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Subaltern: Chronicle of the Peninsular War: A Chronicle of the Peninsular War [Kindle Edition]

George Gleig
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Lieutenants, or "subalterns" as they were called, were very young in the British Army of the Napoleonic Wars, so George Gleig was not unique when he joined the 85th Light Infantry at the age of 17. Thrown into action in Spain against invading French forces in the summer of 1813, Gleig fought continuously for 18 months. The unique quality of Gleig's personal account was recognized immediately, and his narrative was praised by the Duke of Wellington himself. Although not always readily available to the general public. Gleig's account has been extensively drawn on by later historians and historical novelists. Gleig left behind a unique account of Wellington's victories, the primitive conditions endured by both soldiers and civilians, and the mood of the times.

George Robert Gleig had a distinguished career with the British Army. His classic narrative has now been edited with an introduction and chapter notes by Ian Robertson. Robertson has been writing on the Peninsular War for 40 years. His most recent work was Wellington at War in the Peninsula.

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Product Description

About the Author

Ian Robertson has been writing on the Peninsular War for over 40 years. He has also edited numerous works by contemporary authors. Most recently his Wellington At War in the Peninsular was published by Pen and Sword Books (2000). He is also the author of the celebrated Blue Guides to Spain, Portugal and France and other travel books.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4317 KB
  • Print Length: 190 pages
  • Publisher: Pen and Sword (30 Sept. 2008)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #25,087 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Sean
Sir Charles Oman (1860-1946), the great historian of the Peninsular War, called George Robert Gleig's account 'charming...pleasant' and 'life-like'. Gleig avoids 'second hand stories'; his are 'statements of fact' which `may be relied on' (Wellington's Army). Written in 1825, only ten years after Waterloo, the Subaltern is one of the superior memoirs of the Peninsular War. Seventeen year old Lieutenant Gleig only landed during the tail-end of the conflict, precisely during the siege of San Sebastian (1813), but his account of these often overlooked few months of bloody fighting is breathtaking. He is a vital source for understanding Wellington's invasion of France which included the crossing of the Bidasoa, the Battles Nivelle and Nive and the investment of Bayonne.

His style is semi-literary though still vivid. San Sebastian (after the sack) represented a 'chilling sense of the horrible points of our profession'; Wellington and Soult are described as `two mighty gamesters' during the Battle of the Nive. He is also somewhat philosophical in nature. He declines to delve into lengthy national stereotypes of the Spanish and Portuguese allies for example like so many Peninsular writers. He does place his account in context but as he wrote his work before Napier, the first great historian of the war, he avoids repeating ad verbatim large chunks of narrative featuring actions he was not present at. His style is perfectly honest; frequently deprecating his limitations to the reader at conveying events.

Gleig is particularly valuable for understanding how the British and French fought on a battalion basis.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different angle on an old story 23 Nov. 2013
By tant p
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This description of a short part of the Peninsular War is very well written and not at all out dated in style. The writer does not try to understand the overall strategy of the war but gives a detailed and enthralling account of his part in it. During which he travelled barely 200 kilometers from Northern Spain over the border into France. From the autumn of one year to the spring of the next. It gives an insight into the thinking of Junior Officers in Wellington's army and what they considered important.
A very worthwhile read however serious you are about history.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good first hand account. 18 Mar. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very readable considering it was written over a century and a half ago. Some place names and actions have changed over the years, making the editor earn his pay :-)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written account 24 Jan. 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The Napoleonic wars have always intrigued me, particularly the various Peninsular campaigns.

The book is surprisingly easy to read, especially considering how long ago it was written. The horrors of 19th Century warfare are not glossed over by the author.

I would like to read some more military books written in the same period.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gleig's Subaltern 12 April 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very interesting and easy reading once one is accustomed to his Jane Austen style prose (After all they were contemporaries), So much of what he says of the latter stages of the Peninsular War could be equally applied to some of my own experiences in WW2
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4.0 out of 5 stars French connection 29 Aug. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Always wondered what happened at Bayonne at the end of the war, now I know. Fills in much detail on the everyday lives of officers during the Napoleonic war, as well as the duties of a junior officer . Worth a read by anyone interested in this period of history.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Written in a readable style 12 Jan. 2014
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Very detailed and one can only suppose that he kept extensive notes. Admittedly a lot of time was spent encamped, fishing, shooting and acting as a tour guide, such is the nature of most wars. Readable non the less
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5.0 out of 5 stars an unique read 6 Jan. 2014
By Jon
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
tells how it really was fighting a war
he paints a picture and takes you there to experience the hardships and tribulations of a Brirish fighting man
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