Out on 24 August 2023

Warriors in Scarlet

Ian Knight

24 August 2023
560 pages


Ian Knight's Warriors in Scarlet is a comprehensive, vivid and pacy history of the Victorian army between 1837 to 1860, from the Battle of Bossendon Wood to the Crimean War, a period of seismic change.

An acclaimed military historian, Knight draws on first-hand accounts to show us the reality of life in the Army – the drudgery of peace-time service, the excitement and privations of posting overseas, the floggings and desertions, the regimental pride and comradeship. The rapid expansion of the British Empire meant that soldiers found themselves facing diverse and skilful enemies around the world. Trained in the tactics that won the Napoleonic War but were no longer helpful in their new role, British troops had to adapt or die.

Knight vividly recreates the action on the ground, from bloody skirmishes in Southern Africa and siege warfare in New Zealand to disasters like the 1842 retreat from Kabul and Chillianwala in the Punjab – but shows that in reality the army won more than four-fifths of the battles they fought in this era. By 1860, their redcoats increasingly replaced by khaki, the British army was a more professional, efficient and increasingly ruthless fighting force.