In a similar manner, new technology is not tactics, but it may have a decisive effect in both altering the face of battle and affecting its outcome. Navies put special emphasis on warships and aircraft. It is well said that on the ground men are served by their weapons while at sea weapons are served by men. Lest his readers be too enamoured of élan and fighting spirit, Rear Admiral Bradley A. Fiske used a telling example in The Navy as a Fighting Machine (1916). He pointed out that in the American Civil War the Confederate ironclad Virginia, with 10 guns, handily defeated the Union sloops-of-war Congress and Cumberland, which carried a total of 74 guns. One day later the Union's Monitor, carrying two guns in a turret, fought the Virginia to a standstill. Courage and resolve were powerless against progress and armour.
The American naval strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan made perhaps too much of the influence on tactics of technological progress. In his seminal The Influence of Sea Power upon History, 1660-1783 (1890), he wrote that, due to new fighting systems, "from time to time the structure of tactics has to be wholly torn down but the foundations of strategy so far remain, as though laid upon a rock." Mahan appreciated the utility of naval history for the discovery of strategic constants--that is, principles of strategy that have remained valid throughout technological change. Tacticians, on the other hand, are conscious of tactical constants as well, especially the following: the power of concentrated force (rarely in history has a naval tactician withheld a reserve); the special value of surprise; the abiding need for cohesion brought about by sound command and combat doctrine; the consummate goal of attacking effectively first; and the unique role played by timing and timeliness.