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Wellington's Light Division in the Peninsular War (Hardback)

The Formation, Campaigns, and Battles of Wellington's Famous Fighting Force, 1810

Napoleonic Frontline Books Peninsular War Frontline: Napoleonic Era Military

By Robert Burnham
Frontline Books
Pages: 456
Illustrations: 1x8 colour, 1x8 b&w
ISBN: 9781526758903
Published: 17th November 2020

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In February 1810, Wellington formed what became the most famous unit in the Peninsular War: the Light Division. Formed around the 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry and the 95th Rifles, the exploits of these three regiments is legendary. Over the next 50 months, the division would fight and win glory in almost every battle and siege of the Peninsular War.

Key to the understanding how the division achieved its fame is an understanding of their excellence and tradition that was established from its founding. It began on the border of Spain and Portugal where it served as a screen between Wellington’s Army and the French. For six months while vastly outnumbered, it manned outposts, guarded fords and bridges, and fought numerous skirmishes. When it came time pull back from the border, the division endured a harrowing retreat with a relentless enemy at their heels. It was during this eventful year it developed an esprit-de-corps and a belief in its leaders and itself that was unrivalled in Wellington’s Army.

Wellington's Light Division in the Peninsular War uses over 100 primary sources to recount the numerous skirmishes, combats, and battles, as well as the hardships of a year of duty on the front lines. Many of these sources are from British and Portuguese archives and have never been published before. Others are from long-forgotten books published over 150 years ago. It is through the words of the officers and men who served with it that this major, and long-anticipated study of the first critical year of the Light Division is told.

Featured on the website of

Portsmouth Napoleonic Society

The Light Division has become well known due to the brilliant novels tracing the fictional hero Sharpe of the 95th Rifles. The author provides a detailed and riveting account of the Light Division and its three regiments, 43rd and 52nd Light Infantry and the 95th Rifles. – Most Highly Recommended

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Firetrench

"The book is thoroughly researched, successfully brings masses of new evidence forward and shows the Light Division to be a superb fighting force with very experienced troops, but not always commanded by the most competent."

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The Napoleon Series

Review by Gareth Glover

The book is thoroughly researched, successfully brings masses of new evidence forward and shows the Light Division to be a superb fighting force with very experienced troops, but not always commanded by the most competent. An excellent history of the Light Division ‘Warts and All’. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

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The Waterloo Association

It’s a hefty, accomplished work, full of period detail.

The Armourer, March 2021

The book is well researched and well written, and the events are very well analysed. The information included in it will be especially useful to anyone wishing to follow on the ground the route of the Light Division during 1810 and the actions in which it was involved.

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1/72 Scale Plastic Napoleonic Figures

The detailed treatment of the war of the outposts is excellent, informative and easy to enjoy at the same time.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

The detailed treatment of the war of the outposts is excellent, informative and easy to enjoy at the same time.

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Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

A very detailed investigation into the formation and the actions of the division in 1810 in Iberia. Excellent sources, maps and images. It has a really interesting postscript chapter on what happened to the men mentioned in the narrative which really adds value. Recommended.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About Robert Burnham

Robert Burnham recently retired as the editor of the largest Napoleonic history site on the internet (www.napoleon-series.org) and is the author of Charging against Wellington: The French Cavalry in the Peninsular War and co-author of Wellington’s Brigade Commanders and Inside Wellington’s Peninsular Army.

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