Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Ottoman Empire in the Kabinettskriege Period ( لفعالية العسكرية العثمانية)

Ottoman Soldiers of the Late 18th Century
Dear Reader,

So, today, we had two votes for a post on Ottoman military effectiveness.  For those of you a bit hazy on the Ottoman Empire, it was a Muslim super-state throughout the Kabinettskriege period, stretching from Iran to the Balkans, and controlling much of the modern Middle-East. Here is a map of the Ottoman Empire at the end of the Kabinettskriege period. For a relevant timeline of the wars of the Ottoman Empire during the Kabinettskriege period, click here.

The Ottoman Empire in 1809
The Ottoman Military of the Kabinettskriege Period:

Many western historians have been dismissive of the Ottoman military during this period of history, as the Ottomans failed to fully adapt to the European method of warfare, as the Russians did in the early 18th century. Most Ottoman armies consisted of three main branches, with a smaller group joining them at the end of the era:















1)  Janissaries 
Janissary soldiers were the Ottoman equivalent of regular troops. They were the closest thing the Ottomans possessed to a national army. Janissary regiments had close to uniform dress, and they were issued firearms, although it appears they preferred to use melee weapons. These were the elite troops of the Ottomans. In western European terms, they fought in a manner somewhat similar to the Scottish Highland Jacobites, using firepower while on the move, but preferring to attack their enemies up close in hand to hand combat.

2) Horsemen

The Ottoman horseman (or Sipahi) did not fight with western European order, but rather attacked with great speed and personal courage. These soldiers also mistrusted gunpowder weapons, but made up for this by using speed, maneuverability, and skill with their hand to hand weapons. In individual combat, these soldiers could consistently best their European counterparts, who relied on large formations maneuvers, and body armor to protect themselves.

3) Regional Troops/Levies

The majority of the Ottoman army during this period comprised regional troops, called up to support the main Ottoman force. In the painting at the top of the post, the left hand figures in lighter clothing represent these regional troops. Often, these troops were drawn from the Balkans.

These troops put me in mind of the militia from the American War of Independence. Like the militia, they were often unable to compete with European regular troops in pitched field battles. They often brought their personal firearms into service with them, and fought in loose order.The relied on personal accuracy, rather than mass volleys, and often fought from hidden positions, such as the battle of Grocka in 1739. These soldiers have been massively underrated by western historians, and need to be examined in greater detail by scholars who understand Arabic.













4) Nizam-ı Cedid Infantry

In the twilight of the Kabinettskriege period, Sultan Selim III attempted to reform the Ottoman army along European lines. The "New Order" troops (from Arabic Al-Niẓām Al-Jadīd) were the result of his ideas. Unfortunately for the Ottoman military, he was forced to abdicate. The Nizam-ı Cedid was never a large part of the Ottoman infantry, although they proved capable of putting down Janissary rebellions. These troops were the closest the Ottomans came during the 18th century to an establishment of close order European infantry.

Comparisons:
During the Kabinettskriege period, the Ottoman empire nearly took Vienna in 1689, and had great success against the Austrians in the Austro-Turkish War of 1737-1739.  While the Turks were often defeated by the Russians in the 18th century, historians should not forget the River Pruth campaign of 1711, where the Ottomans surrounded and defeated Peter I of Russia.  While I am unable to examine Arabic documents directly, I am starting to collect European language literature on the Ottoman 18th century. Expect more detailed posts on the Ottomans in the future.

Most English language studies of the Ottoman military show how the European forces adapted to fight them in the Kabinettskriege period. It is interesting to compare the Ottomans to more familiar forces, such as the Jacobites, or Patriot militia, which we have a much more positive opinion of. I wonder how much of the bias against the Ottoman military during this period comes from later European perceptions, and not during the experience of the time. Today, as European and Americans are involved in fighting with the Muslim world, we should ask ourselves if we, like the Europeans of the 18th century, have underestimated Middle-Eastern military effectiveness.


Thanks for reading,

Alexander Burns


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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

British Diary Part 3: War in America

Grenadier of the 52nd Regiment of Foot, Don Troiani

Dear Reader,

In the previous two posts, we have explored William Digby's journey to North America,  and his life experiences on campaign. Digby, a Grenadier in the 53rd Regiment of Foot, accompanied John Burgoyne's Canadian army south in an invasion of New York. In this post, we will explore his combat experience in North American during the 1777 Saratoga campaign.

For ease of reference, here is a map of the 1777 Saratoga campaign.


The British army which Digby was a part of, under the command of general John Burgoyne, hoped to reach Albany, which would split the rebellious American colonies in two. Attacking from Canada, the British army reached the first major obstacle, Fort Ticonderoga. Digby records the experience in his journal from July 4th 1777:

"About noon we took possession of Sugar loaf hill  on which a battery was immediately ordered to be raised. It was a post of great consequence, as it commanded a great part of the works of Ticonderoga, all their vessels, and likewise afforded us the means of cutting off their communication with Fort Independent, a place also of great strength and the works very extensive. But here the commanding officer was reckoned guilty of a great oversight in lighting fires on that post, tho I am in formed, it was done by the Indians, the smoak of which was soon perceived by the enemy in the Fort ; as he should have remained undiscovered till night, when he was to have got two 12 pounders up tho their getting there was almost a perpendicular ascent, and drawn up by most of the cattle belonging to the Army. They no sooner perceived us in possession of a post, which they thought quite impossible to bring cannon up to, than all their pretended boastings of holding out to the last, and choosing rather to die in their works than give them up, failed them, and on the night of the 5th they set fire to several parts of the garrison, kept a constant fire of great guns the whole night, and under the protection of that fire, and clouds of smoke they evacuated the garrison, leaving all their cannon, ammunition and a great quantity of stores."


Fort Ticonderoga
With Ticonderoga in British hands, Digby and the rest of the army move south, hoping to reach Albany by the winter. On August 16th, a contingent of Germans allied soldiers in the British army were defeated at the battle of Bennington. The British army regrouped, and attempted to break through the American forces to reach Albany. The resulting battle, called the battle of Freeman's Farm, ended in victory for the British, but they failed to break through to Albany.

