Leeds History First

‘I borrow no man’s story’: Individual Identity in British Napoleonic War Memoirs

War memoirs can tell us about the feelings, emotions and thoughts of the soldiers who fought on the battlefield. They provide a glimpse into the world of soldiering and enable us to understand more about what it was really like to be a part of the army. Although memoirs are notoriously less reliable than the more immediate sources of diaries, letters and official accounts, they remain invaluable for revealing how veterans felt and what they thought of their time at war.

This study will explore a previously underused body of material to highlight how soldier’s conceptualised their time at war. Emphasis shall be placed on the development of ‘individual identity’; the exploration of a veteran’s sense of his own importance and a discussion of whether veterans identified with their regiment or presented their own particular story which could not be subsumed into a common identity. Firstly, this study will highlight the methodology of memoir writing and its development during the twentieth century. Secondly, it will investigate the theme of individual identity, to show which qualities an author intended to present within his work and in which terms he wished to portray his experience. Finally, in studying a veteran’s sense of camaraderie, it will be revealed whether veterans identified primarily with their regiment or instead attempted to develop their own story.

View the dissertation.

This entry was posted in 18th-19th Century, Britain and Ireland, Cultural History, HIST3500, Military History, Social History and tagged , , .

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