Thursday 29 February 2024

More Goodies from Helion - Light Troops in the Seven Years War.

Light Troops in the Seven Years War. Irregular Warfare in Europe and North America, 1755–1763 is another valuable addition to Helion’s ‘from Reason to Revolution’ series, tackling as it does an often overlooked aspect of eighteenth-century warfare. Be they Rangers, Grenzers, Jagers or Freikorps, the impact of their almost constant operations was not insignificant, especially when taken within the wider strategic context. Author James McIntyre has done an excellent job examining the operations of this eclectic mix of ‘irregular’ soldiers, across Europe and North America, who by their successful actions were to elbow themselves into the collective consciousness of the Great Powers, most of them anyway.

Beginning with an examination of the re-emergence of irregular, or partisan, warfare during the first half of the century the author then looks at the efforts of the great Marshal de Saxe and others to codify or regulate the conduct and experiences of the ‘small war’. I was struck by how seriously this was taken, especially by de Saxe, and the French ‘establishment’ in particular.

The heart of the book is the chapters covering light infantry operations in Europe, North America, illustrated with accounts of the actions of Gundersdorf and Domstadtl. North America is not forgotten, with an examination of the raid on Fort Bull in 1756. These successes in battle had significant consequences far out of proportion to the size of the actions themselves.

The stars of this book are, in my opinion, the eight gorgeous colour plates by Alexandr Chernushkin, depicting many different types of light troops, such as von Kleist’s Pandours (one of my favorites) and the Schaumburg-Lippe-Buckeburg Jager Corps. There are also several contemporary black and white images and several useful maps to support the narrative.

The author concludes with chapters on the emergence and development of light infantry in the British army and their role in the ongoing frontier warfare of North America, which rounds off a very informative and satisfyingly thorough examination of the subject matter. The author has had much to tell about this somewhat obscure aspect of eighteenth century warfare, and has done so very well and in an engaging way; as ever I enjoy reading the contemporary correspondence carefully threaded into the narrative as a way into getting into the heads of the people there on the ground.

So, this is in my view an outstanding book which I can wholeheartedly recommend to anyone with an interest, no matter how fleeting, in eighteenth century warfare. For an insight into irregular warfare of the era this is the perfect answer.

ISBN 978-1-804513-43-9. 154 pages.

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