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Wellington and the British Army's Indian Campaigns 1798 - 1805 (Hardback)

Napoleonic Military 19th Century 18th Century

By Martin R. Howard
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 320
Illustrations: 30 colour
ISBN: 9781473894464
Published: 18th May 2020


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The Peninsular War and the Napoleonic Wars across Europe are subjects of such enduring interest that they have prompted extensive research and writing. Yet other campaigns, in what was a global war, have been largely ignored. Such is the case for the war in India which persisted for much of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods and peaked in the years 1798−1805 with the campaigns of Arthur Wellesley – later the Duke of Wellington – and General Lake in the Deccan and Hindustan. That is why this new study by Martin Howard is so timely and important.

While it fully acknowledges Wellington’s vital role, it also addresses the nature of the warring armies, the significance of the campaigns of Lake in North India, and leaves the reader with an understanding of the human experience of war in the region. For this was a brutal conflict in which British armies clashed with the formidable forces of the Sultan of Mysore and the Maratha princes. There were dramatic pitched battles at Assaye, Argaum, Delhi and Laswari, and epic sieges at Seringapatam, Gawilghur and Bhurtpore. The British success was not universal.

Martin Howard's superb account of the British Army under Wellington in India reads like one of Bernard Cornwell's SHarp novels, or, better still, a Flashman novel. British History at its absolute finest.

Books Monthly

As a result we get a clear image of the varied experiences of British troops in these wars, as well as the varied attitudes of individuals to their Indian allies and opponents. The material on the campaigns is also strong, with good analyses of the various British commanders and their performances. This is a useful addition to the literature on Wellington in particular, giving us a better idea of the background to his time in India than those books that just focus on Wellington.

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History of War

The subject of this book is interesting, but it is the level of research and the quality of the writing that make it both an enjoyable read and a worthwhile study of the period.

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1/72 Scale Plastic Napoleonic Figures

Between 1798 and 1805 the British army plus large numbers of native troops made enormous gains in the conquest of India. Arthur Wellesley played a large part in the campaigns and this book tells that story. He took chances, he tried different tactics, he honed principles which he later developed in the Peninsular. When to move at speed, manoeuvre on the battlefield, dig in, lie down, and keep the men supplied with all their needs were all worked out and tested during his Indian period. In all this luck was on his side. To those who are familiar with Wellington’s later campaigns the book’s final sentence ‘India had been the making of him.’ rings true. But this book is about more than Wellington, it is a very good introduction to the nature of conquest especially in the application of ‘divide and rule’. Additionally for many it will be an eye opener on the power and influence of the East India Company at this time.
A jolly good read with a super set of illustrations and the best, most informative, set of maps, all with Northings and scales, that I have seen in a very long time.
We highly recommend this to a wide range of readers.

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Clash of Steel

Whilst ‘Wellington’ is the focus of the title, this book is an excellent narrative history of the campaigns in India between 1798-1805 and it delivers a broader history than just the great man and his actions. The English political direction and role of the East India Company is well described and the scale and scope of the campaigns and their support is well documented. What becomes clear is that the tactical failings of the numerically superior Indian troops were exploited by the British leadership. The confusion and bravery of British soldiers of all ranks is apparent from the many sources quoted and it makes for sobering reading. The maps and illustrations are good.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy
 Martin R. Howard

About Martin R. Howard

Martin Howard is a hospital consultant in the NHS specialising in haematology and has always had an interest in the Napoleonic Wars. He enjoys lecturing on Napoleonic history and has been invited to give talks at national institutions (e.g. The National Army Museum).

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