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Confederation and Revolution

Germany after 1815 was, more than at any time in its convoluted history, a mosaic of contradictions. On the one hand, the German Aufklaerung and the Revolutionary-Napoleonic Wars had fostered the development of a common culture. The Aufklaerung, in particular, had affirmed the development of a public sphere asserting unity in diversity – a piety best expressed in Lessing’s Nathan the Wise, with its fable of the three rings.1 Goethe and Schiller were common property, not least for their heavy reliance on the ‘Matter of Germany’ for themes and settings. Philosophy addressed questions of identity in contexts of community. Immanuel Kant’s critiques of pure and practical reason, his emphasis on individual consciousness as the fulcrum for universal principles, were developed by Hegel into a process that synthesized the individual and the collective, the particular and the general.2

Behaviours, too, were steadily homogenizing. A new generation of academics was integrating folk ways and folk tales into general analytical structures. 3 A developing print culture, which offered greatest profit to works with widest circulations, fostered a common German market in books, magazines and newspapers – especially among a middle class increasingly able both to pay for its tastes and to establish wider standards.4 Geographical mobility was increasingly common among soldiers, officials and clergymen. Degrees from Halle, Goettingen and, increasingly, Berlin were universal currency between the Rhine and the Vistula. Gerhard von Scharnhorst’s transfer from Hanoverian to Prussian military service had its counterpart in Johann Gottfried Herder’s movements from Riga to Strasbourg to Weimar as pastor and tutor.5 Biedermeyer’s emphasis on comfortable domesticity even permeated the courts, whose initial post-1815 efforts to sustain the ceremonial grandeur of an earlier era only looked provincial when compared to the garish extravaganzas of Napoleon.

Yet, at the same time, this developing sense of common identity was a long way away even from the later concept of a ‘cultural nation’ as expressed by Friedrich Meinecke. 6 Prior to the French Revolution, the ‘national idea’, in so far as it existed, tended towards a commonwealth or confederation of strongly similar but essentially independent states.7 German nationalism’s modern roots were negative: the Aufklaerung’s rejection of what it considered the limited, artificial values of a French Enlightenment copied without comprehension in the courts and salons of the Holy Roman Empire.8 The Revolution’s wars enhanced this negative identity-forming as French attitudes and behaviours in the Rhineland gave the lie to claims of universal fraternity.9 South-east Germany’s dwarf states might no longer serve as foci of identity, but becoming ‘French’ was an even less desirable option. After Austerlitz and Jena, the German great powers, Prussia and Austria, also stressed a ‘non-Frenchness’, intended to balance regional and provincial loyalties with commitment to a larger political entity whose welfare was worth fighting for. During the Wars of Liberation, the Prussian army’s order of battle depended heavily on the Landwehr, a civilian militia created on mobilization, which learned the craft of war by experience in the field. Prussia’s armed forces also included a significant number of units and individuals who had chosen to fight under Prussian colours for a new Germany.10 Prussia’s reform movement, systematically published by the authorities, with its relatively broad and concrete efforts to develop a positive Prussian patriotism with a mass base, seemed, to enthusiasts all over Germany, to offer a springboard for a new era that would both reject the legacies of the old order and avoid the errors of the French.11


The German Confederation was created at the Congress of Vienna to sustain a central buffer zone that, as both glacis and highway, had been a key to Europe’s diplomatic order since the Thirty Years War. As a consequence, direct national integration, to say nothing of national unification, had no practical prospects in post-Napoleonic Germany. At the same time, the French Revolution and the French imperium had demonstrated the risks of excessive local weakness east of the Rhine. The apparent willingness of Prussia to support the wide-reaching aspirations of Russia’s Tsar Alexander I also suggested the desirability of establishing a German structure that would be both a counterweight and a magnet for a Prussia too strong to be relegated to regional status in the New European Order. Austria’s Clemens Metternich, in particular, urged Habsburg abandonment of any vestigial claims to German hegemony in favour of sustaining harmony among the Confederation’s major participants. 12

The reorganization of Europe after 1815 recognized the developing German sense of common identity and common purpose. The Confederation’s boundaries were drawn to exclude the Magyar and Slavic provinces of Austria, and also Prussian Poland. Its censorships did not prevent the diffusion of ideas, however, to say nothing of belles-lettres, music and fashion, well beyond their points of origin. 13 If its structure was a federation of independent systems, the number of those systems was drastically reduced from pre-Napoleonic levels. Only thirty-three states and cities were represented in the Confederation’s Diet, and over half of these were recognized as being sovereign by courtesy and mutual agreement. The Confederation’s focus on France as the ‘designated enemy’ also sustained the German self-definitions that had been developing since the eighteenth century. The viruses of revolution were no respecters of small-state boundaries, and, by providing a forum for cooperation against liberal movements and impulses, the Confederation facilitated communication and commonality precisely among those elements of the German political order that were most committed to a particularist vision.14

Synthesis was only half of the new German dialectic expressed in the Confederation. Economic and legal integration never developed beyond embryonic levels. Its military system, the Confederation’s strongest common feature, depended essentially on the armies of Prussia and Austria. Attempts to establish even limited cohesion of armament and tactical doctrines, the military factors most susceptible of homogenization, repeatedly foundered on the middle-sized states’ fear of absorption by their neighbours. Even in the early stages of the Congress of Vienna, before the German Confederation ever existed, the middle states strongly protested the projected annexation of Saxony by Prussia, as a matter of both general principle and particular interest. In that context, the single army corps Bavaria provided to the Confederation’s theoretical order of battle, the divisions furnished by Saxony, Wuerttemberg and Baden, had more than symbolic value. In the final analysis, they could serve as speed bumps and trip wires, deterrents to any attempts by Prussia or Austria to repeat Frederick the Great’s overrunning of Saxony in 1756.

The revolutionary/Napoleonic experience eroded the final legacies of mutual reciprocity that had characterized the Holy Roman Empire even in its final decades. The House of Austria had learned exactly what its historic connections with Germany were worth in a crisis, and correspondingly concentrated on developing its resources, its policies and its identity in a ‘black and yellow’ context. For Metternich, in particular, the German Confederation was an instrument, a means to the end of internal and international stability throughout Europe. If that end could best be served by Austria playing a facilitator’s role, fine-tuning rather than taking strong positions, then so much the better. Nothing in Metternich’s philosophy or behaviour, however, indicates any commitment to interests other than those of Austria and Europe – which he perceived as essentially congruent.15

State identity was even stronger among the German states with experience as French clients. Napoleon’s aims in Germany were concrete and limited. He wanted men and money. He wanted Austria kept out and discontent kept down. Experience of direct rule in such creations as Jerome Bonaparte’s Kingdom of Westphalia showed that these goals were best met by cooperating with local systems as far as possible. Experience in the Confederation of the Rhine showed that small political entities required too much material and political overhead for results delivered.16 As a result, the emperor turned increasingly to an early version of what modern theories of imperialism call mediatizing élites – in this case, the rulers and the administrations of states like Wuerttemberg, Baden and Bavaria. Their territories were increased in proportion to imperial expectations, and they were given an essentially free domestic hand, so long as they delivered money and men for Napoleon’s wars.

Such circumstances encouraged the development of strong central administrations and broad-gauged state consciousness. Traditional patterns of loyalty could not be stretched to include the new acquisitions. Nor could they be marginalized or treated as ‘provinces reputed foreign’, as had been some regions of pre-revolutionary France. Instead, the newly enlarged principalities began consciously fostering patterns Friedrich Meinecke would later associate with a ‘state-nation’.17 Such entities, Meinecke asserts, stress common political identity based on a synthesis of individual affirmation and public performance. For the citizen, and even for the subject, membership in the political body is affirmative, an act of conscious will. In turn, the state seeks to encourage that affirmation by providing services considered – or marketed as – desirable.18

Germany’s medium states had a history of cameralist proactivism that well antedated any French influence. Princes and their councillors made it a point of Enlightened pride to promote the welfare of their people by direct intervention. A fair number of the ministers and bureaucrats who rose to power during the Napoleonic period – men like Bavaria’s Maximilian Montgelas – were committed reformers in their own right, whose ascent was facilitated because they were willing to undertake the comprehensive, large-scale changes that seemed the best response to the maps redrawn and the governments reshaped after 1806. The result was a state consciousness that survived even the losses symbolized by the Munich obelisk commemorating the 30,000 Bavarians who marched into Russia with Napoleon in 1812. Few ever saw home again, whether ‘home’ had a history of centuries of Wittelsbach rule or had become Bavarian only a few years before its men were conscripted for a war about which few of them cared. Over 16,000 simply disappeared, listed as ‘missing in action’ into the 1830s. These losses were nevertheless processed in a context of whether any other system and any other approach might have achieved better results. The governments, the state elites and, to a significant degree, those still excluded from their respective political communities, tended to agree, after 1815, that the preservation of autonomy based on patriotism was the best achievable basis for future security. At worst, it provided some freedom in allocating burdens externally imposed and some sécurité á tous azimuts – west, north and south.19

Prussia, too, had experienced an upsurge of civic awareness between 1806 and 1815. Since the days of Frederick the Great, patriotism had been strong among the native peasants who filled the army’s ranks and who perceived Prussia as something more than the faceless authority behind tax collectors and conscription officials. The post-Jena reform movement strengthened public consciousness from two perspectives. Conservatives built on previous grievances to develop systematic depictions and defences of ‘old Prussian’ virtues, presumably threatened by the would-be Napoleons who believed the best way to beat the French was to become so like them that no one could tell the difference.20 Reformers, for their parts, argued for nurturing a sense of commitment that would actualize the loyalty they believed Prussians felt for state and crown — the king’s subjects would be transformed into Prussian citizens by a network of top-down reforms based on universal military service (most reformers made no secret of their conviction that this revitalized Prussia would become a lodestone for the rest of Germany).21 This was, however, no new role. The legends that grew up around Frederick the Great had already generated a sense – at least among Protestants – that Prussia was special, different from both the universalist Austrian Empire and the parish-pump principalities of the west and south. After Napoleon’s destruction, Prussia would still be Prussia — in a new, improved version.

Prussia’s reformers and conservatives found common ground in a sense of unique victimization. Between 1806 and 1815, an increasing body of emotion insisted Prussia was suffering tribulations that merited special recognition. This attitude was reinforced by a German intelligentsia that, after 1800, increasingly discovered the appeals of political community and as yet possessed little immunity to its negatives. Fichte’s Reden an die Deutsche Nation were delivered in Berlin. Friedrich Schleiermacher issued his call for a Germany combining cultural identity and political patriotism from Prussia’s capital. Professors and clergymen extolled the German fatherland from Prussian lecture halls and pulpits. It was scarcely remarkable that by 1813 even hardened pragmatists in the army and the administration were drinking from the nationalist cup – if only to provide extra courage in the face of what, even after his Russian debacle, seemed insurmountable obstacles to defying Napoleon successfully.22

This did not mean Prussia sought hegemony, or even primacy, in Germany during and after its Wars of Liberation. Baron Karl von Stein’s support of a de facto dualism, with Austria controlling the south and Prussia the north, and with the autonomy of the lesser states significantly curtailed, was developed to strengthen Germany against France. The aggrandizement of Prussia was a secondary effect, one Stein expected to increase that state’s responsibilities more than its power. Karl von Hardenberg, Stein’s successor as chief minister in 1810, favoured more than his predecessor the direct expansion of Prussian rule and Prussian control in north-west Germany. He also understood that expansion in a general context of cooperation, first with the small and middle-sized states, and later with Austria, for the sake of strengthening the ‘German centre’ against both France and a Russia whose messianic Emperor Alexander I seemed to have no more sense of boundaries and limitations than that possessed by Napoleon.23

Prussian advocates of both positions perceived Prussia as the dynamic force of the new German order. Such a position was best won by force of arms. The Prussian army of 1813–15 matched its Frederician predecessor neither in relative size nor operational effectiveness. It was, however, unmatched in fighting spirit. Its tone was set in allied councils by Marshal Gebhardt von Bluecher, a fierce old soldier whose character and behaviour harked back to the Thirty Years War and prefigured the Erwin Rommels and Walther Models of a later century. No one ever accused Bluecher of having any more social polish or strategic insight than he actually needed, but he led from the front. ‘Marshal Forward’ had a rough tongue, unfailing courage and a straightforward sense of honour which inspired the inexperienced conscripts who filled the ranks of both the army’s line regiments and the Landwehr, the citizen militia that was the line’s stablemate.24 Bluecher knew only one way of making war: fight without let-up. This mindset informed Prussian diplomacy as well. It was Prussia that took a consistent lead in demanding action as well as negotiation in the months after Leipzig, successfully reminding the Fourth Coalition that peace was contingent on victory, and victory meant Napoleon’s removal. During the Hundred Days it was Prussia, personified once more by Bluecher, that pulled the Duke of Wellington’s chestnuts from the fire of Waterloo, transforming ‘a damned near-run thing’ into a decisive victor.25

In these contexts, the smooth and rapid integration of Prussia into the new German Confederation stands among the least logical consequences of the Vienna settlement. The common thread of policy recommendations across the political and ideological spectrum during the Wars of Liberation had involved Prussia developing as a European power in a German context – in other words, recovering the status won by Frederick the Great, only with a new foundation. After 1815, however, Prussia depended on an army of short-service conscripts brought to war strength by mobilized reservists. This was not a force well suited to policies of limited intimidation. Its similarity to the French levée en masse, combined initially with Prussia’s image elsewhere in Germany as a focal point for ‘progressive’ forces, including nationalism, generated risk of Prussia being Europe’s designated successor to Napoleon’s France: an objective military threat combined with a destabilizing and unpredictable ideology.

Prussia was neither able nor willing to sustain such a position. For a decade after Waterloo, the state correspondingly and consciously assumed a facilitator’s role in the Concert of Europe, the Holy Alliance of the three eastern empires, and the German Confederation.26 That same period was characterized by the increasing consolidation of bureaucracy and the accompanying bureaucratization of German political life. Even constitutionalism was increasingly understood as enhancing the special status of the officials responsible for the constitutions’ administration. In states like Baden and Bavaria, officials began developing a status much like that of lawyers in the late twentieth-century United States: somehow benefiting no matter what happened because they were the system’s fulcrum.27

Bureaucratization was also facilitated by industrialization. A cameralist heritage, and Britain’s vigorous return to continental markets long denied, encouraged state intervention against traditional but restrictive institutions and practices ranging from guild privileges to tariff barriers. Railway promoters sought public funding in a context of limited private capital markets, and solicited support from army officers who perceived railroads’ potential value, even in their early stages, as strategic force multipliers. The Prussian customs union of 1833 was significant less for its direct economic impact than for its reassertion of state control over general economic interests even at the possible expense of traditional and local institutions.28

The Europe-wide upheavals of 1830 had a significant impact on this developing structure of centralizing states in a confederation matrix. Unrest in Germany remained strongly localized and highly verbal. Even in the volatile Rhineland, whose Francophilia was largely a statement of anti-Prussianism, order was maintained by relatively small forces. These tensions only highlighted the increased legitimacy and power of a ‘middle Germany’ whose rulers, in general, followed up crowd control through armed force by offering or accepting compromises. Saxony, Hanover and Hesse-Cassel emerged with new constitutions. The number of liberals in the parliaments of Baden and Bavaria increased and their voices grew louder.29 But as the Hambach Festival of 1832 clearly showed, the opposition still believed it possible to convince governments as opposed to destroying them. That opposition also expected to do its best work in individual states, relating to princes and bureaucrats who had been at least somewhat flexible under pressure. As yet liberalism had not made common cause with nationalism, except in the instrumental context of depicting particular reforms as generally beneficial to the ‘German nation’, however amorphous that entity might be.30

The international context was substantially different. The overthrow of the Bourbon monarchy in France, Belgium’s declaration of independence from the Netherlands and the Polish uprising against Russia represented a comprehensive challenge to the Vienna settlement. Russia favoured intervention and mobilized troops to back the policy. For Prussia, Austria and the German Confederation the remedy seemed not much more threatening than the disease. Prussia, in particular, favoured Confederation action to demonstrate the capacity to defend itself against a challenge from either the Rhine or the Vistula.31

The Confederation’s military organization was based on a force often corps. Austria and Prussia were each to provide three, Bavaria one and the lesser states of south, central and north Germany combined their respective contingents into three more. Supreme command would be exercised by an Austrian general. The comparison with the Cold War force structure of NATO is striking – and more than a surface manifestation. Well enough adapted to a clear and present external threat, its applicability to lesser crises and internal tensions was dubious.32 Prussia, in particular, with its successful history of using armed force as a deterrent, feared that, in the developing context of events, the Confederation would be so slow to move that it might wind up sparking a war instead of preventing one. Both the general staff and the foreign ministry instead favoured bilateral negotiations with the principal German courts. This approach was expected to improve collective security and enhance Prussia’s credibility in Confederation concerns – the kind of synthesis between doing good and doing well that is a diplomat’s delight.33

In December 1830, Berlin contacted Vienna with an offer to provide not merely three corps, but 200,000 men, for operations against France should they become necessary. The note also recommended that instead of a single field army, the Confederation employ three. Prussia, supported by the northern and central contingents, would secure the lower Rhine. The Bavarians and the south German corps, probably reinforced by a Prussian corps, would hold the centre, and Austria’s contingent would move into the upper Rhine. Such a deployment would require three army commanders, with logic indicating their provision by Prussia, Austria and Bavaria. The Prussian note also suggested that overall command should now be vested in the contingent supplying the largest force and deploying in the area of greatest threat. That, of course, was Prussia.

Considered in purely operational terms, the proposal was not merely a revival of the eighteenth-century cordon strategy Napoleon cuttingly described as best suited to stop smuggling. Prussia’s general staff perceived more clearly than the military planners elsewhere in Germany the difficulties of concentrating and supplying eight or more army corps in one place. The Prussians recognized as well that while a Napoleon might be able to command such a force effectively, the German Confederation had no likely future Bonapartes in its armed forces. Finally, Prussia remained committed to its traditional strategy of deterring wars in preference to fighting them. Three corps quickly in place, whatever flags they flew, were more likely to check French opportunism and inspire second thoughts in Paris than was a much larger force concentrated only after hostilities began. That was particularly true given the French army’s reconfiguration during the 1820s into a long-service professional force, able to make war from a standing start to a degree impossible in the German armies, which depended heavily on mobilized reservists in order to take the field.34 The best way to stop the French was before they started.

