Alicia Quigley: Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy (Giveaway)

A Tale of Two Soldiers: Class in Wellington’s Army

by Alicia Quigley

Social hierarchy was rigid and strict in Regency England, and there were relatively few paths for ambitious sons of the middle classes to work their way in to the gentry. Only three professions offered a nearly certain entrée: the law, the Church, and the military. In the military an ambitious and brave young man could, if he survived and was clever about his career, make a reasonable income, achieve or purchase promotion, and eventually, perhaps even be knighted, or have a title created for him. Some well-known examples from Wellington’s era include General Sir Harry Smith, and General Colin Campbell who was made the 1st Baron Clyde.

George Scovell in SpainHowever, the military was also viewed as a very good career for the younger sons of aristocrats, and they typically received preferential treatment. The stories of George Scovell, and Lord Fitzroy Somerset, who served on Wellington’s staff at the same time during the Peninsular War are good examples. The Duke of Wellington, who was the younger son of an Irish peer, held strong views about the importance of “family, money and influence” in moving up in the military, and surrounded himself with other scions of the aristocracy as his aides-de-camp whom he referred to as “my boys.” He distrusted the emerging new ‘scientific soldiering’ being introduced, which was particularly important in the case of the artillery, (which was rapidly gaining relevance) but also for all other aspects of soldiering.

In this post, let’s compare the careers of Lord Fitzroy Somerset, a younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, who was born in beautiful Badminton Castle, a privileged younger son of the Duke of Beaufort, and Mr. George Scovell, an ambitious young man with little breeding or money, but great intelligence and ambition.

Scovell GeneralGeorge Scovell attended the recently established Royal Military Academy, learning the methods scientific soldiering and in 1798 purchased a commission as a Cornet in the 4th Queens Own Hussars, a cavalry regiment. A young Winston Churchill started his career as a Cornet in the same regiment 97 years later. The cavalry was the glamour side of the military, and Scovell was tremendously proud of this position. But, as a socially insignificant scientific soldier, promotions were hard to get.

As George also had siblings who needed financial help, he had to sell out of the cavalry and join the infantry, a drop in social status that he felt deeply. He moved to the Quartermaster General’s staff, where he excelled due to his education and diligence, although he had to purchase his promotions to captain and major. His accomplishments included, besides helping improve logistics in the Peninsula, standing up a new unit of Scouts with English, Spanish and Portuguese soldiers, and critically, cracking Napoleon’s Paris Chiffre in his spare time, thus making Napoleon’s plans available to the English.

Scovell was given the opportunity in 1813 to raise and command a new regiment, the Staff Corps of Cavalry, also known as the Staff Dragoons or the Corps of Gendarmerie which was the first recognized unit of military police in the British army. He was knighted and received the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB) and continued his career in the Army, even becoming a colonel in the in the same cavalry regiment he had to sell out of earlier. Later, he was the Lieutenant-Governor and then Governor of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst(1829-1856), where he helped expand scientific soldiering in the British army. He received the Knight Grand Cross in 1860 and retired from the Army as a general. His hard work finally brought him success, but it was a long time in the making.

Fitzroy SomersetLord Fitzroy Somerset also joined the Army in the peninsula as a Cornet, this time in the 4th Light Dragoons, in 1804. He was promoted to Lieutenant in 1805, and captain in 1808, presumably by purchase since he transferred to the 43rd Regiment of Foot. He went to Spain in 1808 as one of Wellingtons’s crew of aristocratic aides-de-camp. Somerset’s bravery and gallantry is not in question; he was involved in leading charges in any number major battles in Spain, and was the first over the wall at the bloody storming of Badajoz. He was only twenty-four when he was promoted to lieutenant colonel in 1812.

Somerset fought in numerous other brutal battles, and served at Waterloo, where he lost his right arm. He also received the KCB in 1815. He went into politics, became Military Secretary, and eventually returned to active duty. He was named Baron Raglan, and eventually Field Marshal. He is famous for being the general on whose watch the Charge of the Light Brigade occurred. As a sidebar on the advantages of being a duke’s son in the army, it is worth noting that Lord Fitzroy’s older brother Lord Robert Somerset, also became an army general!

