Research Subjects: Eyewitness Accounts

British Memoirs of the Napoleonic Wars: Royal Engineers

By Robert Burnham

The Royal Engineers consisted only of officers. The majority were kept at the army level and assigned where needed. In Peninsula, one or two officers were often assigned to a division. There were never that many Royal Engineers assigned to the Peninsular Army, so during sieges, infantry officers would volunteer to supplement the Royal Engineers as assistant engineers.

Boothby, Charles. Under England’s Flag from 1804 to 1809. London: A. & C. Black; 1900. 285 Pages.

Burgoyne, John. Life and Correspondence of Field Marshal Sir John Burgoyne. 2 vols. Wrottesley, George. (ed.)London: Richard Bentley; 1873. 318 pages.

Notes: Egypt 1806; Straslund; 1808; Corunna; Peninsula 1809 - 1814; New Orleans. Only Volume One covers the Napoleonic Wars.

Burgoyne, John. "Waterloo: Remarks Made on a Visit to the Ground in 1816" in Gareth Glover (ed.). The Waterloo Archive Volume IV: British Sources. Barnsley: Frontline, 2012. Pages 241 - 242

Notes: was not at Waterloo.

Carmichael Smyth, James. "A New Account of the Waterloo Campaign, Three Letters by Lieutenant-Colonel James Carmichael Smyth, Royal Engineers". Andrew Bamford (ed.) '. . . a damned nice thing. . . the nearest run thing you ever saw in your life . . .' A Peninsular and Waterloo Anthology. Society for Amry Historical Research Speical Publication #17. Pages151 - 155

Notes: Lieutenant-Colonel James Carmichael Smyth was the senior Royal Engineer assigned to Wellington's Army. The letters are dated 19 June, 4 July, and 5 July 1815.

Fitzpatrick, Nicholas. "Letter to Marshal Beresford dated 1 November 1811" in The Texas Papers: a Collection of Peninsular War Letters, Written by Various Senior British & Portuguese Officers held at the Woodson Research Centre, Rice University, Texas. edited by Gareth Glover. Godmanchester: Ken Trotman, 2010. Pages 46 - 48

Notes: Was a surgeon in the Royal Artillery. Letter was about the trouble he had finding appropriate billets for two wounded Royal Engineer Officers, Captains Edward Mulcaster and Peter Patton.

Jones, Harvey. "Seven Weeks Captivity in ST. Sebastian, in 1813" published in William Maxwell's Peninsular Sketches; by Actors on the Scene. Cambridge: Ken Trotman; 1998. 2 vols. 389 & 399 pages.

Notes: Vol.  2; Pages: 286 - 311.

Jones, Rice. An Engineer Officer under Wellington in the Peninsula. Cambridge: Ken Trotman; 1986.  128 pages.

Notes: was a 1st lieutenant; staff engineer in Light Division; letters from 1793 - 1812; in the Peninsula from April 1809 - February 1812.

Landmann, George. Recollections of My Military Life. Godmanchester: Ken Trotman, 2005. 623 pages.

Notes: Two volumes in one.  First volume 1806 – 1808; 2nd volume 1808; was a captain at Rolica and Vimiero.

MacCarthy, John E.C. Recollections of the Storming of the Castle of Badajoz by the Third Division. Staplehurst: Spellmount; 2001. 118 pages.

Note: was a lieutenant in the 50th Foot; volunteer assistant engineer on Picton's staff.

Machell, Lancelot. The Peninsular War Letters of Lancelot Machell RE. Mark S. Thompson (ed.). Published by Mark S. Thompson, 2017.

Notes: These are the letters of a young engineer officer describing his training and early experiences. They cover a period from 1809 until his death at the siege of San Sebastian in 1813. Whilst Lancelot’s active campaigning in the Peninsula lasted only several months, he does shed interesting light on the first real campaign in which the Royal Sappers and Miners operated as discrete units. His letters concerning the work to train the Royal Military Artificers at Plymouth form a fascinating insight into the formation of the School of Military Engineering.

Mulcaster, Edmund. The Peninsular War Diary of Edmund Mulcaster RE, 1808 - 1810. Mark Thompson (ed.) Privately printed, 2015.

Oldfield, John. "Letter # 196, dated 12 March 1845" in Letters from the Battle of Waterloo: Unpublished Correspondence by Allied Officers from the Siborne Papers. Gareth Glover (ed.). London: Greenhill; 2004. Pages 299 - 300

Notes: was a captain and the brigade major for the Royal Engineers at Waterloo.

Oldfield, Jon. "Waterloo Memoirs dated July 1815" in Gareth Glover (ed.). The Waterloo Archive Volume VI: British Sources. Barnsley: Frontline, 2014. Pages 204 - 217

Notes: was a captain and the brigade major for the Royal Engineers at Waterloo. Has extensive information on the role of the Royal Engineers at Waterloo.

Smyth, James C. Triumphs and Disasters: Eyewitness Accounts from the Netherlands Campaign, 1813–1814. Bamford, Andrew (ed.). Barnsley: Frontline, 2016. Pages 1 - 60.

Notes: was a lieutenant colonel in the 1813 - 1814 Campaign in the Netherlands. Great description of the siege operations.

Sperling, John. Letters from an Officer of the Corps of Engineers, from the British Army in Holland, Belgium & France to his Father, from the latter end of 1813 to 1816. Godmanchester: Ken Trotman, 2012. 208 pages.

Notes: was a lieutenant and part of the British forces that went to the Low Countries in December 1813 with General Graham; was at Waterloo.

Sperling, John. "Four Letters to His Father datedd 29 May, 13 June, 20 June, and 24 June 1815" in Gareth Glover (ed.). The Waterloo Archive Volume VI: British Sources. Barnsley: Frontline, 2014. Pages 218 - 224

Notes: was a lieutenant. One letter contains his Waterloo diary.

Thompson, Mark S. (editor). The Peninsular War Diary of Edmund Mulcaster RE, 1808 - 1810. Privately published, 2015. ISBN: 9781615310792.

Notes: Was assigned to 1st Division, then helped build the Lines of Tores Vedras; was assigned to the 4th Division; diary ends the day before the battle of Busaco.

Placed on the Napoleon Series: September 2013; last updated May 2019


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