June 2021. The Battle of Malplaquet was a major and bloody battle in the War of Spanish Sucession. The battle is notable that Swiss mercenaries were fighting on both sides. As some visitors to this site may know, Arthur Barbera maintained a small museum in Bavay devoted to the battle. Following his death in 2012, his estate have given permission for us to reproduce his article “L’Affaire des Suisse à Maplaquet” which is now hard to obtain. The original article, in swiss french, may be downloaded for study. The work is also presented in english. Translation from french to english was done by Google translate and so may contain some curious idioms and not reflect Arthur’s style.
June 2021 As this site approaches its 20th anniversary, readers may have noticed that some of the panoramas are showning their age and refused to play. Flash is now officially dead and even Internet Explorer is scheduled to be reired from Windows 11. Now we are in the age of fibre optic communications Dr Bob has taken advantage of lockdown to update some of the older panoramas using the latest technologies. See the update to the panoramas here. Others will be added when completed.
March 2021: The more well known battlefields such as Waterloo, Gettysburg, Borodino and even the 52 BC site of Alesia in France where Caesar defeated the Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix, have been preserved in reasonably good condition enabling the tourist and historian to obtain some idea of what these sites looked like at the time of these engagements. Unfortunately, with the exception of Znaim (now Znojmo, Czech Republic), the battlefields of Aspern/Essling and Deutsch Wagram (1809) in Austria are almost unrecognizable today. The city of Vienna has slowly crept across the Danube River covering everything in tarmac, brick, steel and concrete. Only certain areas of the Wagram site remain where the visitor can still obtain some notion of how vast this Napoleonic battle was, involving over 300,000 troops and 1,000 cannon. The sad thing about these famous fields of conflict is that, allowing for one or two museums commemorating these battles situated around the site, there is not even a public viewing platform, or a few acers set aside as a battlefield park, to give the visitor any idea of what occurred across this now rapidly disappearing landscape.
November 2020: When moving pictures became a popular form of entertainment for the masses it was obvious that, besides using this new media to show many aspects of day to day life and vistas thus far unobtainable to all but a small percentage of the worlds population, it would not take a great leap in the minds of the pioneers of cinematography to push the bounds of this new art form into other aspects of culture.
March 2020: The following account of the fighting that took place in and around the Sweipwald Wood (now the Svib Wood) is taken from the official Department of Military History of the Prussian General Staff of the Campaign of 1866. Translated into English by Colonel von Wright and Captain Henry M.Hozier (Reprint 1907).
March 2020: I met “Chuck” Parsons and his wife whilst conducting a group at Arthur Barbera’s 300th Anniversary of the battle of Malplaquet weekend in 2009.
Chuck has approached the battle of Blenheim from a different perspective and I think you will agree that, although only speculation on his part, it is well worth further investigation.
September 2019: Austerlitz is one of the most famous battles in history. 1805-1806 were the high watermark of the French army, which had been forged in the fires of Revolution and tempered and honed into a fine fighting machine that fitted Napoleon’s rise to power perfectly. Thereafter a slow but steady decline in veterans, both officers and men, caused its once sharp cutting edge to become blunt and rusted as skilled and well trained troops, able to carry out rapid changes of formation and tactics during an engagement, gave way to massed columns of conscripts used as human battering rams. Austerlitz was indeed Napoleon’s greatest victory.
May 2018: On an excellent clear day in May, Graham and Dr Bob revisited Caer Caradoc to redo the panorama from the top of the hill fort, a possible site for Caradoc’s last stand against the Romans. As well as a stunning view, the new panorama shows the hill fort in detail. If you have not read the original article on this site please do.
April 2018: An update to my original article on the Battle of Eylau.
March 2018: As with a few other articles on this site I have not gone into any great detail concerning the actual progress of the battle. The battle, together with information dealing with formations, main commander character sketches, troop deployment and movements, are dealt with on numerous other websites as well as in the mass of Napoleonic literature which has been pouring from the publishing houses over the last few years. Here you will only find my own brief outline of events together with a few speculative suggestions I have thrown in concerning Ney’s conduct during the campaign and battle.
Dr Bob and I visited the battlefield in 2017 and herewith are his, as usual; wonderful panoramas covering the whole site so that the Napoleonic enthusiast and war- gamer can visit the site and view all the main elements of the terrain.
