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Napoleon's Peninsular War: The French Experience of the War in Spain from Vimeiro to Corunna, 1808-1809

Napoleon's Peninsular War: The French Experience of the War in Spain from Vimeiro to Corunna, 1808-1809

by Paul L Dawson


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Memoirs of British soldiers who fought in the Peninsular War are commonplace and histories of the momentous campaigns and battles of Sir John Moore and Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, can be numbered by the score. Yet surprisingly little has been published in English on their opponents, the French.

Using previously unseen material from the French army archives in Paris, which includes numerous memoirs that have not even been published in France, renowned historian Paul Dawson tells the story of the early years of the Peninsular War as never before.

Eyewitness accounts of the horrific Siege of Zaragoza, in which more than 50,000 soldiers and civilians were killed defending the city, and of the cataclysmic Spanish defeats at Medellin and Ocaña are interspersed with details of campaign life in the Iberian Peninsula and of struggling through the Galician mountains in pursuit of the British army marching to Corunna.

As well as the drama of the great battles and the ever-present fear of Spanish guerrillas – the knife in the back, the flash of steel in the dark – Paul Dawson draws on the writings of the French soldiers to examine the ordinary conscript’s belief in the war they were fighting for their Emperor, Napoleon.

In this much-needed study of the Peninsular War from the French perspective, Paul Dawson has produced an unprecedented, yet vital addition to our understanding of the war in Iberia. Napoleon’s Peninsular War is destined to become one of the classic accounts of this turbulent, yet endlessly fascinating era.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781526754097
Publisher: Pen and Sword
Publication date: 12/30/2020
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Paul L. Dawson BSc Hons MA, MIFA, FINS, is a historian, field archaeologist and author who has written more than twenty books, his specialty being the French Army of the Napoleonic Wars. As well as speaking French and having an in-depth knowledge of French archival sources, Paul is also an historical tailor producing museum-quality replica clothing, the study of which has given him a unique understanding of the Napoleonic era.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations vi

Acknowledgements viii

Introduction ix

Chapter 1 The Reasons for War 1

Chapter 2 War 7

Chapter 3 Roliça and Vimeiro 16

Chapter 4 Rio Seco 35

Chapter 5 Baylen 45

Chapter 6 Napoleon's Response 50

Chapter 7 The Zornosa Campaign 55

Chapter 8 Napoleon's Campaign Begins 71

Chapter 9 Espinosa 86

Chapter 10 Tudella 94

Chapter 11 March to Zaragoza 110

Chapter 12 Advance to Somosierra 121

Chapter 13 The Battle of Somosierra 128

Chapter 14 Entry into Madrid 133

Chapter 15 Arzobispo 142

Chapter 16 Action at Tarancon 153

Chapter 17 Benavente 175

Chapter 18 Advance to Coruña 187

Chapter 19 Coruña Preparations 204

Chapter 20 The Battle of Coruña 216

Chapter 21 Uclès 220

Chapter 22 Conclusion 242

Appendix 1 Somosierra Eyewitnesses 246

Appendix 2 Coruña Eyewitnesses 264

Notes 294

Sources 311

Index 316

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