Monday, 8 August 2016

The 'Journal of the Waterloo Campaign kept throughout the campaign of 1815' by Captain Cavalié Mercer

I am currently reading Captain Cavalié Mercer's famous JOURNAL OF THE WATERLOO CAMPAIGN KEPT THROUGHOUT THE CAMPAIGN OF 1815 ... and it is an even better book than I expected it would be.



The book was written sometime in the early 1840s and published after Mercer's death in 1870. It was based on notes that Mercer wrote at the time of the Waterloo Campaign, and he acknowledges that the book might not be totally accurate. That said, he did try to verify any points upon which he was unsure by corresponding with other survivors. The book covers the period from April 1815 to January 1816 and deals not only with the immediate events of the Battle of Waterloo, but also what happened in the run up to the battle and the occupation of Paris.

I have found the book to be a very interesting read, and its style is nowhere near as stodgy as I expected. In fact the descriptions of Flanders and its population are a delight, and having travelled in that area I was struck by how little it has actually changed over the past two hundred years.

16 comments:

  1. I have this on my Kindle as yet unread. I shall elevate its position to nearer the top of my reading list.

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    Replies
    1. Jim Duncan,

      I don't think that you will disappointed if you do.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  2. I've often heard Mercer referenced in other works but have never read him. I should search out an e-copy.

    Most of my favorite military history books are memoirs or at least from someone who was there from Xenophon and Caesar to Dunford.

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    Replies
    1. Ross Mac,

      I recently downloaded a copy onto my Kindle from Amazon for nothing! I don't know if this offer was available outside the UK, but as it is out of copyright, a North American e-version should not be too expensive.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  3. It's a good read but you need to keep in mind that it was written a long time after the event and throughout the intervening period Mercer was in a long dispute with the RA and Army hierarchy to gain what he considered his "just" reward for his (limited) Active Service. Some of the activities he attributes to his Troop aren't always borne out by other sources.

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    Replies
    1. Jeremy Ramsey,

      I always read memoirs with a certain amount of scepticism, especially those written a long time after the events. Even if Mercer's recollections are not 100% accurate, they certainly are worth reading.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  4. Hi Bob

    Is this an ebook? If so where did you find it

    regards

    Paul

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    Replies
    1. Thistlebarrow (Paul),

      My copy was downloaded onto my Kindle from Amazon UK. It was free (always a good price!), but I'm not sure if it still is. It is certainly worth you having a look to see if it is.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  5. I remember reading this year's ago. The part that always stick in my mind include his nearest shave with death from a cannonball (which he claims just clipped his collar).

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    Replies
    1. Stephen Briddon,

      Mercer certainly claims to have had several close shaves during the battle, including the one that you mention.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  6. For people who like hard copies, an edition was published in 1985 as No 1 of Greenhill Book's Napoleonic Library.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Edwin King,

      Thanks for that very useful piece of information. I may well buy a copy if it isn't too expensive.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
    2. At the risk of self-advertisement I have one at
      http://www.abebooks.com/servlet/ListingPreview?vi=61057945&vli=140707

      Delete
    3. Edwin King,

      Thanks. I may well have a look at this myself.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete
  7. Hi Bob
    Are you aware of the drawings Mercer at the time that have only recently come to light...
    see link.

    http://www.napoleon-series.org/research/eyewitness/c_Mercer.html
    Paul

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Paul Leeson,

      Thanks for the link. I was not aware of these illustrations, and I will have a look at them as soon as I can.

      All the best,

      Bob

      Delete