Wellington Against Junot
The First Invasion of Portugal, 1807-1808
say it from the start ... this book is a magnificent study of
the French invasion of Portugal in 1807.
two protagonists are - on the British side - General Sir Arthur
Wellesley and - on the French - Jean-Andoche Junot.
former a careful, brilliant commander while the latter was a complex
beau sabreur with as many faults as good points.
Wellington Against Junot, military historian David Buttery
has superbly painted the opposing commanders, giving a lot of
attention to their careers, their armies and he details what led
to Napoleon Bonaparte's decision to attack Portugal.
period of the Peninsular War features rarely amid the libraries
of books covering the Napoleonic Wars and Buttery has done us
all proud with this effort.
battles of Rolica and Vimeiro are high points for me as they are,
to my knowledge, two of the few modern explanations of those clashes
I was researching Rolica and Vimeiro for my own novel (yes, yes
it is in the final stages) I had to go back through the regimental
history of the Worcesters, the 29th, glean snippets out of Sir
Charles Oman and whatever else I could locate amid my Napoleonic
was a lengthy task and I wish Wellington Against Junot
had been around then - it would have made my life so much easier.
Against Junot is not only fascinating, it is a very good read.
Buttery's prose explains complex situations simply and well and
his battle descriptions are terrific.
also examines the ludicrous situation where Wellesley was superceded
by Sir Harry Burrard as army chief on the day of the battle of
Vimeiro, to be followed the next day by Sir Hugh Dalrymple.
army commanders in two days has to be a record!
focus also turns to the controversial Convention of Cintra, which
allowed Junot to withdraw his entire army, plus weapons, guns
and loot, from Portugal - on board British naval vessels.
was highly unpopular in both Portgual and Britain and led to the
three British generals facing an inquiry. Of those only Wellesley,
who had opposed the convention came out successfully, although
he did lose his position in the Peninsula to Sir John Moore.
know that Wellesley's career recovered and he became the best
general Britain has produced, becoming the Duke of Wellington
and firstly throwing the French out of Portugal and Spain before
finally dealing to Bonaparte at Waterloo in 1815.
life went a very different course. He did return to the Peninsula
with Marshal Massena, served on the Rhine and took part in the
invasion of Russia.
head wounds and an increasingly unstable mental condition led
to Napoleon removing him as Governor of Venice and Junot's death
during his convalescence is not pretty reading for so bold a soldier.
Wellington Against Junot, Buttery also has a very handy
section on Touring the Peninsula where he suggests sights of interests
and memorials in Portugal to visit.
is a must-have for anyone interested in the Peninsular War.
Pen and Sword