A Dorset Soldier: The Autobiography of Sgt. Williams Lawrence 1790-1869
by Eileen Hathaway (Editor), William Lawrence
An excellent book for collectors of Peninsular War accounts, and especially those interest in light Regiments for this book follows the life of Sergeant William Lawrence – or should I say the military life. It was first published in the 1880’s, some 20 years after Lawrence’s death – and this I believe is the first reprint since then. He was an illiterate man and dictated these when in his 60’s, some 40 years after events.
It begins when he runs away from his apprenticeship and joins the army – or tries several times to join the army and ending up with the 40th Regiment of Foot (the closest) just before they set off for South America in 1806.
The book is just full of fascinating little detail of everyday life in the army – of transportation and some terrible (but brief) accounts of battles fought. In fact the book itself is very Brief – reminding me a lot of another published account by a non-officer – ‘A Soldier of the 71st’. This gives a glimpse of life in the ranks. The editor, Eileen Hathaway, has done a phenomenal job footnoting the text so much of Lawrence’s background and family is explained – and detail which might not be familiar in the