Horse Turnover During the Peninsular War
Shortly after the outbreak of the Peninsular War (1808-1814), the British 14th Light Dragoons was dispatched to Spain with Sir Arthur Wellesely’s army. Arriving in 1809, the regiment would spend nearly five years in the Peninsula, seeing much hard service, as can be seen by the fate of its horses.
|720|| horses traveled with the regiment to the Peninsula in 1809|
|664 ||remounts were received from Britain, 1809-1814|
|381 ||horses were transferred from other units in this period|
|63 ||more were captured from the French|
|14 ||were supplied by the Spanish|
|1,842|| horses were thus listed on the rolls of the regiment at any time|
|1,564|| horses were stricken from the regimental rolls in the course of the war|
|278|| horses remained with the regiment at the end of the war|
So in the course of the Peninsular War, the 14th Light Dragoons lost 217-percent of the horses with which they had started the war, or, putting another way, ended the war with only 15-percent of the total number of horses with which they had been supplied.
Deaths from Disease vs. Combat in World War I
The First World War was the first major conflict in which disease caused fewer deaths than combat, the combined effects of the Industrial Revolution and “perfect plans” conspiring to kill on a hitherto unprecedented scale.
|Ratio of Combat|
to Disease Deaths,
Figures for the American, British, and Italian armies were unavailable, but would seem to have hovered between those for the French and those for the Germans. Much of the “improvement” in reduction of death from disease was the result of improved logistical arrangements, to insure that the fighting men had enough to eat and to wear to permit them to stay healthy. Medical services were also far superior to those of earlier times; indeed, World War I was the first major war in which ordinary soldiers were commonly given some training and supplies to enable them to provide first aid, a practice initiated by the German Army in the late nineteenth century.
Had the war lasted a bit longer, it might have lost its dubious distinction as the first in which combat killed more people than disease; the “Spanish Influenza” epidemic of late 1918-1919, which inflicted death on many millions, came shortly after the armistice.
Napoleon on Booze
Dr. Barry Edward O’Meara, a physician in the Royal Navy, for several years attended Napoleon Bonaparte’s in his exile on St. Helena in 1815. In 1818 O’Meara was shipped back to Britain after a falling out with Sir Hudson Lowe, Boney’s jailer, a man with whom most people found it difficult to get along even when they weren’t accusing him of abusing his prisoner.
During his years on St. Helena, O’Meara kept a diary, which was published only in the 1890s, as Talks with Napoleon, which includes a number of interesting exchanges with the exile.
Once, for example, Napoleon complained that his “liver” was bothering him. O’Meara indicated the location of the specified organ, and noted that among the causes of liver ailments alcoholic beverages ranked high. Apparently relieved to learn that it wasn’t his liver that was bothering him, Napoleon went on to say,
“Then I ought not to have it [i.e., an inflamed liver], as I was only drunk but once in my life, and that 24 years ago in Nice.
“I drank three bottles of Burgundy, and was completely drunk. Oh, how sick I was the next day! I wonder how a man who once gets drunk can ever think of doing it again. Such headache, vomiting, and general sickness; I was nearly dead for two days.”