imageThe Napoleonic War Journal Of Captain Thomas Henry Browne 1807 - 1816 edited by Roger Norman Buckley

Thomas Henry Browne (1787-1855) was born in Liverpool, the eldest of seven children. He was the son of George Browne and Felicity Wagner, a highly cultured woman whose father had been the "Imperial and Tuscan Consul at Liverpool". The family originally came from County Cork in Ireland but moved to Liverpool where George became an important merchant. In around 1800 the business suffered severe financial setbacks and the family moved to North Wales.

Thomas Browne joined Wellington's staff in 1811 and in the following year was appointed Deputy Assistant Adjutant-General. The journal therefore starts with Thomas Browne as a first lieutenant who gets his promotion to captain shortly before the Battle of Vitoria. It ends in 1816, after Napoleon's return from Elba and the battle of Waterloo (in which Browne did not participate) when he was in Vienna as ADC to Lord Steward. Shortly afterwards, he became private Secretary to the Embassy. He returned to England in that year.

The book is very ably edited by Professor Buckley. In the preface he tells us something about Browne, his personality as well as his family and regimental backgrounds. This is followed by an extensive introduction explaining the new professionalism of the British army, the effects of drill to achieve unquestioned compliance and reflex responses to commands. This in turn made it possible for soldiers to engage in warfare at point blank range, which was one of the characteristics of armed conflict at the time. The nature of Napoleonic warfare is aptly described as a trial of strength lasting several hours, fought on a narrow terrain with fearsome and bloody results. Prof. Buckley describes them as "large scale pounding matches to the death", with heavy casualties on both sides.

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