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

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The cavalry, this famous cavalry which had learned to surround itself with such magnificent luster, I found, to my dismay, so inadequate that for a long time I hesitated before expressing my convictions in my reports, for I believed I must be mistaken. I saw Hessen-Cassel Hussars Nr. 8, Tuscany Dragoons Nr. 8, and Sicilian Lancers Nr. 12. Even if one completely disregards the latter regiment, for it was newly formed and could not match the worst Prussian army cavalry regiment, one could still not find much that was good about the other two regiments. As Hungarians, the hussars were born horsemen, therefore not too much effort was given to their training; they remained natural horsemen. As a whole, all of the cavalry was slow, laborious, restless, with little stamina, lacking coherent attacks. I looked for, and found, the causes. The regulations were, although simplified, quite laborious, full of useless commands, so that, before an Austrian regiment goes into forward motion, a Prussian one can fall into its flank. The horses were so badly fed because too many oats were embezzled. A petty-minded daily routine had the troops saddling up too early and holding for hours to be inspected, so that horse and rider were completely exhausted before the start of an exercise, and then the exercise lasted for hours and hours. One should not, by the way, apply the measure of Prussian laws to embezzlement in the Austrian army. The Austrian army was then in a transitional stage with respect to its internal administration. Only a few years earlier, a cavalry captain had received a lump sum with which he was to dress man and horse and feed the horses. How he went about this was his own business, and what he was able to spare flowed legally into his pockets, whereby one portion was left over for the sergeant. All that, to be sure, had become different according to the rules, but the occasional hard-working old sergeant etc. could not yet find his place in [this new order] and continued to live according to the old rules.

The artillery, whose shooting practice I attended, was still entirely the old constable sentry from the previous century, with lots of crammed learning, manuals for geography and history in the front wagon for the guns, but without hitting much. One innovation, for which there was pride, consisted of uniting the harnessed teams with the artillery, since up until thee years ago they were still pulling cannons by a special train into battle. The artillery equitation school under Nadaszy was the beginning of this, and the aforementioned director engaged in a lot of nonsense with this pet idea of the Kaiser.

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