Salamanca, 1812


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Rory Muir

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July 22, 1812. Salamanca, Spain. Frustrated at their first advance, British forces under Wellington’s command have spent the last four days maneuvering 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 battle of Salamanca, a critical British victory that proved crushing to French pride and morale in the Peninsular War (1808-1814). Focusing on the day of the battle, award-winning author Rory Muir conveys the experience of ordinary soldiers on both sides, dissects each phase of the fighting, and explores the crucial decisions each commander made. Muir employs wide-ranging British and French sources—many unpublished or obscure—to reconstruct every aspect of the battle. Having walked the battlefield itself, a site which remains today much as it was in 1812, he relates the ebb and flow of the battle with particular vividness. Muir also discusses in separate commentary sections his sources of information and explains how he has dealt with the inevitable contradictions and gaps in evidence that emerged during his research. Complete with maps, battleground plans, and other illustrations, this compelling book focuses long overdue attention on a single day in Salamanca that changed European history.

Rory Muir is visiting research fellow in the department of history, University of Adelaide. His previous books include Tactics and the Experience of Battle in the Age of Napoleon and Britain and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1807-1815, both published by Yale University Press.

“Detailed history of the 1812 battle at Salamanca, Spain, where Lord Wellington proved his tactical virtuosity by defeating French forces under the command of Marshal Marmont. . . . The combination of rigorous research, obscure eyewitness accounts, and personal insight results in moments of keen appreciation for Wellington’s genius. . . . Students and enthusiasts of Napoleonic warfare will feast on the thoroughness of his research and the accuracy of his scholarship.”—Kirkus Reviews

“In Salamanca, Mr. Muir has laid out all of the primary material and sorted out what we can know, what we can surmise, and what we can merely guess about the events at Salamanca on July 22, 1812. . . . He succeeds admirably. I was fascinated from start to finish.”—Robert Messenger, New Criterion

“This is a fine study which sets the standard by which all future work on the battle and the campaign will be measured.”—Jack Allen Meyer, Journal of Military History

“The definitive work on the subject. . . . This is a book that works on several levels, and will be a valuable read for the serious scholar, Napoleonic enthusiast, and general military history reader. . . . This superb work is the next best thing to visiting that famous and bloody battleground.”—Richard Thorburn Herzog, The International History Review

“A splendid account of an important battle that has received little attention by historians. . . . The book is a detailed account of the strategic and tactical aspects of the battle. . . . The text is accompanied by maps, battle plans, and other types of illustrations. Salmanca, 1812 will not only appeal to military historians but also to a general audience, especially those who have an interest in military history.”—Wallace Cross, History: Reviews of New Books

“A major contribution not only to the study of the Peninsula War but also to the practice of military history in general.”—Steven Ross, Albion

“Readers will not only learn a lot about the leaders, the armies and the battle, you will also learn about Napoleonic scholarship. Highly recommended.”—John D. Burtt, Paper Wars

“A magnificent achievement in its genre. It captures the terror, confusion, and sheer noise of battle as true now as then, while rising above it to provide a judicious assessment of the higher commands. . . . It was a thrill to read.”—Michael Broers, H-France Book Reviews

Winner of the 2002 Second Prize given by the Literary Committee of The International Napoleonic Society
ISBN: 9780300186741
Publication Date: December 1, 2001
354 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

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