The twelve months between March 1811 and March 1812 was the time of decision for the Peninsular War, when Napoleon swelled the armies of Marshalls Soult and Marmont with French veterans, this with the aim of ridding Spain and Portugal of the tiresome British once and for all. As a consequence, during this period the Allied army under the Duke of Wellington suffered more casualties than all the other years of the war combined. Within this twelve months, came the most severe encounters of the whole campaign, the dreadful battles of Albuera and Fuentes d’Onoro, then the two sieges Cuidad Rodrigo and Badajoz, each appalling for their hardships, the severity of the assaults and their aftermath. The story begins with the advance through Santarem after the winter inactivity, harrying the French North and East and ends at the walls of Badajoz. In the interim months, conflict between the two sides is almost weekly, either skirmishing, minor battles or simply standing and staring, one side waiting, the other deciding, either to attack or to hold their ground.
Throughout all, the 105th Foot, the Prince of Wales Own Wessex Regiment, march on, the ‘Rag and Bone Boys’, always either in the van or stood tense and ready as first reserve. Within their number, their characters live, fight, suffer and die; Henry Carr, now an experienced Major, Senior Major O’Hare and Lieutenant-Colonel Lacey, both now feeling the strain of four years of continuous campaigning. The men in the ranks maintain their bonds of comradeship, despite the dangers, the hardships, overbearing Officers and the ill-tempered characters of some amongst them. Their Followers support, to both feed, mend and tend as and when their men return to them, either just hungry, sometimes badly wounded or sometimes not at all. Thus the 105th continues both as a family and as a formidable fighting unit, one of Wellington’s most trusted, which brings extra duties and accompanying dangers. However, old rivalries and jealousies continue, not least from Captain Lucius Tavender, especially when Carr’s younger brother, Willoughby, joins the 16th Light Hussars as a Cornet. Elsewhere, Lord Frederick Templemere, now a Politician and a paroled prisoner of war, has his own and very different, furrow to plough.