Wellington's Headquarters

The Command and Administration of the British Army during the Peninsular War

S G P Ward

Date Published :
August 2017
Publisher :
Pen and Sword
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781473896826
Pages : 240
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Wellington’s Headquarters is an essential introduction to the administration of the British army in the early nineteenth century. It offers a fascinating insight into the structure and operation of the Duke of Wellington’s command during the Peninsular War.

S.G.P. Ward’s classic study, first published over sixty years ago, describes the complicated tangle of departments that administered the army, departments which had grown up haphazard and survived virtually unchanged until the time of the Crimean War.

Wellington adapted the existing system in order to turn it into an efficient instrument in the war against Napoleon, despite clashes of responsibility and personality that frustrated him and impaired the army’s performance on campaign.

Chapters cover peacetime and wartime administration, the relationships of the staff officers, the supply and maintenance of the army in the Peninsula, the gathering and interpretation of intelligence, the organization of the army on the march and the sometimes tense relations between Wellington and his subordinates. The study raises the quartermaster general’s department to its proper position, and discusses Wellington’s attitude to the ‘chief of staff’ system which was then favored on the continent.

The result of this lucid and absorbing survey is an enhanced understanding of the system that had evolved to administer the British army two hundred years ago.

About The Author

S.G.P. Ward (1917-2009), a military historian who served in the British army during the Second World War, made a special study of the Duke of Wellington’s campaigns and his army, particularly in the Peninsula. His research resulted in this pioneering book as well as Wellington, Faithful: the story of the Durham Light Infantry, and many articles in the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research.


"It is a superb survey of the duties of the departments of the Army in the Peninsular War. An eye opening investigation into the true nature of Wellington's command style, written by a man who knew the Duke's habits and character as well as if he had himself served under him... There is no finer book in print that does justice to this understudied but brilliant headquarters."

- The Napoleon Series

“Ward’s Wellington’s Headquarters is widely regarded as the standard work on the command, staff, and administrative structures of the British Army in the early nineteenth century. It is an invaluable guide to the remarkable complexities of British military organization in the period… his is an essential work for anyone interested in the British Army during the French wars.”

- The NYMAS Review, Winter 2018

“Wellington’s Headquarters, which is chock full of details on rations, troop movement rates, munitions allowances, and the like, remains an essential work for anyone interested in the British Army during the French wars.”

- StrategyPage

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