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Joaquin Blake was an Irishman who fought for the Spanish against Napoleon – and delivered a rare victory against the French.

Article by Andrew Bamford from “Military Illustrated”.


Son of the Wild Geese.


Throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, expatriate Irish soldiers fought with distinction in the Catholic armies of Europe. After the collapse of the final Jacobite rising of 1745, the trickle of rank-and-file volunteers largely dried up, but many Irish gentry families had by now established themselves in exile, giving good service as officers and assimilating themselves into the societies of their new homes. Whilst the Irish heritage of these sons of the Wild Geese led to some ludicrous names and dubiously-assumed pretensions to nobility (such as Austria’s Johans-Sigismund Maguire von Inniskillin), they rewarded the states that had adopted them with loyal and honest service.

This was nowhere more true than in Spain, where, upon the outbreak of the Peninsular War in 1808, only a handful of officers of Irish descent sided with the French, as opposed to scores of high-ranking Spanish traitors. The most distinguished of the Hispano-Irish who stayed loyal to Spain was Joaquin Blake, one of the very few Spanish generals to ever defeat the French in battle during the final six years of the conflict.

Napoleon’s Coup.


Read more... )
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The city library continues to surprise me. Pleasantly, I might add. Today I found (and borrowed) "The Dairy of a Cavalry Officer 1809-1815, Lt.-Col William Tompkinson" and "Wellington's Lieutenant, Napoleon's Gaoler: Peninsular letters and St. Helena diaries of Sir George Ridout Bingham". :D
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This painting by Kivshenko represents the military council held at the village of Fili right after the Battle of Borodino. It was there that the decision to abandon Moscow to the French was made. Kutuzov had summoned his principal generals to it and though most of them opposed the abandonment of Moscow, and in fact proposed to attack Napoleon's forces, he ordered the retreat. Famously one of the Generals that did support his idea was Count Osterman-Tolstoy who, according to some sources said: 'Moscow does not constitute Russia: our purpose is not simply the defence of the capital, but the whole country, and for that the main object is preserving the army.'

In the Russian 1967 movie "War and Peace" when the scene opens at the council in Fili, the whole set-up copies this painting almost exactly.

Count A. I. Osterman-Tolstoy is the fifth from the left, the one who is leaning back against the wall by the window. I absolutely love the way he is placed in the painting, with the sunlight almost giving a sort of glow to him. (Yes, I am a fangirl! XD)

Click the painting for a bigger version. :D (So you can see pretty Count Osterman-Tolstoy better. ^_^)

The Complete Who is Who on this painting )


Jul. 13th, 2009 09:26 am
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Finally watched the new episode of Eureka! My favourite quote of the episode: 'You speak Dutch?!'

Was up the whole night, so that's what is responsible for the following.

See that userpic? It comes from this portrait. Portrait of General Osterman-Tolstoy (also a Count and a former governor of St.-Petersburg (squees fannishly because OMG, he was pretty! ^_^;;) Anyhow, I just gotta share this anecdote of his life, because it's just so so so... erm, something! XD

In August of 1813, during the Battle of Kulm a cannonball shattered Osterman's left arm up to the shoulder. While waiting for the operation, Ostermann was listening to three doctors arguing in Latin how to amputate the arm better. Finally one of them, the youngest, turned to look at the General and saw a mocking expression in his eyes.
- It was useless, gentlemen, to speak in Latin, - said the Doctor, - the Count knows it better than we do!
To which, Ostermann said:
- You are good! Here, you will cut, no one else!

(sighs lovingly)

Count Osterman-Tolstoy.


More paintings. Of Welly and others.  )


Jul. 11th, 2009 02:04 pm
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The following two vids contain two pieces of music that are among my best-loved. The first is quite recent, a waltz written by Eugene Doga, a Moldavian composer, for a Russian movie 'My tender and sweet beast.'  I think it is my favourite waltz ever.

The second is a finale of 1812 overture by Tchaikovsky. I loved the whole overture even before I got into the whole Napoleonic Wars thing. ^_^ Wikipedia had a very good summary of the overture's plotline, which I'm posting as well, with the bit relevant for the finale highlighted.

Music here )
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More descriptions of Wellington with emphasis on his clothing (yes, I am obsessed, can you blame me? Black leather leggins, damn it!) XD

1802, George Elers.

