Chapter

Manifestly Inferior? French Reserves,1871–1914

André José Lambelet

in Scraping the Barrel

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239771
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823239818 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823239771.003.0004
Manifestly Inferior? French Reserves,1871–1914

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From the Revolution onwards, France had periodically supplemented the standing army with some form of militia. In the aftermath of the Franco-Prussian War this became more necessary (due to the demographic imbalance between France and Germany) but also a political issue between Right and Left. Questions of citizenship, loyalty to the state, religious (and other) exemptions, and fairness swirled, overlain with rhetoric of citizens rallying to the patrie. The Let trusted the populace, the Right trusted well-drilled regulars. In the years immediately before WWI, the French officer corps slighted the reserves, spending little on training time and equipment, and expecting little of the reserve units. Reserve units did not perform substantially worse than active units in the opening battles of WWI, although the Territorial units (of men over 45) did, and by the spring of 1915 the French were treating reserve and active units equally.

Keywords: World War I; French Army; Military reserves; Franco-Prussian War

Chapter.  10167 words. 

Subjects: Military History

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