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The Trafalgar Chronicle New Series 2, ed. Peter Hore.Mainly built around a series of articles looking at the early history of the US Marine Corps and the Royal Marines in the period around the Napoleonic Wars. An interesting mix of articles, ranging from the American campaigns against the Barbary Pirates to the life of an officer stranded ashore in Dorset, taking in many of the major campaigns of the period, and in particular Trafalgar. Includes a splendid selection of illustrations, most memorably those produced by one naval officer to illustrate his career (Read Full Review)
The Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Age – Senior Service, 1800-1815, Mark Jessop.An unusual approach to naval history, with each chapter built around fictional individuals who experiences shine a light on a particular aspect of the war. Covers the period from 1801 to the end of the war, so including the piece of Amiens, the victory at Trafalgar and the long years of blockade that followed, with a focus on the impact of the war on Plymouth and what became Devonport (Read Full Review)
The Royal Navy 1793-1800 – Birth of a Superpower, Mark Jessop.An unusual approach to the history of the Royal Navy during the Revolutionary Wars, with each chapter starting with an account of the life of a semi-fictional character, tracing their experiences in key aspects of the war, before moving on to a more historical narrative. Covers the main events of the war, including the early battles, the mutinies, and the various theatres of war, as well as the life of the normal sailor(Read Full Review)
Man of War - The Fighting Life of Admiral James Saumarez, Anthony Sullivan.An interesting biography of a less familiar senior British naval officer of the Napoleonic Wars, who served off the French coast and as a floating diplomatic in the Baltic, where he helped prevent an escalation of the war, as well as fighting at many of the major naval battles of the period and commanding at the two battles of Algerciras(Read Full Review)
A Social History of British Naval Officers 1775-1815, Evan Wilson .A different take on a familiar topic, uses a database of randomly selected commissioned and warrant officers to examine the overall experiences of the British naval officer during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, and their place in Georgian society - who were they, where did they come from, what was the typical career for the different types of naval officers. Also examines how (and if) they qualified as 'gentlemen', a key element of social status in Georgian Britain [read full review]
Hornblower's Historical Shipmates: The Young Gentlemen of Pellew's Indefatigable, Heather Noel-Smith and Lorna M. Campbell.Looks at the varied careers of the midshipmen who took part in Captain Sir Edward Pellow's victory over the French ship of the line Les Droits de L'Homme in 1797, providing us with an interesting cross section of naval biographies covering a group few of whom became famous during the Napoleonic Wars. Demonstrates the wide range of experiences available to Royal Naval officers in this period, as well as providing an interesting view of the character of Pellow [read full review]
French Warships in the Age of Sail 1786-1861, Rif Winfield & Stephen S. Roberts .An impressive reference work covering the last major wars of the age of sail, the early years of steam power and the introduction of the Ironclad. Focuses on the design, construction and statistics of the warships, with a brief service history and a look at their fates (often to be captured by the Royal Navy in the earlier part of the book). [read full review]
Feeding Nelson's Navy - The True Story of Food at Sea in the Georgian Era, Janet MacDonald .A splendid examination of the food eaten onboard British warships during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, looking at the food itself, the systems put in place to supply it, its quality, how it was cooked and how it was eaten. A very readable account of this important topic, while still including a look at the administrative background. [read full review]
HMS Bellerophon, Colin Pengelly. .One of the earliest single-ship histories, originally published in 1966 and following the story of a ship of the line that fought at the Glorious First of June, the Battle of the Nile and at Trafalgar. Good on the battles, and provides a good cross section of naval warfare of the period, although in keeping with its original date shows less interest in the more routine elements of her service career. [read full review]
The Sea Warriors, Richard Woodman .Looks at the exploits of frigates during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812, mainly when they were operating away from the main battle fleets, a mix of long patient patrols and blockades and daring battles against similar forces and French bases around the world. An exciting account of this important aspect of naval warfare. [read full review]
