Fighting the British (ePub)
French Eyewitness Accounts from the Napoleonic Wars
The British army during the Napoleonic Wars is often studied using English sources and the British view of their French opponents has been covered in exhaustive detail. However, the French view of the British has been less often studied and is frequently misunderstood. This book, based on hundreds of letters, memoirs, and reports of French officers and soldiers of the Napoleonic armies, adds to the existing literature by exploring the British army from the French side of the battle line.
Each chapter looks at a specific campaign involving the French and the British. Extensive quotes from the French soldiers who were there are complemented by detailed notes describing the context of the war and the career of the eyewitness.
Throughout the emphasis is on the voices of the lower ranks, the conscripts and the non-commissioned and junior officers. They describe in their own words the full range of warfare during the period – not only land battles but battles at sea, including the Nile and Trafalgar – and accounts of captivity in England are included too.
This original and revealing material gives a fascinating insight into the attitudes and concerns of the French soldiers of the period and their views about their British enemy.
This narrative illuminated in [i[Fighting the British[/i] illustrates the incomprehension of being beaten. French soldiers, so accustomed to being triumphant for so many years, could simply not come to terms with defeat. Wilkin and Wilkin thus offer a fascinating perspective on the Battle of Waterloo and on the Napoleonic Wars more generally. It is diffcult not to feel sympathy for the plight of the masses who made up the bulk of cannon fodder for Napoleon. Their accounts, although perhaps not as well informed and sophisticated than their generals, grant the reader a genuine, and at times harrowing, description of their experiences on the battle field.Journal of Intelligence and National Security
With a focus on how French soldiers and non-combatants experienced the Napoleonic Wars, Fighting the British delivers an excellent account of the view from the other side of the hill. This book is essential reading for those interested in a Grognard’s perspective of what it was like to fight in Napoleon’s army.Jeff Bridoux, Lecturer in International Politics
This is a book which all those interested in the Napoleonic period will enjoy and return to time after time.Gun Mart, June 2018 – reviewed by John Norris
This is an extremely valuable resource for those interested in life in the ranks during the Napoleonic Wars.History of War
As featured 'On The Book Shelf'Wargames Illustrated, January 2018