The laws of war.--Warfare in chivalrous times.--Naval warfare.--Military reprisals.--Military strategems.--Barbarian warfare.--War and Christianity.--Curiosities of military discipline.--The limits of military duties
Evidence reported by julielefevre for item militarymannersc00farrrich on September 26, 2007: no visible notice of copyright; stated date is 1885.
January 11, 2010 Subject:
From the Ancient World to His Modern
This is not your cute compilation about why soldiers have red coats or where knightly stuff survives in saluting. Rather, Farrer is a clear-headed rational person looking at the Laws of War and the lives of soldiers down the ages. Rationality tends to make hash of any glamour or glory around war. He includes all the stuff standard military historians leave out, like the fact that the victorious British army of the Peninsular War was little better than a pack of Huns, except that they knew how to use firearms: Wellington himself complained of their constant depredations and outrages on the Spanish civilians they were supposedly there to help, but which everyone seemed helpless to control.
Farrer traces this to the changes in military discipline and monotony down the centuries, that where becoming a man-at-arms in the middle ages was joining a highly-recompensed field with a lot of privileges, that the Peninsular Army was so ill-paid and suffered worse than convicts under discipline that only those too wild or too stupid for ordinary trades could be gotten to join.
His viewpoint from 1885, when general presciption for war--a military draft- was not yet common, becomes especially interesting as he argues about the effects of this.
In all, this is an interesting view of the development of military matters besides uniforms and milsci. Whether the treatment of prisoners of war or spies (balloonists, in uniform or not, were treated as spies if captured), of looting and bombardment of civilians, of the use of poison or privateering, even the length of enlistments, this book gets past the gloss to the grit of war and may teach you a lot you didn't know about the reasons war is truly abhorrent.