Tag Archive | 7YW

Fighting in the Age of Scurvy

Or, War before the Time of Cholera.

Having emerged, disease-free, from my gauntlet of Christmas-holiday air travel (1700 miles each way, and that was only halfway across the US), I can now appreciate the publication of this new work even more.

Charters, Erica. Disease, War, and the Imperial State: The Welfare of the British Armed Forces during the Seven Years’ War. Chicago ; London: University Of Chicago Press, 2014.
Abstract: The Seven Years’ War, often called the first global war, spanned North America, the West Indies, Europe, and India.  In these locations diseases such as scurvy, smallpox, and yellow fever killed far more than combat did, stretching the resources of European states. In Disease, War, and the Imperial State, Erica Charters demonstrates how disease played a vital role in shaping strategy and campaigning, British state policy, and imperial relations during the Seven Years’ War. Military medicine was a crucial component of the British war effort; it was central to both eighteenth-century scientific innovation and the moral authority of the British state. Looking beyond the traditional focus of the British state as a fiscal war-making machine, Charters uncovers an imperial state conspicuously attending to the welfare of its armed forces, investing in medical research, and responding to local public opinion.  Charters shows military medicine to be a credible scientific endeavor that was similarly responsive to local conditions and demands. Disease, War, and the Imperial State is an engaging study of early modern warfare and statecraft, one focused on the endless and laborious task of managing manpower in the face of virulent disease in the field, political opposition at home, and the clamor of public opinion in both Britain and its colonies.
 I didn’t realize we were allowed to look beyond the fiscal-military state – good to know.

The Seven Years Wars You Rarely Hear About

A brand new book has just come out that seeks to provide a broad view of the Ancien Régime’s most famous war. Lots of interesting looking articles. And only one chapter deals exclusively with Frederick – we’re making progress!

Congrats Mark and Pat!

Danley, Mark and Pat Speelman, eds. The Seven Years’ War: Global Views. Leiden: Brill, 2012.


In The Seven Years’ War: Global Views, Mark H. Danley, Patrick J. Speelman, and sixteen other contributors reach beyond traditional approaches to illuminate the conflict as world war. An introduction addresses the challenges of discretely defining the war. Chapters examine theaters such as the Carnatic, Bengal, the Philippines, Portugal, Senegal, and the Caribbean. Other chapters treat understudied topics such as the Anglo-Cherokee campaigns, Sweden’s participation, Ottoman neutrality, the Vatican, European perceptions of Cossacks and Kalmyks, the Enlightenment and the war, the choosing of sides in Europe and North America, social and political aspects of French and British military life, operational reconnaissance, and the war’s complex ending in western Germany. A conclusion situates the war as a marker of modernity.

Table of Contents:

Introduction: The “Problem” of the Seven Years’ War …xxiii
Mark H. Danley

1. Frederick the Great and the First ‘World’ War …1
Juergen Luh
2. “To Encourage the Others”: The Philosophes and the War…23
Armstrong Starkey
3. Understanding Native American Alliances …47
Matthew C. Ward
4. The War in the Carnatic …73
G.J. Bryant
5. Religious or Imperial War? Views of the Seven Years’ War from Germany and Rome …107
Johannes Burkhardt
6. Sweden and the Pomeranian War …135
Gunnar Åselius
7. The Ottoman Absence from the Battlefields of the Seven Years’ War …165
Virginia H. Aksan
8. Pride, Prejudice and Prestige: French Officers in North America during the Seven Years’ War …191
Julia Osman
9. Battre l’estrade: Military Reconnaissance in the German Theatre of War …213
Ewa Anklam
10. “Féroces et barbares?” Cossacks, Kalmyks and Russian Irregular Warfare during the Seven Years’ War …243
Marian Füssel
11. The Seven Years’ War in West Africa: The End of Company Rule and the Emergence of the Habitants …263
James Searing
12. The War in the West Indies …293
Richard Harding
13. The Anglo-Cherokee War, 1759–1761 …325
John Oliphant
14. The British Political Press and Military Thought during the Seven Years’ War …359
Mark H. Danley
15. The War in Bengal …399
G.J. Bryant
16. Strategic Illusions and the Iberian War of 1762 …429
Patrick J. Speelman
17. The British Expedition to Manila …461
Nicholas Tracy
18. The End of the Seven Years’ War in Germany …487
Matt Schumann

Conclusion: Father of the Modern Age …519
Patrick J. Speelman

Select Bibliography …537
Index …549

Bibliography: Swedish 7YW Debt

All of a sudden the 7YW is popular.

Winton, Patrik. “Sweden and the Seven Years War, 1757–1762: War, Debt and Politics,” War in History. (2012).

Sweden commenced military operations against Prussia in 1757, following Austria’s and France’s efforts to include Sweden in the anti-Prussian alliance. Swedish politicians hoped that the coalition would lead to a quick victory without having to get too involved in the fighting, but that Sweden still would be rewarded for its support. Swedish military action was thus primarily designed to show the allies that Sweden participated in the war. Despite the low intensity warfare that characterized the fighting, the war was still extremely expensive. The Swedish state used mostly internal borrowing to finance the war, which led to negative economic and political consequences such as inflation and popular discontent. By participating in the war, the Swedish state sought to strengthen its commercial situation worldwide while preserving its military position in the Baltic region.