Wargame of the Battle of Freeman's Farm
Battle of Freeman's Farm:
William Digby described his experienced at Freeman's Farm:

"At day break intelligence was received, that Colonel Morgan,195 with the advance party of the enemy, consisting of a corps of rifle men, were strong about 3 miles from us ; their main body amounting to great numbers encamped on a very strong post about half a mile in their rear ; and about 9 o'clock we began our march, every man prepared with 60 rounds of cartridges and ready for instant action. We moved in 3 columns, ours to the right on the heights and farthest from the river in thick woods. A little after, 12 our advanced picquets came up with Colonel Morgan and engaged, but from the great superiority of fire received from him — his numbers being much greater — they were obliged to fall back, every officer being either killed or wounded except one, when the line came up to their support and obliged Morgan in his turn to retreat with loss. About half past one, the fire seemed to slacken a little ; but it was only to come on with double force, as between 2 & 3 the action became general on their side. From the situation of the ground, and their being perfectly acquainted with it, the whole of our troops could not be brought to engage together, which was a very material disadvantage, though everything possible was tried to remedy that inconvenience, but to no effect, such an explosion of fire I never had any idea of before, and the heavy artillery joining in con cert like great peals of thunder, assisted by the echoes of the woods, almost deafened us with the noise. To an unconcerned spectator, it must have had the most awful and glorious appearance, the different Battalions moving to relieve each other, some being pressed and almost broke by their superior numbers. This crash of cannon and musketry never ceased till darkness parted us, when they retired to their camp, leaving us masters of the field ; but it was a dear bought victory if I can give it that name, as we lost many brave men, The 62nd had scarce 10 men a company left, and other regiments suffered much, and no very great advantage, honor excepted, was gained by the day."

Battle of Bemis Heights:
So, while the British won the Battle of Freeman's Farm on September 19th, 1777, but did not gain any major strategic advantage. Thus, the British fought a second battle, the Battle of Bemis Heights, on October 7th. 

Breymann's Redoubt, Don Troiani
Digby describes the battle:

"About 3 o'clock, our heavy guns began to play, but the wood around being thick, and their exact knowledge of our small force, caused them to advance in great numbers, pouring in a superiority of fire from Detachments ordered to hang upon our flanks, which they tried if possible to turn. We could not receive a reinforcement as our works, General Hospital Stores, provisions &° would be left defenceless, on which an order was given for us to retreat, but not before we lost many brave men. Brigadier General Frazier was mortally wounded which helped to turn the fate of the day. When General Burgoyne saw him fall, he seemed then to feel in the highest degree our disagreeable situation. He was the only person we could carry off with us. Our cannon were surrounded and taken — the men and horses being all killed — which gave them additional spirits, and they rushed on with loud shouts, when we drove them back a little way with so great loss to ourselves, that it evidently appeared a retreat was the only thing left for us. They still advanced upon our works under a severe fire of grape shot, which in some measure stopped them, by the great execution we saw made among their columns; during which, another body of the enemy stormed the German lines after meeting with a most shameful resistance, and took possession of all their camp and equipage, baggage. Col. Bremen fell nobly at the head of the Foreigners, and by his death blotted out part of the stain his countrymen so justly merited from that days behaviour."

While Digby's criticism of the Germans has no basis in reality, the rest of his account gives an idea of the confused nature of fighting in 18th century North America. The German forces were outnumbered and outflanked, and any 18th century army would have collapsed under these conditions.  While the British were often able to get the better of the Americans on the field of battle, they were often unable to turn it into battlefield success.

Thanks for reading,


Alexander Burns

British Diary Part 2: Life in North America

Ensign Downing's Escape, Don Troiani
Dear Reader,

When we last left our hero, (confused? I'm talking about William Digby) the 53rd Regiment had finally gotten off their ships near Quebec, and William and the other men of the regiment headed inland to face the American rebels. Much like modern amphibious landings, Digby expresses concern about being part of the initial landing party, and said that he would be comforted when the rest of the army landed.

While pursuing the American rebels fleeing from Quebec, Digby described his first experience with American Indians:

"July 5: We were joined by a nation of savages, many more were shortly expected at our camp, and I must say their appearance came fully up or even surpassed the idea I had conceived of them. They were much encouraged by General Carlton, as useful to our army in many particulars, but their cruel and barbarous custom of scalping,  must be shocking to an European; though practiced on our enemies.  They walked freely  through our camp, and came into our tents without the least ceremony, wanting brandy or rum {....} their manner of dance and war dancing is curious and shocking, being naked and painted in a most frightful manner. When they give a war whoop or yell, (which is a signal for engaging) they appear more like infernals than the human kind..."

From the above, its clear that many of the practices of Native Americans still shocked European observers, even though they might have previously known what to expect. The Native Americans were far from the only troops in the War of Independence wanting brandy or rum. In many panicked situations, such as the fighting around Ticonderoga in 1777, the American soldiers broke into the alcohol stores and got so drunk that they could not offer any effective resistance.

An 18th Century Military Camp

A little further on, Digby describes the Canadian summer:

"The weather was then intensely hot, scarce bearable in a camp, where the tents rather increased than diminished it, and the great number of men in so small a space made it very disagreeable, though we all went as thinly clothed as possible, wearing large loose trousers to prevent the bite of the moscheto, a small fly which was then very troublesome. Our men in general were healthy, and not much troubled with fevers and fluxes, so common when encamped in a warm climate, and lying nights on the ground under heavy dew. The tree spruce, which grows there in great plenty, as indeed in most parts of America, is an excellent antiscorbutic, and when made into beer is far from a disagreeable flavour. The Canadians in general are a very happy set of people. They possess all the vivacity of their ancestors, the French, and in the country appear on an equal footing ; their noblesse choosing mostly to reside in Montreal or Quebec, both good towns and many English settled there."


While I think that Digby's assumption that flavorful beer makes for a  happy people a bit far reaching, his insights into Canadian life give us an excellent depiction of what life was like for the British army on campaign in North America. 

The majority of 18th century military life was not the glamorous battles that so often get discussed by historians. Most of the life experiences in the 18th century do not involve great battles, but, much like today, endless patrols, boredom, and occasional sickness. Digby himself experienced a bout of illness:

"In the evening I was seized with a violent shivering and lightness in my head, which was attributed to cold, I must have got the pre-ceeding night on guard. About 10 o clock I was quite delirious and out of my senses, after which I cannot  tell what happened. I was blistered on my back, and all the next day continued in the same distracted situation. Indeed, I believe my friends thought it was all over with me, but it pleased God to spare me, and on the 30th I returned to my senses..."

Fortunately for Digby, he made a swift recovery, and rejoined his regiment. In the third and final post on this journal, we will discuss the actual fighting which occurred in Digby's experience, and what he though of the battles with the American rebels. 


