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Corunna 1809: Napoleonic Battles (Osprey Campaign) Paperback – 15 Feb 2001


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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Osprey Publishing (15 Feb. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1855329689
  • ISBN-13: 978-1855329683
  • Product Dimensions: 18.4 x 0.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 596,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Christa Hook is one of Osprey's most popular illustrators, a reputation justly deserved given the perfect blend of attention to detail and narrative realisation that penetrates her work. Her work for Osprey to date includes several joint collaborations with her father Richard, as well as Warrior I Norman Knight, Warrior IO Saracen Faris, and Campaign 56 Eggmuhl 1809. Philip Haythomthwaite is an author and historical consultant specialising in the military history, uniforms and equipment of the 18th and 19th centuries, His main area of research covers the Napoleonic Wars. He has written some forty books, including more than 20 Osprey titles, and innumerable articles and papers on military history, but still finds time to indulge in his other great passion: cricket.

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The Corunna campaign arose from the determination of the British government to continue its opposition to Napoleon by supporting the inhabitants of the Iberian peninsula in their attempt to resist French occupation. Read the first page
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Darth Maciek TOP 500 REVIEWER on 8 Jun. 2007
Format: Paperback
As I already wrote in another review ("Edgehill 1642"), can you still remember the time when Osprey would offer FOUR colour plates in a volume of Campaign? The time when every word, every picture, every map was checked, re-checked and polished until everything was perfect? And all of that for a lesser price that today? Well, it was not long ago, barely six years passed since they decided to do more rather than better. And this book is another one of the very last made during this Golden Age. So, if you want to read a really great account of one of the most glorious fighting retreats in the history, buy it now, as long as it is still available. You will get a clear and passionating story about a march, a fight and a heroic death, and also great maps and illustrations. And - o miracle - four really beautiful colour plates by Christa Hook, who in this time still could draw!

This is a treasure - go and get it! Just one warning - comparing it with some of more recent Osprey works can depress you. Because what they do now (even in the best of their boooks) is really one quality level below....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 3 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
A Thorough, Professional Account 7 April 2001
By R. A Forczyk - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Corunna 1809 is a thorough, professional account of the famous British retreat in the winter of 1808/1809. Author Philip Haythornthwaite is an acknowledged expert on Napoleonic studies and he uses his considerable expertise to build a well-constructed narrative of this first major campaign in the drawn-out Peninsula War.
The author follows the standard Osprey Campaign series format and succinctly summarizes the origins of the campaign, the opposing leaders and the opposing armies in the opening chapters. Oddly, there is no separate section on opposing plans, as there normally is in Osprey titles, although this information is partly addressed in the main campaign narrative. Actually, the issue of opposing plans and objectives is critical for assessing the outcome of the Corunna campaign and Haythornthwaite's omission may have been intentional due to the controversial nature of the outcome. The British expeditionary force was dispatched to Lisbon under General Sir John Moore to support the Spanish in their effort to oppose French domination. Although the willingness of the Spanish to cooperate with the British and the size of the French invasion were poorly understand by the British, Moore marched his army deep into the Iberian hinterland. Nearing Madrid, Moore became aware that the French had crushed organized Spanish resistance and had occupied Madrid. A vast French army of over 200,000 troops under Napoleon was fast approaching the tiny 20,000 man British army. Moore elected to retreat to Corunna, pursued by the French corps of Marshal Soult and Ney. It was a bitter three-week retreat through winter snow and sleet, across extremely rugged and treacherous terrain.
Haythornthwaite naturally focuses on the superb tactical skill of the British rearguard under Lord Paget, which inflicted several rebuffs upon the pursuing French. Yet tactical success was accompanied by a virtual disintegration of morale and discipline within the retreating British army. Over 5,000 British troops were lost in the retreat, many of whom were drunk on looted stores. Since this was the only occasion in the Napoleonic Wars where the French captured substantial numbers of British prisoners, a bit more attention could have been focused on this disintegration. Once Moore reached Corunna and was about to evacuate by sea, the Marshal Soult launched a last-minute attack on the British defenses south of the port. The result was tactically indecisive but Moore was killed in the brief battle. The Royal Navy evacuated the British troops the next day. Of course the real question on the battle is why Soult would launch a one-division probing attack against the British, particularly when he had a 5-1 or better superiority in artillery. A fixing attack on a withdrawing force makes sense, but why did the French not rely more heavily on their artillery advantage (Moore was killed by French artillery)? As the French failed to fix the British force, the battle was a tactical success for the British. However in strategic terms, the Corunna campaign was undoubtedly a British defeat since a British army had been forced to evacuate after losing 6,000 troops and achieving no real successes.
British historians always like to portray hard-fought retreats and withdrawals like Corunna or Dunkirk as victories, and Haythornthwaite is no exception in this account. He suggests that Moore's fighting retreat diverted Napoleon from advancing on Lisbon and thereby gave the British time to regroup in Portugal. This is entirely specious. Napoleon left Spain because of the building crisis in central Europe, with Austria about to re-enter the war. It was the Hapsburg's, not Moore's tiny army, which diverted French attention. Had Austria not begun to mobilize in the winter of 1808/1809, it is quite possible that Napoleon might have remained longer in the Iberian Peninsula. Certainly larger French forces would have been available in the summer of 1809. It is even possible that the great clash between Napoleon and Wellington might have occurred in Portugal in mid-1809, but for the Hapsburgs.
Corunna 1809 is an excellent account of this campaign, and the maps and artwork are superb. However, readers should be aware of the author's pro-British bias in evaluating the results of the campaign. When the dust settled, it was the French army that held Corunna, not the British.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Another memory of Osprey Golden Age 26 Jun. 2014
By Darth Maciek - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As I already wrote in another review ("Edgehill 1642"), can you still remember the time when Osprey would offer FOUR colour plates in a volume of Campaign? The time when every word, every picture, every map was checked, re-checked and polished until everything was perfect? And all of that for a lesser price that today? Well, it was not long ago, barely six years passed since they decided to do more rather than better.

This book is another one of the very last made during this Golden Age. So, if you want to read a really great account of one of the most glorious fighting retreats in the history, buy it now, as long as it is still available. You will get a clear and passionating story about a march, a fight and a heroic death, and also great maps and illustrations. And - o miracle - four really beautiful colour plates by Christa Hook, who in this time still could draw!

This is a treasure - go and get it! Just one warning - comparing it with some of more recent Osprey works can depress you. Because what they do now (even in the best of their boooks) is really one quality level below....
Well-researched information on the origin of the campaign, opposing forces, commanders, strategy and the decisive battles 9 Dec. 2013
By Stephen P. Ford - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have been very pleased with and impressed with the quality of Osprey publications. The Campaign series are focused on military campaigns from ancient times through the current era. I have found the books in the Osprey Campaign series to be a great source and frequently the only source for well-researched information on military campaigns especially in the ancient campaigns through early 20th century campaigns.
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