Somerset_Raglan GeneralTwo soldiers of very different backgrounds, with very different paths to military success. What do you think of this?

In my soon-to-be-released Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy, we have a similar juxtaposition: our hero, Sir Tarquin Arlingby, is a titled gentleman involved in finding smugglers who are running guinea boats to France, and are getting letters back and forth for French spies.

Our heroine, Valerie Carlton, is a military widow, whose husband was more the George Scovell-type soldier. She followed the drum and learned first-hand the adventures, dangers and sense of commitment to something greater than herself that came from the experience. The two are thrown together through a series of odd events and find themselves in quite an exciting—and potentially deadly—adventure.

Excerpt

Note: This book will be up for pre-order soon! The author will choose a random commenter to receive of the first two books in the series, A Collector’s Item and The Contraband Courtship.

Sir Tarquin handed her to a seat in front of the fire, and then took a chair across from her, settling into it comfortably and crossing his elegantly booted ankles. “So, Mrs. Carlton, I find that I am almost vulgarly curious about your past. It is evident that you are a gentlewoman, yet I found you penniless and unescorted at the Angel this morning. How did that come to pass?”

Valerie gazed down at her hands, before looking at him. “I am the oldest daughter of Lord Upleadon and his first wife,” she answered, “and married Robert Carlton, an officer in the Light Division.”

“Upleadon?” exclaimed Sir Tarquin. “You are an Upleadon, yet I found you alone, penniless, and ready to board a mail coach?”

LadyLoverSmugglerSpy_Final-FJM_Kindle_1800x2700 copy“My father did not approve of Mr. Carlton, I fear,” Valerie answered economically.

“That stiff rumped old tartar–” Sir Tarquin suddenly recalled that his listener was not only a lady, but also the daughter of the gentleman he was about to malign, and fell silent.

“Quite so,” Valerie responded with a definite hint of laughter in her voice. “In any event, when I insisted on marrying Mr. Carlton my father cut me off entirely. Even when my husband was among the dead at Sabugal he refused to see me.”

“While I’m not well acquainted with the baron, as he is a good deal older than I am and moves in very different circles, I’m sorry to say that I can easily imagine him lacking remorse. You must have been a mere child. How have you managed since then?”

“When I returned to England, several of my friends had married, and were happy to help me get on my feet. I was mourning my husband, and had no wish to remarry or to be a burden on them, however, so I quickly found a position as a governess.”

“But the Battle of Sabugal was three years since. Have you been a governess all this time?” Sir Tarquin asked.

She nodded. “I had only been with the Forneys for in a few months. When I first became a governess I was in charge of a young lady who needed some polishing before she came out, as her parents were not people of fashion. I enjoyed it very much; the daughter was charming and her mother and father were kind and grateful. Unfortunately the two positions that followed it have been much less satisfactory.”

Valerie fell silent, looking down at her hands, and Sir Tarquin, finding himself appreciating the sight of her blonde curls, fine figure, and aura of calm, didn’t need to stretch his imagination far to imagine the son of the Forney household had been unable to resist the temptation of the pretty governess.

“It makes me angry to think of you being preyed upon,” he said abruptly, much to his own surprise.

“It is a common enough problem, and far worse has befallen others. He did not force me and, while Mrs. Forney was unkind, I left of my own volition,” said Valerie uncomfortably. “My friends have helped me before and will help me now. I would rather spend my time with children, but perhaps I will have to seek employment as a companion to an older lady instead.”

“You do not deserve a life as a drudge to children or as the companion of elderly harridan, who will doubtless have a horrid grandson who will treat you as Mr. Forney did,” Sir Tarquin exclaimed. “You are young, and have given far too much.”

“Whatever do you mean?” she asked.

“You sacrificed a husband and a family to your country, did you not?”

“I suppose you could say so, although it has been three long years since then.” A wistful look came over her face. “It seems so long ago. Thinking of it now, Robert and I were both practically children; it is almost as though it happened to someone else, or was a story someone told to me.”

“Yet you are still all but penniless and without protection as a result, are you not? That is not much of an ending to the story.”

She gazed at him thoughtfully. “It was my decision, though I was far too young to understand the possible consequences. In some ways it was worth it all the same; I loved Robert as much as an eighteen-year-old can love anyone, and perhaps even more, I loved following the drum.”

