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"Next to Wellington: General Sir George Murray" Topic


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ConnaughtRanger07 Dec 2019 4:30 a.m. PST

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In common with most of Helion's output, this is a beautifully produced book; well illustrated with maps and photographs. It is clearly well researched and makes extensive use of Murray's prolific personal correspondence. A comprehensive biography of Murray is long overdue. He was at the centre of many of the significant military campaigns of the period in many theatres from the Caribbean to the Baltic to Egypt in addition to almost the entire Peninsular War. He had a unique position close to the Command that gives an interesting insight into strategic thinking and the abilities of the various Commanders. He was an extremely talented and capable QMG and his control of the Army's complex movements is sometimes breathtaking – the detail of the movement orders for the retreat from Bussaco is a case in point. Initially frosty, Wellesley rapidly came to value Murray's ability and he was one of the few who gained his trust. This was sometimes unreciprocated – even as Massena was being hurried back into Spain, Murray was still convinced that the entire "Torres Vedras" strategy would end in disaster. One of the themes of the book is Murray's persistent efforts to secure promotion to the extent that he resigned whilst on leave from Spain to gain a more prestigious appointment and as a result missed the entire 1812 campaign. He was prevailed on to return and effectively became the de facto Second-in-Command during the confused fighting in Northern Spain in 1813. The book also contains many fascinating anecdotes of life on campaign from fox-hunting to a riotous game of football in the marketplace outside Headquarters at Fuente Guinaldo (probably one for Brechtel198's list of War Crimes given the wanton destruction to property?). There's a passage that perhaps explains some of the feelings expressed elsewhere in the Napoleonic Message Boards. Commenting on the French behaviour towards Portuguese civilians during their retreat from Santarem in 1811, he comments in a letter to his brother:
"Nothing could mark more strongly how much policy and injustice go hand in hand with these French Scoundrels and how much discipline there is among their troops and how much barbarity amongst their Generals. Pray let them be painted in their true colours to your children, and let the detestation of them be handed down in Britain to the latest posterity"
An excellent book that is very highly recommended.

Brechtel198 Supporting Member of TMP07 Dec 2019 4:50 a.m. PST

Agree. Murray is one of the most influential officers in the British Army and should be studied.

Green Tiger09 Dec 2019 2:50 a.m. PST

Have met the author – he was a relative of Murray's- very nice chap.

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