The Real Hornblower: The Life and Times of Admiral Sir James Gordon GCB, Bryan Perrett. Looks at the life and career of a possible inspiration for the career of Horatio Hornblower. Gordon is an interesting figure in his own right, fighting at Cape St. Vincent, under Nelson at the Nile, in the Adriatic, and taking part in the attacks on Washington and Baltimore in 1814 (helping to inspire the American National Anthem). This is a fascinating biography of a less well known British naval leader, and will also be of value to fans of Hornblower. [read full review]
The Transformation of British Naval Strategy, James Davey. A serious academic study of the major British fleet that operated in the Baltic from 1808-1812 protecting a vital British trade route, the complex supply system that allowed it to stay on station for so long and the impact such a sizable effort had on the organisation of the British state. A valuable contribution to our understanding of the roots of Britain's naval dominance during the Napoleonic period. [read full review]
Frigates, Sloops and Brigs, James Henderson. Originally published as two separate books, this single volume edition looks at the frigates and smaller ships that served in the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic and Revolutionary Wars. Tales of daring successes mix with stories of bold actions that ended in defeat to produce an picture of life and death in the small ships. [read full review]
Young Nelsons - Boy Sailors during the Napoleonic Wars, D.A.B. Ronald. A fascinating book that looks at the boy sailors of the Royal Navy during the Napoleonic Wars, casting an interesting light on a group of sailors who only otherwise seem to appear in early volumes of long running series of naval novels.
[read full review]
The Line upon a Wind, Noel Mostert. This is an excellent account of the greatest naval war of the age of sail. Mostert covers a wider range of topics than most books on this subject, while always remaining readable. There is a good section on the rise of American naval power and the War of 1812 [see more]
Naval Coalition Warfare From the Napoleonic War to Operation Iraqi Freedom
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BOOK REVIEW – A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars
By Martin Robson, I. B. Tauris, London, England (2014)
Every century or so, the British write a quasi-official, multi-volume, comprehensive history of the Royal Navy. The turn of the twentieth century saw publication of the seven-volume The Royal Navy: A History from Earliest Times to the Present edited by the inimitable William Laird Clowes. This century’s edition is A History of the Royal Navy, a fourteen-book series released under the coordination of The National Museum of the Royal Navy. A History of the Royal Navy: The Napoleonic Wars, by Martin Robson is part of this series. Intended as a stand-alone volume, it relates the naval activities of the Royal Navy from 1793 through 1815. In addition to the eponymous Napoleonic Wars (1803-1815), it presents the naval action of the Wars of the French Revolution (1793-1801) and the War of 1812 (1812-1815).
Robson succeeds in producing a comprehensive yet readable overview of the naval actions during the period. However, the book suffers from being part of a series. The civil history of the Royal Navy, including logistics, staffing, and naval architecture is ignored in The Napoleonic Wars. Readers are referenced to another book in the series, The Age of Sail.
This forces readers to view naval operations in isolation. Yet the battles fought and the naval strategies used are a function of logistics and institutional organization by both sides. Their neglect in this volume leaves readers unable to appreciate the reasons why the battles were fought, and why they were fought in the manner in which they were fought.
Another weakness is the book’s structure. Individual chapters are organized by the theater of each war. However, this works well in the chapters on the Trafalgar Campaign and the War of 1812, as they are self-contained topics and lend themselves to this structure.
Robson breaks the French Revolutionary wars into chapters on “Home Waters,” the Mediterranean, and “everything else.” In the Napoleonic Wars, he maintains the structure, while adding operations in the Baltic to the Home Waters presentation, and the Peninsular War to the Mediterranean. These wars lend themselves badly to a theater breakdown.
Events in one part of the globe affect those in other theaters. Actions in the first chapter on each war often seem puzzling until put in context by reading the remaining chapters on the war. Readers are also entertained by officers holding senior positions or ending their careers in one chapter to reemerge in a junior role in a later chapter.
The Napoleonic Wars can serve as a useful introduction for readers unacquainted with the period. It is also useful for someone who possesses the entire book series with access to the material referenced in the other volumes.
Firing a naval cannon required a great amount of labour and manpower. The propellant was gunpowder, whose bulk had to be kept in the magazine, a special storage area below deck for safety. Powder boys, typically 10–14 years old, were enlisted to run powder from the magazine up to the gun decks of a vessel as required.
