Captain Ronald Campbell of Bombala Station, Cambalong: His Military Life and Times by Ivor George Williams
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|Captain Ronald Campbell of Bombala Station, Cambalong: His Military Life and Times by Ivor George Williams|
|Reviewer: Peter Magee|
|Summary: Well researched, interesting and informative.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 76||Date: August 2017|
In March 1829 Ann Parker married Captain J A Edwards of the 17th Regiment of Foot. He was in command of the troops and convicts on board a ship sailing from Plymouth to Sydney, Australia: his wife and young son accompanied him. He was not destined to live a long life, dying suddenly at the age of 34 at Bangalore, leaving his widow to raise their two young sons. Edwards' death left his widow in a difficult position: not only did she have their farm to manage, she was also responsible for the convicts who worked the land. Two years later she would marry Captain Ronald Campbell.
British military historian Ivor George Williams toured the battlefields of the Peninsular War and recognised that General Sir William Francis Patrick Napier's Peninsular War (six volumes, first published 1828) was the definitive publication. Attending a clearance sale at Cambalong House, Bombala he acquired all six volumes and the trip developed an interest in Cambalong House which had been established in the 1830's by Captain Ronald Campbell and his brother, John. Williams was fascinated by Cambalong House and wished the property could be placed in a museum. It also fired his interest in Captain Ronald Campbell and the history of the regiments in which he had served.
Williams' book is short, but illustrated with a series of fascinating images both of Campbell's family history and historical documents. Not only has he taken the trouble to carry out his own extensive research he's also contacted descendants of the Campbell family and their contributions add a personal touch to what could otherwise have been a rather dry account of Campbell's life. William's great talent is his ability to take the reader back to the harsh realities of life for both settlers and convicts in the very early days of Australia's development.
The nineteenth century was a period of considerable change, probably more so than the times through which we're living now. Williams is particularly good at bringing this out and putting what was happening in Australia in the context of world history. Don't feel that the book is directed only at those interested in Australian or even military history: there are nuggets of information which inform more widely. I was particularly interested, for instance, in what he had to say about the Peterloo massacre.
It was a real pleasure to encounter a man I might never have known about and to have him placed in the wider context of history. The author deserves particular credit for the detailed research which has made this possible. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
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