The Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars produced a new generation of military authors and artists who recounted their wartime experiences with unprecedented vividness and immediacy. Exploring the intense conflict and suffering of men at war while also underscoring their virtue and heroism, this work typifies what has come to be known as “military Enlightenment.” This essay examines a selection of military texts and images that represent soldiers’ sensory and emotional experience of the wartime spaces of battlefield and bivouac: the anonymous Journal Kept in the British Army (1796), L. T. Jones's Historical Journal of the British Campaign on the Continent (1797), the work of the army officer and historian William Napier (1785–1860), and the Waterloo images of the army officer and painter George “Waterloo” Jones (1786–1869) presented the wider British public with a complex understanding of war. Even as they represented battlefield violence and death with visceral intensity, they understood battlefield space itself to be grounded in affective practices associated with enlightened modes of virtue, sensibility, and civility. There the chaos and horror of conflict gave way to duty, order, civility, and community, and the distinctions of rank were maintained, even as the common humanity of officers and their men was affirmed.
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Research Article| September 01 2021
Eleanor Morecroft; The Battlefield as Enlightened Space: War, the Senses, and the Emotional Soldier, ca. 1790–1840. Eighteenth-Century Life 1 September 2021; 45 (3): 69–87. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00982601-9273006
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