Britain was totally unprepared for war with France in 1793 and relied on German auxiliaries to supplement her own meagre resources to pursue her strategy in the Low Countries and beyond. The contingents were drawn from the smaller German states, whose armies still followed the rigid linear tactics of Frederick the Great. They therefore had to adapt to deal with the new threat posed by the mass French armies, with a greater emphasis on light troops and more flexible tactics.
Although the German troops formed a major part of the Allied army in the Low Countries, there has been no detailed English-language account of their role. Their story is told here for the first time, based on extensive research in British and German archives, together with contemporary accounts and 19th Century German sources.
Previously unpublished information is given on the process of negotiating the treaties with the German princes, the organisation of the troops taken into British pay, and their experience on campaign, focussing on the key events for the various contingents. Their varied and colourful uniforms are also described and illustrated from contemporary sources.
The German auxiliaries fought bravely, often against overwhelming odds, and the failure of the campaigns owes more to disunity among the allies and the muddled and unrealistic policies of the British government than any shortcomings of the troops on the ground.
Paul Demet was born and brought up in Manchester and now lives in Northamptonshire with his wife, chickens and cats. He is a retired company director with a life-long interest in military history, particularly the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars and the armies of the small German states. For many years he has spent as much time as possible visiting archives, museums, and historic sites in Britain and on the Continent and is an enthusiastic collector of old books and prints. He is a long-standing member of numerous British, French and German historical societies. Although this is his first book, he is a regular contributor to Napoleonic era discussion forums.