British Rifleman 1797-1815 by Philip Haythornthwaite, Christa Hook

By Philip Haythornthwaite, Christa Hook

The rifle corps of the British military throughout the Napoleonic Wars are one of the so much recognisable of all of the infantrymen of that period: their designated darkish eco-friendly uniforms are as regular as a few of their exploits. they've got accomplished significant popularity in the course of the huge numbers of memoirs written by way of individuals of the rifle corps in addition to via glossy fiction, such a lot significantly the Sharpe sequence. except their recognition as a corps d'elite, the riflemen have been, of their time, on the very innovative of army know-how and tactical idea. Philip Haythornwaite the following makes use of attention-grabbing first hand debts and certain study to provide a 'soldier's-eye view' of the British Rifleman, his existence and paintings.

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If not popular, Craufurd was respected greatly, as Benjamin Harris recorded: 'He was in everything a soldier ... he seemed an iron man; nothing daunted him - nothing turned him from his purpose. '34 An even worse trial was endured by the l/95th during the retreat to Corunna, over mountains in bitter cold, for unlike those who retired to Vigo, they were harried by the pursuing French, and as part of the rearguard the 95th had to fight for much of the way. At the battle of Corunna the battalion led Paget's counter-attack.

Now, my lads, we'll just go back a little if you please ... "'38 LEFT Sir Thomas Sidney Beckwith (1772-1831), one of the most expert and justly famous officers of the 95th, 'a man equal to rally an army in flight' as Napier described. An enlightened battalion commander, he led a brigade of the Light Division with great distinction in the Peninsula until he returned home ill in 1811. Subsequently he served in the War of 1812 in North America, was appointed commander-in-chief at Bombay in 1829, lieutenant-general in 1830, and died in India.

Sixty paces in advance of them stood a quarter of the unit, acting as a more immediate reserve to the remaining quarter of the unit in the skirmish line, 80 paces further on. However, the size of the reserve and the distances involved could be varied according to circumstances. When, as often occurred, riflemen were used as the extreme front line, they might all be committed to skirmishing if the light infantry of the following formation could act as their reserve. This was probably the best utilisation of the special skills possessed by the rifle corps.

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