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British Cemetery Elvas

British Cemetery in Elvas

Recommended Reading

A soldier of the 71st: the journal of a soldier in the Peninsular War

Christopher Hibbert, ed. 

First published in 1819, this memoir covers the entire Peninsular War, the Walcheren expedition and the Battle of Waterloo - where this Scot narrowly escaped death.

Archie Hunter. Wellington’s Scapegoat

The Tragedy of Lieutenant Colonel Charles Bevan.

Lt. Col. Charles Bevan was the commanding officer held responsible for the night escape of the French garrison from Almeida. For this disaster he incurred the wrath of the Duke of Wellington but whether this was fair remains debatable.

Drawing on letters and papers of the Bevan family and other contemporary sources this book examines the  background to Wellington's order to defend the bridge; the subsequent blame of Bevan and his Battalion; and Wellington's acceptance of the incompetent, drunken General Erskine's version of events and his refusal  of Bevan's request for an inquiry. The book also covers the six earlier campaigns in which Bevan served with distinction before joining Wellington in Portugal.

Arthur Bryant. Years of victory: 1802-1812

A narrative history of the Napoleonic period from the Treaty of Amiens to the last siege of Badajoz. Second part of a trilogy that includes Years of Endurance 1793-1802 and Age of Elegance 1812-1820. The historian Sir Arthur Bryant wrote the trilogy during the Second World War when another continental despot sought European conquest.

Badajoz to Elvas in 1811: Crónicas de Guerra

62 letters written in the first half of 1811 by a Portuguese lawyer in Elvas. Translated into Spanish and edited by Sr. Luis Alfonso Limpo Piriz; the original Portuguese letters are included in an annex. 80 p. introduction by the editor gives details of the author, recipient and historic context. Ayuntamiento Badajoz. Concejalía de Cultura.

Captain MacCarthy: Recollections of the storming of the Castle of Badajos

This text is a personal memoir by Captain MacCarthy of the 50th Regiment, who was assistant engineer in the 3rd Division. Included are recollections of the storming of Fort Napoleon, Almaraz and the battle of Coruna.

Carole Divall. Redcoats against Napoleon

A well-researched history of the 30th Foot, which fought at the storming of Badajoz in 1812. Mrs. Divall offers analysis as well as a detailed ccount of the events that turned a second-line battalion into the successful veteran regiment it became during the Peninsular War. 

Charles Esdaile. The Peninsular War: a new history

Professor Esdaile gives not only a detailed account of the battles, as depicted in Peninsular War diaries and reports, but provides a careful analysis of Iberian political, economic and social developments from 1808-1814.

Charles Esdaile. Peninsular Eyewitnesses

The experience of war in Spain and Portugal 1808-1813. This study of British and French soldiers' letters home, memoirs and the testimony of Portuguese and Spanish civilians is Esdaile’s newest contribution to the understanding of Iberian history.  An inside view of the course of the battles, the guerrilla war and the effect of fighting on towns and rural life.

Charles Oman. A history of the Peninsular War.Volumes I-IX

Sir Charles Oman (1860 - 1946) was a notable British military historian whose reconstruction of medieval battles from fragmentary accounts was pioneering. His narratives, founded on deep research, read as smoothly as fiction. His interpretations have been challenged, especially his widely copied thesis that British troops defeated their Napoleonic opponents through the enormous discrepancy between the firepower delivered by the British two rank line and that which could be generated by the deep, narrow French columns.

Modern historians claim the British infantry's discipline and willingness to attack were equally important. Professor Oman was invited in 1907 by King Manuel II of Portugal to actively research the Peninsular War in the Portuguese archives and on the battlefields. Oman's seven volumes still stand as the most comprehensive history of the warfare between 1808 and 1814.    

In his preface to Volume V, Oman pays tribute to his friend Rafael Reynolds, his companion on his last Portuguese tour, who gave him the complete set of Marshal Beresford’s Ordens do Dia for the Portuguese Army.