A typical firing procedure follows. A wet swab was used to mop out the interior of the barrel, extinguishing any embers from a previous firing which might set off the next charge of gunpowder prematurely. Gunpowder was placed in the barrel, either loose or in a cloth or parchment cartridge pierced by a metal 'pricker' through the touch hole, and followed by a cloth wad (typically made from canvas and old rope), then rammed home with a rammer. Next the shot was rammed in, followed by another wad to prevent the cannonball from rolling out of the barrel if the muzzle was depressed. The gun in its carriage was then 'run out' men heaved on the gun tackles until the front of the gun carriage was hard up against the ship's bulwark, the barrel protruding out of the gun port. This took the majority of the gun crew manpower, as the weight of a large cannon in its carriage could total over two tons, and the ship would probably be rolling.
The touch hole in the rear (breech) of the cannon was primed with finer gunpowder (priming powder) or from a quill (from a porcupine or the skin-end of a feather) pre-filled with priming powder, then ignited.
The earlier method of firing a cannon was to apply a linstock—a wooden staff holding a length of smoldering match at the end—to the touch-hole of the gun. This was dangerous and made accurate shooting difficult from a moving ship, as the gun had to be fired from the side to avoid its recoil, and there was a noticeable delay between the application of the linstock and the gun firing.  In 1745, the British began using gunlocks (flintlock mechanisms fitted to cannon).
The gunlock, by contrast, was operated by pulling a cord or lanyard. The gun-captain could stand behind the gun, safely beyond its range of recoil, and sight along the barrel, firing when the roll of the ship lined the gun up with the enemy, and so reduce the chance of the shot hitting the sea or flying high over the enemy's deck.  Despite their advantages, gunlocks spread gradually as they could not be retrofitted to older guns. [ citation needed ] The British adopted them faster than the French, who had still not generally adopted them by the time of the Battle of Trafalgar (1805),  placing them at a disadvantage, as the new technology was in general use by the Royal Navy at this time. After the introduction of gunlocks, linstocks were retained, but only as a backup means of firing.
The linstock slow match or the spark from the flintlock ignited the priming powder, which in turn set off the main charge, which propelled the shot out of the barrel. When the gun discharged, the recoil sent it backwards until it was stopped by the breech rope, a sturdy rope made fast to ring bolts let into the bulwarks, with a turn taken about the gun's cascabel (the knob at the end of the gun barrel).
A typical broadside of a Royal Navy ship of the late 18th century could be fired 2–3 times in approximately 5 minutes, depending on the training of the crew, a well trained one being essential to the simple yet detailed process of preparing to fire. The British Admiralty did not see fit to provide additional powder to captains to train their crews, generally only allowing 1 ⁄ 3 of the powder loaded onto the ship to be fired in the first six months of a typical voyage, [ citation needed ] barring hostile action. Instead of live fire practice, most captains exercised their crews by "running" the guns in and out, performing all the steps associated with firing but without the actual discharge. Some wealthy captains, those who had made money capturing prizes or who came from wealthy families, were known to purchase powder with their own funds to enable their crews to fire real discharges at real targets. [ citation needed ]
A complete and accurate listing of the types of naval guns requires analysis both by nation and by time period. The types used by different nations at the same time often were very different, even if they were labelled similarly. The types used by a given nation would shift greatly over time, as technology, tactics, and current weapon fashions changed.
In 1712 Colonel Albert Borgard was appointed to the head of the British Royal Ordinance, and introduced a new method of classification by which guns were defined by their pound rating — theoretically, the weight of a single solid iron shot fired by that bore of cannon. Standard sizes were:
- 42-pounders(7in), (6.7in),
- 32-pounders(6.4in), (5.5in), (5in), (4.7in),
- 9-pounders(4in), ,
and various smaller calibres.
French ships used similarly standardized guns of 36-pound, 24-pound, 18-pound, 12-pound, and 8-pound calibers, augmented by carronades and smaller pieces. In general, larger ships carrying more guns carried larger ones as well.
