Reminiscences 1808-1815 Under Wellington

The Peninsular and Waterloo Memoirs of William Hay

William Hay

William Hay had a varied and exciting military career during the later years of the Napoleonic Wars, which took him to the Peninsula, to Waterloo and, after 1815, to Canada. First commissioned into the crack 52nd Light Infantry - and serving with that regiment in the campaigns of 1810 and 1811 - promotion took him into the 12th Light Dragoons. Afte
Date Published :
June 2017
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Editor :
Andrew Bamford
Series :
From Reason To Revolution
Illustration :
18 b/w ills, 3 b/w maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781911512325
Pages : 168
Dimensions : 9.25 X 6 inches
Stock Status : Available


William Hay had a varied and exciting military career during the later years of the Napoleonic Wars, which took him to the Peninsula, to Waterloo, and, after 1815, to Canada. Graduating from the Royal Military College at Marlow, of which he begins his memoirs with a rare account, he was first commissioned into the crack 52nd Light Infantry and served with that regiment in the campaigns of 1810 and 1811. Promotion then took him into the 12th Light Dragoons and, after a spell at home due to illness, he joined his new regiment in the field just as Wellington’s army began its retreat from Burgos. Thereafter, Hay served with the 12th for the remainder of the Peninsular War and again during the Waterloo campaign. A well-connected young man, he spent some of his time away from the regiment on staff duties, serving as an aide to Lord Dalhousie in the Peninsula and later to the same officer again during his tenure as Governor General of British North America.
Hay’s recollections are very much those of a dashing young officer, and, if not quite rivalling Marbot for imagination, there is no denying that he is the hero of his own epic. But these are more than just tales of derring-do, for Hay’s stories of the lighter side of military life do much to illuminate the character and attitudes of Britain’s Napoleonic officer corps. There is also no question but that Hay was a competent and effective officer who did good service in a number of important campaigns, and an old soldier’s tendency to polish his recollections should take nothing from that. However, in order to help the reader better judge when Hay is remembering events with advantage, this edition of his memoirs is introduced and annotated by historian Andrew Bamford and includes additional information to identify places, people, and events and to otherwise add context to the original narrative.

About The Author

William Hay (1794–1855) served in the British Army during the Napoleonic Wars, rising to the rank of captain before returning to civilian life. In later years he served as Inspecting Superintendent and then as Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police.

Andrew Bamford completed a PhD in Military History at the University of Leeds in 2010, and now edits the From Reason to Revolution series for Helion.


“Andrew Bamford's exceptional editing ensures that Hay's "reminiscences" are as accurate as can be, whilst still retaining the allure of a young man in the thick of the action and anxious to record what is going on for posterity...Comparable to some of the diaries and essays written by the young men who fought in the first world war. This is an extraordinary piece of work.”

- Books Monthly

“Highly recommended for collectors of memoirs of the Peninsular War or Waterloo. I would far rather have this edition than a copy of the original!” Winner of the 'Miniature Wargames Recommends' award for July 2017.

- Miniature Wargames

“Hay's Reminiscences will be of interest to any readers interested in the role of British cavalry in the Peninsular and its actions at Waterloo. This new editions has been very professionally edited by Andrew Bamford who corrects a number of the author's errors.”

- Donald E. Graves, The Napoleon Series

“The book itself is nicely laid out. There are illustrations, many of which are contemporary to the narrative, and some helpful maps to support the campaigns. Well worth the read.”

- Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

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