Sir Tarquin looked startled. “Did you really? Surely it was a very hard life for a gently bred and sheltered young lady?”

Valerie laughed. “Indeed it was! I had no notion that such hardships were ahead of me. Yet the sense of purpose, of being needed and useful, and of having a meaning to my life was so powerful, that it overcame them all. I was always rather bookish, and never truly enjoyed the rounds of parties and balls, to my stepmother’s despair.”

“Even in the tail of the Army with all the camp followers, and rabble you felt so?” Sir Tarquin asked curiously.

“Oh, I rode with the column, Sir Tarquin,” she exclaimed proudly. “I had no children to care for and I was handy with horses even before I went on campaign, for my father’s stables are renowned and I spent a great deal of time in them as a child. I soon learned to kill and stew a chicken, and make sure that there was always something to eat at our billet, so it was not long before many of the other officers were to be found at our table.”

“You rode with the column?” her companion echoed in surprise.

“Except when an engagement was imminent, yes. In many respects it was as safe as being in the tail of the Army, for Robert’s friends would watch out for me. I moved rearward when there was any real danger.”

“But it must have been difficult to be so far ahead without any servants to help you.”

“Oh, my husband engaged a woman for me, a large, rather foul mouthed Scotswoman, who was a match for most of the men! She did much of the heaviest work, although I helped, of course.” Sir Tarquin watched as Valerie’s eyes filled with memories that were clearly dear to her. “His batman was also there, and it never seemed as though things were unmanageable. Difficult yes, but even the worst days were just another challenge to rise to…” Valerie’s voice trailed off, and she gazed into the fire, seeing another place and time.

Sir Tarquin watched her in pensive silence, for a moment and then stood, shaking his head to dispel the thoughts that filled it. “My glass is empty. May I pour you some more punch as well, Mrs. Carlton?”

Valerie shook off her memories, and handed him her empty glass. “Thank you, Sir Tarquin. You have a way with a punchbowl, it seems.” She watched as he walked away, enjoying the wide set of his shoulders, and athleticism of his gait. After some moments he returned and offered her the cup, now full of warm, spicy liquid. Her fingers brushed his slightly as she took it. She looked away, taking a sip.

“I so miss feeling part of something bigger than me,” she murmured. “A governess makes herself useful, I suppose, but it is not the same. Being a paid companion would be even duller, I fear.”

Sir Tarquin, who still stood beside her chair, reached out with one long finger and tipped her chin up, gazing into her face intently.

“You most assuredly must not be a companion to a querulous dowager,” he murmured. “It would be an utter waste.”

Valerie stared back at him, at a loss to answer. In the quiet and warmth of the private parlor they seemed removed from the world, and she simply waited for him to act. He gave a tiny sigh, and then lowered his mouth to hers, pressing her lips firmly yet gently as he sought the right pressure. Her mouth trembled a little, and he lifted his, only to press it against hers at a slightly different angle before drawing back, to kiss her cheek, and then one of her eyelids, which had fluttered closed, before releasing her chin and stepping away.

About the Author

AQ Twitter AviAlicia Quigley is a lifelong lover of romance novels, who fell in love with Jane Austen in grade school, and Georgette Heyer in junior high. She made up games with playing cards using the face cards for Heyer characters, and sewed regency gowns (walking dresses, riding habits and bonnets that even Lydia Bennett wouldn’t have touched) for her Barbie. In spite of her terrible science and engineering addiction, she remains a devotee of the romance, and enjoys turning her hand to their production as well as their consumption.

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13 thoughts on “Alicia Quigley: Lady, Lover, Smuggler, Spy (Giveaway)

  1. A fantastic post thank you. It’s interesting to note the different routes those in the military take – profession wise. The book looks amazing.

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  2. Thank you for the wonderful explanation of how young men became involved in the military. I am anxious to read the rest of Valerie’s story.

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  3. Hello, everyone! I’m happy to announce the winner of the two-book giveaway! Congratulations, Glenda! You’ve won copies of A Collector’s Item and The Contraband Courtship! Thank you all for reading my post and commenting! Have a wonderful evening!

    ~Alicia

    Like

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