Having found it beautifully written and literally unputdownable, I recommend to everyone interested in Victorian Wars a new - and long overdue - biographical reassessment of Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde, that has just been published. This is VICTORIA`S SCOTTISH LION: The Life Of Colin Campbell, Lord Clyde by Adrian Greenwood (Spellmount @ £25). Printed on art paper, the book is everything one could wish in a major biography - it has numerous maps and plans, many text vignettes and even a colour photo section; it is a whopping 496 pages long and yet immensely readable; the author lists a long bibliography and much of the book is based on hitherto unpublished material in ten major institutions.
What an exciting period we are now in - the next 3-4 months sees the publication of Harold Raugh`s bibliography of the Indian Mutiny, as well as Chrisopher Brice`s scholarly, overdue and lengthy biography of Lord Gough of China and Sikh Wars fame - so a trio of gems !
Returning to Lord Clyde, it has often amazed me that the most important mid-Victorian general has seen so little in print. A two-volume hagiographical work was written by Lt-General Shadwell and published not long after Campbell`s death, Sir Owen Burne linked Clyde with Hugh Rose, Lord Strathnairn in a potted biography of both called "Clyde and Strathnairn" in 1892 - and that's about it ! Yet Campbell rose from humble origins to field-marshal seeing numerous battles along the way during the Peninsular War and across the Empire in China, the Punjab, the North-West Frontier of India and the Crimea. This "regular, go-ahead, fire-eating old cock" as one soldier called him is remembered for his "thin red line" of Highlanders at Balaklava. His performance on the battlefield came in for criticism - at Chillianwallah in the 2nd Sikh War, for instance, where his brigade ran into difficulties, and during the Mutiny he got the nickname "Sir Crawling Camel" for dawdling, but Campbell was never keen to waste good mens` lives for he had seen too many killed at close quarters in foolishly heroic assaults.
Mr Greenwood`s book is thus a major and most useful addition to Victorian military history. It ought to appeal to all interested in the Crimean War, the Sikh and China Wars and especially the Mutiny (not forgetting Napoleonic fans). There is still time to add it to your Christmas stocking !