BRITISH SOLDIERS' LIFE HISTORIES: GLOBAL MOBILITY, ARMY REFORM, AND BRITISH IDENTITY IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY
Arensdorf, Nadia J
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This thesis examines the memoirs of three British soldiers who served in the army during the nineteenth century, arguing that through their mobility around the world, their discussion of needs for army reform, and their deep identification as British soldiers, they served as agents of change that cultivated, nuanced, and strengthened the British empire. Scotsmen Joseph Donaldson, serving in the Peninsular War, William Douglas, participating in the Crimean War, and John Pindar, partaking primarily in the 1863 Umbeyla Campaign in India, all contributed to the imperial transformations that took place during the century. Through the pervasive influence of their published recollections, Donaldson, Douglas, and Pindar effected change, impacting the character of Britain. Donaldson instigated incipient shifts through his strong denunciations of army weakness and in his personal contrasts with the “other” in Spain. Douglas, while fully espousing his own uniqueness as a Scot, also layered English and Indian identities resulting from his travels throughout the east and embraced a proud British legacy as a Crimean War veteran. Pindar most thoroughly embodied the imperial soldier as he engaged in a broad-based journey throughout the British empire, cementing the empire’s multidimensional character, even as he challenged some late-century reforms. Spanning the century, these soldiers’ experiences combined to foster the transformation of empire geographically, in a reformed imperial army, and in the multicultural nature of both Britain at home and in the empire abroad during the nineteenth century.