GLOVER Gareth (ed.), SMITHIES James,
Adventurous Pursuits of a Peninsular War and Waterloo Veteran: The Story of Private James Smithies, 1st Royal Dragoons
© Ken Trotman Books
From the publishers:
Memoirs by dragoons who fought in the Peninsular war are quite rare, which makes Smithies' account even more important. However, a word of caution must also be made. James Smithies apparently recounted his story shortly before his death, some fifty three years after the last events he describes had occurred and therefore, not surprisingly, he occasionally errs in his memory.
Which memoirs do not carry such fault? There is for those who bother to look properly, a thick vein of an honest account woven through his story and much that rings very true. His description of cavalry actions are not filled with heroics, but more the truth of confusion, lucky escapes and great relief to simply survive intact. And Waterloo, his last battle, is seen almost only through his own personal journey; his fear at encountering the cuirassiers and his tactic of riding close to them to prevent them having the room to make their deathly stab; his wounding and capture; his numerous brushes with death whilst being driven to the rear and eventual escape speak all too honestly of personal experience to have been added to.
Place and publisher: Ken Trotman Books
Date of publication: 2012
Number of pages: 80
This week’s book(s):
From the publishers:
"...'One of the lancers rode by, and stabbed me in the back with his lance. I then turned, and lay with my face upward, and a foot soldier stabbed me with his sword as he walked by. Immediately after, another, with his firelock and bayonet, gave me a terrible plunge, and while doing it with all his might, exclaimed, "Sacré nom de Dieu!" '
'Charge! Charge the guns!' shouted Colonel Hamilton, who was last seen galloping through the Grand Battery 'going at full speed, with the bridle-reins between his teeth', according to one witness, 'after he had lost his hands'.
'There was nothing to be heard but the clashing of swords and bayonets, and the cries of the dying and wounded.'
The battle of Waterloo had all the drama and brutality of a nineteenth-century bare-knuckle prize fight. It was a vicious fight to the finish between two evenly matched opponents. In 24 Hours at Waterloo, using a plethora of previously unpublished eyewitness accounts, letters and diaries, Robert Kershaw reveals the soldier's view of this iconic battle: how they felt, what they saw, what they smelt and what they heard enduring this epic confrontation on Sunday 18 June 1815. Visceral and raw, this is Waterloo as you've never experienced it before."
Place and publisher: London: W H Allen
Date of publication: 2014
Number of pages: 448
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