Metternich temporized. Whatever might be its military virtues, in a political context the Prussian proposal looked suspiciously like a pawn move in a campaign to secure parity with Austria in the Confederation. Creating a separate field army around the south German corps would, moreover, encourage those states to assert themselves in other matters, thereby further destabilizing the Confederation. The south German states, however, were initially interested in Prussia’s overtures, not least from concern about being caught in the undertow of Austria’s European interests. An independent south German field army had a certain appeal. Prussia’s fifteen low-profile years, combined with the relatively low regard in which the state’s short-service conscript army was regarded, had diminished anxiety at Prussia’s capacity to dominate its near neighbours. And even optimists in the southern war ministries realized that their armies, combined amounting to about two corps, could not by themselves stop a French attack. States needing to be rescued from emergencies by their allies have their claims to autonomy correspondingly diminished. Better to consider arrangements beforehand.35

A Prussian military mission making a tour of south-west Germany in the spring of 1831 found widespread support, military and political, for overhauling the Confederation’s military system in order to enhance both its defensive capacity and its diplomatic autonomy.36 Berlin responded by calling for a conference of the south German states, Prussia and Austria. The proposal generated immediate opposition in Vienna, where its consequences were understood as likely to facilitate a coalition of the Confederation’s major non-Austrian states. In Prussia, too, critics attacked the initiative as challenging a system that, whether to suppress revolution or deter invasion, needed Austria’s positive cooperation. Even Clausewitz, still a sharp critic of what he considered ultra-conservative closeness to Austria, asserted Austria’s military importance in any programme of German security. Metternich took advantage of this divided opinion, stressing to Berlin the advantages of a continued ‘special relationship’ with Austria, while arguing that the lesser states would prove a rope of sand – a prophecy his diplomats in Munich, Karlsruhe and Stuttgart did their best to render self-fulfilling.

The issue grew increasingly moot as a new French monarchy demonstrated its commitment to maintaining the general peace and Russia became enmeshed in reconquering Poland, with the goodwill of Prussian and Austrian governments fearing the spread of nationalist-based disaffection.37 Metternich succeeded in getting the Confederation to adopt a series of laws, first restricting the states’ power to obstruct Confederation legislation directed against revolutionary activity, then strengthening censorship of the press, the universities and political organizations. Lest any doubt remain whether these new laws had teeth, the comic-opera seizure of a police station in the Confederation capital, Frankfurt, by a group of academics expecting to spark a general uprising, led instead to the city’s military occupation by troops under Confederation authority. That occupation lasted until 1842 – a sign and a warning to anyone still believing freedom of thought and freedom of action were congruent anywhere east of the Rhine.38

Metternich’s successful counter-revolutionary campaign made it easier, in the fall of 1832, for Austria to accept a restructuring of Confederation mobilization plans along lines closely resembling the original Prussian proposal. Henceforth 70,000 Prussians, plus the federal northern corps, would deploy on the lower Rhine, with 150,000 Austrians concentrating in the south. It was the central sector that saw the most change. From the weakest force it became the largest; including the two south German corps, the central German IX Confederation Corps, built around the Saxon army, and 90,000 Prussians. By replicating the Confederation in miniature, this field army, though existing only on paper, significantly diminished the southern states’ prospects for improving their position in the organization. The command of such a strong force was far more likely to be a subject of controversy than was the case for the original three-corps proposal. In consequence, the south German states never ratified the new system.39

This non-cooperation did not mean the end of concern for military reform in the Confederation. A beginning was made in 1830 when the ‘dwarf contingents’ of the small states of south and central Germany, none stronger than a few battalions, most lacking cavalry and artillery, were withdrawn from the three composite corps and organized into a separate Reserve Division intended for garrison duties. The states still included in those corps subsequently negotiated agreements on the allocation of command appointments, staff posts and similar administrative matters. While these reforms remained largely confined to paper, they nevertheless reflected a collective commitment to being something other than military clients of the great German powers, Prussia and Austria.40

The south German states faced a strategic problem as well as an organizational one. Concern for the threat posed by the Orleans monarchy increased as the decade progressed. To a degree, this was the fruit of an internal French issue: agitation for restoration of the ‘natural boundaries’ of France – especially the left bank of the Rhine – under a government whose legitimacy remained too dubious to challenge its nationalists. Despite continued French assertion of nothing but the most benign intentions in central Europe, newspaper editorials and parliamentary speeches exacerbated fears even among liberal Germans that French goodwill was, at best, ephemeral.

German liberalism at this stage of its history consciously affirmed the role of force in international relations. Those liberals, like Baden’s Karl von Rotteck, who focused on security issues, advocated people’s armies, various forms of militias, as much on the grounds of their projected operational effectiveness as for their role in giving parliaments a central role in military affairs. The influence of nationalism was also sufficiently strong to foster, if not xenophobia, a healthy suspicion of French intentions. Administrations, for their part, played the security card as a trump in the ongoing game of securing cooperation from this vocal, influential and increasingly economically powerful segment of the political state.

The result was an increasingly harmonious chorus, in an increasing number of south German states, calling for some positive action to assert Confederation commitment to defending German territory against the French threat, without significantly increasing either government power or military budgets, and without repudiating the principle of ‘neutrality in all directions’ – particularly valued as a counterweight to Prussia’s and Austria’s respective roles in the great-power system. A decade’s experience as clients of Napoleon had provided all the object lessons in that role that south Germany needed.41

These objectives, contradictory if not mutually exclusive, were resolved, in practice, by emphasizing fortifications at the expense of field forces. After Waterloo, the victor powers had legitimated the development of a series of strong points in the Rhineland, and supported their construction with 60 million francs allotted from the French indemnity. Over half the cash went directly to Prussia and Bavaria, to improve their respective defence systems. Three locations, Mainz, Landau and Luxembourg, were intended ‘Confederation fortresses’. Two more, Ulm and Rastatt, were begun in 1840, in part with money designated for the purpose that had been accruing interest with the House of Rothschild since 1815.

These were under Confederation authority rather than that of the state in whose territory they lay. The staff and garrisons were mixed. Mainz, for example, was held in peacetime by 8,000 men, half Prussian and half Austrian, supplemented by a battalion from Hesse-Darmstadt. In war, the garrison was increased to 21,000, a third each from Prussia, Austria and the other contingents. Ulm’s 5,000-strong garrison was home to 600 Austrian artillerymen; the rest came from Baden and Wuerttemberg. The close association of men from different states did not exactly create a sense of brotherhood. Mainz, in particular, was notorious for brawls between the Prussian and Austrian contingents. Contemporary German critics argued that the sites had been acquired haphazardly and did not form part of a coherent defensive system. The fortresses, however, were important as a minimum common denominator of agreement in the Confederation, and played an increasing role in Confederation strategy. They were expected to absorb enough French attention to make impossible a lightning campaign by the French professional army and offer time for the Confederation’s superior numbers to come into action.42

Rastatt and Mainz, in particular, were highly regarded among military architects as state of the art. A French study of 1848 described Mainz as a complex system whose approaches could be screened, in part, by flooding, whose garrison had protected access to the Rhine’s west bank, and whose magazines could hold around 500 tons of powder. Its garrison had to be neither first-rate nor brilliantly commanded; ordinary competence at all levels would suffice to sustain a long siege.43

Such reports, then and now, are often prepared with an eye towards domestic issues such as budgets. Nevertheless, given the consistent French fear during this period of a German invasion, expert professional opinion that Mainz was a stumbling block in the path of even a spoiling attack into Germany may be taken at something like face value. In 1840, French support for Egypt’s rebellion against the Ottoman Empire developed into a campaign to secure the Rhine frontier as ‘compensation’ for modifying its Near East policy. The July Monarchy had deliberately cultivated the Napoleonic mythos as part of its own quest for legitimacy. Foreign Minister Adolphe Thiers insisted France would not compromise, and that any resulting war would be waged on the continent, not in the Near East. To sharpen his point, he festooned his office with maps of the Rhineland.

The south German governments called simultaneously for Confederation neutrality in any European war and for further improvements to the Confederation’s military system. Prussia, whose own western provinces were on the French wish list, began in October to bring its Rhine fortresses to war readiness. But if the immediate crisis blew over quickly, it was not least because the French army was not anxious to back Thiers’s game to the last card by testing the Confederation and its fortresses in arms.44

Thiers’s forced resignation in October 1840 restored a surface equilibrium, but left three open sores in Germany. The southern states continued their demand for military reform. Prussia, with a heightened sense of its own vulnerability, began preparing recommendations for systematic changes in the Confederation’s approach to a threat from the west. And a burgeoning nationalist movement had an issue, a symbol and a song – ‘The Watch on the Rhine’ was bad poetry set to worse music. Nevertheless, from its appearance in 1840, it epitomized the ‘defence and defiance’ (Schutz und Trutz) that was the core of the Confederation’s military policy, if not always that of its two largest states.


Prussia’s behaviour was influenced by its new monarch. Frederick William IV assumed the throne in 1840, determined to make the kind of mark in Germany that his predecessor had spent a quarter of a century avoiding. Interested in military matters (along with his brother, Prince William, he played a central role in Prussia’s adoption of a breech-loading infantry rifle), Frederick William was nevertheless to disappoint those, especially on the Right, who looked to him for decisively repressive domestic policies.45 His approach to the Confederation’s military system, however, did reflect his primary concern: to create and sustain the monarchical principle in a secular, public, mass age. To that end, Frederick William took the lead in advocating increasing the active components of the German armies. He also urged a policy of ‘forward defence’, one not accepting the risks of abandoning, however temporarily, German territory to an invader – both for nationalistic reasons and because of his belief that civilians in uniform were not likely to take well the moral and physical strains of an initial retreat that involved fighting on their own territory.

This fundamental challenge to militia advocates in both south Germany and Prussia encouraged the king to pay attention to fortress systems as couverture for Prussian and Confederation mobilizations, which, even supported by the railroads coming into service during the decade, demanded time. Prussia used that fact as a starting point to resolve a debate over whether Ulm or Rastatt should be developed into a federal fortress by successfully urging the construction of both. Rastatt’s proximity to the major French eastern fortress of Strasbourg made its reinforcement difficult and diminished its prospects for a long-term defence. The first issue was addressed by giving the new fortress a strong peacetime garrison and keeping it fully provisioned. The second, at least in the mind of the Prussian king and his general staff, could best be resolved by a Confederation counter-offensive mounted into France on a broad front along the upper and middle Rhine.46

That particular strategic dish was too rich, and too expensive, for the south German states -particularly in the context of Metternich’s soothing assertions that ‘business as usual’ remained viable Confederation policy towards France. Nevertheless, during the 1840s, the armies of the German middle states in general began to improve.47 Bavaria, Wuerttemberg and Baden in the south, Hanover in the north, Saxony in the centre – the particularism so often highlighted by outside observers was balanced by certain commonalities as well. These states had constructed their armies along French lines, with some local modifications, during the Napoleonic Wars, and that system had proven itself sufficiently to be retained after 1815. Recruiting was conscription-based, but like its Napoleonic model allowed substitution: the obligation was to provide service, not necessarily to serve oneself.48 A substitute could be sought privately, furnished by an agency or, increasingly, delivered by the state itself. In each case the pattern was similar. A sum of money, the exact amount depending on the market at the moment, was paid directly to the substitute. Another, larger amount was deposited with the state as a bond. On completion of his term of service the substitute received all or most of the bond – the ‘handling charges’ could not become too large without disrupting the process.

About a quarter of the men conscripted – or their families – took advantage of the system. It was possible to purchase insurance policies that paid off if the holder’s number came up for the draft, and parents who could afford one often did so when their son was an infant, much as parents today invest in saving plans that mature at twenty-one. Often excoriated by nineteenth-century nationalists, the system was in fact a practical response to the development of liberalism and capitalism in societies that did not face direct, comprehensive military threats. The substitute was, in principle, a rational actor, deciding for himself that the bonuses and bounties were worth the six or so years of active service required to collect them, and deciding that military service was a preferable alternative to the civilian labour market. By no means were all, or even most, of the substitutes drawn from society’s dregs and outcasts. Apart from men seeking careers as non-commissioned officers – a status fairly easy to acquire in middle Germany – substitution was a path to hard cash in significant amounts. Younger sons with limited prospects of inheriting a farm, apprentices and journeymen perceiving that they were unlikely ever to make their Meisterpruefung, and even would-be small businessmen enrolled as substitutes to secure a stake they were unlikely to acquire elsewhere. That many of the hopes went unfulfilled had more to do with the kinds of dreams nurtured by perceptions of opportunity than with any conscious stacking of the conscription deck. Similar motives are a staple of contemporary recruiting programmes everywhere in the western world.

From the viewpoint of those engaging the substitutes, the transaction was a business deal like any other. Military budgets were too low to make universal service possible in any case. There was no reason why planning, as opposed to some form of chance, should not determine an individual’s behaviour. The stakes, after all, were not mortal. It is worth noting in this context that the Selective Service System as implemented in the US during the early Cold War only broke down with the advent of Vietnam, when those drafted had a real chance of being killed as opposed to inconvenienced. Nor is there an obvious difference between hiring a substitute, directly or through the government, and fathering a child or becoming a teacher, and thereby moving others ahead of you on the draft board’s list. Some moral advantage, indeed, seems to lie with substitution, where the terms are unmistakably clear to all the participants.

Seen in their own terms, the recruiting systems of the German middle states in the middle of the nineteenth century were by no means outdated or retrograde. Nor were the armies thus raised forces of ‘rootless cosmopolitans’. At bottom, the relatively small size of the individual states worked against the kind of alienation of soldiers from civilians that was a policy norm in France or Austria. Nor did stringent budgets facilitate regular large-scale transferring of German units from garrison to garrison. The middle German officer corps was significantly less class-bound than their Prussian counterpart. Saxony, Wuerttemberg or Bavaria still did not offer a career open to talent – but they did offer a career open to interest. If a young man from the business or professional classes wished, for whatever reason, to become an officer, he found no insurmountable obstacles in his path. And since a commission lacked the status it possessed in either Prussia or Austria, those who sought one were correspondingly likely to be motivated, at least to some degree, by an interest in the craft of war.

A certain degree of tension nevertheless existed between what might be called the ‘parties of movement’ in middle Germany and the soldiers whose response was crucial for any movement that hoped to succeed by winning public support. While individual substitutes might make a reasonably good thing of their choice, the bulk of the conscripts, those carried along by the system, regarded their counterparts, middle-class and otherwise, who did not have to don a uniform, more as shirkers than as mentors. When revolution swept Germany in 1848, only Baden’s soldiers supported it positively in any numbers. In the other states, the armies kept their ranks and obeyed orders, whatever sympathy they might have felt for the uprising and its representatives. Some Wuerttemberg troops sang songs of freedom before marching off to help suppress the revolt in Baden in June 1849. It did not significantly affect their aim.49

The middle-sized German armies did not confront prospective challenges from either popular militias or civic guards raised from the urban bourgeoisie in the pattern of Orleanist France. This reflected the limited friction in constitutional states between governments and parliaments over military questions in the decades after Waterloo: where such institutions existed, their functions were purely political, as a voice for reform.50 Baden, where Karl von Rotteck remained a consistent, coherent advocate of a democratized militia system, was an arguable exception. Even there, however, Grand Duke Leopold, who assumed the throne in 1830, tended to strike a balance between liberal politicians and increasingly conservative soldiers, when he did not directly take a liberal position by reducing the army’s budgets and limiting its representational functions.51

The limited conflicts over military matters, in turn, reflected increasing congruence in matters of finance and foreign policy. The governments of middle Germany grew steadily more liberal than cameralist in their commitment to restricting public budgets as a tradeoff for relative administrative independence. Increased spending on entirely new projects, like railroads, usually came at the expense of the army. By 1825 at the latest, it was impossible to find any serious advocacy anywhere in middle Germany of independent operational or strategic planning, except as a stopgap until either the Confederation or the Concert should commit its forces. Nor was there significant consideration in the war ministries of Saxony, Bavaria or Hanover of the grand-strategic or strategic offensive as a desirable policy even in narrow military contexts.52 Middle Germany’s armies were understood as defensive forces to be employed in defensive contexts; the most extreme departures from this generalization involved counter-attacks pushed forward into an aggressor’s homeland as part of some general Confederation effort.

Threat assessment was also narrowly focused. France was not merely the major, but the only projected enemy. This limitation reflected, on one level, the impossibility of developing, in the Confederation matrix, contingency plans for military action against either Prussia or Austria. Though either was at least as theoretically credible an antagonist as France, security against the threats they posed had to be provided on the diplomatic level. Nor did Russia figure in middle-state military planning — a consequence of experience as well as geography. Such contexts made easier the establishment of consensus on core issues of military policy; other aspects could be marginalized safely.53

Considered individually, the armies of Germany’s middle states showed common weaknesses as part of their common matrices.54 Their cavalry and artillery — both relatively expensive arms, and both requiring high levels of technical proficiency — were generally considered weak points. Individual German regiments and batteries were as good as any in Europe, but there were fewer of them relative to the infantry. The artillery was likely to be armed with guns outdated by half a generation, and both arms suffered from a chronic shortage of horses. The infantry’s most obvious shortcoming, as determined by foreign and Confederation observers, was its sharp difference between peace and war establishments, and between peace establishments and men with the colours. A Bavarian regiment expected to mobilize with 2,360 men, for example, had a peace strength on paper of 172 men for each of its eight companies. Only thirty-two men per company, however, were required to be actually under arms at any time. The rest were furloughed for most of the year or only nominally enrolled – ‘paper soldiers’ in the most extreme form. A Wuerttemberg regiment had 560 men in peace, 1,800 in war, but the actual number of men under arms was determined by the requirements of manning the watch posts in particular garrison towns, as opposed to any operational considerations.

