The Peninsular War Atlas, Colonel Nick Lipscombe

The Peninsular War Atlas, Colonel Nick Lipscombe

Despite the huge amount of literature produced on the Peninsular War over the years, there has never been a full scale atlas of the war, covering the entire period from the first French invasion of Portugal to the final campaigns in France, and covering not only the famous campaigns of Wellington, but also the vitally important contribution made by the Spanish army and the less famous British campaigns on the flanks. Colonel Lipscombe's work fills that gap most impressively, with a total of 164 maps, supported by an equally sizable text, all produced on a suitably large scale. The book is larger than A4 in size, and follows a simple format with the text on the left and the maps on the right of each double-page spread.

The maps are well produced, with just the right level of detail. The terrain is clearly portrayed, with contour lines, detailed routes of roads and watercourses and excellent city and fortification plans. The course of events is easy to follow, and the maps are well matched to the text. There is a mix of battlefield maps and overview maps that show all of Spain or the area of a large campaign. The size of the book means that the text is really rather detailed, with the equivalent of a normal two-page spread on each single page.

Sadly there is one major flaw with some of these maps. In the introduction the author apologies for the difficult in distinguishing between the dark blue chose for French units and the black for Spanish under some artificial lighting. In fact the problem is more serious than that - even in natural light the two are almost impossible to tell part, and even in the brightest sunlight the two colours are too similar to be easily distinguished. This is a crying shame, as one of the biggest strengths of the book is the amount of space give to the Spanish contribution to the war. If there is a third edition of this book then some effort really needs to go into lightening the French blue to make it stand out at all clearly. This is also a problem on some of the overview maps, making it quite hard to tell which parts of the country were in Spanish hands and which in French.

Despite this flaw, this is still a very useful book. Those maps that involve the British, French and Portuguese are excellent, while those that involve the Spanish are usable with care (and a bright light). The shear scale of the project is very impressive, as it the author's decision to devote large amounts of space to the Spanish war effort and to less familiar campaigns.

1 - Junot's Invasion of Portugal
2 - The Road to War - the First Six Months of 1808
3 - The Spanish Backlash and the French Response: May-June 1808
4 - The First Siege of Zaragoza, 15 June-14 August 1808
5 - Operations in the North: The Battle of Medina de Rioseco
6 - Capitulation at Bailen: The Greatest Spanish Victory of the War
7 - French Failures and British Intervention
8 - The Liberation of Portugal
9 - Strategic Manoeuvring: September to October 1808
10 - Napoleonic Intervention: November 1808
11 - Napoleon Enters Madrid and Moore Enters Spain
12 - The Campaign in Catalonia: Autumn 1808
13 - Isolation and Retreat: December 1808 to January 1809
14 - Napoleon Departs for France: The Situation in Early 1809
15 - Continued French Success: February and March 1809
16 - The Second French Invasion of Portugal: January to March 1809
17 - Wellesley Returns
18 - Suchet: An Inauspicious Start
19 - The Talavera Campaign: May to July 1809
20 - The End of the Talavera Campaign: August 1809
21 - The Disastrous Autumn Campaign: 1809
22 - The Capture of Girona: May to December 1809
23 - Subjugation of Andalusia: January to February 1810
24 - Aragon and the East Coast: January to May 1810
25 - 1810: The Year of Sieges
26 - The Third French Invasion of Portugal
27 - The Lines of Torres Vedras
28 - Offensive on the East Coast: Tortosa
29 - Soult's Invasion of Estremadura: January to March 1811
30 - The South of Spain: January to March 1811
31 - Massena: Retreat and Demise, March to May 1811
32 - The Allied Campaign in Estremadura: March to August 1811
33 - The Watershed: Mid-1811
34 - Figueras & Tarragona: The East Coast, April to August 1811
35 - Border Skirmishes: June to September 1811
36 - The Conquest of Valencia: September 1811 to January 1812
37 - The Culmination of a Year of Mixed Fortunes: December 1811
38 - Capturing the 'Keys to Spain' - January to April 1812
39 - The Salamanca Campaign: Opening Moves, June and July 1812
40 - The Battle of Salamanca (Los Arapiles): 22 July 1812
41 - Suchet's Consolidation on the East Coast: January to July 1812
42 - After Salamanca: July to August 1812
43 - Failure, Humiliation and Retreat: September to November 1812
44 - Prologue to Vitoria: January to May 1813
45 - Operations on the East Coast: Late 1812 to April 1813
46 - Victory over King Joseph: The Vitoria Campaign, May to June 1813
47 - While Wellington Waits, Soult Takes the Initiative: July 1813
48 - The Battle of the Pyrenees: 25 July to 1 August 1813
49 - The East Coast: May to September 1813
50 - The Fall of San Sebastian: August and September 1813
51 - The Allies enter France: October 1813
52 - To the gates of Bayonne: October to December 1813
53 - Respite Precedes the Storm: December 1813-February 1814
54 - Final Confrontation - March and April 1814

1 - Strengths and Dispositions 1808
2 - Strengths and Dispositions 1809
3 - Strengths and Dispositions 1810
4 - Strengths and Dispositions 1811
5 - Strengths and Dispositions 1812
6 - Strengths and Dispositions 1813
7 - Strengths and Dispositions 1814

Author: Nick Lipscombe
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 400
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2014 (Revised Edition)

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