In These Times

imageI missed this book first time round in 2014 in the run up to the Waterloo 200  Annversary, but was really interested to have finally read Jenny Uglow’s In These Times: Living in Britain Through Napoleon’s Wars.

The book is a social history of Britain and Europe throughout the Napoleonic Wars, covering events overseas from North America to Europe, naval battles and trade wars.

From the terror of the French Revolution and ending of slavery to riots at home and the threat of espionage and  invasions by the French, the book is well supported by diary entries, letters and the story of ordinary people as well as the notable figures of the day.

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Georgian Britain is not an area I knew much about, having previously mostly read about the Victorians and 20th Century.

There are lots of interesting details about the Militia movement, how the arms industry expanded and reacted to the threat of invasion, the switch from peace to war, truce to war again as Napoleon and the French threat grew and receded.

I remember seeing the ghost marks and signs of the remnant of the gun making trade in Birmingham during its redevelopment, now vanished firms that would have sprung up with different companies and areas making the flint lock, wood stock and the metal barrel separately then bringing them all together for completion – “lock, stock and barrel”.

The book is rich in many of these interesting details.

The Volunteers from the invasion scare (including Robert Burns, mentioned in our blogpost recently) are also fascinating

http://theconversation.com/dads-army-in-the-napoleonic-wars-was-a-great-excuse-to-don-velvet-and-ribbons-37425

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Volunteer_Corps

If you wanted a “what if” scenario, it would be  a Napoleonic or revolutionary France invasion of Georgian Britain defended by its stout citizens, an  Opération Sealion  1780s 0r 1790s style.

Certainly a must-have history book for the wargamer, as well as for anyone interested in the social history of the period,  it makes for interesting reading as background to the dashing red uniforms that crop up in Jane Austen novels.

Jane Austen’s brothers Francis and Charles  were both in the Royal Navy. There is good coverage of the Royal Navy during this period, its equipping and maintenance, mutinies, careers, Nelson’s career and Trafalgar as well as Merchant shipping.

I felt like I had lived my way through two decades of conflict engulfing a whole generation or two by the time I had finished the book. To make up for missing the book on publication the first time round, as soon as I finished reading it the first time, I sat down to read it all over again!

Well worth tracking down.

Blogposted by Mark, Man of TIN blog, February 2017.

 

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Author: 26soldiersoftin

Hello I'm Mark Mr MIN, Man of TIN. Born near London and now based in S.W. Britain, I'm a lifelong collector of "tiny men" and old toy soldiers, whether tin, lead or childhood vintage 1960s and 1970s plastic figures. I randomly collect all scales and periods and "imagi-nations" as well as lead civilians, farm and zoo animals. I enjoy the paint possibilities of cheap poundstore plastic figures as much as the patina of vintage metal figures. Befuddled by the maths of complex boardgames and wargames, I prefer the small scale skirmish simplicity of very early Donald Featherstone rules. To relax, I usually play solo games, often using hex boards. Gaming takes second place to making or convert my own gaming figures from polymer clay (Fimo), home-cast metal figures of many scales or plastic paint conversions. I also collect and game with vintage Peter Laing 15mm metal figures, wishing like many others that I had bought more in the 1980s ...

2 thoughts on “In These Times”

  1. I got this book for Christmas but have yet to read it. For years I have really fancied fighting games with militia/volunteers (19th century Dads Army in my mind) against invading French. Probably to be set in Scotland and my beloved Edinburgh and surrounding district. The nearest I have done is to fight games with the Danish Miltia against invading British in 1807. I really must read this book.
    Alan

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    1. Alan
      I think you will really really enjoy it – I keep thinking of the Volunteers as a Napoleonic dads army. Bob Cordery has just posted about this book too.
      I read this book with an IPad to hand to look up more pictures and follow all the interesting nuggets / references about the springing up of arms manufacturing towns on canals, London bank militia and their specially ordered muskets against the street rioters … the militia called out against the populace.
      I hope Robert Burns and the Dumfries Volunteers make it into your Edinburgh invaded by the French scenario. Lots of fabulous interesting scenarios like you say that you could base in your own locality / wherever.
      Mark, Man of TIN blog.

      Like

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