Sharpe befriended numerous officers, both above and below his rank including the young Lieutenant Harold Price, who can often been found suffering the affects of too much alcohol. Price is from Hampshire; his father had bought his son's commission to enable him to escape gambling debts and unwanted pregnancies among the ladies in his hometown.
The character of Sir Arthur Wellesley, later to become Lord Wellington, was based on the real military hero of the era, the Duke of Wellington . He went on to command the British forces in the Peninsular War, and then again at Waterloo, and was never once defeated in his military career.
Wellington in the novels is shown to be a ruthless general, not afraid to 'throw men to the wolves' to gain the advantage. He had promoted Sharpe up from the ranks, after Sharpe saved his life and helped him gain the title of Lord Wellington by helping to win the Battle of Talavera, and by capturing a French Eagle [A solid-gold, wing-spread eagle, on the top of a long pole; said to have been 'touched by Napoleon's own hand'. ] (the equivalent of the English regimental colours). Despite this,
Wellington is not above using Sharpe either as bait or a fall guy in the political world he lives in. This can be witnessed to great effect in Sharpe's Battle and Sharpe's Honour .
The Peer, as Lord Wellington was known in the novels, has been described as Britain's greatest ever professional soldier. His reputation, much like Sharpe's, was forged in the heat of India where he became the famous 'Sepoy General'.
Sergeant Patrick Harper
Although hostile towards Sharpe at first, Harper becomes Sharpe's right-hand man, confidante and best friend. Harper grew up in a small village in Donegal, Ireland, the fourth of eleven children. He left home at the age of 16 to go to Derry to find a better life for himself. However, one morning he found he had joined the army, after a recruiting sergeant had got him drunk.
At a towering six feet and four inches, Harper is a full four inches taller than Sharpe; he's muscular too. Harper's regular weapon is a seven-barrelled volley gun; one of Henry Nock's less successful inventions, which Sharpe gave to Harper around Christmastime one year, believing that Harper is the only man strong enough to be
able to handle the shoulder-breaking recoil as the seven bullets exploded from its barrels; even Harper was occasionally knocked off his feet by the strength of the recoil.
Harper carries a lucky rabbit foot in his pocket, is a keen bird-watcher and has the habit of saying 'God save Ireland' in situations of disbelief.
Due to his natural leadership qualities Sharpe makes him a sergeant, the non-commissioned officer (NCO) in direct line between officers and men in a company, and finally a sergeant major, the most senior NCO rank.
Sharpe has the pleasure of numerous women throughout the novels; Harper has just one: Isabella. Harper and Sharpe rescue the young Spanish Isabella from a group of drunken British soldiers in Badajoz, after a hard-fought victory to take the town in Sharpe's Company . Isabella travels with the regiment along with the soldiers' wives and 'hangers on'. A relationship develops between Harper and Isabella and they get married in Sharpe's Enemy . Harper, believing the army was no place for his wife, sends her to stay with relations in London. Isabella appears in the novels from time to time, including in Sharpe's Regiment .
95th Rifle Regiment
The 95th Rifles were based on a real regiment of the era; the 95th Foot. After their heroic actions in The Peninsular Campaign and Waterloo, they were renamed The Rifle Brigade (95th) , thus being saved from being dis-banded. The role of the modern infantryman was developed from their tactics in the field.
In Cornwell's novels the 95th Rifle Regiment was just one of the Rifle regiments, also known as the 'green jackets' due to the distinguished green jackets they wore. Riflemen are an elite Company of the best sharp-shooters Wellington's army had to offer. Rifle Regiments are a detachment to Infantry Regiments. They are skirmishers who work in front of the infantrymen. The riflemen work in pairs covering for each other as they fire at the enemy. The riflemen's motto is. 'First on the battlefield and last off of it'.
The Baker Rifles used by both Sharpe and the rifle regiments took longer to load than the muskets used by the infantrymen. However, what the Baker rifles lost in slowness of loading they gained in accuracy of firing.
Sharpe's first command is of a small detached group of the 95th Rifles, which includes Rifleman Hagman, an
ex-poacher from Cheshire: the oldest of the Rifles, Hagman is believed to be the best sharpshooter in Wellington's army.
On the battlefield Sharpe and Harper together were a formidable force to be reckoned with; when a rifle regiment backed them up they were unstoppable. Sharpe is most at home when in command of the 95th Rifles.
Captain William Frederickson
Captain Frederickson is ironically nicknamed Sweet William by his men for his frightful appearance during battle when he removes his eye patch, revealing an eyeless socket and because he also removes his false teeth, thereby emphasising his facial scars from previous battles.
