The Napoleonic Ottoman Army Uniforms, Tactics and Organization
There is very little written material available in English about the Ottoman Army during the Napoleonic period and hence this new work by Chris Flaherty is very welcome. The book is an A4 size hardback book that runs to 180 pages, practically all of which contain full colour art and prints. The chapters begin by discussing infantry uniforms, specifically those of the Janissary corps, with full details of headgear, officers insignia as well as standards and flags. Set apart in its own chapter are the various types of Cavalry employed by the Ottomans, including Sipahi regiments but also lesser-known Dragoon and Deli units as well. The Mamelukes are given their own chapter and again the text is illustrated with numerous colour images of the dress and equipment used. Next comes the famous Ottoman artillery, with full details provided about the uniforms of the gunners, the guns themselves and the organisation and tactics for the artillery arm. The author then goes on to discuss command and control and the strategies employed by Ottoman commanders. This is an absolute goldmine for wargamers, as the various tactics employed by the Ottoman army are detailed, including the use of deep formations, lines and columns and how men were moved around on the battlefield. The author has really drilled down into the workings of the Ottoman army here and the level of detail presented is impressive. By analysing what made the Ottoman army tick he is also able to surmise why it often performed so poorly on the battlefield. The real pièce de résistance for me are the concluding chapters. Here are presented chapters on the logistics of the army, its medical provision, its gunboat fleets on its main rivers and even its Balloon corps. It would have been easy for the author to cover the infantry cavalry and artillery and leave it at that, but the inclusion of these chapters really makes this book a complete guide to the Ottoman army in its entirety and not just the bits we need to paint our armies. The logistical and organisational information provided here will provide those of you planning wargames campaigns using the Ottomans with plenty to think about.
If I had to nit pick, there are some proof reading errors (“week army composition”) but I know from bitter experience how easily these slip by. The colour plates of uniforms are basic but they do the job, although the figures that appear in some of the photographs are perhaps not as well painted as we have come to expect. However, these are all very minor complaints easily offset by the sheer volume of information presented here.
I was really impressed with the amount of research the author has clearly done and the level of detail presented for the wargamer is outstanding. The author has gone the extra mile to ensure that every aspect of the Ottoman army, and I mean every aspect, is covered in minute, and often full colour, detail. An excellent book for anyone with any interest in this army.