Sharpe's Rifles
Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809
Author Bernard Cornwell
Publisher HarperCollins
Cover The Rearguard by James Princep Beadle
Written December 1988
Published 1988
ISBN ISBN 0002232332 (hardcover edition)
ISBN 0006176976 (paperback edition)
Preceded by Sharpe's Prey
Followed by Sharpe's Eagle
Richard Sharpe and the French Invasion of Galicia, January 1809

It is the bitter winter of 1809. Britain's forces are retreating towards Corunna, with Napoleon's victorious armies in pursuit. Lieutenant Richard Sharpe and a detachment of Riflemen from the 95th are cut off and surrounded by enemy troops.

The story recounts Sharpe's exploits after the retreat to Corruna. Sharpe's battalion, acting as rearguard to the army, are scattered by a squadron of French cavalry. From then, the story follows the small band of 31 isolated riflemen of the 95th Rifles, as they try to foment an uprising in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Sharpe's Spanish ally is Major Don Blas Vivar his enemy, Vivar's brother, Tomas, the Count of Mouromorto.

Rifleman Patrick Harper is introduced, as well as the core group of the surviving company. A brief introduction of the exploring officer and engineer Captain Michael Hogan appears for the first time at the end of the novel. In this book, Sharpe was given Captain Murray's heavy cavalry sword when his officer is killed.

During the story Sharpe wins the respect of his company and clumsily and unsuccessfully woos Louisa Parker, who agrees to marry Major Vivar.

This is the sixth book chronologically, but was written ninth, it is the basis for the first movie in the TV series with Sean Bean as Richard Sharpe.



Other Details[]

This is the first prequel of the Sharpe series, taking him back to the winter before Sharpe's Eagle. Bernard Cornwell has said that he had sworn not to create a prequel, intending to run the series smoothly from Sharpe's Eagle to Sharpe's Waterloo but was persuaded  to change his mind when asked by the producers of the proposed Sharpe films.

The film's producers required a start to the story of Richard Sharpe, and with a Spanish company investing in the TV series, it seemed right to redress the balance and include a Spanish character in a major part. Bernard Cornwell wrote that "their request was also a reproof to me, for the Sharpe novels tend to give the impression that the French were defeated in Spain solely by the British army, but that army, while its achievements were magnificent, could never have won without the aid of Spanish and Portuguese forces and, of course, the guerrillas."


  • January 1809 - Retreat to Corunna

Book Details[]

  • Copyright: Rifleman Productions Ltd 1988
  • First Published: 1989
  • ISBN 0006176976 - HarperCollins Paperback edition (1994)
  • ISBN 0745158765 - Chivers Audio Books Audio Cassette edition - Narrator: William Gaminara (June 1989)

See Also[]