and most of their disasters can be attributed to rash or incompetent command or to quirks of terrain. Custer divided his forces from confidence in past experience (but the Indians did not act as usual), while the British from time to time were badly ambushed in the defiles of the North-West Frontier.
Though a small army may suffer some disasters if badly led, it is safer for the state to keep the frontier force small in spite of some depredations by hostile forces. Not only did the British and American armies come into being under strong antimilitary constraints within their societies, but they were never allowed to become very strong. And though the American operated in contiguous terri- tory, it never crossed the Rubicon. The Ch'in regime in China fell because after completing their wall-building, unemployed soldiers restlessly turned in upon the administration and destroyed it. Similarly, the French Algerian army centu- ries later for other reasons almost toppled Charles de Gaulle. One lesson from the frontier might then be a paraphrase - "There's safety in numbers - yes, but not in too many." It all depends on the stage of development and upon the enemies within and without. The relationship between the imperial and the home army also affected domestic security. For instance, the British Army in India did not want tanks on the North-West Frontier and its resistance slowed the adoption of the tank in England and endangered Britain in the face of the German threat after 1933. That is an example of the transmission of experience.
But on the whole there seems to have been very little transmission of the experiences from one frontier to those attempting to control another. Various explanations for this may be offered including different languages and different actions in different centuries together with the natural military weaknesses of isolation and illiteracy. But more surprising is the fact that even the same service can forget its heritage. The British Army neglected Sir Charles Callwell's Small Wars of 1896 until recently and the U.S. Marines their similar 1940 Manual.
Yet there is much that is not new, and communication is one such item. Soldiers who read history would have learned that the Chinese used signalling towers in 200 B.C. just as the Argentines used the telegraph on the pampas in the latter 19th century, and the Apaches in Arizona were defeated after General Nel- son A. Miles established a chain of heliograph stations.
What we have described are frontiers as we shall probably never see them again. But this is exactly why they must be examined comparatively, whether they are seen as colonial or as part of a larger experience.
In all the military frontiers the power lay in the stolid soldiers armed with simple weapons led by dedicated officers against a wily and perhaps persistent enemy. If there was a glamor to their campaigns, it was imparted in memoirs and