Thursday, August 25, 2005


The author of this book needs no introduction as the one who wrote the monumental History of the British Army which to this day remains one of the greatest masterpieces in the field of military history. It covers a period of great crisis in Britain’s history, the threat posed by Napoleon and is an account of recruiting in the Army during this period with all its difficulties and problems. In preparing this book the author draws on all the official records, returns, journals he can trace and which bear upon the problem. Fortescue calls this an “overflow” from his History, and with the encouragement (financial and otherwise) of the Secretary of State for War he turns what might have otherwise been thirty-page document into a detailed study ten times as long. Beginning with the desperate state the military forces had been brought to during the period 1784 to 1792 by the neglect of Pitt, he takes through the efforts to build up not just an army, but a very large army to back up his foreign policy. The county was a vital cog in the recruiting machine of those days of the Regular Army, Volunteers and Militia and the role of the Lords Lieutenant of those counties was of equal importance. There are a number of interesting tables of statistics for those twelve years:- casualties year on year with a high point of 21,630 in 1809, during the Peninsular War; recruits for the regular army totalling 115,967 men plus 18,349 boys; effective strengths by arm of service; effective strengths of Volunteers in Great Britain and in Ireland and much more beside.


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