Names underlined are fictional characters
TSG = True Soldier Gentlemen
BTDS = Beat the Drums Slowly
The 106th Regiment of Foot in the Peninsula
Captain Billy PRINGLE – Born into a family with a long tradition of service in the Royal Navy, Pringle’s short-sightedness and severe seasickness led his father to send him to Oxford with a view to becoming a parson. Instead Pringle persuaded his parents to secure him a commission in the army. Plump, easy going and overfond of both drink and women, Pringle has found active service easier to deal with than the quiet routine and temptations of garrison duty in Britain. Through the battles in Portugal (TSG), and the arduous campaign in Spain (BTDS), Billy Pringle has won promotion and found himself easing into his role as a leader.
Lieutenant William HANLEY – Illegitimate son of an actress and a banker, Hanley was raised by his grandmother and spent years in Madrid as an aspiring artist. His father’s death ended his allowance, and reluctantly Hanley took up a commission in the 106th purchased for him many years before. He served in Portugal in 1808, suffering a wound at Roliça. Since then his fluency in Spanish has led to periodic staff duties. Even so, he was with Pringle and the Grenadier Company throughout the retreat to Corunna (BTDS).
Ensign Hamish WILLIAMS – Williams joined the 106th as a Gentleman Volunteer, serving in the ranks and soon proving himself to be a natural soldier. He was commissioned as ensign following the Battle of Vimeiro (TSG). During the retreat to Corunna, he became cut off from the main army. Rallying a band of stragglers, he not only led them back to the main force, but thwarted a French column attempting to outflank the British Army. He was praised by Sir John Moore for his actions, and was beside the general when the latter was mortally wounded at Corunna (BTDS). Fervently in love with Jane MacAndrews, Williams seems to find his cause continually thwarted by her unpredictability and his clumsiness.
Captain TRUSCOTT – A close friend of Pringle, Hanley and Williams, the slightly stiff-mannered Truscott was wounded at Vimeiro and suffered the loss of his arm (TSG). A slow recovery kept him from participating in the Corunna campaign. Since then he has taken charge of a party of the 106th left behind in Lisbon.
Corporal DOBSON – Veteran soldier who was Williams’ ‘front rank man’ and took the volunteer under his wing. The relationship between Dobson and the young officers remains quietly paternal. However, at Roliça he displayed a ruthless streak when he killed an ensign who was having an affair with his daughter Jenny (TSG). Repeatedly promoted and broken for drunken misbehaviour, he has reformed following the accidental death of his first wife and his remarriage to the prim Mrs Rawson (BTDS).
Jenny DOBSON – Elder daughter from Dobson’s first marriage, Jenny has ambitions beyond following the drum and flirted with and let herself be seduced by several of the young officers (TSG). During the winter she abandoned her newborn son to the care of Williams and Miss MacAndrews and left in search of a better life (BTDS).
Mrs DOBSON – Herself the widow of a sergeant in the Grenadier Company, the very proper Annie Rawson carried her lapdog in a basket throughout the retreat to Corunna. The marriage to Dobson has done much to reform his conduct (BTDS).
Corporal MURPHY – A capable soldier, Murphy and his wife suffered a dreadful blow when their child died during the retreat (BTDS).
Ensign HATCH – Lover of Jenny Dobson, the frequently drunk Hatch was a close friend of Ensign Redman, the officer Dobson murdered at Roliça. Hatch falsely believes that Williams was the killer.
Lieutenant HOPWOOD – Like many officers, Hopwood transferred to a regular battalion from the militia.
Ensign CLARKE – Another of the young officers of the 106th who served throughout the Portuguese and Spanish campaigns.
The 106th Regiment of Foot in England
Major MACANDREWS – Well into his forties, Alastair MacAndrews first saw service as a young ensign in the American War of Independence. A gifted and experienced soldier, his lack of connections and wealth has hindered his career. Raised to major after decades spent as a captain, he took charge of the 106th at Roliça, and led the battalion throughout the retreat to Corunna.
