had a huge army during the Napoleonic Wars, but while its
infantry was brave and resolute, its senior officers still
used tactics from the previous century.
joined the army as either seven-year volunteers, or conscripts
for life, and were drawn from the various parts of the Austrian
Empire. Croats were among the greatest fighters that Vienna
could draw on.
almost continuous conflict - and defeat - at the hands of
Revoutionary France and
then Napoleon Bonaparte's
armies, the high command was slow in adopting more modern
ways of fighting.
was not until after the humiliation of Austerlitz
that Austria seriously began looking at a new way of training
troops and fighting.
Charles took the bull by the horns and brought in sweeping
changes that included reducing the terms of conscription,
discouraging the worst excesses of corporal punishment and
allowing live firing with real ammunition.
wanted to create an army of men capable of fighting in all
forms of terrain and while many of the reforms were good some
- such as the thought that three-rank infantry could charge
cavalry - were a little astray.
stopped the front rank from kneeling to fire, allowed for
the third rank to be used, albeit rarely, as skirmishers,
and rejected the square in favour of a new formation known
as the mass.
mass was essentially a compact column of men, usually a battalion,
that was one company wide and six deep. Charles thought it
more manouevreable than a square and, with its density, much
the battle of Aspern-Essling
showed, the performance of Austrian troops had by 1809 improved
greatly. The defeat at Wagram,
however, showed there was more needed to be done.