“Too little, too late” is Mike Embree's account of the German portion of the 1866 Austro-Prussian war which marked the eclipse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire as the pre-eminent power in German affairs and began the transition to Prussian dominance. Physically the book is a handsome hardback, weighing in at a slim 200 or so pages and illustrated with period etchings and maps.
In it, Embree chronicles the brief campaign against Austria and the smaller German powers, the fruitless victory of the Hanoverian army at Langensalza* and the defeat of the Hessians and the Bavarians. The book begins with a potted history of the period, outlining the strategic situation in broad strokes, but swiftly changes to the author's strong suit, drilling down into the detail with copious reference to primary sources.
The situation in brief is as follows, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars, the German states banded together along with Prussia and Austria to form a loose union to prevent any recurrence of French aggression. This union was dominated by Austria and the conflict arose when Prussia seeking to wrest control of the union from that state, provoked a war in order to unseat Austria.
The composition of the opposing armies, including those of a bewildering array of minor German states (some of which barely rise to the strength of a brigade) are described in detail. The rest of the book is devoted to an operational history of this brief conflict, which lasted barely six weeks. The prose is a model of clarity and leaves the reader in no doubt as to what is occurring, though one complaint I would have would be the maps. Maps are a persistent thorn in the side of those who write (and read) operational histories – how many? Where to put them? And in how much detail?
The maps are fine and are clear, but they are all located (along with some uniform plates) in the centre of the book, rather than situated with the text which refers to them. They are also not appropriately referenced in the text, so that the reader has to puzzle out what map refers to which action based on the name of the action rather than a page number. A small point, but one that stands out in a publication as slick as this one.
What strikes me about “Too little, too late” is how contemporary it seems. Austria and her allies are constantly undone by Prussian hybrid warfare, with the canny Prussians using a mixture of diplomacy, threats, misinformation and lightning manuevre to unhinge and ultimately destroy the allied forces. The author neatly describes that mixture of traditional warfighting and diplomatic cunning in a way that makes the overall picture clear to the reader, illustrating the complexities without getting lost in the weeds.
But for all the Austrian disasters, the Prussians do not escape some criticism and the difficulties of controlling independently minded commanders whose tactical decisions are imperiling the strategic vision - a problem any leader can relate to.
Ultimately, this book is the best English language treatment of the campaign currently available and will be of interest to the historian and the wargamer, who will appreciate the wealth of detail on orders of battle.
*ground which the author has covered before in a pamphlet available from the Continental Wars Society.
Note: In the interests of full disclosure, Mike is a friend of mine. I asked him if there was a general history that might be a good companion to this more specialised volume. He recommended "The Campaign of 1866 in Germany", the official Prussian staff history as probably the easiest and least controversial.
This is obviously a base coat and will need additional work, but I picked up a packet of large brushes in a pound shop recently. I think they are for makeup. The large brush made short work of the building and I managed to knock it out in twenty minutes.
Author, scriptwriter, bon viveur and friend of Joy & Forgetfulness Julian sent me these pictures about a million years ago. A house fire (crosses self) destroyed a large part of his collection and he's been consoling himself with 30mm semi flats from the turn of the century.
Aren't they magnificent?
I don't know much about them and unfortunately, I'm locked out of Facebook messenger at the moment, so I can't access what information he did send to me.
However, in this as in wine, my appreciation is none the less sincere, for all that my palate is uneducated.
Bomb chucking anarchist lurking out of shot
Italian hussars I think?
Red trousers are France!
Italian Lancers or possibly Piedmontese
Italian or possibly French artillery I think?
A swish Schloss - just the sort of thing you could see Black Michael sneaking out of.
Contrary to all expectation and thanks in no small part to the help of David Crook, Tim Gow and Old John, I've managed to get the Barbarossa campaign on track. So much so in fact, we'll be playing it on Saturday.
In advance of the game, I've been making sure that we've enough kit. This included getting tanks from the aforementioned David Crook, Tim Gow and Old John, painting up seventeen Revell Cossacks and forty four Strelets RKKA infantry. The tanks are all base coated and will need detailing over the next two days. There are a few other jobs that need doing, but honestly I surprised at how quickly this came together. Having a list helped and being ruthless about the bare minimum that was required to get the campaign on the table was a big factor.
The other advantage of the Barbarossa campaign is that once we have the gear to do it - we can always play it again with very little prep required. Laying everything out on the table certainly helped establish where the gaps are and made it easier to muster our forces. It also prevented me from falling into a false sense of security and making simple errors like...
...the time Du Gourmand and I forgot that a Memoir board is nine hexes deep not eleven.
...forgetting to print out any of the scenarios and trying to find a net cafe at 10am on a Sunday.
...that I'd double counted the French infantry and had gotten too many.