Memoirs of a Sergeant in the 43rd Light Infantry in the Peninsular War

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In the first place our dear Richard was dangerously ill of a rheumatic fever and his life was despaired of. For many days he lost the use of his limbs but the Lord of Hosts was pleased to restore him to his friends. Indeed your aunt Clay was the kindest friend to my poor boy. She visited him and when he was able she got him removed to her and nursed him as one of her own. She has had a very great trial. She as lost Edmund, a fine promising youth But he is gone to a better world-but she is left to suffer, for Clay as been unfortunate in trade and reduced to almost nothing.

I do not know what he will do for he is quite unfit to work for his bread. I pray God to bless them and enable him to do something to support them. Richard and Charles are gone abroad. You my dear son would think I had Forgot you. But that was not the case. I could not find the means to get your shirts till lately, and that was by the bounty of my dear William who sent me a draft. I have not sent what I could wish, but what there is will not prove unacceptable: 6 shirts, 6 pocket-handkerchiefs etc.

I live in hopes that it will not be long before I see you. I pray God to preserve you all and grant us a happy meeting. There they stand: the Freer family, the influences that moulded heroes. My brothers unite with me in duty to you. Mrs, and the Miss Weekses desire their compliments. I have often heard you mention that your property is to be divided among your children", he went on.

This is what my Brother John proposed and I trust that all my dear brothers as they advance in life will follow his example and give our dear parents the satisfaction of knowing their daughters are not deserted William wrote to John that "the Will of Divine Providence has taken him from us", but lie added: "Oh my dear fellow! How will my poor mother bear the shock. Be sure that you make yourself perfectly acquainted with the history of England and do not forget your grammer and above all things remember your duty to your maker for if you forget him he certainly will you.

Be regular in what you under take and you will be able to perform many things only let me observe to you that if you will pattern from your uncle Daniel, you will not fail: there are many who will tell you to mind only the present day and enjoy while you can-but what is to become of the future for their depends your happiness. I wish you would write to me once a month and give me an account of how you spend your time and how you nurse your money.

It will give me great pleasure and by that means you will know how you are going on-and above all do not run in debt for then your mind will be unfit for the situations you are 'in your two brothers always did as I wish and then it made us both happy. I will my dear Edward do all I can for you and when you want anything do let me know-your sisters will always be happy to make your shirts-I have sent you your new ones-two pairs of sheets --one pillow case, two table cloths, two towels, the sheets are brown but in washing they will soon be white they are our own spinning you will like them the better for that--Thomas wishes to be gone I suppose you will have seen his name in the paper--Dan says that he will take care of the donkey-he is a saucy dag and a word for everyone.

He wants to see you. All join in love to you? Sall says I must not forget her. Freer had lost her farm and been reduced to the home close. Their paternal grandfather, the surgeon's father, John Freer , was born at Hambleton, near Oakham, and after being educated at Oakharn School and intended for the church he had preferred to go to Coventry and join Mr. Hall, a large farmer and grazier. His will describes him as gentleman and catalogues fairly extensive property and considerable wealth.

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So that Thomas, the surgeon, though he owed his father his training as a surgeon, saw very little else of his father's wealth. Only his younger daughter Anne benefited, in a second codicil added 30 October before she was a year old. Her grandfather left her two messuages in the Market Place at Oakham, with the proviso "if" his personal property covered his debts and funeral expenses.

It seems reasonable to deduce that this was the property to which the family removed at the end of the war. Certainly the surgeon, when he died, left no real property-merely his household goods to the two girls. So much for the Freer side. Their mother made a more substantial contribution. Martha's father, Daniel. Thomas Perkins "in Coventry and in other places".

This money was to be left in the business until her youngest son, Daniel, was twenty-one, when it was to be divided equally between her children: Anne Wells, William Gardner, Martha Freer, Letitia, Elizabeth and Daniel the shares of Martha and Anne not to be in any way liable to the debts, control or engagements of their husbands, Thomas Freer and Edward Wells. The nature of the boys' debt to their uncle Daniel, Martha's young brother. These are well worth study by anyone interested in the history of the Peninsular War: many of them were written from one brother to another - one junior officer to another - and they are consequently replete with military information and commentary at that particular level.

William and Edward were in the 43rd - Napier's regiment. Their letters confirm in almost every detail the historian's account. There are few episodes in which Napier's narrative can be amplified from these letters with any major point: the principal additions concern personal contributions to the victories at Talavera and Sabugal.

