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"1859 Austrian Army Quality Topic" Topic


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442 hits since 9 Jul 2018
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

randy51 Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2018 5:35 p.m. PST

Curious what others think about the following statements made in Osprey's Solferino 1859
campaign booklet pertaining to the Austrian army that fought there. I've been raising an Austrian
army for this battle/campaign for some time now but after reading this it makes me wonder if they
were really as bad as the Osprey author states.

"Recruits served only two or three years with the colours, before being furloughed to save money.
When recalled they were practically untrained and no match for the French."

"Neglected by their officers, Austrian soldiers fought out of duty, in a spirit of resignation, losing enormous
numbers of prisoners in every action."

"A contemporary critic wrote: "Once the machine was derailed, once the ranks broken and the officers down,
it seemed to the Austrian soldier that he had finished his work; in the French army on the other hand, it is only
then the soldier really starts his work".

"Every aspect of the Austrian soldiers life was regulated in obsessive detail. He was very good at massed
manoeuvres on the parade ground, but hopeless at the open order fighting required in the broken terrain
of northern Italy".

"Austrian infantry made poor use of their new 13mm-calibre Lorenz rifles. Many received theirs on the way
the front, and had never fired them on the range. Some Austrian battalions still had smoothbore Augustin
muskets, with rifles issued only to designated sharpshooters."

"Austrian officers often regarded musketry training as an excuse for a picnic. Not surprisingly it was said that,
outside the specialist jager battalions, Austrian soldiers shot like pigs."

Prince Alberts Revenge09 Jul 2018 8:21 p.m. PST

From what I've read the soldiers were brave but poorly trained in musketry especially considering Austrian tactical doctrine. Thier officers left alot to be desired and these factors led to their defeat at the hands of aggressive French tactics. A little over a decade before the Austrian soldier proved his capability when properly led by Radetzky.

Personal logo Nashville Supporting Member of TMP09 Jul 2018 8:24 p.m. PST

I read this book as well.. This era is a favorite of mine --the French shine against a large professional army --equally armed. A chocolate box war given the uniforms. But the Austrians whacked at every turn. I suggest it was the command --or lack thereof -- structure. The French were aggressive. The Austrians just plodding along. The lesson learned is that Napoleon III thought he could do the same against the Prussians 11 years later -- But in 1859 Napoleon quit while he was ahead.

bargainbindm Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 5:59 a.m. PST

….and I think what is sometimes overlooked was the multi national makeup of the Austrian army. You had some who a little over 10 years before were in open rebellion with the empire. Hungarians, Croats,Italians,Ruthenians, etc. Also orders were given in German, and once casualties ensued and officers went down a bit of chaos must have followed in non german speaking units. As much as I think tactically errors were made, the army in 1859 (and 1866) was fractured regarding morale…

….and it only got worse by the Seven Week's War, both tactically and from a morale standpoint….

randy51 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 10:26 a.m. PST

I love this period and I knew they lost most (if not all) battles but didn't realize they were that poor. So now I'm thinking stupid me for spending so much time and money raising this army before fully researching their record and capabilities. I guess maybe it was those 1859 white kittles that attracted me? Plus they were much better during the syw and I assumed some kind of quality must have been passed on and down.

Bargain Bin DM10 Jul 2018 10:33 a.m. PST

Randy51,the Austrians still had some strong points.Even in 1866 their artillery, due to tactics, was very good, and their cavalry could have been the best in Europe. I think we all pick armies sometimes just for the "bright and shiny factor. That's okay!! :)

ChrisBBB2 Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2018 11:05 a.m. PST

All the Austrians' flaws listed above tally with my reading too. But they did manage to beat Italians a lot in 1848 and a thumping win at Custozza in 1866.

Chris

Bloody Big BATTLES!
link

mollinary10 Jul 2018 11:20 a.m. PST

But bear in mind, after a defeat everyone is looking for scapegoats, and the Hapsburg Empire was full of thousands of potential candidates! I think it is too easy to blame the ordinary soldiers, and forget the shortcomings in command and tactics. Certainly the multi nationality of the army caused its problems, but there are plenty of examples from1859-66 of the national minority regiments being sturdy enough to go toe to toe with the enemy, and suffer horrendous casualties in dead and wounded, not just captured. I would say, paint your Austrian army, give them the respect they deserve, and endeavour to command them better than their actual leaders!

Bargain Bin DM10 Jul 2018 1:37 p.m. PST

…I have almost finished a smallish Austrian army for 1866, and I can't wait to see how my luck does against the Prussians! It is far more of a challenge to wargame with "flawed" army than one that is viewed as the ideal. the Austians were tough, and much like the French army in the FPW, woefully led! The defeatism in both cases seemed to start before battle was ever engaged…

mollinary10 Jul 2018 1:49 p.m. PST

Good for you, Dave! I think it is much more fun fighting with history's losers, rather than piggy backing on the historical success of others! Maybe this is just a reaction to all the rule sets of my youth with their +2 for British shooting and +3 for Imperial Guard doing anything!

Sparta11 Jul 2018 1:38 a.m. PST

Mollinary +1 :-)

Bargain Bin DM11 Jul 2018 6:24 a.m. PST

…..and……….if the Austrian jaegers, used correctly, were a potential game changer. At Koniggratz they managed to help (along with artillery fire) pin the Prussians to the far side of the Bystrice for several hours.The version of the Lorenz the jaegers carried could easily out range the Prussian Dreyse.Sadly they would more than likely be used in assault columns as would lime infantry…

Royal Marine Supporting Member of TMP14 Jul 2018 10:54 a.m. PST

Austrians have had a poor PR officer! They are good troops but had appalling leaders. Their artillery in 1866 gave the Prussians many problems and their cavalry were still well mounted during this period. As Mollinary said, I've painted them and it's down to me to make them work well … or not!

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