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This book re-examines the campaign experience of British soldiers in Africa during the period 1874–1902—the zenith of the Victorian imperial expansion—and does so from the perspective of the regimental soldier. The book utilises a number of letters and diaries, written by regimental officers and other ranks, to allow soldiers to speak for themselves about their experience of colonial warfare. The sources demonstrate the adaptability of the British army in fighting in different climates, over demanding terrain and against a diverse array of enemies. They also uncover soldiers' responses to army reforms of the era as well as the response to the introduction of new technologies of war.

Open Access (free)
Edward M. Spiers

campaigns. He confirmed that letter-writing was not an exclusive preserve of regimental officers, 5 and that many shrewd and observant commentaries were written by non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and private soldiers. Emery, though, spread his work over much of the Victorian period, including odd letters from the Crimea, India and Afghanistan, and so covered several campaigns in a perfunctory manner – one

in The Victorian soldier in Africa
Open Access (free)
Edward M. Spiers

fraught with risks, not least of losing far more of their number from sickness and disease than from combat. In short, British soldiers appreciated that any service in Africa represented a challenge to their command, organisation, discipline and fighting skills. In assessing the value of letter-writing by regimental officers and other ranks three caveats have to be acknowledged: first, the correspondents

in The Victorian soldier in Africa
Edward M. Spiers

the disasters at Isandlwana and Ntombe, and the death of the Prince Imperial) 6 and among the sources used by F. W. D. Jackson and Ian Knight, and by Donald Morris in his classic volume The Washing of the Spears . 7 Yet the letters found by Emery – the core of the material used for the views of regimental officers and other ranks 8 – represent only a fraction of the

in The Victorian soldier in Africa