In deed the great value of the corresondence is in the way it recreates for us the lives of this Midland Family - simple, evangelical, heroic - in the England that beat Napoleon. It is a joint letter from William and his uncle Daniel Gardner to William's father, at Knipton, announcing William's promotion to Lieutenant "after many disappointments in having so many put over me". John was expecting to get his commission in May and Edward was "an ensign in the Leicester but I can't tell where he is for I have not heard from him since I left Knipton.

I should suppose he is at school in or somewhere about Ipswich. We have been continually changing our Quarters but have not yet been out of Kent. I must say I should like to move out of this county, for I wish much to see other places. Gardner joined the 43rd now the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry as an ensign in December , and got his captaincy in February , six months after the Regiment, then under Lt. As they watched the Channel all through , in a mood not unlike our own in , the units of the brigade were trained in battle drills and manoeuvres that very soon established them as models to the army.

Gardner was given one of the two companies in the 2nd. He must have been back with the 1st battalion by , for in that year the battalion took part in the Copenhagen expedition and our next letter is written to Surgeon Freer, "'The Leicester Militia, Colchester", by Gardner from Roerup in the Danish island of Zealand, 10 September, two days after the fall of Copenhagen. All intelligent Englishmen regretted the need for this action, but Napoleon had subordinated Russia and Prussia, and Canning was clear that he would swiftly apply pressure to Denmark and Portugal to complete the exclusion of British shipping from the remaining ports of Europe.

The Danes would not preserve their neutrality by their own strength. We had to prevent their fleet from falling into French hands, and quickly while there was summer sailing in the Baltic. Stewart, 25 Col. Gifford, Capt. Wells and myself and without doubt every British officer here can muster to look the poor Danes in the face. William was not on the expedition: at least that seems to be the significance of the absence from this letter of any reference to him.

He had presumably been transferred to the 2nd battalion, in which he was certainly serving in August He had managed to get into a scrape before was out, one that does not extremely surprise us in view of his, financial circumstances. The details we do not know.

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Before I left the Regiment I had planned with Mr. Wells the most probable way of inducing him to reflect on his situation and to appropriate at least three hours everyday to his own improvement besides the performance of his duty as an officer. I fear you have in a certain degree misinterpreted my letter. You say "he must not be lost for his first imprudence". Surely I expressed that he had been cleared of I believe every incumbrance that his spirit might not be broken and that he might be enabled to appear Respectable in Dress etc.

If I did not give this idea I can only say it was my intention. Believe me, I often call to mind the extravagance and inadvertance to say the least which has marked my younger days and I never can consider the subject without recollecting with gratitude the kindness of both you and Martha especially when I needed the assistance of my Friends- I should indeed be culpable if I ever forgot how you with my other Relatives atronized and supported me, when had you rigidly performed your friendship you would have shunned.

I certainly merited the severest censure, but I hope the result has proved that the conciliatory system towards me did more than an attempt to force me to return to trade.

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Acting upon this principle you may be assured that William has only to manifest a disposition to be steady and assiduous and he has entirely recovered my good esteem. With respect to my suffering inconvenience I must candidly avow I do feet myself confoundedly cramped in my purse and am fearful I shall be unable to discharge some of the Bills of my Tradesmen especially as I cannot help expending much more here than at my Regt.

If so, I must ask your aid. Therefore prepare, but I hope it will not be required.


By 11 August , Wellesley was ashore with a British force in Portugal and was preparing for the first famous engagement in all the long series of Peninsular battles of which some outlandish name is preserved in marble upon the walls of half the parish churches of England. Vimiero was fought perilously near the coast just north of Lisbon on 21 August. It was a brief, fierce fight, won by Wellesley though he was superseded in the moment of victory by Sir Harry Burrard.

It was the turn of the 2nd battalion of the 43rd to taste blood, and. From the same source 29 we know that here, in his first action, William Freer was first wounded. The family correspondence is almost completely deficient for that year, All we have is a letter from Daniel Gardner to his sister Martha, dated 30 July and written at anchor off the Isle of Wight. He had been promoted Brigade Major to General Stewart, as promised, and he had caught sight of William in Dover a fortnight earlier, as the 43rd marched to embark at Ramsgate.