…Colonel Wellesley was just thrity-two, and I saw some gray hairs about his temples mixed with his fine crop of light-brown hair… He never wore powder, though it was at that time the regulation to do so. His hair was cropped close. I have heard him say he was convinced the wearing of hair powder was very prejudicial to health as impeding the perspiration, and he was doubtless right.
 … His dress consisted of a long coat, the uniform of the 33rd Regiment, a cocked hat, white pantaloons, Hessian boots and spurs, and a large sabre, the handle solid silver, and the mounting of the scabbard of the same metal, but all gilt.


We know Lord Wellington at a great distance by his little flat cocked hat (not a fraction of an inch higher than the crown,) being set on his head completely at right angles with his person, and sitting very upright in his hussar saddle, which is simply covered with a plain blue shabrack. His lordship rides, to all appearance, devoid of sash, as, since he has been made a Spanish Field-Marshal, he wears on his white waistcoat, under his blue surtout coat, the red and gold knotted sash of that rank, out of compliment to our allies. From the same motive, he always wears the order of the Toison d’Or round his neck, and on his black cockade two others, very small, of the Portuguese and Spanish national colours. His lordship, within the last year, has taken to wearing a white neckerchief instead of our black regulation, and in bad weather a French private Dragoon’s cloak of the same colour.

William Maginn

Every day during the siege of San Sebastian  I saw him, unattended by his staff, riding by my window, in a narrow street of Renteria, on his way to the besieged fortress, accompanied by an old artillery or engineer officer, - I believe Sir. R. Fletcher, - and dressed in a plain grey frock, white cravat, and cocked hat - evidently intent on the matters of the siege…’

Major Harry Ross-Lewin

‘He had been reconnoitring the enemy, and, seating himself on the grass in his well-known short white cloak, he took out some paper, and began to write; but some drizzling rain that was then falling incommoded him. Another officer and I, perceiving the inconvenience he suffered, immediately procured an umbrella, which my companion fixed near him so as to shelter the paper, his lordship having thanked him for his attention.’

John Colborne.

I remember seeing Lord Wellington in a little white cloak, sitting on a stone, writing. Charles Beckwith, who was standing near me, said, “Do you see that old White Friar sitting there? I wonder how many men he is marking off to be sent into the next world.’

And now, for variety's sake, Russian soldier's march/song of the Napoleonic Wars, specifically 1812. I provided the translation into English.


Song & Translation )
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From the memoir of Lord Ellesmere.

"... and at her arm was a gentleman, unknown, and whose features I did not, strange to say, at all recognise as those so often to be observed in shop-windows. I was, I remember, struck with the good-humoured and joyous expression of his smile, but more with the unusual length and size of his watch-chain and appendages, which seemed to me to present undue attractions to a pickpocket. Lady Harrowby did not fail to present me."

""After the Battle of Talavera he sat to a Portuguese" artist for a whole-length, of which there is an elaborate line-engraving. He is represented, I think, in Portuguese uniform, in Hessians, and it is remarkable for the size and strength of the legs, in which I believe the artist was accurate. This print I have seen in the dining-room at Walmer, and I think there is another in a bed-room at Apsley House."

Leggins, legs... People seem to have had a positive obsession with certain parts of Wellington's anatomy.  And OMG, appendages. XD And the next one just made me go 'Aaaaw'. ^_^

I next met the Duke at Woodford, Mr Arbuthnot's residence in Northamptonshire, in a very limited circle. We drove, shot, and rode together without cessation, I well remember a day's partridge-shooting, in the course of which during a heavy shower we sat down under his umbrella, which he always took with him, and he told me the history of his Danish campaign of 1807.

*is dead*

Jul. 9th, 2009 03:36 pm
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How can one possibly NOT love Wellington?! Or slash him?!

I saw the Duke of Wellington for the first time in September 1813, when a movement among the French, on the other side of the Bidassoa, led to some changes of position among our own people. The 85th was winding its way in a long thin column by a sort of mule track along the side of a mountain towards the foundry of St. Antonio. Three horse- men overtook us, and stopped to converse with Colonel Thornton. One of these was the Duke (then Marquis) of Wellington ; another, if I do not mistake, Lord Fitzroy Somerset ; who the third was I don't know, but he may have been an Orderly Dragoon. There was no escort, nor any pomp or parade. The Duke was then forty-six years of age ; his counten- ance was very animated ; his keen, clear, violet- coloured eye full of intelligence. His hair was beginning to show the slightest tinge of grey, but not so much as to detract in the slightest degree from the youthfulness of his general appearance. He was dressed in a light grey frock-coat (he always wore grey when there was a chance of active work, the colour being more conspicuous from afar than blue), a cocked-hat, low in the crown, without a plume, and covered with oilskin. A pair of black leather leggings, fastened at the sides, and reaching half-way up the calf, protected his legs ; and he wore a light steel-mounted sabre, without any sash. He spoke kindly and cheerily to Colonel Thornton about the appearance of his regiment, asked where we were going, told him we should find some traces of the recent battles as we went along, and then getting off the track, so as not to inconvenience the line of march, trotted on.

