Leadership, War, and Hollywood
September 10, 2019
The word “discipline” has and will continue to be interpreted differently by everyone. Many relate the word with its aggressive nature, while some believe that discipline should be expressed in a personable manner. While addressing the Corps of Cadets, U.S. Military Academy, Major General John M. Schofield expressed his opinions on the negative effects of harsh discipline. He conveys the idea that harsh or tyrannical conditions towards soldiers only damages the army and creates resentment. In the film, “Glory”, both harsh and humane discipline tactics are used by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and his team to build their army of African American soldiers.
One of the major portrayals of harsh discipline in the film involves Sargent Major Mulcahy and Corporal Thomas Searles. While participating in a drill, Thomas Searles is approached by Sargent Mulcahy who criticizes his bayonet skills. Mulcahy proceeds to pull Searles out in front of the large group where he is called names and directed to stab him. Knowing Searles won’t stab him with force, Mulcahy grabs his bayonet and beats him with it. Mulcahy’s actions relate to Major General John M. Schofield’s statement, “He who feels the respect which is due to others cannot fail to inspire in them regard for himself, while he who feels, and hence manifests, disrespect toward others, especially his inferiors, cannot fail to inspire hatred against himself”. Sargent Major Mulcahy uses violence as a form of discipline which only backfired on him when his army began to resent and not respect him.
Unlike Sargent Major Mulcahy who treated his army as if they were less than him, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw considered them equal human beings. After delivering the information to his army that they would be receiving three dollars less than a normal army would be payed due to their skin color, Colonel Shaw stated that, “If you men will take no pay, then none of us will”. This statement puts both the white army leaders and the African American soldiers on an equal platform which creates mutual respect. From there he gave his army official uniforms and was able to use his strong relationship with them as a form of discipline.
In his speech addressing Corps of Cadets, U.S. Military Academy, Major General John M. Schofield mentioned his views on how harsh discipline in an army only leads to their downfall. In the film, “Glory”, Sargent Major Mulcahy toys with the use of violence and tyrannical methods of discipline. These methods only negatively impacted himself and his army. In contrast, Colonel Robert Gould Shaw believed in leading his army by creating a strong relationship between himself and his army. Colonel Robert Gould Shaw and Major General John M. Schofield’s ideals related to one another which supported the overall idea that using harsh methods and violence as a form of discipline will not improve your army, it will only break it.