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Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket

4.05  ·  Rating Details ·  413 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Redcoat is the story of the British soldier—those noncommissioned men whom Kipling called "the backbone of the army"—from roughly 1760 to 1860. Based on the letters and diaries of the men who served and the women who followed them, this book is rich in the history of a fascinating era. Among the highlights are Wolfe's victory and death at Quebec, Wellington's Peninsular Wa ...more
Hardcover, First American Edition, 466 pages
Published October 17th 2002 by W. W. Norton Company (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 14, 2013 Manray9 rated it really liked it
Shelves: british-military
Redcoat: The British Soldier in the Age of Horse and Musket is another fine work by British historian Richard Holmes. Holmes presents life in the King’s army from the time of John Churchill, the 1st Duke of Marlborough, through the Indian Mutiny. He covers all facets from recruitment, camp life, pay, uniforms, weapons, tactics, women, rations and -- not to be neglected – drink, which was copious. Much as in his admirable Sahib: The British Soldier in India, 1750-1914, Holmes relies heavily on fi ...more
Dean Hamilton
Mar 11, 2012 Dean Hamilton rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"All gentlemen that have a mind
to serve the queen that's good and kind
come 'list and enter into pay..."

The Duke of Wellington called them "The scum of the earth". Although he on occasion added as an afterword "But what very fine fellows we have made of them...", he was not far off the mark. They were uneducated, generally illiterate, frequently drunk, poverty-stricken, disease-ridden, itinerate looters, vagabonds and thieves. They were the redcoats and they were, for the better part of a century
-Más cotidiano que púramente bélico.-

Género. Ensayo.

Lo que nos cuenta. Retrato histórico, pero desde una perspectiva inquisitivamente singular, de las fuerzas de infantería que lucharon a través de medio mundo por la gloria (y la economía) del Imperio Británico.

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Apr 14, 2008 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: napoleonic-wars
Highly readable, if slightly meandering overview of just about every detail of the British soldier over the century between roughly 1750-1850. The generalisations are acknowledged by the author from the get-go and this sets the tone for a great pick-up-put-down read. I particularly liked the inclusion of a number of quotations and anecdotes from real soldiers. Cracking stuff
Aug 23, 2008 Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
comprehensive history of the british soldier in the 18th and 19th centuries - not just a military, but a social history. Definitely warts and all, but as always, Richard Holmes makes the era come alive
Bill McFadyen
Oct 19, 2016 Bill McFadyen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Redcoat tells the story of the British soldier through the American , Wellington and Indian mutiny conflicts. The book is factual and includes tales of privates and generals at war and at peace. If you enjoy the Sharpe books of Bernard Cornwall you will probably enjoy this beautifully written book.
Jan 31, 2010 Steve rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Mid 2. Although Holmes has compiled an interesting historical portrait of the typical British soldier and his place in military conflict over the period 1756-1860, his account is of more interest to those with a fascination with military weaponry and tactics leaving the general reader with few details of wider scope. The author explains that the British infantry and its role had distinct characteristics dependent on whether it served in the European theatre or on the fringes of empire. The forme ...more
Jan 21, 2016 Colleen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fantastic book. It skips around a bit but I liked all the various sections and how he broke down the subject matter. I now want to read the rest of his books and have ordered a few to take up next. This book is a very chatty one, populated with TONS of anecdotes and interesting facts, and refreshingly focuses on the average soldier, but naturally lots of information on officers and leaders (especially Wellington).

