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NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE.
THE PRUSSIAN ARMY.
HAVING described in the last number of the New Monthly the effective strength and organisation of the Austrian army, we will now proceed to furnish a few details about the Prussian, which, more especially at the sent time, when there are, apparently, well-founded rumours that France intends to apply for permission to march her army via Hanover to the seat of war in the north, may form a serious impediment in the way. Nothing, to our minds, would be more dangerous than any collision-even on amicable terms-between Prussian and French troops. A few words of introduction will serve to explain our reasons for such an assertion.
It cannot be imagined that a nation, justly considered one of the most enlightened and liberal on the Continent, would passively remain neutral in the impending war of peoples, in face of the danger to which Germany would be exposed by the victory of despotism over constitutionalism, as expressed in the present uprising of Russia, unless there were some more powerful motive at work than has hitherto been ascribed. This motive is intense hatred of France. The adherents of Russia in Berlin may be numbered: personal predilection and relationship fetter the king's hands; and the party represented by the Kreuz Zeitung is made up of equally innocuous coefficients. But the animosity to France is felt by the whole nation, and is reciprocated. We can remember, of our own knowledge, an instance of this during the Badese revolution of 1849. While in pursuit of the insurgents, a detachment of Prussians was quartered in Kehl, at the head of the bridge of boats connecting Germany with Alsace. Within two days it was found necessary to remove them, for the French poured over and insulted them in every possible way, which only such a fertile genius as the Gallic could invent. The French occupation of Berlin, where their memory is still cherished, and the return visit in Paris after the battle of Waterloo, sowed seeds of discord which will bear fruit for ages. Blücher's threat to blow up the bridge of Jena, and his sarcastic reply to Talleyrand's messenger, that he would be delighted to give his master an aërial excursion along with it, were an insult to the national pride which Frenchmen will never forget or forgive.
It may be objected that the hatred between French and English was equally persistent and deep-rooted, and yet that has been eradicated. Granted: but can Prussia enter into an alliance with France in the same disinterested spirit as we have displayed? The Rhenish provinces will ever remain a bone of contention between the two countries, and, spite of the king's strenuous exertions, the majority of the population in those countries clings with fond affection to the remembrance of French July-VOL. CIV. NO. CCCCXV.
authority, and in 1848, had a strong government been permanently established in Paris, the revision of the map of Europe might long ago have commenced in that quarter. These views were confirmed by a tour we made at the period we write of through the Rhenish provinces. The population was intensely liberal, though this was, probably, rather a reaction after liberation from oppressive checks than a fixed sentiment; but however this may be, the prevailing opinion everywhere among the artisan classes was, that emancipation upon a permanent basis could only be obtained by cordial fraternisation with France. How far these views may be now prevalent it is impossible to say; for the gendarmes effectually suppress the utterance of such heterodox sentiments; but we fully anticipate that, whenever the war terminates and the European balance is sought to be restored, France will be enabled to lay claim to her old dominions, and be supported by the approval of a large portion of the population. These suggestions will serve to show how much Prussia, apart from other considerations, would have to dread any closer intimacy with France than at present exists.
The PRUSSIAN ARMY must be regarded from a very different standpoint from that of Austria, for, in forming our opinion of it, and more especially of the Landwehr system, whose opponents are very many, we must bear in mind, before all, that Prussia exerted all her energies to form an army of half a million of combatants, in spite of her population only amounting to 16,000,000, and her extremely unfavourable geogra phical position, for this was her only method to maintain a position as a European great power. If we keep this in mind, we cannot refrain from expressing our admiration of all the Prussian military arrangements, for, considering the slight means at her command, she has worked wonders. In fact, a succession of great men was requisite to give an army, recruited from only 16,000,000 souls, that European importance which Prussia has succeeded in retaining even to the present day. The first founders of Prussia's military power were the Great Elector, and the strict Frede rick William I., who converted their country into one huge camp. Frederick the Great worthily completed what his predecessors had so well commenced, and his brilliant victories first implanted in the Prussian army that military pride which now distinguishes it in so eminent a degree. After the death of this great king and general, the government was satisfied in retaining the empty form without the animating spirit which had so brilliantly distinguished it hitherto. They closed their ears obstinately to the requirements of the age, and would not perceive that with Napoleon I. a new chapter in the strategic art had commenced. The defeat at Jena, and the following days of misfortune-although many regiments fought bravely, and did not disgrace the old reputation of Prussian courage were the necessary consequence of such insane blindness. The Prussian army, and with it the Prussian states, might easily have been ruined, had not Providence given them men who were enabled to form again a compact whole out of the fragments. All that was good in the old school was retained, the bad and antiquated was rejected, and a new organisation was substituted, possessing the highest merit. Above all, Scharnhorst, whose name will endure as long as a Prussian soldier wears his cockade with honour; then Boyen, Gneisenau, Clausewitz, York, Grollman, and Blücher, and many others, were the
founders of the present Prussian esprit de corps. "It must be regarded as an honour through the whole nation to be allowed to wear the soldier's coat a disgrace not to be considered worthy of it." Such, in a few words, is the basis of the spirit which has enabled Prussia to keep her military dignity till now unweakened. Every son of the nation must feel a pride in being allowed to become a combatant for it; and had not this feeling been kept up, Prussia would never have reattained her place in the European family.
