This is a bold, painstakingly researched and wide-ranging assessment of the British Cheer in the Napoleonic era. Reference to the Cheer in accounts of the time is virtually ubiquitous and repeatedly the claim was made for cheering as an integral part of British offensive operations. However, more recent historians have tended to overlook this evidence.
Based upon a vast range of contemporary sources, this book suggests that the Cheer wielded genuine power as a true 'weapon of war'. This book first surveys the history of acclamations in battle worldwide and British battle-cries from all periods, before addressing the question of what the British Cheer actually sounded like. Issues of acoustics, physics and the psychology of battlefield morale are considered, along with commentaries from significant military scholars throughout history. Examination of the Napoleonic-era Cheer then reveals the practically invincible 'recipe' of volley-cheer-charge that propelled the British Army to victory upon victory. Comparison is drawn with French and other national patterns of vocalizing, along with analysis of those occasions when the Cheer might be suppressed. Finally, the attitude of the Duke of Wellington towards cheering is reconsidered, with surprising results.
This study encompasses a vast canvas of place and time in pursuit of the elusive yet galvanizing Cheer: from the Mahratta wars in India, through campaigns in Egypt, the Mediterranean, Flanders, the Caribbean and South America, as well as the war of 1812. The Peninsular and Waterloo campaigns feature prominently as the Cheer is heard thrillingly from Vimeiro to Talavera, Salamanca to Vitoria, Orthez to Toulouse and the shocking siege of Badajoz to the charge of the Scots Greys on the ridge of Mont Saint Jean. Anyone interested in the wars of Revolutionary France and Napoleon, the British army, the career of the Duke of Wellington, or indeed the wider questions of the psychological motivations of combat will find this book illuminating and thought-provoking.