Manuscript entitled, 'Observations on the utility of good riflemen...' by Frederic, Baron Eben

Object Title

Manuscript entitled, 'Observations on the utility of good riflemen...' by Frederic, Baron Eben

Manuscript entitled, 'Observations on the utility of good riflemen...' by Frederic, Baron Eben


about 1802





Scope and Content

Full title: 'Observations on the utility of good riflemen, both in the infantry and cavalry, with instructions for acquiring the art of taking a good aim, and descriptions of targets, constructed in a manner adapted to promote that end. To which is added, A short manual exercise for mounted Chasseurs, as well as for Dragoons or Hussars, who are armed with rifle pieces. By Frederic, Baron Eben, Captain in the 10th or the Prince of Wales's Regiment of Light Dragoons. Translated from the original German manuscript, under the inspection of the author, with 21 plates',

Illustrations comprise:

Frontispiece. 'A mounted rifleman (or Hussar) half dismounted taking proper aim', across his horse,
Plate II. 'A chain',
Plate III. 'A chain of troops, marching thro' a wood, or firing in advancing and retreating',
Plate IV. 'A division of ten men who patrole a wood. Disperset en Evantallie (sic)',
Plate V. Illustration of a rifle, from both sides, with a detailed illustration of the swivel,
Plate VI. Unidentified,
Plate VII. Implements for the 'Shooting place', including a notched table to support loaded rifles and equipment, a bell to signal the start of shooting and the protection for a marker,
Plate VIII. Two types of target,
Plate IX. A target in the form of a standing sentry,
Plate X. Target in the form of a mounted cavalryman,
Plate XI. 'Moveable target' in the form of a pipe-smoking infantryman, on a four-wheeled trolley,
Plate XII. 'A diopter',


1 volume

Physical Characteristics / Technical Requirements

Containing 106 pages, with a frontispiece and 20 watercoloured illustrations. Plates XV-XX are hand coloured engraved outlines, with manuscript annotations. The engraved outlines are signed, 'Merke sc'. 9.3 x 7.6 inches (24 x 19.5 cm). In a contemporary calf binding, with boards detached

Access Conditions

Open access

Administrative / Biographical History

Eben, Frederic (baron von), since 1821, general in the service of the republic of Colombia, was born in 1773, at Creutzburg, in Silesia, of an ancient family. Young Eben early distinguished himself, and received the Prussian order of merit. In 1799, he became knight of Malta, and, in 1800, entered the English service. The year after the peace of 1802, he received a commission in the 10th regiment of light dragoons, or the Prince of Wales's own. At this time, he composed instructions for the service of the light horse and of the riflemen in the English army; he established, also, at the command of the prince, a company of light horse, after the manner of the Hungarian hussars, and composed of foreigners; and his manual for the new arming of the English cavalry was introduced into the army by the commander in chief, the Duke of York. In 1806, he was made major in a regiment of chasseurs; in 1807, he served till the peace as a volunteer in the Prussian corps under general Blucher.

In 1808, he went, with a number of Portuguese emigrants, to Oporto, where, in December, he was made commander of the English troops. After the embarkation of the British army at Corunna, Eben formed, from the scattered English soldiers, a corps of a thousand men, which joined the army of the present duke of Wellington. He himself remained in Oporto, from which place he carried the English military chest, and provisions of war of every kind, in safety to Lisbon. Here he established a small corps, from deserters of the French Swiss regiments, and, in February, 1809, led a division of the Lusitanian Legion to Galicia, where he and the Marquis de la Romana directed the arming of the country. Called back to Portugal, he accepted the post of commander in chief in Braga, where the rebellious populace had murdered the Portuguese general Bernardin Gomez Freyre d'Andrade, and his field-officers, March 17,1809; but he was not able, with his undisciplined troops, consisting of 18,000 militia, and no more than 995 regular soldiers, without ammunition, to maintain himself longer than the 20th of March against the advancing French army under Soult. With the military chest, colors and cannon, he made his retreat to Oporto, where he quelled, March 26, the insurrection of the people against the adherents of the French, of whom 15 had been murdered; but, on the 29th, Soult took the city by storm, and Eben, who collected again the scattered Portuguese troops near Coimbra, lost his property in the plunder of the city.

Eben's behavior gained him the esteem of the nation, so that the bishop of Oporto, the patriarch Eleito, who conducted the revolution against the French, presented him with a gold cross; and all the officers recommended by him were promoted. Notwithstanding this, Lord Beresford, who reorganized the Portuguese army, in which Eben had been acknowledged as colonel, gave him who had been hitherto a British major, only a commission as lieutenant-colonel in that army. Eben, therefore, asked his dismission, which was granted to him by Beresford, but not by the Portuguese Government, which made him Governor of Setuval. At the command of the English ambassador, he accepted the post, with the commission of a Portuguese colonel. He subsequently commanded the Loyal Lusitanian Legion in the battle of Busaco, in the lines of Torres Vedras, and in the pursuit of Massena. In 1811, he was made lieutenant-colonel and Portuguese brigadier-general, commanded a brigade of infantry of the line in the battle of Fuentes d'Onoro, in the blockade of Almeida, before Rodrigo and at Badajoz. After this, in 1812, he commanded the corps in Spain. In 1813, he was made governor intrino of the province Tras-os-Montes, and, in 1814, he was appointed a colonel in the English army, and aid-de-camp of the Prince Regent, but was dismissed from the Portuguese service, as eldest brigadier, under the pretext that he had been formerly an officer of the cavalry. This took place, however, without the consent of the Portuguese Government. He still remained, with the permission of the Prince Regent, in Portugal, and offered his services to the king, in the army of Brazil; but, by the contrivance of his enemies, he was implicated in the pretended conspiracy of general Freyre d'Andrade, was arrested, and, on insufficient grounds, was sentenced to exile.

Eben lived after this at Hamburg, from whence he petitioned in vain the king of Portugal, at Rio Janeiro, for the revision of his trial. The Portuguese ambassador in Hamburg, however, assured him that his master, the king, was entirely convinced of his innocence. In 1821, Eben repaired to South America, and offered his services to the republic of Colombia. He was admitted, as a brigadier-general, into the army of the republic, organized the army, and, after the victory of Bolivar, in April, 1822, cooperated in the occupation of Quito. [Encyclopaedia Americana: A popular dictionary of arts, sciences ..., Volume 4 (1830) By Edward Wigglesworth, Thomas Gamaliel Bradford, Henry Vethake]