Greenhill Books: Napoleonic Library

25 Years in the Rifle Brigade

William Surtees

New introduction by Ian Fletcher

25 Years in the Rifle Brigade cover


The 95th Rifles produced some of the most exciting accounts written about the Napoleonic Wars. One of these is Twenty-Five Years in the Rifle Brigade by William Surtees, who volunteered for the Rifles in 1802 and served with them for 25 years. All the esprit de corps, the initiative, the pluck and the glamour of the Rifles shine out of these pages. Surtees deals with episodes as dramatic as those featuring Richard Sharpe, Bernard Cornwell's fictional hero of the 95th Rifles - and the feats Surtees describes are all the more compelling for being true.

After joining up, Surtees soon proved himself to be a steady and competent soldier. Sharing the perils of many a battlefield, he was able to leave immensely valuable eyewitness descriptions of fighting in the Peninsular War and the later stages of the 1812-14 war against America. In peace time Surtees served in Ireland and Nova Scotia, retiring in 1826 to his home in Northumberland, where he wrote these memoirs.

Twenty-Five Years in the Rifle Brigade is essential reading for all enthusiasts in the Napoleonic Wars.


  • One of the best first-hand accounts of the Peninsular War
  • Action in the 1812-14 war against America


"...This is a remarkable book...his reminiscences...are among the best of many notable writings about the Napoleonic Wars." - Journal of the Royal Artillery

"...This celebrated first-hand account of the Peninsular War by a soldier of the 95th Rifles - one of the many rich sources that inspired Bernard Cornwell to create Sharpe - is a welcome reprint by Greenhill Books. " - Military Illustrated

" Vivid...horrors abound." - Donald Huffer, The Waterloo Journal


Ian Fletcher is a leading authority on the Peninsular War, whose books include In Hell Before Daylight, Gentlemen's Sons and For King and Country. He is the director of Midas Battlefield Tours, and regularly leads tours of the Iberian Peninsula battlefields.

February 1996 | ISBN 1-85367-230-0 | Price: £19.50/$40.00

Format: 222 x 141mm | Pages: 464

Features: General and Regimental Indexes


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