Abstract and Keywords
The Old Regime army had been battered by serial defeats during the eighteenth century, and was open to proposals for reform. When 1789 came it was not army reforms that spread despair and trauma but the political situation created in the early years of the French Revolution: the assault on privilege, the ambivalent attitude of the king, the crisis of loyalty which this created for the officers, and the gaping void in the army’s ranks caused by desertion, emigration and the ideology of the Rights of Man. The defeats that followed the declaration of war added to despair, and it was only by resort to further traumatic measures—radicalizing recruitment, promoting officers from the ranks, and amalgamating the line army with the new volunteers, and ultimately the resort to Terror—that the fortunes of the army were turned around.
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