The muzzle-loading design and weight of the iron placed design constraints on the length and size of naval guns. Muzzle-loading required the cannon to be positioned within the hull of the ship for loading. The hull width, guns lining both sides, and hatchways in the centre of the deck also limited the room available. Weight is always a great concern in ship design as it affects speed, stability, and buoyancy. The desire for longer guns for greater range and accuracy, and greater weight of shot for more destructive power, led to some interesting gun designs.
Long nine Edit
One unique naval gun was the long nine. It was a proportionately longer-barrelled 9-pounder. It was typically mounted as a bow or stern chaser where it was not perpendicular to the keel, and this also allowed room to operate this longer weapon. In a chase situation, the gun's greater range came into play. However, the desire to reduce weight in the ends of the ship and the relative fragility of the bow and stern portions of the hull limited this role to a 9-pounder, rather than one which used a 12- or 24-pound shot.
The carronade was another compromise design. It fired an extremely heavy shot but, to keep down the weight of the gun, it had a very short barrel, giving it shorter range and lesser accuracy. However, at the short range of many naval engagements, these "smashers" were very effective. Their lighter weight and smaller crew requirement allowed them to be used on smaller ships than would otherwise be needed to fire such heavy projectiles. It was used from the 1770s to the 1850s.
Paixhans gun Edit
The Paixhans gun (French: Canon Paixhans) was the first naval gun using explosive shells. It was developed by French general Henri-Joseph Paixhans in 1822–1823 by combining the flat trajectory of a gun with an explosive shell that could rip apart and set on fire the bulkheads of enemy warships. The Paixhans gun ultimately doomed the wooden sailship, and forced the introduction of the ironclad after the Battle of Sinop in 1853.
In addition to varying shot weights, different types of shot were employed for various situations:
Round shot Solid spherical cast-iron shot, the standard fare in naval battles. Canister shot Cans filled with dozens of musket balls. The cans broke open on firing to turn the gun into a giant shotgun for use against enemy personnel. Grapeshot Canvas-wrapped stacks of smaller round shot which fitted in the barrel, typically three or more layers of three. Some grape shot was made with thin metal or wood disks between the layers, held together by a central bolt. The packages broke open when fired and the balls scattered with deadly effect. Grape was often used against the enemy quarterdeck to kill or injure the officers, or against enemy boarding parties. Chain-shot Two iron balls joined together with a chain. This type of shot was particularly effective against rigging, boarding netting, and sails, since the balls and chain would whirl like bolas when fired. Bar shot Two balls or hemispheres joined by a solid bar. Their effect was similar to chain shot. Expanding bar shot Bar shot connected by a telescoping bar which extended upon firing. Link shot A series of long chain links which unfolded and extended upon firing. Langridge Bags of any junk (scrap metal, bolts, rocks, gravel, old musket balls, etc.) fired to injure enemy crews. Fire arrows A thick dartlike incendiary projectile with a barbed point, wrapped with pitch-soaked canvas which took fire when the gun was fired. The point stuck in sails, hulls, or spars and set fire to the enemy ship. Heated shot Shore forts sometimes heated iron shot red-hot in a special furnace before loading it (with water-soaked wads to prevent it from setting off the powder charge prematurely). The hot shot lodging in a ship's dry timbers would set the ship afire. Because of the danger of fire aboard, heated shot were seldom used aboard ships. Molten iron shell A variation on heated shot, where molten metal from a furnace is poured into a hollowed out shell and then allowed to cool briefly to seal the molten metal in before firing. HMS Warrior (1860) was outfitted to fire molten shells. Double shot Two round shot or other projectiles loaded in one gun and fired at the same time. Double-shotting lowered the effective range and accuracy of the gun, but could be devastating within pistol shot range that is, when ships drew close enough for a pistol shot to reach between the two ships. To avoid bursting the gun, reduced powder charges were used. Guns sometimes were double-shotted with canister or grape on top of ball, or even triple-shotted with very small powder charges which still were enough to cause horrible wounds at close range. Exploding shell Ammunition that worked like a grenade, exploding and sending shrapnel everywhere, either by a burning fuse which was cut to a calculated length depending on the range, or (after 1861) on contact with the target. Shells were often used in mortars, and specialized and reinforced "bomb vessels" (often ketch-rigged so that there was less rigging to obstruct the high-angle mortar shell) were adapted to fire huge mortars for shore bombardment. The "bombs bursting in air" over Fort McHenry in the American national anthem were this type of projectile.
