Armies of Bismarck's Wars

Prussia, 1860–67

Bruce Basset Powell

Date Published :
July 2013
Publisher :
Illustration :
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781935149231
Pages : 398
Dimensions : 10 X 8 inches


On July 3rd, 1866 a Prussian army overwhelmed and defeated an Austrian army near the fortress city of Königgrätz in a bloody battle that lasted all day. At a stroke, the foremost power in Germany and central Europe had been reduced to a second rate player. The event caused anxiety and alarm in the capitals of the western world. How was an upstart country like Prussia able to upset the balance of power in Europe? Only sixteen years before it had been put in its place by Austria with the treaty of Olmütz. Its performance as an Austrian ally had been less than stellar in the 2nd Schleswig War of 1864 despite its defeat of the Danes at Düppel. Yet within five years a Prussian led army would humble France and a Prussian King would be crowned Emperor of a united Germany. The history of the world would be changed forever.

The story of this army is the subject of a new book by Bruce Bassett-Powell The Armies of Bismarck's Wars - Prussia 1860-1867. He chronicles its growth from the end of the Napoleonic Wars to the reforms of the eighteen sixties followed by a full account of the wars against Denmark in 1864 and Austria in 1866. He shows how the confluence of three men's lives; King William I, Helmuth von Molkte and Otto von Bismarck provided the essential ingredients that created this victorious army. The growth and influence of the General Staff is examined along with the recruitment and training of officers and men. He fully describes the organization of the army and the fledgling navy as well as the weapons with which they fought. In particular he gives a detailed account of their dress and accoutrements accompanied by 24 full page color illustrations depicting over 70 uniforms.

About The Author

Born in London in 1947, and educated at schools in Kent and Sussex. After serving in the Royal Artillery, he lived in East Africa, South Africa and Finland before coming to the U.S. in the mid-1970s. He worked for some time in the packaging industry before starting his own furniture import and distribution company in 1987 that he ran for fourteen years. He is married and now lives in Texas where he is a consultant to the furniture industry. He has had a passion for military history since his youth and has taken a particular interest in the study and illustration of military uniforms. He has written and illustrated several books on the subject and with his business partner is currently running Uniformology, a military publishing company with a focus on military uniforms.



1. Europe 1815-50
2. Prussia and Germany 1848-62
3. The Second Schleswig War and the final crisis

4. The advance to the Elbe
5. The Battle of Königgrätz
6. The final weeks of the war

7. The Roon reforms and the General Staff
8. The Prussian soldier 1860-67
9.Weapons, strategy, and tactics 1860-67
10. The Royal Prussian Navy
11. Organization and war strength 1860-67

12. General uniform notes
13. General officers
14. Cavalry
15. Supporting corps
16. Naval uniforms
17. Uniform plate commentary

A. Order of Battle for the Royal Prussian Army, Denmark 1 February 1864
B. Order of Battle for the Royal Prussian Army, June 1866
C. Ships of the Royal Prussian Navy, January 1864-August 1866
D. Prussian Army of 1866



"..highly detailed text and stunning illustrations draw a complete picture of soldiers who changed the world…The cornerstone of this nearly 400-page, hardcover book is Bassett-Powell's painstaking descriptions of the Prussians' dress and equipment complemented by 24 full-page illustrations. They superbly show more than 70 uniforms in full color…This comprehensive and richly illustrated book chronicles how Prussian military men changed the future course of world history.

- Toy Soldier and Model Figure, November 2013

Bassett-Powell, well known for several works on military history and uniformology, wisely opens this book with a concise look at European and German history from fall of Napoleon to the outbreak of the 1866 Austro-Prussian War and a brief account of that war, together taking up a third of the book. He then goes back to 1806, to examine in increasing detail the evolution of the Prussian armed forces from the disaster of Jena-Auerstadt to the fine instrument that gave Prussia primacy in Germany, leading to the defeat of France in 1870 and the creation of the German Empire. Bassett-Powell covers the 1859 military reform, the rise of the General Staff system, changes in the military obligation, training, and service of Prussian soldiers, improvements in technology, and the development of innovative tactical and strategic concepts, and the formation of the Prussian Navy. There is much material on the organization and strength of the armed forces on the eve of the 1866 war, as well as on uniforms, and considerable commentary and detail on orders of battle. This comprehensive approach, provides an excellent introduction to the Prussian military system, and is also a useful adjunct to various accounts of the 1866 war and as a primer for events that followed in 1870.

- NYMAS Review, March 2016

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