Station: [6] The Early Days of Ludwigsburg Garrison

M: In many ways, Ludwigsburg isn’t like other towns. In other places, the town wall kept attackers out. In other words, you didn’t want anyone getting in.

F: In Ludwigsburg, it was the other way round. Here, you didn’t want anyone getting out. The wall – six kilometres long and about three and a half metres high – was designed to stop the soldiers absconding incidentally, that’s equivalent to almost four miles long and more than 11 feet high. It´s was designed to stop the soldiers absconding.

M: With the majority of Württemberg’s troops having been forcibly recruited, the number of deserters was high. In December 1757, the duke issued an order calling for deserters to be tracked down – promising a bounty of 18 guilders for each one captured.

F: Take a closer look at the model of the Asperger Torhaus – the Asperg Gatehouse. Does anything strike you as odd about the left-hand side of the house? The town wall runs straight towards the middle of the building. It essentially divides the gatehouse in two: one half is inside the town, the other is outside. That meant the guards had a good view of what was happening on both sides of the wall.

M: The Asperg Gatehouse, which now houses the Garrison Museum, was originally one of seven gatehouses. They stood on the major arterial roads to Stuttgart, Leonberg, Marbach and Asperg. The buildings housed a guard room and the quarters used by the gatekeeper, who also collected tolls.

F: In August 1806, Württemberg finally introduced general conscription. All male subjects were liable to military service. The minimum age was 18, minimum height: five foot seven inches, equivalent to 163 centimetres. The period of service was eight years for the infantry and ten for the cavalry.

M: However, there were quite a few exceptions. For example, the sons of royal civil servants and courtiers were exempt from compulsory military service, as were university students, teachers and apprentices.

F: Another way to avoid compulsory military service was to find a "stand-in". For 800 guilders, you could come up with a substitute who agreed to have their name added to the list of recruits deemed fit to serve. Württemberg banned the use of stand-ins in the late 19th century.

Foto: © Garnisonsmuseum Ludwigsburg