USS Lawrence vs HMS Detroit: The War of 1812 on the Great Lakes (PB)
Author Mark Lardas has a new book USS Lawrence vs HMS Detroit: The War of 1812 on the Great Lakes which is now available for pre-order in paperback. It will be released in the UK on 18 May 2017 and in the US on 23 May 2017.
The most critical naval fighting during the War of 1812 took place, not on the high seas, but on the inland lakes of North America: the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Carrying between 12 and 22 cannon, the British and American sloops-of-war were ship-rigged, brig-rigged or schooner-rigged vessels. Lakes actions often involved two ships facing each other broadside to broadside, the best example of which was the battle of Lake Erie in 1813 where HMS Detroit led a Royal Navy squadron against the USS Lawrence-led US Navy.
Featuring full-colour artwork, this lively study investigates the prolonged struggle between British and US sloops-of-war, highlighting the differences between the war on the lakes and the war on the oceans during the Age of Fighting Sail. It reveals the circumstances under which these ships were built, how they were armed, and the human story behind their construction and use in battle.
The Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Age: Senior Service 1800 – 1815
Maritime historians divide their discipline into eras, and the Age of Sail is undoubtedly studied most widely. Sailing ships dominated trade and naval warfare for about three centuries, from the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, the last large engagement involving rowed galleys to the Battle of Hampton Roads in 1862, when the armored steam vessels USS Monitor and CSS Virginia squared off. In much of this same period, no naval service figured more prominently than the Royal Navy, larger, more powerful and more heavily and widely engaged than any other. Designated during the reign of Henry VIII, the RN successfully defended Great Britain and later the United Kingdom from invasion threats, facilitated colonization and protected burgeoning trade in its expanding global empire.
Arguably, the apogee of British naval power was the 22 years of the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars, from 1793 to 1815. This period is the subject of Mark Jessop’s somewhat unique history, The Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Age, companion volume to The Royal Navy 1793 – 1800: Birth of a Superpower, published in early 2019.
Jessop, an RN veteran during the Falklands War, who became a teacher and writer, has presented this rich history in novelized form. The book (180 pages with extensive source list and index) is so brief (a common publishing requirement these days) that this method, with entirely fictional introductions and conclusions framing historical essays may have been necessary to remain within acceptable length limits. However, its effectiveness, used in the earlier volume as well, is open to question, and in this reader’s case creates moderate ambivalence about its content and coherence, despite copious footnotes with source references. The author offers nine episodic chapters covering the Baltic campaign and the Battle of Copenhagen Parliamentary investigations of corruption in naval procurement and personnel practices that was rampant in the early 19 th century naval blockade and the Battle of Trafalgar enforcement of slave trade abolition navigation hazards, storms, and shipwrecks manpower problems, impressment and conflict with the U.S. technological advances and the War of 1812 and Napoleon’s defeat and exile, rising professionalism, and the advent of steam power.
To his credit, Jessop touches on several issues not ordinarily considered in more comprehensive histories, and this small volume may foment interest in larger, more formal and developed histories, of which there are many to read.
Mark Jessop. The Royal Navy in the Napoleonic Age: Senior Service 1800 – 1815. Pen & Sword History, Philadelphia (2019 (Hardbound)
Reviewed by Dr. John R. Satterfield. Dr. Satterfield teaches military history and business. He served as an ASW intelligence officer in a USNR maritime patrol squadron. He recently contributed to From Across the Sea: North Americans in Nelson’s Navy, available from Helion & Company, Warwick, UK.
Papers and/or books about naval warfare during the Napoleonic Wars
First off, sorry to the Mods if this isn't allowed. I checked your rules and couldn't find anything really against it accept maybe Rule 2 but upon checking the post history, it would seem I am not the first to have this type of question.
