With Wellington in the Peninsula, The Adventures of a Highland Soldier, 1808-1814

B2209

This is a first-hand account of the Peninsula War by a soldier who was there. First published in 1827, this is a primary source account, that includes material from others who fought in the campaigns in Portugal and Spain. This material has been sensitively edited to produce a new book with illustration, mainly in the form of maps. The author has written with humour, colour and frankness that has lost noting in the editing. It is not a history book or a stiff account written late in life by an old soldier. The text flows and has character. The author attempts to paint a comprehensive picture of a series of campaigns that took British soldiers into France and the defeat of Napoleon. The result is an entertaining and informative story that reads well and will appeal to all who are interested in the period. A very worthwhile book.

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NAME: With Wellington in the Peninsula, The Adventures of a Highland Soldier, 1808-1814
DATE: 140815
FILE: R2209
AUTHOR: edited by Paul Cowan
PUBLISHER: Pen & Sword, frontline
BINDING: hard back
PAGES: 214
PRICE: £19.99
GENRE: Non Fiction
SUBJECT: line soldier, infantry, elite unit, Scottish Regiment, Wellington, Peninsula, Portugal, Spain, Napoleonic Wars
ISBN: 978-1-84832-786-3
IMAGE: B2209.jpg
BUYNOW: http://tinyurl.com/onysxaj
LINKS:
DESCRIPTION: This is a first-hand account of the Peninsula War by a soldier who was there. First published in 1827, this is a primary source account, that includes material from others who fought in the campaigns in Portugal and Spain. This material has been sensitively edited to produce a new book with illustration, mainly in the form of maps. The author has written with humour, colour and frankness that has lost noting in the editing. It is not a history book or a stiff account written late in life by an old soldier. The text flows and has character. The author attempts to paint a comprehensive picture of a series of campaigns that took British soldiers into France and the defeat of Napoleon. The result is an entertaining and informative story that reads well and will appeal to all who are interested in the period. A very worthwhile book.

The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars were not a testament to British arms. The Royal Navy fought a series of engagements around the world with style and originality, as well as of courage and determination. Many of these engagements were brilliant, and all creditable. If the wars had only been naval engagements, the British could have drawn great comfort from the performance of their military forces. Unfortunately the battles on land were generally less creditable and some were major disappointments. Often the Navy had to stand in to extricate soldiers and insert them at another point. The leadership of the Army left much to be desired and one recurring problem was that commissions could be bought and competent soldiers could have their commissions bought out from under them by coffee house fops who had little knowledge of soldiering.

When Arthur Wellesley, later 1st Duke of Wellington, was sent to take command in Portugal, Britain looked close to being forced out by the French. He soon established himself and turned the situation around. He was particularly successful in exploiting his troops and his allies, but even more importantly, he manipulated the French and prevented the French armies in Iberia coming together in overwhelming numbers. He managed to get the best from his troops and to walk the thin line between tyrant and mentor.

The author comes across as a cynic, with a well developed sense of humour, who was not afraid to be critical of his superiors. He has made no attempt to produce a sentimental account of his experiences, or to add a layer of varnish to conceal uncomfortable truths.

The 71st were an elite infantry unit that sailed from Cork with Wellington in 1808 for Portugal and they were constantly at the forefront of the actions. It was a hard war and very few of those who sailed from Cork in 1808 were to survive and return six years later.

Many primary source documents, that are edited from diaries, produce academic books that are worthwhile for researchers, but this is a product that is a satisfying read for anyone interested in the period. It is a graphic account from an ordinary soldier who was literate and able to keep diaries during his period of service. As such, it provides an account from a rare view point, given the low level of literacy amongst ordinary soldiers of the period.

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