Edward Costello enlisted into his local militia regiment in Ireland in 1806, and transferred, not without having a few adventures in his native Ireland, to the 95th Rifles. Not quite well drilled enough to join in Sir John Moore’s 1808-1809 campaign, he narrates some stories of his comrades who did, including Tom Plunket, famous for shooting the French General Colbert.
His service in the Peninsular campaign, started almost immediately with the epic forced march to Talavera under General “Black Bob” Crauford, a fierce discipliarian, but liked by his men as Costello points out. Numerous skirmishes, affairs of outposts and combats punctuate Costello’s narrative, along with amusing asides of his comrades and their japes, drinking and occasionally their punishment by the lash. Present at the battles of Fuentes d’Oñoro, El Bodon, Salamanca, Vittoria, Nivelle and the storming of Cuidad Roderigo and bloody Badajoz, he captures the mood of the men and the hellish atmosphere of a battle, and the sorrow of lost friends.
After a brief break in his active service Costello once more engages during the Waterloo campaign, and is heavily engaged at Waterloo and Quatre Bras. After the fall of Napoleon Costello’s career turns to the British Legion , which is no sinecure despite his elevation to Lieutenant as he is posted to join the expedition to Spain and sees the vicious civil war at first hand, with scenes that remind him of the savagery of his experiences between the Guerillas and the French many years before.
A gem in the sparkling vein of memoirs written by the men and officers of the famed Rifle brigade during their adventures in the Peninsular war. Costello writes with a verve and wit, and some idiosyncratic spelling, often only found in the works of the officers of his regiment such as Kincaid.
A justly acclaimed classic.
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