Thanks for reading,

Alexander Burns

British Diary Part 1: Journey to America

The Royal Welsh Fusiliers, by Don Troiani

Dear Reader,

After the polling concluded, we had one vote for a spotlight on British soldiers in North America, and two votes for examining an 18th century soldier's diary. So, in an effort to appease both parties, today, we are examining the Journal of  William Digby, a British soldier in the American War of Independence. Digby's journal chronicles his experience from 1776 to his capture by the American rebels at Saratoga in 1777.

William Digby's journal was printed in the late 19th century by James Phinney Baxter. While Baxter describes Digby as "a manly spirit guided by an unswerving instinct to justice," Digby's  motives for joining the British army were likely similar to most other soldiers in the Kabinettskriege period.

Lt. William Digby joined the 53rd (Shropshire) Regiment, and was a member of the Grenadier company. (For quick reference, one of those guys in the furry hats at the top of the page.) Even if he had not specifically told us this, we could guess, as only the Grenadier and Light Infantry companies of the 53rd participated in the events he describes. Like many soldiers, Digby composed his journal in an unspecified time after the campaign concluded, possibly at the request of "a particular friend," who he alludes to in the preface of the journal. Digby wisely adds that a disclaimer that some of his information may be incorrect, as he is only human.




Soldiers to North America:
Digby begins his narrative with the 53rd's journey to America aboard the transport ship Woodcock,  in April of 1776. Like many of the soldiers fighting for the British crown, Digby had never been aboard a ship before in his life. He describes what it felt like to see an iceberg for the first time, and lists the numerous types of wildlife encountered on the Atlantic voyage. The sea still held mythic appeal for many soldiers, and despite complaining about the cold and fog, he often describes fanciful, non-factual events, such as swordfish attacking whales. While the specifics of his account are non-factual, he is probably relaying information he received from the sailors on the ship, who might have witnessed a blue marlin impale a whale at some point. (This does occasionally happen- see here for details.)

On the 7th of May, Digby described confusion, as the fleet approached the shoreline at night, and many ships, including his own, nearly went aground on the southern tip of Newfoundland. As the fleet neared America, Digby shared that many soldiers believed that Quebec and the rest of Canada had already fallen to the American rebels.

On the way up the Saint Lawrence seaway, the Woodcock met with the Hope, a messenger ship headed back to England. The soldiers were told that if they wished, this ship would carry letters to loved ones back home to England. Transatlantic mail was a tricky business in the 18th century, and family back in England often heard almost nothing from soldiers for the entire length of a campaign.  For servicemen currently overseas, who have the ability to call home, having to wait six weeks for letters from home would seem unbearable.

Digby makes it clear that the soldiers felt extreme uneasy while on board ship. At one point in the night, on May 20th, Digby's transport ran into the warship Providence. One the Grenadiers in his regiment panicked, thinking that the ship was about to sink; tried to jump onto the Providence, and was killed in the process. Upon finally reaching mainland Canada, the regiment was, "all in great spirits on leaving the ships." Most of the soldiers felt much better upon reaching dry land. With life on board ship concluded, Digby and the rest of the men of the 53rd prepared to face the rebel forces still in Canada.

The adventures of William Digby will continue, with a post about his life in North America, and a post about his combat experiences in the 1777 Saratoga campaign.

Thanks for reading,


Alexander Burns


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Soldiers Life Experience in the Kabinettskriege World

Chelsea Pensioners Reading the Waterloo Dispatch, Sir David Wilkie

New Military History vs. Old Military History

Dear Reader,

Since the 1960s, writing about combat, leaders, and campaigns, (Old Military History) has been out of favor with military historians. Today, most books focus on the cultural and social aspects of life in and around the military. In addition, historians tend to focus on the lives of non-elite persons, as they provide us with a wider picture of the historical world. So, in this post, let us look at this New Military History. Hopefully, we will come away with the understanding that BOTH aspects of military history are important, and worth studying.

Reasons for Enlistment?

The classic picture of recruitment, especially in the 18th century, is that soldiers were tricked into joining the ranks through false offers of pay, intoxication, and other ploys by the recruiting officer. The 1970s movie Barry Lyndon shows the this side of military recruitment, with the protagonist deserting from one army, and then being almost kidnapped into a second. This view certainly has some basis in fact.

In his diary, Swedish Karoliner Robert Petre tells of his interest in enlistment, but also that he was promised a large sum of money by the recruiter, Captain Björnberg, which he never actually received. The English language verb, "to dragoon" literally means: to force or coerce someone into doing something. In the 18th century, a dragoon was a type of cavalry soldier. This term arose because so many soldiers were forcibly recruited, and many became dragoons, or were captured and enlisted by dragoons.

Despite these negative connotations many soldiers hoped for a better life, and enlisted for pay, food, or dreams of social advancement. The first chapter of British Soldiers, American War Don N. Hagist deals with the experiences of young men who simply wanted adventure, or were interested in having regular meals. The young soldier described in this chapter is told by the recruiter, that in the towns taken by the British army, the pigs run around with silverware attached to them, just waiting to be eaten. While the soldier is actually interested in recruitment to escape his dull life at home, he is also enticed by the prospect of military life. John Childs, in his book, Warfare in the Seventeenth Century shows that Swedish soldiers were prompted to enlist by the higher social standing granted to members of the military establishment. In the British 1706 stage play, The Recruiting Officer, playwright George Farquhar includes the following song, which may be somewhat familiar to my readers:
Our 'prentice Tom may now refuse
To wipe his scoundrel Master's Shoes,
For now he's free to sing and play
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.
We all shall lead more happy lives
By getting rid of brats and wives
That scold and bawl both night and day -
Over the Hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.
Courage, boys, 'tis one to ten,
But we return all gentlemen
All gentlemen as well as they,
Over the hills and far away.
Over the Hills and O'er the Main,
To Flanders, Portugal and Spain,
The queen commands and we'll obey
Over the Hills and far away.
 
 
British musician John Tams revamped the song for the memorable Sharpe's television series, starring Sean Bean. For the musically inclined,the Tams version is available here.  While not truly historical (in that Sharpe is a fictional character) the series gives an excellent idea of life in the British military during the Napoleonic Wars, a series of wars directly after the Kabinettskriege period. 

