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Notes and Reminiscences of a Staff Officer
Although written many years after the events, Lt-Col Jackson's writing makes for much interesting reading. The text falls into three distinct parts; the first, the events of the Waterloo Campaign, the second, Jackson's experiences on St. Helena and his interactions with Napoleon's staff and his meeting of the Great Captain and thirdly his view of the works published or purportedly published about St Helena.
The eyewitness account of a young staff officer on the Quartermaster-General's staff at Waterloo, whilst containing some errors perhaps due to memory lapses, makes for excellent reading and is an important memoir of that momentous campaign. His praise of the Duke of Wellington's actions during the battle itself are tempered with some criticism of his handling of the campaign as a whole, particularly his reaction to Napoleon's advance. Although avoiding the Anglocentric view of the critical Prussian intervention at Planchenoit, doesn't hesitate to condemn their pillage and attempts to make off with cannon captured by the Anglo-Dutch army.
Following the occupation of Paris, during which he takes part in a number of dangerous incidents with a surly and angry populace, Jackson is ordered to St Helena as a part of the staff organisation. His interactions with Gourgaud, Montholon, Las Cases and Bertrand are of capital interest, and his estimation of Napoleon's character. During his brief interview with the prisoner himself, Napoleon
"... alluding to two or three block-houses then in course of erection at the island, asked what Emmett expected to attack them, "est-ce les rais et les souris?" [is it the rays of the sun and the mice?] we were then dismissed."
Jackson also defends his former chief, Sir Hudson Lowe against various slanderous attacks for his role as Governor of St Helena, for the majority of Napoleon's imprisonment.
An interesting read.
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Pickle Partners Publishing
February 01, 2011
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