British Light Infantry & Rifle Tactics of the Napoleonic Wars, Philip Haythornthwaite

British Light Infantry & Rifle Tactics of the Napoleonic Wars, Philip Haythornthwaite

Elite 215

Moore's light infantry training camp is mentioned in most accounts of the British army during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, but that was only one part of the evolution of the light infantry during the period. This book provides a useful history of the development of light infantry in the British army, as well looking at how they were trained and how they were used in combat.

We begin with a look at the pre-Revolutionary Wars light infantry, generally made up of specially raised units for a particular war that were then disbanded. From 1770 each battalion was meant to have a light company, but even so the British were well behind the French during the Revolutionary Wars.

The book then traces the slow improvement of the British Light infantry and who was responsible for it. We begin with a number of émigrés, who came to Britain with light infantry experience. Next is Sir John Moore's career before his famous training camp, the formation of permanent light infantry units, the adoption of the idea that the light infantry should also be able to serve in the line, Moore's 52nd (Oxfordshire) Light Infantry Regiment and the idea that the light infantry soldier should be able to act independently.

For me the key sections come next. These look at the instructions received by the light infantry - the different type of discipline required, how they were trained, and the actual tactics they were meant to use. This covers how they moved, attacked, defended, skirmished and scouted, and how they operated on campaign. Details instructions for each of these maneuvers have survived, so we have a good idea of what was expected of the light infantry.

Finally there are three case studies - the Nivelle in 1813, Tarbes in 1814 and Waterloo in 1815 - interesting both in their own right, and in their late date.

The result is an interesting book that helps explain why the light infantry were so highly valued, and why Moore's training came is still so well regarded.

Historical Background
Uniforms & Weapons
Tactical Doctrine
Light Infantry on Campaign
The Light Division: Illustrative Actions

Author: Philip Haythornthwaite
Edition: Paperback
Pages: 64
Publisher: Osprey
Year: 2016

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