After 30 years of peace, the British Army suffered a series of calamitous defeats during the War of Austrian Succession (1740-48). This precipitated an ‘accidental military enlightenment’ over the next half century.
Professionally minded redcoats engaged in wide-ranging reading, travel and learning in order to develop new thinking on how to fight and win wars. The resulting military knowledge was exchanged through professional and personal networks.
Lessons gained from fighting wars in North America, India and Europe were integrated with the latest theoretical thinking on the subject. This global experience offered the redcoat a comparative advantage on the battlefield, and transformed the British way of war.
Dr Huw J Davies is a Reader in Early Modern Military History at the Department of Defence Studies, King’s College London. His research focuses on the British Army between 1750 and 1850. He is the author of 'The Wandering Army: The Campaigns That Transformed the British Way of War'. Dr Davies has also held fellowships at the University of Michigan, the Huntington Library in California and Yale University.