- Book reviewer
- 19th century wars, Book reviews, Naval Engagements, Operations and Capabilities, Non Commonwealth Navies
- RAN Ships
- None noted.
- March 2008 edition of the Naval Historical Review (all rights reserved)
As the war against Napoleon dragged to a bloody close after Trafalgar had closed off any plans for invasion, another war was brewing, on the other side of the Atlantic. The newly independent United States of America would have little truck with some of the rules which the Royal Navy tried to enforce on US ships. The Royal Navy habit of stopping US ships and impressing from their crews not only British citizens but US-born sailors, became a major cause of war which dragged on for years. The British succeeded in holding onto their colonies in Canada and nearby. The US Navy won some major naval victories but odds were fairly even both at sea and on shore and by 1815 both sides had had enough of a war that was never more than a second event for the British. They still had to keep an eye on Napoleon.
Trafalgar had removed the confidence of the French and Spanish Navies. Waterloo was thought to have had a similar effect on land but Napoleon was yet to be convinced.
Exile for him on the salubrious island of Elba was only a temporary matter and once more he tried his luck at war and lost.
This marvelous time it was permanent and it would be the Royal Navy that took him to St. Helena in the south Atlantic – and kept him there!
The authors have compiled a book which is hard to put down. Perhaps they might be considered discursive at times and one might wonder at the detail given of some minor battles and single ship actions when there is almost nothing on Trafalgar itself. Perhaps the most noticeable omission is the lack of a detailed chronology. This is a very complex work and it is sometime difficult to keep track of what was happening ‘where’ and more particularly ‘when.’ That said, this is a gripping book which explained a great many large and small things to me. It fills a niche by providing an overall coverage of the whole picture – naval, military and diplomatic.