Individual training was restricted, in particular, by the limited amounts of ammunition available for practice. This was significant, less in its consequences for marksmanship -a matter of limited consequence in an era of smooth-bore muskets, flintlock or percussion -than in the inability to accustom partially trained recruits to something approximating the sounds, smells and obscurities of black-powder battles, where the fog of war was a literal phenomenon and where the reflex movements involved in loading and firing were a principal factor keeping men in ranks. Even when German units were able to take the field for autumn manoeuvres, the terrain available to them was often so restricted that one newly minted subaltern ordered to establish security for his unit was told by a peasant that the Herr Leutnant had stationed an outpost wrongly: ‘it belongs here, by the cherry tree, where it has always been’.55

In the context of such professional restrictions, the officer corps of middle Germany nevertheless developed between 1815 and 1848 a flourishing intellectual life. A Saxon captain, Karl Eduard Poenitz, became a leading authority on the use of railroads for military purposes. Other middle German officers specialized in small arms technology or infantry tactics. The Allgemeine Militaer-Zeitung began publication in Darmstadt in 1826 and rapidly developed into Germany’s leading military journal, combining an editorial eye for technical and professional innovation with a readiness to publish unpopular and unconventional opinions. The latter flexibility distinguished it, in particular, from the Militaer-Wochenblatt, which in 1816 began its long existence as the voice of Prussia’s military establishment, but was widely read throughout the Confederation. Less familiar journals like the Zeitschrift fuer Kunst, Wissenschaft und Geschichte des Krieges, also published in Berlin, featured essays and reviews from officers throughout the Confederation and provided forums for the general exchange of ideas.56

Theory and practice, however, too often diverged. In the 1840s, the Confederation authorized a muster and inspection system as an aid to standardizing performance and improving communication among the contingents. Reports were often, one might say, less than flattering. Infantry units fell far short of even their skeleton paper strengths. The cavalry did not know how to ride; the artillery did not know how to shoot; and both arms lacked the horses and saddlery that might have enabled them to practise. Private landowners were unwilling to lease their land for manoeuvres. Public land was either too restricted for more than open-air parades or devoted to other more important purposes. In Bavaria, the royal huntmaster complained that manoeuvres would ruin the shooting for years to come. The various contingents could not even agree on a common field sign to distinguish their units and limit the risk of amicide in combat.

The Confederation inspection system was not entirely a venture into the world of military operetta. It succeeded in developing common standards for some personnel issues, such as the number of non-commissioned officers to be kept on active service. It succeeded in establishing a common system for procuring remounts. It acted as a clearing house for developments in military-related technology. The development of percussion muskets in the 1830s rendered existing stocks of flintlocks obsolete and the Confederation advocated the purchase of a common design. Confederation states and armies also took a significant interest in railroads. Political and financial considerations might not allow for building a true network of fixed defences, but the railroads offered a possible second-best alternative, enhancing prospects for supporting and reinforcing the confederate fortresses in emergencies. In a wider context, the developing German rail network was concentrated heavily in the Rhine valley, and presented corresponding opportunities for the rapid deployment of troops from outside and within the region to meet a sudden French threat. Confederation inspectors projected railway lines extending from major military centres, enabling the rapid, large-scale movement of forces to support any member state challenged from outside German borders. They also conducted tests, moving troops and equipment on existing rail systems and carefully evaluating the results.57


The more developed the discussion of such issues became, the more obvious it was that meaningful military reform in the German Confederation depended heavily on its two principal armies. Between 1815 and 1844, Austria’s military profile was shaped by three factors. The first was the state’s commitment to establishing the army as a reliable internal-security force, capable of acting decisively against liberal activists, ethnic dissidents and over-mighty subjects. Operational planning was less important than political reliability: Metternich and the Habsburgs were all too familiar with the concept subsequently described as ‘Bonapartism’ to risk nurturing a uniformed challenger to the crown. Indeed, the Habsburg state might well have offered ‘Wallensteinism’ as an alternative verbal shortcut: since its experiences in the Thirty Years War, the dynasty had taken pains to bind its leading military figures with chains of gold and fetter them with chains of paper – the endless administrative and consultative procedures that enmeshed the empire’s every decision. The officer corps was dominated at the higher levels by aristocrats. While this did not guarantee incompetence – the myth that a hereditary title is the equivalent to a prefrontal lobotomy is one of nineteenth-century liberalism’s most persistent and pernicious legacies – the complex, conciliar command system it encouraged put further high premiums on connections and collegiality: getting ahead by going along.58

In that context, the Austrian General Staff was restricted to the most limited forms of planning and preparing possible future campaigns. In the army’s order of precedence, the staff officer corps ranked with the engineers, at the bottom of the official hierarchy and the informal pecking order. There was no danger of the direct militarization of Austrian policy in such a system. Metternich’s Austria, indeed, can be considered a model for both civilian control and checks and balances. By the time the high council of war, the council of state, the emperor’s direct advisors and Metternich himself finished massaging and spin-doctoring an issue, the original question was likely to have become moot – if only from the passage of time.

That observation should not be taken as poorly veiled sarcasm. The nineteenth century’s increasing obsession with rapid decision-making owed much to Napoleon’s legacy, and not a little to developing communications technology, which essentially changed the culture of time.59 One result has been an enduring tendency on the part of historians to privilege the general concept of action, as opposed to analysing proactivity’s particular contexts. Given the Habsburg Empire’s perceived vital interest in international stability, a system that heard every voice, considered every contingency and periodically gridlocked itself was by no means prima facie dysfunctional – not least because it diminished the anxiety Metternich’s policies might otherwise have provoked in Germany and Italy, as well as elsewhere in Europe.60

Certainly the Austrian army was unlikely to slip its leash in any conceivable contingency, domestic or foreign. For the sake of economy, men were sent on long-term furloughs, recalled only for inadequate refresher training and emergencies that tended to become disasters because of the inexperience of the purported long-service soldiers. Since ammunition was expensive, men fired their muskets only a few times a year. Since horses were expensive, the artillery’s guns spent most of their lives en parc, while the cavalry’s troopers were allowed to exercise their mounts only under carefully controlled conditions. In the lower ranks of the officer corps, patronage — facilitated by the continuing and often capricious influence of regimental ‘proprietors’ – contributed to a pattern of stagnant promotions, encouraged by salaries and pensions low enough to make officers dependent for their livelihood on continuing their careers, but sufficiently promising to discourage adventurism of any kind – political or professional. Austrian regimental officers of the Biedermeyer period were unlikely to compensate for the lack of active-service opportunities by professional study. Instead, they focused on the increasingly complex details of a Byzantine administrative system that offered trap after career-destroying trap for the unwary.

The rank and file were recruited by selective conscription. With terms of service fixed at fourteen years in most of the crown lands and, until 1840, for life in Hungary, ‘true volunteers’ were few and far between. Nevertheless, to prevent soldiers forming excessively close identities with the civilians of a particular region, infantry and cavalry regiments were constantly transferred, with correspondingly adverse effects on anything beyond elementary training. Pay was nominal, living conditions primitive and discipline correspondingly harsh, with draconian punishments imposed by captains and colonels who exercised power largely unchecked even by a court-martial system.61

The end result in a domestic political context was expected to be a force obeying orders literally at all levels, too cowed or too unreflective to do anything else. The revolutions of 1848 would demonstrate instead that the army’s concentration on sticks at the expense of carrots had gone too far, as officers and men alike joined insurgents instead of shooting them down, or just went home. In the next decade, the army would make a more conscious, systematic effort to make ‘Habsburg loyalty’ a positive concept in the army.

The army’s second shaping factor was money. Its best-known historians have consistently depicted a force victimized by cheese-paring economies at all levels, starved of funds for everything from rations to rifles.62 Recently, however, Geoffrey Wawro has highlighted the ‘waste, fraud, and corruption’ that in fact shaped Habsburg military spending at least as much as limited budgets. High-paying sinecures for senior officers had first claims on the account. The military bureaucracy absorbed a substantial amount of the balance. What remained after the privileged ones were finished was largely expended in constructing fortresses that contributed little to the empire’s security, but much to contractors, their relatives and their connections. Cost overruns were a virtual art form in Metternich’s time, and the system largely went unchallenged. Too many highly placed personages profited from both the ‘clean graft’ of insider knowledge and the other kind, with actual cash discreetly changing hands among gentlemen.63

The third factor shaping the Austrian army in the Age of Metternich was exhaustion. The state had used, and used up, its moral and physical resources defeating Napoleon -arguably the final act in three centuries of mortal conflict between Habsburg and Valois/ Bourbon/Bonaparte. The dynasty did not emerge from the Congress of Vienna with its stature particularly enhanced, either by domestic revitalization or foreign-policy triumphs.64 The army had performed effectively but not spectacularly in 1813–14. While Napoleon’s grand-strategic deployment during the Hundred Days affirmed his respect for Habsburg fighting power, Waterloo ended the campaign before the Austrians became seriously engaged. That was probably a good thing for a treasury and a replacement system both virtually empty.65 Like those of France after 1918, Austria’s European policies after 1815 were characterized by an increasing gap between commitments and resources. Metternich’s virtuosity in negotiations and coalition-building was a ‘flight forward’ on behalf of a system whose viability made demands that stretched to the limit Austria’s own vitality.66 In that, he resembled no one so much as the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev. Metternich proved more successful in the short and medium runs. In the long run, however, both men found themselves betting with empty pockets.

When these three factors were combined in a German context, the result was benign military neglect. Austria kept troops available for counter-insurgency operations in Poland as part of its relationship with Russia. It was engaged regularly in small-scale military actions and ‘operations other than war’ along its Balkan frontier – including maintaining a literal cordon sanitaire along the border with the Ottoman Empire.67 But its primary focus was Italy. Metternich perceived Italy as both the linchpin of his European system and the empire’s most vulnerable sector. The local rebellions of the early 1820s further concentrated his attention across the Alps. Metternich’s Italian client states might be more malleable than the German Confederation, but that only reflected their individual weakness. Naples or Tuscany, Modena, even the Papal States – none possessed the domestic legitimacy of a Wuerttemberg or a Bavaria. And while Prussia was at least susceptible of persuasion that its best interests lay with Austria, Piedmont (the strongest of the Italian kingdoms) increasingly understood its relations with the empire as ultimately zero-sum: one could profit only by the other’s loss.68

The accession of the Orleans monarchy to the throne of France in 1830 also provided an external challenge to Austria’s position on the peninsula. The new government of Louis Philippe mobilized 80,000 men to underwrite its protest against Austria’s intervention on the side of the governments in Modena and the Papal States. While those brief uprisings were more gesture than crisis, Metternich did not propose to invite a repetition. Over 100,000 Austrians were stationed in Italy in 1831. While that number was reduced by over half in the next fifteen years, the order of battle continued to include most of the army’s best regiments. Under Field Marshal Josef Radetzky, who held command from 1831 to 1857, its training became by far the best in Italy, and arguably the best in Europe. The annual manoeuvres were more demanding, and more realistic, than their Prussian counterparts. Radetzky suspended the more extreme physical punishments, improved rationing, medical services and barracks, and kept his officers busy enough to deter the routiniers and attract the energetic. To a degree, the army’s effectiveness was enhanced also by the relative hostility the troops encountered from many north Italian civilians. Seldom sufficiently intense to be dangerous, it nevertheless encouraged even the rank and file to believe they were on something resembling active service, and led to correspondingly greater interest in matters of drill and appearance.

In addition to the human factor, the Austrian army in Italy benefited from Europe’s best fortress network relative to its mission. The Quadrilateral, the four major fortresses of Pesciera, Verona, Mantua and Legnano, was a mutually supporting system, constantly improved, that absorbed most of the empire’s disposable budget for fixed defences. The Quadrilateral was a base area so secure as to be considered impregnable, a rallying point for the forces on the ground, should they be defeated, and a staging area for reinforcements from elsewhere in the empire. Its development was also an economy-of-force policy that enabled the reduction of the field army referred to earlier.69


It was hardly remarkable that the German Confederation as a military institution played a limited role in Austria’s geo-strategic thinking. Compared to Italy, the Confederation seemed well able to look after itself; the main issue was political – seeing that none of the member states got above themselves or wandered outside the system. Prussia’s perspective on Confederation matters was significantly different. The Prussian army of the Biedermeyer era was distinguished by two increasingly complementary features. Its rank and file were rank amateurs and its cadres were highly professional. Neo-Bourbon France and Metternich’s Austria possessed long-service forces, able to go to war from a standing start and large enough to support great-power status by the fact of their existence. Prussia’s economy could no more support an equivalent in 1820 than in 1740. Instead, the Landwehr was not abolished after 1815. It became the foundation for a military system intended to blend training with enthusiasm.70

Even before natural increases in population combined with peacetime cuts in the military budget, the Prussian War Ministry recognized the impossibility of financing a full term of active service – set at three years by the modified Defence Law of 1815 – for every able-bodied man of twenty, except at the expense of everything else — weapons, equipment, food and barracks. The result, within a few years of Waterloo was analogous to the Selective Service System as practised in the US between the Korean and Vietnam wars. Not only was the term of active service frequently reduced by releasing men early; more and more conscripts were administratively assigned to the Landwehr, receiving no training at all. This in turn worked against reducing the theoretical term of active service, since, without a high proportion of fully trained men in its ranks, the Landwehr was no more than so many men with muskets.

The Landwehr, as originally conceived and subsequently defended by the military reformers was expected to be so popular that participation in its drills and exercises would be voluntary. In the long peace after Waterloo, however, the Landwehr lost its novelty. Commissions in its officer corps were no longer sought by the best types of socially ambitious young men from the middle classes. Nor did Landwehr units develop community social roles in the fashion of Britain’s volunteers and Territorials or the National Guard in the US. Prussia thus found itself with an increasingly ineffective reserve force and an army that could be operationally effective only with the large-scale mobilization of its reserves, at a sufficiently early stage in a crisis to provide at least some time to correct the most glaring deficiencies. Military preparation on such a scale was as likely to provoke war as deter it; nor could Prussia, still the smallest and weakest of the great powers, risk having its diplomatic intentions misunderstood.71

The men in control of the state’s machinery after 1815 were concerned, in principle, with the re-taming of a Bellona unfettered between 1792 and 1815. This was more than a manifestation of political and social reaction. The essence of the Revolutionary/Napoleonic approach to war was improvisation. The French imperium remained in a state of becoming until Napoleon abdicated its throne. Its military institutions were in a state of constant flux, with orders of battle as evanescent as rank and file were expendable. Waste of all kinds at all levels was as characteristic as long marches and inspired manoeuvres. How could Prussia, a state with a past and a future, with few resources to spare and none to squander, part of a stable international system, begin institutionalizing the positive innovations of the past quarter-century?

The first step was planning, best epitomized in the general staff. The institution had its roots in the 1790s, as the army responded to the state’s neutrality by beginning to consider systematically potential enemies and possible theatres of action. By the mid-1820s it had developed a permanent internal structure whose three sections concentrated, respectively, on eastern, western and southern Europe, in both historical contexts and contemporary contingencies. The initial significance of the general staff must not be overrated. It was a small body whose original complement of fifty officers was reduced to forty-five in 1824. About half those officers were assigned to troop units, with individuals regularly rotating between Berlin and the provinces. It was only one department of a war ministry that was primarily concerned with administration. Nevertheless, of all the institutions in Germany, the general staff was most focused on war planning in a military context – not because of any principled commitment to total war, but from an intention to compensate for the structural shortcomings of Prussia’s armed forces.72

Central as well to the enterprise of planning was the development of military cartography. In 1816 there was still no comprehensive map survey of Prussia. The general staff began remedying that throughout the period between Waterloo and the revolutions of 1848. In the process, the Prussians transformed map-making from an art – based heavily on an individual cartographer’s perceptions and drawing skills – to a science, in which mathematics were at least as important as an eye for ground, and then into a technology, keeping pace with mechanical and photo-mechanical techniques to make maps a mass-production item, available not only for the army but for sale to civilian markets as well.

The general availability of identical maps facilitated developing common perspectives of terrain within the officer corps. It correspondingly diminished the element of individual insight into terrain, that coup d’oeil, historically described as essential to a successful commander. While the Prussian army never believed it possible to make war from maps (that was why the general staff developed the staff rides that took officers on to the ground they studied), these tended to democratize officers’ skills by establishing terrain sense as a skill that could be learned rather than an innate quality. By contrast, as late as mid-century, both Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia and the French army of the Franco-Prussian War suffered from constant, chronic shortages of accurate maps, and found themselves correspondingly dependent on close reconnaissance that might or might not be present, and local information, the accuracy of which was too often dubious.73

Related to planning was organization. After 1815, Prussia institutionalized systems of territorial recruitment, accompanied by territorial garrisoning, on a scale unique in Europe. In theory – and often in fact during peacetime – individual regiments of Europe’s armies drew their recruits from a common area. In war, however, replacements tended to be assigned on a needs basis, while higher units were formed with no regard for regional identity. After 1815, Austria’s pattern of deliberately separating troops from their home regions was followed by the other great powers as well. In contrast, eight of Prussia’s nine army corps were assigned specific regions for recruiting. Each regiment had its own district and, as a rule, was garrisoned in that district. The Guard Corps as well, though theoretically recruited from the entire kingdom, drew most of its active soldiers and all of its reservists from Berlin and Brandenburg. This system reflected the fact that not only were the army’s active regiments at little more than half strength in peacetime, but that on mobilization they were integrated with their Landwehr counterparts, one for one. That was the reason for the Prussian army’s standard binary organization at brigade, division and corps levels, widely copied after the Franco-German War, despite its obvious inflexibility compared to a system built on threes or fours. It was the best way to put large numbers of reservists in uniform relatively quickly without leaving them essentially to their own military devices. Territorialization also provided a systematic framework for developing tactical doctrines and operational plans. It gave Prussia a stable structure for the field armies that, even in the last stages of the Napoleonic era, were beginning to replace the corps as the dominant large-scale formation. But until mid-century, it was regarded outside Prussia and, to a degree, internally as well, as a second-best solution whose rigidity denied the flexibility introduced to warfare by Napoleon.74

The third defining characteristic of the Prussian army was education. Again, well before 1806, an increasing number of officers were paying attention both to the theoretical elements in the craft of war and to the broader intellectual currents of the Aufklaerung and the nascent Romantic movement.75 To a degree, this process reflected a certain boredom with the limited parameters of dissipation available in Prussia. Even Berlin’s pleasant vices tended sufficiently towards the banal that study was by no means an unattractive alternative. When Scharnhorst founded the Military Society in 1801, he found ready auditors among captains and majors receptive to the idea of ‘an aristocracy of cultivation’, where understanding and characters would be developed by the open, systematic exchange of ideas. After 1808, promotion was by examination as well as seniority. When the General War School was established in 1810, it drew faculty from the University of Berlin. Its curriculum was general, with over half the courses being outside the sphere of professional instruction.

