Despite the title, this book actually contains twenty one articles on what might be broadly called ‘Nelson’s Navy’ – naval warfare during the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The majority of these articles focus on individuals who had some connection to Nelson, ranging from men who served alongside him to people who saw him passing!
The biographies cover an impressive range of people. A look at the chapter list reveals six on admirals, but in most cases these were men who were promoted to that rank due to seniority in the long peace that followed Waterloo, and their active service came at lower ranks. Most were British, although there are several looking at Americans and Canadians. We actually start with a look at two famous families in the US Navy – the Decatures and Lehmans – and their role in the American War of Independence. Second is the diary of an American visitor to Britain. The third and fourth biographies look at officers of Canadian birth. This gives us a much wider view of the naval world of this time than one might expect from the focus on Nelson, and gives us an idea of just how varied the experiences of naval officers could be.
Away from the biographies the most tenous link to Nelson comes in the chapter on early military use of hot air balloons, where the ‘connection’ is that Nelson is not known to have ever talked about balloons! However the article itself is interesting, so one can forgive that. The chapter on the Carronade helps explain why it was more effective in short range combat, but also why it never replaced the long gun. One chapter looks at a naval battle – the minor battle of St George’s Cay which saw a Spanish attack on what is now Belize repulsed.
This is an interesting selection of articles, and should be of value to anyone with an interest in naval warfare in this period.
The Decatures, the Lehmans and the Privateers, John Lehman
The Summer Before Trafalgar: The Journal of Benjamin Silliman, Susan K. Smith
Nelson was an Irishman, Des Grant
Sin Bo’suns in Nelson’s Ships, Lynda Sebbage
The Role of Women in London’s Sailortown in the Eighteenth Century, Kenneth Cozens and Derek Morris
North American’s Seafaring Cities, Harold E ‘Pete’ Stark
Loyalist Marines during the American Revolution, Tom Allen
Admiral George August Westphal, Tom S. Iampietro
Admiral Philip Westphal, T Jeremy Waters
Admiral of the Fleet Sir Provo William Parry Wallis, Jeremy B Utt
Lieutenant Richard Bulkeley, Jack R Satterfield
Admiral Sir Manley Dixon, KCB, Andy Zellers Frederick
Rear-Admiral Thomas Tudor Tucker, Andrew and Zellers Frederick
Captain William Gordon Rutherford, CB, Anna Kiefer
Rear-Admiral John Peyton, Barry Jolly
The Beach of the English Dead, Rui Ribolhos Filipe
Russians on the Tagus, Mark West
Bringing Up Franklin’s Baby, Anthony Cross
The Carronade: A Revolution in Naval Warfare, Anthony Bruce
Battle of St George’s Cay, 10 September 1798, Michael Harris
Captain John Perkins, Douglas Hamilton
Publisher: Pen & Sword