Again it is at least on bare record that William was present at the battle, honourable and melancholy, of Corunna. In April Wellesley was back in Lisbon. On 27 June he marched into Spain and on 5 July, Brigade- Major Gardner, a day behind Wellesley's headquarters in the column, wrote from Zarza la Mayor to explain the situation to William. William, back with the 1st battalion, the 43rd, had come ashore well up the Tagus on the day that Gardner was writing, so that he missed Lisbon, where Gardner expected him to land.

Zarza Maior, July 5 Thus we may expect much fighting in a short time. I should imagine that your Officers are ill provided with Animals to carry Baggage etc. I am devillish busy, we march at 3 o'clock to-morrow morning towards Coria-Adieu God bless you. Shake him by the hand for me. On the other hand, Paymaster John Wells in London supplies the next letter, assuring Gardner that his account is in order, displaying the humanity that suffuses the whole correspondence, and ending up with a more perceptive thought than that which governed the government: " I wish your excellent General had a much larger force but you will do material service to the general cause with what you have I am sure.

God bless you". He had 20, troops, mainly British, and his fantastical colleague, the quixotic and perfectly unreliable Cuesta, boasted some 34, Spaniards: altogether 44, infantry, nearly cavalry and guns confronted a French force numerically rather smaller but made up of veterans. The battle of Talavera was fought out on 27 and 28 July.

It was touch and go, and the key to the British victory was the possession of a hill on the left, It was retained, by the courage of many and the foresight of some: Wellesley himself, General Hill appropriately and, as we learn from William, Brigade-Major Gardner, who was killed in this battle. The 43rd, 52nd and 95th, under Brigadier Robert Craufurd, caught up with the army on the day after the battle. They were greatly disgusted at missing it, after an epic march of 43 English miles in 22 hours! William's next letter 36 was begun in the Franciscan monastery at Coria, before reaching Talavera: he had been "mostly quartered in the woods"'.

Coria cathedral was very fine" and the scenery of the Tagus valley "really delightful": "our army is advancing-it is a great pity that we cannot get up with them, for three thousand light troops are no mean thing The letter is resumed 10 August at Las Casas del Puerto on the other side of the Tagus and half-way back again from Talavera, for by now, as William notes, Cuesta's Spaniards had demonstrated their worthlessness as troops, Cuesta had been superseded, the very existence of Wellington's army was in peril.

At once he announces Gardner's death- "the loss of so valuable a friend and so dear a relation. He fell while gloriously fighting for his King and Country, and it is attributed to him the victory of that day for General Stuart's Brigade held a position that kept 14, French in employ during this whole action, in endeavouring to gain which they would have done, had not my uncle ordered of his own accord the 29th Regt.

Napier, describing this event, omits the vital contribution of Gardner to the arrival of that regiment upon the hill. Here he received a friendly letter from General Stewart concerning the personal effects, horses. I'm in a billett the people of which keep me in continual laughter for their drollness: they pay me every attention that lies in the power of Portuguese. McLachlan arc dead there was never a more Gentleman- like figure than poor McLachlan, and his loss is generally regretted through the whole regiment". At this moment Gardner's place was taken in the correspondence by the arrival in Portugal of William"s younger brother Edward with the 2nd battalion of the 43rd.

He had been with them at Walcheren and already he was just sixteen displayed that contempt for danger which distinguished his brief life. I hope he will conduct himself with propriety; and he will do, for he is very much liked. Wellington was able to feel more sure of support from the new government of Spencer Perceval, in which his brother was foreign secretary, and addressed himself to the great task of defending Portugal.

He began by moving his troops out of the Guadiana fever-belt to the barren but healthy north-eastern frontier. He had about 25, British troops, made up to a force of not more than 80, by other nationals, mainly Portuguese. There were, including the occupation forces, 37, French soldiers on the far side of the frontier.

At least it was here that his Light Brigade was removed from the 3rd Division, which he had temporarily commanded, and became a. That February the, French threatened the two important Spanish citadels-bastions of "Free Spain" in front of the Portuguese border -Badajoz to the south on the Guadiana, and Ciudad Rodrigo to the north, on the Agueda, a southern tributary of the Douro, near Almeida.

Parallel and close to the Agueda ran the ravine of the Coa. Wellington at once leapt his light division across the Coa and right up to the Agueda, on the far bank of which Ciudad Rodrigo had begun its own gallant defence against the vast besieging forces of Ney. The French object was to provoke Wellington into a chivalrous but hopeless battle to relieve Rodrigo: the English object was the defence of Portugal and above all the maintenance of the fight, the avoidance of catastrophe, so that if necessary they were prepared to withdraw along their own lines of communication back as far as the northern lip of the Tagus at Lisbon, where the famous impregnable lines of Torres Vedras were being prepared-the.

