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Armies of Bismarck's Wars: The Army of Prussia-History, Uniforms and Equipment, 1860-1867, by Bruce Basset Powell

Philadelphiia: Casemate Pub, 2013. Pp. 374. Illus., maps, tables, appends., notes, biblio., index. $69.95. ISBN: 1935149237.


The Origins of the German Imperial Army

Bassett-Powell, well known for his earlier works on military history and uniformology, wisely opens this book with an overview of European and German history from fall of Napoleon to the outbreak of the 1866 Austro-Prussian or Seven Weeks' War. He follows this with a concise account of the conflict.  This takes up about a third of the book. 

Bassett-Powell then takes us back to 1806, to examine in increasing detail the evolution of the Prussian armed forces from disaster of Jena-Auerstadt (Oct. 14, 1806) to the rise of the fine instrument that gave Prussia primacy in Germany, success in the Franco-Prussian War, and form the heart of Imperial German Army. He covers in great detail the military reform instituted in 1859-1860, the rise of the General Staff system, changes in the military obligation, training, and service of Prussian soldiers, improvements in technology, and the development of innovative tactical and strategic concepts, and even the formation of the Prussian Navy. He then examines the organization and strength of the Prussian armed forces on the eve of the 1866 war. 

Bassett-Powell follows this with an account of the uniforms of the Prussian Armed forces, with considerable commentary and detail on order of battle. This comprehensive approach, provides an excellent introduction to the Prussian military system, and is also a useful adjunct to various recent general accounts of the 1866 war and as a primer on events that followed in 1870 and the formation of the German Empire future.

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Reviewer: A.A. Nofi, Review Editor   


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