“Simultaneously an official Austrian memorandum expressed itself in exactly the same way: ‘According to the normal course of events’ the French were already beaten, but they were always breaking out again with ‘fearful violence’, like a ‘raging torrent’. Indeed, even in the wars of 1813 to 1815, of all the Generals of the European Coalition, except for Scharnhorst, who died young, only Gneisenau was able to master the Napoleonic strategy thoroughly. He had to put up the sharpest fights, particularly with his Prussian subordinates, the Bülows and the Yorks, and in the same way he was a thorn in the flesh of the allied Monarchs, whose military advisers, Knesebeck on the Prussian side and Duka and Langenau on the Austrian side, were still deeply rooted in the military outlook of the eighteenth century. In court circles he and his staff were derided as ‘Wallenstein’s camp’. Even at Waterloo the linear tactics of the English army were still put to practical use, quite logically, since the army consisted of enlisted mercenaries. But it too would have been lost at Waterloo were it not for the timely arrival of the Prussians under Blucher and Gneisenau. It was only decades later that the Prussian army absorbed the Napoleonic strategy into its flesh and blood through the classical writings of Clausewitz, and a Prussian General answered the idle chatter about the Prussian schoolmaster who was supposed to have won the battle of Königgratz with the fitting words: ‘Yes indeed, the schoolmaster was called Clausewitz’ (57). The ‘genius’ of the great military commander is a peculiar thing altogether. In ‘Anti-Dühring’ Engels describes how, at the battle of St. Privat (58), where two armies with essentially the same tactical formations were fighting, the regular company columns on the German side dissolved into dense swarms of sharpshooters under the fearful fire of the French chassepot rifles, and how in the vicinity of the enemy rifle fire the soldiers moved only at the double. He then continues: ‘the soldier had once again been cleverer than the officer; ‘he’ had instinctively discovered the only tactic which up to now has proved to be of any value under fire from breech-loaders, and carried it out successfully despite all the efforts of the command’. That sounds very disrespectful, but in a slightly different wording, and certainly without any plagiarizing from Engels, the Prussian General Staff says the same thing, when it reports through the mouth of one of its most gifted members on the French revolutionary wars of the previous century: ‘It is most significant that skirmishing among the French troops of the day was in no way prescribed by the rules, for these were in all their essential features the same as the Prussian ones. The dispersed battle order of the French had not been made into a virtue, and because it corresponded with real conditions it became ‘a power”. Marx’s proposition that ‘not men’s consciousness determines their being, but on the contrary their being determines their consciousness’ emerges in a very clear light in the field of military history. The more powerful and the more direct is the contact with being, the faster and the more clearly does consciousness develop. In war, the soldier will generally feel reality and instinctively act in accordance with it much faster than the officer, and the highest ‘genius’ in the military commander consists in recognizing the inner reasons for the soldiers’ instinctive behaviour and acting decisively in accordance with this recognition” [Franz Mehring, ‘Absolutism and Revolution in Germany, 1525-1848’, London, 1975] [(57) On the economic developments that led to the transformation of the Frederician strategy into the Napoleonic, see Engels, ‘Anti-Dühring’; (58) Battle of Saint-Privat – A battle in 1870 in the Franco-Prussian War at which the Germans suffered heavy losses (8,000 men in a matter of minutes) as the result of the accuracy of French rifle-fire]