Norbert Landsheit—was an old soldier at the Chelsea Pensioners Hospital when he told the fascinating experience of his military life to G. R.Gleig, the author of several well known military autobiographies and histories and ghost writer for several ordinary soldiers tales of the Napoleonic period. Born within the German states this young cavalryman first went to war as one of Hompesch's Hussars engaged in the disastrous campaign in the Low Countries against the armies of Revolutionary France. Transferred into the British Army this horse-soldier then saw years of campaigning during the long wars against the First Empire including hard service in the Peninsular War. As a light dragoon and once again as a hussar Landsheit takes us on an engaging journey through early nineteenth century warfare filled with detail of camp life and adventures on and off the battlefield. Previously available only as an expensive antiquarian edition or as a rare facsimile reprint, this memoir of the Napoleonic era will delight all enthusiasts of the period.
Then it was proposed by Colonel Blake, on whom the command had devolved, that a party should go out to seek for Colonel Taylor’s body, and as he asked for volunteers I readily stood forth as one in a crowd, all of them equally willing.<br>
We moved to the front, Captain Bingham Newland of my troop being along with us, and found the declivity of the hill and the plain below covered with the killed and wounded. There they lay, English and French thrown promiscuously together, while hordes of peasants, together with women from our own army, were already in full occupation as plunderers. Among other dead men, we passed a French officer of Voltigeurs, a tall, good-looking follow, who wore in his chakot a beautiful green feather, to which Colonel Blake took a fancy.<br> “Landsheit,” said he, “I should like to have that Frenchman’s feather. He will have no further use for it himself—suppose you fetch it me.” I dismounted immediately, and having taken the feather, I thought to myself why should not I look for something more? He is dead enough, that’s certain, and neither money nor watch can avail him now. Accordingly I turned him over and took all that he had—a watch and three Spanish dollars. This done, I rode after the detachment, which was somewhat in front, and oven-taking it, gave the feather to the colonel.<br>
I was in the act of stooping forward, and he had reached out his hand for the prize, when a musket-shot came from behind a bush hard by, and the ball whistled between the colonel’s head and mine. We looked about and saw whence the smoke ascended, upon which my officer directed that I would ride up to the spot, and desire the man, whoever he might be, to cease firing. I did so, and found a French grenadier wounded in the thigh, but who, leaning against a bank, was in the act of ramming home another cartridge, and persisted in doing so in spite of my remonstrance. “Throw away that musket,”’ said I, “and I will give you quarter!”<br>
“I want no quarter,” replied the grenadier: “just stop a moment, and you shall see.” There was no time to deliberate, for he was already returning his ramrod, and the next instant would have sent a ball through my body; So I gave him a rap over the head with my sword, which put a final stop to all his pugnacious propensities. As a wounded man I would have gladly spared him; but his blood be upon his own head; I could not allow him to live and be killed myself.