Tuesday 11 April 2023

Reading on the Great Procession #6 - ‘SCIENCE OF ARMS Vol.1’

I hope nobody is getting bored with these book reviews but there’s precious little about wargaming I can discuss while embedded in Indian (Parsi) culture. It is wonderful though…….Next time I will bring some figures to paint.

Anyway, after I’ve read this new book in Helion’s Century of the Soldier series I feel very well equipped, were it something on my bucket list of things to do, to raise a regiment of foot and march off to glory in the service of my King, or whomsoever holds the purse strings. ‘Science of Arms: The Art of War in the Century of the Soldier 1672-1699, Volume 1: Preparation for War and the Infantry’ by Stephen M. Carter is in effect the perfect toolkit (one could say the complete military manual) for anyone wishing to dig down and understand what lay behind the actions of the period’s greatest (and not so great) generals, and their men, as they prepared for and waged war.

Conceived as part one of a three-part series to say that the author has set himself an ambitious task is something of an understatement.

Volume 1 is divided into three sections; looking at ‘War Policy’ (understanding and preparing for war), ‘Modelling the Army’, which covers everything from the Captain General down to the most junior soldier. This section includes the rather detailed responsibilities of the great and the good, be they the Master of Orndnance or the Adjutant-general to name but two. Suffice to say that the detail presented in this section is superb, in particular the narrative covering the formation and structure of infantry, cavalry and artillery the army. For those that like them, there are loads of fascinating charts and tables covering clothing and equipment issues. The final section focuses on the infantry, examining the roles of the regimental and company officers and on the tremendous amount of drill and skill at arms imposed on the men in order to make them function as soldiers.

The book is largely a compilation of British and European military manuals and texts, brought together to give the reader a complete treatise on the workings of the infantry as an arm both on and off the battlefield. Subsequent volumes will examine the same for cavalry and artillery, and the importance and science of siege warfare in the golden age of Vauban.

Unsurprisingly the book is full of a huge number of wonderful contemporary images depicting soldiers at drill, and the formations and actions they were expected to function in. It must have been a labour of love to research and write this book. I’ve never come across so much information presented clearly in such a limited space of just 300 or so pages.

I can wholeheartedly recommend this book. For someone with an interest in the armies of the late seventeenth centuries this book is simply a gold mine of information, and I look forward with great anticipation to the arrival of the next in the series.

ISBN 978-1-804510-02-5. 330 pages.

1 comment:

  1. Well done, sounds like a solid edition in the library.