The new system was controversial. Both reformers and officers of the old school asserted that emphasizing formal education risked favouring intellect over character. Arguably more important to embedding education into the army’s infrastructure was the attitude of the senior officers. Scharnhorst’s insistence that the ‘new men’ were intended to assist rather than supplant colonels and generals meant that, even in the early stages of the process, the Military Society’s meetings were attended by generals who might not understand everything the young bucks were saying, but regarded the proceedings with avuncular favour. These were good boys, who would be fine officers once a little gunpowder blew some of the theories out of their heads.76

Jena and Auerstaedt inculcated a little humility. When, in 1813, Hermann von Boyen joined the corps of Friedrich von Buelow as its chief of staff, he was uncertain what to expect from a superior who was both a critic of the reform movement and a scion of one of Prussia’s greatest military families. Buelow shared a parallel set of doubts, but he welcomed Boyen, listened to him, and gave him full credit for developing the plans that checked the French in front of Berlin and made of plain von Buelow, Buelow von Dennewitz.77 The almost symbiotic relationship between Bluecher and his chief of staff, Neithardt von Gneisenau, is epitomized by the bon mot credited to Bluecher on learning that Oxford proposed to award him an honorary degree. Allegedly, the old cavalryman replied that if he was to be a doctor, Gneisenau should be an apothecary, since they always worked together!78 While that attitude did not inevitably prevail after 1815, neither did the generals regard general staff officers assigned to them as interlopers or outsiders – a significant difference from circumstances in France and Austria.

Military education also had a meritocratizing effect within an aristocratic system. The old Prussian army tended, institutionally, to regard the basic qualities of an officer as sociogenetic — based on a combination of heritage and conditioning that no ‘outsider’ could replicate. The revolutionary/Napoleonic period, in contrast, incorporated part of the Romantic perspective in conflating officership with leadership, and perceiving the latter as a manifestation of ‘genius’, a particular spark of divine fire that could no more be replicated institutionally than could the child-development patterns of the Prussian nobility. Military education, general and professional, as it developed in Prussia after 1815, denied the roles of neither breeding nor inspiration. But it did stress in a military context the concept of cultivation, of Bildung. The qualities of an officer could be nurtured and enhanced by professionally oriented study.79

Analysis was the fourth face of the Prussian army’s paradigm. Staff rides, manoeuvres and war gaming provided a comprehensive structure of reflection for an army whose practical experience remained significantly limited compared to its great-power counterparts. Manoeuvres increasingly de-emphasized review and display elements in favour of practical exercises in moving large forces from place to place. There is some irony in the fact that this development was facilitated, in part, because the reservists and Landwehr recalled temporarily for refresher training were considered to march so badly that it was embarrassing to display their lack of prowess in keeping rank and step by staging the formal parades that had been a defining feature of manoeuvres in the Frederician era.80

War games offered other kinds of opportunities to develop professional skills in a context of ‘play’. The Kriegspiel that developed from the ‘military chess’ of the 1780s did not by itself revolutionize an officer corps that, after 1815, remained committed to practical soldiering and correspondingly hostile to ‘writing-desk heroes’. But war gaming did offer young officers a learning tool and a test bed, not least because of its competitive aspects. In later years, an anecdote familiar in the Prussian army described Austrian officers being introduced to Kriegspiel and asking if one could win money at it.81 Intended to disparage the alleged professional ignorance of Austrian officers, the joke nevertheless had a certain metaphoric accuracy. In a time of profound peace and few risks, gambling was one way to bring excitement into the routines of garrison service. Few Prussian officers, however, had money to lose – and losing it to each other, a common pattern in small towns where social barriers separated officers from civilian blades, was even more devastating to morale. War gaming was not quite the same rush, but it did offer chances to win or lose, to stand out from the rest, even if only by an unusual run of the dice that decided fates in the map room as well as across the green baize. While this aspect of war gaming should not be overemphasized, it nevertheless played a role in the players’ positive commitment – and perhaps for colonels, too, who were pleased enough to see their junior officers kept busy and out of trouble in their off-duty hours. By the 1840s, Prussian garrison towns were supporting war-gaming clubs that played competitively. While the acknowledged stakes involved bragging rights, accompanied, perhaps, by a dinner and some good wine, it challenges human behaviour to assume that some highly unofficial side-betting was not part of the proceedings as well. In 1844, first place went to Magdeburg, headquarters of IV Corps. Its chief of staff was Helmuth von Moltke.82

Planning and organization, education and analysis – all were useful force multipliers, but limited ones. The Prussian army also turned its attention to two new possibilities. One was technology. Prussian soldiers were by no means hostile to either industrialism in principle or to state involvement in economic development.83 Nor should the vitalist heritage of the French Revolution and the Era of Reform be interpreted to mean enthusiasm and will-power were expected to overcome by themselves superior weaponry. If the army’s artillery improved only by slow stages, Prussia took the lead in adopting not only a rifle, but a breech-loading rifle, for its entire infantry. The first 60,000 ‘needle guns’ – so-called because of the long firing pins – were ordered in 1840, though their issue was postponed either until there should be enough for the whole army or Prussia faced a general crisis.84

The army also took a significant interest in railroads. The limited carrying capacity of the early railways sharply restricted their ability to move anything other than token amounts of troops or material. Horses, in particular, were a challenge to rolling stock. As late as 1836, a pamphlet accurately demonstrated that a war-strength Prussian corps could cover in sixteen days, marching, a distance that would require twenty days by rail.85 But a reservist-based army that needed all the time it could buy in order to complete its own mobilization was in no position to overlook any possibility for speeding up the pace of its subsequent movements. A general staff that based increasing amounts of its everyday work on mathematical calculation and linear projections found no difficulty accepting the postulate that railway networks were only going to become denser and more extensive with the passage of time.

The army’s interest had a political basis as well. The Rhenish industrialists and entrepreneurs who were the leading advocates of railway development were also among the leading citizens in a region whose loyalty to the Prussian kingdom was still strongly instrumental. Responding favourably to their calls for state support and state subsidy of railroads was a correspondingly sensible political move – even though that response usually took the form of encouraging joint-stock companies as opposed to providing direct subsidies.86 Other military analysts stressed the compatibility of railroads with Prussia’s short-service, reservist-dependent military system by emphasizing steam power’s potential to concentrate large numbers of men in critical areas over short periods of time. A highlight of this position, its tendency to equate strategic zones with areas of economic development, reflected a pragmatic reality. Railroads in the 1830s and 40s — and for the rest of the century – were constructed primarily for economic reasons, and therefore linked industrial and commercial centres. It has even been argued that the Prussian state, for all its dirigiste aspects, intervened less in railroad development in the 1830s and 40s than the federal, laissez-faire American government.87 Prussian military planners, nevertheless, increasingly considered their maps from perspectives that took account of economic as well as operational factors.

The contexts of German and Prussian military behaviour were pragmatic and reactive. The French Revolution dominated theoretical military writing either directly or as a subtext. For Carl von Clausewitz, and for more popular and familiar writers like Prussia’s Karl von Willisen and the Archduke Charles of Austria, it was an endless source of evidence and anecdote. For the Prussian general staff it was a focal point of intellectual endeavour and a lightning rod for intellectual enthusiasm. Questions of history as a source of moral imperatives clashed with the more up-to-date vision of archival research allowed to speak more or less for itself, establishing parameters of controversy that still persist in the study of military history by soldiers and academics.88

Nor was discussion limited by either territorial or professional boundaries. Jomini’s writings, quickly and regularly translated into German, were common intellectual currency east of the Rhine, in good part because of their reinforcement of the concept that military competence, as opposed to military genius, could in fact be fostered by study and understanding. Jomini’s assertion that war was guided by principles was attractive in another way as well. It provided a template, a grammar for recent military events, which, particularly for those who had experienced them, frequently seemed at the time virtually random processes. Willisen’s Theorie des Grossen Krieges, in four dense volumes, has been long forgotten even by specialists, but in its time it was widely admired for its author’s ability to find common patterns in the nature of conflict. The archduke’s three-volume Grundsaetze der Strategic enjoyed similar status, even if, like its counterpart, it was more often cited than read.

Clausewitz’s writings were similarly rooted in events. His initial search for a pure concept of war, an abstract presentation of its essence, reflected his intellectual grounding in German idealism, particularly its Hegelian version. Like Hegel, Clausewitz understood history as teleological: the unfolding of the Absolute through human instruments, and through failure as well as success. Like all complex behaviours, war tended towards its absolute, an ideal form. The experiential world denied that ideal through what Clausewitz aphorized as Tog and friction’ – the clash of wills and the synergy of mistakes. Yet, at the same time, this ‘real war’ was not merely a blurred copy of what war ‘should’ be, any more than a physically realized chair was a defective imitation of the ‘absolute’ chair.

What Clausewitz sought in his approach was to develop and present the essence of war -its ‘warness’. The comprehensive revision of On War, interrupted by his death in 1831, was less a modification of his views than their completion in a dialectical context. On the one hand stood the absolute. On the other stood entropy, primeval confusion, the conceptualization of which owed much to Clausewitz’s direct experiences as a junior officer in 1806. The ‘synthesis’ of the dialectic involved developing a conscious purpose for the waging of war. The ‘Clausewitzian triad’ concretizes this concept, with the people representing chaos, the army, war, and the state, purpose. It is, however, a ‘triad’ by courtesy -and by virtue of generations of instructors – military and civilian – in English-language institutions who have used as an instructional tool a mathematical trope that fundamentally distorts Clausewitz’s perspective. For Clausewitz, as for Hegel, the state in its modern form stood above the passions unleashed by the French Revolution. For Clausewitz, as for the other bureaucratic reformers who began restructuring Prussia after 1806, the state also stood above the army, a governor on that institution’s natural propensity to extend the scope and the intensity of war making.89


That Clausewitz was not a seminal figure in the intellectual structure of Prussia’s and Germany’s armed forces arguably owed less to his linguistic opacity or his intellectual rigour than to the relative conventionality of his positions and conclusions. Certainly his case for the importance, indeed the necessity, of the state as the vector and conductor of the new century’s dynamic forces reflected both perception and reality in the capital cities of Germany – and in their armed forces as well.

From the perspective of Paris in 1789, or Petrograd in 1917, the events of 1848 in most of Germany may seem a fairly damp squib. To participants they were cataclysmic upheavals, to be remembered for the next century and more. The revolutions of 1848 challenged the Confederation’s military system both collectively and in terms of its individual members. Arguably the most significant military factor was a negative. Austria, already suffering from overstretch, was challenged by revolt in the capital, insurrection in the countryside, civil war in Hungary, revolution in Italy and international war with Piedmont. There was neither armed force nor diplomatic finesse to spare for a Germany that for over two decades had, in any case, been expected by Vienna to look in good part to its own internal security.

Germany’s armed forces were not taken entirely by surprise. In Prussia, for example, the 1844 ‘uprising’ of Silesian weavers caught in the web of a market downturn escalated beyond both the physical and the moral capacity of local authorities. Able neither to alleviate privation nor maintain order, they cried revolution and called for the army.90 Instead of dispersing peacefully, the weavers turned to self-defence. Scythes and axes, clubs and stones, were no bargain against lead and steel. Nevertheless, civilian casualties reaching double figures were unwelcome to an army based on short-service conscription and public goodwill. During the next three years, in Berlin, Cologne and a dozen lesser Prussian cities, soldiers faced civilian protestors at gunpoint. While their immediate causes differed, most incidents followed a similar pattern. Police forces able to enforce laws in a consensus atmosphere had neither the capacity nor, in many cases, the will to act against large, unruly crowds. Troops summoned to the scene, even from local barracks, were likely to arrive late, after alcohol and oratory had reinforced an initially inchoate sense of triumph, of getting away with something. Neither men nor officers had any training in internal-security duties. Initial contempt for civilian rabble was likely to be replaced by fear as the crowds pressed closer. Sometimes horse manure or paving stones began to fly. Sometimes a nervous private fired a shot by accident, or a lieutenant ordered his men to clear a space with bayonets and musket butts. The end result was bodies, usually civilian ones. Nor did the soldiers exactly march back celebrating their triumph. While guns remained pointed in the directions ordered, post facto discontent in the ranks reached a point where, in the more unruly provinces, commanding generals began moving units to new garrisons in order to disrupt the comprehensive network of local ties even a barracked military established with the wider community.91

Frederick William’s summoning in April 1847 of a Prussian Diet to discuss political reform was overtaken by events, first in Paris and then in western and southern Germany. The violence that shook some thrones and toppled others depended heavily for success on the reluctance of peaceful, legalistic and conservative governments to use armed force against their own people. Three decades of negotiation on the one hand and rhetoric on the other had dulled what might be called the survival instincts of a European system whose ostensible raison d’être was to prevent revolutions. In more practical terms, the absence or weakness of police and constabulary forces led to the rapid commitment of troops to a mission in which they had no training and no interest.92

Fighting in built-up areas was not an element of tactical training anywhere in Germany or Europe. Confronted with anything but the most improvised resistance, even purported elite forces like the Prussian Guard found their strength dissipated by the need to secure inner cities, where snipers apparently flourished on every rooftop, and where barricades, once taken, seemed to spring up again in the same places as soon as uniformed backs were turned. Nor was clearing the barricades themselves always the easy task assumed by officers imbued with the pride of caste and the valour of ignorance. Cavalry horses were favourite targets for such primitive weapons as sharp rocks and boiling water. The close urban terrain made artillery gun crews vulnerable even to smooth-bore muskets fired from alleys and rooftops. Nor were generals and officials initially comfortable with the notion of destroying cities in order to save them. Using cannon against one’s own subjects in a way affirmed the triumph of the very spirit of revolution the Metternich system had spent a quarter of a century resisting. Behind untidy piles of carts and furniture, cut-down trees and baulks of timber, determined men and women could take unexpected toll on infantry unable to develop the momentum of a charge in the twisted streets of a German inner city. And when barricades were in fact taken by assault, the immediate consequence was all too often likely to be the bayoneting of any handy civilians — regardless of age or sex — by troops temporarily beyond control and in any case unable, even when willing, to distinguish foe and friend.93

In such contexts, negotiation seemed indeed the better part of valour. After three days of high-casualty street fighting, Frederick William withdrew the troops from Berlin on the night of 18 March. Subsequent criticism of that decision, by conservatives who insisted the army could have ‘restored order’ if given a free hand, has a significant aura of hindsight. Throughout the summer, morale and discipline in the Berlin area worsened, particularly in the ranks of the Prussian Guard, by its own definition the best and most loyal fighting force the kingdom possessed. Mostly Berliners themselves, they were significantly affected by liberal and democratic propaganda. In August, a cholera epidemic spread to Berlin from the Russian border, and a battalion commander was rumoured to have threatened to punish disobedience with extra night guards until the malcontents fell ill from the night air! In September, a hundred or so men defied their superiors and staged an impromptu demonstration in the streets of Potsdam. Fences and sidewalks were demolished and the police commissioner was beaten up and almost thrown into the canal. Not until midnight was order restored.94

Such behaviour was not exactly the stuff of revolutionary ballads. It was, nevertheless, deemed sufficiently serious to lead some officers, at least, to question the worth of their men in future counter-insurgency operations. And it was correspondingly small wonder that middle-state governments like Bavaria, Saxony, Wuerttemberg and Hanover were even quicker than Prussia to seek a middle ground by opening discussions with subjects whose disaffection was optimistically regarded as temporary. The apparent wisdom of this course seemed even clearer as the Habsburg Empire spiralled into civil war, as regional and ethnic loyalties rent the fabric barely re-knitted in 1815. The spectacle of one of Austria’s chief cities being bombarded into submission, another retaken at bayonet-point, and the third serving as the focal point of a popular insurrection, even after its recapture, did nothing to enhance the appeal of a violent solution to Germany’s political crisis.

It was not lost, moreover, on the professional soldiers of the German Confederation that the Habsburg army was making heavy weather of its domestic mission. Neither its tactics, nor its generalship, nor its logistics seemed adequate – without disproportionate effort -to suppress students with muskets or peasants with scythes, to say nothing of the successfully improvised Hungarian Honved. Austria’s emperor soliciting the direct intervention of Tsar Nicholas of Russia to restore order in the empire was discouraging to a Germany that had regarded Austria’s army as an ultimate guarantor of its security. Even in Prussia the concept of making Vienna’s difficulty into Berlin’s opportunity was to a good degree negative, the product of a sense that Prussia might have to look to its own welfare after all, instead of placing faith in a wider German system.95

The gathering of the Frankfurt Parliament in the summer of 1848 added a new factor to Germany’s military situation. Support for the elections to that body had been one of the principal conditions of the civil truces patched up in April and May between governments and insurgents. Prussia’s king went even further, donning the red, black and gold sash that was the symbol of the German nationalists and declaring himself ready to lead the movement for German unity without any corresponding ambition to be the head of a German state. The exact mix of fustian and policy in that declaration remains debatable. It was, however, sufficient to alarm those delegates to Frankfurt who saw the risks of the new parliament becoming a stalking-horse for either Hohenzollern or Habsburg – and to encourage direct involvement in international relations.96

As summer waned, the questions of ‘little Germany’ versus ‘large Germany’, the issues of central power and civic rights, which initially dominated parliamentary debates, were challenged and overshadowed by something called the Schleswig-Holstein question. Its complexity is best illustrated by the aphorism attributed to Britain’s Lord Palmerston, who declared that only three men ever understood Schleswig-Holstein: a Danish politician who was dead, a German professor who went mad and Palmerston himself- who had forgotten it. That very complexity, however, made it a useful test case for an institution desperately seeking to establish domestic and international credibility.

