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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bold but too Ambitious
Sir John Fortescue, the great historian of the British Army, argued that it is impossible to understand the Waterloo campaign of June 1815 without a knowledge of Sir Thomas Graham's ill-fated expedition to Holland in the winter of 1813-14. Dr Bamford's thoroughly researched study of this little-known campaign (as far as I know the first since Fortescue'a own account) ably...
Published 7 months ago by A. J. Bristow

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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Average Book
I really do wonder how some readers can award a book 5 stars where I can see only 3 stars - this is a case in point. This book covers in great detail a fascinating but often ignored part of Napoleonic history but, unfortunately, the detail is not uniform. A lot of detail is spent trying to work out which officer led which attack on Bergen op Zoom but then just a few pages...
Published 3 months ago by Lamu Hermit


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bold but too Ambitious, 30 Nov. 2014
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A. J. Bristow (Sussex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Bold and Ambitious Enterprise: The British Army in the Low Countries, 1813 - 1814 (Hardcover)
Sir John Fortescue, the great historian of the British Army, argued that it is impossible to understand the Waterloo campaign of June 1815 without a knowledge of Sir Thomas Graham's ill-fated expedition to Holland in the winter of 1813-14. Dr Bamford's thoroughly researched study of this little-known campaign (as far as I know the first since Fortescue'a own account) ably fills the gap. With massive Allied armies closing in on Napoleon's crumbling empire, the British Government hoped that the despatch of a substantial force to the main theatre of war would give them more leverage in the peace negotiations following the defeat of Napoleon. It was also hoped to assist the Dutch in their rebellion against French rule and to seize Antwerp, which had long been a British war-aim. Alas, with Britain's land forces already heavily committed in the Peninsula and North America, Graham's army was badly trained, poorly equipped and inadequate for purpose. Matters were not helped by difficulties with the Prussians and the unhelpful attitude of the theatre commander, the Crown Prince of Sweden (the former Marshal Bernadotte). After failing to take Antwerp, Graham decided to attack Bergen-op-Zoom, but the attempt to capture the fortress by storm was repulsed with heavy losses and the campaign petered out. Dr Bamford's vivid account of this action, enlivened by anecdotal testimony from participants, proved useful during a recent visit to the town.

To return to Fortescue's point, the campaign highlighted the problems of coalition warfare that Wellington was to experience a year later, while several British units that took part would form the core of the Duke's "infamous army" at Waterloo.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A must read for those who follow the Napoleonic Wars and the British Army in particular., 30 Jan. 2015
This review is from: A Bold and Ambitious Enterprise: The British Army in the Low Countries, 1813 - 1814 (Hardcover)
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In December 1813, a British Expeditionary Force was sent to the Netherlands to support an uprising against the French Napoleonic Empire. Among the force's goals was to ensure that the British had a say on who controlled the Netherlands once Napoleon was defeated. As importantly it had the mission of capturing or destroying the French fleet at Antwerp. The force was plagued with problems from the very beginning. The bulk of the British Army was in the Peninsula with Wellington, while the remnants were spread across the globe. The nascent war with the United States had added a further drain on those units that might have been free for the expedition.

A strength of 8700 men was originally proposed by the government, however the effectives (those fit for active service) that could be found was less than 7700 men. Additionally, the majority of the battalions were the 2nd or 3rd Battalions of a regiment. These battalions traditionally were used to trained new recruits for the 1st Battalion that was deployed overseas. The cadre often consisted of very junior officers and non-commissioned officers who were old or in poor health. Although all of the battalions had a sprinkling of veterans in the ranks, many were
invalids sent home because they could not stand the rigors of active campaigning.

Two-thirds of the book covers the battles, skirmishes, and sieges that the expedition fought. Almost 100 pages are devoted to the Bergen-op-Zoom fiasco. Mr. Bamford draws heavily on the official correspondence and brings it to life with eyewitness accounts, all of which were by junior officers and enlisted soldiers. He also includes four battlefield maps that portray the maneuvers and actions of the forces. Unlike some books, these maps are appropriately placed so the reader can easily refer to them.

In the grand scheme of things, the British expedition to the Netherlands had little impact on the outcome of the war. Despite its battlefield failures, it did cement a close relationship with the Dutch, which would pay many dividends 15 months later during the Waterloo Campaign. Andrew Bamford has written a long overdue history of the campaign that is easy to read, but very thorough. He does not shy away from placing blame where it rightfully belongs, but gives credit to those who deserve it. One thing that his writing brings forth is the character and bravery of the British soldier, who endured incredible hardship to achieve so little.

Although A Bold and Ambitious Enterprise is about a campaign that was over-shadowed by the great events happening elsewhere, it is a must read for those who follow the Napoleonic Wars and the British Army in particular.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars obscure but important subject, 21 Feb. 2014
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Probably the only book you will find on the subject. The author covers in impressive detail the origins (covering British forces in the Baltic in 1813) and through to the build up to Waterloo and everything in-between. A minor quible I'd have liked more on what the french and allies were doing but its an impressive book that anyone interested in the british army in the Napoleonic wars should read
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Very Average Book, 30 Mar. 2015
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This review is from: A Bold and Ambitious Enterprise: The British Army in the Low Countries, 1813 - 1814 (Hardcover)
I really do wonder how some readers can award a book 5 stars where I can see only 3 stars - this is a case in point. This book covers in great detail a fascinating but often ignored part of Napoleonic history but, unfortunately, the detail is not uniform. A lot of detail is spent trying to work out which officer led which attack on Bergen op Zoom but then just a few pages explain why Bergen op Zoom was a target.

The story itself illustrates British foreign policy at its best, in the Napoleonic period as much as today.The title, a quote from a British general, is somewhat misleading since it refers specifically to the attack on Bergen op Zoom and yet the book covers a much wider historical period and much wider geographical area.

The bibliography is short, suggesting the author has focused on a few favourable sources though there are many quotes and references to the French. The European context is mentioned in so far as neighbouring actions influence Gen. Graham but is otherwise weak (as I have learned to expect from British authors). The maps are poor - there is no context map such as the Allied positions along the Rhone, though alot of the text refers to Prussian and Russian Armies, and the detail of the maps does not match the detail of the text.

Lastly, though perhaps most importantly, I found it took me many pages - perhaps 100 - to get into the swing of the author's writing style.
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