Military Life

So, after joining the army, soldiers were trained. Christopher Duffy points out that one of the reasons the Prussian military was so effective was its early system of training. Fresh recruits would be placed in the care of a older soldier or non-commissioned officer, who would carefully show them the basics of military life. At the same time, greenhorn Prussian would take continue to take part in drills with the rest of the new recruits. and This system of training very similar to the modern business practice at companies such as Enterprise Rent A Car, where large groups of new employees train together, but then disperse to satellite offices and shadow more experienced employees on an individual basis.

Once accustomed to the practices of military life, the soldiers would be placed in garrison towns during peace time, where they would look for work outside military life. Otto Busch covers the Prussian system of social-military practice, while the best English language work on the Russian Arteli system remains Russia's Military Way to the West by Christopher Duffy.

Once war broke out, soldiers would be mobilized from their garrison towns, often with tearful farewells to local families, spouses and children. Contrary to modern perceptions of soldiers and masculinity, it was often the soldiers weeping, with the children, siblings, parents, and spouses, attempting to comfort saddened fathers, brothers, sons, and husbands.

On the march, the food was generally not as good as in civilian life, and soldiers usually marched between six and nine miles a day. Some armies were capable of "sprinting," covering much longer distances in shorter periods of time. In high summer, this often lead to deaths from heatstroke, such as the Prussian "sprint" to face the Russians at Zorndorf in 1758.

Care for Soldiers after Service

After a battle, the loss of human capital was catastrophic. Many soldier died, and even more lost limbs, or were unable to serve any longer.  In order to care for these men, some nations instituted military quasi-insurance programs. In the late 17th century, Sweden had step up an a system to for continued care for wounded veterans, and a hostel system for veterans around the country. Letters between Frederick William II and Leopold von Anhalt-Dessau (The Old Dessauer) indicate a need to, "care for soldiers, who have lost their healthy limbs before the enemy." (Acta Borussica)

Many of the old soldiers would spend their twilight years at military care facilities, such as the famous Chelsea pensioners, pictured at the top of the post.  In the painting, you can see the old men, veterans of the Kabinettskriege period, (most likely American War of Independence veterans) being read the news of the victory at Waterloo.


 African Experience
Interestingly, there is an African soldier pictured in the middle of painting. African soldiers were much more frequent in the armies of Europe than it might seem at first glance. They were often forced to wear "Turkish" style military dress, or a different style uniform. In the painting, The Death of Major Pierson, by John Singleton Copley, (above) an African soldier is shown in a different style uniform. In the American War of Independence, many African soldiers fought on the British side after being offered their freedom. In the Russian army, Abram Petrovich Gannibal, a former black slave, rose to the rank of major general, and was adopted by Peter I of Russia! Today, Gannibal is most famous for being Alexander Pushkin's grandfather.

Military life in the 18th century is more than just the battlefield experiences of soldiers, or the study of cultural ideas around soldiers. By studying them together, we can gain a fuller understanding of the Kabinettskriege period. 

Next Post Vote:

Vote on what I should work on next:

(Just paste your letter choice in the comments)

A) Karoliner Military Effectiveness in the Great Northern War

B) British Military Effectiveness in the American War for Independence

C) Analysis of a Kabinettskriege period soldier's diary


D) Kabinettskriege Warfare as Business: Regiments as Companies?

E) You Choose! Give me a topic you are interested in!


Thanks for reading,

Alexander Burns
2/21/2013







(Portions of the above are part of an academic paper written by the author, and his intellectual property. 2013 copyright pending)





Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Spotlight on: Great Northern War (Stora Nordiska Kriget/Северная война)

Battle of Poltava (Slaget vid Poltava/Полтавская битва)

Dear Reader,

Most of my English readers will not have heard of the Great Northern War, or will have some kind of hazy idea of what occurred. This Kabinettskriege dominated the first 20 years of the eighteenth century, and opened a Russian window into Europe. In Russian history, the Great Northern War opens a period of history which will not be concluded until 1945 or 1989. In Swedish history, the Great Northern War marks the end of the stormaktstiden period, the years 1630 to 1722, when Sweden was one of the most powerful nations in Europe.  This post should serve as a brief introduction to the war. I will cover the various armies, cultures, and battles in more specific posts later on. For specific information on the battle of Fraustadt, a major battle during the Great Northern War, click here. For a timeline of the entire Kabinettskriege period, click here

First Phase: 1700-1709


The war opened in 1700, as Peter I of Russia (Пётр I), Augustus II of Saxony, and Frederick IV of Denmark planned to break the Swedish control of the Baltic. It seemed like the right time to strike, as Charles XI of Sweden had died, leaving his eighteen year old son, Charles XII, to rule the kingdom. 

Unfortunately for the anti-Swedish coalition, Charles XI had left his son a large, modern military, referred to today as the Karoliner. These soldiers, with blue coats and yellow turnbacks, would fight on, despite incredible odds, for the next 22 years. The Karoliner had incredibly high morale, which came from a strongly rooted religious identity and a sense of national unity. 

As a result of this high morale mixed with highly aggressive tactics (Swedish: Gå-På English: "Go-On"; I 

believe a better colloquial translation might be "Head-On") the Swedish army won many victories in the 
1700-1709 period. The battles of Fraustadt, Narva, Saladen, and Holowczyn, give an impression of what 
the Karoliner's capabilities. The Swedes won all of these victories while outnumbered, and often without artillery support. In the summer of 1709, Sweden was winning the war, having forced Denmark and Saxony to sign peace treaties. 

However, Charles XII was unwilling to accept a negotiated settlement with Tsar Peter I, and pushed the war on into the Ukraine, after long campaigns in Poland and Saxony. At Poltava, in the Ukraine, on June 27 1709,  the Karoliner were crushed by a modernized Russian army, using heavy artillery and field fortifications. The best book currently available on the Great Northern War, Peter Englund's, The Battle That Shook Europe, covers this pivotal turning point in the war. 



The Second Phase: 1709-1718

With the defeat of Sweden's main field army, the Swedish cause disintegrated  and Saxony and Denmark re-entered the war. Charles XII fled into exile in the Ottoman Empire, where he would attempt to bring the Ottomans into the war on Sweden's side. Despite the massive losses inflicted by the defeat at Poltava, Sweden was able to scrape together enough men to win impressive victories such as Helsingborg  in 1710 and Gadebusch in 1712. In 1714, Charles returned home, after outstaying his welcome in the Ottoman empire. His return brought disaster for Sweden. Still unable to agree to a negotiated peace, Charles invaded Norway twice, dying in the second invasion, on the 30th of November, 1718. His death meant the end of the Karoliner, and the majority of the soldiers in his army never returned to Sweden. 