I am looking for some paper and/or book recommendations about naval warfare during the Napoleonic Wars, this topic is greatly interesting to me but over the years I seem to have bled the YouTube videos and Wikipedia articles on this subject dry. I am looking for something slightly more in-depth and specific to this subject. I have of course found plenty of books about Napoleons Conquest but my money situation is rather tight and the idea of buying one of these books just for it to have only a single chapter on the naval warfare is daunting.
Also if you are unable to recommend any papers or books, you might still be able to help. I am simply not sure how to find this type of information myself, I literally don't know where to start, which you might.
Thank-you very much for taking the time to read that. Have a good day and stay safe :)
Can anyone recommend a good book on naval warfare during the Napoleonic Wars?
I've recently become interested in the age of sale and would like to look into a more extensive account than what Wikipedia can provide.
How in-depth do you want to go? I have a few on my user profile, which I will copy over here:
N.A.M. Rodger, The Safeguard of the Sea: A Naval History of Britain, 660-1649: The first volume of Rodger's multi-volume naval history of Britain, this book covers seapower from the earliest days of "England" until the end of the second English Civil War. He includes passages on non-English British navies, though the research in that area is still incomplete and spotty. The series the first comprehensive naval history of England/Britain in nearly a century. Rodger divides his books into four types of chapters: ships operations administration and social history. The books can successfully be read as a narrative straight through, or each chapter can be read sequentially I have done both. Replete with references and with an excellent bibliography.
N.A.M. Rodger, The Command of the Ocean: A Naval History of Britain, 1649-1815: The second volume of Rodger's history covers operations, administration, ships, and social history through Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo.
N.A.M. Rodger, The Wooden World: An Anatomy of the Georgian Navy: An earlier (than the two previous citations) and arguably more accessible introduction to the navy of the mid-18th century, while still providing substantial detail. Establishes Rodger's interest in organizations and organizational history as a way to drive the conversation about navies and their successes or failures.
Patrick Oɻrian, Men-of-War: Life in Nelson's Navy: A slim volume but replete with illustrations, this was intended as a companion to Oɻrian's Aubrey-Maturin series, about which more below. Useful to understand details of daily life, ship construction, rigging, etc.
King, Hattendorf and Estes, A Sea Of Words: A Lexicon and Companion to the Complete Seafaring Tales of Patrick Oɻrian: Meant as an atlas and glossary for the Oɻrian novels, it's a useful companion for all sorts of naval reading.
The Social History of English Seamen, 1485-1649, edited by Cheryl A. Fury. A series of essays on the social history of English seamen from the Tudor period onwards. Includes a very interesting chapter on the archaeology of the Mary Rose.
Royal Tars: The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy, 875-1850 by Brian Lavery. A social history of the lower deck (common crew/sailors) of English and British ships.
Able Seamen: The Lower Deck of the Royal Navy, 1850-1939 by Brian Lavery. The follow-up to his Royal Tars, covering the British navy during its transition from sail to steam and the run-up to World War II.
The Rules of the Game: Jutland and British Naval Command by Andrew Gordon. Gordon looks at the battle of Jutland and the failures in command and control that made it a stalemate, drawing on a history of British command during the Edwardian era to understand how C&C failed in World War I.
Ian W. Toll, Six Frigates: The Epic History of the Founding of the U.S. Navy: Toll's book is a popular history of the founding of the American navy, but it does spend some time on design and construction and what made the American heavy frigates so successful in limited engagements.
Tunstall and Tracy, Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail: The Evolution of Fighting Tactics, 1650-1815: Meticulously written and illustrated, this is a deep dive into tactics in British, French, Dutch and Spanish navies. A bit dense for beginners, but rewarding.
Roy Adkins, Nelson's Trafalgar: The Battle That Changed The World: A recent popular history of Trafalgar, very accessible to novices but with a great attention to detail.
Adam Nicolson, Sieze the Fire: Heroism, Duty and the Battle of Trafalgar: This is Nicolson's attempt to examine ideals of heroism and the heroic persona set against Trafalgar. It's interesting reading, if not completely successful.
