Walcheren 1809

Scandalous Destruction of a British Army

Martin R. Howard

Date Published :
October 2012
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Illustration :
16 pages of b/w plates
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781848844681
Pages : 224
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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In July 1809, with the Dutch coast ‘a pistol held at the head of England’, the largest British expeditionary force ever assembled, over 40,000 men and around 600 ships, weighed anchor off the Kent coast and sailed for the island of Walcheren in the Scheldt estuary. After an initial success, the expedition stalled and as the lethargic military commander, Lord Chatham, was at loggerheads with the opinionated senior naval commander, Sir Richard Strachan, troops were dying of a mysterious disease termed ‘Walcheren fever’. Almost all the campaign’s 4,000 dead were victims of disease. The Scheldt was evacuated and the return home was followed by a scandalous Parliamentary Inquiry. Walcheren fever cast an even longer shadow. Six months later 11,000 men were still registered sick. In 1812, Wellington complained that the constitution of his troops was ‘much shaken with Walcheren’.

About The Author

Dr Martin Howard, a hospital consultant and Fellow of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Pathologists, has a longstanding interest in the Napoleonic Wars and has lectured and written extensively on the subject. He has made a special study of the British army’s less-well-known campaigns of the period, and his most recent book in the field is Walcheren 1809: The Scandalous Destruction of a British Army.


For anyone with a soldier or sailor at Walcheren this book tells the story well, explaining with documentation how details may differ in other histories (especially Fortesque's History of the British Army). For researchers, the bibliography of official documents and identification of numerous surviving memoirs is excellent."


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