The Light Division is rightly regarded as the most famous force within Wellington’s army in the Peninsular War. Often the first into every battle and the last to withdraw, the men of the Light Division were trained to act independently and think for themselves as well as operating in their battalion formations.
The regiments which comprised the Light Division were present at almost every battle, large or small, throughout the Peninsular War. Many people, however, associate the Light Division with the men of the 95th Rifles, wearing in the distinctive green uniforms made famous in the Sharpe novels.
What is less understood is that the majority of the Light Division actually consisted of troops dressed in the traditional red uniforms. These were men who, although equally capable of skirmishing as light infantry, actually spent the vast majority of their time formed as regular infantry, fighting in line, column or square.
The 95th Rifles has literally a dozen or more memorialists including many famous ones such as Kincaid, Harry Smith, Harris, Costello, Leach, Simmons and others, who have been published and republished countless times. But the 52nd Foot – the first of the regiments of the Light Division to be trained as light infantry – has, until now, been largely unrepresented.
After decades of research, Gareth Glover has unearthed a collection of short memoirs from soldiers of the 52nd (Oxfordshire) Regiment which have never been published before and one previously published, but now virtually unobtainable. This collection will undoubtedly add an essential element to our understanding of the role of the Light Division both in battle and on campaign.