Sweet William is Captain of the 60th Rifles, The Loyal American Rifles [A regiment formed during the American War of Independence. ] . He's a career soldier, a good leader and a good fighter. Sweet William proves to be a good friend and ally to Sharpe using his determination and soldiering skills to defeat the enemy.
Major Michael Hogan
Hogan is an Engineer when he first meets and befriends Sharpe, who he always addresses by his first name, Richard. The snuff-taking Irishman is promoted to Chief of Intelligence and put on Wellington's staff. Hogan, who is fluent
in Spanish, Portuguese and French communicates with Wellington's Exploring Officers (spies) behind enemy lines and the Guerrilleros who hide in the hills, and ambush the French at every opportunity. Major Hogan dies of fever in Sharpe's Siege .
Lieutenant William Lawford
Lawford first meets Sharpe in Sharpe's Tiger while Sharpe is still a private and Lawford is the 33rd's new young Lieutenant. Although Lawford is a rich man from an affluent background, he recognises Sharpe's natural soldiering skills and requests that Sharpe accompanies him on his mission to infiltrate Seringapatam. When the pair are captured, Sharpe tells Lawford that he wishes to become a Sergeant. Lawford, knowing that a good Sergeant must be able to read and write, agrees to teach Sharpe during their incarceration in the Tippo Sultan's dungeons.
Lawford is a regular character in the novels, often helping Sharpe while always remaining Sharpe's superior officer. In the novel Sharpe's Company , Lawford is the Lieutenant Colonel in charge of the South Essex Regiment. During the attack on Ciudad Rodrigo, a mine explodes and Lawford is caught in the blast. Sharpe, horrified, is forced to cut the remains of Lawford's arm off to enable him
to survive. He does survive, but is forced to leave the army and return to England where he receives a knighthood and becomes a politician. Sir William Lawford MP makes a final appearance in the series in Sharpe's Regiment ; his political connections help Sharpe overcome Simmerson's crimping scam and regain control of the new Prince of Wales's Own Volunteers.
When Bernard Cornwell was writing the Sharpe novels he soon realised that in order to maintain the excitement, some of Sharpe's adversaries would need to be on his own side, as well as the enemies' side.Sergeant Obadiah Hakeswill
Hakeswill is a yellow-skinned, lank-haired, twitching psychopath. Obadiah Hakeswill is Sharpe's oldest enemy. Hakeswill suffers from a nervous twitch in his face and hideous scarring on his neck, caused by an event at the age of 12 when he was sentenced to be hanged. After his uncle saved his life by cutting him down, Hakeswill began to believe he was immortal; a man who could not be killed. It was Hakeswill who enlisted 'Sharpie' (Hakeswill's taunting nickname for Sharpe) into the army. To the officers Hakeswill is punctilious and obsequious, the perfect soldier. However, to the men in his command, Hakeswill is an evil and sadistic tyrant.
While in India in Sharpe's Tiger , Hakeswill, along with another sergeant, frames Sharpe for a serious assault, and has him flogged. Years later, Hakeswill joins the South Essex and frames Harper for theft, causing him too to be flogged for a crime he did not commit. Hakeswill's other offences against Sharpe include attempting to rape Teresa, Sharpe's wife, and threatening to kill their baby daughter, Antonia. He murders Sharpe's friend, Robert Knowles, while he is trying to protect Teresa and Antonia from Hakeswill. Hakeswill's final affront to Sharpe is the murder of Teresa while Hakeswill is a deserter in Sharpe's Enemy .
|When Hakeswill is sentenced to be shot for desertion, Sharpe is given command of the firing squad. The fourteen muskets fire on Sharpe's command, but they do not kill the seemingly immortal Hakeswill. 'You can't kill me! You can't kill me! You can't kill me!', Hakeswill cackles triumphantly, believing he has escaped death again. Sharpe holds his rifle at Hakeswill's head and pulls the trigger; Sharpe kills the man who could not be killed.
Sir Henry Simmerson
Simmerson, a wealthy aristocrat, has friends in high places, including at Horse Guards. He purchases his commission and the South Essex Company. Simmerson is indignant at Sharpe's position as an officer raised from the ranks. Privately, Simmerson calls Sharpe 'a bastard son of a peasant whore'.
As a Commanding Officer, Simmerson is cowardly, tyrannical and sadistic and has the men in his charge flogged for any minor reason. Planning
to become a hero in Spain, he is soon embarrassed by Sharpe's expertise and learns to hate Sharpe even more after Simmerson shamefully runs from a battle taking his Company with him, consequently losing his regimental colours to the French. By the end of Sharpe's Eagle he has returned to England in disgrace. However, that doesn't stop Simmerson taking credit for the capture of an Eagle (the French equivalent of the British Regimental Colours) even though he ran from the battle before Sharpe and Harper captured the Eagle.
