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The Battles for Empire Volume 2: Battles of the British Army through the Victorian Age, 1857-1904

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The Battles for Empire Volume 2: Battles of the British Army through the Victorian Age, 1857-1904
Leonaur Original
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Author(s): Robert Blackwood and James Grant
Date Published: 2023/03
Page Count: 204
Softcover ISBN-13: 978-1-916535-05-3
Hardcover ISBN-13: 978-1-916535-04-6

The battles that 'coloured the map red'-part 2

The wars fought against revolutionary, consular and imperial France under Napoleon Bonaparte came to an end in June, 1815 at the Battle of Waterloo. Britain did not fight again in western Europe for almost another 100 years. However, in an age which took its name from the long reign of Queen Victoria, conflicts large and small, raged across the globe in often remote and exotic countries against determined indigenous enemies. This Leonaur two volume set focusses more of the most notable of those battles. From inauspicious beginnings the tide turned against the mutineers in India. Lucknow was relieved and there was fierce fighting at Allahbad, Futtehghur, Kotah, Jhansi, Rohan and Bareilly. Whilst the mutiny was being fought on the sub-continent conflict was also raging in China where Canton was taken, though hostilities broke out again in 1860 resulting in the assault on the Taku Forts. Troubles arose in Abyssinia, Ashantee on Africa's Gold Coast and as the 1870's drew to a close in southern Africa where the Zulu Army initially delivered a crushing defeat upon the British at Isandlwana. More defeats and victories followed in the ever-turbulent fastnesses of Afghanistan. The Boers shortly delivered another harsh lesson at Majuba.British and colonial troops went into action in the deserts of Eygpt and the Sudan and in the sweltering jungles of Burma.The Great Boer War was still being fought as Edward VII ascended the throne. As the new century dawned blood was spilled in Somaliland and Tibet. Blackwood and Grant's views of these events benefits from their ability to draw upon sources contemporary to the events described which are sometimes missing from later works. This means that their views are predictably imperial in keeping with his times. Contains images that did not accompany original texts.

Leonaur editions are newly typeset and are not facsimiles; each title is available in softcover and hardback with dustjacket.

The enemy were to be taken entirely by surprise, for Arabi had not been expecting the attack for a day or two yet, or from such a position, the British troops being stationed at Ismaileh. Notwithstanding this, when the great camp was struck at Kassassin at sunset, the news soon reached the enemy’s ears, in spite of the secrecy maintained, and it is said that until midnight the Egyptians remained under arms, after which, in accordance with Oriental custom, they fell asleep, and, according to their own account, so remained until awakened by the shots of their outposts.
Sergeant Palmer, of the 79th Highlanders, in one of the most vivid published narratives of the battle, mentions that while the British Army lay camped at Kassassin the brigade orders issued on the morning of the 10th September, foreshadowed the night march on Tel-el-Kebir, which began the same evening. One of the instructions in those orders was that each man’s water-bottle should be filled with cold tea—for the purpose, it is supposed, of keeping the soldiers awake. The regimental orders issued in the afternoon confirmed the brigade orders, and announced that the position of Tel-el-Kebir was to be attacked with the bayonet; no one was to load; and not a shot to be fired until the men were over the enemy’s entrenchments.
The 79th, upon whom the bulk of the fighting fell, cheered vigorously when the orders were read to them. They had the fullest confidence in their leader, Sir Archibald Alison, who, although severe, is described as a just and reasonable man, well versed in war. There were thirteen victories inscribed upon the Highlanders’ colours, but scarce a man in the rank and file had seen a battle, for it had been last in action during the Indian Mutiny.
The regiment paraded at 5.45 p.m. When the words “Stand at ease!” had been given, the captains of the respective companies explained to their men what they were to do to ensure victory at Tel-el-Kebir.
The remarks of Sergeant Palmer at this juncture are particularly impressive:—
Our captain was no great orator, but he had a straightforward, manly manner of speech, which somehow stirred the blood. As far as I can remember, this was what was said:—‘Men, you are marching tonight to attack a strongly-entrenched position called Tel-el-Kebir, mounting some 60 guns, and sweeping our line of approach. On the march from Nine Gun Hill there must be no smoking. The strictest silence must be kept, and, unless ordered to the contrary, you are to continue the march steadily, no matter if bullets and shells come hailstone-fashion into the ranks. No bayonets are to be fixed till the order is given, and no man is to charge until the last note of the bugle is finished. The bayonet alone is to do the work, and not a shot is to be fired until the trenches are carried. You are to fight on so long as a man stands up. Remember the country and regiment to which you belong, and fight now as fought the Highlanders of old!’
It is further recorded that as the troops were marching to Nine Gun Hill chums were giving each other messages for home in case of being killed, for all knew there was hard fighting before them.

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