From Spear to Flintlock: A History of War in Europe and the Middle East to the French Revolution

By Frederic J. Baumgartner | Go to book overview

21
War in the Early Eighteenth Century

After the experience of above a century...the pike has given way to the improved musket and bayonet, as to a weapon more universal and adapted to all varieties of situation. The thin order of formation (bringing more men into action where fire is now so material) has become the fundamental one in preference to that on a greater depth....Defensive heavy armour has been laid aside as insufficient against musketry, and productive of more inconvenience than advantage. The lance is also disused, as requiring a man to be covered with heavy armour, and as incompatible with the closeness and vigour of the charge in which the strength of cavalry is allowed to consist. Artillery has been increased, and the use of it improved in a surprising manner.

The internal discipline and economy of the troops have been well established, and the authority of the officers fully founded: nor is there a modern instance of great mutiny or defection; which were so common, when corps and armies were the property of individuals, rather then of the state or prince whom they served.

David Dundas, Principles of Military Movements ( London, 1788), p. 2. Dundas was a colonel in the British army in the mid-seven teenth century.

The wars of Louis XIV's reign were highly productive of change, especially in weaponry and sicgecraft. By the mid-eighteenth century these developments had spread to eastern Europe, and the military forces of the major eastern states became factors in the European balance of power.

One very obvious difference between the armies of 1648 and 1713 was their size. The largest armies in the field during the Thirty Years War were at best 40,000 men, while in the War of the Spanish Succession armies of over 100,000 men were common. The total number of men the large states had under arms surpassed 300,000; France armed 440,000 men in the War of League of Augsburg. In the early eighteenth century, mercenaries troops were less common than previously, and they tended toward long-term ser

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