It is not the intention here to consider any but the military features of the great Germanic contest. Beginning the subject at the period when the quarrel between Austria and Prussia over the provinces that they had wrested from Denmark, passed from the tortuous paths of diplomacy to the direct road of war, we will consider the relative strength of the combatant nations.
As the advocate of the admission of Schleswig-Holstein as a sovereign state in the Germanic Confederation, Austria gained first the sympathy, and then the active alliance, of Bavaria, Hanover, Saxony, Hesse-Cassel, Würtemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt and Nassau. Prussia aimed at the incorporation of the duchies within her own territory; and, though loudly championing the cause of German unity, her course was so manifestly inspired by designs for her own aggrandizement, that she could count on the support of only a few petty duchies, whose aggregate military strength did not exceed 28,000 men. As an offset to Austria’s formidable German allies, Prussia had concluded an offensive and defensive alliance with Italy, whose army, though new and inferior in organization, armament and equipment, to that of her antagonist, might be relied upon to “contain” at least three Austrian army corps in Venetia. The main struggle was certain to be between the two great Germanic nations.