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"the best fed/supplied troops vs the worst fed" Topic

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07 Dec 2017 5:37 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "the best fed/supplied troops vs the worst fed" to "the best fed/supplied troops vs the worst fed"
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  • Removed from Ancients Discussion board
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  • Changed starttime from
    06 Dec 2017 12:11 p.m. PST
    06 Dec 2017 12:11 p.m. PST
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  • Crossposted to Historical Wargaming board

614 hits since 6 Dec 2017
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Comments or corrections?

Osage2017 Inactive Member06 Dec 2017 12:11 p.m. PST

I have read some time ago that Napoleon complained that 5.000 Bavarians ate for 7.500.
I can also imagine that the British were well fed, because Britain was so wealthy it could afford buying anything and everything.

The Russians were probably the worst fed and supplied of all European troops. (I am sure Mr Le Breton will correct me on this. But I always enjoy his comments.)

Personal logo deadhead Supporting Member of TMP06 Dec 2017 2:14 p.m. PST

Surely so much depended on the reliability of supply lines, the tolerance of looting and the potential for fending for oneself in the area of operations. However rich the British economy, try telling the army on retreat from QB in 1815 or Corunna, that they were well provisioned.

The French starved outside the lines of Torre Vedras due to a scorched earth policy. They did the same in 1812 as forced to retreat on a pathway already ravaged, plus the complete breakdown in discipline.

Your title suggests a very profound question though. You almost seem to be asking about the nutritional value of what was supplied. Bit like those TV shows about 2200. You are the best supplied, yet the worst fed.

The answer then will be the Irish. Before the 1980s any Irish mother boiled anything until the last vestige of nutrition, colour, texture or flavour disappeared into the all encompassing water…that then went down the sink.

So my bet would be 6th Dragoons (Inniskillings) or 88th Foot or 27th. If you have never tasted Tripe or Irish Stew, you have no idea what can be done to destroy the best intentioned quartermaster's efforts.

Edwulf Inactive Member06 Dec 2017 8:22 p.m. PST

I read somewhere that English and Scottish troops complained bitterly when they had to go hungry… becoming sullen and angry. But Irish troops were praised for being able to cope with hunger quite cheerfully …. doesn't say much for the conditions they were living in. But I think for many English and Scottish troops the army meant some compromise on their previous life but for many Irish the army was the opposite, the clothes/money and food might not be regular but it was more frequent and better than at home.

Edwulf Inactive Member06 Dec 2017 8:30 p.m. PST

As to supply, I'd guess the worst supplied were the French, their whole "thing" was foraging for food and stealing from civilians to get by… entirely to cut down on long supply lines.

That said I've no idea on conditions in Prussian, Russian or Austrian army's regarding food supply. Maybe they were better/worse than the French.

The British generally were well supplied in food, they had to be, by all accounts English troops didn't like going with out food for more than a day or two, and were not usually quick to take to foreign dishes.

Le Breton Inactive Member07 Dec 2017 2:55 a.m. PST

Hi Osage!

As predicted, here I am ….

Russians ate *very* well in/near Russia. They had a pretty good quartermaster service that would create a rather complex network of depots and magazines. George Nafziger details some of this in his book on 1812 (in English). They also had a specialist "Lines of Communications Engineering" arm of service to make sure that the roads, ferries, bridges, etc. were in good condition.

The combat units had lots of logistical assets for moving supplies, down to the company, squadron and battery level. The men could farm in garrison (and sell any surplus). There was also a communally-owned canteen service ("cartel") for each half-platoon.

For short campaigns or smallish deployments, there was plenty of rolling stock and horses. 1805 was a good example.

For slower-moving multi-year expeditionary campaigns (like against the Turks or Persians) they would just build out their network as they advanced.

They were not pleased with their results in 1806-1807. And undertook to re-organize their acquisition of supplies to be by purchase outside of Russia and then movement of the purchased supplies through the Army and Corps levels of command. This proved mostly successful and they ate pretty well in 1813-1814.

And of course, the local units could always buy food from the Cossacks and Native Cavalry, who were allowed to (supposed to) forage agressively on enemy territory which they mostly interpreted to mean places were the locals did not speak Russian.

Mick the Metalsmith Inactive Member07 Dec 2017 7:08 a.m. PST

Historically the greatest disparity I would say would be World War II and later US Army and later NATO forces vs just about anyone they fought. US troops have always been better supplied then insurgents. Your average ration for the NVA was a bamboo tube of rice.

TMPWargamerabbit07 Dec 2017 10:00 a.m. PST

I tend to think the worst fed armies didn't last long to tell of their issues to the historical record keepers…. they died off or scattered to find food and never returned for the grand battle scheduled by "management" that campaign season.

grahambeyrout Inactive Member07 Dec 2017 1:46 p.m. PST

We seem to be restricting ourselves to Napoleonic Europe, surely history can produce countless other armies, not least the Army of Northern Virginia, or say Hicks Pasha.

khanscom07 Dec 2017 4:44 p.m. PST

Best fed? Congolese Force Publique???

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