Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
on 29 June 2015
Books on the artillery of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars are few and far between, and when one comes along, no matter which artillery service it details, it is both a benefit and a treat. That certainly goes for this volume and anyone interested in the artillery of the period should have this volume on their bookshelf.
The author covers the Royal Artillery from Portugal and Spain to Belgium and covers the arm from muzzle to butt plate. There is enough artillery technical data supplied to use for reference for other works, but the narrative itself is clearly outstanding and tells the tale of a superb artillery arm that distinguished itself in action on many fields and of the officers and other ranks who manned and fought their guns in a proud tradition that endures to this day.
The Royal Artillery was slowly built up in the field in Portugal and Spain. There was never enough of it, and the excellent Portuguese artillery arm was trained and equipped by the British to a state of efficiency that reinforced and supplemented their British allies through the Peninsular campaigns. The two outstanding senior British artillery officers, Alexander Dickson and Augustus Frazer, were skilled artillery officers who could 'make bricks without straw' and they labored mightily to ensure that the artillery arm ably supported the infantry and cavalry.
It should also be noted that the three most interesting and valuable artillery technical innovations were introduced by the Royal Artillery during the period. The block trail gun carriage, that was superior to all other gun carriages of the period, and greatly admired by the French (who would later introduce it to their own artillery arm ca 1829), was introduced first with the Royal Horse Artillery and later with the Foot Artillery. The Congreve rocket, teething troubles and all, was also introduced and later copied by the Continental armies of France, Denmark and Austria. Lastly, and probably most importantly, spherical case shot, commonly called shrapnel after its inventor, Henry Shrapnel, was the British secret weapon of the period, was an excellent anti-personnel round, and was not copied by any other belligerent until well after 1815.
This volume is highly recommended and it rounds out the study of Wellington's Peninsular army as well as the army commanded by him in Belgium in 1815.