Expressed in simple terms, the provinces were under the personal rule of the Danish crown. When Denmark proposed to integrate Schleswig more comprehensively into the state’s political and administrative structure, at the expense of its internationally recognized connection with Holstein, the Frankfurt Parliament responded with force.97 It first created a German navy de novo, by purchasing vessels that could be converted into improvised men of war, and recruiting crews and commanders, primarily from the Hanseatic cities. The result was arguably worse than if no action had been taken; the flotilla of leaking, badly handled ships invited description as a symbol of the parliament itself.98

Denmark did not propose to offer a maritime challenge to anyone. The Danes’ stated intention was to establish order ‘in their own back garden’, using troops only if necessary. The Schleswig Germans responded by forming a provisional government and asking for help. Prussia was first in line. By his declaration of commonality with Germany, Frederick William had left himself no manoeuvring room, while his generals were perfectly willing to bring as many of their reservists as possible under arms and under discipline on any workable pretext. A division-strength task force assembled on the frontier, built around Prussian Guards, despatched to restore a reputation badly tarnished in Berlin. Apart from the pressure applied by domestic liberals and German patriots, Prussia was already too powerful for its immediate neighbours’ comfort. Even the limited activism of unilateral intervention in Schleswig could not pass ignored. The Prussians were reinforced by a provisional division made up of contingents from the medium states of north Germany: Hanover, Oldenburg and Braunschweig. Its commander was a British officer in Hanoverian service, Waterloo veteran, Hugh Halkett, now in his mid-fifties and well past an undistinguished best.

Under the command of the Prussian general, Friedrich von Wrangel, the expeditionary force entered Schleswig in April 1848, won a skirmish on 23 April and advanced into Jutland. Wrangel was no Frederick II. He was not even a Duke of Brunswick. His laborious manoeuvring left all too much time for external intervention. From the Frankfurt Parliament’s perspective, that was not altogether unwelcome. Anything like a quick victory would have given the soldiers – Prussian ones, in particular – too much credibility for the politicians’ comfort. But Wrangel’s ponderous movements gave France and Britain time to impose an armistice that bypassed the parliament altogether. One of the few things worse than an over-mighty military is an impotent one.99

The Frankfurt Parliament soon faced another challenge in the military sphere. The city of Mainz was a stronghold of liberal and republican sentiment, as well as being the site of a major Confederation fortress. Relations between the town’s activist citizens and the Prussian elements of the garrison were particularly strained — by some accounts, less for political reasons than because when a civic guard formed in March, off-duty Prussians enjoyed mocking its drills and parades. Two days of small-scale bar-room brawls came to a head on 21 May. It was payday for many civilian firms, and that meant heavy drinking. On the other side of the scratch line, off-duty soldiers were crowding the Gasthaueser even in the morning, talking themselves into a fighting mood when their purses were empty. The civic guard strengthened its Hauptwache, the riot squad. Towards evening, as the beer took full command, around 400 soldiers started breaking dishes, then turned the sabres they carried by regulation (much as many American police officers are required to go armed off duty) against the watch. When ‘recall’ was sounded to separate the battlers, the soldiers fell back on their barracks. The civic guard and a number of civilians followed. Then shots rippled from the mass of men.

When the bodies were counted, five civic guards and four soldiers were dead — all of the soldiers shot in the back, presumably while hurrying to escape the guardhouse term that was the penalty for tardiness. To their comrades and superiors, however, they were tangible proof of civilian perfidy. With an enraged crowd threatening to storm the barracks, the garrison’s commanders, Prussian and Austrian, demanded the civic guard be dissolved, threatened to bombard the city and fired a few warning shots for effect. Mainz capitulated, but one of its delegates to Frankfurt demanded the parliament take action. The eventual recommendation that some changes be made in the garrison stressed the importance of Mainz for German security – and encouraged the parliament to continue asserting control of the Confederation’s military affairs.100

Meanwhile, in August 1848, a Prussian parliament, elected in the aftermath of the March Days and correspondingly liberal enough to support anything restricting the military’s independence, had demanded that any officer unwilling to support a constitutional legal system should resign. The overt challenge to the army’s historic pattern of direct subordination to the crown swung Frederick William’s pendulum rightwards. The soldiers were there waiting for him. An officer corps priding itself on being apolitical found no difficulty establishing itself as a sophisticated pressure group relative to a liberal/democratic political order (itself poorly defined) that showed little sympathy for what it considered outmoded caste privileges. The political opposition’s influence on lieutenants victimized by poor pay and slow promotion was far outweighed by its difficulty in attracting noncommissioned officers concerned with maintaining their privileged position in securing low-level government appointments on retirement. The events in Potsdam had encouraged a steady, unobtrusive tightening of discipline at regimental levels that defied grass-roots challenges. In mid-November, 13,000 men, supported by artillery, entered Berlin without resistance from a citizenry either overawed by the display of force or welcoming it as a sign that someone ‘up there’ finally seemed to know what he was doing.101

That was more than the Frankfurt Parliament was demonstrating. The armistice with Denmark had been concluded by Prussia ‘in the name of the Confederation’. Radicals and nationalists now demanded a resumption of hostilities for the sake of German honour – as well as to force the middle German governments to take the kind of international chances that would weaken their ability to resist continued domestic reforms. Their opponents emphasized the risk that such a policy might result in an open breach with Austria and a general European war.102 Moderates and Realpolitiker correspondingly fell back on a ‘little German’ alternative: a federal state with a unified central government, universal adult-male suffrage, and no more than temporary veto power for the monarch.103 That office was intended for Frederick William IV – who, in November 1848, prorogued the Prussian Assembly and, the next month, introduced a far more conservative constitution, one omitting any requirement that the army swear allegiance to the document or its institutions, while providing wide executive and emergency powers. Call it counter-revolution or call it compromise constitutionalism; this was not the most promising environment for projecting him as the head of a new state that was supposed to be parliamentary as well as powerful.104

Alternatives, however, were marked by their absence. In particular, Germany’s military situation seemed to be deteriorating both absolutely and relatively. Initially, the Frankfurt Parliament had not been especially concerned with military affairs. Its most vocal speakers on that question either favoured a sentimental pacifism based more or less on Herder’s concept of the immutability of national identity as an ultimate deterrent to war, or advocated some form of national militia as the matrix for a wartime levée en masse. Moderate opinion tended to resist the disruption of the existing Confederation system in favour of what seemed, at best, a dubious experiment.105 The Swiss militia system, so long highly praised by German radicals, had hardly been shown to advantage in the Confederation War of 1846, except in the context of the restrictions it imposed on the Swiss factions’ ability to damage each other.106 At the same time the moderates were strongly committed to breaking down the barriers between soldiers and citizens, and ending the extra-constitutional position of Germany’s armies. With their strong support, a Prussian general, Eduard von Peucker, was appointed Germany’s first war minister in July 1848. Peucker was an archetype of the ‘educated soldier’ in which Prussia took such pride. A regular writer on issues of officer education, he was also on record as favouring restructuring the Confederation’s armies along Prussian lines. He was largely responsible for a series of decrees that doubled the size of federal contingents from 1 to 2 per cent of a state’s population, abolishing substitution and requiring members of the Confederation to keep their peacetime armies at regulation strength instead of continuing the long-standing practice of generous furloughs.107

Considered in principle, these measures were both militarily desirable and politically correct. If the Confederation possessed any legitimizing principle, it involved providing external security. The Frankfurt Parliament was thus claiming authority in an area recognized as particularly appropriate for a body claiming general competence, while the specific measures enacted were responses to long-perceived problems in the Confederation’s armed forces. Perhaps in a climate of external danger, Peucker’s initiatives might have succeeded. Denmark, however, scarcely posed a threat of Napoleonic proportions. Instead, the parliament’s military reforms helped bring domestic disaster to a state whose liberalism had made it an important sovereign supporter of the proposed new German order.

The government of Baden had made the most extensive adaptations of any state to the revolutionaries’ military demands – including the introduction of an oath to the new constitution. Now it sought to meet the parliament’s new force structure requirements by recalling men on extended furlough to the colours and inducting large numbers of recruits. Many of the latter were previously exempted from service, or had paid substitutes in accordance with the then letter of the law. Others were recent students in the school of street politics. Apart from individual grievances, the Baden army’s infrastructure broke down under the press of numbers it had never been designed to accept. Living conditions worsened to a point where even long-service non-commissioned officers began questioning the system. For many privates, doubts turned to certainty when the payment of enlistment bounties held in escrow was suspended. Whatever might be the state’s new agenda, it did not seem to include fulfilling contracts with its long-service soldiers.108

By the turn of the year, the disintegration of Baden’s army was sufficiently obvious to make generals and administrators elsewhere in small-state Germany reluctant to risk implementing Frankfurt’s directives. As for the liberals, their principled distrust of standing armies was now reinforced by fear of Baden’s armed masses. That men wore the state’s uniform did not guarantee the direction in which they might point their guns. And in the volatile political climate of Germany at the year’s turn, anything destabilizing the fragile internal balance of forces and powers was an unacceptable risk.

Events came to a head in April 1849, when Frederick William IV rejected a crown ‘from the gutter’, declaring himself willing to take the throne only with the agreement of his fellow rulers. His confidant and close advisor Josef Maria von Radowitz took the opportunity to offer the German princes an amended version of the final Frankfurt constitution -a voluntary federation with an elected parliament, but with absolute veto rights vested in the monarch, who would be the King of Prussia. This new empire, in turn, would be federated with the Austrian Empire under a four-person directory, two from each partner. The result would be a compromise between ‘big’ and ‘little’ German solutions to the national question that would, at the same time, bring central Europe under control of a power strong enough to resist any challenges from east or west.109

A Catholic aristocrat from Westphalia, Radowitz proved a skilled negotiator. Despite Austrian hostility, he managed to secure support from no fewer than twenty-eight states more or less willing to approve a German constitution with a Prussian king. The southern states, however, were reluctant to accept membership in a body that excluded Austria -not only from fear of Prussian hegemony, but also from growing concern at the hostility expressed by the non-German great powers to the course and pace of events between the Rhine and the Oder. France – even the republican France created in 1848 – considered a unified Germany the greatest possible threat it might face. Indeed, the Prussian ambassador was informed that France would refuse to receive any envoy from a purported German government. Louis Eugene Godefroy Cavaignac, freshly installed as the Second Republic’s president, declared himself willing to ally with despotic Russia in the face of German nationalism. British public and official opinion, while not as vehement, was not much more sympathetic when the practical political and economic implications of a unified Germany were discussed. As for Russia’s Nicholas I, he had gone so far as to threaten the despatch of an expeditionary force to Schleswig to compel the withdrawal of Confederation forces. Since the armistice he had spared no effort in demonstrating that Prussia’s continued flirtation with the Frankfurt Parliament would be at the cost of its Russian connections.110

The latter message was hardly lost on Berlin – or Copenhagen. In March 1849, the Danish government denounced the armistice, believing German disorder and Russian disapproval were likely to prevent any consequent response. The Danes, however, reckoned without the small army that the Schleswig-Holstein Diet had raised. An ad hoc mixture of local volunteers with adventurers and nationalists from all over Germany, it was officered in good part by ‘temporary resignations’ from the northern armies of the Confederation, mostly Prussians, and equipped from a developing German arms market able to provide not only percussion muskets but rifles — albeit muzzle-loaders. While not a force to be confused with Napoleon’s Old Guard, it was able to function as a tripwire, holding the line until a new Confederation expeditionary force, mostly drawn from Prussia, reached the theatre and pushed the Danes back into Jutland for a second time, only to see Russia, Britain and France impose another armistice.111

The Schleswig-Holstein operation was only part of a process that saw Prussia’s army taking centre stage in Germany during 1849. The Saxon capital of Dresden was a focus of revolutionary activity and liberal activism. The king had refused to accept the Frankfurt constitution only when reassured from Berlin that Prussia would assist in any counter-insurgency operations. Massive public protest led to the organization of a Committee of Public Safety on 3 May. Prussia promptly despatched a three-battalion task force. If its strength was not particularly impressive, it was nevertheless doubly a harbinger of the changing craft of war. The troops arrived in Saxony virtually overnight – by rail. A major problem of governments for over a year had been how to deploy forces large enough and reliable enough to overawe or suppress revolutionaries without running the risk of having the troops either trigger an outbreak by their presence or be influenced by their potential enemies. Since the risings of 1849 were largely urban, troops could be moved from city to city without risk of ambushes or demolished tracks. They could be unloaded in areas held by government forces rather than go into action directly from the trains. The nature of urban warfare limited the need for cavalry and artillery forces and elaborate logistic arrangements: the host government could supply rations.

The Prussians brought a tactical innovation as well as an operational one. The ‘secret’ of the needle gun had been exposed beyond question in June, when the storming of the Berlin arsenal during a brief uprising placed a number of the new breech-loaders in the hands of civilian rebels.112 Two months earlier, Frederick William and the war ministry had taken the step of disrupting their carefully structured peacetime organization by detaching the four active fusilier battalions of each army corps from their parent regiments and brigading them together. The fusiliers, while not an elite in the sense of the eighteenth century’s grenadiers, received, in theory, some extra training in marksmanship and skirmishing, and included a higher proportion of men in their final term of service than did the other two battalions of their regiments. Should revolution spread to the point where some kind of mobile fire brigade became necessary, they were the logical choice. To enhance their capacities they were issued needle guns. The process took over a year, but was greeted with enthusiasm by officers and fusiliers alike. Any suggestion that the rifles be withdrawn was met by the reply that this would devastate the battalions’ morale at a time when morale was a scarce commodity.113

Sent into Dresden, the fusiliers of the Alexander Grenadiers and the 24th Infantry conducted a bloody seminar in counter-insurgency. Breech-loaders could not demolish barricades. Their rapid fire, however, did keep defenders’ heads down while other elements flanked or stormed positions. The revolutionaries, about 3,000 of them, whose core was a civic guard with more cohesion and experience than its counterparts elsewhere in Germany, put up a hard fight. Thirty dead and a hundred wounded was the Prussians’ price of victory. About 250 insurgents died and at least 400 were wounded. The latter figure was most probably higher – any rebel who could obtain treatment without entering the official statistics was well advised to do so. By later standards the casualty list was small, and its balance between troops and revolutionaries not so great as to suggest widespread policies of no quarter. But the wave of arrests, indictments and trials that followed the fighting left no doubt that events in Germany were approaching a straight and narrow passage, where choices were either/or.114

The detachment that suppressed the Dresden rising was only the tip of an iceberg. On 2 May the Prussian king had ordered the formation of four provisional divisions for purposes of internal security and external employment. This was done ad hoc, with no regard to tables of organization. About half the battalions involved were Landwehr – part of a process that had brought almost three dozen battalions of that force into active service since November. The gradual call-up was a way of responding to a potentially threatening international situation without the accompanying diplomatic risks of announcing a formal mobilization. It was also a precautionary measure, designed to remove from the civil population as many men as possible with military training under arms. Mobilizing Landwehr battalions was also regarded as a means of re-inculcating any loyalties that might have been temporarily affected by revolutionary propaganda.

That last reflected a significant and enduring difference in practice between military and political reactionaries. The soldiers, no matter how extreme their rhetoric of repression, tended to believe that, at bottom, ‘the people’ were sound in heart and faith. A few weeks of barracks life and close-order drill would be all that was needed to remind them where their true loyalties rested.115 This was perceived as true for potentially disaffected regions like Posen and the Rhineland, as it was for Prussia’s heartlands in Brandenburg and Pomerania, and was part of the reason why Landwehr was included in the counterrevolutionary task forces without much question of which way they might point their weapons once brought back into uniform.

As a consequence of creating the expeditionary forces for Baden and the Palatinate, a second wave of Landwehr battalions had been called up for garrison and internal security duties. These formations, especially the urban ones, greeted the call to arms with considerably less acquiescence than their predecessors. From the Rhineland to Silesia, public protests escalated into collective refusals of orders, the looting and destruction of supply depots and a general indiscipline serious enough that one trainload of Berliners inspired warning telegrams along their route.

Order was usually restored quickly. A few battalions were deprived of their colours. A few companies were forcibly disarmed. A few men were shot to discourage the rest. The motives for the disaffection, however, were subsequently obscured both by liberals seeking to interpret the Landwehr as a focal point of anti-militarism and by conservatives who either blamed the well-known ‘outside agitators’ or denounced the Landwehr principle as fundamentally flawed. The Rhenish Landwehr formations were influenced by a general anti-Prussian mood that had peaked since March 1848. In Silesia and other artisan/industrial regions, memories of recent hard times did nothing to foster enthusiasm. Orders assigning Landwehr battalions far away from their home districts further exacerbated antagonism among men with farms or shops to run, and workers with no guarantee that their jobs would be kept while they were on active service.

Indeed, the Landwehr’s demographics suggested exactly the opposite possibility. As mentioned earlier, the military budget did not make possible the conscription of every eligible man, nor was the army anxious to become more of a militia force than it already was. As a result, increasing numbers of perfectly fit, single men in their twenties were in the crowds that gathered to see the thirty-somethings of the Landwehr on their way to glory, promising them that their businesses, their jobs and their wives would be well and truly cared for.

Once in uniform, the Landwehr suffered from an administration already straining to cope with the challenges posed by constant improvisation. Boots did not fit; blankets were not forthcoming; and food was miserable, even by army standards. The first route marches brought blistered feet and thighs chafed raw by the cheap cloth of government-issue trousers worn with nothing underneath – drawers would not become an item of uniform until after the Austro-Prussian War. Men ignored water discipline, draining their canteens in the first hours, then cursing the sergeants and lieutenants who held them in ranks as they passed by village wells. Open-air bivouacs, which had largely replaced billeting in the Prussian service, aggravated rheumatism and arthritis. Poorly cooked food and unboiled drinking water generated epidemic diarrhoea. All these things might have been acceptable in the context of the kind of national emergency thirty years of propaganda had told the Landwehr it was intended to confront. Instead, the near future seemed to hold nothing beyond close-order drill and garrison duty – a point by no means lost on the more articulate of the rank and file, who were often men of relative substance in their villages or neighbourhoods.

