British Regiments and the Men Who Led Them 1793-1815, volume 1: Administration and Cavalry’ by Helion regular Steve Brown is one of the latest in the from Reason to Revolution 1721-1815 series.
This is the first of a planned series of five books which will go on to cover the infantry (vols.2–4) and Ordnance and other regiments (vol.5).
Well, what you get is a veritable encyclopaedia of information, providing, as an example of the level of detail, over 1,000 mini-biographies of the men who commanded the cavalry or were in senior administrative posts in Britain and across the globe. When presenting this sort of detail it becomes easier to remember that these men, for all their privilege and in most cases wealth, gave their careers and lives in many cases, for their regiment and their country. Pretty much anything one might want to know about any particular individual is there, so their dates of birth and death, parentage, education, career, awards and places of residence are brought together in such a way as to make this book much more than just a list of names and statistics. The use of the purchase system to climb the promotion ladder by migrating between regiments (and arms of service) and the idiosyncrasies of the brevet system are also evident in these pen-pictures. There are also potted service histories of each of the cavalry regiments on the army establishment during the wars against the French.
The author has consulted a vast array of primary, secondary and unpublished sources. The appendices are equally fascinating providing details of the yearly returns of the army, grouped into years, by regiment and posting, which demonstrate, among other things, the woefully understrength nature of many regiments whether abroad or on home duties.
Is this book good? In a word, yes. Military historians, amateur and professional, war gamers and even genealogists will find this publication of great value, so I can recommend this book unreservedly; roll on the next four volumes, especially if there is one covering medical services where I expect to find a hint of an army physician ancestor. I hope. However, remember to ensure enough space on the bookcase for the remaining volumes in the series.
ISBN: 978-1-804513-41-5 soft back, 353 pages