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Napoleonic Fiction

Send me safely back again

Send me safely back again is the third story in the series, and opens in late March 1809, just a few months after the end of Beat the Drums Slowly.

The ships carrying the survivors of the grim retreat to Corunna were scattered in a storm, and the one bearing three companies of the 106th was badly damaged and forced south to Portugal. Williams, Pringle, Hanley and the others find themselves cut off from the rest of the battalion, and serving with the small remnant of British forces left behind in Lisbon. Sent into Spain to recover stores left behind in the retreat, they get caught up in the Battle of Medéllin, where a big Spanish army suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of Marshal Victor's French. With the enemy seemingly poised to conquer all of Spain and Portugal, Hanley is captured, and he and the others caught up in a world of espionage and intrigue, as the French and fiercely competitive factions within the allied cause struggle to outwit each other. Along the way they meet spies of all sorts, from old friends of Hanley's to the beautiful and mysterious heroine of Saragossa, and encounter the flamboyant Sir Robert Wilson, a maverick busy fighting his own private war at the head of his private army, the Loyal Lusitanian Legion.


Then Sir Arthur Wellesley returns to take command of the British Army and injects a new energy into a war that had seemed lost. Determined to attack, he must rely on his Spanish allies to balance enemy numbers and more than anything else will need to know the plans and strength of the French armies. Hanley finds himself recruited for this work, and plunges into a murky world of suspicion and betrayal as it becomes clear there are hostile spies in the British and Spanish camps. In the meantime his friends serve as part of the Third Battalion of Detachments, composed of stragglers from a range of units. Williams must struggle to win the respect of a company of strangers, and all the while cope with rumours being spread about him in letters written by an unknown hand.

In the baking heat of summer, The British and Spanish march on Madrid, knowing that they must strike before the French concentrate if they are to have any hope of success. It will require cleverness and sheer courage to face down the French onslaught at Talavera.

Send me safely back again takes its name from the famous song 'The girl I left behind me' and is set at a time when French victory seemed imminent, and no one would have guessed how the war would develop and eventually be won. Our characters, like the army as a whole and its commander, are still learning how to wage war against a skilful and highly experienced enemy of far greater numbers.


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Send me safely back again will be released as a hardback and as a kindle edition published by Weidenfeld and Nicolson on the 9th August 2012.

It will appear as a Phoenix paperback in September 2013

 

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© Adrian Goldsworthy 2009