JOHN WESTCOTT’S JOURNAL OF THE CAMPAIGN IN PORTUGAL: LATE BANDMASTER OF THE BAND 1/26TH (CAMERONIAN) REGT.
140pp., some illus., printed boards. 2017. John Westcott, as a Band Master of the Cameronians did not witness battles. This does not mean however that his memoir is not a treasure trove for the student of the British army in the Peninsular war. Westcott talks a great deal about the country of Portugal and its people . He notes in great detail the Portuguese units he encounters, the French prisoners of war (including General Philippon at Lisbon Castle), and even identifying their individual regiments; he tours the hospitals for the army and describes fully the terrible conditions and depravations the army had to endure. He visits the scene of the Battle of Bussaco one year on and the fortress of Almeida following the truly awful explosion there and in both cases, he portrays the remains of these events in lurid detail. Indeed, military historians often complain that the soldiers do not mention the regular and to them the mundane, making it difficult to fully understand their plight. The joy of this book is that it helps significantly to fill a great number of these blanks in our knowledge and is therefore highly recommended for anyone who really wants to understand Wellington’s army.