Napoleonic Association: “the level of research is extraordinary”
“Recommended” by Miniature Wargames
Major Gordon Corrigan
Ca Ira Blogspot (http://ca-ira.blogspot.com/)
Keith Oliver recently wrote the following review for The Adjutant, the journal of the Napoleonic Association;
“Boxtel is unlikely to be named amongst the great battles of the Revolutionary or Napoleonic Wars, yet it takes its place in history as the first battle in which the Duke of Wellington, then Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Wesley was involved. His actual participation is, however, unknown as until he came to prominence during the Peninsular War his presence at the battle was not noted.
Boxtel was fought during the Duke of York’s campaign in Flanders in 1794. The British forces were withdrawing upon the Meuse, but finding their defensive position weak General Abercromby sought permission from the Duke of York to advance to retake Boxtel. Permission was granted but finding the French in greater numbers than anticipated Abercromby ordered a retreat. During the withdrawal the 8th Light Dragoons put the 1st Foot Guards into confusion upon the narrow lanes. The French saw their chance, but the 33rd, under Wesley, deployed across the entrance to the lane and delivered a volley at 50 yards, holding off the French while the Guards recovered and withdrew.
This book, the first by the author seeks to provide a guide to the battle for both historians and wargamers, and pulls together the various reports, although he acknowledges that French and Dutch accounts come from other authors.
The copious notes and bibliography indicate the amount of research which has gone into the book, which in total only runs to 66 pages.
For such a minor battle the level of research is extraordinary, however, I found the layout a little confusing, as the initial description of the campaign was then separated from the action itself by biographies of the various commanders. The booklet then explains how the battle can be fought as a wargame before providing individual reports of the battle by those who were there.
This may be a minor quibble and perhaps I prefer my history as more of a story, which flows naturally through the book rather than jumps around. That said there is no doubt that Garry has researched the topic in depth and provides a guide to the action, the personnel, and uniforms, indeed everything anyone researching this campaign or recreating the action in miniature would require. To that end it does what it says on the cover.
I hope that Garry having found this formula will go on to cover other actions of the period, to provide an invaluable addition to the literature which currently exists.”
Carole Divall; http://www.caroledivall.co.uk/stop-press
Wellington’s First Battle – Combat for Boxtel is the first book by Caseshot Publishing, a new company owned by this work’s author Garry David Wills. This well-written account of Wellington’s first ever action will correct you in an entertaining way if you believed he fought his first battles at Assaye and Seringipatam against the Moguls. The spotlights on other characters present at this “minor affair” in Holland make good reading as do whole chapters devoted specifically to wargaming the battle using Black Powder and Volley & Bayonet. The bullet points pages turned me off but they would be a useful ready reference when actually wargaming. There are plenty of quality atmospheric photos featuring the author’s 15 mils plus maps and sidebars – including one on the origin of the British infantryman’s nickname “Tommy”. It would be easy to dwell on the unfortunate fact that Arthur Wellesley is referred to as “Wesley” throughout the book. It would be kinder and more appropriate to say that the more I read, the more I liked it. Recommended, though that really depends on your reaction to the price tag (ﾣ14.99), as the battle is rather obscure.”
(Review by Steve Eardley in Miniature Wargames, No. 338, June 2011)
Whoops, There I go again! In my review of Wellington’s First Battle – Combat for Boxtel (MW June 2011), I referred to “the unfortunate fact that Arthur Wellesley is referred to as “Wesley” throughout the book”. I now understand that, at the time of Boxtel, Wellington was indeed actually Arthur Wesley – though he is more usually referred to as Wellesley. At least the Project Hougoumont campaign, which part of the proceeds of the book’s sales will go to support, gets another plug!
(Follow up comment by Steve Eardley in Miniature Wargames, No. 339, July 2011)
“Picked it up from the post office today and found it a very engaging read. Uniquely it has an extensive guide to wargaming the battle using GendBrigade, Black Powder and Volley and Bayonet rules. I’m hoping the author does other titles in the future because I realy enjoy both his personable approach and wargaming slant.
Also part of the proceeds go to Project Hougoumont. “
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