'I never saw any regiment in such order,' said Wellington before the Battle of Waterloo, 'it was the most complete and handsome military body I ever looked at.' The object of the Duke's admiration was the 23rd Regiment of Foot - the famous Royal Welch Fusiliers - and this is their story during the tumultuous and bloody period of the wars with France between 1793 and 1815. Based on rare personal memoirs and correspondence and new research, this compelling book offers fresh insight into the evolution of the British Army. Scorned by even its own countrymen in 1793, it was transformed within a generation into a professional force that triumphed over the greatest general and army of the time. The men of the Royal Welch Fusiliers come alive as Graves tracks them across three continents, joining them in major battles and minor skirmishes, surviving shipwrecks and disease. We come to know such fighting men as the intrepid Drummer Richard Bentinck, the eccentric Major Jack Hill, and their beloved commander, Lt-Col. Harvey Ellis, who led his Fusiliers in some of the most famous actions only to fall at the greatest of them all - Waterloo.
This is a book that will appeal to all those interested in the Napoleonic wars, contemporary tactics and the meaning and the cost of courage.Donald E. Graves is the author or editor of 16 full-length books dealing with Napoleonic warfare and World War II. The Times Literary Supplement called his most recent work, Fix Bayonets!, 'military history at its very best'. Graves is the managing director of the Ensign Heritage Group, a consulting firm that provides military historical expertise. He is also a popular lecturer and in demand as a battlefield tour guide in North America and Europe.