The Very Thing (ePub)
The Memoirs of Drummer Bentinck, Royal Welch Fusiliers, 1807-1823
Drummer Richard Bentinck of the 23rd of Foot (Royal Welch Fusiliers) was a rarity: he survived many sanguinary experiences and recorded his adventures. His writings provide an evocative portrait of an ordinary soldier's perception of living with one of the most experienced Napoleonic infantry battalions.
He was discharged in 1823 for ill health, but lived a full life, dying in 1878 as an old man. Jonathan Crook has meticulously researched his ancestor's life, finding unpublished first-hand accounts from Bentinck of desperate conflict across the globe, from Copenhagen to Martinique, throughout the Peninsular Campaign and culminating at the battle of Waterloo. These accounts are drawn from interviews that Bentinck conducted with a journalist just before his death.
The title of the book is taken from the Battle of Aldea de Ponte: Wellington identified a tactical vulnerability and called for infantry to conduct an immediate manoeuvre. On being informed that the 23rd of Foot was best disposed, he smiled and said, 'Ah, the very thing,' demonstrative of his hard-earned confidence.
The title neatly sums up my opinion of this book it is the very thing for anyone with a keen interest in Napoleonic soldiering. Part of the long military history of the Royal Welch Fusiliers is told through the memoirs of Drummer Richard Bentinck from 1807 to 1823. The story travels from Copenhagen to North America to the Peninsular and finally to Waterloo and the occupation of France. We get a fascinating insight into the life of the ordinary British soldier not all saint and not all sinner A thoroughly good read which I cannot recommend too highly.Clash of Steel
The result is very successful. Bentinck's memories were still vivid, even sixty-seventy years after the events. The chaos of major battles is mixed with anecdotes from the soldier's daily life to produce a clear picture of the life of at least one private soldier of the Napoleonic period. This is further enhanced by two remarkable photographs of Bentinck, one with his wife and one with a group of fellow Waterloo veterans.History of War