The theory of strong battalions is a shameful theory, Colonel Ardant Du Picq argues:
To-day, numbers are considered the essential. Napoleon had this tendency (note his strength reports). The Romans did not pay so much attention to it. What they paid most attention to was to seeing that everybody fought. We assume that all the personnel present with an army, with a division, with a regiment on the day of battle, fights. Right there is the error.
The theory of strong battalions is a shameful theory. It does not reckon on courage but on the amount of human flesh. It is a reflection on the soul. Great and small orators, all who speak of military matters to-day, talk only of masses. War is waged by enormous masses, etc. In the masses, man as an individual disappears, the number only is seen. Quality is forgotten, and yet to-day as always, quality alone produces real effect. The Prussians conquered at Sadowa with made soldiers, united, accustomed to discipline. Such soldiers can be made in three or four years now, for the material training of the soldier is not indeed so difficult.
Caesar had legions that he found unseasoned, not yet dependable, which had been formed for nine years.
Austria was beaten because her troops were of poor quality, because they were conscripts.
Our projected organization will give us four hundred thousand good soldiers. But all our reserves will be without cohesion, if they are thrown into this or that organization on the eve of battle. At a distance, numbers of troops without cohesion may be impressive, but close up they are reduced to fifty or twenty-five per cent. who really fight.