The Third Phase: 1718-1722


The final phase of the Great Northern War dealt with a succession crisis for Sweden, followed by a series of Russian amphibious raids on the Swedish coast. The Swedes were spent by this time, and mostly unable to resist.  The war ended by confirming Russia as the new Baltic power, and encouraging the rise of several smaller states, such as Brandenburg-Prussia. The Swedes fell into a decline which would last most of the 18th century, but they would briefly take revenge on the Russians in the war of 1788 to 1790. 




Conclusion: 
As we are still going through the 300th anniversary of the war, there is a great deal of interest in how it was fought, and what effects it had on Europe. If anyone has any opinions on the Great Northern War, or would like to have an article regard specific aspects of the Great Northern War, please let me know in the comments. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Spanish Military in the 18th Century

The Storming of Fort George: Pensacola, Florida, 1781
Dear Reader,

English language historians gloss over the role and effectiveness of the Spanish military in the later Kabinettskriege period. Christopher Duffy, a leading authority on 18th century warfare, discusses the Spanish briefly in his otherwise excellent book, Military Experience in the Age of Reason. On page 21, he gives us German military thinker Scharnhorst's views on the Spanish:       

           "The Spaniards have never changed. Except for their hair, which is now powdered and curled, the soldiers remain in the same condition as seventy years ago. Their generals are totally ignorant of tactics, they owe their promotion to favoritism, or to long service in the garrisons, where their only occupation is to arrange the processions to the burnings at the stake, and so on." (Scharnhorst, 1782) 

Unfortunately, Scharnhorst's perception of the Spanish doesn't match up with the Spanish military's historical actions, especially in the early 1780s, when he published his account. While English language accounts tend to focus on the Spanish failures in the 18th century, the Spanish often succeed in combat operations, and showed a great talent for combined navy-army operations. In addition, the Spanish possessed a massive overseas empire, and in most cases, successfully defended their overseas holdings through an effective system of fortification. 

Early 18th Century Spain

The Spanish military record in the early 18th century reads like a litany of defeats and disasters. For a complete list of the wars of this period, click here. While Spain participated in many wars during the early 18th century, the most damaging to Spanish interests in the short term was the global War of Spanish Succession. The War of Spanish Succession created internal conflicts in Spain, as various factions chose to support either the Bourbon or Hapsburg candidate for the Spanish throne. This made excellent opportunity for expansion by smaller powers, who were jealous of Spanish holdings in the Americas. At the end of this war, the Bourbon candidate won out, but the Spanish were forced to give up huge swaths of territory. In Northern Europe, the Spanish Netherlands became the Austrian Netherlands. In the Mediterranean, the Spanish lost the Kingdom of Naples, the Duchy of Milan, Sicily, the Kingdom of Savoy, and the naval bases at Minorca and Gibraltar.

The War of the Quadruple Alliance in 1718 ended Spanish hopes of regaining significant Italian holdings. The  Anglo-Spanish war of 1727 quickly ended with no advantage to either side.  The War of Jenkins Ear in 1739, and its continuation in the War of Austrian Succession, saw the Spanish fight the British and their allies to a draw, with no territorial changes in the colonies. The Spanish soldiers saw some successes during this war, such as the Battle of Campo Santo in 1743. (Dale Wood, shout out to you.)
 During the Seven Years' War, the British gained Florida, but this was a result of the losses of Spanish allies, the French, who gave the Spanish the Louisiana territories to make up for the loss of Florida. While the British took Cuba and the Philippines during the actual fighting, these territories returned to Spanish control after the War.

The American Gulf Coast War

In the global war surrounding the American War for Independence, the Spanish reclaimed much of the key territory they had lost in the early 18th century. Along the Gulf of Mexico, the Spanish waged a successful war from 1779-1781, defeating the British forces in a number of confrontations on both land and sea. Thomas Chavez covers this portion of the war in his 2002 book, Spain and the Independence of the United States: An Intrinsic Gift. Chavez draws much needed attention to the Spanish role in the American War for Independence, and the book is an excellent read.

Thanks in part to the excellent command decisions of Bernardo de Galvez, the Spanish defeated the British at every turn in the campaign. The British (and German forces from Waldeck,) were eventually captured by the Spanish during the siege of Pensacola, depicted in the painting at the top of the post. On the right side of the painting, an African member of the Havana militia is shown charging into the breach with the grenadiers. With the growth of the New Military History in the scholarship surrounding the Revolution, I am surprised that no study of the ethnic minorities in the Spanish army is currently available.

In Europe, a French officer in Spanish service, Louis de Crillon, led the effort to retake the naval base of Mahon on the Mediterranean Island of Minorca. He was successful, and the war ended with the Spanish retaking of Florida and Minorca.

Castillo de San Marcos

Fortifications
The vast amount of Spanish fortifications in Latin America help explain Spain's continued grasp on her American Empire. Vauban style fortifications, or "Star-Forts," such as the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida (above), or the Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabana in Cuba (below), allowed the Spanish Empire to survive a period in the early 18th century when the Spanish army and navy were recovering from the War of Spanish Succession. Without the Castillo de Immaculate Concepcion in Nicaragua, the British forces under the direction of William Lyttelton might have taken Granada in 1762, splitting the Spanish overseas empire in two.

Fortaleza San Carlos de la Cabana


 Like Sweden, the Spanish Empire spent the majority of the 18th century in decline, struggling to return to a position of prominence. And, like the Swedes in the Russo-Swedish War of 1788, the Spanish experienced a resurgence in military capability at the end of the 18th century. However, the Spanish, unlike the Swedes, had significant fortifications to keep their holdings intact during the period of crisis.

When examining the Spanish military during the 18th century, historians should not be so quick to accept biased northern European observers at their word. Scharnhorst, as he lambasted the Spanish in 1782, failed to see that the Spanish had changed, and that under leaders like Galvez, they were capable of competing with, and succeeding against, the British.

Thanks for reading,


Alex 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Spotlight on: Battle of Fraustadt, 1706

Prayer after the battle of Fraustadt: Gustav Cederströrm
Dear Reader,

On February 13th 1706, in the middle of the Great Northern War, general Carl Gustaf Rehnskiöld of the Swedish army faced a difficult situation. The Saxon army under general Johann von Schulenburg outnumbered Rehnskiölds' force by slightly over two to one (9,500 to 20,000). The Saxons and Russians under Schulenburg had been following Rehnskiöld, with the hopes of destroying his much smaller army.  Rehnskiölds' situation was only worsened by the fact that King Augustus the Strong of Poland (another member of the anti-Swedish coalition) was approaching with an additional 8,000 horsemen. If Schulenburg and Augustus completed a junction, the force against Rehnskiold would increase to three to one.

