How significant was the Prussian Revolution in Military Affairs Essay Example
How significant was the Prussian Revolution in Military Affairs Essay Example

How significant was the Prussian Revolution in Military Affairs Essay Example

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  • Pages: 5 (1169 words)
  • Published: December 26, 2017
  • Type: Research Paper
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The Prussian Revolution in Military affairs was one of the defining points in the changing nature of warfare; it led to the change of outlook on armies, on warfare and the balance of power in Europe. The Prussian RMA resulted in the establishment of a new order in the armies of Europe; the Prussians developed a professional army alongside some of the most influential technological developments in the history of warfare.

The Prussian RMA also showed some of the most efficient and professional logistics that had ever been seen, despite these apparently revolutionary changes, they had no real long-term effect on warfare, the World Wars show no direct correlation to the two World Wars as can be seen between the two and the US Civil War. Arguably, the Prussian RMA was a most substantial step in the advancement of war


fare in Europe; however, it is maybe only the contribution to logistics, which makes this RMA truly significant, as the long-term effects of other aspects are minimal, for only a brief period in the 1860's did Prussia truly change the face of European Warfare.

The Prussians were at the forefront of innovation in terms of weaponry, the most impressive of these was the revolutionary Needle Gun. The needle gun itself was obviously not the central factor in the Prussian Revolution in Military affairs. The needle gun itself though was indicative of the innovation shown in this extraordinary period of the Prussian RMA. The needle gun not only equipped the Prussians with weaponry which has a lot in common with modern assault rifles, it also allowed the Prussians to plan for the future when it was evident modern weaponr

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would change the nature of tactics.

One of the most important innovations on the part of the Prussians was to concentrate on innovation in the realm of strategy and operations; it was thought the advantage in these areas was far more important than any tactical advantage. The advancement of railroads was crucial, despite early concerns about the rigidity of railroads, as they grew their comparative advantage became more apparent the Prussians made a push to use them.

The Prussians first used railroads to help to control the revolution of 1848, however, the railroads let the Prussians down in May 1950 when they tried to transport 500,000 men to near the Austrian border in a show of strength. However this was a shambles as food, water and sanitary facilities were all lacking whilst the Austrians moved 25,000 men with relative ease. In the aftermath of this fiasco the Prussians began to develop systems for the large-scale transportation of men and supplies by rail the Railroads only became part of the RMA in 1857 when the influential reformer Helmuth von Moltke became the chief of staff.

The general staff reconfigured one of its departments to deal with mobilisation and created a railroad section. Mobilisation orders now went out by telegraph reducing notification time from 5 days to just 1, loading and unloading trains became part of the army's general training. This concerted effort on the part of the Prussians to advance the logistical support their army had was really at the forefront of the RMA, it is this alone which makes the RMA truly outstanding and obviously significant.

The Prussian army's ability to adapt to new technology such as Railroads is

an example of the 'Boyd Cycle'. This is the ability to analyse, decide and act faster than any opponent. It is this ability, which results in any RMA, as it is the drive for success, which creates innovation. The Prussians were able to exploit any situation to create an advantage for themselves ahead of their enemies. France and Austria's inability to anticipate or react to Prussia's use of the railroad is an indication of the magnitude of the Prussian RMA.

By 1860 the Prussian army clearly contained the technological components of an RMA with the professional use of the railroad and the development of the needle fun. Despite this modern innovation as of yet these innovations remained within a traditional framework. The RMA moved into its second stage when Moltke began developing new strategic and operational concepts and Roon began changing the army's institutional structures in order to maximise the potential of the new hardware.

Moltke's approach to strategic planning were influenced by a belief in limited war, he believed that Prussia were best able to exert strength in a small conflict which would reflect not replace diplomacy. The railroad was also a fulcrum of Moltke's ideals; he believed it could counterbalance the disadvantage of Prussia's geography. It was evident to Moltke that the war was decided in the early stages, if Prussia could seize the initiative the enemy would have to react to Prussia's actions.

It was crucial to the advancement of the Prussian RMA that the soldiers were matched to the weaponry and tactics. Roon proposed the creation of a New Model Prussian Army, which would incorporate the Landwehr, which was a civilian reservists army. It

also brought in more universal conscription and a longer period - 7 years for those attached to the armed forces. It was hoped by Roon that this would produce a more professional and mobile army, which could react to Moltke's idea of limited war.

The Year 1886 provided the test for the Prussians, in battle with the mighty Austrian troops charging at them with fixed bayonets the order came to lie down and shoot down the advancing troops and then counterattack any troops left standing. This brought success in all battles the Austrians experienced casualties of over 50% in many divisions. The needle gun proved invaluable, as the Austrians disorganised attacks could not cope with the shower of bullets, which rained down on them.

The needle guns design was 35 years old and Prussia's rivals were already developing more advanced guns, Prussia could not repeat history and rest on the success of 1866. Prussia's next opponent was unlikely to approach them as the Austrians had and as such they had to develop. They also had to learn from the problems of 1866 ie. The inability to control skirmish lines and company columns.

The Prussian RMA was short lived by the 1870's all of Prussia's revolutionary advancements had become the bedrock of all European armies it was evident that the superiority that Prussia had possessed was now all but gone. Armies recruited, trained and commanded their troops to much the same formula.

In Conclusion, the Prussian Revolution in Military Affairs was a significant in the logistical and organisational revolutions witnessed. The advancement shown by the Prussians in terms of tactics had little real bearing on the future wars of Europe.

The assertion by Moltke that Limited war was what was needed is a little ridiculous when we see just 40 years after this assertion the most total war the world had ever seen. The Prussian RMA was arguably the 19th Century world's last fling with the idea of small, professional limited armies who fought small professional limited conflicts.

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