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Walcheren to Waterloo

Walcheren to Waterloo

Andrew Limm
ARRSE Rating
3.5 Mushroom Heads
This book is a Pen & Sword publication, giving a detailed account of the British Army’s campaigns in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Much talk is heard of the success of Waterloo, and how The Duke of Wellington had learned a lot from previous campaigns, enabling him to win a ‘close run thing’. This book concentrates on his fellow senior officers’ inability to learn from mistakes, successes and failures, resulted in many lives lost unnecessarily and surrenders which need not have happened. It’s a painful read, and in it one sees the seeds of repeated failures in 1914-15.

It covers the attitudes to planning, working with the Royal Navy and Royal Marines, and with each other, detailing the feuds, mistakes in deployments, poor logistics, bad timing, the career protection after failures, and the lack of independent reviews of the causes of failure. I learned about Walcheren Fever, and the senior officers’ lack of concern about the number of soldiers who died from it.

It looks at the reforms introduced by the Duke of York, what he thought they were going to achieve, how they were implemented and what was actually achieved.

It’s an interesting book, and the author has obviously done a lot of research and analysis. It’s written in a readable style and full of comparisons between the British, French and Prussian armies of the time.

I would recommend this book to anyone studying the management of military campaigns, and who is generally interested in the military history of the Napoleonic period.

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