The Life of a General in Napoleon's Light Cavalry: The Memoirs of Jean-Nicolas Curély Andrew W Field
Publisher: Pen and Sword Military (October 30, 2023)
Hardcover: 224 pages
This is the first English translation of the memoirs of Jean-Nicolas Curély. Born in 1774, son of a laborer, Curély rose through the ranks to become a General in Napoleon's Light Cavalry.
Although Curély did not fight in many of the most famous battles of the First Republic and the Napoleonic Wars, this reflects the role of the light cavalry; scouting ahead of the army, conducting reconnaissance to the flanks and launching raids. He did, however, take part in all Napoleon’s great campaigns, including Austerlitz, Heilsberg, Essling, Raab, Wagram, Beresina, Wachau, Leipzig, Craonne and Laon, and served as an aide de camp to many of the French army’s most famous light cavalry generals.
Curély’s memoirs give a unique and detailed glimpse into the day-to-day life of the light cavalry from someone who, although of lowly birth and with no education, became an exceptional General. He was a hussar at 19 years, second lieutenant at 32, squadron commander at 35, Colonel at 38 and General at 40. He became Cavalier of the Légion d’Honneur in 1806, and was wounded five times in his career.
His account describes in great detail the many actions he was involved in and the many exceptional scrapes he escaped. However, his narrative does not only describe combat but also the lengths he went to for the welfare of his men and horses, particularly during the retreat from Moscow which he survived with a hundred men and nearly all his officers still battleworthy.
Stretching from Curély's enrolment with the Hussars in 1793 to Waterloo, capitulation of Paris and the disbandment of the army, this book is a 'must have' for anyone with an interest in the Napoleonic Wars.
Andrew Field MBE is a former British army officer whose travels around the world have given him a unique opportunity to explore battlefields from ancient history to present times. He has always harboured a special fascination for the Napoleonic Wars. In particular he has reassessed Napoleon's campaigns in 1814 and 1815, and has carried out extensive research into Wellington's battles in the Peninsula. His books include Talavera: Wellington's First Victory in Spain, Prelude to Waterloo: Quatre Bras, Grouchy’s Waterloo: The Battles of Ligny and Wavre and Waterloo: Rout and Retreat: The French Perspective