AUSTRIAN INSTRUMENT ARMY OF WAR: IN THE SEVEN YEARS’ WAR THE VOLUME I
◗ Christopher Duffy
◗ Helion & Company (2020)
◗ 608 pages (hardback)
◗ ISBN: 9781912390960
This handsome book is a new edition of a title first published by The Emperor’s Press in the USA in 2000. Used copies of these are now advertised on Amazon UK for over £100, so this is a bargain! It would also appear to be greatly expanded, as the original edition had only 256 pages.
Many readers will already expect that any book on eighteenth century military history by Christopher Duffy will be of excellent quality, a combination of scholarship, a dry wit and a facility with words that is a pleasure to read. Instrument of War will not disappoint them. This study offers readers an unrivalled depth of understanding of all aspects of the Army of Maria Theresa, whom he has long admired, during the Seven-years’ war, closely based on statistical and archival evidence and primary source personal accounts.
Part I The Foundations describes the origins of Austria; Maria Theresa and the monarchy, Count Kaunitz and the formulation and implementation of policy; the various Habsburg lands from which the army was raised; Austrian taxation and military expenditure; and the diplomacy leading up to the alliances with France and Russia before the Seven Years’ War. Part II The Army is the heart of the book and describes the social origins, motivations and careers of the officers; the recruitment, terms of service and lives of private soldiers; the promotion and duties of non-commissioned officers and regimental staffs; the organisation, uniforms, weapons and equipment of the infantry, cavalry, artillery and engineers; the Croats who provided the light infantry and light cavalry; the procurement of supplies and their distribution in the field; the army’s medical and surgical provision and life and death in the field and in hospital, and the chaplains.
Part III Waging War is comprised of two chapters: one on strategic dimensions; the other on operational and tactical dimensions. The former considers the kind of war Austria was fighting and its relations with its allies, France and Russia. The latter examines the progress of a campaign before a battle - the march, the occupation of positions, irregular warfare (Der Kleine Krieg) – and then describes a typical battle – the decision to fight, infantry, cavalry and artillery combat, the battle of wills between the opposing commanders and the outcome and aftermath.
A list of Regimental Designations as of 1759, providing brief details of uniform distinctions, is followed by twelve appendices covering a variety of topics, such as the origins of Netherlands and German private soldiers; wastage – prisoners, deaths in action, deaths from wounds or disease, desertion and missing or invalided out – by type of regiment in the Sevenyears’war; the nationalities and average ages of regimental officers; the average and modal ages of private soldiers; and losses from desertion.
Any wargamer with more than a casual interest in the Austrian Army of the mid-eighteenth century should definitely purchase and treasure this superb book, which seems certain to be the definitive work on the subject for the foreseeable future. A companion volume, By Force of Arms, will provide a narrative of the Austrian Army’s campaigns in the Seven Years’war. This book may also offer creators of Imaginations and their armies many ideas to give their fictitious rules and forces greater period character. I cannot recommend it too highly.