The Cost of War: Democracy Comes at a Price – Part 1
A Serbian by the name of Gavrilo Princip assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, heir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, on 28 June 1914. The action of Princip would lead the world into a war of unbelievable devastation. How could such advanced nations go to war with such ease is hard to understand, when many of them were industrial and commercial empires? Nevertheless, the American public’s stance towards the war was neutral and why not? It was not America’s war, but the old world doing what it does best, fighting over past legacies. But that stance was to change, once the American Banks stepped in.
This is the New Zealand Division marching from Trentham to embark for Europe. Source A World War 1 Story, Part 6. Hutt Valley, Wellington, New Zealand, 14 April 1916. (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Mobilizing the Troops
The troop mobilization during the Great War was massive. The Allied Powers consisted of the Russian Empire (12,000,000 troops); the British Empire (8,841,541 troops); the French Third Republic (8,660,000 troops); the Kingdom of Italy (5,615,140 troops); the Kingdom of Romania (1,234,000 troops); the Kingdom of Serbia (707,343 troops); the Belgium (380,000 troops); the Kingdom of Greece (250,000 troops); the United States (4,743,826 troops) and the Empire of Japan ( 800,000 troops). The total for the Allied powers was 42, 959, 850 troops. On the opposing side, the Central Powers consisted of the German Empire (13,250,000 troops); Austria-Hungary (7,800,000 troops); the Ottoman Empire (2,998,321 troops) and the Kingdom of Bulgaria (1,200,000 troops). The total for the Central Powers was 25,248, 321 troops.
When considering the number of troops involved in a battle, one also has to consider the auxiliary costs: amount of supplies, ammunition, food rations, uniforms, medicine, how many soldiers die in combat, how many soldiers wounded, and such logistics. Every second becomes a constant rotation of supplies. When calculating the consumption of supplies and all that is replaced, the cost of war comes at a staggering price.
Since the cost of war was exorbitant, the Allies turned to America for assistance to provide currency and munitions to the effort, even when America was reluctant to get involved in the war directly. President Woodrow Wilson, at the time, declined to enter the war due to the American public’s preference to stay neutral.
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Cam Rea is an author and military historian. He has written numerous articles for Ancient Origins, Classical Wisdom Weekly, and has authored several books, including: The Wars of Israel: A Military History of Ancient Israel from the End of Judges to Solomon
Top Image: John Singer Sargent's Gassed presents a classical frieze of soldiers being led from the battlefield - alive, but changed forever by individual encounters with deadly hazard in war. (Public Domain)
By Cam Rea