by John Marsden
Warwick: Helion / Philadelphia: Casemate, 2021. Pp. 200+.
Illus., maps, tables, notes, biblio., index. $44.95 paper. ISBN: 1913118983
The Marquis de La Romana’s “Stolen Army” in the Peninsular War
In the history of the Peninsular War (1808-1814), especially when it comes to English-language sources, there always has been a bias towards the stories of the British and French armies. This is despite the fact that the contributions of the armies of Spain and Portugal were just as important to ultimate outcome of the war as the actions of those of the Duke of Wellington or Napoleon, which receive so much more attention. Some recent scholarship has shed some light on these lacunae, revealing many details that have been excluded from the existing histories, adding significantly to the existing literature on the war
On the other hand, Napoleon’s Stolen Army covers the famous case of the Spanish division of the Marquis de La Romana, which in August of 1808 escaped from Denmark with the help of the Royal Navy to join the struggle in the Peninsula. The story of how the army was evacuated from Zealand has not been told in such detail before, and the work covers the subsequent operations of what La Romana’s troops in the war.
Several chapters cover what happened to the remnants of the division that could not escape and were captured by the French in Denmark. They were used to form the French Regiment Joseph-Napoleon, that marched all the way to Moscow in 1812. Marsden was able to find two soldiers’ accounts from the regiment, that tell of the regiment’s role at Borodino and in the retreat from Moscow.
A volume in the Helion series “From Reason to Revolution”, Napoleon’s Stolen Army is an excellent read for anyone with an interest in the Napoleonic Wars.
Our Reviewer: Dr. Alexander Stavropoulos received his Ph.D. in History from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2013. Currently an Adjunct Professor at Kingsborough Community College, CUNY, his previous reviews include Prelude to Waterloo: Quatre Bras: The French Perspective, Braddock's Defeat: The Battle of the Monongahela and the Road to Revolution, Italy 1636: Cemetery of Armies, In the Name of Lykourgos, The Other Face of Battle, The Bulgarian Contract, and In the Words of Wellington’s Fighting Cocks.
Note: Napoleon’s Stolen Army is also available in e-editions.
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