Page:EB1911 - Volume 02.djvu/664

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
622
[RUSSIAN: SPANISH
ARMY

reputation shared by the rulers of the house of Savoy (q.v.), many of whom showed special ability in preserving the independence of their small kingdom between two such powerful neighbours as France and Austria. During the wars of the French Revolution Piedmont was temporarily absorbed into the French republic and empire. The Italian troops who fought under Napoleon proved themselves, in many if not most cases, the best of the French allies, and Italy contributed large numbers of excellent general officers to the Grande Armée.

After 1815 various causes combined to place Piedmont (Sardinia) at the head of the national movement which agitated Italy during the ensuing thirty years, and bring her in direct antagonism to Austria. Charles Albert, her then ruler, had paid great attention to the army, and when Italy rose against Austria in 1848 he took the field with an excellent force of nearly 70,000 men. At the outset fortune favoured the arms of Italy; but the genius and energy of Radetzky, the veteran Austrian commander, turned the tide, and in the summer of 1849 after many battles the Piedmontese army was decisively defeated at Novara, and her king compelled to sue for peace. Charles Albert abdicated in favour of his son Victor Emanuel, a prince who had already distinguished himself by his personal gallantry in the field. Under his care the army soon recovered its efficiency, and the force which joined the allied armies in the Crimea attracted general admiration from the excellence of its organization, equipment and discipline. In 1859 Piedmont again took up arms against Austria for the liberation of Italy; but this time she had the powerful assistance of France, and played but a subordinate part herself. In this campaign the Sardinian army was composed of one cavalry and five infantry divisions, and numbered about 60,000 combatants. By the peace of Villafranca, Italy, with the exception of Venetia, was freed from the Austrians, and Lombardy was added to Piedmont. The revolutionary campaign of Garibaldi in the following year united the whole peninsula under the rule of Victor Emanuel, and in 1866, when Italy for the third time took up arms against Austria—this time as the ally of Prussia—her forces had risen to nearly 450,000, of whom about 270,000 actually took the field. But in quality these were far from being equal to the old Piedmontese army; and the northern army, under the personal command of the king, was decisively defeated at Custozza by the archduke Albert of Austria.
The existing organization of the Italian army is determined by the laws of 1873, which made universal liability to service the basis of recruiting. The territorial system has not, however, been adopted at the same time, the materials of which the Italian army is composed varying so much that it was decided to blend the different types of soldiers so far as possible by causing them to serve together. The colonial wars in which Italian troops have taken part have been marked with great disasters, but relieved by the gallantry of the officers and the rank and file.


Russian Army

94. The history of the Russian army begins with the abolition of the Strelitz (q.v.) by Peter the Great in 1698, the nucleus of the new forces being four regiments of foot, two of which are well known to-day under their old titles of Preobrazhenski and Semenovski. Throughout the 18th century Russian military progress obeyed successive dynasties of western European models—first those of Prussia, then those of France. In the earlier part of the 19th century the army, used chiefly in wars against the revolutionary spirit, became, like others of that time, a dynastic force; subsequently the “nation in arms” principle reasserted itself, and on this basis has been carried out the reorganization of Russia’s military power. The enormous development of this since 1874 is one of the most striking phenomena in recent military history. In 1892, in expectation of a general European war, whole armies were massed in the districts of Warsaw and Vilna, three-fifths of the entire forces being in position on the German and Austrian frontiers.

The Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 is generally held to have proved that the fighting power of the Russian has in no way diminished in intrinsic value from that of the days of Zorndorf, Borodino and Sevastopol. The proverbial stubbornness of the rank and file is the distinctive quality of the armies of the tsar, and in view of the general adoption of two-years’ service in other countries it is a matter for grave consideration whether, against European forces and in defence of their own homes, the Russians would not prove more than formidable antagonists to the men of more highly individualized races who are their probable opponents. Equally remarkable is the new power of redistribution possessed by Russia. Formerly it was usual to count upon one campaign at least elapsing before Russia could intervene effectively in European wars; much, in fact the greater part, of her losses in the Crimean War was due to the enormous distances which had to be traversed on foot. Nowadays the original equal distribution of the army over the country has been modified in accordance with the political needs of each moment. In 1892 the centre of gravity was shifted to Poland and Kiev, in 1904 the performances of the trans-Siberian railway in transporting troops to the seat of war in Manchuria excited the admiration of military Europe. The attitude of the army in the troubles which followed upon the Japanese War belongs to the history of Russia, not to that of military organization, and it will be sufficient to say that the conduct of the “nation in arms” at times of political unrest may vary between the extremes of unquestioning obedience to authority and the most dangerous form of licence, examples of both being frequent in the history of nearly all national armies. A remarkable innovation in the modern history of this army is the conversion of the whole of the cavalry, except a few élite regiments, into dragoons of the old type. After the war of 1904-5, however, this policy was reversed and the cavalry reformed on the usual model. The Cossacks still retain to a large extent the peculiarities of the light troops of the 18th century.


Spanish Army

95. The feudal sovereignties of medieval Spain differed but little, in their military organization, from other feudal states. As usual, mercenaries were the only forces on which reliance was placed for foreign wars. These troops called almugávares (Arabic=scouts) won a great reputation on Italian and Greek battlefields of the 13th century, and with many transformations in name and character appeared from time to time up to the Peninsular War. Castile, however, had a military system very different from the rest. The forces of the kingdom were composed of local contingents similar to the English fyrd, professional soldiers who were paid followers of the great lords, and the heavy cavalry of the military orders. The groups of cities called Hermandades, while they existed, also had permanent forces in their pay. At the union of Castile and Aragon the Castilian methods received a more general application. The new Hermandad was partly a light cavalry, partly a police, and was organized in the ratio of one soldier to every hundred families. In the conquest of Grenada (1482-92) mesnadas or contingents were furnished by the crown, the nobles and the cities, and permanently kept in the field. The Hermandad served throughout the war as a matter of course. From the veterans of this war was drawn the army which in the Italian wars won its reputation as the first army in Europe.

In 1596 the home defence of Spain was reorganized and the ordenanza, or militia, which was then formed of all men not belonging to the still extant feudal contingents, was generally analogous to the system of “assizes at arms” in England. This ordenanza served in the Peninsular War.

96. With the Italian wars of the early 16th century came the development of the regular army; a brief account of its place in the evolution of armies has been given above. Discipline, the feeling of comradeship and soldierly honour were the qualities which marked out the Spanish army as the model for others to follow, and for more than a century the Spanish army maintained its prestige as the first in Europe. The oldest regiments of the present Spanish army claiming descent from the tercios date from 1535. An officer whose regiment was reduced commonly took a pike in some other corps (e.g. Tilly), the señor soldado was counted as a gentleman, and his wife and family received state allowances. Nor was this army open only to Spaniards. Walloons, Italians, Burgundians and other nationalities ruled over by the Habsburgs all contributed their quotas. But the career of the old army came to an end at Rocroi (1643), and after this the forces of the monarchy began more and more to conform to the French model.
97. The military history of Spain from 1650 to 1700 is full of incident, and in the long war of the Spanish Succession both the army and the ordenanza found almost continuous employment. They were now organized, as were most other armies of Europe, on the lines of the French army, and in 1714 the old tercios, which had served in the Spanish Netherlands under Marlborough, were brought to Spain. The king’s regiment “Zamora” of the present army descends from one of these which, as the tercio of Bovadilla, had been raised in 1580. The army underwent few changes of importance during the 18th century, and it is interesting to note that there were never less than three Irish regiments in the service. In 1808 the Irlanda, Ultonia (

=

Ulster) and Hibernia regiments had come to consist (as had similar corps in the French service before the Revolution) largely of native soldiers. At that time the Spanish army consisted of 119 Spanish and foreign (Swiss, Walloon and Irish) battalions, with 24 cavalry regiments and about 8000 artillery and engineers. There were further 51 battalions of militia, and the