This second volume of translated French accounts and documents concern the Peninsular War. The conflict is considered one of the principal reasons that French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte ultimately lost his dominion over Europe. The many officers, soldiers and French allies serving in this theatre of war became the eyewitnesses of a brutal and long lasting war, where honour was often lacking, promotion often ignored and survival became a treasured notion. The following pages will describe several aspects of French army life in the Iberian peninsula, all through the words written down by the very men - of various branches within the military - who took part in the struggle. How were the relations between commanders in the different general staffs and headquarters? What were their objectives? How did they function? What was the role of the memorialist? What kind of hardships were suffered on the road, while garrisoned or at camp? What crimes were committed by fellow soldiers, the guerrillas or the inhabitants? How did the French rate their British, Spanish and Portuguese enemies? How did conscripts cope serving rather reluctantly, far from their homesteads? What kept these officers and soldiers alive and what happened to them? May these recollections and letters (many translated for the first time) of these Frenchmen provide answers and insights why and how they managed their time in service of Napoleon and the (First French) Empire.
Jonas De Neef (born 1992) studied Modern History at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium. He currently works as a librarian for the Belgian municipality of Ternat. He previously published 'An Audacious Charge', a translation of General Pouzérewski's study on the battle of Somosierra (1808), and 'In the Wake of the Emperor', a volume compiling French accounts throughout the Napoleonic Wars. He is a Fellow of the International Napoleonic Society, writes French articles for the Belgian Napoleonic Association and provided translation work for several historians worldwide, mostly focusing on the French perspective. The Napoleonic period fascinates him since 2008.