July 22, 1812. Salamanca, Spain. Frustrated at their first advance, British forces under Wellington's command have spent the last four days manoeuvering 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, the critical British victory that proved crushing to French pride and morale during the Peninsular War (1808-1814). Focusing on the day of the battle, Rory Muir skilfully conveys the experience of ordinary soldiers on both sides, dissects each phase of the fighting, and explores the crucial decisions made by each commander. He employs wide-ranging British and French sources, many unpublished or deeply obscure, to reconstruct every aspect of the battle.
Having walked the battlefield itself, a site which remains today much as it was in 1812, Muir relates the ebb and flow of the battle with particular vividness. In separate commentary sections he evaluates the sources and indicates the inevitable contradictions and gaps in evidence that have emerged during his research. Complete with maps, battleground plans and other illustrations, this compelling book focuses acute analysis 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 (0 300 08270 3, pb. 11.95) and Britain and the Defeat of Napoleon, 1807-1815 (0 300 06443 8, 35.00), both published by Yale University Press.