Tenure in Command, The French Army in the Nine Years’ War.
King Louis XIV of France (1643-1715) is generally credited with having instituted the first modern military establishment, not just an army, but the financial, administrative, and bureaucratic apparatus necessary to support it on a permanent footing, an effort that established France as the premiere military power in Europe for two centuries. One interesting characteristic of the French Army during his reign was the remarkable stability in the officer corps, which consisted mostly of noblemen. Even in wartime there was surprisingly little turnover in officer slots, save as a result of casualties.
A good example can be seen in some statistics for French regiments during the Nine Years’ War (1688-1697). Sometimes known as the War of the English Succession or the War of the League of Augsburg or King William’s War (notoriously, most seventeenth and eighteenth century wars have multiple names), this was a complex affair that involved pretty much everyone in Europe against France, unless they were temporarily allied with France against whomever Louis was engaged against at the moment. In any case, in the course of the war the turnover of officers was surprisingly low, despite often serious casualties.
|Average Turnover of Senior Officers in|
French Infantry Regiments, 1688-1697
|Lieutenant Colonels|| 2.04|
|Grenadier Captains ||2.58 |
In effect, during the war, the French Army had to fill every colonel’s slot nearly twice, and every grenadier captain’s slot somewhat more than 2½ times. Junior officers, naturally, seem to have turned over more frequently. The fates of about 83-percent of the French infantry officers in these slots during this period are known. Of those, about 13-percent died in the service, either in combat, by disease, or by peradventure. About 6-percent actually retired, whether from wounds, illness, or other reason, nearly 2-percent were expelled from the army by the king, and some 14-percent were transferred to other duties.
Jonathan Wainwright Builds a Horse Trough
While commanding at Ft. Clark, a small cavalry post in Texas about 125 miles west of San Antonio, during the Great Depression, then Col. Jonathan Wainwright decided that the post needed a swimming pool. So he put in a request to the War Department. Quite naturally, given the strained economy, the War Department nixed the idea. Wainwright tried again, only to be rebuffed once more.
Figuring there was no chance he’d get lucky the third time, Wainwright changed his request. Rather than a swimming pool, he requested the construction of a watering point for horses be built. Lo! The War Department concurred, and soon the appropriate funds were made available.
The "watering point" was built by partially damming Las Moras Creek, a spring that flows through the post at a constant 68-degrees, year ‘round. It’s still there, reportedly the third largest outdoor swimming pool in Texas, just a few steps from the old officers’ club.