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"Salamanca Campaign 1812" Topic

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Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP11 Apr 2022 9:07 p.m. PST

"After a gap of two years, the 1812 Salamanca Campaign saw Wellington taking the offensive in Spain against Marshal Marmont's Army of Portugal. Marching from the border fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo which fell to the Allies in January, neither commander was willing to take the risk of a general action without a clear tactical advantage. The result were stand-offs as Wellington offered battle on the San Christobal Heights, but once the small French-garrisoned forts left behind in Salamanca fell, Marmont withdrew to the Douro. For over a week the two armies shared cooling waters of the river before Marmont humbugged' Wellington and fell on the Allied left flank at Castrejon. Wellington rushed to the aid of the Light and 4th divisions with the heavy cavalry. Over the following days Marmont dexterously manoeuvred Wellington back towards Salamanca, with both armies within cannon shot still not risking battle. When it seemed Wellington would have to march back to the safety of Portugal, Marmont finally made a mistake on the plains south of Salamanca on 22 July 1812, by allowing his army to become over extended. Wellington saw what was happening and after weeks of marching and counter marching, the battle the soldiers earnestly hoped for was on. In the past it has been difficult to place the fighting on the ground in the centre of the Salamanca battlefield, where vast clouds of smoke and dust that rolled along the basin' obscured vision even for those fighting. Supplementing their letters, diaries and memoires with modern geographical aids, archaeology and a stout pair of boots, it is now possible to reconcile the sequence of the battle with locations, in a way in which it was not feasible even a few years ago…


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Gazzola12 Apr 2022 5:42 a.m. PST

I bought his previous title Massena At Bay, which covered the the Lines of Torres Vedras and the Battle of Fuentes de Onoro 1811. It was a good book but basically more of a detailed overview, in my opinion, possibly because the author tried to include too much into one title. There were no colour prints or photos either, which may have been in order to keep the price down. Most of the reviews were very positive but sadly, there seemed little new or not already known and it did not really inspire me to want to read further titles by the same author. However, it will go on my list as a possible to buy at a future date.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP12 Apr 2022 3:23 p.m. PST

Many thanks my good friend… (smile)


ConnaughtRanger13 Apr 2022 10:29 a.m. PST

Mr Saunders has had a very productive pandemic – he seems to be pushing out a new book every 2-3 months? He's a great enthusiast for all things military and particularly the Peninsular War – and he's a nice bloke

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2022 3:23 p.m. PST

Thanks also…


arthur181514 Apr 2022 10:30 a.m. PST

I'd recommend Rory Muir's book on Salamanca.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Apr 2022 3:29 p.m. PST

Good choise!… I have it…


Au pas de Charge23 May 2022 7:02 p.m. PST

Mr Saunders has had a very productive pandemic he seems to be pushing out a new book every 2-3 months? He's a great enthusiast for all things military and particularly the Peninsular War and he's a nice bloke

Ooooh, well that's good enough for me!

dibble24 May 2022 11:49 a.m. PST


Oh well! I'll give it a go. Though it is rather tedious to read about how the French were trounced yet again. I do hope the book uses lots of first-hand accounts and brings new light. If it doesn't, I'll read it, bookcase it and think 'meh'

Thanks for the heads-up.

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2022 4:49 p.m. PST



dibble05 Jun 2022 3:39 a.m. PST

I've decided to start reading this tome and here is how far I have got and what I think of its general contents:

93 pages of summary, situations, movement etc leads up to the day itself and the movements therein. So far so good. Lots of First hand accounts dotted throughout from both sides. I'm up to page 126, where the proverbial is about to hit the air-mover.

The Book's Maps are absolutely lousy. Just squiggly black lines, denoting rivers, main transport arteries, the odd town and important villages, which are just black squares or rounded triangles. And of course, the Arapiles denoted by amoeba shaped, light-grey blobs. The armies movements are made up of long, sweeping arrows, rectangular, solid blocks denoting infantry and the cavalry with a diagonal line within. The French are in grey, the Allies in Black. These 'maps' are just white, blank sections with no other ground detail whatsoever other than little tree silhouettes to denote wooded areas. In this day and age, these maps are, on reflection, worse than lousy. They are bl***y awful in my eyes.

Lots of contemporary pictures throughout, but all are in a poor quality, 'dark' monochrome. But worse of all, are the black and white pictures of re-enactors. So where the pictures are concerned, they are worse than the maps in my opinion.

I'll tell more after I eventually get to complete this tome.

Delort05 Jun 2022 5:16 a.m. PST

How many times do we hear about, or see for ourselves, either the absence of maps (which is generally infuriating), or poor maps, as in this case. The reason for this is that the author has to pay for the maps him/herself. If these are done professionally, a decent number of maps will cost the author up to around £1,000.00 GBP

Putting aside all the time (probably over years) that he has spent researching and writing the book, as well as the personal expense, and then designing the maps that are needed to properly inform the reader, this extra expense is considerable.

Given that the 'standard' royalty payment for a hardback book is 10% of the cover price (average price £20.00 GBP-25?), so £2.00 GBP to £2.50 GBP a book sold, before tax, you do not need the brains of an archbishop to calculate how many copies you need to sell just to cover the cost of the maps and before you make any money at all: and that's presuming your illustrations did not cost anything (in copyright), as the author is also responsible for these.

Perhaps it is now clear why some authors choose not to have any maps and some make their own (as seems to have happened in this case). This is not to excuse authors who choose this route, but just an explanation why dibble's complaint is so common.

ConnaughtRanger05 Jun 2022 10:32 a.m. PST

Mr Saunders' books are all in a similar format. Some might call them "popular history" which is not in itself a bad thing. They are very readable and give a vivid, easily understandable, impression of the given campaign. His numerous sketch maps show the general progress of events; they're not designed to enable you to identify a specific spot on a battlefield. Very expensive, professionally produced maps of the period are almost invariably a re-hash of an earlier map (such as Oman) – the accuracy of which, given the lack of source detail, is often open to question?

dibble06 Jun 2022 1:25 a.m. PST

Saunders does include part of the Oman dispositions map (found between pages 449 & and 450, Volume V of Oman's tome) on page 126. I'm sure that Saunders couldn't afford a single colour picture or good quality black and white pictures either, 'due to cost'…

Other than 'my' critical opinion. I have no beef with his telling of the campaign so far but then, I haven't read the book through yet.

dibble15 Jun 2022 1:42 p.m. PST

Finally ead it through. Pretty good where the telling of the battle is concerned. After battle actions are included as is the reception at Madrid. There is a short overview of what happened at Burgos and the subsequent retreat where the book ends. There are lots of first hand quotes which makes my assessment 'pretty good' overall (three-star rating on Amazon) as mentioned above. £18.00 GBP isn't a bad price either…

Tango01 Supporting Member of TMP15 Jun 2022 4:12 p.m. PST



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