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Bavarian Army

As far as Bavaria was concerned the treaty of November 23, 1870, determined, in consideration of the sovereign dignity of Bavaria, that Bavaria should bear exclusively and alone the expenses and burdens of its military affairs (including the maintenance of fortresses within its territory and other fortifications). And moreover Bavaria engaged to expend the same amount of money upon its contingent as was decided upon, in proportion to the numerical strength, for the remaining parts of the union. The Bavarian army formed a part of the German federal army, which is complete in itself and has an independent administration under the military sovereignty of the King of Bavaria ; but which in war time, and indeed from the beginning of mobilisation, is under the command of the federal commander-in-chief.

Bavaria enjoyed certain special privileges on the basis of a rather long and explicit treaty made on 23 November 1870. By the express terms of this Agreement, Art. 61 of the Imperial Constitution did not apply to Bavaria, and the Prussian military legislation is not introduced into Bavarian territory. Bavaria retains the legislation and regulations respecting military affairs which were in force at the time of her entrance into the Empire. The general obligation to perform military service which was imposed by the Constitution upon every German subject rested, however, upon every Bavarian subject by express stipulation in the Treaty of 23 November 1870. Further, the competence of Bavaria in military legislation suffered no restriction whatever in the treaty, but is full and complete. But while the Prussian military legislation did not extend to Bavaria under Art. 61 of the Imperial Constitution, all imperial legislation with respect to the army and navy does so extend under Art. 4 (14). That is to say, all legislation of the Union prior to the entry of Bavaria extended to that State only with her consent ; all legislation subsequent to that time extends ex proprio vigore to Bavaria as well as to the other States of the Empire.

Complete uniformity prevails in respect to organisation, formation, instruction, pay and instructions for mobilisation. There were certain differences in the matter of uniform permitted to the Bavarian troops. The federal commander-in-chief has the duty and the right of assuring himself by inspection as to the uniformity and the completeness of the army. Since that time growing tradition has modified the statement relating to the financial independence of the Bavarian army so that the expenses of Bavarian military affairs are in fact defrayed by the Empire and all that remains is a process of mutual liquidation of accounts.

The Bavarian Army had perhaps the most continuous record of good service in the field of any of the minor German armies. The oldest regiments date from the Thirty Years' War, in which the veteran army of the Catholic league, commanded by Count Tilly and formed on the nucleus of the Bavarian army, played a conspicuous part. Later in the war the Bavarian general, Count Mercy, proved himself a worthy opponent of Turenne and Conde. Henceforward the Bavarians were engaged in almost every war between France and Austria, taking part successively in the wars of the Grand Alliance, the Spanish Succession (in which they came into conflict with the English), and the Polish and Austrian Succession wars.

In pursuance of the traditional anti-Austrian policy, the troops of Bavaria, led by a distinguished Bavarian, Marshal (Prince) Wrede, served in the campaigns of 1805 to 1813 side by side with the French, and Napoleon made the electorate into a kingdom. But in 1813 Bavaria joined the Alliance, and Wrede tried to intercept the French on their retreat from Leipzig. Napoleon, however, inflicted a severe defeat on his old general at Hanau, and opened his road to France. In May, 1812, the Bavarian army serving among the French numbered 28,000 men ; in February, 1813, there were only 2,250 under arms. The great destroyer was typhus.

By the mid-1850s the Bavarian army, in its strength, took the third place among the armies of Germany. It is now sufficiently large to form an independent corps in any war, and, consequently, possessed very considerable importance. The results of the year 1848 proved highly beneficial to this army. It was not only considerably augmented in that year (each infantry regiment by a battalion, each cavalry regiment by a squadron, and the artillery by a horse regiment), but also greatly reformed. Discipline was more stringently regarded, and considerable attention paid to the education of the officers. The troops were exercised repeatedly and reviewed, and all the manoeuvres really of value in war, and not merely for parade, were kept up sedulously. The unmistakable benefits of all these changes are already very perceptible, and the troops are in a great state of efficiency.

In 1866 the Bavarians took part against Prussia, but owing to their dilatoriness in taking the field, the Prussians were able to beat them in detail. The Bavarian army, under the aged Prince Charles, distinguished itself by being driven by the less numerous forces of Prussia tmder General Falkenstein across the Saale and the Main. In this series of actions the Bavarian commander described himself in his bulletins as having been victorious, but " having concentrated to the rear."

In 1870, reorganized to some extent on Prussian lines, they joined their former enemy in the war against France, and bore their full share in the glories and losses of the campaign, the II Bavarian corps having suffered more heavily than any but the III Prussian corps. The I Bavarian corps distinguished itself very greatly at Sedan and on the Loire.

Bavaria still retained her separate war office and special organization, and the troops had been less affected by the Prussian influence than those of the other states. The Bavarian corps were numbered separately (I Bav., Munich; II Bav., Würzburg; III Bav., Nuremberg), and the old light blue uniforms and other distinctive peculiarities of detail were still maintained.

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Page last modified: 11-07-2011 02:54:31 ZULU