C.S. Forrester. Death to the French

The novel that inspired Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe series. It is 1810, and the last French invasion of Portugal has penned Wellington's army behind the river Tagus with their backs to the sea. Separated from his regiment, Rifleman Dodd of the 95th stumbles on a band of undisciplined Portuguese peasants. With rough inventiveness he transforms this ramshackle group into an organised fighting force, continually harrying French as Dodd fights his way back to his own lines. Written by the author of the Hornblower series, Death to the French is a classic novel of the Peninsular War.

Colonel Nick Lipscombe: The Peninsular War Atlas

The first comprehensive Atlas of the Peninsular War with 160 maps and a re-evaluation of several of the battles.

Daren Wayne Norris. Over the hills and far away

The life and times of Thomas Norris 1778-1858

The author presents this account of the life and times of his Great-Great-Great Grandfather who was born in Watford in 1778 and served with the 57th of Foot (The West Middlesex Regiment) from 1803 to 1816. Thomas Norris was present at the Battle of Albuera during the Peninsular War, where on 16th May 1811 the 57th Regiment earned their famous nickname "The Die Hards". The battle honour 'ALBUERA' has remained synonymous with this proud regiment ever since.

A donation will be made from the proceeds of the sale of this book to support the upkeep and maintenance of the British Cemetery at Elvas in Portugal, where those lost in the battle were taken for burial almost 200 years ago. These are thought to be among the oldest British war graves in existence anywhere in the world.

David Gates. The Spanish Ulcer.

A balanced account of the Peninsular War that provides a serious assessment of the opposing generals and their troops, as well as analyzing in detail the social and political background.

Frederick Myatt. British Sieges of the Peninsular War 1811-1813

Contains the basics of siege craft and a description of Peninsular War sieges, including the successful Third Siege of Badajoz.

Guy Dempsey. Albuera 1811

The Bloodiest battle of the Peninsular War. Important new study of this always controversial battle. Dempsey draws on French and Spanish as well as British primary sources to give not only a detailed account of the campaign but to shed light on many of the legends and myths that surround the battle. 

Ian Fletcher. Bloody Albuera: The 1811 campaign in the Peninsula

Wellington's long campaign against Napoleon's armies of occupation in Portugal and Spain, some 35,000 Allied troops under the command of Marshal William Carr Beresford took up position at Albuera to prevent the relief of the French fortress of Badajoz by the army of Marshal Soult. Beresford was a gifted staff officer but no tactician.

Earlier, Campo Major demonstrated the skill of the British cavalry and Beresford's weakness in command. At Albuera 7 British battalions stood off 19 French battalions, trading volleys at 60 yards' range for an hour. Wellington's redcoats won the respect of ally and enemy alike.

Ian Fletcher. In Hell Before Daylight

Siege and Storming of the Fortress of Badajoz, 16 March to 6 April 1812

The only book that focuses on the third siege and subsequent sacking of Badajoz, told with the aid of eyewitness accounts. Includes aerial photos taken from a balloon in 1914 that show how Badajoz would have looked in 1812.

John Grehan. The Lines of Torres Vedras

The Cornerstone of Wellington's Strategy in the Peninsular War 1809-1812.

Examines the role of an important fortification in the Peninsular War.

John Frederick Hering. Journal of an Officer in the King's German Legion

Recollections of Campaigning during the Napoleonic Wars.

The King's German Legion was highly regarded in the ranks of the British Army during the Peninsular War. The well-disciplined KGL consisted primarily of Hanoverians who were motivated by their enmity towards the French and their wish to return to their homeland. This book, originally published anonymously, gives an eyewitness account of campaigns in Portugal and Spain, including the decisive Battle of Talavera.

Lieutenant General Sir William Napier, K.C.B

English Battles and Sieges in the Peninisula. 

An extraction from Napier's six volume History of the Peninsula War. The author was an eye-witness to the events he relates or aquired his knowledge from officers on both sides who were.  

Marcus de la Poer Beresford. Marshal William Carr Beresford: ‘The ablest man I have yet seen with the army’


Mark S. Thompson. The Fatal Hill

The Allied Campaign under Beresford in Southern Spain in 1811.