Swiss Military Publications.
There are two recent publications that will be of interest to the military enthusiast regarding the Swiss in Foreign Service and Napoleon in Switzerland.
The Musée Militaire Vaudois, Le Château de Morge, have published a book dealing with Swiss soldiers in Dutch service and entitled: De Nimègue à Java: les soldats Suisse au service de la Holland XVIIe – XXe siècles. The work is in French, but even those who struggle with a foreign language (like myself) will still find the work of great interest. The book is not cheap, costing, in sterling, around £50, but considering its detail, still worth every penny.
The book contains a wealth of information concerning formations, uniforms, weapons and leaders, as well a uniform plates and campaign maps. Also included, as part of the section dealing with The War of Spanish Succession, is the work of the late Arthur Barbera: L’affaire des Suisses á Malplaquet (The Affaire of the Swiss at Malplaquet).
I had the pleasure of being in Arthur’s company on several occasions, unfortunately the last being when he organised events for the 300th Anniversary of the battle of Malplaquet in 2009, which proved his wonderful swansong just before his demise. I hope to be able to have Arthur’s monograph translated sometime in 2018 and thereafter placed on this site.
For those interested in Napoleonic history a new book has just been published entitled, Sur les pas des Bonaparte en Suisse, by Gérard Miège. Editions Cabédita, 128 pages, 29 FS. (about £18) I have only seen the newspaper review which states that the work deals with Napoleon’s passage through Switzerland in 1797 and in 1800. When more information is available I will publish details on site.
September 2017: During our visit to Gravelotte/St Prival, we were accompanied by Henry von Blumenthal. This article gives brief biographies of members of his family who were some of the commanders on the battlefiled.
September 2017: The battles of August 1870 between France and Germany at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian War, were to show glaring problems in the command structure of both sides. Sadly for the French their top brass proved more incompetent than the German, allowing the latter to be victorious on numerous occasions where they should have been decisively defeated.
January 2017: Having spent almost three decades researching details on General Guye I am now convinced that my Swiss partner is related, albeit indirectly owing to the general himself being without issue, to the Guye family.
June 2014: This article gives a brief overview of the Battle of Kolin. It sets the scene for the reader to have a general understanding of the events that occurred on the now peaceful meadows and pastures of this quite part of the Czech landscape. The source material given in the text offers a fuller description of the battle, and should be consulted by those who wish to study it in more depth. The main object herewith is to convey the outline of events so that they may be used in conjunction with Dr Bob’s splendid panorama photographs and allow the armchair general to visit the site from the comfort of his own home.
2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the Austro – Prussian War. Many of the sites where engagements were fought in the Czech Republic will be putting on special re-enactments of the battles, together with weapon and uniform displays. Contact the various local Czech town Tourist Offices for further details.
Visit the places mentioned on this site and follow the campaign that marked the slow decline of the Austrian Empire and the rise of Prussian/German unification.
January 2016: We now have 8 articles covering the dramatic events in 1866 Bohemia. These have been arranged as sub-articles on a page devoted to the entire campaign. Do not be deceived by the words ‘sub-article’. These pages in themselves are enough to fill several volumes. We hope you will take the time to enjoy the articles.
October 2015: I have drawn heavily on the descriptions of the battle of Laon given in Petre, Lawford, Maycock and Chandler. It is my hope that the reader will search out other sources appertaining to the battle which, although now considered to have been covered in some depth, still has some very interesting features and episodes that are in need more research.
Dr Bob’s panoramas will be, as usual, of much benefit in following the course of events and will also allow those who may not be able to visit the site themselves a dramatic view of the battlefield from elevated positions all around the old walls of this lovely city.
May 2015: The largest and most one–sided battle of the nineteenth century? Well, the first part of the statement is correct. There were more troops on the field of Königgrätz than any other battle, prior to it or after it until the battle of Mukden (20th February–10th March 1905). Even the greatest battle of the century thus far, Leipzig in 1813, also known as the Battle of Nations, in which, on the final day of the battle the troops on both sides numbered, after losses sustained during the previous days fighting, some 420,000 men engaged, still fell short of the 430,000 plus who stood on the field of Königgrätz. This monograph is also available as a fully illustrated book.
