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Bayonet to Barrage (Hardback)

Weaponry on the Victorian Battlefield

Boer/Zulu War Victorian Era Weaponry Military 19th Century

By Stephen Manning
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 240
Illustrations: 30 black and white
ISBN: 9781526777218
Published: 15th September 2020

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How did technical advances in weaponry alter the battlefield during the reign of Queen Victoria? In 1845, in the first Anglo-Sikh War, the outcome was decided by the bayonet; just over fifty years later, in the second Boer War, the combatants were many miles apart. How did this transformation come about, and what impact did it have on the experience of the soldiers of the period? Stephen Manning, in this meticulously researched and vividly written study, describes the developments in firepower and, using the first-hand accounts of the soldiers, shows how their perception of battle changed.

Innovations like the percussion and breech-loading rifle influenced the fighting in the Crimean War of the 1850s and the colonial campaigns of the 1870s and 1880s, in particular in the Anglo-Zulu War and the wars in Egypt and Sudan. The machine gun was used to deadly effect at the Battle of Omdurman in 1898, and equally dramatic advances in artillery took warfare into a new era of tactics and organisation.

Stephen Manning’s work provides the reader with an accurate and fascinating insight into a key aspect of nineteenth-century military history.

As someone who finds anything to do with the Zulu Wars particularly fascinating, Stephen's book is a welcome addition to my library. The Victorian era was the last in which, although horrific, warfare was conducted along more gentlemanly lines. Having said that, the introduction of automatic weaponry such as machine guns was an obvious change, and ultimately led to many more casualties. Absolutely enthralling.

Books Monthly

A smashing read.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

It is really interesting to read as the weapons and tactics change as the enemies do. I think this is a great read for anyone interested in the Victorian period and the British Army of the time.

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Medieval Sword School

I have been fascinated by the British Army since a young age, but the weaponry of the Victorian British Army has never particularly interested me and, for that matter, even after having read this book, I still wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a Martini Henry and a Lee Enfield at twenty paces. That's not to say that this book isn't good; it is, very. It's just that I don't have the forensic knowledge that author Stephen Manning has. It is one thing to have that knowledge though, and quite another to be able to write about the subject in a compelling manner that makes it interesting for people like me.

Although it's not 'fashionable' to say so now, the British Army of the Victorian and early Edwardian eras did a sterling job of maintaining and expanding the British Empire through a combination of grit, determination, stiff-upper-lipiness and unwavering discipline. The weaponry they used, certainly provided the back-up, and in this book we can read about its evolution from Sobraon in 1846 through to the Second Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902. The author obviously knows his stuff and there are copious references to published works on the subject as well as a comprehensive bibliography.

As Stephen Manning concludes, "From the start of Victoria's reign in 1837 when the bayonet still decided the success of an offensive, to the end of 1901, when artillery firing from hidden positions could eliminate enemy positions many miles away, technological advances altered completely the size and nature of the battlefield."

Worth finding space for on the bookshelves.

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Paul Nixon

About Stephen Manning

Dr Stephen Manning is an Honorary Research Fellow in the History Department at the University of Exeter and has made a special study of Victorian military history. In addition to publishing many articles in academic journals he has written several books including Evelyn Wood VC: Pillar of Empire, Soldiers of the Queen, Quebec: The Story of Three Sieges and The Martini-Henry Rifle.

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