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Wellington in India Kindle Edition
|Length: 352 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||
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Wesley certainly learned his trade in India. Much of what he learned here in terms of supply, organization and diplomacy would stand him in well in the campaigns of Spain and Portugal, and of course Waterloo. In terms of tactics readers might see some differences. In the sub-continent our hero aspired to an aggressive stance. The trick to defeating large cavalry type armies whether Mysore or Mahratta was aggression. Wesley always believed that these unweildy masses should be attacked whenever possible with the smaller, disciplined and more maneaverable Anglo-Indian forces. This is a different form of generalship than what we would see in the Peninsular and Waterloo. Again, Wesley was a supurb tactician, and adaptable. He was always learning and researching better methods of supply, intelligence, etc. This combined with his brilliance and coolness under fire certainly made him one of the best generals of the Napoleanic period.
One tactic which the reader will see employed later was his distribution of artillery among his infantry units. The guns were never massed as the Mahrattas preferred, or indeed the French. One marvels how at Assaye the 78th Highlanders were able to frontally attack all those guns. The key was speed and elan, combined with excellent and flexible generalship. India would see Wesley's ability to be everywhere on the battlefield. Because of Orrick's mistake at Assaye he would never truly trust others to carry out his orders. It was here where he developed that personal mega-detail style of generalship that won all his later battles. He was also fortunate never to receive any wounds, even though at Assaye he had two horses shot out from under him! Also, his steady horsemanship and ability to conduct extensive recces on his own or with a small staff was something many generals of the period never took too seriously.
Jac Weller describes how the Wellsely's, Arthur and his two brothers, vastly improved the British position in India. In fact they did too good a job as the conservative East India Company grew tired of their rapid advances with additional expenses. The Wesley's introduced a notion of good government over the growing empire in India, an idea that had profound influence in that nation's future development under British rule. Jac Weller may come across to some as a colonialist, but many of his arguments make sense within the concept of the time. India's peasants were no doubt better off under the British than their own petty and often murderous rulers. Mysore and the Mahratta kingdoms were certainly not about improving the lot of their own people, and there was no notion of a greater India at that time. The work of the Wellsleys would play no small part in developing a greater nationalist outlook in India.
Be warned, Jac Weller is very pro-British. The Iron Duke is his hero, and there is little that he can do wrong. Judgeing from what was accomplished here one tends to agree with that. Still, this is a fine work with many fascinating details, and wonderful tactical descriptions of battle. No one describes Napoleanic warfare better than Weller. Though an older book, no one has come out with anything better since so I strongly recommend this work, especially if you have read his other two works on Wellington in the Peninsular and of course at Waterloo. All that he later accomplished there was first worked out in India. There are also good maps and an appendix on the army's and weapons. A classic work.
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