This carefully reproduced journal supersedes George Gleig’s 1837 edition of Hussar Landsheit’s reminiscences as the best soldier’s description in print to date of the British military occupation of Haiti. Roger Buckley’s claim that it tells “much about the nature of the great slave rebellion” (p. xii) perhaps exaggerates Thomas Howard’s detailed account of his own experiences and of the face of the contested colony. Journal and editorial content are weakest on the wider military, political, and social situation in Haiti, for which David Geggus’s Slavery, War and Revolution is an essential accompaniment, but the editor justifiably argues that it shows the importance of skilled guerrilla resistance alongside disease and ineptitude in the British failure to master Haiti. More specifically, the journal is primarily a regimental . . . history of a doomed expedition” (p. xii), for which the editor provides an informative introduction and postscript, commenting perceptively on Britain’s Caribbean strategy and elucidating the life of Howard’s mercenary regiment. However, Buckley obstructs a hard-hitting analysis of British failure by overstretching his arguments. The expedition’s planner, Henry Dundas, did more to understand and provide for Caribbean warfare than he allows. Buckley overlooks the solid 1793-95 record of its commander, Sir Ralph Abercromby, and is surprisingly insistent on the inflexibility of British methods despite his own research and Howard’s frequent references to the successful deployment of colonial forces. Lastly, he overreacts against old prejudices by attributing too much of the British defeat to Toussaint alone of the rebel leaders. Howard’s opponents at the Mole and Port-au-Prince were not Toussaint’s men, while Toussaint handicapped himself in this period by his obsession with St. Marc which cost him immense casualties in repeatedly unsuccessful assaults vividly described by Howard. Howard remarkably never mentions any rebel by name—to him they were all “brigands ”!
Book Review| February 01 1987
The Haitian Journal of Lieutenant Howard, York Hussars, 1796-1798
The Haitian Journal of Lieutenant Howard, York Hussars, 1796-1798. Edited, with an introduction by Buckley, Roger Norman.
The University of Tennessee Press,
1986. . Pp.
194. Cloth. $22.50.
Hispanic American Historical Review (1987) 67 (1): 161–162.
Michael Duffy; The Haitian Journal of Lieutenant Howard, York Hussars, 1796-1798. Hispanic American Historical Review 1 February 1987; 67 (1): 161–162. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00182168-67.1.161
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