding the district, at the next general inspection. Rendezvous for drill are held every year. First with the officers and non-commissioned officeis 12 days, generally in the month of May, with recruits 20 to 40 days in May and June, with the entire regiment 15 days in June. Sweden is divided into five military districts, each commanded by a general officer. The regiments included in these districts supply in turn garrisons for forts situated within the district—100, or at most 200 men. Such detailed service lasts four months, during which time the men are instructed by their officers in what is termed the school for corporals. Men may also be detailed at times to assist on government works. Thus, for example, was the Götha canal almost entirely constructed by soldiers. Charles XII, during his great campaigns in foreign countries, seeing that this system admitted of no expansion by which he might fill the ranks of his invasive army, demanded and obtained a conscription to enable him to continue his wars. This was effected, however, without releasing the existing contracts with the soldier-furnishing estates. It had the result, moreover, to create some years after the “bevãring,” which was fully instituted by the Riksdag in 1809, when the new constitution was adopted. The “bevãring” is founded” upon the principle that every [Page 106] male citizen should be liable to military duty from 21 years of age to 25, They are required to drill 15 days each of the first two years. Aside from this required drill, they can only be called out during the war, by the consent of the Riksdag.
The Indelning regiments are formed and officered so as to absorb the “bevãring” in time of war. The infantry regiments are divided into two battalions of four companies each. A company is generally 150 men, exclusive of officers and non-commissioned officers to the latter of which corporals do not belong. A regiment has officers and non-commissoned officers for three battalions, the third battalion to consist of “bevãring,” or rather the “bevãring” is distributed among the old soldiers, and three battalions formed. The cavalry regiments are much smaller, and are divided into from four to eight squadrons of about 90 men each, but with so many officers that they also absorb the “bevãring.” Officers of all grades furnish their own horses.
A full regiment has one colonel, three majors, (the senior having the title of lieutenant colonel,) and 12 captains, of which eight are company commanders, and four to command companies when the “bevãring” is added. All these officers, except the four “bevaring” captains, have “bostãllen,” that is, farms furnished by the Crown, to live and maintain themselves upon. The subalterns and four “bevaring” captains get their pay in money. They must, however, all live within the district of their company and regiment.
All the non-commissioned officers, except the youngest in the infantry, have similar “bostãllen.” The size and income of the “bostãllen” is generally suited to the rank of the possessor, but of course not always; good management and a fertile country will make a great difference. Thus some of the non-commissioned officers in Skõne, the most fertile district of the kingdom, have much larger incomes than many regimental commanders in the north of Sweden. The Swedish in delta army consists at present of about 3,300 cavalry, 20,239 infantry, besides 5,686 “Indelta bãtsman.” There are besides, two “bevãring” battalions, that is to say, officers and non-commissioned officers for two complete battalions, exclusive of those mentioned before. The “Indelta” regiments, besides having a number, are given the name of the province or district to which they belong. The regiments are so apportioned that in 24 hours any one regiment may be concentrated. In adding the “bevãring” to the “Indelta.” in time of war, the effective force of the army amounts to a little more than 100,000 men. The balance of the army, which consists of only 6,800 men, are enlisted for six years, and are apportioned about as follows; 3,000 artillery, 1,000 marines, 400 horse guards, 600 cavalry, 1,800 foot guards, (1st and 2d regiments,) besides a small force of engineers.
This force alone receive their pay directly from the government, except the youngest officers of the “Indelta” infantry and the subalterns before mentioned, and are kept in permanent garrisons during peace. However, one-fourth of this enlisted force are on furlough, during which they receive no pay. The pay of infantry officers in the Swedish “Indelta” army is, for a colonel from 5,000 to 10,000 riks dollars; majors from 3,000 to 6,000 riks dollars; first captain from 2,000 to 6,000 riks dollars; second captain from 1,200 to 1,800 riks dollars; first lieutenant from 600 to 1,000 riks dollars; second lieutenant from 300 to 480 riks dollars.
It is somewhat higher in the cavalry, at least in the four lower grades.
It will be seen by this system of apportionment of land to the use of one who binds himself to bear arms for the government in time of need and to submit to all other military requirements, a poor country is [Page 107] enabled to maintain and have ever ready for immediate use an army of well-drilled and disciplined soldiers and officers, amounting to 30,000 men. By adding the “bevãring,” composed of men of a certain age fixed by law, the army is immediately swelled to the considerable size of 100,000 men. Commanded by educated and experienced officers, the regiments are all named and numbered, and each man between the ages of 21 and 25 years knows where he will take his place when called upon to battle for his country. It is scarcely necessary to add that this kingdom, by any other system, could not maintain a standing army at all proportionate to its territorial extent or requirements.
