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Wellington and the Vitoria Campaign 1813 (Hardback)

Never a Finer Army

Napoleonic Peninsular War Pre WWI Military 19th Century

By Carole Divall
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
Illustrations: 30 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781526774026
Published: 20th October 2021


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Over two hundred years ago, on 21 June 1813, just southwest of Vitoria in northern Spain, the British, Portuguese and Spanish army commanded by the Duke of Wellington confronted the French army of Napoleon’s brother Joseph. Hours later Wellington’s forces won an overwhelming victory and, after six years of bitter occupation, the French were ousted from Iberia. This is the critical battle that Carole Divall focuses on in this vivid, scholarly study of the last phase of the Peninsular War.

The battle was the pivotal event of the 1813 campaign - it was fatal to French interests in Spain - but it is also significant because it demonstrated Wellington’s confidence in his allied army and in himself. The complexity of the manoeuvres he expected his men to carry out and the shrewd strategic planning that preceded the battle were quite remarkable.

As well as giving a graphic close description of each stage of the battle, Carole Divall sets it in the wider scope of the Peninsular War. Through the graphic recollections of the men who were there – from commanders to the merest foot soldiers – she offers us a direct insight into the reality of combat during the Napoleonic Wars.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

As the title says, Wellington and the Vitoria Campaign focuses solely on the before, during, and after of the battle of 21 June of 1813 in Vitoria, Spain. Carole Divall organizes the events in a carefully laid timeline and alternates the POVs of the French side with the Allies in a way that avoids confusion. Also combines the clinical aspects of the battle with personal accounts by incorporating extracts from letters and quoting personal anecdotes by those who experienced the campaign, which makes this read not a chore at all and gives it a more humane look at the event.

The addition of maps, table of casualties per each regiment, and illustrations of key people and zones is a great plus.

Overall, I recommend this book for anyone interested on this battle.

NetGalley, Fenriz Angelo

A good historical book regarding Wellington’s battle at Vitoria. The author makes good use of personal accounts by those at the battle to really enhance the story. The event is well described and you get a feeling of being in the action. A great read.

NetGalley, Ron Baumer

About Carole Divall

Carole Divall specializes in military history, focusing in particular on the British army during the Napoleonic Wars. She has published articles on regimental history, the workings of the army of Wellington’s time and aspects of the key campaigns. Her publications include Redcoats against Napoleon and Inside the Regiment, two studies of the officers and men of the 30th Regiment during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, Napoleonic Lives, Wellington’s Worst Scrape: The Burgos Campaign 1812 and Sir Ralph Abercromby and the French Revolutionary Wars 1792-1801.

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