March of Death
Few episodes of British military history have been as dramatic as Sir John Moore’s retreat to Corunna. March of Death is the full story of that adventure and a gripping tale of a fight for survival amidst the Spanish snow. In the bitter winter of 1808, a small British force found itself outnumbered and outmanouevered by a French army led by none other than the emperor Napoleon. Faced with crushing defeat, the British, commanded by Sir John Moore, turned and began a legendary march through the snow and ice of northern Spain to freedom and escape. Napoleon, swearing that he would drive the British leopard into the sea, pursued and an epic was born. March of Death is the story of the terrible retreat through the eyes of those who were there and who survived. Relating the horrific ordeal through excerpts from survivors’ diaries, letters, memoirs and reports, this fascinating narrative brings to life the heroism and glory of a real fight for survival. Christopher Summerville paints a vivid history of the retreat, and of the heroic climax in which the British turn and inflict a defeat on the pursuing French. It was a defeat Sir John Moore was not to see completed, for he fell mortally wounded in the battle. Summerville also shows that a remarkable number of British soldiers lost their lives not at the hands of the French, but by succumbing to typhus. British hospitals, even then suffering from a lack of bed spaces, were woefully ill-prepared to treat the returning men. Christopher Summerville is an expert on Napoleonic history and the editor of The Exploits of Baron de Marbot and Segur’s Napoleon’s Expedition to Russia.
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