Some of the most famous memoirs of Britain’s long war against Napoleon have come from the pens of members of Wellington’s Light Division, but many wonderful accounts were never published and have sat in archives, libraries, museums, and private collections, forgotten for 200 years.
The regiments of the Light Division, and its predecessor, the Light Brigade, were involved in almost every major battle and skirmish fought by Wellington and Sir John Moore in the Peninsular War. Unlike the line infantry, these men were encouraged to think and fight independently and were, often, of a higher educational standard, resulting in vivid descriptions of warfare and campaign life.
However, these memoirs do not simply cover old ground. Many of these accounts were produced within hours, or at most days, after the incidents they describe, and they often portray a very different view of many famous events and cause us to question numerous claims made in those later published memoirs.
Never intended to be published, the memoirs in this book were written only for the men themselves and their families, being penned without the dreaded influence of ‘hindsight’ to alter and temper their views. Consequently, they provide brutally honest assessments of their senior officers, how operations were handled and who made mistakes that have subsequently been quietly covered over.
The Men of Wellington’s Light Division is certain to be welcomed by historians and enthusiasts alike, providing a glimpse into the past that has not been seen before.
Gareth Glover is a former Royal Navy officer and military historian who has made a special study of the Napoleonic Wars for the last 30 years.Having had numerous articles published on the Peninsular War and the British Army, the renowned historian and author Robert Burnham hosts the pre-eminent Napoleonic website, the Napoleon Series. This fascinating and all-embracing website, the largest of its kind, is a ‘must’ for anyone interested in the Napoleonic era.