A welcome account, from the French perspective, of the Peninsular War, 1808-1809. Excellent research and presentation of the campaigns using material from French Army archives – Most Highly Recommended
NAME: Napoleon’s Peninsular War, The French Experience of the War in Spain from Vimero to Coruna 1808-1809 FILE: R3361 AUTHOR: Paul L Dawson PUBLISHER: Frontline Books, Pen and Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £30.00 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Napoleonic Wars, Napoleon, Sir John Moore, Sir Arthur Wellesley, Coruna, Siege of Zaragoza, Medellin, Ocana, Vimeiro, Marshals of France, Spanish guerillas ISBN: 978-1-78438-594-1 PAGES: 319, 16 pages of full colour images in a photo-plate section, reproducing the campaign maps and French military commanders IMAGE: B3361.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/4rhb97tu LINKS: DESCRIPTION: A welcome account, from the French perspective, of the Peninsular War, 1808-1809. Excellent research and presentation of the campaigns using material from French Army archives – Most Highly Recommended
The story of the Peninsular Wars is told in a great many books and videos, but usually from a British perspective. There are also more books and videos covering the period after 1809 to 1914 because that is a period where there should be great British pride. In the period covered by this very readable new book, the French Army of Napoleon was near the apex of military prowess. Napoleon had built a winning team of Marshals of France who had defeated everything that faced them, often doing this very quickly. Spain had not been an enthusiastic ally, particularly after the Royal Navy’s comprehensive victory over the combined French and Spanish Fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar. This victory was so comprehensive that it stamped the Royal Navy’s supremacy at sea over all comers for near a hundred years.
Having naval supremacy, the British were able to pick and chose land battles. The British Army alone was too small to stand against the French, but it was keen to make its mark and the Royal Navy was able to insert large numbers of soldiers into enemy coastal territory, for the soldiers to run a campaign and be extracted by the Royal Navy as the French Armies came together.
In the campaign from Vimeiro to Corunna, the British were able to challenge French supremacy on land and then withdraw to the coast for extraction by the Royal Navy. The French were no longer able to challenge the naval part of the operation and largely ignorant of British tactics. An expedition that should have been rapidly crushed by the French Armies was able to draw blood and inspire the Spanish guerillas who were already causing the French some serious inconvenience.
Sir Arthur Wellesley was then able to return to Lisbon, stop the French from occupying all of Portugal and then wage a brilliant series of campaigns that prevented the French Armies from combining to destroy him. He proved to be a brilliant holistic commander, bringing the Portuguese and Spanish guerillas together, keeping them on-side and working with the Royal armies of Portugal and Spain. With shrewd diplomacy, he was able to keep a very varied force together and hit the enemy time after time. This later phase of the Peninsular Wars was to see France humbled, defeated and invaded by a British Army and its Allies that had been seriously underestimated by the French.
This book provides, through the eyes of French soldiers who were there, an insightful account from the French perspective that also shows the seeds of eventual defeat by the British under Wellington.