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  • Online publication date: December 2014

4 - The Peninsular War

  • Catherine Kelly, University of Western Australia
  • Publisher: Pickering & Chatto
  • pp 79-102

The following two chapters consider the Peninsular War and demonstrate how and why army medicine and army medical officers became increasingly militarized. In particular, the implications for the development of army medicine resulting from the appointment of the new AMB are discussed. By examining the relative success and failure of the most senior military medical officers, the chapters highlight how important it had become for medical officers to adapt their practice to accommodate not only the practicalities of campaigning, but also the values of army culture.

The Peninsular War, a series of campaigns over six years from 1808 to 1814, was precipitated by Napoleon's movement of 100,000 troops into Spain with the intention of invading Portugal. The ensuing Spanish rebellion and Portuguese resistance provided the British government with the necessary allies and motivation to mount a campaign on the Continent, and an expeditionary force of 13,000 men under Sir Arthur Wellesley set sail for Portugal in July 1808. Following reports of a larger French presence in Portugal, the British force was increased to 40,000 men, and the command given to Sir Hew Dalrymple, with Sir Henry Burrard as his deputy. Those gentlemen arrived in Portugal after Wellesley's victories at Roliça and Vimeiro, just in time to prevent an advance and secure the much-regretted Convention of Cintra that allowed the French to evacuate Portugal.

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War and the Militarization of British Army Medicine, 1793–1830
  • Online ISBN: 9781848931848
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