Drummer Richard Bentinck served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers from 1807, joining just before the second British expedition to Copenhagen. He fought under Wellington both in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo, before being discharged due to alleged ill health in 1823. Fortunately for us, Bentinck actually survived until 1878, and in later life produced two valuable memoirs. The first was a dictated memoir, probably written by his eldest son. The second was in the form of a series of interviews with a journalist on the Heywood Advertiser.
These sources were discovered by the author's uncle, the great-grandson of Bentinck, but sadly he died before he was able to make use of them. The author, himself a serving member of the British Army, took over the task, and eventually decided to produce a based on Bentinck's life. His approach was to remove the extraneous material added by the journalist, focusing on Bentinck's own words from both sources, linked by his own text. This provides a wider historical background, corrects errors in Bentinck's account and provides links where there is a gap.
The result is very successful. Bentinck's memories were still vivid, even sixty-seventy years after the events. The chaos of major battles is mixed with anecdotes from the soldier's daily life to produce a clear picture of the life of at least one private soldier of the Napoleonic period. This is further enhanced by two remarkable photographs of Bentinck, one with his wife and one with a group of fellow Waterloo veterans.
1 - Early Life and Joining the Army
2 - The Copenhagen Expedition
3 - North American and Martinique
4 - Deployment to the Peninsula
5 - Battle of Albuera
6 - Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz
7 - Salamanca and the Offensive of 1813
8 - Vitoria, the Pyrenees and Sorauren
9 - Battles on the Road to Toulouse
10 - Peace and Waterloo
11 - Final Combats and Peacetime in France
12 - Leaving the Army and Civilian Life
Author: Jonathan Crook