Death Before Glory!, The British Soldier in the West Indies in the French Revolutionary & Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815

B2304

The author has provided a graphic history of the British soldier in the West Indies during the wars with France at the latter part of the 18th Century and early part of the 19th Century. This was a very important point in the development of the British Empire and is an under-told story. This is an extremely readable story that deserves to be read by a wide readership. Highly Recommended.

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NAME: Death Before Glory!, The British Soldier in the West Indies in the French Revolutionary & Napoleonic Wars 1793-1815
FILE: R2304
AUTHOR: Martin R Howard
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 241
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: West Indies, Caribbean, land forces, island wars, Napoleonic Wars, French Revolutionary War, press gangs, disease, fever, logistics, slaves, sugar, colonial wealth
ISBN: 1-78159-341-8
IMAGE: B2304.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/jt8yzjd
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: The author has provided a graphic history of the British soldier in the West Indies during the wars with France at the latter part of the 18th Century and early part of the 19th Century. This was a very important point in the development of the British Empire and is an under-told story. This is an extremely readable story that deserves to be read by a wide readership. Highly Recommended.

The re-discovery of the New World was rapidly followed by the colonization of large tracts of Central and South America by Spain and Portugal. This enabled the Spanish to loot huge quantities of gold and silver, to be shipped back annually to Spain. This inevitably attracted the attentions of French, Scottish and English corsairs. Initially, French Huguenot corsairs, with support from English and Scottish corsairs, sailing under letters of compensation and retribution issued by the French Huguenots in La Rochelle, sailed to the Azores to intercept Spanish gold ships. Then Scottish corsairs decided to sail to the coast of Central America and capture Spanish gold ships that had just loaded and were preparing to sail for Spain. This also provided an opportunity to attack and loot some of the Spanish colonial towns in the area, and further north in Florida. The Scots were rapidly joined by their English comrades and Huguenot ships. It was a relatively small step to then begin to found colonies. The English looked to the north, with the first colony of Virginia, named from Elizabeth Tudor who was not only the Queen of England but also an enthusiastic investor in voyages of piracy.

From that point, the Dutch and French began their own colonial expeditions as Catholic France subjugated the Protestant Huguenots at home. A long succession of wars followed with Caribbean islands changing hands many times. By the start of the French Revolutionary War, Britain had already established naval supremacy which was to be heavily underlined in 1805 with Nelson’s defeat of the combined French and Spanish Fleets. This had enabled the British to steadily increase the number and size of their colonies and to make the West Indies a very important source of wealth in the form of slaves, sugar, cotton and coffee. It equally made these rich colonies obvious targets of the French, and the similar targeting of French colonies by the British. One of the challenges was the time that it took for news to arrive in the West Indies from Europe. Many a Royal Navy captain had sailed under orders issued at the start of a new war, only to find that peace had broken out again but not yet been notified in fresh orders. That could mean that RN actions by individual warships and small squadrons had resulted in new gains in land and assets, only for these to be handed back under the terms of treaties negotiated without full knowledge of what had happened in the New World.

What is something of a mystery is why so many historians have ignored the fights in the West Indies. Fictional writers have done more justice in their naval stories, where the heroes have fought pirates and the Dutch and French in the West Indies. The real stories are every bit as exciting and this new book makes an excellent job of recounting the real history with as much excitement and suspense.

For the British soldier, the West Indies were a challenge with shortages of supplies and a range of diseases presenting a greater threat than the enemy. The lines of communications were long and essential supplies from home often arrived late, or failed to arrive at all. Fighting could be very confused, with the slaves fleeing into the daunting forest and mountain terrain that looked so beautiful but presented great difficulties for the soldiery. Of course the loss of slaves could greatly reduce the value of newly seized territory because their labour was essential to the production of the crops on which wealth rested.

The author has provided a fascinating account of the trials and tribulations, the sickness, and wealth that typified the battles in the West Indies. This is an very enjoyable and original work that brings the period and the geography vividly to life.

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