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What was the better military of the Franco-Prussian War?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: October 11, 2012 
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What do you consider the greater power, the Prussian military or the French military of the Franco-Prussian war.


? ? ?

Dear Dawn,  

You might want to do some reading into the details, but generally speaking the French had the more technologically advanced army, including the bolt-action Chassepot rifle (superior to the once-innovative but already dated Dreyse needle gun) and the mitrailleuse (a proto-machine gun). The Prussians, however, proved to have a more efficient command structure and staff system, and its leadership and overall strategy, under the overall command of Helmuth von Moltke, prevailed over the French commanders, many of whom found themselves over their heads.




Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History 


3 Responses to “What was the better military of the Franco-Prussian War?”

  1. 1
    John Caldwell says:

    As we say in Australia, winners are grinners.

  2. 2
    Jack Schlotte says:

    The Dreyse needle gun wasn't the only rifle that the Germans used in that war. My brother had a Model 1871 11mm Mauser bolt action rifle that was the excellent precursor to the much more famous 8mm and 7mm Mausers used in WWII. Even using vintage ammo, that rifle would penetrate to a greater depth through solid wood than a 30.06 American rifle from the WWII period AND it had extremely accurate adjustable ramp sights that could zero in on their victim from quite a distance.

    • 2.1
      Larry C says:

      The 11 mm was a good gun. There were a number of then in Canada through to the 1960's. Ammo was also available. Now it is a collector item.

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