Sunday, September 22, 2013

Report: Koh-Koh-Mah 2013

Ukrainian Dragoons? How strange to find them in Indiana.
Dear Reader,

Today I had the singular fortune to be able to attend the 2013 annual gathering at Koh-Koh-Mah. This reenactment is held to show off a Seven Years' War type military encampment and tactical display. In addition to the regular mix of French, British, civilian, and Native American impressions, Koh-Koh-Mah 2013 saw two units from the European Seven Years' War: Brunswicker Regiment Riedesel from Germany, and a mixed unit representing Russian Seven Years' War forces from Ukraine.

I'll write more in the next few weeks, but in short, Koh-Koh-Mah was a wonderful reenactment, and well worth the trip for any Kabinettskriege enthusiast. It was an added plus that the British, Brunswickers and their allies one the Saturday morning battle! Score one up for the good guys. Here are some of the pictures and a video I recorded at Koh-Koh-Mah.

Members of the 42nd, 77th, and 78th Highland regiments march past.

Highlanders and Rangers

Here is a link to a video I recorded on my iphone from the morning battle on Saturday. You can see one of my classmates as the poor fellow, "dead," in the stream.

In addition to the battle, the Russian dragoon's provided an example of Russian cavalry training during the pre-Seven Years' War period.
Here, the cavalryman attempts to deflect, "bayonet" thrusts at the horse.

And yet more deflecting. The horse, a veteran of the Great Northern War, appears to be asleep. 
In training, the trooper eschews the standard tricorne hat for a more versatile ushanka.

However, I would be lying if I said that the high point of the day for me wasn't the Brunswickers. After all, I am writing a masters thesis on these guys. 
Getting ready for battle: gloves are important. 
Der Feldwebel, "Zuckerhosen" und seiner Soldaten.

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Book Review: The Seven Years' War in Europe

Dear Reader,

Today, we are going to take a look at the most recent monograph on the Seven Years' War: Franz A. J. Szabo's The Seven Years' War in Europe. This book covers the European theatre of the pivotal conflict in the Kabinettskriege era.

Sadly, for the reader, Szabo does not begin his story in the Kabinettskriege era. Instead, he takes us to 1945, and the last days in the Fuhrer bunker, where Adolf Hitler sat and stared at a portrait of King Frederick II of Prussia. Throughout the book, Szabo attempts to lay the crimes of German militarism, and Nazi Germany, squarely on the shoulders of Frederick II. Szabo pulls no punches in his attacks on Frederick, and assaults range from his abilities as a monarch, and his skill as a general all the way down to his proficiency as a flute composer and poet. Even his dental hygiene is addressed. The fact of the matter is, Frederick was an eighteenth century monarch, with plans to expand his realm. In this way, he was more like Louis XIV than Hitler. Laying the crimes of Nazi Germany at Frederick's feet show that Szabo has failed to understand the context of eighteenth century society and warfare. Frederick II of Prussia was not a nice man, historian Christopher Duffy best describes him as "spiky." This does not mean he was a Nazi forerunner.

However, despite these crippling biases, Szabo creates a readable narrative of the events of the Seven Years' War. He clearly favors the Austrians, and this book might be seen as an attempt at apologetics from the Austrian standpoint.  His narrative is primarily political and economic, he falls in trouble when discussing social and military affairs. An excellent example of this is his discussion of the Battle of Sandershausen in 1758, where he misunderstands other secondary sources, and fails to give an accurate depiction of the battle.

The book clearly outlines the causes of war, moves on to the war itself, and ends with the conclusion of peace in 1763. According to Szabo, the allies failure to dismantle Prussia was a tragedy for European civilization, and led Germany in an inexorable path to 1945. However, he fails to clearly show how the legend of Frederick the Great was used in order to cause the rise of twentieth century Germany, as that would show that a variety of factors, not merely Frederick, caused the rise of Nazi Germany.

Thanks for reading,

Alex Burns

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