One of the most unusual, as well as the most heroic and distinguished Allied units in the Napoleonic Wars was the King’s German Legion (KGL). Originally composed of German volunteers from King George III’s Hanovarian domain, and founded out of Royal outrage at France’s occupation of Hanover in 1803, the KGL, according to David Chandler, doyen of Napoleonic military historians ‘ was without a doubt amongst the very best troops commanded by Wellington in the Peninsula and at Waterloo’. The KGL was a mini-army in its own right, comprising infantry, cavalry and artillery. This classic two-volume history of the Legion by N. Ludlow is one of the best accounts of the Napoleonic Wars, praised by the great historian Sir Charles Oman as ‘ a valuable and conscientious history’. and largely composed of eye-witness accounts by serving soldiers. Volume 1 begins with the bungled loss of Hanover and the raising of the KGL, and its first foreign expedition – to denmark. under Lord Rosslyn. The KGL was next deployed in the Mediterranean theatre, and had its first taste of Spain under Sir John Moore and Sir Arthur Wellesley (Wellington) where the german hussars covered the disastrous retreat to Corunna. The Legion returned to Portugal and Spain with Wellington and lost heavily at the Battle of Talavera. Other KGL units took part in Sir Eyre Coote’s expedition to Flushing and Walcheren. In the Peninsula War, the Legion fought under General Craufurd, helping to defeat the French at Busaco and befoire the lines of Torres Vedras, and later participating in Wellington’s vistory over Marshal Massena at Fuentes d’Onoro. The voilume ends with Soult’s defeat at Albuera and the siege of Badajoz.Volume 2 opens with the sieges of Badajoz and Cieudad Roderigo and the great battle of Salamanca which broke the back of the French in Spain. As Wellington rolled the enemy up to the Pyrenees, the KGL wewre also present at the battle of Vittoria. Meanwhile the KGL were also operating against Marshal Davout in the noirth of their native Germany. The Allied pressure caused Napoelon to abdicate and retire to Elba in 1814. The book’s final chapter deals with the Waterloo campaign in which the KGL played a heroic part in holding the strategically vital La Haye Sainte Farm in front of the British line, against fuious French assaults.
HISTORY OF THE KING’S GERMAN LEGION.
Ludlow Beamish’s famous history of the K.G.L. is undoubtedly one of the rarest and most sought-after contemporary studies of the Napoleonic Wars. Much praised by Sir Charles Oman as ‘a valuable and conscientous’ history, it was largely compiled from eye-witness accounts of serving soldiers. The Legion played a major part in the British Army in the Peninsula and this special edition is a vital addition to the library of all serious students of the Napoleonic Wars.