Synopses & Reviews
July 22, 1812. Salamanca, Spain. Frustrated at their first advance, British forces under Wellingtons command have spent the last four days maneuvering and retreating from the French army. Patient and cautious, Wellington is determined not to make a fatal mistake. He glimpses a moment of opportunity and grasps it, committing all of his troops to a sudden devastating attack. At the end of the day, the French army is broken, panic-stricken, and reeling; Wellington has achieved the finest victory of his brilliant military career.
This book examines in unprecedented detail the battle of Salamanca, a critical British victory that proved crushing to French pride and morale in the Peninsular War (1808-1814). Focusing on the day of the battle, award-winning author Rory Muir conveys the experience of ordinary soldiers on both sides, dissects each phase of the fighting, and explores the crucial decisions each commander made. Muir employs wide-ranging British and French sourcesmany unpublished or obscureto reconstruct every aspect of the battle. Having walked the battlefield itself, a site which remains today much as it was in 1812, he relates the ebb and flow of the battle with particular vividness. Muir also discusses in separate commentary sections his sources of information and explains how he has dealt with the inevitable contradictions and gaps in evidence that emerged during his research. Complete with maps, battleground plans, and other illustrations, this compelling book focuses long overdue attention on a single day in Salamanca that changed European history.
"It would be difficult to dissect the July 18, 1812 Battle of Salamanca more definitively than Rory Muir has done in this work. He has written a relentlessly detailed description of Wellington's great Spanish victory, drawing on a multitude of primary sources including manuscript memoirs. Each chapter provides a blow-by-blow account of each phase of the battle and concludes with a separate 'Commentary' section in which Muir provides his own view of mistakes made and opportunities gained or lost. The numerous maps are clear, detailed, and complement the text well, while black and white photographs of the battlefield today provide a good sense of the topography. Three of the five appendices analyze and break down the strength and casualties of the opposing armies in every conceivable manner. Overall this is a well-written and exhaustively researched book, though the extreme detail may be annoying to casual readers." Reviewed by Andrew Witmer, Virginia Quarterly Review (Copyright 2006 Virginia Quarterly Review)
About the Author
is visiting research fellow in the department of history, University of Adelaide. His previous books include Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon
and Britain and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1807-1815,
both published by Yale University Press.