Wellington's Rifles by Mark Urban

I want to quickly mention an interesting book I just read, Wellington’s Rifles by Mark Urban. If you are a follower of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe Series, you are familiar with the 95th Rifles in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars. The book generally covers the exploits of the 1st battalion, 95th Rifles from 1809 to 1815.

Urban does a pretty good job of narrating the history of the regiment by using personal memoirs and general histories of the Napoleonic Wars. He writes mostly about the Peninsular campaigns because most of the fighting under Wellington (under whom the 95th served) occurred in the Iberian Peninsula.

Ever since reading the Sharpe books, I have been interested in reading more about the 95th’s exploits. Well, this book fills in the details of this fine regiment. Urban covers everything from the mundane (how the men were fed) to the revolutionary tactics that the regiment implemented (primarily, aimed shots with rifles and normally fighting in skirmish order).

I enjoy Urban’s approach at describing the regiment’s history. He generally follows six men (two officers and four enlisted) from the time they embark on their voyage to Portugal to the time they come home from Waterloo. He covers both groups of men equally. About half of the six men return home – which is a little more than the average for the regiment.

This book provides an excellent view of one of the elite, perhaps the most elite, British units of the Napoleonic Era.

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