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Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket

by Richard Holmes

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369250,562 (3.96)6
Redcoat is the story of the British soldier--those noncommissioned men whom Kipling called "the backbone of the army"--from roughly 1760 to 1860. Based on the letters and diaries of the men who served and the women who followed them, this book is rich in the history of a fascinating era. Among the highlights are Wolfe's victory and death at Quebec, Wellington's Peninsular War, Waterloo, the retreat from Kabul, the Crimean War, and the Indian Mutiny. The focus of Redcoat, however, is on the individual recollections and experiences of the ordinary soldiers in the wars of Georgian and early Victorian England. Through their stories and anecdotes--of uniforms, equipment, floggings, wounds, food, barrack life, courage, comradeship, death, love, and loss--Richard Holmes provides a comprehensive portrait of an extraordinarily successful fighting force.… (more)
  1. 00
    The War of Wars: The Epic Struggle Between Britain and France 1793-1815 by Robert Harvey (John_Vaughan)
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    Tommy: The British Soldier on the Western Front by Richard Holmes (Mayner)
  3. 00
    Sahib: The British Soldier in India 1750-1914 by Richard Holmes (HarmlessTed)
    HarmlessTed: SAHIB, REDCOAT and TOMMY are actually three parts of a triology that Holmes wrote about the British soldier in history. He uses contemporary sources and organizes his books systematically.
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Excellent reference work with a good bibliography and table of contents. ( )
  jamespurcell | Sep 3, 2014 |
A sociology of the British soldier 1700-1860: Professor Holmes has written a thematic sociological history of the British redcoated soldier in the age of the Brown Bess musket, i.e from the time of the First Hanoverian kings to the Indian Mutiny, with a focus on their experiences during the main conflicts, i.e the American Revolution, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimea and the Indian Mutiny. It is built as a narrative. The style is very fluid and the text is full of quotes and anecdotes, it is well structured in chapters on specific themes.
It covers:
-the nature of warfare in Europe and the colonies
-weapons and their effect on tactics, injuries and casualties
-recruitment, command and discipline
-attitude under fire and towards the enemy
-life in barracks and on the march
-differences in social origins, ethics, prospects and lifestyle between officers and enlisted men and their families

It gives specific treatment to the subjects of infantry, cavalry, artillery, specialist services, siege warfare. It is a book on the military culture of the times in all its aspects rather than on "events".

All in all a very readable and informative study. Fans of Professor Holmes or John Keegan will not be disappointed.
1 vote euang | Sep 1, 2008 |
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'Until yesterday I had not seen any British infantry under arms since the troops from America arrived, and, in the meantime, have constantly seen corps of foreign infantry. ...
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I have never really got on with Bertold Brecht, but cannot deny that he had a point in asking, however rhetorically, whether Caesar crossed the Rubicon all by himself.

(Introduction)
He has not shaved this morning.
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Redcoat is the story of the British soldier--those noncommissioned men whom Kipling called "the backbone of the army"--from roughly 1760 to 1860. Based on the letters and diaries of the men who served and the women who followed them, this book is rich in the history of a fascinating era. Among the highlights are Wolfe's victory and death at Quebec, Wellington's Peninsular War, Waterloo, the retreat from Kabul, the Crimean War, and the Indian Mutiny. The focus of Redcoat, however, is on the individual recollections and experiences of the ordinary soldiers in the wars of Georgian and early Victorian England. Through their stories and anecdotes--of uniforms, equipment, floggings, wounds, food, barrack life, courage, comradeship, death, love, and loss--Richard Holmes provides a comprehensive portrait of an extraordinarily successful fighting force.

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W.W. Norton

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