The new organisation prospered, however, spite of the unspeakable difficulties it had to contend with, both abroad and at home, thanks to the spirit which created it, and the powerful will of the Prussian nation, which instinctively recognised its importance. The sanguinary years of 1813 to 1815 furnished the army with an opportunity for action, and it displayed itself in the brightest colours. We are perfectly aware that the Prussian Landwehr battalions and the youthful volunteers would have fared much worse, had not the old well-disciplined French regiments been lost in Russia, and their place taken by raw conscripts, but still their services were most meritorious. The Prussian Landwehr acquired an honourable name both from friend and foe in those campaigns, and we feel sure that they will always do their utmost to retain it.
After gaining many blood-stained laurels, the Prussian army returned home, and afforded a striking proof of the value of the new organisation. And, although a certain reactionary party-horrified at the institution of the Landwehr with its bourgeois officers, and regarding it as an insult that the son of a count must perform his military duties alongside the tailor's apprentice as a private-tried hard to upset it; fortunately, any overthrow of the new system had by this time been rendered impossible. It was far too deeply implanted in the Prussian nation, and the calm, reasoning mind of Frederick William III. was too cognizant of its value to allow any important alterations to be carried into effect. It is true that much was introduced between the years 1820 and 1842 which did not quite harmonise with the spirit of a Scharnhorst, but the fundamental principle remained unaltered, and was even more jealously protected than before, when Boyen was appointed minister of war. The events of 1848 and 1849 have given no extraordinary impulse to the Prussian organisation, but showed once more what an excellent spirit generally pervaded the army. It withstood many and severe trials, but always did its duty and proved itself a thoroughly-disciplined and well-affected force. Great and widely-extending alterations have been effected since 1851, by attaching the Landwehr still more closely to the line, and by appointing regular officers to the command of the militia battalions. We regard this as a very great improvement, for, though thoroughly recognising the immense value of the Landwehr, and especially the spirit which animates it, we undoubtedly believe that its efficiency has been greatly augmented by a closer attachment to the line. General von Bonin, who founded his reputation by the formation of the Schleswig-Holstein army, has gained no slight credit in Prussia by the introduction of these regulations.
But what causes us more especially to admire the Prussian army, is the spirit of military pride which animates nearly all the troops. The remembrance of the glorious past, and the certainty that no one can be a soldier who has committed a dishonouring crime, but that every soldier
can lay claim to honourable treatment at the hands of his superiors, produced this proud sentiment. Had it not been so-had the troops been regarded as mere machines-the revolution of 1848 would have found willing instruments in the Prussian army, and the troops would not have withstood the corrupting influences which would have subverted the throne. Another admirable point is the high degree of education which all the officers enjoy. The excellent military schools, and the severe examinations to which officers are subjected with the greatest display of impartiality, have produced this highly desirable result. The non-commissioned officers are also remarkable for a great degree of instruction and excellent temper. The military spirit which, thanks to the establishment of universal service under arms, animates a large majority of the Prussian nation, displays in this instance again its valuable results. After these rapid allusions-for they could not be more, as any thorough examination would naturally have led us far afield-we will pass to the composition of the Prussian army.
The INFANTRY is composed of the guards, and the line, the Landwehr of the first and second levy.