Leuthen 1757

On this date, the battle of Leuthen was fought between the Prussians under Frederick the Great and the Austrians (sorry Erik) commanded by Charles of Lorraine. Frederick had already defeated a Franco-Imperial (Reichsarmee) army at Rossbach a month earlier, but found himself retracing his steps in order to maneuver the Austrians into battle after they threatened Berlin and captured the Silesian city of Breslau. It being late in the season, the Austrians confusedly evacuated Breslau on their way to winter quarters, but were caught out by Frederick near the village of Leuthen, grounds which the Prussian army had used many a time for training maneuvers. Prussian hussars rushed to fix the enemy before it could escape. Frederick made use of his detailed knowledge of the terrain to demonstrate in front of the enemy’s center and right wing, while a detachment of his infantry marched away from the main Prussian formation, disappearing behind a ridge of low-lying hills. The Austrians, after witnessing enemy troops apparently abandoning the battlefield in standard march column formation, were shocked to see those units emerge from behind the hills opposite the weak left flank of the Austrian position; Habsburg surprise turned to terror as the Prussian foot quickly wheeled onto the attack using Frederick’s now-famous oblique order. Austria’s army fell into confusion as it attempted to rotate its west-facing front 90° to the south, where the Prussians had reformed and were quickly approaching. Austrian defenders in the village of Leuthen offered their lives to buy their compatriots enough time to form a scattered line, and cannonfire, musket shot and cold steel rang out for several hours until night fell. Outnumbered 2:1, the Prussian flanking maneuver allowed Frederick to defeat the over-extended Austrians; Habsburg numbers did, nevertheless, make Prussian troops pay for the victory with heavy losses. For only the billionth time in history, the victorious commander exclaimed that just a few more hours would’ve allowed the battle to become the most decisive in a century, but the Austrians managed to limp off toward their Bohemian base to the south. Over the winter and into the spring Prussian forces mopped up the enemy’s remnant garrisons in Silesia. The war would continue with the anti-Prussian forces weakened: Austria managed to fend off a Prussian offensive in 1758 while their French allies lost interest in future interventions in central Europe. Prussia was buoyed by new British subsidies, but after a diversion to fend off a Swedish threat, the rising might of Russia would focus the philosopher-king’s attention on this implacable foe in the east. Prussia managed to barely deflect renewed assaults on all sides until the fortuitous accession of a Germanophilic tsar to the Russian throne allowed another advance into Austria, courtesy of “the miracle of the House of Brandenburg.” Within a year, another successional struggle in Russia turned the tide against Frederick once again, while a new ministry in Britain closed its purse to further Prussian subsidies. An exhausted peace was finalized in 1763.

So much for my attempt to summarize a battle and war in a paragraph.

On a related note, here’s a table of Frederick’s battles that I compiled from Duffy’s The Army of Frederick the Great for my warfare course. I did it pretty quickly the day before class and haven’t checked it since, so let me know of any errors.

In class I ask the students to interpret the data. Here are a few of the things we note:

  • the seasonality of the battles (a lot of battles late in the season)
  • the preponderance of battles in the 7YW (the horizontal lines indicate phases of the wars)
  • the small size of most of Frederick’s armies, especially late in the 7YW
  • the size disparities between Prussian and enemy forces
  • the ratio of Prussian-to-enemy losses, even when outnumbered, as at Leuthen
  • with a few exceptions, the later battles cost Frederick a lot more (percentage wise) than his enemies. Bye-bye drilled veterans!

Suggested Readings:

Duffy, Christopher. The Army of Frederick the Great. London: Emperor’s Press, 1996.

Duffy, Christopher. Prussia’s Glory: Rossbach and Leuthen 1757. Chicago: The Emperor’s Press, 2003.

7YW Art

Review of Fordham, Douglas. British Art in the Seven Years’ War: Allegiance and Autonomy. (2011) at H-Albion.

Hogarth, March to Finchley 1750

Hogarth, March to Finchley 1750

Bib Update

Whenever I come across new publications, I’ll make a note of them here. Let me know of any that slip through the cracks.

First up:
Scott, Hamish. “The Seven Years War and Europe’s Ancien Régime.” War in History 18, no. 4 (2011): 419-455.

Recent decades have seen a welcome revival of scholarly interest in the Seven Years War (1756—63). This has not been accompanied, however, by sufficient appreciation of the burdens imposed by the fighting and the enormous impact of these upon the states which were at war. Drawing upon the abundant recent scholarship, this article argues that the adoption of an international and comparative perspective, together with an extension of the time frame within which consequences are assessed, makes clear that the Seven Years War was decisive for the European ancien régime. It drove governments to adopt new policies and to introduce fundamental reforms, and in some states stimulated opposition to established political authority.

You are using a bibliographic database, aren’t you? Zotero, Endnote, home-made…