Battle of Sabugal

The Light Division was specifically ordered by Wellington on no account to accept a battle beyond the Coa, an order that Craufurd, dashing to the point of unwisdom, could not obey. At first came a number of spirited skirmishes, in which the Division demonstrated the superb results of its training. One of these skirmishes is referred to in a letter from William to John of 4 April, 42 though his main news is of his excursion into Pesquiera with another officer and a small party to procure the Division's wine from the Oporto Wine Company: a ticklish assignment, the miscarriage of which would doubtless have blighted his career.

The next letter, written to John from near Freixedas, behind the Coa, is dated 24 August. It opens with an account of the skirmishing throughout the month of June-obviously based on his diary-- and leads up to the combat of the Coa on 24 July. Our loss was very great particularly in officers. The 95th lost in the same proportion. Poor Col.

Hall who was also wounded.

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On the way back they repulsed the French with great vigour at Busaco, an action at which both Edward and William were -present. They took up the prepared position in the area of Torres Vedras, by Lisbon, and it was there, "on the heights in front of the position of the enemy, Santarem", that William and Edward wrote home in December to assure their mother that they often thought of the privations she had undergone for them and that they wished to follow John's example and make over their share of the inheritance to their sisters.

Wellington's scorched-earth policy had made their positions in western Portugal untenable: it was the turning point in the Peninsular War. Pursuing the French to the frontier, Wellington never allowed them a moment's rest except for three days when, through no fault of his, the troops were without food.

At Redinha some of the regimental officers thought that a chance was missed of destroying Ney completely: in Napier's words, "Lord Wellington paid him too much respect". The British advance is described in detail in a letter from William to his father, written 8 April from Albergaria across the frontier in Spain a few days after Sabugal. He is equally oblivious of the weather in his account of Sabugal, fought on the slopes beside the Coa at a height of nearly 3, feet above sea-level in cloud and miserable rain: but when his brigade commander was giving out his orders, under the enemy's fire, the officers sat with their backs to a stone wall and the driving rain, and the commander laughingly said: "Gentlemen, you have an extraordinary taste, to prefer shot to rain".

We will begin with Wellington's despatch: "I consider the action that was fought by the Light Division, by Colonel Beckwith's brigade principally, with the whole of the [French] second, corps, to be one of the mostglorious that British troops were ever engaged in. The 43rd Regiment under Major Patrickson, particularly distinguished themselves". A bullet had lodged against Napier's spine at Cazal Novo: he was unable to fight at Sabugal and we note a few inaccuracies in his description of that battle, yet he makes it abundantly clear that within the 43rd Regiment it was Lieutenant Hopkins' company brigade commander, the gallant Beckwith, visited him, complimented him and told him to carry on, and was followed by a less that particularly distinguished themselves.

On his own initiative he at once moved to the right and occupied a hill confronting the enemy force. Here he repelled two charges. Then the enemy formed in greater strength, advancing with a drummer beating the pas de charge and their commanding officer well to the fore. The French bravely stood our fire, and their two guns were brought to bear on us. I ordered a charge which was done with great spirit, driving the enemy to some distance. At this time their cavalry charged. This seems to settle the howitzer dispute. William proceeded: "At this time General Picton's division came up on the left and gave them a volley, when the whole retired towards Alfiate.

Unfortunately we had no cavalry to support us: if we had, their defeat would have been complete"'. He added: "At the latter end of this affair I received a slight wound above the left hip, but nothing of consequence, the ball only grazing and lodging in my shire,. This looks circumstantial, but we wonder if he was sparing his father, for Hopkins wrote: "I directed William Freer to wheel the company into sections He was struck down by a shot in his face but persevered in marching".

William concluded, in a postscript: "Hopkins desires to be remembered to you. I am in the same company with him, he having the command of Wells's, who is on duty at Lisbon. The 3rd was a good day for him. Our company standing so firmly on the right was noticed by our brigadier who I believe intends or as done 52 reporting their conduct to Lord Wellington. A packet as arrived this morning with papers to the 13th ult. None for me. However, a halt the following day and double allowance of bread made them once more fit for anything".

After his second account of Sabugal he added: "Lord Wellington, who saw the whole business, was in raptures at our conduct but fright for our fate". That was written from Fuentes d'Onoro where the great French attack was delivered early in May and repulsed- their last design against Portugal. The Light Division took an important part in the famous battle, and William gives an account of it in a fragment of diary, written in his impersonal way.

