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Wellington's Engineers (Hardback)

Military Engineering in the Peninsular War 1808 - 1814

Napoleonic Peninsular War The Victorian Era

By Dr Mark S. Thompson
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 276
ISBN: 9781783463633
Published: 7th May 2015

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£25.00


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Shortlisted for the ‘best first book’ award - a new award introduced in 2016 by the Templar Medal!

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The role of the Royal Engineers in the Peninsular War has long been neglected and often misunderstood, and Mark Thompson's history is the first full account of their work and of the contribution they made throughout the conflict. He draws on his unrivalled collection of the engineers' letters and diaries in order to tell, in vivid detail, the story of the war as they experienced it. His narrative describes their role in all the major operations between 1808 and 1814, and it demonstrates the extraordinary range of tasks they undertook, from surveys and reconnaissance to the building of roads and bridges, siege works and field fortifications. His deeply researched study will be fascinating reading for anyone who is interested in the history of military engineering and a vital text for readers who are keen to broaden their understanding of the Peninsular War.

Tells the story of the daily life of a junior officer in a light cavalry regiment of the British Army in the Peninsular and at Waterloo. Because they are letters written within a few days of the events he is describing, there is a freshness about them that one does not get when reading memoirs written several decades later.

Major Robert Burnham U.S Army Retired, Editor of the Napoleon Series Website

As featured in

Gloire & Empire no.68

Wellington's Engineers is a unique and splendid insight into the role and contribution of the Royal Engineers who enjoyed, by and large, a far better relationship with Wellington than their Gunner counterparts.

This is a very useful work and one which provides a marvelous insight into the Royal Engineers and military engineering in the Peninsula.

British Journal for Military History

This is a very welcome addition to the published pool of knowledge for the Peninsular War and general warfare to the 20th Century. Very readable and well-supported by images, This is the first book to specifically cover military engineering during the Peninsular War by the British Army. A must-read book for
all interested in land forces at war.

The author has demonstrated thorough research and covered all of these typical military engineering works.
The text reads well and the illustration supporting it is extensive. Much illustration and tables is spread through the body of the book, but there is also a very good photo-plate section that blends reproductions of paintings and drawings with modern photographs of surviving structures. Together this makes a fine study of the science of Wellington's engineers.

Firetrench

Perhaps the main gem of this work is the chapter examining the Lines of Torres Vedras. The majority of books on the war mention this amazing feat of engineering, but few go into the depth that Thompson’s does. At the end of the title the reader is presented with a number of fascinating appendices that go into greater detail regarding certain aspects of military engineering, including: reconnaissance, surveying, bridging and education, amongst others.

Overall, Thompson has produced an excellent, scholarly piece of work that offers the reader a thorough analysis of Wellington’s engineers throughout the Peninsular War. The book is well-written and, despite its academic nature, easy to read. The only caveat the reviewer would place on this work is to recommend that the potential reader reads a general history of the war before this title, since Thompson focusses on the role of the engineers rather than the campaign itself, and prior knowledge of the conflict is beneficial. For those already familiar with the war, Wellington’s Engineers is a must-read. The book deserves a five out of five star rating.

Napoleonic Wars Forum - Mark Simner

The Royal Engineers were one of the smallest units assigned to the British Army in the Peninsula. Yet their impact on the success of that army was indirectly proportional to their size. Wellington may have still have won without them, but it would at a far greater price in the blood of his men. Mr. Thompson does a superb job in telling their story and it will leave the reader with a far greater appreciation for their efforts than they had before.

The Napoleon Series

'Mark Thompson's history is the first full account of the Royal Engineers' work in the Peninsular War and the contribution they made throughout the conflict.'

Essence Magazine

An interesting book, with lots of detail held in the appendices that complete the story. There were plenty of lessons to be learnt from the story and good to see the effort put in by this small group of military specialists over a period of years, and a story that was to lead on to the eventual defeat of Napoleon.

Military Modelling
Dr Mark S. Thompson

About Dr Mark S. Thompson

Dr Mark S. Thompson has had a lifelong interest in the British army in the Peninsular War. He has made a special study of the campaigns of Marshal Beresford and the Battle of Albuera, and he has published a number of books on Peninsular subjects. Recently he completed a PhD on the role of the Royal Engineers in the Peninsula. He is a member of the British Commission for Military History, the Friends of the Lines of Torres Vedras and the Friends of the British Military Cemetery at Elvas. He is currently working on the diary of Edmund Mulcaster 1809-10.

Perfect Partner

Wellington's Worst Scrape The Burgos Campaign 1812 (Hardback)

The disastrous retreat and near disintegration of Sir John Moore's army on the road to Corunna in 1809 is traditionally regarded as the low point in the history of the British intervention in the Peninsular War. Yet under the Duke of Wellington the British and their allies suffered defeats and retreats that tend to be overshadowed by the series of victories that eventually drove the French from Portugal and Spain. None of these setbacks was graver than the retreat that followed the disastrous failure of the siege of Burgos in 1812. It is this, less than glorious, phase of the Peninsular campaign…

By Carole Divall

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