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Osprey's examiantion of pike and shot tactics employed in various wars of the 17th century. Throughout the 17th century, large parts of Europe were depopulated during wide-ranging and savage wars of religion and dynasty involving all of the major powers. These included the Dutch-Spanish wars of independence, The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and the English Civil Wars (1642-1651). This was the key period in the development of 'modern' infantry tactics, incorporating the use of pole-arms and muskets together, ...
Osprey's examiantion of pike and shot tactics employed in various wars of the 17th century. Throughout the 17th century, large parts of Europe were depopulated during wide-ranging and savage wars of religion and dynasty involving all of the major powers. These included the Dutch-Spanish wars of independence, The Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) and the English Civil Wars (1642-1651). This was the key period in the development of 'modern' infantry tactics, incorporating the use of pole-arms and muskets together, hence the popular expression 'pike and shot'. Although cavalry participated in such conflicts, it was the infantry that was the decisive arm. Such infantry tactics involved different national schools on thought and practice, tested bloodily in great battles.
Keith Roberts is a respected expert in this field, who draws on extensive knowledge of original manuals of tactics to create a revealing study of the period. This volume will be both attractive to wargamers and worthy of serious academic attention.
The Contemporary General's Perspective 7
Sieges and field armies
Campaign preparations and rehearsal
The decisive battle - Dutch caution and Swedish aggressiveness
The German doctrine - multiple battle lines - field artillery - terrain
The infantry confrontation - command and control - broken-country fighting
The Spanish Army 26
Cavalry: Spanish and German - French Huguenot developments
The Dutch Reforms 32
The Dutch battalion - the distinction between administrative and tactical organization - the Dutch company
The Dutch firing system
Battle plans - the Dutch brigade
Cavalry and artillery
The Thirty Years' War 43
Dissemination of Prince Maurice's reforms to belligerents, by veterans, instructors and translations
From Denmark to Sweden
The Swedish Intervention 46
The army of Gustavus Adolphus: unit organization - firing systems - cavalry and artillery
Swedish brigade deployment
The Swedish army in battle: Breitenfeld, 1631
The English Civil Wars 56
Dutch, Swedish and German influences
Monk, Barriffe, Elton and Watts
Prince Rupert at Edgehill, 1642
Marston Moor, Donnington and Naseby, 1644-45
The last word
Posted May 5, 2010
This is a book that fits in the ongoing historical debate about the military revolution that took place in the early 17th century in Western Europe. As such it is first of all of interest for interested professionals (though these might at first be scared away by the "popular" format). But "amateur" historians will find this an interesting book also. Roberts focuses on the tactical reforms first introduced by Maurice of Nassau (and his cousin William Louis of Nassau, though he doesn't mention him remarkably enough; their more distant relative Johann of Nassau gets higher billing) in the Dutch States Army in the late 16th century. These reforms were later taken over and further enhanced by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden during his intervention in the Thirty Years' War in the early 1630s. After the successes the Swedes gained with their new approach, it was generally adopted by the different parties in that war and further adapted by the Imperialist side. Roberts shows that by the time of the English Civil War the reforms had also been adopted in England. The story is not new, but Roberts adds many interesting details that may not have been widely appreciated before. One of these details is the amount of formal planning that went into the preparation for battles, including the drawing up of sketches of battle formations (with a formalized notation) by the commanders to guide their sub-commanders (with many examples from the archives). These sketches are also examples of the lavish use of illustrations in the book. Despite its narrow focus the book provides indispensable background information for people interested in the military history of the early 17th century.
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