Mrs Esther MACANDREWS – American wife of Major MacAndrews, Esther MacAndrews is a bold, unconventional character who has followed him to garrisons around the world. More recently, she managed to sneak out to Portugal, bringing her daughter with her.
Miss Jane MACANDREWS – Their daughter and sole surviving child, the beautiful Jane has a complicated relationship with Williams.
Lieutenant Colonel FITZWILLIAM – The new commander of the 106th, fresh from the Guards.
Colonel Benjamin D’URBAN – British staff officer attached to the army in Portugal, but currently acting as observer with Cuesta’s Spanish Army of Estremadura.
Mr BAYNES – A merchant with long experience of the Peninsula, now serving as an adviser and agent of the government.
Colonel Sir Robert WILSON – Commander of the Loyal Lusitanian Legion raised in London and Portugal, Wilson prosecutes a partisan war against the French. Enthusiastic and bold, he convinced the French that they were facing significantly higher numbers.
Corporal GORMAN – Light dragoon serving as cover-man to Sir Robert.
Captain James CHARLES, RA – Wilson’s ADC.
Corporal EVANS – Redcoat left behind during the retreat to Corunna and now part of Wilson’s private army.
Lieutenant Colonel PRITCHARD JONES, 24th Foot – Commander of the 3rd Battalion of Detachments.
Colonel MURRAY – As quartermaster-general, Murray served Wellesley in 1808, Sir John Moore in 1808–09, and returned with Wellesley in the spring of 1809. He contributed a great deal to making the headquarters of the army function, and in particular developing a far more effective system for the collection and processing of intelligence.
Lieutenant General Sir Arthur WELLESLEY – After several highly successful campaigns in India, Wellesley returned to Britain and several years of frustrated ambition before being given command of the expedition to Portugal. He managed to win the battles of Roliça and Vimeiro before being superseded. Along with his superiors, Wellesley was then recalled to Britain following the outrage at the Convention of Cintra, which permitted the defeated French to return home in British ships. Cleared of responsibility, Wellesley was given command in Portugal. The victory at Talavera would see him elevated to a peerage and the name Wellington.
Major General STEWART – Younger brother of Lord Castlereagh, the Secretary of State for War, Stewart managed to secure an appointment as Wellesley’s adjutant-general. A cavalryman fond of ordering unwise charges, he displayed little interest in and less talent for the staff duties his post entailed.
Major General Rowland HILL – Already an experienced commander, ‘Daddy’ Hill would prove to be one of Wellington’s ablest subordinates, and the only man regularly trusted with independent commands.
Major General MACKENZIE – MacKenzie commanded the Third Division. Shortage of general officers meant that he also continued to run his own brigade. MacKenzie played a distinguished part in the battle, but was killed in the process.
Colonel DONKIN – Formerly deputy quartermaster-general, he was given command of a brigade formed of two Irish battalions, the 2/87th and the 1/88th. This brigade joined MacKenzie’s in the Third Division.
Lieutenant Colonel DONELLAN, 48th Foot – Donellan commanded the 1/48th. When the crisis came at Talavera, Wellesley sent him down to form a new line covering the gap left by the KGL brigades.
Lord PAGET – Eldest son of the Marquis of Anglesey, Lord Paget commanded the cavalry of Sir John Moore’s army. However, following his elopement with Wellesley’s sister-in-law, scandal would prevent any further service in the Peninsula.
General Edward PAGET – Younger brother of the above, he commanded the Reserve Division which acted as rearguard (BTDS). Returning to the Peninsula, he lost an arm at Oporto and was unable to resume active service for several years.
Captain GRANT, 42nd Foot – Original commander of the company in which Williams serves in the 3rd Battalion of Detachments.
Sergeant McNAUGHT, 42nd Foot – The senior soldier of a group from the 42nd Royal Highlanders serving in the same company.
