Tuesday, 22 April 2014
Review: Bayonne and Toulouse 1813-14: Wellington Invades France
Bayonne and Toulouse 1813-14: Wellington Invades France by Nick Lipscombe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
One of the Osprey campaign books that show what is possible in the format: good mix of maps, illustrations, photographs of the battlefield and drawings. The account of events is solid, but lacks a deeper analysis.
Weak point, as so often, remains the lack of sources and insight into Britain’s allies. Not even one quote to illustrate what it was like for a Spaniard to finally drive the French from his homeland or for a Portuguese what it meant to fight a war which was no longer directly protecting his home.
Interestingly, Lipscombe notes that the Spanish and Portuguese are highly critical of Wellington’s direction of the war and his lack of appreciation for the allied effort. But that doesn’t seem to serve as a lesson for himself. For me it is an interesting take away in the light of the post-Waterloo discussions on Britain’s allies. Apparently many who worked with Wellington had the same experience.
Another take away is the relationship between Soult and Reille and Drouet d’Erlon. The former was difficult, the latter good. Did this affect their communications in 1815? At least it seems useful to dig a bit deeper into Soult’s style of command and relations with his inferiors. Although Lipscombe gives Soult his due as a very capable adversary, it never becomes clear what his quality was.
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