Friday 15 December 2023

Fit to Command. British Regimental Leadership in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars


‘Fit to Command. British Regimental Leadership in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars’ by Steve Brown is a recent addition Helion’s from Reason to Revolution series. This study is of an often overlooked subject, but a fascinating one for all that.

This is an excellent and well researched study of the leadership at the regimental/battalion level in the British army of the period. Each chapter introduces us to a detailed analysis regarding such subjects as ‘Officership’, the Regimental Colonel, Battalion and Regimental Management, Purchase and Promotion, and much, much more. No aspect of this complicated topic  seems to have been missed, and the author has done a great job in exposing the strengths and weaknesses of the system, as well as its many idiosyncrasies, all of which make rewarding reading. If I was to select my favourite chapter it would that  entitled ‘Retirement, Dismissal and Removal. 

For anyone interested in the British army of the Napoleonic and Revolutionary wars then this publication will open your eyes to the amazing institution that was (and is) the ‘Regiment’ and how, despite the many shortcomings, was a success on campaign and on the battlefield.

There are several useful maps and black and white illustrations together with numerous tables dotted throughout the book. The first appendix gives us pen pictures of some of the key regimental players who served during the wars (something I always find particularly interesting), while the second is a statistical analysis of commanding officer cohorts to satisfy those of readers to whom numbers come alive.

For such a potentially dull subject, the opposite is true as the author has excelled in presenting the outcomes of their research, demonstrated by the extensive bibliography, in such a well written and readable way.  An excellent book and well worth adding to the book collection.

ISBN: 978-1-915070-42-5.  Soft back, 368 pages

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