Private PATTERSON, 42nd Foot – Private soldier in the same company.
Private SKERRET, 42nd Foot – Private soldier in the same company.
Sergeant RUDDEN, 43rd Foot – Senior soldier in a group from the 43rd Light Infantry serving in the same company.
Captain General Don Gregorio de la CUESTA – Well into his sixties at the time of the French invasion, Cuesta suffered a series of defeats at their hands. Although his judgement was often questionable, it is only fair to say that the forces at his disposal were poorly prepared and lacked every important resource. He seems to have suffered a stroke shortly after Talavera and retired.
Duke of ALBURQUERQUE – An ambitious subordinate, Alburquerque was enthusiastic about the British alliance and also keen to replace Cuesta at the head of the army. He achieved this aim after Cuesta’s retirement. Political intrigues later saw him sent as ambassador to London.
Major Luiz VELARDE – One of Hanley’s artistic circle from Madrid, now serving with Cuesta’s army.
José Maria ESPINOSA – Another of Hanley’s artistic circle, now working for Joseph Napoleon’s regime.
Duke of ASTORGA – President of the central Junta, Astorga is a physically small man with a great sense of pomp and ceremony. His many critics have nicknamed him rey chico – the ‘little King’.
PALAFOX – the hero of the first successful defence of Saragossa, Palafox has considerable political ambition.
La DOÑA MARGARITA de Madrigal de las Altas Torres – A widow recently returned from the New World. Her late husband was the heir to one of the great houses of Old Castile. The lady herself won acclaim as a heroine of the siege of Saragossa.
RAMÓN – Her servant, and a former hussar in her husband’s regiment in the New World.
General LASALLE – Dashing leader of French light cavalry. Although of aristocratic birth, Lasalle won fame and promotion during the Revolution and has since become a favourite of Napoleon. In 1806 he bluffed the Prussian garrison of the fortress of Stettin into surrendering to his lightly armed hussars. Since then he has fought the Russians and more recently the Spanish.
Marshal VICTOR, Duke of Belluno – Victor originally served in the ranks of the artillery, and then won rapid promotion during the Revolutionary Wars so that within three years he led an entire division. He has fought and beaten the Austrians, Prussians, Russians and recently the Spanish and is a capable, if extremely aggressive, commander.
General LEVAL – Commander of a division in Sebastiani’s IV Corps, Leval leads a Dutch contingent and regiments from four of the small principalities of Germany.
KING JOSEPH Bonaparte – As Napoleon’s elder brother, Joseph has reluctantly been moved from the comfort of his Kingdom in Naples to Spain, where he finds himself less welcome. A man of strong literary and philosophical tastes, he has done his best to win popularity. Recently he has lifted a ban imposed on bullfighting by the chief minister of his Spanish predecessor.
Chasseur LEBEQUE – A young conscript serving in a light infantry regiment, Lebeque happily undertakes the light duty of guarding the captive Hanley.
SOTERO – Spanish lawyer working for King Joseph – A Spaniard working for King Joseph, Sotero does his best to convince his countrymen of the attractions of siding with the new regime.
General LAPISSE – Commander of the Second Division in Marshal Victor’s I Corps, Lapisse has recently returned from skirmishing with Sir Robert Wilson on the Spanish–Portuguese border.
Marshal JOURDAN – As a young soldier, Jourdan served against the British in the American War of Independence. Now somewhat elderly for active service, he has been appointed as an experienced chief of staff to the Emperor’s brother.
General SEBASTIANI – Like Napoleon himself, Sebastiani hailed from Corsica, and became closely associated with the future Emperor early on. In his career he has mixed diplomatic with military posts, but has proved a capable if unexceptional soldier.
MARIA – High-class courtesan. In the summer of 1808 she inveigled Pringle, Truscott, Hanley, Williams and Dobson into a dangerous encounter with a rogue Russian officer.