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Wellington's Headquarters (Hardback)

The Command and Administration of the British Army during the Peninsular War

Napoleonic Peninsular War

By S.G.P Ward
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 221
ISBN: 9781473896826
Published: 5th June 2017

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Wellington’s Headquarters is an essential introduction to the administration of the British army in the early nineteenth century. It offers a fascinating insight into the structure and operation of the Duke of Wellington’s command during the Peninsular War.

S.G.P. Ward’s classic study, first published over sixty years ago, describes the complicated tangle of departments that administered the army, departments which had grown up haphazard and survived virtually unchanged until the time of the Crimean War.

Wellington adapted the existing system in order to turn it into an efficient instrument in the war against Napoleon, despite clashes of responsibility and personality that frustrated him and impaired the army’s performance on campaign.

Chapters cover peacetime and wartime administration, the relationships of the staff officers, the supply and maintenance of the army in the Peninsula, the gathering and interpretation of intelligence, the organization of the army on the march and the sometimes tense relations between Wellington and his subordinates. The study raises the quartermaster general’s department to its proper position, and discusses Wellington’s attitude to the ‘chief of staff’ system which was then favoured on the continent.

The result of this lucid and absorbing survey is an enhanced understanding of the system that had evolved to administer the British army two hundred years ago.

This is a classic study of the administrative side of Wellington's army during the Peninsular War, looking at the systems and people that allowed the army to operate, and how they worked with their two masters - Wellington and the Army establishment back in London.

Read the complete review here.

History of War, John Rickard

Ultimately there can be no greater testament to the value of S.G.P. Ward's Wellington's Headquarters than the fact that, 60 years after it was first published, it has returned to the world's bookshelves, reasserting Ward's well deserved place in the historiography of the Peninsular War.

Zack White, PhD Student, University of Southampton

A great insight into the structure and inner operation of the Duke of Wellington’s command during the Peninsular War. This classic study, first published over sixty years ago, describes the complicated tangle of departments that administered the army, departments which had grown up haphazard and survived virtually unchanged until the time of the Crimean War. Wellington adapted the existing system in order to turn it into an efficient instrument in the war against Napoleon, despite clashes of responsibility and personality that frustrated him and impaired the army’s performance on campaign. A must-read for all students of the period.

Julian Stockwin action-adventure historical fiction

This title describes in detail the system of command and administration, in the Duke of Wellington’ headquarters during the Peninsular War, as well as the roles of the officers involved. The author demonstrates how the Duke organised his army and adapted his headquarters from the existing system to meet his needs, as well as offering an insight into the way his headquarters worked and the individuals who worked within it.

Stuart Asquith

About S.G.P Ward

S.G.P. Ward (1917-2009), a military historian who served in the British army during the Second World War, made a special study of the Duke of Wellington’s campaigns and his army, particularly in the Peninsula. His research resulted in this pioneering book as well as Wellington, Faithful: the story of the Durham Light Infantry, and many articles in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research.

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