Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Duffy's Lecture

Dr. Duffy takes the podium

Dear Readers,

Every year, Dr. Christopher Duffy makes the arduous journey from England to give a lecture related to some aspect of Seven Years' War history. He was formerly a professor at De Monfort University, and for many years taught at the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst. He is the author of over 20 books, the majority of them regarding warfare in the Kabinettskriege period. You can purchase some of his books at the Emperor's Press.

One of the best things about Duffy is his frequent use of humor. Taking the podium, this normally quiet, mild mannered Englishman looked at us with the glare of an 18th century drill sergeant,  and shouted, "Listen up, you scum!" After pausing for the laughter to subside, he began to inform us about the divisional system in the 18th century.

In his lecture, he argued that the French used the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 (the '45) as a testbed for many of their military ideas. One of these ideas was a divisional system. Whereas armies had previously consisted of a commanding general and a collection of units, the divisional system combined certain units into permanent groups. The French and Austrians attempted to perfect this system during the Seven Years' War, while the Prussians stagnated after the death of Prussian General Winterfeldt.

Duffy discussed the plight of Austrian General Lacy, who was a brave soldier, (wounded six times,) and an innovative thinker. He desperately tried to introduce a divisional system in the Austrian army during the Seven Years' War. Unfortunately for Lacy, he was sidelined by two of his fellow generals, Loudon and Daun, both of whom had more influence at court.

Duffy concluded that the divisional system developed during the Seven Years' War, but was unable stick in most armies. It was a useful tool, as it allowed armies to march rapidly and then fight together in one place.

If you like wargaming, history, or just want to spend a weekend with some great characters, you should definitely come to the Seven Years' War convention. It is truly a treat for those of us, "who are alive to a sense of the past."

Thanks for Reading,

Alex Burns 

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