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Fighting with Napoleon's Light Infantry (Hardback)

The Memoirs of Captain Vincent Bertrand 1805-1815

Colour Books Military > By Century Military > Reference World History

By Neil Sanghvi
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 224
Illustrations: 16 colour illustrations
ISBN: 9781399080224
Published: 30th July 2024


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Captain Vincent Bertrand was a French light infantry soldier who survived the key campaigns of Napoleon. Called to arms through conscription, he was directed from his hometown of Nîmes to the depot of the 7ème Régiment Léger (7th Light Infantry Regiment), in Huningue, where he arrived on 16th November, 1805. He did not leave this regiment composed almost exclusively of sons of the department of Gard, until 1815.

His recollections focus on his loves, adventures and mishaps, as well as the pride of being part of an elite unit. It was this pride that kept him with his regiment and his musket operational during the retreat from Moscow in 1812, unlike his fellow soldiers. He tells of the discipline and organisation of the few soldiers still able to pull their triggers and thrust their bayonets, amidst the frostbite and chaos of those who had become stragglers or marauders. Bertrand's unfailing bravery and composure are evident throughout his memoirs, demonstrating character, discipline and patience, as well as dedication to his regiment and its values and standards. The non-combatants he saved, the esteem he earned from his comrades in battle, and the comfort he gave to a fellow convalescent on the brink of death, would all indicate he was a hero to some, and an admirable soldier to all. Bertrand gives sincere accounts of his time on the battlefields, in the cantonments in Austria, in Germany, in Poland, and finally of the painful stages of his captivity as an Austrian prisoner of war. His writing is entertaining and fast paced, but with plenty of unique detail.

First published in 1909 by Bertrand's grandson, this is the first translation from French into English.

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About Neil Sanghvi

Taking his undergraduate and masters in history at King’s College London, Neil Sanghvi completed his doctoral studies in history at the University of Oxford. He joined the university’s Officer Training Corps to assist him in his research on the history of the British Army. He is a keen horseman and historical reenactor, specialising in the light cavalry of Napoleonic France.

Disappointed by the limited range of material translated into English, he began reading historical French as an undergraduate. As his academic training progressed, he acquired sufficient language skills and contextual knowledge to translate French historical texts to a high standard.

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