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Death Before Glory! (ePub)

The British Soldier in the West Indies in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793−1815

Napoleonic

By Martin Howard
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 20.0 MB (.epub)
Pages: 241
ISBN: 9781473871519
Published: 2nd September 2015

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Death Before Glory! is a highly readable, thoroughly researched and comprehensive study of the British army's campaigns in the West Indies during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic period and of the extraordinary experiences of the soldiers who served there. Rich in sugar, cotton, coffee and slaves, the region was a key to British prosperity and it was perhaps even more important to her greatest enemy – France. Yet, until now, the history of this vital theatre of the Napoleonic Wars has been seriously neglected. Not only does Martin Howard describe, in graphic detail, the entirety of the British campaigns in the region between 1793 and 1815, he also focuses on the human experience of the men – the climate and living conditions, the rations and diet, military discipline and training, the treatment of the wounded and the impact of disease. Martin Howard's thoroughgoing and original work is the essential account of this fascinating but often overlooked aspect of the history of the British army and the Napoleonic Wars.

This is an interesting read, and a valuable addition to the literature on this period, covering a theatre of war that more often appears as the backdrop to other issues.

Read the complete review here.

History of War - John Rickard

Howard, a medical doctor, is well prepared to discuss the effect of disease on the campaigns in the islands. His treatment of the actual military campaigns themselves are interesting but succinct, although one might wish that the author provided maps with military movements on them. His selection of material for the third part of his work, involving eyewitnesses, is judicious and the quotes are interesting.

The Napoleon Series - December 2015 - reviewed by Donald E. Graves.

Rich in sugar, cotton, coffee and slaves, the West Indies was a region that was key to British prosperity, but it was perhaps even more important to her greatest enemy – France, hence the clash of interests. As the author points out, the character of warfare in the tropics was dramatically different to that of the European campaigns. The extreme climate restricted operations to the healthier winter months and the soldiers had to fight their way through wooded and mountainous terrain. Set piece battles were rare and, when enemy strongholds were overrun, insurgent slaves took to the jungle and mountains to pursue a guerrilla war. While describing the entirety of the British campaigns in the region between 1793 and 1815, the author also focuses on the human experience of the men, the climate and living conditions, the rations and diet, military discipline and training, the treatment of the wounded and the impact of disease.

This compelling work sheds light on an interesting but often overlooked aspect of the British army and the Napoleonic Wars. In all some 30 monochrome illustrations and 12 maps support the text, which is rounded off by notes, a bibliography and an index. Well worth a read.

Stuart Asquith, Author

A well researched and clearly written book, with helpful maps, photographs and a comprehensive index.

4.5 out of 5.

ARRSE - Copepod

As featured on

Mark Simner Blog

The French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars are amongst some of the most written about events in history. Go into any good bookshop and you will not need long to find a shelf full of books on the subject. Yet despite this fact, you might find it difficult to find a book that focusses on the campaigns fought between the British and French in the West Indies, with most writings on the subject being relegated to a chapter at best in books with a wider focus. Author Martin R. Howard, however, has thankfully produced a work to help fill this glaring gap in the current literature...

... At the time of writing this review, Death Before Glory is one of two Napoleonic Wars related books written by Howard, the other being Walcheren 1809: The Scandalous Destruction of a British Army, itself another understudied aspect of the wars. Like his first title, this book is easy to read and packed full of detail, making it appealing to both the general reader and military history enthusiast alike. Due to the scarcity of works on this specific subject, it should be considered a must-read for those with a serious interest in the period. Overall, the book deserves a five out of five star rating.

Napoleonic Wars Forum - Mark Simner
 Martin Howard

About Martin Howard

Martin Howard is a hospital consultant in the NHS specialising in haematology and has always had an interest in the Napoleonic Wars. He enjoys lecturing on Napoleonic history and has been invited to give talks at national institutions (e.g. The National Army Museum).

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