Improbable Wars: The Austro-Papal War, 1708-1709
In the middle of the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714),
with Europe split into two warring camps over whether a French-supported
Bourbon or an Austrian-supported Hapsburg should ascend the Spanish throne, Pope
Clement XI (r. 1700-17.) secretly decided to abandoned his neutrality to favor
the Bourbon claimant, and attempted to engineer the defection of some of the
petty Italian states from the Hapsburg to the Bourbon camp.
This came about because the Pope was annoyed with the
Austrians for having marched through the eastern regions of the Papal States in 1707 in order to invade Naples, a Spanish viceroyalty held by the
Bourbonist claimant. In addition, since Naples had been a papal fief
for more than 500 years, it irked Clement that the Austrians had decided to
take it without asking his permission.
Now, Clement's change of heart soon came to light, resulting
in tensions with the Hapsburgs, to the point where the pope threatened to
excommunicate the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph I of Hapsburg (r. 1690-1711). With Clement becoming intransigent, the
Austrians decided to threaten war. Clement refused to back down.
In 1708, an Austrian army invaded the Papal
States. It wasn't much of
an invasion,. As the Austrians advanced,
slowly, because they really didn't want to fight the pope, the outnumbered and
outclassed papal army retreated on every occasion that a fight might have
occurred, earning itself the derisive nickname “gli Papagallini – the Papal Chickens.” By late 1708, the Austrians had occupied most
of the eastern Papal States. On January 15, 1709, Clement made peace with Joseph I, and acknowledged
the Hapsburg Charles III as king
FootNote: The Anglo-Papal War. Earlier in 1708, Pope Clement had rather
openly supported a Jacobite attempt to initiate an uprising in Scotland (the
"Second" or maybe "Third Jacobite War"). So when the Austrians went to "war"
with the pope, since Britain
was allied to Austria,
Sir John Leake, commanding the Royal Navy's Mediterranean Squadron, threatened
to bombard Civita Vecchia, the principal port of the Papal Sates. Since the Austrians didn't want the pope
completely humiliated, they dissuaded Leake from this action, and he confined himself
to supporting their invasion by taking many French and Italian prizes off the
coast, and conveying support to support Austrian forces in Naples.
Perhaps the most British general of the Victorian age, Sir
Garnet Wolseley (1833-1913) was so capable that he was satirized by Gilbert and
Sullivan as "The very model of a modern major general," and the
phrase "All Sir Garnet" came to mean "everything's right and
Wolseley was commissioned in the British Army in 1852 and
rose quickly, campaigning against Burmese, Russians, Indians, Canadian
insurgents, Fenians, Ashanti, Egyptians, and even
Sudanese, almost always with success; his attempt to relieve Khartoum in 1884 was the only notable
failure, and he was put in command far too late to save the day. Later made the commander-in-chief of the
British Army, Wolseley initiated many reforms, including the restructuring of
the regimental system in the 1870s and the creation of a reserve system in the
But it was Wolseley's skill as at organization and logistics
that underpinned his success. When he
took the field, everything quite literally was ready.
In 1869 Wolseley, attempting to help other officers become
better at their craft, wrote The Soldier’s
Pocket-book for Field Service. This was a thick handbook
that covered everything an officer needed to know to help plan and conduct a
military operation, embodying Wolseley's own experience, and what he learned
through extensive reading (he was also a pretty good amateur historian).
idea of the detail in The Soldier's Pocket-book can be seen in Wolseley's
discussion of the use of animal transport, in theaters where railroads were
unavailable. Since no army in that era
had to cope with so many diverse environments while on campaign as did the
British Army, which rarely operated in places that had railroads, this was
|Animal||Speed|| Pack Load||
Draught Load|| Work Day|
|Ass * ||4.0|| mph
|| 150-175|| pds|| 900
||pds || 15-16 ||miles|
|Camel ||2.5|| 300-600|| 1000|| 20|
|Dog * ||6.5 || na || 160|| 60 by sleigh|
|Elephant ||3.5|| 800-1200|| 8000|| 15-20|
|Horse ||4.0 || 250-400|| 350|| 15-16|| |
|Human ||2.5 || 40-80|| 120-150|| 4-8|
|Llama * ||2.5 || 65-125|| na|| 12-18|
|Mule ||4.0 || 150-300|| 500 || 15-16|
|Ox ||2.2 || 160-200|| 300-500|| 4-6 |
|Reindeer ||18 || na || 300 || 50-100 by sleigh|
|Note: Since Sir Garnet didn't campaign in places where some types of beasts of burden were in common use, we've added a few of these, as indicated by an asterisk. Pack Load includes weight of the pack; Draught Load includes that of the vehicle; na, not applicable for military usage.
Naturally, load limits and work day vary depending upon
climate, the size, strength, and condition of the animal, and how long it's
been working; horses, mules, and elephants may be able to work for 15 or so
miles a day when they're fresh, but after several days of hauling heavy loads,
they'll begin slowing down.
It's worth recalling that although these figures are drawn
from nineteenth century experience, the world's most mechanized armies have
been finding mules and horses quite useful in Afghanistan of late.