This is a review by Randy L Harvey of Combat: British Rifleman versus French Skirmisher, Peninsula War and Waterloo 1808-15 from Osprey Publishing by author David Greentree and illustrator Adam Hook.


During the Peninsular War (1807-14) and the Hundred Days campaign (1815), British and French forces deployed specialist units of skirmishers trained in marksmanship and open-order combat. These ‘light’ troops fulfilled several important battlefield roles, such as ‘masking’ large bodies of friendly close-order troops and harassing enemy artillery crews and senior officers with aimed fire.  On occasion, the skirmishers were also tasked with special missions such as the capture or defence of key positions.  While Napoleon’s skirmishers carried the smoothbore musket, notoriously inaccurate and short-ranged, several elite units fighting for Britain were armed with the rifle, a far more accurate weapon that was hampered by a slower rate of fire. As well as the legendary 95th Rifles, Britain fielded rifle-armed German troops of the 60th Regiment and the King’s German Legion, while France’s light troops were fielded in individual companies but also entire regiments.  In this study, David Greentree assesses the role and effectiveness of rifle-armed British troops and the French open-order opponents in three very different encounters:   Roliça (1808), the first British battle of the Peninsular War, the struggle for a key bridge at Barba del Puerco (1810); and the fight for the La Haye Sainte farmhouse during the battle of Waterloo (1815). ** 

** Quoted from the back cover of the book.  

The Book

Osprey Publications has released Combat: British Rifleman versus French Skirmisher, Peninsula War and Waterloo 1808-15 as Number 46 in their Combat series. It is a soft cover book with 80 pages. Included with the text are black and white photographs and color photographs, color illustrations, detailed captions and more. It has a 2020 copyright, a publication date of Publication Date: 20 Feb 2020 and the ISBN is 978-1-4728-3184-2.  

The Text

Author David Greentree covers three pivotal moments between the British and French militaries facing each other at Roliça (1808), the first British battle of the Peninsular War at Barba del Puerco (1810), and the fight for the La Haye Sainte farmhouse during the battle of Waterloo (1815) providing specific details and pertinent information in regards to the fighting on both sides of the British and the French militaries.  David Greentree gives a step-by-step narration of each of the battles which, with the accompanying maps, helps place the reader at the battles and makes it easy for the reader to understand what took place and why.  As well as providing information on the three separate battles David Greentree details organization of the military units, weapons and equipment used by both sides as well as the fighting techniques of the combatants and their successes and failures.  Also provided are details of battlefield conditions and weather, conditions during the fighting and how it affected the soldiers and the outcome of the fighting, and other such details which provides a feeling of what the men were putting up with during the fighting to help the reader understand what took place from the overall picture down to the most minute details.  The battles are all discussed from prior to the fighting, to the actions taken during the fighting and the actions and end results after the fighting had ceased.  David Greentree details actions and orders given by specific individuals as well as actions taken by the militaries as a whole.  The text in the book is nicely written and well detailed. As I read through the text, I did notice a few grammatical errors but they were minor and take nothing away from the book.  Grammar and spelling might not be an important factor to everyone however it is something that I take notice of and pass on my findings.  I feel that if the text is well written then it shows that the author has taken the time to be a professional with their writing.    

The Photographs

A total of 12 black and white photographs and 39 color photographs are included in this volume.  Author David Greentree stuck to the title of the book and chose subject specific photographs and did not include photographs that strayed from the main subject of the book.  Some of the photographs are of period drawings and paintings and provide the reader with details of various weapons, gear and period uniforms and clothing. They also provide a good reference for coloring which can be used as a painting guide for modelers if so chosen. The images are obviously not always in scale and 100% accurate but I personally feel that they still do their job of providing information as there was obviously no photography equipment of any type back in that time period. So obviously, artists were free to use artistic interpretation when they created their paintings and illustrations.  The majority, if not all, of the photographs will prove to be a wealth of information to anyone interested in the Napoleonic Wars, British and French militaries and 19th century military uniforms, weapons and equipment of the period due to the details they contain.  

The Illustrations

There are 4 color illustrations by illustrator Adam Hook.  One of the color illustrations is accompanied by a black and white copy of the same illustration that describes the scene and points out and describes key areas of interest.  The illustrations are very well done and nicely detailed.

The Captions

The captions are well written and explain the accompanying photographs and illustrations in great detail eliminating any doubt as to what is shown.  The captions go into very specific detail as to the specific individuals shown, types of clothing worn, weapons, equipment carried and used, dates and locations, military unit affiliation, military rank and other such pertinent information which will be helpful to the reader due to their detailed content as opposed to other captions that I have seen that are very brief and lacking in detail.   

Osprey Publishing also offers Combat: British Rifleman versus French Skirmisher,

Peninsula War and Waterloo 1808-15 as:

eBook (ePub) ISBN: 978-1-4728- 3209-2


eBook (PDF) ISBN: 978-1-4728- 3208-5

Osprey Publishing’s, Combat: British Rifleman versus French Skirmisher, Peninsula War and Waterloo 1808-15 is also available as a Kindle version through Amazon.


UK £13.99 / US $22.00 / CAN $30.00

This book was provided to me by Osprey Publishing.  Please be sure to mention that you saw the book reviewed here on the KitMaker Network when you make your purchase.  Thank you. 



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