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"The Napoleonic ‘Dad’s Army’ The British Volunteer Movement" Topic


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Lilian11 Aug 2023 12:41 p.m. PST

last book from Paul Lindsay Dawson's quadrilogy about the British 'Home Front'

Coming later this year, my fourth and final exploration of the 'Home Front' in the United Kingdom during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The three proceeding volumes in the series explore famine, dissent and how the working-class sought to overthrow the British Crown and create a Jacobin style republic in England, Scotland and Ireland. Our final volume looks at how William Pitt and then Henry Addington used state propaganda to rally the 'possessing classes' of home owners, shop keepers and small business men to stand with the Crown against the ideals of democracy, freedom of religion, free universal education, old age pensions to create the modern-day Conservative Party in England. The Period 1789-1820 was a war of ideology: the modern world verses the world of Elites, patriarchy, privilege and the right of the few to rule based on birth right and wealth. The British soldier was fighting to keep the rich in power, to destroy democratic ideals and promote 'British is best'. The sense of British Nationalism was forged with the point of the bayonet against ' enemies of the people' both at home and abroad. It is undeniable that Addington and Pitt were hugely successful in their commitment to class war, to defend privilege and to rally sufficient of the population to the Crown to stave off revolution and reform until 1830. The Volunteer and Auxiliary forces, inspired by the French National Guard, were the key to this success, as we explore in this volume. My twin Anthony and I embarked on this research togther over 20 years ago: at long last it is now in print

Paul Lindsay Dawson

During the crisis year of 1792 when war against France was at its closest, a variety of societies and associations of ‘Loyal Britons' were set up throughout Britain. Their aim was to organise patriotic, anti-French forces in defence of king and country, and to help maintain the established order. The need to provide an internal defence force resulted in the Volunteer Act of 1794. It witnessed the formation of hundreds of volunteer regiments on the upswell in loyalist sentiment following the disorder and instability witnessed across the Channel in Revolutionary France. By 1798, there were 118,000 volunteers but, faced with the possibility of a French invasion of Southern England, William Pitt's government aimed to expand this number substantially. By 1804 there were an astonishing 380,000 volunteers under arms and the various Corps made up half to one third of all the home service forces. When we add in those volunteers who agreed to serve overseas, as garrison troops in India for example, the number grows to approximately 800,000 – meaning that around one in every five adult males participated in military activities. This amazing groundswell of patriotic fervour has seldom been investigated before. Using diaries and archive sources, this book seeks to explore the ‘Dad's Army' of the Napoleonic Wars. These men were far more than local bands of volunteers, they represented a militarisation of society not previously seen and which was repeated again when the world was thrown into war in the twentieth century.

King Monkey11 Aug 2023 12:51 p.m. PST

Interesting subject, might have to looking for the other volumes.

dibble11 Aug 2023 2:37 p.m. PST

Our final volume looks at how William Pitt and then Henry Addington used state propaganda to rally the 'possessing classes' of home owners, shop keepers and small business men to stand with the Crown against the ideals of democracy, freedom of religion, free universal education, old age pensions to create the modern-day Conservative Party in England. The Period 1789-1820 was a war of ideology: the modern world verses the world of Elites, patriarchy, privilege and the right of the few to rule based on birth right and wealth. The British soldier was fighting to keep the rich in power, to destroy democratic ideals and promote 'British is best'. The sense of British Nationalism was forged with the point of the bayonet against ' enemies of the people' both at home and abroad

Is Dawson a political hack who leaves historical and social context at the door? Or is he an historian?

All the same. He should keep his personal, political proclivities out of it.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2023 3:43 p.m. PST

You know, it was once said of Arthur M. Schlesinger's Age of Jackson that "every page voted for Roosevelt." This fellow appears to belong to the same school of historical writing. That, or he should have shot his blurb writer. (In fairness, he may already have been dead when someone wrote that blurb.)

A shame, because he was capable of solid archival research. Don't let his exposures of long-concealed "Truth" or his attempt to use 18th Century history as a club to beat his 21st Century enemies keep anyone from reading Napoleon's Waterloo Army.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP11 Aug 2023 5:09 p.m. PST

I should have read more closely. No way to dissociate Dawson from the blurb.

