The Art of War in the 17th and 18th Centuries
The Art of War in the 17th and 18th Centuries is a history course book whose author's are United States Military Academy history instructors Lieutenant Colonel Dave Richard Palmer and Major Albert Sidney Britt III. The textbook gives an insight into the military tactics and the political reasons when they were brought about in the 17th and 18th centuries. The text was published in West Point, New York in 1969. The book contains 9 chapters and 185 pages. There is no additional information on the authors.
The book starts with the tactics and life of the young Swedish King Gustavus Adolphus, who began his military career at the age of 16 on the battlefields of the Danish War of 1612, and a year later would inherit the Swedish throne. Gustavus would also lead his armies in the 30 years wars against Catholic forces. Adolphus' theories, which were stimulated by Maurice of Nassau's radical tactics, consisted of a highly mobile force, including lightweight, mobile artillery and, "the squadron", Adolphus' basic fighting unit. At this time, the concept of lightweight artillery and a highly mobile fighting force was very radical and thought to be useless. Most military forces at the time were large, and immobile. But the most revolutionary aspect of warfare that Gustavus Adolphus implemented, was his brilliant use of artillery. At the time artillery consisted of huge pieces that took 30 to 40 horses to move. He limited his gun-makers to three sizes, 24 pound, 12 pound, and 3 pound cannons. The 3-pound cannon could easily be moved by one horse or three men, it was the most revolutionary. By assigning it as a regimental gun of at least one platoon in each squadron, Adolphus provided artillery support right down to the smallest combat unit. This revolutionary tactic and weapon is similar to today's modern military tactics used today in their use of the modern lethal crew served weapons that are lightweight, and extremely mobile, assigned to Batalion level and below. Upon landing on the German shore of Peenemunde, I wonder if Adolphus realized that one day his ingenious and revolutionary theories would some three centuries later influence the German scientists developing the modern day rocket at Peenemunde.
After Gustavus Adolphus' death, warfare settled down to a slower pace and a more stable mold. Warfare experienced the growth of professional armies loyal to the king. But the great cost of building and maintaining such armies led to a concern for their safety, a hesitation to risk them in bloody encounters, and a preoccupation with defense and fortifications. Strategy during this period was essentially of limited aim and was greatly concerned with the art of siege craft, for which elaborate rules were prescribed.
With the growth of professional armies loyal to their kings, came Louis XIV, King of France. Unlike Gustavus, who wrung victories from tactical innovations, Louis sought...