Wellington and His Army

Wellington and His Army

Wellington and His Army

Wellington and His Army

Excerpt

His little book owes its origin to an illness which afforded me leisure to read continuously Sir Charles Oman History of the Peninsular War, which I had previously studied only one volume at a time as it appeared, and his Wellington's Army. The character of Wellington the man in these two works was quite different from the impression derived from the notices I had seen of him as a civilian, so I determined to investigate the sources for the Peninsular War and Waterloo. The result was my first chapter. The many narratives left by participants often contained estimates of Wellington as a general and illustrated his relations with both officers and men. Hence Chapters II, III, and IV. Because Wellington often complained that officers neglected to look after the men under them, I tried in Chapter V to set down such examples of officers who were attentive or inattentive to their daily duties as I could find. While conducting the research necessary to compile these chapters, I came across so many references to the amusements and recreations enjoyed by all ranks that I gradually began to realize how important these diversions were in keeping the army contented during its long sojourn in a strange land. Everyone with a knowledge of the military history of the Great War is acquainted with the splendid record of the Light Division, but few may have realized that in it games for all sorts and conditions of men were best organized. The last chapter is devoted to the women who accompanied Wellington's army. They have, I think, been unduly neglected. Unfortunately, with trivial exceptions, they can be viewed only through male eyes.

This book, therefore, is mainly concerned with the internal economy of the army, not with military operations. Even in Chapter II, 'Wellington the Soldier,' the emphasis is not on the campaigns and battles he planned and fought, but on the comments made by those under his command. As will be seen, preference is given to the criticism or praise that is strictly contemporary whenever it is available.

Naturally, my indebtedness to the three great military . . .

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