Book Review: Wellington's Peninsular War Generals and Their Battles: A Biographical and Historical Dictionary


by T. A. Heathcote

Barnsley, So. York: Pen & Sword/New York: Casemate, 2010. Pp. xii, 189. Maps, tables, biblio., index. $39.95. ISBN: 1848840616

Although even the most famous masters of the battlefield could not have achieved greatness without able and effective subordinates, not to say troops, it’s unusual for these second tier commanders to receive much attention.  With Wellington's Peninsular War Generals and Their Battles, prolific British military history Heathcote ( Afghan Wars , Vicksburg, 1862-1863, Mutiny and Insurgency in India, 1857-58, and many more) gives us a rather ground-breaking look at the many lower-ranking generals who served under Wellington’s command during the Peninsular War. 

Most of most of the more than 40 men covered in this volume have never had a biography, and virtually all are today largely forgotten, in part because Wellington only rarely offered praise to anyone, and in part because even in the English-speaking world more attention has been paid to the French that the British generals.  Naturally, the individual profiles are short, some on more than one page, and the longest only four.  But each profile outlines the man’s background, prior military experience, and service in the Peninsula, often with short descriptions of obscure battles or actions in which a particular commander displayed unusual ability, or lack of same, and usually some notes about a man’s later life, with occasional critical commentary. Thus, the book helps shed some light on how Wellington's army operated in the field

Heathcote has produced a book that is of value book for those studying the Peninsular War, the French Wars, and the British Army of the times.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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