It now only remains to show how far this system, that has stood the test of centuries here, can be made applicable to our own country.
This I shall endeavor to do, first, by directing your attention to the fact that an individual citizen of a republic composed of a great number of states must necessarily have a remote interest in the general government. This more especially applies to the class upon whose patriotism we rely in time of war to maintain our rights in the field as private soldiers. This remoteness of interest does not arise from any want of a proper and warm love of country, but from the fact of the numerous intermediate appliances for their government before they are brought under the cognizance of the higher law of the constitution and are made to feel that the entire country is one and indivisible. Nature has implanted in the breast of every man the sentiment of loyalty, which is exhibited in its fullest intensity in the love of his family and in the personal sacrifices he is ever ready to make for their defense and protection. Extending from this center it embraces his town, county, congressional district, and state; and finally includes in its outer circle the general government. With no intervening hinderances, or as between our own and another power, it gives itself with all its intensity direct to the head. But if there be intermediate differences the most conscientious and intelligent at least hesitate.
By this system one or more men in every township are made to feel a warmer interest in their own town, which provides them a homestead upon which they maintain themselves and families, and a direct interest in, and responsibility to, the general government. In our country, as here, these soldiers would many of them become important members of the society of their townships, and would greatly aid in removing the distant consideration of national affairs.
One or more of these soldier torps could be provided by each township, according to the number of inhabitants, at little expense to the tax-payers, as the government have always arms enough on hand to supply them. Each district could supply garrisons for forts, arsenals, &c., with an expense to the government for rations only. The officers are already serving in the army. This system would enable the entire force that it would be necessary to pay, as at present, to be moved at any time, to a man, on the frontiers, where they could be reinforced, if necessary, from the regiments of the “Indelta” which were nearest to the scene of action.
Second. Suppose the soldiers to be enlisted for a term of five years, at the average age of 21, three terms would expire when the soldiers of the first enlistments had but attained the age of 36 years. Thus there would always be a thoroughly instructed reserve in the country, in addition to the state militia, ready to bear arms in any emergency.
To this end there might be apportioned a certain number of acres in each township, surveyed and to be surveyed, of the great tracts of government lands yet undisposed of. This apportionment alone might be [Page 108] so managed that as civilization advanced towards the west, it would be found in a few years adequate to the support of a great army, without drawing a dollar from the treasury of the nation.
The minor details of this system, as applicable to our country, such as how many men shall be retained in the army to be paid as now; how many should be enrolled in the “Indelta;” whether, when called into active service, they should receive as much pay as the regular soldier, or whether they are to receive none at all; the number of days’ drill each year, &c., &c., can be readily adjusted if the system is found worthy of consideration.
In this connection, and for the purpose of giving you some means of contrasting the actual expense in maintaining this army of 33,641 strong, with officers to command, and so organized as to absorb the “bevãring” in case of need, making its total effective strength 110,852, with our own system, I will give—
1.—A statement of the standing of the Swedish army for the year ending December 31, 1867.
|Officers, including general officers, and medical staff||1,617|
|Engineers, (privates enlisted)||287|
|Artillery, (privates enlisted)||2,489|
|Cavalry, (privates enlisted)||976|
|Infantry, (privates enlisted)||2,043|
|Indelta cavalry, (privates enlisted)||3,273|
|Indelta infantry, (privates enlisted)||20,318|
|Bevãring Gottlands national officers||104|
|Bevãring Gottlands non-commissioned officers and musicians||259|
|Bevãring Gottlands privates||8,101|
|Swedish general, (bevãring conscription,) drilled in four classes||68,747|
|Total effective strength||110,852|
2.—Table of expenditures for the army 1868.
|Bureaus under the department for the economy of the army||123,700|
|General officers and general staff||143,562|
|For maps issued by topographical corps||60,000|
|For military schools||79,888|
|For medical department||64,650|
|For the indelta army||3,855,078|
|For the enlisted army||2,555,088|
|For bevãring (and volunteer organizations)||945,000|
|For fortifications, repairing and new materials, and various smaller expenses, including 10,000 Remington rifles||2,570,000|
I submit this history of the past and present military organization of Sweden to your consideration, With the single desire to add whatever information is attainable through my position which may by any possibility be of service to the country.
I have the honor to be, with great respect, your obedient servant,
Hon. William H. Seward, Secretary of State, Washington, D. C.