Leadership did not compensate for disaffection. The dichotomy between the political beliefs of the Landwehr officers and those of the active army have often been exaggerated. Men seeking Landwehr commissions, usually drawn from Prussia’s commercial and official communities, were usually inclined to favour law, order and hierarchy, while more than a few of the regulars had been supporters of the constitutional aims of the Vormaerz liberal movement.116 The problem involved training. Landwehr officers received little systematic instruction, and almost none of it involved preserving discipline in a context of growing disaffection. It does not require accepting nineteenth-century conservative positions about some classes being ‘born to lead’ to suggest that the normal routines of a businessman or shopkeeper, a senior commercial employee or a civil servant, did not facilitate the development of skill at exercising authority in the face of challenge.

Prussia was still essentially a culture of small towns and peasant villages, where everyone knew his own place and everyone else’s. Deference, while not automatic, was routine. Coming from such an environment, the Landwehr officer had few tools to cope with disobedience. Apart from the sympathy many of them felt with the immediate grievances of their men, the disruption of peacetime territorially based organizations meant – as a rule -they were dealing with unfamiliar superiors. The more senior ones, particularly, were also unsympathetic to the problems of uniformed civilians from another corps district, or proposed solutions depending altogether too heavily on the court martial and the firing squad to be practical in what was supposed to be a citizen army. In practical terms, the result was a tendency – even in the Landwehr’s more reliable battalions — to give as few orders as possible and overlook everything that did not involve open mutiny. Officers of the active army developed a corresponding contempt for counterparts who seemed to confirm every stereotype about pen-pushers in uniform promulgated by every liverish major in every regimental mess of the Prussian active army.117

For all the army’s internal tensions, the Prussian government did not hesitate in committing it to another counter-insurgency operation, this one well outside both traditional and claimed Prussian spheres of influence in north Germany.118 The garrison of the Confederation fortress of Rastatt was drawn, in part, from the Baden army. The city’s civilian population included several thousand workers on the still uncompleted construction of the fortifications. Many had no families to give hostages to fortune; more had been victimized in recent months by irregular wages and rising prices. In April, when radicals in the Baden Parliament proclaimed a republic and called for an armed uprising, a series of unfocused demonstrations escalated in Rastatt into an equally unfocused mutiny that challenged even the insurrectionists’ capacity to bring it under control. Other units of the Baden army drove out their officers and, when they simply did not disband, recognized the revolution. Joined by freelances and volunteers from all over Europe, they formed the first truly revolutionary army seen on the continent in its modern history — an army whose implications far outweighed its effectiveness.119

At the same time, a similar outbreak occurred in the Bavarian Palatinate. Here, again, civilian insurgents were joined by mutinous soldiers in proclaiming an independent democratic republic. The Frankfurt Parliament possessed no forces of its own with which to respond to Bavaria’s crisis, nor was the kingdom itself willing to test the loyalty of the rest of its army by unilateral action.120 Austria had no troops to spare. That left Prussia, and the Bavarian ministry had no desire to sacrifice prestige, to say nothing of the wider potential consequences, by turning to Berlin.

The Palatinate, however, was too close to the already unstable Rhineland for the Prussian government to concern itself overmuch with formalities. By early June, two provisional corps under Prince William of Prussia were ready for action. They were joined by small contingents from Hesse, Nassau and Wuerttemberg, summoned by the Frankfurt Parliament but despatched by their governments essentially to serve as a Confederation fig leaf for a unilateral Prussian action.121

The Palatinate was unable to offer significant resistance to overwhelming force. Baden proved a more difficult proposition. Ludwyk Mieroslawski was one of the professional revolutionaries Europe developed in the Age of Metternich. With experience leading uprisings from Poland to Sicily, he and his undisciplined army kept the field for two weeks, danced rings around the clumsy Prussian efforts to force a battle, then withdrew into Rastatt to stand a siege.

Some conservatives called forth apocalyptic memories of Muenster and the Anabaptists in the sixteenth century. Mieroslawski, however, was no Jan Bockelszoon, nor were his followers revolutionaries to the knife. Rastatt held out until 23 July because of the attackers’ agreement that the expensive fortifications should not be bombarded. It was, moreover, increasingly clear that the defenders had nowhere to go. Neither Mieroslawski nor the revolutionary government had seriously considered waging a people’s war. When Rastatt finally surrendered, those defenders who had not already slipped through a siege that was, in practice, no more than a lackadaisical blockade, were screened, tried and punished. Most of the lesser fry able to tell a convincing story of victimization by outside agitators came off lightly. For the leaders and the visible actors who had not already sought exile, or were unlucky or obvious enough to be captured and escaped being shot out of hand, prison was a much more common outcome than the rope or the firing squad.

In Baden, for example, three emergency courts, staffed by Prussian officers and local lawyers, pronounced 115 judgments between 6 August and 27 October 1849. Thirty-one were death sentences, four of which were commuted to ten-year penitentiary terms. Sixty-two other ten-year sentences were pronounced. Twenty-five defendants were referred to civil courts. One was set free.122 Rather than suggesting a kangaroo court, that last statistic is an indication that those put on trial were carefully pre-selected from a much deeper pool of potential defendants who were prima facie guilty of what, at the time, were capital offences. Since the emergence of modern laws of war in the sixteenth century, rebels taken in arms had no claim to quarter. From Culloden in 1745 to Vinegar Hill and Ballinamuck in 1798, to Goliad and the Alamo forty years later, the period’s history is replete with accounts of condign punishment for insurrection. There was some initial support in Britain for treating the rebellious North American colonies as the Highlands had been treated.123 Times, however, were becoming gentler. Germany’s governments were primarily concerned with restoring and recreating order. They had enough to do re-knitting disrupted systems without staging mass executions or organizing a lengthy series of show trials ending in legally sanctioned bloodbaths.


The point, in any case, had been well made. Veit Valentin’s long-standard history of the revolution estimates that around 5 per cent of Baden’s population emigrated. He quotes a ‘lullaby’, warning that a Prussian lurks outside the door who has killed Father, impoverished Mother and will surely make short process with a refractory child!124 This politically charged ditty may or may not actually have been sung in Baden’s nurseries, but its contents highlighted Prussia’s position as the hero of counter-revolutionaries, conservatives and reactionaries throughout Germany and central Europe.

The Baden army re-emerged structured along Prussian models. Saxony, with policies long and legitimately shaped by fear of Prussian ambitions, now stood indebted to Berlin. Even Bavaria was glad enough to reoccupy the Palatinate once Prussian troops had completed its scouring. Meanwhile Radowitz negotiated with the kings of Saxony and Hanover to support the creation of a federal diet, with the aim of working out a constitutional settlement with the remaining states.

By year’s end, over two dozen governments endorsed a complex programme for unification from above on a ‘little German’ basis, with strong safeguards for the lesser states and a parliament based on three-class voting. The Frankfurt Parliament, reduced to a rump of true believers, had sought refuge in Stuttgart, from whence they were sent home by a detachment of the Wuerttemberg army – the only time in modern German history when the proverbial ‘lieutenant and ten men’ actually did dissolve a parliamentary body. About 150 of its former members, meeting in Gotha, also endorsed Radowitz’s idea as the best feasible remaining approach to creating some form of German government.

Austria did not remain idle in the face of this challenge. Its new prime minister, Prince Felix Schwarzenberg, considered the empire’s revolution-weakened position best met by assertion on all possible fronts. While his overall German policy remains a subject of dispute, in no case did he intend to allow Prussia to achieve, unchallenged, what amounted to parity with Austria. Through the autumn and winter he played a double-barrelled game in Germany: on the one hand, appealing to Frederick William in the name of tradition and monarchic solidarity, while, on the other, warning the lesser states against the risks of being swallowed whole by a Prussia whose very successes in counter-insurgency warfare had made following its diplomatic lead unnecessary. Simultaneously, Schwarzenberg sought to persuade Nicholas I that Prussia’s initiative represented a threat to Europe’s status quo that was no less dangerous than revolution. And, as a final card, the foreign minister began making overt, large-scale preparations for military intervention.

This last was by no means a bluff. The Habsburg army had increased significantly in strength during the civil war. By October 1849, it counted 650,000 men. Many of them existed only on paper and many of the formations were undeployable outside the empire, but large numbers of the regimental officers and enlisted men had recent combat experience against organized enemies. The earlier mutinies, moreover, had removed potentially disloyal elements; there was no doubt that any troops sent to Germany would fight, and fight well. Prussia sought to apply the brakes, but in the end had gone too far in advocating a ‘little German’ federation to withdraw its support from the elections for a parliament that opened on 20 March 1850, in Erfurt, and quickly approved the proposed constitution.

Schwarzenberg again took two roads. While continuing to warn Prussia that it was courting war, he invited the princes to send delegates to Frankfurt to consider restoring the Confederation. Ten responded – all the large ones. Bavaria, Wuerttemberg, Hanover, Hesse and Saxony sent representatives, while assuring Berlin that their intentions were in no way hostile. Prussia, seeing its practical support eroded, pretended to agree while seeking to bring in Russia as a makeweight.125

Prussia’s success against the German Revolution had been achieved at the price of completely disrupting the army’s organization above the battalion level. In addition to the two provisional corps in the south, most of a division was deployed in Schleswig-Holstein and Hamburg. Even after the fighting stopped, two dozen battalions remained in Baden until the state’s army could be reorganized. Another half-dozen were stationed in Frankfurt. In contrast to Austria before 1848 or the Kingdom of Italy after 1871, the Prussian army was not organized with preserving domestic stability as a primary focus. Nor, on the other hand, did Prussia have the pretensions of Restoration France as a primary power, a European enforcer requiring an army able to undertake come-as-you-are operations across a broad spectrum of missions and environments. The Defence Law of 1814 and its modifications privileged eventual mobilizable strength over immediate striking power as the basis of Prussia’s military effectiveness, and created an organization that lacked the flexibility for task-force operations. In those contexts a good case might be made that the Prussian army had performed admirably. That, however, did not seem the case to a war ministry desperately attempting to untangle and restore its orders of battle while confronting a new, potentially far more serious crisis.

In May 1850, the army began recalling reservists and purchasing horses, putting its eastern and southern fortresses on a war footing and concentrating troops in the south. In the event, half a million men were involved, and the war ministry took advantage of the relatively slow pace of events to move as many of them as possible by rail. The result was compounded confusion. Since no plans existed for systematic military use of the railways, responsibility was assumed by the ministry of commerce. This meant troop trains were fitted into regular schedules on an ad hoc basis, moved seemingly at random along single-track lines from point to aimless point, whose only common feature was the absence of food, water and latrine facilities.

Most of the active regiments had still not returned to their corps districts. In a manner prefiguring France in 1870, detachments of reservists could be found at railway stations all over Prussia, sometimes seeking their parent units and sometimes hoping the affair would be settled by the time they reached them. Landwehr morale appeared somewhat improved over the previous year, but in good part, this was a result of the floggings – not in a literal sense but a metaphoric one: experience showed bucking the system was clearly futile. A decree providing for family allowances removed some of the still festering grievances felt by older, married men at being called up a second time while the young bucks tarried safe at home. The same decree, however, upset local authorities, who were made responsible for paying the new allotments but given no additional money. Stocks of clothing and equipment, already depleted by the unexpected demands of the past year, diminished to the point that some of the Landwehr units found themselves boarding trains in worn-out shoes and without arms of any sort.

On paper, 175,000 men and 500 guns were under orders to move to Prussian Saxony and nearby points. It took two months to concentrate the main body, 60,000 men, around Torgau – without much regard to where or whether that force could move next. An army corps was responsible for mobilizing over 1,000 men in its logistics formations. The total peacetime cadre was two officers and one NCO! Depots fleshed out the army’s trains by disposing of their cast-offs: the slow-witted, the intractable, the incompetent. Small wonder that supply units gridlocked as wagons broke down and horses died at the hands of men unaccustomed to caring for any animal larger than a house pet.126

Meanwhile, Austria was preparing to deploy over a third of a million men, its own troops plus contingents from Bavaria and Wuerttemberg, on an arc from Moravia through Bohemia into Saxony, and westward toward Hesse. In strategic terms, Austria was far to the north in Germany. On balance, however, Austrian supply systems and Austrian troop movements, while anything but flawless, proved superior to their Prussian counterparts. Austrian operational planning also depended heavily on railroads, initially to secure interior lines of operation, then, once the fighting started, to take the Prussians in the rear or ‘do anything circumstances allow’.127

As armies massed in a manner reminiscent of the ‘Potato War’ of 1780 between Prussia and Austria, the Elector of Hesse requested Confederation assistance in suppressing internal disorder generated by his own breach of the constitution. His actions had no wider hidden agenda, but nevertheless proved a catalyst for crisis. Three major roads connecting the Rhineland with Prussia proper ran across the Electorate’s territory. Prussia was unwilling to allow confederate troops, especially with Austrian support, to gain such an obvious strategic advantage. Frederick William, under conservative pressure, focused through Radowitz, to respond with force, above all did not want war with Austria. He wanted it even less when Tsar Nicholas accompanied his refusal to support Prussia with his own threat of war should his counsel be disregarded.128

On 2 November, Prussian troops entered Hesse. Despite promises that they would do no more than secure the roads to which Prussia in any case had right of access, Schwarzenberg responded. A minor skirmish on 8 November resulted in six wounded Austrians and a Prussian troop horse dead: the famous ‘Olmuetz grey’. Schwarzenberg and Frederick William exchanged threats and insults for three weeks. On 25 November, Schwarzenberg called the hand, giving Prussia two days to accept the presence of Confederation forces in Hesse. With Russia hostile and France and Britain indifferent, on 1 December Frederick William agreed to the ‘Olmuetz Punctation’. Its terms included Prussia allowing Confederation troops in Hesse and cooperating with Austria in withdrawing support for the Schleswig-Holstein rebels, leaving the locals to go down at the hands of a Danish army as able as Prussia’s to defeat civilian levies. The question of Germany’s political organization was to be addressed by a conference of the German states at Dresden.

That conference demonstrated the limited appeal of Schwarzenberg’s policies. The middle states were sufficiently frightened by his proposal that the entire Austrian Empire should join the German Confederation that he found himself turning to Prussia, achieving a mutual defence pact that at least suggested Prussia remained willing to sustain some kind of dualism in Germany. Prussia, for its part, understood that the issues of Hesse and Schleswig-Holstein, while embarrassing, were the kinds of things easily enough sent down a memory hole for a suitable quid pro quo. Usually described as a disaster for Prussia, Olmuetz instead represented more of a compromise between two states unwilling to regard their differences as best settled by force of arms – as yet.129

The Wars of German Unification - Notes and Bibliography:

1. Cf. Moeller, Horst, "Vernunft und Kritik. Deutsche Aufklaerung im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert." Frankfurt: , 1986 ; Saine, Thomas, "The Problem of Being Modern, or, The German Pursuit of Enlightenment from Leibniz to the French Revolution." Detroit: , 1997 Boedeker, Hans Erich, "Aufklaerung und Kommunikationsprozess." "Aufklaerung." 2 1987 89–112 pp. ; and T Yasukata, Lessing’s Philosophy of Religion and the German Enlightenment (New York, 2002).

2. Lestition, Steven, "Kant and the End of the Enlightenment in Prussia." "Journal of Modern History." 65 1993 57–112 pp.

3. Karlingen, Felix, "Geschichte des Maerchen im deutschen Sprachraum." Darmstadt: , 2 1988

4. Ward, Albert, "Book Production, Fiction, and the German Reading Public, 1740–1800." Oxford: , 1974 . Engelsing, Cf Rolf, "Analphabeten und Lektuere : zur Sozialgeschichte des Lesens in Deutschland zwischen feudalen und industriellen Gesellschaft." Stuttgart: , 1973 .

5. Hochstadt S. L., "Migration in Pre-Industrial Germany." "Central European History." 16 1983 195–224 pp. , makes a case as well for a significant degree of regional mobility at lower socio-economic levels.

6. Meinecke, Friedrich, "Weltbuergertum und Nationalstaat: Studien zur Genesis des deutschen Nationalstaates." Munich: , 5 1919

7. Schultz, Helga, "Mythos und Aufklaerung." "Historische Zeitschrift." 263 1996 31–67 pp. . Schulze, Cf Hagen, "Der Weg zum Nationalstaat : Die deutsche Nationalbewegung vom 18. Jahrhundert bis zur Reichsgruendung." Munich: , 1985 .

8. Cf Nisbet H. B., "Was ist Aufklaerung?." "Journal of European Studies." 12 1982 77–95 pp. and Duelmen, Richard, "The Society of the Enlightenment : The Rise of the Middle Class and Enlightenment Culture in Germany." Cambridge: , 1992 .

9. Blanning T. C. W, "Germany and the French Revolution." Oxford: , 1983 .

10. Cf. Nolte P., "Staatsbildung als Gesellschaftsreform. Politische Reformen in Preussen und den sueddeutschen Staaten 1800–1820." Frankfurt: , 1990 ; Gray, Marion, "Prussia in Transition : Society and Politics under the Stein Reform Ministry of 1808." Philadelphia: , 1986 ; and Hagemann, Karen, "‘Mannlicher Muth und Teutsche Ehre’. Nation, Militaer und Geschlecht zur Zeit der Antinapoleonischen Krieges Preussens." Paderborn: , 2002 .

11. Hofmeister-Hunger, Andrea, "Pressepolitik und Staatsreform : Die Institutionalisierung staatlicher Oeffentlichkeit bei Karl August von Hardenberg, 1792–1822." Goettingen: , 1994 and Berdahl, Robert, "New Thoughts on German Nationalism." "American Historical Review 11." 77 1972 65–80 pp.

12. See, particularly, Robert D. Billinger, "Metternich and the German Question: State Rights and Federal Duties, 1820–1834." London: , 1991 and Lawrence J. Flockerzie, "Saxony, Austria, and the German Question after the Congress of Vienna, 1815–1816." "International History Review." 12 1990 661–87 pp. Wolf D. Gruner, "Die Rolle und Funktion von ‘Kleinstaaten’ im internationalen System 1815–1914 : Die Bedeutung des Endes der deutschen Klein-und Mittelstaaten fuer die europaeische Ordnung." Hamburg: , 1985 , provides the general framework.

