A monument piece of research, Sir William Laird Clowes' history of the Royal Navy consists of seven huge and detailed volumes, supported by dozens of portraits, maps and tables.
While his conclusions may no longer be valid, the detailed research presented here is still of immense value. The series was actually a collaborative venture. This volume was co-written by H.W. Wilson, a famous naval historian of the period and Sir Clements Markham, an expert on voyages of discovery, while other volumes include contributions by A.T. Mahan, the ultimate advocate of the importance of naval power, and Theodore Roosevelt, future President of the United States.
Volume IV covers the period from the outbreak of the American War of Independence to the Peace of Amiens, although the major operations of the American War of Independence were covered in Volume III). This work is split into six chapters.
Chapter XXXII (The chapters are numbered across the entire series) covers the minor operations of the Royal Navy from 1763 to the outbreak of war in 1792. It is followed by lists of naval loses during the American War of Independence.
Chapter XXXIII covers the major voyages and discoveries of the period from 1763 to 1792. This was a period of great discoveries in the Pacific, and includes the voyages of Captain Cook.
Chapter XXXIV is a 'civil history' of the navy from 1793-1802. This covers the non-military aspects of the navy, including pay and conditions, the mutinies in the channel fleet and the high command of the navy. It also includes a list of all flag officers (admirals) on the active list in the period, complete with the dates of their promotion.
Chapter XXXV covers the major operations between 1793 and 1802, amongst which were the battles of the Nile, Cape St. Vincent and the Glorious First of June.
Chapter XXXVI covers the many minor operations carried out between 1793 and 1802. This chapter gives a good idea of the many and varied tasks that fell to the Royal Navy during the revolutionary wars. Another appendix lists the naval loses suffered by the British, French, Dutch, Spanish and Danes during this period.
Chapter XXXVII brings this volume to a close with a brief (ten page) account of the voyages of discovery made between 1793 and 1802. As one would expect during a major war, there was not much spare capacity for such voyages, but some still happened, especially around Australia.
This is a superb resource for anyone with a serious interest in naval warfare during the late eighteenth century.
Author: Sir William Laird Clowes
Publisher: Chatham Publishing
Year: 1899, reprinted 2003