Division and Genl. At the same time operations were begun in the southern sector, on the Guadiana, Beresford laying the first sombre siege to Badajoz, and because of totally inadequate engineering equipment-raising it after horrible waste of life. Albuera followed, and all the while the Light Division kicked its heels in the north. For my part, I like the general appearance, for whilst Soult has strained every nerve to collect a force which has obliged the raising of the siege, yet by so doing he has in great measure left open the interior William was disgruntled: the merits of senior officers "ought not to be overlooked because they are absent on duty ".

He then turned to think of his family. And he indulged in a daydream wherein "the exertion making in England to send out every man she can" resulted in opening up the road to Gibraltar so that John "might make a pleasant tour to the army by purchasing a small hack and carrying a couple of shirts, and stop a fortnight with us Postscript: "I shall not make the least excuse for Edward and shall tell you candidly it is sheer idleness that prevents his writing. The same complaint is made by my father; and Charles Clay, who by his letters to him wishes to keep up a correspondence, 57 no doubt makes the same complaints.

I hope you will forgive me, and I promise to be more punctual in future. We have had a good deal of marching since my brother last wrote to you", and so on. I went over to Elvas and spent a day there it is a very strong place,. There is another daydream-this time of when "we all meet round a cheerful fire at Knipton". There is a long account of the temporary withdrawal forced on them in September by Marmont, so that he could get supplies to Ciudad Rodrigo, and of the neat way in which some of the "resistance" forces made off with head of the newly-supplied cattle which in turn served as effective bait to the governor of the city and some of his staff who were taken.

He has been long enough in that service, and leaving England ought to cause his bringing to issue. At any rate I think he should remain no longer in the Militia but retire to his family and enter into business". For himself William had "given up all thought of entering the Portuguese service", evidently discouraged by his C. He had been acting adjutant in the absence of Pitts, and the colonel had promised him the adjutancy if Pitt got his company.

However, many people thought the Sergeant-Major of the second Battalion was "by his long services in that, capacity entitled to promotion Edward had gone on detachment for a few weeks at Coimbra: "he stands it out famously but is. William seems to have been an admirable brother, and rather trying.

A postscript added that the Lisbon Gazette had reported the outbreak of actual hostilities between Russia and France: "I trust with truth-it will make a change with us". It was some months premature, but certainly the massing in France of , troops for the Russian War had its effect on the outcome in the Peninsula, just as the activities of Wellington in the Peninsula contributed to the result in eastern Europe. I cannot say how long.. We have had very little to do since my last We have erected a theatre in the ruins of a chapel. The last. It is more than three months: in fact, since they started for Ireland I have not had a single word.

That was just before Christmas. He wrote again at the end of January. His detailed account 63 adds nothing to the well known story. Edward was among the volunteers for the "Forlorn Hope", the storming of the small breach. He was not chosen: of the three subalterns picked from the 43rd, one was killed. My Father means to put Tom in the 43rd next volunteering. I shall kick against that, for too many brothers do not agree well in a regiment: I do not mean to say that that is the case with Edward and myself. I shall propose my Father placing him in the 95th Then at last on 18 February Edward got a letter off to his mother, apologising for not writing oftener, "but, as William has, it is one or the same thing, and I do not forget to offer my prayers to the Almighty for the preservation of Parents so dear to me"'.

Then, light heartedly, "we expect soon to move to Badajoz, which I trust will soon share the same fate as Ciudad Rodrigo, which I have no doubt will if taken in hand. I have nearly exhausted my little stock of news, but I hope soon to hear from you giving me a long account of your tour in Warwickshire. Make Martha and Ann join you in your letter and give both Brothers and sisters ten thousand kisses from William and myself.

The next letter is a joint one from Edward and William to their father at Dublin. I was one who had the Honour of breaking Ground.

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Our Regt. We were up on the Breach for near an hour and half exposed to a most tremendous fire of musketry, hand grenades, shells, fire Balls and large stones which they threw down upon us from the Ramparts, and it was not till the fifth and third Divisions had escaladed in other parts, that we could enter. Nearly every Regt. Major Wells his wounded and here with us, we are ten in one House but have every accommodation we can wish for. We are attended once a day by the surgeon, who dresses our wounds. Our time passes very slow but we get over it as well as we can with the assistance of Books but which we find rather scarce, having nearly finished - our stock.

