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Walcheren 1809 (ePub)

Scandalous Destruction of a British Army

Military > Pre-WWI > Napoleonic P&S History > British History

By Martin R. Howard
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
File Size: 2.1 MB (.epub)
Pages: 224
ISBN: 9781783033331
Published: 2nd August 2012


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In July 1809, with the Dutch coast 'a pistol held at the head of England', the largest British expeditionary force ever assembled, over 40,000 men and around 600 ships, weighed anchor off the Kent coast and sailed for the island of Walcheren in the Scheldt estuary. After an initial success, the expedition stalled and as the lethargic military commander, Lord Chatham, was at loggerheads with the opinionated senior naval commander, Sir Richard Strachan, troops were dying of a mysterious disease termed 'Walcheren fever'. Almost all the campaign's 4,000 dead were victims of disease. The Scheldt was evacuated and the return home was followed by a scandalous Parliamentary Enquiry. Walcheren fever cast an even longer shadow. Six months later 11,000 men were still registered sick. In 1812, Wellington complained that the constitution of his troops was 'much shaken with Walcheren'.

The book, which throws light on an often overlooked campaign, contains acknowledgements, a prologue, six appendices, 16 monochrome illustrations and four maps. Recommended.

Stuart Asquith, freelancer and author

For anyone with a soldier or sailor at Walcheren this book tells the story well, explaining with documentation how details may differ in other histories. For researchers the bibliography documents and identification of numerous surviving memoirs is excellent.

Federation of Genealogical Societies

Presents a refreshing approach to this little-known disaster in which some 40,000 men and 600 ships were involved.

The Military Historical Society

This is a deeply researched work, with excellent use of primary and contemporary sources...It is extensively referenced, has appropriate and valuable statistical appendices and an extensive bibliography of contemporary and modern sources. An excellent read.

SOFNAM Newsletter, Spring 2013

Martin Howard draws heavily on a variety of primary sources to tell the story of this ill-fated campaign. In addition to writing a lively account of the military operations, he explores in depth the divided British national leadership and how the expedition was undertaken for political reasons rather than military necessity. Walcheren 1809 covers a huge gap in a little known campaign that had a major impact on the Peninsular War. Because of its long-term implications for operations by the British in the Peninsular, it should be in every Napoleonic library, not just those specializing in the British Army.

Napoleon Series

Martin Howard examines the reasons for this ambitious expedition in great detail, looking at the political and military characters involved, and their working relationship with each other. The author has woven an enthralling story to explain and examine all facets of the disastrous campaign. Walcheren 1809 is an informed, well researched account of the campaign and its aftermath and fills a gap in the study of this notorious event in the annals of the British Army.

Waterloo Journal
 Martin R. Howard

About Martin R. Howard

Martin Howard is a former hospital consultant and honorary visiting professor at the University of York. He is a Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Pathologists and of the Royal Historical Society. His main interest in is eighteenth- and nineteenth-century warfare, with a particular focus on the human dimension of these conflicts and the lesser-known campaigns. His most recent books in the field are Walcheren 1809: The Scandalous Destruction of a British Army, Death Before Glory! The British Soldier in the West Indies in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1793−1815 and Wellington and the British Army's Indian Campaigns 1798-1805.

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