Ian Knight's Warriors in Scarlet is a comprehensive and stirring history of the Victorian army between 1837 to 1860, from the Battle of Bossendon Wood to the Crimean War, a period of seismic change.
An acclaimed military historian, Knight draws on first-hand accounts to show us the reality of life for the British soldier in this era – the drudgery of peace-time service, the excitement and privations of posting overseas, the floggings and desertions, the regimental pride and comradeship. The rapid expansion of the empire saw the army fighting in small wars across the world and Knight reveals the brutal reality of this colonial conflict from both sides. British soldiers trained in tactics that had beaten Napoleon were forced to adapt when faced with warriors with very different skills fighting on their home ground.
Knight vividly recreates the action, from bloody skirmishes in Southern Africa and siege warfare in New Zealand to disasters like the 1842 retreat from Kabul and Chillianwalla in the Punjab – but shows that in reality the army won more than four-fifths of the battles they fought in this era. He describes how, by 1860 with their redcoats increasingly replaced by khaki, the British army was a more professional, efficient and increasingly ruthless fighting force.