13. An interesting case study is Bruemmer, Manfred, "Staat contra Universitaet. Die Universitaet Halle-Wittenberg und die karlsbader Beschluesse 1819–1848." Weimar: , 1991 . Cf. more generally, Ohles, Frederik, "Germany’s Rude Awakening : Censorship in the Land of the Brothers Grimm." Kent, OH: , 1992 .

14. Cf. Eberhardt Buessem, Die Karlsbader Beschluesse von 1819: Die endgueltige Stabilisierung der restaurative Politik im Deutschen Bund nach dem Wiener Kongress von 1814/15 (Hildesheim, 1974); M. Jeismann, Das Vaterland der Feinde. Studien zum nationalen Feindbegriff und Selbstverstaendnis in Deutschland und Frankreich, 1792–1918 (Stuttgart, 1992); and Wolfram Siemann, ‘Wandel der Politik – Wandel der Staatsgewalt. Der Deutsche Bund in der Spannung zwischen “Gesammt-macht” und “voelkerrechtlichem Verein” ‘, in Deutscher Bund und deutsche Frage, 1815–1866, ed. H. Ruempler (Munich, 1990), pp. 59–73.

15. Michael Buchmann, Cf Bertrand, "Militaer-Diplomatie-Politik. Oesterreich und Europa 1815–1835." Bern: , 1991 and, more generally, M. Dermdarsky, ‘Oesterreich und der Deutsche Bund 1815–1866. Anerkennung zur deutschen Frage zwischen dem Wiener Kongress und Koeniggraetz’ in Oesterreich und die deutsche Frage im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert, eds. H. Lutz and H. Rumpler (Vienna, 1982), pp. 92–116.

16. Berding H., "Napoleonische Herrschafts-und Gesellschaftspolitik im Koenigreich Westfalen 1807–1813." Goettingen: , 1973 and Schulz, Andreas, "Herrschaft durch Verwaltung. Die Rheinbundreformen in Hessen-Darmstadt unter Napoleon (1803–1815)." Stuttgart: , 1991 .

17. Cf. as case studies, inter alia, Lee L. E., "Baden between Revolutions." "Central European History." 24 1991 248–67 pp. , and Lawrence J. Flockherzie, ‘State-Building and Nation-Building in the “Third Germany”: Saxony after the Congress of Vienna’, ibid., pp. 268–92.

18. Friedrich Meinicke, Cosmopolitanism and the National State, tr. R. Kimber (Princeton, 1970).

19. Demel, Cf Walter, "Der bayerischen Staatsabsolutismus, 1806/08-1817." Munich: , 1983 and Weis, Eberhard, "Montgelas 1759–1799." Munich: , 1971 , in the context of Quint, Wolfgang, "Souveraenitaetsbegriff und Douveraenitaetspolitik in Bayern." Berlin: , 1971 . On the POW issue, see Schmit, Wolfgang, "Das Schicksal der Bayerischen Kriegsgefangenen in Russland 1812 bis 1814." "Militaergeschichtliche Mitteilungen." 47 1987 9–26 pp. . For a quarter-century afterwards, the Bavarian government attempted to discover the fate of these lost men — a useful case study in the process of transforming subjects into citizens.

20. See, particularly, Berdahl, Robert, "The Politics of the Prussian Nobility : The Development of a Conservative Ideology 1770–1848." Princeton: , 1988 .

21. The government established an embryonic public relations programme to go with its vision. See Hofmeister-Hunger, Andrea, "Pressepolitik und Staatsreform : Die Institutionalisierung staatlicher Oeffentlichkeitsarbeit bei Karl August von Hardenberg (1792–1822)." Goettingen: , 1994 .

22. Levinger, Cf Matthew, "Enlightened Nationalism. The Transformation of Prussia’s Political Culture, 1806–1848." New York: , 2000 ; Stamm-Kuhlmann, Thomas, "Man vertraue doch der Administration!” Staatsverstaendnis und Regierungshandeln des preussischen Staatskanzlers Karl von Hardenberg." "Historische Zeitschrift." 264 1997 613–54 pp. ; and Echterkamp, Joerg, "Der Aufstieg der deutschen Nationalismus." Frankfurt: , 1997 .

23. Dwyer, Philip, "The Two Faces of Prussian Foreign Policy." "‘Freier Gebrauch der Kraefte’. Eine Bestandsaufnahme der Hardenberg-Forschung." Stamm-Kuhlmann T., ed. Munich, 2001 75–91 pp. .

24. Meyer Kestnbaum, ‘Partisans and Patriots: National Conscription and the Reconstruction of the Modern State in France, Germany, and the United States’ (dissertation, Harvard, 1997), contextualizes the Prussian experience with conscription.

25. Hofschroer, Peter, "1815, The Waterloo Campaign." London: , 1998–9 2 , overstates the case – but not by much.

26. See, particularly, Lawrence J. Baack, "Christian Bernstoff and Prussia : Diplomacy and Reform Conservatism, 1818–1832." New Brunswick, NJ: , 1980 .

27. Recent, massive case studies include Wunder, Bernd, "Die badische Beamtenschaft zwischen Rheinbund und Reichsgruendung (1806–1871)." Stuttgart: , 1998 and Treichel, Echhardt, "Der Primat der Buerokratie : Buerokratischer Staat und buerokratische Elite im Herzogtom Nassau, 1806–1866." Stuttgart: , 1991 .

28. Brose, Eric Dorn, "The Politics of Technological Change in Prussia : Out of the Shadow of Antiquity, 1809–1848." Princeton: , 1993 and David T. Murphy, "Prussian Aims for the Zollverein, 1828–1833." "The Historian." 53 1991 258–302 pp.

29. James J. Sheehan, "German Liberalism in the Nineteenth Century." Chicago: , 1978 and Dieter Langewiesche, Liberalism in Germany, tr. C. Banerji (Princeton, 2000) are the best overviews. Michael Hammer’s massive case study Volksbewegung und Obrigkeiten: Revolution in Sachsen, 1830/31 (Weimar, 1997), makes a case for greater belligerency — at least until the shooting started. Cf. also, Heinrich Vblkmann, ‘Protesttraeger und Protestformen in den Unruhen 1830–1832’ in Sozialer Protest: Studien zu traditioneller Resistenz und kollektiver Gewalt in Deutschland vom Vormaerz bis zur Reichsgruendung, eds. H. Volckmann and J. Bergmann (Opladen, 1984), pp. 56–75.

30. Dueding, Dieter, "Organisierter Gesellschaftlicher Nationalismus in Deutschland (1808–1848)." Munich: , 1984 .

31. Cf. Burg P., "Die franzoesische Politik gegenueber Foederationen und Foederationsplaenen deutscher Klein-und Mittelstaaten, 1830–1833." "Aspects des relations franco-allemandes 1830–1848." Metz, 1979 17–45 pp. ; Heuser, Wolfgang, "Kein Krieg in Europa : Die Rolle Preussens im Kreis der Europaeischen Maechte bei der Entstehung des belgischen Staates (1830–1839)." Pfaffenweiler: , 1992 ; and the anthology, Der Polnische Freiheitskampf 1830–1831 und die liberale deutsche Polenfreundschaft, ed. P. Ehlen (Munich, 1982).

32. Hoebelt, Lothar, "Zur Militaerpolitik des Deutschen Bundes." "Deutscher Bund und deutsche Frage." 114–35 pp. .

33. For the following, Baack, pp. 165 ff., is the best overview in English. Cf. for a briefer analysis, Robert D. Billinger, "The War Scare of 1831 and Prussian-South German Plans for the End of Austrian Dominance in Germany." "Central European History." 9 1976 203–19 pp. and Angelow, Juergen, "Von Wien nach Koeniggraetz : Die Sicherheitspolitik des Deutschen Bundes im europaeschen Gleichgewicht 1815–1866." Munich: , 1996 p. 87 ff.

34. For that process, see Gary P. Cox, "The Halt in the Mud : French Strategic Planning from Waterloo to Sedan." Boulder, CO: , 1994 .

35. Werner, George, "Bavaria in the German Confederation, 1820–1848." Rutherford, NJ: , 1977 .

36. For Bavaria’s position, see Hackl, Othmar, "Der Bayerische Generalstab (1792–1919)." Munich: , 1999 p. 63.

37. The best work on the military aspect is Frederick W. Kagan, "The Military Reforms of Nicholas I." New York: , 1999 p. 212.

38. Billinger, "Metternich." : , pp. 144–5

39. The draft ‘Protokoll’ of 3 December 1832 is reprinted in Angelow, pp. 350–65.

40. This reform is analysed comprehensively in Keul, Wolfgang, "Die Bundesmilitaerkommission (1819–1866) als politisches Gremium." Frankfurt: , 1977 p. 142.

41. Cf. Veit-Brause, Irmline, "Die deutsch-franzoesische Krise von 1840." Cologne: , 1967 ; Mayer, Manfred, "Freiheit und Macht : Studien zum Nationalismus sueddeutscher insbesondere badischer Liberaler 1830–1848." Frankfurt: , 1994 ; and Krauss, Sylvia, "Die politischen Beziehungen zwischen Bayern und Frankreich, 1814/15-1840." Munich: , 1987 .

42. Angelow, pp. 57 ff. and Wolfgang Petter, ‘Deutscher Bund und deutscher Mittelstaaten’ in Handbuch zur Militaergeschichte, vol. IV/2, Militaergeschichte im 19. Jahrhundert, ed. MGFA (Stuttgart, 1981), pp. 248 ff.

43. Cox, p. 145.

44. Cf. Veit-Brause, passim and Sieburg H. O., "Napoleon, Napoleon-Legende und politische Gruppenbilding." Groote W., Napoleon I und die Staatenwelt seiner Zeit. Freiburg: 1969 151–67 pp.

45. Kraus, Hans-Christof, "Das preussische Koenigtum Friedrich Wilhelms IV aus der Sicht Ernst Ludwig von Gerlachs." "Jahrbuch fuer die Geschichte Mittel-und Ostdeutschlands." 36 1987 48–93 pp.

46. David E. Barclay, "Frederick William IV and the Prussian Monarchy, 1840–1861." Oxford: , 1995 p. 49.; ‘The Soldiers of an Unsoldierly King: The Military Advisors of Frederick William IV, 1840–1858’ in Geschichte als Aufgabe. Festschrift fuer Otto Busch, ed. W. Treue (Berlin, 1988), pp. 247–66; Robert D. Billinger, Jr., ‘They Sing the Best Songs Badly: Metternich, Frederick William IV, and the German Confederation during the War Scare of 1840’, Deutscher Bund und deutsche Frage, pp. 94—113; and Angelow, pp. 113 ff. For the French perspective, see Cox, pp. 144 ff.

47. Max Ritter von Xylander, Das Heer-Wesen der Staaten des Deutschen Bundes (Augsburg, 1842, reprinted 1990), is a comprehensive and reliable handbook. Petter, pp. 359 ff., is an excellent overview of the Confederation from an institutional perspective. Wolf D. Gruner, "Das bayerische Heer 1825 bis 1864. Eine kritische Analyse der bewaffneten Macht Bayerns vom Regierungsantritt Ludwigs I bis zum Vorabend des deutschen Krieges." Boppard: , 1972 and Sauer, Paul, "Das wuerttembegrische Heer in der Zeit des deutschen und norddeutschen Bundes." Stuttgart: , 1958 , are by far the best studies of their respective armies.

48. Fleck, Peter, "Konskription und Stellvertretung. Die Behandlung der Kriegsdienstpflicht in hessisch-darmstaedtischen Landtag von 1820 bis 1866." "Archiv fuer hessische Geschichte und Altertumskunde, Neue Folge." 43 1985 193–228 pp. , is an excellent case study of the system and the controversies it engendered.

49. Mueller, Sabrina, "Soldaten in der deutschen Revolution von 1848/49." Paderborn: , 1999 , is masterful in sorting out the social history of the German armies; the anecdote is on p. 315.

50. Cf. Volkmann, Heinrich, "Protesttraeger und Protestformen in den Unruhen von 1830 bis 1832’." "Sozialer Protest. Studien zu traditioneller Resistenz und kollektiver Gewalt in Deutschland vom Vormaerz bis zum Reichsgruendung." Opladen, 1984 56–74 pp. and Ralf Proeve, ‘Civic Guards in the European Revolutions of 1848’ in Europe in 1848: Revolution and Reform, eds. D. Dowe et al., tr. D. Higgins (New York, 2001), pp. 683–93.

51. See Reinhard Mielitz, ‘Das badische Militaerwesen und die Frage der Vblksbewaffnung von den Jahren des Rheinbundes bis zum 48er Revolution’ (dissertation, Freiburg, 1956).

52. See, for example, the Bavarian General Staff’s approach in Hackl, pp. 119 ff.

53. The best overview is Wolf Gruner, ‘Der Deutsche Bund und die europaeische Friedensordnung’ in Deutscher Bund und deutsche Frage, pp. 235–63. See also Burg, Peter, "Der Wiener Kongress. Der Deutsche Bund im europaeischen Staatensystem." Munich: , 1984 and Bentfeldt, Ludwig, "Der Deutsche Bund als nationales Band 1815–1866." Goettingen: , 1985 .

54. The following is based on Edgar Graf von Matuschka and Wolfgang Petter, ‘Organisationsgeschichte der Streitkraeften’ in Deutsche Militaergeschichte, IV/2, pp. 322–43. Neimeyer, Joachim, "Hannoversches Militaer 1815–1866." Beckum: , 1992 , offers points of comparison in the context of a state that consistently went its own way in military matters. Cf. the overview by Wienhofer, Elmar, "Das Militaerwesen des Deutschen Bundes und das Ringen zwischen Oesterreich und Preussen um die Vorherrschaft in Deutschland, 1815–1866." Osnabrueck: , 1973 .

55. Keim A., "Erlebtes und Erstrebtes. Lebenserinnerungen von Generalleutnant Keim." Hanover: , 1925 pp. 10–11.

56. Schnitter, Helmuth, "Militaerwesen und Militaerpublizistik. Die militaerische Zeitschriftenpublizistik in der Geschichte des buergerlichen Militaerwesens in Deutschland." Berlin: , 1967 , remains a useful overview of the subject.

57. Mitchell, Allan, "The Great Train Race. Railways and the Franco-German Rivalry, 1815–1914." New York: , 2000 , pp. 43 ff. Cf. Hackl, p. 79 passim and Petter, ‘Deutscher Bund’, pp. 246 ff.

58. On the ‘Wallenstein question’ see Gordon A. Craig, ‘Command and Staff Problems in the Austrian army, 1740–1866’ in War, Politics, and Diplomacy: Selected Essays (New York, 1966), pp. 3–21.

59. Kern, Stephen, "The Culture of Time and Space, 1880–1918." Cambridge, MA: , 1983 .

60. See Paul W. Schroeder, "The Transformation of European Politics, 1763–1848." Oxford: , 1994 p. 525.

61. Gunther E. Rothenberg, "The Army of Francis Joseph." Lafayette, IN: , 1976 p. 9, is the standard English overview. Niemeyer, Joachim, "Das oesterreichische Militaerwesen im Umbruch. Untersuchungen zum Kriegsbild zwischen 1830 und 1866." Osnabrueck: , 1979 . The first volume of Geoffrey Wawro, ‘The Austro-Prussian War: Politics, Strategy, and War in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1859–1866’ (dissertation, 2 vols., Yale, 1992) is more detailed and exponentially more scathing. Unfortunately, most of it was edited when the dissertation was revised for publication.

62. As in, for example, Heinrich Friedjung, Der Kampf um die Vorherrschaft in Deutschland (2 vols., 10th ed., Stuttgart, 1917), vol. I, pp. 375–6 and Regele, Oskar, "Feldzeugmeister Benedek : Der Weg nach Koeniggraetz." Vienna: , 1960 p. 355.

63. Wawro, GeofYrey, "Inside the Whale." "War In History." 3 1996 42–65 pp.

64. Enno Kraehe, Metternich’s German Policy, vol. II, The Congress of Vienna (Princeton, 1983).

65. Gunther E. Rothenberg, "Napoleon’s Great Adversaries : The Archduke Charles and the Austrian Army, 1792–1814." Bloomington, IN: , 1982 .

66. Radvany, Egon, "Metternich’s Projects for Reform in Austria." The Hague: , 1971 and Emerson D. E., "Metternich and the Political Police : Security and Subversion in the Habsburg Monarchy, 1815–1830." The Hague: , 1968 , for discussions of Metternich’s domestic use of carrots and sticks.

67. Rothenberg, Gunther, "The Military Border in Croatia, 1780–1881." Chicago: , 1966 p. 46. and 176 ff.

68. The best English-language surveys of Restoration Italy are Hearder, Henry, "Italy in the Age of the Risorgimento, 1790–1870." London: , 1983 and Woolf, Stuart, "A History of Italy : The Social Constraints of Political Change." London: , 1979 .

69. Regele, Oskar, "Feldmarschall Radetzsky." Vienna: , 1957 , incorporates a favourable presentation of the military aspects of Austria’s Italian policy. Reinerman A. J., "Austria and the Papacy in the Age of Metternich." 2 Washington, DC: , 1979–89 , is more comprehensive than its title suggests for the years up to 1833. Cf. generally, Alan Sked, ‘Metternich’s System’ in Europe’s Balance of Power, 1815–1848, ed. A. Sked (London, 1979), pp. 98–121. For the Italian garrison’s internal dynamic, see Niemeyer, pp. 104 ff.

70. Stuebig, Heinz, "Heer und Nation." "Militaergeschichtliche Mitteilungen." 58 1999 1–22 pp. and Kessel, Eberhard, "Zu Boyens Entlassung." "Historische Zeitschrift." 175 1953 41–54 pp.

71. For the Landwehr’s origins and early years, see Showalter, Dennis, "The Prussian Landwehr and its Critics, 1813–1819." "Central European History." 4 1971 3–33 pp. and Schmidt, Dorothea, "Die preussische Landwehr : Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der allgemeinen Wehrpflicht in Preussen zwischen 1815 und 1830." Berlin: , 1981 . The analysis in Dierk Walter, ‘Preussische Heeresreformen 1807–1870. Militaerische Innovation und der Mythos der “Roonschen Reform” ‘ (dissertation, Bern, 2001) pp. 168–282, is excellent.

