Glover, Michael. The Peninsular War 1807-1814. Hamden: Archon Books, 1974 An epic, fascinating, account of the Napoleonic wars that England fought in Portugal, Spain, and Southern France. (Waterloo isn’t included, but the author has another, smaller book, on all of Napoleon’s military campaigns.) What I find especially useful is an Appendix that lists the dates of arrival and departure of every British regiment that was posted to the war, and the battles they fought in. This is great if you want to track the motions of a particular soldier, or if you need to find a battle that fits a particular wodge of time.

That’s the website for Osprey Publishing, a British  publishing house specializing in military history from every conceivable era and army. Its intended readers are military historians, re-enactors, and miniaturists. Each book is short, less than 100 pages, with a narrow focus and great details. The two I have are Redcoat Officer 1740-1815 by Stuart Reid and The Napoleonic Wars (4) The Fall of the French Empire 1813-1815 by Gregory Fremont-Barnes. There are great maps, battle plans, and brief biographies of officers and generals. Copies of historic documents are presented, along with time-lines and detailed portraits of the uniforms worn by the various regiments, including what equipment and spare clothing they carried in their packs. This series is especially helpful if you’re writing scenes in an army camp, or during a battle.

Haythornthwaite, Philip J. Who Was Who in the Napoleonic Wars. London: Arms & Armour, 1998. This is an amazing series of short biographies of all the important folks, at least in Western Europe, during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It’s not limited to military personages, but includes such newsworthy figures as Count Rumford (who was actually an American and revolutionized heating stoves in England) and Sir Walter Scott.  It’s a great place to look for secondary but actual figures to give your scenes depth and authenticity. Because we tend to look at all the drama and excitement of the Napoleonic era from the British standpoint, it’s interesting to learn about some of the other folks, the French and Austrians and Prussians, whose stories can enlarge and enlighten our viewpoint from other directions.

Urban, Mark. The Man Who Broke Napoleon’s Codes. New York: Harper/Collins, 2001. This is the story of George Scovell, the army officer attached to Wellington’s staff who proved invaluable (as the title says) as an extraordinary cryptographer. The British army was not a meritocracy, and despite Scovell’s education, intelligence, diligence, and very hard work, the fact that he was not rich, and more importantly, not of distinguished birth, made the army a very hard slough for him, indeed. And I’m finding that story, his continual struggle to overcome his humble background, every bit as fascinating as his intelligence work. Very interesting descriptions of the battles, but I would dearly have loved some maps to help explain things.
The Naval Re-enactors. Everything to do with the mighty British Navy, late 18th Century to early 19th. They’ve been very helpful with questions, too.
You need to maneuver around a bit in this, but it has great information about the regiments that conquered much of the world and maintained a mighty empire. They much prefer you find the information yourself, rather than asking questions. (This site maybe have been withdrawn. At least I haven’t been able to find it, or find anything else nearly as useful. But I refuse to give up, and withdraw the address.)


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