The British are getting ready to invade France. A French nobleman, the Comte de Maquerre, brings news to Wellington that there is discontent with Napoleon in France and he guarantees he can start a rebellion in the region on the French side of the border to help the British invasion. Ross, our current Exploring Officer, is suspicious.
Maquerre offers his own castle as the staging area, but first the British must take it from the French troops garrisoned there now. Wellington has an inexperienced officer in charge of this task, Colonel Bamfylde, so he decides to send Sharpe and his men to babysit and guarantee victory. Sharpe is suspicious as well. He wonders what Wellington’s real purpose is in sending them on this mission.
On the personal front, Sharpe has just married Jane Gibbons and she’s come down with a deadly fever. The doctor needs quinine in order to help Jane and others. Sharpe doesn’t want to leave her side, but he’s a soldier and must follow orders.
Can Maquerre be trusted? Are the French ready for rebellion? What is Wellington’s real purpose for sending Sharpe on this mission? Can Jane be saved?
Our episode this week takes some liberties with the book.
Espionage is a key element of any war. Wellington had his spies, but so did Napoleon:
"Gathering information on enemy positions is a fundamental part of the pre-battle stage of any campaign. During the Napoleonic wars, this vital role was fulfilled by the light cavalry, although it should be noted that the French were regularly criticised for their failures in this department. Information provided by the light cavalry was supplemented by the work of individual scouts from the army and sympathetic locals. However, the most effective intelligence was provided by spies - individuals paid from secret funds, who penetrated enemy headquarters or who were already in place behind enemy lines.
The bulk of this espionage was directed by men such as Anne-Jean-Marie Savary, Napoleon's main intelligence chief during the early Imperial period. By 1805 he was a Général de Division and later Chief of Police." (from OspreyPublishing.com)
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