Although there are many accounts of the Peninsular War by fighting men, this book is justly famed because it is a rarity: a memoir dictated by a ranker in Sir John Moore’s army. At a time when many members of his class were illiterate, Benjamin Harris, a ‘Dorsetshire sheep-boy’ serving in the 95th Regiment of Foot from 1803 conveys the hard life of an old sweat fighting both the French and the Iberian climate in lively and vivid prose. Harris records the sicknesses and medicines suffered by ordinary soldiers; recounts the savage punishment of a fellow Rifleman, and the cut and thrust of military life from a distinctly worm’s eye view, giving invaluable insights into the life of an ordinary soldier in the Napoleonic Wars. The book’s editor, Henry Curling, persuaded Harris to recount his memoirs when he met him while Harris was working as a London cobbler in the 1830s. First published in 1848, this memoir remains one of the most valuable documents to have come down to us from the early Peninsular War.
Edited by Henry Curling, Introduction by Sir John Fortescue
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2010 N&M Press reprint (original pub of this Ed.1929 ) SB xviii + 191 pp
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