The Battle of Lutzen in the Thirty Years War is mostly famous for the untimely death of King Gustav Adolf II of Sweden in the heat of the action and the confusion of battle, at which point apparently hearing of their Kings death by magical means the Swedes went battle mad and promptly polished off the Imperialists in short order.
Needless to say the reality was a lot more complex that that which this fine book goes on to explain.
Indeed it is so stuffed with useful information that it is actually overflowing, as another 80 PAGES are available as a download from the Helion website, which will give the careful reader even more useful and fascinating information.. This section contains another 48 assorted maps and charts of archaeological finds and bullet distribution. Maps of pre-battle movement and a clutch of battle maps showing formation movements down to brigade and sometimes even regimental level.
So what do you actually get in the paper format?
Physically the book is in the usual Helion style and has 241 pages with 17 pages of colour plates of troop types and colours plus two colour maps of army deployment.
The eight chapters cover all you might expect in a 'Battle ' book such as the campaign including the difficulties of supplying seventeenth century armies and the two armies orders of battle and deployments but also a whole lot more.
For a start there is a serious examination of both primary and secondary sources and their respective values (or lack of such) Then an equally serious examination of the archaeology, much of which the author was himself involved in so he knows whereof he speaks.
With the help of the downloadable maps- these give extra details- the reader is taken through the battle blow by blow in deep and almost exhaustive detail. From the initial manoeuvres through to the Kings death and Pappenhiem's arrival to the exhaustion of both armies and the final Swedish attacks it is all here for the reader to study.
One of the things that surprised me was how comparatively small the battle was. The total troop numbers for both armies only just topped 30,000 men. Somehow I had the erroneous impression that the two armies were much larger.
There are , as you would expect, more than a few translated chunks of contemporary accounts and the author uses these to illustrate his points well.
Now I not going to launch any spoilers here, regular readers will know that is not my style, you will have to buy the book and download the extra info to get a full picture of what is there . Anyone wit any kind of interest in 17th century warfare should have this volume on his shelves.
My only niggle - and it is a very very minor one, is the authors use of military terminology - in particular the word 'squadron'- which for most of us is a sub unit of a cavalry regiment often in the 17th century composed of two 'troops' or 'companies' of horse usually, though not always, from the same regiment.
Here the term is used as a catch all for anything from a battalion of 1,000 or so Imperial infantry (some of the eight of these units were made up of more than one regiment) through the usual cavalry term to any detached unit of 'commanded' musketeers. I found this a tad confusing until I worked it out and once you realise this it does not detract from the book in the slightest.
So yes I commend this book to any Pike and Shot fans wargamers or not, but more than that, this is a book worth serious study to any student of 17th century military history.