Obviously, the anonymous author of this work is not a normal soldier of the ranks of Wellington's army. He was a very sensitive, well educated and observant young man who had a special talent for noting significant details and interesting peculiarities of human behavior. He joined the army in a moment of foolish desperation after failing to become an actor and was too humiliated to face his parents. "Now I began to drink the cup of bitterness."
As a soldier, he was the square peg who did not fit, and after being subjected to the usual bullying, he took a physical stand against his tormentors who refer to him derisively at the "Methodist." He was a keen observer of his despised comrades and provides rare and excellent descriptions of events. His initiation into active duty was the British occupation of Uruguay and subsequent inglorious failed invasion of Buenos Aires (1807) in which he speaks with great respect for the enemy. He was present in Wellington's initial foray into Portugal and the Battles of Rolica and Vimero. After Vimero, he witnessed the peasants killing the wounded French and looting the bodies. "Here I beheld a sight, for the first time, ... the peasantry prowling about, more ferocious than the beasts and birds of prey, finishing the work of death, and carrying away whatever they thought worthy of their grasp... No fallen Frenchman that showed the least signs of life was spared. They even seemed pleased with mangling the dead bodies... [T]hey kindled a great fire and remained about it all night, shouting like as many savages... as a feast of cannibals." He also recorded the gruesome disappointment and horror of the retreat to Corunna under Sir John Moore. Also, he was witness to yet another British debacle, the Walchern expedition, and he contracted the fever that carried away so many of his comrades. Also, he recorded his observations at the victories at Fuentes de Onoro, the Pyrennes campaign, and Waterloo. This is certainly among the most important narratives from the Peninsular War for giving life to the period.
The author is anonymous, but Christopher Hibbert, the editor, believes the evidence supports Thomas Howell. The author desired, for the sake of "delicacy," to avoid further embarassment to his family, that his name not be known. However, as historian Sir Charles Oman noted, his work "stands out from all the rest for its literary merit."