Fanboy much? XD
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Watching a concert of russian satirist/comedian on youtube. Suddenly he starts talking about why Napoleon lost his Russian campaign. XD Napoleonic Wars are like everywhere! XD

My two favourite bits from his performance (translating from Russian):

Why was Napoleon so successful against other countries? Well, how did it go? It was the same standard formula everywhere. He invades a country with his army and BEHOLD! there's the opposing army waiting for him. What happened when he invaded Russia? That's right he had to bloody chase our army for months! He goes left, they go right. He goes right, they go left. What did he expect?! Our C-in-C only had ONE eye!

What happened when the French army ran out of food and horses? Well, say in any other country, he'd go to a village and take the food and horses from the peasants. What happened in Russia? The peasants themselves haven't eaten for bloody years  and all the horses are dead.
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I think I suffer from a peculiar form of narcissism. I've created some OCs for BSSF (that's what I am calling it now, Big and Scary Sharpe Fic). Most of them are minor, props really for the whole story. But just now I finally started writing a scene that involves a major OC. I liked his character even before that, but now that I saw him in action, I think I'm in love with him! O_o *impersonates Hastings* Good Lord! XD It took one phrase! ONE DAMN LINE OF DIALOGUE and I love him to bits! He is a bit of a male Mary Sue (no more than Sharpe though, me thinks), but hell, that just makes him more perfect in my loving eyes. XD Also, he suddenly brought with himself so much slash potential into the fic, it's just scary. x _ x Really, really angsty torturous slash. ^_^;; I just fear this fic might devolve into pornographic sketches of this character. Ahahahaha. *drools quietly*
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Yes! I did it! I finally, FINALLY, got the plot line of my big and scary Sharpe fic straight. OH JOY! It's not even overly melodramatic. ^_^;; Though, of course, now I want to rewrite everything written so far, even though I already re-wrote a lot of it. >.<

In other news. I got propositioned by a guy with pink hair and now I am hoping desperately he is not gonna take me up on my promise to meet up and hang out which I made BEFORE the proposition. x _ x I think I've used up a month's worth of excuses last night already. I wish I could just tell him to go to hell, but I've known him for a while, and he is actually a pretty nice guy, and we do have some history... But that history is like 4 years old! AAAAARGH, time to forget it. >.< *hides in the closet*

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 This morning I went to have a look inside the St. Machar Cathedral. I ended up being away from home for almost 5 hours (and the Cathedral is 20 mins away from my house x _ x ), due to the fact that I went for a lengthy walk along River Don from the Seaton Park (on the outskirts of which stands the Cathedral) down to its delta at the seaside. O_o I guess something that happened to me in the Cathedral gave me energy for the whole thing.
 One of the people working it St. Machar's approached me offering helpe. He should not have. XD Him, another woman and me ended up browsing records of the Cathedral's cemetery, looking for anyone who fought in Napoleonic Wars. We found one, but we used index to search, using Waterloo and Trafalgar as keywords, so hopefully they'll let me have a proper read of the records when I go back there during a weekday.

 The man we found was General Lord James Hay, 2nd son of 7th Marquess of Tweeddale, (b.1788-d.1862). He fought in the battles of Copenhagen, Vimiero, Busaco, Fuentos d'Onoro, Vittoria, Nivelle, Nive and Waterloo. At Waterloo he was aide-de-camp to Liuetenant-General Sir Charles Colville (4th Division) and held the rank of Captain in 1st Foot Guards. In 1854 he was also appointed Colonel of 86th Regiment of Foot. He also received the War Medal with eight clasps. That is unfortunately the extent of information I managed to find out about him. However, his family history is rich in military 'heritage.'

