The British Army Against Napoleon: Facts, Lists and Trivia 1805-1815

By Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan

I find a wealth of information within military lists and this wonderful book by Robert Burnham and Ron McGuigan has given me hours of fascinating reading.

It has a huge title, but The British Army Against Napoleon Facts, Lists and Trivia 1805-1815 has an even bigger wealth of detail on the members of the Redcloat army that took on the Corsican Ogre, Napoleon Bonaparte.

Take these for example...

Did you know that in 1809 the daily amount of forage for mules and horses was: 14lbs of hay or straw, 12lbs of oats or 10lbs of barley of Indian corn.

Or the cost of shipping items from Plymouth to the Peninsula ranged from 1 shilling for under 250lbs, to 20 shillings for between 1500 and 2000 lbs.

How about the cost of food in the Peninsula between 1809 and 1813, or prizemoney shares for all army ranks?

I didn't even know the army got shares but, they did.

For example a sergeant taking part in the actions at Coimbra and the Douro got paid 2 pounds 19 shillings 7.5 pence, while other ranks got 7 shilliongs and 2.5 pence.

For the capture of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz they got and 6.3.5 pence respectively.

Not exactly generous for the hell they went through.

And do you know what the most common first name was among officers in the Peninsular War?

If you guessed Richard, you'd be wrong. We Richards only made up 2.71%, or 241, of the officer brothers.

John was the most common (1305 men or 14.7%), followed by William (1024, 11.6%) and James (605, 6.83%). As for surnames Campbell was No1 (105), then Smith (58) and Stewart (57).

The authors also throw in the most unusual names of Peninsular officers, they include: Sholto Douglas of the 4th Lt Dragoons and Christmas Knight of the 61st Foot.

To lose the regimental colours was a slight upon the unit and so many men died defending their symbols on all sides of the conflict. You'll find out how many times British colours were lost in this book, along with medals and honours awarded for merit and honourable service.

The British Army Against Napoleon Facts, Lists and Trivia 1805-1815 is a wonderful book filled with details in more than 300 pages that give a really good glimpse into life in the British army that was fighting Napoleon. - Richard Moore




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