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Evaluation of the Armed Forces of the Holy Roman Empire after their Defeat under Austrian Command at the Battle of Roßbach (November 24, 1757)

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This shows that without additional Imperial cavalry not the slightest further step can be taken.

All-Gracious Lord, Your Imperial Majesty will not take it amiss if I recommend, from a heart well-known for its true devotion, the only means by which You, in light of my weak reason but also my practical knowledge, may draw advantage from this army.

Allow me to make two chief observations:

One: not to allow, for above-stated reasons, these troops to stand alone against the Prussians.

Two: neither generals nor regiments are of equal quality.

From which the conclusion follows, as to the first point, that, to raise these troops to proper strength, sufficient numbers of Imperial [Austrian] soldiers should be added to them. Second, the less good generals and regiments should be separated out and kept on the sidelines.

[ . . . ]

I firmly believe, All-Gracious Emperor and Lord, that Your Imperial Majesty will draw no proper service from this Imperial [Reich] Army unless Your Highness decides to form a corps of 40,000 men of Your own subjects alone, without Bavarians, Württembergers, or other auxiliary soldiers, for these are only good when intermixed with Your troops as the tenth part of the Austrian army, so that here I view them as Reich troops. The pure, true Imperial [Austrian] regiments, with hussars, irregular cavalry [“Croatians”], artillery, ammunition, transport, and food-provisioning, supplemented by some 10,000 Reich troops with selected generals, will form an army of 50,000 men, leaving others to defend the home-fronts or to man garrisons. In this way, Your Imperial Majesty would have an army to execute the Empire’s decisions [Executions-Armée] without having to rely on such an army consisting purely of Reich troops.

It is true, All-Gracious Emperor and Lord, that the whole structure governing Reich troops must be cast in a new mold, for if the enemy does not defeat this army, its structure will do so. This is a point, however, in whose thorough discussion I would abuse Your Majesty’s patience all too greatly.

[ . . . ]

Source: War Archive [Kriegsarchiv], Vienna. Alte Feldakten 1757 Reichsarmee 11/85.

Reprinted in Helmut Neuhaus, ed., Zeitalter des Absolutismus 1648-1789 [The Age of Absolutism 1648-1789]. Deutsche Geschichte in Quellen und Darstellung, edited by Rainer A. Müller, Volume 5. Stuttgart: P. Reclam, 1997, pp. 113-121.

Translation: William Hagen

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