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Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsSaunterings - The Military Life Of Munich
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Saunterings - The Military Life Of Munich Post by :redryder Category :Nonfictions Author :Charles Dudley Warner Date :May 2012 Read :2784

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Saunterings - The Military Life Of Munich

This morning I was awakened early by the strains of a military band. It was a clear, sparkling morning, the air full of life, and yet the sun showing its warm, southern side. As the mounted musicians went by, the square was quite filled with the clang of drum and trumpet, which became fainter and fainter, and at length was lost on the ear beyond the Isar, but preserved the perfection of time and the precision of execution for which the military bands of the city are remarkable. After the band came a brave array of officers in bright uniform, upon horses that pranced and curveted in the sunshine; and the regiment of cavalry followed, rank on rank of splendidly mounted men, who ride as if born to the saddle. The clatter of hoofs on the pavement, the jangle of bit and saber, the occasional word of command, the onward sweep of the well-trained cavalcade, continued for a long time, as if the lovely morning had brought all the cavalry in the city out of barracks. But this is an almost daily sight in Munich. One regiment after another goes over the river to the drill-ground. In the hot mornings I used quite to pity the troopers who rode away in the glare in scorching brazen helmets and breastplates. But only a portion of the regiments dress in that absurd manner. The most wear a simple uniform, and look very soldierly. The horses are almost invariably fine animals, and I have not seen such riders in Europe. Indeed, everybody in Munich who rides at all rides well. Either most of the horsemen have served in the cavalry, or horsemanship, that noble art "to witch the world," is in high repute here.

Speaking of soldiers, Munich is full of them. There are huge caserns in every part of the city, crowded with troops. This little kingdom of Bavaria has a hundred and twenty thousand troops of the line. Every man is obliged to serve in the army continuously three years; and every man between the ages of twenty-one and forty-five must go with his regiment into camp or barrack several weeks in each year, no matter if the harvest rots in the field, or the customers desert the uncared-for shop. The service takes three of the best years of a young man's life. Most of the soldiers in Munich are young one meets hundreds of mere boys in the uniform of officers. I think every seventh man you meet is a soldier. There must be between fifteen and twenty thousand troops quartered in the city now. The young officers are everywhere, lounging in the cafes, smoking and sipping coffee, on all the public promenades, in the gardens, the theaters, the churches. And most of them are fine-looking fellows, good figures in elegantly fitting and tasteful uniforms; but they do like to show their handsome forms and hear their sword-scabbards rattle on the pavement as they stride by. The beer-gardens are full of the common soldiers, who empty no end of quart mugs in alternate pulls from the same earthen jug, with the utmost jollity and good fellowship. On the street, salutes between officers and men are perpetual, punctiliously given and returned,--the hand raised to the temple, and held there for a second. A young gallant, lounging down the Theatiner or the Maximilian Strasse, in his shining and snug uniform, white kids, and polished boots, with jangling spurs and the long sword clanking on the walk, raising his hand ever and anon in condescending salute to a lower in rank, or with affable grace to an equal, is a sight worth beholding, and for which one cannot be too grateful. We have not all been created with the natural shape for soldiers, but we have eyes given us that we may behold them.

Bavaria fought, you know, on the wrong side at Sadowa; but the result of the war left her in confederation with Prussia. The company is getting to be very distasteful, for Austria is at present more liberal than Prussia. Under Prussia one must either be a soldier or a slave, the democrats of Munich say. Bavaria has the most liberal constitution in Germany, except that of Wurtemberg, and the people are jealous of any curtailment of liberty. It seems odd that anybody should look to the house of Hapsburg for liberality. The attitude of Prussia compels all the little states to keep up armies, which eat up their substance, and burden the people with taxes. This is the more to be regretted now, when Bavaria is undergoing a peaceful revolution, and throwing off the trammels of galling customs in other respects.

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