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Wednesday 2 September 2020

Catching Up On My Reading 2


 This one is my friend Mike McNally's latest in the Osprey Campaigns series.  Now apparently some fellow has given it a bit of a spanking - which I have not read and don't want to. I shall form my own opinion thanks. 

So here is my own opinion.  Physically the book is what you have come to expect from this series and if you are an 18th century dude then you will want it on your shelf- assuming your read the books as well as push the little men about and roll the dice. Colour plates by Sean O'Brogain are well up to the mark.- my personal favourite being the Mouquetaires.  These plates are backed up by some reproductions of contemporary maps and paintings- some at least never seen before outside Germany. As usual Mike does his research- and I should know the amount of time Mike has spent bending my ear to  bounce ideas off me and let me pick holes in his theories- which sometime I have. All that does is make him go off and find more evidence to make me shut up or agree with him  or indeed to change his mind where such is needed. 

So back to the book  Dettingen is a well known battle but probably less well understood.. The traditional view is very Anglo- centric, this is probably because the presence of King George II as "commander" of the combined Austrian/ British ,Hanoverian forces was the last time a King Of England  commanded his army in the field - so became a lodestone for Victorian  historians such as Fortescue. The traditional view is that the British simply walked up to the French shot at them a bit so that they ran away in the usual style. Mike chucks most of the tradition out of the window and examines the facts and the ground- there are a good number of photographs of the battlefield today-   to give a different narrative of events. 

 Now I'm not going to give any kind of precis here- pointless- buy the book if you want to know how it ends ! But a few taster might be in order. The Allies do not seem to have had much of a coherent plan for the engagement and were  somewhat confused by events. What is clear is that the Allies were caught  somewhat unawares by the French who then proceeded to squander most of their considerable  advantages.  This allowed the Allies to escape by the skin of their teeth. The detailed order of battle for both sides is very useful indeed from a wargamers point of view- somewhat more detailed that the one I have in the aged(1972) Knights Battles for Wargamers  slim and traditional volume on the battle.

 Other delights in the book are the rather nice selection of photos of reconstructed uniforms. Some of these appeared in Mikes previous Fontenoy title in the same series but some did not .

Overall I liked this some of the political lead up to the campaign is a bit tortuous but it is stuff you need to know to put the action into context. If you are only interested in the battle- skip that bit. The usual biographies of the commanders are also useful for context but if you only want to lift the scenario for the battle- which would make a rather large but splendid game you can skip that bit too.

 Now I've almost got enough troops to refight this .........  



  1. Just bought this as well. I have not finished it yet. The first copy went back as the back cover was ripped off. Glad you mentioned the mannequin photos. Are they in a museum? Do you know if they are viewable in the flesh so to speak?


    1. Not certain but I think they are in the Fontenoy museum and may be viewable