Prussian Wagons 1870-71

A Brief Introduction


The Prussian Army went to war in 1870 with a full organisation of rear services. In peacetime the Trains were maintained at cadre strength, with each Armee Korps having a single Train battalion, and when mobilisation was declared they were quickly brought to their war establishment by spreading the peacetime personnel across the range of units to be formed, by calling in reservists and by purchasing or requisitioning the required horses. In the field the armies were followed or accompanied by pontoon trains, field bridging columns, field bakery companies, field railway companies, ammunition columns, supply columns, horse depots, hospitals and field hospitals, the Feldpost, Reserve columns, equipment columns, field telegraph detachments, and a variety of small specialised units such as those carrying uniforms for the Train .

A variety of vehicles were used for these formations. Although initially the vast majority would be the standard military vehicle designs, as the war progressed and operations moved into enemy territory and greater distrtances had to be covered a large number of civilian wagons and horses would be hired or requisitioned in order to keep the armies supplied. During the Franco-Prussian War the Germans had particular difficulty finding sufficient transport to ship the huge quantities of ammunition required by the siege artillery around Paris, and it took the personal intervention of King Wilhelm I. to sort the problems out.

(The photographs of wagons on the website are reproduced from: J.von Pflugk-Harttung, Krieg und Sieg 1870-71. Kulturgeschichte, Berlin, 1896. It seems clear that there are more to be found and I shall put more photographs of wagons onto the website when I find some... Martin Tomczak )


Return to Contents


© Martin Tomczak 2002