Salamanca 1812

By Rory Muir

Published by Yale University Press UK SR (2001)

22 July 1812. Salamanca, Spain. Frustrated at their first advance, British forces under Wellington's command have spent the last four days manoeuvring 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 celebrated battle of Salamanca, the critical British victory that proved crushing to French pride and morale during the Peninsular War (1808-14). Focusing on the day of the battle, Rory Muir skilfully conveys the experience of ordinary soldiers on both sides, dissects each phase of the fighting and explores the crucial decisions made by each commander. He employs wide-ranging British and French sources - many unpublished or obscure - to reconstruct every aspect of the battle. Having walked the battlefield himself, a site which remains today much as it was in 1812, Muir relates the ebb and flow of the battle with particular vividness. In separate commentary sections he evaluates the sources and indicates the inevitable contradictions and gaps in evidence that have emerged during his research. Complete with maps, battleground plans, line drawings and photographs, this compelling book provides acute analysis of a single day in Salamanca that changed European history. Rory Muir is visiting research fellow in the department of history, University of Adelaide. He is the author of 'Britain and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1807-1815', which won the best book of the year award of the International Napoleonic Society, and 'Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon', both published by Yale University Press

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