The guards contain four regiments = 12 battalions 48 companies; 1 reserve regiment of guards = 2 battalions - 8 companies; 1 chasseur and 1 rifle battalion of the guards, together amounting to 8 companies. A company of the guards is made
18 Non-commissioned officers
2 Train soldiers
227 Rank and file
A battalion, exclusive of officers and staff, contains 1002 men, and a regiment 3006. The whole infantry of the guard, consequently, amounts to 16,032, without officers, &c.
The two battalions of chasseurs and rifles are armed with the Thouvenin chasseur rifles; the other battalions entirely with the now so celebrated needle-gun. The guards are chosen from the tallest and picked men in the kingdom. They have distinguishing marks on their collars and helmets, better bands, and enjoy several other privileges. The officers of the first regiment of guards and of the garde du corps receive double pay, but, with this exception, the pay and rank of all grades are precisely similar to those in the line. A regiment of the guards certainly presents a grander appearance on the parade-ground than one of the line, and this is especially the case in the cavalry; but the future will teach us whether they would be of more service in the field. In the campaign of 1813 to 1815, the guards were only twice under fire-namely, at Möckern and Paris—and displayed that bravery which may be justly expected from every Prussian regiment.
The line infantry is composed of 32 regiments, each regiment of 2 musketeer and 1 fusilier battalions; 8 so-called reserve infantry regiments, each made up of 2 musketeer battalions; and 8 combined reserve
battalions, one attached to each corps d'armée; or altogether to 120 battalions. Each battalion on a war footing containing 1002 men, without officers and staff. The entire line infantry would consequently amount to 120,240 men, without officers, &c. The 32,000 fusiliers, for whom light and active men are selected, are armed with needle-guns, the remainder with smooth-bored percussion muskets. In consequence of the universal conscription, the Prussian infantry regiments can call in many more soldiers on furlough than their strength requires, and, therefore, during a protracted war, they could always be kept up to their full establishment.
In addition, we must mention 8 battalions of chasseurs, each battalion = 4 companies: 1002 men, exclusive of officers and staff, or altogether 10,016 men. These chasseur battalions are armed with Thouvenin rifles, and are generally chosen, as far as possible, from practised marksmen and foresters' sons; and they are always kept in a perfect state of efficiency.
The entire line and guards would, therefore, have 148,292 rank and file. Of these, 36,000 are fusiliers and 10,000 chasseurs, or altogether about 46,000 light troops. With the exception of the eight reserve battalions, which are intended during war to form depôts, the whole of the line and guards infantry are ready for service in the field, and very considerable reserves can be held in readiness at home.
The uniform consists of blue tunics with red collars and facings (the chasseurs, green tunics and felt caps), long grey pantaloons, dark-grey cloaks, and the well-known pickelhaube or helmet of leather, with metal ornaments. The belts, arms, knapsacks, &c., are all in excellent condition, and of good patterns; and we may safely assert that the Prussian line infantry wants for nothing which could increase its efficiency.
We also consider the Landwehr of the 1st levy, especially since its recent reorganisation, equally well prepared for war. Each line regiment has now 1 Landwehr infantry regiment attached to it, bearing the same number and forming a brigade with it. Thus, for instance, the first line and the first Landwehr regiment form the first infantry brigade. The Landwehr of the 1st levy contains 4 Landwehr regiments of the guard 12 battalions; 32 Landwehr regiments of 3 battalions = 96 battalions; 8 Landwehr battalions of the reserve regiments, or, altogether, 116 battalions, of the same strength and composition as those of the line, or 116,032 rank and file. They are perfectly equipped and organised for immediate service in the field. The 8 battalions of the reserve would alone be kept back for service in the garrisons. Landwehr infantry wear the same uniform as the line (except the red edging on the tunic, and that on the front of the helmet there is a cross, with the motto "With God for King and Fatherland"), and are armed with percussion muskets, a bayonet, and side-arms. The staff-officers and leaders of companies of the 1st levy are entirely drawn from the line, but the lieutenants are either officers who have retired, or those men of the educated classes who formerly satisfied their military duties by serving one year in the line or guards, and then passed an examination as Landwehr officers. The 1st levy is drawn from men between twentysix and thirty-two years of age, who have already served their time in the line. But, as the number of these men would be too excessive, many