8vo, pp. xii, 435; title lightly foxed, but a good copy in contemporary calf-backed boards, spine gilt and with brown morocco lettering-piece; slightly rubbed; from the library of Ian Robertson (1928–2020).
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Twenty-five years in the Rifle Brigade. By the late William Surtees, Quartermaster.
First edition of this scarce memoir, ‘full of typical stories reflecting the virtues and failings of the famous Light Division’ (Charles Oman, Wellington’s army 1809–1814 pp. 30–1).
William Surtees (1781–1830) was born in Corbridge, Northumberland, of humble parentage, and entered the 95th Rifle Brigade in 1802. He served with them for almost twenty-five years, rising to quartermaster in 1809. During the Peninsular War he served at La Coruña, Cádiz, the siege of Badajoz, Salamanca, Vitoria, and Toulouse. He sailed for England from Bordeaux on 8 July 1814, but only a few months later embarked for the United States and was involved in action against the Americans until news of the Treaty of Ghent reached the British troops on 14 February 1815.
‘Though, as Quartermaster, the author was not called by duty to join in battle, yet he lost no opportunity of entering the scene of action, or of placing himself in a favourable situation for observing what was passing . . . . There is no embellishment in the style of the author’s composition, but there is a quiet Defoe-like sincerity and simplicity characteristic of his pages, and a strain of unaffected piety, that is very pleasing; and the scenes and descriptions which he gives, though sometimes singularly chosen, and reported quite with a manner of his own, are on the whole portrayed with strong graphic effect’ (prefatory notice, pp. v–vi).
Alberich 956; Palau 325751.
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