Badajoz fell to the French in March 1811 when Wellington was evicting the French Army from northern Portugal. Portugal was finally free of the French but Wellington could not ignore French control of Badajoz. Marshal Beresford was appointed to command the southern forces and the campaign he waged would be the most controversial of the British Army during the Peninsula War.  

The campaign was marked by both unprecedented cooperation between the British and Spanish forces and huge casualties among the British troops.  In the end it achieved little and in the years following there were bitter public arguments over it. Thompson’s book covers all aspects of the campaign, using the many eyewitness accounts but the strength of The Fatal Hill lies in the author’s superb description and analysis of the whether General Long, commander of the British cavalry, was incompetent or whether he was a bungler.

Mark Urban. Rifles: Six Years with Wellington's Legendary Sharpshooters

In a well-researched, captivating work of narrative history, Mark Urban traces the story of the 95th Rifles, the toughest and deadliest sharpshooters in Wellington’s army. Established ca.1800 by Sir John Moore, it played a pivotal role in the Peninsular War and later at Waterloo. These were the first riflemen to aim at their target instead of firing volleys in the general direction of the enemy. The first of the modern British infantryman, they developed the concept of tactical manoeuvres.

Margaret: Panikkar. Daniel Hoghton: hero of Albuera

A biography of Major-General Daniel Hoghton who is buried in the British Cemetery, Elvas.

Peter Edwards. Albuera

Wellington's Fourth Peninsular Campaign, 1811. A study of the Battle of Albuera as well as other Peninsular War events of 1811.

Philip Guedalla. The Duke

A biography of the Duke of Wellington, who drove the French army from the Iberian Peninsula and defeated Napoleon at Waterloo.

Richard Holmes. The Napoleonic Wars Experience

Napoleon was the colossus of his age. He became one of Revolutionary France's most successful generals and was crowned emperor in 1804. During the next eight years, he fought a series of campaigns, defeating all his continental rivals, though his inability to take command of the sea prevented him from beating Britain. This authoritative book tells the story of the Napoleonic Wars, bringing them to life with 30 items of previously unpublished facsimile memorabilia from museum collections around the world.

Robert Harvey. The War of Wars

The Epic Struggle between Britain and France, 1793-1815.

Who, in the end, defeated Napoleon Bonaparte? This is the question that Robert Harvey, journalist and former MP, asks at the end of his comprehensive account of therevolutionary and Napoleonic wars. It is pertinent, as he points out, since all the coalition members at one time or another lay claim to the honours: Dogged Austria deserves a large share of the credit for rising from defeat again and again.

Prussia, after its lamentable initial performance, renewed some  of its national pride at the end. Russia can claim credit for the 1812 campaign in which, although there was no great feat of Russian arms, the French were completely routed. Harvey’s  verdict  is unequivocal: ‘the  lion’s  share  must  surely  go  to  Britain’. Pitt’s and then Grenville’s continental coalition-building, the Royal Navy’s ‘astounding  feats’ under Nelson and Wellington’s ‘relentless performance’ in the Peninsula; these were the pillars of victory.  

Rory Muir. Britain and the defeat of Napoleon, 1807-1815

Muir sets Britain's military operations on the Iberian Peninsula within the context of the wider European conflict and examines how diplomatic, financial, military and political considerations combined to shape policy and priorities. He focuses on Britain's politicians as well as the officers who led its armies and analyses the effectiveness of the British economy and the coherence of the nation that sustained the Peninsular War.

Smith, Sir Harry. The Autobiography of Sir Harry Smith 1787-1819

Edited by G. C. Moore Smith.  The military life of an officer in the 95th Regiment [later called the Rifle Brigade] through the Peninsular War and the occupation of France. But Harry Smith was best known for his marriage following the Third Siege of Badajoz to the Spanish lady Juana Ponce de Leon. Her adjustment to the realities of campaigning are depicted in the novel The Spanish Bride.  

The Recollections of Rifleman Harris.

Christopher Hibbert, ed. Benjamin Harris was a shepherd from Dorset who joined the 95th Rifles and fought in Portugal. Introduction and notes by the historian Christopher Hibbert.

Whoever forgets history is doomed to relive it.

George Santayana 1863-1952