Marching, Fighting, Dying (Hardback)
Experiences of Soldiers in the Peninsular War
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Gareth Glover, who has established a reputation as a leading authority on the Napoleonic Wars, uses letters sent home from the Peninsular War by British soldiers to give a candid account of what it was like to serve in the army during the long campaign against the French. The vivid excerpts, which are set in their historical context by the author’s expert commentary, are largely drawn from the correspondence of the other ranks, and they fully explore the everyday experience of these men through their own words.
Only extracts from letters written during the campaigns are quoted – journals written much later for publication are discounted – so a true picture of life in the army at war comes out directly, as it was perceived at the time. Every aspect of the soldiers’ experience is covered, from the fatigue and discomfort of existence on military service to the reality of combat and their feelings when a comrade was wounded or killed. The letters reveal so much about their attitude to the enemy, civilians and the men who served alongside them.
Since this was the first war in history where regular postal services operated – and since a rising number of soldiers were able to read and write – their letters offer us an insight into men at war that has never been recorded before.
Rating: 5 out of 5 starsNetGalley, Fenriz Angelo
As the title says, this book contains a vast documentation of british soldier's experiences during the Peninsular Wars told from the PoV of the soldiers (mostly officers) themselves in their letters home.
Compared to other books of the matter, this one focuses only on the personal recollections closer to the time of the wars and discards autobiographies and/or historical fiction books that were published decades after the Napoleonic Wars, because many descriptions of the adventures at the time were filled with extravagant situations that must be taken with a grain of salt. Which makes this book a valuable insight of the time and provides room to ponder what's left out and compare their experiences with ones coming from the perspective of the civilians of the places they invaded.
Great book for anyone interested in a more academic examination of the Napoleonic wars period of history.
Gareth Glover looks at all aspects of daily life of soldiers, even if the main focus lies on officers, not on common soldiers, which might have provided a slightly different angle. It still gives us valuable insight that later memoirs probably cannot provide.NetGalley, Anja Kwiatkowski