North of the town of Fraustadt, (present day Wschowa) the Saxo-Russian force established a defensive position of roughly two miles in length, between the villages of Röhrsdorf  (present Osowa Sein) and Geyersdorf (present Debowa Leka). The defensive positions were littered with cannons and Chevaux de frise, spikes designed to impale horses.

Chevaux de frise

Schulenburg deployed his army in a traditional Kabinettskriege pattern: the infantry in the center, with the cavalry on the wings, and Rehnskiöld followed suit. Schulenburg placed his Russian allies on the left flank of his infantry line, and supposedly ordered them to turn their uniforms inside out to disguise the fact that they were Russian. (The inside of the Russian coat was red, like the outside of the Saxon coat.) Schulenburg was dubious about the value of his Russian allies, based on their poor performance at the debacle of Narva in 1700.

At the outset of the battle, the Saxons and Russians had most of the traditional military advantages. They had a larger army, much more artillery (the Swedes didn't have any cannons at this battle) , the flanks of their infantry line were protected by cavalry, villages, and a marsh, and they had strong fortifications in the front of their army.

Despite all of these disadvantages, Rehnskiöld ordered the Swedes to attack. The Swedes possessed one advantage that the other forces of the Great Northern War did not: superior morale. The Swedes would attack against incredible odds again and again during the Great Northern War. Rehnskiöld also knew that he had great superiority in cavalry, and as we has seen before, if cavalry could break into enemy lines, they would cause panic and massive casualties.

Before we continue, here is a map of the battle of Fraustadt, drawn by yours truly. Do not copy this map for anything except personal use.
Map by author 2/13/2013



























My map is based on contemporary maps and shows the course of the battle.  Oskar Sjöstrom provides a more accurate map of the deployment, in his book, Fraustadt 1706 - ett fält färgat rött ("Fraustadt 1706- a field colored red".) Here is his map.

Map by Oskar Sjöstrom (2008)

Rehnskiöld knew that to frontally attack Chevaux de frise meant suicide for his horsemen, so he sent them around the enemies' flank. On the right flank, the cavalry under Krassow and Rehnskiöld would sweep around the left flank of the Saxon and Russian army. On the Swedish left flank, the cavalry under Hummerhielm would by pass by the Chevaux de frise by moving through a frozen swamp in front of the Saxon right flank. The result of this flanking movement can be seen on my map, above.

The Swedish cavalry moved to envelope the Saxon flanks, while the Swedish infantry moved against the centre of the of the Saxon and Russian forces, preventing them from assisting the cavalry. The Saxon cavalry did not attempt to countercharge the Swedes during the flanking movement, and the result was disasterous for the Saxons.

Both Saxon cavalry wings broke under the onslaught, and the Swedish cavalry, showing considerable restraint, moved to attack the rear of the Saxon and Russian infantry.  This can be seen on my map. Once the Swedish horsemen were in among the enemy infantry, the battle was over, and the Saxon and Russian army ceased to exist. The Swedes lost around 1,500 men killed and wounded, while the Saxons and Russian lost around 15,000 killed, wounded and captured.

This double envelopment has often been compared to Hannibal's miraculous victory at Cannae, and the Swedish army was grateful for its incredible victory.  The regimental chaplains led the men in prayer, to thank God for the victory.  This scene was immortalized by the great Swedish painter, Gustaf Cederström, in the painting at the beginning of this post. 

For further information, check out Oskar Sjöstrom's book Fraustadt 1706 - ett fält färgat rött. Even for non-Swedish readers, the book has many helpful maps and diagrams.

Thanks for reading,

Alex


Monday, February 11, 2013

Spotlight on: Kabinettskriege continuity


Dear Reader,

Today, societal change occurs at a breakneck pace. Society is radically different today than it was 50 years agao, much less 150 years ago.  Thus, it might seem ridiculous to say that the Kabinettskriege period could encompass such a wide time span. If the Kabinettskriege period lacks continuity, the Kabinettskriege model of looking at warfare from 1648-1789 falls apart. With that in mind, look at soldiers from 150 years ago: 

150 years ago (The American Civil War)

compared with current soldiers:

Modern Abrams Tank with Crew

So, the change is apparent, yes?




Now, compare soldiers from the beginning and end of the Kabinettskriege period, encompassing roughly the same length of time. First we have the 1640s-1650s:

 

Soldiers from the beginning of the Kabinettskriege period (Scanian War)

Compared with soldiers from the 1770s-1780s:

Soldiers from the end of the Kabinettskriege period (American War of Independence)

While there are important changes, the soldiers seem much more similar than modern times compared with 150 years ago, don't they? 


Continuity in Combat Experience
There is a great deal of continuity in combat experience from the beginning to the end of the Kabinettskriege period.  From the 1670's to the 1780's, theorists debated whether or not you should drive the enemy from the field with use of firepower or attacks with cold steel. In the 1630's, Gustav II Adolf, King of Sweden, developed tactics based on infantry and artillery firepower and decisive sword attacks with the mounted arm. These reforms were closely connected with the Dutch school of military reform. 

At the turn of the 18th century, Swedish king Karl XII switched the primary method of engagement to swift infantry and cavalry attacks with cold steel, often not even bothering to support his forces with firepower. While the Swedes under Karl XII were wildly effective if they could break their enemies lines, the Karoliner army met its match at Poltava in 1709, where they were destroyed by Russian firepower. 

Cavalry Tactics
The goal of cavalry was to break into enemy formations and cause havoc and terror with sword strokes. The  prospect of being hit with a cavalry sword was much more terrifying than having to stand in line while being shot at, according to the research of Dr. Christopher Duffy. Thus, if the cavalry could get in among the more numerous infantry soldiers, they would often panic and flee, allowing the cavalry to chase them down at their leisure.

The best way to resist cavalry was to not allow them to enter a formation. Infantry would form a square if isolated, or simply deter the oncoming cavalry with firepower if the flanks of the formation were covered. If the infantry could resist the approach of enemy cavalry, than the cavalry would usually have to withdraw. The best example of this is the battle of Minden in 1759, where an English and German infantry brigade withstood the charge of the French  cavalry.

