The hero of this book is Private George Farmer who served for 28 years in the army for which he received a pension of tenpence a day. He kept a journal during his service and after his discharge he brought it to G.R. Gleig in the hope it might bring him something to supplement his not-overly generous pension. Gleig rewrote the narrative and got it published thus remunerating the old soldier ‘to his heart’s content.’ Farmer enlisted in 1808 in the 11th Light Dragoons which became the 11th Hussars (of Balaclava and the Charge of the Light Brigade fame) and is today The King’s Royal Hussars. His service took him first to Ireland and while he found the individual Irishman generous and hospitable, as a people he regarded them as perfect savages. Bar room brawls were common and when they did occur out came poker, shovel, tongs, benches and knives, leaving blood all over the floor and not a few casualties, including fatalities. Farmer was glad when they were relieved by the 7th Hussars in 1810. His next posting was to Portugal and Spain where he was taken prisoner in a cavalry skirmish. After some unpleasant experiences he was fortunate enough to be taken on as a groom by a German officer, Count Golstein, who was commanding a French cavalry regiment, the Lanciers de Bourg. A life of hardship turned to one of comparative comfort. More than three years later, after many adventures, Farmer managed to rejoin his regiment and rode with them at Quatre Bras and Waterloo. Then it was India, in 1819, where he saw out the rest of his service, taking part in the capture of Bhurtpore (one of the regiment’s Battle Honours). He finally reached home on 25th May 1836 after seventeen years service in India and was discharged the following month in Chatham. This is some story!
Written by the Rev G. R. Gleig, chaplain of Chelsea Hospital, from the recollections of a pensioner, George Farmer, who had joined the 11th Hussars in 1808 and served with them in the Peninsula and in India until his discharge in 1836.