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Vimeiro 1808: Wellesley's First Victory in…

Vimeiro 1808: Wellesley's First Victory in the Peninsular

by Rene Chartrand

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One of the troubles with Osprey books, is that so often the book is centered around the illustrations of the uniforms. A resource for the diorama maker, and modeler, or wargamer who is painting a miniature army, not the historian.

Here we have a mixture of very useful information for the historian and as always, illustrations that the painter would find useful also.The painter may even find that this is not what they need as the pictures are actual pieces from the period so much truer to reality then often one finds in the Osprey series.

Where this books lacks is that the details are rather glossed over in broad strokes. Once we get into the actual battles of the campaign, we find the minutia missing. Though each of the two battles was not long, using big blocks on a map that doesn't show the closer level of movement detracts from the narration where such is discussed.

For instance we get an idea of the success that the British are first having when they attack at Rolica, and force the French back, but we don't truly see how terrain and the battlefield play a part in the success that the French now gain. The British may win this battle, they do, but the French wanted to slow them down, and we lose this as we do not see how that terrain worked to their advantage.

Then we have a few personnel tales, but perhaps that is not enough also. The battle is over a wide group of regiments and units. That few words are heard from the French and the Portugeese and on the English, mostly from our friend Rifleman Harris... Though not the definitive commentary, if from Osprey, but certainly one of the most readily available ones and a little more robust would have been appreciated. More is spent of the theater of combat, the generals and their background, then the two battles themselves.

If that was reversed this book would then receive a much higher rating. ( )
  DWWilkin | Oct 31, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0275986225, Hardcover)

Napoleon, fed up with Portugal's non-compliance to his Continental System which was aimed at isolating Britain, ordered the inasion of Britains oldest ally in November 1807. The French occupation was harsh in 1808 the Portuguese revolted and some of the French occupiers fled in confusion. In August 1808, a 14,000-man British army landed at Figura da Foz, (which had been recaptured by the students of Coimbra University) under the future Wellington, Sir Arthur Wellesley. General Andoche Junot had 25,000 French troops in Portugal but these were scattered trying to contain the Portuguese. A 6,000-strong French force under General de Laborde was sent against the British. Wellesley outmanoeuvred his opponent and, at Rolia on 17 August, defeated the French. The surprized French mustered a further 13,000 men and hoped to defeat the British quickly as more troops were arriving from England. Junot met Wellesley (16,000 British, 2,000 Portuguese) at Vimeiro on 21 August. The French attacks were badly conceived and disjointed, and were routed by Wellesley's army. With the arrival of General Dalrymple to take overall command the notorious Convention of Cintra was negotiated, which allowed for the defeated French troops to be evacuated on British ships with baggage and loot intact rather than being forced to surrender. This agreement which Wellington accepted only with the greatest reluctance, led to the disgrace of his superiors. Nevertheless, the shock-waves of Vimeiro were felt across Europe. The previously invincible French had been defeated by Wellesley's Anglo-Portuguese army, Portugal liberated, and a vital foothold secured from which to prosecute the war in the Peninsular.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:56 -0400)

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