The Bavarian Army or the Army of the Electorates was eventually referred to as the army of the kingdom of Bavaria. This standing army of the German state existed in 1682, and it was hardly comparable to any of the armies during the 19th century. However, it provided the dynasty of Wittelsback a certain scope of action in terms of efficient alliance politics, in order to transform the state into one of the largest states of the Empire of Germany.
History of the Bavarian Army
In 1681, Bavaria was allowed to provide powerful troops for the state’s imperial army. In addition, the formation of the standing army was viewed as a proof of the nation’s statehood, as well as a tool for absolutist power in politics. In October 1682, several newly-recruited troops were taken into the Bavarian service. The army also made itself distinct under Maximilian II, during the Belgrade Siege.
In the Spanish Succession War, Bavaria fought courageously on the side of France. When the army was defeated during the Blenheim Battle, the Bavarian army stopped existing as a main fighting force of the state, although a few continued the fight until the war ended. After the war, Austrian forces occupied Bavaria, and this led to the rebellion of the people that occurred during the “Sendlinger Mordweihnacht.” In 1701, the army members were similar in number as during the Turkish wars. The Crown Prince’s attempt to obtain the Imperial crown was successful at first, yet the campaign ended when Austria invaded Bavaria.
Highlights of the Seven Years War
At the onset of the “Seven Years War”, the Bavarian army included eight infantry, three cuirassier regiments, a brigade of artillery and two dragoons. In 1757, one of these cuirassier regiments was disarmed and divided among the other regiments, while a company of dragoons in the regiment was mounted. The average strength of about 1800 men for the regiment was not attained in the field. Moreover, the battalions on the infantry were available to the “Habsburgs”, based on the Imperial military obligations of Bavaria. The battalions fought without any success at Breslau, Leuthen and Schweidnitz, in 1757. With the unification between the Palatinate and Wittelsbachs line, this added more regiments to the infantry, in 1777. The Bavarian Succession War, which was also referred to as the Potato War passed quite uneventful for the army of Bavaria. Eventually, the uniform of the infantry was changed to white, and the traditional armor of the cuirassiers were abandoned completely.
The German Empire
In 1790 the Bavarian Army underwent a fundamental reform. The field troops also received new uniforms, which included a helmet made of leather and embellished with horsehair plume popularly called the “Rumford Casket”. However, Maximilian IV discovered the army in unfortunate condition, and none of the units was observed to be at full strength. Furthermore, the troops were poorly-trained, and the uniforms were rather impractical. Eventually, the line infantry decreased in number, and they were built up in excellent condition.
Bavaria was quite reluctant in fighting on Austria’s side as opposed to France, in 1800. However, Austria encountered a more powerful army when it attacked Bavaria. While the Bavarians retreated initially, they only aimed to prepare further for a counterattack that took place in a thorough and methodical manner. Overall, about 30,000 Bavarians participated in the Siege of Ulm, as well as the liberation of the state.
Tyrol, which was an Austrian province, was awarded to Bavaria as its reward. However, another great concern erupted into a massive rebellion that was headed by Hofer, which was put down with the support of the French army. When Bavaria was attacked by Austria in 1809, the army of Napoleon was focused on Spain, and the Rhine Confederation led the campaigns against Austria. Moreover, the Wagram Battle the Bavarian forces contributed less to the outcome of the battle.
During the Russian Campaign, the army of Bavaria suffered massive losses, and only about 4000 returned after the war. The 1814 campaign had a bad start for the Allies, yet General Wrede was successful in making up for the early defeat with great victories over former allies at several battles. In conclusion, the challenges encountered by the Bavarian army were caused by the parliament and poor military leadership. Furthermore, the steady limits in the military budget caused the war ministry of Bavaria to fail in its mission to go beyond the brigade level and ensure great success during the numerous battles fought by the army.