June 2013: Napoleon’s campaign of France in 1814 ranks among his finest. His resources were almost near breaking point but somehow the young French recruits managed to pull their emperors chestnuts out of the fire time and again. Their sacrifice for a lost cause should not detract us from remembering their bravery, courage and endurance.
June 2012: Like the “curates egg” my description of the Battle of Kulm may be seen by many as being “good in parts.” This notwithstanding, I hope that even if much of what I consider to be a better account of the battle than any other thus far published in English proves to be inaccurate, at least it may be said that it did stir up enough interest in the battle for further research – in itself not a bad thing.
March 2012: After many requests, I have produced a copy of Lieutenant – Colonel Neill Malcolm’s work was “BOHEMIA 1866”. This is available through Lulu for £6-50 and has been fully retyped and includes copies of all the original maps. The book gives much valuable information regarding the campaign and battles of the Austro-Prussian War of 1866.
December 2010: Some observations concerning photographs and drawings used in depicting battle scenes.
June 2010: The fighting qualities that made the Swiss one of the most feared and respected military powers in Europe had been nurtured over many centuries.
October 2009: Just for you good folk who have contacted me concerning military history and war gaming – I have indeed played many war games, but not necessarily ones along conventional lines.
June 2009: Further information about The Battle of Eylau.
March 2009: The full text or ‘Waterloo’ by The Late Captain J.W.E. Donaldson R.A.F., P.S.C. and Captain A.F. Becke, Late R.A.F. Reprints available from Graham.
Jan 2009: Updated with a brief review of ‘The Fall of the Roman Empire’ by Arthur Ferrill.
Jan 2009: The third of Marlborough’s victories, which highlighted the French disunity within their command structure.
October 2007: After a long preview, the battle of Solferino, where Napoleon III attempted to follow in the footsteps of his uncle is now ‘official’ (and with three panoramas!).
May 2006: Graymo and DrBob visited the site of the Battle Of Neerwinden near Brussels. Together they have recreated a virtual tour of the battle site, including interactive panoramas and aerial imagery courtesy of Google Maps.
May 2006: Grant, Sherman, Thomas and Sheridan: A brief review of their contribution and talents during the Battle of Chattanooga, 23rd-25th November 1863.
March 2006: The Battle of Poltava, 28th June 1709
Jan 2006: Guestbook working again. This time using PhpBB – enjoy the new year! Please take time to register. Your email address is not shown on the web site but other registered users can send you email and you will be notified of any changes to the site.
September 2005: Updated section containing details about a new exploration at Caerwsws.
August 2005: An example of how the French high command managed to turn a potential victory into a defeat.
April 2005: Helmuth von Moltke, one of the great commanders of History.
February 2005: The 100th anniversary of the Russo/Japanese war in 1904/1905.
October 2004: The Duke of Cumberland’s failure as military commander.
July 2004: The Lessons of the American Civil War and European Cavalry Tactics
May 2004: The Battle of Ligny, 1815.
April 2004: Julius Caesar, a brief outline of his military capabilities.
March 2004: The unprepared condition of the British Army for a modern war at the end of the nineteenth century.
Jan 2004: Napoleon’s overblown campaign in Russia, or the little man not being able to reach the top self.
Nov 2003: The last Confederate invasion of the North – 1863.
Jan 2003: The Seven Week War between Prussia and Austria – 1866.
July 2002: Marlborough’s last and bloodiest victory – 1709.
Sept 2003: Napoleon’s Campaign in Poland – 1807.
Dec 2000: My own views of where Caradoc fought his last battle against the Romans.
Jan 2002: The French cavalry charge from a different perspective – 1807.
Feb 2001: Marshal de Saxe’s victory – 1745.
If you have enjoyed this site, you may also enjoy Museum of Military History in Vienna and John’s Military History Pages.
I would like to thank the many enthusiasts who have helped with this site including:
- Albion Swords Ltd. for their permission to use the helmet in the Caradoc article;
- Jon Townsend for the photograph of the tricorn hats Fontenoy article;
- The folks at Garden Gnome Software who produce great software for creating virtual tours.
Graham J. Morris
25 Mar 2015