The Peninsular Collection, 95th Rifles, 1812 to the Pyrenees

D0191

Yet another polished documentary from the BHTV Team. For those viewers new to BHTV military history DVDs, first glance at the jacket leaves the feeling that the presenters are a cast of thousands. This is the reason BHTV produces excellent presentations and the style is unique. The presenters are a band of historians, ex-soldiers, enthusiasts and battlefield guides. They know their subjects intimately and they have great enthusiasm for the subjects of the DVD. Having ex-soldiers in the team means that there is an eye for terrain which determines the outcome of most land battles. Adding into the presentation enactment groups, who are enthusiasts spending much of their spare time researching their uniforms and equipment and learning the stories behind the battles they re-enact, add a further valuable dimension, colour and movement. The elements of a BHTV presentation combine to produce not only a program of great authenticity, but a level of excitement that is entirely natural, deriving from the real events, and in great contrast to many television documentaries where the presenter has little knowledge or enthusiasm for the events, where artificial excitement is injected to keep things moving and getting in the way of the real story.

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NAME: The Peninsular Collection, 95th Rifles, 1812 to the Pyrenees
CLASSIFICATION: Video, DVD, reviews
FILE: D0191
DATE: 040315
PRESENTER(S): Tim Saunders, Andrew Duff, Rob Yull, Dave Gower, 95th Rifles Living History Society
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword Digital
MEDIA: DVD
FORMAT: Dual layer
RUNTIME: 95 minutes
PLAYERS: Linux Workstation, Personal Computer, Mac Computer, DVD Player
INTERNET:
PRICE: £16.99
GENRE: Non-Fiction
SUBJECT: Napoleon War, peninsular War, Wellington, rifles, rifleman, infantry, Light Companies,sniper, foot soldier, British Army
ISBN: 0-24762-040-8
IMAGE: D0191
VIDEO:
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/ll7335q
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: Yet another polished documentary from the BHTV Team. For those viewers new to BHTV military history DVDs, first glance at the jacket leaves the feeling that the presenters are a cast of thousands. This is the reason BHTV produces excellent presentations and the style is unique. The presenters are a band of historians, ex-soldiers, enthusiasts and battlefield guides. They know their subjects intimately and they have great enthusiasm for the subjects of the DVD. Having ex-soldiers in the team means that there is an eye for terrain which determines the outcome of most land battles. Adding into the presentation enactment groups, who are enthusiasts spending much of their spare time researching their uniforms and equipment and learning the stories behind the battles they re-enact, add a further valuable dimension, colour and movement. The elements of a BHTV presentation combine to produce not only a program of great authenticity, but a level of excitement that is entirely natural, deriving from the real events, and in great contrast to many television documentaries where the presenter has little knowledge or enthusiasm for the events, where artificial excitement is injected to keep things moving and getting in the way of the real story.

We might never have learned much of the Rifles in Portugal and Spain had it not been for the “Sharpe” historical fiction books and the television films based on the books. What has made the fictional Sharpe stories so popular is the careful attention to detail by the author and by the television script writers.

The BHTV team took the decision to produce a trilogy series of documentaries and it was a brave decision, given the popularity of the fictional work. It has proved a good decision and provided a series that sits well with the fictional work, both series complementing each other. What has helped the BHTV series is the high visual standard achieved and the thorough research underpinning the location filming with the very able support of the 95th Rifles Living History Society re-enactment enthusiasts.

In this third DVD, the BHTV Team take up the story from the great victory for Wellington at the Battle of Salamanca on to the Pyrenees on over the French border. This is gripping stuff and shows off the military genius of Wellington. The Rifles continued to play a part in the story beyond their numbers, taking the fight to the French, targeting French officers and NCOs and providing a valuable picket service.

July 1812 the Anglo- Portuguese Army, with the 95th Rifles to the fore, marched to liberate Madrid. While Wellington advanced to Burgos the Light Division remained to enjoy the unusual civilization of the Spanish capital. However, this was short lived as the French Marshals had been forced to unite under King Joseph against the Allied armies and the siege of Burgos failed. Another desperate retreat to the Portuguese frontier in appalling autumn weather conditions followed in which the 95th suffered cruelly as supply arrangements broke down.

Over the winter months Wellington reorganised his army for the 1813 campaign, which he was confident would see the French ejected from Spain. Training, new lighter equipment and organisation was to enable the 95th Rifles and the rest of the Army to play the French at their own game and make lightning marches across Spain, cutting off the withdrawal route of King Joseph and his army and forcing them into battle. The plan worked well and French troops stood outside the city of Vittoria. The resulting battle was a clear victory for Wellington, with the three battalions of the 95th all playing significant parts in overcoming the French defences on the river. Like Salamanca though, the battle was not a crushing defeat for the French as their forward line collapsed, meaning Graham’s flanking columns could not envelope the French Army and, of course, the treasure of a nation was too much temptation for the British, who helped themselves to the riches.

The final phase of the 1813 campaign saw the French driven back to their border in the mountains of the Western Pyrenees where they produced the Biddosa Line, from which Marshal Soult tried in vain to relieve pressure on San Sebastián. Finally, Wellington was ready to break the Biddosa Line and cross the frontier into France, with the Rifles ready to play a key part in the mountain battle on the slopes of the Great Ruhne.

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