The 37th Foot at the Battle of Minden


In most of the battles of the Great Northern War, (1700-1721) the Swedish cavalry were able to break the enemy line and cause massive casualties during the rout. A prime example of this is the Battle of Fraustadt, fought on February 13th, 1706.  During the War of Austrian Succession, the Prussian Ansbach-Dragoon regiment was able to generate similar success at the battle of Hohenfriedberg in 1745. Finally, during the American War of Independence Tarleton's Legion caused similar mayhem at Camden and Waxhaws. Thus, while the technology of warfare changed throughout the period, theories of warfare remained relatively unchanged. 


Infantry Tactics
For the entirety of the Kabinettskriege period, authorities debated whether an attack with pikes and bayonets was more effective than using infantry firepower. During the Nine Years' War, military theorists began to note that infantry with muskets (either matchlocks or flintlocks) were more effective at driving off cavalry attacks than infantry armed with pikes. Coupled with the development of the bayonet, this led to a steady decrease of the number of pikes in armies, with the pike being almost totally abandoned by the 1710's. During the early Kabinettskriege period (roughly 1660s-1710s), various armies relied alternately on shock attacks and firepower to win battles. The British and Dutch relied on infantry firepower, while French and Swedish theorists relied more on shock tactics.

 During the middle Kabinettskriege period (roughly 1710's-1750s) theorists such as Jean Charles, Chevalier Folard, argued that armies should incorporate large masses of men in a close formation, the relatively thin, musket armed battle line remained the primary military formation of the period. Folard attempted to revive the pike, and use it in the context of a large column supported by skirmishers. While some authors believe that his ideas presage Napoleonic tactics, Folard was completely ineffective in spreading his ideas.  During the Seven Years' War, at the battle of Rossbach in 1757, Frederick II of Prussia disparaged Folard's ideas when the French attempted to employ a column attack slightly similar to Folard's concept.

Throughout the vast majority of the Kabinettskriege period, infantry fought in long lines, three to four men deep, and used firepower in an effort to convince the enemy to flee. Under more specific circumstances, based on the policies of a particular nation or general, the tactics could change into something based more on shock warfare.

Artillery Tactics
Of the three arms, artillery went through the most change during the Kabinettskriege period. During this period, guns were employed more and more frequently, and generals began to view them with more respect. Many nations, such as the Austrians in the years before the Seven Years' War, systematically updated their artillery forces, and gave them a massive boost of modernization. Frederick II of Prussia had great respect for the power of cannons, stating that artillery "adds dignity to what would otherwise be an ugly brawl." This point was likely driven home at the battle of Torgau, where a massive concentration of Austrian artillery slaughtered the best forces in Frederick's army.

So, while important changes occurred in military technology and theory,warfare remained similar from 1648-1789. This justifies the use of the Kabinettskriege model when approaching the 17th and 18th centuries.


Thanks for reading,

Alex Burns
2/11/2013


(Portions of the above are part of an academic paper by the author, his intellectual property, and have copyright pending. Do not copy without permission.)




Sunday, February 10, 2013

Book Review: British Soldiers, American War

Cover Art of British Soldiers: American War

In this recent monograph, Don N. Hagist delivers nine first-hand accounts from the British side of the American War for Independence. With accompanying artwork of British soldiers from Saratoga National Park Historian Eric Schnitzer, this book provides an informative and insightful look into the the British army during the 1775-1783 period.

While the book's introduction makes a slightly odd comparison between the Vietnam war and the American War of Independence, the majority of the work stays within the context of an eighteenth century perspective. 

There are nine topically organized chapters, with an epilogue and some appendices of poetry by British soldiers. For historians, the book contains useful primary sources related to social life in the army during the War of Independence. For wargamers, there are excellent descriptions of combat, with perspectives of private soldiers. 

While Hagist's descriptions provide many insightful views into the mind of British soldiers, the artwork by Schnitzer is not in color, which may frustrate wargamers looking for a painting guide. 

Overall the book is a great work for professionals and enthusiasts alike.  

8/10

Thanks for reading!

Alexander

Thursday, February 7, 2013

THE SEVEN YEARS' WAR IS OVER!!


(Hubertusburg: Where the peace treaty between Austria, Prussia, and Saxony was signed)


Well...........two hundred and fifty years ago, this Sunday, and next Friday.

Dear Reader,


After a long and costly war, the belligerent powers of the Seven Years' War signed the treaty of Paris on February 10th 1763, and the Treaty of Hubertusburg on February 15th 1763. (Confused as to the why or when of the Seven Years' War? Check out the links.) Great, you say, another war from history is over. Why should you care?

The Seven Years' War gives us the modern world. Most of the major conflicts and events of the 19th and 20th centuries have their roots in this pivotal war. If you live in Canada and speak English, that is a result of the Treaty of Paris. The fact that India became a British colony comes out of the Seven Years' War. The idea that the British Navy should police the world is confirmed in the Seven Years' War.

The fact that America moves out of the British sphere in 1775 comes from the Seven Years' War. Whether you believe, like historian Fred Anderson, that the Seven Years' War directly caused the American War of Independence, or like Gordon S. Wood, see it as only a catalyst of a change that was already occurring in the hearts and minds of the people; the importance of this war to world politics, and culture cannot be overstated. 

In North America, the loss of the French left Native Americans without a second major European power to slow down European expansion. The monopoly of power created by British control of North America made the Native American struggle against European expansion even more difficult. 
In Germany, some historians see the roots of German militarism in this period, which would only end in 1945. While I don't necessarily agree with this view, I can definitely see the that this argument contains elements of truth. In Russia, the Seven Years' War was another effort of expansion towards Europe, which would culminate in the events of 1945-6 and the beginning of the cold war.

In fact, we can easily see that many chapters of world history which begin in 1763 don't end until 1945. In the historical tradition today, military history is viewed with disdain, and seen as unimportant. Well, this VITAL event is the Seven Years' WAR. Armies fought, men and women died, and peoples lives were vitally effected, people of every race, age, gender and creed.

People like Rafaela Herrera, the bi-racial, illegitimate daughter of a Spanish garrison commander in Nicaragua. She would use the opportunities created by the war to rise to a position of wealth and fame.

People like Prinz Johann Casmir von Isenburg, who would die on the battlefield, after facing incredible odds, caught by a stray bullet.

People like Maria Theresa of Austria, who would try to process the experience of the war and failure through a template of religion.

People like Jakob Cogniazzo, who would write of their experiences, and how the war affected their lives.

