By Rob Morgan
“How Did Soldiers Fight?” is the title of a new series of articles and contributions in the pages of The Foreign Correspondent, journal of the Continental Wars Society (I’ve mentioned this fascinating publication from time to time – it’s well worth examining).
It began in issue No.133 in January, 2022, and seems likely to continue well into the future. The first notes consider how soldiers actually conducted themselves in the field in war in the 19th century, after the end of the wars against Bonaparte and up to the start of the Great War in 1914* – not merely the regulations and the drills of warfare, which were all-controlling in the first years of the century, but the tactics used in combat.
Skirmishers and company units appear to have rapidly come to the fore in terms of combat, rather than the large columns and unwieldy formations of the Horse & Musket era, and the value of this information where the solo wargamer is concerned is obvious. War changes warfare at the grassroots.
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* I was reminded of a comment made by the British military historian, Sir Noble Frankland, many years ago at a lecture in the Imperial War Museum: “The French, Russian and Austrian armies, the Germans too, marching to war in the summer of 1914, would have been largely recognised and understood in their purpose and gear by any of Bonaparte’s Marshals, but . . . the warships of the belligerent fleets would have caused awe and astonishment to Nelson himself.”