Wonderful how he can discern motive at this historical distance, and be sure that no British soldier (or volunteer) fought to prevent--oh, a Committee of Public Safety, guillotines running 27/7 on Tower Hill, or the local landowner's property somehow winding up in the hands of a well-connected lawyer in the capital. Certainly not to forestall the benevolent reign of King Lucien I and a nobility made up of French generals, backed up by French security forces and judges, with rooms in Vincennes and benches on the galleys awaiting malcontents, everyone being equal except for the Emperor and members of his family.

There was a strong British reform movement following the AWI. You can read about it and place it in context in Phillips' The Cousins Wars. But if you want to know why British reform went through a lull in this period, you only have to look across the Channel. Odd, in that Dawson seems to quite like looking across the Channel otherwise.

42flanker12 Aug 2023 1:26 a.m. PST

"this book seeks to explore the ‘Dad's Army' of the Napoleonic Wars. These men were far more than local bands of volunteers…"

So, actually not 'Dad's Army', actually.

All Sir Garnett12 Aug 2023 6:24 a.m. PST

For the reasons above I don't think I will be buying this.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2023 8:46 a.m. PST

A shame, because he was capable of solid archival research .</q >

Something he continues to do in this series. "Fighting Napoleon at Home" makes extensive use of contemporary publications, letters, diaries, etc. I expect he does the same in this volume.

There is no getting around the fact that there was a great deal of social instability in Britain during this period, whether because of the wars, or in spite of them. My exposure to the topic has been looking through the records of Volunteer and Yeomanry units. While admittedly searching for uniform details, one can't help but take in the history. Breaking up public meetings and hunting Luddites features significantly.

42flanker12 Aug 2023 9:10 a.m. PST

"there was a great deal of social instability in Britain during this period"

Well, there was a war on.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2023 9:40 a.m. PST

I don't doubt you, Enfant. And if he had written an Osprey-format pamphlet on the Percy Tenantry Volunteers, I'd pay $30 USD for it sight unseen. I still feel an absolutely insane urge to build them in 28mm at about 1:10.

But I'm a miniature wargamer. I have no urge to reenact "Peterloo" on a table, or to command a gang of Luddites breaking up a mill. As for the social and political history of the period, the last man I want as a guide is an author unable to separate his outrage at a modern party from his understanding of the latter 18th Century.

Back to my painting table.

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2023 10:15 a.m. PST

Understood. Perhaps what may be confusing is the wording "to create the modern-day Conservative Party in England." , which might be misconstrued as the current-day Conservative Party. Rather, he is referring the the actual foundation of the Conservative Party by Robert Peel n 1834. Via the Tamworth Manifesto and Peel's subsequent career, it's clear that the domestic struggles of the period did inform the positions of the new party.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Aug 2023 12:50 p.m. PST

Well, so far no one's even taking pre-orders, much less posting reviews, so all we have is what we have here. Quite frankly, I don't think a man who could write "The British soldier was fighting to keep the rich in power, to destroy democratic ideals and promote 'British is best'." has made much of an effort to understand his subject. Picture the Battle of Albuera with the commander of the 57th Foot shouting "Die hard, men! We have to prevent old age pensions!"
You have to see movements as they saw themselves, and Dawson, by his own words, isn't making any such effort. It's as though the younger Pitt is personally standing in the way of the 1945 Labour victory. If you read the book and he means something different, please let me know.

Percy Tenantry17 Aug 2023 10:54 a.m. PST

link

'Dads Army' gives an image of bumbling amateur soldiers. The real home guard of WW2 would have been more effective than what the tv programe portrays. The volunteers of 200 years ago however ranged from poor and commanded by non military men to almost elite soldiers trained by experienced and even innovative men. My new book about the Percy Tenantry Volunteers illustrates one such volunteer corps.

Percy Tenantry12 Sep 2023 9:42 a.m. PST

Robert piepenbrink you can read about the Percy Tenantry Volunteers – my new book about them is now published, 'To the call of bugles'. Available at all the usual retailers.

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