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Absolute WarViolence and Mass Warfare in the German Lands, 1792-1820$
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Mark Hewitson

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198787457

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198787457.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 24 October 2021

The Lives of Soldiers

The Lives of Soldiers

(p.159) 4 The Lives of Soldiers
Absolute War

Mark Hewitson

Oxford University Press

It is tempting to assume that the traumas of twentieth-century wars, resulting in well-documented psychiatric conditions such as mutism, were produced by the unparalleled destructiveness of such conflicts. Yet, it is worth re-examining such an assumption. This chapter looks at the impact of revolutionary and Napoleonic warfare on combatants, revealing the frequent juxtaposition of hardiness, disgust, and horror at the wartime conditions which soldiers encountered. Yet, although the suffering of ordinary soldiers during the Napoleonic Wars entered the official and popular historical records of the conflicts, it was marginalized for the most part by a narrative of Prussia’s, Austria’s, and ‘Germany’s’ heroic victory over Napoleon and France in what were later termed ‘wars of liberation’. The chapter investigates the varying responses of officers, common soldiers, and volunteers to victory and defeat in their diaries, correspondence, memoirs, and other forms of war literature.

Keywords:   combat, officers, volunteers, wars of liberation, defeat, victory, diaries, memoirs, war literature

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