In Sharpe's Regiment Simmerson is involved in a scam to sell trained recruits to other regiments for cash, a practice known as crimping. Sharpe exposes the scam with the help of Simmerson's own niece, Jane Gibbons, who later becomes Sharpe's second wife. With the help of his friends, Simmerson manages to escape justice.
Major Pierre Ducos
Ducos, not a real Major in military terms, is a French Intelligence Officer. Ducos is a revolutionary who had his own parents guillotined, which shows just what lengths he would go to for the revolution and the Emperor Napoleon. Ducos is feared and mistrusted by the majority of French officers.
Ducos first meets Sharpe at a dinner party hosted by the French during a truce in the Spanish town of Adrados on Christmas Day, 1812. Ducos makes an enemy of Sharpe by making disparaging remarks about Teresa, Sharpe's dead wife, who he is still mourning over. Sharpe responds by calmly removing Ducos's spectacles, dropping them on the floor and treading on them, making an enemy of Ducos. They cross paths several times, but it's in Sharpe's Honour that Ducos gets his 'eye for an eye' revenge: when Sharpe is captured by the French, Ducos breaks Sharpe's telescope, his most treasured possession.
After the peace of 1814 is declared between Britain and France, Ducos steals part of Napoleon's treasure and frames Sharpe for the theft and murder of Xavier Lassan. After hunting Ducos across Italy, to Naples, Sharpe's ally General Calvet charges the increasingly paranoid Ducos with treason and has him executed by a firing squad.
Sharpe may not be a gentleman in the eyes of other officers but he is popular with the ladies, who are attracted to the tall, dark-haired, battle-scarred officer. Other officers' wives are not out-of-bounds to Sharpe. It's often the women in Sharpe's life that have the biggest influence on him.
Grace, wife of aristocrat and politician Lord William, first meets Sharpe on board the HMS Calliope [Although Cornwell uses HMS Calliope in this novel, the ship was not launched until 24 June, 1884. ] , sailing from India to England in Sharpe's Trafalgar . Grace travels with her husband and officers in expensive cabins above deck, while Sharpe, who has recently been given the field commission of Ensign, has to sleep in a curtained-off area below decks, due to his lack of money.
Sharpe is invited to dine with the other officers, and Grace is present too. Grace, as well as being beautiful, is a highly intelligent woman who reads Greek and Latin; she is largely self-taught but is mocked for this by her husband, who at 20 years her senior views her as a trophy wife. Grace and Sharpe's eyes meet across the
table; it is love at first sight for them both and, despite barely exchanging a few words, they fall in love and enjoy many stolen moments together.
When Lord William's accompanying secretary discovers their affair he approaches Sharpe and threatens to reveal all to Lord William. Sharpe solves the problem by killing him. However, Lord Hale finds out about the affair. While Sharpe is doing his duty in the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord William reveals his knowledge of their affair to Grace below decks. There is a confrontation, which results in Grace being responsible for her husband's death. Sharpe then helps her to conceal her crime.
After returning to England as a widow, Grace sets up home with Sharpe unmarried, which at the time is considered shocking. As a member of the upper classes she is not in a position to insist upon marrying her lover and instead endures the gossip and being shunned by society for the love of Sharpe.
In Sharpe's Prey , Grace dies shortly after giving birth to Sharpe's son, who dies within hours of her. This low point in Sharpe's life leads him to attempt to sell his commission and leave the army.
However, his field commission turns out to be worthless. The legal wrangling, which results in him losing everything they had built together, is the reason for Sharpe's lifelong distrust and loathing of lawyers, hinted at in several of the novels.
Sharpe first encounters Teresa in Sharpe's Gold where she is tied spread-eagled, a prisoner of the French in her father's mansion house. Sharpe and his men rescue her. While Harper is watching over her would-be rapist, Teresa, a partisan, uses the Frenchman's own sword to stab him in the groin. Sharpe has heard of this woman, who apparently fights like a man, and is betrothed to El Catolico leader of the partisans, who stalked the French and killed more of the enemy than Wellington's army.
The partisans are normally allies of Wellington's army; Sharpe, however, had made an enemy of El Catolico over the Spanish gold which Sharpe was unofficially sanctioned to steal from the Spanish. Wellington needed the gold, or the war would be lost.
To enable him and his men to travel without harassment from El Catolico and the partisans, Sharpe uses Teresa as a hostage, at first against her will. However, as
Teresa notes Sharpe's cunning and ruthlessness she co-operates, allowing her fianc
A friendship builds between Teresa and Sharpe. Teresa tells him her mother had been raped and killed by the French. She had died slowly and Teresa had made a vow to kill as many Frenchman as she could. Sharpe gives Teresa the nickname La Aguja (The Needle) in honour of her methods of killing the French.