 His older brother, George Hay, Earl of Gifford (and later 8th Marquess of Tweeddale), served throughout the Peninsular war as an aide-de-camp to the Duke of Wellington; in later life he became a Field-Marshal and also served as the Governor of Madras. His younger brother, Lord John Hay was a rear-admiral and one of the Lords of Admiralty. Another younger brother of his was a colonel. Many of his direct descendants saw military service. Among his ancestors was another General, Lord John Hay, who served under the Duke of Malborough and too was the second son of 2nd Marquess of Tweeddale.


The Walk picspam )
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Last night I had my second best battle dream ever, though a slightly more weird one.

The Dream )
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Here are some pictures of the uniforms of the Russian Army during the period of the Napoleonic Wars from the book  'Uniforms of the Napoleonic Wars' by Digby Smith.


Lots of pictures this way. )


Mar. 8th, 2009 03:56 pm
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Oh, God, just realised that I am going to the Royal Marines' Band concert tomorrow night...
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OMFG, OMFG!!! When I bought a new issue of 'Classic Arms and Militia' I didn't even know what jewel waited for me between it's covers! An article about James Duff, 4th Earl of Fife!!! Yes, the one who became a Spanish General! OMG, I practically shrieked with delight! Most of the article was on the man's gun collection but there were a few biographical facts that I did not know and just have to share!

'He fought with distinction being severely wounded at Talavera, and becoming a hero at Fort Matagorda while saving the Spanish standard. Before returning home in 1813, his friend the Duke of Wellington presented him with a jeweled sword that he had taken from the defeated Tipu Sultan in India in 1799.'

'He was also appointed Grand Master of Masonic Lodge for Scotland.'

'He had been known occasionally to dress down while attempting to go unrecognised on his estate. On one occasion he spotted an old woman as she struggled, carrying a heavy sack on her shoulders. Taking it from her, James carried it to her croft. 'Sieve your oats well, lassie,' he cried on departing. The old woman took heed and discovered two gold coins within the sack.'

The magazine also has an article on New Land Pattern Light Infantry musket that was developed during the Napoleonic Wars and also saw service in the Canadian War in 1812.

On a totally different note. I was rewatching some old episodes of Agatha Christie's Poirot and it struck me that in 'The Disapperance of Mr. Davenheim' Poirot is being particularly sarcastic. XD Here are a couple of quotes.

'Small animals have no place in the home life of a private detective from Belgium... except of course as a source of nourishment.'

Poirot : 'And please dont fraternize with that creature, I'm still training him'
Hastings: 'It's only a parrot.'
Poirot: 'I was talking to the parrot.'

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, a picspam of impressive proportions!

Food! )

Kirk of St. Nicholas.

Prettiness. ^_^ )
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Title: One thousand and One night: Tales of Napoleonic Wars. The Tale of the Hill.
Characters: Sir Arthur Wellesley, Viscount Macduff (future 4th Earl of Fife)
Pairing: none
Rating: PG

Spain, 1809.

The Tale of the Hill )

Title: One thousand and One night: Tales of Napoleonic Wars. The Tale of a Countess (that is not really about her at all).
Characters: The Duke of Wellington, 4th Earl of Fife, Lady Granville, Countess de Lieven
Pairing: none
Rating: PG    

England, 1816.

The Tale of a Countess (that is not really about her at all). )


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Title: One thousand and One night: Tales of Napoleonic Wars. The Tale of a Poet and a Soldier.
Characters: Alexander Pushkin, Nadezhda Durova
Pairing: none
Rating: PG
A/N: This is a short story about Pushkin and his attempts to persuade the Cavalry maiden to publish her memoirs. 
Link to the wikipedia article about Durova:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durova

Russia, 1836. 

The Tale of a Poet and a Soldier. )
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Today was a day of impromptu shopping. :) Of course, besides a pair of new boots, I bought nothing else save for several new books. Two of them are sort of detective stories (one concentrates more on the historical setting, the other on social issues). The other three are the squee-causing books (well,at least for me :)).


Squee- worthy books here )


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After a few weeks of being an absolute beast, my book reading appetite has finally re-awakened. Of course, it is pointless to expect that its presence would encourage me to touch my academic books (seriously, I cannot blame it though, Monetary Economics are boring and the War course could certainly be improved by including Sun Tzu in the reading list. ) However, it has shown a tiny inkling of interest towards my Osteology textbook. Hurray for that! Though I should not have ordered a new Ngaio Marsh, no, big, HUGE mistake!


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