Wellington's Two-Front War : The Peninsular Campaigns, at Home and Abroad, 1808-1814

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Sir Arthur Wellesley's 1808-1814 campaigns against Napoleon's forces in the Iberian Peninsula have drawn the attention of scholars and soldiers for two centuries. Yet, until now, no study has focused on the problems that Wellesley, later known as the Duke of Wellington, encountered on the home front before his eventual triumph beyond the Pyrenees. In Wellington's Two-Front War, Joshua Moon not only surveys Wellington's command of British forces against the French but also describes the battles Wellington fought in England--with an archaic military command structure, bureaucracy, and fickle public opinion.

In this detailed and accessible account, Moon traces Wellington's command of British forces during the six years of warfare against the French. Almost immediately upon landing in Portugal in 1808, Wellington was hampered by his government's struggle to plan a strategy for victory. From that point on, Moon argues, the military's outdated promotion system, political maneuvering, and bureaucratic inertia--all subject to public opinion and a hostile press--thwarted Wellington's efforts, almost costing him the victory. Drawing on archival sources in the United Kingdom and at the United States Military Academy, Moon goes well beyond detailing military operations to delve into the larger effects of domestic policies, bureaucracy, and coalition building on strategy.

Ultimately, Moon shows, the second front of Wellington's "two-front war" was as difficult as the better-known struggle against Napoleon's troops and harsh conditions abroad. As this book demonstrates, it was only through strategic vision and relentless determination that Wellington attained the hard-fought victory. Moon's multifaceted examination of the commander and his frustrations offers valuable insight into the complexities of fighting faraway battles under the scrutiny at home of government agencies and the press--issues still relevant today.

Publication Date: 
April 15, 2011