AOS Naval Non-Fiction - General
General Non-Fiction books about the Navies of the world during the Age of Sail.
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British Naval Captains of the Seven Years' War: The View from the Quarterdeck
- By A. B. McLeod
'We have always known who were the captains of the Seven Years' War, in the sense of having lists of their names. A few of them, who later became famous, we knew personally at least a little, but until now most of them have never been more than names. The genius of this book is to bring them to life as individuals; to show their hopes and fears, their faults and virtues, and to fill in the details of their working lives. Far from the grand narrative of battles and campaigns, this book illuminates the everyday world and everyday thoughts of a generation of 18th-century naval officers.' N.A.M. Rodger, All Souls College, Oxford
This book provides a detailed insight into the operations of the British Navy during the Seven Years' War by examining the experiences of the cohort of men promoted to the rank of captain in 1757. Byrne McLeod outlines their early careers, discusses how they were selected for promotion and examines the opportunities for making reputations and fortunes through action first against the French and then also the Spanish. She also demonstrates the iron control wielded by the Admiralty over its captains and shows that, although connections and interest assisted greatly with promotion, allegations of 'corruption' were misplaced. The navy in this period was highly effective: an extremely complex and efficient bureaucracy where merit was most definitely rewarded.
The Navy of the Republic of Texas, 1835-1845
- By Alex Dienst
Everyone has heard of the USS Constitution and the USS Constellation. They were the first two ships commissioned into the United States Navy. But have you ever heard of the Liberty and the Invincible? They were the first two ships commissioned into the Navy of the Republic of Texas.
Between 1835 and 1845 the Republic of Texas had their own fleet. In between court martialing each other, suppressing mutinies, legalizing piracy and getting stone drunk in New Orleans-they actually found the time to beat the British and Spanish- trained Mexican navy.
The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783
- By Alfred Thayer Mahan
The history of Sea Power is largely, though by no means solely, a narrative of contests between nations, of mutual rivalries, of violence frequently culminating in war. Therefore the history of sea power, while embracing in its broad sweep all that tends to make a people great upon the sea or by the sea, is largely a military history; and it is in this aspect that it will be mainly, though not exclusively, regarded in the following pages.
In 1859 Alfred Thayer Mahan graduated second in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy. In 1885 he was appointed to the Naval War College to teach naval history and tactics, and he was an absolute genius as a naval historian and theoretician. HIs books were avidly read by naval officers the world over. They shaped the way modern navies would be organized—and, more importantly, revolutionized the way ships would fight.
Major Operations of the Navies in the Wars of American Independence
- By Alfred Thayer Mahan
The American Revolutionary War was fought mainly on land and won mainly on the water" Jack Coggins - Ships and Seamen of the American Revolution. In 1775, the Continental Navy numbered around 100 ships. In contrast, the British Navy had 270 ships and by 1783 had increased the number to 468. Despite this disparity, the Royal Navy suffered severely, largely through the actions of privateers, losing through sinking or capture nearly 200 ships. After 1778, when the British also had to face the fleets of France and Spain, American privateers multiplied. They inflicted severe damage on British ships and trade, costing Britain about 2,000 ships, GBP18 million, and 12,000 men captured. For the American Revolution to succeed, sea-borne trade with the rest of the world had to be maintained. Should this fail, then vital supplies of guns, the powder to fire them and not least men and ships to fight the British could not be relied upon. Mahan's masterly account of this neglected aspect of the wars brings to the fore the importance of the often ferocious engagements in the struggle for mastery of the sea, on the outcome of which hung the prospects of an Empire and the very course of history.
Hunting the Essex: A Journal of the Voyage of HMS Phoebe 1813-1814
- By Allen Gardiner
In February 1813 the British frigate Phoebe set out on a secret mission that would involve sailing halfway around the world to attack American settlements in the Pacific Northwest. The United States, frustrated at the treatment of its shipping by the combatants in the Napoleonic Wars, had finally opened hostilities against the British in the previous June. From the American perspective the War of 1812 began with disasters in its invasion of Canada, but against all expectations the infant US Navy had scored significant victories at sea. The most strategically significant of these was the campaign by the frigate USS Essex, which had almost annihilated the lucrative British whaling trade in the south Pacific. Therefore, Phoebe was diverted to hunt down and destroy this highly successful commerce-raider.
After an epic search, Phoebe tracked her prey to neutral Valparaiso where the American frigate was blockaded and,in a very bloody battle, eventually captured. The American captain, David Porter, published a self-serving account of his actions which ever since has mired the battle in controversy, so this British naval eyewitness account is an important counter-balance. It is one of the lesser-known campaigns of a war which is currently celebrating its bicentenary, but its inherent drama inspired the plot of Patrick O'Brian's novel The Far Side of the World, although in its movie adaptation Master & Commander the American frigate is transformed into a French privateer.
War at Sea in the Age of Sail 1650-1850
- By Andrew D. Lambert
- An in-depth look at ship design and the "floating culture" onboard
- The Anglo-Dutch Wars of 1650-74, when English commanders challenged Dutch sea power with superior speed, close quarters fighting, and fireships
- The rise and fall of the French Navy under the Sun King, Louis XIV
- The Napoleonic Wars, the defeat of the French fleet, and the rise of British Royal Navy hero Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson