Liechtenstein lies on the border between Switzerland and Austria – in the Rhine Valley to be precise. Nestled at the foot of the mountain range, the principality is one of the smallest states in the world, covering an area of 160m2.
So peaceful and independent is Liechtenstein that it no longer has an army, but in 1866 it was forced to take part in the Prussian-Austrian-Italian war. It sent a force of 80 soldiers to the battle, which lasted nearly 2 months, and they ‘sweated blood’ to help defend the Austrian border at the Brenner Pass. It is no coincidence that the phrase is in quotation marks, as the soldiers did not actually have a hair out of place: most of the time they just sat peacefully, picnicking in the beautiful mountains.
Another interesting fact is that they came out of the war so well that the army of 80 soldiers was not reduced to 81, but swelled to 81, having made a friend in the meantime. There are now several versions of this charming story. Some suggest that the companion in question was an Austrian liaison officer, others that he was an Italian soldier who decided to go home with them.
The details of the +1 man, although a little confusing, were nevertheless successful. Not everyone can claim to be returning from a war with a larger number of troops than they started with.