Book Review: Fontenoy 1745

Osprey Publishing’s recent release, Fontenoy 1745, retells the story of the War of Austrian Succession’s most famous battle. An Anglo-Dutch-Hanoverian force commanded by the Duke of Cumberland came face to face with Marechal de Saxe’s French forces in the small Belgian town of Fontenoy, just outside Tournai. Written by Michael McNally and illustrated by Sean O’Brogain, this book opens up a near-forgotten war in Europe’s history.

Image result for fontenoy 1745
Osprey Publishing’s new book: Fontenoy 1745

Praise: Cumberland’s tactical errors are pointed out bluntly, and rightfully so. The book makes its statements of how the Anglo-Dutch forces were uninformed and very strong-willed to their plans. Saxe’s flexibility and use of multiple columns is depicted in a few maps and really shows what a complex network the French general made. There are also reconstructed uniforms in the book of many units of interest such as the Mousquetaires du Roi of the French army. On-site photographs are always great, but McNally manages to capture the correct weather too. His misty pictures clearly show how hard it was for the early-morning attacks troops made. Osprey Publishing always do a good introduction to a topic, and the War of Austrian Succession is covered briefly and provides a solution to any confusion one may have about what the British or the French fighting in Belgium has to do with the Austrian throne.

Image result for fontenoy 1745
British and French Guards clash at Fontenoy

Criticism: The two battle maps in the book felt boxy too me. While 18th century warfare was very rigid in its structure, the maps feel odd and seem to exaggerate the number of troops on the field with huge blocks of infantry. The illustrations could also have been placed better in the book, as you find a picture of the French Irish Brigade about 10 pages after you hear about their attack.

The War of Austrian Succession is mostly overlooked, but it still remains a very important war. Maria Theresa kept her claims to the throne, and it eventually led to the Seven Years’ War. Saxe’s strategies influenced Napoleon Bonaparte later in the early 19th century. Seeing the British defeat as an opportunity, the Jacobite Rebellion sprang up in Scotland. While the Battle of Fontenoy was 3 years before the end of the war, it remains a turning point, and a remarkable French victory over the British, Hanoverians, and Dutch.

Rating: 4/5

Invasion of the Waikato: Warfare on the Other Side of the World

Since 1845, the British had been fighting the Maori in New Zealand in an effort to crush any resistance of British control in the colony. The Maori, who lived on the North Island of New Zealand, did not want any British rule over their land, and they fought wars over the rights to sell and have jurisdiction over land. By 1863, the wars had involved a greater and greater number of British troops in order to suppress the Maori King Movement, which called for the formation of a unified Maori nation under one king

.

Image result for british uniforms new zealand wars
British troops in New Zealand. Note the blue uniform to blend into the underbrush.

The British governor of New Zealand, George Grey, decided to crush the Maori King Movement, which was centered in the Waikato Region. The British forces, under the command of Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron, numbered around 15,000, which was a massive number compared to that of the Maori. Cameron’s force of colonials crossed the Waikato River on July 12, 1863, and the Maori met the British troops in various engagements.

Wiremu Tamihana, the leader of the Maori force, clashed with British troops at the Battle of Meremere on October 12, and the British attacks were not decisive enough to Crush the Maori. Tamihana lead his troops from the pa, a defensive settlement, and slipped away in the night.

One month later, Cameron’s forces met the Maori at Rangiriri, a well-structured but incomplete pa. The British assault was turned by the defenders of the main redoubt, but the sheer numbers of British troops eventually stormed the pa. The British artillery proved to be strangely ineffective against Maori fortifications throughout the New Zealand Wars, and Rangiriri was no exception. The Maori troops once again escaped in the night from British forces, yet Lt.-Gen. Cameron claimed victory.

The Maori still held the Paterangi Line, an extensive line of fortifications that they retreated back to after the Battle of Rangiriri. A large mobilization of Maori, some 2,000 strong, occupied the Paterangi Line, and prepared to meet the British in early 1864. Gustavus von Tempsky, a  Prussian officer of the Forest Rangers, led his troops in an attack on the Maori at Rangiaowhia. Von Tempsky was killed in the engagement after being shot through the head, and the Paterangi Line remained in Maori control.

Image result for von tempsky new zealand wars
The Death of Gustavus von Tempsky.

Rewi Maniapoto, the leader of the King Movement, gathered his forces at Orakau in March, and the British forces arrived to put an end to Maori resistance. The defenders of the pa were offered a chance to surrender but replied “Friend, we will fight forever, forever, and forever.” The British assaulted the pa relentlessly and eventually defeated Maniapoto on April 2 after a combined British force of 1400 crushed the defenders. The Battle of Orakau is known as “Rewi’s Last Stand.” However, the Maori yet again slipped away into the night and managed to keep the embers of the King Movement alive, and the New Zealand Wars continued into the 1870’s.