The Saga of a British Redcoat Regiment in the American Revolution
By Mark Urban
(Walker & Company, Hardcover, 9780802716477, 400pp.)
Publication Date: November 13, 2007
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The American Revolution from a unique perspective--as seen through the eyes of a redcoat regiment.
From Lexington Green in 1775 to Yorktown in 1781, one British regiment marched thousands of miles and fought a dozen battles to uphold British rule in America: the Royal Welch Fusiliers. Their story, and that of all the soldiers England sent across the Atlantic, is one of the few untold sagas of the American Revolution, one that sheds light on the war itself and offers surprising, at times unsettling, insights into the way the war was conducted on both sides.
Drawing on a wealth of previously unused primary accounts, and with compelling narrative flair, Mark Urban reveals the inner life of the 23rd Regiment, the Fusiliers--and through it, of the British army as a whole--as it fought one of the pivotal campaigns of world history. Describing how British troops adopted new tactics and promoted new leaders, Urban shows how the foundations were laid for the redcoats' subsequent heroic performance against Napoleon. Fighting the climactic battles of the Revolution in the American south, the Fusiliers became one of the crack regiments of the army, never believing themselves to have been defeated.
But the letters from members of the 23rd and other archival accounts reveal much more than battle details. Living the Revolution day-to-day, the Fusiliers witnessed acts of kindness and atrocity on both sides unrecorded in histories of the war. Their observations bring the conflict down to human scale and provide a unique insight into soldiering in the late eighteenth century. Fusiliers will challenge the prevailing stereotypes of the enemy redcoats and offer an invaluable new perspective on a defining period in American history.
Mark Urban is diplomatic editor of the BBC's Newsnight and a former defense correspondent for the Independent. He is the author of The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes and of Wellington's Rifles, the story of the British soldier fighting against Napoleon in Wellington's army. He lives in London.
Praise for Fusiliers: “his [Urban’s] assiduous research uncovers numerous human-interest stories. The paucity of records generally precludes composition of unit histories for the war, but Urban capitalizes on an exception, one that readers accustomed to the Patriot side of the struggle will not want to miss.”-Booklist "A spirited portrait of life during the American Revolution from the perspective of the British army...comprehensive and engrossing account...A passionately presented book full of intriguing revelations."-Kirkus Praise for Mark Urban’s Wellington’s Rifles:
“Urban successfully rounds out the character of this notable unit and achieves an authoritative history.”—Booklist
“A fascinating narrative...Urban gives readers remarkable insight into the battles of the Peninsular War from Talavera to Tarbes...Fans of Bernard Cornwell's Richard Sharpe saga will find this an often eye-opening supplement.”—Library Journal
“The six years make for a great tale, and Mark Urban tells it superbly. If you like Sharpe, then this book is a must.”—Bernard Cornwell, author of Sharpe’s Rifles