Because at the end of the day, the Seven Years' War was a part of human experience, that touched many lives, over the course of, well, seven years. And that is yet another reason why the war is important, and worthy of serious scholarly study.

As a fun aside, here is the full text of the Treaty of Paris.

Thanks for reading,

Alexander Burns
Muncie Indiana
2/7/2013

(Portions of the above are part of an academic paper by the author, his intellectual property, and have copyright pending. Do not copy without permission.)


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Kabinettskriege Warfare: An Introduciton to Weapons


Picture by Joanne Rathe/Boston Globe

Dear Reader,

So, having addressed, why you should care about Kabinettskriege period, and roughly when it occurred, lets move on to what type of weaponry soldiers employed in these wars.


Infantry Weapons

The primary infantry weapon of the Kabinettskriege period was the musket. Muskets were used by infantry  to fire walls of lead in order to kill opposing infantry forces, who were attempting to do the same thing to them. An eighteenth century battle might look something like this:
Félix Henri Emmanuel Philippoteaux, The Battle of Fontenoy, 1745: The French and the Allies Confronting Each Other

While this view of the Kabinettskriege period might be a bit too "pretty" or simplistic, it gives an excellent picture of what some battles during this period was like. The infantry in lines with officers on horseback, preparing to fire walls of lead towards the enemy. The drummers behind the men provided auditory orders, and inspiration on the battle. The spear-like weapons leveled at the backs of men are called Spontoons. They officers used them to keep panicked soldiers from running away.

The firing would continue until on or other of the lines of men withdrew, and the victors would take the position previous occupied by their enemies.

Gunpowder Small Arms

During the early modern period, their were four varieties of musket used:

1) The Matchlock.
The oldest, and least reliable of the musket family, the matchlock used a burning cord ( a "match") to explode the gunpowder charge, propelling the musket ball towards the enemy. The matchlock was wide used by European infantry from roughly 1500 to 1700, with less developed nations leaving it in use towards the end of that date range.


2) The Wheel-lock.
The second oldest type of musket firing mechanism, the Wheel-lock was primarily used in cavalry pistols, and was to complicated to be mass produced easily for infantry use. In use roughly 1550-1680.

3) The Snaphance.
The Snaphance used a piece of flint to strike a metal bar suspended above the powder charge. While used for infantry muskets,  the Snaphance fell out of favor just before the Nine Years' War, and was still being used by some units at the time of the war. In use roughly 1560-1680


4) Flintlock (Fusil, Firelock).
The French developed the Flintlock in the 1610s-1620s, and this love-able system had wormed its way into the hands of most European armies by 1660-1670. While some older muskets persisted, the majority of soldiers in modern European armies (ie, not the Russians) had Flintlocks by 1690-1700. Of all the muskets the Flintlock proved the most reliable, and would remain in use by most European armies until after the Napoleonic Wars ended in 1815.


Melee Weapons

Pikes
Infantry used pikes up through the end of the 17th century, although except in the case of Sweden, infantry firepower attained more and more primacy from the end of the 1650 to 1700. Infantry used pikes (long spears) to deter cavalry attacks, and as a means of terrifying the enemy.


The pikes of the Swedish Karoliner can be seen in the background. (Poltava 1709, Angus Konstam, Osprey Publishing) 

Swords
In the above picture, you can see the Swedish soldier on the right holding a sword in his right hand. While most armies in this period attacked with bayonets, some armies, such as the Swedish Karoliner, attacked with sword in hand. These swords, known as "hanger" swords, were primarily decorative, and view as a mark of honor by the soldiers. After performing poorly, the swords could be taken away to punish a regiment. If the regiment performed well, they would have the swords returned.

Cavalry 

Cavalry during these period took on two primary roles. Horseman could either perform a Caracole attack, in which they would ride up to the enemy forces, discharge both of the pistols they carried, and then retire to the back of their formation to reload. Military theorists designed this formation for use in conjunction with attacking cavalry, and it was used successfully to disrupt infantry formations on several occasions.

The second school of though, promoted by Gustav II Adolf, Karl XII of Sweden, and Frederick II of Prussia, encouraged an all out cavalry attack, in which the cavalry would move forward swiftly, and discharge its pistols a few seconds before impacting the enemy lines. The following depicts a Swedish cavalry charge during the Great Northern War. This picture represents the all out cavalry attack theory.

Box Art from Zvezda Miniature Company


Artillery

During the Kabinettskriege period, the artillery performed the necessary job of crowd control.  While the cannons fired single cannon balls referred to as roundshot, it was most effective while using cannister shot, which turned the cannon into a giant shotgun. Dan Snow gives an excellent introduction to cannister shot in the BBC production of "Battle for North America." You can watch it here. 


Conclusion

The Kabinettskriege period contains an incredible amount of change in military technology, enough that many books have been written on the subject. This blog provides a simplified, non-academic approach to this story. I spend my days writing academic papers, where this type of history is out-of style. This blog is an attempt to explain a vital part of military history in simple steps. I will become more complex later on, fear not.

Thanks for reading,

Alex

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Timeline


Dear Reader,

Alas, this post isn't about a 2003 sci-fi action flick starring Gerard Butler. Rather, I hope to contextualize the conflict which occurred in the Kabinettskriege period by walking you through the various major wars during this pivotal period. For a discussion of why on earth you might want to learn this seemingly pointless info, click here.

As I believe I may have mentioned early, the Kabinettskriege period occurs between 1648 and 1789, or, for those of you fluent in history lingo: between the Thirty Years' War and the French Revolution. For those of you who have no idea what I just referred to, don't worry. The quick reference sheet is down the page a bit.

So, the Kabinettskriege period begins with the Treaty of Westphalia: the treaty which ended the Thirty Years' War. In a 2011 monograph on German history Dr. Sam Mustafa estimates that roughly 1 out of 5 German speaking people died during the Thirty Years' War. This devastation marks a turning point in the history of European warfare.

While warfare became neither safe, nor pleasant, there was a distinct difference in the level of violence waged against civilian populations, and the level of intensity that armies waged war against one another. For the best modern book on the Thirty Years' War, check out Peter H. Wilson's Europe's Tragedy, available here. Wilson focuses on previously neglected areas of the war, and argues that historians have previously overplayed the role of religion in the war.

But, I digress. You want a timeline about the Kabinettskriege period, not a discussion of the events which bracket the period. Here is a relevant timeline. I will continue to add to the timeline as the year progresses. If any of you have something you would like added to the timeline, please let me know in the comments.



Thanks for reading,

Alex Burns