72. Bucholz, Arden, "Moltke, Schlieffen, and Prussian War Planning." New York: , 1991 p. 19 and the excellent comparative study by Hackl, Othmar, "Die Vorgeschichte, Gruendung und fruehe Entwicklung der Generalstaebe Oesterreichs, Bayerns und Preussens." Osnabrueck: , 1997 .

73. Bucholz, pp. 25–8 and Walter, pp. 374–6. William J. Miller, "Mapping for Stonewall : The Civil War Service of Jed Hotchkiss." Washington, DC: , 1993 .

74. Walter, pp. 352 ff., perceptively integrates the army’s organization with the preservation of a conservative order in the provinces.

75. Cf. Christiane Buechel, ‘Der Offizier im Gesellschaftsbild der Fruehaufklaerung: Die Soldatenschriften des Johann Michael von Loden’, Aufklaerung 11 (1999), no. 2, pp. 5–23 and Michael Sikora, ‘ “Ueber die Veredlung des Soldaten”: Positionsbestimmungen zwischen Militaer und Aufklaerung’, ibid., pp. 25–50. Tharau F. K., "Die geistige Kultur des preussischen Offiziers, 1648–1806." Mainz: , 1968 , remains useful.

76. White, Charles, "The Enlightened Soldier : Scharnhorst and the Militaerische Gesellschaft in Berlin, 1801–1805." New York: , 1989 .

77. The relationship is developed in Leggiere, Michael, "Napoleon and Berlin." Norman, OK: , 2002 .

78. Varnhagen von Ense F. K., "Bluecher." Berlin: , 1933 p. 270. If the story is not true, it deserves to be!

79. Cf. the discussion of officer education after 1815 in Manfred Messerschmidt, ‘Die Preussische Armee’ in Deutsche Militaergeschichte (Munich, 1983), vol. IV/2, pp. 72 ff.

80. That, in turn, reflected the desire of Landwehr supporters like Hermann von Boyen, recalled in 1841 to the war ministry, to keep the citizen-soldiers free of the line army’s emphasis on close-order drill. Meinecke, Friedrich, "Das Leben des Generalfeldmarschalls Hermann von Boyen." Stuttgart: , 1899 II p. 540.

81. Kraft Karl zu Hohenloe-Ingelfingen, Aus Meinem Leben, 1848–71 (4 vols., Berlin, 1897–1907), vol. I, p. 296.

82. Bucholz, pp. 28—31 and Knoll, Werner, "Die Entwicklung des Kriegsspiels in Deutschland bis 1945." "Militaergeschichte." 20 1981 179–89 pp. . Poehlmann Walter, Markus Dierk, "Guderian fuers Kinderzimmer." "Zeitschrift fuer Geschichtswissenschaften." 46 1998 1087–108 pp. .

83. On this subject, Showalter, Dennis, "Railroads and Rifles : Soldiers, Technology, and the Unification of Germany." Hamden, CT: , 1976 and, more generally for the railroads, James M. Brophy, "Capitalism, Politics, and Railroads in Prussia, 1830–1870." Columbus, OH: , 1998 .

84. Das Zuendnadelgewehr. Eine militaertechnische Revolution im 19. Jahrhundert, eds. R. Wirtgen et al. (Herford, 1991), is a technically oriented narrative of the rifle’s origins and adoption by Prussia.

85. Ueber die militaerische Benutzung der Eisenbahn (Berlin, 1836).

86. Klee, Wolfgang, "Preussische Eisenbahngeschichte." Stuttgart: , 1982 p. 114; Jeffry M. Diefendorf, "Businessmen and Politics in the Rhineland, 1789–1834." Princeton: , 1980 ; and Zunkel, Friedrich, "Der rheinisch-westfalische Unternehmer, 1834—1879." Cologne: , 1962 . Then, Volker, "Eisenbahnen und Eisenbahnunternehmer in der Industriellen Revolution. Ein preussisch/deutsch-englischer Vergleich." Goettingen: , 1997 , offers an international perspective.

87. Colleen A. Dunlavy, "Politics and Industrialization : Early Railroads in the United States and Prussia." Princeton: , 1994 .

88. Cf. Hans Umbreit, ‘Von der preussisch-deutschen Militaergeschichtsschreibung zur heutigen Militaergeschichte’ in Geschichte und Militaergeschichte: Wege der Forschung, ed. U. von Gersdorff (Frankfurt, 1974), pp. 17–54 and Bucholz, Arden, "Hans Delbrueck and the German Military Establishment : War Images in Conflict." Iowa City, IA: , 1995 .

89. Cf. the general analyses in Gat, Azar, "The Origins of Military Thought from the Enlightenment to Clausewitz." Oxford: , 1989 ; Marwedel, Ulrich, "Carl von Clausewitz : Persoenlickeit und Wirkungsgeschichte seines Werkes bis 1918." Boppard: , 1978 ; and Paret, Peter, "Clausewitz and the State." New York: , 1976 .

90. Beck, Hermann, "State and Society in Pre-March Prussia." "Central European History." 25 1992 303–31 pp. .

91. Manfred Messerschmidt, ‘Die politische Geschichte der preussisch-deutschen Armee’ in Handbuch der Militaergeschichte, ed. MGFA (Frankfurt, 1975), vol. IV/1, pp. 129 ff. and Sperber, Jonathan, "Rhineland Radicals : The Democratic Movement and the Revolution of 1848–1849." Princeton: , 1991 p. 88. Alf Luedtke, Police and State in Prussia, 1815–1850, tr. P. Burgess (Cambridge, 1989), contextualizes the government’s readiness to use troops for internal security. Mueller, pp. 42 ff., offers a German perspective.

92. Ruediger Hachtmann, ‘The European Capital Cities in the Revolution of 1848’ in Europe in 1848, pp. 341–68.

93. Manfred Messerschmidt, ‘Die preussische Armee waehrend der Revolution in Berlin 1848’ in Militaergeschichtlicher Aspekte der Entwicklung des deutschen Nationalstaates, ed. M. Messerschmidt (Duesseldorf, 1988), pp. 47–63. Hachtmann, Ruediger, "Berlin 1848. Eine Politik-und Gesellschaftsgeschichte der Revolution." Bonn: , 1997 , a 1,000-page account of events from March to November 1848. Mueller, pp. 54 ff., offers a German perspective that includes military action in such less familiar situations as rural areas and against populist outbreaks of anti-Semitism.

94. Hachtmann, Ruediger, "Die Potsdamer Militaerrevolte vom 12 September 1848." "Militaergeschichtliche Mitteilungen." 57 1998 333–69 pp. .

95. Sked, Alan, "The Survival of the Habsburg Empire : Radetzsky, the Imperial Army, and the Class War, 1848." London: , 1979 . Déak, István, "The Lawful Revolution : Louis Kossuth and the Hungarians, 1848–1849." New York: , 1979 and, for the military aspects, The Hungarian Revolution and the War of Independence: A Military History, ed. G. Bona, tr. N. Arato (New York, 1999).

96. Cf. Langewiesche, Dieter, "Republik, konstitutionelle Monarchic und “Soziale Frage”." "Historische Zeitschrift." 230 1980 529–48 pp. ; Botzenhardt, Manfred, "Deutscher Parlamentarismus in der Revolutionszeit 1848—1850." Duesseldorf: , 1977 ; and Wollstein, Guenter, "Das ‘Grossdeutschland’ der Paulskirche. Nationale Ziele der buergerlichen Revolution 1848/49." Duesseldorf: , 1977 .

97. Carr, William, "Schleswig-Holstein, 1815–1848 : A Study in National Conflict." Manchester: , 1963 , covers the international aspects. Steen Bo Frandsen, ‘Denmark 1848: The Victory of Democracy and the Shattering of the Conglomerate State’ in Europe in 1848, pp. 289–311, describes the conflict in a Danish context as a Danish civil war.

98. Sondhaus, Laurence, "Preparing for Weltpolitik : German Sea Power before the Tirpitz Era." Annapolis: , 1997 p. 19.

99. Graf von Baudissin, Adalberg, "Geschichte des schleswig-holsteinischen Krieges." Hanover: , 1862 , describes the military operations in exhaustive detail. Cf. Harald Mueller, ‘Friedrich Heinrich Ernst von Wrangel. General der Konterrevolution’ in Maenner der Revolution von 1848, eds. K. Obermann et al. (2 vols., Berlin, 1987), vol. II, pp. 513—36 and Angelow, pp. 140 ff. Steefel, Lawrence, "The Schleswig-Holstein Question." Cambridge, MA: , 1932 , remains an evergreen on the diplomacy.

100. S. Mueller, pp. 249 ff. and Bockenheimer K. G., "Mainz in den Jahren 1848 und 1849." Mainz: , 1906 p. 66.

101. Trox, Eckhard, "Militaerischer Konservtismus, Kriegervereine und ‘Militaerpartei’ in Preussen zwischen 1815 und 1848/49." Stuttgart: , 1990 , is best on the matrix, and Hachtmann, ‘Potsdamer Militaerrevolte’, for the events.

102. Eyck, Frank, "The Frankfurt Parliament, 1848/49." New York: , 1968 p. 288 Cf. for background, Brian E. Vick, "Defining Germany : The 1848 Frankfurt Parliamentarians and National Identity." Cambridge, MA: , 2002 .

103. Kuehne J. D., "Die Reichsverfassung der Paulskirche. Vorbild und Verwirchlichung im spaeteren deutschen Rechtsleben." Frankfurt: , 1985 .

104. Gruenthal, Guenther, "Bemerkungen zur Kamarilla Friedrich Wilhelms IV im nachmaerzlichen Preussen." "Jahrbuch fuer die Geschichte Mittel-und Ostdeutschlands." 36 1987 39–47 pp. and Kahan, Alan, "Liberalism and Realpolitik in Prussia, 1830–52." "German History." 9 1991 280–307 pp. .

105. Angelow, pp. 148 ff.

106. Remak, Joachim, "A Very Civil War : The Swiss Sonderbund War of 1847." Boulder, CO: , 1993 .

107. Detlev Bald, ‘Bildung und Militaer. Das Konzept des Reformers Eduard von Peucker’, Sozialwissenschaftliches Institut der Bundeswehr, Berichte (Munich, 1977), no. 10, pp. 1–77.

108. Wirtz, Rainer, "Widersetzlichkeiten, Excesse, Crawalle, Tumulte und Skandale’. Soziale Bewegungen und gewalthafter sozialer Protest in Baden, 1815–1848." Frankfurt: , 1981 , establishes the matrix. Cf. Lutz, Karlheinz, "Das badische Offizierkorps 1847–1870/71." Stuttgart: , 1997 and Franz X. Vollmer, "Der Nachlass des Johann Martin Bader. Ein Einblick in Mentalitaet und Interessenlage eines in den Sog der Revolution von 1849/49 geratenen Berufssoldaten." "Zeitschrift fuer die Geschichte des Oberrheins 139, Neue Folge." 100 1991 333–54 pp. .

109. David, Barclay E., "Ein deutscher “Tory Democrat”." "Konservative Politiker in Deutschland. Eine Auswahl biographischer Portraets aus zwei Jahrhunderten." Kraus H.-C., ed. Berlin, 1995 37–67 pp. and Warren B. Morris, "The Road to Olmuetz : The Career of Joseph Maria von Radowitz." New York: , 1976 .

110. Mosse W. E., "The Great Powers and the German Question, 1848–1871, with Special Reference to England and Russia." Cambridge: , 1958 p. 18; and, more recently, Lawrence C. Jennings, "French Diplomacy and the First Schleswig-Holstein Crisis." "French Historical Studies." 7 204–25 PPPP p. and William J. Orr, ‘British Diplomacy and the German Problem, 1848–1849’, Albion 10 (1978), pp. 209–36.

111. Stolz, Gerd, "Die schleswig-holsteinische Erhebung : Die nationale Auserhebungen in und um Schleswig-Holstein von 1848/51." Husum: , 1996 .

112. The captured rifles had no ammunition, which was stored in a different area. It says much about the nature of the revolution in Prussia that pragmatic insurrectionists promptly sold the weapons back to the army for two or three talers each, as officers in civilian clothes scoured working-class neighbourhoods with cash in hand and no awkward questions. Of around 1,000 missing needle guns, all but thirty eventually found their way back to the arsenal. Das Zuendnadelgewehr 82.

113. Chief of Staff to War Minister Strotha, Carl von Reyher, 19 February 1849, in Carl von Ollech, Carl Friedrich Wilhelm von Reyher (Berlin, 1879), vol. IV, pp. 150 ff.

114. For the Dresden fighting and its ramifications, cf. von Montbé A., "Der Mai-Aufstand in Dresden." Dresden: , 1850 and the articles in Dresden Mai 1849: Tagungsband, eds. K. Jeschke and G. Ulbricht (Dresden, 2000). Weber, Rolf, "Die Revolution in Sachsen 1848/49 : Entwicklung und Analyse ihrer Triebkraefte." Berlin: , 1970 , is a general history from a GDR perspective.

115. Smets, Josef, "Von der “Dorfidylle” xur preussischen Nation." "Historische Zeitschrift." 262 1996 695–738 pp. , supports this reasoning by demonstrating the success of little over a decade of obligatory French military service in replacing village-centred mentalities with an outlook accepting military service for a state that remained largely an abstraction.

116. Peters, Herbert, "Patriotische Offiziere in der anti-feudalen Vormaerzbewegung." "Zeitschrift fuer Militaergeschichte." 9 1970 192–202 pp. .

117. Jany, Curt, "Geschichte der preussischen Armee vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1914." Osnabrueck: , 1967 IV p. 178, summarizes the major troop movements. On the Landwehr, cf. Messerschmidt, ‘Preussisch-deutsche Armee’, p. 79 passim and Walter, pp. 262 ff. Sackett, Robert, "Die preussische Landwehr am linken Niederrhein um die Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts." "Annalen des Historischen Vereins fuer den Niederrhein." 194 1991 167–88 pp. and Mueller, pp. 294—300, focus on the western provinces. For background and detail, de l’Homme de Courbiere R., "Die preussische Landwehr in ihrer Entwicklung von 1815 bis zur Reorganisation von 1859." Berlin: , 1867 and Conrad Canis, ‘Der preussische Militarismus in der Revolution von 1848’ (dissertation, Rostock, 1965).

118. Walter, pp. 278 ff., makes the often-overlooked point that, in the aftermath of 1848/49, official Prussia was loud in its public affirmation of the Landwehr’s loyalty and performance during the crisis, and argues convincingly that this was more than window-dressing.

119. Good general accounts are Franz X. Vollmer, "Vormaerz und Revolution 1848 In Baden. Strukturen, Dokumente, Fragestellungen." Frankfurt: , 1973 ; Real, Willy, "Die Revolution in Baden, 1848/49." Stuttgart: , 1983 ; and Ralph C. Canevali, Armies in Revolution: The Badenese Military Mutiny of 1849’ in Proceedings of the Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, 1750–1850 (1985), pp. 632–43. Mueller, pp. 258 ff., is stronger on the uprising’s beginnings than its outcome. Voss, Wilhelm, "Der Feldzug in der Pfalz und in Baden im Jahre 1849." Berlin: , 1903 , is the Prussian official history, useful for its formidable narrative detail of the fighting.

120. Calliess, Joerg, "Die Armee in der Krise : Die bayerische Armee in der Revolution von 1848/49." Boppard: , 1976 , is an excellent general history.

121. For internal developments in the Palatinate, see Sperber, pp. 421 ff. Fleischmann, Otto, "Geschichte des pfaelzischen Aufsstandes im Jahre 1849." Kaiserslauten: , 1899 , is stronger on the military side. Keddigkeit, Juergen, "Das militaerische Scheitern des Pfaelzischen Aufstandes 1849." "Jahrbuch zur Geschichte von Stadt und Landkreis Kaiserslauten." 22–3 1984–5 405–24 pp. , is also good on the military aspects.

122. Mueller, p. 310.

123. Geoffrey Parker, ‘Early Modern Europe’ in The Laws of War, eds. M. Howard et al. (New Haven, 1994), p. 44. Speck W. A., "The Butcher : The Duke of Cumberland and the Suppression of the ‘45." Oxford: , 1981 , is an excellent case study.

124. Veit Valentin, Geschichte der deutschen Revolution von 1848 (2 vols., Berlin, 1930–1), vol. II, pp. 540 ff.

125. Roy A. Austensen, "Austria and the Struggle for Supremacy in Germany." "Journal of Modern History." 52 1980 195–225 pp. and ‘Metternich, Austria, and the German Question, 1848–51’, International History Review 13 (1991), pp. 21–37 and Lawrence Sondhaus, ‘Schwarzenberg, Austria, and the German Question, 1848–1851’, ibid., pp. 1–20.

126. Rahne, Hermann, "Mobilmachung." Berlin: , 1983 , pp. 16 ff. and Jany, vol. IV, pp. 184 ff.

127. Hess to General von der Mark, 27 November 1850, in Feldmarschall Hess. Schriften, ed. M. Rauchensteiner (Osnabrueck, 1975), pp. 229–30.

128. For Russian policy generally, see Hoffmann J., "Russland und die Olmuetzer Punktation vom 27 November 1850." "Forschungen fuer osteuropaeischen Geschichte." 7 1957 59–71 pp. .

129. Julius H. Schoeps, "Von Olmuetz nach Dresden : 1850–51; ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Reformen am Deutschen Bund." Cologne: , 1972 ; Roy A. Austensen, "The Making of Austria’s Prussian Policy, 1848–1852." "The Historical Journal." 27 1984 861–76 pp. ; and Anselm Doering-Manteuffel, ‘Der Ordnungszwang der Staatsystems: Zu den Mitteleuropa-Konzepten in der oesterreichisch-preussischen Rivalitaet’ in Die Herausforderung des europaeischen Staatensystems. Nationale Ideologic und staatliches Interesse zwischen Reatauration und Imperialisms, eds. A. Birke and G. Heyeemann (Goettingen, 1984), pp. 119–40.

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