The Autobiography of Sergeant William Lawrence A Hero of the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns

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Sgt Lawrence was born in in the gloriously named Dorset village of Bryant's Piddle, and Lawrence paints a brief but effective picture of an inward looking rural village where the mere appearance of a stranger is enough to set off a wave of gossip and rumour. After being apprenticed to a builder, he r I'm a keen history reader and I very much enjoy these first hand memoirs of centuries past.

After being apprenticed to a builder, he ran away to join the army after his master subjected him to a beating out of some petty spite. He would have been no more than 16 when he was involved in the British assault on Montevideo, and subsequently served right through the Peninsular War as well as the Battle of Waterloo.

The Autobiography of Sergeant William Lawrence: A Hero of the Peninsular and Waterloo Campaigns

His descriptions of the many battles he was in tend to be matter of fact, although the description of Waterloo does convey some of the desperate nature of that titanic clash. What's perhaps most interesting is Sgt Lawrence's honesty about his dishonesty, if that makes sense. He talks quite openly about robbing Spanish and Portuguese families that he and his comrades are billeted with. The reader cannot but feel sympathy for these unfortunate civilians, whilst at the same time realising that Napoleonic era soldiers were brutalized by the unremitting hardship of their lives and the horrors they endured in battle.

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The Duke of Wellington is famously said to have referred to his men as "the scum of the earth Lawrence describes an incident in which sentries detailed to guard a delivery of rum broke into the supply themselves, and consumed so much they actually died as a result. Numerous other incidents involving alcohol provide further evidence of the extent of drunkenness.

The Autobiography of Sergeant William Lawrence by William Lawrence

The last few chapters describe his return to England after many years absence, and he makes some extraordinary journeys through the country, again described in a completely understated way. In the end, it is the very fact that he plays down these events so much, that makes the reader realise how much the world has changed in years. Feb 06, Kathy rated it liked it Shelves: They were both personal accounts but Harris seemed less detached in a way.

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