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AMERICAN SHARPE: The Adventures of an American Officer
Bibliophile price: £7.50
Written by an ex-Royal Navy officer and author of more than 40 books of previously unpublished archival material from the period, this is an excellent Pen & Sword publication. Charles Penman Gairdner was born in Charleston South Carolina but was sent back to the 'Old Country' for his education at Harrow. Rather than joining his father's merchant business he decided to become a soldier, receiving a commission in the famous 95th Rifles. He subsequently served without a break from the Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo in January 1812 until the end of the Peninsular War in 1814. He then fought in the Waterloo Campaign and formed part of the Army of Occupation and was wounded on three occasions. Throughout his service he kept a journal which he maintained on almost daily basis and it is this together with letters he wrote to his family which have been edited by the renowned historian Gareth Glover. Rather than battles and escapades, he details everyday life, one of marches and billets, of the weather, the places and people of the Iberian Peninsula and of Paris and Occupied France, the real nature of soldiering. In the Vitoria Campaign of 1813 he falls in love with a Spanish woman who knew more about the war than him, that the general who commanded these men was Antoine Louis Popon de Maucune, and at that if the British were not in the country 8,000 French men could take possession of the whole of Spain. She said that Spanish soldiers were brave, but their officers were worth nothing. Fascinating on Salamanca and garrison life like picnics and acting in plays. Extensive notes, illus. 260pp.

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