It traces the army from the Seven Years War (1740s--though I noticed quite a few
Marguerite Kaye
Jun 12, 2014 Marguerite Kaye rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was recommended to me by several other author friends, and I'm so glad I found it. A first class and fully comprehensive account of what it was like to be a common soldier in the British army spanning more than a hundred years. Redcoat gives you all the stuff you'd expect about uniforms, orders of battle, discipline and arms. It covers the changes that happened in the span between the Seven Years War up to the Crimea. It covers the variations by regiment, the culture changes that the v ...more
Aug 29, 2016 Alex rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Another disappointing effort from Richard Holmes: I'd heard such good things about this book and Tommy but actually it's not worth it. It's well researched and full of accurate trivial detail. He fails, however, in his aim of dealing with the ordinary private soldier as much of the history he discusses concentrates on the generals and officers leading the wars and battles. He does manage to give a good account of the size, structure and organisation of the army and how it changes over the years. ...more
Robert Hepple
Jul 15, 2015 Robert Hepple rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Redcoat tells the history of the British Soldier from around 1760 to around 1860. The soldier is told mainly through a series of anecdotes relating to different subject areas pertaining to army life, rather than through a linear path through the campaigns and battles of the period. It did seem like a large proportion of the anecdotes came from the Peninsular campaign in the Napoleonic War or from the Crimean War, but that still left room for many others because it is quite a long and engrossing ...more
Bob Mobley
Jul 28, 2016 Bob Mobley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Redcoat is the story of the British soldier, those non-commissioned men Kipling called “backbone of the army” from roughly 1760 – 1860. The author weaves together the day to day struggles and joys of British soldiers in peace time as well as on combat duty. If you are interested in a terrific insight into the British and its traditions, and the evolution that comes from changing technology and tactics you will like this book. What makes it most interesting is the story is told largely through th ...more
Excellent. A comprehensive look at the British Army (from soldiers on up to officers but also including army agents, camp followers, wives and childeren, etc) from recruitment and training to transportation, march, battle and siege, bivouac, recreation, pay and "retirement". The author focuses on the period when the "Brown Bess" musket wa the primary weapon of the British infantryman - from the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, through the Peninsular Campaign and Waterloo, up th ...more
Jan 09, 2015 Owen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: napoleonic, empire
Richard Holmes tackles this behemoth of a subject, with vivid recollections from the era and excellent writing. Approaching his subject matter with the balance that it deserves and reminding the reader never to forget the valiant lives that have shaped history. Pulling together military, social and medical history to name but a few, in order to bring his subject to life. No matter how small, they appear to be. I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in this period or ...more
Sep 30, 2016 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well researched and told. A short synopsis somewhere about the battles covered over the course of the book... reason, location, outcome... would have helped. Not too much info either on the lives of old and ex-soldiers. Solid history otherwise.
Jem Wilton
Sep 28, 2014 Jem Wilton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic historical analysis mixing great real life stories in with the history - only reason it's not a 5...the history of the make up of particular regiments, battalions etc got a little too intense.
Mar 17, 2013 Trawets rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have an interest in British military history then this is a "must read".
Richard Holmes gives us an in-depth study of the British Army in the 18th and 19th centuries.
A great read with a surprising number of contemporary accounts.
Roger Neilson
Nov 07, 2013 Roger Neilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An immense book that deals with almost two centuries in one span showing the background to the life and activities of the british soldier. Fascinating and the way it skims from one action to another, decades apart works well.
Leigh Clayton
A bit hard going at times but if you stick with it it becomes a very good account of the ordinary soldier, Redcoat, during the British Empires growth and dominance.
Jun 14, 2010 James rated it really liked it
Slightly rambling, but charming and thorough social history.
Glyn Bartholomew
Very good book but some people might not like it as it rambles. It looks a hundred year period of the British Army with excellent facts and excerpts from the lower ranks.
Sean Chick
Average book. The layout was at times confusing, but I'm glad Holmes avoided some of the nationalistic tones that are prevalent in other work by British military historians.
Dec 16, 2008 Gash rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Newcomb
Aug 03, 2015 John Newcomb rated it liked it
An epic collection of anecdotes regarding the army from the seven years war to the Crimea. All very hearts of oakish.
Thomas T
Feb 28, 2014 Thomas T rated it it was amazing
A great informative book about the world of the British Soldier in the age of Horse & Musket,
russell barnes
May 12, 2007 russell barnes rated it it was ok
A bit repetative, and not as good as Wellington but still essential background Sharpe-reading
Jeff Morgan
Jul 31, 2012 Jeff Morgan rated it really liked it
A comprehensive collection. Informative.
Nigel Seed
Nov 11, 2014 Nigel Seed rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richard Holmes was a great writer and historian. Sadly he is no longer with us but the books, like this one, make a fine legacy. Informative, well written and highly readable as ever.
Vikas Datta
Oct 06, 2016 Vikas Datta rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most informative and interesting..
Apr 18, 2007 raymond rated it it was amazing
Horse, foot, guns - and wounds.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.
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Richard Holmes was Professor of Military and Security Studies at Cranfield University and the Royal Military College of Science. He was educated at Cambridge, Northern Illinois, and Reading Universities, and carried out his doctoral research on the French army of the Second
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