TOC – War in History, Vol. 19, No. 1

Here is the latest Table of Contents from War in History.

Patrik Winton, ‘Sweden and the Seven Years War, 1757–1762: War, Debt and Politics’

Sweden commenced military operations against Prussia in 1757, following Austria’s and France’s efforts to include Sweden in the anti-Prussian alliance. Swedish politicians hoped that the coalition would lead to a quick victory without having to get too involved in the fighting, but that Sweden still would be rewarded for its support. Swedish military action was thus primarily designed to show the allies that Sweden participated in the war. Despite the low intensity warfare that characterized the fighting, the war was still extremely expensive. The Swedish state used mostly internal borrowing to finance the war, which led to negative economic and political consequences such as inflation and popular discontent. By participating in the war, the Swedish state sought to strengthen its commercial situation worldwide while preserving its military position in the Baltic region.

Matthew Seligmann, ‘A German Preference for a Medium-Range Battle? British Assumptions about German Naval Gunnery, 1914–1915’

In several recent studies of the Royal Navy a theory has emerged about the development of British battle-fleet tactics. It is suggested that, in the period leading up to the battle of Jutland, the Admiralty possessed intelligence which indicated that the German naval leadership, if it sought to fight at all, wanted to engage at medium range, where its superior secondary batteries and heavier torpedo armament could be used to maximum advantage. Rather than seeking to frustrate this desire by manoeuvring to keep the battle at long range, the British, it has been argued, decided to accommodate to the German preference, but only with a view to using their superior main armament to unleash a concentrated five-minute pulse of fire at the approaching German vessels, before turning away. This article looks at one of the underpinnings of this argument, namely British intelligence on German gunnery. It shows that from the start of the First World War, if not earlier, the Admiralty had information that contested the idea that the Germans wanted a medium-range engagement. Not only was it discovered that the Germans had been practising long-range firing for some years, but, in addition, early wartime encounters with German vessels, for example at the battle of the Falkland Islands, showed that they had developed considerable proficiency in it. This quickly led the Royal Navy’s top leadership to the conclusion that engagements at maximum range rather than medium range might better reflect both German capabilities and intentions and that British tactics would need to take this into account. In the light of this finding, Grand Fleet Battle Orders, which have defied obvious explanation when it was assumed that the British naval leadership expected the Germans to seek a medium-range engagement, can now be put into a more logical context.

Matthew Rendle, ‘Forging a Revolutionary Army: The All-Russian Military Union in 1917’

The Russian military was deeply divided after the February Revolution of 1917, but if Russia was to emerge victorious from the First World War, it needed to forge a unified revolutionary army. This article examines the only serious attempt to foster unity, the All-Russian Military Union. While the union was not successful, a study of its activities emphasizes that divisions existed within social groups in the military as well as between them, which were exacerbated by the authorities. It also sheds light on the role of unions in the military and across Russia in 1917.

Gregory A. Daddis, ‘The Problem of Metrics: Assessing Progress and Effectiveness in the Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War the complex nature of fighting an insurgency posed significant problems for US Army officers attempting to measure progress and military effectiveness. While much of the Vietnam historiography maintains that ‘body counts’ served as the primary, if not only, indicator of wartime success, such arguments overlook the vast numbers of reports attempting to measure progress and performance. Problems in evaluating progress stemmed not from a lack of effort on the part of army officers or from a single-minded commitment to counting bodies. Rather, complications arose from attempting to collect too many facts, figures, and statistics without evaluating how accurately such data reflected progress in a complex political-military environment.

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