Monday 26 June 2023

Eagles over the Alps

Readers of this blog will be aware that this campaign is one that I was drawn to many years ago, and I now have rather a large/enormous collection in 28mm. Of all the late Christopher Duffey’s many books this is by far my favourite. Helion are steadily going through Dr Duffy’s back catalogue and offering reprints back into the market. Given that many of his books now attract prices in the hundreds of pounds sterling this is a great move by Helion as it brings many of his masterpieces to the notice of a new generation of military historians, history buffs and wargamers at an affordable price.

Helion’s edition of Eagles over the Alps. Suvorov in Italy and Switzerland, 1799 has been available for six months or so but its appearance might have passed some potential readers by. For me this is the go-to English language book on the subject and remains in my humble opinion the most readable and interesting account of a pretty miraculous campaign, under the command of the veteran, talented and legendary Alexander Suvorov.

The book begins with a discussion on Suvorov and the composition and structure of the Russian army he commanded, the long march to Italy and the campaign against the French, who were defeated time and again and almost driven from Italy completely. An invasion of France from the south was suggested by Suvorov but the idea failed to win favour with the Czar and his council, so the long withdrawal through Switzerland to meet up with another Russian army on the Upper Rhine began. The story of the almost constant rearguard actions and attacks is told in great detail, all supported by many excellent maps and photographs of the actual ground being fought over. Suvorov led his men to safety, maintaining discipline throughout, despite the dreadful weather, the treacherous terrain, severe losses of men and material, and several French forces determined to cut off his retreat and destroy his army.

This is a well written and researched account of what was a relatively minor episode when taken within the context of the greater Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars but it is presented as a great adventure against the odds in much detail. Anyone interested in the French Revolutionary Wars should find this book invaluable in understanding the campaign, be they military history buffs, wargamers or both. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting conflict. It's even more exciting when you sometimes are in the area. Very impressive battlefields. Great period to have it on the gaming table. I loved your reports.