By Kevin Linch (auth.)
Read or Download Britain and Wellington’s Army: Recruitment, Society and Tradition, 1807–15 PDF
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Extra resources for Britain and Wellington’s Army: Recruitment, Society and Tradition, 1807–15
The recruitment issue The British Army and the government faced a huge task in bringing the army up to wartime strength. Matching the numbers the army had in the Seven Years War and the American War of Independence would be an achievement in itself, but, as touched on above, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars saw a step-change in the size of the armed forces fighting on the continent, something that Britain had to counter. Not only was this caused by actually fighting on the continent, but also by periods when Britain faced France without allies and was often threatened with invasion, as in 1797–1798, 1801, 1803–1805 and 1807–1812 (ignoring the Franco-Austrian war in the summer of 1809).
When it did arise, the commotion it caused was fearsome. 37 Alongside the growth in size and composition of the British Army, other military forces were developed to contribute to the defence of Britain and its empire. In part, this was also a response to the globalization of warfare. As the British Army became ‘empire winners’ campaigning in far-flung lands, so there needed to be troops to defend Britain’s expanding territories and safeguard the British Isles from invasion. Although the population of Britain was increasing and colonial growth provided a further pool of potential soldiers, the escalation of warfare required an even larger proportion of men in the armed forces.
Secondly, Britain took advantage of the political instability in Corsica and captured the island, but was forced to abandon it when the Royal Navy had to withdraw from the Mediterranean in the wake of the Franco-Spanish Alliance of late 1796. Thirdly, it made use of French émigré Royalist troops, particularly in 1795. The operations with the émigré units, who were sent to Brittany with the aim of bolstering another rebellion against the revolutionary government, proved disastrous. Still, within all of these proceedings there were elements of traditional strategic considerations, as well as simple opportunism.