After an incident during which Sharpe kills El Catolico, the friendship between Teresa and Sharpe gets stronger. They become lovers and Teresa has a baby girl, Antonia. In Sharpe's Company they get married.
Sharpe has his soldering duties, and Teresa, who refuses to travel with the army, has her own life; first with the partisans, then taking care of Antonia. There are many partings, in a marriage made of too many of them. The final parting is in Sharpe's Enemy when Hakeswill murders Teresa.
Jane is Sharpe's second wife and he first sees her in the portrait in a locket which he took from the dead body of her brother, Christopher Gibbons, Sharpe's superior officer in
Sharpe's Eagle . Harper had killed Gibbons, saving Sharpe's life from Gibbon's sword. Sharpe carried the locket as a talisman for a number of years, even showing it to Teresa while they were married, until it was taken from him when he was a prisoner of the French.
The second time Sharpe meets Jane is in Sharpe's Regiment (the first having been very briefly at a parish church where her brother was buried four years earlier). Jane's uncle, Simmerson, who she is living with as a virtual slave, is involved in crimping. Despite fearing a beating from her uncle, Jane helps Sharpe and Harper to uncover evidence of the crimping, and to put a stop to it. Sharpe marries Jane, the girl he had dreamed of for years, to save her from her uncle's wrath. It was a marriage in haste, which was destined not to last.
In Sharpe's Siege , Sharpe goes off to battle, with Jane appearing to be unwell. Against his wishes, she has been visiting Hogan, who has the fever. Sharpe worries that Jane has caught the fever from him. This worries Sharpe to the extent that he risks disciplinary action. The leader
of some captured pirates tells Sharpe of a superstition that bad luck will befall any man responsible for hanging a pirate. Sharpe takes this to mean that his wife's life depends on whether he does his duty and hangs the pirates or sets them free: subsequently, he releases them. He later discovers that the superstition had been a ploy by the pirate to save his own life and those of his men. With the mission completed, Sharpe returns to find that Jane was in good health, and had just had a cold. However, his friend Hogan is dead.
When Sharpe breaks his promise to Jane about never fighting again she returns to England with all of his money and is seduced by the dandy cavalry officer Lord John Rossendale. At the time of Sharpe's Waterloo , Jane is at the Duchess of Richmond's Ball in Brussels when Sharpe storms in and threatens Rossendale. Sharpe no longer cares for Jane and wants his money back. Jane, knowing Sharpe is a killer, encourages Rossendale to get to him first. Sharpe sells Jane to Rossendale for what's left of his money. Rossendale is then killed on the battlefield at Waterloo
and Jane is left alone and penniless.
Lucille Castineau (n é e Lassan)
Lucille is the daughter of French aristocrats in Normandy and the widow of Colonel Xavier Castineau. Lucille's full title is Madame la Vicomtessa de Seleglise, although by her own admission 'nearly every pig farmer in Normandy has a grand title'. Her first meeting with Sharpe during the events of Sharpe's Revenge leads to her shooting our hero with a horse pistol, blowing off the top of his ear and seriously damaging his shoulder. However, when the two end up alone in the Chateau Castineau (while Lucille nurses Sharpe back to health, having rejected Captain Fredrickson's affections) she falls for Sharpe and they become lovers. Lucille falls pregnant and has their first (illegitimate) son, Patrick Lassan. In Sharpe's Waterloo , she and Sharpe are settled on her family farm in Normandy and by the events of Sharpe's Devil the two have a daughter, Dominique. Lucille becomes the third Mrs Sharpe in 1844 after the death of Sharpe's estranged wife, Jane.
There are other women in Sharpe's life including Josefina, a high-class whore Sharpe falls in love with in Sharpe's Eagle . In Sharpe's Enemy she masquerades as Lady Farthingdale, wife of Sir Augustus Farthingdale, with his blessing, so that he can show off the long dark-haired beauty at dinner parties. Josefina is among the hostages that Sharpe is in command of a mission to rescue from a band of multinational deserters in Sharpe's Enemy .
Then there's the beautiful and manipulative Helene, La Marqesa, a Frenchwoman who spies for France and is married to a Grandee of Spain under the orders from Napoleon. Helene is known by the Spanish as La Pula Dorada (The Golden Whore) due to the colour of her hair, not the amount of gold she possesses. It is after Sharpe has spent an enjoyable night with Helene that partisans he has made enemies of capture him. His life is saved by the intervention of the French, who then take him prisoner.
Thanks to bbc.co.uk and sharpefilm.com