The first Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, was known as a great general and one of Britain’s greatest generals, to be specific, as a result of his sophisticated generalship. His career ran through the duration of five monarchs which highlights the idea of him being a great general as he was able to last that long. He successfully guided the allied armies in such a way that he was able to maintain unity amongst them thus conveying his tactful skills.
Moreover, he is seen as the reason for prosperity in Britain throughout the 18th century as his victories converted the country from a minor to a major power. It wasn’t the fact that he had personal courage as well as organizational and political skills but the fact that he encouraged this within his army was the reason for his vast amount of victories. In addition to this encouragement he shared a personal relationship with the soldiers and was able to gain their trust and confidence through his concern about their welfare. For these reasons he is seen as preparing his army better than anybody else in that time as he provided his men with anything they needed such as pay, arms and healthcare. Additionally, he was insistent and exploited his successes.
Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great is seen as one of the greatest military leaders in the European history as he was able to transform Prussia despite it being a small, struggling state. I personally think that although he was a significant general his position was made somewhat easier as his father had already doubled the army and they were well trained. Nonetheless, he used this well trained army successfully to his advantage and managed to obtain much more territory and power to enhance the country. Without introducing any further battling techniques he effectively made a significant impact with his army by developing on the conventional tactics of linear battle. However, despite his successes he was not able to progress to the extent that he wished as a result of the limitation of weapons. Nevertheless this proved that he unintentionally made himself an innovator as the limited resources and 18th century constrained influenced the men who came after him.
Battles if time
Quality of Soldiers
Recruitment, training and discipline
Some men volunteered, some were conscripted whilst some criminals were forcefully enlisted. The bigger the army, the more chance of there being poor recruits so they were subjected to harsh punishments. This included whippings or branding to having their contracts increased or being sent overseas to be killed. Soldiers were put through the same rigid drills but there was quite a change in the training thus enhancing the army. They learned to march on a battlefield in columns at 75 steps per minute and then wheel into lines without pausing. The better trained an army was, the more complex tactics the generals could use on the battlefield. The fact that an engineering and military academy opened shows that training was also slightly improving for officers.
The Revolutionary Army, 1792
One evident advantage that the Revolution Army of 1792 had was having Napoleon as one of their notable commanders. Moreover, several aspects of warfare had either changed or developed by the time of their army. An example of this is the size and sophistication of the army: they were now professional and paid armies which enhance the performance of the army and the size obviously made them much more effective on the battlefield. Also, mobile war was in effect thus making it easier for soldiers to travel around as they were able to move at a faster pace and equipped the same. Medical care as well as accommodation and food was also advanced and suited to match those armies.
Weaponry and tactics
A notable tactic used was designating the soldiers to suitable groups and formation. The formation of battalion columns: the general took into consideration the fact that not every soldier was highly skilful so he introduced the battalion column which barely required any training to perfect. They were positioned in such a way that they would forcefully make their way through an enemy’s line once the skirmishers had done their work. Skirmishers were troops who were extremely courageous and skilful. They were positioned in a screen in front of the army which initially protected the troops. A common formation of men was a long line of infantry which was supported by the artillery and lastly followed by the cavalry. At first the lines fired as a battalion which soon developed into platoons giving away a consistent firing effect. The cannon played a vital role in the successes, specifically during Napoleon’s rule.
An important aspect of warfare was supplies – if the men or the cavalry were not taken care of correctly this would decrease their performance on the battlefield. Generally, a soldier’s performance would be determined by their food. Soldiers were supplied by living off the land they occupied which usually wiped out villages in the process and some were provided from their home base. After the importance of supplies was considered many states began to produce depots which carried supplies to the armies.
Communication and transport
Wagons and baggage trains were examples of transportation but they did have some disadvantages. Though roads were built many of there weren’t beneficial as they were often occupied by a close by enemy. Moreover, it was much easier for an army to be spotted once they were on the road especially with the increased armies though many mass armies were able to transport themselves by marching. Napoleon is known for travelling quickly with his men though they had no choice as they could possible starve after wiping out their local communities.
After notably displaying outstanding measures of discipline and organizational skills, Lazare Carnot was promoted to the Committee of Public Safety where he would use this position to rearrange the ‘untidy’ revolutionary armies. He took into consideration the fact that no amount of discipline and rearrangement was going to make up for the vast enemies they were facing. As a result of this he demanded new recruits thus increasing the army to consisting of around 645,000 men. A significant change Carnot also brought about was the ‘Levée en Masse’, though it was criticized by several people it was still largely effective.
This process was a mass conscription where every able bodied, unmarried men between 18-25 had to be conscripted. Others such as married men, women, children and the elderly were also assigned different jobs to contribute to war efforts. This reinforces the idea of the whole country going to war and participating rather than just those fighting. This was beneficial as it drastically increased the size of the armies and this Carnot was named ‘Organizer of Victory’ by the government.
Now that the population were actually involved and participating they had an opinion and it was valid. Though they barely had anything negative to say many did disagree with the process of the Levée en Masse as it involved forcefully conscripting people against their own will.
There was a slow progress in medical treatment but it was still some kind of beneficial progress. In 1743, it was agreed that the field hospitals should be regarded as neutral for the sick. This benefited the wounded on the battlefield and contributed to the idea of the later Red Cross. In 1752, Pringle published a book which set out, what people thought at first were, good medical practices for armies but worse and included using ointments which contained harmful mercury. In 1761, Hunter introduced new methods to treat gunshot wounds but they were not actually considered until a year later.