The Cossacks 1799-1815
By Laurence Spring: Illustrated by Adam Hook
Someone said to me recently that Osprey would soon have to start looking for a new reason d'etre, on the basis that they have been going so long, and have developed such a wide catalogue of subjects there is nothing else for them to do. far from it though, Osprey continue to deliver the goods by a mixture of innovation and original research. Throughout the wide vista of World History there are numerous conflicts yet to be given the Men at Arms treatment. There are subjects that are only now being given the attention they deserve, such as the history of fortications that are now being address by the new Osprey Fortress series. And of course there is always the revisiting, in the light of new research or fresh interpretation of popular subjects.
This volume in the Osprey warrior series, which are designed to give an deeper insight into specialist or famed fighting formations, their history, social context and skills, has to be welcomed as it explored amongst the most famous, or infamous, of histories martial races, The Cossacks. I have recently become more interested in the contribution made by these troops to the Napoleonic Wars having reread Imperial Bayonets by..........., in which the author quotes numerous examples of troops that I had often dismissed as simply harassing light cavalry, standing their place with distinction in the line of battle, and being able to do more than hold their own against French lights, including Imperial Guard units.
Time then for a personal reassessment of the Cossack units, so this volume was very welcome. The author, a specialist in Russian military history, treats us to a brief social history of the Cossack tribes in the period leading to the Napoleonic campaigns, the relationship of the Cossack hegemony and the Russian throne, and the organisation of the Cossack military machine.
The training for war, and the penchant for plunder of the Cossack troops is covered in brief details, as are the tactics used. If I have to make a criticism it is that the section on tactics is too brief, and does not fully detail for example the "Lava attack" which proved so successful against the French on occassion. This however is a minor quibble given the scope of the volume and the space available. The author draws on numerous contemporary accounts to illustrate the contribution of Cossack troops to the defeat of Napoleon, and and of their undoubted valour.
As we have come to expect from Osprey, the illustrations from the talented brushwork of Adam Hook, are first class containing a wealth of uniform detail, and character which will serve as an inspiration to the general reader and wargamer alike. Osprey have again produced a, attractive book, containing a wealth of general information at a very reasonable price. Recommended.
64 pages; ISBN: 1841764647
Price £10.99/ $16.95
This publication is available from Osprey direct, PO Box 140, Wellingborough, Northants, U.K., NN8 2FA or click the link below: -
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