Cover Image: The Recollections of Rifleman Harris

The Recollections of Rifleman Harris

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Member Reviews

A look at a battle in the Napoleonic wars through a soldiers eyes. But it does read at times that he wrote parts or all of it after the fact - months or years after. Where he may have referenced a journal and memory of what happened in the battle/war. Nice for those who want to look at the wars through an English soldier experience.
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For any military history buff, "The Recollections of Rifleman Harris" is a must read.  Unlike most books on the Napoleonic War, "Recollections" is not a grand overview from beginning to end, nor does it focus on the generals, the wide movements of companies, or politics at home or abroad.  It is, instead, exactly what its' title suggests: the memories of a single Rifleman's experiences during the course of his time at war.  The son of a shepherd, and a shepherd himself before enlisting, Harris never tries to sound like someone he isn't.  He never tells of things he didn't see himself, or heard told to him by someone he knew.  He is a common soldier, trained to repair shoes and boots for his men, and telling the story of a common man's experience.  Harris fought in the Peninsular Campaign and tells of marching through Portugal, gives a harrowing firsthand account of the retreat at Corunna, the hardships, illnesses, fatigue, and challenges faced in day-to-day life as a soldier. Nothing is overblown or moralized, he describes searching dead soldier's bodies for useful items with the same tone as charging a line of French cavalry or marching for days: as something you did to survive.

 All told matter-of-factly, in a straightforward style, you can imagine the former Rifleman telling you his stories over a pint at the pub.  This inside look at a soldier's life should fascinate and intrigue any military history buff.
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