Sunday, 28 July 2019

Armies of the Baltic Independence Wars 1918-20

Bearing in mind my recent interest in the German armed forces in the immediate aftermath of the Armistice and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, buying a copy of Osprey's Armies of the Baltic Independence Wars 1918-20 seemed to make a lot of sense. Elements of the 'Black' Reichswehr* were involved in some of the fighting.

The contents of the book covers:
  • Background to the Baltic Independence Wars
  • Red Army
    • Organisation
    • The Red Army’s Baltic Campaigns
    • Estonian War of Independence (28th November 1918 – 2nd February 1920
    • Latvian War of Independence (1st December 1918 – 11th August 1920)
    • Lithuanian-Bolshevik War (12th December 1918 – 12th July 1920)
  • Estonia
    • Estonian People’s Army
      • Organisation
      • Uniforms and Insignia, Rank Insignia, Branch and Unit Distinctions, and Equipment and Weapons
      • Estonia’s Allies: Baltic Germans, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Ingria, and Sweden
    • Estonian Independence War (22nd November 1918 – 2nd February 1919
      • The Great Retreat (November – December 1918)
      • Reorganisation and Counterattack (November 1918 – February 1919)
      • Failed Red Army Offensive (February – May 1919)
      • Incursions into Russia and Latvia (May – June 1919)
      • The Landswehr Campaign (May – June 1919)
      • Defending the Borders (July – August 1919)
      • Second advance into Russia (October – November 1919)
      • The Last Battles (November – December 1919)
      • Conclusion
  • Latvia
    • Latvian Army
      • Organisation
      • Uniforms and Insignia, Rank Insignia, and Branch Distinctions
    • Latvia Independence War (1st December 1918 – 11th August 1920)
      • Uncertain Beginning
      • Southern Front (January – March 1919)
      • The Landswehr Campaign (April – July 1919)
      • Northern Front (January – July 1919)
      • Final Campaigns (October 1919 – July 1920)
  • Lithuania
    • Lithuanian Army
      • Organisation
      • Uniforms and Insignia, Rank Insignia, and Branch Distinctions
    • Lithuanian Independence Wars (12th December 1918 – 29th November 1920)
      • Lithuanian – Bolshevik War (12th December 1918 – 12th July 1920)
      • Lithuanian – Bermontian War (26th July – 15th December 1919)
      • Polish – Lithuanian War (April 1919 – 29th November 1920)
  • Germany and the Baltic
    • Organisation: Ober Ost, VI Reserve Corps (Freikorps) and the Baltic Landswehr
  • White Russian Forces
    • Organisation: Pskov Volunteer Corps/Northern Corps, Northern/North-Western Army, and Western Volunteer Army
  • Orders of Battle for the Russian Red Army, the Estonian People's Army, the Latvian Army, the Lithuanian Army, the German forces in Baltic, and the White Russian Army
  • Rank Insignia Charts for the Estonian, Latvian & Lithuanian armies, and German Baltic Defence Force
  • Colour Uniform Plates
This was a very confused period of history, and the authors have done their best to clarify what happened when ... and why it happened. I would strongly advise any reader to have a copy of a map of the area to hand whilst reading this book (I photocopied the map in the front of the book!) as it will make events much easier to follow.

*The 'Black' Reichswehr (German: Schwarze Reichswehr) was the name given to the extra-legal para-military formations and Freikorps supported and equipped by the German Reichsheer during the period of German history known as the Weimar Republic. They were raised in contravention of the restrictions imposed by the Versailles Treaty, but served a useful purpose in protecting the eastern borders during the unrest after the end of the First World War. The members of the 'Black' Reichswehr were usually ultra-patriotic and supported right-wing, authoritarian political movements, and some were involved in politically motivated acts of violence (including murders and bombings) and took part in the Kapp Putsch and the Beer Hall Putsch.

ARMIES OF THE BALTIC INDEPENDENCE WARS 1918-20 was written by Toomas Boltowsy and Nigel Thomas, illustrated by Johnny Shumate, and published by Osprey Publishing in 2019 (ISBN 978 1 4278 3077 7).


  1. This sounds like a very handy and informative book to have. Years ago I read a fine account of the war between Poland and the Soviet Union (1919-1921), and copied some of the campaign maps from early in the conflict. It struck me as a very fine war to campaign, with relatively limited numbers and resources in a huge theatre. But I never did do anything about it...

    1. Archduke Piccolo,

      Some years ago I took part in a re-fight of the Battle of Warsaw, which marked the high point of the Russian advance. It was interesting to use WWI troops and equipment to fight a reasonably mobile war. The Baltic Wars of Independence are similar, but on a smaller scale, and would make a nice little wargame project.

      All the best,


  2. Looks like they've packed a lot of info into the standard Osprey format. An intriguiging period to game, that's for certain.

    1. Steve J.,

      Unlike some of their recent output, this Osprey book really needed a few more pages to do the subject justice.

      All the best,


  3. Really enjoyed this book: it did very well with the limitations of the Osprey format. Gave me lots of ideas for games.



    1. Pete.,

      It is an excellent book, and I wish that could have been slightly longer if only so that it could have contained even more detail.

      All the best,



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