John Sudgen, Nelson: A Dream of Glory and The Sword of Albion: These two books are Sudgen's contribution to the voluminous biographical literature about Horatio Nelson, and well worth a read. A Dream Of Glory in particular takes a very searching look at Nelson's early years, which are often minimized in favor of the more exciting narrative of the Nile/Copenhagen/Trafalgar. Sudgen does become a Nelson fan throughout the books, but his writing is not uncritical and does not tip into hagiography.
Admiral Lord Thomas Cochrane, The Autobiography of a Seaman: Written in a midcentury style, this covers the life of Thomas Cochrane, 10th Earl of Dundonald, who is often seen as the "real Jack Aubrey." While that comparison is both fair and also lacking in nuance, this autobiography is a good primary source from the horse's (ok, captain's) mouth.
Patrick Oɻrian's Aubrey-Maturin series (start with Master and Commander): Both a well-researched story of life aboard British men-of-war and an excellent series of novels in their own right. Later books are written more sloppily and hastily, but you'll want to read them all.
Naval & Military History
First edition, first impression, of Adcock's memorial volume, giving biographies and poetical excerpts for 44 "Soldier Poets", 20 of which are portrayed. This book is uncommonly found, especially so in such good condition and with the jacket.
The dust jacket, which was designed by Eugene Hastain, bears on the front flap an advertisement ("It. Learn More
Stock Code: 144555
First edition. General Sir John Miller Adye (1819-1900) was well known as the author of several campaign histories, and served in the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, the Afghan Wars, and the Anglo-Egyptian War. As an assistant adjutant-general of artillery in India, he defended Cawnpore against the Gwalior contingent in 1857.
Stock Code: 146140
Stock Code: 133264
First edition. "Gives a detailed account of three days of battle during which Cawnpore was defended, preventing the creation of an enemy outpost in General Havelock's rear. Author defends General Windham's actions. Includes dispatches" (Ladendorf).
A long-serving artillery officer, first commissioned out of RMA, Woolwich, at the head of his. Learn More
Stock Code: 92657
Stock Code: 140308
Shanghai & Wei-Hai-Wei : 1937
Stock Code: 111970
Stock Code: 143630
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Stock Code: 139555
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Stock Code: 85150
A meticulously maintained and well preserved journal of cruises on two German naval training ships in appealing locations and at interesting times, with numerous excellent illustrations: a splendid exemplar.
In June 1897 Paul von Altrock joined the Charlotte, the last sailing warship built for Germany, when she was overhauled and recommissioned. Learn More
Stock Code: 133188
Stock Code: 116711
Stock Code: 70550
Handsome set of the first edition of the first substantial, general history of the conflict by an Englishman, much of the material drawn from the Annual Register and the proceedings of the Commons, but considered by Lowndes to be "a judicious compilation."
It was particularly prized in its day for the series of portraits which include the king. Learn More
Stock Code: 131885
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Stock Code: 80987
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[Paris or Marseille?] : 1732-46
First and only edition of this uncommon collection of charts, including the first printed chart of Monaco, a large folding map of Marseilles, and accurate charts of most of the ports, harbours and bays of the region.
Ayrouard's work forms a working waggoner for the coast, recording soundings, anchorages, and pilotage notes on rocks and reefs. Learn More
Stock Code: 66701
[Paris or Marseille?] : 1732-46
Stock Code: 106965
[North-West Frontier Province] : 
Stock Code: 115188
Stock Code: 98993
Stock Code: 139421
First edition thus, limited edition, number 41 of 100 copies only with an original drawing by Bairnsfather. This copy has an interesting provenance with pencilled on the front free endpaper "Keep in memory of Frank Houlton Putnam ('Happy') 51st Canadian Highland Division 1914-1918".
In February 1930, Putnam's (1892-1930) obituary read "Mr. Putnam. Learn More
Stock Code: 148880
Stock Code: 120852
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Stock Code: 124386
Stock Code: 103489
First edition of this rollicking and highly attractive colour plate book, among Cruikshank's "most brilliantly comic treatments of naval life capturing with incomparable vivacity the frolics of tars ashore and at sea" (Johnson, p. 7). This copy presented in an attractive period-style binding.
