'Small War': Battles were less common than is often supposed…

Get 25% off an annual membership of CuriosityStream using code sandrhoman: https://curiositystream.com/sandrhoman

Battles were less common than often supposed. Military historians, influenced by the 19th century big shots like Hans Delbrück or Sir Charles William Chadwick Oman, looked mainly at major battles. Recent scholarship in contrast stresses the relative rarity of major field engagements. According to the expert for Napoleonic warfare Rory Muir “the great majority of armed clashes were partial combats between detached forces, advance and rearguards and the like, rather than pitched battles between the main bodies of opposing armies […].” One particularly important but often overlooked aspect of early-modern warfare is the so-called small war. This term refers to low-intensity warfare which took place daily in territories surrounding contested frontiers, sieges, and battles. Skirmishing patrols seizing provisions and animals, raiding parties burning down villages and crops to deny them to the enemy, and small warbands destroying production facilities – all this goes under the umbrella term of small war. The expression is, however, misleading insofar that the scale small war was waged on was anything but small. According to the historian Simon Pepper it almost certainly provided the primary experience of war for many soldiers of the early modern period In this Video we are going to explore how modern historiography describes small war and have a look at some illustrating examples.

Patreon (thank you): https://www.patreon.com/sandrhomanhistory

Muir, Rory, Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon, p. 7. New Haven /
London 1998.
Pepper, Simon, Operational Art: Communication, Cannon, Small War, in: Tallet, Frank/Trim, D. J. B. (Ed.), European Warfare 1350-1750, Cambridge 2010.
Satterfield, G. Princes, Posts and Partisans. The Army of Louis XIV and Partisan Warfare in the Netherlands 1673–1678, Leiden and Boston 2003.