Wellington at war in the Peninsula
Ian C. Robertson
Leo Cooper 2000
is a book that has been written by someone who is both a historian
and a travel writer, and is targeted towards the would-be battlefield
such it is a very broad guide to the Peninsular campaign for someone
who is visiting the region, possibly on their own or via a tour
organised by Midas, Holts or Ian Fletcher Battlefield Tours.
author has included as much information as possible to help the
travelling historian. There is a general chronology of the campaign,
including actions that involved British forces and those that
Glossary and Abbreviations section explains the terminology used
and a list of maps and plans includes modern route maps to enable
the reader to visit the sites.
then follows a very thorough examination of the campaign, relating
the history of events in Spain and Portugal that led to the conflict,
together with an account of the geography of the Iberian Peninsula.
author includes an interesting section on the cartography of the
area, and looks at the value of contemporary maps and relates
how the British Army mapped much of the campaign area.
is combined with a warning that some of the topography has since
been altered due to the construction of dams along rivers, reservoirs
and road building over the battlefields.
text is illustrated throughout with pictures of the conflict,
maps (both contemporary and modern) and photographs, all of which
combine to give the flavour of the period and the campaign and
guide the modern visitor through the battlefields today.
of the contemporary pictures I have not seen before and include
some unusual ones of an officer asleep in his billet and soldiers
The account of the campaign begins with Wellesley's landing in
Mondego Bay and ends with Bayonne.
lively narrative is generously laced with contemporary quotes
and text, and describes the passage of the British Army through
the Iberian Peninsula alongside the story of their Spanish and
Portuguese allies, plus accounts of the countryside through which
the soldiers passed.
aspects of the campaign are described, including events after
each battle such as burying the dead and the Spanish brutality
towards the French wounded.
are interesting little details that add feeling to the story,
such as the drought that occurred on the retreat to Portugal with
many grass fires appearing due to the carelessness of the soldiers
when they were cooking.
at War in the Peninsula has been written by a travel writer
and is therefore geared towards conveying the flavour of the campaign
and conditions for the British soldier there whilst visiting the
sites as they are today. To emphasise this the author has included
a section entitled Practical Notes and Suggested Tours containing
travel hints, general advice and notes about accommodation in
Spain and Portugal, plus suggestions for further reading.
351-pages book has 41 maps and plans and will be of great use
to the would-be traveller to the Iberian Peninsula and makes for
an enjoyable read even if staying at home.
review first appeared in The Waterloo Journal)