This is the second part of a history of the Light Division in the Peninsular War, and this time follows the division during the largely victorious second half of the war, starting with the infamous sieges of Ciudad Rodrigo and Badajoz, and moving on to the battles of Salamanca, Vitoria and the Pyrenees and the invasion of France.
One interesting feature of this period is that most of it took place after the death of the Division’s most famous commander, General Robert Craufurd, killed at the siege of Ciudad Rodrigo. As a result one element of the story is how his various replacements treated the elite division he had created, and how Craufurd’s troops felt about their new commanders.
The focus on the Light Division gives us a slightly different viewpoint than more general accounts of the Peninsular War, although we do still end up with much of the same narrative, just to make sense of what our various eyewitnesses tell us. How much we see of each battle depends on how significant the Light Division’s role was, and the authors have done a good job of balancing more general information with the material focused on the division itself.
The key strength of this book are of course those eyewitness accounts. As with the first volume, the sources don’t include any Portuguese voices, despite inclusion of many Portuguese units in the division, but this time many of the British diarists mention their Portuguese colleagues, with increasing admiration. A clear feeling of self confidence comes across from these sources – the division was well trained, experienced and used to victory, and comes across very clearly. The result is a useful account of the Light Division’s role in the second half of the Peninsular War.
1 – The Peninsular War, 1808-1812
2 – Back on the Borderlands, 1811
3 – The Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo
4 – The Siege of Badajoz
5 – The Salamanca Campaign, 1812
6 – Madrid and the Retreat to Portugal
7 – The 1813 Campaign
8 – The Battle of Vitoria
9 – The Pyrenees
10 – The Invasion of France
11 – The Battle of Nive and Winter, 1813-1814
12 – The 1814 Campaign in South-West France
13 – Toulouse and the End of the War
Author: Tim Saunders and Rob Yuill
Publisher: Pen & Sword Military