Cruikshank was a friend of Barker (1790-1846), who. Learn More
Stock Code: 145496
Stock Code: 147635
Stock Code: 139608
Stock Code: 66691
First edition, first impression. Wounded in the First World War, Bato remained in combat areas as a war artist. His charcoal drawings from this period were published in this book. Later his career took him to film, and he subsequently became assistant art director to Alexander Korda and Vincent Korda.
Provenance: from the publisher's archive. Learn More
Stock Code: 143873
Stock Code: 70850
Stock Code: 120865
Stock Code: 126943
Stock Code: 67734
Stock Code: 107636
Stock Code: 143425
Stock Code: 100806
A policeman attempts to move on a destitute old veteran who is peddling art on the streets.
The cartoons and illustrations of Nicolas Bentley (1907-1978) were part of the warp and weft of English popular culture in the 1950s and 60s. Never savage, though often waspishly accurate and exuding an urbane air of amusement at the foibles of his fellows. Learn More
Stock Code: 100803
A scene from the British command camp of the Crimean War, perhaps the general being informed about the decimation of the Light Brigade.
The cartoons and illustrations of Nicolas Bentley (1907-1978) were part of the warp and weft of English popular culture in the 1950s and 60s. Never savage, though often waspishly accurate and exuding an urbane. Learn More
Napoleonic Era Naval Warfare Tactics: French vs. BritishThe Battle of the Nile by Phillip James De Loutherbourg
(The explosion of L'Orient)
As a general rule the French felt that the best way to disable an enemy ship was to destroy his means of manoeuvering. They therefore concentrated their fire on the masts and rigging, launching their broadsides on the upward roll of their ships. This fire policy often crippled the British ships, preventing them from pressing home their attack, but was less deadly to the crew.
The British used the opposite tactic firing on the down roll into the enemy hulls, causing a storm of flying splinters that killed and maimed the enemy gun crews. These tactics were accentuated by the fact that the British tended to chose the weather gauge and the French the lee, so the tendancy was for the French guns to be pointing high and the British low as their ships heeled in the wind.
Although only a very general rule this contrast in tactics goes some way to explaining the difference in casualty figures between the British and enemy sailors. The British percentage of killed to total casualties was just over 25%, i.e. three wounded for every one killed. But for the enemy the percentage was 55%, i.e. for every four wounded five were killed.
The speed with which the guns were loaded and fired by the Royal Navy gun crews was also higher than the French and Spanish, also a factor in the higher casualty figures for the enemy fleets.
The destruction of the enemy ship by gunfire was one of three elements that could lead to death in battle the other two were fire, and the sea. No British ship was sunk or burnt in any of the great battles, in fact only 8 ships of the line were burnt or blown up throughout the whole war, 17 were wrecked and 3 foundered. The French suffered some major tragedies, such as the Orient at the Battle of The Nile and the Indomitable at Trafalgar, which lost 1250 men from a crew and troops numbering 1400.
To put the French losses in perspective we can look at the casualty figures suffered by the British Navy in the American War of 1812. Here the British ships came up against well trained and perhaps better motivated seaman than any of the other navies they were engaged against. The Americans trained with live ammunition more often than their British counterparts the British, spending long periods at sea, tended to reserve their supplies of powder and shot for actual engagements. They also signed on for a set number of years, as opposed to the British who were signed on indefinitely, and they were paid as well or better than a skilled workman could earn ashore. They aimed their guns directly into the enemy ships like the British, as well as at the masts.
When the USS Constitution with a crew of 456 defeated HMS Guerrierre, crew 302, The Constitution suffered 14 casualties to the Guerrierre’s 78. The American Frigates fired faster and more accurately than the British thanks to training, the use of a new powder charge encased in lead not cloth, (no need to swab out the gun), and gunsights, an innovation not utilised by the British. Till this point the British captains had relied on getting their ships close to the enemies, a tactic that meant rate of fire was more important than accuracy at longer ranges.
The odds were in favour of the larger Amercan ships in the ship to ship engagements that happened during the War of 1812, but the British were used to taking on larger opponents and it must have been a shock to the Admiralty to start losing such engagements so comprehensively.