ADVENTUROUS PURSUITS OF A PENINSULAR WAR AND WATERLOO VETERAN: THE STORY OF PRIVATE JAMES SMITHIES, 1ST (ROYAL) DRAGOONS, 1808-15.
80pp., a few illus., hardback 2011.
Smithies’ recounted his story shortly before his death, and therefore, not surprisingly, he occasionally errs in his memory. Which memoirs do not carry such fault?! But there is an honest account woven through his story and much that rings very true. It is the only account I can recall where a soldier and his colleagues, who could not perform a mercy killing by cutting the throat of a fatally wounded friend; describe rolling him into a ditch and hastily burying him alive. His description of cavalry actions are not filled with heroics, but more the truth of confusion, lucky escapes and great relief to simply survive intact. And Waterloo, his last battle, is seen almost only through his own personal journey; his fear at encountering the cuirassiers and his tactic of riding close to them to prevent them having the room to make their deathly stab; his wounding and capture; his numerous brushes with death whilst being driven to the rear and eventual escape speak all too honestly of personal experience to have been added to.
SORRY OUT OF PRINT