Capel makes one of us, he is wounded in the arm I hope to see Thomas appointed to some Regt. I intend writing to my Mother by the same Packet with this. We have been waiting an opportunity to forward this till now. We are both much recovered. Remember me to all Friends and believe me your ever dutiful Son, Edwd. There follows a strange handwriting, shaky and with the letters slanting backwards.

Major Duffy however wrote to Wells in London to announce it to you. It is healing up. I congratulate you with a Mothers sympathy that your brave sons are alive and doing well. Saturday evng 5 o. Wells who has received a letter from Capt. A few days later Mrs. The day Mr. Wells who had a letter from Capt. Duffy of the 43rd saying A month later, 22 May, William had just left for Lisbon on his way home on sick-leave when Edward, at Estremoz on the Badajoz-Lisbon road, heard that John had arrived in Lisbon and proposed to come and see them. Edward at once sent off a note to suggest a meeting at Montemor, half-way, or, failing that, at Lisbon, 71 "I am well mounted and shall be able to arrive in three or four days.

I have now a week's leave and shall not scruple to take another I am determined to see you if it is possible". Edward's "particular Friend", Macleod's successor, was Napier. Edward, with the slighter wounds, went back into action with his regiment. Marmont was watching Portugal in the north, and on 12 June the British army was up there again, crossing the Agueda with the Light Division at the head of the centre column. After a long march they arrived at Rueda, north-east of Salamanca and not far from Valladolid.

On 3 August Edward sat down and described the actions of July to John: We retreated as they advanced on 18th Divisions began the attack. At 6 o'clock a general attack took place. Marmont, Duke of Ragusa, had given Wellington his first opportunity of the whole campaign to launch a general attack. What so "greatly surprised" Edward on the 22nd is explained by the unfailing Napier: "'At 3 o'clock, a report reached him Wellington that the French left was in motion and pointing towards the Ciudad Rodrigo road; then starting up he repaired to the high ground, and observed their movements for some time, with a stern contentment, for their left wing was entirely separated from the centre.

The fault was flagrant, and he fixed it with a stroke of a thunderbolt. A few orders issued from his lips like the incantations of a wizard. But he was marked out for a soldier, not a soldier author like his C.

Battle of Sabugal - Wikipedia

Neither of them saw fit to mention the ball given by Lord Wellington at Almedo on 28 July, t o which all officers were invited. Edward ends: "On 30th we arrived within a league and a half of Valladolid. I visited that city. The people were very glad to see the English. It is a fine city, well supplied with everything. The Light Division bivouacked in the park of the Escurial, and on 12 August Wellington entered the capital at the head of his army.

I like it full as well as London. It is not very large. The palace is magnificent: it will be useless my attempting to describe it. The finest Women I ever saw: such good people I never met: we danced till 6 o'clock, when we had the honor of taking the delightful creatures home. Happy shall we be if we can but keep it [meaning, I think, the capital] I have made great progress in the language. I like it extremely and as I have such inducements I have no doubt I shall make a tolerable hand in a short time. He gave a Ball and Supper which at least cost him Doll: everything that's good he gave.

The people who performed at Guinaldo are going to perform here in the Public Theatre. Havelock performs Leonora, the part that Hob performed. There is a famous Stag-hunting here, and Fox hunting too. Tell my dear Mother what pleasure her few lines gave me. With my kindest love to my Father, Mother, Brothers and Sisters, believe: me dear Will yours affectionately. It is informative about the role of light infantry especially along the Coa , the author being in the 43rd Regiment, a unit trained to operate as "light troops" by Sir John Moore. In addition, it provides a readable account of what life was like for soldiers of the British Army in Portugal and Spain and of the impact of war on civilian life.

After a brief foray to the Baltic, a war against Denmark in which the British government's logic was evidently "Let us do evil, that good may [End Page ] come," the author finds himself at Corunna in Spain in He gives a good account of the fighting at Benevente and the dreadful retreat out of Spain. Sent to Portugal, the author reaches Wellington's army just after Talavera. At this latter place the author was wounded in the leg and his peninsular career terminated.

There are certainly better narratives of the peninsular campaigns but this memoir reads well on the whole and, as a cheap and basic text, will no doubt serve for a few hours' informative entertainment. Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide. Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves.

Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless. No institutional affiliation. LOG IN. The Journal of Military History. In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content: Reviewed by:. Jonathan North. admin