Learn about soldiers' day-to-day lives in the new type of citizen soldier military, stretching from the bloody French Revolution in the late eighteenth century to the brutal conditions of the first World War in the early twentieth century.
This is the story of the evolution of the citizen army throughout Western nations during the nineteenth century and up through World War I. The French Revolution had brought to Europe the concept of military service as a citizen responsibility. Until then, armies and navies had been the province of the upper classes and of mercenaries, with authoritarian governments firmly in place that held little connection to the common person. As more democratic and republican governments developed during the 1800s, military service became not only a citizen's obligation, but for many, an honor. By the time of World War I, men and women-in more limited roles-were becoming willing to risk their lives for the goals of their countries.
A timeline provides context for the dates, events, and places discussed in the book; there are extensive endnotes and a comprehensive and topically arranged bibliography of recommended sources. A thorough index completes the book.
Often told in the soldiers' own words, or in those of writers of the period, nine chapters cover the period, with the first half of the book focusing on the period of the French Revolution to the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871), and the second half covering from 1871 through World War II. Among the topics discussed are
• Problems with lack of motivation, evasion, and desertion of soldiers in early nineteenth century European military service.
• Easier recruitment through the latter half of the nineteenth century as nationalism and more governmental freedom gave citizens more reason to support wars.
• The relationship between military leaders and soldiers.
• The changes in weapons and armor, where the solider went from the rifle, firing roughly six shots per minute, to the machine gun, firing 600 rounds per minute. ; Further developments in artillery, armor, aviation, gas, and mining, making wars even more deadly.
• Hospitals and care, and lack of care, of disease, injuries, and the dying.
• The increasing role of women in related roles to the military, especially the advancement of nursing.
• Daily life, including equipment, uniforms, and living conditions.