Boots and Saddles! Horses and Riders of Wellington's Army by Paul L. Dawson, is now available from Black Tent Publications.
The British cavalry of the Napoleonic Wars earned a reputation for its bravado and lack of command and control. This book seeks to explore the truth behind this by looking critically at the horses used by the British Army, their training and also, crucially the training of the riders. Unlike the French army of the same period, Wellington’s cavalry lacked a single universal training manual for the rider and horse, with a standardisation only of regimental and brigade tactics. Many new skills such as picket and patrol work were learned the hard way, on campaign. Many regiments that served in the Peninsular War and at Waterloo had not seen action for a number of years. With officers more at home on the hunting field than on the battlefield, and concentration on the charge and not the vital rallying of men and horses after a charge, it is easy to see why the British cavalry was often a ‘one trick pony' in as much as it could charge once, and then potentially become a spent force. The book does not seek to explore the British cavalry's role in the Napoleonic wars battle by battle and indeed this is not its aim. Instead it seeks to present the training of horse and rider of Wellington’s army, following on from the author’s ground-breaking and critically acclaimed work Au Galop! Horses and Riders of Napoleon's Army. Chapters deal with the horses of the cavalry and other mounted arms, and how the horses were cared for, trained, and transported to the area of operations. Other chapters look at the men of the cavalry, establishing who they were and how they were trained and clothed. There is also a discussion of the tack and saddles used by the British cavalry. Meticulously researched, much of the information in the book has not appeared in print before; using mainly primary sources, Paul Dawson brings his subject to life with a wealth of detail and illustrations. He presents a portrait of Wellington's cavalry from hoof to tack, giving an in-depth view of what life was like in the British cavalry for horses and their riders. This book is a must for serious historians of the period, amateur enthusiasts and war gamers alike