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Prince Kraft zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen: Observations on the State of the Austrian Army (1854)

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Phenomena like Lieutenant Field Marshal Count Paur were not uncommon in the higher ranks of the Austrian aristocracy, who in his ignorance went so far as to put an artillery captain under arrest because the two howitzers in his battery had shorter barrels than the six canons. He believed that the captain had cut off and stolen a piece of bronze.

Actually, the ignorance of the higher aristocracy in the Austrian army occasionally made me lose my composure altogether. One of these gentlemen once asked me about the war game that was practiced in the Prussian army. I explained it to him. In a two-hour conversation he asked me about all the details. I explained everything with the greatest patience. When I let myself believe that I had been completely understood, Prince L. T. said to me: "All right, now, how do you play this?" – "Why?" – "Well now, I mean, how do you determine what you're playing for?" – "But it can't be played for money!" – "Not for money? Well, then, it's of no interest whatsoever!"

In addition to such a horribly ignorant aristocracy, which set the tone in the Austrian army and whose members attained most of the highest ranks, there also had to be an intellectual element doing the [actual] work. This was absolutely right, for otherwise the army could not have existed. But this intellectual element consisted for the most part of upstarts or adventurers, partly from abroad, who wanted to get rich and abuse the ignorance of the noble lords to this end. They had to reckon with this factor at that time in Austria. The artillery commander Count Wimpffen once told me that nine pounds of oats daily were far too little for a horse, for one needed to consider that if one allotted nine pounds of oats for each horse in the army, the horse would be carrying at most five pounds of oats in his stomach, and no horse could hold out under this kind of strain. That the director of the Second Army, Lieutenant Field Marshall Baron v. Eynatten, practiced embezzlement was a story the entire Austrian army bandied about back then. Therefore, several years later, when he was convicted of embezzlement and killed himself, I was not surprised. My official reports from back then contain the relevant information.

Even the old artillery commander Augustin was one the greats admired from a distance, a celebrity in the artillery. Seen up close, the meteor shrank to a star of the third or fourth magnitude. He was an ossified bureaucrat and prejudice-filled bombardier from the previous century, an enemy of every new invention and improvement, which he simply regarded as democratic sins. He invented the Austrian rocket, and after that there could not be anything better. The Hungarian rebels had feared those rockets, and this gave the old weapons, surrounded by the highest scientific mystery, a new luster. When the old Augustin died a few years later, even Austria discovered that the rockets had never actually hit anything, and they got rid of them in order to introduce rifled artillery.

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